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State of Idaho

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Apparently coined by a lobbyist-politician, George M. Willing, who claimed the word came from an Indian term meaning "gem of the mountains."

NICKNAME: The Gem State.


ENTERED UNION: 3 July 1890 (43rd).

SONG: "Here We Have Idaho."

MOTTO: Esto perpetua (Let it be perpetual).

FLAG: On a blue field with gilt fringe, the state seal appears in the center with the words "State of Idaho" on a red band below.

OFFICIAL SEAL: With cornucopias at their feet, a female figure (holding the scales of justice in one hand and a pike supporting a liberty cap in the other) and a miner (with pick and shovel) stand on either side of a shield depicting mountains, rivers, forests, and a farm; the shield rests on a sheaf of grain and is surmounted by the head of a stag above whose antlers is a scroll with the state motto. The words "Great Seal of the State of Idaho" surround the whole.

BIRD: Mountain bluebird.

FLOWER: Syringa.

TREE: Western white pine.

GEM: Star garnet.

LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and Idaho Human Rights Day, 3rd Monday in January; Presidents' Day, 3rd Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Veterans' Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 5 AM MST = noon GMT; 4 AM PST = noon GMT.


Situated in the northwestern United States, Idaho is the smallest of the eight Rocky Mountain states and 13th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Idaho is 83,564 sq mi (216,431 sq km), of which land composes 82,412 sq mi (213,447 sq km) and inland water 1,152 sq mi (2,984 sq km). With a shape described variously as a hatchet, a snub-nosed pistol, and a pork chop, Idaho extends a maximum of 305 mi (491 km) e-w and 479 mi (771 km) n-s.

Idaho is bordered on the n by the Canadian province of British Columbia; on the ne by Montana; on the e by Wyoming; on the s by Utah and Nevada; and on the w by Oregon and Washington (with part of the line formed by the Snake River). The total boundary length of Idaho is 1,787 mi (2,876 km). The state's geographic center is in Custer County, sw of Challis.


Idaho is extremely mountainous. Its northern two-thirds consists of a mountain massif broken only by valleys carved by rivers and streams, and by two prairies: the Big Camas Prairie around Grangeville and the Palouse Country around Moscow. The Snake River Plain extends e-w across Idaho from Yellowstone National Park to the Boise area, curving around the southern end of the mountain mass. A verdant high-mountain area encroaches into the southeastern corner; the rest of Idaho's southern edge consists mostly of low, dry mountains. Among the most important ranges are the Bitterroot (forming the border with Montana), Clearwater (the largest range), Salmon River, Sawtooth, Lost River, and Lemhi mountains. More than 40 peaks rise above 10,000 ft (3,000 m), of which the highest is Mt. Borah, at 12,662 ft (3,862 m), in the Lost River range. Idaho's lowest point is 710 ft (217 m) near Lewiston, where the Snake River leaves the Idaho border and enters Washington. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 5,000 ft (1,525 m).

The largest lakes are Pend Oreille (180 sq mi/466 sq km), Coeur d'Alene, and Priest in the panhandle, and Bear on the Utah border. The Snake Riverone of the longest in the United States, extending 1,038 mi (1,671 km) across Wyoming, Idaho, and Washingtondominates the southern part of the state. The Salmon Riverthe "River of No Return," a salmon-spawning stream that flows through wilderness of extraordinary beautyseparates northern from southern Idaho. The Clearwater, Kootenai, Bear, Boise, and Payette are other major rivers. There are ice caves near Shoshone and American Falls, and a large scenic cave near Montpelier. Near Arco is an expanse of lava, craters, and caves called the Craters of the Moon, another scenic attraction. At Hell's Canyon in the northernmost part of Adams County, the Snake River cuts the deepest gorge in North America, 7,913 ft (2,412 m) deep.


The four seasons are distinct in Idaho, but not all parts simultaneous. Spring comes earlier and winter later to Boise and Lewiston, which are protected from severe weather by nearby mountains and call themselves "banana belts." Eastern Idaho has a more continental climate, with more extreme temperatures; climatic conditions there and elsewhere vary with the elevation. Average temperatures in Boise range from 29°f (2°c) in January to 74°f (23°c) in July. The record low, 60°f (51°c), was set at Island Park Dam on 16 January 1943; the record high, 118°f (48°c), at Orofino on 28 July 1934. The corresponding extremes for Boise are 25°f (31°c) and 111°f (44°c).

Humidity is low throughout the state. Precipitation in southern Idaho averages 13 in (33 cm) per year; in the north, over 30 in (76 cm). Average annual precipitation at Boise is about 11.8 in (29 cm), with more than 20 in (53 cm) of snow. Much greater accumulations of snow are experienced in the mountains.


With 10 life zones extending from prairie to mountaintop, Idaho has some 3,000 native plants. Characteristic evergreens are Douglas fir and western white pine (the state tree); oak/mountain mahogany, juniper/piñon, ponderosa pine, and spruce/fir constitute the other main forest types. Syringa is the state flower. MacFarlanes four-o'clock, water howellia, Spalding's catchfly, and Ute ladies-tresses were the state's four threatened plant species as of April 2006.

Classified as game mammals are the elk, moose, white-tailed and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black bear, mountain lion, cottontail, and pigmy rabbit. Several varieties of pheasant, partridge, quail, and grouse are the main game birds, and there are numerous trout, salmon, bass, and whitefish species in Idaho's lakes and streams. Rare animal species include the wolverine, kit fox, and pika. The grizzly bear and bald eagle are listed as threatened, while the woodland caribou, gray (timber) wolf, American peregrine falcon, and whooping crane are endangered. A total of 17 animal species occurring within the state were listed as threatened or endangered as of April 2006, including the woodland caribou, whooping crane, and three species of salmon.


The environmental protection movement in Idaho dates from 1897, when President Grover Cleveland established the Bitterroot Forest Preserve, encompassing much of the northern region. In the early 1930s, the US Forest Service set aside some 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of Idaho's roadless forestland as primitive areas. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 regulated grazing on public lands, providing for the first time some relief from the overgrazing that had transformed much of Idaho's grassland into sagebrush desert. Thirty years later, Idaho senator Frank Church was floor sponsor for the bill creating the National Wilderness System, which now contains most of the primitive areas set aside earlier. Many miles of Idaho streams are now in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, another congressional accomplishment in which Senator Church played a leading role. In 1970, Governor Cecil Andrus (later, US secretary of the interior) was elected, partly on a platform of environmental protection. On 17 January 2001, the site near Jerome of a World War II camp where Japanese Americans were interned became Minidoka Internment National Monument; the National Park Service began planning for visitor facilities there in 2002.

The Department of Health and Welfare's Division of Environment is responsible for enforcing environmental standards. Air quality improved greatly between 1978 and 1997, following the passage of federal regulations strengthening the Clean Air Act. Vehicle emissions were responsible for high carbon monoxide levels in the Boise area in the late 1970s and 1980s. Emissions have dropped to the point that no carbon monoxide violations have occurred for several years. In 2003, 61.3 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state.

Water quality is generally good. Most of the existing problems stem from runoff from agricultural lands. Water quality is rated as only fair in the Upper Snake River Basin and in the Southwest Basin around Boise, and as poor in the Bear River Basin, partly because of municipal effluents from Soda Springs and Preston. The state has 386,000 acres of wetlands. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has implemented plans to acquire privately owned wetlands deemed to be in danger. The plan runs from 1991 to 2005.

Since 1953, nuclear waste has been buried at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory west of Idaho Falls or discharged in liquid form into the underground aquifer; some isotopes are migrating toward the boundaries of the site. Tailings from a former uranium-ore milling operation near Lowman are a potential health hazard. A top-priority site for hazardous-waste cleanup is Bunker Hill Mining at Smelterville; two sites in Pocatello are also considered candidates for cleanup. In 2003, the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database listed 87 hazardous waste sites in Idaho, six of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006. Three sites were deleted from the National Priority List in 2006, but another three sites were also proposed, including Blackbird Mine, St. Maries Creosote, and the Stibnite Yellow Pine Mining Area. In 2005, the EPA spent over $17.8 million through the Superfund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. Also in 2005, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $5.2 million for a clean water state revolving fund, as well as a $2.5 million grant for a drinking water state revolving fund. A $32,000 grant was offered to assist school districts in the adoption of indoor air quality programs.


Idaho ranked 39th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 1,429,096 in 2005, an increase of 10.4% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Idaho's population grew from 1,006,749 to 1,293,953, an increase of 28.5%the fifth-largest percentage gain among the 50 states for this period. The population is projected to reach 1.6 million by 2015 and 1.8 million by 2025. Population density in 2004 was 16.8 persons per sq mi. The median age was 34.3 in 2004. Nearly 26.7% of the population was under age 18, while 11.4% was age 65 or older.

Although no part of Idaho except Boise is genuinely urban, even Boise does not have a large central city. Boise's estimated population in 2004 was 190,122; The Boise-Nampa metropolitan area had an estimated population of 524,884. Other major cities with large populations include Pocatello (83,155), Idaho Falls (110,435), and Lewiston (58,654).


The 2000 Census included 17,645 American Indians. There are five reservations; the most extensive is that of the Nez Perce in northern Idaho, with a total population of 17,959 in 2000. In 2004, 1.4% of the population was American Indian.

There is a very small population of black Americans (5,456 in 2000) and a larger number of Asians (11,889 in 2000), 2,642 of them Japanese. In 2004, 0.6% of the population was black and 1% Asian. In 2000, there were 101,690 persons of Hispanic origin. In 2004, 8.9% of the population was of Hispanic or Latino origin. In 2004, 1.3% of the population reported origin of two or more races. There is a very visible Basque community in the Boise area, with an organization devoted to preserving their language and culture.

The foreign born (64,080) accounted for about 5% of Idaho's population in 2000, up from 28,905 (2.8%) in 1990.


In the general word stock, only a few place-names, such as Nampa, Pocatello, and Benewah, reflect the presence of Idaho Indians. In Idaho, English reflects a merger of Northern and North Midland features, with certain Northern pronunciations marking the panhandle. In 2000, 90.7% of the people five years old or older spoke only English in the home, down from 93% in 1990. The number of persons speaking other languages at home included the following:

The following table gives selected statistics from the 2000 Census for language spoken at home by persons five years old and over. The category "Other Native North American languages" includes Apache, Cherokee, Choctaw, Dakota, Keres, Pima, and Yupik.

