Montana Population 2016
Montana is a vast area of open space, situated in the northwest portion of the United States. It may be the fourth biggest state in the country in terms of sheer size, but its population statistics are testament to the geography of Montana, most of which is not suitable for large development. As of 2016, the estimated population of Montana is 1.03 million.
There are only two states in the US that are more sparsely populated than the aptly nicknamed Big Sky Country -- Alaska and Wyoming. In terms of pure population numbers, the state surpassed the 1 million mark according to estimates from the US Census Bureau for 2016. The estimated 2016 population is 1,032,949, making Montana the 44th most populous state. The state has reflected a moderate growth rate of 0.79%, which ranks 26th in the nation.
The US Census of 2010 confirmed that 989,415 people were living in Montana, an increase of 9.7% from the findings of 2000. The Montana population surpassed 1 million for the first time in 2012, and it now stands at 1.03 million.
With a sprawling land mass of 145,552.43 square miles, there are only three bigger states in the US. However, for every square mile of land, there is an average of just 6.86 people (2.65 per square kilometer) and that makes Montana the 48th most densely populated area in the country. Mountain ranges, lakes and national parks all contribute to that figure in a huge area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are few large urban areas in the state of Montana. The largest city is Billings, home to 110,263 people in 2016. Other sizable cities are Missoula (pop: 71,022) and Great Falls (pop: 59,638). If you take a look at the interactive map at the top of the page, you will see that urban areas in Montana are actually growing quite rapidly, while more rural areas are gradually becoming less populated. This is a trend that is common among virtually all states in the country.
Montana Population History
The first census in Montana was held in 1870, just after Montana was formally made a US State Territory (previously it had been a part of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Dakota territories.) It recorded a population of 20,595. This was relatively small compared to other areas of the country, as the population explosion of the 1800s was slow to reach Montana.
However, increased migration helped to swell those numbers through the end of the 19th century. Just ten years later, in 1880, numbers of just over 20,000 had grown by just over 90% to 39,159 but the biggest spike in the history of Montana’s population was yet to come. The survey of 1890, held just after Montana became a full US state, showed an impressive increase of 265% that took the number of residents to 142,924.
Further increases followed but they began to slow down in the 1900s. In fact, the 1930 Census revealed a fall of just over 2% from the numbers declared ten years earlier. That ‘blip’ aside, steady growth dominated to the point where the population of Montana in 2016 has surpassed the 1 million mark.
The 2010 census also measured race and ethnicity, and the US Bureau has provided estimates annually between censuses. The last estimate taken in July 2015 showed that Montana has a much higher American Indian population than in many other states. The figures for Montana are:
- White (89.2%)
- Black/African American (0.6%)
- American Indian (6.6%)
- Asian (0.8%)
- Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (0.1%)
- Two or more races (2.7%)
The 2010 census also measured ancestry. By far the largest ancestral group in Montana is German, claimed by 29.3% of the population. Other major ancestral groups are Irish (16.4%), English (13.1%) and Norwegian (10.0%).
94.8% of Montana's population speaks English, although there are many other languages spoken in the state, including Blackfoot, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Plains Cree, Crow, Dakota and Kutenai. This is because Montana has one of the highest Native American populations in the US, with about 66,000 people of Native American heritage. This is the result of many treaties and federal legislation, including one that recognizes the Little Shell Chippewa, a nation of "landless" people in Great Falls recognized by the state but not the federal government. About 63% of these people live off reservation -- mostly in cities -- with Great Falls having the largest concentration of urban Indians.
Montana Population Growth
Montana's population growth has mainly been concentrated in its seven largest counties, with the heaviest growth in Gallatin County, while the city of Kalispell has seen a growth of over 40% in the last decade. This is expected to continue, as Montana's rural areas will continue to lose people while the urban areas grow.
Montana has a moderate population growth of 0.79%, which is about middle-of-the-road in the United States. Forecasts show Montana's population will grow 14% over the next 30 years, reaching 1.16 million by 2030.
It's also estimated that by 2030, Montana will be one of ten states in the country to have more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18, and it will be one of only six states to have 25% of its population aged 65 and older, which could impact future growth.
Source: Sara goth
- Most of Montana was acquired by the US during the Lousiana Purchase of 1803.
- Fort Benton was built in 1847 by the American Fur Company, and it is the oldest continuously-populated town in the state.
- Thousands of people relocated near Grasshopper Creek following the discovery of gold in 1862.
- The famous battle, Custer's Last Stand, took place in 1876 along the Little Bighorn River after the US Army came to move Native Americans to reservations.
- Montana has approximately 100 different species of mammals -- more species than any other state in the US.
- Montana has a total of 56 counties. Forty-six of these counties have 6 or fewer people per square mile, so they are designated as "frontier counties."
- Montana is the only US state to share borders with three Canadian countries.
Population Data via US Census