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State of Idaho
Flag of Idaho Official seal of Idaho
Gem State
Esto perpetua (Latin for "Let it be perpetual")
Anthem: "Here We Have Idaho"
Map of the United States with Idaho highlighted
Map of the United States with Idaho highlighted
Country United States
Before statehood Oregon Territory, Washington Territory, Idaho Territory
Admitted to the Union July 3, 1890 (43rd)
(and largest city)
Largest metro Boise metropolitan area
 • Governor Brad Little (R)
Legislature Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
 • Total 83,569 sq mi (216,443 km2)
 • Land 82,643 sq mi (214,044 km2)
 • Water 926 sq mi (2,398 km2)  1.11%
Area rank 14th
 • Length 479 mi (771 km)
 • Width 305 mi (491 km)
5,000 ft (1,520 m)
Highest elevation
(Borah Peak)
12,662 ft (3,859 m)
Lowest elevation
(Confluence of Snake and Clearwater River; Lewiston)
713 ft (217 m)
 • Total 1,787,065
 • Rank 39th
 • Density 21.6/sq mi (8.33/km2)
 • Density rank 44th
 • Median household income
 • Income rank
Demonym(s) Idahoan
 • Official language English
Time zones
primary UTC−07:00 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−06:00 (MDT)
Idaho Panhandle UTC−08:00 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−07:00 (PDT)
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 code US-ID
Latitude 42° N to 49° N
Longitude 111°03′ W to 117°15′ W
Idaho state symbols
Flag of Idaho.svg
Seal of Idaho.svg
The Seal of Idaho
Living insignia
Amphibian Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
  • Mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
  • Raptor: Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Fish Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)
Flower Syringa (Philadelphus lewisii)
Horse breed Appaloosa
Insect Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Tree Western white pine (Pinus monticola)
Inanimate insignia
Dance Square dance
Fossil Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens)
Gemstone Star garnet
Slogan "Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations."
Soil Threebear
State route marker
Idaho state route marker
State quarter
Idaho quarter dollar coin
Released in 2007
Lists of United States state symbols
Idaho ned
Digitally colored elevation map of Idaho
Shoshone falls
Shoshone Falls
in south central Idaho
Sixty percent of Idaho's land is held by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management, and it leads the nation in forest service land as a percentage of total area.
Owyhee Mountains
Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in the Owyhee Mountains, about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Boise, Idaho
Idaho USA12
The Palouse region
of north central Idaho.

Idaho is a state in the United States. Its capital and biggest city is Boise.

Idaho became a state in 1890. Its current Governor is Butch Otter. It is the 11th largest state in land area, and the 14th largest in total area (land and water). The population of Idaho is estimated at 1,523,816 by the United States Census Bureau in 2008.

Idaho is bordered by Washington and Oregon on the west, Montana and Wyoming on the east, Utah and Nevada on the south and the country of Canada (British Columbia) on the north side. The climate in Idaho can sometimes be hot, reaching up to 100 °F. Humidity is normally low with cooler evenings in summer months. In winter, temperatures normally drop to lower twenty's, upper teens. Sometimes, the temperature drops to several degrees below zero.

Idaho's state motto is Esto perpetua. This is Latin for "Let it be forever".

Idaho is quite mountainous, and contains several stretches of the Rocky Mountains. Additionally, around 38 percent of Idaho's land is held by the United States Forest Service, the most of any state.

Industries significant for the state economy include manufacturing, agriculture, mining, forestry, and tourism. A number of science and technology firms are either headquartered in Idaho or have factories there, and the state also contains the Idaho National Laboratory, which is the largest Department of Energy facility in the country.

Idaho's agricultural sector supplies a number of different products, but the state is best known for its potato crop, which comprises around one-third of the nationwide yield. The official state nickname is the "Gem State", which references Idaho's reputation for gemstones and, more broadly, its many wilderness areas.


The name "Idaho" may be derived from the Plains Apache word "ídaahę́", which means "enemy." The Comanches used this word to refer to the Idaho Territory.


Map of Idaho.

