Washington (state)
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Washington (), officially the State of Washington, is a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, U ...
in the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (sometimes Cascadia, or simply abbreviated as PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though ...
region of the
Western United States The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the List of regions of the United States#Census Bureau-designated regions and divisions, region comprising the westernmost U.S. state, states of the United ...
. Named for
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the ...
—the first
U.S. president The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the Federal government of the United States#Executive branch, executive branch of the Federal gove ...
—the state was formed from the western part of the
Washington Territory The Territory of Washington was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1853, until November 11, 1889, when the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Washington (state), State of Wa ...
, which was ceded by the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. I ...
in 1846, by the
Oregon Treaty The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to t ...
in the settlement of the
Oregon boundary dispute The Oregon boundary dispute or the Oregon Question was a 19th-century territorial dispute over the political division of the Pacific Northwest of North America between several nations that had competing territorial and commercial aspirations in t ...
. The state is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...
to the south,
Idaho Idaho ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canada–United States border with the province of British Columbia. It borders the states of Monta ...
to the east, and the
Canadian province Within the geographical areas of Canada, the ten provinces and three territories are sub-national administrative divisions under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of Canada, Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three pr ...
of
British Columbia British Columbia (commonly abbreviated as BC) is the westernmost Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. It has a diverse geography, with rugged landscapes that include ...
to the north. It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the
state capital Below is an index of pages containing lists of capital city, capital cities. National capitals *List of national capitals *List of national capitals by latitude *List of national capitals by population *List of national capitals by area *List of ...
; the state's largest city is
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest regio ...
. Washington is often referred to as Washington state to distinguish it from the nation's capital,
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk shaped building within the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate Geor ...
Washington is the 18th-largest state, with an area of , and the 13th-most populous state, with more than 7.7 million people. The majority of Washington's residents live in the
Seattle metropolitan area The Seattle metropolitan area is an urban conglomeration in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington that comprises Seattle, its surrounding Satellite city, satellites and suburbs. It contains the three most populous List of counties in ...
, the center of transportation, business, and industry on
Puget Sound Puget Sound ( ) is a sound (geography), sound of the Pacific Northwest, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is located along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. It is a complex e ...
, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean consisting of numerous islands, deep
fjord In physical geography, a fjord or fiord () is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier. Fjords exist on the coasts of Alaska, Antarctica, British Columbia, Chile, Denmark, Förden and East Jutland Fjorde, Germany, Gr ...
s, and bays carved out by glaciers. The remainder of the state consists of deep
temperate rainforest Temperate rainforests are coniferous or Broad-leaved tree, broadleaf forests that occur in the temperate zone and receive heavy rain. Temperate rain forests occur in oceanic moist regions around the world: the Pacific temperate rain forests of N ...
s in the west;
mountain range A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountains or hills arranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arise ...
s in the west, central, northeast, and far southeast; and a semi-arid basin region in the east, central, and south, given over to intensive agriculture. Washington is the second most populous state on the West Coast and in the Western United States, after
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located along the West Coast of the United States, Pacific Coast. With nearly 39.2million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territori ...
.
Mount Rainier Mount Rainier (), indigenously known as Tahoma, Tacoma, Tacobet, or təqʷubəʔ, is a large active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern Br ...
, an active
stratovolcano A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a Volcanic cone, conical volcano built up by many layers (strata) of hardened lava and tephra. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile with a summit ...
, is the state's highest elevation at , and is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous U.S. Washington is a leading
lumber Lumber is wood that has been processed into dimensional lumber, including beams and planks or boards, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for construction framing, as well as finishing (floors, wall panels, w ...
producer; its rugged surface is rich in stands of
Douglas fir The Douglas fir (''Pseudotsuga menziesii'') is an evergreen conifer species in the pine family, Pinaceae. It is native plant, native to western North America and is also known as Douglas-fir, Douglas spruce, Oregon pine, and Columbian pine. Ther ...
, hemlock,
ponderosa pine ''Pinus ponderosa'', commonly known as the ponderosa pine, bull pine, blackjack pine, western yellow-pine, or filipinus pine is a very large Pinus, pine tree species of variable habitat native plant, native to mountainous regions of western Nor ...
, white pine,
spruce A spruce is a tree of the genus ''Picea'' (), a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal ecosystem, boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. ''Picea'' is the sole gen ...
,
larch Larches are deciduous conifers in the genus ''Larix'', of the family Pinaceae (subfamily Laricoideae). Growing from tall, they are native to much of the cooler temperate northern hemisphere, on lowlands in the north and high on mountains furth ...
, and cedar. The state is the largest producer of apples, hops, pears, blueberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries in the U.S., and ranks high in the production of apricots, asparagus, dry edible peas, grapes, lentils, peppermint oil, and potatoes. Livestock, livestock products, and commercial fishing—particularly of salmon, halibut, and bottomfish—are also significant contributors to the state's economy. Washington ranks second only to California in
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different ...
production. Manufacturing industries in Washington include aircraft, missiles, shipbuilding, and other transportation equipment, food processing, metals, and metal products, chemicals, and machinery. Washington has more than a thousand dams, including the
Grand Coulee Dam Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington, built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. Constructed between 1933 and 1942, Grand Coulee original ...
, built for a variety of purposes including irrigation, electricity generation, flood control, and water storage. Washington is one of the wealthiest as well as most socially liberal states in the country. The state consistently ranks among the best for
life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, current age, and other demographic factors like sex. The most commonly used measure is life expectancy at birth ...
and low
unemployment Unemployment, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), is people above a specified age (usually 15) not being in paid employment or self-employment but currently available for Work (human activity), w ...
. Along with
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the wes ...
, Washington was one of the first to legalize medicinal and recreational
cannabis ''Cannabis'' () is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The number of species within the genus is disputed. Three species may be recognized: ''Cannabis sativa'', ''Cannabis indica, C. indica'', and ''Cannabis ruderalis, ...
, was among the first states to legalize
same-sex marriage Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage of two people of the same Legal sex and gender, sex or gender. marriage between same-sex couples is legally performed and recognized in 33 countries, with the most recent being ...
in 2012, and was one of only four U.S. states to have been providing legal
abortion Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus. An abortion that occurs without intervention is known as a miscarriage or "spontaneous abortion"; these occur in approximately 30% to 40% of pregnan ...
s on request before the 1973
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ju ...
decision in '' Roe v. Wade'' loosened abortion laws nationwide. Similarly, Washington voters approved a 2008 referendum on legalization of physician-assisted suicide, and Washington is currently one of ten states—along with Washington, D.C.—to have legalized the practice.


Etymology

Washington was named after
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese ful ...
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the ...
by an act of the
United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
during the creation of
Washington Territory The Territory of Washington was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1853, until November 11, 1889, when the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Washington (state), State of Wa ...
in 1853; the territory was to be named "Columbia", for the
Columbia River The Columbia River (Upper Chinook language, Upper Chinook: ' or '; Sahaptin language, Sahaptin: ''Nch’i-Wàna'' or ''Nchi wana''; Sinixt dialect'' '') is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river headwater ...
and the
Columbia District The Columbia District was a North American fur trade, fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. Much of its territory overlapped with the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by the ...
, but Kentucky representative
Richard H. Stanton Richard Henry Stanton (September 9, 1812 – March 20, 1891, born Bob Stanton) was a politician, lawyer, editor and judge from Kentucky. Born in Alexandria, Virginia, Alexandria, DC, he completed preparatory studies, attended Alexandria Aca ...
found the name too similar to the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, United States Capitol, Logan Circle (Washington, D.C.), Logan Circle, Jefferson Memoria ...
(the national capital, itself containing the city of Washington), and proposed naming the new territory after President Washington. Washington is the only U.S. state named after a president. Confusion over the state of Washington and the city of Washington, D.C., led to renaming proposals during the statehood process for Washington in 1889, including
David Dudley Field II David Dudley Field II (February 13, 1805April 13, 1894) was an American lawyer and law reformer who made major contributions to the development of Civil procedure in the United States, American civil procedure. His greatest accomplishment was ...
's suggestion to name the new state "Tacoma"; these proposals failed to garner support. Washington, D.C.'s, own statehood movement in the 21st century has included a proposal to use the name "State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth", which would conflict with the current state of Washington. Residents of Washington (known as "Washingtonians") and the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (sometimes Cascadia, or simply abbreviated as PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though ...
simply refer to the state as "Washington", and the nation's capital "Washington, D.C.", "the other Washington", or simply "D.C."


History


Early history

The 9,300-year-old skeletal remains of
Kennewick Man Kennewick Man and Ancient One are the names generally given to the skeletal remains of a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history between the use of the first stone tools by hominin ...
, one of the oldest and most complete human remains found in North America, were discovered in Washington in the 1990s. The area has been known to host
megathrust earthquake Megathrust earthquakes occur at convergent boundary, convergent plate boundaries, where one tectonic plate is forced underneath another. The earthquakes are caused by slip along the thrust fault that forms the contact between the two plates. Thes ...
s in the past, the last being the Cascadia earthquake of 1700. Before the arrival of Europeans, the region had many established tribes of indigenous peoples, notable for their
totem pole Totem poles ( hai, gyáaʼaang) are monumental carvings found in western Canada and the northwestern United States. They are a type of Northwest Coast art, consisting of poles, posts or pillars, carved with symbols or figures. They are usually m ...
s and their ornately carved canoes and masks. Prominent among their industries were
salmon Salmon () is the common name for several list of commercially important fish species, commercially important species of euryhaline ray-finned fish from the family (biology), family Salmonidae, which are native to tributary, tributaries of the ...
fishing and, notably among the
Makah The Makah (; Klallam Klallam (also Clallam, although the spelling with "K" is preferred in all four modern Klallam communities) refers to four related indigenous peoples, indigenous Native Americans in the United States, Native American/First ...
, whale hunting. The peoples of the Interior had a different subsistence-based culture based on hunting, food-gathering and some forms of agriculture, as well as a dependency on salmon from the Columbia and its tributaries. The
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by variola virus (often called smallpox virus) which belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus. The Ali Maow Maalin#Maalin's case, last naturally occurring case was diagnosed in October 1977, and the World ...
epidemic of the 1770s devastated the Native American population.


European exploration

The first recorded European landing on the Washington coast was by Spanish Captain Don
Bruno de Heceta Bruno de Heceta (Hezeta) y Dudagoitia (1743–1807) was a Spanish Basque people, Basque explorer of the Pacific Northwest. Born in Bilbao of an old Basque family, he was sent by the Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio María Bucareli y Ursúa, to explore ...
in 1775, on board the ''Santiago'', part of a two-ship
flotilla A flotilla (from Spanish, meaning a small ''flota'' ( fleet) of ships), or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. Composition A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same c ...
with the ''Sonora''. He claimed the coastal lands up to
Prince William Sound Prince William Sound (Sugpiaq language, Sugpiaq: ''Suungaaciq'') is a Sound (geography), sound of the Gulf of Alaska on the south coast of the U.S. state of Alaska. It is located on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula. Its largest port is Valdez ...
for Spain as part of their claimed rights under the
Treaty of Tordesillas The Treaty of Tordesillas, ; pt, Tratado de Tordesilhas . signed in Tordesillas, Spain on 7 June 1494, and authenticated in Setúbal, Portugal, divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between the Portuguese Empire and the Spanish Emp ...
, which they maintained made the Pacific a "Spanish lake" and all its shores part of the Spanish Empire. In 1778, British explorer Captain
James Cook James Cook (7 November 1728Old Style and New Style dates, Old Style date: 27 October – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartography, cartographer, and captain (Royal Navy), captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for ...
sighted
Cape Flattery Cape Flattery () is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous United States The contiguous United States (officially the conterminous United States) consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states and the Washington, D.C., Federal District of th ...
, at the entrance to the
Strait of Juan de Fuca The Strait of Juan de Fuca (officially named Juan de Fuca Strait in Canada) is a body of water about long that is the Salish Sea's outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The Canada–United States border, international boundary between Canada and the Unit ...
, but Cook did not realize the strait existed. It was not discovered until Charles William Barkley, captain of the '' Imperial Eagle'', sighted it in 1787. The straits were further explored by
Spanish explorers Exploration refers to the historical practice of discovering remote lands. It is studied by geographers and historians. Two major eras of exploration occurred in human history: one of convergence, and one of divergence. The first, covering most ...
Manuel Quimper Manuel Quimper Benítez del Pino (c. 1757 – April 2, 1844) was a Spanish Peruvian explorer, cartographer, naval officer, and colonial official. He participated in charting the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Hawaiian Islands, Sandwich Islands i ...
in 1790 and Francisco de Eliza in 1791, and British explorer
George Vancouver Post-captain, Captain George Vancouver (22 June 1757 – 10 May 1798) was a British Royal Navy officer best known for his Vancouver Expedition, 1791–1795 expedition, which explored and charted North America's northwestern West Coast of the Un ...
in 1792.


