Dubbed 'Big Sky Country', Montana is the 4th largest state in Union in total land area, and is composed of vast rolling prairie land in the east and rugged Rocky Mountain peaks in the west. The Missouri is the state's most important river, which forms the region in central Montana known as the Missouri Breaks. Other major rivers include the Flathead and Yellowstone rivers, the latter being the longest undammed river in North America. Glacier National Park in the extreme north of the state is one of the most striking nature reserves in the world. The state is also home the largest population of American Bison. Cheyenne, Crow, and Blackfeet were just a few of the numerous Native Indian tribes that had settled in the area for over a thousand years. Spurred on by discovery of gold and copper in the region, the U.S. Government established the Territory of Montana on May 26th, 1864. The Territory was the scene of the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, where General George Armstrong Custer made his last stand against an overwhelming force of Native Indian tribes led by Crazy Horse. Some 13 years later, Montana became the 41st state to be admitted to the Union.
Despite its large geographic size, Montana has just under one million people in the state, making it 44th in terms of population. Montana has one of the lowest percentages of foreign born residents (at approximately 1.8%) as well as one of the lowest percentages of African Americans (roughly 0.3%). German is the largest ancestral group, followed by Irish and English. The largest city is Billings, a major transport and tourist hub, and the capital is Helena. Other major cities include Butte, on the edge of the Rocky Mountain peaks, and Missoula, a cultural hot spot and university town. Agriculture is arguably the most important economic sector, with cattle, wheat and barley leading the way. Mining and lumber products are also important industries. A growing and traditionally important economic sector is tourism, with largely unspoiled mountain ranges, excellent fishing and hunting, and large National Parks. Montana has always been considered a conservative state, though state politics has recently seen some major Democratic victories. Montana's voice on the national scene is still firmly Republican however, giving its 3 electoral votes to George W. Bush in 2004 by an overwhelming margin of 20 percentage points.