Pembina County was created by the 1866–1867 Dakota territorial legislature, and was organized on August 12, 1867. "Pembina" is derived from the Chippewa term for high-bush cranberry, which grew in abundance along the Pembina River. The city of Pembina, the oldest European-American settlement in the state, was the county seat from 1867 to 1911. The seat was relocated to Cavalier.
The first Icelandic immigrant settlement in present-day North Dakota was in Pembina County in the late 1870's, when a colony of settlers from Iceland moved into the county from the New Iceland homesteads near Lake Winnipeg.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,122 square miles, of which 1,119 square miles is land and 3 square miles is water. As of the 2010 census, the population was 7,413.
It is bordered by Manitoba, Canada on the north, Kittson County, Minnesota to the east, Walsh County, North Dakota to the south, and Cavalier County, North Dakota to the west.
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