State of Wyoming - WY

Wyoming is a state of the western United States. While the eastern third of the state is within the Great Plains, the majority is dominated by numerous distinct mountain ranges and rangelands. Wyoming is also the least populous U.S. state with 509,294 people.[1] The capital and largest city of Wyoming is Cheyenne. Residents of the state are called Wyomingites.

Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana; on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska; on the south by Colorado; Utah is on its southwest corner; and it is bounded on the west by Idaho. Devil's Tower, made famous in the film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, is located near Moorcroft in Crook County. Wyoming is one of three states entirely bounded by straight lines. It is the eleventh largest state in the United States containing 97,818 square miles (253,348 sq km) and is made up of 23 counties. From the north border to the south border it is 276 miles (444 km); and from the east to the west border is 375 miles (603 km).

Ranch road in eastern WyomingThe Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by a number of important mountain ranges. In the northwest are the Absaroka, the Owl Creek, Wyoming, Gros Ventre, Wind River and the Teton ranges. In the north central are the Big Horn Mountains; in the northeast, the Black Hills; and in the southern portion of Wyoming, the Laramie, Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre ranges.

Wyoming is generally considered an arid state with much of the land receiving less than 10 inches (25 cm) of rainfall per year. Consequently, the land supports few opportunities for farming. Ranching, however, is widespread, especially in areas near the numerous mountain chains. There are several major mountain ranges in the state; all are part of the Rocky Mountains. The Snowy Range in the south central part of the state is an extension of the Colorado Rockies in both geology and appearance. The Wind River Range in the west central part of the state is remote and includes Gannett Peak, the highest peak in the state. The Big Horn Mountains in the north central portion are somewhat isolated from the bulk of the Rocky Mountains.

Old Faithful GeyserThe Teton Range in the northwest extends for 50 miles (80 km) and represents the most impressive section of mountains in the state. It is home to Grand Teton, the second highest peak in Wyoming, and to Grand Teton National Park, which preserves the most scenic section of the Teton range.

Several rivers begin or flow through the state, including the Yellowstone River, Powder River, and the Snake River.

The Continental Divide forks in the south central part of the state. The waters that flow or precipitate into this area, known as the Great Divide Basin, do not flow to any ocean. Instead, because of the overall aridity of Wyoming, they simply sink into the soil or evaporate. Rivers east of the Divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. They are the Platte, Wind, Big Horn and the Yellowstone rivers. The Snake River in northwest Wyoming eventually drains into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, as does the Green River through the Colorado River Basin.

Map of Wyoming - PDFAreas under the management of the National Park Service include:

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in the northern part of the state
California National Historic Trail
Devils Tower National Monument near Devils Tower, Wyoming
Fort Laramie National Historic Site in southeast Wyoming
Fossil Butte National Monument at Kemmerer
Grand Teton National Park near Moose, Wyoming
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway near Moose
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Oregon National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Yellowstone National Park
Wyoming counties

The region known today as the state of Wyoming was originally inhabited by several Native American groups. The name Wyoming is derived from the Delaware (Lenape) machewe-ami-ing, which roughly translates as "mountains and valleys alternating" The Crow, Arapaho, Sioux, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. Although French trappers may have ventured into the northern sections of the state in the late 1700s, John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was probably the first white American to enter the region in 1807. His reports of the Yellowstone area were considered at the time to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The route was later followed by the Oregon Trail. In 1850, Jim Bridger located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which was later used by both the Union Pacific Railroad in 1868, and in the 20th century by Interstate 80. Bridger also explored the Yellowstone region and like Colter, most of his reports on that region of the state were considered at the time to be tall tales.

After the Union Pacific Railroad reached the town of Cheyenne, which later became the state capital, in 1867, the population began to grow steadily in the Wyoming Territory, which was established on July 25, 1868.[2] Unlike Colorado to the south, Wyoming never experienced a rapid population boom from any major mineral discoveries such as gold or silver. Copper was found in some areas of the state.

Teton RangeOnce government sponsored expeditions to the Yellowstone country were undertaken, the previous reports by men like Colter and Bridger were found to be true. This led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park, which became the world's first National Park in 1872. It is located in the far northwestern portion of the state. Most of the territory that comprises Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming.

Wyoming was admitted to the Union on July 10, 1890. It was named after the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell. The name was suggested by Representative J. M. Ashley of Ohio.

In 1869, Wyoming extended much suffrage to women, at least partially in an attempt to garner enough votes to be admitted as a state. In addition to being the first U.S. state to extend suffrage to women, Wyoming was also the home of many other firsts for U.S. women in politics. For the first time, women served on a jury in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870). Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870) and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). In 1924, Wyoming became the first state in the Union to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office the following January.

Wyoming was the location of the Johnson County War of 1892 which was fought between large cattle operators and free ranging interest groups. This war was fought because of the new ranchers moving in following the passage of the homestead act.

