Washington is a state of the United States of America. It is
located in the Northwest of the USA on the Pacific Ocean coast,
north of Oregon, west of
Idaho and south of British Columbia in
Canada. Its capital is Olympia and its most populated city,
Seattle. It is located in the Western region of the country,
Pacific division, bordering Canada to the north, Idaho to the
east, Oregon to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It
was admitted to the Union on November 11, 1889, as the 42nd
It was named in honor of the leader of the American forces of the American Revolutionary War of 1776 and the first president of the United States, George Washington. The names of many cities and counties in the United States honor various American presidents, but the state of Washington is the only state to be named after an American president. To avoid confusion with the federal capital, in the United States the state is usually called “Washington State” and “D. C.» (abbreviation of "District of Columbia", District of Columbia in English), "federal city" or "city of Washington" to the national capital.
Washington has enormous coniferous forests, which have earned it the nickname of the Evergreen State. These forests make Washington a leader in the American timber industry. It is cut by several rivers and dotted with several lakes, which creates favorable terrain for the installation of dams. The largest in the country, the Grand Coulee Dam, on the Columbia River is located here. Its economy, however, is mainly focused on tourism and the aerospace industry. The world's second largest aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, has its headquarters in this state, as well as several of its factories.
The first Europeans to explore this region were the Spanish, and later, the British founded the first settlements. The region was originally part of a larger area called Oregon Country, a territory disputed between the Americans and the British between the 1810s and 1840s. In 1846, the Oregon Treaty stated that all lands south of the 49th parallel of Oregon Country would pass under the control of the United States (with the exception of Vancouver Island). Until 1859, Washington was part of the Oregon Territory, created from the American part of Oregon Country. In 1859, the territory of Washington was created, which was named in honor of George Washington.
Columbia River Plateau
On the southeast side of the Cascades; This region has canyons, deserts and steppes located in hillside valleys. Cities included within this region are Kennewick, Walla Walla and Yakima.
Beautiful mountains and freshwater lakes, outdoor activities galore, national parks (North Cascades National Park), and secluded getaways await travelers to the North Cascades region. Cities included within this region are Bellingham, Leavenworth and Wenatchee.
Known for its rugged beauty with rainforests set against a backbone of dramatic mountains and miles of secluded beaches. This area includes the Olympic National Park.
With Seattle, the largest city in the state; Tacoma, Olympia (capital), and the islands and waters between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, including Vashon Island and the Kitsap Peninsula
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area reaches maximum depth of 4,000 feet deep and stretches for over 80 miles in Washington and Oregon.
Molson Ghost Town is a ghost town located in Okanogan County, Washington. The town was found in 1900 by George Meacham and John Molson.
Mount Rainier National Park is a nature reserve near Tacoma, Washington in United States. It covers an area of 235,625 acres.
North Cascades National Park is situated in Chelan, Skagit and Whatcom counties in Washington, United States. It covers an area of 684,000 acres.
Olympic National Park is located in Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason counties in Washington state in United States.
The main gateway to Washington State is Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA); also Sea-Tac Airport for short). This is one of the largest airports in the USA and primarily serves as a hub for Delta Air Lines, Alaska and Horizon Airlines. There are direct flights from Frankfurt am Main with Lufthansa and Condor, and Eurowings also flies from Cologne/Bonn in season. You can also fly directly to Seattle from Amsterdam, Paris or London as well as almost all major (and many smaller) airports in the USA.
The airports Spokane (GEG), Bellingham (BLI) and Pasco/Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) are much smaller.
The Amtrak railway company operates three long-distance lines that lead to Washington: the Empire Builder from Chicago via Minneapolis/St. Paul and the Rocky Mountains to Spokane and Seattle (total travel time 46 hours); the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles along the Pacific coast via San Francisco and Portland to Seattle (34 hours); as well as the Amtrak Cascades from Eugene via Salem, Portaland and Tacoma to Seattle (6½ hours) in one direction and from Vancouver (Canada) in the other direction (4½ hours).
Amtrak Cascades runs four times daily between Seattle and Portland (via Centralia, Longview and Vancouver WA), and the northern route via Everett, Mount Vernon and Bellingham to Vancouver (Canada) is also served twice daily.
In the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area there is a light rail system called Link with two lines and 35 km of rail network.
The League of American Bicyclists has named Washington the most bike-friendly state in the United States.
