Montana Geography, Population, Business and History

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.

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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.

Montana Population 2019

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