Colorado
State of Colorado
Flag of Colorado State seal of Colorado
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Centennial State
Motto(s): Nil sine numine (Nothing without providence)
Map of the United States with Colorado highlighted
Capital
(and largest city)
Denver
Largest metro area Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA
Area  Ranked 8th in the U.S.
 - Total 104,094 sq mi
(269,837 km2)
 - Width 380 miles (612 km)
 - Length 280 miles (451 km)
 - % water 0.36%
 - Latitude 37°N to 41°N
 - Longitude 102°03'W to 109°03'W
Population  Ranked 22nd in the U.S.
 - Total (2010) 5,029,196
Density 48.31/sq mi  (18.64/km2)
Ranked 37th in the U.S.
 - Median income  $56,993 (13th)
Elevation  
 - Highest point Mount Elbert[1][2][3][4]
14,440 ft (4401.2 m)
 - Mean 6,800 ft  (2070 m)
 - Lowest point Arikaree River[2][3]
3,316 ft (1011 m)
Before statehood Territory of Colorado
Admission to Union  August 1, 1876 (38th State)
Governor John Hickenlooper (D)
Lieutenant Governor Joseph A. Garcia (D)
Legislature General Assembly
 - Upper house Senate
 - Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators 2 – Mark Udall (D)
3 – Michael Bennet (D)
U.S. House delegation 4 Republicans and 3 Democrats (list)
Time zone MST=UTC-07, MDT=UTC-06
Abbreviations CO Colo. US-CO
Website colorado.gov

Colorado (pronounced Listeni/kɒləˈræd/)[5] is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. Colorado is part of the Western United States and the Mountain States.

The state was named for the Colorado River, which early Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the red colored (Spanish: colorado) silt the river carried from the mountains. On August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it was admitted to the Union as the 38th state in 1876, the centennial year of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Colorado is bordered by the northwest state of Wyoming to the north, the midwest states of Nebraska and Kansas to the northeast and east, on the south by New Mexico and a small portion of the southern state of Oklahoma, and on the west by Utah. The four states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at one common point known as the Four Corners, which is known as the heart of the American Southwest. Colorado is one of only three U.S. states with no natural borders, the others being neighboring Wyoming and Utah.

Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, mesas, canyons, plateaus, rivers, and desert lands. The 2010 United States Census tallied the state population at 5,029,196 as of April 1, 2010, an increase of 16.92% since the 2000 United States Census. Denver is the capital and the most populous city of Colorado. Residents of the state are properly known as "Coloradans", although the archaic term "Coloradoan" is still used.[6][7]

Contents

Geography

The borders of Colorado were originally defined to be lines of latitude and longitude, making its shape a latitude-longitude* quadrangle which 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).[8] Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are the only states which have boundaries defined solely by lines of latitude and longitude. When placing the border markers for the Territory of Colorado, minor surveying errors resulted in several small kinks, 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.[9]

The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) in elevation in Lake County is the highest point of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.[1] Colorado is the only U.S. 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 Colorado at 3,317 feet (1,011 m) elevation. This point holds the distinction of being the highest low elevation point of any state.[2][10]

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, west of Denver, where the Plains meet the Rockies.

A little over one third of the area of Colorado is flat and rolling land. 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 7,360 feet (1,020 to 2,240 m). The midwest 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 many patches of deciduous forests, buttes, and canyons, much like the high plains in New Mexico as well. 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.[11] The summers in the plains are normally hot and dry, 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 and 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, heavy use of ground water from wells for irrigation has caused underground water reserves to decline.

The high desert terrain of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.

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 population centers are at Grand Junction and Durango in far western Colorado.

The Continental Divide dips down to 11,990 feet (3,655 m) at Loveland Pass.

To the west of Great Plains of Colorado rises the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Notable peaks of the Rocky Mountains include Longs Peak, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg, 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.

The Continental Divide extends along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The area of Colorado to 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 Rio Grande are located. The valley sits between the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and San Juan Mountains, and consists of large desert lands that eventually run into the mountains. The Rio Grande 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.[12] 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.

Mount Elbert, the tallest peak in the Rocky Mountains.

The 30 highest major summits of the Rocky Mountains of North America all lie within the state. Colorado is home to four national parks, six national monuments, two national recreation areas, two national historic sites, three national historic trails, a national scenic trail, 11 national forests, two national grasslands, 41 national wilderness areas, two national conservation areas, eight national wildlife refuges, 44 state parks, a state forest, 323 state wildlife areas, and numerous other scenic, historic, and recreational attractions.

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, Western State College in Gunnison, and Fort Lewis College in Durango are the only four-year colleges in Colorado west of the Continental Divide.

August, 1964. Continental Divide at the top of Loveland Pass

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 Union Pacific, 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, Breckenridge, Vail, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride.

Grand Mesa, the largest mesa in the world.

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 desert lands and desert plateaus, then alpine mountains with National Forests, then some scattered desert land in the southern mountain areas in the state, 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.[13] The desert lands in Colorado are located in and around areas such as, the Royal Gorge, Pueblo, Canon City, Florence, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis Valley, Cortez, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Ute Mountain, Delta, Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument, Roan Plateau, and other areas surrounding the Uncompahgre Plateau and Uncompahgre National Forest.

Colorado is one of four states in the United States that share a common geographic point the Four Corners, together with Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. At this intersection, it is possible to stand in four states at once.

Climate

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. Most of Colorado is made up of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands. 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. Northeast, east, and southeast Colorado are mostly the high plains, while Northern Colorado is a mix of high plains, foothills, and mountains. Northwest and west Colorado are predominantly mountainous, with some desert lands mixed in. Southwest and southern Colorado are a complex mixture of desert and mountain areas.

Eastern Plains

Center pivot irrigation of wheat growing in Yuma County.

