Montana is a state in the Pacific Northwest and Great Plains regions of the United States of America. The central and western thirds of the state have numerous mountain ranges (approximately 77 named) of the northern Rocky Mountains; thus the state’s name, derived from the Spanish word for mountain. Big Sky, open land, majestic mountains and friendly people combine to make Montana the “Treasure State”, the official state nickname. Other nicknames include “Land of Shining Mountains”, “Big Sky Country”, and the slogan “the last best place”.
The state ranks fourth in area, but 44th in population, and therefore has the third lowest population density in the United States. The economy is primarily based on agriculture and significant lumber and mineral extraction. Tourism is also important to the economy, with millions of visitors a year to Glacier National Park, the Battle of Little Bighorn site, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.
The Bitterroot Mountains divide the state from Idaho to the west with the southern third of the range blending into the Continental Divide. Between the mountain ranges are many scenic valleys, rich in agricultural resources and rivers, and possessing multiple opportunities for tourism and recreation. Among the best-known areas are the Bitterroot Valley, Flathead Valley, Big Hole Valley, and Gallatin Valley.
Montana contains Glacier National Park and portions of Yellowstone National Park, including three of the Park’s five entrances. Other federally recognized sites include the Little Bighorn National Monument, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Big Hole National Battlefield, Lewis and Clark Caverns, and the National Bison Range. Montana has eight National Forests and over 20 National Wildlife Refuges. The Federal government administers 36,000,000 acres. 275,000 acres are administered as state parks and forests.