Idaho borders six US states and one Canadian province. The states of Washington and Oregon are to the west, Nevada and Utah are to the south, and Montana and Wyoming are to the east. Idaho also shares a short border with the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. The landscape is rugged with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the United States. For example, at 2.3 million acres (930,000 ha), the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental United States. Idaho is a Rocky Mountain state with abundant natural resources and scenic areas. The state has snow-capped mountain ranges, rapids, vast lakes and steep canyons. The waters of the Snake River rush through Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in the United States. Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than that of Niagara Falls. The major rivers in Idaho are the Snake River, the Clark Fork/Pend Oreille River, the Clearwater River, and the Salmon River. Other significant rivers include the Coeur d'Alene River, the Spokane River, the Boise River, and the Payette River. The Salmon River empties into the Snake in Hells Canyon and forms the southern boundary of Nez Perce County on its north shore, of which Lewiston is the county seat. The Port of Lewiston, at the confluence of the Clearwater and the Snake Rivers is the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast at 465 river miles from the Pacific at Astoria, Oregon.

Idaho's highest point is Borah Peak, 12,662 ft (3,859 m), in the Lost River Range north of Mackay. Idaho's lowest point, 710 ft (216 m), is in Lewiston, where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River and continues into Washington. The Sawtooth Range is often considered Idaho's most famous mountain range. Other mountain ranges in Idaho include the Bitterroot Range, the White Cloud Mountains, the Lost River Range, the Clearwater Mountains, and the Salmon River Mountains.

Idaho has two time zones, with the dividing line approximately midway between Canada and Nevada. Southern Idaho, including the Boise metropolitan area, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Twin Falls, are in the Mountain Time Zone. A legislative error theoretically placed this region in the Central Time Zone, but this was corrected with a 2007 amendment. Areas north of the Salmon River, including Coeur d'Alene, Moscow, Lewiston, and Sandpoint, are in the Pacific Time Zone, which contains less than a quarter of the state's population and land area.


Autumn in Boise
Autumn in Boise

Idaho has much variation in its climate.

Climate in Idaho can be hot, although extended periods over 98 °F (37 °C) for the maximum temperature are rare, except for the lowest point in elevation, Lewiston, which correspondingly sees very little snow. Hot summer days are tempered by the low relative humidity and cooler evenings during summer months since, for most of the state, the highest diurnal difference in temperature is often in the summer.

Winters can be cold, although extended periods of bitter cold weather below zero are unusual. This is what led the railroad tycoon Harriman family to develop the famous ski resort, Sun Valley.


Lake Coeur d'Alene in North Idaho
Redfish lake
Redfish Lake in central Idaho.
Checkerboard forest in Idaho
Priest River winding through Whitetail Butte
  • Alturas Lake
  • Brush Lake
  • Bear River
  • Bear Lake (Idaho-Utah)
  • Boise River
  • Clearwater River
  • Dawson Lake
  • Dierkes Lake
  • Hayden Lake
  • Henry's Lake
  • Hidden Lake
  • Kootenai River
  • Lake Cascade
  • Lake Cleveland
  • Lake Coeur d'Alene
  • Lake Lowell
  • Lake Walcott
  • Pend Oreille
  • Little Redfish Lake
  • Lucky Peak Lake
  • Moyie River
  • North Fork Clearwater River
  • Pack River
  • Payette Lake, (McCall)
  • Pettit Lake
  • Priest Lake
  • Perkins Lake
  • Portneuf River
  • Redfish Lake
  • River of No Return
  • Sawtooth Lake
  • Smith Lake
  • Snake River
  • Stanley Lake
  • Warm Lake
  • Williams Lake (Salmon)


Humans may have been present in the Idaho area as long as 14,500 years ago. Excavations at Wilson Butte Cave near Twin Falls in 1959 revealed evidence of human activity, including arrowheads, that rank among the oldest dated artifacts in North America. American Indian peoples predominant in the area included the Nez Percé in the north and the Northern and Western Shoshone in the south.

An early presence of French-Canadian trappers is visible in names and toponyms that have survived to this day: Nez Percé, Cœur d'Alène, Boisé, Payette, some preexisting the Lewis and Clark and Astorian expeditions which themselves included significant numbers of French and Métis guides recruited for their familiarity with the terrain.

Idaho, as part of the Oregon Country, was claimed by both the United States and Great Britain until the United States gained undisputed jurisdiction in 1846. From 1843 to 1849, present-day Idaho was under the de facto jurisdiction of the Provisional Government of Oregon. When Oregon became a state, what is now Idaho was in what remained of the original Oregon Territory not part of the new state, and designated as the Washington Territory.

Between then and the creation of the Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863, at Lewiston, parts of the present-day state were included in the Oregon, Washington, and Dakota Territories. The new territory included present-day Idaho, Montana, and most of Wyoming.

The Lewis and Clark expedition crossed Idaho in 1805 on the way to the Pacific and in 1806 on the return, largely following the Clearwater River both directions.

