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State of Washington

ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for George Washington.

NICKNAME: The Evergreen State.

CAPITAL: Olympia.

ENTERED UNION: 11 November 1889 (42nd).

SONG: "Washington, My Home."

MOTTO: Alki (Chinook for "By and by").

FLAG: The state seal centered on a dark green field.

OFFICIAL SEAL: Portrait of George Washington surrounded by the words "The Seal of the State of Washington 1889."

BIRD: Willow gold-finch.

FISH: Steelhead trout.

FLOWER: Coast rhododendron.

TREE: Western hemlock.

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

TIME: 4 AM PST = noon GMT.


Located on the Pacific coast of the northwestern United States, Washington ranks 20th in size among the 50 states.

The total area of Washington is 66,582 sq mi (176,477 sq km), of which land takes up 66,511 sq mi (172,263 sq km) and inland water 1,627 sq mi (4,214 sq km). The state extends about 360 mi (580 km) e-w and 240 mi (390 km) n-s.

Washington is bounded on the n by the Canadian province of British Columbia (with the northwestern line passing through the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Haro and Georgia straits); on the e by Idaho (with the line in the southwest passing through the Snake River); on the s by Oregon (with most of the line defined by the Columbia River); and on the w by the Pacific Ocean.

Islands of the San Juan group, lying between the Haro and Rosario straits, include Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez; Whidbey is a large island in the upper Puget Sound. The state's boundary length totals 1,099 mi (1,769 km), including 157 mi (253 km) of general coastline; the tidal shoreline extends 3,026 mi (4,870 km). Washington's geographic center is in Chelan County, 10 mi (16 km) wsw of Wenatchee.


Much of Washington is mountainous. Along the Pacific coast are the Coast Ranges extending northward from Oregon and California. This chain forms two groups: the Olympic Mountains in the northwest, mainly on the Olympic Peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound, and the Willapa Hills in the southwest. The highest of the Olympic group is Mt. Olympus, at 7,965 ft (2,428 m). About 100 mi (160 km) inward from the Pacific coast is the Cascade Range, extending northward from the Sierra Nevada in California. This chain, 50-100 mi (80-100 km) wide, has peaks generally ranging up to 10,000 ft (3,000 m), except for such volcanic cones as Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. St. Helen's, and Mt. Rainier, which at 14,410 ft (4,395 m) is the highest peak in the state. The mean elevation of the state is approximately 1,700 ft (519 m). Sea level at the Pacific Coast is the lowest elevation.

Between the Coast and Cascade ranges lies a long, troughlike depressionthe Western Corridorwhere most of Washington's major cities are concentrated. The northern section of this lowland is carved by Puget Sound, a complex, narrow arm of the Pacific wending southward for about 80 mi (130 km) and covering an area of 561 sq mi (1,453 sq km). Of all the state's other major regions, only south-central Washington, forming part of the Columbia Plateau, is generally flat.

The Cascade volcanoes were dormant, for the most part, during the second half of the 19th century and most of the 20th. Early in 1980, however, Mt. St. Helen's began to show ominous signs of activity. On 18 May, the volcano exploded, blasting more than 1,300 ft (400 m) off a mountain crest that had been 9,677 ft (2,950 m) high. Tremendous plumes of steam and ash were thrust into the stratosphere, where prevailing winds carried volcanic dust thousands of miles eastward. The areas immediately surrounding Mt. St. Helen's were deluged with ash and mudflows, choking local streams and lakes, particularly Spirit Lake. About 150 sq mi (388 sq km) of trees and brush were destroyed; the ash fall also damaged crops in neighboring agricultural areas and made highway travel extremely hazardous. The eruption left 57 people dead or missing. Eruptions of lesser severity followed the main outburst; the mountain continued to pose a serious danger to life in the area as the estimated cost of the damage to property, crops, and livestock approached $3 billion. Another minor eruption, on 14 May 1984, shot ash 4 mi (6 km) high and caused a small mudflow down the mountain's flanks, but no injuries or other damage occurred. East of the Cascade Range, much of Washington is a plateau underlain by ancient basalt lava flows. In the northeast are the Okanogan Highlands; in the southeast, the Blue Mountains and the Palouse Hills. All these uplands form extensions of the Rocky Mountain system.

Among Washington's numerous rivers, the longest and most powerful is the Columbia, entering Washington from Canada in the northeast corner and flowing for more than 1,200 mi (1,900 km) across the heart of the state and then along the Oregon border to the Pacific. In average discharge, the Columbia ranks second only to the Mississippi, with 262,000 cu ft (7,400 cu m) per second. Washington's other major river, the Snake, enters the state from Idaho in the southeast and flows generally westward, meeting the Columbia River near Pasco.

Washington has numerous lakes, of which the largest is the artificial Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, covering 123 sq mi (319 sq km). Washington has some 90 dams, providing water storage, flood control, and hydroelectric power. One of the largest and most famous dams in the United States is Grand Coulee on the upper Columbia River, measuring 550 ft (168 m) high and 4,173 ft (1,272 m) long, with a storage capacity of more than 9.7 million acre-ft (11,960 cu m).


The Cascade Mountains divide Washington not only topographically but also climatically. Despite its northerly location, western Washington is as mild as the middle and southeastern Atlantic coast; it is also one of the rainiest regions in the world. Eastern Washington, on the other hand, has a much more continental climate, characterized by cold winters, hot summers, and sparse rainfall. Since the prevailing winds are from the west, the windward (western) slopes of the state's major mountains intercept most of the atmospheric moisture and precipitate it as rain or snow. Certain coastal areas, receiving more than 200 in (500 cm) of rain a year, support dense stands of timber in a temperate rain forest. But in the dry southeastern quadrant, there are sagebrush deserts.

Average January temperatures in western Washington range from a minimum of 20°f (7°c) on the western slope of the Cascades to a maximum of 48°f (9°c) along the Pacific coast; July temperatures range from a minimum of 44°f (7°c) on the western slope of the Cascades to a maximum of 80°f (27°c) in the foothills. In the east the temperature ranges are much more extreme: in January, from 8°f (13°c) in the northeastern Cascades to 40°f (4°c) on the southeastern plateau; in July, from 48°f (9°c) on the eastern slope of the Cascades to 92°f (33°c) in the south-central portion of the state. The normal daily average temperature in Seattle is 53°f (11°c), ranging from 41°f (5°c) in January to 65°f (18°c) in July; Spokane averages 48°f (8°c), ranging from 26°f (3°c) in January to 69°f (20°c) in July. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the state is 48°f (44°c), set at Mazama and Winthrop on 30 December 1968; the highest, at Ice Harbor Dam on 5 August 1961, was 118°f (48°c).

In Seattle average annual precipitation is about 34 in (86 cm), falling most heavily from October through March; in the same period, Spokane receives an average of only 16.9 in (42 cm) annually, more than half of that from November through February. Snowfall in Seattle averages 7.1 in (18 cm) annually; in Spokane, 50.4 in (128 cm). Paradise Ranger Station holds the North American record for the most snowfall in one season, when 1,122 in (2,850 cm) of snow fell during the winter of 197172. High mountain peaks, such as Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker, and Mt. Rainier, have permanent snowcaps or snowfields of up to 100 ft (30 m) deep.


More than 1,300 plant species have been identified in Washington. Sand strawberries and beach peas are found among the dunes while fennel and spurry grow in salt marshes; greasewood and sagebrush predominate in the desert regions of the Columbia Plateau. Conifers include Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western hemlock, and Alaska cedar; big-leaf maple, red alder, black cottonwood, and western yew are among the characteristic deciduous trees. Wild flowers include the deerhead orchid and wake-robin; the western rhododendron is the state flower. In April 2006, nine plant species were listed as threatened or endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, including golden paintbrush, Nelson's checker-mallow, Kincaid's lupine, Spalding's catchfly, Ute ladies' tresses, water howelia, Bradshaw's desert-parsley, showy stickseed, Wenatchee and Mountains checkermallow.

Forest and mountain regions support Columbia black-tailed and mule deer, elk, and black bear; the Roosevelt elk, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, is indigenous to the Olympic Mountains. Other native mammals are the Canadian lynx, red fox, and red western bobcat. Smaller native mammalswestern fisher, raccoon, muskrat, porcupine, marten, and minkare plentiful. The whistler (hoary) marmot is the largest rodent. Game birds include the ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, and ring-necked pheasant. Sixteen varieties of owl have been identified; other birds of prey include the prairie falcon, sparrow hawk, and golden eagle. The bald eagle is more numerous in Washington than in any other state except Alaska. Washington is also a haven for marsh, shore, and water birds.

Various salmon species thrive in coastal waters and along the Columbia River, and the octopus, hair seal, and sea lion inhabit Puget Sound. Many of the state's wetlands (covering about 2% of the land area) serve as nurseries and feeding sites for steelhead trout as well as salmon.

Animals driven away from the slopes of Mt. St. Helen's by the volcanic eruption in 1980 have largely returned; more than 25 species of mammals and over 100 species of birds have been observed inhabiting the mountain again. The number of elk and deer in the vicinity was roughly the same as prior to the eruption although the mountain goat population reportedly had been killed off. Earlier, on 17 August 1982, the Mt. St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument was created by an act of Congress; it includes about 110,000 acres (44,500 hectares) of the area that had been devastated by the original eruption.

In April 2006, 27 animal species (vertebrates and invertebrates) were listed as threatened or endangered in Washington, including the Columbian white-tailed deer, woodland caribou, short-tailed albatross, brown pelican, pygmy rabbit, humpback whale, eight species of salmon, and two species (green and leatherback) of sea turtle.


The mission of the Department of Ecology (established in 1970) is to protect, preserve, and enhance Washington's environment and promote the wise management of its air, land, and water for the benefit of current and future generations. To fulfill this mission, the Department of Ecology: administers permit and authorization programs which ensure that pollutant discharges, waste management and cleanup, and resource uses are properly controlled; provides technical assistance on pollution control or resource development issues; and provides financial assistance through grant and loan programs to local governments for waste water and solid waste facilities. The Department of Ecology also reviews federal and state actions and plans for consistency with state laws and regulations for natural resource protection, maintains an ongoing program to monitor the quality of air and water resources, hazardous waste management, and toxic and nuclear cleanup actions; and reviews local government-permitting actions relating to the state's shorelands and to solid waste facilities. Furthermore, the Department of Ecology directly administers an automobile inspection program for the Seattle, Vancouver (Washington), and Spokane areas, an Estuarine Sanctuary program at Padilla Bay, the Conservation Corps employment program, and the Youth Corps litter control program.

Among other state agencies with environmental responsibilities are the State Conservation Commission, Environmental Hearings Office, State Parks and Recreation Commission, Department of Health, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Department of Natural Resources.

Principal air pollutants in the state are particulate emissions, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, lead, and dioxides of nitrogen. Fuel combustion and industrial processes are responsible for most of the first two pollutants, transportation (especially the automobile) for most of the last four. Significant progress has been made since 1988 in reducing the amount of pollutants released to the air. In 1988, the total number of days air quality did not meet health standards was 25. In 1994, the total number of days was 15, and by 1999, the total had been reduced to seven days. In 1990, more than two million people were exposed to air that violated federal standards, but by 1999, the number had been reduced to 112,000.

More than 6,500 sites in Washington are suspected or confirmed to be contaminated with toxic chemicals. At the Hanford Nuclear Site alone, contamination includes 1,500 places where radioactive and chemical wastes were disposed to the soil. From 19902002, cleanup was completed (or nearly completed) at a majority of the high-priority sites. In 2003, 22.9 million lb of toxic chemicals were released in the state.

Washington state has one of the highest overall recycling rates in the United States. In the mid-1980s, Bellingham began the state's first curbside recycling collection program. Seattle soon started its own program after being forced to close a municipal landfill and facing fierce opposition to construction of a garbage incinerator. In 1989, the state legislature passed the Waste-Not Washington Act, which defined a clear solid-waste management strategy and set a recycling goal of 50%; while this had not been achieved as of 2003, the rate of 40% was reported in 1995, with 37% reported for 2001. (The national average is 30%.) In 2003, Washington had 236 hazardous waste sites listed in the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) database, 46 of which were on the National Priorities List as of 2006, including the Bangor Naval Submarine Base, Fairchild Air Force Base, and the Seattle Municipal Land-fill. In 2005, the EPA spent over $4.8 million through the Super-fund program for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the state. The same year, federal EPA grants awarded to the state included $18.7 million for the clean water state revolving fund. A grant of $208,400 was awarded for assessment and response to the problem of declining oxygen levels in the Hood Canal.


Washington ranked 14th in population in the United States with an estimated total of 6,287,759 in 2005, an increase of 6.7% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Washington's population grew from 4,866,692 to 5,894,121, an increase of 21.1%, making it one of the nation's 10 fastest-growing states. The population is projected to reach 6.9 million by 2015 and 7.9 million by 2025. The population density in 2004 was 93.2 persons per sq mi. In 2004 the median age was 36.4. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 24% of the population while 11.3% was age 65 or older.

