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 a testament to the geography of Montana, most of which is not suitable for large development.
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 state has reflected a moderate growth rate of 0.79%, which ranks 26th in the nation.
Montana Area and Population Density
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). 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 many states in the country. The most populated counties in Montana are Yellowstone (158,980) and Missoula (117,441) counties.
Montana Gender and Religion Statistics
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.
The median age in Montana is approximately 39.8 years of age. The ratio of females to males is approximately 49.7% females to 50.3% males.
In terms of religious preferences across the state population is currently at 65% Christian based faiths, 5% non-Christian based faiths, and 30% non-affiliated with any religion.
Montana Boundary, Census, and Statehood History
The eastern and central parts of Montana were acquired as early as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, but had no organized government until Nebraska Territory was established in 1854. The northwestern part of Montana was included in the newly established Oregon Territory in 1848. The whole of the present-day State was included in Idaho Territory in 1863, and was established as a separate territory in 1864 with essentially its present boundaries. Montana was admitted as a State on November 8, 1889.
In 1860 census coverage of present-day Montana was limited to two forts enumerated in Nebraska Territory and some settlers in the Bitter Root Valley enumerated in Washington Territory. In 1870 census coverage included all of the present State.