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Demographics of Colorado

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Demographics of Colorado

This article is about the U.S. state of Colorado. For the river, see Colorado River. For the physiographic region, see Colorado Plateau. For other uses, see Colorado (disambiguation).

State of Colorado
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Centennial State
Motto(s): Nil sine numine
(English: Nothing without providence)
(and largest city)
Largest metro Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area
Area Ranked 8th
 - Total 104,094 sq mi
(269,837 km2)
 - Width 380 miles (612 km)
 - Length 280 miles (451 km)
 - % water 0.36%
 - Latitude 37°N to 41°N
 - Longitude 102°03'W to 109°03'W
Population Ranked 22nd
 - Total 5,187,582 (2012 estimate)[1]
 - Density 49.3/sq mi  (19.0/km2)
Ranked 37th
 - Median household income 57,685[2] (11th)
 - Highest point Mount Elbert[3][4][5][6] in Lake County
14,440 ft (4401.2 m)
 - Mean 6,800 ft  (2070 m)
 - Lowest point Arikaree River[4][5] at the Kansas border
3,317 ft (1011 m)
Before statehood Territory of Colorado
Admission to Union August 1, 1876 (38th state)
Governor John Hickenlooper (D) (2011–)
Lieutenant Governor Joseph A. Garcia (D) (2011–)
Legislature General Assembly
 - Upper house Senate D-18, R-17
 - Lower house House of Representatives D-37, R-28
U.S. Senators 2. Mark Udall (D) (2009–)
3. Michael Bennet (D) (2009–)
U.S. House delegation 1. Diana DeGette (D) (1997–)
2. Jared Polis (D) (2009–)
3. Scott Tipton (R) (2011–)
4. Cory Gardner (R) (2011–)
5. Doug Lamborn (R) (2007–)
6. Mike Coffman (R) (2009–)
7. Ed Perlmutter (D) (2007–) (list)
Time zone Mountain: UTC-07/UTC-06
Abbreviations CO, Colo. US-CO

Colorado (

The state was named for the Colorado River, which Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the ruddy (Spanish: colorado) silt the river carried from the mountains. On August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the "Centennial State" because it became a state in the centennial year of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Colorado is bordered by the northwest state of Wyoming to the north, the Midwest states of Nebraska and Kansas to the northeast and east, on the south by New Mexico and Oklahoma, on the west by Utah, and Arizona to the southwest. The four states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona meet at one common point known as the Four Corners, which is known as the heart of the American Southwest. Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, mesas, canyons, plateaus, rivers, and desert lands.

Denver is the capital and the most highly populated city of Colorado. Residents of the state are properly known as "Coloradans", although the archaic term "Coloradoan" is still used.[9][10]


Main article: Geography of Colorado

Colorado is notable for its diverse geography, ranging from alpine mountains, arid plains and deserts with huge sand dunes, deep canyons, sandstone and granite rock formations, rivers, lakes, and lush forests. The borders of Colorado were originally defined to be lines of latitude and longitude, making its shape a latitude-longitude* quadrangle which stretches from


The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401 m) in elevation in Lake County is the highest point of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.[3] 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 Colorado at 3,317 feet (1,011 m) elevation. This point, which holds the distinction of being the highest low elevation point of any state,[4][13] is higher than the high elevation points of 18 states and the District of Columbia.


A little over one third of the area of Colorado is flat and rolling land. East of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Colorado at elevations ranging from roughly 3,350 to 7,500 feet (1,020 to 2,290 m).[14] The Colorado plains are usually thought of as prairies, but actually they have many patches of deciduous forests, buttes, and canyons, much like the high plains in New Mexico as well. Eastern Colorado is presently mainly covered in farmland, along with small farming villages and towns. Precipitation is fair, averaging from 15 to 25 inches (380 to 640 mm) annually.[15] Corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, and oats are all typical crops, and most of the villages and towns in this region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator. As well as the farming of crops, Eastern Colorado has a good deal of livestock raising, such as at cattle ranches and hog farms and irrigation water is available from the South Platte, the Arkansas River, and a few other streams, and also from subterranean sources, including artesian wells. However, heavy use of ground water from wells for irrigation has caused underground water reserves to decline.

Front range

Most of Colorado's population resides along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Pueblo, Colorado. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms that blow in from the Pacific Ocean region by the high Rockies in the middle of Colorado. The only other significant population centers are at Grand Junction and Durango in western and southwestern Colorado.

Continental Divide

The Continental Divide extends along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The area of Colorado to the west of the Continental Divide is called the Western Slope of Colorado. Drainage water west of the Continental Divide flows to the southwest via the Colorado River and the Green River into the Gulf of California.

Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains are several large so-called "parks" or high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the Continental Divide is the North Park of Colorado. The North Park is drained by the North Platte River, which flows north into Wyoming and Nebraska. Just to the south of North Park, but on the western side of the Continental Divide, is the Middle Park of Colorado, which is drained by the Colorado River. The South Park of Colorado is the region of the headwaters of the South Platte River.

Southern region

In southmost Colorado is the large San Luis Valley, where the headwaters of the Rio Grande are located. The valley sits between the Sangre De Cristo Mountains and San Juan Mountains, and consists of large desert lands that eventually run into the mountains. The Rio Grande drains due south into New Mexico, Mexico, and Texas. 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 of the Rocky Mountains, and its branches.


To the west of the Great Plains of Colorado rises the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Notable peaks of the Rocky Mountains include Longs Peak, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg, in southern Colorado. This area drains to the east and the southeast, ultimately either via the Mississippi River or the Rio Grande into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain about 54 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4,267 m) or higher in elevation above sea level, known as fourteeners.[16] These mountains are largely covered with trees such as conifers and aspens up 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. Only small parts of the Colorado Rockies are snow-covered year round.

Much of the alpine snow melts by mid-August with the exception of a few snowcapped peaks and 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. Mount Elbert is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains. The 30 highest major summits of the Rocky Mountains of North America all lie within the state.

Colorado Western Slope

The Western Slope of Colorado is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries (primarily the Green River and the San Juan River), or by evaporation in its arid areas. Prominent in the southwestern area of the Western Slope is the Grand Mesa and the high San Juan Mountains, a rugged mountain range, and to the west of the San Juan Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, a high arid region that borders Southern Utah. The Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon and then through an arid valley made up of desert from Rifle to Parachute, through the desert canyon of De Beque Canyon, and into the arid desert of Grand Valley, of which the city of Grand Junction is located.

The city of Grand Junction, Colorado, is the largest city on the Western Slope, Grand Junction and Durango are the only major centers of radio and television broadcasting, newspapers, and higher education on the Western Slope. Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison, and Fort Lewis College in Durango are the only four-year colleges in Colorado west of the Continental Divide.