Most Washingtonians live in the Western Corridor, a broad strip in western Washington running north-south between the Coast and Cascade ranges. The leading city in the Western Corridor is Seattle, with an estimated 2004 population of 571,480. Other leading cities with their 2004 population estimates are Spokane, 196,721; Tacoma, 196,094; Vancouver, 155,053; and Bellevue, 116,914. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area had an estimated 2004 population of 3,166,828.


Washington is ethnically and racially heterogeneous. As of 2000, foreign-born Washingtonians made up 10.4% of the state's population (614,457), up from 6.6% in 1990. The largest minority group consists of Hispanics and Latinos, numbering 441,509, or 7.5% of the state population, according to the 2000 census, more than double the 1990 figure of 215,000. In 2004, 8.5% of the total population was Hispanic or Latino. Most of the state's Spanish-speaking residents have arrived since World War II. Black Americans numbered 190,267 in 2000. In 2004, 3.5% of the population was black. Black immigration dates largely from World War II and postwar recruitment for defense-related industries.

Japanese-Americans have been farmers and small merchants in Washington throughout the 20th century. During World War II, the Nisei (Japanese Americans) of Washington were deported to internment camps. Chinese-Americans, imported as laborers in the mid-1800s, endured a wave of mob violence during the 1880s. As of 2000, the Asian population was estimated at 322,335, up from 281,000 in 1996. According to the 1990 census, there were 65,373 Filipinos, 35,985 Japanese, 59,914 Chinese, 46,880 Koreans, and 46,149 Vietnamese, up from 17,004 in 1990. Pacific Islanders numbered 23,953 in 2000, including 8,049 Samoans and 4,883 native Hawaiians. Immigration from Southeast Asia was an important demographic factor during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 2004, 6.3% of the population was Asian, and 0.5% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

There were 93,301 American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts living in Washington in 2000, the eighth-highest total in the nation. In 2004, 1.6% of the population was American Indian or Alaskan Native. Indian lands in the state cover some 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares). The Yakama reservation had a population of 31,799 in 2000. A dispute developed in the 1970s over Indian fishing rights in the Puget Sound area; a decision in 1974 by US District Judge George Boldt that two 120-year-old treaties guaranteed the Indians 50% of the salmon catch in certain rivers was essentially upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1979.

In 2004, 2.9% of the population reported origin of two or more races.


Early settlers took from Chinook jargon some words like potlatch (gift-dispensing feast), skookum (strong), and tillicum (friend). Other language influences came from the many Indian tribes inhabiting Washington, especially such place-names as Chehalis, Walla Walla, Puyallup, Humptulips, and Spokane. Northern and Midland dialects dominate, with Midland strongest in eastern Washington and the Bellingham area, Northern elsewhere. In the urban areas, minor eastern variants have been lost; in rural sections, however, older people have preserved such terms as johnnycake (corn bread) and mouth organ (harmonica). One survey showed Northern quarter to dominant in the state with 81%, with Midland quarter till having only a 5% response; Northern angleworm (earthworm) had 63%, but Midland fishworm and fishing worm only 17%. The north coast of the Olympic Peninsula, settled by New Englanders who sailed around Cape Horn, retains New England /ah/ in glass and aunt. In Seattle, fog and frog are Midland /fawg/ and /frawg/, but on is Northern /ahn/; cot and caught sound alike, as in Midland; but the final /y/, as in city and pretty, has the Northern /ee/ sound rather than the Midland short /i/ as in pit.

In 2000, English was the language spoken at home by 86% of Washington residents five years old and older, down from 91% in 1990.

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 Pacific Island languages" includes Chamorro, Hawaiian, Ilocano, Indonesian, and Samoan. The category "Other Slavic languages" includes Czech, Slovak, and Ukrainian. The category "African languages" includes Amharic, Ibo, Twi, Yoruba, Bantu, Swahili, and Somali. The category "Scandinavian languages" includes Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish.

Population 5 years and over 5,501,398 100.0
  Speak only English 4,730,512 86.0
  Speak a language other than English 770,886 14.0
Speak a language other than English 770,886 14.0
  Spanish or Spanish Creole 321,490 5.8
  Chinese 48,459 0.9
  Tagalog 41,674 0.8
  Vietnamese 39,829 0.7
  German 39,702 0.7
  Korean 39,522 0.7
  Russian 31,339 0.6
  Japanese 24,055 0.4
  French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 22,385 0.4
  Other Pacific Island languages 16,199 0.3
  Other Slavic languages 15,596 0.3
  Mon-Khmer, Cambodian 14,559 0.3
  African languages 12,420 0.2
  Scandinavian languages 10,695 0.2


First settled by Protestant missionaries, Protestant denominations were only slightly predominant among the religiously active population in 2000. The leading denominations that year were the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), 178,000; Assemblies of God, 105,692; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 127,854; the United Methodist Church, 76,648; and the Presbyterian Church USA, 74,338. In 2004, there were 705,732 Roman Catholics in the state, with about 550,450 belonging to the archdiocese of Seattle. In 2000, there were an estimated 43,500 Jews, and about 15,550 Muslims. Over 3.9 million people (about 67% of the population) were not counted as members of any religious organization.

Aglow International, a Christian women's organization, has its worldwide headquarters in Edmonds. The US office of the World Evangelical Alliance is located in Seattle.


As of 2003, the state of Washington had 3,576 rail mi (5,757 km) of railroad lines. In that same year, farm products were the top commodities carried by rail that terminated in the state, while mixed freight was the top commodity carried by rail that originated in the state. Washington is served by a total of 19 railroads, of which two are Class I lines. As of 2006, Amtrak provided service from Seattle down the coast to Los Angeles, and eastward via Spokane to St. Paul, Minnesota, and Chicago.

As of 2004, Washington had 81,216 mi (130,757 km) of public highways, roads, and streets. Principal interstate highways include I-90, connecting Spokane and Seattle, and I-5, proceeding north-south from Vancouver in British Columbia through Seattle and Tacoma to Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. In 2004, the state had 4,504,581 licensed drivers and some 5.623 million registered motor vehicles, including around 3.013 million automobiles.

Washington's principal ports include Seattle, Tacoma, and Anacortes, all part of the Puget Sound area and belonging to the Seattle Customs District. The Ports of Longview, Kalama, and Vancouver, along the Columbia River, are considered part of the Portland (Oregon) Customs District. In 2004, the Port of Seattle handled 23.501 million tons of cargo, while Tacoma handled 26.282 million tons, making them the 37th- and the 30th-busiest ports in the United States, respectively. State-operated ferry systems transported more than 13 million passengers and over 10 million vehicles across Puget Sound annually in the mid-1990s. In 2003, waterborne shipments totaled 106.489 million tons. In 2004, the state of Washington had 1,057 mi (1,701 km) of navigable inland waterways.

In 2005, the state of Washington had a total of 493 public and private-use aviation-related facilities. This included 336 airports, 138 heliports, three STOLports (Short Take-Off and Landing), and 16 seaplane bases. Seattle-Tacoma (SEATAC) International Airport is by far the busiest in the state, with 14,092,285 passengers enplaned in 2004, making it the 16th busiest airport in the United States.


The region now known as the State of Washington has been inhabited for at least 9,000 years, the first Americans having crossed the Bering Strait from Asia and entered North America via the Pacific Northwest. Their earliest known remains in Washingtonburned bison bones and a human skeletondate from approximately 7000 bc. Clovis points, a type of arrowhead, have been unearthed and determined to be approximately 30,000 years old.

The Cascades impeded communications between coastal Indians and those of the eastern plateau, and their material cultures evolved somewhat differently. Coastal Indiansbelonging mainly to the Nootkin and Salishan language familieslived in a land of plenty, with ample fish, shellfish, roots, and berries. Timber was abundant for the construction of dugout canoes, villages with wooden dwellings, and some stationary wooden furniture. Warfare between villages was fairly common, with the acquisition of slaves the primary objective. The coastal Indians also emphasized rank based on wealth, through such institutions as the potlatch, a gigantic feast with extravagant exchanges of gifts. The plateau (or "horse") Indians, on the other hand, paid little attention to class distinctions. Social organization was simpler and intertribal warfare less frequent than on the coast. After the horse reached Washington around 1730, the plateau tribes (mainly of the Shahaptian language group) became largely nomadic, traveling long distances in search of food. Housing was portable, often taking the form of skin or mat teepees. In winter, circular pit houses were dug for protection from the wind and snow.

The first Europeans known to have sailed along the Washington coast were 18th-century Spaniards; stories of earlier voyages to the area by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 and Juan de Fuca in 1592 are largely undocumented. In 1774, Juan Pérez explored the northwestern coastline to the southern tip of Alaska; an expedition led by Bruno Heceta and his assistant, Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, arrived a year later. Men from this expedition made the first known landing on Washington soil, at the mouth of the Hoh River, but the venture ended in tragedy when the Indians seized the landing boat and killed the Spaniards.

English captain James Cook, on his third voyage of exploration, arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1778 while searching for a northwest passage across America. He was the first of numerous British explorers and traders to be attracted by the luxuriant fur of the sea otter. Cook was followed in 1792 by another Englishman, George Vancouver, who mapped the Pacific coast and the Puget Sound area. In the same year, an American fur trader and explorer, Captain Robert Gray, discovered the mouth of the Columbia River. As the maritime fur trade began to prosper, overland traders moved toward the Northwest, the most active organizations being the British Hudson's Bay Company and the Canadian North West Company.

American interest in the area also increased. Several US maritime explorers had already visited the Northwest when President Thomas Jefferson commissioned an overland expedition to inspect the territory acquired from France through the Louisiana Purchase (1803). That expedition, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, first sighted the Pacific Ocean in early November 1805 from the north bank of the Columbia River in what is now Pacific County. In time, as reports of the trip became known, a host of British and American fur traders followed portions of their route to the Pacific coast, and the interest of missionaries was excited. In 1831, a delegation visited Clark in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was then superintendent of Indian affairs, to persuade him to send teachers who could instruct the Indians in the Christian religion. When news of the visit became known, there was an immediate response from the churches.

The first missionaries to settle in Washington were Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, representing the Protestant American Board of Missions; their settlement, at Waiilatpu in southeastern Washington (near present-day Walla Walla), was established in 1836. Although the early Protestant missions had scant success in converting the Indians, the publicity surrounding their activities encouraged other Americans to journey to the Pacific Northwest, and the first immigrant wagons arrived at Waiilatpu in 1840. The Indian population became increasingly hostile to the missionaries, however, and on 29 November 1847, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and 12 other Americans were massacred.

As early as 1843, an American provisional government had been established, embracing the entire Oregon country and extending far into the area that is now British Columbia, Canada. Three years later, after considerable military and diplomatic maneuvering, a US-Canada boundary along the 49th parallel was established by agreement with the British. Oregon Territory, including the present state of Washington, was organized in 1848. In the early 1850s, residents north of the Columbia River petitioned Congress to create a separate "Columbia Territory." The new territorial status was granted in 1853, but at the last minute the name of the territory (which embraced part of present-day Idaho) was changed to Washington.

President Franklin Pierce appointed Isaac I. Stevens as the first territorial governor. Stevens, who served at the same time as a US superintendent of Indian affairs, negotiated a series of treaties with the Northwest Indian tribes, establishing a system of reservations. Although the Indian situation had long been tense, it worsened after the treaties were concluded, and bloody uprisings by the Yakima, Nisqualli, and Cayuse were not suppressed until the late 1850s. Court battles over fishing rights spelled out in those treaties were not substantially resolved until 1980.

On the economic front, discoveries of gold in the Walla Walla area, in British Columbia, and in Idaho brought prosperity to the entire region. The completion in 1883 of the Northern Pacific Railroad line from the eastern United States to Puget Sound encouraged immigration, and Washington's population, only 23,955 in 1870, swelled to 357,232 by 1890. In the political sphere, Washington was an early champion of women's suffrage. The territorial legislature granted women the vote in 1883; however, the suffrage acts were pronounced unconstitutional in 1887.

Cattle and sheep raising, farming, and lumbering were all established by the time Washington became the 42d state in 1889. The Populist movement of the 1890s found fertile soil in Washington, and the financial panic of 1893 further stimulated radical labor and Granger activity. In 1896, the Fusionistsa coalition of Populists, Democrats, and Silver Republicansswept the state. The discovery of gold in the Klondike, for which Seattle was the primary departure point, helped dim the Fusionists' prospects, and for the next three decades the Republican Party dominated state politics.

In 1909 Seattle staged the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, celebrating the Alaska gold rush and Seattle's new position as a major seaport. World War I brought the state several major new military installations, and the Puget Sound area thrived as a shipbuilding center. The war years also saw the emergence of radical labor activities, especially in the shipbuilding and logging industries. Seattle was the national headquarters of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and became, in 1919, the scene of the first general strike in the United States, involving about 60,000 workers. The towns of Centralia and Everett were the sites of violent conflict between the IWW and conservative groups.

