Tenmile Range near Leadville, Colorado.
Colorado ( /kɒləˈrædoʊ/ (help·info) or /kɒləˈrɑːdoʊ/ (help·info)) is a state of the United States of America that is located mostly in the Rocky Mountain Range of North America. Colorado can also be considered to be part of the Western States or the Southwestern States of the United States. In infrequent instances eastern Colorado is considered to be part of the Midwestern United States (since that part of the state is located on the Great Plains.)
Colorado was admitted to the Union in the year 1876, and hence it is nicknamed the "Centennial State", since that year was the centennial of the Declaration of Independence. Colorado is bordered to the north by Wyoming and Nebraska, to the east by Kansas and Nebraska, to the south by New Mexico and Oklahoma, to the west by Utah, and at just one geographical point, at its southwestern corner by Arizona. Colorado is one of two purely rectangular states - ones whose borders are strictly parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude. (The other one is its neighbor, Wyoming.)
Colorado is prominent for its scenery of mountains, plains, rivers, and a western area of desert. The Rocky Mountains of Colorado have 50 or more peaks with elevations of 14,000 feet or higher above sea level - far more than any other state. Colorado is the home of the Rocky Mountains National Park, and of numerous National Monuments and National Forests.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the state population was 5,024,748 on July 1, 2009, an increase of about 16.8% since the 2000 U.S. Census. Denver is the capital city of Colorado, and it is also the most populous city of Colorado. Residents of Colorado are properly known as "Coloradans" although the archaic term "Coloradoan" is still occasionally used.
Colorado has the highest average elevation of any of the 50 states. Also, the elevation of the lowest point in Colorado is higher than the lowest points of any other states. This lowest point is found where the Arkansas River flows from Colorado into Kansas, at an elevation of about 4,000 feet above sea level.
The state of Colorado is defined as the geoellipsoidal rectangle that stretches from 37°N to 41°N latitude and from 102°03'W to 109°03'W longitude (25°W to 32°W from the Washington Meridian).
Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are the only states which have boundaries defined solely by lines of latitude and longitude. Some minor errors were made by the government surveyors, when they located and planted the border markers for the Territory of Colorado. That resulted in several kinks, which were nearly imperceptible, most notably along the border with the Territory of Utah. Once agreed upon by the Federal, state, and territorial governments, those surveyors' benchmarks, became the legal boundaries for the Colorado Territory, kinks and all.
Tenmile Range near Leadville, Colorado.The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) in elevation in Lake County is Colorado's highest point and the highest point in the entire Rocky Mountains within the United States. Colorado has more than 100 mountain peaks that exceed 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) in elevation above sea level. Colorado is the only state that lies entirely above 1,000 meters (3,281 ft) elevation. The point where the Arikaree River flows out of Yuma County, Colorado, and into Cheyenne County, Kansas, is the lowest point in the state of Colorado at 3,315 feet (1,010 m) elevation. This crossing point holds the distinction of being the highest of the lowest elevation point of any state.
Nearly one third of the area of Colorado is flat or rolling land - in stark contrast to Colorado's rugged Rocky Mountains. East of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from roughly 3,350 to 6,500 feet (1,020 to 1,980 m). The plains states of Kansas and Nebraska border Colorado to the east and northeast. The Colorado plains are usually thought of as prairies, but actually they have patches of deciduous forests. Eastern Colorado is presently mainly covered in farmland, along with small farming villages and towns. Precipitation is fair, averaging from 15 to 25 inches (380 to 630 mm) annually.The summers in the plains are usually hot and humid, while the winters are often quite cold, snowy, and icy. Corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, and oats are all typical crops, and most of the villages and towns in this region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator. As well as the farming of crops, Eastern Colorado has a good deal of livestock raising, such as at cattle ranches and hog farms. In eastern Colorado, a good deal of irrigation water is available from the South Platte, the Arkansas River, and a few other streams, and also from subterranean sources, including artesian wells. However, haevy use of ground water from wells for irrigation has caused underground water reserves to decline.
Most of Colorado's population resides along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Pueblo, Colorado. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms that blow in from the Pacific Ocean region by the high Rockies in the middle of Colorado. The only other significant populations centers are at Grand Junction and Durango in far western Colorado.
To the west of Great Plains of Colorado rises the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Notable peaks of the Rocky Mountains such as Longs Peak, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg, Colorado, in southern Colorado. This area drains to the east and the southeast, ultimately either via the Mississippi River or the Rio Grande into the Gulf of Mexico.
Hinsdale County, Colorado, with the village of Lake City (population about 300) as its county seat, has been judged by some[who?] as the most remote county in the 48 contiguous States. Hinsdale County has only that one incorporated village within its borders. Hinsdale County is one of few places within the continguous United States where one can venture more than 10 miles (16 km) from any road.
The Continental Divide extends along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The area of Colorado the west of the Continental Divide is called the Western Slope of Colorado. Drainage water west of the Continental Divide flows to the southwest via the Green River and the Colorado River into the Gulf of California.
Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains are several large so-called "parks" or high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the Continental Divide is the North Park of Colorado. The North Park is drained by the North Platte River, which flows north into Wyoming and Nebraska. Just to the south of North Park, but on the western side of the Continental Divide, is the Middle Park of Colorado, which is drained by the Colorado River. The South Park of Colorado is the region of the headwaters of the South Platte River.
In southmost Colorado is the large San Luis Valley, where the headwaters of the are located the Rio Grande, which drains due south into New Mexico, Mexico, and Texas. Across the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east of the San Luis Valley lies the Wet Mountain Valley. These basins, particularly the San Luis Valley, lie along the Rio Grande Rift, a major geological formation of the Rocky Mountains, and its branches.
The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain about 54 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4,267 m) or higher in elevation above sea level, known as fourteeners. These mountains are largely covered with trees such as conifers and aspens up to the tree line, at an elevation of about 12,140 feet (3,700 m) in southern Colorado to about 10,500 feet (3,200 m) in northern Colorado. Above this only alpine vegetation grows. Only small parts of the Colorado Rockies are snow-covered year round. Much of the alpine snow melts by mid-August with the exception of a few snowcapped peaks and a few small glaciers. The Colorado Mineral Belt, stretching from the San Juan Mountains in the southwest to Boulder and Central City on the front range, contains most of the historic gold- and silver-mining districts of Colorado.
The Western Slope of Colorado is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries (primarily the Green River and the San Juan River), or by evaporation in its arid areas. Prominent in the southwestern area of the Western Slope are the high San Juan Mountains, a rugged mountain range, and to the west of the San Juan Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, a high arid region that borders Southern Utah. The city of Grand Junction, Colorado, is the largest city on the Western Slope, Grand Junction and Durango are the only major centers of radio and television broadcasting, newspapers, and higher education on the Western Slope. The Mesa State College in Grand Junction, and Fort Lewis College in Durango are the only four-year colleges in Colorado west of the Continental Divide.
Grand Junction is located along Interstate 70, the only major highway of Western Colorado. Grand Junction is also along the major railroad of the Western Slope, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, which also provides the tracks for AMTRAK's California Zephyr passenger train, which crosses the Rocky Mountains between Denver and Grand Junction via a route on which there are no continuous highways.
To the southeast of Grand Junction is the Grand Mesa, said to be the world's largest flat-topped mountain. Other towns of the Western Slope include Glenwood Springs with its resort hot springs, and the ski resorts of Aspen, Vail, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride.
The northwestern corner of Colorado is a sparsely-populated region, and it contains part of the noted Dinosaur National Monument, which is not only a paleontological area, but is also a scenic area of high, rocky hills, canyons, and streambeads. Here, the Green River briefly crosses over into Colorado.
From west to east, the land of Colorado consists of semi-desert-like basins, turning into plateaus, then alpine mountains, National Forests, and then the relatively-flat grasslands and scattered forests of the Great Plains. The famous Pikes Peak is located just west of Colorado Springs. Its isolated peak is visible from nearly the Kansas border on clear days, and also far to the north and the south.
Colorado is also one of only four states in the United States to share a common border point, the Four Corners, together with Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. At this intersection, it is hypothetically possible to stand in four states at once.
The climate of Colorado is quite complex compared to most of the United States. Unlike in other states, southern Colorado is not necessarily warmer than northern Colorado. Mountains and surrounding valleys greatly affect local climate. As a general rule, with an increase in elevation comes a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. A main climatic division in Colorado occurs between the Rocky Mountains on the west and the plains on the east with the foothills forming a transitional zone between the two.
The climate of the Eastern Plains is a semi-arid climate (Koppen climate classification BSk) of low humidity and moderate precipitation, usually from 15 to 25 inches (380 to 630 mm) annually. The area is known for its abundant sunshine and cool clear nights, which give this area the highest average diurnal temperature range in the United States. In summer, this area can have many days above 95 °F (35 °C) and sometimes 100 °F (38 °C), although 105 °F (41 °C) is the maximum in the front range cities above 5,000 ft (1,500 m). In the plains, the winter extremes can be from 0 °F (−18 °C) to −10 °F (−23.3 °C) and −15 °F (−26.1 °C). The all time low in the area was −40 °F (−40.0 °C). About 75% of the precipitation falls within the growing season, from April to September, but this area is very prone to droughts. Most of the precipitation comes from thunderstorms, which are often severe, and from major snowstorms that occur most often in the early spring, late autumn, and sometimes winter. Otherwise, winters tend to be mostly dry and cold. In much of the region, March and April are the snowiest months. April and May are normally the rainiest months, while April is the wettest month overall. The Front Range cities closer to the mountains tend to be warmer in the winter due to chinook winds which warm the area, sometimes bringing temperatures of 40 °F (4 °C) or higher in the winter. The average July temperature is 55 °F (13 °C) in the morning and 80 °F (27 °C) in the afternoon. The average January temperature is 10 °F (−12 °C) in the morning and 30 °F (−1 °C) in the afternoon, although variation between consecutive days can be 40°F (22°C).
