Utah is a U.S. state located in the western United States. It was the 45th state admitted to the union on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,500,000 people live in a population corridor centered on Salt Lake City, known as the Wasatch Front. In contrast, vast expanses of the state are relatively uninhabited and rural, making Utah the sixth most urbanized state.
The state is generally rocky with three distinct geological regions: the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau. Utah is known for its natural diversity and is home to features ranging from arid deserts with sand dunes to thriving pine forests in mountain valleys.
It has a large tourism business and was host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. The ski resorts in the northern Wasatch Range, the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Great Salt Lake, the five national parks in the south, such as Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon, and cultural attractions such as Temple Square, Sundance Film Festival, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival are among the most visited.
A little over 60% of state residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), with lower percentages in urban areas and greater percentages in rural areas. The religion has historically had a strong regional influence and has contributed to the state's restrictive attitude towards alcohol and gambling, while also contributing to its high birth rate (by far the highest in the nation). Before the 1890 Manifesto, the Church's teachings of plural marriage had led to confrontation with the U.S. federal government in the Utah War.
Beginning in the late 19th century with the state's mining boom, including what is now the world's largest open pit mine, companies attracted large numbers of immigrants (of diverse faiths) with job opportunities. The new immigrants often found themselves at odds with the state's LDS population. As a result, these tensions have played a large part in Utah's history (Liberal Party vs. People's Party) and continue to do so as the state further diversifies.
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