Minneapolis–Saint Paul is the most populous urban area in the U.S. state of Minnesota, and is composed of 182 cities and townships built around the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers. The area is also nicknamed the Twin Cities for its two largest cities, Minneapolis, with the highest population, and Saint Paul, the state capital. It is a classic example of twin cities in the sense of geographical proximity.
The area is part of a larger U.S. Census division named Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, MN-WI, the country's 16th-largest metropolitan area composed of 11 counties in Minnesota and two counties in Wisconsin with a population of 3,317,308 as of the 2010 Census.This larger area in turn is enveloped in the U.S. Census combined statistical area called Minneapolis–St. Paul–St. Cloud, MN-WI with a population of 3,615,902 people as of the 2010 Census, ranked the 13th most populous in the U.S.
As a reminder that there were actually two cities, people started using the phrase Dual Cities around 1872, which evolved into Twin Cities. It is also common for those in out-state Minnesota to shorten the reference to simply The Cities. Despite the Twin moniker, the two cities are independent municipalities with defined borders and are quite distinct from each other. Minneapolis is somewhat younger with modern skyscrapers. Saint Paul has been likened to a European city with quaint neighborhoods and a vast collection of well preserved late-Victorian architecture. Also of some note is the differing cultural backgrounds of the two cities: Minneapolis was influenced by its early (and still influential) Scandinavian/Lutheran heritage and hosts the largest Somali population in North America, while St. Paul was influenced by its early French, Irish and German Catholic roots and currently hosts a thriving Hmong population.
Today, the two cities directly border each other and their downtown districts are about 9 miles (14 km) apart. The Twin Cities are generally said to be in east central Minnesota. The cities draw commuters from as far away as Rochester, St. Cloud, Albert Lea, Mankato, La Crosse and Eau Claire.
The Minneapolis–Saint Paul area is home to 18 of Minnesota's 19 Fortune 500 headquarters - UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy, Supervalu, CHS, 3M, US Bancorp, Medtronic, General Mills,Land O'Lakes, Xcel Energy, Ameriprise Financial, CH Robinson Worldwide, Mosaic, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Ecolab, St. Jude Medical and Nash Finch. Large private companies include Cargill, Carlson, Andersen, Erickson Companies and Schwan Foods. Foreign companies with U.S. headquarters in the Twin Cities include Allianz, Canadian Pacific, Coloplast, ING, RBC andPearson VUE. The area has the second largest economy in the Midwest, behind only Chicago. The metro area continues to grow at a rapid pace. Currently, the Twin Cities is the second largest medical device manufacture center in North America.