The climate of the Eastern Plains is semi-arid (Köppen climate classification BSk) with 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 a great average diurnal temperature range. In summer, this area can have many days above 95 °F (35 °C) and sometimes 100 °F (38 °C),[14]. Although 105 °F (41 °C) is the maximum in the front range cities above 5,000 ft (1,500 m), front range cities sitting just below 5,000 ft (1,500 m) have reached 112 °F (44 °C),[15]. In the plains, the winter extremes can be from 0 °F (-18 °C) to −10 °F (−23 °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 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 70 °F (21 °C) or higher in the winter,[16]. The average July temperature is 55 °F (13 °C) in the morning and close to 90 °F (32 °C) in the afternoon. The average January temperature is 18 °F (−8 °C) in the morning and 45 °F (7 °C) in the afternoon, although variation between consecutive days can be 40 °F (22 °C).

West of the plains and foothills

View of the Western Slope from Grand Junction.

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 plenty of 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.

Extreme weather

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.[11] 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.[17] 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 24 consecutive days surpassed the previous record by almost a week.[18] 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.[19] 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, and the Fourmile Canyon Fire of 2010, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's recorded 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 fellow southwest states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, as well as midwest like Nebraska and Kansas, and also southern states like Oklahoma and Texas. A significant amount of water is also diverted for use in California; occasionally (formerly naturally and consistently) the flow of water reaches northern Mexico.

Records

The highest temperature recorded in Colorado was 118 °F (48 °C) on July 11, 1888, at Bennett, whereas the lowest was −61 °F (−52 °C) on February 1, 1985, at Maybell.[20][21]

Monthly normal high and low temperatures for various Colorado cities (°F)[22]
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Alamosa 35/−2 40/6 51/17 60/24 70/33 79/41 83/47 80/46 73/37 62/25 47/12 36/1
Colorado Springs 43/18 45/20 52/26 60/33 69/43 79/51 85/57 82/56 75/47 63/36 51/25 42/18
Denver 44/19 46/21 54/27 61/35 71/44 82/53 89/59 86/58 78/49 65/37 52/26 43/18
Grand Junction 38/18 46/25 57/32 66/39 76/48 88/57 94/64 90/62 81/53 67/41 51/29 39/19
Pueblo 47/14 51/18 60/26 68/34 77/44 88/53 93/59 90/58 82/48 70/34 57/23 46/14

Earthquakes

On August 22, 2011, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake occurred nine miles WSW of the city of Trinidad.[23] No casualties and only small damage was reported. It was the second largest earthquake in Colorado since a magnitude 5.7 earthquake was recorded in 1973.[24]

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 eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains was a major migration route that was important to the spread of early peoples throughout the Americas. The Ancient Pueblo Peoples lived in the valleys and mesas of the Colorado Plateau.[25] 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 U.S. claim conflicted with the claim of Spain to a huge region surrounding its colony of Santa Fé de Nuevo Méjico as its sovereign trading zone with native peoples. 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 the following February, taken to Chihuahua, 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 and south of 42nd parallel north and west of the 100th meridian west as part of its purchase of Florida from Spain with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. The treaty took effect February 22, 1821. Having settled its border with Spain, the United States admitted the southeastern portion of the Territory of Missouri to the Union as the state of Missouri on August 10, 1821. The remainder of the Missouri Territory, including what would become northeastern Colorado, became unorganized territory, and would remain so for 33 years over the question of slavery. After 11 years of war, Spain finally recognized the independence of Mexico with the Treaty of Córdoba signed on August 24, 1821. Mexico eventually ratified the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1831. The Texian Revolt of 1835–1836 fomented a dispute between the United States and Mexico which eventually erupted into the Mexican-American War in 1846. Mexico surrendered its northern territory to the United States with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the conclusion of the war in 1848.

Most American settlers traveling overland west to the Oregon Country, the new goldfields of California, or the new Mormon settlements of Deseret in the Salt Lake Valley, avoided the rugged Southern Rocky Mountains, and instead followed the North Platte River and Sweetwater River to South Pass, the lowest crossing of the Continental Divide between the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Central Rocky Mountains. In 1849, the Mormons of the Salt Lake Valley organized the extralegal State of Deseret, claiming the entire Great Basin and all lands drained by the Green, Grand, and Colorado rivers. The federal government of the United States flatly refused to recognize the new Mormon government, because it was theocratic and sanctioned plural marriage. Instead, the Compromise of 1850 divided the Mexican Cession and the northwestern claims of Texas into a new state and two new territories, the state of California, the Territory of New Mexico, and the Territory of Utah. On April 9, 1851, Mexican American settlers from the area of Taos settled the village of San Luis, then in the New Mexico Territory, later to become Colorado's first permanent Euro-American settlement.

The territories of New Mexico, Utah, Kansas, and Nebraska before the creation of the Territory of Colorado.

In 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas persuaded the U.S. Congress to divide the unorganized territory east of the Continental Divide into two new organized territories, the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska, and an unorganized southern region known as the Indian territory. Each new territory was to decide the fate of slavery within its boundaries, but this compromise merely served to fuel animosity between free soil and pro-slavery factions.

Gold was discovered along the South Platte River then in western Kansas Territory in July 1858, precipitating the Pike's Peak Gold Rush.[26] The placer gold deposits along the rivers and streams of the region rapidly played out, but prospectors soon discovered far more valuable seams of hard rock gold in the nearby mountains.

A lithograph of the Denver City mining camp in 1859.

The gold seekers organized the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson on August 24, 1859, but this new territory failed to secure approval from the Congress of the United States embroiled in the debate over slavery. 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 among the 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 the free State of Kansas on January 29, 1861, leaving the western portion of the Kansas Territory, and its gold-mining areas, as unorganized territory.

Thirty days later on February 28, 1861, outgoing U.S. President James Buchanan signed an Act of Congress organizing the free Territory of Colorado.[27] 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.[28] In 1776, Spanish priest Silvestre Vélez de Escalante recorded that Native Americans in the area knew the river as el Rio Colorado for the red-brown silt that the river carried from the mountains.[29] In 1859, a U.S. Army topographic expedition led by Captain John Macomb located the confluence of the Green River with the Grand River in what is now Canyonlands National Park in Utah.[30] The Macomb party designated the confluence as the source of the Colorado River.