Population 5 years and over 1,196,793 100.0
  Speak only English 1,084,914 90.7
  Speak a language other than English 111,879 9.3
Speak a language other than English 111,879 9.3
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 80,241 6.7
  German 5,666 0.5
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 3,345 0.3
  Other Native North American languages 2,020 0.2
  Serbo-Croatian 1,694 0.1
  Japanese 1,651 0.1
  Chinese 1,456 0.1
  Portuguese or Portuguese Creole 1,374 0.1
  Vietnamese 1,213 0.1
  Tagalog 1,119 0.1
  Russian 1,113 0.1
  Italian 1,106 0.1


Roman Catholic and Presbyterian missionaries first came to Idaho between 1820 and 1840. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) has been the leading religion in Idaho since 1860; with about a quarter of the population, the number of Mormons in Idaho is second only to that in Utah. Catholicism predominates north of Boise.

In 2006, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) reported a statewide membership of 376,661 members in 937 congregations; there were two temples in the state with a third under construction as of 2006. As of 2000, there were 18,745 adherents in the Assemblies of God and 17,683 United Methodists. There were also 130,847 Roman Catholics and an estimated 1,050 Jews.


In 2004, Idaho had 47,101 mi (75,832 km) of public roads and streets, the vast majority of them rural. The major east-west highways are I-90, I-84 (formerly I-80N), and US 12; US 95, Idaho 55, US 93, and I-15 are among the most traveled north-south routes. Idaho had some 1.370 million registered vehicles, including around 569,000 automobiles, 751,000 trucks of all types, and about 1,000 buses in 2004, when there were 942,983 licensed drivers. Boise, Pocatello, and Idaho Falls have mass transit systems (bus lines).

There were 1,678 rail mi (2,701 km) used by the nine railroads operating within the state in 2003. Among the state's two Class I railroads, the Union Pacific Railroad serves southern Idaho, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe crosses the panhandle. As of 2006, Amtrak provided east-west passenger service to Idaho via its Empire Builder train connection at Sandpoint to Chicago or Seattle/Portland.

In 2005, Idaho had a total of 255 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 204 airports, 44 heliports, 2 STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 5 seaplane bases. The modern airport at Boise is the state's busiest. In 2004, Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field had 1,451,728 passenger enplanements.

Other transport facilities are 6,100 mi (9,800 km) of pipeline, carrying virtually all the natural gas and most of the gasoline consumed in Idaho, and a Snake River port at Lewiston that links Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas with the Pacific via 464 mi (747 km) of navigable waterways in Washington State. Idaho had 111 mi (178 km) of navigable inland waterways in 2004 . In 2003 waterborne shipments totaled 1.061 million tons.


Human beings came to the land now known as Idaho about 15,000 years ago. Until 1805, only Indians and their ancestors had ever lived in the area, eking out a bare living from seeds and roots, insects, small animals, and what fishing and big-game hunting they could manage. At the time of white penetration, Shoshone and Northern Paiute Indians lived in the south, as did two linked tribal families, the Salishan and Shapwailutan (including the Nez Perce, who greeted the Lewis and Clark expedition when it entered Idaho in 1805; it was their food and canoes that helped these explorers reach the Columbia River and the Pacific).

Fur trappersnotably David Thompson, Andrew Henry, and Donald Mackenziefollowed within a few years. Missionaries came later; Henry Harmon Spalding founded a mission among the Nez Perce in 1836. The Oregon Trail opened in 1842, but for two decades, people merely crossed Idaho over it; virtually no one settled. In 1860, 14 years after Idaho had officially become US land through the Oregon Treaty with the United Kingdom, Mormons from Utah established Franklin, Idaho's first permanent settlement, and began farming. Gold was discovered that summer in northern Idaho; a gold rush, lasting several years, led directly to the organizing of the Idaho Territory on 10 July 1863.

Boise became the capital of Idaho in 1864, and the following decade saw the inauguration of telegraph service, the linking of Franklin with the transcontinental railway, and the birth of the territory's first daily newspaper. Idaho's population nearly doubled between 1870 and 1880, and the pressure of white settlement impinging on Indian hunting and fishing grounds touched off a series of wars in the late 1870s. The most famous of those was the Nez Perce War, culminating in Chief Joseph's surrender in Montana on 5 October 1877 and the subsequent confinement of Idaho Indians to reservations.

Lead and silver were discovered in south-central Idaho in 1880 and in the panhandle in 1884, touching off yet another stampede of would-be miners. With a population of 88,548 in 1890, Idaho was eligible to enter the Union, becoming the 43rd state on 3 July. Statehood came to Idaho at a time of turmoil, when Mormons and non-Mormons were contending for political influence, the Populist Party was challenging the established political organizations, and violent labor disputes were sweeping the mining districts. In 1907, in a case that grew out of the labor conflict, William "Big Bill" Haywood (defended by Clarence Darrow) was acquitted on charges that he conspired to assassinate former Idaho governor Frank Steunenberg, who was murdered on 30 December 1905.

From 1895 onward, federal land and irrigation projects fostered rapid economic growth. The modern timber industry began in 1906 with the completion of one of the nation's largest sawmills at Potlatch. By World War I, agriculture had become a leading enterprise; however, a farm depression in the 1920s lasted up to the Great Depression of the 1930s and ended only with the onset of World War II. After the war, an agro-industrial base was established, with fertilizers and potato processing leading the way. Idaho has also developed a thriving tourist industry, with large numbers of vacationers visiting the Sun Valley ski resort and the state's other scenic areas. Population expansion and the push for economic growth have collided with a new interest in the environment, creating controversies over land-use planning, mineral development, and water supply and dam construction. In April 2000, the National Wildlife Federation urged President Bill Clinton to designate the Owyhee Canyonlands, a 1.8-million acre scenic area in southwest Idaho, a national monument. The efforts to persuade Clinton failed, and environmentalists, ranchers, and off-road vehicle riders came together to agree on a conservation plan suitable to all. In 2004, they came up with the Owyhee Initiative, which will protect nearly 400 miles of river corridors and 500,000 acres of wild lands as wilderness, including the canyons themselves. Livestock grazing in wilderness areas will be gradually retired. Public lands in Owyhee County will be closed to cross-country all-terrain vehicles during preparation of a recreation plan that will manage motorized recreation on a designated system of roads and trails.

Idaho celebrated its 100th year of statehood in 1990, at the same time ushering in a decade in which the major environmental issue was nuclear waste contamination. The matter was highlighted by wildfires that raged in western states during the summer of 2000. One blaze charred the grounds of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab, a nuclear research and waste storage facility. Thirty thousand acres were burned before the fire was brought under control. But environmentalists, concerned citizens, and many Idaho lawmakers remained concerned that such storage facilities are vulnerable to natural disaster and pose a serious threat. In the early 2000s, wildfires broke out in the West once again, including Idaho. In the summer of 2002, wildfires burned over 7.1 million acres of public and private land in the United States, most of it in the West.


Idaho's 1889 constitution, amended 117 times as of January 2005, continues to govern the state today. The bicameral legislature, consisting of a 35-seat Senate and a 70-member House of Representatives, meets annually beginning the Monday closest to 9 January. There is no constitutional limit on the length of the session. Special sessions may only be summoned by the governor and are limited to 20 days. Legislators must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, qualified voters, and residents of their district for at least a year. All legislators serve two-year terms. In 2004, the legislative salary was $15,646.

The executive branch is headed by seven elected officials: the governor and lieutenant governor (who run separately), secretary of state, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction. All serve four-year terms. The governor, who must be a US citizen, at least 30 years old, and a state resident for at least two years prior to election, can sign or veto a bill. Vetoes may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the elected members in each house. If the governor neither signs nor vetoes a bill, it becomes law after five days when the legislature is in session and after 10 days when the legislature has adjourned. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $98,500.

The state constitution may be amended with the consent of two-thirds of each house and a majority of the voters at the next general election. Provisions for initiative, referendum, and recall were added by amendment to the state constitution in 1912 but not implemented by the legislature until 1933. The initiative procedure was employed in 1974 to pass the Sunshine Act, mandating registration by lobbyists and campaign financing disclosures by candidates for public office. An Idaho voter must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen, and a resident of the county and state for at least 30 days prior to election day. Restrictions apply to convicted felons.


Idahoans have usually voted Republican in presidential elections but sometimes have elected Democrats to Congress or the state-house. The state has become increasingly Republican in the 21st century, however. The dominant Republican in the 20th century was US senator William E. Borah, an isolationist-progressive who opposed US entry into the League of Nations but advocated world disarmament and supported prohibition, the graduated income tax, and some New Deal reforms; as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1924 to 1940, he was one of the most influential legislators in the nation.

One measure of the conservatism of Idaho voters in the 1960s and 1970s was the showing by George Wallace's American Independent Party in 1968 (12.6% of the total vote) and his American Party in 1972 (9.3%, the highest of any state). In 2000, Republican George W. Bush received 69% of the vote, while Democrat Al Gore won 28% and Reform Party candidate Patrick Buchanan captured

Idaho Presidential Vote by Major Political Parties, 19482004
*Won US presidential election.
**IND. candidate Ross Perot received 130,395 votes in 1992 and 62,518 votes in 1996.
1948 4 *Truman (D) 107,370 101,514
1952 4 *Eisenhower (R) 395,081 180,707
1956 4 *Eisenhower (R) 105,868 166,979
1960 4 Nixon (R) 138,853 161,597
1964 4 *Johnson (D) 148,920 143,557
1968 4 *Nixon (R) 389,273 165,369
1972 4 *Nixon (R) 380,826 199,384
1976 4 Ford (R) 126,549 204,151
1980 4 *Reagan (R) 110,192 290,699
1984 4 *Reagan (R) 108,510 297,523
1988 4 *Bush (R) 147,272 253,881
1992** 4 Bush (R) 137,013 202,645
1996** 4 Dole (R) 165,443 256,595
2000 4 *Bush, G. W. (R) 138,637 336,937
2004 4 *Bush, G. W. (R) 181,098 409,235

2%. In 2004, Bush won 68.5% to Democratic challenger John Kerry's 30.4%. In 2004, there were 798,000 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state. The state had four electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.

A Democrat, Cecil Andrus, served four terms as governor, retiring in 1994. In winning the governor's office in November 1994, Republican Phil Batt ended 24 years of Democratic control of that office. He was succeeded by another Republican, Dirk Kempthorne, following the 1998 election; Kempthorne was reelected in 2002. In mid-2005, the state legislature had 28 Republicans and 7 Democrats in the state Senate and 57 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the state House. In the 2004 elections, Idaho voters again elected two Republicans to represent them in the US House. Its US senators, Larry Craig, reelected in 2002, and Mike Crapo, re-elected in 2004, are also Republicans.


As of 2005, Idaho had 44 counties, 200 municipal governments, 115 public school districts, and 798 special districts or authorities. Most counties elect three commissioners and other officers, usually including an assessor, treasurer, coroner, and sheriff. Nearly all cities have an elected mayor and council of four to six members. School districts have elected board members.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 54,268 full-time (or equivalent) employment positions.


