Wyoming

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Wyoming / w aɪ ˈ oʊ m ɪ ŋ / is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The state is the tenth largest by area, but the least populous and the second least densely populated of the 50 United States. The western two-thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High Plains. Cheyenne is the capital and the most populous city in Wyoming, with a population estimate of 62,448 in 2013.

Geography

Location and size

As specified in the designating legislation for the Territory of Wyoming, Wyoming's borders are lines of latitude, 41°N and 45°N, and longitude, 104°3'W and 111°3'W (27° W and 34° W of the Washington Meridian), making the shape of the state a latitude-longitude quadrangle. [5] Wyoming is one of only three states (along with Colorado and Utah) to have borders along only straight latitudinal and longitudinal lines, rather than being defined by natural landmarks. Due to surveying inaccuracies during the 19th century, Wyoming's legal border deviates from the true latitude and longitude lines by up to half of a mile (0.8 km) in some spots, especially in the mountainous region along the 45th parallel. [7] Wyoming is bordered on the north by Montana, on the east by South Dakota and Nebraska, on the south by Colorado, on the southwest by Utah, and on the west by Idaho. It is the tenth largest state in the United States in total area, containing 97,814 square miles (253,340 km 2) and is made up of 23 counties. From the north border to the south border it is 276 miles (444 km); [8] and from the east to the west border is 365 miles (587 km) at its south end and 342 miles (550 km) at the north end.

Mountain ranges

The Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. The state is a great plateau broken by many mountain ranges. Surface elevations range from the summit of Gannett Peak in the Wind River Mountain Range, at 13,804 feet (4,207 m), to the Belle Fourche River valley in the state's northeast corner, at 3,125 feet (952 m). In the northwest are the Absaroka, Owl Creek, Gros Ventre, Wind River and the Teton ranges. In the north central are the Big Horn Mountains; in the northeast, the Black Hills; and in the southern region the Laramie, Snowy and Sierra Madre ranges.

The Snowy Range in the south central part of the state is an extension of the Colorado Rockies in both geology and appearance. The Wind River Range in the west central part of the state is remote and includes more than 40 mountain peaks in excess of 13,000 ft (4,000 m) tall in addition to Gannett Peak, the highest peak in the state. The Big Horn Mountains in the north central portion are somewhat isolated from the bulk of the Rocky Mountains.

The Teton Range in the northwest extends for 50 miles (80 km), part of which is included in Grand Teton National Park. The park includes the Grand Teton, the second highest peak in the state.

The Continental Divide spans north-south across the central portion of the state. Rivers east of the divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. They are the North Platte, Wind, Big Horn and the Yellowstone rivers. The Snake River in northwest Wyoming eventually drains into the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, as does the Green River through the Colorado River Basin.

The Continental Divide forks in the south central part of the state in an area known as the Great Divide Basin where the waters that flow or precipitate into this area remain there and cannot flow to any ocean. Instead, because of the overall aridity of Wyoming, water in the Great Divide Basin simply sinks into the soil or evaporates.

Several rivers begin in or flow through the state, including the Yellowstone River, Bighorn River, Green River, and the Snake River.

Islands

Wyoming has 32 named islands, of which the majority are located in Jackson Lake and Yellowstone Lake within Yellowstone National Park in the northwest portion of the state. The Green River in the southwest also contains a number of islands.

Public lands

More than 48% of the land in Wyoming is owned by the U.S. government, leading Wyoming to rank sixth in the U.S. in total acres and fifth in percentage of a state's land owned by the federal government. [9] This amounts to about 30,099,430 acres (121,808.1 km 2) owned and managed by the U.S. government. The state government owns an additional 6% of all Wyoming lands, or another 3,864,800 acres (15,640 km 2 ). [9]

The vast majority of this government land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service in numerous national forests, a national grassland, and a number of vast swathes of public land, in addition to the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.