European settlement

The British–Spanish
Nootka Convention The Nootka Sound Conventions were a series of three agreements between the Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Great Britain, signed in the 1790s, which averted a war between the two countries over overlapping claims to portions of the Pacific No ...
of 1790 ended Spanish claims of exclusivity and opened the Northwest Coast to explorers and traders from other nations, most notably Britain and Russia as well as the fledgling United States. American captain Robert Gray (for whom Grays Harbor County is named) then discovered the mouth of the Columbia River. He named the river after his ship, the ''Columbia''. Beginning in 1792, Gray established trade in
sea otter The sea otter (''Enhydra lutris'') is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern Pacific Ocean, North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between , making them the heaviest members of the Mustelidae, weasel f ...
pelts. The
Lewis and Clark Expedition The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the United States expedition to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. The Corps of Discovery was a select gro ...
entered the state on October 10, 1805. Explorer David Thompson, on his voyage down the Columbia River, camped at the confluence with the Snake River on July 9, 1811, and erected a pole and a notice claiming the territory for Great Britain and stating the intention of the
North West Company The North West Company was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821. It competed with increasing success against the Hudson's Bay Company in what is present-day Western Canada and Northwestern Ontario. With great wealt ...
to build a trading post at the site. Britain and the United States agreed to what has since been described as "joint occupancy" of lands west of the
Continental Divide A continental divide is a drainage divide A drainage divide, water divide, ridgeline, watershed, water parting or height of land is elevated terrain that separates neighboring drainage basins. On rugged land, the divide lies along topograph ...
to the Pacific Ocean as part of the Anglo–American Convention of 1818, which established the 49th Parallel as the international boundary west from
Lake of the Woods Lake of the Woods (french: Lac des Bois, oj, Pikwedina Sagainan) is a lake occupying parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and the U.S. state of Minnesota. Lake of the Woods is over long and wide, containing more than 14,55 ...
to the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range and the largest mountain system in North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch in great-circle distance, straight-line distance from the northernmost part of western Can ...
. Resolution of the territorial and treaty issues west to the Pacific was deferred until a later time. In 1819, Spain ceded their rights north of the 42nd Parallel to the United States. Negotiations with Great Britain over the next few decades failed to settle upon a compromise boundary and the
Oregon boundary dispute The Oregon boundary dispute or the Oregon Question was a 19th-century territorial dispute over the political division of the Pacific Northwest of North America between several nations that had competing territorial and commercial aspirations in t ...
was highly contested between Britain and the United States. Disputed joint occupancy by Britain and the U.S. lasted for several decades. With American settlers pouring into
Oregon Country Oregon Country was a large region of the Pacific Northwest of North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, ...
,
Hudson's Bay Company The Hudson's Bay Company (HBC; french: Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson) is a Canadian retail business group. A fur trade, fur trading business for much of its existence, HBC now owns and operates retail stores in Canada. The company's namesake b ...
, which had previously discouraged settlement because it conflicted with the fur trade, reversed its position in an attempt to maintain British control of the
Columbia District The Columbia District was a North American fur trade, fur trading district in the Pacific Northwest region of British North America in the 19th century. Much of its territory overlapped with the disputed Oregon Country. It was explored by the ...
. Fur trapper James Sinclair, on orders from Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, led some 200 settlers from the
Red River Colony The Red River Colony (or Selkirk Settlement), also known as Assinboia, was a colonization project set up in 1811 by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, on of land in British North America. This land was granted to Douglas by the Hudson's Ba ...
west in 1841 to settle on Hudson Bay Company farms near
Fort Vancouver Fort Vancouver was a 19th century Fur trade, fur trading post that was the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia District, Columbia Department, located in the Pacific Northwest. Named for Captain George Vancouver, the fort was locate ...
. The party crossed the Rockies into the
Columbia Valley The Columbia Valley is the name used for a region in the Rocky Mountain Trench The Rocky Mountain Trench, also known as the Valley of a Thousand Peaks or simply the Trench, is a large valley on the western side of the northern part of Nort ...
, near present-day Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, then traveled south-west down the
Kootenai River The Kootenay or Kootenai river is a major river in the Northwest Plateau, in southeastern British Columbia, Canada, and northern Montana and Idaho in the United States. It is one of the uppermost major tributary, tributaries of the Columbia Ri ...
and Columbia River. Despite such efforts, Britain eventually ceded all claims to land south of the 49th parallel to the United States in the
Oregon Treaty The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to t ...
on June 15, 1846. In 1836, a group of missionaries, including Marcus Whitman, established several missions and Whitman's own settlement Waiilatpu, in what is now southeastern Washington state, near present-day Walla Walla County, in the territory of both the Cayuse and the
Nez Perce The Nez Percé (; autonym in Nez Perce language: , meaning "we, the people") are an Indigenous people of the Plateau who are presumed to have lived on the Columbia River Plateau The Columbia Plateau is a geology, geologic and geography, ...
Indian tribes. Whitman's settlement would in 1843 help the
Oregon Trail The Oregon Trail was a east–west, large-wheeled wagon route and Westward Expansion Trails, emigrant trail in the United States that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of what ...
, the overland emigration route to the west, get established for thousands of emigrants in the following decades. Marcus provided medical care for the Native Americans, but when Indian patients—lacking immunity to new, "European" diseases—died in striking numbers, while at the same time many white patients recovered, they held "medicine man" Marcus Whitman personally responsible, and murdered Whitman and twelve other white settlers in the Whitman massacre in 1847. This event triggered the Cayuse War between settlers and Indians.
Fort Nisqually Fort Nisqually was an important fur trade, fur trading and farming post of the Hudson's Bay Company in the Puget Sound area, part of the Hudson's Bay Company's Columbia Department. It was located in what is now DuPont, Washington. Today it is a ...
, a farm and trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company and the first European settlement in the
Puget Sound Puget Sound ( ) is a sound (geography), sound of the Pacific Northwest, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is located along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. It is a complex e ...
area, was founded in 1833. Black pioneer
George Washington Bush George Washington Bush (1779 – April 5, 1863) was an American pioneer and one of the first African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, et ...
and his Caucasian wife, Isabella James Bush, from
Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. Ranking List of U.S. states and territories by area, 21st in land area, it is bordered by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee ...
and
Tennessee Tennessee ( , ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a landlocked state in the Southeastern region of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is ...
, respectively, led four white families into the territory and founded New Market, now Tumwater, in 1846. They settled in Washington to avoid
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...
's Black Exclusion Law, which prohibited African Americans from entering the territory while simultaneously prohibiting
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
. After them, many more settlers, migrating overland along the Oregon Trail, wandered north to settle in the Puget Sound area. Spanish and Russian claims to the region were ceded in the early 19th century through a series of treaties. The Spanish signed the
Adams–Onís Treaty The Adams–Onís Treaty () of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty, the Florida Purchase Treaty, or the Florida Treaty,Weeks, p.168. was a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in interna ...
of 1819, and the Russians the
Russo-American Treaty of 1824 The Russo-American Treaty of 1824 (also known as the Convention of 1824) was signed in St. Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈs ...
and
1825 Events January–March * January 4 – King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies dies in Naples and is succeeded by his son, Francis I of the Two Sicilies, Francis. * February 3 – Vendsyssel-Thy, once part of the Jutland peninsula forming ...
. The Oregon Question remained contested between the United Kingdom and the United States until the 1846
Oregon Treaty The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States that was signed on June 15, 1846, in Washington, D.C. The treaty brought an end to the Oregon boundary dispute by settling competing American and British claims to t ...
established the border between
British North America British North America comprised the colonial territories of the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, ...
and the United States along the 49th parallel until the
Strait of Georgia The Strait of Georgia (french: Détroit de Géorgie) or the Georgia Strait is an arm of the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the extreme southwestern mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada and the extreme northwestern mainland coast ...
. Vague wording in the treaty left the ownership of the
San Juan Islands The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the Pacific Northwest of the United States between the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The San Juan Islands are part of Washington state, ...
in doubt; during the so-called Pig War, both nations agreed to a joint military occupation of the islands. Kaiser
Wilhelm I William I or Wilhelm I (german: Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig; 22 March 1797 – 9 March 1888) was King of Prussia from 2 January 1861 and German Emperor from 18 January 1871 until his death in 1888. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he was the f ...
of the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
was selected as an arbitrator to end the dispute, with a three-man commission ruling in favor of the United States in 1872. The border established by the Oregon Treaty and finalized by the arbitration in 1872 remains the boundary between Washington and
British Columbia British Columbia (commonly abbreviated as BC) is the westernmost Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. It has a diverse geography, with rugged landscapes that include ...
.


Statehood

The growing population of Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River formally requested a new territory. As a result of the Monticello Convention, held in present-day Cowlitz County,
U.S. Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, composed of a lower body, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, and an upper body, ...
passed legislation and
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese ful ...
Millard Fillmore Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800March 8, 1874) was the 13th president of the United States, serving from 1850 to 1853; he was the last to be a member of the Whig Party (United States), Whig Party while in the White House. A former member of ...
signed into law on March 2, 1853, the creation of a new
Washington Territory The Territory of Washington was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 2, 1853, until November 11, 1889, when the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Washington (state), State of Wa ...
. The boundary of Washington Territory initially extended farther east than the present state, including what is now the
Idaho Panhandle The Idaho Panhandle—locally known as North Idaho—is a Salient (geography), salient region of the U.S. state of Idaho encompassing the state's 10 northernmost List of counties in Idaho, counties: Benewah County, Idaho, Benewah, Bonner County, ...
and parts of western Montana, and picked up more land to the southeast that was left behind when Oregon was admitted as a state; the creation of
Idaho Territory The Territory of Idaho was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 3, 1863, until July 3, 1890, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as Idaho. History 1860s ...
in 1863 established the final eastern border. A Washington state constitution was drafted and ratified in 1878, but it was never officially adopted. Although never approved by the United States Congress, the 1878 constitution is an important historical document that shows the political thinking of the time; it was used extensively during the drafting of Washington state's 1889 constitution, the one and only official Constitution of the State of Washington. Washington became the 42nd state of the United States on November 11, 1889. Early prominent industries in the new state included agriculture and lumber. In Eastern Washington, the
Yakima River The Yakima River is a tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem riv ...
Valley became known for its apple orchards, while the growth of wheat using dry farming techniques became particularly productive. Heavy rainfall to the west of the Cascade Range produced dense forests, and the ports along Puget Sound prospered from the manufacturing and shipping of lumber products, particularly the
Douglas fir The Douglas fir (''Pseudotsuga menziesii'') is an evergreen conifer species in the pine family, Pinaceae. It is native plant, native to western North America and is also known as Douglas-fir, Douglas spruce, Oregon pine, and Columbian pine. Ther ...
. Other industries that developed in the state included fishing, salmon canning and mining.


Post–statehood

For a long period, Tacoma had large smelters where gold, silver, copper, and lead ores were treated.
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest regio ...
was the primary port for trade with Alaska and the rest of the country, and for a time, it possessed a large shipbuilding industry. The region around eastern Puget Sound developed heavy industry during the period including
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
and
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, and the
Boeing The Boeing Company () is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product ...
company became an established icon in the area. During the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
, a series of
hydroelectric dams Hydroelectricity, or hydroelectric power, is Electricity generation, electricity generated from hydropower (water power). Hydropower supplies one sixth of the world's electricity, almost 4500 TWh in 2020, which is more than all other Renewabl ...
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 Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington, built to produce hydroelectric power and provide irrigation water. Constructed between 1933 and 1942, Grand Coulee original ...
, the largest concrete structure in the United States and the largest dam in the world at its construction. During World War II, the state became a focus for war industries. While the Boeing Company produced many
heavy bomber Heavy bombers are bomber Fixed-wing aircraft, aircraft capable of delivering the largest payload of air-to-ground weaponry (usually Aerial bomb, bombs) and longest range (aeronautics), range (takeoff to landing) of their era. Archetypal heavy b ...
s, ports in Seattle, Bremerton,
Vancouver Vancouver ( ) is a major city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the List of cities in British Columbia, most populous city in the province, the 2021 Canadian census recorded 662,248 people in the ...
, and Tacoma were available for the manufacture of warships. Seattle was the point of departure for many soldiers in the Pacific, several of whom were quartered at Fort Lawton, which later became Discovery Park. In Eastern Washington, the Hanford Works
atomic energy Atomic energy or energy of atoms is energy carried by atoms Every atom is composed of a atomic nucleus, nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most ...
plant was opened in 1943 and played a major role in the construction of atomic bombs. After the end of World War II, and with the beginning of the
civil rights movement The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish legalized institutional Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, Racial discrimination ...
, the state's growing Black or African American population's wages were 53% above the national average. The early diversification of Washington through the Great Migration led to successful efforts at reducing discrimination in the workplace. In 1950, Seattle's first black representative for the state's legislature was elected. At the 1970 U.S. census, the black population grew to 7.13% of the total population. In 1970, the state was one of only four U.S. states to have been providing legal abortions before the 1973
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ju ...
decision in '' Roe v. Wade'' which loosened abortion laws nationwide. On May 18, 1980, following a period of heavy tremors and small eruptions, the north face of Mount St. Helens slid off in the largest landslide in recorded history before erupting violently, destroying a large part of the top of the volcano. The eruption flattened the forest up to 20 km north of the volcano, killed 57 people, flooded the Columbia River and its tributaries with ash and mud, and blanketed large parts of Washington eastward and other surrounding states in ash, making day look like night.