Grand Junction is located along Interstate 70, the only major highway of Western Colorado. Grand Junction is also along the major railroad of the Western Slope, the Union Pacific, which also provides the tracks for Amtrak's California Zephyr passenger train, which crosses the Rocky Mountains between Denver and Grand Junction via a route on which there are no continuous highways.

To the southeast of Grand Junction is the Grand Mesa, said to be the world's largest flat-topped mountain. Other towns of the Western Slope include Glenwood Springs with its resort hot springs, and the ski resorts of Aspen, Breckenridge, Vail, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride.

The northwestern corner of Colorado is a sparsely populated region, and it contains part of the noted Dinosaur National Monument, which is not only a paleontological area, but is also a scenic area of rocky hills, canyons, arid desert, and streambeads. Here, the Green River briefly crosses over into Colorado.

From west to east, the land of Colorado consists of desert lands, desert plateaus, alpine mountains, National Forests, relatively flat grasslands, scattered forests, buttes, and canyons in the western edge of the Great Plains. The famous Pikes Peak is located just west of Colorado Springs. Its isolated peak is visible from nearly the Kansas border on clear days, and also far to the north and the south.[17]

The desert lands in Colorado are located in and around areas such as, the Pueblo, Canon City, Florence, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis Valley, Cortez, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Ute Mountain, Delta, Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument, and other areas surrounding the Uncompahgre Plateau and Uncompahgre National Forest.

Colorado is one of four states in the United States that share a common geographic point the Four Corners together with Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. At this intersection, it is possible to stand in four states at once.


The climate of Colorado is more complex than states outside of the Mountain States region. Unlike most other states, southern Colorado is not always warmer than northern Colorado. Most of Colorado is made up of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands. Mountains and surrounding valleys greatly affect local climate.

As a general rule, with an increase in elevation comes a decrease in temperature and an increase in precipitation. Northeast, east, and southeast Colorado are mostly the high plains, while Northern Colorado is a mix of high plains, foothills, and mountains. Northwest and west Colorado are predominantly mountainous, with some desert lands mixed in. Southwest and southern Colorado are a complex mixture of desert and mountain areas.

Eastern Plains

The climate of the Eastern Plains is semi-arid (Köppen climate classification: BSk) with low humidity and moderate precipitation, usually from 15 to 25 inches (380 to 640 mm) annually. The area is known for its abundant sunshine and cool clear nights, which give this area a great average diurnal temperature range. The difference between the highs of the day and the cool of nights can be considerable as warmth dissipates to the space during clear nights, the heat radiation not being trapped by clouds. Denver has one of the highest number of annual sunshine hours and clear days of major cities in the United States, the sunshine hours being comparable to Miami, Florida. The climate of Colorado is well suited for the utilization of evaporative coolers and solar hot water.

In summer, this area can have many days above 95 °F (35 °C) and often 100 °F (38 °C).[18] On the plains, the winter lows usually range from 25 °F (−3.5 °C) to −10 °F (−23 °C). About 75% of the precipitation falls within the growing season, from April to September, but this area is very prone to droughts. Most of the precipitation comes from thunderstorms, which can be severe, and from major snowstorms that occur in the winter, and early spring. Otherwise, winters tend to be mostly dry and cold.[19]

In much of the region, March is the snowiest month. April and May are normally the rainiest months, while April is the wettest month overall. 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 of 70 °F (21 °C) or higher in the winter.[19] The average July temperature is 55 °F (13 °C) in the morning and 90 °F (32 °C) in the afternoon. The average January temperature is 18 °F (−8 °C) in the morning and 48 °F (9 °C) in the afternoon, although variation between consecutive days can be 40 °F (22 °C).

West of the plains and foothills

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. Most valleys have a semi-arid climate, which becomes an alpine climate at higher elevations. Humid microclimates also exist in some areas. Generally, the wettest season in western Colorado is winter while June is the driest month.

The mountains have mild summers with many days of high temperatures between 60 °F (16 °C) and 85 °F (29 °C), although thunderstorms can cause sudden but brief drops in temperature. The winters bring abundant, powdery snowfall to the mountains with plenty of sunshine in between major storms. The western slope has high summer temperatures similar to those found on the plains, while the winters tend to be slightly cooler due to the lack of warming winds common to the plains and Front Range. Other areas in the west have their own unique climate.

Extreme weather

Extreme weather changes are common in Colorado, although the majority of extreme weather occurs in the least populated areas of the state. Thunderstorms are common east of the Continental divide in the spring and summer yet usually brief. Hail is a common sight in the mountains east of the divide and in the northwest part of the state. The Eastern Plains have had some of the biggest hail storms in North America.[15]

The Eastern Plains are part of the extreme western portion of Tornado Alley, some damaging tornadoes in the Eastern Plains include the 1990 Limon F3 tornado and the 2008 Windsor EF3 tornado, which devastated the small town.[20] The plains are also susceptible to occasional floods, which are caused both by thunderstorms and by the rapid melting of snow in the mountains during warm weather. Denver's record in 1901 for the number of consecutive days above 90 °F (32 °C) was broken during the summer of 2008. The new record of 24 consecutive days surpassed the previous record by almost a week.[21]

Much of Colorado is a very dry state averaging only 17 inches (430 mm) of precipitation per year statewide and rarely experiences a time when some portion of the state is not in some degree of drought.[22] The lack of precipitation contributes to the severity of wildfires in the state such as the Hayman Fire, one of the largest wildfires in American history, and the Fourmile Canyon Fire of 2010, which until the Waldo Canyon Fire of June 2012, and the Black Forest Fire approximately a year later, was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's recorded history.

However, there are some of the mountainous regions of Colorado which receive a huge amount of moisture via winter snowfalls. The spring melts of these snows often cause great waterflows in such rivers as the Yampa River, the Grand River, the Colorado River, the Rio Grande, the Arkansas River, Cherry Creek, the North Platte River, and the South Platte River.

Water flowing out of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is a very significant source of water for the farms, towns, and cities of fellow southwest states of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, as well as midwest like Nebraska and Kansas, and also southern states like Oklahoma and Texas. A significant amount of water is also diverted for use in California; occasionally (formerly naturally and consistently) the flow of water reaches northern Mexico.


The highest ambient air temperature ever recorded in Colorado was 118 °F (48 °C) on July 11, 1888, at Bennett. The lowest air temperature was −61 °F (−52 °C) on February 1, 1985, at Maybell.[23][24]

Monthly normal high and low temperatures for various Colorado cities[25] (°F) (°C)
City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Alamosa 35/−2
Colorado Springs 43/18
Denver 44/19
Grand Junction 38/18
Pueblo 47/14


Despite its mountainous terrain, Colorado is relatively quiescent seismically. The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center is located in Golden.