In addition, Wyoming contains areas that are under the management of the National Park Service and other agencies. They include:

National parks

Recreation areas

National monuments

National historic trails and sites

National parkways

Wildlife refuges and hatcheries

Climate

Wyoming's climate is generally semi-arid and continental (Köppen climate classification BSk ), and is drier and windier in comparison to most of the United States with greater temperature extremes. Much of this is due to the topography of the state. Summers in Wyoming are warm with July high temperatures averaging between 85 and 95 °F (29 and 35 °C) in most of the state. With increasing elevation, however, this average drops rapidly with locations above 9,000 feet (2,700 m) averaging around 70 °F (21 °C). Summer nights throughout the state are characterized by a rapid cooldown with even the hottest locations averaging in the 50–60 °F (10–16 °C) range at night. In most of the state, most of the precipitation tends to fall in the late spring and early summer. Winters are cold, but are variable with periods of sometimes extreme cold interspersed between generally mild periods, with Chinook winds providing unusually warm temperatures in some locations. Wyoming is a dry state with much of the land receiving less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rainfall per year. Precipitation depends on elevation with lower areas in the Big Horn Basin averaging 5–8 inches (130–200 mm) (making the area nearly a true desert). The lower areas in the North and on the eastern plains typically average around 10–12 inches (250–300 mm), making the climate there semi-arid. Some mountain areas do receive a good amount of precipitation, 20 inches (510 mm) or more, much of it as snow, sometimes 200 inches (510 cm) or more annually. The state's highest recorded temperature is 114 °F (46 °C) at Basin on July 12, 1900 and the lowest recorded temperature is −66 °F (−54 °C) at Riverside on February 9, 1933.

The number of thunderstorm days vary across the state with the southeastern plains of the state having the most days of thunderstorm activity. Thunderstorm activity in the state is highest during the late spring and early summer. The southeastern corner of the state is the most vulnerable part of the state to tornado activity. Moving away from that point and westwards, the incidence of tornadoes drops dramatically with the west part of the state showing little vulnerability. Tornadoes, where they occur, tend to be small and brief, unlike some of those that occur a little farther east.

Casper climate:Average maximum and minimum temperatures, and average rainfall.
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average max. temperature ° F (°C) 32 (0) 37 (3) 45 (7) 56 (13) 66 (19) 78 (26) 87 (31) 85 (29) 74 (23) 60 (16) 44 (7) 34 (1) 58 (14)
Average min. temperature °F (°C) 12 (−11) 16 (−9) 21 (−6) 28 (−2) 37 (3) 46 (8) 54 (12) 51 (11) 41 (5) 32 (0) 21 (−6) 14 (−10) 31 (-1)
Average rainfall inches (mm) 0.6 (15.2) 0.6 (15.2) 1.0 (25.4) 1.6 (40.6) 2.1 (53.3) 1.5 (38.1) 1.3 (33.0) 0.7 (17.8) 0.9 (22.9) 1.0 (25.4) 0.8 (20.3) 0.7 (17.8) 12.8 (325.1)
Source: [10]
Jackson climate:Average maximum and minimum temperatures, and average rainfall.
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average max. temperature ° F (°C) 24 (−4) 28 (−2) 37 (3) 47 (8) 58 (14) 68 (20) 78 (26) 77 (25) 67 (19) 54 (12) 37 (3) 24 (−4) 49 (9)
Average min. temperature °F (°C) -1 (−18) 2 (−17) 10 (−12) 21 (−6) 30 (−1) 36 (2) 41 (5) 38 (3) 31 (−1) 22 (−6) 14 (−10) 0 (−18) 20 (-7)
Average rainfall inches (mm) 2.6 (66.0) 1.9 (48.3) 1.6 (40.6) 1.4 (35.6) 1.9 (48.3) 1.8 (45.7) 1.3 (33.0) 1.3 (33.0) 1.5 (38.1) 1.3 (33.0) 2.3 (58.4) 2.5 (63.5) 21.4 (543.6)
Source: [11]

