State of Colorado - CO

Colorado is a state in the western United States. Denver is the capital and largest city. As of 2000, the state's population was 4,301,261. The state is in the Mountain, Southwestern and Central regions of the country.

Main article: Geography of Colorado
Colorado is one of only three states (the others are Wyoming and Utah) that have only lines of latitude and longitude for borders. It stretches exactly from 37°N to 41°N, and 102°W to 109°W. The Four Corners Monument at its southwestern-most point is at 37°N and 109°W.

East of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from 3,500 to 7,000 feet (1,000 to 2,000 m). Kansas and Nebraska border Colorado to the east. The plains are sparsely settled with most population along the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers and the I-70 corridor. Rainfall is meager, averaging about 15 inches (380 mm) annually. There is some irrigated farming, but much of the land is used for dryland farming or ranching. Winter wheat is a typical crop and most small towns in the region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator.

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

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

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

Digital elevation model relief map of Colorado — nearly half of the state is flat, despite stereotypesWithin the interior of the Rocky Mountains 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 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, and its branches.

Snowpack accumulation at 14,255 feet (4345 m) on Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain 54 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4270 m) or higher, known as fourteeners. The mountains are timbered with conifers and aspen to the tree-line, at an elevation of about 12,000 feet (4,000 m) in southern Colorado to about 10,500 feet (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 are 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 Pikes Peak is just west of Colorado Springs. Its lone peak is visible from near the Kansas border on clear days.

List of Colorado counties, List of Colorado rivers, and List of Colorado National Parks

The climate of Colorado is best described as being cool and dry compared to the rest of the United States. While that is generally true throughout most of the state, the climate of Colorado is very complex. The typical south-north/cooler-warmer variation in other states is generally not applicable at all in Colorado. The climate of a particular locale in Colorado depends not just on the elevation an area lies, but also on the movements of air masses in and around the area. The location of mountain ranges and surrounding valleys affect local climate greatly. As a general rule, with an increase in elevation comes a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. A main climatic division in Colorado occurs where the Rocky Mountains begin with the Front Range cities and the plains to the east, the Mountains and valleys to the west, and the foothills as a transitional zone in between the two.

The climate of the Eastern Plains is one of low humidity and moderately low precipitation, usually from 10 to 15 inches annually. The area is known for its abundant sunshine and cool clear nights, which give this area the highest average diurnal temperature range in the United States. In the summer, this area can have many days above 95 °F and sometimes 100 °F or more. It is not unheard of for there to be temperatures in excess of 115 °F in the northeast corner of the state, although 105 °F is the maximum in the front range cities above 5000'. 3/4 of the precipation falls within the growing season, from April to September, but this area is very prone to droughts. Most of the precipation comes in the form of thunderstorms which are often severe. Winters are cold and dry- in much of this region, March and April are the snowiest months. 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 up to 60 ° F or higher in the winter. [1]

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. Generally, the wettest season is in the winter in Western Colorado while June is the driest month, which is the opposite of the precipitation patterns in the east. The mountains have cool summers with many days of high temperatures around 60 ° and 70 °F, although frequent thunderstorms can cause a sudden drop in temperatures. Summer nights are cool, and cold at the highest altitudes which can sometimes bring snow even in the middle of the summer. The winters bring abundant powdery snowfall to the mountains which the skiers love, although even in the winter, there can be many days with adundant sunshine in between major storms. The Western Slope has high summer temperatures similiar to those found on the plains while the winters tend to be slightly cooler due to the lack of any warming winds which are common in the plains and Front Range. Other areas in the west have their own unique weather. The San Luis Valley is generally dry with little rain or snow, although the snow that falls tends to stay on the ground all winter.

Severe 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 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. While not as common as some of the states to the east, much of the Eastern Plains are prone to tornadoes, and there have been some damaging tornadoes there. An example is the1990 Limon F5 tornado which devastated the city. Floods are also a factor in the plains, not just from the thunderstorms, but also due to heavy snow in the mountains followed by a warm, dry period which swells rivers with melted snow.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Colorado was 118 °F in Bennett, while the lowest was -61 °F at Maybell.