Geography

Washington is the northwesternmost state of the
contiguous United States The contiguous United States (officially the conterminous United States) consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states and the Washington, D.C., Federal District of the United States of America. The term excludes the only two Geographic contiguity, n ...
. It borders
Idaho Idaho ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canada–United States border with the province of British Columbia. It borders the states of Monta ...
to the east, bounded mostly by the meridian running north from the confluence of the
Snake River The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. At long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Snake ...
and Clearwater River (about 117°02'23" west), except for the southernmost section where the border follows the Snake River. Oregon is to the south, with the Columbia River forming the western part and the 46th parallel forming the eastern part of the Oregon–Washington border. During Washington's partition from Oregon, the original plan for the border followed the Columbia River east until the confluence with the Snake, and then would have followed the Snake River east; this was changed to keep Walla Walla's fertile farmland in Washington. To the west of Washington lies the Pacific Ocean. Its northern border lies mostly along the 49th parallel, and then via marine boundaries through the
Strait of Georgia The Strait of Georgia (french: Détroit de Géorgie) or the Georgia Strait is an arm of the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the extreme southwestern mainland coast of British Columbia, Canada and the extreme northwestern mainland coast ...
,
Haro Strait The Haro Strait is one of the main channels connecting the Strait of Georgia to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, separating Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada from the San Juan Islands of Washington (state), Washington sta ...
, and
Strait of Juan de Fuca The Strait of Juan de Fuca (officially named Juan de Fuca Strait in Canada) is a body of water about long that is the Salish Sea's outlet to the Pacific Ocean. The Canada–United States border, international boundary between Canada and the Unit ...
, with the
Canadian province Within the geographical areas of Canada, the ten provinces and three territories are sub-national administrative divisions under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of Canada, Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three pr ...
of
British Columbia British Columbia (commonly abbreviated as BC) is the westernmost Provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. It has a diverse geography, with rugged landscapes that include ...
to the north. Washington is part of a region known as the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (sometimes Cascadia, or simply abbreviated as PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though ...
, a term which always refers to at least Washington and Oregon, and may or may not include some or all the following, depending on the user's intent: Idaho, western
Montana Montana () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West List of regions of the United States#Census Bureau-designated regions and divisions, division of the Western United States. It is bordered by Idaho to the west, North ...
,
northern California Northern California (colloquially known as NorCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. Spanning the state's northernmost 48 counties, its main population centers incl ...
, British Columbia, and
Alaska Alaska ( ; russian: Аляска, Alyaska; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state, state located in the Western United States on the northwest extremity o ...
. The high mountains of the
Cascade Range The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as the North Cascades, ...
run north-south, bisecting the state. In addition to
Western Washington Western Washington is a region of the United States defined as the area of Washington state west of the Cascade Mountains The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbi ...
and
Eastern Washington Eastern Washington is the region of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington located east of the Cascade Range. It contains the city of Spokane, Washington, Spokane (the second largest city in the state), the Tri-Cities, Washington, Tri ...
, residents call the two parts of the state the "Westside" and the "Eastside", "Wet side" and "Dry side", or "Timberland" and "Wheatland", the latter pair more commonly in the names of region-specific businesses and institutions. These terms reflect the geography, climate, and industry of the land on both sides of the Cascades.


Western Washington

From the
Cascade Mountains The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington (state), Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as t ...
westward,
Western Washington Western Washington is a region of the United States defined as the area of Washington state west of the Cascade Mountains The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbi ...
has a mostly
Mediterranean climate A Mediterranean climate (also called a dry summer temperate climate ''Cs'') is a temperate climate sub-type, generally characterized by warm, dry summers and mild, fairly wet winters; these weather conditions are typically experienced in the ...
, with mild temperatures and wet winters, autumns and springs, and relatively dry summers. The Cascade Range has several
volcanoes A volcano is a rupture in the Crust (geology), crust of a Planet#Planetary-mass objects, planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and volcanic gas, gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface. On Ear ...
, which reach altitudes significantly higher than the rest of the mountains. From north to south, these major volcanoes are
Mount Baker Mount Baker (Lummi The Lummi ( ; Lummi language, Lummi: ''Xwlemi'' ; also known as Lhaq'temish (), or ''People of the Sea''), governed by the Lummi Nation, are a Native Americans in the United States, Native American tribe of the Coast Salis ...
,
Glacier Peak Glacier Peak or Dakobed (known in the Sauk-Suiattle dialect of the Lushootseed language as "Tda-ko-buh-ba" or "Takobia") is the most isolated of the five major stratovolcanoes (composite volcanoes) of the Cascade Volcanoes, Cascade Volcanic Arc ...
,
Mount Rainier Mount Rainier (), indigenously known as Tahoma, Tacoma, Tacobet, or təqʷubəʔ, is a large active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern Br ...
, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. All are active volcanoes. Mount Rainier—the tallest mountain in the state— is south of the city of Seattle, from which it is prominently visible. The U.S. Geological Survey considers Mount Rainier the most dangerous volcano in the Cascade Range, due to its proximity to the
Seattle metropolitan area The Seattle metropolitan area is an urban conglomeration in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington that comprises Seattle, its surrounding Satellite city, satellites and suburbs. It contains the three most populous List of counties in ...
, and most dangerous in the continental U.S. according to the
Decade Volcanoes The Decade Volcanoes are 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive volcanic eruption, ...
list. It is also covered with more
glacial ice A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its Ablation#Glaciology, ablation over many years, often Century, centuries. It acquires dis ...
than any other peak in the contiguous 48 states. Western Washington also is home of the
Olympic Mountains The Olympic Mountains are a mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The mountains, part of the Pacific Coast Ranges, are not especially high – Mount Olympus (Washington), Mount Olympus is the high ...
, far west on the
Olympic Peninsula The Olympic Peninsula is a large arm of land in western Washington that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle, and contains Olympic National Park. It is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the ...
, which support dense forests of conifers and areas of
temperate rainforest Temperate rainforests are coniferous or Broad-leaved tree, broadleaf forests that occur in the temperate zone and receive heavy rain. Temperate rain forests occur in oceanic moist regions around the world: the Pacific temperate rain forests of N ...
. These deep forests, such as the
Hoh Rainforest Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S., located on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington (state), Washington state. It includes of low elevation forest along the Hoh River. The Hoh River valley was formed t ...
, are among the only rainforests in the continental United States. While Western Washington does not always experience a high amount of rainfall as measured in total inches of rain per year, it does consistently have more rainy days per year than most other places in the country.


Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington Eastern Washington is the region of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington located east of the Cascade Range. It contains the city of Spokane, Washington, Spokane (the second largest city in the state), the Tri-Cities, Washington, Tri ...
—the part of the state east of the Cascades—has a relatively dry climate, in distinct contrast to the west side. It includes large areas of semiarid
steppe In physical geography, a steppe () is an ecoregion characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes. Steppe biomes may include: * the montane grasslands and shrublands biome * the temperate grasslands, ...
and a few truly arid
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to denudation. About one ...
s in the
rain shadow A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistu ...
of the Cascades; the Hanford reservation receives an average annual precipitation of . Despite the limited amount of rainfall,
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
is an extremely important business throughout much of Eastern Washington, as the soil is highly productive and
irrigation Irrigation (also referred to as watering) is the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow Crop, crops, Landscape plant, landscape plants, and Lawn, lawns. Irrigation has been a key aspect of agriculture for over 5,00 ...
, aided by dams along the Columbia River, is fairly widespread. The spread of population in Eastern Washington is dominated by access to water, especially rivers. The main cities are all located alongside rivers or lakes; most of them are named after the river or lake they adjoin. Farther east, the climate becomes less arid, with annual rainfall increasing as one goes east to in Pullman, near the Washington–Idaho border. The Okanogan Highlands and the rugged Kettle River Range and
Selkirk Mountains The Selkirk Mountains are a mountain range spanning the northern portion of the Idaho Panhandle, eastern Washington, and southeastern British Columbia which are part of a larger grouping of mountains, the Columbia Mountains. They begin at M ...
cover much of the state's northeastern quadrant. The
Palouse The Palouse ( ) is a distinct geographic region of the northwestern United States The Northwestern United States, also known as the American Northwest or simply the Northwest, is an informal geographic region of the United States. The regi ...
southeast region of Washington was grassland that has been mostly converted into farmland, and extends to the Blue Mountains.


Climate

The state of Washington has a temperate climate. The eastern half of Washington has a semi-arid climate, while the western side of Washington as well as the coastal areas of the state have a cool oceanic climate. Major factors determining Washington's climate include the large semi-permanent
low pressure In meteorology, a low-pressure area, low area or low is a region where the atmospheric pressure is lower than that of surrounding locations. Low-pressure areas are commonly associated with inclement weather (such as cloudy, windy, with possible ...
and
high pressure In science and engineering the study of high pressure examines its effects on materials and the design and construction of devices, such as a diamond anvil cell, which can create high pressure. By ''high pressure'' is usually meant pressures of th ...
systems of the north Pacific Ocean, the continental air masses of North America, and the Olympic and Cascade mountains. In the spring and summer, a high-pressure
anticyclone An anticyclone is a weather meteorological phenomenon, phenomenon defined as a large-scale circulation of winds around a central high-pressure system, region of high atmospheric pressure, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise ...
system dominates the north Pacific Ocean, causing air to spiral out in a clockwise fashion. For Washington, this means
prevailing winds In meteorology, prevailing wind in a region of the Earth's surface is a surface wind that blows predominantly from a particular direction. The dominant winds are the trends in direction of wind with the highest speed over a particular point on ...
from the northwest bring relatively cool air and a predictably
dry season The dry season is a yearly period of low rainfall, especially in the tropics. The weather in the tropics is dominated by the tropical rain belt, which moves from the northern to the southern tropics and back over the course of the year. The ...
. In the autumn and winter, a low-pressure
cyclone In meteorology, a cyclone () is a large air mass that rotates around a strong center of low atmospheric pressure, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere as viewed from above (opposite to an antic ...
system takes over in the north Pacific Ocean. The air spiraling inward in a counter-clockwise fashion causes Washington's prevailing winds to come from the southwest, and bring relatively cool and overcast weather and a predictably
wet season The wet season (sometimes called the Rainy season) is the time of year when most of a region's average annual rainfall occurs. It is the time of year where the majority of a country's or region's annual precipitation occurs. Generally, the sea ...
. The term " Pineapple Express" is used colloquially to describe
atmospheric river An atmospheric river (AR) is a narrow corridor or filament of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere An atmosphere () is a layer of gas or layers of gases that envelop a planet, and is held in place by the gravity of the planetary body. A ...
events, where repeated storm systems are directed by this persistent cyclone from the tropical Pacific regions a great distance into the Pacific Northwest. Despite Western Washington's marine climate similar to many coastal cities of Europe, there are exceptions such as the "Big Snow" events of 1880, 1881, 1893, and 1916, and the "deep freeze" winters of 1883–1884, 1915–1916, 1949–1950, and 1955–1956, among others. During these events, Western Washington experienced up to of snow, sub-zero (−18 °C) temperatures, three months with snow on the ground, and lakes and rivers frozen over for weeks. Seattle's lowest officially recorded temperature is set on January 31, 1950, but low-altitude areas approximately three hours away from Seattle have recorded lows as cold as . The Southern Oscillation greatly influences weather during the cold season. During the El Niño phase, the jet stream enters the U.S. farther south through California, therefore late fall and winter are drier than normal with less snowpack. The La Niña phase reinforces the jet stream through the Pacific Northwest, causing Washington to have more rain and snow than average. In 2006, the Climate Impacts Group at the
University of Washington The University of Washington (UW, simply Washington, or informally U-Dub) is a Public university, public research university in Seattle, Washington (state), Washington. Founded in 1861, Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West ...
published ''The Impacts of Climate change in Washington's Economy'', a preliminary assessment of the risks and opportunities presented given the possibility of a rise in global temperatures and their effects on Washington state.


Rain shadow effects

Rainfall in Washington varies dramatically going from east to west. The Olympic Peninsula's western side receives as much as of precipitation annually, making it the wettest area of the 48 conterminous states and a
temperate rainforest Temperate rainforests are coniferous or Broad-leaved tree, broadleaf forests that occur in the temperate zone and receive heavy rain. Temperate rain forests occur in oceanic moist regions around the world: the Pacific temperate rain forests of N ...
. Weeks may pass without a clear day. The western slopes of the Cascade Range receive some of the heaviest annual snowfall (in some places more than water equivalent) in the country. In the rain shadow area east of the Cascades, the annual precipitation is only . Precipitation then increases again eastward toward the Rocky Mountains (about east of the Idaho border). The Olympic mountains and Cascades compound this climatic pattern by causing
orographic lift Orographic lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. As the air mass gains altitude it quickly cools down Adiabatic cooling, adiabatically, which can raise the relative humid ...
of the air masses blown inland from the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the windward side of the mountains receiving high levels of precipitation and the leeward side receiving low levels. This occurs most dramatically around the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range. In both cases, the windward slopes facing southwest receive high precipitation and mild, cool temperatures. While the Puget Sound lowlands are known for clouds and rain in the winter, the western slopes of the Cascades receive larger amounts of precipitation, often falling as snow at higher elevations.
Mount Baker Mount Baker (Lummi The Lummi ( ; Lummi language, Lummi: ''Xwlemi'' ; also known as Lhaq'temish (), or ''People of the Sea''), governed by the Lummi Nation, are a Native Americans in the United States, Native American tribe of the Coast Salis ...
, near the state's northern border, is one of the snowiest places in the world. In 1999, it set the world record for snowfall in a single season—. East of the Cascades, a large region experiences strong rain shadow effects. Semi-arid conditions occur in much of Eastern Washington with the strongest rain shadow effects at the relatively low elevations of the central
Columbia Plateau The Columbia Plateau is a geology, geologic and geography, geographic region that lies across parts of the U.S. states of Washington (state), Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It is a wide flood basalt plateau between the Cascade Range and the Rock ...
—especially the region just east of the Columbia River from about the Snake River to the Okanagan Highland. Thus, instead of rain forests, much of Eastern Washington is covered with dry
grassland A grassland is an area where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other Herbaceous plant, herbs. Grassl ...
, shrub-steppe, and
dune A dune is a landform composed of wind- or water-driven sand. It typically takes the form of a mound, ridge, or hill. An area with dunes is called a dune system or a dune complex. A large dune complex is called a dune field, while broad, fl ...
s.


Temperatures

The average annual temperature ranges from on the Pacific coast to in the northeast. The lowest temperature recorded in the state was in Winthrop and Mazama. The highest recorded temperature in the state was at Hanford on June 29, 2021. Both records were set east of the Cascades. Western Washington is known for its mild climate, considerable fog, frequent cloud cover, long-lasting drizzles in the winter and warm, temperate summers. The eastern region, which does not benefit from the general moderating effect of the Pacific Ocean, occasionally experiences extreme climate. Arctic cold fronts in the winter and heat waves in the summer are not uncommon. In the Western region, temperatures have reached as high as in Maple Valley during the June 2021 heat wave, and as low as in Longview.