History

Several Native American groups originally inhabited the region now known as Wyoming. The Crow, Arapaho, Lakota, and Shoshone were but a few of the original inhabitants encountered when white explorers first entered the region. What is now southwestern Wyoming became a part of the Spanish Empire and later Mexican territory of Alta California, until it was ceded to the United States in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War. French-Canadian trappers from Québec and Montréal went into the state in the late 18th century, leaving French toponyms such as Téton, La Ramie, etc. John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, itself guided by French Canadian Toussaint Charbonneau and his young Shoshone wife, Sacagawea, first described the region in 1807. At the time, his reports of the Yellowstone area were considered to be fictional. [12] Robert Stuart and a party of five men returning from Astoria discovered South Pass in 1812. The Oregon Trail later followed that route. In 1850, Jim Bridger located what is now known as Bridger Pass, which the Union Pacific Railroad used in 1868—as did Interstate 80, 90 years later. Bridger also explored Yellowstone and filed reports on the region that, like those of Colter, were largely regarded as tall tales at the time.

The region had acquired the name Wyoming by 1865, when Representative James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio introduced a bill to Congress to provide a "temporary government for the territory of Wyoming ". The territory was named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, made famous by the 1809 poem Gertrude of Wyoming by Thomas Campbell, based on the Battle of Wyoming in the American Revolutionary War. The name ultimately derives from the Munsee word xwé:wamənk, meaning "at the big river flat." [14]

After the Union Pacific Railroad had reached the town of Cheyenne in 1867, the region's population began to grow steadily, and the federal government established the Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. [16] Unlike mineral-rich Colorado, Wyoming lacked significant deposits of gold and silver, as well as Colorado's subsequent population boom. However, South Pass City did experience a short-lived boom after the Carissa Mine began producing gold in 1867. [17] Furthermore, copper was mined in some areas between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Snowy Range near Grand Encampment. [18]

Once government-sponsored expeditions to the Yellowstone country began, reports by Colter and Bridger, previously believed to be apocryphal, were found to be true. This led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park, which became the world's first national park in 1872. Nearly all of Yellowstone National Park lies within the far northwestern borders of Wyoming.

On December 10, 1869, territorial Governor John Allen Campbell extended the right to vote to women, making Wyoming the first territory and then U.S. state to grant suffrage to women. In addition, Wyoming was also a pioneer in welcoming women into politics. Women first served on juries in Wyoming (Laramie in 1870); Wyoming had the first female court bailiff (Mary Atkinson, Laramie, in 1870); and the first female justice of the peace in the country (Esther Hobart Morris, South Pass City, in 1870). Also, in 1924, Wyoming became the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, who took office in January 1925. [19] Due to its civil-rights history, Wyoming's state nickname is "The Equality State", and the official state motto is "Equal Rights". [20]

Wyoming's constitution included women's suffrage and a pioneering article on water rights. Congress admitted Wyoming into the Union as the 44th state on July 10, 1890. [20]

Wyoming was the location of the Johnson County War of 1892, which erupted between competing groups of cattle ranchers. The passage of the federal Homestead Act led to an influx of small ranchers. A range war broke out when either or both of the groups chose violent conflict over commercial competition in the use of the public land.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 9,118
1880 20,789 128.0%
1890 62,555 200.9%
1900 92,531 47.9%
1910 145,965 57.7%
1920 194,402 33.2%
1930 225,565 16.0%
1940 250,742 11.2%
1950 290,529 15.9%
1960 330,066 13.6%
1970 332,416 0.7%
1980 469,557 41.3%
1990 453,588 −3.4%
2000 493,782 8.9%
2010 563,626 14.1%
Est. 2015 586,107 4.0%
Sources: 1910–2010 [3] [3] [23] 2015 Estimate [2]

Population

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Wyoming was 586,107 on July 1, 2015, a 3.99% increase since the 2010 United States Census. [2] The center of population of Wyoming is located in Natrona County. [3] [3]

In 2014, the United States Census Bureau estimated that the racial composition of the population was 92.7% White American (82.9 non-Hispanic white), 2.7% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.6% Black or African American, 1.0% Asian American, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. [26]