To address the continuing threat of terrorism and to work with the federal Department of Homeland Security, homeland security in Idaho operates under the authority of state statue and executive order; the emergency management director is designated as the state homeland security adviser.

The executive agencies concerned with education are the State Board of Education and the Department of Education. Under the heading of human resources are the Departments of Health and Welfare, Employment, and Correction and the Idaho State Police. Under the general rubric of natural resources come the Departments of Lands, Water Resources, Fish and Game, and Parks and Recreation. Self-governing agencies and the Departments of Agriculture, Finance, Insurance, Commerce and Labor, and Transportation oversee economic development and regulation. Within the Executive Office of the Governor are a number of funds, divisions, boards, commissions, and other bodies. The Information Technology Resource Management Council supports high-tech endeavors in the state.


Idaho's highest court, the supreme court, consists of five justices, each elected at large on a nonpartisan ballot to a six-year term. The justice with the shortest remaining term automatically becomes chief justice. There is a three-member court of appeals. The district court, with 37 judges in 1999, is the main trial court in civil and criminal matters, while magistrates' courts handle traffic, misdemeanor, and minor civil cases and preliminary hearings in felony cases. As with the state's supreme court justices, appeals court justices and district court judges are elected by nonpartisan ballot for six years and four years, respectively. Magistrates are appointed by a commission and run for four-year terms in the first general election succeeding the 18-month period following appointment.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 6,375 prisoners were held in Idaho's state and federal prisons, an increase from 5,737 or 11.1% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 647 inmates were female, up from 591 or 5% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), Idaho had an incarceration rate of 454 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2004 Idaho had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 244.9 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 3,412 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 38,933 reported incidents or 2,794.4 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Idaho has a death penalty, which can be carried out by lethal injection or firing squad, of which the latter is to be used only if lethal injection is impractical. From 1976 through 5 May 2006, the state executed only one person, which was carried out in January 1994. As of 1 January 2006, there were 20 inmates on death row.

In 2003, Idaho spent $41,282,044 on homeland security, an average of $28 per state resident.


Mountain Home Air Force Base, located about 50 mi (80 km) southeast of Boise, has 4,516 active-duty military personnel. In 2004, 5,640 active-duty military personnel, 489 civilian personnel, and 1,455 Guard and National Guard personnel were stationed in Idaho. Defense contract awards to Idaho firms totaled $186 million in fiscal year 2004. Another $535 million in defense payroll spending came to the state.

Idaho casualties in US wars included 1,419 in World War II, 132 in Korea, and 187 in Vietnam. There were 133,183 veterans of US military service in Idaho as of 2003, of whom 16,712 served in World War II; 13,095 in the Korean conflict; 39,565 during the Vietnam era; and 26,264 in the Persian Gulf War. Total expenditures for Idaho veterans were $363 million in fiscal year 2004.

As of 31 October 2004, the Idaho State Police employed 242 full-time sworn officers.


Idaho's first white immigrants came from Utah, California, and Oregon in the early 1860s. By the end of the Civil War, the chief sources of immigrants were the southern and border states. Homesteaders from the Midwest, Utah, and Scandinavia arrived at the end of the 19th century.

Since 1960, immigrants have come largely from California. Idaho suffered a net loss from migration of 109,000 persons between 1940 and 1970 but had a net gain of 110,000 persons in the 1970s. During the 1980s, Idaho had a net loss of 28,000 persons from migration. Between 1990 and 1998, the state had net gains of 129,000 in domestic migration and 15,000 in international migration. In 1998, 1,504 immigrants from foreign countries arrived in Idaho. The state's overall population increased 22% between 1990 and 1998, making it one of the fastest-growing states in the United States, superseded only by Nevada and Arizona during the same time period. In the period 200005, net international migration was 14,522 and net internal migration was 61,273, for a net gain of 75,795 people.


Idaho cooperates with Utah and Wyoming in the Bear River Compact; with Oregon, Washington, and Alaska in the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission; with Wyoming in the Snake River Compact; with Washington, Oregon, and Montana in the Northwest Power and Conservation Council; and in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Western Interstate Energy Council, Western States Water Council, and numerous other interstate compacts. Federal grants amounted to $1.465 billion in fiscal year 2005, $1.54 billion in fiscal year 2006, and $1.729 billion in fiscal year 2007.


Fur trapping was Idaho's earliest industry. Agriculture and mining began around 1860, with agriculture dominating since the 1870s. Timber became important after 1900, and tourism and manufacturingespecially food processing and forest productsafter 1945. Currently, agriculture, mining, forest products, and food processing are Idaho's largest industries.

The Idaho economy prospered in the 1970s. Machinery and transportation equipment manufacturing grew 20% between 1970 and 1980, and services expanded 7.5%. The early 1980s, in contrast, brought a national recession in which Idaho lost 8% of its employment base. Recovery required a restructuring of Idaho's mining, forest products, and agricultural industries that resulted in the laying off of large numbers of employees. Other industries posted significant gains in employment in the 1980s. Chemical manufacturing employment grew 36% in the early and mid-1980s, and jobs in the paper industry increased 30%. Travel and tourism employment rose 35% between 1982 and 1991, and high-tech jobs increased 50% between 1986 and 1990. Disputes with the federal government over the management of federal lands remained central to the discussion of Idaho's economic policy, as the federal government owns 60% of Idaho's public land. The disputes center on such matters as grazing fees, costs of water from government projects, species protection, and mining regulations. The electronics industry continued to grow during the 1990s, as evidenced by expansions announced by Hewlett-Packard, Micron, and Zilog. Construction employment also increased. Other manufacturing sectors were also increasing, so that from 1997 to 2000, there was an overall 37% increase in Idaho's manufacturing output and an increase in its relative share of total state output, from 20.2% to 22.1%. More than half of the gain was lost, however, in the national recession in 2001, as manufacturing output fell 19.4% in one year, reducing the net gain since 1997 to 10.3% and manufacturing's share in the state economy to a new low of 17.8%. The recession and continued slowdown severely impacted Idaho's economy, as strong annual growth rates at the end of the 20th century5.6% in 1998, 11.4% in 1999, and 6.3% in 2000abruptly fell to 0.4% in 2001. The highest rate of job loss was in the construction sector, where employment fell 11% from December 2001 to December 2002. Over the same period, employment in manufacturing fell 4% and about 4,500 high-paid, high-tech jobs were lost. Idaho's economy was also afflicted in 2002 by drought conditions that reduced grazing land and threatened the state's potato crop. Idaho farmers were also hurt by historically low milk prices in 2002 and into 2003.

In 2004, Idaho's gross state product (GSP) totaled $43.571 billion, of which manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) was the largest sector at $6.231 billion or 14.3% of GSP, followed by real estate at $5.191 billion (11.9% of GSP), and health care and social services at $2.914 billion (6.6% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 131,663 small businesses in Idaho. Of the 43,675 businesses having employees, a total of 42,384 or 97% were small companies. An estimated 7,814 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, up 30.3% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 5,716, down 15.2% from 2003. There were 160 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 28.9% from the previous year. In 2005, the personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 704 filings per 100,000 people, ranking Idaho as the 12th highest in the nation.


In 2005, Idaho had a gross state product (GSP) of $47 billion, which accounted for 0.4% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 43 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004, Idaho had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $26,877. This ranked 46th in the United States and was 81% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 3.7%. Idaho had a total personal income (TPI) of $37,497,434,000, which ranked 42nd in the United States and reflected an increase of 8.2% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.8%. Earnings of persons employed in Idaho increased from $25,779,208,000 in 2003 to $28,215,416,000 in 2004, an increase of 9.5%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 200204 in 2004 dollars was $42,519 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 10.5% of the population was below the poverty line, as compared to 12.4% nationwide.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in April 2006, the seasonally adjusted civilian labor force in Idaho numbered 761,200. Approximately 25,600 workers were unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 3.4%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 638,100. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Idaho was 9.4% in February 1983. The historical low was 3.2% in March 2006. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 8.1% of the labor force was employed in construction; 10% in manufacturing; 19.9% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 4.9% in financial activities; 12.6% in professional and business services; 10.8% in education and health services; 9.7% in leisure and hospitality services; and 18.1% in government.

Idaho was a pioneer in establishing the eight-hour workday and in outlawing yellow-dog contracts. In 1958, Idaho voters rejected right-to-work legislation. Governor John Evans vetoed simi-lar legislation in 1982. However, in 1986, Idaho became one of 22 states with a right-to-work law when voters approved the law.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 31,000 of Idaho's 606,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 5.2% of those so employed, down from 5.8% in 2004 and well under the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 38,000 workers (6.3%) in Idaho were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation.

As of 1 March 2006, Idaho had a state-mandated minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 45.8% of the employed civilian labor force.


Receipts from farm marketings totaled $4.5 billion in 2005 (21st in the United States); farm industry income was about $1.9 billion. As of 2004, Idaho led the United States in potato production; was second in sugar beets and barley; third in hops, peppermint oil; and fourth in spearmint oil.

Development of the russet potato in the 1920s gave Idaho its most famous crop. In 2004, the state produced 131,970,000 hundredweight of potatoes (29% of the US total); some 90% was grown on about 110,000 acres (45,000 hectares) of irrigated land on the Snake River plain. About three-fourths of the crop is processed into frozen french fries, instant mashed potatoes, and other products. Other leading crops were hay, 5,350,000 tons, valued at $556,690,000; wheat, 101,710,000 bushels, $357,427,000; barley, 59,800,000 bushels (second in the United States), $176,410,000; and sugar beets, 5,491,000 tons, $216,980,000.

As of 2004, Idaho had 11.8 million acres (5.4 million hectares) in farms, roughly 22% of the state's land area; its estimated 25,000 farms, (including ranches) averaged about 472 acres (191 hectares). Almost 3.5 million acres (1.4 hectares) of land were irrigated.


In 2005, there were an estimated 2 million cattle and calves worth around $2.2 billion. In 2004, Idaho had an estimated 21,000 hogs and pigs worth around $2.1 million. Idaho had an estimated 404,000 dairy cows, which produced 8.8 billion lb (3.4 million kg) of milk in 2003. In the same year, Idaho produced an estimated 2.3 million lb (1 million kg) of chicken, and the state produced an estimated 243 million eggs worth $14.5 million. Also during 2003, the state produced an estimated 24.7 million lb of sheep and lambs, which grossed $20.8 million for Idaho farmers. Shorn wool production in 2004 totaled an estimated 2.1 million lb (0.95 million kg).


