Denver is the most populous city in Colorado and the state capital. Denver is located just east of the Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountains. Residents of Denver are known as Denverites.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that in 2005 the population of the City and County of Denver was 557,917 (26th most populous U.S. city). Denver is the most populous city within a radius of 550 miles (885 kilometers). The city claims to have the 10th largest downtown district in the United States.
Denver is nicknamed "The Mile-High City" because its official elevation (marked on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol) is exactly one mile (5280 feet) above sea level.
Denver's economy is based partially on its geographic position and its connection to some of the major transportation systems of the country. Because Denver is the largest city within 600 miles, it has become a natural location for storage and distribution of goods and services to the Mountain States. Denver is also approximately halfway between the large cities of the Midwest like Chicago and Detroit and the cities of the West Coast, another benefit for distribution. Over the years, the city has been home to some large corporations in the central United States, making Denver a key trade point for the country.
Geography also allows Denver to have a considerable government presence, with many federal agencies based or having offices in the Denver area. In fact, the Denver-Aurora Metropolitan Area has more federal workers than any other metropolitan area except for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Along with the plethora of federal agencies come many companies based on US defense and space projects. Being the capital of the state of Colorado also gives many state jobs to Denver.
In 2005, an expansion for the Colorado Convention Center was completed. According to local officials, the convention center expansion makes the city one of the top 10 cities in the nation for holding a convention.
Denver's position near the mineral-rich Rocky Mountains, encouraged mining and energy companies to spring up in the area. In the early days of the city, gold and silver booms and busts played a large role in the economic success of the city. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the energy crisis in America created an energy boom in Denver captured in the soap opera Dynasty. During this time, Denver was built up considerably, with many new downtown skyscrapers built during this time. Eventually, the oil prices dropped from $34 a barrel in 1981 to $9 a barrel in 1986, and the Denver economy dropped with it, leaving almost 15,000 oil industry workers in the area unemployed (including current mayor John Hickenlooper, a former geologist), and the highest office vacancy rate in the nation (30%). Energy and mining are still important in Denver's economy today, with companies such as EnCana, Halliburton, Newmont Mining, Noble Energy, and Anadarko.
Denver's west-central geographic location in the Mountain Time Zone (UTC -7) also benefits the telecommunications industry by allowing communication with both North American coasts, South America, Europe, and Asia in the same business day. Denver's location on the 105th meridian at over 1 mile in elevation also enables it to be the largest city in the U.S. to offer a 'one-bounce' real-time satellite uplink to six continents in the same business day. Qwest Communications, EchoStar, Starz-Encore, and Comcast are just a few of the telecommunications companies with operations in the Denver area. These and other high-tech companies had a boom in Denver in the mid to late 1990s, but the technology bust in the new millennium caused Denver to lose many of those technology jobs. Recently, the Denver area has started making a comeback, with the October 2005 unemployment at 4.7% the lowest since September of 2001. Denver government and industry leaders are attempting to diversify the Denver economy so that it is less susceptible to boom and bust cycles.
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