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Montana, abbreviated MT and Mont., Is a state of the United States located in
and east of the Rocky Mountains. Montana borders Canada (British
Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan) to the north, east to North Dakota and South
Dakota, south to Wyoming, and southwest and west to Idaho.
With an area of 380 849 km2 is Montana is the fourth largest state
in the United States, but is relatively sparsely populated with 1,050,493
residents (US Census, 2017). The capital is Helena.
Montana is often called The Treasure State, the "tax state"- which
refers to the state's rich resources of minerals - and The Big Sky Country.
Montana consists of two main geographic regions. The western part is
dominated by the Rocky Mountains and has a heavily carved relief. The highest
mountain is Granite Peak (3901 meters) near Yellowstone National Park in
neighboring Wyoming. The eastern part consists of a rolling prairie
landscape that belongs to the Great Plains. The Missouri River comes from
southwestern Montana, flows east and occupies the large Yellowstone bee just
over the North Dakota border.
The climate is markedly continental. The city of Great Falls, located on
Missouri in the transition between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, has
average temperatures of −8 °C in January and 18 °C in July. The annual rainfall
is approximately 300–400 mm. The mountain valleys in the far west have somewhat
milder winters, cooler summers and more abundant rainfall. About 25 percent of
the state's area is wooded (especially in the west; spruce, pine).
Montana was colonized in the late 1800s, partly by Scandinavian
emigrants. The state is sparsely populated and has low population
growth. Between 1980 and 1990, the population grew by only 1.6 per cent -
against 5.6 per cent for the country as a whole. In the 1990s, however, the
population increased sharply (12.9 per cent in the period 1990–2000), which was
close to the national average, and then to decline. Only two states are thinner
than Montana, with the aptly named Big Sky Country - Alaska and Wyoming. Montana
is relatively urbanized, and only about 54 percent of the population lives in
cities. The largest cities are Billings and Great Falls.
Of the population, 89.1 percent are considered white, of which 3.8 percent
are Hispanics, and 6.7 percent are Indigenous people (US Census, 2017). The
indigenous people belonging to different prairie folks, including the
Sioux, Blackfeet, crow and Cheyenne, and around 3 / 4 live
in the state's seven reserves.
Montana sends two senators and one representative to Congress.
Agriculture is the most important trade route, with roughly the same emphasis
on arable and livestock farming. Arable farming is mostly run as dry farming,
but 20 percent of the cultivated area is artificial water. Wheat and barley are
especially grown, and the ranches are consistently very large, with
cattle and sheep holdings. Southwestern Montana has a rich variety of mineral
deposits. Copper, in particular, is extracted from zinc, phosphate ore, lead,
manganese, gold, silver, natural gas and oil. The industry includes processing
of mineral, agricultural and forestry products.
Montana was originally populated by a variety of indigenous communities that
lived by hunting and retreat. The first Europeans to visit the area were French
(1742). In 1764, Montana was transferred to Spain by France, which, however,
regained possession of the territory again in 1800 by treaty. In 1803, the area
came to the United States through the Louisiana acquisition and was declared its
own territory in 1864.
European immigration faced strong and organized resistance by the indigenous
people, especially the Sioux, who gathered under the chiefs of Sitting
Bull and Crazy Horse. Resistance peaked in the Battle of the Little Bighorn
River in 1876, when General George Custer and his five cavalry companies were
beaten and killed to the last man. However, the fighting ended the following
year, and the indigenous people were referred to reserves. Montana was listed as
the 41st state in the Union in 1889.