Wyoming is a state in the Mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High Plains. Wyoming is the tenth largest U.S. state by area, and it is the least populous, with a U.S. Census population of 563,626 in 2010. This is a 14.1% increase since 2000.
The Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by many mountain ranges. Surface elevations range from the summit of Gannett Peak in the Wind River Mountain Range, at 13,804 feet (4,207 m), to the Belle Fourche River valley in the state’s northeast corner, at 3,125 feet (953 m). In the northwest are the Absaroka, Owl Creek, Gros Ventre, Wind River and the Teton ranges. In the north central are the Big Horn Mountains; in the northeast, the Black Hills; and in the southern region the Laramie, Snowy and Sierra Madre ranges.
More than 48% of the land in Wyoming is owned by the U.S. Government, leading Wyoming to rank sixth in the U.S. in total acres and fifth in percentage of a state's land owned by the Federal government. This amounts to about 30,099,430 acres (121,808.1 km2) owned and managed by the U.S. Government. The state government owns an additional 6% of all Wyoming lands, or another 3,864,800 acres (15,640 km2).
According to the 2005 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Wyoming’s gross state product was $27.4 billion.
As of January 2010, the state's unemployment rate is 7.6%. Components of Wyoming's economy differ significantly from those of other states.
The mineral extraction industry and travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming’s economy. The Federal government owns about 50% of its landmass, while 6% is controlled by the state. Total taxable values of mining production in Wyoming for 2001 was over $6.7 billion. The tourism industry accounts for over $2 billion in revenue for the state.
Several American Indian groups originally inhabited the region now known as Wyoming. The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. What is now southwestern Wyoming became nominally a part of the Spanish, and later Mexican, territory of Alta California, until it was ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War. Although French trappers may have ventured into the northern sections of the state in the late 18th century, John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, first described the region in 1807. At the time, his reports of the Yellowstone area were considered to be fictional. Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The Oregon Trail later followed that route. In 1850, Jim Bridger located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which the Union Pacific Railroad used in 1868—as did Interstate 80, 90 years later. Bridger also explored Yellowstone and filed reports on the region that, like those of Colter, were largely regarded as tall tales at the time.
Unlike most other states, Wyoming does not levy an individual or corporate income tax. In addition, Wyoming does not assess any tax on retirement income earned and received from another state. Wyoming has a state sales tax of 4%. Counties have the option of collecting an additional 1% tax for general revenue and a 1% tax for specific purposes, if approved by voters. Food for human consumption is not subject to sales tax. There also is a county lodging tax that varies from 2% to 5%. The state collects a use tax of 5% on items purchased elsewhere and brought into Wyoming.
The largest airport in Wyoming is Jackson Hole Airport. Visiting the airport's web site under news/airport improvement projects, the recent terminal expansion and increased commercial jet traffic now makes the airport the largest in the State with over 500 employees. Three interstate highways and thirteen U.S. highways pass through Wyoming. In addition, the state is served by the Wyoming state highway system.
State bird: Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
State coin: Sacagawea dollar
State dinosaur: Triceratops
State emblem: Bucking Horse and Rider
State fish: Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarki)
State flag: Flag of the State of Wyoming
State flower: Wyoming Indian paintbrush (Castilleja linariifolia)
State fossil: Knightia
State gemstone: Wyoming nephrite jade
State grass: Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)
State mammal: American Bison (Bison bison)
State motto: Equal Rights
State nicknames: Equality State; Cowboy State; Big Wonderful Wyoming
State reptile: Horned lizard (Phrynosoma douglassi brevirostre)
State seal: Great Seal of the State of Wyoming
State soil: Forkwood (unofficial)
State song: Wyoming (song) by Charles E. Winter & George E. Knapp
State sport: Rodeo
State tree: Plains Cottonwood (Populus sargentii)