West of the plains and foothills, the weather of Colorado is much less uniform. Even places a few miles apart can experience entirely different weather depending on the topography of the area. Most valleys have a semi-arid climate, which becomes an alpine climate at higher elevations. Humid microclimates also exist in some areas. Generally, the wettest season in western Colorado is winter while June is the driest month. This is the opposite of precipitation patterns in the east. The mountains have cool summers with many days of high temperatures around 60 °F (16 °C) to 70 °F (21 °C), although frequent thunderstorms can cause sudden drops in temperature. Summer nights are cool or even cold at the highest elevations, which sometimes get snow even in the middle of the summer. The winters bring abundant, powdery snowfall to the mountains with abundant sunshine in between major storms. The western slope has high summer temperatures similar to those found on the plains, while the winters tend to be slightly cooler due to the lack of warming winds common to the plains and Front Range. Other areas in the west have their own unique climate. The San Luis Valley is generally dry with little rain or snow, although the snow that falls tends to stay on the ground all winter.
Snow highlights the rugged mountains as well as the urban and agricultural landscapes of the Colorado plains.Extreme weather is a common occurrence in Colorado. Thunderstorms are common east of the Continental divide in the spring and summer, and Colorado is one of the leading states in deaths due to lightning. Hail is a common sight in the mountains east of the divide and in the northwest part of the state. The Eastern Plains have some of the biggest hail storms in North America. Also the Eastern Plains are part of Tornado Alley and produce some of the deadliest U.S. tornadoes. Some damaging tornadoes in the Eastern Plains include the 1990 Limon F3 tornado and the 2008 Windsor EF3 tornado, which devastated the town.The plains are also susceptible to floods, which are caused both by thunderstorms and by the rapid melting of snow in the mountains during warm weather. Denver's record in 1921 for the number of consecutive days above 90 °F (32 °C) was broken during the summer of 2008. The new record of twenty-four consecutive days surpassed the previous record by almost a week. Much of Colorado is a relatively dry state averaging only 17 inches (430 mm) of rain per year statewide and rarely experiences a time when some portion of the state is not in some degree of drought. The lack of precipitation contributes to the severity of wildfires in the state such as the Hayman Fire, one of the largest wildfires in American history.
However, there are some of the mountainous regions of Colorado which receive a huge amount of moisture via winter snowfalls. The spring melts of these snows often cause great waterflows in such rivers as the Yampa River, the Grand River, the Colorado River, the Rio Grande, the Arkansas River, Cherry Creek, the North Platte River, and the South Platte River. Water flowing out of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is a very significant source of water for the farms, towns, and cities of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, southmost Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, and northmost Mexico.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Colorado was 118 °F (48 °C) on July 11, 1888, at Bennett, whereas the lowest was −61 °F (−51.7 °C) on February 1, 1985, at Maybell.
Monthly normal high and low temperatures for various Colorado cities (°F) City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Alamosa 33/−4 40/5 50/16 59/23 68/32 78/40 82/46 79/45 72/36 62/24 46/11 35/−1
Colorado Springs 42/13 45/18 52/24 59/31 68/41 79/50 86/55 82/54 74/45 63/34 50/23 42/16
Denver 43/15 47/19 54/25 61/34 70/44 82/53 88/59 86/57 77/47 66/36 52/24 44/16
Grand Junction 37/16 45/23 56/31 64/38 74/46 87/55 96/61 92/60 83/50 67/39 50/26 39/18
Pueblo 45/14 50/19 57/26 65/34 75/45 86/54 91/59 89/58 81/49 69/35 54/22 45/15
Main articles: History of Colorado and Outline of Colorado history
The ruins of the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde as photographed by Gustaf Nordenskiöld in 1891.The region that is today the state of Colorado has been inhabited by Native Americans for more than 13 millennia. The Lindenmeier Site in Larimer County contains artifacts dating from approximately 11200 BCE to 3000 BCE. The Ancient Pueblo Peoples lived in the valleys and mesas of the Colorado Plateau. The Ute Nation inhabited the mountain valleys of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Western Rocky Mountains. The Arapaho Nation and the Cheyenne Nation moved west to hunt across the High Plains.
The United States acquired a territorial claim to the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains with the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. This American claim conflicted with Spain's claim that a huge region surrounding its colony of Santa Fé de Nuevo Méjico was its sovereign trading zone. Zebulon Pike led a U.S. Army reconnaissance expedition into the disputed region in 1806. Colonel Pike and his men were arrested by Spanish cavalrymen in the San Luis Valley during the following February, taken to Chihuahua, Mexico, and then expelled from Mexico the following July.
Bent's Old Fort along the Arkansas River operated from 1833 to 1849.The United States relinquished its claim to all land south and west of the Arkansas River, west of 100 degrees west longitude, as part of the American purchase of Florida from Spain with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. Mexico surrendered what is now southern and western Colorado to the United States after the Mexican-American War with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.