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 arrival of explorers from Europe, the region had
many established Native American tribes, notable for their
well-developed economy, complex trade agreements, elaborate and generous
culture, and ornate art forms and carving. Their industries along the
coast included salmon fishing and, particularly among the Makah,
The first recorded European landing on the coast of Washington was by Spanish captain Don Bruno de Heceta in 1775. He claimed all the coastal lands up to Prince William Sound for Spain, which maintained that they made the Pacific a "Spanish lake" and all its shores part of the Spanish Empire. Early European explorers unintentionally introduced smallpox which decimated the native culture.
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 explored by Spanish explorers in 1790 and 1791, and the British explorer George Vancouver in 1792. The British Camp in the National Historical Park of the St. John's Island is the only part of a United States national park that commemorates a British military site and the only one that flies the British Union flag. The British-Spanish Nootka Convention of 1790 ended Spanish claims to exclusivity and opened the northwest coast to explorers and traders from other nations, especially Great Britain and Russia, as well as the fledgling United States. American Captain Robert Gray (for whom Grays Harbor County is named) discovered the mouth of the Columbia River. He named the river after his ship, the Columbia. Beginning in 1792, Gray established the sea otter pelt trade. The Lewis and Clark Expedition entered the state on October 10, 1805.
Britain and the United States agreed to what has since been described as "joint occupation" 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 boundary international route west from Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains. Resolution of territorial and treaty issues, west of the Pacific, was deferred until a later time. Spain, in 1819, ceded its rights north of the 42nd Parallel to the United States, although these rights did not include possession.
Negotiations with Britain over the next few decades failed to reach agreement on a compromise border and the Oregon border dispute was hotly contested between Britain and the United States. The disputed joint occupation of Britain and the United States lasted for several decades. With American settlers arriving in Oregon Country, the Hudson's Bay Company, which had discouraged settlement because it conflicted with the fur trade, reversed its position in an attempt to maintain British control of the District of Columbia.
The growing population of the Oregon Territory north of the Columbia River formally requested a new territory, which was granted by the United States government in 1853. The boundary of the Washington Territory extended further east than that of the present state, including what which 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 the Territory of Idaho in 1863 established its eastern border at 117 degrees west. Washington became the 42nd state of the United States on November 11, 1889. It was the last state in the contiguous United States to have a coast.
Washington observes all federal holidays except Columbus Day. However, some cities and towns that have a large population of federal workers or military personnel might observe Columbus Day anyway.
Washington is located in the northwest of the 48 contiguous states of
the United States of America. It is bordered to the west by the Pacific
Ocean, to the north by the Canadian province of British Columbia, to the
east by Idaho, and to the south by Oregon. The Columbia River forms most
of the border between Washington and Oregon. Washington is a state of
contrasts. For example, much of the state is covered in forest (the
forested region of the Olympic Peninsula is among the rainiest in the
world), while, on the other hand, much of the east of the state is arid,
and it is very rare to encounter trees. The variation in altitude is
enormous, between zero meters, along the coast, to more than four
The state's coastline with the Pacific Ocean is about 255 kilometers long. If we count all the regions bathed by the sea - bays, estuaries and oceanic islands - this total rises to 4,870 kilometers. The main river of the state is the Columbia River, whose source is located in British Columbia. This river runs through Washington from north to south for about 700 miles, turning west at the Oregon border. The dams installed along the river produce half of all the electricity generated in the country's hydroelectric plants. The Grand Coulee Dam is currently the third largest dam in the world and the largest in the country.
Several other rivers cross the state. Most originate in the Rocky Mountains and flow towards the Pacific Ocean or the Columbia River. Most of the state forests—which cover almost half of the state—are located in its western part.
We can divide Washington into six physiographic regions:
The Okanogan Highlands (which are part of the Rocky Mountains) occupy northeastern Washington state. They are characterized by their high altitude and very rugged terrain. They have several gold, zinc, granite and magnesium mines.
The Columbia Basin occupies much of central Washington, as well as the entire east-central and southeastern region. It is characterized by its average altitude - which varies between 150 and 600 meters, which contrasts with the neighboring regions, which are higher in altitude - and by its relatively uneven terrain. It is located immediately south of the Okanogan Highlands. There are deserts instead of forests, due to the mountains that sometimes stop the clouds from the west.
