A census performs a systematic calculation of the number of residents within a specific geographical area. As of 2010, the five smallest states by population are Wyoming, Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska and South Dakota.
Of all 50 states, Wyoming has the lowest population, with 563,626 people. Wyoming's capital and largest city is Cheyenne, and the state's land area is 97,100 square miles, with a population density of 5.8 persons per square mile. Its most famous national park, Yellowstone, was the first national park in the U.S. and is now home to many animals, including the otherwise-rare American bison. Located in the West, two-thirds of Wyoming is covered with mountain ranges in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Six states border Wyoming: To the north, Montana; to the south, Colorado; to the east, South Dakota and Nebraska; to the southwest, Utah; to the west, Idaho.
The second least-populated state is Vermont, which is in New England, located in the Northeast. Vermont's population, is 625,741. Its capital is Montpelier and its largest city is Burlington. Its total land area is 96,200 square miles and its population density is 67.7 persons per square mile. Vermont is known for its beautiful Lake Champlain and its verdant mountains, which provide excellent fall leaf-peeping, winter skiing and summer vacationing. Vermont is also the leading producer of maple syrup in the U.S. Four states border Vermont: To the north, the Canadian province of Quebec; to the west, New York; to the south, Massachusetts; and to the east, New Hampshire.
The third least-populous state is North Dakota, which has a population of 672,591. North Dakota's capital is Bismarck and its largest city is Fargo. It is located in the upper Midwest. North Dakota's land area is 68,976 square miles and its population density is 9.75 persons per square mile. Wildlife includes bighorn sheep, elk and moose. The state lies along the U.S. and Canadian border. To the north, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba border North Dakota; to the south, South Dakota; to the east, Minnesota; to the west, Montana.
Alaska is the fourth least-populated state, with a population of 710,231. Its capital is Juneau and its largest city is Anchorage. Alaska has the largest land area of all 50 states, with 663,268 square miles and a density of 1.26 persons per square mile. Half of the state's residents live within Anchorage's metropolitan area. Mount McKinley -- also known as Denali -- is the highest point, reaching more than 20,000 feet high. Two oceans and two national countries border Alaska. To the North, Alaska borders the Arctic Ocean; to the east, Alaska borders the Canadian territory, Yukon and the Canadian province of British Columbia; to the west, the Pacific Ocean; to the south, Russia.
South Dakota is the fifth least-populous state and is located in the Midwest. Its capital is Pierre, and its largest city is Sioux Falls. The state's population is 814,180 and its density is 10.9 persons per square mile. South Dakota is home to a popular tourist attraction, Mount Rushmore. It is bordered by six states: To the north, Montana and North Dakota; to the west, Wyoming; to the south, Nebraska; to the east, Minnesota and Iowa.