On August 22, 2011, a 5.3 magnitude earthquake occurred nine miles WSW of the city of Trinidad.[26] No casualties and only small damage was reported. It was the second largest earthquake in Colorado. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake was recorded in 1973.[27]


The region that is today the state of Colorado has been inhabited by Native Americans for more than 13,000 years. The Lindenmeier Site in Larimer County contains artifacts dating from approximately 11200 BC to 3000 BC. The eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains was a major migration route that was important to the spread of early peoples throughout the Americas. The Ancient Pueblo Peoples lived in the valleys and mesas of the Colorado Plateau.[28] The Ute Nation inhabited the mountain valleys of the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Western Rocky Mountains, even as far east as the Front Range of present day. The Apache and the Comanche also inhabited the Eastern and Southeastern portions of the state as well. The Arapaho Nation and the Cheyenne Nation moved west to hunt across the High Plains at times as well.

The United States acquired a territorial claim to the eastern flank of the Rocky Mountains with the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803. This U.S. claim conflicted with the claim of Spain to the upper Arkansas River Basin as the exclusive trading zone of its colony of Santa Fé de Nuevo Méjico. Zebulon Pike led a U.S. Army reconnaissance expedition into the disputed region in 1806. Colonel Pike and his men were arrested by Spanish cavalrymen in the San Luis Valley the following February, taken to Chihuahua, and then expelled from Mexico the following July.

The United States relinquished its claim to all land south and west of the Arkansas River and south of 42nd parallel north and west of the 100th meridian west as part of its purchase of Florida from Spain with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. The treaty took effect February 22, 1821. Having settled its border with Spain, the United States admitted the southeastern portion of the Territory of Missouri to the Union as the state of Missouri on August 10, 1821. The remainder of the Missouri Territory, including what would become northeastern Colorado, became unorganized territory, and would remain so for 33 years over the question of slavery. After 11 years of war, Spain finally recognized the independence of Mexico with the Treaty of Córdoba signed on August 24, 1821. Mexico eventually ratified the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1831. The Texian Revolt of 1835–1836 fomented a dispute between the United States and Mexico which eventually erupted into the Mexican-American War in 1846. Mexico surrendered its northern territory to the United States with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the conclusion of the war in 1848.

Most American settlers traveling overland west to the Oregon Country, the new goldfields of California, or the new Mormon settlements of Deseret in the Salt Lake Valley, avoided the rugged Southern Rocky Mountains, and instead followed the North Platte River and Sweetwater River to South Pass, the lowest crossing of the Continental Divide between the Southern Rocky Mountains and the Central Rocky Mountains. In 1849, the Mormons of the Salt Lake Valley organized the extralegal State of Deseret, claiming the entire Great Basin and all lands drained by the Green, Grand, and Colorado rivers. The federal government of the United States flatly refused to recognize the new Mormon government, because it was theocratic and sanctioned plural marriage. Instead, the Compromise of 1850 divided the Mexican Cession and the northwestern claims of Texas into a new state and two new territories, the state of California, the Territory of New Mexico, and the Territory of Utah. On April 9, 1851, Mexican American settlers from the area of Taos settled the village of San Luis, then in the New Mexico Territory, later to become Colorado's first permanent Euro-American settlement.

In 1854, Senator Stephen A. Douglas persuaded the U.S. Congress to divide the unorganized territory east of the Continental Divide into two new organized territories, the Territory of Kansas and the Territory of Nebraska, and an unorganized southern region known as the Indian territory. Each new territory was to decide the fate of slavery within its boundaries, but this compromise merely served to fuel animosity between free soil and pro-slavery factions.

The gold seekers organized the Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson on August 24, 1859, but this new territory failed to secure approval from the Congress of the United States embroiled in the debate over slavery. The election of Abraham Lincoln for the President of the United States on November 6, 1860, led to the secession of nine southern slave states and the threat of civil war among the states. Seeking to augment the political power of the Union states, the Republican Party dominated Congress quickly admitted the eastern portion of the Territory of Kansas into the Union as the free State of Kansas on January 29, 1861, leaving the western portion of the Kansas Territory, and its gold-mining areas, as unorganized territory.

Territory act

Thirty days later on February 28, 1861, outgoing U.S. President James Buchanan signed an Act of Congress organizing the free Territory of Colorado.[29] The original boundaries of Colorado remain unchanged today. The name Colorado was chosen because it was commonly believed that the Colorado River originated in the territory.[30] In 1776, Spanish priest Silvestre Vélez de Escalante recorded that Native Americans in the area knew the river as el Rio Colorado for the red-brown silt that the river carried from the mountains.[31] In 1859, a U.S. Army topographic expedition led by Captain John Macomb located the confluence of the Green River with the Grand River in what is now Canyonlands National Park in Utah.[32] The Macomb party designated the confluence as the source of the Colorado River.

On April 12, 1861, South Carolina artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter to start the American Civil War. While many gold seekers held sympathies for the Confederacy, the vast majority remained fiercely loyal to the Union cause.

In 1862, a force of Texas cavalry invaded the Territory of New Mexico and captured Santa Fe on March 10. The object of this Western Campaign was to seize or disrupt the gold fields of Colorado and California and to seize ports on the Pacific Ocean for the Confederacy. A hastily organized force of Colorado volunteers force-marched from Denver City, Colorado Territory, to Glorieta Pass, New Mexico Territory, in an attempt to block the Texans. On March 28, the Coloradans and local New Mexico volunteers stopped the Texans at the Battle of Glorieta Pass, destroyed their cannon and supply wagons, and ran off 500 head of their horses and mules. The Texans were forced to retreat to Santa Fe. Having lost the supplies for their campaign and finding little support in New Mexico, the Texans abandoned Santa Fe and returned to San Antonio in defeat. The Confederacy made no further attempts to seize the Southwestern United States.

In 1864, Territorial Governor John Evans appointed the Reverend John Chivington as Colonel of the Colorado Volunteers with orders to protect white settlers from Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors who were accused of stealing cattle. Colonel Chivington ordered his men to attack a band of Cheyenne and Arapaho encamped along Sand Creek. Chivington reported that his troops killed more than 500 warriors. The militia returned to Denver City in triumph, but several officers reported that the so-called battle was a blatant massacre of Indians at peace, that most of the dead were women and children, and that bodies of the dead had been mutilated and desecrated in hideous manner. Three U.S. Army inquiries condemned the action, and incoming President Andrew Johnson asked Governor Evans for his resignation, but none of the perpetrators was ever punished.

