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The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as "East River" and "West River".
Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state's population, and the area's fertile soil is used to grow a variety of crops.
South Dakota's history and rural character still strongly influence the state's culture.
Black Elk Peak, formerly named Harney Peak, with an elevation of 7,242 ft (2,207 m), is the state's highest point, while the shoreline of Big Stone Lake is the lowest, with an elevation of 966 ft (294 m). is 17 miles (27 km) west of Castle Rock in Butte County.
West of the Missouri River the landscape becomes more arid and rugged, consisting of rolling hills, plains, ravines, and steep flat-topped hills called buttes.
In the south, east of the Black Hills, lie the South Dakota Badlands.
South Dakota has a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west.
As the southern part of the former Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota.
The Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains sacred to the Sioux, are in the southwest part of the state.
Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination, is there.
Eastern South Dakota generally features higher precipitation and lower topography than the western part of the state.
Smaller geographic regions of this area include the Coteau des Prairies, the Dissected Till Plains, and the James River Valley.