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Washington State
State flag of Washington State seal of Washington
(Flag of Washington) (Seal of Washington)
State nickname: The Evergreen State
Map of the U.S. with Washington highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Olympia
Largest city Seattle
Governor Gary Locke
Official languages


Area (rank) 184,824 km² (18th)
 - Land 172,587 km²
 - Water (%) 12,237 km² (6.6%)
Population as of 2000 Census
 - Population (rank) 5,894,121 (15th)
 - Density (rank) 34.20 /km² (25th)
Admittance into Union
 - Date (order) November 11, 1889 (42nd)
Time zonePacific: UTC-8/-7
Latitude45°32' N to 49° N
Longitude116°57' W to 124°48' W
Width : Length 385 km : 580 km
 - Highest 4,392 meters
 - Mean 520 meters
 - Lowest 0 meters
ISO 3166-2US-WA

Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It should not be confused with Washington, DC, the nation's capital. To avoid confusion, the state is often called Washington state. Although the state capital is Olympia, the largest city in Washington is Seattle. As of the 2000 census, the state population is approximately 5.9 million. Residents are called "Washingtonians."

Washington is the only state named after a president, George Washington.

The USS Washington was named in honor of this state.



Prior to the arrival of explorers from Europe, this region of the pacific coast had established tribes of native americans with their own unique cultures. Today they are most notable for their totem poles and their ornately carved canoes and masks. Prominent among their industries were Salmon fishing and Whale hunting.

The first European record of a landing on the Washington coast is by Spanish Captain Don Bruno de Heceta in 1775 on board the Santiago, part of a two-ship flotilla with the Sonora. They claimed all the coastal lands up to the Russian possessions in the north for Spain.

In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook sighted Cape Flattery, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the straits would not be explored until 1789 by Captain Charles W. Barkley. Further explorations of the straits were performed by Spanish explorers Manuel Quimper in 1790 and Francisco Eliza in 1791, then by British Captain George Vancouver in 1792.

The Spanish Nootka Concession of 1790 opened the northwest territory to explorers and trappers from other nations, most notably Britain and then the United States. Captain Robert Gray then discovered the mouth of the Columbia river, and, beginning in 1792, he establishes a trade in Sea Otter pelts. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition entered the state on October 10.

In 1819, Spain ceded their original claims to this territory to the United States. This began a period of joint-occupancy by Britain and the U.S. that lasted until June 15, 1846 when Britain ceded their claims to this land with the Treaty of Oregon.

In 1853 the Northern Pacific railroad line reached the Puget Sound, linking the region to the other states. During that same year, Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory.

Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.

Early prominent industries in the state were agriculture and lumber. The Yakima Valley became known for its apple orchards, while in eastern Washington the growth of wheat using dry-farming techniques became particularly productive. The heavy rainfall to the west of the Cascade Range produced dense forests, and the ports along the Puget Sound prospered from the manufacturing and shipping of lumber products, particularly the Douglas fir. Other industries that developed in the state include fishing, salmon canning, and mining.

For a long period Tacoma was noted for its large smelters, where gold, silver, copper, and lead ores were treated. Seattle was the primary port for trade with Alaska, and for a time possessed a large ship-building industry. The region around the eastern Puget Sound developed heavy industry during the period including the World War I and World War II, and the Boeing company became an established icon in the area until the end of the twentieth century.

During the depression era, a series of hydroelectric dams were constructed along the Columbia river, as part of a project to increase the production of electricity. This culminated in 1941 with the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest in the United States.

During World War II, the Puget Sound area became a focus for war industries, with the Boeing Company producing many of the nation'Heavy_bomber" title ="Heavy bomber">heavy bombers. In eastern Washington, the Hanford Works atomic energy plant was opened in 1943, and played a major role in the construction of the nation'Atomic_bomb" title ="Atomic bomb">atomic bombs.

In 1980, following a period of heavy tremors and eruptions, the northeast face of Mt. Saint Helens exploded outward. This eruption flattened the forests for many kilometers, killed 57 people, and blanketed parts of eastern Washington in ash.