On April 12, 1861, South Carolina artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter to start the American Civil War. While many gold seekers held sympathies for the Confederacy, the vast majority remained fiercely loyal to the Union cause. In 1862, a force of Texas cavalry invaded the Territory of New Mexico and captured Santa Fe on March 10. The object of this Western Campaign was to seize or disrupt the gold fields of Colorado and California and to seize ports on the Pacific Ocean for the Confederacy. A hastily organized force of Colorado volunteers force-marched from Denver City, Colorado Territory, to Glorieta Pass, New Mexico Territory, in an attempt to block the Texans. On March 28, the Coloradans and local New Mexico volunteers stopped the Texans at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, destroyed their cannon and supply wagons, and ran off 500 head of their horses and mules. The Texans were forced to retreat to Santa Fe. Having lost the supplies for their campaign and finding little support in New Mexico, the Texans abandoned Santa Fe and returned to San Antonio in defeat. The Confederacy made no further attempts to seize the Southwestern United States.

In 1864, Territorial Governor John Evans appointed the Reverend John Chivington as Colonel of the Colorado Volunteers with orders to protect white settlers from Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors who were accused of stealing cattle. Colonel Chivington ordered his men to attack a band of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped along Sand Creek. Chivington reported that his troops killed more than 500 warriors. The militia returned to Denver City in triumph, but several officers reported that the so called battle was a blatant massacre of Indians at peace, that most of the dead were women and children, and that bodies of the dead had been mutilated and desecrated in hideous manner. Three U.S. Army inquiries condemned the action, and incoming President Andrew Johnson asked Governor Evans for his resignation, but none of the perpetrators was ever punished.

Mount of the Holy Cross was photographed by William Henry Jackson in 1874

In the midst and aftermath of Civil War, many discouraged prospectors returned to their homes, but a determined few stayed on to develop mines, mills, farms, ranches, roads, and towns in the Territory. On September 14, 1864, James Huff discovered silver near Argentine Pass, the first of many silver strikes. In 1867, the Union Pacific Railroad laid its tracks west to Weir, now Julesburg, in the northeast corner of the Territory. The Union Pacific linked up with the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, to form the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Denver Pacific Railway reached Denver in June of the following year, and the Kansas Pacific arrived two months later to forge the second line across the continent. In 1872, rich veins of silver were discovered in the San Juan Mountains on the Ute Indian reservation in southwestern Colorado. The Ute people were removed from the San Juans the following year.

The United States Congress passed an enabling act on March 3, 1875, specifying the requirements for the Territory of Colorado to become a state.[8] On August 1, 1876 (28 days after the Centennial of the United States), U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state and earning it the moniker "Centennial State".[31]

The Georgetown Loop of the Colorado Central Railroad as photographed by William Henry Jackson in 1899

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, and Colorado's last, but greatest, gold strike at Cripple Creek a few months later lured a new generation of gold seekers. 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 (of Colorado men). The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 led to a staggering collapse of the mining and agricultural economy of Colorado, but the state slowly and steadily recovered.

Colorado became the first western state to host a major political convention when the Democratic Party met in Denver in 1908. 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. The United States Census Bureau estimated that the population of Colorado exceeded five million in 2009.

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 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.

Demographics

Historical populations
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 4,301,262 30.6%
2010 5,029,196 16.9%
Sources: 1910-2010[32]
Colorado Population Density Map

Colorado's most populous city, and capital, is Denver. The Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area with an estimated 2009 population of 3,110,436, is home to 61.90% of the state's residents.

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.[33] The center of population of Colorado is located just north of the village of Critchell in Jefferson County.[34]

Colorado has a high proportion of Hispanic, mostly Mexican-American, citizens in Metropolitan Denver, Colorado Springs, as well as the smaller cities of Greeley and Pueblo, and in many other smaller cities and towns all throughout the state. Colorado is well known for its strong Latino culture and presence. Southern, Southwestern, and Southeastern Colorado has a large number of Hispanos, the descendants of the early Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin. The 2000 United States Census found that 10.5% of people aged five and over in Colorado speak only Spanish at home, with the 2009 estimate being roughly 14%. Colorado also has a large immigration presence all throughout the state, which has led to Colorado cities being referred to as "Sanctuary Cities" for illegal immigrants as well. Colorado has the 5th highest percentage of undocumented people in the U.S., only behind Nevada, Arizona, California, and tied with Texas. An estimated 5.5-6.0% of the state's population is composed of illegal immigrants. Also, over 20% of the state's prisoners are undocumented inmates.[35][36] Colorado, like New Mexico, is very rich in archaic Spanish idioms.[37]

Colorado also has some African-American communities located in Denver, in the neighborhoods of Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, Park Hill, Five Points, Whittier, and many other East Denver areas. A decent amount of African Americans are also found in Colorado Springs on the east and southeast side of the city. The state has sizable numbers of Asian-Americans of Mongolian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Southeast Asian and Japanese descent. The highest population of Asian Americans can be found on the south and southeast side of Denver, as well as some on Denver's southwest side. 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, Mexican (18%), Irish (12%), and English (12%). Persons reporting German ancestry are especially numerous in the Front Range, the Rockies (west-central counties) and Eastern parts/High Plains.[38] Denver, as well as all of Colorado, have numerous amount of predominately Latino neighborhoods and communities. Also, 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).