Washington's economy was in dire straits during the depression of the 1930s, when the market for forest products and field crops tumbled. The New Deal era brought numerous federally funded public works projects, notably the Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams on the Columbia River, providing hydroelectric power for industry and water for the irrigation of desert lands. Eventually, more than one million acres (400,000 hectares) were reclaimed for agricultural production. During World War II, Boeing led the way in establishing the aerospace industry as Washington's primary employer. Also during the war, the federal government built the Hanford Reservation nuclear research center; the Hanford plant was one of the major contractors in the construction of the first atomic bomb and later became a pioneer producer of atomic-powered electricity.

In 1962, "Century 21," the Seattle World's Fair, again promoted the area as the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition had a half-century earlier. The exhibition left Seattle a number of buildingsincluding the Space Needle and Coliseumthat have since been converted into a civic and performing arts center. The 1960s and 1970s, a period of rapid population growth (with Seattle and the Puget Sound area leading the way), also witnessed an effort by government and industry to reconcile the needs of an expanding economy with an increasing public concern for protection of the state's unique natural heritage. An unforeseen environmental hazard emerged in May 1980 with the eruption of Mt. St. Helens and the resultant widespread destruction.

Washington experienced a deep recession in 1979. The industries of logging and lumber, which lost market share to mills in the Southeast and in Canada, were particularly hard hit. Employment in wood products dropped 30% between 1978 and 1982. Nuclear waste also became an issue with the publication of a study in 1985 claiming that plutonium produced at the Hanford bomb fuel facility had leaked into the nearby Columbia River. This claim was confirmed in 1990 by the federal government, which, together with the state, started a cleanup program. The state's economy, strengthened by the expansion of Microsoft Corporation, Boeing, and Weyerhauser Paper in the 1980s, was still hampered by falling agricultural prices and weakness in the timber industry.

Speaker of the House Tom Foley, a Democrat and 30-year Congressional veteran, lost his House seat in the 1994 mid-term elections in which Republicans prevailed in seven of the state's nine Congressional districts.

Washingtonian Gary Locke, a Democrat, was elected the nation's first governor of Chinese heritage in 1996; he won reelection in 2000. Under his administration, the state raised education spending by $1 billion. Locke also signed a welfare reform bill that reduced the number of recipients by one-third. Locke chose not to run for a third term. Christine Gregoire, former Washington attorney general, was elected governor in 2004. In 2005, Gregoire announced Washington's six regional salmon recovery plans were submitted to the federal government. The first listings of salmon in Washington under the federal Endangered Species Act were made in 1991, and within eight years more than 75% of the state had salmon populations listed.


Washington's constitution of 1889, as amended (95 times as of January 2005), continues to govern the state today. The legislative branch consists of a Senate of 49 members elected to four-year terms, and a House of Representatives with 98 members serving two-year terms. Legislators assemble annually in January, meeting for a maximum of 105 calendar days in odd-numbered years and 60 calendar days in even-numbered years. Special sessions, which are limited to 30 calendar days, may be called by a two-thirds vote of the members in each house. Legislators must be US citizens at least 18 years old and qualified voters in their districts. The legislative salary in 2004 was $34,227.

Executives elected statewide are the governor and lieutenant governor (who run separately), secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, auditor, superintendent of public education, and officers of insurance and public land. The governor and lieutenant governor and serve four-year terms. Candidates for these offices must be US citizens, qualified voters, state residents, and at least 18 years old. As of December 2004, the governor's salary was $139,087.

A bill becomes law if passed by a majority of the elected members of each house and then signed by the governor or left unsigned for five days while the legislature is in session or 20 days after it has adjourned. A two-thirds vote of members present in each house is sufficient to override a gubernatorial veto. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote of the legislature and ratification by the voters at the next general election.

Voters in Washington must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, and residents of the state, their county, and their precinct for at least 30 days prior to election day. Restrictions apply to those convicted of certain crimes and to those judged by the court as mentally incompetent to vote.


Washington never went for a full-fledged Democrat in a presidential election until 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt won the first of four successive victories in the state. Until then, Washington had generally voted Republican, the lone exceptions being 1896, when the state's Populist voters carried Washington for William Jennings Bryan, and 1912, when a plurality of the voters chose Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive ticket.

The rise of the Democratic Party after World War II was linked to the careers of two US senatorsHenry Jackson, who held his seat from 1953 until his death in 1983, and Warren Magnuson, defeated in 1980 after serving since 1945.

During the 1970s and 1980s the state tended to favor Republicans in presidential elections, but Democrats more than held their own in other contests. Washingtonians elected a Democratic governor, Dixy Lee Ray, in 1976, but in 1980 they chose a Republican, John Spellman; in 1984, they returned to the Democratic column, electing Booth Gardner. Mike Lowry, also a Democrat, was elected governor in 1992. He was succeeded, in 1997, by fellow Democrat Gary Locke. Locke was reelected in 2000, but in 2003, announced he would not seek reelection in 2004. Democrat Christine Gregoire won the office in 2004.

In November 2000, Democrat Maria Cantwell was elected to the US Senate. Washington's other senator, Democrat Patty Mur-ray, was elected to a third term in 2004. A stunning Republican victory in the 1994 mid-term elections saw, for the first time since 1860, a sitting Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Thomas S. Foley, lose his seat in the House. The winner was a little-known Republican, George Nethercutt, who called for change and received support from conservative national talk show hosts and former presidential candidate Ross Perot. Nethercutt was reelected in 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002. Following the 2004 elections, three of Washington's nine US Representatives were Republicans; the other six were Democrats. There were 23 Republicans and 26 Democrats serving in the state Senate, and 55 Democrats and 43 Republicans in the state House in mid-2005.

Democratic candidate Al Gore received 50% of Washington's popular vote in the 2000 presidential election; Republican George W. Bush received 45%, and Green Party candidate Ralph Nader garnered 4%. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry won 53% of the vote to 46% for the incumbent Bush. In 2004 there were 2,884,000 registered voters; there is no party registration in the state. The state had 11 electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election.


As of 2005, Washington had 39 counties, 279 municipal governments, 296 public school districts, and 1,173 special districts, including public utility, library, port, water, hospital, cemetery, and sewer districts.

Counties may establish their own institutions of government by charter; otherwise, the chief governing body is an elected board of commissioners. Other elected officials generally include the sheriff, prosecuting attorney, coroner, auditor, treasurer, and clerk. Cities and towns are governed under the mayor-council or coun-

Washington Presidential Vote by Political Parties, 19482004
*Won:US presidential election.
1948 8 *Truman (D) 476,165 386,315 31,692 3,534 6,117 1,113
1952 9 *Eisenhower (R) 492,845 599,107 2,460 6,33 7,290
1956 9 *Eisenhower (R) 523,002 620,430 7,457
1960 9 Nixon(R) 599,298 629,273 10,895 1,401
1964 9 *Johnson (D) 779,699 470,366 7,772
1968 9 Humphrey (D) 616,037 588,510 1,669 96,900 491
1972 9 *Nixon (R) 568,334 837,135 2,644 1,537 1,102 58,906
1976 9 Ford (R) 717,323 777,732 1,124 5,042 8,585 5,046
1980 9 *Reagan (R) 650,193 865,244 9,403 29,213 1,137
1984 9 *Reagan (R) 807,352 1,051,670 1,891 8,844
1988 9 Dukakis (D) 933,516 903,835 3,520 17,240 1,440 1,290
1992 11 *Clinton (D) 993,037 731,234 541,780 7,533 2,354 2,456 4,854
IND. (Nader)
1996 11 *Clinton (D) 1,123,323 840,712 201,003 12,522 60,322
FREEDOM (Buchanan) GREEN (Nader)
2000 11 Gore (D) 1,247,652 1,108,864 7,171 13,135 103,002 2,927
CONSTITUTION (Peroutka) IND. (Nader) GREEN (Cobb) WORKERS (Parker)
2004 11 Kerry (D) 1,510,201 1,304,894 3,922 11,955 23,283 2,974 1,077

cil-manager systems. Larger cities, Seattle among them, generally have their own charters and elected mayors.

In 2005, local government accounted for about 212,591 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 Washington operates under the authority of the governor; the adjutant general is designated as the state homeland security advisor.

The Public Disclosure Commission, consisting of five members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate, provides disclosure of financial data in connection with political campaigns, lobbyists' activities, and the holdings of elected officials and candidates for public office. Each house of the legislature has its own board of ethics.

Public education in Washington is governed by a Board of Education and superintendent of public instruction; the Higher Education Coordinating Board coordinates the state's higher educational institutions. The Department of Transportation oversees the construction and maintenance of highways, bridges, and ferries and assists locally owned airports.

The Department of Social and Health Services, the main human resources agency, oversees programs for adult corrections, juvenile rehabilitation, public and mental health, Medicaid, nursing homes, income maintenance, and vocational rehabilitation. Also involved in human resources activities are the Human Rights Commission, Department of Labor and Industries, Employment Security Department, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Public protection services are provided by the Washington State Patrol, the Division of Emergency Management (civil defense), and the Military Department (Army and Air National Guard).


The state's highest court, the Supreme Court, consists of nine justices serving six-year terms. Three justices are elected by nonpartisan ballot in each even-numbered year. The Chief Justice is elected to a four-year term by members of the court. The courts' senior judge holds the title of associate chief justice. Appeals of superior court decisions are usually heard in the court of appeals, whose 21 judges are elected to staggered six-year terms. The superior courts are the state's felony trial courts. There are 176 district and municipal courts; they hear traffic and misdemeanor matters.

As of 31 December 2004, a total of 16,614 prisoners were held in the state of Washington's state and federal prisons, an increase from 16,148 of 2.9% from the previous year. As of year-end 2004, a total of 1,330 inmates were female, up from 1,288 or 3.3% from the year before. Among sentenced prisoners (one year or more), the state of Washington had an incarceration rate of 264 per 100,000 population in 2004.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington state in 2004, had a violent crime rate (murder/nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault) of 343.8 reported incidents per 100,000 population, or a total of 21,330 reported incidents. Crimes against property (burglary; larceny/theft; and motor vehicle theft) in that same year totaled 300,837 reported incidents or 4,849.2 reported incidents per 100,000 people. Washington has a death penalty which allows the condemned the option of lethal injection or hanging. From 1976 through 5 May 2006, the state has carried out four executions, the most recent taking place in August 2001. As of 1 January 2006, Washington had 10 inmates on death row.

In 2003, the state of Washington spent $381,988,278 on homeland security, an average of $61 per state resident.


In 2004, there were 37,906 active-duty military personnel and 23,433 civilian personnel stationed in Washington, nearly half of whom were at Fort Lewis near Tacoma. Other chief facilities in Washington include a Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, McChord Air Force Base (Tacoma), and Fairchild Air Force Base (Airway Heights). In 2004, federal defense contract awards totaled more than $3.3 billion, and defense payroll outlays were $5.3 billion.

In 2003, there were 632,929 veterans living in Washington, of whom 69,756 saw service during World War II; 55,166 in the Korean conflict; 205,783 during the Vietnam era; and 109,183 in the Persian Gulf War. In 2004, the Veterans Administration expended more than $1.6 billion in pensions, medical assistance, and other major veterans' benefits.

In 2004, the Washington State Patrol employed 1,054 full-time sworn officers.


The first overseas immigrants to reach Washington were Chinese laborers, imported during the 1860s; Chinese continued to arrive into the 1880s, when mob attacks on Chinese homes forced the territorial government to put Seattle under martial law and call in federal troops to restore order. The 1870s and 1880s brought an influx of immigrants from western Europeespecially Germany, Scandinavia, and the Netherlandsand from Russia and Japan.

In recent decades, Washington has benefited from a second migratory wave even more massive than the first. From 1970 to 1980, the state ranked seventh among the states in net migration with a gain of 719,000. From 1985 to 1990, the net migration gain was 317,832 (sixth among the states). Many of those new residents were drawn from other states by Washington's defense-and trade-related industries. In addition, many immigrants from Southeast Asia arrived during the late 1970s. Between 1990 and 1998, Washington had net gains of 374,000 in domestic migration and 121,000 in international migration. In 1996, the foreign-born population totaled 386,000, or 7% of the state's total population. In 1998, 16,920 immigrants from foreign countries entered Washington, the seventh-highest total of any state for that year. Of that total, 4,129 came from Mexico, 1,159 from the Philippines, and 940 from Vietnam. In the period 200005, net international migration was 134,242 and net internal migration was 80,974, for a net gain of 215,216 people.


Washington participates in the Columbia River Gorge Compact (with Oregon), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Western Interstate Corrections Compact, Western Interstate Energy Compact, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, Northwest Power and Conservation Council (with Idaho, Montana, and Oregon), Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Parolees and Probationers, Agreement on Qualification of Educational Personnel, Interstate Compact on Placement of Children, Multistate Tax Compact, and Driver License Compact, among other interstate bodies. The state has one boundary compact with Oregon. Federal grants in fiscal year 2001 totaled over $6.7 billion. Mirroring a national trend, that figure declined to $6.213 billion in fiscal year 2005, an estimated $6.232 billion in fiscal year 2006, and an estimated $6.414 billion in fiscal year 2007.


