State of Oregon
Flag of Oregon State seal of Oregon
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): Beaver State
Motto(s): 'Alis volat propriis (Latin: She flies with her own wings)
State anthem: Oregon, My Oregon
Map of the United States with Oregon highlighted
Official language De jure: none
De facto: English
Demonym Oregonian
Capital Salem
Largest city Portland
Largest metro Portland metropolitan area
Area Ranked 9th
 - Total 98,381 sq mi
(254,806 km2)
 - Width 400 miles (640 km)
 - Length 360 miles (580 km)
 - % water 2.4
 - Latitude 42° N to 46° 18′ N
 - Longitude 116° 28′ W to 124° 38′ W
Number of people Ranked 27th
 - Total 4,093,465 (2016 est.)
 - Density 39.9/sq mi  (15.0/km2)
Ranked 39th
 - Average income $60,834 (17th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Mount Hood
11,249 ft (3,428.8 m)
 - Average 3,300 ft  (1,000 m)
 - Lowest point Pacific Ocean
sea level
Before statehood Oregon Territory
Became part of the U.S. February 14, 1859 (33rd)
Governor Kate Brown (D)
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D)
Jeff Merkley (D)
U.S. House delegation 4 Democrats, 1 Republican (list)
Time zones  
 - most of state Pacific: UTC −8/−7
 - most of Malheur County Mountain: UTC −7/−6
Abbreviations OR, Ore. US-OR
Website www.oregon.gov
Oregon State symbols
Flag of Oregon.svg
The Flag of Oregon.

Seal of Oregon.svg
The Seal of Oregon.

Animate insignia
Bird(s) Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Crustacean Dungeness crab
(Metacarcinus magister)
Fish Chinook salmon
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Flower(s) Oregon grape
(Mahonia aquifolium)
Grass Bluebunch wheatgrass
(Pseudoroegneria spicata)
Insect Oregon swallowtail
(Papilio oregonius)
Mammal(s) American beaver
(Castor canadensis)
Tree Douglas-fir

Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food Pear
(Pyrus)
Fossil Metasequoia
Gemstone Oregon sunstone
Shell Oregon hairy triton
(Fusitriton oregonensis)
Slogan(s) The Union
Soil Jory soil
Song(s) "Oregon, My Oregon"

Route marker(s)
Oregon Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Oregon
Released in 2005

Lists of United States state insignia

Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

Oregon is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the north by Washington, on the south by California, on the east by Idaho, and on the southeast by Nevada.

Oregon was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before Western traders, explorers, and settlers arrived.

An autonomous government was formed in the Oregon Country in 1843 before the Oregon Territory was created in 1848.

Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.

The capital of Oregon is Salem, the second most populous of its cities, with 164,549 residents.

Oregon's landscape is diverse, with a windswept Pacific coastline; a volcano-studded Cascade Range; abundant bodies of water in and west of the Cascades; dense evergreen, mixed, and deciduous forests at lower elevations; and a high desert sprawling across much of its east all the way to the Great Basin.

Because of its diverse landscapes and waterways, Oregon's economy is largely powered by various forms of agriculture, fishing, and hydroelectric power. It is also the top timber-producer of the lower 48 states. Technology is another one of the state's major economic forces, which began in the 1970s with the establishment of the Silicon Forest and the expansion of Tektronix and Intel. Sportswear company Nike, Inc., is headquartered in Beaverton.

Geography

Crater Lake - panoramio
Crater Lake during winter.

Oregon is 295 miles (475 km) north to south at longest distance, and 395 miles (636 km) east to west at longest distance. In land and water area, Oregon is the ninth largest state, covering 98,381 square miles (254,810 km2). Oregon's highest point is the summit of Mount Hood, at 11,249 feet (3,429 m), and its lowest point is the sea level of the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast. Oregon's mean elevation is 3,300 feet (1,006 m). Crater Lake National Park is the state's only national park and the site of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 feet (592 m). Oregon claims the D River as the shortest river in the world, though the state of Montana makes the same claim of its Roe River. Oregon is also home to Mill Ends Park (in Portland), the smallest park in the world at 452 square inches (0.29 m2).

Oregon is split into eight geographical regions. In Western Oregon: Oregon Coast (west of the Coast Range), the Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley, Cascade Range and Klamath Mountains; and in Central and Eastern Oregon: the Columbia Plateau, the High Desert, and the Blue Mountains.

