State: Washington – WA

Geography map of washington

Published on June 10th, 2015 | by Brandon Ramsey in Geography


The state of Washington is located in the northwestern tip of the United States, otherwise known as the Pacific Northwest region. It is north of Oregon, West of Idaho, and south of the Canadian Province of British Columbia. It is named after George Washington, the first President of the United States.

Originally, the territory was made from the western part of the Washington Territory which was ceded by Britain in 1846 as part of the Oregon Boundary Dispute under the Oregon Treaty. It was later admitted to the union as the 42nd United State in 1889.

Before we delve deeper into the geography, climate, history, and more, here are some crucial things to know about this place:

  • Washington state capital: Olympia
  • Largest city: Seattle
  • Time zone: Pacific UTC -8/-7
  • Washington state bird: American goldfinch
  • State song: “Washington, My Home.”
  • State flag
  • Official website: access.wa.gov

map of washington in the united states

WA State Overview

The unofficial Washington state nickname is “The Evergreen State,” and this name is well deserved. It is after all the leading producer of lumber. This is due to a wide variety of tree species that grow on the rugged land. There are various stores of Douglas fir, hemlock, ponderosa, white pine, spruce, larch, and cedar.

The state is also the largest producer of apples, hops, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries. It ranks high in plenty of other production industries in regards to fruits to and vegetables. In general, it makes major contributions to the overall economy of the U.S.

This territory was originally called the Columbia district after the river of the same name. The name was changed to avoid confusion with the U.S. capital in the District of Columbia on the opposite coast.

Geography and Climate

This region is referred to as the Pacific Northwest in terms of geography. This region encompasses Oregon and in some cases Idaho, Western Montana, and other areas. The mountains in the Cascade range run north to south, bisecting the area.

map of washington

The western area has a marine west coast climate which includes mild temperatures, wet winters, and dry summers. The Cascade range is also home to several volcanoes which are significantly higher in elevation than the surrounding mountains. From north to south, the volcanoes names are as follows:

  • Mount Baker
  • Glacier Peak
  • Mount Rainier
  • Mount St. Helens
  • Mount Adams

All of these volcanoes are considered active, but Mount St. Helens is the only one that is actively erupting. In the east, the state has a dry climate and land composed of semiarid steppe and arid deserts that lay in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains.

WA State Symbols

The official Washington state song is “Washington My Home” which was composed by Helen Davis and arranged by Stuart Churchill. It was declared as such on March 19th,1959. According to one of the laws, any proceeds from the song’s sale are to be paid to the general fund of the state.

The official bird is the American Goldfinch which is a migratory bird in the finch family. Male species of this bird are yellow in the summer and turn an olive color in the winter. The female stays a yellow-brown color and brightens briefly during the summers.

The state fruit is the apple, an obvious choice given that it is the mainstay of the location’s exports. The state’s dance was adopted in 1979 and it is the “square dance.” This dance is composed of four couples for a total of eight dancers in a square shape with one couple on each side. It originated in 17th-century England.

In the west of the United State, it was romanticized through an association with 20th century American cowboys. This has resulted in a total of nineteen U.S. States declaring it their official dance. The official flower is the rhododendron which is a complex shaped pink flower.

The seal on the flag of Washington state is inspired by the unfinished portrait of the first U.S. President done by Gilbert Stuart. The original design presented to the committee by Olympia jeweller Charles Talcott was an extremely complicated sketch that depicted wheat fields, grazing sheep, and Mount Rainier and it was modified to its current state.

A Brief History of Washington State

The region was originally inhabited by tribes of Native Americans who were known for their intricate totem poles, canoes, and masks. The smallpox epidemic in the 1770’s crushed the native population however. Europeans arrived on the coast in 1775.

The British-Spanish Nootka Convention in 1790 ceased Spanish control of the area and opened the northwest coast to explorers and traders. The boundaries of the territory were modified over the years as Oregon and Idaho became established. A constitution was drafted and ratified in 1878,  but it was never used.

It was instead used as inspiration for the final draft which was done during 1889, at which point it became the 42nd state. During the industrial revolution, Seattle became the primary port for trade with Alaska and the rest of the U.S. The Great Depression brought with it a series of hydroelectric damns built in the hopes of providing more electricity.

This culminated in the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam which is still the largest concrete structure in the U.S. While World War II raged on, the state turned it’s focus to different industries. Ports in Seattle, Bremerton, Vancouver, and Tacoma were used for building warships. Seattle became the main shipping point of departure for soldiers in the Pacific.

On May 18, 1980, the volcano of Mount St. Helens erupted violently after several tremors and earthquakes warned of such an event. It exploded outward from the northeast face and destroyed a huge part of the volcano’s top. Fifty-seven people were killed and forests all around were flattened.

The Columbia river were flooded with ash and mud. In addition, ash rained down over parts of the state and areas to the east. During the day, it looked like it was nighttime.

The State’s Economy

The gross income from the products in this location in 2015 was $425 billion, which ranked it 14th in the nation. This strength is due in part to a number of strong businesses in the area including the following:

  • Boeing (aircraft manufacturing)
  • Paccar (autmobiles)
  • Microsoft
  • Bungie
  • Amazon
  • Nintendo of America
  • Valve Corporation
  • ArenaNet
  • T-Mobile USA
  • Starbucks

And many more. These companies have major headquarters in the state, which brings in a substantial boost the economy. The unemployment here is also 6.3% which isn’t bad at all. Other sources of income include taxes, agriculture, wine, and a broad access to internet services.

The Washington state abbreviation is WA, but you already know that, and a lot more now. We’re not done yet though, so be sure to head over to our facts page about this state to continue learning more.

printable map of washington



About the Author
Brandon Ramsey

Brandon Ramsey is the head author and editor of The Time Now Blog. Be sure to follow us via social media!


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