St. Cloud, Minnesota

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St. Cloud (pronounced /ˌseɪntˈklaʊd/) is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the largest population center in the state's central region. The population was 59,107 at the 2000 census, while 2009 census estimates show it at 67,136. It is the county seat of Stearns County[4]. It is named after the city of Saint-Cloud, France (near Paris), which was named for the 6th-century French monk Clodoald.

Though mostly in Stearns County, the city also extends into Benton County and Sherburne County. One of the fastest-growing areas in the state, St. Cloud is surrounded by a small metropolitan area, with Waite Park, Sauk Rapids, Sartell, St. Joseph and St. Augusta directly bordering the city, and Foley, Kimball, Clearwater, Clear Lake, Rockville, and Cold Spring nearby. With 189,148 residents at 2009 census estimates, the St. Cloud metropolitan area ranks behind only Minneapolis-St. Paul and Duluth-Superior among Minnesota population centers.

St. Cloud is located 65 miles (105 km) northwest of the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis-St. Paul along Interstate 94, U.S. Route 10, and Minnesota State Highway 23. The St. Cloud Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is made up of Stearns and Benton Counties.[5] The city was included in a newly defined Minneapolis-St. Paul-St. Cloud Combined Statistical Area (CSA) in 2000, even though commuting criteria did not require mandatory inclusion. St. Cloud has never been part of the 13-county MSA comprising Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, and parts of western Wisconsin.[6] The boundary between the two MSAs is unclear because Sherburne County is considered part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area yet contains part of the city of St. Cloud.

The Mississippi River flows through the city, which owns and operates a hydroelectric dam that can produce up to 9 megawatts of electricity.[7][8] The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources designated a 12-mile (19 km) section of the Mississippi south of St. Cloud part of Minnesota's Wild & Scenic Rivers Program in 1976.[9] It has the 30 undeveloped "Beaver Islands", multiple channels and sandbars, and no major rapids, and is popular for day trips by canoe.[10]

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