First visited by Spanish explorers in the 1500's, the territory was claimed for Spain by Juan de Ulibarri in 1706. The U.S. obtained eastern Colorado as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the central portion in 1845 with the admission of Texas as a state, and the western part in 1848 as a result of the Mexican War.
Colorado has the highest mean elevation of any state, with more than 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks over 10,000 feet high and 54 towering above 14,000 feet. Pikes Peak, the most famous of these mountains was discovered by U.S. Lieut. Zebalon M. Pike in 1806.
Once primarily a mining and agricultural state, Colorado's economy is now driven by the service-producing industries, which provide jobs for approximately 82.4% of the state's non-farm work force. Tourism expenditures in the state total approximately 6 billion dollars annually. Tourist expenditures of the ski industry account for 1.8 billion dollars annually, approximately 1/3 of the total tourist expenditures. The main tourist attractions in the state include the Rocky Mountain National Park, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Mesa Verde National Park, the Great Sand Dunes and Dinosaur Monuments, Colorado National Monument, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument.
The two primary facets of Colorado's manufacturing industry are food and kindred products, and printing and publishing.
The mining industry, which includes oil and gas, coal, and metal mining, was important to Colorado's economy, but it now employs only 1.2 percent of the state's workforce. Denver is home to companies that control half of the nation's gold production. The farm industry, which is primarily concentrated in livestock, is also an important element of the state's economy. The primary crops in Colorado are corn, hay, and wheat.
(Johnson, O., Ed. Information Please® Almanac, 1997. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company)