State of Colorado
Flag of Colorado Seal
Nickname(s): The Centennial State
Motto(s): Nil sine numine
"Nothing without Providence"'
Official language(s) English
Largest city Denver
Largest metro area Denver-Aurora Metro Area
Area Ranked 8th in the US
- Total 104,185 sq mi
- Width 280 miles (451 km)
- Length 380 miles (612 km)
- % water 0.36%
- Latitude 37°N to 41°N
- Longitude 102°03'W to 109°03'W
Population Ranked 22nd in the US
- Total 4,861,515 (2007 est.)
- Density 41.5/sq mi (16.01/km?)
Ranked 37th in the US
- Median income $51,022 (10th)
- Highest point Mount Elbert 14,440 ft (4401 m)
- Mean 6,800 ft (2073 m)
- Lowest point Arikaree River
3,315 ft (1010 m)
Admission to Union 1876-08-01 (38th)
Governor Bill Ritter (D)
Lieutenant Governor Barbara O'Brien (D)
U.S. Senators 2 - Wayne Allard (R)
3 - Ken Salazar (D)
Congressional Delegation List
Time zone MST=UTC-07, MDT=UTC-06
Abbreviations CO Colo. US-CO
The State of Colorado (pronounced /k?l??r?do?/ or, chiefly by nonresidents, /k?l??r??do?/ (help·info)) is a state located in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States of America. Colorado may also be considered to be a part of the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States. The United States Census Bureau estimates that the state population was 4,861,515 in 2007, a 13.03% increase since the U.S. Census 2000. Denver is the capital as well as the most populous city of Colorado. Citizens of Colorado are known as Coloradans.
The State of Colorado is defined as the geoellipsoidal rectangle that 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). Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are the only three U.S. states that have only lines of latitude and longitude for boundaries and that have no natural borders. When government surveyors established the border markers for the Territory of Colorado, minor surveying errors created several small kinks along the borders, most notably along the border with the Territory of Utah. The surveyors' benchmarks, once agreed upon by the interested parties, became the legal boundaries for the Colorado Territory.
The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) elevation in Lake County is the state's highest point and the highest point in the entire Rocky Mountains. Colorado has more than 50 mountain peaks that exceed 4,000 meters (13,123 ft) elevation. 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 the State of Colorado at 3,315 feet (1,010 m) elevation. This crossing point holds the distinction of being the highest low point of any U.S. state.
Nearly half of the state is flat in stark contrast to Colorado's rugged Rocky Mountains. East of the Southern Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from 3315 to 6562 feet (1010 to 2000 m). The states of Kansas and Nebraska border Colorado to the east. The plains are sparsely settled with most population along the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers. Precipitation is meager, averaging from 12 to 18 inches (300 to 450 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 bulk of Colorado's population lives along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms by the high mountains to the west.
The Continental Divide dips down to 11,990 feet (3,655 m) at Loveland Pass.
To the west lies the eastern slope 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. During the drought of 2002 devastating forest fires swept this area.
The Continental Divide stretches across the crest of the Rocky Mountains. To the west of the Continental Divide is the Western Slope. Water west of the Continental Divide drains west into the Sea of Cortez via the Colorado River.
Within 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.
The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain 53 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4,267 m) or higher elevation, known as fourteeners. The mountains are timbered with conifers and aspen 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. The Colorado 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, the world's largest 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 thenthe grasslands of the Great