In 2004, Washington'Gubernatorial" title ="Gubernatorial">gubernatorial race was so closely fought that the Secretary of State certified Dino Rossi as Governor-elect almost a month after the polls had closed, and by a margin of only 42 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.


Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

See: List of Washington counties

Washington is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Oregon to the south (the Columbia River forming most of this border), Idaho to the east, and British Columbia, Canada to the north. It is famous for scenery of breathtaking beauty and sharp contrasts. High mountains rise above evergreen forests and sparkling coastal waters. Its coastal location and Puget Sound harbors give it a leading role in trade with Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim. Puget Sound'Washington_State_Ferries" title ="Washington State Ferries">state ferry fleet in the world. Washington is a land of contrasts. The deep forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world, but the flat semi-desert that lies east of the Cascade Range stretches for long distances without a single tree. Snow-covered peaks tower above the foothills and lowlands around them. Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state, appears to "float" on the horizon southeast of Seattle and Tacoma on clear days. The eastern side of the state can be divided into two regions: the Okanogan Highlands, and the Columbia River Basin.

Washington is also notable for being home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, and Homer M. Hadley Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.

See also Central Washington, Columbia River Plateau, Eastern Washington, Inland Empire, Kitsap Peninsula, Palouse, Western Washington.

Geographical features

Mount Rainier with Tacoma in foreground
Mount Rainier with Tacoma in foreground

A fuller list of Washington state'Island" title ="Island">islands appears here.

Washington map
Washington map


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Washington's population was estimated at 6,131,445 people.

The racial makeup of the state is:

The five largest ancestry groups in Washington are German (18.7%), English (12%), Irish (11.4%), Norwegian (6.2%), Mexican (5.6%).

The five largest religious denominations in Washington are Roman Catholic (22%), "Christian" (12%), Lutheran (6%), Baptist (6%), Methodist (4%). 27% of the population is nonreligious.

6.7% of Washington's population were reported as under 5, 25.7% under 18, and 11.2% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.2% of the population.

Important cities and towns

The Space Needle and the Downtown Seattle skyline
The Space Needle and the Downtown Seattle skyline

See also List of cities in Washington State, List of towns in Washington State, Washington city government


Washington is a leading agricultural state. (The following figures are from the Washington State Office of Financial Management and the Washington Agricultural Statistics Service.)

For 2001, the total value of Washington's agricultural products was $5.4 billion, the 12th highest in the country. The total value of its crops was $3.2 billion, the 8th highest.

In 2002, Washington ranked first in the nation in production of raspberries (87.8% of total U.S. production), hops (74.4%), spearmint oil (also 74.4%), wrinkled seed peas (65.6%), apples (60.2%), Concord grapes (51.8%), sweet cherries (48%), pears (44.9%), lentils (41.9%), peppermint oil (35.2%), carrots for processing (34.5%), tart cherries (32.8%), Niagara grapes (32.4%), and sweet corn for processing (29.2%). Washington also ranked second in the nation in grapes (all varieties taken together), apricots, asparagus (over a third of the country'Wheat" title ="Wheat">wheat, prunes and plums, summer dry onions, trout, and butter; fourth in barley and peaches; and fifth in cranberries and strawberries.


Colleges and universities

Bryan clock tower at Washington State University
Bryan clock tower at Washington State University

Community colleges

  • Bates Technical College
  • Bellevue Community College
  • Bellingham Technical College
  • Big Bend Community College
  • Cascadia Community College
  • Centralia College
  • Clark College
  • Clover Park Technical College
  • Columbia Basin College
  • Edmonds Community College
  • Everett Community College
  • Grays Harbor College
  • Green River Community College
  • Highline Community College
  • Lake Washington Technical College
  • Lower Columbia College

Professional sports teams

Arts and culture

Government and political activism

Elected officials

</table> See also Washington state congressional delegates.

Political activism

See also List of Washington initiatives.

Major highways

External links

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Federal district District of Columbia
Insular areas American Samoa | Baker Island | Guam | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll | Kingman Reef | Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Palmyra Atoll | Puerto Rico | Virgin Islands | Wake Island

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