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Colorado had a population of 5,029,196. In terms of race and ethnicity, the state was 81.3% White (70.0% Non-Hispanic White Alone), 4.0% Black or African American, 1.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.8% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 7.2% from Some Other Race, and 3.4% from Two or More Races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race made up 20.7% of the population.[39]

There were a total of 70,331 births in Colorado in 2006. (Birth Rate of 14.6). In 2007, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 59.1% of all the births.[40] Some 14.06% of those births involved a non-Hispanic white person and someone of a different race, most often with a couple including one Hispanic. A birth where at least one Hispanic person was involved counted for 43% of the births in Colorado.[41] As of the 2010 Census, Colorado has the seventh highest percentage of Hispanics (20.7%) in the U.S. behind New Mexico (46.3%), California (37.6%), Texas (37.6%), Arizona (29.6%), Nevada (26.5%), and Florida (22.5%). Per the 2000 census, the Hispanic population is estimated to be 918,899 or approximately 20% of the state total population. Colorado has the 4th largest population of Mexican-Americans behind California, Texas, and Arizona. In percentages, Colorado has the 6th highest percentage of Mexican-Americans behind New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.[42]

Religion

The Chapel on the Rock at Camp Saint Malo near Allenspark.
The Cadet Chapel at the United States Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs.

Major religious affiliations of the people of Colorado are:[43]

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.[44]

At 25%, Colorado also has an above-average proportion of citizens who claim no religion. The U.S. average is 17%.

Health

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.[45] As of 2007 the 18% of the population was considered medically obese, and while the lowest in the nation, the percentage had increased from 17% 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.[46]

Culture

Street art in Denver

Fine arts

Cuisine

Colorado is known for its Southwest and Rocky Mountain cuisine. Mexican restaurants are throughout the state.

Boulder, Colorado was named America’s Foodiest Town 2010 by Bon Appétit.[47] Boulder, and Colorado in general, is home to a number of national food and beverage companies, top-tier restaurants and farmers' markets. Boulder, Colorado also has more Master Sommeliers per capita than any other city, including San Francisco and New York.[48]

The Food & Wine Classic held annually each June in Aspen, Colorado. Aspen also has a reputation as the culinary capital of the Rocky Mountain region.[49]

Denver, Colorado is known for steak, but now has a diverse culinary scene with many top-tier restaurants.[50]

Wine

Colorado wines include award-winning varietals that have attracted favorable notice from outside the state.[51] With wines made from traditional Vitis vinifera grapes along with wines made from cherries, peaches, plums and honey, Colorado wines have won top national and international awards for their quality.[52] Colorado's grape growing regions contain the highest elevation vineyards in the United States,[53] with most viticulture in the state practiced between 4,000 feet (1,219 m) and 7,000 feet (2,134 m) feet above sea level. The mountain climate ensures warm summer days and cool nights. Colorado is home to two designated American Viticultural Areas of the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA,[54] where most of the vineyards in the state are located. However, an increasing number of wineries are located along the Front Range.[55]

Economy

Denver World Trade Center.
The Denver financial district along 17th Street is known as the Wall Street of the West.

CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized Colorado as the third best state in the nation, falling short to only Texas and Virginia.[56]

The United States quarter dollar coin released June 14, 2006, in honor of the state of Colorado.
Corn growing in Larimer County
Cattle ranching in Jackson County
An oil well in western Colorado

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2010 was $257.6 billion.[57] Per capita personal income in 2010 was $51 940, ranking Colorado 11th in the nation.[58] 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.[59] 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.[60] 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. Holly Sugar was first milled from beets in Holly in 1905, and later moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs. 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.[61][62] 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.

As of September 2010, the state's unemployment rate is 8.2%.[63]

Philanthropy

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[64] each year from approximately $7 billion[65] of assets.

Natural resources

Colorado has significant hydrocarbon 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. 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; the economic viability of the oil shale, however, has not been demonstrated.[66] Substantial deposits of bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal are found in the state. Kimberlite volcanic pipes have been found in Colorado; the Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine operated for several years, recovering gem quality diamonds.[citation needed]

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.

Transportation

Colorado state welcome sign

Colorado transportation system connects its cities, residents, and visitors through a diverse and well regulated modes.

Colorado's primary method of transportation is its highway system. Interstate 25 is the primary North/South highway in the state, connecting Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins, and Greeley, and Interstate 70 is the primary East/West route connecting Denver with the mountain communities and Grand Junction. The state is home to a network of US highways and state highways that provide access to much of the state, while smaller communities are only accessibly through county roads.

Denver International Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the world and handles the bulk of non-military air traffic in and out of Colorado. Rail traffic is important for industrial use, but typical Colorado residents to not use rail transportation outside of the light rail mass transit system in the Denver Metropolitan Area, which is operated the Regional Transportation District. Other public transportation services offer both intra-city and inter-city bus service.

Government and politics

State government

Gubernatorial election results
Year Republican Democratic
2010 11.3% 199,034 51.0% 912,005
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

Just 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, the House is controlled by the Republican Party by a one vote majority and the Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly was the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years. The incumbent governor is Democrat John Hickenlooper.

Most Coloradans are originally native to other states (nearly 60% according to the 2000 census),[67] 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).

Counties

An enlargeable map of the 64 counties of the state of Colorado

The state of Colorado is divided into 64 counties.[68] Counties are important units of government in Colorado since the state has no secondary civil subdivisions such as townships. Two of these counties, the City and County of Denver and the City and County of Broomfield, have consolidated city and county governments.

Nine Colorado counties have a population in excess of 250,000 each, while eight Colorado counties have a population of less than 2,500 each. The ten most populous Colorado counties are located in the Front Range Urban Corridor.