The Cascade Mountains extend from British Columbia to northern California and Nevada. They extend immediately west of the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Basin. It is a region that has several active volcanoes, including Mount St. Helens, which killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars in damage after a gigantic eruption on May 18, 1980. It has highly rugged terrain, and several peaks with more than three thousand meters of altitude. The highest point in the state, Mount Rainier, is at 4,400 meters above sea level.
The Puget Plains extend west of the Cascade Mountains. They are characterized by their slightly rugged terrain, very fertile soil, and the presence of large forest masses—about 70% of the state forests are located in this region. It is the most populated region of the state.
The Olympic Mountains are located in the northwest of the state, west and north of the Puget Plains. They are characterized by their rugged terrain, and by the presence of mountains with a thousand meters of altitude or more. It is a sparsely populated region.
The Willapa Hills extend from the state's southern coast to the central region of the Oregon coast. Most of this region is covered by forests. It is characterized by its rugged terrain and low-altitude mountain ranges.
Thanks to the proximity of large bodies of water and the warm ocean
currents of the Pacific Ocean, western Washington State has the mildest
climate of any northern state in the 48 contiguous United States.
Washington's climate is temperate, with four distinct seasons. Summers
are cool and less hot than other northern states, while winters are
relatively mild, less cold than any other northern states. Much of
western Washington sees very high rates of mean annual precipitation.
For its part, the east of the state experiences very warm summers and
cold winters, and low annual precipitation rates.
In winter, the average temperature is 5 °C in the west and -3 °C in the east of the state. The lowest averages are recorded in the highest altitude regions of Washington, -8 °C in regions above 1600 meters. Minimum temperatures vary between -30 °C to 12 °C, and maximum temperatures between -22 °C and 18 °C. The lowest temperature recorded in the state, -44 °C, was measured on December 30, 1968, in Mazama and Winthrop, in the north of the state.
In summer, the average temperature is 16 °C in the west and 23 °C in the east of the state. The lowest averages are recorded along the Washington coast. Minimum temperatures vary between 5 °C and 18 °C, and maximum temperatures between 14 °C and 35 °C. The highest temperature recorded in the state, 48 ° C, was measured on August 5, 1961, at Ice Harbor Dam, in the southeast of the state.
Average annual rainfall rates vary from 100 to 350 centimeters annually in the west of the state to only 10 to 35 centimeters in the east-central region. The average annual snowfall rates vary between 15 centimeters on the coast, 130 to 200 centimeters in the mountainous regions and 30 centimeters in the central-eastern region.
The cascade chain, which is up to 4400 meters high, is Washington's
defining mountain range. It is of volcanic origin and runs through the
state from north to south. The mountain range has a significant
influence on the climate and thus the flora and fauna of the areas east
of the Cascade Range compared to the areas west of it. Even among the
indigenous people, the different environments in connection with the
spatial separation by the mountain range led to the development of very
different lifestyles (inland Salish and coastal Salish). Today, for
example, the mountains are still seen as a kind of dividing line in
connection with elections; While in the west the Democrats are
traditionally favoured, politicians from the Republican Party have
better chances east of the Cascade chain.
The highest mountain in the mountain range and thus the highest mountain in Washington is the volcano Mount Rainier with a height of 4392 meters. The next higher mountains are all still considered active volcanoes. These include Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. The last volcanic eruption in Washington was in 1980, when 57 people died when Mount St. Helens erupted, despite the establishment of a safety zone. The eruption had already announced itself two months earlier and is now one of the best-researched eruptions ever. An area of 445 square kilometers was placed under protection as Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in 1982, among other things for research into the long-term consequences. Other protected areas in the Cascade Range are Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park as well as numerous smaller protected areas such as Wilderness Areas, National Forests or State Parks.
The third national park in Washington and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site is Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula in the far west of the state. Along with the Willapa Hills further south, the Olympic Mountains are part of the coastal mountain range of North America's Pacific Coast. The Olympic Mountains reach heights of up to 2428 meters (Mount Olympus), making them the second highest mountain range in Washington. Aside from Hawaii, the area is considered the rainiest in the United States. In contrast, the Willapa Hills reach much lower altitudes. At 941 meters (3,000 ft) (Boistfort Peak) they are the lowest section of the Pacific Coast Mountains.