Flora and fauna

Forests cover about half the state's land area, mostly west of the northern Cascades. Approximately two-thirds of Washington's forested area is publicly owned, including 64 percent of federal land. Common trees and plants in the region are
camassia ''Camassia'' is a genus of plants in the Asparagaceae, asparagus family native to North America. Common names include camas, quamash, Indian hyacinth, camash, and wild hyacinth. It grows in the wild in great numbers in moist meadows. They ar ...
, Douglas fir, hemlock,
penstemon ''Penstemon'' , the beardtongues, is a large genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. ...
, ponderosa pine,
western red cedar ''Thuja plicata'' is an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family (biology), family Cupressaceae, native to western North America. Its common name is western redcedar (western red cedar in the UK), and it is also called Pacific redcedar, g ...
, and many species of ferns. The state's various areas of wilderness offer sanctuary, with substantially large populations of shorebirds and marine mammals. The Pacific shore surrounding the
San Juan Islands The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in the Pacific Northwest of the United States between the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The San Juan Islands are part of Washington state, ...
is heavily inhabited by killer, gray, and humpback whales. In Eastern Washington, the flora is vastly different.
Tumbleweed A tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants. It is a Diaspore (botany), diaspore that, once mature and dry, Abscission, detaches from its root or stem and Rotating locomotion in living systems, ...
s and
sagebrush Sagebrush is the common name In biology, a common name of a taxon or organism (also known as a vernacular name, English name, colloquial name, country name, popular name, or farmer's name) is a name that is based on the normal language ...
dominate the landscape throughout large parts of the countryside. Russian olives and other trees are common alongside riverbanks; however, apart from the riversides, large swaths of Eastern Washington have no naturally existing trees at all (though many trees have been planted and are irrigated by people, of course). A wider variety of flora can be found in both the Blue Mountains and the eastern sides of the Cascades. Mammals native to the state include the
bat Bats are mammal Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a ...
, black bear,
bobcat The bobcat (''Lynx rufus''), also known as the red lynx, is a medium-sized Felidae, cat native to North America. It ranges from southern Canada through most of the contiguous United States to Oaxaca in Mexico. It is listed as Least Concern o ...
,
cougar The cougar (''Puma concolor'') is a large Felidae, cat native to the Americas. Its Species distribution, range spans from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes in South America and is the most widespread of any large wild terrestrial mamm ...
,
coyote The coyote (''Canis latrans'') is a species of canis, canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It fills much of the same ecologica ...
,
deer Deer or true deer are hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the red deer, and the fallow deer; and the Capreolinae, including the ...
,
elk The elk (''Cervus canadensis''), also known as the wapiti, is one of the largest species within the deer Deer or true deer are hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, in ...
,
gray wolf The wolf (''Canis lupus''; plural, : wolves), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large Canis, canine native to Eurasia and North America. More than thirty subspecies of Canis lupus, subspecies of ''Canis lupus'' have been reco ...
,
hare Hares and jackrabbits are mammals belonging to the genus ''Lepus''. They are herbivores, and live Solitary animal, solitarily or in pairs. They nest in slight depressions called forms, and their young are precociality, able to fend for themselves ...
,
moose The moose (in North America) or elk (in Eurasia) (''Alces alces'') is a member of the Capreolinae, New World deer subfamily and is the monotypic taxon, only species in the genus ''Alces''. It is the Largest cervids, largest and heaviest extan ...
,
mountain beaver The mountain beaver (''Aplodontia rufa'')Other names include mountain boomer, ground bear, giant mole, gehalis, lesser sasquatch, sewellel, suwellel, showhurll, showtl, and showte, as well as a number of Chinookan and other Native American term ...
,
muskrat The muskrat (''Ondatra zibethicus'') is a medium-sized semiaquatic rodent native to North America and an introduced species in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitat ...
,
opossum Opossums () are members of the marsupial Order (biology), order Didelphimorphia () Endemism, endemic to the Americas. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 93 species in 18 Genus, genera. Opossums originated in ...
,
pocket gopher Pocket gophers, commonly referred to simply as gophers, are burrowing rodents of the family Geomyidae. The roughly 41 speciesSearch results for "Geomyidae" on thASM Mammal Diversity Database are all Endemism, endemic to North and Central America. ...
,
rabbit Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammals in the family (biology), family Leporidae (which also contains the hares) of the order (biology), order Lagomorpha (which also contains the pikas). ''Oryctolagus cuniculus'' i ...
,
raccoon The raccoon ( or , ''Procyon lotor''), sometimes called the common raccoon to distinguish it from other species, is a mammal native to North America. It is the largest of the procyonid family, having a body length of , and a body weight of . ...
, river otter,
skunk Skunks are mammals in the family Mephitidae. They are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant scent from their anal glands. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginge ...
, and
tree squirrel Tree squirrels are the members of the squirrel Family (biology), family (Sciuridae) commonly just referred to as "squirrels." They include more than 100 arboreal species native to all continents except Antarctica and Oceania. They do not form a ...
. Because of the wide range of geography, the State of Washington is home to several different ecoregions, which allow for a varied range of bird species. This range includes raptors, shorebirds, woodland birds, grassland birds, ducks, and others. There have also been a large number of species introduced to Washington, dating back to the early 18th century, including horses and burros. The
channel catfish The channel catfish (''Ictalurus punctatus'') is North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by ...
,
lamprey Lampreys (sometimes inaccurately called lamprey eels) are an ancient extant lineage of Agnatha, jawless fish of the order (biology), order Petromyzontiformes , placed in the superclass Cyclostomata. The adult lamprey may be characterized by ...
, and
sturgeon Sturgeon is the common name for the 27 species of fish belonging to the family Acipenseridae. The earliest sturgeon fossils date to the Late Cretaceous, and are descended from other, earlier Acipenseriformes, acipenseriform fish, which date b ...
are among the 400 known freshwater fishes. Along with the Cascades frog, there are several forms of snakes that define the most prominent
reptiles Reptiles, as most commonly defined are the animals in the Class (biology), class Reptilia ( ), a paraphyletic grouping comprising all sauropsid, sauropsids except birds. Living reptiles comprise turtles, crocodilians, Squamata, squamates (lizar ...
and amphibians. Coastal bays and islands are often inhabited by plentiful amounts of shellfish and whales. There are five species of
salmon Salmon () is the common name for several list of commercially important fish species, commercially important species of euryhaline ray-finned fish from the family (biology), family Salmonidae, which are native to tributary, tributaries of the ...
that ascend the Western Washington area, from streams to spawn. Washington has a variety of
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government within the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of ...
units. Among these are the Alta Lake State Park, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, as well as three national parks—the
Olympic National Park Olympic National Park is a United States national park located in the Washington (state), State of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. The park has four regions: the Pacific Ocean, Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west-side temperate rainfo ...
,
North Cascades National Park North Cascades National Park is an American national park in the state of Washington (state), Washington. At more than , it is the largest of the three National Park Service units that comprise the North Cascades National Park Complex. North C ...
, and
Mount Rainier National Park Mount Rainier National Park is an American national park located in southeast Pierce County, Washington, Pierce County and northeast Lewis County, Washington, Lewis County in Washington (state), Washington state. The park was established on March ...
. The three national parks were established between 1899 and 1968. Almost 95 percent (876,517 acres, 354,714 hectares, 3,547.14 square kilometers) of Olympic National Park's area has been designated as wilderness under the
National Wilderness Preservation System The National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) of the United States protects federal government of the United States, federally managed Wilderness, wilderness areas designated for preservation in their natural condition. Activity on formally ...
. Additionally, there are 143 state parks and9 national forests, run by the Washington State Park System and the
United States Forest Service The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 United States National Forest, national forests and 20 United States Nationa ...
. The Okanogan National Forest is the largest national forest on the West Coast, encompassing . It is managed together as the Okanogan– Wenatchee National Forest, encompassing a considerably larger area of around .


Administrative divisions

There are 39 counties within the state, and 281 incorporated municipalities which are divided into cities and towns. The majority of the state's population lives within Western Washington, in the Seattle metropolitan area; the city of Seattle is the principal city of the metropolitan area, and Western Washington, with a 2020 census population of 737,015.


Demographics


Population

Washington's population was 7,705,281 in the 2020 census, a 14.6 percent increase since the 2010 census. In 2018, the state ranked 13th overall in population, and was the third most populous, after California and Texas, west of the Mississippi River. Washington has the largest Pacific Northwest population, followed by Oregon, then Idaho. The Washington State Office of Financial Management reported the state population at 7,656,200 as of April 1, 2020. As of the 2010 census, the population of Washington was 6,724,540. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Area population was 3,439,809 in the 2010 census, half the state total. The
center of population In Demography, demographics, the center of population (or population center) of a region is a geographical point that describes a centerpoint of the region's population. There are several ways of defining such a "center point", leading to dif ...
of Washington in 2010 was at , in an unpopulated part of the
Cascade Mountains The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia through Washington (state), Washington and Oregon to Northern California. It includes both non-volcanic mountains, such as t ...
in rural eastern King County, southeast of North Bend, northeast of Enumclaw, and west of
Snoqualmie Pass Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge. Since many of the world's mountain ranges have presented formidable barriers to travel, passes have played a key role in trade, ...
. Washington's proportion of residents under the age of five was 6.7%, 25.7% under 18, and 11.2% 65 or older. The racial composition of Washington's population as of 2016 was: According to the 2016
American Community Survey The American Community Survey (ACS) is a demographics survey program conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the United States Census, decennial census, such as ancestry, ...
, 12.1% of Washington's population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (9.7%), Puerto Rican (0.4%), Cuban (0.1%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (1.8%). The five largest ancestry groups were: German (17.8%), Irish (10.8%), English (10.4%), Norwegian (5.4%), and American (4.6%). ; Birth data In 2011, 44.3 percent of Washington's population younger than age1 were minorities. ''Note: Births in table don't add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.'' * Since 2016, data for births of
White Hispanic White Latin Americans, or European Latin Americans, are Latin Americans Latin Americans ( es, Latinoamericanos; pt, Latino-americanos; ) are the citizenship, citizens of Latin American countries (or people with cultural, ancestral or nation ...
origin are not collected, but included in one ''Hispanic'' group; persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.


Areas of concentration

While the population of African Americans in the Pacific Northwest is relatively scarce overall, they are mostly concentrated in the South End and Central District areas of Seattle, and in inner Tacoma. The black community of Seattle consisted of one individual in 1858, Manuel Lopes, and grew to a population of 406 by 1900. It developed substantially during and after World War II when wartime industries and the U.S. Armed Forces employed and recruited tens of thousands of African Americans from the
Southeastern United States The Southeastern United States, also referred to as the American Southeast or simply the Southeast, is a geographical List of regions in the United States, region of the United States. It is located broadly on the eastern portion of the south ...
. They moved west in the second wave of the Great Migration, leaving a high influence on West Coast
rock music Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the late 1940s and early 1950s, developing into a range of different styles in the mid-1960s and later, particularly in the United States and ...
and R&B and
soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is derived from Old English ''sāwol, sāwel''. The ea ...
in the 1960s, including Seattle native
Jimi Hendrix James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most ...
, a pioneer in hard rock, who was of African American and
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, th ...
Indian descent. Native Americans lived on Indian reservations or jurisdiction lands such as the
Colville Indian Reservation The Colville Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation An Indian reservation is an area of land held and governed by a federally recognized Native American tribal nation whose government is accountable to the United States Bureau ...
,
Makah The Makah (; Klallam Klallam (also Clallam, although the spelling with "K" is preferred in all four modern Klallam communities) refers to four related indigenous peoples, indigenous Native Americans in the United States, Native American/First ...
,
Muckleshoot Indian Reservation The Muckleshoot ( lut, bəqəlšuł ) are a Lushootseed language, Lushootseed-speaking Native American tribe, part of the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest. They are descendants of the Duwamish and Puyallup peoples whose traditional t ...
, Quinault,
Salish people The Salish peoples are Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous peoples of the American and Canadian Pacific Northwest, identified by their use of the Salishan languages, Salish languages which diversified out of Proto-Salish between 3,000 a ...
, Spokane Indian Reservation, and
Yakama Indian Reservation The Yakama Indian Reservation (spelled Yakima until 1994) is a Native Americans in the United States, Native American Indian reservation, reservation in Washington state of the federally recognized tribe known as the Confederated Tribes and Bands ...
. The westernmost and Pacific coasts have primarily American Indian communities, such as the Chinook,
Lummi The Lummi ( ; Lummi language, Lummi: ''Xwlemi'' ; also known as Lhaq'temish (), or ''People of the Sea''), governed by the Lummi Nation, are a Native Americans in the United States, Native American tribe of the Coast Salish languages, Coast Salis ...
, and Salish.
Urban Indian Urban Indians are Native Americans in the United States, American Indians and Canada, Canadian First Nations in Canada, First Nations peoples who live in urban areas. Urban Indians represent a growing proportion of the Native population in the U ...
communities formed by the U.S.
Bureau of Indian Affairs The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), also known as Indian Affairs (IA), is a United States federal government of the United States, federal agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, Department of the Interior. It is responsible for im ...
relocation programs in Seattle since the end of World War II brought a variety of Native American peoples to this diverse metropolis. The city was named for Chief Seattle in the very early 1850s when European Americans settled the sound. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are mostly concentrated in the Seattle−Tacoma metropolitan area of the state. Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond, which are all within King County, have sizable Chinese communities (including Taiwanese), as well as significant Indian and
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally , ''Nihonkoku'') is an island country in East Asia. It is situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean, and is bordered on the west by the Sea ...
communities. The Chinatown-International District in Seattle has a historical Chinese population dating back to the 1860s, who mainly emigrated from
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternatively romanized as Canton or Kwangtung, is a coastal province in South China on the north shore of the South China Sea. The capital of the province is Guangzhou. With a population of 126.01 million (as of 202 ...
Province in southern China, and is home to a diverse East and Southeast Asian community.
Koreans Koreans (South Korean standard language, South Korean: , , North Korean standard language, North Korean: , ; see names of Korea) are an East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group native to the Korean Peninsula. Koreans mainly live in the two ...
are heavily concentrated in the suburban cities of
Federal Way Federal Way is a city in King County, Washington, United States. One of the most recently incorporated cities in the county, its population was 101,030 at the 2020 census. Federal Way is the tenth-largest city in Washington and the fifth-larg ...
and Auburn to the south, and in Lynnwood to the north. Tacoma is home to thousands of
Cambodians The Khmer people ( km, ជនជាតិខ្មែរ, ) are a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Cambodia. They comprise over 90% of Cambodia's population of 17 million.
, and has one of the largest Cambodian-American communities in the United States, along with
Long Beach, California Long Beach is a city in Los Angeles County, California. It is the list of United States cities by population, 42nd-most populous city in the United States, with a population of 466,742 as of 2020. A charter city, Long Beach is the List of citie ...
, and
Lowell, Massachusetts Lowell () is a city in Massachusetts, in the United States. Alongside Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge, It is one of two traditional county seat, seats of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Middlesex County. With an estimated population of 115,5 ...
. The Vietnamese and Filipino populations of Washington are mostly concentrated within the Seattle metropolitan area. Washington state has the second highest percentage of Pacific Islander people in the mainland U.S. (behind
Utah Utah ( , ) is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West su ...
); the Seattle-Tacoma area is home to more than 15,000 people of Samoan ancestry, who mainly reside in southeast Seattle, Tacoma, Federal Way, and in SeaTac.Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy: 2010 more information 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File
. Factfinder2census.gov. (2010). Retrieved December 30, 2011.
The most numerous (ethnic, not racial, group) are Latinos at 11%, as
Mexican American Mexican Americans ( es, mexicano-estadounidenses, , or ) are Americans of full or partial Mexicans, Mexican heritage. In 2019, Mexican Americans comprised 11.3% of the US population and 61.5% of all Hispanic and Latino Americans. In 2019, 71% ...
s formed a large ethnic group in the Chehalis Valley, Skagit Valley, farming areas of Yakima Valley, and
Eastern Washington Eastern Washington is the region of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington located east of the Cascade Range. It contains the city of Spokane, Washington, Spokane (the second largest city in the state), the Tri-Cities, Washington, Tri ...
. They were reported to at least date as far back as the 1800s. But it was in the late 20th century, that large-scale Mexican immigration and other Latinos settled in the southern suburbs of Seattle, with limited concentrations in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties during the region's real estate construction booms in the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, Washington has a large
Ethiopian Ethiopians are the native inhabitants of Ethiopia, as well as the global diaspora of Ethiopia. Ethiopians constitute #Ethnicity, several component ethnic groups, many of which are closely related to ethnic groups in neighboring Eritrea and othe ...
community, with many Eritrean residents as well. Both emerged in the late 1960s, and developed since 1980. An estimated 30,000 Somali immigrants reside in the Seattle area.