Main article: History of Colorado
Colorado state insignia
Common to nearly all states
Motto Nil sine numine (Latin, "Nothing without Providence")
Slogan none
Bird Lark Bunting
Animal Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
Fish Greenback cutthroat trout
Insect Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
Flower Rocky Mountain Columbine
Tree Colorado Spruce or Blue Spruce
Song "Where the Columbines Grow"
Released in 2006
Less common
Grass Blue grama
Dance Square dance
Fossil Stegosaurus
Gemstone Aquamarine
Mineral Rhodochrosite
Rock Yule Marble
Tartan to be added
The word "Colorado" was selected by Congress in 1861 as the name for the territory that is today a state. The name has its origins in the Spanish language, where it is directly translated as "colored," and is often taken to mean "reddish colored." [2]

The territory that 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 many settlers to the Denver area, though 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 August 1, 1876, (earning it the moniker the "Centennial State"). Colorado women were granted the right to vote starting on November 7, 1893.

Three different ships have been named USS Colorado in honor of this state.

"Colorado" is pronounced many different ways. Those born and raised in Colorado commonly pronounce it "Call-oh-rod-oh" /ˌkɑloˈrɑdo/) or "Call-uh-rad-oh" /ˌkɑləˈrædo/), based on the Spanish pronunciation. Meanwhile, people from the eastern and northern United States and eastern Canada commonly say "Call-oh-rad-oh" (in IPA, (/ˌkɑloˈrædo/).

Historical populations
year Population


1860 34,277
1870 39,864
1880 194,327
1890 413,249
1900 539,700
1910 799,024
1920 939,629
1930 1,035,791
1940 1,123,296
1950 1,325,089
1960 1,753,947
1970 2,207,259
1980 2,889,964
1990 3,294,394
2000 4,301,261
The state's capital and largest city is Denver, Colorado; the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area, home to 2.5 million people, contains over half of the state's population. Residents of Colorado are often referred to as Coloradans or Coloradoans.[3]

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.

According to estimates made in 2004, Colorado's population will increase to 7,150,000 by 2030 [2]. The largest increases are expected along the Front Range, especially in the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area.

As of 2004, 441,000 foreign-born persons (9.7% of the population) live in the state, including an estimated 144,000 illegal aliens (3.1% of the state population).

Demographics of Colorado (csv)
By race White Black AIAN Asian NHPI
AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
2000 (total population) 92.23% 4.55% 1.91% 2.84% 0.25%
2000 (hispanic only) 16.20% 0.37% 0.64% 0.14% 0.05%
2005 (total population) 91.91% 4.74% 1.83% 3.19% 0.26%
2005 (hispanic only) 18.46% 0.48% 0.61% 0.18% 0.06%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 8.09% 13.03% 3.85% 22.08% 15.47%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 4.78% 10.67% 3.75% 21.14% 11.70%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 23.60% 39.64% 4.05% 40.04% 29.23%
Colorado Population Density MapColorado has one of the highest proportions of Hispanic residents of any U.S. state; only five states have a higher percentage. Denver and some other areas have significant Mexican populations, while southern Colorado has a large number of Hispanos, the descendants of early New Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin.

According to the 2000 Census, the largest ancestry groups in Colorado are German (22%), Irish (12.2%), and English (12%). Persons reporting German ancestry are the largest group in the state and are especially strong in the Front Range and eastern Plains. People of British extraction are the largest group in the western Rocky Mountains.

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Christian – 75%
Protestant – 48%
Baptist – 9%
Methodist – 5%
Lutheran – 5%
Episcopal – 3%
Presbyterian – 3%
Other Protestant or general Protestant – 23%
Roman Catholic – 24%
Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) – 2%
Other Christian – 1%
Jewish – 2%
Other Religions – 1%
Non-Religious/Atheist/Agnostic – 22%
Colorado - specifically the city of Colorado Springs— serves as the headquarters of numerous Christian groups, most of them Protestant. Focus on the Family is a major conservative Christian organization. Catholicism is popular among many Coloradans, and is becoming more so with the influx of Latino immigrants. Colorado is similar to other Western states, as it has a high percentage of religiously unaffiliated residents. The Denver area, meanwhile, is home to a large Jewish population, and Boulder and Crestone feature some of the highest concentrations of Tibetan Buddhists in North America.

