State abbreviation/Postal code: Wash./WA
Governor: Jay Inslee, D (to Jan. 2017)
Lieut. Governor: Brad Owen, D (to Jan. 2017)
Organized as territory: March 2, 1853
Entered Union (rank): Nov. 11, 1889 (42)
Present constitution adopted: 1889
Motto: Al-Ki (Indian word meaning “by and by”)
Nicknames: Evergreen State
Origin of name: In honor of George Washington
10 largest cities (2010 est.): Seattle, 608,660; Spokane, 208,916; Tacoma, 198,397; Vancouver , 161,791; Bellevue, 122,363; Everett, 103,019; Kent, 92,411; Yakima, 91,067; Renton, 90,927; Spokane Valley, 89,755
Land area: 66,544 sq mi. (172,349 sq km)
Geographic center: In Chelan Co., 10 mi. WSW of Wenatchee
Number of counties: 39
Largest county by population and area: King, 1,931,249 (2010); Okanogan, 5,268 sq mi.
State forest lands: 2.1 million ac.
State parks: 120
2015 resident population est.: 7,170,351
2010 resident census population (rank): 6,724,540 (13). Male: 3,349,707 (49.8%); Female: 3,374,833 (50.2%). White: 5,196,362 (77.3%); Black: 240,042 (3.6%); American Indian: 103,869 (1.5%); Asian: 481,067 (7.2%); Other race: 349,799 (5.2%); Two or more races: 312,926 (4.7%); Hispanic/Latino: 755,790 (11.2%). 2010 percent population 18 and over: 76.5; 65 and over: 12.3; median age: 37.3.
As part of the vast Oregon Country, Washington territory was visited by Spanish, American, and British explorers—Bruno Heceta for Spain in 1775, the American Capt. Robert Gray in 1792, and Capt. George Vancouver for Britain in 1792–1794. Lewis and Clark explored the Columbia River region and coastal areas for the U.S. in 1805–1806.
Rival American and British settlers and conflicting territorial claims threatened war in the early 1840s. However, in 1846 the Oregon Treaty set the boundary at the 49th parallel and war was averted.
Washington is a leading lumber producer. Its rugged surface is rich in stands of Douglas fir, hemlock, ponderosa and white pine, spruce, larch, and cedar. The state holds first place in apples, lentils, dry edible peas, hops, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries, and ranks high in apricots, asparagus, grapes, peppermint oil, and potatoes. Livestock and livestock products make important contributions to total farm revenue and the commercial fishing catch 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, built for a variety of purposes including irrigation, power, flood control, and water storage.
Among the major points of interest: Mt. Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascades National Parks. Mount St. Helens, a peak in the Cascade Range, erupted in May 1980. Also of interest are Whitman Mission and Fort Vancouver National Historic Sites; and the Pacific Science Center and the Space Needle, in Seattle.
As of 2013, Washington is the only state where cannabis, same-sex marriage, and assisted suicide are all legal. In 2008, the Washington Death with Dignity Act was passed, allowing legal assisted suicide. In the November 2012 general election, voters upheld Referendum 74, a bill that legalized same-sex marriage in Washington. Also in November 2012, Washington passed Initiative 50, making the sale and possession of marijuana (in limited amounts) for both medical and non-medical purposes legal.
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