Other mountain ranges are the Blue Mountains in the extreme southeast with elevations of up to 2100 meters and the Selkirk Mountains (up to 1800 meters) in the east and the Kettle River Range (up to 2175 meters) in the northeast of the state.
Various Native American tribes had already lived in the region where
Washington state is currently located, long before the arrival of the
first Europeans. Various indigenous tribes lived in the region, and most
were part of two groups: the Salishians and the Penutians. The former
lived in the north and on the coast of Washington, while the latter
lived in the interior, along the west and south of the state.
The first Europeans to explore Washington were the Spanish, in the 1750s. They intensively explored the coastline of the current state, and claimed the area for Spain according to the Treaty of Tordesillas. However, they did not found any permanent settlements. Such explorations were carried out under fear of Russian expansion - which then controlled Alaska - towards the south. The Englishman George Vancouver is usually considered the first European to map the coastline of the current state of Washington, during the year 1792. However, that same year a map of the American northwest coast that included the entire area had been published, due to Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, who had visited it in 1775. Both sailors exchanged cartographic information and maintained a friendly relationship during the resolution of the Nutca Island incident. Alejandro Malaspina's expedition had also explored the area. The English, at least in principle, were not interested in founding permanent settlements either, although they claimed the region from the British crown.
In 1791, under Spanish control by Manuel Quimper, in Nea Bay (practically in the extreme northwest of the current state of Washington and on the southern margin of the strategic Strait of Juan de Fuca), the first European settlement was established by the Spanish Empire and this due to the expedition of the sailor Salvador Fidalgo, it was a fortified position: the Fort of Núñez Gaona (also called Fort of Santa Rosalía) becoming the first European settlement in territories corresponding to the current state of Washington and then corresponding to the disputed Oregon Territory.
A year later, the American Robert Gray, together with his expedition, composed of hunters and traders, were the first of that nationality to explore the interior of Washington, having left Boston, Massachusetts, under the command of a private company. They landed on the Washington coast in 1792. The United States then began to claim the region. British and American traders and hunters hunted and traded in the region of present-day Washington. The Hudson's Bay Company founded the first permanent settlement in the region, the present-day city of Vancouver.
American expansion westward resulted in a growing number of American settlers settling in the region beginning in the 1840s. The United States claimed all lands south of the 54° 40' meridian and west of the Rocky Mountains. The British had demanded that the border be the 49th meridian, and would continue southward, following the course of the Columbia River, west of the Rocky Mountains—in which case, much of western Washington state would be under their control. British. In 1846, the United States and the United Kingdom reached an agreement, which delimited the border between the United States and the British colonies in the region along the 49th parallel.
In 1848, under pressure from settlers settled in the northwest of the United States, the American government established the Oregon Territory and implemented a government in the region. This territory included all of the current states of Oregon, Idaho and Washington. During the 1850s, Seattle was founded. In 1859, Oregon was elevated to statehood and the Oregon Territory became the Washington Territory. Later, the government of the Washington Territory would begin to pressure Native Americans to settle on reservations, thus providing land to white settlers. Following U.S. President Franklin Pierce's attempted purchase of Indian lands, of particular importance is the response of Chief Seattle of the Duwamish tribe (letter known as "We Are Part of the Land" ( translation of Joseph Campbell's version into Spanish), where the chief of the tribe presents a particular vision of the world and a way of understanding nature. The Salishians accepted, but not the Penutians, who went to war with the white settlers of the region in 1855. The war between the American settlers and the Indians lasted until 1858, the year in which the Penutians were defeated and forced to move to Indian reservations.
Beginning in the early 1860s, the number of settlers who settled in Washington Territory grew, thanks to the discovery of large gold mines in the region. The population growth of the territory led to the secession of several areas west of Washington, to form the territory of Idaho. The territorial limits of Washington, since then, have not changed. Washington's strong population growth would continue in the 1870s and 1880s. Seattle became a major port center. In 1883, the Northern Pacific Railway was inaugurated, connecting Washington with the east of the country. On November 11, 1889, the territory was elevated to statehood, becoming the forty-second state of the United States of America.
Washington's economy, in its first decades as a state, depended
mainly on agriculture and mining. Throughout the 1890s, modern
irrigation techniques would allow agriculture to be practiced in the
desert eastern region of Washington. There, cattle were replaced by
wheat crops. Other important sources of income were the logging industry
and fishing. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Washington's
reputation in the country was that of a dangerous and wild land, like
the rest of the American West, only with lumberjacks instead of cowboys
and forests instead of deserts. In particular, the city of Aberdeen had
a reputation as the toughest city west of the Mississippi, due to
gambling, violence, widespread drug use, and prostitution.