Languages

In 2010, 82.51% (5,060,313) of Washington residents age5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 7.79% (477,566) spoke Spanish, 1.19% (72,552) Chinese (which includes
Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t, cy=Gwóngdūng wá) is a language within the Chinese (Sinitic) branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages originating from the city of Guangzhou (historically known as Canton) and its surrounding a ...
and
Standard Chinese Standard Chinese ()—in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, pa ...
), 0.94% (57,895) Vietnamese, 0.84% (51,301) Tagalog, 0.83% (50,757) Korean, 0.80% (49,282) Russian, and 0.55% (33,744) German. In total, 17.49% (1,073,002) of Washington's population age5 and older spoke a
mother language A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period hypothesis, critical period. In some countries, the term ''native ...
other than English.


Religion

Major religious affiliations of the people of Washington are: *
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of ...
: 60% **
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Na ...
: 40% ***
Evangelical Protestant Evangelicalism (), also called evangelical Christianity or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide Interdenominationalism, interdenominational movement within Protestantism, Protestant Christianity that affirms the centrality of being "bor ...
: 25% ***
Mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestantism in the United States, Protestant denominations in the United States that contrast in history and practice with Evang ...
: 13% ***
Black church The black church (sometimes termed Black Christianity or African American Christianity) is the faith and body of Christianity, Christian Church (congregation), congregations and Christian denomination, denominations in the United States that mi ...
: 2% **
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
: 17% ** Latter-day Saint: 4% * Unaffiliated: 32% *
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים, , ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination of shared features such as language, history, ethnicity, culture and/or ...
: 1% *
Hindu Hindus (; ) are people who religiously adhere to Hinduism.Jeffery D. Long (2007), A Vision for Hinduism, IB Tauris, , pages 35–37 Historically, the term has also been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for ...
: 1% *
Muslim Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the ...
: 0.5% * Other religions 3% The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
, with 784,332;
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a Nontrinitarianism, nontrinitarian Christianity, Christian church that considers itself to be the Restorationism, restoration of the ...
, with 282,356; and the
Assemblies of God The Assemblies of God (AG), officially the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 144 autonomous self-governing national groupings of churches that together form the world's largest Pentecostal Pentecostalism or classical ...
, with 125,005. Aquarian Tabernacle Church is the largest
Wicca Wicca () is a Modern Paganism, modern Pagan religion. Religious studies, Scholars of religion categorise it as both a new religious movement and as part of the occultism, occultist stream of Western esotericism. It was developed in England duri ...
n church in the country. Like other West Coast states, the percentage of Washington's population identifying themselves as "
non-religious Irreligion or nonreligion is the absence or rejection of religion, or indifference to it. Irreligion takes many forms, ranging from the casual and unaware to full-fledged philosophies such as atheism and agnosticism, secular humanism and anti ...
" is higher than the national average.


Economy

Washington has a relatively strong economy, with a total gross state product of $612,996.5 million in 2019, placing it fifth in the nation and growing by 6.5 percent per year—the fastest rate in the United States. The
minimum wage A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their employees—the price floor below which employees may not sell their labor. List of countries by minimum wage, Most countries had introduced minimum wage legislation b ...
as of January 1, 2021, was $13.69 an hour, the second highest of any state or district in the country behind Washington D.C at $14.00 an hour. Significant business within the state include the design and manufacture of aircraft (
Boeing The Boeing Company () is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product ...
), automotive (
Paccar Paccar Inc is an American Fortune 500, ''Fortune'' 500 company and counts among the Truck#Truck market worldwide, largest manufacturers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the world, and has substantial manufacturing in light and medium vehicles ...
), computer software development (
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, technology corporation producing Software, computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services headquartered at th ...
,
Bungie Bungie, Inc. is an American video game company based in Bellevue, Washington. It is a studio owned by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The company was established in May 1991 by Alex Seropian, who later brought in programmer Jason Jones (progr ...
,
Amazon Amazon most often refers to: * Amazons, a tribe of female warriors in Greek mythology * Amazon rainforest, a rainforest covering most of the Amazon basin * Amazon River, in South America * Amazon (company), an American multinational technology co ...
,
Nintendo of America is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational video game company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. It develops video games and video game consoles. Nintendo was founded in 1889 as by craftsman Fusajiro Yamauchi and originally produce ...
,
Valve A valve is a device or Heart valve, natural object that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid (gases, liquids, fluidized solids, or slurries) by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technical ...
, ArenaNet), telecom (
T-Mobile US T-Mobile US, Inc. is an American Cellular network, wireless network operator headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas and Bellevue, Washington, U.S. Its largest shareholder is a multinational telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom AG, which ...
),
electronics The field of electronics is a branch of physics and electrical engineering that deals with the emission, behaviour and effects of electrons using Electronic component, electronic devices. Electronics uses Passivity (engineering), active devices ...
,
biotechnology Biotechnology is the integration of Natural science, natural sciences and Engineering Science, engineering sciences in order to achieve the application of organisms, cells, parts thereof and molecular analogues for products and services. The te ...
,
aluminum Aluminium (aluminum in American and Canadian English Canadian English (CanE, CE, en-CA) encompasses the Variety (linguistics), varieties of English language, English native to Canada. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, 2016 cens ...
production, lumber and wood products (
Weyerhaeuser Weyerhaeuser () is an American Forest, timberland company which owns nearly of timberlands in the U.S., and manages an additional of timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. The company also manufactures wood products. It operates as a ...
), mining, beverages (
Starbucks Starbucks Corporation is an American multinational List of coffeehouse chains, chain of coffeehouses and Starbucks Reserve, roastery reserves headquartered in Seattle, Seattle, Washington. It is the List of coffeehouse chains, world's larges ...
, Jones Soda), real estate ( John L. Scott, Colliers International, Windermere Real Estate, Kidder Mathews), retail (
Nordstrom Nordstrom, Inc. () is an American Luxury goods, luxury department store chain headquartered in Seattle, Washington (state), Washington, and founded by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin in 1901. The original Wallin & Nordstrom store operated ...
,
Eddie Bauer Eddie Bauer, LLC is an American clothing store chain headquartered in Seattle, Seattle, Washington. Eddie Bauer sells its merchandise via retail stores, outlet stores, and online and via phone, with a call center in Groveport, Ohio. Its flagship ...
, Car Toys,
Costco Costco Wholesale Corporation (Trade name, doing business as Costco Wholesale and also known simply as Costco) is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only Big-box store, big-box retail stores (warehouse c ...
, R.E.I.), and tourism (
Alaska Airlines Alaska Airlines is a Major airlines of the United States, major American airline headquartered in SeaTac, Washington, SeaTac, Washington (state), Washington, within the Seattle metropolitan area. It is the List of largest airlines in North Am ...
, Expedia, Inc.). A '' Fortune'' magazine survey of the top 20 Most Admired Companies in the U.S. has four Washington-based companies: Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Costco. At over 80 percent the state has significant amounts of hydroelectric power generation. Also, significant amounts of trade with Asia pass through the ports of the Puget Sound, leading to a number six ranking of U.S. ports (ranking combines twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) moved and infrastructure index). With the passage of Initiative 1183, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) ended its monopoly of all-state liquor store and liquor distribution operations on June 1, 2012. , the state's unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.


Taxes

The state of Washington is one of seven states that do not levy a personal
income tax An income tax is a tax imposed on individuals or entities (taxpayers) in respect of the income or profits earned by them (commonly called taxable income). Income tax generally is computed as the product of a tax rate times the taxable income. Tax ...
. The state does not collect a
corporate income tax A corporate tax, also called corporation tax or company tax, is a direct tax imposed on the income or capital of corporations or analogous legal entities. Many countries impose such taxes at the national level, and a similar tax may be imposed at ...
or franchise tax either. Washington businesses are responsible for various other state levies, including the business and occupation tax (B & O), a
gross receipts tax A gross receipts tax or gross excise tax is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal person, legal entity) by a governmental organization in order to fund governmen ...
which charges varying rates for different types of businesses. Washington's state base
sales tax A sales tax is a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services. Usually laws allow the seller to collect funds for the tax from the consumer at the point of purchase. When a tax on goods or services is paid to a govern ...
is 6.5%, which is combined with a local sales tax that varies by locality. The combined state and local retail sales tax rates increase the taxes paid by consumers, depending on the variable local sales tax rates, generally between 7.5% and 10%. As of March 2017, the combined sales tax rate in Seattle and Tacoma was 10.1%. The cities of Lynnwood and Mill Creek have the highest sale tax rate in the state at 10.5%. These taxes apply to services as well as products. Most foods are exempt from sales tax. However, prepared foods,
dietary supplement A dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement one's diet by taking a pill (pharmacy), pill, capsule (pharmacy), capsule, tablet (pharmacy), tablet, powder, or liquid. A supplement can provide nutrients either extr ...
s, and
soft drink A soft drink (see #Terminology, § Terminology for other names) is a drink that usually contains water (often Carbonated water, carbonated), a Sweetness, sweetener, and a natural and/or Artificial Flavoring, artificial flavoring. The sweetene ...
s remain taxable. An
excise tax file:Lincoln Beer Stamp 1871.JPG, upright=1.2, 1871 U.S. Revenue stamp for 1/6 barrel of beer. Brewers would receive the stamp sheets, cut them into individual stamps, cancel them, and paste them over the Bunghole, bung of the beer barrel so when ...
applies to certain products such as gasoline, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages.
Property tax A property tax or millage rate is an ad valorem tax on the value of a property.In the OECD classification scheme, tax on property includes "taxes on immovable property or Wealth tax, net wealth, taxes on the change of ownership of property thr ...
was the first tax levied in the state of Washington, and its collection accounts for about 30% of Washington's total state and local revenue. It continues to be the most important revenue source for public schools, fire protection,
libraries A library is a collection of Document, materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or electronic media, digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a ...
, parks and recreation, and other special-purpose districts. All
real property In English common law, real property, real estate, immovable property or, solely in the US and Canada, realty, is land which is the property of some person and all structures (also called Land improvement, improvements or Fixture (property ...
and
personal property Personal property is property that is movable. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law (legal system), civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables— ...
are subject to tax unless specifically exempted by law. Most personal property owned by individuals is exempt from tax. Personal property tax applies to personal property used when conducting business, or to other personal property not exempt by law. All property taxes are paid to the county treasurer's office where the property is located. Neither does the state assess any tax on retirement income earned and received from another state. Washington does not collect
inheritance tax An inheritance tax is a tax paid by a person who inherits money or property of a person who has died, whereas an estate tax is a levy on the Estate (law), estate (money and property) of a person who has died. International tax law distinguishes ...
es. However, the
estate tax An inheritance tax is a tax paid by a person who inherits money or property of a person who has died, whereas an estate tax is a levy on the Estate (law), estate (money and property) of a person who has died. International tax law distinguishes ...
is de-coupled from the federal estate tax laws, and therefore, the state imposes its estate tax. Washington state has the 18th highest per capita effective tax rate in the United States, as of 2017. Their tax policy differs from neighboring Oregon's, which levies no sales tax, but does levy a personal income tax. This leads to border economic anomalies in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area. Additional border economies exist with neighboring British Columbia and Idaho.