The first non-indigenous settlement was Kullyspell House, established on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille for fur trading in 1809 by David Thompson of the North West Company.

In 1812 Donald Mackenzie, working for the Pacific Fur Company at the time, established a post on the lower Clearwater River near present-day Lewiston. This post, known as "MacKenzie's Post" or "Clearwater", operated until the Pacific Fur Company was bought out by the North West Company in 1813, after which it was abandoned. The first attempts at organized communities, within the present borders of Idaho, were established in 1860. The first permanent, substantial incorporated community was Lewiston in 1861.

After some tribulation as a territory Idaho achieved statehood in 1890. The economy of the state, which had been primarily supported by metal mining, shifted towards agriculture, forest products and tourism.

Idaho was one of the hardest hit of the Pacific Northwest states during the Great Depression.

In recent years, Idaho has expanded its commercial base as a tourism and agricultural state to include science and technology industries. Science and technology have become the largest single economic center (over 25% of the state's total revenue) within the state and are greater than agriculture, forestry and mining combined.


Idaho ancestry
There are large numbers of Americans of German and English ancestry in Idaho


Idaho population map
Idaho population density map
Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 14,999
1880 32,610 117.4%
1890 88,548 171.5%
1900 161,772 82.7%
1910 325,594 101.3%
1920 431,866 32.6%
1930 445,032 3.0%
1940 524,873 17.9%
1950 588,637 12.1%
1960 667,191 13.3%
1970 712,567 6.8%
1980 943,935 32.5%
1990 1,006,749 6.7%
2000 1,293,953 28.5%
2010 1,567,582 21.1%
Est. 2019 1,787,065 14.0%
Source: 1910–2010
2019 estimate

The United States Census Bureau estimates Idaho's population was 1,787,065 on July 1, 2018, a 14% increase since 2010.

Idaho had an estimated population of 1,754,208 in 2018, which was an increase of 37,265, from the prior year and an increase of 186,626, or 11.91%, since 2010. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 58,884 (111,131 births minus 52,247 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 75,795 people into the state. There are large numbers of Americans of English and German ancestry in Idaho. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 14,522 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 61,273 people.

This made Idaho the tenth fastest-growing state after District of Columbia (+16.74%), Utah (+14.37%), Texas (+14.14%), Florida (+13.29%), Colorado (+13.25%), North Dakota (+13.01%), Nevada (+12.36%), Arizona (+12.20%) and Washington. From 2017 to 2018, Idaho grew the second-fastest, surpassed only by Nevada.

At the 2010 Census,

  • 89.1% of the population was White American
  • 0.6% Black or African American
  • 1.4% American Indian and Alaska Native
  • 1.2% Asian American
  • 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
  • 2.5% of two or more races.

Idaho had an estimated population of 1,654,930 in 2015, which was an increase of 20,466, from the prior year and an increase of 87,348, or 5.57%, since 2010.

There are large numbers of Americans of English and German ancestry in Idaho.

Nampa, about 20 miles (30 km) west of downtown Boise, became the state's second largest city in the late 1990s.

From 1990 to 2010, Idaho's population increased by over 560 000 (55%).

The Boise Metropolitan Area (officially known as the Boise City-Nampa, ID Metropolitan Statistical Area) is Idaho's largest metropolitan area.

The center of population of Idaho is located in Custer County, in the town of Stanley.

The most common reported ancestries in the state are: German (18.9%), English (18.1%), Irish (10%), American (8.4%), Norwegian (3.6%), and Italian (3.5%).


Idaho Falls Temple
The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, November 2006

The largest denominations by number of members in 2010 were The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 409 265; the Catholic Church with 123 400; the non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 62 637; and the Assemblies of God with 22 183.


Spanish is the second-most-spoken language in Idaho, after English. See also the Native American languages of Idaho.


Idaho Potato Museum
Wheat harvest
Wheat harvest on the Palouse
US ID AmericanFalls
American Falls Dam

Idaho is an important agricultural state, producing nearly one-third of the potatoes grown in the United States. All three varieties of wheat, dark northern spring, hard red, and soft white are grown in the state. Nez Perce County is considered a premier soft white growing locale.

Important industries in Idaho are food processing, lumber and wood products, machinery, chemical products, paper products, electronics manufacturing, silver and other mining, and tourism.

The world's largest factory for barrel cheese, the raw product for processed cheese is in Gooding, Idaho.

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is the largest Department of Energy facility in the country by area. INL is an important part of the eastern Idaho economy.