According to the 2010 census, the racial composition of the population was 90.7% White American, 0.8% Black or African American, 2.4% American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.8% Asian American, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 2.2% from two or more races, and 3.0% from some other race. Ethnically, 8.9% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race) and 91.1% Non-Hispanic, with non-Hispanic whites constituting the largest non-Hispanic group at 85.9%. [3]

As of 2015, Wyoming had an estimated population of 586,107, which was an increase of 1,954, or 0.29%, from the prior year and an increase of 22,481, or 3.99%, since the 2010 census. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 12,165 people (that is 33,704 births minus 21,539 deaths) and an increase from net migration of 4,035 people into the state. Immigration resulted in a net increase of 2,264 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 1,771 people. In 2004, the foreign-born population was 11,000 (2.2%). In 2005, total births in Wyoming numbered 7,231 (birth rate of 14.04 per thousand). [3] Sparsely populated, Wyoming is the least populous state of the United States. Wyoming has the second-lowest population density, behind Alaska. It is one of only two states with a smaller population than the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. (the other state is Vermont).

According to the 2000 census, the largest ancestry groups in Wyoming are: German (26.0%), English (16.0%), Irish (13.3%), Norwegian (4.3%), and Swedish (3.5%). [3]

As of 2011, 24.9% of Wyoming's population younger than age 1 were minorities. [3]

Languages

In 2010, 93.39% (474,343) of Wyomingites over the age of 5 spoke English as their primary language. 4.47% (22,722) spoke Spanish, 0.35% (1,771) spoke German, and 0.28% (1,434) spoke French. Other common non-English languages included Algonquian (0.18%), Russian (0.10%), Tagalog, and Greek (both 0.09%). [30]

In 2007, the American Community Survey reported that 6.2% (30,419) of Wyoming's population over five years old spoke a language other than English at home. Of those, 68.1% were able to speak English very well, 16.0% spoke English well, 10.9% did not speak English well, and 5.0% did not speak English at all. [31]

Religion

According to a 2013 Gallup Poll, the religious affiliations of the people of Wyoming were: 49% Protestants, 18% Catholics, 9% Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and less than 1% Jewish. [32]

A 2010 ARDA report recognized as the largest denominations in Wyoming the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) with 62,804 (11%), the Catholic Church with 61,222 (10.8%) and the Southern Baptist Convention with 15,812 adherents (2.8%). The same report counted 59,247 Evangelical Protestants (10.5%), 36,539 Mainline Protestants (6.5%), 785 Eastern Orthodox Christians; 281 Black Protestants, as well as 65,000 adhering to other traditions and 340,552 unclaimed. [33]

Economy

According to the 2012 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report, Wyoming's gross state product was $38.4 billion. [34] As of 2014 the population was growing slightly with the most growth in tourist-oriented areas such as Teton County. Boom conditions in neighboring states such as North Dakota were drawing energy workers away. About half of Wyoming's counties showed population losses. [35] The state makes active efforts through Wyoming Grown, an internet-based recruitment program, to find jobs for young people educated in Wyoming who have emigrated but may wish to return. [36]

As of November 2015, the state's unemployment rate was 4.0%. [37] The composition of Wyoming's economy differs significantly from that of other states with most activity in tourism, agriculture, and energy extraction; and little in anything else. [36]

The mineral extraction industry and travel and tourism sector are the main drivers behind Wyoming's economy. The federal government owns about 50% of its landmass, while 6% is controlled by the state. Total taxable values of mining production in Wyoming for 2001 was over $6.7 billion. The tourism industry accounts for over $2 billion in revenue for the state.

In 2002, more than six million people visited Wyoming's national parks and monuments. The key tourist attractions in Wyoming include Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Independence Rock and Fossil Butte National Monument. Each year Yellowstone National Park, the world's first national park, receives three million visitors.

Historically, agriculture has been an important component of Wyoming's economy. Its overall importance to the performance of Wyoming's economy has waned. However, agriculture is still an essential part of Wyoming's culture and lifestyle. The main agricultural commodities produced in Wyoming include livestock (beef), hay, sugar beets, grain (wheat and barley), and wool. More than 91% of land in Wyoming is classified as rural.