Agriculture

Washington is a leading agricultural state. The following figures are from th
Washington State Department of Agriculture
and the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Washington Field Office. For 2018, the total value of Washington's agricultural products was $10.6 billion. In 2014, Washington ranked first in the nation in production of red
raspberries The raspberry is the edible fruit of a multitude of plant species in the genus ''Rubus'' of the Rosaceae, rose family, most of which are in the subgenus ''Rubus#Scientific classification, Idaeobatus''. The name also applies to these plants the ...
(90.5 percent of total U.S. production),
hops Hops are the flowers (also called seed cones or strobilus, strobiles) of the hop plant ''Humulus lupulus'', a member of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants. They are used primarily as a bittering, flavouring, and stability agent in be ...
(79.3 percent),
spearmint Spearmint, also known as garden mint, common mint, lamb mint and mackerel mint, is a species of Mentha, mint, ''Mentha spicata'' (, native to Europe and southern temperate Asia, extending from Ireland in the west to southern China in the east. I ...
oil (75 percent), wrinkled seed
pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the flowering plant species ''Pisum sativum''. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Botanically, pea pods are fruit, since they contain seeds and d ...
s (70.4 percent),
apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ''Malus''. The tree originated in Central Asia, wh ...
s (71.1 percent), sweet
cherries A cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus ''Prunus'', and is a fleshy drupe (stone fruit). Commercial cherries are obtained from cultivars of several species, such as the sweet ''Prunus avium'' and the sour ''Prunus cerasus''. The nam ...
(62.3 percent), pears (45.6 percent),
Concord grape The Concord grape is a cultivar derived from the grape species ''Vitis labrusca'' (also known as fox grape) that are used as table grapes, wine grapes and juice grapes. They are often used to make grape Jelly (fruit preserves), jelly, grape juic ...
s (55.1 percent),
carrot The carrot (''Daucus carota'' subsp. ''sativus'') is a root vegetable, typically orange in color, though purple, black, red, white, and yellow cultivars exist, all of which are domesticated forms of the Daucus carota, wild carrot, ''Daucus ...
s for processing (30.6 percent), and green peas for processing (32.4 percent). Washington also ranked second in the nation in the production of fall potatoes (a quarter of the nation's production),
nectarine The peach (''Prunus persica'') is a deciduous tree first domesticated and Agriculture, cultivated in Zhejiang, Zhejiang province of East China, Eastern China. It bears edible juicy fruits with various characteristics, most called peaches and o ...
s,
apricot An apricot (, ) is a fruit, or the tree that bears the fruit, of several species in the genus ''Prunus''. Usually, an apricot is from the species ''Prunus armeniaca, P. armeniaca'', but the fruits of the other species in ''Prunus'' sect. ''Arm ...
s, asparagus, all raspberries, grapes (all varieties taken together), sweet corn for processing (a quarter of the nation's production), and summer onions (a fifth of the nation's production). Washington also ranked third in the nation in the production of dried peas, lentils, onions, and peppermint oil. The apple industry is of particular importance to Washington. Because of the favorable climate of dry, warm summers and cold winters of central Washington, the state has led the U.S. in apple production since the 1920s. Two areas account for the vast majority of the state's apple crop: the Wenatchee–Okanogan region (comprising Chelan, Okanogan, Douglas, and
Grant Grant or Grants may refer to: Places * Grant County (disambiguation) Australia * Grant, Queensland, a locality in the Barcaldine Region, Queensland, Australia United Kingdom * Castle Grant United States * Grant, Alabama * Grant, Inyo Count ...
counties), and the Yakima region (comprising
Yakima Yakima ( or ) is a city in and the county seat of Yakima County, Washington, Yakima County, Washington (state), Washington, and the state's List of cities in Washington, 11th-largest city by population. As of the 2020 United States census, 2020 ...
, Benton, and Kittitas counties). Washington produces seven principal varieties of apples which are exported to more than sixty countries.


Wine

Washington ranks second in the United States in the production of wine, behind only
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located along the West Coast of the United States, Pacific Coast. With nearly 39.2million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territori ...
.A. Domine (ed) ''Wine'' pg 798–800 Ullmann Publishing 2008 By 2006, the state had over of
vineyard A vineyard (; also ) is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice. The science, practice and study of vineyard production is known as viticulture. Vineyards ...
s, a
harvest Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the field (agriculture), fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse (legume), pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper. On smaller farms with minimal mechaniz ...
of of grapes, and exports going to more than forty countries around the world from the state's 600
wineries A winery is a building or property that produces wine, or a business involved in the production of wine, such as a :wine companies, wine company. Some wine companies own many wineries. Besides wine making equipment, larger wineries may also featu ...
. By 2021, that number had grown to 1050 wineries. While there are some
viticultural Viticulture (from the Latin word for ''vine'') or winegrowing (wine growing) is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of ''Vitis vinifera'', the common grape vine, ran ...
activities in the cooler, wetter western half of the state, almost all (99%) of wine grape production takes place in the desert-like eastern half.J. Robinson (ed) ''The Oxford Companion to Wine'', Third Edition, pg. 761–762 Oxford University Press 2006 The
rain shadow A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rainfall behind a mountainous region, on the side facing away from prevailing winds, known as its Windward and leeward#Meteorological significance, leeward side. Evaporation, Evaporated moistu ...
of the Cascade Range leaves the Columbia River Basin with around of annual rain fall, making
irrigation Irrigation (also referred to as watering) is the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow Crop, crops, Landscape plant, landscape plants, and Lawn, lawns. Irrigation has been a key aspect of agriculture for over 5,00 ...
and
water right Water right in water law refers to the right of a user to use water from a water source, e.g., a river, stream, pond or source of groundwater. In areas with plentiful water and few users, such Water system (disambiguation), systems are generally ...
s of paramount interest to the Washington wine industry. Viticulture in the state is also influenced by long sunlight hours (on average, two more hours a day than in California during the
growing season A season A season is a division of the year based on changes in weather, ecology, and the number of daylight hours in a given region. On Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor ...
) and consistent temperatures.C. Fallis, editor ''The Encyclopedic Atlas of Wine'', p. 50 Global Book Publishing 2006


Internet access

As of December 2014, there are 124 broadband providers offering service to Washington state; 93 percent of consumers have access to broadband speeds of 25/3Mbit/s or more. From 2009–2014, the Washington State Broadband Project was awarded $7.3 million in federal grants, but the program was discontinued in 2014. For infrastructure, another $166 million has been awarded since 2011 for broadband infrastructure projects in Washington state. '' U.S. News & World Report'' ranked Washington second nationally for household internet access, and sixth for online download speed, based on data from 2014 and 2015.


Transportation

Washington's state transportation system comprises several modes that are maintained by various government entities. The
state highway A state highway, state road, or state route (and the equivalent provincial highway, provincial road, or provincial route) is usually a road that is either Route number, ''numbered'' or ''maintained'' by a sub-national state or province. A road n ...
system, called State Routes, includes over of roads and the
Washington State Ferries Washington State Ferries (WSF) is a government agency that operates automobile and passenger ferry service in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington as part of the Washington State Department of Transportation. It runs ten routes servi ...
system, the largest of its kind in the nation and the third largest in the world. There are also of local roads maintained by cities and counties, as well as several ferries operated by local governments. There are 140 public airfields in Washington, including 16 state airports owned by the
Washington State Department of Transportation The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT or WashDOT, both ) is a governmental agency that constructs, maintains, and regulates the use of transportation infrastructure in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. Establi ...
. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is the major commercial airport of greater Seattle.
Boeing Field Boeing Field, officially King County International Airport , is a public airport owned and operated by King County, Washington, King County, five miles south of downtown Seattle, Washington (state), Washington. The airport is sometimes referred ...
in Seattle is one of the busiest primary non-hub airports in the U.S. There are extensive waterways around Washington's largest cities, including Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, and Olympia. The state highways incorporate an extensive network of bridges and the largest ferry system in the United States to serve transportation needs in the Puget Sound area. Washington's marine highway constitutes a fleet of twenty-eight ferries that navigate
Puget Sound Puget Sound ( ) is a sound (geography), sound of the Pacific Northwest, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is located along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. It is a complex e ...
and its inland waterways to 20 different ports of call, completing close to 147,000 sailings each year. Washington is 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 Memorial Bridge over
Lake Washington Lake Washington is a large freshwater lake adjacent to the city of Seattle. It is the largest lake in King County, Washington, King County and the second largest natural lake in the state of Washington (state), Washington, after Lake Chelan. It ...
, and the
Hood Canal Bridge The Hood Canal Bridge (officially William A. Bugge Bridge) is a pontoon bridge, floating bridge in the Pacific Northwest, northwest United States, located in western Washington (state), Washington. It carries Washington State Route 104, State ...
which connects the Olympic Peninsula and Kitsap Peninsula. Among its most famous bridges is the
Tacoma Narrows Bridge The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is a pair of twin bridges, twin suspension bridges that span the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound in Pierce County, Washington, Pierce County, Washington (state), Washington. The bridges connect the city of Tacoma, ...
, which collapsed in 1940 and was rebuilt. Washington has 75 port districts, including several major seaports on the Pacific Ocean. Among these are ports in
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest regio ...
, Tacoma, Kalama,
Anacortes Anacortes ( ) is a city in Skagit County, Washington, United States. The name "Anacortes" is an adaptation of the name of Anne Curtis Bowman, who was the wife of early Fidalgo Island Fidalgo Island is an island in Skagit County, Washington, ...
,
Vancouver Vancouver ( ) is a major city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the List of cities in British Columbia, most populous city in the province, the 2021 Canadian census recorded 662,248 people in the ...
, Everett, Longview, Grays Harbor, Olympia, and Port Angeles. The Columbia and Snake rivers also provide of inland waterways that are navigable by barges as far east as
Lewiston, Idaho Lewiston is a city and the county seat of Nez Perce County, Idaho, United States, in the state's North Central Idaho, north central region. It is the second-largest city in the Idaho Panhandle, northern Idaho region, behind Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, C ...
. The Cascade Mountain Range also impedes transportation. Washington operates and maintains roads over seven major
mountain pass A mountain pass is a navigable route through a mountain range or over a ridge. Since many of the world's mountain ranges have presented formidable barriers to travel, passes have played a key role in trade, war, and both Human migration, human a ...
es and eight minor passes. During the winter months, some of these passes are plowed, sanded, and kept safe with avalanche control. Not all stay open through the winter. The North Cascades Highway, State Route 20, closes every year due to snowfall and avalanches in the area of Washington Pass. The Cayuse and Chinook passes east of Mount Rainier also close in winter. Washington is crossed by several freight railroads, and Amtrak's passenger Cascade route between Eugene, Oregon, and Vancouver, BC is the eighth busiest Amtrak service in the U.S. Seattle's King Street Station, the busiest station in Washington, and 15th busiest in the U.S., serves as the terminus for the two long-distance Amtrak routes in Washington, the
Empire Builder The ''Empire Builder'' is an Amtrak long-distance passenger train that operates daily between Chicago and either Seattle or Portland, Oregon, Portland via two Section (rail transport), sections west of Spokane, Washington, Spokane. Introduced i ...
to Chicago and the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles. The
Sounder commuter rail Sounder commuter rail is a commuter rail service operated by BNSF on behalf of Sound Transit. Service operates Monday through Friday during peak hours from Seattle, Washington, north to Everett, Washington, Everett and south to Lakewood, Washing ...
service operates in Seattle and its surrounding cities, between Everett and Lakewood. The intercity network includes the
Cascade Tunnel The Cascade Tunnel refers to two Rail Transport, railroad tunnels (original and its replacement) in the Pacific Northwest, northwest United States, east of the Seattle metropolitan area in the Cascade Range of Washington (state), Washington, at S ...
, the longest railroad tunnel in the United States, which is part of the Stevens Pass route on the BNSF Northern Transcom. Sound Transit
Link light rail Link light rail is a light rail rapid transit system serving the Seattle metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. It is managed by Sound Transit in partnership with local transit providers, and consists of two non ...
currently operates in the Seattle area at a length of , and in Tacoma at a length of . The entire system has a funded expansion plan that will expand light rail to a total of 116 miles by 2041. Seattle also has a streetcar network with two lines and plans to expand further by 2025. 32 local bus transit systems exist across the state, the busiest being
King County Metro King County Metro, officially the King County Metro Transit Department and often shortened to Metro, is the public transit authority of King County, Washington, which includes the city of Seattle. It is the eighth-largest transit bus agency in t ...
, located in Seattle and King County, with just above 122 million riders in 2017. Residents of Vancouver have resisted proposals to extend Portland's mass transit system into Washington.