The 25 Most Populous Colorado Counties 2010

Pop Rank County 2010 Census 2000 Census Pop Change
!000001 El Paso County !B9866588818880 622,263 !B9868443391866 516,929 !D0015907692803 +20.38%
!000002 Denver City and County !B9866950517671 600,158 !B9867739326782 554,636 !D0025001163171 +8.21%
!000003 Arapahoe County !B9867431004848 572,003 !B9869019969404 487,967 !D0017590025021 +17.22%
!000004 Jefferson County[69] !B9868108325447 534,543 !B9868249379162 527,056 !D0042541386215 +1.42%
!000005 Adams County[69] !B9870018334325 441,603 !B9871954837877 363,857 !D0015433138305 +21.37%
!000006 Larimer County !B9873896963408 299,630 !B9875648255886 251,494 !D0016533887944 +19.14%
!000007 Boulder County[69] !B9874067382395 294,567 !B9874179322525 291,288 !D0044867739706 +1.13%
!000008 Douglas County !B9874381252913 285,465 !B9879230911560 175,766 !D0004714133134 +62.41%
!000009 Weld County[69] !B9875595471712 252,825 !B9878941013434 180,936 !D0009230201148 +39.73%
!000010 Pueblo County !B9880229443708 159,063 !B9881401429033 141,472 !D0020847144100 +12.43%
!000011 Mesa County !B9881036982656 146,723 !B9883364586667 116,255 !D0013391091017 +26.21%
!000012 Garfield County !B9890599706169 56,389 !B9893128164042 43,791 !D0012458902456 +28.77%
!000013 Broomfield City and County[69] !B9890688771401 55,889 !O NA !O NA
!000014 Eagle County !B9891372196990 52,197 !B9893627272893 41,659 !D0013745296599 +25.30%
!000015 La Plata County !B9891538914203 51,334 !B9893093968960 43,941 !D0017823142184 +16.82%
!000016 Fremont County !B9892458488290 46,824 !B9892604561083 46,145 !D0042189227641 +1.47%
!000017 Montrose County !B9893719635037 41,276 !B9895827311958 33,432 !D0014497646168 +23.46%
!000018 Delta County !B9896598071036 30,952 !B9897659864260 27,834 !D0021890665243 +11.20%
!000019 Morgan County !B9897543777017 28,159 !B9897900944929 27,171 !D0033142228092 +3.64%
!000020 Summit County !B9897602545195 27,994 !B9899332038298 23,548 !D0016670360756 +18.88%
!000021 Montezuma County !B9898521946609 25,535 !B9899212994299 23,830 !D0026373801803 +7.15%
!000022 Routt County !B9899348613944 23,509 !B9901121338283 19,690 !D0016401222844 +19.40%
!000023 Teller County !B9899416477369 23,350 !B9900691405006 20,555 !D0019952721137 +13.60%
!000024 Elbert County !B9899530183478 23,086 !B9901029330152 19,872 !D0018217954384 +16.17%
!000025 Logan County !B9899694833993 22,709 !B9900716247319 20,504 !D0022298924801 +10.75%

Metropolitan areas

Map of the 14 Core Based Statistical Areas in the state of Colorado.

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined one Combined Statistical Area (CSA),[70] seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs),[71] and seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (μSAs)[72] in the state of Colorado.[73]

The most populous of the 14 Core Based Statistical Areas in Colorado is the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. This area had a population of 2,543,482 at the 2010 United States Census, an increase of 17.88% since the 2000 United States Census.[74]

The more extensive Denver-Aurora-Boulder, CO Combined Statistical Area had a population of 3,090,874 at the 2010 United States Census, an increase of +17.52% since the 2000 United States Census.[74]

The most populous extended metropolitan region in Rocky Mountain Region is the Front Range Urban Corridor along the northeast face of the Southern Rocky Mountains. This region with Denver at its center had a population of 4,333,742 at the 2010 United States Census, an increase of +17.50% since the 2000 United States Census.[74]

Municipalities

The state of Colorado currently has 271 active incorporated municipalities, including 196 towns, 73 cities, and two consolidated city and county governments.[75][76]

Colorado municipalities operate under one of five types of municipal governing authority. Colorado has one town with a territorial charter, 160 statutory towns, 12 statutory cities, 96 home rule municipalities (61 cities and 35 towns), and 2 consolidated city and county governments.

The skyline of downtown Denver with Speer Boulevard in the foreground
The 25 Most Populous Colorado Municipalities 2010

Pop Rank Municipality 2010 Census 2000 Census Pop Change
!000001 City and County of Denver !B9866950517671 600,158 !B9867739326782 554,636 !D0025001163171 +8.21%
!000002 City of Colorado Springs !B9870605335448 416,427 !B9872036715182 360,890 !D0018715237374 +15.39%
!000003 City of Aurora !B9873081795674 325,078 !B9874704209550 276,393 !D0017364527915 +17.61%
!000004 City of Fort Collins !B9881225286483 143,986 !B9883160498819 118,652 !D0015440474719 +21.35%
!000005 City of Lakewood !B9881295399606 142,980 !B9881215568040 144,126 !H9951655897013 −0.80%
!000006 City of Thornton !B9883150390321 118,772 !B9886808534777 82,384 !D0008171521933 +44.17%
!000007 City of Pueblo !B9884232081147 106,595 !B9884660863362 102,121 !D0031278755216 +4.38%
!000008 City of Arvada !B9884247290418 106,433 !B9884657730316 102,153 !D0031725186798 +4.19%
!000009 City of Westminster !B9884277307331 106,114 !B9884777184401 100,940 !D0029708801971 +5.13%
!000010 City of Centennial[77] !B9884833116236 100,377 !F 0 !O NA
!000011 City of Boulder !B9885135725263 97,385 !B9885418158723 94,673 !D0035527424785 +2.86%
!000012 City of Greeley !B9885608394890 92,889 !B9887493488035 76,930 !D0015728729840 +20.74%
!000013 City of Longmont !B9886347628079 86,270 !B9888282558419 71,093 !D0015442077551 +21.35%
!000014 City of Loveland !B9888896587967 66,859 !B9891681350544 50,608 !D0011359552212 +32.11%
!000015 City of Grand Junction !B9890220903975 58,566 !B9893549084916 41,986 !D0009291390796 +39.49%
!000016 City and County of Broomfield[69] !B9890688771401 55,889 !B9894475261626 38,272 !D0007758542133 +46.03%
!000017 Town of Castle Rock !B9892162427531 48,231 !B9900853747030 20,224 !B9996744155390 +138.48%
!000018 City of Commerce City !B9892654964196 45,913 !B9900481509465 20,991 !B9998283428269 +118.73%
!000019 Town of Parker !B9892790039158 45,297 !B9899327792554 23,558 !D0000803575830 +92.28%
!000020 City of Littleton !B9893608566954 41,737 !B9893949011884 40,340 !D0033630164522 +3.46%
!000021 City of Northglenn !B9895146041373 35,789 !B9896398790527 31,575 !D0020139533528 +13.35%
!000022 City of Brighton !B9895851269804 33,352 !B9900522563562 20,905 !D0005185087347 +59.54%
!000023 City of Englewood !B9896825832609 30,255 !B9896350766676 31,727 !H9969294539669 −4.64%
!000024 City of Wheat Ridge !B9896855292586 30,166 !B9895983770045 32,913 !H9975166416906 −8.35%
!000025 City of Fountain !B9898400888709 25,846 !B9903711466810 15,197 !D0003556320489 +70.07%

The City and County of Denver and the City of Aurora both levy an Occupational Privilege Tax (OPT or Head Tax) 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 withhold, 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.