The mainstays of Washington's economy are services, financial institutions, manufacturing (especially aerospace equipment, shipbuilding, food processing, and wood products), agriculture, lumbering, and tourism. Between 1971 and 1984, employment increased in such sectors as lumber and wood products, metals and machinery, food processing, trade, services, and government, while decreasing in aerospace, which remains, nevertheless, the state's single leading industry. The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 had an immediate negative impact on the forestry industry, already clouded by a slowdown in housing construction, crop growing, and the tourist trade. Foreign trade, especially with Canada and Japan, was an important growth sector during the 1990s. Leading manufacturers have been the Boeing Aerospace Co. and Microsoft, Inc, although Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago in 2001. In the 1990s, state economic growth was robust, with annual rates soaring to 9.6% in 1998 and 8.6% in 1999, before moderating to 4.6% in 2000. However, the driving forces in Washington's economy, the high-tech computer and aerospace sectors, became the main source of its troubles after the collapse of the bubble on the stock market in 2001 and after the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. Growth fell to 2.2% in 2001, and by the end of 2002, all sectors except government and financial services (including insurance and real estate) had lost jobs. In December 2002, Washington's unemployment rate of 6.8% was higher than all states except its neighbor, Oregon, and Alaska. Already having problems before 9/11, Boeing cut its workforce 18% in 2002, announcing plans to cut more jobs and/or relocate its operations out of Washington. In addition, Spokane continued to suffer the adverse effects of the bankruptcy of Kaiser Aluminum. But it was the job losses in the high-paid dot. com, high-tech, and aerospace sectors that had disproportionate impacts on personal income in Washington.

In 2004, Washington's gross state product (GSP) was $261.546 billion, of which the real estate sector accounted for the largest share at $38.797 billion or 14.8% of GSP, followed by manufacturing (durable and nondurable goods) at $22.955 billion (8.7% of GSP), and health care and social assistance at $17.182 billion (6.5% of GSP). In that same year, there were an estimated 529,863 small businesses in the state of Washington. Of the 198,635 businesses that had employees, an estimated total of 194,951 or 98.1% were small companies. An estimated 31,955 new businesses were established in the state in 2004, down 11.6% from the year before. Business terminations that same year came to 47,141, up 33.4% from 2003. There were 665 business bankruptcies in 2004, down 9.8% from the previous year. In 2005, the state's personal bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and Chapter 13) filing rate was 656 filings per 100,000 people, ranking the state of Washington as the 16th highest in the nation.


In 2005 Washington had a gross state product (GSP) of $269 billion which accounted for 2.2% of the nation's gross domestic product and placed the state at number 14 in highest GSP among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2004 Washington had a per capita personal income (PCPI) of $35,041. This ranked 13th in the United States and was 106% of the national average of $33,050. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of PCPI was 4.3%. Washington had a total personal income (TPI) of $217,503,197,000, which ranked 15th in the United States and reflected an increase of 7.9% from 2003. The 19942004 average annual growth rate of TPI was 5.8%. Earnings of persons employed in Washington increased from $157,846,074,000 in 2003 to $167,346,671,000 in 2004, an increase of 6.0%. The 200304 national change was 6.3%.

The US Census Bureau reports that the three-year average median household income for 2002 to 2004 in 2004 dollars was $48,688 compared to a national average of $44,473. During the same period an estimated 11.7% 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 Washington 3,346,700, with approximately 157,700 workers unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 4.7%, compared to the national average of 4.7% for the same period. Preliminary data for the same period placed nonfarm employment at 2,859,000. Since the beginning of the BLS data series in 1976, the highest unemployment rate recorded in Washington was 12.2% in November 1982. The historical low was 4.6% in March 2006. Preliminary nonfarm employment data by occupation for April 2006 showed that approximately 6.7% of the labor force was employed in construction; 9.9% in manufacturing; 19% in trade, transportation, and public utilities; 5.5% in financial activities; 11.6% in professional and business services; 11.8% in education and health services; 9.5% in leisure and hospitality services; and 18.4% in government.

Although state and federal authorities suppressed radical labor activities in the mines around the turn of the century, in the logging camps during World War I, and in Seattle in 1919, the impulse to unionize remained strong in Washington. The state's labor force is still one of the most organized in the United States although (in line with national trends) the unions' share of the non-farm work force declined from 45% in 1970 to 34% in 1980.

The BLS reported that in 2005, a total of 523,000 of Washington's 2,746,000 employed wage and salary workers were formal members of a union. This represented 19.1% of those so employed, down slightly from 19.3% in 2004, but still well above the national average of 12%. Overall in 2005, a total of 559,000 workers (20.4%) in Washington were covered by a union or employee association contract, which includes those workers who reported no union affiliation. Washington is one of 28 states that do not have a right-to-work law.

As of 1 March 2006, Washington had a state-mandated minimum wage of $7.63 per hour. As of 1 January 2001, the state's minimum wage rate is required to be annually adjusted for inflation based upon the consumer price index for urban and clerical wage earners for the previous year. In 2004, women in the state accounted for 46% of the employed civilian labor force.


Orchard and field crops dominate Washington's agricultural economy, which yielded nearly $5.7 billion in farm marketings in 2005, 13th among the 50 states. Fruits and vegetables are raised in the humid and irrigated areas of the state while wheat and other grains grow in the drier central and eastern regions.

Washington is the nation's leading producer of apples. The estimated 2004 crop, representing 58% of the US total, totaled 5.9 million tons. Among leading varieties, delicious apples ranked first, followed by golden delicious and winesap. The state also ranked first in production of hops, red raspberries, pears, and cherries; and second in grapes and apricots. Other preliminary crop figures for 2004 included wheat, 143.5 million bushels, valued at $518.6 million; potatoes, 93,810,000 hundredweight, $453.3 million; barley, 17.2 million bushels, $33.4 million; and corn for grain, 21 million bushels, $60.9 million. Sugar beets, peaches, and various seed crops are also grown in Washington.


In 2005, Washington's farms and ranches had 1.08 million cattle and calves, valued at $1.2 billion. During 2004, the state had approximately 26,000 hogs and pigs, valued at $3.1 million. The state produced 4.6 million lb (2.1 million kg) of sheep and lambs in 2003, which brought in $4.7 million in gross income.

Washington dairy farmers had 245,000 milk cows that produced 5.58 billion lb (2.5 billion kg) of milk in 2003. Poultry farmers sold 8.2 million lb (3.7 million kg) of chicken, and produced 1.31 billion eggs, valued at $70.4 million.


In 2004, Washington's commercial fish catch was 454.7 million lb (206.7 million kg) valued at approximately $175 million, representing the fourth largest catch in quantity and the fifth highest in value nationwide. Oyster landings in 2004 amounted to over 9.5 million lb (4.3 million kg), 82% of the Pacific region's total. Most production of farm-raised oysters occurs in Washington although there are some smaller operations in the other Pacific coastal states. The dungeness crab catch reached 14.9 million lb (6.8 million kg), the largest in the nation. The salmon catch was marked as the second largest in the nation with 26.9 million lb (12.3 million kg) valued at $16.6 million.

Westport, Ilwaco-Chinook, and Bellingham are the major ports. In 2003, there were 67 processing and 146 wholesale plants in the state, with about 4,537 employees. In 2002, the commercial fishing fleet had 329 boats and 695 vessels.

In 2004, 59 trout farms sold 4 million lb (1.8 million kg), valued at nearly $4 million. In 2004, Washington issued 691,191 fishing licenses. There are ten national fish hatcheries in the state.


Washington's forests, covering 21,300,000 acres (8,620,000 hectares), are an important commercial and recreational resource. Some 17,347,000 acres (7,020,000 hectares) are classified as commercial forestland. The largest federal forests are Wenatchee, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, and Okanogan.

Forest production is one of Washington's major manufacturing industries. In 2004, lumber production totaled 5.23 billion board ft (second in the United States), 10.6% of national production.

Restrictions on federal timberlands to protect the Northern spotted owl, which became effective in late 1990, reflect diverse public demands on forest values. The regulations impact Washington's forest industry and forest-based employment due to the sharp decline of federal timber supply. However, this scarcity of timber created by forest preservation practices will enhance the value of the state's timber resource. This will spur the trend toward more efficient wood use and higher value-added products.

Public ownership accounts for about 56% of Washington's forest, with the remaining 44% owned by the forest industry and other private owners. Lumber and plywood, logs for export, various chip products, pulp logs, and shakes and shingles are leading forest commodities. The largest forest industry company is Weyer-hauser, with headquarters in Tacoma.

Since 1975, more acres have been planted or seeded than have been cut down. Washington's forest-fire control program covers some 12.5 million acres (5.1 million hectares). Leading causes of forest fires in lands under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources are (in order of frequency) burning debris, lightning, recreation, children, smokers, incendiary logging, and railroad operations.


According to preliminary data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), the estimated value of nonfuel mineral production by Washington in 2003 was $430 million, a decrease from 2002 of about 1.5%. The USGS data ranked the state of Washington as 31st among the 50 states by the total value of its nonfuel mineral production, accounting for over 1% of total US output.

According to the preliminary data for 2003, construction sand and gravel, portland cement, crushed stone and diatomite were the state's top nonfuel minerals by value. Collectively, these four commodities accounted for around 95% of all nonfuel mineral output, followed by lime and industrial sand and gravel. Nationally by volume, Washington in 2003, was second (among two states) in the production of olivine, fourth (among four) in diatomite, and seventh in the output of construction sand and gravel.

Preliminary figures for 2003 showed that 42 million metric tons of construction sand and gravel valued at $218 million were produced, with crushed stone output at 13.4 million metric tons, and with a value of $79.1 million.

The 2003 data showed no output of gold and silver.


As of 2003, the state of Washington had 68 electrical power service providers, of which 41 were publicly owned and 18 were cooperatives. Of the remainder, three were investor owned, one was federally operated, one was the owner of an independent generator that sold directly to customers, three were energy-only suppliers and one was a delivery-only provider. As of that same year there were 2,895,063 retail customers. Of that total, 1,302,818 received their power from investor-owned service providers. Cooperatives accounted for 145,935 customers, while publicly owned providers had 1,446,284 customers. There were nine federal customers, one independent generator or "facility" customer, and 16 energy-only supplier customers. There was no data on the number of delivery-only providers.

Total net summer generating capability by the state's electrical generating plants in 2003 stood at 27.689 million kW, with total production that same year at 100.094 billion kWh. Of the total amount generated, 82.1% 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, 71.756 billion kWh (71.7%), came from hydroelectric facilities, with coal-fired plants in second place at 11.089 billion kWh (11.1%) and nuclear fueled plants in third at 7.614 billion kWh (7.6%). Other renewable power sources accounted for 2.2% of all power generated, with natural gas fired plants at 7.1%. Petroleum fueled plants and generating facilities using other types of gasses accounted for the remaining output.

As of 2006, Washington had one operating nuclear plant, the single-unit Columbia Generating Station in Benton County.

Washington in 2004, had only one producing coal mine, a surface mining operation. Coal production that year totaled 5,653,000 short tons, down from 6,232,000 short tons in 2003. One short ton equals 2,000 lb (0.907 metric tons). Almost all of the coal mined in the state was burned to generate electricity.

As of 2005, Washington had five petroleum refineries with combined production of 616,150 barrels per day. However, the state has no proven reserves or production of crude oil and natural gas.

Washington is one of the beneficiaries of the hydropower system owned by various federal entities and marketed by Bonneville Power Administration. While this results in both low power costs and the lowest power-related air emissions per capita of any state, there are associated responsibilities to ensure protection and preservation of fish.


The 1990s were Washington's busiest years in terms of technology company start-ups. Software and computer-related businesses accounted for most of the activity but more traditional manufacturing companies were also emerging. Computers, software, and related activities make up the largest single portion of Washington's technology companies although manufacturing of all types is strong in the state.

Washington technology companies cross borders and many are world leaders. Boeing's commercial airplane unit is one of the nation's leading exporters. Microsoft has offices around the world and its products are in use on every continent. However, even small firms benefit from foreign trade and over half of Washington's technology companies are in overseas markets. Aerospace/transportation equipment is the largest industry in Washington state, dominated primarily by Boeing.

The state's biotechnology firms are growing at a phenomenal rate, but many are still in the research and development stage. More than two-thirds are developing products for human health care. Most of the firms not focused on medical treatment are developing products and processes for the state's natural resource sectors: agriculture, food processing, forestry, veterinary medicine, marine industries, and environmental waste cleanup and management.

Washington state is one of the leading film-production states in the United States. Film and video have grown to represent at least a $100-million-a-year industry. Washington state has thousands of film and video businesses which provide jobs for thousands of state residents. Washington film companies make feature films, television movies, TV series or episodes, TV commercials, documentaries, industrial films, and music videos. Out-of-state producers shoot over 100 film and video projects in Washington annually.

According to the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures (ASM) for 2004, Washington's manufacturing sector covered some 19 product subsectors. The shipment value of all products manufactured in the state that same year was $77.664 billion. Of that total, transportation equipment manufacturing accounted for the largest share at $22.700 billion. It was followed by petroleum and coal products manufacturing at $9.751 billion; food manufacturing at $9.539 billion; and computer and electronic product manufacturing at $7.760 billion.

