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Colorado

land denver territory west

Colorado, state in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States; bordered by Wyoming in the north, Nebraska in the north and east, Kansas in the east, Oklahoma and New Mexico in the south, and Utah in the west.

Land and climate

Colorado has the highest mean elevation (c. 6,800 ft/2,100 m) of any state. The high plains of the east, part of the Great Plains, cover two-fifths of the state. The land here is extremely flat, but rises in the west to meet the edge of the Rocky Mountains, which cover the middle two-fifths of Colorado. The Continental Divide, the line of elevated land that separates westward-flowing and eastward-flowing waters, runs through the Colorado Rockies.The several ranges that make up the Rockies in Colorado are the tallest in the entire chain: over 50 peaks reach 14,000 ft (4,270 m) or more. These ranges include the Sawatch Range, which contains Mt. Elbert. The Colorado Plateau in the west covers about one-fifth of the state. It is an area of lower mountains, plateaus, and mesas.

The most famous of the state's many important rivers is the Colorado, which drains one-twelfth of the United States. Despite the important rivers, the uneven distribution of water within Colorado is a problem. The mountains are considerably cooler than the plains and plateaus, which are dry and sunny. Principal cities are Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.

Economy

Major manufactured products are scientific instruments, processed foods, machinery, and printed materials. Livestock and livestock products dominate agriculture. The chief crops, grown mostly on irrigated land, are hay, wheat, and corn. Colorado has vast deposits of petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Tourism is also important, with spectacular mountain scenery and skiing the major attractions. More than a third of Colorado's land is owned by the U.S. government.

Government

Colorado is governed by the constitution of 1876. The state government is headed by a governor elected for a 4-year term. The state legislature consists of a senate, whose 35 members are elected for 4-year terms, and a house of representatives, whose 65 members serve 2-year terms. It is represented by 2 senators and 6 representatives in the U.S. Congress.

History

Traces of ancient Native American culture in Colorado are evident in the Mesa Verde and other cliff dwellings. In the 1600s Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to enter the region, which was claimed by Spain in 1706. After the Louisiana Purchase (1803), explorers like Zebulon Pike began to open up the territory. The trader William Bent built Bent's Fort, the first permanent European American settlement, in 1833. In the Mexican War (1846–48) the United States conquered further Colorado territory. The discovery of gold near Denver in 1858–59 brought a rush of prospectors. Congress created the Colorado Territory in 1861. In the 1880s, the discovery of rich silver ore in the Leadville area started a boom, but the rapid drop of silver prices in 1893 resulted in unemployment and labor problems. In 1906, the U.S. Mint in Denver began producing coins. During World War II the state prospered as military bases and a flourishing defense industry were established. The subsequent population growth increased Colorado's need for irrigation and water storage, which led to the development of several water projects, the most recent completed in 1985. Colorado's coal and petroleum industries expanded during the energy crisis of the 1970s, but since the end of the boom in the 1980s, the state has faced a sagging economy.

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