Unincorporated communities

In addition to its 271 municipalities, Colorado has 187 unincorporated United States census designated places and many other small communities.

The 15 Most Populous Census Designated Places in Colorado 2010

Pop Rank Census Designated Place 2010 Census 2000 Census Pop Change
!000001 Highlands Ranch !B9885204968911 96,713 !B9888305371474 70,931 !D0010120309995 +36.35%
!000002 Security-Widefield !B9895993193254 32,882 !B9896962273993 29,845 !D0022851471355 +10.18%
!000003 Ken Caryl !B9896129141459 32,438 !B9896619093376 30,887 !D0029914354992 +5.02%
!000004 Dakota Ridge !B9896263525804 32,005 !O NA !O NA
!000005 Pueblo West !B9897032211402 29,637 !B9902649902724 16,899 !D0002826647966 +75.38%
!000006 Columbine !B9899025917548 24,280 !B9899102403709 24,095 !D0048694038039 +0.77%
!000007 Clifton !B9901020779059 19,889 !B9902389404405 17,345 !D0019195666349 +14.67%
!000008 Sherrelwood !B9901860542961 18,287 !B9902211124156 17,657 !D0033331677649 +3.57%
!000009 Cimarron Hills !B9903096437886 16,161 !B9903713441079 15,194 !D0027544573966 +6.36%
!000010 Welby !B9903945142523 14,846 !B9905293744464 12,973 !D0019353288511 +14.44%
!000011 Fort Carson !B9904666345433 13,813 !B9907346034222 10,566 !D0011799098056 +30.73%
!000012 Black Forest !B9905184118620 13,116 !B9905084736093 13,247 !H9953836709325 −0.99%
!000013 Berkley !B9906757061379 11,207 !B9907179903413 10,743 !D0031421251064 +4.32%
!000014 Cherry Creek !B9906834994321 11,120 !O NA !O NA
!000015 The Pinery !B9907392517254 10,517 !B9911108295446 7,253 !D0007984617392 +45.00%

Special districts

The state of Colorado has more than 3,000 districts with taxing authority. These districts may provide schools, law enforcement, fire protection, water, sewage, drainage, irrigation, transportation, recreation, infrastructure, cultural facilities, business support, redevelopment, or other services.

Some of these districts have authority to levy sales tax and well as property tax and use fees. This has led to a hodgepodge of sales tax and property tax rates in Colorado. There are some street intersections in Colorado with a different sales tax rate on each corner, sometimes substantially different.

Some of the more notable Colorado 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 11-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 Authority (RTA) taxes at varying rates in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison County

Federal politics

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

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.[78]

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, and far Western Colorado near Grand Junction.

Former Colorado senator and attorney general Ken Salazar is the current United States Secretary of the Interior (as of January 20, 2009).

The state of Colorado is represented by its two United States Senators:

Colorado is represented by seven Representatives to the United States House of Representatives:

Education

Colleges and universities in Colorado:





Military installations

Protected areas

Spruce Tree House in Mesa Verde National Park

Units of the National Park System in Colorado:

Sports

The Colorado Rockies National League baseball club at Coors Field in Denver.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos National Football League club and the Denver Outlaws Major League Lacrosse club.

Colorado is the least populous state with a franchise in each of the major professional sports leagues.

Professional sports teams

Professional Sports Clubs based in Colorado

Club Home First game Sport League
Denver Broncos Denver !B9832089134993 September 9, 1960 Football National Football League
Denver Barbarians Denver !B9832053693396 Spring 1967 Rugby Union Rugby Super League
Denver Nuggets Denver !B9832053476831 September 27, 1967 Basketball National Basketball Association
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Colorado Springs !B9831947441547 June 18, 1988 Baseball Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Colorado Rockies Denver !B9831922429868 April 5, 1993 Baseball Major League Baseball
Colorado Avalanche Denver !B9831912098739 October 6, 1995 Ice hockey National Hockey League
Colorado Rapids Commerce City !B9831907384799 April 13, 1996 Soccer Major League Soccer
Colorado Mammoth Denver !B9831872531500 January 3, 2003 Lacrosse National Lacrosse League
Colorado Eagles Loveland !B9831872075198 October 17, 2003 Ice hockey ECHL
Denver Outlaws Denver !B9831857357376 May 20, 2006 Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse

College athletics

The following universities and colleges participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I.

