Utah is a politically conservative state dominated by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). Founded by Mormons in 1847, they make up 70% of the population and in 2000 George W Bush had the widest victory margin of any state here.
The Mormons arrived in Utah after fleeing persecutors in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Led by church president Brigham Young, the Mormons built the state from scratch and the Church of Latter Day Saints has an enormous influence over everyday life.
It owns one of the leading Salt Lake City newspapers, a television station, a department store and has holdings in several banks and an insurance company.
Population: 2,233,169 (ranked 34 among states)
Governor: Olene Walker (R)
Electoral college votes: 5
Its members vote heavily - according to one estimate they were 75% of voters in 2002, although making up about 70% of the population.
So the church sets the political tone of the state. Utah is conservative on many social issues, becoming for instance, the first state to ban cigarette vending machines.
It also has one of the toughest abortion laws in the US, banning it in all cases except rape and incest.
But while Utah's morality has not changed much in decades, its politics have. Fifty years ago it was an impoverished state that saw itself as a victim of East Coast prejudice. This made it staunchly Democrat.
House of Representatives:
1 Democrat, 2 Republican
Senate: 2 Republican
But business innovation, intense productivity and one of the youngest populations in the US have drastically solidified a Republican stance evident since the 1960s.
2000: Bush 67%, Gore 26%
1996: Clinton 33%, Dole 54%, Perot 10%
1992: Clinton 25%, Bush 43%, Perot 27%
The state has seen fast rising incomes and hi-tech industries move to the state.
The extraordinary beauty of the south-eastern part of the state, with a number of national parks, is a particular tourist draw, and Salt Lake City's hosting of the Winter Olympics in 2002 put it firmly on the international winter sports map, too.