Washington (state) facts

State of Washington
Green flag with the circular Seal of Washington centered on it. A circular seal with the words "The Seal of the State of Washington, 1889" centered around it from top to bottom. In the center, a man with gray hair poses.
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): "The Evergreen State" (unofficial)
Motto(s): Al-ki or Alki, "bye and bye" in Chinook Jargon (unofficial)
State anthem: Washington, My Home
Washington is located on the West Coast along the line that divides the United States from neighboring Canada. It runs entirely from west to east. It includes a small peninsula across a bay which is discontinuous with the rest of the state, along with a geographical oddity under British Columbia, Canada.
Official language None (de jure)
English (de facto)
Demonym Washingtonian
Capital Olympia
Largest city Seattle
Largest metro Metro Seattle
Area Ranked 18th
 - Total 71,362 sq mi
(184,827 km2)
 - Width 360 miles (580 km)
 - Length 240 miles (400 km)
 - % water 6.6
 - Latitude 45°  33′ N to 49° N
 - Longitude 116°  55′ W to 124°  46′ W
Number of people Ranked 13th
 - Total 7,288,000 (2016 est)
 - Density 103/sq mi  (39.6/km2)
Ranked 25th
 - Average income $58,078 (11th)
Height above sea level
 - Highest point Mount Rainier
14,411 ft (4,392 m)
 - Average 1,700 ft  (520 m)
 - Lowest point Pacific Ocean
sea level
Became part of the U.S. November 11, 1889 (42nd)
Governor Jay Inslee (D)
U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D)
Maria Cantwell (D)
U.S. House delegation 6 Democrats
4 Republicans (list)
Time zone Pacific: UTC −8/−7
Abbreviations WA, Wash. US-WA
Website access.wa.gov
Washington State symbols
Flag of Washington.svg
The Flag of Washington.

Seal of Washington.svg
The Seal of Washington.

Animate insignia
Amphibian Pacific chorus frog
Bird(s) American goldfinch
Fish Steelhead trout
Flower(s) Rhododendron
Grass Bluebunch wheatgrass
Insect Green Darner
Mammal(s) Olympic marmot/Orca
Tree Western Hemlock

Inanimate insignia
Dance Square dance
Food Apple
Gemstone Petrified wood
Ship(s) Lady Washington
Soil Tokul
Song(s) "Washington, My Home"
Tartan Washington state tartan
Other Vegetable: Sweet onion

Route marker(s)
Washington Route Marker

State Quarter
Quarter of Washington
Released in 2007

Lists of United States state insignia

Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States located north of Oregon, west of Idaho, and south of the Canadian province of British Columbia on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

Named after George Washington, the first President of the United States, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which had been ceded by Britain in 1846 in accordance with the Oregon Treaty in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute. It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the state capital.

Washington is sometimes referred to as Washington State or the State of Washington to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the U.S., which is often shortened to Washington.

Approximately 60 percent of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry along the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean consisting of numerous islands, deep fjords, and bays carved out by glaciers. The remainder of the state consists of deep temperate rainforests in the west, mountain ranges in the west, central, northeast and far southeast, and a semi-arid basin region in the east, central, and south, given over to intensive agriculture. Washington is the second most populous state on the West Coast and in the Western United States, after California. Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano, is the state's highest elevation at almost 14,411 feet (4,392 m) and is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States.

Washington is a leading lumber producer. Its rugged surface is rich in stands of Douglas fir, hemlock, ponderosa pine, white pine, spruce, larch, and cedar. The state is the biggest producer of apples, hops, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries, and ranks high in the production of apricots, asparagus, dry edible peas, grapes, lentils, peppermint oil, and potatoes. Livestock and livestock products make important contributions to total farm revenue, and the commercial fishing of salmon, halibut, and bottomfish makes a significant contribution to the state's economy.

Manufacturing industries in Washington include aircraft and missiles, shipbuilding and other transportation equipment, lumber, food processing, metals and metal products, chemicals, and machinery. Washington has over 1,000 dams, including the Grand Coulee Dam, built for a variety of purposes including irrigation, power, flood control, and water storage.

Etymology

The Washington Territory was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States.

