Learn more about Washington
|- Total|| 71,342 sq mi |
|- Width||240 miles (385 km)|
|- Length||360 miles (580 km)|
|- % water||6.6|
|- Latitude||45°32' N to 49°00' N|
|- Longitude||116°57' W to 124°48' W|
|- Total (2000)||5,894,121|
|- Density|| 88.6/sq mi |
|- Median income||$48,688 (14th)|
|- Highest point|| Mount Rainier<ref name=usgs>Template:Cite web</ref>|
14,410 ft (4,395 m)
|- Mean||1,700 ft (520 m)|
|- Lowest point|| Pacific Ocean<ref name=usgs/>|
0 ft (0 m)
|Admission to Union||November 11, 1889 (42nd)|
|Governor||Christine Gregoire (D)|
|U.S. Senators|| Patty Murray (D)|
Maria Cantwell (D)
|Time zone||Pacific: UTC-8/-7|
Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The state is named after George Washington, the first President of the United States. As of the 2000 census, the state population was approximately 5.9 million and the state work force numbered about 3.1 million. Residents are called "Washingtonians" (emphasis on the third syllable, pronounced as tone). It is also called Washington state when there is need to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the nation's capital.
Washington is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west; Oregon to the south (the Columbia River forming most of this border); Idaho to the east and British Columbia, Canada to the north. It is famous for scenery of breathtaking beauty and sharp contrasts. High mountains rise above sparkling coastal waters and above both barren semi-desert and lush evergreen forests. Its coastal location and Puget Sound harbors give it a leading role in trade with Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim. Puget Sound's many islands are served by the largest ferry fleet in the United States.
Washington is a land of contrasts. The deep forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world and the only rainforests (such as the Hoh Rain Forest) in the continental United States, but the flat semi-desert that lies east of the Cascade Range stretches for long distances without a single tree. Snow-covered peaks tower above the foothills and lowlands around them. Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state<ref name=usgs/>, appears to "float" on the horizon southeast of Seattle and Tacoma on clear days. The eastern side of the state can be divided into two regions: the Okanogan Highlands and the Columbia River Basin.
Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:
- Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve near Coupeville
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site at Vancouver
- Klondike Gold Rush Seattle Unit National Historical Park in Seattle
- Lake Chelan National Recreation Area near Stehekin
- Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area along the Columbia River
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
- Mount Rainier National Park
- Nez Perce National Historical Park
- North Cascades National Park near Marblemount
- Olympic National Park at Port Angeles
- Ross Lake National Recreation Area at Newhalem
- San Juan Island National Historical Park in Friday Harbor
- Whitman Mission National Historic Site at Walla Walla
Areas under the National Wilderness Preservation System include:
- Alpine Lakes Wilderness
- Buckhorn Wilderness
- Clearwater Wilderness
- Glacier Peak Wilderness
- Goat Rocks Wilderness
- Norse Peak Wilderness
- Olympic Wilderness
- Pasayten Wilderness
- See also: Central Washington, Columbia River Plateau, Eastern Washington, Inland Empire (Pacific Northwest), Kitsap Peninsula, Palouse, and Western Washington
 Geographical features
- Puget Sound
- San Juan Islands
- Columbia River
- Snake River
- Yakima River
- Cascade Range
- Olympic Mountains
 Adjacent states
- See also: List of Washington rivers
Washington's climate varies greatly from west to east. A mild, semi-humid climate predominates in the western coastal part of the state, and a much colder dry climate prevails east of the Cascade Range. The average annual temperature ranges from 10.6° C (51° F) on the Pacific coast to 4.4° C (40° F) in the northeast. The recorded temperature in the state has ranged from -44.4° C (-48° F) in 1968 to 47.8° C (118° F) in 1961. A wet marine West Coast climate predominates in western Washington; it is mild for its latitude due to the presence of the warm North Pacific Current offshore and the relatively warm maritime air masses. The region has frequent cloud cover, considerable fog, and long-lasting drizzles; summer is the sunniest season. The western side of the Olympic Peninsula receives as much as 4064 mm (160 in) of precipitation annually, making it the wettest area of the 48 conterminous states. Weeks or even months, may pass without a clear day. Portions of the Puget Sound area, on the leeward side of the Olympic Mountains, are less wet, although still humid. The western slopes of the Cascade Range receive some of the heaviest annual snowfall (in some places more than 5080 mm/200 in) in the country. In the rain shadow east of the Cascades the annual precipitation is only 152 mm (6 in). Precipitation increases eastward toward the Rocky Mountains, however.
