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The Wasatch Front

The name "Utah" is derived from the Ute Indian language, meaning "people of the mountains". Utah is known for its geological diversity, ranging from snowcapped mountains, to well-watered river valleys, to rugged, stony deserts. Erosion and climate have exposed diverse geological structures in Utah's landscape, making it a wonderland for geologists and tourists, as well. Over two billion years' accumulation of rock has created a varied landscape of hills, mountains, canyons, and valleys. The Rocky Mountain peaks soar to over 13,000 feet elevation. Lake Bonneville, which covered a good portion of the state 15,000 years ago, has left behind shells in the mountains and salt flats in Bonneville Desert. Archaeologists have found a plethora of fossils and dinosaur bones and footprints.

Utah's Resources

Utah's resources include over five hundred types of minerals. Bingham Canyon mine is one of the largest copper mines in the world. Mines near Topaz Mountain produce most of the world's beryllium. Central and Eastern Utah produce coal, natural gas, oil shale, tar sand, and uranium. There are also ample deposits of salt and phosphates. Construction materials and materials for making cement also abound—gravel, sand, and limestone. Utah's powdery snow is among its most profitable resources. Ski resorts in the mountains bring in income for the state from tourism.

Indian History

Utah's Indians have a colorful history. From 10,000 B.C. to 400 A.D. a Desert Archaic Culture flourished in Utah made up of semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. After this, the Fremont culture incorporated cultivation of squash, maize, and beans. The Fremonts created sophisticated pottery and baskets, as well as ornamental sculpture in clay. After 400 A.D. the Anasazi Indians migrated from the south into the Great Basin of Utah. They built masonry dwellings in the form of large apartment complexes and also cultivated vegetable crops. Around 1300 A.D., the Anasazi left the Great Basin. After 1000 A.D. the Numic peoples were comprised of four main groups, the Northern Shoshone, the Western Shoshone, the Southern Paiutes (or Goshutes), and the Utes. These were the Uto Aztecans. (There are similarities between Utu Aztecan language and semitic tongues.) Around 1700 Navajos moved into the territory. At the time of the Mormon Migration into Utah Territory (1847), about 20,000 Indians lived in Utah. Things stayed relatively peaceful until Mormon settlements expanded from Salt Lake Valley into Utah Valley to the south. After that, there were disagreements between the native Indians and the settlers. There were times when the Indian populations could barely feed themselves and staged food raids against the pioneers. In 1861 President Abraham Lincoln established the Uintah Valley Indian Reservation. Governmental relations with the Indians were fraught with difficulty over the years. In 1881 Indians from Colorado were moved onto Utah Indian reservations. Currently, the Indian population of Utah is just below the 20,000 mark, with most Indians living among city populations.


The first Mormon pioneers arrived in Utah with Brigham Young in 1847, settling in the Great Salt Lake Valley. For the next ten years colonization continued with new settlements being established along the Wasatch Front (the north-south valley slung along the west side of the Rockies' Wasatch Range). Some of the settlements were established under the direction of Church leaders, but many were private ventures. As the Mormon Church won converts abroad, immigrants began arriving from Europe. Self-sufficiency was greatly encouraged, and private ventures into mining and agriculture were a benefit to the area economy. Coal was discovered in 1859. On the 10th of May, 1869, the Trans-continental Railroad was completed with the Golden Spike ceremony (the joining of the two branches of the railroad) at Promontory Point in Summit County. Of great benefit to the colonization effort was the construction of an extending railroad route to Salt Lake City, and then from Ogden to Salt Lake. By the 1870's there began to be a slight problem with over-population.

Utah's Population

Utah became a state on January 4, 1896. It was the 45th state admitted to the union. By 1900, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ceased calling on its members to gather, suggesting that members build up congregations of Saints in their home countries. Immigration and settlement slowed after that decision. However, because of the high birth rate among Mormons, and the highly desirable living conditions in Utah, the population of the State has continued to grow, especially in very recent years. St. George, Utah, was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000-2005, with Utah being the sixth fastest growing state overall in 2006.

Approximately 88% of Utah's 2,500,000 people, known as "Utahns," live in an urban concentration with Salt Lake City as the center, known as the Wasatch Front. In contrast, vast expanses of the state are nearly uninhabited, making the population the sixth most urbanized in the U.S. Meanwhile, Utah is also known for being one of the most religiously homogeneous states in the Union, with approximately 72% of its inhabitants claiming membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the end of 2006 there were 1,789,707 members in 518 stakes, 4,231 wards, and 349 branches. There were 5 missions and 1 district.