In 1849, Mormons in what is now Utah organized the extralegal state of Deseret, which claimed all lands drained by the Green River and the Colorado River. The Federal government of the United States refused to recognize the new Mormon government. The United States divided the area of the future state of Colorado among the Territory of New Mexico and the Territory of Utah, both of which were organized in 1850, and the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska both organized in 1854.
Most American settlers traveling west to Oregon, the state of Deseret, or California, avoided the rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and instead followed the North Platte River and Sweetwater River into Wyoming, and westward across Wyoming and the Great Basin into Utah and Idaho. On April 9, 1851, Mexican American from the area of Taos, New Mexico, settled the village of San Luis, Colorado, then in the New Mexico Territory, Colorado's first permanent European-American settlement. Gold was discovered along the South Platte River in (then) western Kansas Territory in July 1858, precipitating the historic Pike's Peak Gold Rush. The placer gold deposits along the rivers and streams of the region rapidly played out, but miners soon discovered far more valuable seams of hard rock gold, silver, and other minerals in the nearby mountains.
A lithograph of the Denver City mining camp in 1859.The Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson was organized on August 24, 1859, but this new territory failed to secure approval from the Congress of the United States. The election of Abraham Lincoln for the President of the United States on November 6, 1860, led to the secession of nine southern slave states and the threat of civil war in the United States. Seeking to augment the political power of the Union states, the Republican Party dominated Congress quickly admitted the eastern portion of the Territory of Kansas into the Union as a free state, Kansas, on January 29, 1861, leaving the western portion of the Kansas Territory, and its gold-mining areas, as an unorganized territory.
The Georgetown Loop of the Colorado Central Railroad as photographed by William H. Jackson in 1899.Thirty days later on February 28, 1861, the outgoing President James Buchanan signed an act of Congress organizing the free Territory of Colorado. The original boundaries of Colorado remain unchanged today. The name Colorado was chosen because it was commonly believed that the Colorado River originated in the territory. Early Spanish explorers of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona named the Colorado River the "Rio Colorado" in response to seeing the reddish-brown silt that this river carries south from the mountains. In fact, the river that is named the "Colorado River" did not flow through the state of Colorado until the House of Representatives Joint Resolution 460 of the 66th United States Congress changed the name of the Grand River in Colorado to the "Colorado River" on July 25, 1921.
Colorado state history plaqueThe United States Congress passed an enabling act on March 3, 1875, specifying the requirements for the Territory of Colorado to become a state. On August 2, 1876 (28 days after the Centennial of the United States), U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting the state of Colorado to the Union as the 38th state and earning it the moniker "Centennial State". The discovery of a major silver lode near Leadville in 1878, triggered the Colorado Silver Boom. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 invigorated silver mining, but the repeal of that act in 1893 led to a huge collapse of the mining and agricultural economy of Colorado.
Colorado women were granted the right to vote beginning on November 7, 1893, making Colorado the second state to grant universal suffrage and the first one by a popular vote. By the U.S. Census in 1930, the population of Colorado first exceeded one million residents. Colorado suffered greatly through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but a major wave of immigration following World War II boosted Colorado's fortune. Tourism became a mainstay of the state economy, and high technology became an important economic engine. Colorado's population exceeded 4.3 million in the U.S. Census in 2000.
Three warships of the U.S. Navy have been named the USS Colorado. The first USS Colorado was named for the Colorado River. The later two ships were named in honor of the entire state, including the battleship USS Colorado which served in World War II in the Pacific beginning in 1941. At the time of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, this USS Colorado was located at the naval base in San Diego, Calif. and hence went unscathed.
Colorado is the home of significant U.S. Air Force installations, including Peterson Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command near Colorado Springs. Also, some of the Minuteman ICBM launch silos of the Francis E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne are actually located in northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska.
Census Pop. %±
1860 34,277 —
1870 39,864 16.3%
1880 194,327 387.5%
1890 413,249 112.7%
1900 539,700 30.6%
1910 799,024 48.0%
1920 939,629 17.6%
1930 1,035,791 10.2%
1940 1,123,296 8.4%
1950 1,325,089 18.0%
1960 1,753,947 32.4%
1970 2,207,259 25.8%
1980 2,889,964 30.9%
1990 3,294,394 14.0%
2000 4,301,261 30.6%
Est. 2009 5,024,748 16.8%
Colorado's most populous city, and capital, is Denver. The Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area, the residence of about 2,927,900 people, contains more than two-thirds of the state's population. Residents of Colorado are properly referred to as Coloradans, although the term Coloradoans is still occasionally used.
As of 2005, Colorado has an estimated population of 4,665,177, which is an increase of 63,356, or 1.4%, from the prior year and an increase of 363,162, or 8.4%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 205,321 people (that is 353,091 births minus 147,770 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 159,957 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 112,217 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 47,740 people.
The largest increases are expected in the Front Range Urban Corridor, especially in the Denver metropolitan area. The state's fastest-growing counties are Douglas and Weld. Large numbers of new residents in the state originate from California, which led some locals to feel that their state was "Californicated" in the 1990s (esp. Denver resembled more of Los Angeles) when lower cost of living and a healthier economy drew in over 100,000 Californians at the time. The center of population of Colorado is located just north of the village of Critchell in Jefferson County.
