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Capital Denver
Nickname The Centennial State
Official Language English
Governor Bill Ritter, D
Senator Wayne Allard, R
Senator Ken Salazar, D
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Ratification of Constitution/or statehood August 1, 1876 (38th)
Flag of Colorado Motto: "Nil Sine Numine" (Nothing Without the Deity)

Colorado is a state in the United States. It is known for its skiing and snowboarding resorts, such as Vail and Aspen in the Rocky Mountains, which run north-south through the state. The winters are usually very cold and produce many snowstorms.

The United States Air Force Academy and NORAD are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


A number of Colorado cities are located near the Front Range of the Rockies, at elevations of around 5,000 feet. Denver, its capital and largest city, is sometimes called "The Mile-High City, because the official elevation of Denver City Hall is exactly 5,280 feet.

Mount Elbert is the highest point in Colorado, at an elevation of 14,440 feet. It is one of over 500 mountains in the state that exceed 13,000 feet. The entire state lies at an elevation over 3,000 feet.

At elevations of 5,000 feet, the air is thinner and air pressure is lower than at sea level. It is not unusual for visitors to feel lightheaded for a day or two until they adjust (but actual altitude sickness is very rare). At this altitude, skies are a clearer, brighter blue than at sea level.


The Native American (Indian) groups indigenous to Colorado were the Anasazi and Utes who lived in the mountainous regions, and several tribes who lived in the flatlands and near the rivers at various times including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, Comanche, Pawnee and Sioux. [1]

It is believed that in 1541 the Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was the first European on record to have entered the land that is now Colorado. [2] The Spanish called the area Colorado because of its red colored earth. The name is also sometimes credited to a Jesuit, Francisco Garcia, who in 1776 named the land after the Colorado River. [3]

The United States acquired land including part of what is now Colorado in 1803 through the Louisiana Purchase. In 1848 through the Treaty of Hidalgo, Mexico ceded to the United States more land that is now part of Colorado, and the Federal Government purchased the remainder of it in 1850. Before gaining statehood, Colorado was part of the Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, and New Mexico Territories, and in 1861 Congress created the Territory of Colorado. The state now encompasses 104,247 square miles.

The state is bordered by Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Utah. Denver is the State capital and the largest city. The population of Colorado is approximately 4,750,000.

Colorado was the 38th state to join the Union on August 1, 1876, when President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation of statehood. [4]

Official Symbols

Colorado has many official state symbols including:

  • State Bird: Lark Bunting[5]
  • State Flower: Rocky Mountain Columbine
  • State Animal: Big Horn Sheep
  • State Fish: Greenback Cutthroat Trout
  • State Tree: Colorado Blue Spruce
  • State Folk Dance: Square Dance
  • State Fossil: Stegosaurus
  • State Gemstone: Aquamarine
  • State Insect: Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
  • State Song: "Where the Columbines Grow" and "Rocky Mountain High"

Notable Coloradoans

  • James Dobson, Christian psychologist and writer. Current head of the group Focus on the Family.
  • Horace Greeley, newspaper editor and major player in US expansion during the 19th century.
  • Tom Tancredo, US Representative.

Statewide officials


  3. Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names (Oxford 2005) p 116
  5. Colorado Department of Personnel and Adminstration Website