Oregon lies in two time zones. Most of Malheur County is in the Mountain Time Zone while the rest of the state lies in the Pacific Time Zone.

Geology and terrain

See also: List of rivers in Oregon
Mt. Hood (8081466807)
Mt. Hood is the highest peak in Oregon.

Western Oregon's mountainous regions, home to three of the most prominent mountain peaks of the United States including Mount Hood, were formed by the volcanic activity of the Juan de Fuca Plate, a tectonic plate that poses a continued threat of volcanic activity and earthquakes in the region. The most recent major activity was the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. Washington's Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, an event visible from northern Oregon and affected some areas there.

The Columbia River, which forms much of Oregon's northern border, also played a major role in the region's geological evolution, as well as its economic and cultural development. The Columbia is one of North America's largest rivers, and one of two rivers to cut through the Cascades (the Klamath River in Southern Oregon is the other). About 15,000 years ago, the Columbia repeatedly flooded much of Oregon during the Missoula Floods; the modern fertility of the Willamette Valley is largely a result of those floods. Plentiful salmon made parts of the river, such as Celilo Falls, hubs of economic activity for thousands of years.

Today, Oregon's landscape varies from rain forest in the Coast Range to barren desert in the southeast, which still meets the technical definition of a frontier. Oregon's geographical center is further west than any of the other 48 contiguous states (although the westernmost point of the lower 48 states is in Washington). Central Oregon's geographical features range from high desert and volcanic rock formations resulting from lava beds. The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is in this region of the state.

Flora and fauna

Typical of a western state, Oregon is home to a unique and diverse array of wildlife. About 46% of the state is covered in forest, mostly west of the Cascades where up to 80% of the land is forest. Sixty percent of Oregon's forests are within federal land. Oregon is the top timber producer of the lower 48 states.

  • Typical tree species include the Douglas fir, the state tree, as well as redwood, ponderosa pine (generally east of the Cascades), western red cedar, and hemlock. Ponderosa pine are more common in the Blue Mountains in the eastern part of the state and firs are more common in the west.
Antilocapra americana
Pronghorn antelope in Fort Rock.

Moose have not always inhabited the state but came to Oregon in the 1960s; the Wallowa Valley herd now numbers about 60. Gray wolves were extirpated from Oregon around 1930 but have since found their way back; there are now two packs living in the south-central part of the state. Although their existence in Oregon is unconfirmed, reports of grizzly bears still turn up the state and it is probable some still move into eastern Oregon from Idaho. There are some areas in Oregon where humans live in the same area as wildlife. This is bound to happen more as the human population grows. When wildlife resources dwindle (food, water and shelter) they will often look for food and shelter in homes and garages. Oregon is home to what is considered the largest single organism in the world, an Armillaria solidipes fungus beneath the Malheur National Forest of eastern Oregon.

Oregon has three national park sites: Crater Lake National Park in the southern part of the Cascades, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks.

Climate

Oregon's climate is generally mild. The state has an oceanic climate west of the Cascade mountain range. The climate varies with dense evergreen mixed forests spreading across much of the west, and a high desert sprawling to the east. The state's southwestern portion, particularly the Rogue Valley, has a Mediterranean climate with drier and sunnier winters and hotter summers, similar to Northern California.

Oregon's northeastern portion has a steppe climate, and the high terrain regions have a subarctic climate. Like Western Europe, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest in general, is considered warm for its latitude, and the state has far milder winters for the given elevation than the comparable latitude parts of North America, such as the Upper Midwest, Ontario, Quebec and New England.

Western Oregon's climate is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean. The western third of Oregon is very wet in the winter, moderately to very wet during the spring and fall, and dry during the summer. The relative humidity of Western Oregon is high except during summer days, which are semi-dry to semi-humid; Eastern Oregon typically sees low humidity year-round.

The eastern two thirds of Oregon have cold, snowy winters and very dry summers; much of it is semiarid to arid like the rest of the Great Basin, though the Blue Mountains are wet enough to support extensive forests. Most of the state receives significant snowfall, but the Willamette Valley, where 60 percent of Oregon's population lives, has considerably milder winters for its latitude and typically only sees light snowfall.

