State of Colorado
State flag of Colorado State seal of Colorado
(Flag of Colorado) (Seal of Colorado)
State nickname: The Centennial State
Map of the U.S. with Colorado highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Denver
Largest city Denver
Governor Bill Owens
Official languages English
Area 269,837 km² (8th)
 - Land 268,879 km²
 - Water 962 km² (0.36%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 4,301,261 (24th)
 - Density 16.01 /km² (37th)
Admission into Union
 - Date August 1, 1876
 - Order 38th
Time zoneMountain: UTC-7/DST-6
Latitude37?N to 41?N
Longitude102?W to 109?W
Width 451 km
Length 612 km
 - Highest 4,399 m
 - Mean 2,073 m
 - Lowest 1,021 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-CO
Web site
Template:US state quarter
Folk dance Square dance
Gemstone Aquamarine
Mineral Rhodochrosite
Rock Yule marble
Grass Blue grama
Tartan to be added

Colorado is a state in the western United States. Colorado is best known as the home of the highest peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which dominate the western half of the state; eastern Colorado is largely plains. The state capital and largest city is Denver, Colorado; the Denver metropolitan area contains over half of the state's population (2.5 million out of 4.3 million). The state is named for the Colorado River, which takes its name from the Spanish word "colorado" which means "reddish colored".

The U.S. Post Office abbreviation for the state is CO. USS Colorado was named in honor of this state.


History of Colorado

The territory which ultimately became Colorado was added to the United States by the 1803 Louisiana Purchase and the 1848 Mexican Cession. The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 (see also Fifty-Niner) brought large numbers of settlers to the Denver area, although the population collapsed following an initial mining boom. The Colorado Territory was organized as a United States territory on February 28, 1861 and Colorado attained statehood in 1876 (earning it the moniker the "Centennial State"). Colorado women were granted the right to vote starting on November 7, 1893.

See: History of Colorado

Law and government

Missing image
Colorado State Capitol in Denver

Like the majority of the states, Colorado's current constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The legislative body is the General Assembly made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 65 members and the Senate has 35. Currently, Democrats are in control of both chambers of the General Assembly. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly is the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years.

The governor heads the state's executive branch. The current governor of Colorado is Bill Owens (Republican). See: List of Colorado Governors


See: List of Colorado counties, List of Colorado rivers

East of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from 3500 to 7000 ft (1,000 to 2,000 m). Kansas and Nebraska border Colorado to the east. The plains are sparsely settled with most population along the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers and the I-70 corridor. Rainfall is meager, averaging about 15 in/year (380 mm/year). There is some irrigated farming, but much of the land is used for dryland farming or ranching. Winter wheat is a typical crop and most small towns in the region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator.

The major cities and towns lie just east of the Front Range, in the I-25 corridor. The majority of the population of Colorado lives in this densely urbanized strip.

To the west lies the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains with notable peaks such as Long's Peak, Mount Evans, Pike's Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg in the south. This area drains to the east, is forested, and is partially urbanized. With urbanization, utilization of the forest for timbering and grazing was retarded which resulted in accumulation of fuel. During the drought of 2002 devastating forest fires swept this area.

To the west of the Front Range lies the continental divide. To the west of the continental divide is the Western Slope. Water west of the continental divide drains into the Pacific Ocean via the Colorado River.

Missing image
Digital elevation model relief map of Colorado — much of the state is flat, despite stereotypes

Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains there are several large parks or high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the continental divide is North Park. North Park is drained by the North Platte River which flows north into Wyoming. Just south, but on the west side of the continental divide is Middle Park, drained by the Colorado River. South Park is the headwaters of the South Platte River. To the South lies the San Luis Valley, the headwaters of the Rio Grande which drains into New Mexico. Across the Sangre de Christo 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, and its branches. See Great Rift Valley.

Snowpack accumulation at 14,255 ft. on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Snowpack accumulation at 14,255 ft. on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain 52 peaks over 14,000 ft (4,270 m), known as fourteeners. The mountains are timbered with conifers and aspen to the tree-line, at an elevation of about 12,000 ft (4,000 m) in southern Colorado to about 10,500 ft (3,200 m) in northern Colorado; above this only alpine vegetation grows. The Rockies are snow-covered only in the winter; most snow melts by mid August with the exception of 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 is generally drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Notable to the South are the San Juan Mountains an extremely rugged mountain range and to the west of the San Juans, the Colorado Plateau a high desert bordering Southern Utah. Grand Junction is the largest city on the Western Slope. Grand Junction is served by Interstate Highway I-70. To the southeast of Grand Junction is Grand Mesa, a large flat-topped mountain. Further east lie the ski resorts of Aspen, Vail, Crested Butte, and Steamboat Springs. The northwestern corner of Colorado bordering Northern Utah and Western Wyoming is mostly sparsely populated rangeland.

