Washington – The Evergreen State|
Washington is a state located in the northwestern corner of the nation – in the area dubbed as Pacific Northwest. Named after George Washington, the first president of the United States, this 42nd state of America received its statehood on November 11, 1889. The capital city of Washington is Olympia and the biggest city is Seattle. Based on the 2000 census, the population of the state was around 5.9 million and the state work force was about 3.1 million. People who reside in this state are called Washingtonians.
Little more than 1000 years ago, Washington can be found in large wilderness.
As years pass by, great changes and developments have been made. The state’s eastern grassland was converted into farms and live-stock ranges. Giant dams were built, interrupting Columbia River, to provide electric power as well as water for irrigation. In the west, big seaports were established and the old Indian trails were replaced by modern railroads and scenic highways.
Washington’s location has both advantages and disadvantages. Among the advantages is that the ports of the state are closer to Asia while one of the disadvantages is that, this state happens to be far from the major centers of production and consumption in the eastern portion of United States.
Washington has vast natural attractions which provide the state with the base for an essential tourist and recreation industry. It is popular for scenery of amazing and breathtaking beauty and sharp contrasts. The state is also famous for having preserved the four of five longest floating bridges in the world – the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge, the Evergreen Floating Bridge, the Homer M. Hadley Bridge hanging over Lake Washington and the Hood Canal Bridge linking the Olympic and the Kitsap Peninsulas.
Evergreen State has many rivers and natural lakes. Washington’s chief river, the Columbia is considered as one of the nation’s mightiest rivers. The Snake River which forms a small portion of Washington-Idaho boundary is the largest arm of the Columbia.
Rivers flowing in Western Washington are Skagit, Snohomish and Puyallup. Other rivers like Qiunault, Chehalis and Queets are flowing directly into the Pacific Ocean.
The state’s natural lakes include Lake Chelan, the largest lake in Washington; and the Lake Washington which serves as eastern boundary of Seattle. Franklin D. Roosevelt is the state’s largest artificial lake, created by the Grand Coulee Dam.
The state’s general coastline measures 253 kilometers long, but if you include all the bays, tidal rivers and islands, the shoreline extended up to 4,869 kilometers or 3,026 miles.
Washington has two different climatic regions, with the Cascade Range acting as boundary between them. In the west part of the Cascades, summers are cool and winters are really mild. The precipitation is moderate but it becomes heavy during the months of the winter. Some heaviest snowfalls in the state have been recorded to take place in the western slopes.
Majority of the places in eastern part of Washington experience dry climate. In this area, summers are hot and winters are cold.
Based on the result of U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2004, the population of the state was 6,203,788, including the 631,500 foreign-born and an approximately 100,000 illegal aliens.
Talking about Washington’s racial make up, 78.9% of the population is White, 3.2% Black, 7.5% Hispanic, 5.5% Asian, 1.6% Native American and 3.6% are Mixed race.
Washington’s five largest reported ancestries are German, English, Mexican and Irish.
The population of the state is distributed unevenly. There are large sections in the eastern part inhabited by very few people while some places in the western portion are crowded. Majority of the places in Washington are occupied by people with British ancestry, while the eastern section of the state is populated by many German-American inhabitants. The southeast-central part of the state has many Mexicans who are migrant farm workers.
Washingtonians have various religious affiliations. The 71% of the population are Christians, among them, 45% are Protestants, 22% Roman Catholic and 5% Mormon. The remaining 27% of the populace are non-religious while the 2% have other religions.
Washington is considered as a leading agricultural state. Its total gross state product in 2003 reaches $244 billion, which put it in the 11th place in the nation. The state’s per capita income was $33,332.
Cities and Towns
Much of Washington’s largest cities are situated in the Puget Sound. The state’s capital, Olympia, is found in the southern end of Puget Sound. Seattle, Washington’s largest city lies on a fine harbor of Puget Sound. And Tacoma, a significant port in Puget Sound is renowned as the center of lumber and wood products.
The second largest city in the state, the Spokane is situated around Spokane Falls on the Spokane River. Other important cities and towns are Bellevue, Aberdeen, Redmond, Vancouver, Everett, Bremerton, Port Townsend, Bellingham and many more.
The State of Washington is administered under its original constitution of 1889 and all the amendments adopted from that time.
The powers and supremacy of the government’s executive branch are shared by a chief executive, which is the governor and other elected state officers. All the members of the executive branch are elected to serve 4-year terms.
The legislative branch is composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
Washington’s highest court is the Supreme Court.