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In search of the Northwest Passage to China in 1634, Jean Nicolet became the first European explorer in Wisconsin. France claimed the land in 1672, but Great Britain attained the region at the end of the French and Indian Wars in the 1760's. After the American Revolution in 1783, Britain lost control of the region to the United States.
The first large immigrations of settlers to the area began in the 1820's as a result of the discovery of lead. Between 1800 and 1836, Wisconsin was governed as a part of the Illinois, Michigan and Indiana territories until it became a separate territory on July 4, 1836. Over a decade later on May 29, 1848, it became the 30th state.
Often called "America's Dairy Land", Wisconsin has more dairy cows than any other state. Wisconsin produces about 15 percent of the nation’s milk supply and much of the nation’s cheese. The state's agricultural products include corn, beans, peas, oats, potatoes, beets, cranberries and hay.
The manufacturing industry is also important to the state's economy. It ranks second in the production of paper products and produces beer, processed foods, furniture, automobiles and machinery. Wisconsin is also rich in natural resources and produces copper, lead, iron ore and zinc.
Winnebago is the largest of over 14,000 lakes that are spread throughout the state providing fishing, boating, skiing and other popular water sports. About one seventh of the states acreage is dedicated to its 95 state parks, recreational areas and forests.
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