- For more details on this topic, see History of Washington.
Prior to the arrival of explorers from Europe, this region of the Pacific Coast had many established tribes of Native Americans, each with its own unique culture. Today, they are most notable for their totem poles and their ornately carved canoes and masks. Prominent among their industries were salmon fishing and whale hunting. In the east, nomadic tribes traveled the land and missionaries such as the Whitmans settled there.
The first European record of a landing on the Washington coast was by Spanish Captain Don Bruno de Heceta in 1775, on board the Santiago, part of a two-ship flotilla with the Sonora. They claimed all the coastal lands up to the Russian possessions in the north for Spain.
In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook sighted Cape Flattery, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but the straits would not be explored until 1789, by Captain Charles W. Barkley. Further explorations of the straits were performed by Spanish explorers Manuel Quimper in 1790 and Francisco de Eliza in 1791, then by British Captain George Vancouver in 1792.
The Spanish Nootka Convention of 1790 opened the northwest territory to explorers and trappers from other nations, most notably Britain and then the United States. Captain Robert Gray (for whom Grays Harbor county is named) then discovered the mouth of the Columbia River. He named the river after his ship, the Columbia. Beginning in 1792, Gray established trade in sea otter pelts. The Lewis and Clark Expedition entered the state on October 10, 1805.
In 1819, Spain ceded their original claims to this territory to the United States. This began a period of disputed joint-occupancy by Britain and the U.S. that lasted until June 15, 1846, when Britain ceded their claims to this land with the Treaty of Oregon.
What was to become Washington state's first family was that of Washington's founder, the black pioneer George Washington Bush and his white wife, Isabella James Bush, from Missouri and Tennessee, respectively. They led four white families into the territory and settled what is now Tumwater, Washington. They settled in Washington to avoid Oregon's racist settlement laws. 
Because of the overland migration along the Oregon Trail, many settlers wandered north to what is now Washington and settled the Puget Sound area. The first settlement was New Market (now known as Tumwater) in 1846. In 1853, Washington Territory was formed from part of Oregon Territory.
Early prominent industries in the state included agriculture and lumber. In eastern Washington, the Yakima Valley became known for its apple orchards, while the growth of wheat using dry-farming techniques became particularly productive. The heavy rainfall to the west of the Cascade Range produced dense forests, and the ports along Puget Sound prospered from the manufacturing and shipping of lumber products, particularly the Douglas fir. Other industries that developed in the state include fishing, salmon canning and mining.
For a long period, Tacoma was noted for its large smelters where gold, silver, copper and lead ores were treated. Seattle was the primary port for trade with Alaska and the rest of the country, and for a time it possessed a large ship-building industry. The region around eastern Puget Sound developed heavy industry during the period including World War I and World War II, and the Boeing company became an established icon in the area.
During the Great Depression, a series of hydroelectric dams were constructed along the Columbia river as part of a project to increase the production of electricity. This culminated in 1941 with the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest dam in the United States.
During World War II, the Puget Sound area became a focus for war industries, with the Boeing Company producing many of the nation's heavy bombers and ports in Seattle, Bremerton, and Tacoma were available for the manufacture of warships. Seattle was the point of departure for many soldiers in the Pacific, a number of which were quartered at Golden Gardens Park. In eastern Washington, the Hanford Works atomic energy plant was opened in 1943 and played a major role in the construction of the nation's atomic bombs.
On May 18, 1980, following a period of heavy tremors and eruptions, the northeast face of Mount St. Helens exploded outward, destroying a large part of the top of the volcano. This eruption flattened the forests, killed 57 people, flooded the Columbia River and its tributaries with ash and mud, and blanketed large parts of Washington in ash, making day look like night.