NCAA Division I athletic programs in Colorado

Team School City Conference
Air Force Falcons United States Air Force Academy Colorado Springs Mountain West
Colorado Buffaloes University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder Pac 12
Colorado College Tigers Colorado College Colorado Springs WCHA[83]
Colorado State Rams Colorado State University Fort Collins Mountain West
Denver Pioneers University of Denver Denver WCHA[83] and Sun Belt
Northern Colorado Bears University of Northern Colorado Greeley Big Sky

State symbols

Colorado State symbols
Flag of Colorado.svg
The Flag of Colorado.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Lark Bunting
Calamospiza melanocoryus
Fish Greenback Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki somias
Flower(s) Rocky Mountain Columbine
Aquilegia caerules
Grass Blue Grama Grass
Bouteloua gracilis
Insect Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
Hypaurotis cysaluswas
Mammal(s) Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Ovis canadensis
Reptile Western Painted Turtle
Chrysemys picta bellii
Tree Colorado Blue Spruce
Picea pungens

Inanimate insignia
Dance Square Dance
Fossil Stegosaurus
Gemstone Aquamarine
Mineral Rhodochrosite
Rock Yule Marble
Soil Seitz
Song(s) Where the Columbines Grow
Rocky Mountain High
Tartan Colorado State Tartan

Route marker(s)
Colorado Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Colorado
Released in 2006

Lists of United States state insignia

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Mount Elbert". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/ds_mark.prl?PidBox=KL0637. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Elevations and Distances in the United States". United States Geological Survey. 2001. http://egsc.usgs.gov/isb/pubs/booklets/elvadist/elvadist.html. Retrieved October 21, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Elevation adjusted to North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
  4. ^ The summit of Mount Elbert is the highest point of the Rocky Mountains of North America.
  5. ^ "Colorado - Definition". Merriam-webster.com. 2010-08-13. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/colorado?show=0&t=1307303426. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  6. ^ Writers Style Guide, Colorado State University. Retrieved January 19, 2009.
  7. ^ Quillen, Ed (2007-03-18). "Coloradoan or Coloradan". Denverpost.com. http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_5447358. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  8. ^ a b Forty-third United States Congress (March 3, 1875). "An Act to Enable the People of Colorado to Form a Constitution and State Government, and for the Admission of the Said State into the Union on an Equal Footing with the Original States" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2008-05-07. http://web.archive.org/web/20080507151300/http://www.i2i.org/Publications/ColoradoConstitution/cnenable.htm. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Rectangular States and Kinky Borders". Maa.org. 2007-08-30. http://www.maa.org/mathtourist/mathtourist_08_30_07.html. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
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  11. ^ a b Doesken, Nolan J.; Roger A. Pielke, Sr., Odilia A.P. Bliss (January 2003). "Climate of Colorado". Colorado Climate Center – Department of Atmospheric Science – Colorado State University. http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu/climateofcolorado.php. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
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  13. ^ "Pikes Peak, Colorado". Peakbagger.com. http://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=5689. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
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  19. ^ "A History of Drought" (PDF). http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu/pdfs/ahistoryofdrought.pdf. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
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  21. ^ "Record Lowest Temperatures by State" (PDF). National Climatic Data Center. January 1, 2004. http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/pub/data/special/mintemps.pdf. Retrieved January 11, 2007. 
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  23. ^ http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsus/Maps/US2/36.38.-106.-104.php
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  25. ^ "Genocide Wiped Out Native American Population ", Discovery News, September 20, 2010.
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  27. ^ "An Act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado" (PDF). Thirty-sixth United States Congress. February 28, 1861. http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/territory.pdf. Retrieved June 12, 2007. 
  28. ^ Early explorers identified the Gunnison River in Colorado as the headwaters of the Colorado River. The Grand River in Colorado was later tentively identified as the primary headwaters of the river. Finally in 1916, E.C. LaRue, the Chief Hydrologist of the United States Geological Survey, identified the Green River in southwestern Wyoming as the proper headwaters of the actual, overall Colorado River.
  29. ^ State of Colorado – Division of Information Technologies. "State Names and Nicknames". http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/history/symbemb.htm#Name. Retrieved November 15, 2006. 
  30. ^ Report of the exploring expedition from Santa Fé, New Mexico, to the junction of the Grand and Green Rivers of the great Colorado of the West, in 1859: under the command of Capt. J. N. Macomb, Corps of topographical engineers, Volume 1 @ archive.org
  31. ^ President of the United States of America (August 1, 1876). "Proclamation of the Admission of Colorado to the Union" (php). The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=70540. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  32. ^ Resident Population Data. "Resident Population Data - 2010 Census". 2010.census.gov. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/apportionment-pop-text.php. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  33. ^ "Population growth - Colorado counties". Epodunk.com. http://www.epodunk.com/top10/countyPop/coPop6.html. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  34. ^ "Population and Population Centers by State – 2000". United States Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/cenpop/statecenters.txt. Retrieved December 4, 2008. 
  35. ^ Fred Elbel, CAIR (2005-05-19). "Crime and illegal aliens in Colorado - CAIR - Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform". Cairco.org. http://www.cairco.org/issues/issues_crime_colorado.html. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  36. ^ "Language Map Data Center". Mla.org. 2007-07-17. http://www.mla.org/map_data_results&state_id=8&mode=state_tops&order=r. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  37. ^ "talking about Colorado in "nada"". Elcastellano.org. 2007-06-30. http://www.elcastellano.org/palabra.php?id=946. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  38. ^ US. "Map of Latitude: 39.500656 Longitude: -105.203628, by MapQuest". Mapquest.com. http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?searchtype=address&formtype=address&latlongtype=decimal&latitude=39.500656&longitude=-105.203628. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  39. ^ http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=DEC_10_DP_DPDP1&prodType=table
  40. ^ "National Vital Statistics Reports, Volume 57, Number 12, (3/18/2009)" (PDF). http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_12.pdf. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  41. ^ CDPHE.state.co.us, COHID Birth Data Request
  42. ^ [3], Statemaster Colorado