In the midst and aftermath of Civil War, many discouraged prospectors returned to their homes, but a determined few stayed on to develop mines, mills, farms, ranches, roads, and towns in the Territory. On September 14, 1864, James Huff discovered silver near Argentine Pass, the first of many silver strikes. In 1867, the Union Pacific Railroad laid its tracks west to Weir, now Julesburg, in the northeast corner of the Territory. The Union Pacific linked up with the Central Pacific Railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, to form the First Transcontinental Railroad. The Denver Pacific Railway reached Denver in June of the following year, and the Kansas Pacific arrived two months later to forge the second line across the continent. In 1872, rich veins of silver were discovered in the San Juan Mountains on the Ute Indian reservation in southwestern Colorado. The Ute people were removed from the San Juans the following year.


The United States Congress passed an enabling act on March 3, 1875, specifying the requirements for the Territory of Colorado to become a state.[11] On August 1, 1876 (28 days after the Centennial of the United States), U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a proclamation admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state and earning it the moniker "Centennial State".[33]

The discovery of a major silver lode near Leadville in 1878, triggered the Colorado Silver Boom. The Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890 invigorated silver mining, and Colorado's last, but greatest, gold strike at Cripple Creek a few months later lured a new generation of gold seekers. Colorado women were granted the right to vote beginning on November 7, 1893, making Colorado the second state to grant universal suffrage and the first one by a popular vote (of Colorado men). The repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1893 led to a staggering collapse of the mining and agricultural economy of Colorado, but the state slowly and steadily recovered.

Colorado became the first western state to host a major political convention when the Democratic Party met in Denver in 1908. By the U.S. Census in 1930, the population of Colorado first exceeded one million residents. Colorado suffered greatly through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but a major wave of immigration following World War II boosted Colorado's fortune. Tourism became a mainstay of the state economy, and high technology became an important economic engine. The United States Census Bureau estimated that the population of Colorado exceeded five million in 2009. Colorado became one of two states to legalize cannabis with the passage of a constitutional amendment in 2012.

Three warships of the U.S. Navy have been named the USS Colorado. The first USS Colorado was named for the Colorado River. The later two ships were named in honor of the state, including the battleship USS Colorado which served in World War II in the Pacific beginning in 1941. At the time of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, this USS Colorado was located at the naval base in San Diego, Calif. and hence went unscathed.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20125,187,5823.1%
Sources: 1910–2010[34]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Colorado was 5,187,582 on July 1, 2012, an increase of 3.1% since the 2010 United States Census.[1] Colorado's most populous city, and capital, is Denver. The Denver-Aurora-Boulder Combined Statistical Area with an estimated 2011 population of 3,157,520, has 61.90% of the state's residents.

The largest increases are expected in the Front Range Urban Corridor, especially in the Denver metropolitan area. The state's fastest-growing counties are Douglas and Weld.[35] The center of population of Colorado is located just north of the village of Critchell in Jefferson County.[36]

According to the 2010 United States Census, Colorado had a population of 5,029,196. Racial composition of the states population was:

People of Hispanic and Latino American (of any race made) heritage, made up 20.7% of the population.[37] According to the 2000 Census, the largest ancestry groups in Colorado are German (22%) including of Swiss and Austrian nationalities, Mexican (18%), Irish (12%), and English (12%). Persons reporting German ancestry are especially numerous in the Front Range, the Rockies (west-central counties) and Eastern parts/High Plains.

Colorado has a high proportion of Hispanic, mostly Mexican-American, citizens in Metropolitan Denver, Colorado Springs, as well as the smaller cities of Greeley and Pueblo, and elsewhere. Colorado is well known for its strong Latino culture and presence. Southern, Southwestern, and Southeastern Colorado has a large number of Hispanos, the descendants of the early Mexican settlers of colonial Spanish origin. In 1940, the Census Bureau reported Colorado's population as 8.2% Hispanic and 90.3% non-Hispanic white.[38]

The 2000 United States Census found that 10.5% of people aged five and over in Colorado speak only Spanish at home, with the 2009 estimate being roughly 14%. Colorado also has a large immigration presence all throughout the state, which has led to Colorado cities being referred to as "Sanctuary Cities" for illegal immigrants as well. Colorado has the 4th highest percentage of undocumented people in the U.S., only behind Nevada, Arizona, California, and tied with Texas. An estimated 5.5–6.0% of the state's population is composed of illegal immigrants. Also, over 20% of the state's prisoners are undocumented inmates.[39][40] Colorado, like New Mexico, is very rich in archaic Spanish idioms.[41]

Colorado also has some large African-American communities located in Denver, in the neighborhoods of Montbello, Five Points, Whittier, and many other East Denver areas. A relatively large population of African Americans are also found in Colorado Springs on the east and southeast side of the city. The state has sizable numbers of Asian-Americans of Mongolian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Southeast Asian and Japanese descent. The highest population of Asian Americans can be found on the south and southeast side of Denver, as well as some on Denver's southwest side. The Denver metropolitan area is considered more liberal and diverse than much of the state when it comes to political issues and environmental concerns.

There were a total of 70,331 births in Colorado in 2006. (Birth Rate of 14.6). In 2007, non-Hispanic whites were involved in 59.1% of all the births.[42] Some 14.06% of those births involved a non-Hispanic white person and someone of a different race, most often with a couple including one Hispanic. A birth where at least one Hispanic person was involved counted for 43% of the births in Colorado.[43] As of the 2010 Census, Colorado has the seventh highest percentage of Hispanics (20.7%) in the U.S. behind New Mexico (46.3%), California (37.6%), Texas (37.6%), Arizona (29.6%), Nevada (26.5%), and Florida (22.5%). Per the 2000 census, the Hispanic population is estimated to be 918,899 or approximately 20% of the state total population. Colorado has the 5th largest population of Mexican-Americans behind California, Texas, Arizona, and Illinois. In percentages, Colorado has the 6th highest percentage of Mexican-Americans behind New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.[44]


Major religious affiliations of the people of Colorado are 64% Christian, of whom there are 44% Protestants, 19% Roman Catholics, 2% Latter Day Saint/Mormon, 2% Jews, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist and 0.5% Hindu. The religiously unaffiliated make up 25% of the population.[45]

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 811,630; non-denominational Evangelical Protestants with 229,981; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 142,473.[46]


Colorado also has a reputation for being a state of active and athletic people. According to several studies, Coloradans have the lowest rates of obesity of any state in the US.[47] As of 2007, 18% of the population was considered medically obese, and while the lowest in the nation, the percentage had increased from 17% from 2004. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter commented: “As an avid fisherman and bike rider, I know first-hand that Colorado provides a great environment for active, healthy lifestyles,” although he highlighted the need for continued education and support to slow the growth of obesity in the state.[48]


Fine arts


A number of film productions have shot on location in Colorado, especially prominent Westerns like True Grit, The Searchers and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A number of historic military forts, railways with trains still operating, mining ghost towns have been utilized and transformed for historical accuracy in well known films. There are also a number of scenic highways and mountain passes that helped to feature the open road in films such as Vanishing Point, Bingo and Starman. Some Colorado landmarks have been featured in films, such as the The Stanley Hotel in Dumb and Dumber and the Sculptured House in Sleeper. The Colorado Office of Film and Television has noted that over 400 films have been shot in Colorado.[49]

There are also a number of established film festivals in Colorado, including Aspen Shortsfest, Boulder International Film Festival, Castle Rock Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, Festivus film festival, Mile High Horror Film Festival, Moondance International Film Festival, Mountainfilm in Telluride, Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, and Telluride Film Festival.


