Montana (abbreviated MT) is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name, derived from the Spanish word montaña (mountain).
Montana has several nicknames, none official, including: "The Treasure State" and "Big Sky Country", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently, "The Last Best Place". The state ranks fourth in area, but 44th in population, and accordingly has the third-lowest population density in the United States. The economy is primarily based on services, with ranching, wheat farming, oil and coal mining in the east, and lumber, tourism, and hard rock mining in the west. Millions of tourists annually visit Glacier National Park, the Battle of Little Bighorn site, and three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park.More
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Montana's total state product in 2003 was $26 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $25,406, 47th in the nation. However, this number is rapidly increasing.
Montana is a relative hub of beer microbrewing, ranking third in the nation in number of craft breweries per capita. There are significant industries for lumber and mineral extraction; the state's resources include gold, coal, silver, talc, and vermiculite. Ecotaxes on resource extraction are numerous. A 1974 state severance tax on coal (which varied from 20 to 30 percent) was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Montana, 453 U.S. 609 (1981).More
Railroads have been an important method of transportation in Montana since the 1880s. Historically, the state was traversed by the main lines of three east-west transcontinental routes: the Milwaukee Road, the Great Northern, and the Northern Pacific. Today, the BNSF Railway is the state's largest railroad, its main transcontinental route incorporating the former Great Northern main line across the state. Montana RailLink, a privately-held Class II railroad, operates former Northern Pacific trackage in western Montana.
In addition, Amtrak's Empire Builder train runs through the north of the state, stopping in the following towns: Libby, Whitefish, West Glacier, Essex, East Glacier Park, Browning, Cut Bank, Shelby, Havre, Malta, Glasgow, and Wolf Point.More