Environment

Hanford Nuclear Reservation is currently the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest
environmental cleanup Environmental remediation deals with the removal of pollution or contaminants from Natural environment, environmental media such as soil, groundwater, sediment, or surface water. Remedial action is generally subject to an array of regulatory requi ...
. The radioactive materials are known to be leaking from Hanford into the environment. In 2007, Washington became the first state in the nation to target all forms of highly toxic brominated
flame retardant The term flame retardants subsumes a diverse group of chemicals that are added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings. Flame retardants are activated by the presence of an combustion, ignitio ...
s known as PBDEs for elimination from the many common household products in which they are being used. A 2004 study of 40 mothers from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Montana found PBDEs in the breast milk of every woman tested. Three recent studies by the
Washington State Department of Ecology The Washington State Department of Ecology (sometimes referred to simply as "Ecology") is the Washington (state), state of Washington's environmental regulatory agency. Created in February 1970, it was the first environmental regulation agency in ...
showed toxic chemicals banned decades ago linger in the environment and concentrate in the food chain. In one of the studies, state government scientists found unacceptable levels of toxic substances in 93 samples of freshwater fish from 45 sites. The toxic substances included PCBs, dioxins, two chlorinated pesticides, DDE,
dieldrin Dieldrin is an organochloride originally produced in 1948 by J. Hyman & Co, Denver, as an insecticide. Dieldrin is closely related to aldrin, which reacts further to form dieldrin. Aldrin is not toxic to insects; it is oxidized in the insect to fo ...
and PBDEs. As a result of the study, the department will investigate the sources of PCBs in the Wenatchee River, where unhealthy levels of PCBs were found in mountain whitefish. Based on the 2007 information and a previous 2004 Ecology study, the Washington State Department of Health advises the public not to eat
mountain whitefish The mountain whitefish (''Prosopium williamsoni'') is one of the most widely distributed Salmonidae, salmonid fish of western North America. It is found from the Mackenzie River drainage in Northwest Territories, Canada south through western Cana ...
from the Wenatchee River from Leavenworth downstream to where the river joins the Columbia, due to unhealthy levels of PCBs. Study results also showed high levels of contaminants in fish tissue that scientists collected from Lake Washington and the Spokane River, where fish consumption advisories are already in effect. On March 27, 2006, Governor
Christine Gregoire Christine Gregoire (; née O'Grady; born March 24, 1947) is an American politician who served as the List of governors of Washington, 22nd governor of Washington from 2005 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Part ...
signed into law the recently approved House Bill 2322. This bill would limit
phosphorus Phosphorus is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol P and atomic number 15. Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorus and red phosphorus, but because it is highly Reactivity (chemistry), reactive, phosphor ...
content in dishwashing detergents statewide to 0.5 percent over the next six years. Though the ban would be effective statewide in 2010, it would take place in Whatcom County, Spokane County, and Clark County in 2008. A recent discovery had linked high contents of phosphorus in water to a boom in
algae Algae (; singular alga ) is an informal term for a large and diverse group of photosynthesis, photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms. It is a polyphyletic grouping that includes species from multiple distinct clades. Included organisms range from u ...
population. An invasive amount of algae in bodies of water would lead to a variety of excess ecological and technological issues.


Government and politics


State government

Washington's
executive branch The Executive, also referred as the Executive branch or Executive power, is the term commonly used to describe that part of government which enforces the law, and has overall responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In poli ...
is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. The current statewide elected officials are: *
Jay Inslee Jay Robert Inslee (; born February 9, 1951) is an American politician, lawyer, and economist who has served as the 23rd governor of Washington since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a member of the U.S. House of Represen ...
,
Governor A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity A polity is an identifiable Politics, political entity – a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized s ...
(D) * Denny Heck,
Lieutenant Governor A lieutenant governor, lieutenant-governor, or vice governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction. Often a lieutenant governor is the deputy, or lieutenant, to or ranked under a governor — a "second-in-comm ...
(D) * Steve Hobbs, Secretary of State (D) * Mike Pellicciotti, State Treasurer (D) * Patrice McCarthy,
State Auditor State auditors (also known as state comptrollers, state controllers, state examiners, or inspectors general) are fiscal officers lodged in the executive Executive ( exe., exec., execu.) may refer to: Role or title * Executive, a senior manage ...
(D) * Bob Ferguson,
Attorney General In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general (sometimes abbreviated AG or Atty.-Gen) is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have exec ...
(D) * Chris Reykdal, Superintendent of Public Instruction (D) * Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands (D) * Mike Kreidler, Insurance Commissioner (D) The
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided into two separate Deliberative assembly, assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and ...
Washington State Legislature The Washington State Legislature is the state legislature (United States), state legislature of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. It is a bicameral body, composed of the lower house, lower Washington House of Representatives, co ...
is the state's
legislative branch A legislature is an assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, political entity. It may be ...
. The state legislature is composed of a lower
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies in many countries and sub-national entitles. In many countries, the House of Representatives is the lower house of a bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature, one divided ...
and an upper State Senate. The state is divided into 49 legislative districts of equal population, each of which elects two representatives and one senator. Representatives serve two-year terms, while senators serve for four years. There are no
term limit A term limit is a legal restriction that limits the number of Term of office, terms an Incumbent, officeholder may serve in a particular elected office. When term limits are found in Presidential system, presidential and semi-presidential system ...
s. The Democratic Party has a majority in the House and Senate. The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the state. Nine justices serve on the bench and are elected statewide.


Federal representation

The two current United States senators from Washington are
Patty Murray Patricia Lynn Murray (; born October 11, 1950) is an American politician and educator who is the senior Senior (shortened as Sr.) means "the elder" in Latin and is often used Suffix (name)#Generational titles, as a suffix for the elder of two ...
and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats. Murray has represented the state since 1993, while Cantwell was first elected in 2001. The state is one of four with two female senators. Washington's ten representatives in the United States House of Representatives ( ''see map of districts'') as of the 2020 election are Suzan DelBene (D-1), Rick Larsen (D-2), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3), Dan Newhouse (R-4),
Cathy McMorris Rodgers Cathy Anne McMorris Rodgers (born May 22, 1969) is an American politician who is the U.S. representative for , which encompasses the eastern third of the state and includes Spokane, the state's second-largest city. A Republican, McMorris Rodger ...
(R-5), Derek Kilmer (D-6),
Pramila Jayapal Pramila Jayapal ( ; born September 21, 1965) is an American politician serving as the United States House of Representatives, U.S. representative from since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, she represents ...
(D-7), Kim Schrier (D-8),
Adam Smith Adam Smith (baptized 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist and philosopher who was a pioneer in the thinking of political economy and key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment. Seen by some as "The Father of Economics"——— ...
(D-9), and Marilyn Strickland (D-10). Due to Congressional redistricting as a result of the 2010 Census, Washington gained one seat in the
United States House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives, often referred to as the House of Representatives, the U.S. House, or simply the House, is the Lower house, lower chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States Senate, Senate being ...
. With the extra seat, Washington also gained one electoral vote, raising its total to 12.


Politics

The state is typically thought of as politically divided by the Cascade Mountains, with Western Washington being liberal (particularly the ) and Eastern Washington being
conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
. Washington has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election since
1988 File:1988 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The oil platform Piper Alpha explodes and collapses in the North Sea, killing 165 workers; The USS Vincennes (CG-49) mistakenly shoots down Iran Air Flight 655; Australia celebrates its Australian ...
. Although the Eastern half of the state votes heavily Republican, the overwhelming Democratic dominance in the
Seattle metropolitan area The Seattle metropolitan area is an urban conglomeration in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington that comprises Seattle, its surrounding Satellite city, satellites and suburbs. It contains the three most populous List of counties in ...
has turned Washington into a reliably
blue state Starting with the 2000 United States presidential election, the terms "red state" and "blue state" have referred to U.S. states whose voters vote predominantly for one party — the Republican Party in red states and the Democratic Party i ...
.
Michael Dukakis Michael Stanley Dukakis (; born November 3, 1933) is an American retired lawyer and politician who served as governor of Massachusetts from 1975 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1991. He is the longest-serving governor in Massachusetts history a ...
narrowly won Washington in 1988, and Democrats have won the state in every presidential election since, and by safe margins since
2008 File:2008 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: Lehman Brothers went bankrupt following the Subprime mortgage crisis; Cyclone Nargis killed more than 138,000 in Myanmar; A scene from the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; ...
. Washington was considered a key swing state in 1968, and it was the only western state to give its electoral votes to Democratic nominee
Hubert Humphrey Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. (May 27, 1911 – January 13, 1978) was an American pharmacist and politician who served as the 38th vice president of the United States from 1965 to 1969. He twice served in the United States Senate, representing Mi ...
over his Republican opponent
Richard Nixon Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913April 22, 1994) was the 37th president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he previously served as a United States House ...
. Washington was considered a part of the 1994
Republican Revolution The "Republican Revolution", "Revolution of '94", or "Gingrich Revolution" are political slogans that refer to the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party (GOP) success in the 1994 United States elections, 1994 U.S. mid-term electi ...
, and had the biggest pick-up in the house for Republicans, who picked up seven of Washington's nine House seats. However, this dominance did not last for long, as Democrats picked up one seat in the 1996 election, and two more in 1998, giving the Democrats a 5–4 majority. The governorship is held by Democrat
Jay Inslee Jay Robert Inslee (; born February 9, 1951) is an American politician, lawyer, and economist who has served as the 23rd governor of Washington since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a member of the U.S. House of Represen ...
, who was elected to his first term in the 2012 gubernatorial election and, after the 2020 election, became the first incumbent in more than 40 years to be elected for a third term. In 2013 and 2014, both houses of the
Washington State Legislature The Washington State Legislature is the state legislature (United States), state legislature of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. It is a bicameral body, composed of the lower house, lower Washington House of Representatives, co ...
(the Washington Senate and the
Washington House of Representatives The Washington House of Representatives is the lower house of the Washington State Legislature, and along with the Washington State Senate makes up the legislature of the U.S. state of Washington. It is composed of 98 Representatives from 4 ...
) were controlled by Democrats. The state senate was under Republican control, due to two Democrats' joining Republicans to form the Majority Coalition Caucus. After the 2014 elections, the Democrats retained control of the House, while Republicans took a majority in the Senate without the need for a coalition. In November 2017, a special election gave Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate and complete control over state government. Since then, in the 2018 election, the Democrats have only expanded their majorities. No state has gone longer without a Republican governor than Washington. Democrats have controlled the Washington Governor's Mansion for years; the last Republican Governor was John Spellman, who left office in 1985. Washington has not voted for a Republican senator, governor, or presidential candidate since 1994, tying Delaware for the longest streak in the country. Washington uses the non-partisan blanket primary system after the approval of
Initiative 872 Initiative 872 was a 2004 ballot initiative In political science, an initiative (also known as a popular initiative or citizens' initiative) is a means by which a petition signed by a certain number of Voter registration, registered voters c ...
in 2004. All candidates run on the same ballot during primary elections and the top two candidates advance to the general election in November, regardless of party affiliation. This has resulted in several same-party general election match-ups. In a 2020 study, Washington was ranked as the second easiest state for citizens to vote in.


Notable legislation

Washington is one of the ten states to have legalized
assisted suicide Assisted suicide is suicide undertaken with the aid of another person. The term usually refers to physician-assisted suicide (PAS), which is suicide that is assisted by a physician or other healthcare provider. Once it is determined that the p ...
. In 2008 the Washington Death with Dignity Act ballot initiative passed and became law. In November 2009, Washington voters approved full domestic partnerships via Referendum 71, marking the first time voters in any state expanded recognition of same-sex relationships at the ballot box. Three years later, in November 2012,
same-sex marriage Same-sex marriage, also known as gay marriage, is the marriage of two people of the same Legal sex and gender, sex or gender. marriage between same-sex couples is legally performed and recognized in 33 countries, with the most recent being ...
was affirmed via
Referendum 74 Referendum 74 (R-74 or Ref 74) was a Washington state referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a Direct democracy, direct vote by the Constituency, electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. Th ...
, making Washington one of only three states to have approved same-sex marriage by popular vote. Also in November 2012, Washington was one of the first two states to approve the legal sale and possession of
cannabis ''Cannabis'' () is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. The number of species within the genus is disputed. Three species may be recognized: ''Cannabis sativa'', ''Cannabis indica, C. indica'', and ''Cannabis ruderalis, ...
for both recreational and medical use with Initiative 502. Although marijuana is still illegal under U.S. federal law, persons 21 and older in Washington state can possess up to one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused product in solid form, 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form, or any combination of all three, and can legally consume marijuana and marijuana-infused products. In November 2016, voters approved Initiative 1433, which among other things requires employers to guarantee paid
sick leave Sick leave (or paid sick days or sick pay) is paid time off from work that workers can use to stay home to address their health Health, according to the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, Mental health, mental and so ...
to most workers. On January 1, 2018, the law went into effect, with Washington becoming the seventh state with paid sick leave requirements. With the passage of Initiative 1639 in the 2018 elections, Washington adopted stricter gun laws. Washington enacted a measure in May 2019 in favor of
sanctuary cities Sanctuary city (; ) refers to municipal jurisdictions, typically in North America, that limit their cooperation with the national government's effort to enforce immigration law. Leaders of sanctuary cities say they want to reduce fear of deport ...
, similar to California and Oregon laws which are among the strongest statewide mandates in the nation. In 2019 the legislature passed the Clean Energy Transformation Act, which requires all electricity sales to be from zero-carbon sources by 2045 and net-zero by 2030.


Education


Elementary and secondary education

As of the 2020–2021 school year, 1,094,330 students were enrolled in elementary and secondary schools in Washington, with 67,841 teachers employed to educate them. As of August 2009, there were 295
school district A school district is a special-purpose district that operates local public primary and secondary schools in various nations. North America United States In the U.S, most K–12 public schools function as units of local school districts, w ...
s in the state, serviced by nine Educational Service Districts. Washington School Information Processing Cooperative (a non-profit opt-in state agency) provides information management systems for fiscal & human resources and student data. Elementary and secondary schools are under the jurisdiction of the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). High school juniors and seniors in Washington have the option of using the state's
Running Start Running Start is a Dual enrollment, dual credit enrollment program in Washington (state), Washington, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Montana and Illinois which allows high school juniors and seniors to attend college courses numbered 100 or above, while ...
program. Begun by the state legislature in 1990, it allows students to attend institutions of higher education at public expense, simultaneously earning high school and college credit. The state also has several public arts-focused high schools including Tacoma School of the Arts, the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, and The Center School. There are also four Science and Math based high schools: one in the Tri-Cities known as Delta, one in Tacoma known as SAMI, another in Seattle known as Raisbeck Aviation High School, and one in Redmond known as Tesla STEM High School.