Seattle prospered with American migration to Hawaii and Alaska, and was a major supply center for Hawaii for several decades, and even today is the main supply center for Alaska. Washington's economy prospered greatly with the start of World War I. The production of wood and food increased significantly. Seattle also became an industrialized city, one of the largest manufacturers of ships and aircraft in general throughout the war. In 1917, Boeing was founded in Seattle. The war generated greater unity among state workers, and several unions were created. After the end of the war, in February 1919, the city's unions organized a general strike in Seattle, which attracted more than 60,000 workers.
The Great Depression, which began in 1929, ruined the state's economy. To try to minimize the problems caused by the Depression, such as misery, unemployment and poverty, the state began the construction of various public works, including several dams, which culminated with the inauguration of the Grand Coulee Dam in 1941. , until today the largest dam in operation in the United States.
Washington's economy recovered with the start of World War II. The Seattle metropolitan area, thanks to its proximity to the Pacific battlefront, became one of the largest manufacturers of military ships, and the largest manufacturer of military aircraft in the country. In 1943, the US government opened a nuclear power plant in the state, the Hanford Site. This plant generated much of the nuclear fuel (plutonium) used in the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Washington industrialized rapidly, during and after the end of World War II, and agriculture, mining and the logging industry lost much importance in the state economy.
During the 1960s, the Washington government approved a series of programs aimed at decontaminating rivers and lakes contaminated by industrial and fecal waste. Boeing's rise as the world's largest aircraft manufacturer led to massive population growth in the Seattle metropolitan area. In 1962, Seattle held the 1962 World's Fair. The biggest attraction of the fair was the construction of the Space Needle, a 184-meter-high tower, inaugurated a year earlier, in 1961. Later, in 1964, the governments of Canada and the United States began a joint program to build various dams along the Columbia River and its tributaries.
On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens erupted. Dormant for hundreds of centuries, the volcano literally exploded, causing total destruction within a radius of about 25 kilometers. In total 57 people died, and the damage caused amounted to more than 4 billion dollars. Washington's economy entered a recession that lasted about two years. The eruption released volcanic ash within a radius of more than 1,500 kilometers from the explosion, mainly in the first 200 kilometers, covering several cities in a thick layer of ash, several centimeters thick.
During its operation, the Hanford Site released several tons of slightly radioactive water (used as a refrigerator) per day into the Columbia River. In addition to that, failures throughout its construction caused the surrounding soil to become contaminated. The reactor was decommissioned in 1971, and in 1989, the Washington government, together with the US, began a major cleanup program, scheduled to be completed in 2030.
In 1996, Gary Locke was elected governor of the state. Locke was the first Chinese American to be elected governor of a US state.
According to the 2005 census, Washington had an estimated population
of 6,271,973 inhabitants, which represents an increase of 80,713
inhabitants (or 1.3%), compared to the previous year and an increase of
393,619 inhabitants (or 6.7%), in relation to the year 2000. The
demographic increase since the last census is due to a natural increase
of 180,160 people (418,055 births minus 237,895 deaths) and an increase
in net migration of 215,216 people in the state. External migrations
have led to a net increase of 134,242 people, while internal migrations
have led to a net loss of 80,974 people.
In 2004, 10.3% of the state's inhabitants (631,500 people) were not born in the United States, of which it is estimated that one hundred thousand (1.6%) are illegal immigrants.
About 83% of Washington's population lives in metropolitan areas. The largest of these is the Seattle metropolitan area, which is the largest city in the state, with 375,000 residents. Its metropolitan area has about 3.1 million inhabitants, or in other words, about two-fifths of the state's population. Most of the population is concentrated in the northwest of the state.
According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 12.1% of
Washington's population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (any race):
Mexican (9.7%), Puerto Rican (0.4%), Cuban ( 0.1%) and other Hispanic or
Latino origin (1.8%). The five largest ancestry groups were: German
(17.8%), Irish (10.8%), English (10.4%), Norwegian (5.4%), and American
Mexicans are concentrated mainly in the southeast and south-central region, where they work in the fields as cheap labor (many of these rural workers are illegal). Wahkiakum County, as well as most of the state's counties, is home to numerous inhabitants of Scandinavian origin.