History

Humans have inhabited the area that is now Oregon for at least 15,000 years. In recorded history, mentions of the land date to as early as the 16th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, European powers – and later the United States – quarreled over possession of the region until 1846, when the U.S. and Great Britain finalized division of the region. Oregon became a state on February 14, 1859 and as of 2015 is home to over 4 million residents.

Earliest inhabitants

Paul Shoaway, Umatilla Indian, in ceremonial dress, Washington (4951753872)
Paul Shoaway, a Native of the Umatilla tribe in the Columbia Plateau region, 1899

The oldest evidence of habitation in Oregon was found at Fort Rock Cave and the Paisley Caves in Lake County. Archaeologist Luther Cressman dated material from Fort Rock to 13,200 years ago, and there is evidence supporting inhabitants in the region at least 15,000 years ago. By 8000 BC there were settlements throughout the state, with populations concentrated along the lower Columbia River, in the western valleys, and around coastal estuaries.

During the prehistoric period, the Willamette Valley region was flooded after the collapse of glacial dams from Lake Missoula, located in what would later become Montana. These massive floods occurred during the last ice age and filled the valley with 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) of water.

By the 16th century, Oregon was home to many Native American groups, including the Chinook, Coquille (Ko-Kwell), Bannock, Chasta, Kalapuya, Klamath, Klickitat, Molalla, Nez Perce, Takelma, Tillamook, Umatilla, and Umpqua.

European and pioneer settlement

The first Europeans to visit Oregon were Spanish explorers led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who sighted southern Oregon off the Pacific Coast in 1543. Francis Drake made his way to Nehalem Bay in 1579 and spent 5 weeks in the middle of summer repairing his ship and claimed the land between 38–48 degrees N latitude as a Symbolic Sovereign Act for England. Exploration was retaken routinely in 1774, starting with the expedition of the frigate Santiago by Juan José Pérez Hernández, and the coast of Oregon became a valuable trading route to Asia.

In 1778, British captain James Cook also explored the coast.

French Canadian and métis trappers and missionaries arrived in the eastern part of the state in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many having travelled as members of Lewis and Clark and the 1811 Astor expeditions. Some stayed permanently, including Étienne Lussier, believed to be the first European farmer in the state of Oregon. The evidence of this French Canadian presence can be found in the numerous names of French origin in that part of the state, including Malheur Lake and the Malheur River, the Grande Ronde and Deschutes rivers, and the city of La Grande.

Franchere fort astoria 1813
Fort Astoria, as established by John Jacob Astor in 1813.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through northern Oregon also in search of the Northwest Passage. They built their winter fort in 1805–06 at Fort Clatsop, near the mouth of the Columbia River, staying at the encampment from December until March.

British explorer David Thompson also conducted overland exploration. In 1811, while working for the North West Company, Thompson became the first European to navigate the entire Columbia River. Stopping on the way, at the junction of the Snake River, he posted a claim to the region for Great Britain and the North West Company. Upon returning to Montreal, he publicized the abundance of fur-bearing animals in the area.

Also in 1811, New Yorker John Jacob Astor financed the establishment of Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River as a western outpost to his Pacific Fur Company; this was the first permanent European settlement in Oregon.

Oregoncountry2
Map of Oregon Country, 1818–46.

In the War of 1812, the British gained control of all Pacific Fur Company posts. The Treaty of 1818 established joint British and American occupancy of the region west of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. By the 1820s and 1830s, the Hudson's Bay Company dominated the Pacific Northwest from its Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver (built in 1825 by the district's chief factor, John McLoughlin, across the Columbia from present-day Portland).

Starting in 1842–1843, the Oregon Trail brought many new American settlers to Oregon Country.

The Oregon Territory was officially organized in 1848.

Settlement increased with the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the forced relocation of the native population to Indian reservations in Oregon.

Statehood

In December 1844, Oregon passed its Black Exclusion Law, which prohibited African Americans from entering the territory while simultaneously prohibiting slavery.

Slave owners who brought their slaves with them were given three years before they were forced to free them. Slavery played a major part in Oregon's history and even influenced its path to statehood.