In 2004, there were some 403,741 licensed sport fishermen catching trout along with salmon, steelhead, bass, and 32 other game-fish species. Idaho is a leading producer of farm-raised trout: Its 55 trout farms had $32.6 million in sales in 2004, more than any other state and 47% of the US total. There are about 19 state hatcheries and three national fish hatcheries located within the state. The Idaho Fish Health Center in Orofino is a federally sponsored research facility.


As of 2004, Idaho forests covered 23.5 million acres (9.5 million hectares), or about 40% of the state's land area, with 16,824,000 acres (6,809,000 hectares) classified as commercial timberland. Of the total forest area in 2003, the federal government controlled 79%; state government, 5%; and private owners, 16%. National Forest System lands in Idaho totaled 21,575,000 acres (8,731,000 hectares) in 2005. Idaho forests are used increasingly for ski areas, hunting, and other recreation, as well as for timber and pulp. Total lumber production was 1.7 billion board feet (10th in the United States) in 2004, almost all softwoods.


Idaho's estimated value of nonfuel mineral production in 2004 was $446 million, up almost 66% from 2003, according to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS). The data placed Idaho 34th in the production, by value, of nonfuel minerals in 2004, accounting for 1% of the US total.

In descending order, phosphate rock, construction sand and gravel, molybdenum concentrates, silver, portland cement, and crushed stone were the top minerals produced that year, accounting for around 91%, by value, of all nonfuel mineral output by the state.

According to USGS estimates (by volume) for 2004, Idaho ranked second nationally in the production of phosphate rock and industrial garnets (out of two states) and was third in the output of silver and lead, fourth in molybdenum concentrates and zeolites, fifth in pumice and zinc, and sixth in gemstones. Idaho is also a producer of gold, copper, and lime.

In 2004, preliminary data showed crushed stone production at 3.2 million metric tons or $16.2 million, with output of sand and gravel for construction at 18.2 million metric tons or $66.8 million.


As of 2003, Idaho had 32 electrical power service providers, of which 11 were publicly owned and 16 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, four were investor owned and one was an owner of an independent generator that sold directly to customers. As of that same year, there were 687,334 retail customers. Of that total, 577,986 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 69,850 customers, while publicly owned providers had 39,497 customers. There was only one independent generator or "facility" customer.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 3.002 million kW, with total production that same year at 10.422 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 74.2% came from electric utilities, with the remainder coming from independent producers and combined heat and power service providers. The largest portion of all electric power generated, 8.354 billion kWh (80.1%), came from hydroelectric plants, with natural gas-fired plants in second place at 1.374 billion kWh (13.2%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 5.2% of all power generated, with coal and "other" types of generating facilities accounting for the remainder.

Idaho's large size, widespread and relatively rural population, and lack of public transportation foster reliance on motor vehicles and imported petroleum products. Natural gas is also imported. Hot water from thermal springs is used to heat buildings in Boise.

As of 2004, Idaho had no known proven reserves or production of crude oil or natural gas. There are no refineries located within the state.


Although resource industries such as food processing, chemical manufacturing, and lumber production continue to be important manufacturing sectors in Idaho's economy, computer and electronic product manufacturing accounted for the state's primary manufacturing sector as of 2004.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Idaho's manufacturing sector covered some 13 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $16.583 billion. Of that total, computer and electronic product manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $6.076 billion. It was followed by food manufacturing at $4.455 billion; wood product manufacturing at $1.853 billion; chemical manufacturing at $802.844 million; and paper manufacturing at $734.884 million.

In 2004, a total of 56,479 people in Idaho were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 36,632 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the computer and electronic product manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees at 15,552, with 4,054 actual production workers. It was followed by food manufacturing at 13,238 employees (11,451 actual production workers); wood product manufacturing at 7,019 employees (6,025 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing at 3,456 employees (2,667 actual production workers); and furniture and related product manufacturing with 2,051 employees (1,667 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Idaho's manufacturing sector paid $2.107 billion in wages. Of that amount, the computer and electronic product manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $739.972 million. It was followed by food manufacturing at $391.014 million; wood product manufacturing at $223.840 million; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $119.999 million; and paper manufacturing at $100.246 million.

Ore-Ida Foods is a leading potato processor, and J. R. Simplot engages in food processing and fertilizer production. Boise Cascade (with headquarters at Boise), Potlatch, and Louisiana-Pacific dominate the wood-products industry. Morrison-Knudsen, a diversified engineering and construction company that also has forest-products interests, has its headquarters in Boise.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Idaho's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $11.4 billion from 1,989 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 1,168 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 735 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 86 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $5.8 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $4.7 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $926.2 million.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Idaho was listed as having 5,874 retail establishments with sales of $13.5 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (868); miscellaneous store retailers (674); gasoline stations (663); building material/garden equipment and supplies dealers (661); and food and beverage stores (549). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $3.7 billion, followed by general merchandise stores at $2.3 billion; food and beverage stores at $1.8 billion; and building material/garden equipment and supplies at $1.4 billion. A total of 69,641 people were employed by the retail sector in Idaho that year.

Foreign exports of goods from Idaho were valued at $3.2 billion in 2005 (38th in the United States).


The Idaho Office of the Attorney General is responsible for investigating consumer complaints and enforcing most consumer laws through its Consumer Protection Unit. However, Idaho's Credit Code is administered through the Department of Finance, which also resolves consumer credit complaints under that law. The legislature has enacted the state's Consumer Protection, Telephone Solicitation, and Pay-Per-Telephone Call acts for purposes of protecting both consumers and businesses against unfair or deceptive acts in trade and commerce, and providing efficient and economical procedures to secure such protection. The Idaho Consumer Protection Unit seeks to fulfill this charge through education, mediation, and enforcement efforts. In 1990, the Idaho Consumer Protection Act was modernized, and in 1992 the Telephone Solicitation and Pay-Per-Telephone Call Acts were passed, as well as the Charitable Solicitation Act in 1993.

In support of its Consumer Protection Unit, the Idaho Office of the Attorney General has broad subpoena powers; can initiate civil (but not criminal) proceedings; and can represent the state before state and federal regulatory agencies, as well as support the administration of consumer protection and education programs and handle formal consumer complaints. In antitrust actions, the Office of the Attorney General can act on behalf of those consumers who are incapable of acting on their own; initiate damage actions on behalf of the state in state courts; and represent counties, cities, and other governmental entities in recovering civil damages under state or federal law.

The Consumer Protection Unit of the Idaho Attorney General's Office is located in Boise.


As of June 2005, Idaho had 17 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, plus 42 state-chartered and 24 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Boise City-Nampa market area had 21 financial institutions in 2004 with $6.171 billion in deposits, followed by Coeur d'Alene with 14 institutions and $1.472 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 31.1% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $2.739 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 68.9% or $6.060 billion in assets held.

The 1997 Idaho Savings Bank Act permitted state-chartered savings banks in Idaho, repealing the Savings and Loan Act. The Idaho Department of Finance's Financial Institutions Bureau regulates and supervises Idaho's state-chartered commercial banks, savings banks, credit unions, trust companies, and bank holding companies. Idaho's insured institutions increased their profitability in 2004 as the median return on average assets ratio (the measure of earnings in relation to all resources) rose from 0.98% in 2003 to 0.99%. The median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered savers and the higher rates charged on loans) was 5.34% in the fourth quarter of 2005, up from 4.69% in 2004 and 4.65% in 2003.


In 2004, there were 498,000 individual life insurance policies in force with a total value of over $49.4 billion; total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was over $84 billion. The average coverage amount was $99,200 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $204 million.

In 2003, 12 property and casualty and six life and health insurance companies were domiciled in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled $1.68 billion. That year, there were 5,651 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $960 million.

In 2004, 53% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 7% held individual policies, and 22% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 17% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 16% for single coverage and 28% for family coverage. The state does not offer a health benefits expansion program in connection with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA, 1986), a health insurance program for those who lose employment-based coverage due to termination or reduction of work hours.

In 2003, there were over 1 million auto insurance policies in effect for private passenger cars. Required minimum coverage includes bodily injury liability of up to $25,000 per individual and $50,000 for all persons injured in an accident, as well as property damage liability of $15,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $585.34, one of the lowest averages in the nation.


Idaho has no stock exchanges. In 2005, there were 540 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 630 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 34 publicly traded companies within the state, with four NASDAQ companies, six NYSE listings, and one AMEX listing. In 2006, the state had two Fortune 500 companies; Albertson's (food and drug stores) ranked first in the state and 47th in the nation with revenues of over $40.3 billion, followed by Micron Technology. Washington Group Intl. made the Fortune 1,000 list at 586th in the nation. Albertson's and Micron Technology are listed on the NYSE; Washington Group Intl. is an OTC listing.


Idaho's annual budget, prepared by the Division of Financial Management, is submitted by the governor to the legislature for amendment and approval. The fiscal year (FY) runs from 1 July to 30 June. The state constitution requires that the legislature pass a balanced budget, and the governor, as the chief budget officer, ensures that expenditures do not exceed revenues.

In fiscal year 2006, general funds were estimated at $2.3 billion for resources and $2.2 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Idaho were nearly $2.0 billion.

IdahoState Government Finances
(Dollar amounts in thousands. Per capita amounts in dollars.)
Abbreviations and symbols: - zero or rounds to zero; (NA) not available; (X) not applicable.
source: U.S. Census Bureau, Governments Division, 2004 Survey of State Government Finances, January 2006.
Total Revenue 7,112,364 5,098.47
  General revenue 5,309,905 3,806.38
   Intergovernmental revenue 1,741,394 1,248.31
   Taxes 2,647,790 1,898.06
     General sales 1,036,924 743.31
     Selective sales 366,231 262.53
     License taxes 220,800 158.28
     Individual income tax 907,795 650.75
     Corporate income tax 103,784 74.40
     Other taxes 12,256 8.79
    Current charges 470,037 336.94
    Miscellaneous general revenue 450,684 323.07
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue 76,766 55.03
  Insurance trust revenue 1,725,693 1,237.06
Total expenditure 5,762,624 4,130.91
  Intergovernmental expenditure 1,496,785 1,072.96
  Direct expenditure 4,265,839 3,057.95
    Current operation 2,848,421 2,041.88
    Capital outlay 539,447 386.70
    Insurance benefits and repayments 611,969 438.69
    Assistance and subsidies 132,212 94.78
    Interest on debt 133,790 95.91
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 817,284 585.87
Total expenditure 5,762,624 4,130.91
  General expenditure 5,093,039 3,650.92
    Intergovernmental expenditure 1,496,785 1,072.96
    Direct expenditure 3,596,254 2,577.96
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 2,013,929 1,443.68
    Public welfare 1,197,420 858.37
    Hospitals 39,186 28.09
    Health 112,441 80.60
    Highways 524,242 375.80
    Police protection 43,206 30.97
    Correction 170,981 122.57
    Natural resources 178,812 128.18
    Parks and recreation 26,054 18.68
    Government administration 268,481 192.46
    Interest on general debt 133,790 95.91
    Other and unallocable 384,497 275.63
  Utility expenditure - -
  Liquor store expenditure 57,616 41.30
  Insurance trust expenditure 611,969 438.69
Debt at end of fiscal year 2,383,841 1,708.85
Cash and security holdings 11,735,412 8,412.48

In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Idaho was slated to receive $25.4 million in State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds to provide health coverage to low-income, uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid. This funding is a 23% increase over fiscal year 2006. The state is also scheduled to receive $7.3 million for the HOME Investment Partnership Program to help Idaho fund a wide range of activities that build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership or provide direct rental assistance to low-income people. This funding is a 12% increase over fiscal year 2006.