Mineral and energy production

Wyoming's mineral commodities include coal, natural gas, coalbed methane, crude oil, uranium, and trona.

  • Coal: Wyoming produced 395.5 million short tons (358.8 million metric tons) of coal in 2004, greater than any other state. [38] Wyoming possesses a reserve of 68.7 billion tons (62.3 billion metric tons) of coal. Major coal areas include the Powder River Basin and the Green River Basin
  • Coalbed methane (CBM): The boom for CBM began in the mid-1990s. CBM is characterized as methane gas that is extracted from Wyoming's coal bed seams. It is another means of natural gas production. There has been substantial CBM production in the Powder River Basin. In 2002, the CBM production yield was 327.5 billion cubic feet (9.3 km 3 ).
  • Crude oil: Wyoming produced 53,400,000 barrels (8,490,000 m 3) of crude oil in 2007. The state ranked 5th nationwide in oil production in 2007. [39] Petroleum is most often used as a motor fuel, but it is also utilized in the manufacture of plastics, paints, and synthetic rubber.
  • Diamonds: The Kelsey Lake Diamond Mine, located in Colorado less than 1,000 feet (300 m) from the Wyoming border, produced gem quality diamonds for several years. The Wyoming craton, which hosts the kimberlite volcanic pipes that were mined, underlies most of Wyoming.
  • Natural gas: Wyoming produced 2,254 trillion cubic feet (63,83 trillion m 3) of natural gas in 2007. The state ranked 2nd nationwide for natural gas production in 2007. [39] The major markets for natural gas include industrial, commercial, and domestic heating.
  • Trona: Wyoming possesses the world's largest known reserve of trona, [40] a mineral used for manufacturing glass, paper, soaps, baking soda, water softeners, and pharmaceuticals. In 2008 Wyoming produced 46 million short tons (41.7 million metric tons) of trona, 25% of the world's production. [40]
  • Wind power: Because of Wyoming's geography and high-altitude, the potential for wind power in Wyoming is one of the highest of any state in the US. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is the largest commercial wind generation facility under development in North America. [41] Carbon County is home to the largest proposed wind farm in the US. However, construction plans have been halted because of proposed new taxes on wind power energy production. [42]
  • Uranium: Although uranium mining in Wyoming is much less active than it was in previous decades, recent increases in the price of uranium have generated new interest in uranium prospecting and mining.

Taxes

Unlike most other states, Wyoming does not levy an individual or corporate income tax. In addition, Wyoming does not assess any tax on retirement income earned and received from another state. Wyoming has a state sales tax of 4%. Counties have the option of collecting an additional 1% tax for general revenue and a 1% tax for specific purposes, if approved by voters. Food for human consumption is not subject to sales tax. [43] There also is a county lodging tax that varies from 2% to 5%. The state collects a use tax of 5% on items purchased elsewhere and brought into Wyoming. All property tax is based on the assessed value of the property and Wyoming's Department of Revenue's Ad Valorem Tax Division supports, trains, and guides local government agencies in the uniform assessment, valuation and taxation of locally assessed property. "Assessed value" means taxable value; "taxable value" means a percent of the fair market value of property in a particular class. Statutes limit property tax increases. For county revenue, the property tax rate cannot exceed 12 mills (or 1.2%) of assessed value. For cities and towns, the rate is limited to 8 mills (0.8%). With very few exceptions, state law limits the property tax rate for all governmental purposes.

Personal property held for personal use is tax-exempt. Inventory if held for resale, pollution control equipment, cash, accounts receivable, stocks and bonds are also exempt. Other exemptions include property used for religious, educational, charitable, fraternal, benevolent and government purposes and improvements for handicapped access. Mine lands, underground mining equipment, and oil and gas extraction equipment are exempt from property tax but companies must pay a gross products tax on minerals and a severance tax on mineral production. [44]

Wyoming does not collect inheritance taxes. Because of the phase-out of the federal estate tax credit, Wyoming's estate tax is not imposed on estates of persons who died in 2005. There is limited estate tax related to federal estate tax collection.