Geography

South Eastern Washington State
Southeastern Washington
Beach at Westport, WA 01
The Pacific Coast of Westport, Washington

Washington is the northwestern-most state of the contiguous United States. Its northern border lies mostly along the 49th parallel, and then via marine boundaries through the Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. Washington is bordered by Oregon to the south, with the Columbia River forming the western part and the 46th parallel forming the eastern part of the Oregon-Washington border.

To the east, Washington borders Idaho, bounded mostly by the meridian running north from the confluence of the Snake River and Clearwater River (about 116°57' west), except for the southernmost section where the border follows the Snake River. To the west of Washington lies the Pacific Ocean.

Cascade pass
Cascade Pass in the North Cascades National Park

Washington is part of a region known as the Pacific Northwest, a term which always includes Washington and Oregon and may or may not include some or all of the following, depending on the user's intent: Idaho, western Montana, northern California, British Columbia, and Alaska.

The high mountains of the Cascade Range run north-south, bisecting the state. In addition to Western Washington and Eastern Washington residents call the two parts of the state the "West side" and "East side", "Wet side" and "Dry side", or "Timberland" and "Wheatland", the latter pair more commonly in the names of region-specific businesses and institutions.

Western Washington

From the Cascade Mountains westward, Western Washington has a mostly marine west coast climate, with mild temperatures and wet winters, autumns and springs, and relatively dry summers. The Cascade Range contains several volcanoes, which reach altitudes significantly higher than the rest of the mountains. From the north to the south, these major volcanoes are Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. All are considered active volcanoes. Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the state, is 50 miles (80 km) south of the city of Seattle, from which it is prominently visible. The 14,411-foot-tall (4,392 m) Mt. Rainier is considered the most dangerous volcano in the Cascade Range, due to its proximity to the Seattle metropolitan area, and most dangerous in the continental U.S. according to the Decade Volcanoes list. It is also covered with more glacial ice than any other peak in the contiguous 48 states.

ColumbiaRiverGorge1
The Columbia River Gorge.

Western Washington also is home of the Olympic Mountains, far west on the Olympic Peninsula, which support dense forests of conifers and areas of temperate rainforest. These deep forests, such as the Hoh Rainforest, are among the only temperate rainforests in the continental United States.

Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington – the part of the state east of the Cascades – has a relatively dry climate, in distinct contrast to the west side. It includes large areas of semiarid steppe and a few truly arid deserts lying in the rain shadow of the Cascades; the Hanford reservation receives an average annual precipitation of 6 to 7 inches (150 to 180 mm). Farther east, the climate becomes less arid, with annual rainfall increasing as one goes east to 21.2 inches (540 mm) in Pullman, near the Washington-Idaho border. The Okanogan Highlands and the rugged Kettle River Range and Selkirk Mountains cover much of the northeastern quadrant of the state. The Palouse southeast region of Washington was grassland that has been mostly converted into farmland, and extends to the Blue Mountains.

Climate

As described above, Washington's climate varies greatly from west to east. An oceanic climate (also called "west coast marine climate") predominates in western Washington, and a much drier semi-arid climate prevails east of the Cascade Range. Major factors determining Washington's climate include the large semi-permanent high pressure and low pressure systems of the north Pacific Ocean, the continental air masses of North America, and the Olympic and Cascade mountains. In the spring and summer, a high pressure anticyclone system dominates the north Pacific Ocean, causing air to spiral out in a clockwise fashion. For Washington this means prevailing winds from the northwest bring relatively cool air and a predictably dry season.

Large dust storm in parts of eastern Washington on October 4, 2009
Dryland farming caused a large dust storm in arid parts of eastern Washington on October 4, 2009. Courtesy: NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response.

In the autumn and winter, a low-pressure cyclone system takes over in the north Pacific Ocean, with air spiraling inward in a counter-clockwise fashion. This causes Washington's prevailing winds, the Chinooks, to come from the southwest, bringing relatively warm and moist air masses and a predictably wet season. The term "Pineapple Express" is used colloquially to describe the extreme form of the wet-season Chinook winds.

Despite western Washington's having a marine climate similar to those of many coastal cities of Europe, there are exceptions such as the "Big Snow" events of 1880, 1881, 1893 and 1916 and the "deep freeze" winters of 1883–84, 1915–16, 1949–50 and 1955–56, among others. During these events western Washington experienced up to 6 feet (1.8 m) of snow, sub-zero (−18 °C) temperatures, three months with snow on the ground, and lakes and rivers frozen over for weeks. Seattle's lowest officially recorded temperature is 0 °F (−18 °C) set on January 31, 1950, but low-altitude areas approximately three hours away from Seattle have recorded lows as cold as −48 °F (−44 °C).