Colorado is known for its Southwest and Rocky Mountain cuisine. Mexican restaurants are throughout the state.

Boulder, Colorado was named America’s Foodiest Town 2010 by Bon Appétit.[50] Boulder, and Colorado in general, is home to a number of national food and beverage companies, top-tier restaurants and farmers' markets. Boulder, Colorado also has more Master Sommeliers per capita than any other city, including San Francisco and New York.[51]

The Food & Wine Classic held annually each June in Aspen, Colorado. Aspen also has a reputation as the culinary capital of the Rocky Mountain region.[52]

Denver is known for steak, but now has a diverse culinary scene with many top-tier restaurants.[53]

Wine & Beer

Main article: Colorado wine

Colorado wines include award-winning varietals that have attracted favorable notice from outside the state.[54] With wines made from traditional Vitis vinifera grapes along with wines made from cherries, peaches, plums and honey, Colorado wines have won top national and international awards for their quality.[55] Colorado's grape growing regions contain the highest elevation vineyards in the United States,[56] with most viticulture in the state practiced between 4,000 feet (1,219 m) and 7,000 feet (2,134 m) feet above sea level. The mountain climate ensures warm summer days and cool nights. Colorado is home to two designated American Viticultural Areas of the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA,[57] where most of the vineyards in the state are located. However, an increasing number of wineries are located along the Front Range.[58]

Main article: Colorado beer

Colorado is home to many nationally praised microbreweries,[59] including New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Great Divide Brewing Company, and Left Hand Brewing Company. The area of northern Colorado near the city of Fort Collins is known as the "Napa Valley of Beer" due to its high density of craft breweries.[60]


Main article: Economy of Colorado

CNBC's list of "Top States for Business for 2010" has recognized Colorado as the third best state in the nation, falling short to only Texas and Virginia.[61]

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the total state product in 2010 was $257.6 billion.[62] Per capita personal income in 2010 was $51 940, ranking Colorado 11th in the nation.[63] 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 (North American Aerospace Defense Command, United States Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base located approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Peterson Air Force Base, and Fort Carson, both located in Colorado Springs within El Paso County; NOAA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder; U.S. Geological Survey and other government agencies at the Denver Federal Center near Lakewood; the Denver Mint, Buckley Air Force Base, and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver; and a federal Supermax Prison and other federal prisons near Cañon City. In addition to these and other federal agencies, Colorado has abundant National Forest land and four National Parks that contribute to federal ownership of 24,615,788 acres (99,617 km2) of land in Colorado, or 37% of the total area of the state.[64] 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, the extraction of metals such as gold (see Gold mining in Colorado), silver, and molybdenum. Colorado now also has the largest annual production of beer of any state.[65] Denver is an important financial center.

A number of nationally known brand names have originated in Colorado factories and laboratories. From Denver came the forerunner of telecommunications giant Qwest in 1879, Samsonite luggage in 1910, Gates belts and hoses in 1911, and Russell Stover Candies in 1923. Kuner canned vegetables began in Brighton in 1864. From Golden came Coors beer in 1873, CoorsTek industrial ceramics in 1920, and Jolly Rancher candy in 1949. CF&I railroad rails, wire, nails and pipe debuted in Pueblo in 1892. Holly Sugar was first milled from beets in Holly in 1905, and later moved its headquarters to Colorado Springs. The present-day Swift packed meat of Greeley evolved from Monfort of Colorado, Inc., established in 1930. Estes model rockets were launched in Penrose in 1958. Fort Collins has been the home of Woodward Governor Company's motor controllers (governors) since 1870, and Waterpik dental water jets and showerheads since 1962. Celestial Seasonings herbal teas have been made in Boulder since 1969. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory made its first candy in Durango in 1981.

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.[66][67] Colorado's state sales tax is 2.9% on retail sales. When state revenues exceed state constitutional limits, full-year Colorado residents can claim 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.

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.

As of September 2012, the state's unemployment rate is 7.9%.[68]


Major philanthropic organizations based in Colorado, include the Daniels Fund, the Anschutz Family Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation, the El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation grant each year from approximately $7 billion[69] of assets.

Natural resources

Colorado has significant hydrocarbon resources. According to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado hosts seven of the Nation’s 100 largest natural gas fields and two of its 100 largest oil fields. Conventional and unconventional natural gas output from several Colorado basins typically account for more than 5 percent of annual U.S. natural gas production. Colorado’s oil shale deposits hold an estimated 1 trillion barrels (160 km3) of oil – nearly as much oil as the entire world’s proven oil reserves; the economic viability of the oil shale, however, has not been demonstrated.[70] Substantial deposits of bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite coal are found in the state.

Colorado's high Rocky Mountain ridges and eastern plains offer wind power potential, and geologic activity in the mountain areas provides potential for geothermal power development. Much of the state is sunny and could produce solar power. Major rivers flowing from the Rocky Mountains offer hydroelectric power resources. Corn grown in the flat eastern part of the state offers potential resources for ethanol production.


Colorado's transportation system is extensive and has been the genesis of world-class innovations in highway and railway construction as well as airport design, infrastructure development, and operational innovation.

Colorado's primary mode of transportation (in terms of passengers) is its highway system. Interstate 25 is the primary North/South highway in the state, connecting Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Fort Collins, and extending north to Wyoming and south to New Mexico. Interstate 70 is the primary East/West corridor. It connects Denver with the mountain communities, Grand Junction, and then west to points in Utah. The state is home to a network of US and Colorado highways that provide access to all principal areas of the state. Smaller communities are only connected to this network via county roads.