Higher education

There are more than 40 institutions of higher education in Washington. The state has major research universities, technical schools, religious schools, and private career colleges. Colleges and universities include the
University of Washington The University of Washington (UW, simply Washington, or informally U-Dub) is a Public university, public research university in Seattle, Washington (state), Washington. Founded in 1861, Washington is one of the oldest universities on the West ...
,
Seattle University Seattle University (SeattleU) is a private Jesuit The Society of Jesus ( la, Societas Iesu; abbreviation: SJ), also known as the Jesuits (; la, Iesuitæ), is a religious order (Catholic), religious order of clerics regular of pontifical ri ...
,
Washington State University Washington State University (Washington State, WSU, or informally Wazzu) is a Public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university with its flagship, and oldest, campus in Pullman, Washington. Founded in 1890, WSU i ...
,
Western Washington University Western Washington University (WWU or Western) is a public university in Bellingham, Washington. The northernmost university in the contiguous United States, WWU was founded in 1893 as the state-funded New Whatcom Normal School, succeeding a pri ...
,
Eastern Washington University Eastern Washington University (EWU) is a public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership, owned by the state or receives significant government spending, public funds through a na ...
, Central Washington University,
Seattle Pacific University Seattle Pacific University (SPU) is a Private university, private Christianity, Christian university in Seattle, Washington. It was founded in 1891 in conjunction with the Oregon and Washington Conference of the Free Methodist Church as the Se ...
, Saint Martin's University,
Pacific Lutheran University Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is a private Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifying primarily with the theology of Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer w ...
,
Gonzaga University Gonzaga University (GU) () is a Private university, private Society of Jesus, Jesuit university in Spokane, Washington. It is Higher education accreditation in the United States, accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities ...
,
University of Puget Sound The University of Puget Sound (UPS or Puget Sound) is a private university in Tacoma, Washington. The university draws approximately 2,600 students from 44 states and 16 countries. It offers 1,200 courses each year in more than 50 traditional an ...
, The Evergreen State College,
Whitman College Whitman College is a private liberal arts college A liberal arts college or liberal arts institution of higher education is a college with an emphasis on Undergraduate education, undergraduate study in Liberal arts education, liberal arts a ...
, and Walla Walla University.


Health care


Insurance

The top two health insurers as of 2017 were Premera Blue Cross, with 24 percent market share, followed by
Kaiser Permanente Kaiser Permanente (; KP), commonly known simply as Kaiser, is an American integrated delivery system, integrated managed care consortium, based in Oakland, California, United States, founded in 1945 by industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and physician ...
at 21 percent. For the individual market, Molina Healthcare had the top share at 23%. The state adopted the Washington Healthplanfinder system in 2014 after the passage of the federal
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act The Affordable Care Act (ACA), formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and colloquially known as Obamacare, is a landmark U.S. federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress The 111th Unit ...
(also known as "ObamaCare"). The state of Washington reformed its health care system in 1993 through the Washington Health Services Act. The legislation required individuals to obtain health insurance or face penalties, and required employers to provide insurance to employees. In addition, health insurance companies were required to sell policies to all individuals, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and cover basic benefits. The act was mostly repealed in 1995 before it could go into full effect.


Facilities

Hospitals exist across the state, but many of Washington's best-known medical facilities are located in and around Seattle. The Seattle–Tacoma area has six major hospitals:
Harborview Medical Center Harborview Medical Center is a public hospital located in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washing ...
, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle Children’s, Swedish Medical Center, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, and St. Joseph Medical Center. The Seattle-area hospitals are concentrated on First Hill, which is home to Virginia Mason Medical Center (the neighborhood has received the nickname "Pill Hill" owing to the high concentration of healthcare facilities).


Culture


Sports

Pickleball Pickleball is an indoor or outdoor list of racket sports, racket/paddle sport where two players (singles), or four players (doubles), hit a perforated hollow polymer ball over a net using solid-faced paddles. Opponents on either side of the net ...
, a racquet sport invented on Bainbridge Island in 1965, was designated as Washington's official
state sport This is a list of official U.S. state sports as recognized by state legislatures. Table See also * List of U.S. state, district, and territorial insignia * National sport References External links

* {{USStateLists ...
in 2022. For two years in a row, 2021 and 2022, the sport was named the fastest growing sport in the United States by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).


Major professional teams


Minor professional and amateur teams


College sports teams

;
NCAA Division I NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of College athletics, intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, which accepts players globally. D-I schools include the major ...
*
Washington Huskies The Washington Huskies are the college athletics in the United States, intercollegiate athletic teams that represent the University of Washington, located in Seattle. The school competes at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) NC ...
(
Pac-12 Conference The Pac-12 Conference is a collegiate List of NCAA conferences, athletic conference, that operates in the Western United States, participating in 24 sports at the NCAA Division I level. Its College football, football teams compete in the NCAA D ...
;
Football Bowl Subdivision The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As ...
) *
Washington State Cougars The Washington State Cougars (known informally as the Cougs) are the sport, athletic teams that represent Washington State University. Located in Pullman, Washington, WSU is a member of the Pac-12 Conference in NCAA Division I. The athletic prog ...
(
Pac-12 Conference The Pac-12 Conference is a collegiate List of NCAA conferences, athletic conference, that operates in the Western United States, participating in 24 sports at the NCAA Division I level. Its College football, football teams compete in the NCAA D ...
;
Football Bowl Subdivision The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As ...
) * Gonzaga Bulldogs (
West Coast Conference The West Coast Conference (WCC) — known as the California Basketball Association from 1952 to 1956 and then as the West Coast Athletic Conference until 1989 — is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with NCAA Division I NCAA ...
) * Seattle Redhawks (
Western Athletic Conference The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) is an NCAA Division I conference. The WAC covers a broad expanse of the western United States with member institutions located in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Utah, Washington (state), Washington, and Texa ...
) * Eastern Washington Eagles (
Big Sky Conference The Big Sky Conference (BSC) is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NCAA The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student athlete, student athletics among about 1,10 ...
;
Football Championship Subdivision The NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA, is the second-highest level of college football in the United States, after the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Bowl Subdivision. Sp ...
) ;
NCAA Division II NCAA Division II (D-II) is an intermediate-level division of competition in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It offers an alternative to both the larger and better-funded NCAA Division I, Division I and to the scholarship ...
* Central Washington Wildcats * Saint Martin's Saints * Seattle Pacific Falcons * Western Washington Vikings ;
NCAA Division III NCAA Division III (D-III) is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-III consists of athletic programs at colleges and university, universities that choose not to offer athletic scholarships ...
* Pacific Lutheran Lutes * Puget Sound Loggers * Whitman Blues * Whitworth Pirates


Individual sports

The Seattle Open Invitational golf tournament was part of the
PGA Tour The PGA Tour (stylized in all capital letters as PGA TOUR by its officials) is the organizer of professional golf tours in the United States and North America. It organizes most of the events on the flagship annual series of tournaments also k ...
from the 1930s to the 1960s. The GTE Northwest Classic was part of the
Senior PGA Tour PGA Tour Champions (formerly the Senior PGA Tour and the Champions Tour) is a men's professional senior golf tour, administered as a branch of the PGA Tour The PGA Tour (stylized in all capital letters as PGA TOUR by its officials) is the ...
from 1986 to 1995, and the Boeing Classic since 2005. In addition, the 2015 U.S. Open was held at
Chambers Bay Chambers Bay is a public golf course in the Pacific Northwest, northwest United States, located in University Place, Washington, on the Puget Sound southwest of Tacoma, Washington, Tacoma. The Links (golf), British links-style course is owned by ...
, and several major tournaments were held at Sahalee Country Club.
Pacific Raceways Pacific Raceways is a mixed-use road racing Road racing is a form of motorsport racing held on a paved road surface. The races can be held either on a race track, closed circuit or on a street circuit utilizing temporarily closed public roads ...
is a motorsports venue that has hosted the Northwest Nationals of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and a round of the
Trans-Am Series The Trans-Am Series is a sports car racing Sports car racing is a form of motorsport road racing which utilises sports cars that have two seats and enclosed wheels. They may be purpose-built Sports prototype, prototypes or Grand tourer, gr ...
. The WTA Seattle tennis tournament was part of the
WTA Tour The WTA Tour is a worldwide top-tier tennis tour for women organized by the Women's Tennis Association. The second-tier tour is the WTA 125K series, and third-tier is the ITF Women's Circuit. The men's equivalent is the ATP Tour. WTA Tour tourna ...
from 1977 to 1982.


Symbols, honors, and names

Four ships of the
United States Navy The United States Navy (USN) is the maritime military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the eight uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the es ...
, including two battleships, have been named USS ''Washington'' in honor of the state. Previous ships had held that name in honor of George Washington.


The Evergreen State

The state's nickname, "The Evergreen State", was proposed in 1890 by Charles T. Conover of Seattle. The name proved popular as the forests were full of
evergreen In botany, an evergreen is a plant which has Leaf, foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season. This also pertains to plants that retain their foliage only in warm climates, and contrasts with deciduous plants, ...
trees and the abundance of rain keeps the shrubbery and grasses green throughout the year. Although the nickname is widely used by the state, appearing on vehicle license plates for instance, it has not been officially adopted. The Evergreen State College, a state-funded institution in Olympia, also takes its name from this nickname.


State symbols

The state song is " Washington, My Home", the state bird is the
American goldfinch The American goldfinch (''Spinus tristis'') is a small North American bird in the finch Family (biology), family. It is Bird migration, migratory, ranging from mid-Alberta to North Carolina during the breeding season, and from just south of the ...
, the state fruit is the apple, and the state vegetable is the Walla Walla sweet onion. The state dance, adopted in 1979, is the
square dance A square dance is a dance for four couples, or eight dancers in total, arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square. Square dances contain elements from numerous traditional dances and were first documente ...
. The state tree is the
western hemlock ''Tsuga heterophylla'', the western hemlock or western hemlock-spruce, is a species of Tsuga, hemlock native to the west coast of North America, with its northwestern limit on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, and its southeastern limit in northern ...
. The state flower is the coast rhododendron. The
state fish This is a list of official and unofficial U.S. state fishes: __TOC__ Table See also * Lists of U.S. state insignia * Lists of U.S. state animals Notes References Netstate.com state fish tables External links

{{state insignia Lis ...
is the
steelhead Steelhead, or occasionally steelhead trout, is the common name of the Fish migration#Classification, anadromous form of the coastal rainbow trout or redband trout (O. m. gairdneri). Steelhead are native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific ...
. The state folk song is " Roll On, Columbia, Roll On" by
Woody Guthrie Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (; July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter, one of the most significant figures in American folk music. His work focused on themes of American Left, American socialism and anti-fascism. He ...
. The unofficial, but popularly accepted, state rock song is
Louie Louie "Louie Louie" is a rhythm and blues song written and composed by American musician Richard Berry (musician), Richard Berry in 1955, recorded in 1956, and released in 1957. It is best known for the 1963 hit version by the Kingsmen and has become ...
. The state grass is bluebunch wheatgrass. The state insect is the green darner dragonfly. The
state gem Leaders of states in the U.S. which have significant mineral deposits often create a state mineral, rock, stone or gemstone to promote interest in their natural resources, history, tourism, etc. Not every state has an official state mineral, rock, ...
is
petrified wood Petrified wood, also known as petrified tree (from Ancient Greek meaning 'rock' or 'stone'; literally 'wood turned into stone'), is the name given to a special type of ''fossilized wood'', the fossilized remains of terrestrial plant, terrestr ...
. The state fossil is the
Columbian mammoth The Columbian mammoth (''Mammuthus columbi'') is an extinct species of mammoth that inhabited the Americas as far north as the Northern United States and as far south as Costa Rica during the Pleistocene epoch. It was one of the last in a line ...
. The state marine mammal is the
orca The orca or killer whale (''Orcinus orca'') is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member. It is the only Extant taxon, extant species in the genus ''Orcinus'' and is recognizable by its black ...
. The state soil is Tokul soil. The state land mammal is the
Olympic marmot The Olympic marmot (''Marmota olympus'') is a rodent in the squirrel family, Sciuridae; it occurs only in the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington, on the middle elevations of the Olympic Peninsula. The closest relatives of this species ...
. The state seal (featured in the state flag as well) was inspired by the unfinished portrait of President George Washington by
Gilbert Stuart Gilbert Charles Stuart ( Stewart; December 3, 1755 – July 9, 1828) was an American painter from Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Rhode Island Colony who is widely considered one of America's foremost portraitists. His best-k ...
. The
state sport This is a list of official U.S. state sports as recognized by state legislatures. Table See also * List of U.S. state, district, and territorial insignia * National sport References External links

* {{USStateLists ...
is
pickleball Pickleball is an indoor or outdoor list of racket sports, racket/paddle sport where two players (singles), or four players (doubles), hit a perforated hollow polymer ball over a net using solid-faced paddles. Opponents on either side of the net ...
.


Friendship partners

Washington has relationships with many provinces, states, and other entities worldwide. *
Jalisco Jalisco (, , ; Nahuatl: Xalixco), officially the Free and Sovereign State of Jalisco ( es, Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco ; Nahuatl: Tlahtohcayotl Xalixco), is one of the 31 states which, along with Mexico City, comprise the 32 Political d ...
, Mexico (1996)


See also

* Index of Washington-related articles * Outline of Washington


Notes


References


Further reading

* . *
Volume 2
* Edmond S. Meany
''History of the State of Washington''
New York: Macmillan, 1909. * . Reprinted from the ''Washington Historical Quarterly'', 1918–1919.


External links

*
The official tourism site of the State of Washington

Washington State Databases

Secretary of State's Washington History website

Constitution of the State of Washington

Washington Administrative Code (State Administrative Rules)

State Code Search Tool

Energy Profile for Washington

USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Washington

Washington State Facts from USDA

U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts: Washington

Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

Police Scanner Information for Washington state

CWU Brooks Library Edward W. Nolan Photograph Collection
* * {{coord, 47, -120, dim:300000_region:US-WA_type:adm1st, name=State of Washington, display=title 1889 establishments in the United States Geography of the Pacific Northwest States and territories established in 1889 States of the United States States of the West Coast of the United States Contiguous United States