In 2008, the Tax Foundation ranked Wyoming as having the single most "business friendly" tax climate of all 50 states. [45] Wyoming state and local governments in fiscal year 2007 collected $2.242 billion in taxes, levies, and royalties from the oil and gas industry. The state's mineral industry, including oil, gas, trona, and coal provided $1.3 billion in property taxes from 2006 mineral production. [39] Wyoming receives more federal tax dollars per capita in aid than any other state except Alaska. The federal aid per capita in Wyoming is more than double the U.S. average. [46]

As of 2016, Wyoming does not require the beneficial owners of LLCs to be disclosed in the filing, which creates an opportunity for a tax haven, according to Clark Stith of Clark Stith & Associates in Rock Springs, Wyoming, a former Republican candidate for Wyoming secretary of state.

Transportation

The largest airport in Wyoming is Jackson Hole Airport, with over 500 employees. [47] Three interstate highways and thirteen U.S. highways pass through Wyoming. In addition, the state is served by the Wyoming state highway system.

Interstate 25 enters the state south of Cheyenne and runs north, intersecting Interstate 80 in Cheyenne. It passes through Casper and ends at Interstate 90 near Buffalo. Interstate 80 crosses the Utah border west of Evanston and runs east through the southern half of the state, passing through Cheyenne before entering Nebraska near Pine Bluffs. Interstate 90 comes into Wyoming near Parkman and cuts through the northern part of the state. It serves Gillette and enters South Dakota east of Sundance.

U.S. Routes 14, 16, and the eastern section of U.S. 20 all have their western terminus at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park and pass through Cody. U.S. 14 travels eastward before joining I-90 at Gillette. U.S. 14 then follows I-90 to the South Dakota border. U.S. 16 and 20 split off of U.S. 14 at Greybull and U.S. 16 turns east at Worland while U.S. 20 continues south Shoshoni. U.S. Route 287 carries traffic from Fort Collins, Colorado into Laramie, Wyoming through a pass between the Laramie Mountains and the Medicine Bow Mountains, merges with US 30 and I-80 until it reaches Rawlins, where it continues north, passing Lander. Outside of Moran, U.S. 287 is part of a large interchange with U.S. Highways 26, 191, and 89, before continuing north to the southern entrance of Yellowstone. U.S. 287 continues north of Yellowstone, but the two sections are separated by the national park.

Other U.S. highways that pass through the state are U.S. Highways are 18, 26, 30, 85, 87, 89, 189, 191, 212, and 287.

Wyoming is one of only two states (the other being South Dakota) in the 48 contiguous states not served by Amtrak. [5]

See also: List of Wyoming railroads, List of airports in Wyoming, State highways in Wyoming.

Wind River Indian Reservation

The Wind River Indian Reservation is shared by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of Native Americans in the central western portion of the state near Lander. The reservation is home to 2,500 Eastern Shoshone and 5,000 Northern Arapaho. [5]

Chief Washakie established the reservation in 1868 [51] as the result of negotiations with the federal government in the Fort Bridger Treaty. [52] However, the Northern Arapaho were forced onto the Shoshone reservation in 1876 by the federal government after the government failed to provide a promised separate reservation. [52]

Today the Wind River Indian Reservation is jointly owned, with each tribe having a 50% interest in the land, water, and other natural resources. [53] The reservation is a sovereign, self-governed land with two independent governing bodies: the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Government and the Northern Arapaho Tribal Government. The Eastern Shoshone Business Council meets jointly with the Northern Arapaho Business Council as the Joint Business Council to decide matters that affect both tribes. [51] Six elected council members from each tribe serve on the joint council.

State law and government

Wyoming's Constitution established three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.

The Wyoming state legislature comprises a House of Representatives with 60 members and a Senate with 30 members.

The executive branch is headed by the governor and includes a secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and superintendent of public instruction. Wyoming does not have a lieutenant governor. Instead the secretary of state stands first in the line of succession.

