Washington, United States

About Washington

Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Nearly 60% of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry, and home to an internationally known arts community. The remainder of the state consists of deep rain forests in the west, mountain ranges in the center, northeast and far southeast, and eastern semi-deserts given over to intensive agriculture. Washington is the northwestern-most state of the contiguous United States. Its northern border lies mostly along the 49th parallel, and then via marine boundaries through the Strait of Georgia, Haro Strait and Strait of Juan de Fuca, 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. Named after George Washington, it is the only U.S. state named after a president. Residents are called "Washingtonians". Washington is sometimes called Washington State or the State of Washington to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital.

Washington Tourism and Recreation

Seattle Center and the Space Needle, Opera House, and Pacific Science Center makes Washington's largest city one of the most exciting on the West Coast. Nevertheless, scenic beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation are Washington's principal attractions for tourists from out of the state.

Mt. Rainier National Park, covering 235,404 acres, encompasses not only the state's highest peak but also the most extensive glacial system in the conterminous US. Glaciers, lakes, and mountain peaks are also featured at North Cascades National Park, while Olympic National Park is famous as the site of Mt. Olympus and for its dense rain forest and rare elk herds. Deception Pass is another popular park. Washington also offers two national historic parks (San Juan Island and part of Klondike Gold Rush), two national historic sites (Fort Vancouver and the Whitman Mission), and three national recreation areas (Coulee Dam, Lake Chelan, and Ross Lake).

Washington Climate

The Cascade Mountains divide Washington not only topographically but also climatically. Despite its northerly location, western Washington is as mild as the middle and southeastern Atlantic coast; it is also one of the rainiest regions in the world. Eastern Washington, on the other hand, has a much more continental climate, characterized by cold winters, hot summers, and sparse rainfall. Since the prevailing winds are from the west, the windward (western) slopes of the state's major mountains intercept most of the atmospheric moisture and precipitate it as rain or snow. Certain coastal areas, receiving more than 200 in (500 cm) of rain a year, support dense stands of timber in a temperate rain forest. But in the dry southeastern quadrant, there are sagebrush deserts.

The east is drier and experiences more extremes in summer and winter. The western Cascades tend to receive some of the heaviest snowfall in the USA and temperatures can drop to 8°F (-13°C).

Average January temperatures in western Washington range from a minimum of 20°F (–7°C) on the western slope of the Cascades to a maximum of 48°F (9°C) along the Pacific coast; July temperatures range from a minimum of 44°F (7°C) on the western slope of the Cascades to a maximum of 80°F (27°C) in the foothills. In the east the temperature ranges are much more extreme: in January, from 8°F (–13°C) in the northeastern Cascades to 40°F (4°C) on the southeastern plateau; in July, from 48°F (9°C) on the eastern slope of the Cascades to 92°F (33°C) in the south-central portion of the state. The normal daily mean temperature in Seattle is 52°F (11°C), ranging from 40°F (4°C) in January to 65°F (18°C) in July; Spokane averages 47°F (8°C), ranging from 27°F (–3°C) in January to 69°F (21°C) in July.

In Seattle average annual precipitation (1971–2000) was 37 in (94 cm), falling most heavily from October through March; in the same period, Spokane received an average of only 16.7 in (42.4 cm) annually, more than half of that from November through February. Snowfall in Seattle averages 11.4 in (29 cm) annually; in Spokane, 49.4 in (125.5 cm).

Washington Transportaion

Washington has a system of state highways, called State Routes, as well as an extensive ferry system which is the largest in the nation and the third largest in the world. There are 140 public airfields in Washington, including 16 state airports owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation. Boeing Field in Seattle is one of the busiest primary non-hub airports in the US.

There are extensive waterways in the midst of Washington's largest cites, including Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma and Olympia. The state highways incorporate an extensive network of bridges and the largest ferry system in the United States to serve transportation needs in the Puget Sound area. Washington's marine highway constitutes a fleet of twenty-eight ferries that navigate Puget Sound and its inland waterways to 20 different ports of call. Washington is home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge which connects the Olympic Peninsula and Kitsap Peninsula.