Denver, a picturesque city located between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, is Colorado's capital and largest city. With a population of 554,636 and an area totaling 154.9 square miles, the city is part of the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area, the 22nd-largest metropolitan area in the United States.
Originally inhabited by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, Denver was founded by General William Larimer on November 22, 1858, after gold was discovered at the union of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. The town was named after James W. Denver, the Kansas territory governor, of which eastern Colorado was then a part. Shortly thereafter, more gold discoveries triggered the migration of approximately 100,000 people in 1859. This led the federal government to establish the Colorado Territory in 1861.
Nicknamed the "Mile-High City" because of its official elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver has a cool, semi-arid climate with about 300 days of sunshine each year. In between snowstorms during the winter season, Chinook winds warm the air. Dry winters, moist springs, comfortable summers, and agreeable falls support outdoor activities such as biking & hiking, horseback riding, fly fishing, skiing, golf, hang gliding, and whitewater rafting.
Denver's residents enjoy a diversity of recreational activities in which to take part, both indoor and outdoor. It has the largest city park system in the United States, with 650 miles of bike trails and 90 golf courses. In addition, Denver boasts a cultural and sophisticated environment. With one of the most educated populations in America and a passion for the arts, this western metropolis offers enrichment through the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The city features the Denver Zoo, a collection of museums, several shopping areas, and a downtown amusement park, Elitch Gardens. As well, Denver is a huge sports town, being home to the National Football League's Denver Broncos, Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies, National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche, and National Basketball Association's Denver Nuggets.
The region has more federal employees than any other city in the United States except for Washington, D.C. Besides federal agencies, several defense- and aerospace-related companies such as Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace are located in the area. Due to Denver's location one mile above sea level, it is the largest U.S. city to present a "one-bounce" real-time satellite uplink to 6 continents in a business day. As a result, several telecommunications companies including Qwest Communications, Comcast, EchoStar, and Starz-Encore maintain operations there. Examples of other companies that have operations in the Denver area are J.D. Edwards (part of Oracle Corporation), Quizno's, Sun Microsystems, United Airlines, and Coors Brewing Company.
Due to its vast cultural diversity, numerous educational resources, a flourishing economy, and various social activities to enjoy, Denver is an excellent city for higher educational pursuits.