Main article: Economy of Colorado
Corn production in Colorado.The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2003 was $187 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $34,561, putting Colorado eighth in the nation. To see a 2004 per capita personal income comparison table on a state basis [3]. 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 and the United States Air Force Academy 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 and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver; and a federal Supermax Prison and other federal prisons near Cañon City. There are of course various other federal agencies and federally owned lands in the state, especially with Colorado's abundant National Forests and four National Parks. There are also numerous private companies that have operations in Colorado that deal with the governmental agencies in the state.

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

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.[4][5] Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9% on retail sales. Full-year Colorado residents can claim excess a sales tax refund on their individual state income tax return. Many counties and cities charge their own rates in addition to the base state rate. There are also certain county and special district taxes that may apply. The most common special district taxes are:

Regional Transportation District (RTD), which affects the counties of Denver, Boulder, Jefferson and portions of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield and Douglas
Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) The SCFD is a special, regional tax district that has physical boundaries contiguous with county boundaries for 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." Tier I includes regional organizations: the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. It receives 65.5%. Tier II currently includes 26 regional organizations. Tier II receives 21%. Tier III has over 280 local organizations such as small theaters, orchestras, art centers and natural history, cultural history and community groups. Tier III organizations apply for funding to the county cultural councils via a grant process. This tier receives 13.5% An eleven-member board of directors oversees the distributions in accordance with the Colorado Revised Statutes. Seven board members are appointed by county commissioners (in Denver, the Denver City Council) and four members are appointed by the Governor of Colorado.
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 District (LID) within designated areas of southeast Jefferson and Boulder counties
Regional Transportation District (RTA) taxes at varying rates in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison County
Occupational Privilege Tax (OPT or Head Tax) Denver and Aurora both levy an OPT on Employers and Employees. If any employee performs work in the city limits and is paid over $500.00 USD 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 $4.00 USD per employee per month and the Employee is liable for $5.75 USD per month. In Aurora both Employer and Employees are liable for $2.00 USD per month. It is the Employers responsibility to with hold, remit and file the OPT returns. If an Employer does not comply, they can be held liable for both portions of the OPT as well as penaties and interest.
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.

A Colorado state highway sign.Main article: List of Colorado State Highways
Interstate 25
Interstate 70
Interstate 76
U.S. Route 6
U.S. Route 24
U.S. Route 34
U.S. Route 36
U.S. Route 40
U.S. Route 50
U.S. Route 85
U.S. Route 87
U.S. Route 285

License Plate Numbering
Main article: US and Canadian license plates
"$" is a symbol or picture

123-ABC (Most Common)
123456A (Temporary Plates)
$123A45 (Fleet Vehicles)
$12345 (Handicap Plate - Symbol is a Wheelchair)
$12A34 (Collector Plates - Symbol is a classic car)

Law and government
Colorado State Capitol in DenverPresidential elections results Year Republican Democratic
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
1984 63.44% 821,818 35.12% 454,974
1980 55.07% 652,264 31.07% 367,973
1976 54.05% 584,367 42.58% 460,353
1972 62.61% 597,198 34.59% 329,980
1968 50.46% 409,345 41.32% 335,174
1964 38.19% 296,767 61.27% 476,024
1960 54.63% 402,242 44.91% 330,629
Like the majority of the states, Colorado's current constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The legislative body is the General Assembly made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 65 members and the Senate has 35. Currently, Democrats are in control of both chambers of the General Assembly. The 2005 Colorado General Assembly is the first to be controlled by the Democrats in forty years.

Colorado is considered a very independent state politically, having elected 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the governorship in the last 100 years. The state supported Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, and the Republican presidential nominees in 1996 and 2000. Recently, the state appears to be going more towards the center. George W. Bush won the state's 9 electoral votes in 2004 by a margin of 5 percentage points with 51.7% of the vote, considerably less than the 9% margin Bush won by in 2000, however this can be largely attributed to the 5% of the vote Ralph Nader won in 2000. Nearly all of these votes went to Democrat John Kerry in 2004. [4]. Democrats also gained in every open seat race in the state, picking up a seat in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Democrats are strongest in metropolitan Denver, Boulder, and southern Colorado (including Pueblo, and a few western ski resort counties). Republicans are strongest in the rural plains region, Colorado Springs, the Western Slope (including Grand Junction), and some of the Denver suburbs, especially in the southern and western parts of the metropolitan area. The fastest growing parts of the state, particularly Douglas, Elbert and Weld counties in metro Denver, are strongly Republican.