In 2004, a total of 242,483 people in Washington were employed in the state's manufacturing sector, according to the ASM. Of that total, 153,825 were actual production workers. In terms of total employment, the transportation equipment manufacturing industry accounted for the largest portion of all manufacturing employees, with 48,967 (22,164 actual production workers). It was followed by food manufacturing, with 35,817 (27,614 actual production workers); computer and electronic product manufacturing, with 28,726 (9,116 actual production workers); fabricated metal product manufacturing, with 19,101 (14,053 actual production workers); and wood product manufacturing, with 18,796 (15,898 actual production workers).

ASM data for 2004 showed that Washington's manufacturing sector paid $11.179 billion in wages. Of that amount, the transportation equipment manufacturing sector accounted for the largest share at $2.899 billion. It was followed by computer and electronic product manufacturing at $1.814 billion; food manufacturing at $1.123 billion; fabricated metal product manufacturing at $743.488 million; and wood product manufacturing at $691.973 million.


According to the 2002 Census of Wholesale Trade, Washington's wholesale trade sector had sales that year totaling $84.6 billion from 9,670 establishments. Wholesalers of durable goods accounted for 5,731 establishments, followed by nondurable goods wholesalers at 3,080 and electronic markets, agents, and brokers accounting for 859 establishments. Sales by durable goods wholesalers in 2002 totaled $36.2 billion, while wholesalers of nondurable goods saw sales of $38.3 billion. Electronic markets, agents, and brokers in the wholesale trade industry had sales of $10.1 billion.

In the 2002 Census of Retail Trade, Washington was listed as having 22,564 retail establishments with sales of $65.2 billion. The leading types of retail businesses by number of establishments were: miscellaneous store retailers (3,091); food and beverage stores (2,982); motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts dealers (2,712); clothing and clothing accessories stores (2,434); and gasoline stations (2,104). In terms of sales, motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts stores accounted for the largest share of retail sales at $15.5 billion, followed by food and beverage stores at $11.1 billion; general merchandise stores at $10.4 billion; and nonstore retailers at $5.4 billion. A total of 296,507 people were employed by the retail sector in Washington that year.

In 2005, exports of goods originating from the state had a value of $37.9 billion, fourth in the United States. The leading exports were aircraft and aircraft parts, machinery, lumber and logs, fish and fish products, grains, motor vehicles and parts, fruits and vegetables, wood pulp, and paper products.


Consumer protection issues in the state of Washington are primarily the responsibility of the Office of the Attorney General, which enforces the state's 1961 Consumer Protection Act through its Consumer Protection Division. The division investigates consumer complaints and, when necessary, seeks court action in connection with retail sales abuses, unfair automobile sales techniques, false advertising, and other fraudulent or deceptive practices, which can involve the recovery of refunds, costs and penalties. The division also seeks to resolve consumer issues through the notification of businesses of written complaints and through mediation. It also provides information to the public on consumer rights, as well as on fraudulent and predatory business activi-ties, and issues alerts when illegal or fraudulent practices target consumers.

Consumer protection is also handled by the state's Department of Agriculture which involves food inspection and labeling, sanitary food handling and storage, and accurate weights and measures.

When dealing with consumer protection issues, the state's Attorney General's Office can initiate civil but not criminal proceedings. The office, through its Public Counsel Unit, appears and represents the public before the state's Utilities and Transportation Commission. The Attorney General's Office also administers consumer protection and education programs, handles formal consumer complaints, and can exercise broad subpoena powers. In antitrust actions, the Attorney General's Office 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 Attorney General's Office has its main location in Olympia, with regional offices in Bellingham, Kennewick, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, and Vancouver


As of June 2005, the state of Washington had 100 insured banks, savings and loans, and saving banks, in addition to 79 state-chartered and 59 federally chartered credit unions (CUs). Excluding the CUs, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue market area accounted for the largest portion of the state's financial institutions and deposits in 2004, with 78 institutions and $58.440 billion in deposits. As of June 2005, CUs accounted for 27.3% of all assets held by all financial institutions in the state, or some $20.562 billion. Banks, savings and loans, and savings banks collectively accounted for the remaining 72.7% or $54.890 billion in assets held.

The state in 2001/02 was experiencing its worst recession since 1980/81. The weak economy caused demand for commercial property to weaken: office and industrial vacancy rates rose sharply from 2000 to 2003, particularly in the Seattle area. However, low interest rates caused a rise in housing prices. But loan delinquency ratios for commercial real estate (CRE) increased in 2002.

The median return on assets (ROAthe measure of earnings in relation to all resources) among insured banks headquartered in Washington improved in the fourth quarter of 2005 to 1.13%up from 1.05% in 2004and 1.06% in 2003. The median net interest margin (the difference between the lower rates offered to savers and the higher rates charged on loans) as of fourth quarter 2005 stood at 4.98%, up from 4.68% in 2004 and 4.59% in 2003.

Regulation of state-chartered banks and other state-chartered financial institutions in the state of Washington is the responsibility of the Department of Financial Institutions.


Washingtonians held over 1.9 million individual life insurance policies with a total face value of about $235 billion in 2001. Total value for all categories of life insurance (individual, group, and credit) was $409.8 billion. The average coverage amount is $119,000 per policy holder. Death benefits paid that year totaled $912 million.

As of 2003, there were 26 property and casualty and 12 life and health insurance companies domiciled in the state. In 2004, direct premiums for property and casualty insurance totaled over $8.3 billion. That year, there were 29,043 flood insurance policies in force in the state, with a total value of $4.6 billion. About $44.4 million of coverage was held through FAIR plans, which are designed to offer coverage for some natural circumstances, such as wind and hail, in high risk areas.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal regulates insurance company operations, reviews insurance policies and rates, and examines and licenses agents, and brokers. It also conducts fire safety inspections in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities, investigates fires of suspicious origin, and regulates the manufacture, sale, and public display of fireworks.

In 2004, 54% of state residents held employment-based health insurance policies, 5% held individual policies, and 24% were covered under Medicare and Medicaid; 14% of residents were uninsured. In 2003, employee contributions for employment-based health coverage averaged at 11% for single coverage and 22% 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 4 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 $10,000. In 2003, the average expenditure per vehicle for insurance coverage was $824.46.


The Spokane Stock Exchange (founded 1897), which specialized in mining stocks, ceased operations in 1991. In 2005, there were 2,440 personal financial advisers employed in the state and 4,780 securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents. In 2004, there were over 194 publicly traded companies within the state, with over 95 NASDAQ companies, 18 NYSE listings, and 3 AMEX listings. In 2006, the state had nine Fortune 500 companies; Costco Wholesale in Issaquah (NASDAQ) ranked first in the state and 28th in the nation with revenues of over $52.9 billion, followed by Microsoft in Redmond (NASDAQ), Weyerhauser in Federal Way (NYSE), Washington Mutual in Seattle (NYSE), Paccar in Bellevue (NASDAQ), and in Seattle (NASDAQ).


Washington's biennial budget is prepared by the Office of Financial Management and submitted by the governor to the legislature for amendment and approval. The fiscal year (FY) runs from 1 July through 30 June.

Fiscal year 2006 general funds were estimated at $13.8 billion for resources and $12.7 billion for expenditures. In fiscal year 2004, federal government grants to Washington were $9.0 billion

WashingtonState 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 35,085,947 5,652.64
  General revenue 25,201,752 4,060.21
    Intergovernmental revenue 6,953,519 1,120.27
    Taxes 13,895,346 2,238.66
      General sales 8,423,160 1,357.04
      Selective sales 2,441,440 393.34
      License taxes 686,564 110.61
      Individual income tax - -
      Corporate income tax - -
      Other taxes 2,344,182 377.67
    Current charges 2,887,154 465.14
    Miscellaneous general revenue 1,465,733 236.14
  Utility revenue - -
  Liquor store revenue 418,142 67.37
  Insurance trust revenue 9,466,053 1,525.06
Total expenditure 32,510,057 5,237.64
  Intergovernmental expenditure 6,911,826 1,113.55
  Direct expenditure 25,598,231 4,124.09
    Current operation 16,051,105 2,585.97
    Capital outlay 2,577,797 415.30
    Insurance benefits and repayments 5,124,437 825.59
    Assistance and subsidies 1,091,294 175.82
    Interest on debt 753,598 121.41
Exhibit: Salaries and wages 5,405,207 870.82
Total expenditure 32,510,057 5,237.64
  General expenditure 27,010,041 4,351.55
    Intergovernmental expenditure 6,911,826 1,113.55
    Direct expenditure 20,098,215 3,237.99
  General expenditures, by function:
    Education 11,211,187 1,806.22
    Public welfare 6,422,900 1,034.78
    Hospitals 1,376,974 221.84
    Health 1,349,741 217.45
    Highways 2,000,672 322.33
    Police protection 243,188 39.18
    Correction 796,810 128.37
    Natural resources 608,622 98.05
    Parks and recreation 105,935 17.07
    Government administration 617,982 99.56
    Interest on general debt 753,598 121.41
    Other and unallocable 1,522,432 245.28
  Utility expenditure 25,072 4.04
  Liquor store expenditure 350,507 56.47
  Insurance trust expenditure 5,124,437 825.59
Debt at end of fiscal year 15,773,698 2,541.28
Cash and security holdings 66,903,572 10,778.73

In the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, Washington was slated to receive: $38.2 million for seismic corrections and improvements to a veterans nursing home facility in American Lake; and $15 million to deepen the Columbia River Channel.


In 2005, Washington collected $14,840 million in tax revenues or $2,360 per capita, which placed it 17th among the 50 states in per capita tax burden. The national average was $2,192 per capita. Property taxes accounted for 10.7% of the total, sales taxes 61.6%, selective sales taxes 16.8%, and other taxes 10.8%.

As of 1 January 2006, Washington had no state income tax, a distinction it shared with Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada, Florida, Alaska, and South Dakota.

In 2004, state and local property taxes amounted to $6.4 billion or $1,029 per capita. The per capita amount ranks the state 22nd highest nationally. Local governments collected $4,859,729,000 of the total and the state government $1,526,617,000.

Washington taxes retail sales at a rate of 6.50%. In addition to the state tax, local taxes on retail sales can reach as much as 2.40%, making for a potential total tax on retail sales of 8.90%. Food purchased for consumption off-premises is tax exempt. The tax on cigarettes is 202.5 cents per pack, which ranks third among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Washington taxes gasoline at 31 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, Washington citizens received $0.88 in federal spending.


The Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development seeks to promote a healthy state economy and to expand markets for Washington's products. The state has no corporate or personal income tax and no tax on interest, dividends, or capital gains. The department offers a tax credit program for companies that expand or locate in high unemployment areas and issues industrial development bonds with federal tax-exempt status for new capital construction. It extends loans to projects in distressed and timber-dependent areas and offers low interest loans to small and medium-sized Washington State forest products companies. The state helps communities finance infrastructure improvements to retain existing businesses or to attract new companies and provides special services for small and minority-owned enterprises. In an effort to encourage international trade, Washington has created nine foreign trade zones. Washington has foreign offices in China (Guangzhou and Shanghai), Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan. Other initiatives include workshops sponsored by the Small Business Development Center on starting and expanding small businesses in the state.


The infant mortality rate in October 2005 was estimated at 5.4 per 1,000 live births. The birth rate in 2003 was 13.1 per 1,000 population. The abortion rate stood at 20.3 per 1,000 women in 2000. In 2003, about 74% of pregnant woman received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester. In 2004, approximately 78% of children received routine immunizations before the age of three.

The crude death rate in 2003 was 7.5 deaths per 1,000 population. As of 2002, the death rates for major causes of death (per 100,000 resident population) were: heart disease, 183.6; cancer, 178.9; cerebrovascular diseases, 61.8; chronic lower respiratory diseases, 44.8; and diabetes, 24.6. The mortality rate from HIV infection was 2 per 100,000 population. In 2004, the reported AIDS case rate was at about 7.2 per 100,000 population. In 2002, about 56.7% of the population was considered overweight or obese. As of 2004, about 19.1% of state residents were smokers.

In 2003, Washington had 85 community hospitals with about 11,200 beds. There were about 516,000 patient admissions that year and 10.3 million outpatient visits. The average daily inpatient census was about 6,800 patients. The average cost per day for hospital care was $1,827. Also in 2003, there were about 260 certified nursing facilities in the state with 23,713 beds and an overall occupancy rate of about 84.2%. In 2004, it was estimated that about 71% of all state residents had received some type of dental care within the year. Washington had 266 physicians per 100,000 resident population in 2004 and 762 nurses per 100,000 in 2005. In 2004, there was a total of 4,255 dentists in the state.

In 2005, University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle ranked ninth on the Honor Roll of Best Hospitals 2005 by U.S. News & World Report. In the same report, the Children's Hospital and regional Medical Center in Seattle ranked among the top 20 for best pediatric care.

About 19% of state residents were enrolled in Medicaid programs in 2003; 13% were enrolled in Medicare programs in 2004. Approximately 14% of the state population was uninsured in 2004. In 2003, state health care expenditures totaled $7.7 million.