In 2005, Idaho collected $2,934 million in tax revenues or $2,054 per capita, which placed it 30th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Sales taxes accounted for 38.5% of the total, selective sales taxes 12.7%, individual income taxes 35.5%, corporate income taxes 4.8%, and other taxes 8.6%.

As of 1 January 2006, Idaho had eight individual income tax brackets ranging from 1.6 to 7.8%. The state taxes corporations at a flat rate of 7.6%.

In 2004, local property taxes amounted to $1,084,470,000 or $777 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 36th highest nationally. Idaho does not collect property taxes at the state level.

Idaho taxes retail sales at a rate of 6%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 3%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 9%. Food purchased for consumption off premises is taxable; however, an income tax credit is allowed to offset sales tax on food. The tax on cigarettes is 57 cents per pack, which ranks 33rd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Idaho taxes gasoline at 25 cents per gallon. This is in addition to the 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax on gasoline.

According to the Tax Foundation, for every federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2004, Idaho citizens received $1.28 in federal spending.


The Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor coordinates economic development initiatives in the state, which are carried out by various departments and executive councils. The International Business Division of the Department of Commerce and Labor has as its mission the identification of opportunities for Idaho products in international markets and helping Idaho companies capitalize on these. In 2005, key export markets for Idaho's goods were in China, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Japan. The Division of Economic and Community Affairs, within the office of the governor, seeks to widen markets for Idaho products and goods and services, encourage film production in the state, attract new business and industry to Idaho, expand and enhance existing enterprises, and promote the state travel industry. Incentives for investment include conservative state fiscal policies and a probusiness regulatory climate. Idaho offers industrial revenue bonds to assist companies with the financing of land, buildings, and equipment used in manufacturing. The state extends loans to businesses seeking to start up or expand and for energy conservation improvements. To help distressed areas, there are matching grants for economic development as well as training in strategic planning and economic diversification techniques. Cities and counties may also apply for community development block grants.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 6.3 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 16 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 7 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 81.4% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 81% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 7.6 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were as follows: heart disease, 188.8; cancer, 159.4; cerebrovascular diseases, 54.9; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 44.4; and diabetes, 23.9. The mortality rate from HIV infection was unavailable. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 1.6 per 100,000 population, the third lowest in the nation that year. In 2002, about 55% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 17.4% of state residents were smokers, one of the lowest percentages in the nation.

In 2003, Idaho had 39 community hospitals with about 3,400 beds. There were about 136,000 patient admissions that year and 2.8 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 1,900 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,235. Also in 2003, there were about 80 certified nursing facilities in the state with 6,258 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 76%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 67.7% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Idaho had 175 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 657 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 824 dentists in the state.

About 22% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 17% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $1.1 million.


In 2004, about 50,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $229. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 93,441 persons (37,151 households); the average monthly benefit was about $91.83 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $102 million.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the system of federal welfare assistance that officially replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in 1997, was reauthorized through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. TANF is funded through federal block grants that are divided among the states based on an equation involving the number of recipients in each state. Idaho's TANF program is called Temporary Assistance for Families in Idaho. In 2004, the state program had 3,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $7 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 219,250 Idaho residents. This number included 140,330 retired workers, 19,940 widows and widowers, 27,430 disabled workers, 14,130 spouses, and 17,420 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 15.7% of the total state population and 96.8% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $931; widows and widowers, $914; disabled workers, $879; and spouses, $469. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $499 per month; children of deceased workers, $613; and children of disabled workers, $234. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments went to 20,993 Idaho residents in December 2004, averaging $383 a month. An additional $686,000 in state-administered supplemental payments were distributed to 12,398 residents.


In 2004, there were an estimated 578,774 housing units within the state, 515,252 of which were occupied. About 72.4% of all units were owner occupied. About 71.1% of all units were single-family, detached homes; 10.8% were mobile homes. Most units relied on utility gas and electricity for heating. It was estimated that 22,347 units were without telephone service, 2,419 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 3,220 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.64 members.

In 2004, 18,100 privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. Median home value was at $120,825. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was about $953 while renters paid a median of $566 per month. In 2006, the state received over $9.1 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


As of 2004, 87.9% of Idahoans over the age of 25 were high school graduates and 23.8% had obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

The total enrollment in Idaho's public schools for fall 2002 stood at 249,000. Of these, 173,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 75,000 attended high school. Approximately 84.1% of the students were white, 0.9% were black, 12% were Hispanic, 1.5% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.6% were American Indian/Alaska Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 250,000 in fall 2003 and is expected to be 283,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 13.8% during the period 200214. There were 10,994 students enrolled in 107 private schools in fall 2003. Expenditures for public education in 200304 were estimated at $1.7 billion or $6,028 per student, the second lowest among the 50 states. Since 1969, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has tested public school students nationwide. The resulting report, The Nation's Report Card, stated that in 2005, eighth graders in Idaho scored 281 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 72,072 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students composed 7.6% of total post-secondary enrollment. As of 2005, Idaho had 14 degree-granting institutions. The leading public higher educational institutions are the University of Idaho at Moscow; Idaho State University (Pocatello); Boise State University; and Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston. The State Board of Education offers scholarships to graduates of accredited Idaho high schools.


The Idaho Commission on the Arts, founded in 1966, offers grants to support both creative and performing artists. In 2005, the commission hosted the National Association of State Arts Agencies annual meeting, bringing together some 385 arts administrators in Boise. Also in 2005, the Idaho Commission on the Arts and other Idaho arts organizations received nine grants totaling $699,100 from the National Endowment for the Arts. The commission is a partner with the regional Western States Arts Federation. The Idaho Humanities Council was established in 1973. In 2004, the council provided nearly $100,000 in grants and 292 speakers bureau programs supporting the humanities. In 2005, the state received $530,730 in the form of six grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Boise Philharmonic is Idaho's leading professional orchestra; other symphony orchestras are in Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Pocatello, and Twin Falls. Boise and Moscow have seasonal theaters. The Boise Philharmonic is notable for its long historyit can trace its roots to around 1885 and the formation of the Boise City Orchestra. As of 2006, this orchestra performed for 14,000 students annually with their Children's Concerts. The annual summer Idaho Shakespeare Festival, in Boise, presents a series of plays in its outdoor Festival Amphitheater and Reserve. Boise is also home to Ballet Idaho, the state's professional ballet company. In 2005, the company performed in the mainstage productions of Giselle and The Princess and the Pea, as well as toured the state in December performing The Nutcracker.

The Boise Art Museum began in 1931 and is the only American Association of Museums (AAM) accredited art museum in the state. The museum's permanent collection emphasizes 20th-century American art, particularly art from the Pacific Northwest and American Realism. The 2006 exhibitions included Native Perspectives on the Trail: A Contemporary American Indian Art Port-folio and Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful over 100 original objects designed by Wright were showcased.


For the fiscal year ending in September 2001, Idaho had 106 public library systems, with a total of 143 libraries, of which 39 were branches. In that same year, the systems had a combined book and serial publications stock of 3,577,000 volumes and a total circulation of more than 8,723,000. The systems also had 126,000 audio and 103,000 video items, 3,000 electronic format items (CDROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and seven bookmobiles. The largest public library system was the Boise Public Library and Information Center, with about 340,800 volumes. The state's leading academic library was at the University of Idaho (Moscow); it had 1,064,707 volumes, as of 2000. In fiscal year 2001, total operating income for the public library system was $25,787,000, which included $177,000 in federal grants and $$737,000 in state grants.

The state also has 31 museums, notably the Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Historical Museum (Boise), and the Idaho Museum of Natural History (Pocatello). The University of Idaho Arboretum is at Moscow, and there is a zoo at Boise and an animal park in Idaho Falls. Major historical sites include Cataldo Mission near Kellogg, Spalding Mission near Lapwai, and Nez Perce National Historical Park in north-central Idaho.


As of 2004, 94.8% of Idaho's occupied housing units had telephones. Additionally, by June of that same year, there were 653,779 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 69.2% of Idaho households had a computer and 56.4% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 148,964 high-speed lines in Idaho, 134,698 residential and 14,266 for business.

Idaho's first radio station, built by a Boise high school teacher and his students, began transmitting in 1921, was licensed in 1922, and six years later was sold and given the initials KIDOthe same call letters later assigned to Idaho's first permanent television station, which began broadcasting in 1953 and subsequently became KTVB. As of 2005, the state had 43 major operating radio stations (8 AM, 35 FM) and 13 major television stations. Several large cable systems serviced the state in 2005. In 2000, a total of 21,563 internet domain names were registered in the state.


Idaho, site of the first printing press in the Northwest, had 12 daily newspapers in 2005 (10 morning and 2 evening) and 8 Sunday papers. The most widely read newspaper was the Idaho Statesman, published in Boise, with a circulation of 63,023 daily and 83,857 on Sundays in 2005. Caxton Printers, founded in 1902, is the state's leading publishing house. Leading magazines from the state are Idaho magazine and the industry trade magazines Spudman and Sugar.


In 2006, there were over 1,170 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 797 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations.

The Appaloosa Horse Club is among the few national organizations with headquarters in Idaho. One of the largest state business associations is the Idaho Potato Commission, a department of the state dedicated to research and promotion of the potato growers industry.

Educational organizations on the national level include the National Center for Constitutional Studies. State educational and cultural organizations include the Idaho Falls Arts Council, the Idaho State Historical Society, and the Idaho Humanities Council, as well as a number of county historical societies. There is an Indian Heritage Council in McCall.


In 2004, Idaho supported over 50,000 jobs and earned $2.97 billion. Total revenues for the summer of 2005 were up 10.5%. Tourists come to Idaho primarily for outdoor recreationriver trips, skiing, camping, hunting, fishing, fly-fishing, kayaking and hiking. There are 19 ski resorts; by far the most famous is Sun Valley, which opened in 1936. Boise is the most popular destination within the state.