The two U.S. Senators from Colorado are Wayne Allard (R), and Ken Salazar (D). The governor heads the state's executive branch. The current governor of Colorado is Bill Owens (R). See: List of Colorado Governors

Colorado is made up primarily of transplanted citizens, and this is illustrated by the fact that the state has not had a native-born governor since 1975 (when John David Vanderhoof left office) and has not elected one since 1958, in the person of Stephen L.R. McNichols. Vanderhoof ascended from the Lieutenant Governorship when John Arthur Love was given a position in Richard Nixon's administration in 1973.) Bill Owens is a native of Fort Worth, Texas. Owens is term-limited, and his successor will be elected in November 2006. Bill Ritter (D), a humanitarian missionary worker in Africa and former Denver District Attorney, will face former congressman and banker Bob Beauprez (R) in the 2006 gubernatorial election.

Cities and towns
Map of Colorado - PDFEach grouping represents a U.S. Census metropolitan or micropolitan area, headed by its principal city (or cities)[6]. Each city named in bold has a population greater than 100,000.

Castle Rock
Commerce City
Federal Heights
Greenwood Village
Wheat Ridge
Colorado Springs
Fort Collins -Loveland
Grand Junction
Canon City
Fort Morgan

Other notable cities (population under 10,000)

Glenwood Springs

Colleges and universities in Colorado:

Adams State College
Colorado Christian University
Colorado College
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University System
Colorado State University
Colorado State University - Pueblo
Colorado Technical University
Denver Seminary
Fort Lewis College
Heritage College & Heritage Institute
Iliff School of Theology
Johnson & Wales University
Jones International University
Mesa State College
Metropolitan State College of Denver
Naropa University
National Technological University
Nazarene Bible College
Regis University
Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
The Art Institute of Colorado
United States Air Force Academy
University of Colorado System
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
University of Colorado at Denver
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
University of Denver
University of Northern Colorado
Western State College

Professional sports teams
As of 2005, Colorado was the least populous state with a franchise in each of the major professional sports leagues. In fact, as of the 2000 census, Colorado was also the least populous state to have more than one major league team. The state is able to support the teams because it contains a large metropolitan area with a much higher population than any other city within 500 miles (800 km). Therefore, many of the residents in the surrounding states support the teams in Denver, as shown by the reach of the Broncos' radio. network[5]

Major league teams
Colorado Avalanche, National Hockey League
Colorado Mammoth, National Lacrosse League
Colorado Rapids, Major League Soccer
Colorado Rockies, Major League Baseball
Colorado Chill, National Women's Basketball League
Colorado Crush, Arena Football League
Denver Broncos, National Football League
Denver Nuggets, National Basketball Association
Denver Outlaws, Major League Lacrosse

Other teams
Aurora Cavalry, International Basketball League
Colorado Crossover, International Basketball League
Colorado Eagles, Central Hockey League
Colorado 14ers, NBA D-League
Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Rocky Mountain Rage, Central Hockey League

^ [1] Western Regional Climate Center. Last accessed October 24, 2006.
^ State of Colorado - Division of Information Technologies. State Names and Nicknames. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
^ Merriam Webster. Definition of Colorado. Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
^ Colorado individual income tax return (2005), retrieved September 26, 2006
^ U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (2005), retrieved September 26, 2006
^ Current Lists of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas and Definitions,, retrieved October 31, 2006.
U.S. Census Bureau.
Colorado QuickFacts. Geographic and demographic information.
Colorado - Race and Hispanic Origin: 1860 to 1990 (PDF)

History of Colorado
Economy of Colorado
Geography of Colorado
Law and Government of Colorado
List of Colorado National Parks
List of Colorado rivers
State highways in Colorado
List of people from Colorado
Scouting in Colorado

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


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