Wyoming's sparse population warrants it only a single at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and hence only three votes in the Electoral College. Its low population renders Wyoming voters effectively more powerful in presidential elections than those in more populous states. For example, while Montana had a 2010 census population of 989,415 to Wyoming's 563,626, they both have the same number of electoral votes.

Wyoming is an alcoholic beverage control state.

Judicial system

Wyoming's highest court is the Supreme Court of Wyoming, with five justices presiding over appeals from the state's lower courts. Wyoming is unusual in that it does not have an intermediate appellate court, like most states. This is largely attributable to the state's size and correspondingly lower caseload. Appeals from the state district courts go directly to the Wyoming Supreme Court. Wyoming also has state circuit courts (formerly county courts), of limited jurisdiction, which handle certain types of cases, such as civil claims with lower dollar amounts, misdemeanor criminal offenses, and felony arraignments. Circuit court judges also commonly hear small claims cases as well.

Before 1972, Wyoming judges were selected by popular vote on a nonpartisan ballot. This earlier system was criticized by the state bar who called for the adoption of the Missouri Plan, a system designed to balance judiciary independence with judiciary accountability. In 1972, an amendment to article 5 of the Wyoming Constitution, which incorporated a modified version of the plan, was adopted by the voters. Since the adoption of the amendment, all state court judges in Wyoming are nominated by the Judicial Nominating Commission and appointed by the Governor. They are then subject to a retention vote by the electorate after one year from appointment. [5]

Politics

Presidential elections results [5]
Year Republicans Democrats
2012 68.64% 170,962 27.82% 69,286
2008 64.78% 164,958 32.54% 82,868
2004 68.86% 167,629 29.07% 70,776
2000 67.76% 147,947 27.70% 60,481
1996 49.81% 105,388 36.84% 77,934
1992 39.70% 79,347 34.10% 68,160
1988 60.53% 106,867 38.01% 67,113
1984 70.51% 133,241 28.24% 53,370
1980 62.64% 110,700 27.97% 49,427
1976 59.30% 92,717 39.81% 62,239
1972 69.01% 100,464 30.47% 44,358
1968 55.76% 70,927 35.51% 45,173
1964 43.44% 61,998 56.56% 80,718
1960 55.01% 77,451 44.99% 63,331

Wyoming's political history defies easy classification. The state was the first to grant women the right to vote and to elect a woman governor. [55] On December 10, 1869, John Allen Campbell, the first Governor of the Wyoming Territory, approved the first law in United States history explicitly granting women the right to vote. This day was later commemorated as Wyoming Day. [55] On November 5, 1889, voters approved the first constitution in the world granting full voting rights to women.

While the state elected notable Democrats to federal office in the 1960s and 1970s, politics have become decidedly more conservative since the 1980s as the Republican Party came to dominate the state's congressional delegation. Today, Wyoming is represented in Washington by its two Senators, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, and its one member of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis. All three are Republicans. The state has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, one of only eight times since statehood. At present, there are only two relatively reliably Democratic counties: affluent Teton and college county Albany. In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush won his second-largest victory, with 69% of the vote. Former Vice President Dick Cheney is a Wyoming resident and represented the state in Congress from 1979 to 1989.

Republicans are no less dominant at the state level. They have held a majority in the state senate continuously since 1936 and in the state house since 1964. However, Democrats held the governorship for all but eight years between 1975 and 2011. Uniquely, Wyoming elected Democrat Nellie Tayloe Ross as the first woman in U.S. history to serve as state governor. She served from 1925 to 1927 after winning a special election after her husband, William Bradford Ross, unexpectedly died a little more than a year into his term. [5]

Counties

The state of Wyoming has 23 counties.