Colorado has a high proportion of Hispanic citizens in Metropolitan Denver and in some other areas. Southern Colorado has a large number of Hispanos, the descendants of the early Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin. The 2000 U.S. Census estimated that 10.5% of people aged five and over in Colorado speak Spanish at home. Colorado, like New Mexico, is very rich in archaic Spanish idioms.
Colorado also has some African-American communities which are located in northeast Denver in the Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, Park Hill and Colfax Park areas. The state has sizable numbers of Asian-Americans of Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Southeast Asian and Japanese descent. The Denver metropolitan area is considered more liberal and diverse than much of the state when it comes to political issues and environmental concerns.
According to the 2000 Census, the largest ancestry groups in Colorado are German (22%) including of Swiss and Austrian nationalities, Irish (12.2%), and English (12%). Persons reporting German ancestry are the largest group in the state and are especially strong in the Front Range, the Rockies (west-central counties) and Eastern parts/High Plains. Denver and nearby areas on the Front Range has sizable German, Scandinavian, Italian, Slavic and Jewish American communities, partly a legacy of gold rushes in the late 19th century (1861–1889).
Demographics of Colorado (csv)
By race White Black AIAN* Asian NHPI*
2000 (total population) 92.23% 4.55% 1.91% 2.84% 0.25%
2000 (Hispanic only) 16.20% 0.37% 0.64% 0.14% 0.05%
2005 (total population) 91.91% 4.74% 1.83% 3.19% 0.26%
2005 (Hispanic only) 18.46% 0.48% 0.61% 0.18% 0.06%
Growth 2000–05 (total population) 8.09% 13.03% 3.85% 22.08% 15.47%
Growth 2000–05 (non-Hispanic only) 4.78% 10.67% 3.75% 21.14% 11.70%
Growth 2000–05 (Hispanic only) 23.60% 39.64% 4.05% 40.04% 29.23%
* AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native; NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
There were a total of 70,331 births in Colorado in 2006. (Birth Rate of 14.6). In 2007, Non-Hispanic Whites constituted 73.5% of the population and accounted for 59.1% of all the births. The first time in state history with the statistic of non-Hispanic whites have fewer babies. But 14.06% of the births happened to parents of different races (About two-thirds to White-Latino parents). Westernmost counties where the majority of residents are adherents of Mormonism there's a slightly higher percentage of families with children and those of under age 18.
The Chapel on the Rock at Camp Saint Malo near Allenspark.
The Cadet Chapel at the United States Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.Colorado's most popular religion is Christianity, and its most popular denomination is Catholicism. Colorado, and specifically the city of Colorado Springs, serves as the headquarters of several Christian groups, many of them evangelical. The Focus on the Family is a conservative Christian organization headquartered in Colorado Springs.
Major religious affiliations of the people of Colorado are:
Christian — 65%
Protestant — 44%
Evangelical — 23%
Mainline — 19%
Other Protestant — 2%
Roman Catholic — 19%
Orthodox — 1%
Latter Day Saint / Mormon — 2%
Jewish — 2%
Muslim — 1%
Other Religions — 5%
Unaffiliated — 25%
The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2000 were the Roman Catholic Church with 752,505; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 92,326 (133,727 year-end 2007) ; and Baptist with 85,083.
At 25%, Colorado also has an above average proportion of citizens who claim no religion. The U.S. average is 17%.
Colorado also has a reputation for being a state of active and athletic people. According to several studies, Coloradans have the lowest rates of obesity of any state in the US. As of 2007 the 17.6% of the population was considered medically obese, and while the lowest in the nation, the percentage had increased from 16.9% from 2004. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter commented: “As an avid fisherman and bike rider, I know first-hand that Colorado provides a great environment for active, healthy lifestyles,” although he highlighted the need for continued education and support to slow the growth of obesity in the state.
The United States quarter dollar coin released 2006-06-14, in honor of the state of Colorado.
Denver World Trade Center.
The Denver financial district along 17th Street is known as the Wall Street of the West.
Maize growing in Larimer County
Cattle ranching in Jackson County
An oil well in western ColoradoMain article: Economy of Colorado
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2007 was $236 billion. Per capita personal income in 2007 was $41,192, ranking Colorado eleventh in the nation. 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.
The federal government is also a major economic force in the state with many important federal facilities including NORAD, United States Air Force Academy and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs; NOAA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder; U.S. Geological Survey and other government agencies at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood; the Denver Mint, Buckley Air Force Base, and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver; and a federal Supermax Prison and other federal prisons near Cañon City. In addition to these and other federal agencies, Colorado has abundant National Forest land and four National Parks that contribute to federal ownership of 24,615,788 acres (99,617 km2) of land in Colorado, or 37% of the total area of the state. 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, the extraction of metals such as gold (see Gold mining in Colorado), silver, and molybdenum. Colorado now also has the largest annual production of beer of any state. Denver is an important financial center.