In 2004, about 208,000 people received unemployment benefits, with the average weekly unemployment benefit at $310. In fiscal year 2005, the estimated average monthly participation in the food stamp program included about 508,472 persons (250,788 households); the average monthly benefit was about $88.34 per person. That year, the total of benefits paid through the state for the food stamp program was about $539 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. Washington's TANF program is called Work First. In 2004, the state program had 137,000 recipients; state and federal expenditures on this TANF program totaled $269 million in fiscal year 2003.

In December 2004, Social Security benefits were paid to 913,040 Washington residents. This number included 599,710 retired workers, 82,920 widows and widowers, 114,140 disabled workers, 52,750 spouses, and 63,520 children. Social Security beneficiaries represented 14.7% of the total state population and 93.2% of the state's population age 65 and older. Retired workers received an average monthly payment of $993; widows and widowers, $964; disabled workers, $906; and spouses, $505. Payments for children of retired workers averaged $518 per month; children of deceased workers, $679; and children of disabled workers, $288. Federal Supplemental Security Income payments in December 2004 went to 111,895 Washington residents, averaging $423 a month. An additional $10,000 of state-administered supplemental payments were distributed to 20 residents.


In 2004, there were an estimated 2,606,623 housing units in Washington, 2,416,301 of which were occupied; 64.1% were owner-occupied. About 62.1% of all units were single-family, detached homes. Electricity was the most common energy source for heating. It was estimated that 84,890 units lacked telephone service, 10,663 lacked complete plumbing, and 15,987 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household had 2.51 members.

In 2004, 50,100 new privately owned housing units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $204,719. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,389. Renters paid a median of $727 per month. In 2006, the state received over $15.5 million in community development block grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


As of 2004, 89.7% of Washingtonians 25 years of age or older were high school graduates, and 29.9% had four or more years of college.

The total enrollment for fall 2002 in Washington's public schools stood at 1,015,000. Of these, 697,000 attended schools from kindergarten through grade eight, and 318,000 attended high school. Approximately 71.5% of the students were white, 5.7% were black, 12.3% were Hispanic, 7.9% were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 2.7% were American Indian/Alaskan Native. Total enrollment was estimated at 1,011,000 in fall 2003 and expected to be 1,057,000 by fall 2014, an increase of 4.1% during the period 200214. Expenditures for public education in 2003/04 were estimated at $8.98 billion. In fall 2003, there were 78,746 students enrolled in 556 privates schools. 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 Washington scored 285 out of 500 in mathematics compared with the national average of 278.

As of fall 2002, there were 338,820 students enrolled in college or graduate school; minority students comprised 20.1% of total postsecondary enrollment. In 2005 Washington had 81 degree-granting institutions including 11 public 4-year institutions, 35 public 2-year institutions, and 21 nonprofit private 4-year institutions. The largest institutions are the University of Washington (Seattle), founded in 1861, and Washington State University (Pullman). Other public institutions include the following: Eastern Washington University (Cheney); Central Washington University (Ellensburg); Western Washington University (Bellingham); and Evergreen State College (Olympia). Private institutions include Gonzaga University (Spokane); Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma); Seattle University; Seattle Pacific College; University of Puget Sound (Tacoma); Walla Walla College; and Whitworth College (Spokane).


The Washington State Arts Commission (WSAC) was established in 1961 and is governed by 19 citizens appointed by the governor and 4 legislators. In 2005, WSAC and other Washington arts organizations received 66 grants totaling $2,077,200 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Humanities Washington was founded in 1973. In 2005, the National Endowment for the Humanities contributed $1,194,718 for 17 state programs. Contributions to the arts also come from state and private sources.

The focus of professional performance activities in Washington is Seattle Center, home of the Seattle Children's Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, and Seattle Repertory Theater. The Seattle Opera Association (founded 1964), which also performs there throughout the year, is one of the nation's leading opera companies, offering five operas each season and presenting Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle. Tacoma and Spokane have notable local orchestras.

The Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival has been a popular community event since its inception in 1975. The annual Diwali Festival, also in Seattle, is sponsored in part by the regional Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India (SCFI) and the Washington State Arts Commission. It includes performances of traditional dance, music, and drama, as does the Hmong New Year Celebration, another popular cultural event in Seattle.

Among Washington's many museums, universities, and other organizations exhibiting works of art on a permanent or periodic basis are the Seattle Art Museum, with its Modern Art Pavilion, and the Henry Art Gallery of the University of Washington at Seattle. The Seattle Art Museum was scheduled to unveil its Olympic Sculpture Parka nine-acre site adjoining the city's Myrtle Edwards Park and designated to showcase sculptures, video projections, temporary installations, and loaned artworkin fall 2006. The museum was also expected to complete an expansion project for their downtown center in 2007. Others include the Washington State University Museum of Art at Pullman; the Whatcom Museum of History and Art (Bellingham); the Tacoma Art Museum; the State Capital Museum (Olympia); and the Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society (Spokane).


In 2001, the state of Washington had 65 public library systems, with a total of 320 libraries, of which 265 were branches. In that same year, the systems held a combined 17,003,000 volumes of books and serial publications, and had a combined circulation of 56,298,000. The system also had 923,000 audio and 671,000 video items, 30,000 electronic format items (CD-ROMs, magnetic tapes, and disks), and 19 bookmobiles. Of Washington's 39 counties, 27 were served by the state's 21 county and multi-county libraries. In 2001, operating income for the state's public library system totaled $233,162,000 and included $220,927 from local sources and $1,489,000 from state sources.

The leading public library system is the Seattle Public Library, with 25 branches and 1,892,067 volumes in 1998. The principal academic libraries are at the University of Washington (Seattle) and Washington State University (Pullman), with 5,820,230 and 1,966,516 volumes, respectively. Olympia is the home of the Washington State Library, with a collection of 339,194 books and more than one million documents.

Washington has 160 museums and historic sites. The Washington State Historical Society Museum (Tacoma) features Native American and other pioneer artifacts; the State Capitol Museum (Olympia) and Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum (Spokane) also have important historical exhibits, as do the Thomas Burke Memorial Washington State Museum (Seattle) and the Pacific Northwest Indian Center (Spokane). Mt. Rainier National Park displays zoological, botanical, geological, and historical collections. The Pacific Science Center (Seattle) concentrates on aerospace technology; the Seattle Aquarium is a leading attraction of Waterfront Park. Also in Seattle is Woodland Park Zoological Gardens, while Tacoma has the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.


As of 2004, 95.5% of Washington's households had telephones. In addition, by June of that same year there were 3,567,896 mobile wireless telephone subscribers. In 2003, 71.4% of Washington households had a computer and 62.3% had Internet access. By June 2005, there were 1,000,634 high-speed lines in Washington, 900,741 residential and 99,893 for business. During 2005, Washington had 146 major radio stations51 AM, 95 FMand 19 major television stations. In 1999, the Seattle-Tacoma area had 1,591,100 television households, 74% of which ordered cable. About 206,961 Internet domain names were registered in the state as of 2000.


In 2005, Washington had 15 morning newspapers, 8 evening dailies, and 17 Sunday papers.

The following table shows the leading newspapers with their approximate 2005 circulations:

*Sunday edition is a combination of Post-Intelligencer and Times.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (m,S) 145,964 462,920*
Times (m,S) 231,051 462,920*
Spokane Spokesman-Review (m,S) 120,785 129,607
Tacoma News Tribune (m,S) 127,928 142,876


In 2006, there were over 5,550 nonprofit organizations registered within the state, of which about 3,902 were registered as charitable, educational, or religious organizations.

Professional and business associations with headquarters in Washington include the APA-The Engineered Wood Association, the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the Northwest Mining Association, Northwest Fisheries Association, the Northwest Horticultural Council, and Hop Growers of America. There are several local art, cultural, and historical societies.

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is based in Bellevue. The International Association for the Study of Pain is based in Seattle. The national offices of the Freedom Socialist Party are based in Seattle.


Seattle Centerfeaturing the 605-ft (184-m) Space Needle tower, Opera House, and Pacific Science Centerhelps make Washington's largest city one of the most exciting on the West Coast. Nevertheless, scenic beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation are Washington's principal attractions for tourists from out of the state. Although Washington state was only settled in the mid-19th century, there are over 11,000 documented archaeological sites. There are caves, petroglyphs and the burial site of the 9,300 year old Kennewick Man.

Mt. Rainier National Park, covering 235,404 acres (95,265 hectares), encompasses not only the state's highest peak but also the most extensive glacial system in the conterminous United States. Glaciers, lakes, and mountain peaks are also featured at North Cascades National Park (504,780 acres/204,278 hectares), while Olympic National Park (908,720 acres/367,747 hectares) is famous as the site of Mt. Olympus and for its dense rain forest and rare elk herds. Deception Pass is another popular park. Washington also offers two national historic parks (San Juan Island and part of Klondike Gold Rush), two national historic sites (Fort Vancouver and the Whitman Mission), and three national recreation areas (Coulee Dam, Lake Chelan, and Ross Lake). Washington state has areas of high desert, rain forests, mountains, and rivers. There are over 120 state parks.

Tourism is the fourth-largest industry in Washington state, after aerospace/transportation equipment, agriculture, and timber. Travelers pumped more than $11.2 billion into the economy in 2003 on overnight and day trips in Washington. The industry supplies over 126,800 jobs in the state annually. Washington has been consistently ranked among the nation's top 10 tourist destination states and attracts a significant proportion of the nation's international visitors.


Washington is home to four major professional sports teams, all of which play in Seattle. The Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB); the Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL); the Storm of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA); and the Supersonics of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Supersonics won the NBA Championship in 1979. The Storm won the WNBA Championship in 2004. The Mariners reached the American League Championship Series in 1995. In collegiate sports, the Huskies of the University of Washington won the Rose Bowl in 1960, 1961, 1978, 1982, and 1992. Skiing, boating, and hiking are popular participant sports.

Other annual sporting events include outboard hydroplane races in Electric City in June and the Ellensburg Rodeo in September.


Washington's most distinguished public figure was US Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (b.Minnesota, 18981980), who grew up in Yakima and attended Whitman College in Walla Walla. In addition to his 37-year tenure on the Court, an all-time high, Douglas was the author of numerous legal casebooks as well as 27 other volumes on various subjects. Other federal officeholders from Washington include Lewis B. Schwellenbach (b.Wisconsin, 18941948), secretary of labor under Harry Truman, and Brockman Adams (b.Georgia, 19272004), secretary of transportation under Jimmy Carter. Serving in the US Senate from 1945 to 1981), Warren G. Magnuson (Minnesota, 190589) held the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee. A fellow Democrat, Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson (191283) was first elected to the House in 1940 and to the Senate in 1952. Influential on the Armed Services Committee, Jackson ran unsuccessfully for his party's presidential nomination in 1976. William E. Boeing (b.Michigan, 18811956) pioneered Washington's largest single industry, aerospace technology.

Notable governors include Isaac I. Stevens (b.Massachusetts, 181862), Washington's first territorial governor; after serving as Washington's territorial representative to Congress, he died in the Civil War. Elisha P. Ferry (b.Michigan, 182595), territorial governor from 1872 to 1880, was elected as Washington's first state governor in 1889. John R. Rogers (b.Maine, 18381901), Washington's only Populist governor, was also the first to be elected for a second term. Clarence D. Martin (18861955) was governor during the critical New Deal period. Daniel J. Evans (b.1925) is the youngest man ever elected governor of Washington and also is the only one to have served three consecutive terms (196577).

Dixy Lee Ray (191493), governor from 1977 to 1981 and the only woman governor in the state's history, was a former head of the federal Atomic Energy Commission and a staunch advocate of nuclear power. Other notable women were Emma Smith DeVoe (b.New Jersey, 18481927), a leading proponent of equal suffrage, and Bertha Knight Landes (b.Massachusetts, 18681943), elected mayor of Seattle in 1926; Landes, the first woman to be elected mayor of a large US city, was also an outspoken advocate of moral reform in municipal government.

Thomas Stephen Foley, former Speaker of the House, was born on 6 March 1929 in Spokane.

Several Washington Indians attained national prominence. Seattle (17861866) was the first signer of the Treaty of Point Elliott, which established two Indian reservations; the city of Seattle is named for him. Kamiakin (b.Idaho, c.180080) was the leader of the Yakima tribe during the Indian Wars of 1855, and Leschi (d.1858) was chief of the Nisqualli Indians and commanded the forces west of the Cascades during the 1855 uprising; Leschi was executed by the territorial government after the uprising was suppressed.

Washington authors have made substantial contributions to American literature. Mary McCarthy (19121989) was born in Seattle, and one of her books, Memories of a Catholic Girlhood (1957), describes her early life there. University of Washington professor Vernon Louis Parrington (b.Illinois, 18711929) was the first Washingtonian to win a Pulitzer Prize (1928), for his monumental Main Currents in American Thought. Another University of Washington faculty member, Theodore Roethke (b.Michigan, 190863), won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1953. Seattle-born Audrey May Wurdemann (191160) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1934 for Bright Ambush. Max Brand (Frederick Schiller Faust, 18921944) wrote hundreds of Western novels. Norman Ramsey (b.Washington, 1915) 1989 Nobel Prize recipient for physics. Hans Georg Dehmelt (b.Germany, 1922) was a recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize for physics as a member at the University of Washington. George Herbert Hitchings, Nobel Prize winner in medicine 1988, was born April 18, 1905 in Hoquiam, Washington.

