State of Colorado

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   Introduction    Colorado Top of Page
Prior to the Colorado Gold Rush and organization of Colorado Territory from the western portion of Kansas, the eastern portion of Utah Territory, the southwestern portion of Nebraska Territory and a small portion of northeastern New Mexico Territory on February 28, 1861, a number of French, Spanish and American explorers and military expeditions as well as fur traders and trappers and early settlers had penetrated the land that would later become the State of Colorado. During the period 1832 to 1856 a number of trading posts and small settlements were established along the Arkansas River as well as on the South Platte near the Front Range. Prominent trading posts were Bent's Fort and Fort Pueblo on the Arkansas and Ft. St. Vrain on the South Platte. The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 (see also Fifty-Niner) brought large numbers of settlers to the Denver area. Gold in paying quantities was soon discovered in the Central City area. By 1860 the population of Central City was 60,000. Like all resource extraction, mining is a boom or bust situation and over the years many small towns were established then abandoned when the paying ore ran out or the market collapsed. Some like Aspen, Telluride, and Cripple Creek have found new life as ski resorts, cultural centers, or gambling towns; others never recovered and became ghost towns. In 1972, Colorado became the only state to reject the award as the site of the Olympic Games after they had been granted. The International Olympic Committee relocated the 1976 Winter Olympics to Innsbruck, Austria after Colorado voters rejected a bond issue to raise money for expenses related to hosting the event. No venue had rejected the award before nor has any venue since.
   Geography    Colorado Top of Page
Mountain West
Geographic coordinates:
37N to 41N
102W to 109W
total: 104,100 sq mi
land: 103,730 sq mi
water: 371 sq mi
coastline: 0 miles
shoreline: 0 miles
Bordering States:
Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 3,315 ft
highest point: Mount Elbert 14,433 ft
Colorado is one of only three states (the others are Wyoming and Utah) that have only lines of latitude and longitude for borders. It stretches exactly from 37N to 41N, and 102W to 109W. The Four Corners Monument at its southwestern-most point is at 37N and 109W. East of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from 3,500 to 7,000 feet (1,000 to 2,000 m). Kansas and Nebraska border Colorado to the east. The plains are sparsely settled with most population along the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers and the I-70 corridor. Rainfall is meager, averaging about 15 inches (380 mm) annually. There is some irrigated farming, but much of the land is used for dryland farming or ranching. Winter wheat is a typical crop and most small towns in the region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator. The major cities and towns lie just east of the Front Range, in the I-25 corridor. The majority of the population of Colorado lives in this densely urbanized strip. To the west lay the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains with notable peaks such as Long's Peak, Mount Evans, Pike's Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg in the south. This area drains to the east, is forested, and partially urbanized. With urbanization, utilization of the forest for timbering and grazing was retarded, which resulted in accumulation of fuel. During the drought of 2002 devastating forest fires swept this area. To the west of the Front Range lies the Continental Divide. To the west of the Continental Divide is the Western Slope. Water west of the Continental Divide drains into the Pacific Ocean via the Colorado River.
   People    Colorado Top of Page
4,301,261 (2000)
Largest City:
Denver: 557,917 (2000)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 7.4%
<18 years old: 25.6%
65 years and over: 9.8%
Male: 50.5% Female: 49.5%
Population growth rate:
8.4% (2000-2005)
Population density:
41.5 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 74.5%
Hispanic: 17.1%
Black: 3.8%
Asian: 2.2%
Native American: 1.0%
Multi-Race: 2.8%
Christian: 75%
Jewish: 2%
Other: 1%
Non-Religious: 22%
   Government    Colorado Top of Page
August 1, 1876 (38th State)
Local and County Government:
Like the majority of the states, Colorado's current constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The legislative body is the General Assembly made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 65 members and the Senate has 35. Currently, Democrats are in control of both chambers of the General Assembly. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly is the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years. Colorado is considered a very independent state politically, having elected 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the governorship in the last 100 years. The state supported Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, and the Republican presidential nominees in 1996 and 2000. Recently, the state appears to be going more towards the center. George W. Bush won the state's 9 electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 5 percentage points with 51.7% of the vote, considerably less than the 9% margin Bush won by in 2000, however this can be largely attributed to the 5% of the vote Ralph Nader won in 2000. Nearly all of these votes went to Democrat John Kerry in 2004. Democrats also gained in every open seat race in the state, picking up a seat in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Democrats are strongest in metropolitan Denver, Boulder, and southern Colorado (including Pueblo, and a few western ski resort counties). Republicans are strongest in the rural plains region, Colorado Springs, the Western Slope (including Grand Junction), and some of the Denver suburbs. The fastest growing parts of the state, particularly Douglas, Elbert and Weld counties in metro Denver, are strongly Republican.
State Tree:
Colorado Spruce or Blue Spruce
State Bird:
Lark Bunting
State Flower:
Rocky Mountain Columbine
   Economy    Colorado Top of Page
Economy - overview:
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2003 was $187 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $34,561, putting Colorado eighth in the nation. To see a 2004 per capita personal income comparison table on a state basis. The state's economy broadened from its mid-19th century roots in mining when irrigated agriculture developed, and by the late 19th century, raising livestock had become important. Early industry was based on the extraction and processing of minerals and agricultural products. Current agricultural products are cattle, wheat, dairy products, corn, and hay. In the second half of the 20th century, the industrial and service sectors have expanded greatly. The state's economy is diversified and is notable for its concentration of scientific research and high-technology industries. Other industries include food processing, transportation equipment, machinery, chemical products, minerals such as gold and molybdenum, and tourism. Denver is an important financial center. The Colorado income tax rate is a flat 4.63% of your federal taxable income regardless of income level. Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9% on retail sales. Full-year Colorado residents can claim excess a sales tax refund on their individual state income tax return. Many counties and cities charge their own rates in addition to the base state rate.