How Did Utah Get Its Name?

Two theories exist concerning the origins of Utah's name: one suggests Utah derived from the word "Ute," meaning "people of the mountains" while the other stipulates Utah's name comes from the Native American word "yuttahih," meaning "higher up." Experts disagree on how exactly Utah derived its name, but both theories point to origins in Native American languages.

According to the first theory, European settlers arrived in present-day Utah, then populated with Native Americans. They shared living space with the Ute Indians. Settlers found the name Ute, meaning mountain people, fitting for the natural landscape. Regardless of origin, Utah eventually become the official title for the 45th state. Utah entered statehood on January 4, 1896. Its capital city, Salt Lake City, formed shortly after. The city's name derives from the Great Salt Lake, which enjoys distinction as the largest saltwater lake in the western hemisphere.

Utah contains other diverse geographical features, including tall mountains. It contains some of the highest peaks in the United States, drawing tourists for hiking and skiing every year. Its highest summit, Kings Peak, towers more than 13,000 feet above sea level. Utah covers a land area just below 85,000 square miles, making it the 11th largest state. Approximately 2 million residents call Utah home; most live in the urban areas around the largest cities.