Where Is South Dakota? See Its Map Location and Surrounding States

Needles Highway South Dakota
© keeweeboy/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Telea Dodge

Published: December 3, 2023

Share on:


South Dakota. Home of Mount Rushmore and Wall Drug. The land where buffalo roam (well, American bison) and the skies stretch before you like a vast invitation. Gateway to the Black Hills and home to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. South Dakota has a lot of really cool stuff going on, and this Midwestern state is certainly worth visiting. In order to visit a place, it’s fairly important to know where it is. This is important for several reasons, including being able to predict weather conditions for your time of visit. Today, we’ll place this vast state on a map – and teach you a little bit more about its history! Where is South Dakota? Let’s take a look.

Where Is South Dakota on a Map?

Summer Aerial View of Sioux Falls, The largest City in the State of South Dakota

Sioux Falls is the most populated city in the state.

©Jacob Boomsma/iStock via Getty Images

South Dakota is a state in the North Central (Midwest) region of the United States. It is a Great Plains state that is deeply characterized by the temperate grasslands that lend it this name. Let’s take a look at a map of South Dakota.

Now, let’s look at what borders South Dakota. North Dakota rests to the north of South Dakota, while Nebraska borders it to the south. It shares its eastern border with Minnesota and Iowa. Looking to the west, Wyoming and Montana finish boxing South Dakota in.

Population and Major Cities

Aerial View of Rapid City, South Dakota with fresh Snow

Rapid City is the second most populated city in South Dakota.

©Jacob Boomsma/iStock via Getty Images

South Dakota is the fifth least-populated state in the United States, and it has a total population of 895,376 as of the 2021 Census. This population is divided into 390 places – 311 incorporated places and 79 census-designated-places. There are 156 cities, 154 towns, and one village. Of all of these places, only 13 of them have a population above 10,000. Only five of those 13 have populations above 20,000. We’re going to look at the five most-populated towns in the fifth least-populated state. We’ll do this using a helpful table.

We sourced our population data from the United States Census Bureau’s 2021 census data.

Sioux Falls196,528
Rapid City76,184

You may have noticed that the capital city of South Dakota – Pierre – is not in this table. In fact, Pierre, South Dakota only had a population of 14,000 at the time of the census. It ranks as the ninth most populous city in the state.

When Did South Dakota Become a State?

Flag of South Dakota against blue sky

The flag of South Dakota features the state nickname, the Mount Rushmore State.


South Dakota has been inhabited for many thousands of years. Paleoindian hunter-gatherer tribes roamed the lands as the first inhabitants, and much later came several nomadic and semi-nomadic Indigenous tribes. This included the Arikara (Sahnish) people, who migrated north from Central America and settled up and down the Missouri River Valley.

In 1743, French explorers arrived in South Dakota. They claimed the region as their homeland and declared it a part of greater Louisiana. It was taken by the Spanish in 1762 but returned to the French in 1803. Then, the area was promptly sold to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It would still take almost the rest of the century to become a state. Prior to statehood, it spent time as a larger territory, as Lakota Sioux land, and as an object of contention between the United States and the Indigenous tribes of the area. The Dakota Territory was eventually a fairly populated region that covered South Dakota and North Dakota. Growing tensions between the north and south caused territory residents to call for a division of the territory.

In 1887, the territory was divided in half. On November 2nd, 1889, the two territories were simultaneously admitted into the United States. They were the 39th and 40th states to join the Union.

Things To Do

Distant View of Mount Rushmore in Black Hills forest South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most famous attractions in the state.

©Allen Allnoch/iStock via Getty Images

There is no shortage of fun to be had in South Dakota. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is one of the most famous attractions in the state, but there are plenty more amazing places to visit. Badlands National Park showcases the rich and rugged beauty of South Dakota Badlands. Custer State Park is a Black Hills wonderland of wildlife. It holds one of the largest herds of free-roaming bison in the world.

Fans of Wild West history might appreciate the Deadwood National Historic Landmark. This old gold rush-era town is full of history, including the lawless time of the Wild West when Wyatt Earp and Calamity Jane roamed the prairies. Deadwood is in the Black Hills National Forest, which is a can’t-miss stop for lovers of nature and geology.

Share this post on:
About the Author

Telea Dodge is an animal enthusiast and nature fiend with a particular interest in teaching a sense of community and compassion through interactions with the world at large. Carrying a passion for wild foraging, animal behaviorism, traveling, and music, Telea spends their free time practicing their hobbies while exploring with their companion dog, Spectre.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.