Tourist attractions include two national parks, the Craters of the Moon National Monument, the Nez Perce National Historical Park, and the Hell's Canyon and Sawtooth national recreational areas. A sliver of Yellowstone National Park is in Idaho. Portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail and the Oregon Trail lie within the state as well. The Snake River area is a national conservation area for birds of prey, as is the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Silverwood Theme Park caters to those who want to visit amusement parks (Coeur d'Alene). Visitors can also travel parts of the Oregon Trail.


Idaho has no major professional teams. Idaho had a team, the Steelheads, in the West Coast Hockey League until 2003. In college sports, the Idaho State Bengals and the University of Idaho Vandals play Division I basketball and Division I-A football in the Big Sky and Big West conferences, respectively. Boise State University is the largest university in the Big West Conference, with a football team in Division I. Most county seats hold pari-mutuel quarter-horse racing a few days a year, and Boise's racing season (including thoroughbreds) runs three days a week for five months. World chariot racing championships have been held at Pocatello, as are the National Circuit Rodeo Finals. Polo was one of Boise's leading sports from 1910 through the 1940s. Idaho cowboys have won numerous riding, roping, and steer-wrestling championships. Skiing is very popular throughout the state, and there is a world-class resort at Sun Valley. Golf is also quite popular. Harmon Killebrew, a Hall of Fame baseball player, and Picabo Street, an Olympic gold medalist, were born in Idaho.


Leading federal officeholders born in Idaho include Ezra Taft Benson (18991994), US secretary of agriculture from 1953 to 1961 and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; and Cecil D. Andrus (b.Oregon, 1931), governor of Idaho from 1971 to 1977 and 1987 to 1995, and US secretary of the interior from 1977 to 1981. Maverick Republican William E. Borah (b.Illinois, 18651940) served in the US Senate from 1907 until his death. Frank Church (192484) entered the US Senate in 1957 and became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1979; he was defeated in his bid for a fifth term in 1980. Important state officeholders were the nation's first Jewish governor, Moses Alexander (b.Germany, 18531932) and New Deal governor C. Ben Ross (18761946).

Author Vardis Fisher (18951968) was born and spent most of his life in Idaho, which was also the birthplace of poet Ezra Pound (18851972). Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway (b.Illinois, 18991961) is buried at Ketchum. Gutzon Borglum (18711941), the sculptor who carved the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, was an Idaho native. Idaho is the only state in the United States with an official seal designed by a woman, Emma Edwards Green (b.California, 18561942).

Baseball slugger Harmon Killebrew (b.1936) and football star Jerry Kramer (b.1936) are Idaho's leading sports personalities.


Arrington, Leonard J. History of Idaho. Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1994.

Council of State Governments. The Book of the States, 2006 Edition. Lexington, Ky.: Council of State Governments, 2006.

Domitz, Gary, and Leonard Hitchcock, (eds.). Idaho History: A Bibliography. Centennial ed. Pocatello: Idaho State University Press, 1991.

Johnston, Terry C. Lay the Mountains Low: the Flight of the Nez Perce from Idaho and the Battle of the Big Hole, August 9-10, 1877. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

Mann, John W. W. Sacajawea's People: The Lemhi Shoshones and the Salmon River Country. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

Preston, Thomas. Intermountain West: Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. Vol. 2, The Double Eagle Guide to 1,000 Great Western Recreation Destinations. 2nd ed. Billings, Mont.: Discovery Publications, 2003.

Ritter, Sharon A. Lewis and Clark's Mountain Wilds: A Site Guide to the Plants and Animals They Encountered in the Bitterroots. Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 2002.

Spence, Clark C. For Wood River or Bust: Idaho's Silver Boom of the 1880s. Moscow: University of Idaho Press; Boise: Idaho State Historical Society, 1999.

US Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Census Bureau. Idaho, 2000. Summary Social, Economic, and Housing Characteristics: 2000 Census of Population and Housing. Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2003.

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IDAHO. Few states are as dramatically differentiated, both geographically and culturally, as Idaho. According to the 2000 census, just 1,293,953 people inhabited its 82,751 square miles, or 15.6 people per square mile. Idaho stretches 479 miles from north to south. It has eighty mountain ranges, and at 5,000 feet above sea level, is the fifth highest state in the Union. Forests cover 41 percent of the state and 82 percent of land in the north, and the state receives 100 million acre-feet of water annually in the form of rain and snow, to supply 16,000 miles of rivers and streams. The most important tributary is the Snake River, which flows for 1,000 miles before draining into the Columbia. Culturally, the state is divided between the Mormon southeast, the new high-tech industries of Boise and the southwest, and the north, formerly devoted to mining and lumbering, and now working to develop tourist attractions.

Indians and Trappers

Native American settlement in Idaho was split between the Shoshones of the Great Basin in the south, who had access to the resources of the Snake and Boise Rivers with their fish and game, and the Nez Perce and Coeur d'Alene tribes in the north. The arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 preceded the entry of trappers and traders into the region. In 1810, Fort Henry was erected as the first American habitation. A trade war was pursued between the Hudson's Bay Company and independent American trappers, which lasted into the 1840s. Fort Hall and Fort Boise were established as part of this competition, but ultimately came to be staging posts on the Oregon Trail. The rise of Oregon "fever" in the 1840s led 53,000 settlers to take the trail in the next two decades.

Miners and Mormons

Idaho Territory had no formal settlements until the incorporation of Franklin in 1860. In the north, however, there were a set of mining camps, which were illegally established on the Nez Perce Indian reservation to service the diggings at Orofino Creek and Pierce City. The gold rush proved alluring to depression-hit farmers, and the territory produced $3 million of gold dust by 1861. Such communities were unstable and had a large proportion of saloons and theaters. Mormon pioneers made their first permanent settlement in Idaho in the 1860s as part of Brigham Young's plans for colonization. Theirs was a much harder existence but a more stable community life, centered on family and religion, with homesteads clustered around a ward meetinghouse and supported by cooperative organizations.

State Formation

In 1853, Washington Territory was separated from Oregon and the future Idaho Territory was divided between them. Six years later, Oregon became a state and southern Idaho was added to Washington Territory. Idaho Territory was created in 1863, with only 32,342 residents. Congress removed portions of the future territories of Montana and

Wyoming in 1868, but Idaho was still too sprawling to be well administered. The north fought to be annexed by Washington Territory in the 1880s, but President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill to separate it. The territorial legislature propitiated the north by locating the state university at Moscow. In 1889, Idaho held a special convention and drafted a constitution that Congress approved, and a year later it became a state.

Developing the Land

There was little active government in Idaho during the Civil War, and many Confederate sympathizers and migrants from the border states settled in the region. In 1864, the legislature moved the capital to Boise, a site with much fertile land and a mild climate. Boise became a trade and transportation hub and two-thirds of Idaho farms were located in the Boise area by 1870. Cattle raising became common in the 1860s, and farming succeeded mining as the principal occupation in the 1870s, although it was as dependent as mining on outside financing. With irrigation, the Snake River valley became capable of development, and in the northern region of the Palouse, wheat growing was developed on a grand scale.

Silver Mining and Lumber Production

Lead and silver strikes at Wood River (1880) and the Coeur d'Alene (1883-1884) produced a new source of wealth for Idaho. The town of Hailey near Wood River had Idaho's first electric lighting and first telephone service. Initial placer methods were succeeded by hard-rock mining financed by outside investors, most notably the Sunshine Mine in the Coeur d'Alene, with the largest recorded silver production in the world. Eastern and Californian demand for timber spurred the creation of the Clearwater Timber Company by Frederick Weyerhaeuser in 1900, and by 1903, most private timberland was in the hands of the big timber companies. In 1904, production had reached 350 million board feet and by 1925, 1,100 million board feet.

Building a Transport Network

Mining, lumbering, and wheat growing companies required an effective railroad network to transport their products. In 1882, Pocatello, in the southeast, became a major railroad center, with a complex of railroad shops that was more unionized and ethnically diverse than other parts of the state, and far less Mormon than most towns in the east. The expansion of the network continued into the twentieth century, and by 1918, there were 2,841 miles of track in Idaho. Railroad stations were a matter of community pride and stimulated town growth, even though they also created dependency on the railroad timetable.

Immigration and Anti-Mormonism

The changes of the 1880s brought newcomers to Idaho. These included the Basques, who were known to work as shepherds but often worked in mining and dam construction; they developed their own hotels and boardinghouse culture. The 1880s also saw the rise of anti-Mormonism, because of the perception of the Latter-day Saints as outsiders who tended to vote as a bloc for the Democratic Party. Under the leadership of Fred Dubois, a campaign was waged against the Mormon practice of polygamy, and the legislature passed a measure in 1882 that barred Latter-day Saints from voting, holding office, or serving on a jury, although most of these restrictions were abandoned in 1893.

The Politics of the 1890s

During the 1890s, miners' support for silver monetization made Populism a political force in Idaho. Organized labor grew rapidly, and in 1907, there were forty-five unions with 2,240 members. In the Coeur d'Alene in 1892 and 1899, there were violent attacks on mine property. In 1899, Governor Frank Steunenberg declared martial law and many miners were imprisoned. In 1905, Harry Orchard planted a bomb at Steunenberg's home that killed the governor. The subsequent kidnap and prosecution of miners' leader William Haywood in 1906 set the stage in the following year for one of the more colorful trials of the century, with Senator William Borah as the prosecutor and the radical lawyer Clarence Darrow for the defense.

Idaho in the Progressive Era

Violent protest was not, however, the only means of bringing about reform. During the 1890s, Boise's Columbian Club created the first traveling library in the West. In 1900, there were about fifteen reform clubs in Idaho that pushed for progressive legislation. Although the Republican Party was strong in the state, Idaho saw the introduction of the direct primary, initiative, referendum, recall, and workers' compensation, as well as prohibition. Equally important was the irrigation of the Snake River plain, with the assistance of the federal Reclamation Bureau. By 1915, over 19 million acres (about 35 percent of state) had been formed into twenty-two national forests. Such assistance, however, created a problem of dependence on federal resources and technological expertise. The rise of irrigated land led to the "selling" of Idaho in the East by communities and railroads. Tourism was also pushed through such instruments as National Geographic.