Washington's population of Asian descent is the fifth largest in the country. Within it, the largest ethnic group is the Filipinos. Gary Locke was elected the first Asian American governor in 1997.
African Americans are fewer in number than Asians and Hispanics in many communities. In Seattle, they are moving to the southern part of the city and various suburban areas, such as southern King County.
Numerous Indian reservations are located in Washington. Many cities have unusual names given by Native Americans, such as Seattle, Puyallup, and Walla Walla.
Washington's economy is mainly concentrated in the tertiary sector.
Washington's gross domestic product was, in 2004, $262 billion, placing
it 14th in the nation. The per capita income in 2004 was $33,332. The
unemployment rate is 6.2%. The economic, financial and industrial center
of the state is Seattle.
The primary sector corresponds to 2% of Washington's GDP. Agriculture and livestock together account for 1.6% of the state's GDP, and employ nearly 140,000 people. The state has nearly 39,000 farms, of which 13,000 depend on modern irrigation techniques for plantation cultivation. The main agricultural and livestock products produced by Washington are wheat, apples (the state is the largest national producer), milk, cherries and beef. In total, the value of agricultural products produced by the state is 5.4 billion dollars. The wood industry corresponds to 0.35% of the GDP and employs approximately 5,000 people. Fishing comprises 0.05% of Washington's GDP, and employs approximately 2,000 people. The total annual value of fish caught in the state is $100 million.
The secondary sector corresponds to 17% of Washington's GDP. The manufacturing industry corresponds to 12% of the state's GDP and employs approximately 375,000 people. The total value of products manufactured in the state is $35 billion. The main industrialized products manufactured in Washington are airplanes, ships, software, electronics, processed foods, and paper and wood products. Boeing, the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, has its headquarters in the state (in Seattle) as well as its main factories. Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Nintendo America are also based in Washington. The construction industry comprises 4.6% of the state's GDP, and employs approximately 212,000 people. For its part, mining is responsible for 0.4% of GDP, employing nearly 5,000 people. The state's main natural resources are coal, gold and sand.
The tertiary sector comprises 81% of Washington's GDP. About 24% of the state's GDP comes from community and personal services, activities that employ more than 1,100,000 people. Washington is a large financial center, with Seattle being the main economic center of the state and one of the main ones on the American west coast. Wholesale and retail trade correspond to 17% of GDP, and employ approximately 770,000 people. Financial and real estate services correspond to about 18% of the state's GDP, employing approximately 270,000 people. Government services correspond to 13% of GDP, and employ approximately 553,000 people. Finally, transport and telecommunications employ around 172,000 people and comprise 9% of GDP.
About 78% of the electricity generated in the state comes from hydroelectric plants. No American state produces more electricity from hydroelectric plants than Washington. 13% of the electricity generated in Washington is produced in coal-fired thermal power plants, and 9.5% in nuclear power plants. The remaining 0.5% are generated in wind and solar plants.
Washington is a leading agricultural state (the following figures
come from the Washington State Office of Financial Management and the
Washington Agricultural Statistics Service.)
In 2003, the total value of Washington's agricultural products was $579 billion, the 11th largest in the country. The total value of their crops was 38 billion, the 7th largest. Lastly, the total value of their livestock was 15 billion, the 26th largest in the country.
In 2004, Washington State ranked first in the nation in the production of red raspberries (90.0% of total US production), peas (80.6%), hops (75.0%), oil mint (73.6%), apples (58.1%), sweet cherries (47.3%), pears (42.6%), peppermint oil (40.3%), Concord grapes (39.3 %), carrots (36.8%), and Niagara grapes (31.6%). Washington also ranked second in the nation in the production of lentils, potatoes, dried peas, apricots, grapes (all varieties), asparagus (about one-third of the nation's production), sweet corn, and green peas; third place in production of sour cherries, plums, prunes and dried summer onions; fourth place in barley and trout production; and fifth place in production of wheat, blueberries and strawberries.
The government of the state of Washington has a division of powers:
executive, legislative and judicial.
The chief official of the Executive Branch in Washington is the governor. He is elected by the population through state elections, for a term of up to four years, and can run for office again as many times as he wants. The state governor has the power to elect more than 350 different officials. Since 2013, the current governor of Washington is Democrat Jay Inslee.
