The name Utah comes from the Native American Ute tribe, and means "people of the mountains." A fitting name for the state with mountain peaks that are, on average, the tallest in the country. The king of them all, Kings Peak, is over 13,500 feet tall. Utah is nicknamed the Beehive State, but most people think of it by its other moniker, the Mormon State. Settled by Brigham Young and followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1847, Utah remained 100% Mormon until the railroad brought a more diverse range of settlers to its land. Today, Mormons make up less than half the population but still have a big impact on the state's government, economy and culture.
Traditionally, Utah's economy relied upon agriculture and mining. There isn't much cultivated land in the state, but significant amounts of livestock and a few crops are grown. Utah has long been a leader in the mining of gold, silver, lead and other minerals, and oil has become a major product as well. In recent decades, tourism has become a significant factor in the economy, along with aerospace, biomedical and high-tech businesses.
Famous for its dramatic beauty, Utah is a land of extravagant landscapes. Redrock canyons, lush forests, snowcapped mountains and countless streams and lakes attract visitors and residents alike into the great outdoors. Favorite recreational activities include hiking, camping, fishing, biking, whitewater rafting, skiing and snowboarding.
Utah provides a high standard of living. The state's economy boasts rabid job growth, low unemployment and increasing diversity among industries. It is the fifth most affordable state in the nation, with an average cost of living at 10% below the average, and housing costs--including apartment rentals--coming in at 15% below the national average. Rental rates for one-bedroom apartments average $375-500 per month, while two-bedroom apartments for rent average $625-800.
Utah's capital and largest city, Salt Lake City, is also the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The state's other major city, Provo, is one of the fastest growing in the nation.
The largest city in Utah with nearly 200,000 residents, Salt Lake City is the economic and political hub for the state. Downtown is truly the heart of the city, with major points of interest including the State Capitol and Temple Square, which includes important Mormon buildings like the Tabernacle (home of the Grammy-winning Mormon Tabernacle Choir). And don't forget about the Great Salt Lake itself, the largest in the United States west of the Great Lakes. Evaporation has caused the salt levels to be high, with record salinity at around 20% (compared to only 3.5% in the ocean!). There are no fish in the lake, so fishing is not a viable option for recreation, but bird watching and just enjoying the unique landscapes are popular outdoor activities. Salt Lake City is also home to NBA team Utah Jazz. Housing is affordable here; recent statistics measured the median price for apartment rentals to be $635, with the average cost of all apartments at $670 per month.
With about half the residents of Salt Lake City, Provo is the second largest city in Utah. The city's natural beauty and flourishing economy make it appealing to newcomers. Outdoor attractions include the city's numerous parks, nearby skiing in winter and hiking in summer, and one of the nation's largest Fourth of July celebrations. Provo is also home to Brigham Young University and Utah Technical College. You'll find plenty of apartments for rent, with the median rent price for apartments coming in lower than the capital at $575.