Singer-actor Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby (190477), born in Tacoma, remained a loyal alumnus of Spokane's Gonzaga University. Modern dance choreographers Merce Cunningham (b.1919) and Robert Joffrey (193088) are both Washington natives. Photographer Edward S. Curtis (b.Wisconsin, 18681952) did most of the work on the North American Indian series while residing in Seattle. Modern artists Mark Tobey (b.Wisconsin, 18901976) spent much of his productive life in Seattle, and Robert Mother-well (191591) was born in Aberdeen. Washington's major contribution to popular music is rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix (194370).


Allerfeldt, Kristofer. Race, Radicalism, Religion, and Restriction: Immigration in the Pacific Northwest, 18901924. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2003.

Asher, Brad. Beyond the Reservation: Indians, Settlers, and the Law in Washington Territory, 18531889. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999.

Blair, Karen J. Northwest Women: An Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the History of Oregon and Washington Women, 17871970. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1997.

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

DeGrove, John Melvin. Planning Policy and Politics: Smart Growth and the States. Cambridge, Mass.: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2005.

Goggans, Jan (ed.). The Pacific Region. Vol. 5 in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Regional Cultures. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Mapes, Lynda. Washington: the Spirit of the Land. Stillwater, Minn.: Voyageur Press, 1999.

Parzybok, Tye W. Weather Extremes in the West. Missoula, Mont.: Mountain Press, 2005.

Preston, Thomas. Pacific Coast: Washington, Oregon, California. 2nd ed. Vol. 1 in The Double Eagle Guide to 1,000 Great Western Recreation Destinations. Billings, Mont.: Discovery Publications, 2003.

Riley, Gail Blasser. Volcano!: The 1980 Mount St. Helens Eruption. New York: Bearport, 2006.

Seeberger, Edward D. Sine Die: A Guide to the Washington State Legislative Process. Seattle: Washington State University Press, 1997.

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

The Washington Almanac. Portland, Or.: WestWinds Press, 1999.

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Washington (state, United States)

Washington, state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. It is bordered by Idaho (E); Oregon, with the Columbia River marking much of the boundary (S); the Pacific Ocean (W); and the Canadian province of British Columbia (N).

Facts and Figures

Area, 68,192 sq mi (176,617 sq km), including 1,483 sq mi (3,841 sq km) of inland water surface. Pop. (2010) 6,724,540, a 14.1% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Olympia. Largest city, Seattle. Statehood, Nov. 11, 1889 (42d state). Highest pt., Mt. Rainier, 14,410 ft (4,395 m); lowest pt., sea level. Nickname, Evergreen State. Motto,Alki [By and By]. State bird, willow goldfinch. State flower, Western rhododendron. State tree, Western hemlock. Abbr., Wash., WA


The state comprises three major geographic zones. In the east, most of interior Washington is made up of the Columbia Plateau and the valleys of the Columbia River and its tributaries. Central Washington is dominated, and the state is divided, by the north-south Cascade Range. To the west of the Cascades lie coastal lowlands in the Puget Trough, Puget Sound and its many arms, and to their west the Coast Ranges, which in part form the backbone of the Olympic Peninsula.

The Interior

Washington's interior is a region of hard volcanic substructure, in many places scoured by glacial and river action, that is left largely dry by the shield the Cascades form against the Pacific winds; in some areas, as in the southeastern Palouse hills, loess deposits provide a basis for irrigated agriculture. The Blue Mts., an offshoot of the Rockies in the state's southeast corner, are one of the interior's few forested sections. The Columbia River enters the state from British Columbia in the northeast. After receiving the Spokane River from the east, it turns westward across the state and swings south at the foot of the Cascades, enclosing the Big Bend country. Near Washington's southern border, it receives the Yakima (from the west) and Snake (from the east), then bends westward again, forming the boundary with Oregon as it cuts through the Cascades on its way to the sea.

The Cascades

Washington's boldest physiographic feature is the lofty Cascade Range, rising to 14,410 ft (4,392 m) at Mt. Rainier. The Cascades block the eastward movement of warm ocean air from the Alaska Current, causing abundant rainfall to the west and semiarid conditions to the east. The valleys of the Wenatchee, Yakima, and other rivers flowing eastward from the mountains are important irrigated farming areas, while the Cascades themselves are the site of North Cascades and Mount Rainier national parks, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, several national forests, and noted ski resorts. Their scenery is a major tourist attraction. Mount St. Helens, on the west slope near the Oregon boundary, is the most recent (1980) Cascade peak to erupt.

The West and the Pacific Coast

Washington's coastal region is one of the wettest areas in the United States, receiving up to 150 in. (381 cm) of rain per year at high elevations; it is correspondingly heavily forested, especially with spruce, fir, cedar, and hemlock. Between the Cascades and the much lower Coast Ranges to the west lies the Puget Trough, a lowland heavily indented by Puget Sound, the site of Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, and most of the state's population and industry. The Coast Ranges rise to 7,965 ft (2,428 m) at Mt. Olympus in the Olympic Mts., within Olympic National Park. Along the Pacific coast, in the southwest, they are breached by two substantial bays, Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Puget Sound is filled with more than 300 islands, including the San Juan Archipelago and Whidbey Island; it is entered from the northwest through the Juan de Fuca Strait, from the north through the Strait of Georgia. Point Roberts, the northwesternmost portion of Washington on the latter strait, is the southern end of a peninsula that begins in Canada, and the area is not connected by land with the rest of the state.

Places of Interest and Cities

Visitors are attracted to Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, Fort Vancouver and Whitman Mission national historic sites, and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (see National Parks and Monuments, table). Mt. Saint Helens, which erupted in 1980, is now a national monument. Miles of apple and cherry orchards in the irrigated area just east of the Cascades create the spring landscape for which the state is famous. The rugged mountain slopes and grandeur of the Cascades draw climbers during the summer months, and in winter excellent snowfields near Seattle and Tacoma attract skiers. Olympia is the capital; Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma are the largest cities.


Washington's water resources provide both irrigation and enormous hydroelectric power. The impact of the Columbia River on the life and economy of the state can scarcely be overestimated. In early days the river was a means of transport and a salmon-fishing field for many Native American tribes. Because of the steep drop from its origin to its mouth, the Columbia is one of the greatest sources of hydroelectric power in the world. Grand Coulee Dam—one of the world's largest concrete dams and greatest potential power-producing structures—and Bonneville Dam have been supplemented, on the river's upper course, by Chief Joseph and Rocky Reach dams (both completed 1961), Priest Rapids Dam (1962), and Wanapum Dam (1963), and, on its lower course, by The Dalles Dam (1957), John Day Dam (1968), and McNary Dam (1953), all shared with Oregon.

The dams on the Columbia's lower course were designed as power, flood-control, and navigation projects, whereas the dams on the upper course are integral to the Columbia basin project (with the Grand Coulee as the key unit), providing not only power and flood control but extensive irrigation to the Columbia Plateau. The Snake River in the east and the Yakima River in S central Washington also have important irrigation projects. Dams on the Skagit River (including Ross and Diablo, two of the world's highest) supply power to Seattle and the surrounding area.

Puget Sound is the heart of Washington's industrial and commercial development. It is navigable and has many beautiful bays, on which are situated such commercial and industrial cities as Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett. Seattle, an exporter and importer in trade with Asia and a gateway to Alaska (because of the protected Inland Passage), is a major U.S. city and a center for the manufacture of jet aircraft (as well as missiles and spacecraft) by the Boeing Corp. In recent years, computer software (Microsoft Corp. is near Seattle), electronics, and biotechnology have become increasingly important to the economy.

Washington's huge food processing industry is based on the state's diversified irrigated farming and dairying as well as on its abundant fishing resources. Salmon is the biggest catch, but halibut, bottomfish, oysters, and crabs are also significant.

Much of the land in E Washington is used for dry farming. Irrigation, however, has converted many of the river valleys east of the Cascades (especially the Yakima and Wenatchee) into garden areas. This region contains most of Washington's vineyards; from the 1980s the state has developed an important wine industry. Washington leads the country in the production of apples, sweet cherries, and pears and is a major wheat producer, chiefly in the hilly southeastern Palouse area. Washington is also a major producer of corn, onions, potatoes, apricots, grapes (including those made into wine), and other fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Cattle, dairy goods, sheep, and poultry are also economically important. Spokane is the commercial and transportation hub of the entire "Inland Empire" region between the Cascades and the Rockies, which extends into British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon.

Despite the vast semiarid expanse E of the Cascades, more than half of the state's area is forested, and the lumber and wood-products industry, so important in the early development of the state, remains one of its largest. Many of Washington's cities (among them Tacoma, Bellingham, Everett, and Anacortes) began as sawmill centers—Seattle itself was home to the original "Skid Road" —and lumber, pulp, paper, and related items are still among their major products.

Other important manufactures in the state are chemicals and primary metals, especially aluminum. Abundant water power and the rich aluminum and magnesium ores found in the Okanogan Highlands in the northeast part of the state have made Washington the nation's leading aluminum producer. Washington's chief minerals are sand and gravel, cement, stone, and diatomite. Gold, lead, and zinc are also found in the Okanogan Highlands. Tourism is an increasingly important industry.

Government and Higher Education

Washington still operates under its first constitution, adopted in 1889. Its executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. The legislature has a senate with 49 members and a house of representatives with 98 members. The state sends 2 senators and 10 representatives to the U.S. Congress and has 12 electoral votes. Democrat Mike Lowry, elected governor in 1992, was succeeded by another Democrat, Gary Locke, elected in 1996 and reelected in 2000. Christine O. Gregoire, a Democrat, was narrowly elected to the office in 2004 after a hand recount. She had trailed after the first two vote counts, and the final count was challenged in court. Gregoire was reelected in 2008, and succeeded in 2012 by fellow Democrat Jay Inslee.

Among the state's institutions of higher learning are Central Washington Univ., at Ellensburg; Eastern Washington Univ., at Cheney; Evergreen State College, at Olympia; Gonzaga Univ., at Spokane; Pacific Lutheran Univ. and the Univ. of Puget Sound, at Tacoma; Seattle Univ. and the Univ. of Washington, at Seattle; Washington State Univ., at Pullman; Western Washington Univ., at Bellingham; and Whitman College, at Walla Walla.


European Exploration

Washington's early history is shared with that of the whole Oregon Territory. The perennial search for the Northwest Passage aroused initial interest in the area. Of the early explorers along the Pacific coast, Spanish expeditions under Juan Pérez (1774) and Bruno Heceta (1775) are the first known to have definitely skirted the coast of what is now Washington. Capt. James Cook's English expedition (1778) first opened up the area to the maritime fur trade with China, and British fur companies were soon exploring the West and encountering Russians pushing southward from posts in Alaska. In 1787, Charles William Barkley found the inland channel, which the following year John Meares named the Juan de Fuca Strait (after the sailor who is alleged to have discovered it). In 1792, the British explorer George Vancouver and the American fur trader Robert Gray crossed paths along the Washington coast. Vancouver sailed into Puget Sound and mapped the area; Gray, convinced of the existence of a great river that the other explorers rejected, found the entrance, crossed the dangerous bar, and sailed up the Columbia, establishing U.S. claims to the areas that it drained.

Early Settlement and Boundary Disputes

The Lewis and Clark expedition, which reached the area in 1805, and the establishment of John Jacob Astor's settlement, Astoria, both helped to further the American claim; but in 1807 the Canadian trader David Thompson traveled the length of the Columbia, mapping the region and establishing British counterclaims. After Astoria was sold to the North West Company in the War of 1812, British interests appeared paramount, although in 1818 a treaty provided for 10 years (later extended) of joint rights for the United States and Great Britain in the Columbia River country. The Hudson's Bay Company absorbed the North West Company in 1821 and, under the patriarchal guidance of Dr. John McLoughlin, dominated the region until challenged by the Americans in the 1840s.

Fort Vancouver, on the site of present-day Vancouver, sheltered American overland traders—particularly Jedediah Smith, Benjamin Bonneville, and Nathaniel Wyeth—and later the American missionaries, who were the first real settlers in the area north of the Columbia. Marcus Whitman established (1836) a mission at Waiilatpu (near present-day Walla Walla), which for a decade not only served Native Americans as a medical and religious center but also provided an indispensable rest stop for immigrants on the Oregon Trail. Meanwhile the British, although despairing of control over the area S of the Columbia, were still determined to retain the region to the north; the Americans, on the other hand, demanded the ouster of the British from the whole of the Columbia River country up to a lat. of 54°40′N. "Fifty-four forty or fight" became a slogan in the 1844 election campaign, and for a time war with Britain threatened. However, diplomacy prevailed, and in 1846 the boundary was set at lat. 49°N.