Weather during the cold season is greatly influenced by the Southern Oscillation. During the El Niño phase, the jet stream enters the U.S. farther south through California, therefore late fall and winter are drier than normal with less snowpack. The La Niña phase reinforces the jet stream through the Pacific Northwest, causing Washington to have even more rain and snow than average.

Temperatures

The average annual temperature ranges from 51 °F (11 °C) on the Pacific coast to 40 °F (4 °C) in the northeast. The lowest temperature recorded in the state was −48 °F (−44 °C) in Winthrop and Mazama. Western Washington is known for its mild climate, considerable fog, frequent cloud cover and long-lasting drizzles in the winter, and warm, temperate summers. The Eastern region occasionally experiences extreme climate. Arctic cold fronts in the winter and heat waves in the summer are not uncommon. In the Western region, temperatures have reached as high as 112 °F (44 °C) in Marietta-Alderwood. and as low as −20 °F (−29 °C) in Longview.

Flora and fauna

Odocoileus hemionus 5432
Black-tailed deer graze at Deer Park in Olympic National Park
See also: List of flora of Washington (state)

Forests cover 52% of the state's land area, mostly west of the North Cascades. Approximately two-thirds of Washington's forested area is publicly owned, including 64% of federal land. Other common trees and plants in the region are camassia, Douglas fir, hemlock, penstemon, ponderosa pine, western red cedar, and many species of ferns. The state's various areas of wilderness offer sanctuary, with substantially large populations of shorebirds and marine mammals. The Pacific shore surrounding the San Juan Islands are heavily inhabited with killer, gray and humpback whales.

Mammals native to the state include the bat, black bear, bobcat, cougar, coyote, deer, elk, gray wolf, moose, mountain beaver, muskrat, opossum, pocket gopher, raccoon, river otter, skunk, and tree squirrel. Because of the wide range of geography, the State of Washington is home to several different ecoregions which allow for a varied range of bird species. This range includes raptors, shorebirds, woodland birds, grassland birds, ducks, and others. There have also been a large number of species introduced to Washington, dating back to the early 1700s, including horses and burros. The channel catfish, lamprey, and sturgeon are among the 400 known freshwater fishes. Along with the Cascades frog, there are several forms of snakes that define the most prominent reptiles and amphibians. Coastal bays and islands are often inhabited by plentiful amounts of shellfish and whales. There are five species of salmon that ascend the Western Washington area, from streams to spawn.

History

Early history

Outcropping near Riverside WA
A farm and barren hills near Riverside, in north central Washington.

The skeletal remains of Kennewick Man, one of the oldest and most complete human remains ever found in North America, were discovered in Washington. Before the coming of Europeans, the region had many established tribes of aboriginal Americans, notable for their totem poles and their ornately carved canoes and masks. Prominent among their industries were salmon fishing and, notably among the Makah, whale hunting. The peoples of the Interior had a very different subsistence-based culture based on hunting, food-gathering and some forms of agriculture, as well as a dependency on salmon from the Columbia and its tributaries. The smallpox epidemic of the 1770s devastated the Native American population.

European exploration

The first recorded European 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. He claimed all the coastal lands up to Prince William Sound for Spain as part of their claimed rights under the Treaty of Tordesillas, which they maintained made the Pacific a "Spanish lake" and all its shores part of the Spanish Empire.

In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook sighted Cape Flattery, at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but Cook did not realize the strait existed. It was not discovered until Charles William Barkley, captain of the Imperial Eagle, sighted it in 1787. The straits were further explored by Spanish explorers Manuel Quimper in 1790 and Francisco de Eliza in 1791, and British explorer George Vancouver in 1792.

Settlement

The British-Spanish Nootka Convention of 1790 ended Spanish claims of exclusivity and opened the Northwest Coast to explorers and traders from other nations, most notably Britain and Russia as well as the fledgling United States. American 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.

Explorer David Thompson, on his voyage down the Columbia River camped at the confluence with the Snake River on July 9, 1811, and erected a pole and a notice claiming the country for Great Britain and stating the intention of the North West Company to build a trading post at the site.