-
Rank County Population Rank County Population
1 Laramie 94,483 13 Converse 14,008
2 Natrona 78,621 14 Goshen 13,636
3 Campbell 47,874 15 Big Horn 11,794
4 Sweetwater 45,267 16 Sublette 10,368
5 Fremont 41,110 17 Platte 8,756
6 Albany 37,276 18 Johnson 8,615
7 Sheridan 29,596 19 Washakie 8,464
8 Park 28,702 20 Crook 7,155
9 Teton 21,675 21 Weston 7,082
10 Uinta 21,025 22 Hot Springs 4,822
11 Lincoln 17,961 23 Niobrara 2,456
12 Carbon 15,666 Wyoming Total 576,412

Wyoming license plates contain a number on the left that indicates the county where the vehicle is registered, ranked by an earlier census. [23] Specifically, the numbers are representative of the property values of the counties in 1930. [7] The county license plate numbers are as follows:

License Plate Prefix County License Plate Prefix County License Plate Prefix County
1 Natrona 9 Big Horn 17 Campbell
2 Laramie 10 Fremont 18 Crook
3 Sheridan 11 Park 19 Uinta
4 Sweetwater 12 Lincoln 20 Washakie
5 Albany 13 Converse 21 Weston
6 Carbon 14 Niobrara 22 Teton
7 Goshen 15 Hot Springs 23 Sublette
8 Platte 16 Johnson

Cities and towns

The State of Wyoming has 99 incorporated municipalities.

Most Populous Wyoming Cities and Towns [58]
Rank City County Population
1 Cheyenne Laramie 60,096
2 Casper Natrona 55,988
3 Laramie Albany 31,312
4 Gillette Campbell 29,389
5 Rock Springs Sweetwater 23,229
6 Sheridan Sheridan 17,517
7 Green River Sweetwater 12,622
8 Evanston Uinta 12,282
9 Riverton Fremont 10,867
10 Jackson Teton 9,710
11 Cody Park 9,653
12 Rawlins Carbon 9,203
13 Lander Fremont 7,571
14 Torrington Goshen 6,690
15 Powell Park 6,314

In 2005, 50.6% of Wyomingites lived in one of the 13 most populous Wyoming municipalities.

Metropolitan areas

The United States Census Bureau has defined two Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) and seven Micropolitan Statistical Areas (MiSA) for the State of Wyoming. In 2008, 30.4% of Wyomingites lived in either of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and 73% lived in either a Metropolitan Statistical Area or a Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas [59]
Census Area County Population
Cheyenne Laramie County, Wyoming 95,809
Casper Natrona County, Wyoming 80,973
Gillette Campbell County, Wyoming 48,176
Rock Springs Sweetwater County, Wyoming 45,237
Jackson Teton County, Wyoming 32,543
Teton County, Idaho 10,275
Total 42,818
Riverton Fremont County, Wyoming 40,998
Laramie Albany County, Wyoming 37,422
Sheridan Sheridan County, Wyoming 29,824
Evanston Uinta County, Wyoming 21,066

Education

Public education is directed by the state superintendent of public instruction, an elected state official. Educational policies are set by the State Board of Education, a nine-member board appointed by the governor. The constitution prohibits the state from establishing curriculum and text book selections; these are the prerogatives of local school boards. The Wyoming School for the Deaf was the only in-state school dedicated to supporting deaf students in Wyoming, but it closed in the summer of 2000.

Higher education

Wyoming has one public four-year institution, the University of Wyoming in Laramie and one private four-year college, Wyoming Catholic College, in Lander, Wyoming. In addition, there are seven two-year community colleges spread through the state.

Before the passing of a new law in 2006, Wyoming had hosted unaccredited institutions, many of them suspected diploma mills. [7] The 2006 law is forcing unaccredited institutions to make one of three choices: move out of Wyoming, close down, or apply for accreditation. The Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization predicts that in a few years the problem of diploma mills in Wyoming might be resolved. [7]

Sports

Due to its sparse population, the state of Wyoming lacks any major professional sports teams. Some of the most popular sports teams in the state are the University of Wyoming teams — particularly football and basketball. High school sports are governed by the Wyoming High School Activities Association, which sponsors 12 sports.

Rodeo is popular in Wyoming, and Casper has hosted the College National Finals Rodeo since 2001. Additionally, rugby has a strong tradition in Wyoming. [7]

State symbols

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