Wyoming's economy is based on three industries: mining, tourism, and agriculture. By far, mining has the greatest impact on Wyoming's economy and they have the mineral wealth to let it be a major factor for years to come. Agriculture and tourism combined have about the same impact as mining.
Wyoming leads the nation in the production of three minerals: coal, bentonite, and trona. Over three hundred million tons of coal are mined every year and their estimated reserves will last over 500 more years. Most Wyoming coal is burned in the south and midwest in energy production. Other important minerals are crude oil (fourth in the country) and natural gas (sixth in the nation).
Half of all land in Wyoming is federally owned, with another 42% privately held and the rest divided up between the state government and Indians. They have the second highest average ranch size in the nation. Of the agricultural products, wool, sheep, and lamb are the most important. Wyoming is in the top three state in each of these categories.
Geography, Climate, Etc.
Wyoming is an interesting mix of mountains and plains. The Rocky Mountains cut through the state as do a number of other important ranges: the Teton range, the Black Hills, the Sierra Madre, and so forth. Along the crest of these ranges runs the Continental Divide. At one point in southern Wyoming, the Continental Divide splits up into two divides; the area in between these two is called the Great Divide Basin. Where there aren't big impressive mountains, there are vast areas of plains though the mountains are always visible in the distance.
Because of Wyoming's high average elevation (6700 feet), the climate is semiarid and relatively cool. Temperatures in the mountains rarely exceed 100 degrees F and the nights are cool. The climate is fairly diverse, though, and annual precipitation can vary from five inches to forty five inches per year. Much of this is in the form of snow as the large snow fences by the sides of the interstate will show.
There are three major natural attractions in Wyoming, though the entire state is full of interesting scenery. These three attractions are Yellowstone National Park in the northwest, Grand Teton National Park just south of Yellowstone, and Devils Tower National Park in the northeast. In addition, there are several national forests, state parks, and so forth.
Major Cities (1996 est.)
- Cheyenne - 53,729
- Casper - 48,800
- Laramie - 26,583
- Rock Springs - 19,742
- Gillette - 19,202
- Capital: Cheyenne (way down in the southeast corner)
- Nicknames: Big Wyoming, Equality State, Cowboy State
- Motto: "Equal Rights" (due to the fact that Wyoming was the first state where women could vote, serve on juries, and hold public office)
- Statehood: July 10, 1890 (44th state)
- Land size: 97,914 square miles (9th largest)
- Highest point: Gannett Peak - 13,804 feet
- Lowest Point: Belle Fourche River - 3100 feet
- 2000 population: 493,782 (50th largest)
- State flag: The Great Seal in the center of a bison. The border of the flag is red, with a white border inside that, and then a blue field inside this.
- Great seal: A person stands on a pedestal in the center, holding a staff with a banner bearing the motto "Equal Rights" attached to it. To the sides of this central figure are two other figures who represent the livestock and mining industries. The dates 1869 (organization of territorial government) and 1890 (date of statehood) are down on the bottom. Between these two dates is a stare with the number 44 on it. Two other scrolls on the seal bear the words "Oil, Mines, Livestock, Grain" which are four of the state's major industries.
- State flower: Indian Paintbrush
- State mammal: Bison
- State bird: Meadowlark
- State tree: Plains Cottonwood
- State gemstone: Jade
- State fish: Cutthroat Trout
- State reptile: Horned Toad
- State fossil: Knightia
- State dinosaur: Triceratops
- License plate: A number to the leftmost indicating the county of issuance, then the bucking horse, then the number of the plate.
In my opinion, Wyoming is a really cool state. It's big and empty since it has the smallest population of any state. From driving through the southern portion of the state, I get the impression that it's big plains with mountain ranges all over the place. Very impressive scenery, and very cool looking besides. I haven't seen any of the parks or the norther part of the state but I expect to be quite impressed by all of it too. I'm planning on making several trips to Wyoming to check out all their parks and wide open spaces. Too bad it's so hard to describe something so pretty in text.
Source of factual information: Wyoming state website, http://www.state.wy.us
Source of largest cities: Mapquest, http://www.mapquest.com