Idaho also is home to three facilities of Anheuser-Busch which provide a large part of the malt for breweries across the nation.

Outdoor recreation is a common example ranging from numerous snowmobile and downhill and cross-country ski areas in winter, combined with the rivers for a wide variety of activities.

Wine grapes were grown between Kendrick and Juliaetta in the Idaho Panhandle by the French Rothschilds until Prohibition. In keeping with this, while there are no large wineries or breweries in Idaho, there are numerous and growing numbers of award-winning boutique wineries and microbreweries in the northern part of the state.

Today, Idaho's largest industry is the science and technology sector.

Since the late 1970s, Boise has emerged as a center for semiconductor manufacturing. Boise is the home of Micron Technology, the only U.S. manufacturer of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips.


The energy landscape of Idaho is favorable to the development of renewable energy systems. The state is rich in renewable energy resources but has limited fossil fuel resources. The Snake River Plain and smaller river basins provide Idaho with some of the best hydroelectric power resources in the nation and its geologically active mountain areas have significant geothermal power and wind power potential. These realities have shaped much of the state's current energy landscape.

The state's numerous river basins allow hydroelectric power plants to provide 556,000 MWh, which amounts to about three-fourths of Idaho's electricity generated in the state.


Idaho license plate - passenger baseplate - 2008
The current state license plate design, modified since its introduction in 1991


Idaho is among the few states in the nation without a major freeway linking its two largest metropolitan areas, Boise in the south and Coeur d'Alene in the north.


Idaho has 7 major airports


Idaho is served by three transcontinental railroads.

The Union Pacific Railroad also crosses southern Idaho traveling between Portland, Oregon, Green River, Wyoming, and Ogden, Utah and serves Boise, Nampa, Twin Falls, and Pocatello.


The Port of Lewiston is the farthest inland Pacific port on the west coast. A series of dams and locks on the Snake River and Columbia River facilitate barge travel from Lewiston to Portland, where goods are loaded on ocean-going vessels.

Cities and towns

Coeur d'Alene
Sunset in Coeur d'Alene

Protected areas

National parks, reserves, monuments and historic sites

City of Rocks National Reserve
Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • California National Historic Trail
  • City of Rocks National Reserve
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
  • Minidoka National Historic Site
  • Nez Perce National Historical Park
  • Oregon National Historic Trail
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail

National recreation areas

  • Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Sawtooth National Recreation Area

National wildlife refuges and Wilderness Areas

  • Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Camas National Wildlife Refuge
  • Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge
  • Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness Area
  • Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge
  • Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
  • Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge

National conservation areas

  • Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

State parks

DSCN6179 bearlake e
Bear Lake viewed from Bear Lake State Park.
See also: List of Idaho state parks
  • Bear Lake State Park
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park
  • Castle Rocks State Park
  • City of Rocks National Reserve
  • Coeur d'Alene Parkway State Park
  • Dworshak State Park
  • Eagle Island State Park
  • Farragut State Park
  • Harriman State Park
  • Hells Gate State Park
  • Henrys Lake State Park
  • Heyburn State Park
  • Lake Cascade State Park
  • Lake Walcott State Park
  • Land of the Yankee Fork State Park
  • Lucky Peak State Park
  • Massacre Rocks State Park
  • McCroskey State Park
  • Old Mission State Park
  • Ponderosa State Park
  • Priest Lake State Park
  • Round Lake State Park
  • Thousand Springs State Park
  • Three Island Crossing State Park
  • Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
  • Winchester Lake State Park

Official state emblems

  • State amphibian: Idaho Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon aterrimus)
  • State bird: mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
  • State dance: square dance
  • State fish: cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)
  • State flower: syringa (Philadelphus lewisii)
  • State fossil: Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens)
  • State fruit: huckleberry
  • State gem: star garnet
  • State horse: Appaloosa
  • State motto: Esto perpetua ("Let it be perpetual")
  • State insect: monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
  • State raptor: peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  • State song: "Here We Have Idaho"
  • State tree: western white pine (Pinus monticola)
  • State vegetable: potato

In popular culture

River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves starred in the movie My Own Private Idaho, portions of which take place in Idaho.

The 2004 cult film Napoleon Dynamite takes place in Preston, Idaho. The director and his wife, Jared and Jerusha Hess, attended Preston High School.

Judy Garland performed the elaborate song-and-dance routine "Born in a Trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho" in the 1954 version of the film A Star is Born.

Images for kids

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