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Utah is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. Of the fifty U.S. states, Utah is the 13th-largest by area; with a population of over three million, it is the 30th-most-populous and 11th-least-densely populated. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which is home to roughly two-thirds of the population and includes the capital city, Salt Lake City; and Washington County in the south, with more than 170,000 residents. Most of the western half of Utah lies in the Great Basin.
The territory of modern Utah has been inhabited by various indigenous groups for thousands of years, including the ancient Puebloans, the Navajo, and the Ute. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the mid-16th century, though the region’s difficult geography and climate made it a peripheral part of New Spain and later Mexico. Even while it was part of Mexico, many of Utah’s earliest settlers were American, particularly Mormons fleeing marginalization and persecution from the United States. Following the Mexican–American War, it became part of the Utah Territory, which included what is now Colorado and Nevada. Disputes between the dominant Mormon community and the federal government delayed Utah’s admission as a state; only after the outlawing of polygamy was it admitted as the 45th, in 1896.
A little more than half of all Utahns are Mormons, the vast majority of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City. Utah is the only state where a majority of the population belongs to a single church. The LDS Church greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life, though since the 1990s the state has become more religiously diverse as well as secular.
The state has a highly diversified economy, with major sectors including transportation, education, information technology, and research, government services, mining; it is also a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Utah had the second-fastest-growing population of any state. St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. Utah also has the 14th-highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the “best state to live in the future” based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.