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The Least Populated State In The US | Science Trends

The Least Populated State In The US

Out of the 50 states in the United States of America, which state is the least populated? The least populated state is Wyoming, which can be found in the northwestern United States. Wyoming’s population is slightly more than half of 1 million people, estimated at approximately 578,000 people in 2018. Thirty-one of the most populous cities in the United States each have a population greater than that of the state of Wyoming.

Let’s learn some more about the state of Wyoming compared to other states in the United States.

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Brief History

Before it became part of the United States, Wyoming was home to many Native American groups. Tribes like the Shoshone, Arapaho, and Lakota lived in and around Wyoming. Different parts of Wyoming would be claimed by the Spanish Empire over the centuries until the land was ceded to the United States following the Mexican-American War. Wyoming would become a US territory after this, and it would stay a territory until the end of the 1800s. The Union Pacific Railroad brought many people to Cheyenne, and mining and logging was prevalent during this time. Yellowstone National Park became the first ever national park on the planet in 1872. In 1890, Wyoming was admitted to the United States as the 44th state in the union.

Geography And Demographics

In terms of geography, Wyoming is found where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountain region, and the state rests on top of a large plateau dotted with many smaller mountain ranges. The highest point in the state is Gannet Peak with an elevation of around 4270 m or 13,800 feet, while in the state’s northeast corner the lowest portion of the state can be found, sitting at around 952 m or 2125 feet in at the Belle Fourche River Valley. Grand Teton National Park is found within the state, and the Grand Teton peak is the second highest mountain. The Teton range itself runs around 80 km or 50 miles through the northwestern portion of the state. Notable rivers in Wyoming include the Snake River, the Big Horn River, the Yellowstone River, and the Green River.

Photo: Downtown Cheyenne (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17982841), By Publichall at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheyenne,_Wyoming#/media/File:Downtown_Cheyenne.jpg)

Cheyenne is it the capital city of Wyoming, with a population of around 62,620 people according to the last census. It is also the largest city in the state. Other large cities in Wyoming include:

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  • Casper, which has a population of 57,800 people
  • Laramie which has a population of around 32,300 people
  • Gillette which has a population of around 30,550 people
  • Rock Springs which has an approximate population of 23,350 people
  • Sheridan which has a population of 17,860
  • Green River’s population is 12,070
  • Evanston has a population of around 11,870
  • Riverton has a population of 11,050
  • Jackson has a population of 10,530, rounding out the top 10 largest cities.

The state of Wyoming is also home to the Wind River Indian reservation,  and this reservation is home to the  Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes. Around 7500 people live there in total, and the reservation was established in 1868.

In terms of population demographics, information collected by the US Census Bureau in 2014 estimates that the vast majority of the states’ population is white, of European descent. Around 92% of the state’s population is white, with around 2.7% of the population being either Alaska native or native American, and around 1.5% African-American, with approximately 1% Asian American comprising the rest of the demographics. Wyoming has the second lowest population density of all the states in the union, with only Alaska being smaller than it in terms of population density.

Natural Parks And Wildlife

Photo: Skeeze via Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/photos/double-rainbow-waterfall-2092438/), Pixabay License (https://pixabay.com/service/license/)

Almost a full half of the land in Wyoming is owned by the federal government, making Wyoming fifth in the number of states with land owned by the US government. Over 30 million acres of Wyoming are managed by the United States government, and most of this land falls under the purview of the United States Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. There are many national forests found in Wyoming, and notable national parks include the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming is also home to the Devil’s Tower National Monument, which has the distinction of being the first ever national monument in the country, and the Fossil Butte National Monument.

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Other notable national monuments, recreation areas, forests, and parks include the California National Historic Trail, the Fort Laramie National Historic Site, the Mormon Pioneer Historic Site, the Oregon National Historic Trail, the National Elk Refuge, and the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.

Photo: (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2866599) By Daniel Mayer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Wyoming’s parks and forests are home to over 400 species of birds and 100 different species of mammals. Some of the most notable fauna in Wyoming include pronghorn antelope, moose, elk, deer, black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, and bison. Yellowstone’s National Park Lamar Valley is home to bison, wolves, bears, moose, elk, and coyotes. Common fish in Wyoming include the Bigmouth Shiner, Channel Catfish, Flathead Chub, the Mountain Whitefish, River carpsucker, Sauger, and the Utah Chub.

Economics

A 2012 report carried out by the notices Bureau of Economic Analysis found that Wyoming’s gross state product was around $30.4 billion. The country has grown slowly over the past half-decade, mainly in tourist-oriented regions like the County of Teton which acts as the gateway to the Grand Tetons. In 2015 Wyoming’s unemployment rate was approximately 4%. The primary drivers of Wyoming’s economy are energy extraction, agriculture, and tourism. Tourism is a major driver of the state’s economy, with the tourism industry bringing in around $2 billion in revenue for the state, and millions of people visit Wyoming’s national parks every year. While agriculture has historically been a driver of Wyoming’s economy, recent years have seen the influence of agriculture in Wyoming shrink. Currently, Wyoming produces grain and wool more than any other product.

In terms of mineral extraction and energy production, Wyoming is known for its production of coal, natural gas, crude oil, geranium crown, and trona. Wyoming produced around 400 million short tons of coal in 2004, and although demand for coal is falling around the country, Wyoming is still a massive producer of coal. Crude oil is another major export for the state, and in 2007 Wyoming ranked fifth nationwide and oil production.

Wyoming also produced around 1,770,000,000,000 ft.³ or 50,000,000,000 m³ of natural gas according to estimates done in of the year 2016. Wyoming is also home to the largest reserve of trona that the world currently knows of, which is used to create various products like soaps. Recently, wind power has grown within the state, and there are a number of commercial wind generation facilities being constructed there, including the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project which is it the biggest commercial wind farm in development throughout all of the North American continent.

Random Facts About Wyoming

Here are some random facts about Wyoming:

The word Wyoming comes from a Lenape word that translates roughly to “at/on the large plain”.

Wyoming was actually the first state to give women the right to vote, with its legislators passing the bill in 1869. It’s possible that the reason the vote passed was that legislators wanted to attract new settlers to the region and therefore they wanted the territory to look more modern. In addition, the state of Wyoming elected Nellie Tayloe Ross to be governor after the death of her husband, Governor William Bradford Ross. She has so far been Wyoming’s only female governor. The official motto of the state of Wyoming is “Equal Rights’, which was adopted in 1955.

The vast majority of Yellowstone lies within the state of Wyoming. Only a small portion of the park lies outside the state. An average of almost 4 million people visit the park every year. One of Yellowstone’s most famous sights is “Old Faithful”, a geyser that erupts every hour and a half, give or take a few minutes.

It is often said that the state of Wyoming has only two escalators, both found in the city of Casper.

The official mammal of Wyoming is the Bison. Bison are actually more dangerous to people than bears in the state, hurting more people every year at Yellowstone than bear attacks, which are very rare. Nonetheless, conservation efforts are important to the Bison’s future.

Many fossils and dinosaur bones have been found in Wyoming, and Wyoming is one of just a few states to have a state dinosaur, which is the Triceratops.

Even though Wyoming happens to be a landlocked state, there are 32 islands large enough to receive names in the state. Most of these islands are found within three bodies of water: Jackson Lake, Yellowstone Lake, and Green River.

About The Author

Daniel obtained his BS and is pursuing a Master's degree in the science of Human-Computer Interaction. He hopes to work on projects which bridge the sciences and humanities. His background in education and training is diverse including education in computer science, communication theory, psychology, and philosophy. He aims to create content that educates, persuades, entertains and inspires.