A number of nationally known brand names have originated in Colorado factories and laboratories. From Denver came the forerunner of telecommunications giant Qwest in 1879, Samsonite luggage in 1910, Gates belts and hoses in 1911, and Russell Stover Candies in 1923. Kuner canned vegetables began in Brighton in 1864. From Golden came Coors beer in 1873, CoorsTek industrial ceramics in 1920, and Jolly Rancher candy in 1949. CF&I railroad rails, wire, nails and pipe debuted in Pueblo in 1892. The present-day Swift packed meat of Greeley evolved from Monfort of Colorado, Inc., established in 1930. Estes model rockets were launched in Penrose in 1958. Fort Collins has been the home of Woodward Governor Company's motor controllers (governors) since 1870, and Waterpik dental water jets and showerheads since 1962. Celestial Seasonings herbal teas have been made in Boulder since 1969. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory made its first candy in Durango in 1981.
Colorado has a flat 4.63% income tax, regardless of income level. Unlike most states, which calculate taxes based on federal adjusted gross income, Colorado taxes are based on taxable income - income after federal exemptions and federal itemized (or standard) deductions. Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9% on retail sales. When state revenues exceed state constitutional limits, full-year Colorado residents can claim 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. There are also certain county and special district taxes that may apply.
Real estate and personal business property are taxable in Colorado. The state's senior property tax exemption was temporarily suspended by the Colorado Legislature in 2003. The tax break is scheduled to return for assessment year 2006, payable in 2007.
Major philanthropic organizations based in Colorado, including the Daniels Fund, the Anschutz Family Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation, the El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation, grant approximately $400 million each year from approximately $7 billion of assets.
Colorado has significant energy resources. According to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado hosts seven of the Nation’s 100 largest natural gas fields and two of its 100 largest oil fields. Conventional and unconventional natural gas output from several Colorado basins typically account for more than 5 percent of annual U.S. natural gas production. Substantial deposits of bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal are also found in the state. Colorado's high Rocky Mountain ridges and eastern plains offer wind power potential, and geologic activity in the mountain areas provides potential for geothermal power development. Much of the state is sunny and could produce solar power. Major rivers flowing from the Rocky Mountains offer hydroelectric power resources. Corn grown in the flat eastern part of the state offers potential resources for ethanol production. Notably, Colorado’s oil shale deposits hold an estimated 1 trillion barrels (160 km3) of oil – nearly as much oil as the entire world’s proven oil reserves. Oil production from those deposits, however, remains speculative.
Special tax district
Some of the special tax districts are:
The Regional Transportation District (RTD), which affects the counties of Denver, Boulder, Jefferson, and portions of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, and Douglas Counties
The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a special regional tax district with physical boundaries contiguous with county boundaries of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties
It is a 0.1% retail sales and use tax (one penny on every $10).
According to the Colorado statute, the SCFD distributes the money to local organizations on an annual basis. These organizations must provide for the enlightenment and entertainment of the public through the production, presentation, exhibition, advancement or preservation of art, music, theater, dance, zoology, botany, natural history or cultural history.
As directed by statute, SCFD recipient organizations are currently divided into three "tiers" among which receipts are allocated by percentage.
Tier I includes regional organizations: the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It receives 65.5%.
Tier II currently includes 26 regional organizations. Tier II receives 21%.
Tier III has over 280 local organizations such as small theaters, orchestras, art centers, and natural history, cultural history, and community groups. Tier III organizations apply for funding to the county cultural councils via a grant process. This tier receives 13.5%.
An eleven-member board of directors oversees the distributions in accordance with the Colorado Revised Statutes. Seven board members are appointed by county commissioners (in Denver, the Denver City Council) and four members are appointed by the Governor of Colorado.
The Football Stadium District (FD or FTBL), approved by the voters to pay for and help build the Denver Broncos' stadium INVESCO Field at Mile High
Local Improvement Districts (LID) within designated areas of southeast Jefferson and Boulder counties
Regional Transportation Districts (RTA) taxes at varying rates in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison County
Occupational Privilege Taxes (OPT or Head Tax) Denver and Aurora both levy an OPT on Employers and Employees
If any employee performs work in the city limits and is paid over US$500.00 for that work in a single month, the Employee and Employer are both liable for the OPT regardless of where the main business office is located or headquartered.
In Denver, the Employer is liable for US$4.00 per employee per month and the Employee is liable for US$5.75 per month.
In Aurora, both Employer and Employees are liable for US$2.00 per month.
It is the Employer's responsibility to with hold, remit, and file the OPT returns. If an Employer does not comply, they can be held liable for both portions of the OPT as well as penalties and interest.
