(NEXSTAR) – When you think of the heart of South Dakota, maybe you think of its capital, Pierre. Or maybe you think of its largest city, Sioux Falls. Surprisingly, the center of South Dakota’s population isn’t exactly close to either city. 

Since the first census was conducted in 1790, the U.S. Census Bureau has been calculating the center of the country’s population. This is a point where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the U.S. would balance perfectly if everyone were of identical weight. It is the average location of where people in the U.S. live, according to the Census Bureau.

Hartville, Missouri, is the current “heart” of America, based on the 2020 census. Missouri has been the home of the U.S. population center since 1980, but the first-ever center was just east of Baltimore, Maryland.

In addition to calculating the center of population for the U.S., the Census Bureau is also able to calculate the “heart” of each state, including South Dakota.

Based on the latest census, South Dakota’s center of population is located at 43° 59′ 11″N 98° 55′ 20″W in what appears to be an open expanse of grass southeast of Gann Valley. 

Gann Valley is the county seat of Buffalo County, which had a population of less than 1,900 as of June 2022, according to Census data.

You can see the “heart” of South Dakota here:

The Census has been tracking the population center of South Dakota since 1880. That year, South Dakota’s “center” point was in what is now a field about five miles south of Woonsocket. 

In 1890, the center point jumped north to a point just southeast of Virgil. Since then, South Dakota’s center has moved west, then southwest, and back east, forming a near circle around Wessington Springs. 

You can see an interactive map of the population centers below. 

The further north it has ever been was when in 1900 it reached a spot 10 miles west of present-day Huron. The westernmost point was hit in 1990 at about 6 miles northwest of Gann Valley. Every decade since, South Dakota’s center point has been in or around Gann Valley. 

It’s too soon to tell where South Dakota’s population center will be in 2030, though it will likely shift again. 

Last year, 35,000 people moved into South Dakota from outside the state. While that was offset by roughly 28,800 people leaving the state, South Dakota continues to grow.