Idaho in the 1920s

During World War I, Idaho contributed 20,000 men to the armed forces; produced food, minerals, and timber for aircraft; and purchased many war bonds and savings stamps. The state also fought the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World, who were campaigning in the mining towns and lumbering camps for an eight-hour day and higher wages. Governor Moses Alexander asked for federal troops to quell unrest in the towns of Wallace and Lewiston, and the state legislature passed a criminal syndicalism law. The agricultural depression of 1921 prompted some out-migration and twenty-seven banks failed in the 1920s. Nevertheless, Idaho completed a basic network of highways and electric railroads for a number of communities, including Boise. Motorization spurred the creation of all-weather roads and then larger schools, and caused the demise of many remote villages. A north-south highway was completed by 1920, making possible direct communication between the two halves of the state. During the 1920s, Idaho experienced a farm revolt that led to the creation of the Progressive Party, which elected candidates in 1922 and controlled three county governments. But the Republican Party remained dominant.

The Great Depression

Of the Pacific Northwest states, Idaho suffered most during the Great Depression. Farm prices fell 44 percent between 1929 and 1930; the Snake River plain experienced severe drought and declining production through the early 1930s; and average income fell 49.3 percent between 1929 and 1932. The Democrat C. Ben Ross was elected governor in 1930 and Idaho voted strongly for the Democrats in 1932. The state was fifth in the nation in New Deal per capita spending, with programs for construction, electricity in the countryside, and agricultural relief. The development of hydroelectric power by the federal government was a serious political issue in the Pacific Northwest, but Idaho proved less keen on the idea of public power than Washington and Oregon, and the legislature rejected public utility districts in 1937.

World War II and the Transformation of Idaho

During World War II, 60,000 Idahoans—11 percent of the state's population—served in the armed forces. Air bases were established at Boise and Pocatello, while the largest inland naval base was located at Sandpoint, training 293,381 sailors. After the war, the Strategic Air Command maintained Mountain Home Air Force Base for refueling, while on the Snake River, the federal government built the National Reactor Testing Station with fifty-two reactors, which produced the first electricity from nuclear power in 1951.

Postwar Reconstruction

After 1945, Idaho saw the rise of manufacturing and of firms like Morrison-Knudsen, a construction company that had worked on Hoover Dam, Albertson's grocery and drugs, one of the largest retail outlets in the United States, and the J. R. Simplot Company, with interests in food processing, fertilizers, and ranching. Other employers included Boise Cascade, one of the nation's largest producers of plywood; Micron Technology, a semiconductor company founded in 1978; and Hewlett Packard. The federal Idaho National Engineering Laboratory employed 10,000 people in the early 1990s or 5 percent of the state's jobs. Boise emerged as a major northwestern city, experienced suburban growth, and retained its small-town ambiance. It was the only city in the central Northwest with more than 100,000 residents. Big growth in the 1970s was followed by a recession in the early 1980s, especially in mining and timber. Resource-based communities turned to tourism for salvation and a large inmigration took place, mostly from California, during the late 1980s and early 1990s. During the 1990s, the state's population grew 28.5 percent.

Politics in the Late Twentieth Century

Despite holding the governorship from 1971 to 1994 and producing influential figures like Senator Frank Church, the Democratic Party became increasingly irrelevant in Idaho. The Republicans held the majority of seats in the state legislature from 1961 to the beginning of the twentyfirst century. During the 1980s, union power declined, and Idaho's first right-to-work law was enacted. Idahoans voted for Republican Bob Dole over Democrat Bill Clinton by a margin of 18 percent in 1996 and for Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore by a margin of 39 percent in 2000.


Arrington, Leonard J. History of Idaho. 2 vols. Moscow: University of Idaho Press, 1994.

Ashby, LeRoy. The Spearless Leader: Senator Borah and the Progressive Movement in the 1920s. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1972.

Ewert, Sara E. Dant. "Evolution of an Environmentalist: Senator Frank Church and the Hells Canyon Controversy." Montana: The Magazine of Western History 51, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 36–51.

Fahey, John. The Inland Empire: Unfolding Years, 1879–1929. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986.

Malone, Michael P. C. Ben Ross and the New Deal in Idaho. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1970.

May, Dean L. Three Frontiers: Family, Land, and Society in the American West, 1850–1900. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Schwantes, Carlos A. In Mountain Shadows: A History of Idaho. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991.

Wells, Merle W. Gold Camps and Silver Cities: Nineteenth Century Mining in Central and Southern Idaho. Moscow: Idaho Department of Lands, Bureau of Mines and Geology, 1983.


See alsoCoeur d'Alene Riots ; Oregon Trail ; Silver Prospecting and Mining ; Tribes: Northwestern .

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Idaho (ī´dəhō), one of the Rocky Mt. states in the NW United States. It is bordered by Montana and Wyoming (E), Utah and Nevada (S), Oregon and Washington (W), and the Canadian province of British Columbia (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 83,557 sq mi (216,413 sq km). Pop. (2010) 1,567,582, a 21.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital and largest city, Boise. Statehood, July 3, 1890 (43d state). Highest pt., Borah Peak, 12,662 ft (3,862 m); lowest pt., Snake River, 710 ft (217 m). Nickname, Gem State. Motto,Esto Perpetua [It Is Perpetual]. State bird, mountain bluebird. State flower, syringa. State tree, white pine. Abbr., ID


Much of Idaho has an unspoiled beauty, with rugged slopes and towering peaks, a vast expanse of timberland, scenic lakes, wild rivers, cascades, and spectacular gorges. From the northern Panhandle, where Idaho is about 45 mi (72 km) wide, the state broadens south of the Bitterroot Range to 310 mi (499 km) in width. The Snake River flows in a great arc across S Idaho; with its tributaries the river has been harnessed to produce hydroelectric power and to reclaim vast areas of dry but fertile land. To the north of the Snake River valley, in central and north central Idaho, are the massive Sawtooth Mts. and the Salmon River Mts., which shelter magnificent wilderness areas, including the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Area, and the Idaho Primitive Area.

In the central and north central regions and in the Panhandle there are tremendous expanses of national forests covering approximately two fifths of the state and constituting one of the largest areas of national forests in the nation. Idaho's jagged granite peaks include Mt. Borah, which is 12,662 ft (3,859 m) high. Hells Canyon, which at one point is 7,900 ft (2408 m) below the mountaintops, is the deepest gorge in North America. The state also contains Craters of the Moon National Monument and a protected grove of ancient cedars at Upper Priest Lake.

Rushing rivers such as the Salmon and the Clearwater, and many lakes, notably Lake Pend Oreille, Lake Coeur d'Alene (often described as one of the world's loveliest), and Priest Lake, as well as the state's mountain areas, make Idaho a superb fish and game preserve and vacation land. The state is especially inviting to campers, anglers, and hunters (Idaho has one of the largest elk herds in the nation). The state's climate ranges from hot summers in the arid southern basins to cold, snowy winters in the high wilderness areas of central and northern Idaho. The capital and largest city is Boise; other cities of importance are Pocatello and Idaho Falls.


Manufacturing has recently supplanted agriculture as the most important sector of Idaho's economy. Cattle and dairy goods are among the leading agricultural products. Idaho's chief crops are potatoes (for which the state, easily the nation's largest producer, is famous), hay, wheat, peas, beans, and sugar beets. Electronic and computer equipment, processed foods, lumber, and chemicals are the major manufactured items.

The unspoiled quality of much of Idaho's land has nourished one of the youngest of Idaho's businesses—the tourist trade. Sun Valley, one of the nation's best-known year-round vacation spots, is an example of the development of resorts in Idaho. Mining, once the major source of income, and still economically important, produces phosphates, gold, silver, molybdenum, antimony, lead, zinc, and other minerals.

Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Idaho's constitution, adopted in 1889, became effective in 1890 upon statehood. The state's chief executive is a governor elected for a term of four years. The legislature consists of a 42-member senate and an 84-member house of representatives. The state also elects two representatives and two senators to the U.S. Congress and has four electoral votes.

Idaho is a Republican state in national politics but had Democratic governors from 1970 to 1994. Cecil D. Andrus, elected governor in 1970 and reelected in 1974, served as secretary of the interior during the Carter administration; he was elected governor again in 1986 and 1990. Republican Phil Batt, elected governor in 1994, was succeeded by Republican Dirk Kempthorne, elected in 1998 and reelected in 2002. Kempthorne was appointed secretary of the interior in 2006. He was succeeded as governor by Lt. Gov. James E. Risch, also a Republican. Republican Butch Otter was elected to the post later in the year and was reelected in 2010 and 2014.

Outstanding among Idaho's institutions of higher learning are the Univ. of Idaho, at Moscow; Idaho State Univ., at Pocatello; and Boise State Univ., at Boise.


Early Explorers and Fur Traders

Probably the first nonnatives to enter the area that is now Idaho were members of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805. They were not far ahead of the fur traders who came to the region shortly thereafter. A Canadian, David Thompson of the North West Company, established the first trading post in Idaho in 1809. The next year traders from St. Louis penetrated the mountains, and Andrew Henry of the Missouri Fur Company established a post near present-day Rexburg, the first American trading post established in the area.

In this period the fortunes of the Idaho region were wrapped up with those of the Columbia River region, and the area encompassed by what is now the state of Idaho was part of Oregon country, held jointly by the United States and Great Britain from 1818 to 1846. Fur traders in an expedition sent out by John Jacob Astor came to the Snake River region to trap for furs after having established (1811) a trading post at Astoria on the Columbia River. In 1821 two British trading companies operating in the Idaho region, the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company, were joined together as the Hudson's Bay Company which, after 1824, came into competition with American mountain men also trapping in the area. By the 1840s the two groups had severely depleted the region's fur supply.

Gold, Settlement, and Resistance

In 1846 the United States gained sole claim to Oregon country south of the 49th parallel by the Oregon Treaty with Great Britain. The area was established as a territory in 1848. Idaho still had no permanent settlement when Oregon Territory became a state in 1859 and the eastern part of Idaho was added to Washington Territory. A Mormon outpost founded at Franklin in 1860 is considered the first permanent settlement, but it was not until the discovery of gold that settlers poured into Idaho.

Gold was discovered on the Clearwater River in 1860, on the Salmon in 1861, in the Boise River basin in 1862, and gold and silver were found in the Owyhee River country in 1863. The usual rush of settlers followed, along with the spectacular but ephemeral growth of towns. Most of these settlements are only ghost towns now, but the many settlers who poured in during the gold rush—mainly from Washington, Oregon, and California, with smaller numbers from the east—formed a population large enough to demand new government administration, and Idaho Territory was set up in 1863.

Native Americans, mostly Kootenai, Nez Percé, Western Shoshone, Bannock, Coeur d'Alene, and Pend d'Oreille, became upset by the incursion of settlers and some resisted violently. The federal government had subdued many of these groups by 1858, placing them on reservations. The Bannock were defeated in 1863 and again in 1878. In 1876–77 the Nez Percé, led by Chief Joseph, made their heroic but unsuccessful attempt to flee to Canada while being pursued by U.S. troops.

