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  • In Montana, whose slogan is “The Last Best Place,” nature and the extraction of resources have always been at the center of politics. The diversity of economic interest in the mountainous western part of the state sharply divides it from the agrarian eastern plains. The state's population is approximately 999,000, in an area of 147,042 square miles, making it the third least populous state in the Union but fourth largest geographically. It has no metropolis and is racially homogeneous, at almost 90 percent white. While the struggle to control access to resources has always been at the heart of the state's political awareness, Montana has never been tied to one party for long.

    The U.S. Congress created the territory of Montana from the spare parts of ...

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