Utah is a landlocked state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It is bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its south by Arizona, and to its west by Nevada. Utah also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. Of the fifty U.S. states, Utah is the 13th-largest by area; with a population over three million, it is the 30th-most-populous and 11th-least-densely populated. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which is home to roughly two-thirds of the population and includes the capital city, Salt Lake City; and Washington County in the southwest, with more than 180,000 residents. Most of the western half of Utah lies in the Great Basin.
Utah has been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups such as the ancient Puebloans, Navajo, and Ute. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the mid-16th century, though the region’s difficult geography and harsh climate made it a peripheral part of New Spain and later Mexico. Even while it was Mexican territory, many of Utah’s earliest settlers were American, particularly Mormons fleeing marginalization and persecution from the United States via the Mormon Trail. Following the Mexican–American War in 1848, the region was annexed by the U.S., becoming part of the Utah Territory, which included what is now Colorado and Nevada. Disputes between the dominant Mormon community and the federal government delayed Utah’s admission as a state; only after the outlawing of polygamy was it admitted in 1896 as the 45th.
People from Utah are known as Utahns. Slightly over half of all Utahns are Mormons, the vast majority of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City; Utah is the only state where a majority of the population belongs to a single church. A 2023 paper challenged this perception (claiming only 42% of Utahns are Mormons) however most statistics still show a majority of Utah residents belong to the LDS church; estimates from the LDS church suggests 60.68% of Utah’s populaiton belongs to the church whilst some sources put the number as high as 68%. The paper replied that membership count done by the LDS Church is too high for several reasons. The LDS Church greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life, though since the 1990s the state has become more religiously diverse as well as secular.
Utah has a highly diversified economy, with major sectors including transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining, multi-level marketing, and tourism. Utah has been one of the fastest growing states since 2000, with the 2020 U.S. census confirming the fastest population growth in the nation since 2010. St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. Utah ranks among the overall best states in metrics such as healthcare, governance, education, and infrastructure. It has the 12th-highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. Over time and influenced by climate change, droughts in Utah have been increasing in frequency and severity,putting a further strain on Utah’s water security and impacting the state’s economy.