Union Station in Denver.Interstate and Federal Highway Routes in the State of Colorado Interstate 25
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 24
U.S. Route 34
U.S. Route 36
U.S. Route 40
U.S. Route 50
U.S. Route 84
U.S. Route 85
U.S. Route 87
U.S. Route 138
U.S. Route 160
U.S. Route 285
U.S. Route 287
U.S. Route 350
U.S. Route 400
U.S. Route 491
U.S. Route 550
Commercial Airports in the State of Colorado ALS - San Luis Valley Regional Airport
ASE - Aspen-Pitkin County Airport
CEZ - Cortez Municipal Airport
COS - City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport
DEN - Denver International Airport
DRO - Durango-La Plata County Airport
EGE - Eagle County Regional Airport
FNL - Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport
GJT - Grand Junction Regional Airport
GUC - Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport
HDN - Yampa Valley Airport
MTJ - Montrose Regional Airport
PUB - Pueblo Memorial Airport
TEX - Telluride Regional Airport
Amtrak Passenger Railroad Routes through the State of Colorado California Zephyr: Chicago, Galesburg, Omaha, Fort Morgan, Denver, Winter Park, Granby, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, and Emeryville, Calif., next-door to Oakland, Calif.
Southwest Chief: Chicago, Galesburg, Kansas City, Topeka, Lamar, La Junta, Trinidad, Albuquerque, Gallup, Flagstaff, Ariz., Needles, Calif., San Bernardino, Calif., and Los Angeles
Communities in the State of Colorado with Regional Bus Service Alamosa, Aurora, Boulder, Brush, Colorado Springs, Delta, Denver, Durango, Englewood, Frisco, Fort Collins, Fort Morgan, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Greeley, Lamar, Limon, Longmont, Montrose, Pueblo, Rocky Ford, Springfield, Sterling, Trinidad, Vail, and Walsenburg
Government and politics
Gubernatorial election results Year Republican Democratic
2006 40.16% 625,886 56.98% 888,096
2002 62.62% 884,584 33.65% 475,373
1998 49.06% 648,202 48.43% 639,905
1994 38.70% 432,042 55.47% 619,205
1990 35.43% 358,403 61.89% 626,032
Main article: Law and Government of Colorado
The Colorado State Capitol in DenverJust like all the states, Colorado's state constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches. The Governor heads the state's executive branch. The Colorado Supreme Court is the highest judicial court in the state. The state legislative body is the Colorado General Assembly, which is made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 65 members and the Senate has 35. Currently, Democrats control both chambers of the General Assembly. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly was the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years. The incumbent governor is Democrat August William "Bill" Ritter, Jr..
Most Coloradans are originally native to other states (nearly 60% according to the 2000 census), and this is illustrated by the fact that the state did not have a native-born governor from 1975 (when John David Vanderhoof left office) until 2007, when Bill Ritter took office; his election the previous year marked the first electoral victory for a native-born Coloradan in a gubernatorial race since 1958 (Vanderhoof had ascended from the Lieutenant Governorship when John Arthur Love was given a position in Richard Nixon's administration in 1973).
Presidential elections results Year Republican Democratic
2008 44.71% 1,073,584 53.66% 1,288,568
2004 51.69% 1,101,255 47.02% 1,001,732
2000 50.75% 883,745 42.39% 738,227
1996 45.80% 691,848 44.43% 671,152
1992 35.87% 562,850 40.13% 629,681
1988 53.06% 728,177 45.28% 621,453
Main article: Politics of Colorado
Colorado is considered a swing state in both state and federal elections. Coloradans have elected 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the governorship in the last 100 years. In presidential politics, Colorado supported Democrats Bill Clinton in 1992 and Barack Obama in 2008, and supported Republicans Robert J. Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. The presidential outcome in 2008 was the second closest to the national popular vote, after Virginia.
Colorado politics has the contrast of conservative cities such as Colorado Springs and liberal cities such as Boulder. Democrats are strongest in metropolitan Denver, the college towns of Fort Collins and Boulder, southern Colorado (including Pueblo), and a few western ski resort counties. The Republicans are strongest in the Eastern Plains, Colorado Springs, Greeley, some suburbs of Denver, and the western half of the state, including the city of Grand Junction. The fastest growing parts of Colorado, particularly Douglas, Elbert, and Weld Counties, in the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area, are somewhat Republican-tending.
Colorado is represented by the current two United States Senators:
United States Senate Class 2 - Mark Emery Udall (Democratic) 2009-
United States Senate Class 3 - Michael Farrand Bennet (Democratic) 2009-
The state of Colorado is represented by seven Representatives to the United States House of Representatives:
Colorado's 1st congressional district - Diana DeGette (Democratic) 1997-
Colorado's 2nd congressional district - Jared Polis (Democratic) 2009-
Colorado's 3rd congressional district - John Salazar (Democratic) 2005-
Colorado's 4th congressional district - Betsy Markey (Democratic) 2009-
Colorado's 5th congressional district - Doug Lamborn (Republican) 2007-
Colorado's 6th congressional district - Mike Coffman (Republican) 2009-
Colorado's 7th congressional district - Ed Perlmutter (Democratic) 2007-
See also: United States presidential election, 2004, in Colorado , Colorado's congressional elections, 2006, Colorado gubernatorial election, 2006, and Political party strength in Colorado
Cities and towns
Main article: Colorado municipalities
See also: List of cities and towns in Colorado and Table of Colorado municipalities by county
Colorado has 271 incorporated municipalities and 83 active United States Census Designated Places.
Colorado is divided into 64 counties, including two counties with consolidated city and county governments.
