Washington, officially the State of Washington, is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first president of the United States, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which was 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; the state’s largest city is Seattle. Washington is sometimes referred to as Washington State, to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, which is often shortened to Washington or just D.C.
Washington is the 18th largest state, with an area of 71,362 square miles and the 13th most populous state, with more than 7.4 million people. Approximately 60 percent of Washington’s residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry along Puget Sound, 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 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. Washington ranks second only to California in the production of wine.
Manufacturing industries in Washington include aircraft and missiles, ship-building, 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.
Washington is one of the wealthiest and most liberally progressive states in the country. Along with Colorado, Washington was one of the first to legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis, was among the first thirty-six states to legalize same-sex marriage, doing so in 2012, and was one of only four U.S. states to have been providing legal abortions on request before the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade loosened federal abortion laws. Similarly, Washington voters approved a 2008 referendum on legalization of physician-assisted suicide, and is currently only one of five states, along with Oregon, California, Colorado and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia to have legalized the practice. The state is also one of eight in the country to have criminalized the sale, possession and transfer of bump stocks, with California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts also having banned these devices.
Origin of the Name:
Washington was named after President George Washington by an act of the United States Congress during the creation of Washington Territory in 1853. The territory was to be named “Columbia”, for the Columbia River and the Columbia District, but Kentucky representative Richard H. Stanton found the name too similar to the District of Columbia (the national capital, itself containing the city of Washington), and proposed naming the new territory after President Washington. Washington is the only U.S. state named after a president.