Statehood: November 11, 1889
Nickname: The Evergreen State
Washington, the only state named after a president, is located in the northwestern part of the contiguous 48 states on the Pacific Ocean. The Evergreen State, the 18th largest state in the union, can be divided into six geographic land areas; the Olympic Mountains, the Coast Range, the Puget Sound Lowlands, the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia Plateau, and the Rocky Mountains
Olympic Mountains: The Olympic Mountains in the northwest corner of Washington are bordered on the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. To the east of the Olympic Mountains lies Puget Sound and to the south of the mountains is the Coast Range. The Olympic Mountains are wild areas indeed. Some areas are thought to have never been explored. Most of this land area lies within the borders of Olympic National Park.
Coast Range: To the south of the Olympic Mountains in the southwest corner of Washington is the land area referred to as the Coast Range. The Coast Range runs south into Oregon. The most notable features of the Coast Range in Washington are the Willapa Hills which overlook Willapa Bay.
Puget Sound Lowlands: To the east of the Olympic Mountains and the west of the Cascade Mountains, Puget Bay extends south into Washington and north into British Columbia, Canada. The Puget Sound Lowlands also include the land along the Chehalis River that runs to the Pacific Ocean between the Olympic Mountains in the north and the Willapa Hills in the south. This is the Valley of the Chehalis River. About 3/4 of Washington's population live in the Puget Sound Lowlands. Most of the states cities, including Tacoma and the state capital, Olympia are located on the lowlands.
Cascade Mountains: To the east of the Puget Sound Lowlands the great Cascade Mountains rise high, several peaks extending more than 10,000 feet into the sky. Mount Rainier, the highest point in Washington is located in the Cascade Mountains along with Mount St. Helens which errupted in 1980. This 700-mile chain of mountains is marked by several volcanic peaks, most of them inactive. Besides Mt. Rainier (14,410 feet), Mount Adams (12,307 feet), Mount Baker (10,778 feet) and Glacier Peak (10,541 feet) are prominent in the Cascade Mountatin range. All of the higher mountains support glaciers and permanent snow cover on their upper slopes. The lower slopes and lower mountains are carpeted with beautiful, lush forests, most located within designated national forest areas.
Columbia Plateau: Most of southern and central Washington is covered by the Columbia Plateau land area, also referred to as the Columbia Basin. This area is elevated from 500 to 2,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by higher lands. It's part of the largest lava plateau in the world. The Columbia Plateau lies to the south and the east of the great bend in the Columbia River. Features of the Columbia Plateau are described as "coulees" and "scablands." Coulees are dry canyons with steep walls cut into the lava thousands of years ago. When glaciers blocked the Columbia River on its way to the Pacific, rushing water and ice cut trenches across the plateau. When the glaciers melted and the Columbia River was free to fall into its present course, these rivers and streams dried up. Grand Coulee and Moses Coulee are the most notable of these canyons. Scablands are patches of lava lying on the surface of the plateau.
The Palouse country of Washington lies in the southeastern portion of the Columbia Plateau. The rolling hills of Palouse Country provide a deep fertile soil that supports much of Washington's wheat farming.
The Blue Mountains lie in the deep southeastern corner of Washington. These mountains, lower than the Cascades or the Olympic Mountains, provide land for hay and grains in the valleys and summer grazing for livestock on the slopes.
Rocky Mountains: A portion of the Rocky Mountains cuts across Washington in the northeast corner of the state. The Washington Rocky Mountains are called the Columbia Mountains and consist of ridges and valleys cut by the Columbia River and its tributaries including the Okanogan River. Minerals such as copper, gold, lead, limestone, magnesite, silver and zinc are found in the Columbia Mountains.
Olympic Mountains on the northwest peninsula; open land along coast to Columbia River; flat terrain of Puget Sound lowland; Cascade Mountains high peaks to the east of lowland; Columbia Basin in central portion; highlands to the northeast; mountains to the southeast.
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Land Area: 66,544 square miles - ranked 18th in total area
Number of counties:39
Water is central to the economy of Washington, and although the state borders the Pacific Ocean, it is the Columbia River that has the greatest impact. From its earliest use by Native Americans as a travel route and a source of salmon in their diet to the more modern use of hydroelectric power generated by the Grand Coulee Dam, the Columbia River is crucial.
More about Washington
Population: 76,287,759 people
Olympia is Washington's state capital. The city is a port of entry, it ships lumber products and agricultural produce.
Oyster fisheries and canning plants are there, and there is printing and publishing.
Manufactures include explosives; consumer goods; sports equipment; plastic, metal, and paper products; veneer; furniture; cheese; steel; aircraft engines; and porcelain enamel.
Olympia was settled in 1846 and was selected capital of the newly created Washington Territory in 1853.
A local attraction is the annual salmon run from Budd Inlet into Capitol Lake.
In 2001 an earthquake centered some 12 miles north of the city cracked the capitol dome and caused other property damage.
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