  43. ^ "U.S. Religion Map and Religious Populations – U.S. Religious Landscape Study – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life". Religions.pewforum.org. http://religions.pewforum.org/maps. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  44. ^ "The Association of Religion Data Archives | Maps & Reports". Thearda.com. http://www.thearda.com/mapsReports/reports/state/08_2000.asp. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  45. ^ http://calorielab.com/news/wp-images/post-images/fattest-states-2007-big.gif
  46. ^ "Fattest States 2010: CalorieLab's Annual Obesity Map - State Obesity Rankings | CalorieLab - Health News & Information Blog". CalorieLab. 2010-06-28. http://calorielab.com/news/2007/08/06/fattest-states-2007/. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  47. ^ Knowlton, Andrew. "America's Foodiest Town 2010: Boulder, Colorado: In the Magazine". bonappetit.com. http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/2010/10/americas_foodiest_town_2010_boulder. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  48. ^ [4][dead link]
  49. ^ Arnold, Katie (2008-06-08). "As Skiers Depart Aspen, Chowhounds Take Their Place". Aspen (Colo): Travel.nytimes.com. http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/travel/08Choice.html. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  50. ^ "Colorado Travel Guide". Travelandleisure.com. http://www.travelandleisure.com/guides/colorado. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  51. ^ Jackenthal, Stefani (2008-10-05). "Biking Colorado’s Wine Country". Colorado: Travel.nytimes.com. http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/travel/05biking.html. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  52. ^ "The Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition". Thejeffersoncup.com. 2010-11-24. http://www.thejeffersoncup.com. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  53. ^ "Wine Industry Feature Articles - Is Colorado the New Washington?". Winesandvines.com. http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=features&content=48734. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  54. ^ http://www.ttb.gov/appellation/us_by_ava.pdf
  55. ^ "Colorado Wine Industry Development Board". Coloradowine.com. http://www.coloradowine.com/overview.html. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  56. ^ America's Top States for Business 2010." CNBC Special Report (2010): 1. Web. 9 May 2011. <http://www.cnbc.com/id/37516043/>.
  57. ^ "GDP by State". Greyhill Advisors. http://greyhill.com/gdp-by-state. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  58. ^ "References" (PDF). http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/spi/2009/pdf/spi0309.pdf. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  59. ^ Tony Frank (January 1997). "Colorado Land Ownership by County (acres)" (Excel). Colorado Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on January 16, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060116094720/http%3A//www.ag.state.co.us/resource/colorado_land_ownership.html. Retrieved July 15, 2007.  Colorado Department of Agriculture: Land Ownership[dead link]
  60. ^ "Colorado rides on Fat Tire to beer heights". Rockymountainnews.com. 2007-11-24. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2007/nov/24/reuteman-colorado-rides-on-fat-tire-to-beer/. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  61. ^ Colorado individual income tax return (2005) Revenue.state.co.us. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
  62. ^ U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (2005) online copy. Retrieved September 26, 2006.
  63. ^ Bls.gov; Local Area Unemployment Statistics
  64. ^ Coloradofunders.org[dead link]
  65. ^ http://www.cof.org/files/Documents/Government/StateGiving/CO.pdf
  66. ^ "EIA State Energy Profiles: Colorado". June 12, 2008. http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=CO. Retrieved June 24, 2008. 
  67. ^ "State of Residence in 2000 by State of Birth". US Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/briefs/phc-t38/index.html. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  68. ^ "Colorado Counties". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. January 8, 2007. http://www.dola.state.co.us/dlg/local_governments/counties.html. Retrieved January 30, 2007. 
  69. ^ a b c d e f The City and County of Broomfield, Colorado was created on November 15, 2001, from portions of Boulder County, Adams County, Jefferson County, and Weld County, Colorado.
  70. ^ The United States Office of Management and Budget defines a Combined Statistical Area (CSA) as an aggregate of adjacent Core Based Statistical Areas that are linked by commuting ties.
  71. ^ The United States Office of Management and Budget defines a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as a Core Based Statistical Area having at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.
  72. ^ The United States Office of Management and Budget defines a Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA) as a Core Based Statistical Area having at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 population, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.
  73. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 10-02: Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses". United States Office of Management and Budget. December 1, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/bulletins/b10-02.pdf. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  74. ^ a b c "American Factfinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder2.census.gov/main.html. Retrieved May 10, 2011. 
  75. ^ "Active Colorado Municipalities". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. http://www.dola.state.co.us/dlg/local_governments/municipalities.html. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 
  76. ^ "Colorado Local Government by Type". State of Colorado, Department of Local Affairs. February 27, 2007. http://www.dola.state.co.us/dlg/local_governments/lgtypes.html. Retrieved May 11, 2011. 
  77. ^ The City of Centennial, Colorado was incorporated on February 7, 2001
  78. ^ Goodman, Josh. "Move Over Missouri, Iowa Is the New Bellwether State". Governing.com. http://ballotbox.governing.com/2008/11/move-over-missouri-iowa-is-the-bellwether-state.html. Retrieved October 10, 2009. 
  79. ^ Governor Bill Ritter appointed Michael Bennet to serve the remaining two years of United States Senator Ken Salazar term of office which was left vacant on January 20, 2009, when new United States President Barack Obama appointed the Colorado Senator to serve in his Cabinet as United States Secretary of the Interior.
  80. ^ Managed by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service.
  81. ^ Managed by the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.
  82. ^ Jointly managed by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Forest Service, and the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.
  83. ^ a b The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I ice hockey-only conference.

Further reading

  • Explore Colorado, A Naturalist's Handbook, The Denver Museum of Natural History and Westcliff Publishers, 1995, ISBN 1-56579-124-X for an excellent guide to the ecological regions of Colorado.
  • The Archeology of Colorado, Revised Edition, E. Steve Cassells, Johnson Books, Boulder, Colorado, 1997, trade paperback, ISBN 1-55566-193-9.
  • Chokecherry Places, Essays from the High Plains, Merrill Gilfillan, Johnson Press, Boulder, Colorado, trade paperback, ISBN 1-55566-227-7.
  • The Tie That Binds, Kent Haruf, 1984, hardcover, ISBN 0-03-071979-8, a fictional account of farming in Colorado.
  • Railroads of Colorado: Your Guide to Colorado's Historic Trains and Railway Sites, Claude Wiatrowski, Voyageur Press, 2002, hardcover, 160 pages, ISBN 0-89658-591-3

External links

State government

Federal government

Other

Coordinates: 39°00′N 105°30′W / 39°N 105.5°W / 39; -105.5

Preceded by
Nebraska
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on August 1, 1876 (38th)
Succeeded by
North Dakota


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