From west to east, the state consists of desert-like basins, turning into plateaus, then alpine mountains, and then the grasslands of the Great Plains. Mount Elbert is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains within the continental United States. The famous Pike's Peak is just west of Colorado Springs. Its lone peak is visible from near the Kansas border on clear days.

Colorado tourism and recreation

National parks

National monuments

National recreational areas

National forests

National grasslands

Wilderness areas


Corn production in Colorado.
Corn production in Colorado.

The state's economy broadened when irrigated agriculture developed, and by the late 19th century livestock raising had become important. Early industry was based on the processing of minerals and agricultural products. Current agricultural products are cattle, wheat, dairy products, corn, and hay.

In the second half of the 20th century the industrial and service sectors have expanded greatly. The state's economy is diversified and is notable for its concentration of scientific research and high-technology industries. Other industries include food processing, transportation equipment, machinery, chemical products, minerals such as gold and tourism. Denver is an important financial center.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis ( estimates that the total state product in 2003 was $187 billion. Per capital personal income in 2003 was $34,561, putting Colorado 8th in the nation.


50.4% of the population is male, and 49.1% is female.

Racial/Ethnic Makeup    
White persons 3,561,444 82.8%
Black or African American persons 163,448 3.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native persons 43,013 1.0%
Asian persons 120,779 2.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons 4,301 0.1%
Persons reporting some other race 309,691 7.2%
Persons reporting two or more races 120,435 2.8%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin 735,516 17.1%
White persons, not of Hispanic/Latino origin 3,204,439 74.5%
Race is alone or in combination with one or more other races listed. The six numbers may add to more than the total population and the six percentages may add to more than 100 percent because individuals may report more than one race.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau  (

Important cities and towns

Population < 10,000

25 Richest Places in Colorado

Ranked by per capita income

1 Cherry Hills Village, Colorado $99,996
2 Genesee, Colorado $79,180
3 Columbine Valley, Colorado $71,758
4 Castle Pines, Colorado $70,456
5 Greenwood Village, Colorado $69,189
6 Bonanza, Colorado $66,857
7 Bow Mar, Colorado $53,558
8 Heritage Hills, Colorado $50,041
9 Perry Park, Colorado $47,574
10 Lone Tree, Colorado $46,287
11 Meridian, Colorado $46,031
12 The Pinery, Colorado $43,065
13 Eldorado Springs, Colorado $42,908
14 Vail, Colorado $42,390
15 Foxfield, Colorado $40,970
16 Aspen, Colorado $40,680
17 Niwot, Colorado $39,943
18 Mountain Village, Colorado $39,920
19 Edwards, Colorado $39,784
20 Pitkin, Colorado $39,182
21 Telluride, Colorado $38,832
22 Woodmoor, Colorado $38,758
23 Castlewood, Colorado $37,891
24 Vona, Colorado $37,802
25 Eagle-Vail, Colorado $37,260
See complete list of Colorado places


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Major highways

Clip Art and Pictures

State Maps

  • US State Maps (

State Flags

  • US State Flags (

Lesson Plans, Resources and Activites

  • Colorado Lesson Plans (

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 0030719798, 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

Regions of Colorado Flag of Colorado
Eastern Plains | Denver metropolitan area | Front Range | Mineral Belt | San Luis Valley | Western Slope
Largest cities
Arvada | Aurora | Boulder | Broomfield | Centennial | Colorado Springs | Denver | Englewood | Fort Collins | Grand Junction | Greeley | Lafayette | Lakewood | Littleton | Longmont | Loveland | Northglenn | Parker | Pueblo | Westminster | Wheat Ridge
Adams | Alamosa | Arapahoe | Archuleta | Baca | Bent | Boulder | Broomfield | Chaffee | Cheyenne | Clear Creek | Conejos | Costilla | Crowley | Custer | Delta | Denver | Dolores | Douglas | Eagle | El Paso | Elbert | Fremont | Garfield | Gilpin | Grand | Gunnison | Hinsdale | Huerfano | Jackson | Jefferson | Kiowa | Kit Carson | La Plata | Lake | Larimer | Las Animas | Lincoln | Logan | Mesa | Mineral | Moffat | Montezuma | Montrose | Morgan | Otero | Ouray | Park | Phillips | Pitkin | Prowers | Pueblo | Rio Blanco | Rio Grande | Routt | Saguache | San Juan | San Miguel | Sedgwick | Summit | Teller | Washington | Weld | Yuma

Political divisions of the United States Flag of the United States
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Federal district District of Columbia
Insular areas American Samoa | Baker Island | Guam | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll | Kingman Reef | Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Palmyra Atoll | Puerto Rico | Virgin Islands | Wake Island

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