First explored for France by François and Louis-Joseph Verendrye in the early 1740s, much of the region was acquired by the U.S. from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Before western Montana was obtained from Great Britain in the Oregon Treaty of 1846, American trading posts and forts had been established in the territory.
Montana is bordered on the north by the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, on the east by North Dakota and South Dakota, on the south by Wyoming, and on the southwest and west by Idaho. The state is the fourth largest in the United States. Western Montana is a land of tall, rugged mountains; while eastern Montana is a land of broad plains.
Montana's 1999 total state gross product was $20 billion, 48th in the nation. Its Per Capita Personal Income for 2000 was $22,569, placing it 46th in the nation. Its agricultural outputs are cattle, wheat, barley, sugar beets, hay, and hogs. Its industrial outputs are mining, lumber and wood products, food processing, and tourism.
Tourist attractions include hunting, fishing, skiing, and dude ranching. Glacier National Park, on the Continental Divide, has 60 glaciers, 200 lakes, and many streams with good trout fishing. Other major points of interest include the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Virginia City, Yellowstone National Park, Fort Union Trading Post and Grant-Kohr's Ranch National Historic Sites, and the Museum of the Plains Indians at Browning.