Beltrami County (/bɛlˈtræmiː/ bel-TRAM-ee) is a county in the northern part of the U.S. state of Minnesota. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 44,442. Its county seat is Bemidji. The county’s name comes from Italian adventurer Giacomo Beltrami, who explored the area in 1825. The county was created in 1866 and organized in 1896.
Beltrami County’s southwest corner is considered part of the headwaters of the Mississippi River, which flows easterly and northeasterly from Lake Itasca through the southern part of the county. Much of the middle and upper county is taken up with the two sections of Red Lake. The county terrain consists of rolling low tree-covered hills, dotted with lakes and ponds. The terrain slopes to the east and north. Its highest point is a small hill 1.3 mile (2.1 km) northwest of Wolf Lake, at 1,511′ (460m) ASL; otherwise the terrain high point is near its southwest corner, at 1,457′ (444m) ASL. The county has a total area of 3,056 square miles (7,920 km), of which 2,505 square miles (6,490 km) is land and 551 square miles (1,430 km) (18%) is water. It is the fourth-largest county in Minnesota by area.
As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 39,650 people, 14,337 households, and 9,749 families in the county. The population density was 15.8/sqmi (6.11/km²). There were 16,989 housing units at an average density of 6.78/sqmi (2.62/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 76.66% White, 0.36% Black or African American, 20.36% Native American, 0.57% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 1.84% from two or more races. 0.99% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 21.6% were of German, 19.7% Norwegian and 5.6% Swedish ancestry. 95.1% spoke English and 2.4% Ojibwa as their first language.
There were 14,337 households out of which 34.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.30% were married couples living together, 13.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.00% were non-families. 24.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.13.
The county population contained 28.70% under the age of 18, 13.90% from 18 to 24, 25.20% from 25 to 44, 20.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.70% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 97.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $33,392, and the median income for a family was $40,345. Males had a median income of $30,434 versus $22,045 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,497. About 12.90% of families and 17.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.70% of those under age 18 and 12.20% of those age 65 or over.
Over half the children in the county are born out of wedlock. About a third are born to teenaged mothers. The county has about twice the state average in terms of high school dropouts.