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The Evergreen State™
Washington is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The state is named after George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is the only U.S. state named after a president.
Washington was carved out of the western part of Washington Territory and admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. In 2006, the Census Bureau estimated the state's population at 6,395,798. Residents are called "Washingtonians" (emphasis on the third syllable, pronounced as tone). Washington is sometimes called Washington state or The state of Washington to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital.
Washington is the northwestern-most state of the contiguous United States. Its northern border lies mainly along the 49th parallel, with the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. Washington borders Oregon to the south, with the Columbia River forming most of the boundary and the 46th parallel forming the eastern part of the southern boundary. 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.
Washington is in the region known as the Pacific Northwest, a term which often includes part or all of British Columbia in Canada and part of Alaska. Sometimes it refers only to lands within the northwestern United States, including Oregon.
The high mountains of the Cascade Range run north-south, bisecting the state. Western Washington, west of the Cascades, has a mostly marine west coast climate with relatively mild temperatures, wet winters, and dry summers. Western Washington also supports dense forests of conifers and areas of temperate rain forest. In contrast, Eastern Washington, east of the Cascades, has a relatively dry climate with large areas of semiarid steppe and a few truly arid deserts lying in the rainshadow of the Cascades; the Hanford reservation receives an average annual precipitation of between six and seven inches (178 mm). Farther east, the climate becomes less arid. The Palouse region of southeast Washington was grassland that has been mostly converted into farmland. Other parts of eastern Washington are forested and mountainous.
The Cascade Range contains several volcanoes, which reach altitudes significantly higher than the rest of the mountains. From the north to the south these volcanoes are Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. Mount St. Helens is currently the only Washington volcano that is actively erupting; however, all of them are considered active volcanoes. Nestled amongst the hills are the Galena chain lakes.
Washington's position on the Pacific Ocean and the harbors of Puget Sound give the state a leading role in maritime trade with Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim. Puget Sound's many islands are served by the largest ferry fleet in the United States.
Washington is a land of contrasts. The deep forests of the Olympic Peninsula, such as the Hoh Rain Forest, are among the only temperate rainforests in the continental United States, but the semi-desert east of the Cascade Range has few trees. Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state, is covered with more glacial ice than any other peak in the lower 48 states.
There are three national parks in Washington, Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park, and Olympic National Park and two National Monuments, Mount St. Helens National Monument and Hanford Reach National Monument.
National forests in the state include Colville National Forest, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Okanogan National Forest, Olympic National Forest, and Wenatchee National Forest, among others.
Other protected lands of note include Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, among others administered by the National Park Service.
There are many wilderness designated areas in Washington, including Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, Goat Rocks Wilderness, Henry M. Jackson Wilderness, Norse Peak Wilderness, Mount Baker Wilderness, Pasayten Wilderness, Olympic Wilderness, and many others.
There are several large military-related reservations, including Fort Lewis, McChord Air Force Base, Naval Base Kitsap, the Hanford Site, and the Yakima Training Center.
There are many Indian reservations in Washington. The largest include the Colville Indian Reservation, Spokane Indian Reservation, Yakama Indian Reservation, and the Quinault Indian Reservation.
The average annual temperature ranges from 51 °F (10.6 °C) on the Pacific coast to 40 °F (4.4 °C) in the northeast. The recorded temperature in the state has ranged from -48 °F (-44.4 °C) to 118 °F (47.8 °C) with both records set east of the Cascades. Western Washington is known for its mild climate, considerable fog, frequent cloud cover and long-lasting drizzles in the winter, and sunny and dry summers. The western region occasionally experiences extreme climate. Arctic cold fronts in the winter and heat waves in the summer are not uncommon. The western side of the Olympic Peninsula receives as much as 160 inches (4064 mm) of precipitation annually, making it the wettest area of the 48 conterminous states. Weeks or even months may pass without a clear day. The western slopes of the Cascade Range receive some of the heaviest annual snowfall (in some places more than 200 inches/5080 mm) in the country. In the rain shadow area east of the Cascades, the annual precipitation is only 6 inches (152 mm). Precipitation increases eastward toward the Rocky Mountains.
Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/
Photos courtesy of Washington State Tourism