Denver International Airport (DIA) is the fourth busiest domestic U.S. airport and thirteenth busiest world airport[71] DIA handles by far the largest volume of commercial air traffic in Colorado, and is the busiest U.S. hub airport between Chicago and the Pacific coast, making Denver the most important airport for connecting passenger traffic in the western U.S. Denver International Airport is the primary hub for low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines, with routes throughout North America. It is also the fourth-largest hub of the world's largest airline, United Airlines. DIA is a focus city for Southwest Airlines, which since commencing service to Denver in January 2006, has added over 50 destinations, making Denver its fastest-growing market. Denver International Airport is the only airport in the United States to have implemented an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system covering the entire airport.[72]

Extensive public transportation bus services are offered both intra-city and inter-city—including the Denver metro area's extensive RTD services. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) operates the popular RTD Bus & Light Rail transit system in the Denver Metropolitan Area. As of January 2013 the RTD rail system had 170 light rail vehicles, serving 47 miles (76 km) of track.

Amtrak operates two rail passenger lines through Colorado, including the Glenwood Canyon route of the famed California Zephyr, one of America's legendary passenger trains. Colorado's contribution to world railroad history was forged principally by the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad which began in 1870 and wrote the book on mountain railroading. In 1988 the "Rio Grande" acquired, but was merged into, the Southern Pacific Railroad by their joint owner Philip Anschutz. On September 11, 1996, Anschutz sold the combined company to the Union Pacific Railroad, creating the largest railroad network in the United States. The Anschutz sale was partly in response to the earlier merger of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe which formed the large Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Union Pacific's principal competitor in western U.S. railroading. Both Union Pacific and BNSF have extensive freight operations in Colorado.

Colorado's freight railroad network consists of 2,688 miles of Class I trackage. It is integral to the U.S. economy, being a critical artery for the movement of energy, agriculture, mining, and industrial commodities as well as general freight and manufactured products between the East and Midwest and the Pacific coast states.[73]

Government and politics

State government

The Five Executive Officers of the State of Colorado
Office Incumbent Party Term
Governor John Hickenlooper Democratic 2011–2015
Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia Democratic 2011–2015
Secretary of State Scott Gessler Republican 2011–2015
State Treasurer Walker Stapleton Republican 2011–2015
Attorney General John Suthers Republican 2005–2015

Like the federal government and all other U.S. states, Colorado's state constitution provides for three branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial branches.

The Governor of Colorado heads the state's executive branch. The current governor is John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. Colorado's other statewide elected executive officers are the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado (elected on a ticket with the Governor), Secretary of State of Colorado, Colorado State Treasurer, and Attorney General of Colorado, all of whom serve four-year terms.

The seven-member Colorado Supreme Court is the highest judicial court in the state.

Gubernatorial election results
Year Republican Democratic
2010 11.3% 199,034 51.0% 912,005
2006 40.16% 625,886 56.98% 888,096
2002 62.62% 884,584 33.65% 475,373
1998 49.06% 648,202 48.43% 639,905
1994 38.70% 432,042 55.47% 619,205
1990 35.43% 358,403 61.89% 626,032

The state legislative body is the Colorado General Assembly, which is made up of two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 65 members and the Senate has 35. As of 2013, the Democratic Party holds a 18 to 17 majority in the Senate and a 37 to 28 majority in the House.

Most Coloradans are originally native to other states (nearly 60% according to the 2000 census),[74] and this is illustrated by the fact that the state did not have a native-born governor from 1975 (when John David Vanderhoof left office) until 2007, when Bill Ritter took office; his election the previous year marked the first electoral victory for a native-born Coloradan in a gubernatorial race since 1958 (Vanderhoof had ascended from the Lieutenant Governorship when John Arthur Love was given a position in Richard Nixon's administration in 1973).


The State of Colorado is divided into 64 counties.[75] Counties are important units of government in Colorado since the state has no secondary civil subdivisions such as townships. Two of these counties, the City and County of Denver and the City and County of Broomfield, have consolidated city and county governments.

Nine Colorado counties have a population in excess of 250,000 each, while eight Colorado counties have a population of less than 2,500 each. The ten most populous Colorado counties are located in the Front Range Urban Corridor.

The 21 Colorado counties with a population of at least 25,000

Rank County 2011 Estimate 2010 Census Change
!000001 El Paso County !B815452607 636,963 !B1048939968 622,263 !D00-1199552273 +2.36%
!000002 DenCity and County of Denver !B1085889660 619,968 !B1410638759 600,158 !D000-249677437 +3.30%
!000003 Arapahoe County !B1667338754 584,948 !B1891125936 572,003 !D000-770359435 +2.26%
!000004 Jefferson County !B-1825942015 539,884 !B-1726520761 534,543 !D00-1184647508 +1.00%
!000005 Adams County !B-36890189 451,443 !B183488117 441,603 !D000-615149891 +2.23%
!000006 Larimer County !B-427682378 305,525 !B-232850096 299,630 !D0000629732797 +1.97%
!000007 Boulder County !B-224436184 299,378 !B-62431109 294,567 !D00-1803657773 +1.63%
!000008 Douglas County !B19378140 292,167 !B251439409 285,465 !D00-1137571261 +2.35%
!000009 Weld County !B1238339699 258,638 !B1465658208 252,825 !D000-928698054 +2.30%
!000010 Pueblo County !B1711923639 160,545 !B1804662908 159,063 !D000-485562024 +0.93%
!000011 Mesa County !B-1707271419 147,083 !B-1682765440 146,723 !D0000-27565115 +0.25%
!000012 BroCity and County of Broomfield !B-879312644 57,352 !B-620911287 55,889 !D0002069046219 +2.62%
!000013 Garfield County !B-688850813 56,270 !B-709976519 56,389 !H-163381843 −0.21%
!000014 La Plata County !B116301626 51,917 !B229231515 51,334 !D0001829540973 +1.14%
!000015 Eagle County !B128443749 51,854 !B62514302 52,197 !H-1689723370 −0.66%
!000016 Fremont County !B1037729925 47,347 !B1148805602 46,824 !D0001996024109 +1.12%
!000017 Montrose County !B-1820606008 41,011 !B-1885014947 41,276 !H-1922291535 −0.64%
!000018 Delta County !B1156608882 30,451 !B993421052 30,952 !H-1265027377 −1.62%
!000019 Morgan County !B1933446626 28,175 !B1939127033 28,159 !D0001715891728 +0.06%
!000020 Summit County !B2005757127 27,972 !B1997895211 27,994 !H-1451418624 −0.08%
!000021 Montezuma County !B-1341183588 25,442 !B-1377670671 25,535 !H998651300 −0.36%

Metropolitan areas

Main articles: Colorado metropolitan areas and Colorado census statistical areas

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined one Combined Statistical Area (CSA),[76] seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs),[77] and seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (μSAs)[78] in the state of Colorado.[79]

The most populous of the 14 Core Based Statistical Areas in Colorado is the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. This area had an estimated population of 2,599,504 on July 1, 2011, an increase of +2.20% since the 2010 United States Census.[80]

The more extensive Denver-Aurora-Boulder, CO Combined Statistical Area had an estimated population of 3,157,520 on July 1, 2011, an increase of +2.16% since the 2010 United States Census.[80]

The most populous extended metropolitan region in Rocky Mountain Region is the Front Range Urban Corridor along the northeast face of the Southern Rocky Mountains. This region with Denver at its center had an estimated population of 4,423,936 on July 1, 2011, an increase of +2.06% since the 2010 United States Census.[80]


Main article: Colorado municipalities

The state of Colorado currently has 271 active incorporated municipalities, including 196 towns, 73 cities, and two consolidated city and county governments.[81][82]

Colorado municipalities operate under one of five types of municipal governing authority. Colorado has one town with a territorial charter, 160 statutory towns, 12 statutory cities, 96 home rule municipalities (61 cities and 35 towns), and 2 consolidated city and county governments.