The Legislative Branch of Washington is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate is made up of 49 senators, while the House of Representatives has 98 representatives. Senators have a term of up to four years, while the term of office of representatives is a maximum of two years. Both senators and representatives can run for re-election as many times as they wish.
The highest court in the Washington Judiciary is the Washington Supreme Court. The nine judges of this court are elected by the population of the state for a term of up to six years. Elections for Supreme Court positions are held every three years, in which three judges are chosen. The second largest court in the state is the Court of Appeals of Washington, which consists of 22 judges, elected by the population of the state for a term of up to six years. No judge may run for re-election in a given judicial court.
Washington's current Constitution came into effect in 1889, created prior to Washington's elevation to statehood. The Washington Legislature can propose amendments to the Constitution, and to be approved, they need to receive at least two-thirds of the votes of the state Senate and House of Representatives, and then another two-thirds of the votes of the electorate of Washington. Washington, through a referendum. Amendments can also be made through constitutional conventions, which are special political meetings. Amendments made in this way need to be approved by at least 51% of each House of the Legislature, and then by at least 60% of the state's electoral population, in a referendum.
Washington is divided into 39 different counties. Most of these 39
counties are governed by a 3-member council. Washington has about 300
cities. Any city with more than 20,000 inhabitants is free to choose its
form of municipal government.
Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have had a strong presence in Washington throughout the 20th century. The majority of the population of the state's major and most populated cities support Democratic candidates, while the electorate in rural areas and small towns tend to vote for Republican candidates. However, the state throughout its history has been characterized as one of the most progressive in the entire country.
Washington's first school was founded in 1832, in Vancouver, built
for the education of the children of employees of the Hudson's Bay
Company. The state instituted a public education system in 1895.
Currently, all educational institutions in Washington must follow certain rules and standards dictated by the Washington State Board of Education. This board directly controls the state's public school system, which is divided into several school districts. Each major city (city), various secondary cities (towns), and each county consists of at least one school district. In cities, the responsibility for managing schools falls to the municipal school district, while in less densely populated regions, this responsibility falls to the school districts operating in the county. Washington allows the existence of "charter schools" — independent public schools, which are not managed by school districts, but which depend on public budgets for their support. Schooling is compulsory for all children and adolescents over eight years of age, until the completion of secondary education or until the age of eighteen.
In 1999, the state's public schools served nearly 1,004,000 students, employing approximately 50,400 teachers. For their part, private schools served approximately 76,900 students, employing approximately 5,700 teachers. The state's public school system used about $6.098 million, and public school spending was approximately $6,600 per student. About 89% of the state's inhabitants over 25 years of age have a high school diploma.
Washington's first library was built in 1853 in the current state capital, Seattle. Currently, Washington has 65 public library systems, which move an average of 9.6 books per capita annually.
Washington's first institution of higher education, the University of Washington, was opened in 1861. Currently, Washington has 78 institutions of higher education, of which 45 are public and 33 are private. Seattle stands out as the largest educational center in the state.
Thanks to its strategic location, close to Alaska, Hawaii and Asia,
Seattle has become a major airport and port center in the United States.
Various flights departing from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
connect the country with various cities in Asia, Hawaii and Alaska.
Alaska Airlines has its operations center at this airport. The port of
Seattle is one of the busiest on the American west coast. In addition,
the state operates the largest ferry company in the world, connecting
Seattle with island cities in the Columbia River Delta.
About 20 railway companies provide freight and passenger transportation services in the state. In particular, Amtrak provides passenger transportation services between the state's major cities. In 2002, Washington had 5,063 km of railroad tracks. In 2003, the state had 132,391 kilometers of public roads, of which 1,230 were interstate highways, considered part of the United States federal highway system.
The several islands and peninsulas are served by the largest ferry fleet in the United States, and the fourth largest in the world. Organized as part of the state highway system, ferries carried 23.9 million passengers in 2015.
The first newspaper published in Washington was The Columbiam, first printed in Olympia, in 1852. Nearly 200 newspapers are now published in the state, of which 28 are daily newspapers. About 175 magazines are also printed. Washington's first radio station was founded in 1920, in Everett, and the first television station, in 1948, in Seattle. Currently, Washington has 188 radio stations (73 of which are AM and 115 are FM) and 26 television stations.