Montana's average elevation is 3,400 ft. (1,036 m.) above sea level. The border of western Montana is formed by the Rocky Mountains and includes a section of the Continental Divide, the separation mark of the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds begins in Glacier National Park and runs south at one point, forming part of the southern boundary between Montana and Idaho. While western Montana is mountainous with highlands and the location of most of Montana's natural lakes, eastern Montana is Great Plains with grassland prairie and scattered small mountains. Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River in northeastern Montana creates Fort Peck Lake, the world's third largest reservoir. According to the 1972 state constitution, all water in the state, even water on private land, is under state control.

The average annual precipitation is 15 in. (38 cm.), with the higher mountain areas receiving more than 50 in. (127 cm.) with winter snow. To the west of the Rocky Mountains, mild air currents from the Pacific give cooler summers and warmer winters than the area east of the Rocky Mountains, which receives Canadian and Arctic air currents in winter, and warm moist air flows from the Gulf of Mexico, in summer. Average July temperatures vary from 72 degrees F (22 degrees C) in the southern plains, to 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) in the mountains, and average January temperatures are below freezing. The highest temperature recorded in the state was 117 degrees F (47 degrees C) on July 5, 1937, and the lowest temperature recorded in the state was minus 70 degrees F (minus 57 degrees C) on January 20, 1954.

The state supports a population of approximately one million people. Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are mined in Montana. Forests cover 22 million acres, providing opportunities for commercial logging. The eastern part of Montana is perfect for agriculture, including beef, wheat, barley, and sheep. Western Montana's milder climate is suitable for fruits (berries, cherries, and apples). Electricity is generated by coal-burning plants and by hydroelectric plants.

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