Development and Disputes

A new mining boom started in 1882 with the discovery of gold in the Coeur d'Alene, and although the gold strike ended in disappointment, it prefaced the discovery there of some of the richest silver mines in the world. Coeur d'Alene and Kellogg became notable mining centers, and the Bunker Hill and Sullivan (a lead mine) became extremely famous mines. Severe labor troubles in the mines at the end of the century led to political uprisings. Frank Steunenberg, who as governor had used federal troops to put down the uprisings, was assassinated in 1905. The trial of William Haywood and others accused of involvement in the murder drew national attention and marked the beginning of the long career of William E. Borah (who had prosecuted the mine leaders) as an outstanding Republican party leader in the state and nation.

The late 19th cent. also witnessed the growth of cattle and sheep ranching, along with the strife that developed between the two groups of ranchers over grazing areas. The coming of the railroads (notably the Northern Pacific) through Idaho in the 1880s and 90s brought new settlers and aided in the founding of such cities as Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and American Falls.

Putting Water and the Atom to Work

Expanding Idaho farming led to private irrigation projects. Some of these aroused public opposition, which led to establishment of state irrigation districts under the Carey Land Act of 1894. The Reclamation Act of 1902 brought direct federal aid. Notable among public reclamation works are the Boise and Minidoka projects. Both public and private, these have also helped to increase the development of Idaho's enormous hydroelectric potential. Further private hydroelectric projects along the Snake River were put into operation between 1959 and 1968.

In 1949 the Atomic Energy Commission built the National Reactor Testing Station in SE Idaho. Now known as the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, the facility in 1955 provided energy for nearby Arco, the first American town to be lighted by electricity from a nuclear power plant.

Idaho suffered during the recession of the early 1980s but rebounded later in the decade by attracting new business, including high-technology firms. The growth of the winter sports industry has helped make Idaho a leading tourist state. These improvements in its economy made Idaho one of the nation's fastest-growing states in population between 1990 and 2000.


See Federal Writers' Project, Idaho (1938, rev. ed. 1950); M. W. Wells, Idaho: An Illustated History (1980).

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One of the most sparsely populated states, Idaho remained undeveloped until gold and silver strikes began to attract eager prospectors. Like other areas of the Great Plains and the West, Idaho was at first just a place to cross during a westward journey, not a place to settle. As mining and agriculture began to take hold and the transcontinental railroad made settlement and commerce more feasible more people began to make Idaho their new home. Contemporary Idaho has a number of important industries and significant agricultural products, especially potatoes. Idaho's tourist industry is also strong, attracting thousands annually to the state's ski resorts and scenic areas.

During the first quarter of the nineteenth century Idaho was part of the vast territory known as the Oregon Country, claimed at various times by the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and Russia. Until 1805 no known white explorers had disturbed the Native American tribes who were the only residents of Idaho. When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's expedition reached the region that year the Native Americans helped supply the explorers for their journey to the Columbia River and the Pacific. Fur trappers and missionaries soon followed. Although the Oregon Trail crossed Idaho and the area officially became United States land in 1846, no one thought the territory worthy of settlement until 1860. In that year, Mormons established the first permanent settlement at Franklin and a gold rush began in northern Idaho. The Idaho Territory was organized in 1863. According to historian F. Ross Peterson, "It is a sad fact of American history that while hundreds of thousands of uniformed Americans in Virginia, Tennessee, and Maryland were trying to kill each other [in the American Civil War (18611865)], thousands of Americans in the West were running from creek to brook to river trying to get rich quickly."

In the following two decades Idaho grew rapidly with Boise established as the capital in 1863. The Boise Basin became the most developed part of the state, reaching a population of 6,000 by 1864. Two years later $24 million in gold was produced during the Boise Basin strike. By then more than $50 million in gold had been taken from the Idaho mountains with little regard for possible damage to the environment.

As mining boom towns came and went agriculture was becoming more important in Idaho. Telegraph service and the transcontinental railway reached the state, and the population increased twofold between 1870 and 1880. The Utah and Northern Railroad, owned by mogul Jay Gould, was the first major railroad in the state which hastened the settlement of northern Idaho. Many Mormons, encouraged by their Utah church leaders, migrated to Idaho during this time to establish farms and communities such as Blackfoot and Victor. The Oregon Short Line was completed through Idaho in 1884 and a traveler could now reach Portland, Oregon, from Omaha, Nebraska, in five daysa trip that had taken Lewis and Clark 18 months to complete in 1805. The Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul, and Pacific railroads also made possible the development of lead-silver lode mining in the area of the Coeur d'Alene Mountains. During the late 1870s, as in all territories settled by whites, Native American residents were gradually pushed off their land by a series of wars. The most famous Idaho battle was the Nez Perc war, after which Chief Joseph surrendered and his people were pushed onto reservations.

Another rush of prospectors came to Idaho between 1880 and 1884 after silver and lead were discovered in south central Idaho and the panhandle region. Idaho became the 43rd state in 1890, having reached a population of more than 88,000 that same year. During the 1890s Idaho was plagued with violent labor disputes in the mining regions and political bickering among Mormons and non-Mormons.

Further economic growth was made possible in the early twentieth century by federal land and irrigation projects. A very large sawmill at Potlatch was an indication of an increasingly prosperous timber industry, and agriculture also began to grow in importance in the state. The development of the russet potato in the 1920s gave Idaho its signature agricultural product. A farm depression in the 1920s, however, lasted through the Great Depression of the 1930s and did not end until World War II (19391945). Both agriculture and industry were important after the war, especially the fertilizer and potato businesses. Development was encouraged even more after the construction of a nuclear reactor testing and power plant at Idaho Falls in 1951, the first such generating station in the country. Idaho's mountains and open spaces also created a thriving tourist business. Today, the Sun Valley ski resort and other scenic areas attract thousands of tourists each year.

Contemporary Idaho faces new problems as the population expands and environmentalists push for better land use planning. Controversies also arise over mineral development and over water supply and dam construction. A major economic and human disaster occurred in 1976 when the new Teton Dam in eastern Idaho collapsed, causing loss of lives and $400 million in property damage.

Idaho's economy in the 1990s was largely dependent on agriculture, mining, forest products, and food processing. Idaho is the nation's leader in potato production; most potatoes are grown in the Snake River plain, and about three-fourths of the crop is used for processed potato products such as french fries or instant mashed potatoes. Other important crops produced by Idaho include hay, wheat, barley, and sugar beets. This agricultural bounty is made possible because nearly 64 percent of all land used for farming in the state is under irrigation. Mining is only a small percentage of the state's annual gross product, but a variety of minerals, such as garnet, phosphate rock, construction sand and gravel, silver, lead, and pumice are produced. It is one of the few places that produces molybdenum, in a reopened mine at Thompson Creek.

Manufacturing in the state is concentrated in the resource industriesfood processing, chemical manufacturing, and lumber production. In the late 1970s and early 1980s a number of northern California computer concerns, such as Hewlett Packard, opened or expanded plants in Idaho. The leading food producer is Ore-Ida Foods, and J.R. Simplot processes both food and fertilizers. Some of the wood products industries include Boise Cascade and Louisiana-Pacific.

The state survived a downturn during the recession of the early 1980s by restructuring its major industries. Although the number of workers employed in many industries in the state has shrunk, chemical manufacturing employment grew 36 percent during the 1980s, and paper industry employment rose by 30 percent. Between 1982 and 1991, tourism employment increased by 35 percent, and jobs in the high-technology industry increased by 50 percent between 1986 and 1990. In 1996 the average per capita income in the state was $19,539, ranking 43rd in the nation. Although Idaho was a pioneer in establishing fair labor practices only 8.1 percent of all workers belong to unions, and the state is now a right-to-work state.


Arrington, Leonard J. History of Idaho. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press, 1994.

Domitz, Gary, and Leonard Hitchcock, eds. Idaho History: A Bibliography. Pocatello: Idaho State University Press, 1991.

Beal, Merrill D., and Merle W. Wells. History of Idaho. New York: Lewis, 1959.

Peterson, F. Ross. Idaho: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1976.

Young, Virgil. The Story of Idaho. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press, 1984.

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Boise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317

Nampa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327

The State in Brief

Nickname: Gem State

Motto: Esto perpetua (Let it be perpetual)

Flower: Syringa

Bird: Mountain bluebird

Area: 83,570 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 14th)

Elevation: Ranges from 710 feet to 12,662 feet above sea level

Climate: Tempered by Pacific westerly winds, varying by altitude; hot summers in the arid south, cold snowy winters in the central and northern mountains

Admitted to Union: July 3, 1890

Capital: Boise

Head Official: Governor Dirk Kempthorne (R) (until 2007)


1980: 944,000

1990: 1,006,749

2000: 1,293,953

2004 estimate: 1,393,262

Percent change, 19902000: 28.5%

U.S. rank in 2004: 39th

Percent of residents born in state: 47.2% (2000)

Density: 15.6 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 42,547

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000)

White: 1,177,304

Black or African American: 5,456

American Indian and Alaska Native: 17,645

Asian: 11,889

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 1,308

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 101,690

Other: 54,742

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 97,643

Population 5 to 19 years old: 316,222

Percent of population 65 years and over: 11.3%

Median age: 33.2 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 21,823

Total number of deaths (2003): 10,466 (infant deaths,158)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 274


Major industries: Mining, lumbering, agriculture, high technology, tourism

Unemployment rate: 4.1% (February 2005)

Per capita income: $25,583 (2003; U.S. rank: 46th)

Median household income: $40,230 (3-year average,2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 11.8%(1999)

Income tax rate: Ranges from 1.6% to 7.8%

Sales tax rate: 6.0%

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Idaho State in nw USA, on the border with Canada; the capital and largest city is Boise. The discovery of gold in 1860 brought many immigrants, although the Native-American population was not subdued until 1877. The state was admitted to the Union in 1890 and soon began to develop its resources. The terrain is dominated by the Rocky Mountains and is drained chiefly by the Snake River, whose waters are used to generate hydroelectricity and for irrigation. Principal crops are potatoes, hay, wheat and sugar beet, and cattle are reared. Silver, lead, antimony and zinc are mined. Industries: timber. Area: 216,412sq km (83,557sq mi). Pop. (2000) 1,293,953.

Statehood :

July 3, 1890

Nickname :

Gem state

State bird :

Mountain bluebird

State flower :

Mock orange

State tree :

Western white pine

State motto :

It is forever

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Idaho •Tajo •boho, coho, Moho, Soho •Idaho • Arapaho • Navajo

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