Historical populations
year Population


1870 9,118
1880 20,789
1890 62,555
1900 92,531
1910 145,965
1920 194,402
1930 225,565
1940 250,742
1950 290,529
1960 330,066
1970 332,416
1980 469,557
1990 453,588
2000 493,782
Wyoming Population Density Map[edit] Population
As of 2005, Wyoming has an estimated population of 509,294, which is an increase of 3,407, or 0.7%, from the prior year and an increase of 15,512, or 3.1%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 12,165 people (that is 33,704 births minus 21,539 deaths) and an increase from net migration of 4,035 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 2,264 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 1,771 people. In 2004, the foreign-born population was 11,000 (2.2%).

Wyoming is the least populous of any state (or the District of Columbia) and has the lowest population density of the continental 48 states (Alaska's population density is lower although its total population is higher).

Demographics of Wyoming (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) 96.19% 1.01% 3.06% 0.84% 0.13%
2000 (hispanic only) 6.05% 0.11% 0.32% 0.06% 0.02%
2005 (total population) 96.01% 1.15% 3.06% 0.90% 0.12%
2005 (hispanic only) 6.38% 0.15% 0.27% 0.05% 0.01%
Growth 2000-2005 (total population) 2.95% 17.26% 3.16% 10.32% -3.47%
Growth 2000-2005 (non-hispanic only) 2.57% 14.20% 4.95% 12.17% 0.18%
Growth 2000-2005 (hispanic only) 8.66% 42.08% -12.31% -14.09% -28.40%

The largest ancestry groups in Wyoming are: German (25.9%), English (15.9%), Irish (13.3%), American (6.5%), Norwegian (4.3%), Swedish (3.5%)

The religious affiliations of the people of Wyoming are shown in the table below:

Christian – 78%
Protestant – 53%
Lutheran – 9%
Baptist – 9%
Methodist – 6%
Presbyterian – 4%
Episcopal – 4%
Other Protestant or general Protestant – 21%
Roman Catholic – 18%
LDS (Mormon) – 7%
Other Religions – 1%
Non-Religious – 21%
Dead Indian Pass, Wyoming

According to the 2004 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Wyoming’s gross state product was $24.3 billion. The per capita personal income was $34,306 in 2004. Wyoming’s unemployment rate for 2006 was approximately 3.3%, which is lower than the national average of 4.6%. Components of Wyoming's economy differ significantly from those of other states. The mineral extraction industry and the travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming’s economy. The Federal government owns 50% of its landmass, while 6% is controlled by the state. Total taxable values of mining production in Wyoming for 2001 was over $6.7 billion. The tourism industry accounts for over $2 billion in revenue for the state.

In 2002, over six million people visited Wyoming’s national parks and monuments. The key tourist attractions in Wyoming include Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Devil’s Tower National Monument, and Fossil Butte National Monument. Each year Yellowstone National Park receives three million visitors.

Historically, agriculture has been an important component of Wyoming’s economic identity. Its overall importance to the performance of Wyoming’s economy has waned. However, it is still an essential part of Wyoming’s culture and lifestyle. The main agricultural commodities produced in Wyoming include livestock (beef), hay, sugar beets, grain (wheat and barley), and wool. Over 91% of land in Wyoming is classified as rural.

Mineral production
Wyoming’s mineral commodities include coal, natural gas, coal bed methane, crude oil, uranium, and trona. Wyoming ranks highest in mining employment in the U.S. In fiscal year 2002, Wyoming collected over $48 million in sales taxes from the mining industry.

Coal: Wyoming produced 395.5 million short tons (358.8 tonnes) of coal in 2004. The state is the number one producer of coal in the U.S. Wyoming possesses a reserve of 68.7 billion tons (62.3 billion tonnes) of coal.
Natural Gas: In 2004, natural gas production was 1,929 billion cubic feet (54.6 billion m3). Wyoming ranks 5th nationwide for natural gas production. The major markets for natural gas include industrial, commercial, and domestic heating.
Coal Bed Methane (CBM): The boom for CBM began in the mid-1990s. CBM is characterized as methane gas that is extracted from Wyoming’s coal bed seams. It is another means of natural gas production. There has been substantial CBM production the Powder River Basin. In 2002, the CBM production yield was 327.5 billion cubic feet (9.3 billion m3).
Crude Oil: Production of Wyoming crude oil in 2004 was 51.7 million barrels. The state is ranked 7th among producers of oil in the U.S. Petroleum is most often used as a motor fuel, but it is also utilized in the manufacture of plastics, paints, and synthetic rubber.
Trona: Wyoming possesses the largest known reserve of trona in the world. Trona is used for manufacturing glass, paper, soaps, baking soda, water softeners, and pharmaceuticals. In 2002 Wyoming produced 17.3 million short tons (15.7 million tonnes) of trona.