<tr><td align="center"> 1850 </td><td align="right"> 1,201 </td><td align="right"> - </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1860 </td><td align="right"> 11,594 </td><td align="right"> 865.4% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1870 </td><td align="right"> 23,955 </td><td align="right"> 106.6% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1880 </td><td align="right"> 75,116 </td><td align="right"> 213.6% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1890 </td><td align="right"> 357,232 </td><td align="right"> 375.6% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1900 </td><td align="right"> 518,103 </td><td align="right"> 45.0% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1910 </td><td align="right"> 1,141,990 </td><td align="right"> 120.4% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1920 </td><td align="right"> 1,356,621 </td><td align="right"> 18.8% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1930 </td><td align="right"> 1,563,396 </td><td align="right"> 15.2% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1940 </td><td align="right"> 1,736,191 </td><td align="right"> 11.1% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1950 </td><td align="right"> 2,378,963 </td><td align="right"> 37.0% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1960 </td><td align="right"> 2,853,214 </td><td align="right"> 19.9% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1970 </td><td align="right"> 3,409,169 </td><td align="right"> 19.5% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1980 </td><td align="right"> 4,132,156 </td><td align="right"> 21.2% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 1990 </td><td align="right"> 4,866,692 </td><td align="right"> 17.8% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 2000 </td><td align="right"> 5,894,121 </td><td align="right"> 21.1% </td></tr><tr><td align="center"> 2005 (est.) </td><td align="right"> 6,287,759 </td><td align="right"> </td></tr>
According to the U.S. Census as of 2005, Washington has an estimated population of 6,287,759, which is an increase of 80,713, or 1.3%, from the prior year and an increase of 393,619, or 6.7%, since the year 2000. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 180,160 people (that is 418,055 births minus 237,895 deaths) and an increase from net migration of 215,216 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 134,242 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 80,974 people.
As of 2004, Washington's population included 631,500 foreign-born (10.3% of the state population), and an estimated 100,000 illegal aliens (1.6% of state population).
Washington is currently the 12th fastest growing state.
|Demographics of Washington (csv)|
|AIAN is American Indian or Alaskan Native - NHPI is Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander|
|2000 (total population)||88.64%||4.12%||2.73%||6.75%||0.74%|
|2000 (Hispanic only)||7.00%||0.23%||0.28%||0.15%||0.06%|
|2005 (total population)||87.65%||4.45%||2.65%||7.69%||0.78%|
|2005 (Hispanic only)||8.16%||0.33%||0.30%||0.20%||0.07%|
|Growth 2000-2005 (total population)||5.49%||15.37%||3.54%||21.57%||12.25%|
|Growth 2000-2005 (non-Hispanic only)||3.88%||13.41%||2.18%||21.11%||11.20%|
|Growth 2000-2005 (Hispanic only)||24.32%||47.88%||15.40%||41.33%||24.11%|
There are many migrant Mexican farm workers living in the southeast-central part of the state, though the population is also increasing as laborers in Western Washington. Wahkiakum County, as well as most counties in the state, has many residents of Scandinavian origin.
Washington has the fifth largest Asian population of any state. The Filipino community is the largest Asian American subgroup in the state. Gary Locke was elected as the first Asian American governor at the end of the 20th century.
African Americans are less numerous than Asians or Hispanics in many communities, but have been elected as mayor of both Seattle and Lakewood and as King County Executive. In Seattle, minorities are moving into the southern part of the city as well as many suburban areas such as South King County. Tacoma also has a rising African-American population.
Washington is the location of many Indian reservations, with some placing prominent casinos next to major interstate highways, and residents have adopted many of the artwork themes of the northwest coast Indians who were noted for totem poles, longhouses, dugout canoes and pictures of animals such as the design used for the Seattle Seahawks. Many cities have traditional names created by Native Americans such as Seattle, Puyallup and Walla Walla.
6.7% of Washington's population was reported as under 5, 25.7% under 18, and 11.2% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.2% of the population.
The religious affiliations of Washington's population are:
- Christian – 71%
- Other Religions – 2%
- Non-Religious – 27%
As with many other Western states, the percentage of Washington's population identifying themselves as "non-religious" is higher than the national average. The percentage of non-religious people in Washington is the highest of any state.
The 2005 total gross state product for Washington was $268.5 billion, placing it 14th in the nation. The per capita income was $42,702, 17th in the nation. Significant business within the state include the design and manufacture of jet aircraft (Boeing), computer software development (Microsoft, Amazon.com, drugstore.com, Nintendo of America), electronics, biotechnology, aluminum production, lumber and wood products, mining, and tourism. The state has significant amounts of hydroelectric power generation. Significant amounts of trade with Asia pass through the ports of the Puget Sound. See list of United States companies by state.