Denver with Speer Boulevard in the foreground
The 26 Colorado municipalities with a population of at least 25,000

Rank Municipality 2012 Estimate 2010 Census Change
!000001 City and County of Denver !B857899816 634,265 !B1410638759 600,158 !D00-1387867952 +5.68%
!000002 City of Colorado Springs !B407188450 431,834 !B770489240 416,427 !D00-1390846123 +3.70%
!000003 City of Aurora !B-1468252285 339,030 !B-1048017830 325,078 !D0001419651791 +4.29%
!000004 City of Fort Collins !B-1810689714 148,612 !B-1494461613 143,986 !D0000020496720 +3.21%
!000005 City of Lakewood !B-1600161348 145,516 !B-1424348490 142,980 !D0001666461573 +1.77%
!000006 City of Thornton !B-11400496 124,140 !B430642225 118,772 !D0000902731820 +4.52%
!000007 City of Arvada !B1221104185 109,745 !B1527542322 106,433 !D0000339896058 +3.11%
!000008 City of Westminster !B1273727711 109,169 !B1557559235 106,114 !D0001117605584 +2.88%
!000009 City of Pueblo !B1402520269 107,772 !B1512333051 106,595 !D0002111004820 +1.10%
!000010 City of Centennial !B1783532244 103,743 !B2113368140 100,377 !D000-407658353 +3.35%
!000011 City of Boulder !B1971812249 101,808 !B-1878990129 97,385 !D0000853768885 +4.54%
!000012 City of Greeley !B-1668545613 95,357 !B-1406320502 92,889 !D0001920232890 +2.66%
!000013 City of Longmont !B-941371538 88,669 !B-667087313 86,270 !D0001464560924 +2.78%
!000014 City of Loveland !B1390972891 70,223 !B1881872575 66,859 !D000-170219251 +5.03%
!000015 City of Grand Junction !B-1313833583 59,899 !B-1088778713 58,566 !D000-827482842 +2.28%
!000016 City and County of Broomfield !B-1042913353 58,298 !B-620911287 55,889 !D0001376787500 +4.31%
!000017 Town of Castle Rock !B226504649 51,348 !B852744843 48,231 !D0001621505894 +6.46%
!000018 City of Commerce City !B813428482 48,421 !B1345281508 45,913 !D000-992144287 +5.46%
!000019 Town of Parker !B1075395550 47,169 !B1480356470 45,297 !D0001797563198 +4.13%
!000020 City of Littleton !B1822135740 43,775 !B-1996083030 41,737 !D0000129419835 +4.88%
!000021 City of Northglenn !B-761878963 36,891 !B-458608611 35,789 !D0000445400360 +3.08%
!000022 City of Brighton !B-131138810 34,636 !B246619820 33,352 !D00-1788363015 +3.85%
!000023 City of Englewood !B920990791 31,177 !B1221182625 30,255 !D0000548976786 +3.05%
!000024 City of Wheat Ridge !B1069634753 30,717 !B1250642602 30,166 !D0001372653657 +1.83%
!000025 City of Fountain !B-1895086652 26,891 !B-1498728571 25,846 !D0002016618574 +4.04%
!000026 City of Lafayette !B-1454912219 25,733 !B-944699148 24,453 !D000-565842774 +5.23%

Unincorporated communities

Main article: Colorado census designated places

In addition to its 271 municipalities, Colorado has 187 unincorporated United States census designated places and many other small communities.

The 16 Census Designated Places in Colorado with a population of at least 10,000

Rank Census Designated Place 2010 Census 2000 Census Change
!000001 Highlands Ranch !B-1809746481 96,713 !B1290656082 70,931 !D0001530375403 +36.35%
!000002 Security-Widefield !B388543270 32,882 !B1357624009 29,845 !D0001376634875 +10.18%
!000003 Ken Caryl !B524491475 32,438 !B1014443392 30,887 !D000-150416080 +5.02%
!000004 Dakota Ridge !B658875820 32,005 !O NA !O NA
!000005 Pueblo West !B1427561418 29,637 !B-1544681852 16,899 !D00-1468319330 +75.38%
!000006 Columbine !B-873699732 24,280 !B-797213571 24,095 !D0001449397783 +0.77%
!000007 Clifton !B1121161779 19,889 !B-1805180171 17,345 !D0002015797165 +14.67%
!000008 Sherrelwood !B1960925681 18,287 !B-1983460420 17,657 !D00-1028060719 +3.57%
!000009 Cimarron Hills !B-1098146690 16,161 !B-481143497 15,194 !D0001774770190 +6.36%
!000010 Welby !B-249442053 14,846 !B1099159888 12,973 !D00-2121547969 +14.44%
!000011 Fort Carson !B471760857 13,813 !B-1143517650 10,566 !D00-1085803832 +30.73%
!000012 Black Forest !B989534044 13,116 !B890151517 13,247 !H-1897482803 −0.99%
!000013 Berkley !B-1732490493 11,207 !B-1309648459 10,743 !D0001356479992 +4.32%
!000014 Cherry Creek !B-1654557551 11,120 !O NA !O NA
!000015 PinThe Pinery !B-1097034618 10,517 !B-1676223722 7,253 !D000-605317200 +45.00%
!000016 Edwards !B-855479304 10,266 !B1322282083 8,257 !D0001249340508 +24.33%

Special districts

The state of Colorado has more than 3,000 districts with taxing authority. These districts may provide schools, law enforcement, fire protection, water, sewage, drainage, irrigation, transportation, recreation, infrastructure, cultural facilities, business support, redevelopment, or other services.

Some of these districts have authority to levy sales tax and well as property tax and use fees. This has led to a hodgepodge of sales tax and property tax rates in Colorado. There are some street intersections in Colorado with a different sales tax rate on each corner, sometimes substantially different.

