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General background about this state

Washington Flag     Washington Great Seal


  Walla Walla

Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west; Canada to the north; Idaho to the east; and Oregon to the south.

  • NICKNAME: The Evergreen State
  • POPULATION: 6,971,406 (2013 est.)
  • CAPITAL: Olympia
  • STATE BIRD: Willow Goldfinch
  • STATE FLOWER: Coast Rhododendron
  • AREA: 71,362 sq. mi.
  • TIME ZONE: Pacific
  • ENTERED UNION: Nov. 11, 1889
  • ALTITUDE: High, 14,411 ft. Mount Rainier
  • CLIMATE: Cool summers, mild winters along coast and Puget Sound; hot summers, cold winters on inland plateau. Heavy rainfall on windward slopes of the Olympics; dry on inland plateau.


The glaciated volcanic peaks of the Cascade Range form a great barrier between the moist valleys of the west and the dry inland plateaus of the east. In the west the Washingtonians run factories, fisheries, dairies, and manage timberland; in the eastern "Inland Northwest" they grow fruit and wheat. The sea strongly influences the western economy: a 200 mile long extension of the Pacific through Juan de Fuca Straight and Puget Sound gives many of the state's cities uniquely sheltered coastlines far inland.

On the semi-arid eastern plateau, the U.S. government has created a 130 mile-long body of water, Lake Roosevelt, which backs up from the mighty Grand Coulee Dam. One of the largest hydroelectric projects in the Western Hemisphere, Grand Coulee supplies power and irrigation throughout the vast Columbia Basin.

The Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge, Washington

First explored in 1792 by the British Captain George Vancouver, who entered Puget Sound, and Robert Gray, an American who discovered the Columbia River, Washington still has areas of unspoiled beauty. Mount Rainier National Park contains 25 active glaciers. At 14,410 feet, Mount Rainier is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range (View Mount Rainer webcams). The moss-draped trees of Olympic National Park present a green luxuriance reminiscent of the rain forests of South America.



  • Washington is the only state named for a President.
  • The first Father's Day was observed in Spokane in 1910.
  • The northernmost point in the contiguous United States is Cape Flattery on the Olympic Peninsula.
  • Sam Hill built a concrete replica of England's Stonehenge on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River as a memorial to the soldiers from Klickitat County who fought and died in World War I.
  • The Olympic Peninsula is home to the only temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states. It receives 12 to 14 feet of rain each year. The forest is dominated by Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, some of which are 300 feet high and 23 feet around.
  • Washington has more glaciers than all of the other 47 contiguous U.S. states combined.


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