Colorado’s defining feature is its breathtaking mountains. Possessing the highest elevation and more 14,000 foot peaks than any other state in the union, its awe-inspiring panoramas inspired President Teddy Roosevelt to call it the 'Switzerland of America'. Millions of visitors annually come to take advantage of the many public and private parks and resorts. Some of the best skiing in the nation is found here with Aspen, Vail, and Steamboat Springs being some of the most popular destinations. From east to west, the state rises slowly from the grasslands of the Great Plains to alpine mountains forming the Continental Divide before turning into high, semi-arid plateaus and finally coming to desert-like basins. The city of Leadville has the highest elevation of any city in the U.S. and the world’s largest flat top plateau, 'Grand Mesa' is here as well. Mining initially brought thousands of prospectors into the state, as the strategically located town of Denver began to boom. Colorado came to statehood on August 1, 1876.
The capital, Denver, came to prominence initially as a center for the mining boom that was the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859. While mining continues to be a major source of income for the state, manufacturing and agriculture also play an important role. Colorado is primarily a state of transplanted citizens. There has not been a native born Colorado governor since 1975. Politically the state has proved to be quite independent. Over the last 100 years Colorado has only had 5 more Democrats than Republicans elected to the governorship. Colorado’s 9 electoral votes went to George W. Bush in 2004 by a narrow margin of 5 percent with 51.7 percent of the vote while Democrats within the state made gains in every open seat race.