The state is a center of transportation, information technology and research, government services and mining as well as a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. Utah has a long tradition of resourcefulness and hard work, as reflected in its state motto, "Industry."

2010 Census Studies

The percentage of the Utah population that is Mormon gets lower each year, with 2010 hovering around 62%. However, the LDS population still influences the lifestyle and therefore the statistics of the state. Census information found the following:

  • Utah had 81 children for every 1,000 women during the year, compared with a national average of 58.
  • 87% of babies born in Utah are born in wedlock, with the national average being 70%.
  • Utah people tend to marry younger, stay married, and have larger families than the rest of the U.S.
  • Utah had the third-lowest rate of mothers living in poverty at 15.2 percent. Across the country, nearly a quarter of the women giving birth were living in poverty.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reacted to the data by pointing to church proclamations that say marriage and fidelity are essential to God's plan and that families are ordained to give children the bonds of matrimony." [1]


A 2010 study showed that Utah was still among the top ten healthiest states in the U.S. for health and medical care, although Utah has a relatively low number of primary care physicians. That about 60% of the state's population is Mormon, making the incidence of tobacco and alcohol use low, has always been a factor in Utah's health profile. See the study here.

"Utah ranks among the top10 states on 10 of the 22 measures. Strengths include a low prevalence of smoking at 9.8 percent of the population, a low prevalence of binge drinking at 8.6 percent of the population, a low rate of preventable hospitalizations with 39.9 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees, a low violent crime rate at 213 offenses per 100,000 population, a low infant mortality rate at 5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births and a low rate of cancer deaths at 142.0 deaths per 100,000 population."

In March, 2011, Self Magazine named the Provo/Orem area the happiest place to visit in the U.S. [2]

In May, 2011, Newsmax.com [3] published an article showing how Utah stands alone in upholding old-fashioned American values. The article suggested that combative evangelical Christians should bury the hatchet and embrace Mormon presidential candidates. Following are some facts and statistics quoted by the article:

  • "It has the lowest child poverty rate. And while it has the highest birth rate it has the lowest number of teen pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births. Comparing Utah to the rest of the nation is like comparing the United States to the Third World. Outside of Utah, 33 percent of all children in America are now born to unmarried parents. Utah is an island of American traditional values in practice."
  • "While the American educational system continues in free fall, the high school graduation rates in Utah are astronomical. Utah spends a larger percentage of state dollars on education than any other in the nation."
  • "Self magazine labels Provo, Utah as the No. 1 healthiest city in for women. Stats on married members of the Latter Day Saints show that the divorce rate is 13 percent for any couple married for five years. Two of the other Republican candidates for president, favored by many evangelical leaders, have eight marriages between them."
  • "Nor is Utah bad for men. It has the nation's lowest rates of cancer and heart disease. It has the lowest amount of work days missed. It has the lowest per capita rate of people in prison. And it is highest in the nation in charitable giving by the wealthy. According to Newsweek, Utah is first in the U.S. in households with personal computers." (Read more on Newsmax.com: Romney, Huntsman Show Mormons Gaining in Importance for 2012. [4])
  • Utah is a healthy state, with the Provo-Orem area among America's healthiest. [5]
  • The American Community Survey (U.S. Census Bureau) in 2011 showed the following:
  • Utah still has the nation’s largest households, highest fertility rate, lowest median age, youngest age at marriage and most stay-at-home moms.
  • The survey showed that Utah's population was still predominantly white, with White » U.S. 74.2 percent, Utah 88.8 percent; Hispanic/Latino • U.S. 16.4 percent, Utah 13 percent; Black • U.S. 12.6 percent, Utah 1 percent; Asian • U.S. 4.8 percent, Utah 1.9 percent; American Indian/Alaska Native • U.S. 0.8 percent. Utah 1.2 percent; Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander • U.S. 0.2 percent, Utah 0.9 percent.
  • High school graduation » U.S. 85.6 percent, Utah 90.6 percent; Bachelor’s degree or higher • U.S. 28.2 percent, Utah 29.3 percent.
  • Less than $100,000 annually » U.S. 80 percent, Utah 80.9; $200,000 or more • U.S. 3.9 percent, Utah 2.8 percent. [6]
In December 2011 the Milken Institute named three Utah cities, Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, to its top 25 places to do business in the U.S.A. The smaller Utah city of Logan was named #1 among small cities for doing business. [7] The Best-Performing Cities index ranked the nation's 200 large metropolitan areas on measures including job, wage and technology performance. Salt Lake City ranked sixth, Provo ranked ninth and Ogden ranked 15th in the top 25.

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