Washington, abbreviated WA and Wash., is a state farthest northwest of the United States. The state is named after George Washington – the first president of the United States. The area was originally called the Territory of Columbia, but the name was changed because of the existing District of Columbia. Washington borders Oregon in the south, Idaho in the west, Canada (the province of British Columbia) in the north, and the Pacific Ocean with a coastline of approximately 253 km in the west.
Washington has a total area of approximately 184 700 km2 and has 7,405,743 residents (US Census, 2017). Washington was listed as the No. 42 state in the United States on November 11, 1889. The capital is Olympia, and the largest city is Seattle.
Washington sends two senators and ten representatives to Congress.
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Geography and climate
Washington is divided north-south by the Cascade Range, where Mount Rainier is the highest peak with 4392 meters. To the west of this lies the fertile lowering around Puget Sound. Farthest west, towards the Pacific, Coast Ranges rises with the 2427-meter-high Mount Olympus – the highest peak of the Olympic Mountains. The eastern part of the state belongs mainly to the Columbia Plateau, a large creek with drains through the Columbia River and the Snake Bee River.
To the west of the Cascade Range, the climate is maritime, to the east more continental. Seattle has an average of 19 °C in July, 5 °C in January and 848 mm of rainfall; Spokane in the east 21 °C in July, –4 °C in January and 430 mm of precipitation. The Olympic Mountains in the west are among the most precipitous areas in the United States, with annual rainfall over 3500 mm. In the west there are large mature forests, furthest east bush.
Of the population, 68.7 percent are considered white, 12.7 percent Hispanic / Latino, 8.9 percent Asian, 4.2 percent African American and approximately 2.7 percent indigenous, of which approximately 80,000 are in reserves (US Census, 2017). About 84 percent of the population lives in cities (2010) – compared to about 82 percent across the United States. A large part of the population lives in Seattle and the areas around Puget Sound. Major educational institutions are the University of Washington (founded 1861) in Seattle and Washington State University (1890) in Pullman. The largest denominations are the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodists and the Lutherans. Many Norwegian immigrants found their way to Washington, even after World War II.
The largest cities are Seattle with 724,745 residents, Spokane with 217,108 residents, Tacoma with 213,418 residents and Vancouver with 175,673 residents (US Census, 2017). (Don’t be confused with the Canadian city of Vancouver across the border.)
In the east, agriculture is run as “dry farming”or by means of irrigation; The rivers, especially the Columbia River, are utilized for irrigation purposes. Washington is among the United States’ largest producers of apples, hops, cherries and potatoes; Wheat cultivation is also important. The livestock team includes cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry; milk production is considerable. Ten percent of the land is cultivated land.
Over half the acreage is woodland, and only Oregon and California have greater logging in the United States. At Puget Sound are many sawmills and wood processing companies, with the production of sawdust, wood pulp, cellulose and paper.
The aviation industry (Boeing) is important; there are also significant mechanical, metal and shipbuilding industries, as well as chemical plants in the Seattle area. The abundant supply of energy from hydropower has laid the foundations for a large aluminum industry. Minerals include coal and uranium. Puget Sound is the center of the fishing fleet; it catches salmon, halibut, oysters and sturgeon.
The exploration of Washington began in the 18th century when Spanish and British seafarers sailed along the west coast of North America in search of the Northwest Passage, and with visits by missionaries who wanted Christian indigenous peoples.
Robert Gray was the first American merchant to come to the area; his travels led to the discovery of the Columbia River in 1792. The area was long the subject of strife between the United States and Britain. In 1846 it was finally recognized as American, and in 1853 separated from Oregon territory and organized as its own territory. In 1889, Washington became the 42nd state of the Union.