The state of Washington is one of only seven states that does not levy a personal income tax. Neither does the state collect a corporate income tax. However, Washington businesses are responsible for various other state levies. Washington's state sales tax is 6.5 percent, and it applies to services as well as products.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Most foods are exempt from sales tax; however, prepared foods, dietary supplements and soft drinks remain taxable. The combined state and local retail sales tax rates increase the taxes paid by consumers, depending on the variable local sales tax rates, generally between 8 and 9 percent<ref>http://dor.wa.gov/content/home/TaxTopics/FederalDeductionLSTaxTable.aspx</ref>. An excise tax applies to certain select products such as gasoline, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages. Property tax was the first tax levied in the state of Washington and its collection accounts for about 30 percent of Washington's total state and local revenue. It continues to be the most important revenue source for public schools, fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation, and other special purpose districts.
All real property and personal property is subject to tax unless specifically exempted by law. Personal property also is taxed, although most personal property owned by individuals is exempt. Personal property tax applies to personal property used when conducting business or to other personal property not exempt by law. All property taxes are paid to the county treasurer's office where the property is located. Washington does not impose a tax on intangible assets such as bank accounts, stocks or bonds. Neither does the state assess any tax on retirement income earned and received from another state. Washington does not collect inheritance taxes; however, the estate tax is decoupled from the federal estate tax laws, and therefore the state imposes its own estate tax.
Washington is one of eighteen states which has a government monopoly on sales of alcoholic beverages, although beer and wine with less than 20 percent alcohol by volume can be purchased in convenience stores and supermarkets. Liqueurs (even if under 20 percent alcohol by volume) and spirits can only be purchased in state-run or privately-owned-state-contracted liquor stores.
Bill Gates (worth $53 billion) is the best known billionaire from the state, and wealthiest man in the world. Other Washington state billionaires Paul Allen (Microsoft), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Jeffrey Bezos (Amazon), Craig McCaw (McCaw Cellular), James Jannard (Oakley), John Edson (leisure craft), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Charles Simonyi (Microsoft)<ref> Seattle Times September 22, 2006 "No news here ... Gates still richest"</ref>
For 2003, the total value of Washington's agricultural products was $5.79 billion, the 11th highest in the country. The total value of its crops was $3.8 billion, the 7th highest. The total value of its livestock and specialty products was $1.5 billion, the 26th highest.
In 2004, Washington ranked first in the nation in production of red raspberries (90.0% of total U.S. production), wrinkled seed peas (80.6%), hops (75.0%), spearmint oil (73.6%), apples (58.1%), sweet cherries (47.3%), pears (42.6%), peppermint oil (40.3%), Concord grapes (39.3%), carrots for processing (36.8%), and Niagara grapes (31.6%). Washington also ranked second in the nation in production of lentils, fall potatoes, dry edible peas, apricots, grapes (all varieties taken together), asparagus (over a third of the nation's production), sweet corn for processing, and green peas for processing; third in tart cherries, prunes and plums, and dry summer onions; fourth in barley and trout; and fifth in wheat, cranberries, and strawberries.
Washington has an extensive system of state highways, called State Routes, as well as the third-largest ferry system in the world. There are 140 public airfields in Washington, including 16 state airports owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Boeing Field in Seattle is the busiest airport by numbers of planes in the world. The unique geography of Washington presents exceptional transportation needs.
There are extensive waterways in the midst of Washington's largest cites, including Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma and Olympia. The state highways incorporate an extensive network of bridges and the largest ferry system in the United States to serve transportation needs in the Puget Sound area. Washington's marine highway constitutes a fleet of twenty-eight ferries that navigate Puget Sound and its inland waterways to 20 different ports of call. Washington is home of four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge which connects the Olympic Peninsula and Kitsap Peninsula.
The Cascade Mountain Range also provides unique transportation challenges. Washington operates and maintains 7 major mountain passes and 8 minor passes. During winter months these passes are plowed, sanded, and kept safe with avalanche control. Not all are able to stay open through the winter. The North Cascades Highway on State Route 20 closes every year. Because of the extraordinary amount of snowfall and frequency of avalanches, the highway is not safe in the winter months. Although the highways have a slight curve in order for the water to run off.
