Minnesota is home to the ugliest county in America, according to the Washington Post, which mapped counties based on their natural beauty.
The paper used the federal government's "natural amenities index" – a measure that looks at environmental qualities that most people prefer (mild, sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation, and access to a body of water) and how that enhances the location as a place to live.
As you can see by the map below, the Midwest doesn't fare very well, while California is home to the top 10 highest-ranked counties, the Washington Post says. (Click here for a version of the map you can scroll over to see where your county ranks, or click here for the USDA's county-by-county data.)
Most of the lowest-ranked counties are clustered along the Minnesota-North Dakota border, the paper notes, and out of the 3,111 counties in the United States, the country's "ugliest county" title goes to Red Lake County, Minnesota.
The northwestern Minnesota county, which says it's the "only landlocked county in the United States that is surrounded by just two neighboring counties", covers 432.51 square miles and had a population of 4,087 during 2010 census, according to the county's website.
The topography of the county is considered "flat plains", according to USDA data, and the area – like the rest of Minnesota – is known for its cold winters (a mean temperature of 3.8 degrees in January) with not much sunlight (a mean of 139 hours), the data show.
While Ventura County, California – the top-ranked county – has a topography of "high mountains", and is known for its warmer winters (mean temperature of 53.8 degrees in January) with lots of sunlight (224 hours), data say.
In defense of Minnesota
Minnesotans on Twitter came to the defense of the state's beauty:
And some cried foul (kind of jokingly, we think) because the author didn't initially capitalize county in Red Lake County's name, which prompted a Change.org petition and a quick apology from the writer.
Minnesota recently topped a different list of the worst places to live – Minneapolis was named the "most uncomfortable" city to live in due to its wide temperature swings.