Washington, located in the Pacific Northwest, is referred to as The Evergreen State, evoking the lush forested land the state is popularly known for. Bordered by Canada to the north, the Pacific Ocean the west, Oregon to the south and Idaho to the east, the state is marked by mountainous ranges, lowlands and plateaus: the Olympic Mountains, the Coast Range, the Puget Sound Lowlands, the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia Plateau, and the Rocky Mountains.
Human habitation of Washington dates back 11,500 years to the migration of peoples from Asia across the Bering Land Bridge (a 1,000 mile landmass that disappeared at the end of the Ice Age). Native American tribes populated the Pacific Coast of Washington and east of the Columbia Plateau. Spaniards were the first to explore the region in search of a Northwest Passage providing a water route from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean.
Fur traders entered the area after the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806 (the first expedition to the Pacific Coast and back). By the mid-1800s pioneers were crossing the plains and mountain over the Oregon Trail to settle the Pacific Northwest. Washington was granted statehood on November 11, 1889, making it the 42 nd state in the union, and the only state named for a president (or citizen).
While present-day Washington is home to the iconic coffeehouse Starbucks, agriculture, the lumber industry, and railroad expansion were important influences on economic growth. Damming of the Columbia River in the 1900s provided cheap electric power for manufacturing and irrigation for the state’s agriculture economy. Important industries today include software development (Microsoft), aircraft (Boeing), lumber and tourism. Visitors are attracted each year to the state’s rich history and outdoor recreation: Mount Rainier, the Lewis & Clark trail, skiing winters and fishing whenever.
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