Unlike most other states, Wyoming does not levy an individual or corporate income tax. In addition, Wyoming does not assess any tax on retirement income earned and received from another state. Wyoming has a state sales tax of 4%. Counties have the option of collecting an additional 1% tax for general revenue and a 2% tax for specific purposes, if approved by voters. There also is a county lodging tax that varies from 2% to 4%. The state collects a use tax of 4% on items purchased elsewhere and brought into Wyoming. All property tax is based on the assessed value of the property and Wyoming's Department of Revenue's Ad Valorem Tax Division supports, trains, and guides local government agencies in the uniform assessment, valuation and taxation of locally assessed property. "Assessed value" means taxable value; "taxable value" means a percent of the fair market value of property in a particular class. Statutes limit property tax increases. For county revenue, the property tax rate cannot exceed 12 mills (or 1.2%) of assessed value. For cities and towns, the rate is limited to 8 mills (0.8%). With very few exceptions, state law limits the property tax rate for all governmental purposes.

Personal property held for personal use is tax exempt. Inventory if held for resale, pollution control equipment, cash, accounts receivable, stocks and bonds are also exempt. Other exemptions include property used for religious, educational, charitable, fraternal, benevolent and government purposes and improvements for handicapped access. Minerals are exempt from property tax but companies must pay a gross products tax and a severance tax when produced. Underground mining equipment is tax exempt.

Wyoming does not collect inheritance taxes. Because of the phase-out of the federal estate tax credit, Wyoming's estate tax is not imposed on estates of persons who died in 2005. There is limited estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.

Interstate 25
Interstate 80
Interstate 90
U.S. Highway 14
U.S. Highway 20
U.S. Highway 26
U.S. Highway 89
U.S. Highway 191
U.S. Highway 287

Law and government
Wyoming law establishes three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The current governor is Dave Freudenthal (Democrat). The current U.S. Congressional delegation includes Sen. Mike Enzi (Republican), Sen. Craig Thomas (Republican), and Rep. Barbara Cubin (Republican).

Because of its low population, Wyoming only has 3 votes in the electoral college. It is also due to this low population that individuals in Wyoming technically have a more powerful vote in presidential elections than anyone else in the United States. For example, while Montana has a population of 902,195 to Wyoming's 493,782, they both receive the same number of electoral votes.

Wyoming is an alcoholic beverage control state.

Judicial System
Wyoming's highest court is the Supreme Court of Wyoming, with five justices presiding over appeals from the state's lower courts. Wyoming is unique in that it does not have an intermediate appellate court, like most states. This is largely attributable to the state's size and correspondingly lower caseload. Appeals from the state district courts go directly to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Wyoming also has state circuit courts (formerly county courts), of limited jurisdiction, which handle certain types of cases, such as civil claims with lower dollar amounts, misdemeanor criminal offenses, and felony arraignments. Circuit court judges also commonly hear small claims cases as well. All state court judges in Wyoming are nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission and appointed by the Governor. They are then subject to a retention vote by the electorate.

Downtown CheyenneWyoming is predominantly conservative and politically Republican (69% voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election). The state has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, and there are only two reliably Democratic counties. In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush won his third-largest victory, with 69% of the vote. Current Vice President Dick Cheney is a Wyoming resident and represented the state in Congress from 1979 to 1989. However, after his term, he resided primarily in Texas, a fact that drew mild criticism from his political opponents when he changed his voter registration back to Wyoming prior to joining George W. Bush's ticket in the 2000 Presidential election.

Despite Wyoming's clear preference for Republicans in national offices, Democrats have held the governorship for all but eight years since 1975. Governor Freudenthal was elected in 2002 and has one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the nation.

Important cities and towns
The Wyoming municipalities with populations over 10,000 are, in descending order:

Rock Springs
Green River

Public education is directed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, an elected state official. Educational policies are set by the State Board of Education, a nine-member board appointed by the governor. The constitution prohibits the state from establishing curriculum and text book selections; these are the prerogatives of local school boards.

The Wyoming School for the Deaf in Casper, operated by the State Department of Education, serves approximately 44 students either at the Deaf School or in public schools of the state. Many students attending the school in Casper are residents of other communities who are housed in private residences in Casper during the school year.

Colleges and universities
Casper College
Central Wyoming College
Eastern Wyoming College
Laramie County Community College
Northwest College
Sheridan College
University of Wyoming, the state's only baccalaureate and graduate degree granting institution
Western Wyoming Community College
Wyoming Technical Institute (WyoTech)

Professional sports teams
Casper Rockies, minor league baseball
Wyoming Cavalry, National Indoor Football League

Miscellaneous information
USS Wyoming was named in honor of this state.

State symbols
Nickname: Big Wonderful Wyoming, Equality State, Cowboy State
State motto: "Equal Rights"
State flower: Indian Paintbrush
State mammal: Bison
State bird: Western Meadowlark
State tree: Plains Cottonwood
State gemstone: Jade
State fish: Cutthroat Trout
State reptile: Horned Toad
State Fossil: Knightia
State dinosaur: Triceratops
State coin: Golden Dollar
State Song: Wyoming by Charles E. Winter & George E. Knapp
State Mythical Creature: Jackalope


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