Some of the more notable Colorado districts are:

  • The Regional Transportation District (RTD), which affects the counties of Denver, Boulder, Jefferson, and portions of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, and Douglas Counties
  • The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), a special regional tax district with physical boundaries contiguous with county boundaries of 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" among which receipts are allocated by percentage.
      • 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 11-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.
  • The Football Stadium District (FD or FTBL), approved by the voters to pay for and help build the Denver Broncos' stadium Sports Authority Field at Mile High
  • Local Improvement Districts (LID) within designated areas of southeast Jefferson and Boulder counties
  • Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) taxes at varying rates in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Gunnison County

Federal politics

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2012 46.12% 1,185,050 51.49% 1,322,998
2008 44.71% 1,073,584 53.66% 1,288,568
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

Colorado is considered a swing state in both state and federal elections. Coloradans have elected 17 Democrats and 12 Republicans to the governorship in the last 100 years. In presidential politics, Colorado was considered a reliably Republican state the post-World War II era, only voting for the Democratic candidate in 1964 and 1992. However, it became a competitive swing state by the turn of the century, and voted consecutively for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Colorado politics has the contrast of conservative cities such as Colorado Springs and liberal cities such as Boulder and Denver. Democrats are strongest in metropolitan Denver, the college towns of Fort Collins and Boulder, southern Colorado (including Pueblo), and a few western ski resort counties. The Republicans are strongest in the Eastern Plains, Colorado Springs, Greeley, and far Western Colorado near Grand Junction.

The state of Colorado is represented by its two United States Senators:

Colorado is represented by seven Representatives to the United States House of Representatives:

Significant bills passed in Colorado

On the November 8, 1932 ballot, Colorado approved the repeal of alcohol prohibition more than a year before the federal government passed the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In 2012, voters amended the state constitution to protect "personal use" of marijuana for adults, establishing a framework to regulate Cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. The state's retail pot regulations will be final by mid-October 2013.[84]

The first recreational marijuana shops in Colorado will open their doors for the first time in U.S. history on Jan. 1, 2014.[85]


Colleges and universities in Colorado:

Military installations

Colorado is currently the home of seven major military bases and installations.

Former Military installations include

Protected areas

Main articles: List of federal lands in Colorado and Colorado State Parks

Colorado is home to four national parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas, two national historic sites, three national historic trails, one national scenic trail, 11 national forests, two national grasslands, 41 national wilderness areas, two national conservation areas, eight national wildlife refuges, 44 state parks, 307 state wildlife areas, and numerous other scenic, historic, and recreational areas.

Units of the National Park System in Colorado:


Main article: Sports in Colorado

Colorado is the least populous state with a franchise in each of the major professional sports leagues.

Professional sports teams

Professional Sports Clubs based in Colorado

Club Home First game Sport League
Denver Broncos Denver !B908994449 September 9, 1960 Football National Football League
Denver Barbarians Denver !B873552852 Spring 1967 Rugby Union Rugby Super League
Denver Nuggets Denver !B873336287 September 27, 1967 Basketball National Basketball Association
Colorado Springs Sky Sox Colorado Springs !B767301003 June 18, 1988 Baseball Minor League Baseball (AAA)
Colorado Rockies Denver !B742289324 April 5, 1993 Baseball Major League Baseball
Colorado Avalanche Denver !B731958195 October 6, 1995 Ice hockey National Hockey League
Colorado Rapids Commerce City !B727244255 April 13, 1996 Soccer Major League Soccer
Colorado Mammoth Denver !B692390956 January 3, 2003 Lacrosse National Lacrosse League
Colorado Eagles Loveland !B691934654 October 17, 2003 Ice hockey ECHL
Denver Outlaws Denver !B677216832 May 20, 2006 Lacrosse Major League Lacrosse
Colorado Ice Loveland !B672331312 March 23, 2007 Football Indoor Football League
Grand Junction Rockies Grand Junction !B647303271 June 18, 2012 Baseball Minor League Baseball (Rookie)
Denver Cutthroats Denver !B647103975 October 19, 2012 Ice hockey Central Hockey League

College athletics

The following universities and colleges participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I.

NCAA Division I athletic programs in Colorado

Team School City Conference
Air Force Falcons United States Air Force Academy Colorado Springs Mountain West
Colorado Buffaloes University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder Pac-12
Colorado College Tigers Colorado College Colorado Springs WCHA[90]
Colorado State Rams Colorado State University Fort Collins Mountain West
Denver Pioneers University of Denver Denver WAC, WCHA[90] and ECAC Lacrosse
Northern Colorado Bears University of Northern Colorado Greeley Big Sky
Western State Colorado University Mountaineers Western State Colorado University Gunnison RMAC
Colorado Mesa Mavericks Colorado Mesa University Grand Junction RMAC
Colorado School of Mines Orediggers Colorado School of Mines Golden RMAC

State symbols

Colorado State symbols
Bird(s) Lark Bunting
Calamospiza melanocoryus
Fish Greenback Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki somias
Flower(s) Rocky Mountain Columbine
Aquilegia caerules
Grass Blue Grama Grass
Bouteloua gracilis
Insect Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
Hypaurotis cysaluswas
Mammal(s) Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
Ovis canadensis
Reptile Western Painted Turtle
Chrysemys picta bellii
Tree Colorado Blue Spruce
Picea pungens
Inanimate insignia
Dance Square Dance
Chorea quadra
Fossil Stegosaurus
Stegosaurus armatus
Gemstone Aquamarine
Mineral Rhodochrosite
Rock Yule Marble
Soil Seitz
Song(s) Where the Columbines Grow
Rocky Mountain High
Tartan Colorado State Tartan
Route marker(s)
State Quarter
Released in 2006
Lists of United States state symbols

See also


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

External links

State government
  • Colorado state government website
    • Colorado Department of Transportation
      • Colorado highway maps
        • Colorado Travel Map
    • Colorado counties
    • Colorado municipalities
    • Colorado special districts
    • Colorado tourism
  • Colorado State and County Government Websites
  • American Library Association Government Documents Roundtable.
Federal government
  • Energy & Environmental Data for Colorado
  • USGS Colorado state facts, real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Colorado
  • United States Census Bureau
    • Colorado QuickFacts
    • Colorado economic data
    • Colorado housing data
    • Colorado social data
  • USDA ERS Colorado state facts
  • Colorado County Evolution
  • Ask Colorado
  • 2000 Census of Population and Housing for Colorado
  • Mountain and Desert Plants of Colorado and the Southwest,
  • Climate of Colorado
  • DMOZ
  • Geographic data related to OpenStreetMap

Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on August 1, 1876 (38th)
Succeeded by
North Dakota

Coordinates: 39°00′N 105°30′W / 39°N 105.5°W / 39; -105.5

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