The fifteen most populous Colorado counties as of July 1, 2008, were:
1.City and County of Denver
2.El Paso County
13.City and County of Broomfield
15.La Plata County
The University of Colorado at Boulder.
The University of Denver.
The United States Air Force Academy.Colleges and universities in Colorado:
Adams State College
Aims Community College
Arapahoe Community College
Art Institute of Colorado
Colorado Christian University
Colorado Community College Online
Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Northwestern Community College
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University System
Colorado State University
Colorado State University-Pueblo
Colorado Technical University
Community College of Aurora
Community College of Denver
Fort Lewis College
Front Range Community College
Heritage College & Heritage Institute
Iliff School of Theology
Johnson & Wales University
Jones International University
Lamar Community College
Mesa State College
Metropolitan State College of Denver
Morgan Community College
National Technological University
Nazarene Bible College
Northeastern Junior College
Otero Junior College
Pikes Peak Community College
Pueblo Community College
Red Rocks Community College
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Trinidad State Junior College
United States Air Force Academy
University of Colorado System
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
University of Colorado Denver
University of Denver
University of Northern Colorado
Western State College
Buckley Air Force Base
Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site
Peterson Air Force Base
Cheyenne Mountain Directorate
Pueblo Chemical Depot
Schriever Air Force Base
United States Air Force Academy
Colorado National Monument
Spruce Tree House in Mesa Verde National ParkNationally Protected Areas in Colorado:
Arapaho National Recreation Area
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Curecanti National Recreation Area
Dinosaur National Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Hovenweep National Monument
Mesa Verde National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Yucca House National Monument
See also: Colorado national parks, Colorado State Parks, Colorado trails, and Colorado scenic and historic byways
The Colorado Rockies National League baseball club at Coors Field in Denver.
INVESCO Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos National Football League club and the Denver Outlaws Major League Lacrosse club.
Pepsi Center in Denver, home of the Denver Nuggets National Basketball Association club, the Colorado Avalanche National Hockey League club, and the Colorado Mammoth National Lacrosse League club.
Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, home of the Colorado Rapids Major League Soccer club. Professional sports teams
Colorado is the least populous state with a franchise in each of the major professional sports leagues. The state is able to support the teams because it contains a large metropolitan area with a higher population than any other city within 550 miles (885 km). Therefore, many of the residents in the surrounding states support the teams in Denver, as shown by the reach of the Broncos' radio network.
Club Sport League
Colorado Rockies Baseball Major League Baseball
Denver Broncos Football National Football League
Colorado Avalanche Ice hockey National Hockey League
Denver Nuggets Basketball National Basketball Association
Colorado Rapids Soccer Major League Soccer
Colorado Mammoth Lacrosse National Lacrosse League
Denver Outlaws Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Baseball Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Colorado Eagles Ice hockey Central Hockey League
Real Colorado Foxes Soccer USL Premier Development League
Colorado Springs Sabers Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
Denver Diamonds Soccer Women's Premier Soccer League
Former professional sports teams
Club Sport League
Aurora Cavalry Basketball International Basketball League
Colorado 14ers (won championship in their final season of 2008-09, then moved to Frisco, Texas to become the new team starting play in 2010-11) Basketball NBA Development League
Colorado Chill (folded along with the NWBL) Basketball National Women's Basketball League
Colorado Crossover Basketball International Basketball League
Colorado Crush (suspended operations when the league did, and did not return when the [[Arena Football League (2010)|new AFL was formed) Arena football Arena Football League
Colorado Rapids U23's Soccer USL Premier Development League
Colorado Rockies (NHL) (moved to East Rutherford, New Jersey and became the New Jersey Devils) Ice Hockey National Hockey League
Colorado Xplosion (won the Western Conference Championship in inaugural season) Women's Basketball American Basketball League (1996-1998)
Colorado Springs Blizzard Soccer USL Premier Development League
Denver Grizzlies (moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, later moved to Cleveland, Ohio and became the Lake Erie Monsters) Ice Hockey International Hockey League (1945-2001)
Denver Spurs (moved to Ottawa, Ontario and became the Ottawa Civics for the rest of the team's existence) Ice Hockey World Hockey Association/Central Hockey League/Western Hockey League
Denver Dynamite (Inaugural member of the Arena Football League, folded after four seasons) Arena Football Arena Football League
Denver Gold (United States Football League member, 1983–1985) Football United States Football League
Denver Bears/Denver Zephyrs (moved to New Orleans, Louisiana and became the New Orleans Zephyrs) Baseball American Association/Pacific Coast League
Rocky Mountain Rage Ice hockey Central Hockey League
Colorado State Symbols
Bird(s) Lark Bunting
Fish Greenback Cutthroat Trout
Flower(s) Rocky Mountain Columbine
Grass Blue Grama Grass
Insect Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
Mammal(s) Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Reptile Western Painted Turtle
Tree Colorado Blue Spruce
Dance Square Dance
Rock Yule Marble
Song(s) Where the Columbines Grow
Rocky Mountain High
Tartan Colorado State Tartan