Montana is a western state defined by its diverse terrain ranging from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. Its wide-open spaces include Glacier National Park, a vast wilderness preserve that passes into Canada. The park’s many snow-capped peaks, lakes and alpine hiking trails are showcased along its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, stretching 50 miles.
The state’s name is derived from the Spanish word montaña (mountain). Montana has several nicknames, although none official, including “Big Sky Country” and “The Treasure State”, and slogans that include “Land of the Shining Mountains” and more recently “The Last Best Place”. Montana has a 545-mile (877 km) border with three Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, the only state to do so. It also borders North Dakota and South Dakota to the east, Wyoming to the south, and Idaho to the west and southwest. Montana is ranked 4th in size, but 44th in population and 48th in population density of the 50 United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller island ranges are found throughout the state. In total, 77 named ranges are part of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern half of Montana is characterized by western prairie terrain and badlands.
Much of Montana’s early history was concerned with mining, with copper, lead, zinc, silver, coal, and oil as principal products. Butte is the center of the area that once supplied half of the U.S. copper.
Fields of grain cover much of Montana’s plains. It ranks high among the states in wheat and barley, with rye, oats, flaxseed, sugar beets, and potatoes as other important crops. Sheep and cattle raising make significant contributions to the economy.
Tourist attractions include hunting, fishing, skiing, and dude ranching. Glacier National Park , on the Continental Divide , has 26 glaciers, 200 lakes, and many streams with good trout fishing. Other major points of interest include the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Virginia City, Yellowstone National Park , Fort Union Trading Post and Grant-Kohr’s Ranch National Historic Sites, and the Museum of the Plains Indians at Browning. To learn more about Montana click here
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