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New maps shed light on Minnesota's shifting demographics

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Several new interactive U.S. maps that endeavor to explain America's shifting populations offer bits of new insight into Minnesota's place in a changing, aging nation.

One new map created by the American Communities Project at American University breaks down the United States by county into 15 demographic groups:

Military Posts
Graying America
Aging Farmlands
Working Class Country
Rural Middle America
Evangelical Hubs
Middle Suburbs
African American South
College Towns
Native American Lands
Urban Suburbs
LDS Enclaves
Hispanic Centers
Big Cities

On that map, Minnesota's north is generally designated Graying America and Rural Middle America, with Big Cities ringed by Exurbs in the metro, and College Towns sprinkled in among more Rural Middle America in the southern part of the state.

The map was created by Dante Chinni, the journalist and author of Patchwork Nation.

Authors, political scientists and demographers recently have come up with all kinds of creative ways of using interactive maps to help illustrate how the nation's population is shifting.

Author Joel Garreau created a map that shows America's Next Decade, placing Minnesota in The Great Plains, where "Fracking fuels, thriving agriculture and a growing technical capacity have engendered an economic – and demographic – revolution, with the population expected to rise 6% by 2023, twice the rate of the East." It also notes: "Not every small town will enjoy the comeback. The new Great Plains is increasingly urbanized, an archipelago of growing cities from Dallas and Oklahoma City to Omaha, Sioux Falls and Fargo."

Other recent maps include America's "nation states" as defined by author and Portland journalist Colin Woodard. In that map, Minnesota falls in "Yankeedom": "Founded on the shores of Massachusetts Bay by radical Calvinists as a new Zion, Yankeedom has, since the outset, put great emphasis on perfecting earthly civilization through social engineering, denial of self for the common good, and assimilation of outsiders."

For pure wow factor, it's still tough to beat the New York Times' map of America, which offers Census data for every neighborhood block in the nation.

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