Fort Nez Perces Trading 1841
Fur trading at Fort Nez Percés in 1841

Britain and the United States agreed to what has since been described as "joint occupancy" of lands west of the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean as part of the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, which established the 49th Parallel as the international boundary west from Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains. Resolution of the territorial and treaty issues, west to the Pacific, were deferred until a later time. Spain, in 1819, ceded their rights north of the 42nd Parallel to the United States, although these rights did not include possession.

Negotiations with Great Britain over the next few decades failed to settle upon a compromise boundary and the Oregon boundary dispute was highly contested between Britain and the United States. Disputed joint-occupancy by Britain and the U.S. lasted for several decades. With American settlers pouring into Oregon Country, Hudson's Bay Company, which had previously discouraged settlement because it conflicted with the fur trade, reversed its position in an attempt to maintain British control of the Columbia District.

Fur trapper James Sinclair, on orders from Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, led some 200 settlers from the Red River Colony west in 1841 to settle on Hudson Bay Company farms near Fort Vancouver. The party crossed the Rockies into the Columbia Valley, near present-day Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, then traveled south-west down the Kootenai River and Columbia River. Despite such efforts, Britain eventually ceded all claims to land south of the 49th parallel to the United States in the Oregon Treaty on June 15, 1846.

In 1836, a group of missionaries including Marcus Whitman established several missions and Whitman's own settlement Waiilatpu, in what is now southeastern Washington state, near present day Walla Walla County, in territory of both the Cayuse and the Nez Perce Indian tribes. Whitman's settlement would in 1843 help the Oregon Trail, the overland emigration route to the west, get established for thousands of emigrants in following decades. Marcus provided medical care for the Native Americans, but when Indian patients – lacking immunity to new, 'European' diseases – died in striking numbers, while at the same time many white patients recovered, they held 'medicine man' Marcus Whitman personally responsible, and murdered Whitman and twelve other white settlers in the Whitman massacre in 1847. This event triggered the Cayuse War between settlers and Indians.

Fort Nisqually, a farm and trading post of the Hudson's Bay Company and the first European settlement in the Puget Sound area, was founded in 1833. Black pioneer George Washington Bush and his Caucasian wife, Isabella James Bush, from Missouri and Tennessee, respectively, led four white families into the territory and founded New Market, now Tumwater, in 1846. They settled in Washington to avoid Oregon's discriminatory settlement laws. After them, many more settlers, migrating overland along the Oregon trail, wandered north to settle in the Puget Sound area.

Statehood

Seattle - looking east on Yesler Way, 1887
Yesler Way, Seattle, 1887

The growing populace of Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River formally requested a new territory, which was granted by the U.S. government in 1853. The boundary of Washington Territory initially extended farther east than the present state's, including what is now the Idaho Panhandle and parts of western Montana, and picked up more land to the southeast that was left behind when Oregon was admitted as a state. The creation of Idaho Territory in 1863 established the final eastern border. A Washington State constitution was drafted and ratified in 1878, but it was never officially adopted. Although never approved by Congress, the 1878 constitution is an important historical document which shows the political thinking of the time. It was used extensively during the drafting of Washington State's 1889 constitution, the one and only official Constitution of the State of Washington. Washington became the 42nd state in the United States on November 11, 1889.

Early prominent industries in the state included agriculture and lumber. In eastern Washington, the Yakima River Valley became known for its apple orchards, while the growth of wheat using dry farming techniques became particularly productive. 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 included fishing, salmon canning and mining.

Industrial Era

B-17Es at Boeing Plant, Seattle, Washington, 1943
Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress bombers under construction, c. 1942

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 shipbuilding 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 concrete structure in the United States.

During World War II, the state became a focus for war industries. While the Boeing Company produced many of the nation's heavy bombers, ports in Seattle, Bremerton, Vancouver, and Tacoma were available for the manufacture of warships. Seattle was the point of departure for many soldiers in the Pacific, a number of whom 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.

Mount St. Helens eruption, 1980

On May 18, 1980, following a period of heavy tremors and eruptions, the northeast face of Mount St. Helens erupted violently, destroying a large part of the top of the volcano. The eruption flattened the forests, killed 57 people, flooded the Columbia River and its tributaries with ash and mud, and blanketed large parts of Washington eastward and other surrounding states in ash, making day look like night.