Native American Resistance and Territorial Status

Peace with the British did not, however, preclude Native American conflict. Partly as a protective measure, the Oregon Territory, embracing the Washington area, was created the following year; but in 1853 the region was divided, and Washington Territory (containing a part of what is now Idaho) was set up, with Isaac Stevens as the first governor. (The Idaho section was cut away when Idaho Territory was formed in 1863.) Meanwhile, some of the pioneers on the oregon trail began to turn northward, and a small settlement sprang up at New Market, or Tumwater (near present-day Olympia).

After word of the needs of California gold-seekers for lumber and food spread northward, settlers recognized the commercial potential of the Puget Sound country and poured into the area in ever-increasing numbers. Lumber and fishing industries arose to satisfy the demand to the south, and new towns, including Seattle, were founded. Meanwhile Stevens, who also served as superintendent of Indian affairs, set about persuading the Native Americans to sell much of their lands and settle on reservations. Treaties with the coast tribes were quickly concluded, but the inland tribes revolted, and hostilities with the Cayuse, the Yakima, and the Nez Percé tribes continued for many years. Over the years, Native Americans remained a small but significant presence in the state; in the early 1990s their population was over 81,000.

Gold, Immigration, and Statehood

Gold was first discovered in Washington in 1852 by a Hudson's Bay Company agent at Fort Colville, but the Yakima War was then in progress and it hindered extensive mining activity. In 1860 the Orofino Creek and Clearwater River deposits were uncovered, bringing a rush of prospectors to the Walla Walla area. The major influx of settlers was delayed, however, until the 1880s, when transport by rail became possible (the first of three transcontinental railroads linked to Washington was completed in 1883).

The population almost quadrupled between 1880 and 1890; although the majority of the new settlers were from the East and Midwest, the territory also absorbed large numbers of foreign immigrants. Chinese laborers had been brought in during the 1860s to aid in placer mining; after 1870 they were followed by substantial groups of Germans, Scandinavians, Russians, Dutch, and Japanese immigrants. By the time Washington became a state in 1889, the wide sagebrush plains of E Washington had been given over to cattle and sheep, agriculture was flourishing in the fertile valleys, and the lumber industry had been founded.

Although some agrarian and labor dissatisfaction with the railroads and other big corporations existed, giving rise to the Granger movement and the Populist party, the discovery of gold in Alaska in 1897 brought renewed prosperity. Seattle, the primary departure point for the Klondike, became a boomtown. Labor and election reform laws were enacted, and the primary, the initiative, the referendum, and the recall were adopted.

The Early Twentieth Century

The turn of the century brought labor clashes that gave Washington a reputation as a radical state. The extreme policies of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW; also known as the "Wobblies" ) proved appealing to the shipyard and dock workers and to the loggers, and in 1917 the U.S. War Dept. was forced to intervene in a lumber industry dispute. A general strike following World War I had a crippling effect on the state's economy; antilabor feeling increased, and the famous incident at Centralia resulted in bloody strife between the IWW and the American Legion. The alarmed and brutal reaction of management to radical labor policies produced a confrontational atmosphere that hindered the mediation until the onset of the lean days of the 1930s and the emergence of the New Deal.

Washington was an important center of the defense industry during World War II, particularly with the immense aircraft industry in Seattle and the Manhattan Project's Hanford Works at Richland. (Decades later it was discovered that the Hanford facility had leaked large amounts of hazardous radioactive waste in the 1940s and 50s.) During the war, the large Japanese-American population in the state (more than 15,000 persons) was moved eastward to camps, where they suffered great physical and emotional hardship.

Postwar Change and New Industry

In the postwar period military spending continued to pour into such facilities as the Hanford nuclear reservation and the Bremerton naval shipyard, as well as into Boeing's bomber production. At the same time, trade with Asia boomed. Since the 1970s, Washington has attracted a large number of firms moving from California to a more favorable business climate. These include computer software manufacturers and other high-technology companies. The increased economic diversification and stepped-up activity in high-tech industries have cushioned the impact of job losses in the 1990s from post–cold war cutbacks, especially in aerospace orders for Boeing. At the same time, industrial and residential growth has brought the state face to face with environmental issues, among them the effects of continued massive logging and the impact of dams on fish populations.


See E. I. Stewart, Washington: Northwest Frontier (4 vol., 1957); M. W. Avery, Washington: A History of the Evergreen State (1965); P. L. Beckett, From Wilderness to Enabling Act (1968); J. Olson and G. Olson, Washington Times and Trails (1970); J. A. Alwin, Between the Mountains: A Portrait of Eastern Washington (1984); C. J. Manson, Theses on Washington Geology, 1901–1985 (1986); J. W. Scott and R. L. DeLorme, Historical Atlas of Washington (1988).

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Bellingham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 523

Olympia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 535

Seattle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 549

Spokane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 561

Tacoma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 571

The State in Brief

Nickname: Evergreen State

Motto: Al-Ki (By and by)

Flower: Coast rhododendron

Bird: Willow goldfinch

Area: 71,299 square miles (2000; U.S. rank: 18th)

Elevation: Ranges from sea level to 14,410 feet above sea level

Climate: Generally mild and humid in the western region dominated by the Pacific Ocean; semi arid in the eastern region; heavy snows in higher elevation

Admitted to Union: November 11, 1889

Capital: Olympia

Head Official: Governor Christine Gregoire (D) (until 2009)


1980: 4,132,000

1990: 4,866,692

2000: 5,894,121

2004 estimate: 6,203,788

Percent change, 19902000: 21.1%

U.S. rank in 2004: 15th

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

Density: 88.6 people per square mile (2000)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 309,931

Racial and Ethnic Characteristics (2000) White: 4,821,823

Black or African American: 190,267

American Indian and Alaska Native: 93,301

Asian: 322,335

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 23,953

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 441,509

Other: 228,923

Age Characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 394,306

Population 5 to 19 years old: 1,288,713

Percent of population 65 years and over: 11.2%

Median age: 35.3 years (2000)

Vital Statistics

Total number of births (2003): 80,091

Total number of deaths (2003): 44,736 (infant deaths, 416)

AIDS cases reported through 2003: 5,108


Major industries: Trade; manufacturing; finance, insurance, and real estate; government; services; agriculture

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (February 2005)

Per capita income: $33,264 (2003; U.S. rank: 13th)

Median household income: $45,960 (3-year average, 2001-2003)

Percentage of persons below poverty level: 10.6% (1999)

Income tax rate: None

Sales tax rate: 6.5% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)

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According to Gordon V. Dodds in his 1986 history of the American Northwest, life in the states of Washington and Oregon has been marked by "the absence of severe class or cultural or economic or environmental conflict." It is a "pleasant, undemanding life for most residents. . . . It has been a place where people could start over by escaping from their constraints to carry on the old ways better in a new environment. It is perhaps most typically American in this characteristic of providing a chance to start over."

The Pacific Northwest must have seemed a very remote place indeed to anyone who wanted to "start over" during the nineteenth century. Because of its rugged coast, distant location, and impenetrable mountains, for centuries Europeans only sporadically visited the region. Sir Francis Drake (154096) and some Spanish explorers may have seen the Washington coast in the sixteenth century. The Spaniard Juan Perez explored the northwestern coast in 1774. Other Spanish explorers made the first known landing at the mouth of the Hoh River, but were ambushed by Native Americans. The Englishman Capt. James Cook (172879) followed the fur trade to the area in 1792. His fellow countryman George Vancouver (175798) later made maps of the Pacific coast and Puget Sound. Fur trading companies such as the Hudson's Bay Company eventually began to attract overland traders as well. Reports from the Lewis and Clark expedition, which first sighted the Pacific from the bank of the Columbia River in 1805, also inspired others to set out for the Northwest.

From the beginning of white settlement, the history of the area was characterized by disputes between Great Britain and the United States. Both countries wanted control of the land and the water ports. The border between the United States and Canada was settled in 1846, and the Oregon Territory was organized in 1848. It included the present state of Washington. About this time people were beginning to migrate from Missouri via the Oregon Trail to the present states of Oregon and southern Washington. A new Washington Territory was established in 1853. Most of the Indian uprisings which had hindered settlement in the territory were suppressed during the late 1850s.

Discoveries of gold in the Walla Walla area, in British Columbia, and in Idaho during the 1860s created a boom in the whole region. Immigration swelled following the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad line to Puget Sound. By 1890 Washington's population had grown to over 357,000, up from just 24,000 in 1870. Lumbering, cattle farming, sheep raising, and agricultural farming were well established in Washington when the territory became a state in 1889. The city of Spokane literally boomed overnight when it became a hub for the Great Northern and the Northern Pacific railroads.

The city of Seattle on the natural port of Puget Sound quickly became Washington's premier city. At first a center for coal shipments, it began to serve the lumber trade and expanded its commerce to Alaska, California, Europe, and other cities on Puget Sound. In 1909 Seattle hosted the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which celebrated both the Alaska gold rush and Seattle's own pride in its large seaport.

The era of railroads changed Washington significantly. It became much easier for raw materials to reach Puget Sound, and people were drawn from the eastern regions by promises of good land and unlimited opportunity. Manufactured goods from the East were now readily available to farmers and city-dwellers. In addition better waterways including canals along the Columbia to bypass falls and rapids were helping lumber companies get their products to market.

Seattle in particular prospered during World War I (191418). Shipbuilding thrived during this period. Radical labor activities thrived as well, and Seattle became the headquarters of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The first general strike in the United States, involving around 60,000 workers, was staged in Seattle in 1919 by the IWW. Centralia and Everett also experienced violent conflict between the IWW and conservative groups such as returning veterans.

Postwar readjustments followed during the 1920s as many farms were lost and the lumber business experienced a downturn. Apples, always a profitable crop for Washington, became even more important during this period as many wheat farms began to fail. By the middle of the 1920s, however, farm income was increasing. Lumbermen had to cope with an inadequate supply of timber because forests had been decimated to keep up with wartime demands, and the U.S. Congress passed several acts designed to provide better conservation of forests.

The Great Depression of the 1930s affected Washington much as it affected most of the country. Markets for field crops and forest products plummeted, and Washingtonians looked to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's (193345) New Deal programs for relief. Notable among those in the Northwest were the Grand Coulee and the Bonneville dam projects, which provided hydroelectric power and water for irrigation. More than one million acres were eventually reclaimed for farm production as a result of these projects.

World War II (193945) brought a new boom of economic activity, particularly to the Seattle area. The Boeing Corporation quickly established the aerospace industry as the state's primary employer. Boeing's rapid growth strained the housing facilities and infrastructure of the city; between 1939 and 1944 the number of workers employed at Boeing increased from 4,000 to 50,000. Shipyards also employed thousands in Seattle, Tacoma, Bremerton, and Vancouver. In addition, the federal government built the Hanford Reservation nuclear research center. This plant was instrumental in constructing the first atomic bomb and during peacetime was engaged in nuclear-powered electricity generation.

Postwar readjustments were inevitable in Washington as industries and farms began their transition from a wartime economy to a peacetime one. Small farms declined in favor of larger, technologically sophisticated ones; Boeing began its long reorientation to passenger aircraft after years of supplying military planes; fisheries declined because the salmon supply had rapidly been depleted; and large lumber concerns such as Weyerhaeuser in Tacoma solidified their operations while smaller firms went under.

In 1962 Seattle featured a world's fair, "Century 21," which showcased the city's assets. Rapid population growth marked the 1960s and 1970s, with concentration around Seattle and the Puget Sound area. This trend challenged both government and industry to balance economic needs with environmental protection. Both economic and environmental damage was suffered when an unexpected eruption of Mt. St. Helen's in May 1980 shocked the state and the nation with its destructive power.

A deep recession gripped Washington in the late 1970s. Logging was particularly hard hit. Between 1978 and 1982 employment in wood products industries dropped 30 percent. In the 1990s the economy was recovering after the 1980s expansion of Microsoft Corporation, Boeing, and Weyerhaeuser Paper. In the late 1990s the most important segments of the Washington economy were wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing (particularly aerospace equipment, shipbuilding, food processing, and wood products), agriculture, lumbering, and tourism. Another important segment in the 1980s and 1990s was film production. Many feature films, television movies, and documentaries used Washington locations and added millions of dollars to the economy. Washington ranked fifteenth among the states in per capita income in 1996. By the end of the decade unemployment in the state dropped to around five percent.

See also: Boeing, Fishing Industry, Industrial Workers of the World, Lumber Industry, Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser


Clark, Norman. Washington: A Bicentennial History. New York: Norton, 1976.

Dodds, Gordon B. The American Northwest: A History of Oregon and Washington. Arlington Heights, IL: Forum Press, 1986.

Johansen, Dorothy, and Charles Gates. Empire of the Columbia: A History of the Pacific Northwest. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.

Meinig, D.W. The Great Columbia Plain: A Historical Geography. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1968.

Stewart, Edgar I. Washington: Northwest Frontier. 4 vols. New York: Lewis, 1957.

there has not been much tragedy for white people in the history of the pacific northwest.

gordon b. dodds, the american northwest: a history of oregon and washington, 1986

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Evergreen State

Evergreen State informal name for the State of Washington.

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