Montana State Overview

State of Montana general data

  • Time zone: 8 hours less than Italy
  • Capital: Helena
  • Main towns: Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Missoula.
  • Area: 380.837 km²
  • Population: 1,040,000 inhabitants approximately.
  • Population density: 2,7 residents / km²
  • State abbreviation: MT
  • Entry into the United States: It joins the United States on November 8, 1889, it is the 41st state to join the union.

According to, the state of Montana is located in the Rocky Mountain and Great Prairies region. The average altitude of the territory is 1,040 m, with the highest point in Mount Granite Peak, 3,901, and the lowest in the Kootenai River basin, 549 m.

The region that is part of the Rocky Mountains occupies the western sector of the state. It is an area shaped by glaciations, with an alpine-like landscape in the north, characterized by steep ridges and valleys. Among the various mountain ranges that make up the Rocky Mountains in the state of Montana, formations that extend from the north and northwest to the south and southeast of the state, the Bitterroot Mountains are among the most important. In addition, the Rocky Mountains region has a subregion of large valleys, such as the Flathead valley, and another of narrow valleys, this last division includes two spectacular national parks: the Glacier, north-west of Montana, and Yellowstone to the south, a park that Montana shares with Wyoming and Idaho. In Yellowstone is the Granite Pike, the highest mountain in this state.

The other large physical region, the Great Prairies area, occupies three-fifths of the state territory. It is a flat surface which contrasts with the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. In spite of this contrast, the grassland region has a considerable height. The plain is not, however, uniform as it is interrupted by small mountain ranges, scattered throughout the region, and are a forerunner of the Rocky Mountains. The northern part of the Prairie region in Montana is characterized by the effects of erosion, and by deposits from glacial action.

The state of Montana is crossed by the Continental Divide, that is, the imaginary line of the continental divide that divides the great river slopes of the United States. Thus, in the west of Montana, rivers flow to the Pacific Basin, through the Columbia River, (including the Kootenai, Clark Fork, and Flathead rivers), to the east, the rivers begin their course in the direction of the gulf basin, through the Mississippi-Missouri system, (including the Missouri River, which originates in Montana, and the Marias, Milk and Yellowstone rivers), while few rivers in Montana pour their waters into Hudson Bay. Flathead Lake, fed by the river of the same name, is the largest in the state.

Flora and fauna – The plains are devoid of tree vegetation and, where they are not cultivated, are covered with prairie grasses that give way to vegetation of low bushes in the driest areas. Along the rivers poplars grow and ponderosa pines cover some higher areas. In the Rocky Mountains, conifers extend high up to the vegetation line. Montana’s most distinctive animal, the bison, was nearly exterminated before 1894 and now survives only in some protected areas. Mountain animals include the coyote, lynx, mink, puma, moose, deer, grizzly and black bear.

The climate of Montana is very varied, as it is located in an area affected by the currents of the Pacific, and by those coming from the east of the United States. Furthermore, the two large geographical areas into which the territory is divided, (Rocky Mountains and Great Plains), explain the climatic contrast. In general, we can say that the territory included in the Great Prairies has a semi-arid climate, 330 mm of average annual rainfall, with cold winters affected by the effect of the Arctic winds from the north, and hot summers. The Rocky Mountain region is not characterized by a homogeneous climate, as it is conditioned by the altitude and the slope. In fact, on the west side of the highest area, average annual rainfall of 1,090 mm is recorded, while in the valleys on the eastern side the average annual rainfall does not normally exceed 500 mm. The average annual temperature in Montana is 6 ºC.


Helena, a city and state capital of Montana, and the seat of Lewis and Clark County. Located in the western part of the state, in a fertile region of the Prickly Pear valley, it is an important center of communication, agricultural products and raw materials, as well as a financial and commercial center. Of importance for the city economy, public administration, being state capital, insurance companies, and tourism. Its main products are, food, chemicals, building materials and metal products.

What see– The headquarters of Carroll College (1909), a major vocational training center, is located in Helena. Among the points of interest in the city, the Helena Historic District, the State Capitol (1902) with a dome topped by a replica of the Statue of Liberty, the former governor’s residence (1885) designed by Cass Gilbert, the Montana Historical Society Museum which houses exhibitions on the history of the region and a collection of 200 works by the artist Charles Russel, and the cathedral of Santa Elena, in neo-Gothic style and consecrated in 1914. Other cultural institutions are the Holter Art Museum, and the Orchestra Symphonic and Helena’s Choir. A famous sleigh race is celebrated annually. Close to the city is Frontier Town, a replica of a pioneer settlement, and the Canyon Ferry reservoir. According to, originally called “Last Chance Gulch” (last chance gorge), Helena was born as a gold digger camp around 1860. Much of the wealth created by the mines remained on site, as can be seen from the number of villas built by the city’s millionaires. Now nearly all of these beautiful Victorian mansions have been converted into bed and breakfasts.

History– The region was explored and colonized in 1805 by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The community that probably took the name of Helena (Minnesota), was founded in 1864, shortly after the discovery of gold in Last Chance Gulch, which today is the site of the main street of the city. It quickly grew as a supply center for the mining area, and in 1874, it became the Montana Territory Capital. Although its development was interrupted by the exhaustion of the gold mines, the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1883 and the expansion of other mining activities revitalized its economy, becoming the capital of the state of Montana in 1889.

Montana State Overview