Demographics

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Washington was 7,170,351 on July 1, 2015.

Washington ranks first in the Pacific Northwest region in terms of population, followed by Oregon, and Idaho. In 1980, the Census Bureau reported Washington's population as 90% non-Hispanic white.

The center of population of Washington in 2000 was located in an unpopulated part of the Cascade Mountains in rural eastern King County, southeast of North Bend, northeast of Enumclaw and west of Snoqualmie Pass.

At the 2010 U.S. census, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Area's population was 3,439,809, approximately half the state's total population.

The largest European ancestry groups (which the Census defines as not including racial terms) in the state are:

  • 20.7% German
  • 12.6% Irish
  • 12.3% English
  • 8.2% Hispanic
  • 6.2% Norwegian
  • 3.9% French
  • 3.9% American
  • 3.8% Italian
  • 3.6% Swedish
  • 3.3% Scottish
  • 2.5% Scotch Irish
  • 2.5% Dutch
  • 1.9% Polish
  • 1.8% Russian

In addition, 3.6% are African American.

Race and ethnicity

Washington population map
Washington population density map

According to the 2010 United States census, the racial and ethnic composition of Washington was the following:

  • White: 77.3% (Non-Hispanic Whites 71%, White Hispanics 6.3%)
  • Black or African American: 3.6%
  • Native Americans: 1.5%
  • Asian: 7.2%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.4% (0.2% Samoan, 0.1% Guamanian, 0.1% Hawaiian)
  • Two or more races: 4.7%
  • Other races 5.1%

American Indians lived on Indian reservations or jurisdictory lands such as the Colville Indian Reservation, Makah, Muckleshoot Indian Reservation, Quinault (tribe), Salish people, Spokane Indian Reservation, and Yakama Indian Reservation. The westernmost and Pacific coasts have primarily American Indian communities, such as the Chinook, Lummi, and Salish. But Urban Indian communities formed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs relocation programs in Seattle since the end of World War II brought a variety of Native American peoples to this diverse metropolis. The city was named for Chief Seattle in the very early 1850s when European Americans settled the sound.

Seattle - Chinese New Year 2011 - 85
Chinese New Year, Seattle, 2011

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are mostly concentrated in the Seattle−Tacoma metropolitan area of the state. Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond, which are all located within King County, have sizable Chinese communities (including Taiwanese), as well as significant Indian and Japanese communities. The Chinatown-International District in Seattle has a historical Chinese population dating back to the 1860s, who mainly emigrated from Guangdong Province in southern China, and is home to a diverse East and Southeast Asian community.

The most numerous (ethnic, not racial, group) are Latinos at 11%, as Mexican Americans formed a large ethnic group in the Chehalis Valley, farming areas of Yakima Valley and Eastern Washington. In the late 20th century, large-scale Mexican immigration and other Latinos settled in the southern suburbs of Seattle with limited concentrations in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties during the region's real estate construction booms in the 1980s and 1990s.

Cities and towns

See also: List of cities in Washington

Washington's largest cities

Seattle Skyline tiny
Seattle Skyline
Vancouverwaskyline 004
Vancouver skyline
  • Kent - population 126,952

The Tri-Cities, which consists of the four neighboring cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and West Richland, has a combined population of 211,110 in official 2014 estimates which would be ranked above Tacoma.

Economy

Microsoft sign closeup
Microsoft Corporation headquarters in Redmond, an Eastside suburb of Seattle.
Starbucks Headquarters Seattle
Starbucks headquarters, Seattle

Significant business within the state include the design and manufacture of aircraft (Boeing), automotive (Paccar), computer software development (Microsoft, Bungie, Amazon, Nintendo of America, Valve Corporation, ArenaNet), telecom (T-Mobile US), electronics, biotechnology, aluminum production, lumber and wood products (Weyerhaeuser), mining, beverages (Starbucks, Jones Soda), real estate (John L. Scott, Colliers International, Windermere Real Estate, Kidder Mathews), retail (Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, Car Toys, Costco, R.E.I.), and tourism (Alaska Airlines, Expedia, Inc.).