Oregon was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859. Founded as a refuge from disputes over slavery, Oregon had a "whites only" clause in its original state Constitution. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, regular U.S. troops were withdrawn and sent east. Volunteer cavalry recruited in California were sent north to Oregon to keep peace and protect the populace. The First Oregon Cavalry served until June 1865.

Post-Reconstruction

Beginning in the 1880s, the growth of railroads expanded the state's lumber, wheat, and other agricultural markets, and the rapid growth of its cities. Due to its abundance of timber and waterway access via the Willamette River, Portland became a major force in the lumber industry of the Pacific Northwest, and quickly became the state's largest city.

On May 5, 1945, six people were killed by a Japanese bomb that exploded on Gearhart Mountain near Bly. This is the only fatal attack on the United States mainland committed by a foreign nation since the Mexican–American War, making Oregon the only U.S. state that has experienced fatal casualties by a foreign army since 1848, as Hawaii was not yet a state when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. The bombing site is now called the Mitchell Recreation Area.

Industrial expansion began in earnest following the 1933–1937 construction of the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Hydroelectric power, food, and lumber provided by Oregon helped fuel the development of the West.

Cities and towns

Oregon's population is largely concentrated in the Willamette Valley, which stretches from Eugene in the south (home of the University of Oregon) through Corvallis (home of Oregon State University) and Salem (the capital) to Portland (Oregon's largest city).

Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, was the first permanent English-speaking settlement west of the Rockies in what is now the United States. Oregon City, at the end of the Oregon Trail, was the Oregon Territory's first incorporated city, and was its first capital from 1848 until 1852, when the capital was moved to Salem. Bend, near the geographic center of the state, is one of the ten fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. In the southern part of the state, Medford is a rapidly growing metro area, which is home to The Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, the third-busiest airport in the state. To the south, near the California-Oregon border, are the communities of Ashland and Grants Pass.

Oregon's largest cities

Oregon Capitol 2
Oregon Capital
Eugene Oregon from Skinner Butte
Eugene Oregon
  • Salem - population 164,549
  • Bend - population 87,014

Demographics

Population

OregonPop12
Oregon population by county using 2012 estimates

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Oregon was 4,093,465 on July 1, 2016.

Oregon was the U.S.'s "Top Moving Destination" in 2014 with two families moving into the state for every one moving out of state (66.4% to 33.6%). Oregon was also the top moving destination in 2013, and second most popular destination in 2010 through 2012.

In 2010, 78.5% of the population was white alone (meaning of no other race and non-Hispanic), 1.7% was black or African American alone, 1.1% was Native American or Alaska native alone, 3.6% was Asian alone, 0.3% was Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander alone, 0.1% was another race alone, and 2.9% was multiracial. Hispanics or Latinos made up 11.7% of the total population.

The center of population of Oregon is located in Linn County, in the city of Lyons. Around 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.

As of 2009, Oregon's population comprised 361,393 foreign-born residents. Of the foreign-born residents, the three largest groups are originally from countries in: Latin America (47.8%), Asia (27.4%), and Europe (16.5%).

Ancestry groups

Ancestry groups in Oregon
Country of origin Percentage
German 22.4%
English 13.8%
Irish 13.2%
American 4.7%
Norwegian 4.2%
French 3.8%
Italian 3.8%
Scottish 3.5%
Swedish 3.2%
Dutch 2.6%
Scots-Irish 2.6%
Polish 1.8%
Russian 1.4%
Danish 1.2%
Welsh 1.1%

Religious and secular communities

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 398,738; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 147,965; and the Assemblies of God with 45,492.

Oregon also contains the largest community of Russian Old Believers to be found in the United States.

The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association is headquartered in Portland. There are an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Muslims in Oregon, most of whom live in and around Portland.

Economy

Agriculture

Shirley Gamble and Haroldine DeBord, 1946 (5836929896)
Teenagers harvesting berries in Boring in 1946

Oregon's diverse landscapes provide ideal environments for various types of farming. Land in the Willamette Valley owes its fertility to the Missoula Floods, which deposited lake sediment from Glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana onto the valley floor. In 2016, the Willamette Valley region produced over 100 million pounds (45 kt) of blueberries.

Oregon is also one of four major world hazelnut growing regions, and produces 95% of the domestic hazelnuts in the United States.

