Agriculture, especially the raising of cattle and sheep and production of dairy goods, is economically important in the state. Crops include wheat, hay, corn, and sugar beets. Since the 1950s manufacturing has been the major source of income in the state. Food processing is a major industry; others include the manufacture of computer equipment, aerospace products, transportation equipment, and electrical equipment; printing and publishing; and the production of fabricated metals, chemicals, and lumber. Federal facilities including army and air force bases, prisons, and the Denver Mint, as well as regional offices, contribute greatly to the economy. A new $4 billion international airport opened near Denver in Feb., 1995.
Tourism plays a vital role in Colorado's economy. The state's climate, scenery, historical sites, and extensive recreational facilities bring millions of visitors annually. Numerous resorts in towns such as Vail and Aspen attract visitors year-round as well as during ski season. Besides fine hunting, fishing, and skiing there are many special events held in the state, including arts festivals, rodeos, and fairs.
Gold, the lure to exploration and settlement of Colorado, was the first of many valuable minerals (notably silver and lead) discovered here. Leading minerals today are petroleum, coal, molybdenum, sand and gravel, and uranium. Gold is no longer mined extensively. There are also large coal and oil deposits.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.