 Law and government
The bicameral Washington State Legislature is the state's legislative branch. The state legislature is composed of a lower House of Representatives and an upper State Senate, with 49 legislative districts apiece. Districts for the House are multimember constituencies, electing two members per district, while a single member represents the district in the Senate. Currently for both houses of the legislature, the Democratic Party holds a majority in government. Both State Senators and House Representatives are elected for four year and two year terms, respectively. There are no term limits.
The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary of the state of Washington. Nine justices serve on the bench, and are elected at large.
 The U.S. Congress
Washington representatives in the United States House of Representatives are Jay Inslee (D-1), Richard Ray (Rick) Larsen (D-2), Brian Baird (D-3), Richard Norman "Doc" Hastings (R-4), Cathy McMorris (R-5), Norm Dicks (D-6), Jim McDermott (D-7), David Reichert (R-8), and Adam Smith (D-9).
 State elected officials
- Christine Gregoire, Governor (D)
- Brad Owen, Lieutenant Governor (D)
- Sam Reed, Secretary of State (R)
- Rob McKenna, Attorney General (R)
- Mike Murphy, Treasurer (D)
- Brian Sonntag, Auditor (D)
- Terry Bergeson, Superintendent of Public Instruction (non partisan office)
- Doug Sutherland, Commissioner of Public Lands (R)
- Mike Kreidler, Insurance Commissioner (D)
The state has been thought of as politically divided by the Cascade Mountains, with Western Washington being liberal (particularly the I-5 Corridor) and Eastern Washington being conservative. Since the population is larger in the west, the Democrats usually fare better statewide. Washington has voted for the Democratic candidate in presidential elections recently in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. It was considered a key swing state in 1968 and 2000. In 1968, it was the only Western state to give its electoral votes to Hubert Humphrey.
While the Democratic Party has long dominated Washington, the 2004 Washington gubernatorial election was among the closest races in United States election history. The initial count gave Republican candidate Dino Rossi a lead of 261 votes out of a total vote count of 2,805,913, or 0.0093%.<ref>2004 Washington State Initial Gubernatorial Election results</ref> Washington law calls for a mandatory machine recount if the difference between the candidates is less than 0.5% and 200 votes <ref> November 5, 2004 Rules for Mandatory Recount</ref>. The mandatory recount again had Rossi in the lead, but it was now by 42 votes, or 0.0015% of the total 2,808,341 votes included in the first recount.<ref>2004 Washington State Gubernatorial Election 1st Recount Results</ref> A second recount was done by hand, at the request of the Democratic party as allowed by law. This final recount overturned the initial results and resulted in a lead for Christine Gregoire, the Democratic candidate, of 129 votes, or 0.0045% of the 2,810,058 votes cast.<ref>2004 Washington State Gubernatorial Election 2nd Recount Results</ref> As this second recount was the last allowed for by Washington election law, Gregoire was inaugurated on 12 January 2005. The subsequent court battles raged for months after the election, but ultimately ended with Gregoire retaining her office. The final official count left Gregoire ahead by 133 votes.
Washington holds the distinction of becoming the first, and so far only, state to elect women to all three major statewide offices (state governor Chris Gregoire and U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell) at the same time.
On January 30, 2006, Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law legislation making Washington the 17th state in the nation to protect gay and lesbian people from discrimination in housing, lending, and employment, and the 7th state in the nation to offer these protections to transgendered people. Initiative activist Tim Eyman filed a referendum that same day, seeking to put the issue before the state's voters. Despite a push from conservative churches across the state to gather signatures on what were dubbed "Referendum Sundays," Eyman was only able to gather 105,103 signatures, more than 7,000 signatures short of the minimum. As a result, the law went into effect on June 7, 2006.
See also List of Washington Governors
 Important cities and towns
- Port Angeles
- See also: List of cities in Washington, List of towns in Washington, Washington locations by per capita income, and City government in the state of Washington
 Colleges and universities
- Central Washington University
- Eastern Washington University
- The Evergreen State College
- University of Washington
- Washington State University
- Western Washington University