Wine production became a significant industry beginning in the 1970s. In 2005, Oregon ranked third among U.S. states with 303 wineries. Due to regional similarities in climate and soil, the grapes planted in Oregon are often the same varieties found in the French regions of Alsace and Burgundy.

In the southern Oregon coast, commercially cultivated cranberries account for about 7 percent of U.S. production, and the cranberry ranks 23rd among Oregon's top 50 agricultural commodities. Cranberry cultivation in Oregon uses about 27,000 acres (110 square kilometers) in southern Coos and northern Curry counties, centered around the coastal city of Bandon.

In the northeastern region of the state, particularly around Pendleton, both irrigated and dry land wheat is grown. Oregon farmers and ranchers also produce cattle, sheep, dairy products, eggs and poultry.

Forestry and fisheries

Fish Ladder, Bonneville Dam-2
Fish ladder at Bonneville Dam, Multnomah County

Vast forests make Oregon one of the nation's major timber-producing and logging states, but forest fires, over-harvesting, and lawsuits over the proper management of the extensive federal forest holdings have reduced the timber produced. According to 1914 data, Australia was the single largest purchaser of the state's lumber.

Oregon leads the United States in softwood lumber production.

Oregon has one of the largest salmon-fishing industries in the world.

Because of the abundance of waterways in the state, it is also a major producer of hydroelectric energy.

Tourism and entertainment

OSF Elizabethan Stage
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is in Ashland

Tourism is also a strong industry in the state. Much of this is centered on the state's natural features; Oregon's mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, beaches and lakes, including Crater Lake National Park, Multnomah Falls, the Painted Hills, the Deschutes River, and the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Mount Hood, and Mount Bachelor also draw visitors year round for skiing and snow activities.

Aquarium tunnel
Oceanarium at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Portland is home to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Zoo, which is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi river. The International Rose Test Garden is another prominent attraction in the city. Portland has also been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications, including the U.S. News & World Report and CNN. Oregon is home to many breweries and Portland has the largest number of breweries of any city in the world.

The state's coastal region produces significant tourism as well. The Oregon Coast Aquarium comprises 23 acres (9.3 ha) along Yaquina Bay in Newport, and was also home to Keiko the orca whale. It has been noted as one of the top ten aquariums in North America. Fort Clatsop in Warrenton features a replica of Lewis and Clark's encampment at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805. The Sea Lion Caves in Florence are the largest system of sea caverns in the United States, and also attract many visitors.

In Southern Oregon, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, held in Ashland, is also a tourist draw, as is the Oregon Vortex and the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site, a historic inn where Jack London wrote his 1913 novel Valley of the Moon.

Technology

High technology industries located in Silicon Forest have been a major employer since the 1970s. Tektronix was the largest private employer in Oregon until the late 1980s. Intel's creation and expansion of several facilities in eastern Washington County continued the growth that Tektronix had started. Intel, the state's largest for-profit private employer, operates four large facilities, with Ronler Acres, Jones Farm and Hawthorn Farm all located in Hillsboro.

In 2011, Amazon began operating a datacenter in northeastern Oregon near Boardman.

Corporate headquarters

Nike Headquarters Oregon
Nike headquarters near Beaverton

Oregon is also the home of large corporations in other industries.

The world headquarters of Nike are located near Beaverton. Medford is home to Harry and David, which sells gift items under several brands. Medford is also home to the national headquarters of Lithia Motors. Portland is home to one of the West's largest trade book publishing houses, Graphic Arts Center Publishing. Oregon is also home to Mentor Graphics Corporation, a world leader in electronic design automation located in Wilsonville and employs roughly 4,500 people worldwide.

Adidas Corporations American Headquarters is located in Portland and employs roughly 900 full-time workers at its Portland campus. Nike, located in Beaverton, employs roughly 5,000 full-time employees at its 200-acre (81 ha) campus. Nike's Beaverton campus is continuously ranked as a top employer in the Portland area-along with competitor Adidas. Intel Corporation employs 18,600 in Oregon with the majority of these employees located at the company's Hillsboro campus located about 30 minutes west of Portland. Intel has been a top employer in Oregon since 1974.

The U.S. Federal Government and Providence Health systems are respective contenders for top employers in Oregon with roughly 12,000 federal workers and 14,000 Providence Health workers.

Sister regions

Images


Oregon Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.