Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It should not be confused with Washington, DC, the nation's capital. To avoid confusion, the state is often called Washington state. Although the state capital is Olympia, the largest city in Washington is Seattle. As of the 2000 census, the state population is approximately 5.9 million. Residents are called "Washingtonians."
Washington is the only state named after a president, George Washington.
The USS Washington was named in honor of this state.
The first European record of a landing on the Washington coast is by Spanish Captain Don Bruno de Heceta in 1775 on board the Santiago, part of a two-ship flotilla with the Sonora. They claimed all the coastal lands up to the Russian possessions in the north for Spain.
In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook sighted Cape Flattery, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the straits would not be explored until 1789 by Captain Charles W. Barkley. Further explorations of the straits were performed by Spanish explorers Manuel Quimper in 1790 and Francisco Eliza in 1791, then by British Captain George Vancouver in 1792.
The Spanish Nootka Concession of 1790 opened the northwest territory to explorers and trappers from other nations, most notably Britain and then the United States. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition entered the state on October 10, 1805.
In 1819, Spain ceded their original claims to this territory to the United States. This began a period of joint-occupancy by Britain and the U.S. that lasted until June 15, 1846 when Britain ceded their claims to this land with the Treaty of Oregon.
Washington is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Oregon to the south (the Columbia River forming most of this border), Idaho to the east, and British Columbia, Canada to the north. It is famous for scenery of breathtaking beauty and sharp contrasts. High mountains rise above evergreen forests and sparkling coastal waters. Its coastal location and Puget Sound harbors give it a leading role in trade with Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim. Puget Sound's many islands are served by the largest state ferry fleet in the world. Washington is a land of contrasts. The deep forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world, but the flat semi-desert that lies east of the Cascade Range stretches for long distances without a single tree. Snow-covered peaks tower above the foothills and lowlands around them. Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state, appears to "float" on the horizon southeast of Seattle and Tacoma on clear days. The eastern side of the state can be divided into two regions: the Okanogan Highlands, and the Columbia River Basin.
Washington is also notable for being home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, and Third Lake Washington Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2003, Washington's population was estimated at 6,131,445 people.
The racial makeup of the state is:
6.7% of Washington's population were reported as under 5, 25.7% under 18, and 11.2% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.2% of the population.
Important cities and towns
Washington is a leading agricultural state. (The following figures are from the Washington State Office of Financial Management (http://www.ofm.wa.gov/databook/pdf/nt14.pdf) and the Washington Agricultural Statistics Service (http://www.nass.usda.gov/wa/ssoinfo.htm).)
For 2001, the total value of Washington's agricultural products was $5.4 billion, the 12th highest in the country. The total value of its crops was $3.2 billion, the 8th highest.
In 2002, Washington ranked first in the nation in production of raspberries (87.8% of total U.S. production), hops (74.4%), spearmint oil (also 74.4%), wrinkled seed peas (65.6%), apples (60.2%), Concord grapes (51.8%), sweet cherries (48%), pears (44.9%), lentils (41.9%), peppermint oil (35.2%), carrots for processing (34.5%), tart cherries (32.8%), Niagara grapes (32.4%), and sweet corn for processing (29.2%). Washington also ranked second in the nation in grapes (all varieties taken together), apricots, asparagus (over a third of the country's production), and green peas for processing; third in the nation for wheat, prunes and plums, summer dry onions, trout, and butter; fourth in barley and peaches; and fifth in cranberries and strawberries.
Colleges and universities
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Arts and culture
Government and political activism