Among its resident billionaires, Washington boasts Jeff Bezos Chairman & CEO of Amazon, who, with a net worth of $99.6 billion, is the wealthiest man in the world, and Bill Gates, technology advisor and former Chairman & CEO of Microsoft, who, with a net worth of $91.3 billion, is the second wealthiest man in the world as of December 2017. Other Washington state billionaires include Paul Allen (Microsoft), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Craig McCaw (McCaw Cellular Communications), James Jannard (Oakley), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), and Charles Simonyi (Microsoft).

Agriculture

Wells Dam from Azwell WA
Azwell, Washington, a small community of pickers' cabins and apple orchards.

Washington is a leading agricultural state.

In 2013, Washington ranked first in the nation in production of red raspberries (92.7 percent of total U.S. production), hops (79.2 percent), spearmint oil (72.9 percent), wrinkled seed peas (60 percent), apples (57 percent), sweet cherries (50.9 percent), pears (49.5 percent), Concord grapes (36.5 percent), carrots for processing (36.5 percent), green peas for processing (34.4 percent), and peppermint oil (31.4 percent).

Washington also ranked second in the nation in production of fall potatoes (a quarter of the nation's production), nectarines, apricots, grapes (all varieties taken together), sweet corn for processing (a quarter of the nation's production), and summer onions (a fifth of the nation's production).

The apple industry is of particular importance to Washington. Because of the favorable climate of dry, warm summers and cold winters of central Washington, the state has led the U.S. in apple production since the 1920s. Two areas account for the vast majority of the state's apple crop: the Wenatchee–Okanogan region (comprising Chelan, Okanogan, Douglas, and Grant counties), and the Yakima region (comprising Yakima, Benton and Kittitas counties).

Wine

Washington ranks second in the United States in the production of wine, behind only California. By 2006, the state had over 31,000 acres (130 km2) of vineyards, a harvest of 120,000 short tons (109,000 t) of grapes, and exports going to over 40 countries around the world from the 600 wineries located in the state.

The majority (99%) of wine grape production takes place in the desert-like eastern half.

Transportation

Washington State Ferry Tacoma
Washington has the largest ferry system in the United States.

Washington has a system of state highways, called State Routes, as well as an extensive ferry system which is the largest in the nation and the third largest in the world. There are 140 public airfields in Washington, including 16 state airports owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is the major commercial airport of greater Seattle. Boeing Field in Seattle is one of the busiest primary non-hub airports in the US. The unique geography of Washington creates exceptional transportation challenges.

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, completing close to 147,000 sailings each year. Washington is home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge which connects the Olympic Peninsula and Kitsap Peninsula.

Washington has a number of seaports on the Pacific Ocean, including Seattle, Tacoma, Kalama, Anacortes, Vancouver, Longview, Greys County, Olympia, and Port Angeles.

The Cascade Mountain Range also provides unique transportation challenges. Washington operates and maintains roads over seven major mountain passes and eight minor passes. During winter months some of these passes are plowed, sanded, and kept safe with avalanche control.

Symbols, honors, and names

2007 WA Proof
Reverse side of the Washington quarter

Four ships of the United States Navy, including two battleships, have been named USS Washington in honor of the state. Previous ships had held that name in honor of George Washington.

The Evergreen State

The state's nickname "Evergreen" was proposed in 1890 by Charles T. Conover of Seattle, Washington. The name proved popular as the forests were full of evergreen trees and the abundance of rain keeps the shrubbery and grasses green throughout the year. Although that nickname is widely used by the state, appearing on vehicle license plates for instance, it has not been officially adopted. The publicly funded Evergreen State College in Olympia also takes its name from this nickname.

State symbols

The state song is "Washington, My Home", the state bird is the American goldfinch, the state fruit is the apple, and the state vegetable is the Walla Walla sweet onion. The state dance, adopted in 1979, is the square dance. The state tree is the western hemlock. The state flower is the coast rhododendron. The state fish is the steelhead. The state folk song is "Roll On, Columbia, Roll On" by Woody Guthrie. The unofficial, but popularly accepted, state rock song is Louie Louie. The state grass is bluebunch wheatgrass. The state insect is the green darner dragonfly. The state gem is petrified wood. The state fossil is the Columbian mammoth. The state marine mammal is the orca. The state land mammal is the Olympic marmot. The state seal (featured in the state flag as well) was inspired by the unfinished portrait by Gilbert Stuart.

Images


Washington (state) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.