Washington State immediately brings to mind the words diversity, contrast, and beauty. With a colorful and eclectic population from a wide range of cultures, Washington contains communities of every size, and a variety of terrains and climates.
Washington’s western border is the Pacific Ocean, and the sheltered harbors along Puget Sound lend themselves to a dynamic maritime industry, extending the United States mainland trade routes to reach Canada, Alaska and the entire Pacific Rim. The Puget Sound Region contains the cities of Seattle, Tacoma and Washington’s Capital City of Olympia.
The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Area holds almost half of Washington State’s population, which the Census 2000 recorded at 5,894,121. Estimates in 2006 reported an 8.5% increase in WA’s population, bringing it to almost 6,400,000. Found here are twenty separate Indian Reservations, home to such tribes as the Snohomish, Yakima, Spokane and Chinook, to name a few. Washington contains the fifth largest Asian population in the nation, the largest sub-group being Filipino. Gary Locke became the first Chinese-American State Governor in 1996 and won re-election in 2000.
A rising number of Mexican migrant workers inhabit southeastern and western Washington State. The African-American population remains considerably less than WA’s Asian or Hispanic communities, although Seattle, Spokane , Lakewood and King County have African-American mayors and city leaders. Washington’s four largest ancestries include German, English, Irish and Norwegian, with about 10% foreign born.
Washington's Pacific Coastline extends from Oregon to Canada, with the lovely San Juan Islands in view of the border. Just south and west of Puget Sound lies the Olympic Peninsula. Here, the western face of the Olympic Mountain Range receives the wettest weather in the United States, giving rise to the lush and exotic Hoh Rain Forest and the Olympic Hot Spring. (Washingtonians call rain "Liquid Sunshine".)
A little farther west begins the majestic range of the Cascade Mountains, many of which are active glaciated volcanoes. Regal Mount Rainier looms more than 14,000' above sea level, topped with 35 square miles of glacial ice and snow. East of the Cascades, WA’s terrain turns to semi-arid steppe and in the mountains’ rain shadow lie a scattering of true deserts. Eastern Washington consists of grasslands and prairie, much of which becomes farmland each year as the population grows.
Washington State contains three outstanding National Parks, six National Forests and a host of designated wilderness areas. Beyond that, Washingtonians designate numerous other areas as protected lands. Outdoor enthusiasts find Washington a paradise, with whale watching, beach combing, swimming, surfing, and kite flying, chances to explore lonely beaches, serene islands, rainforests, rugged mountains and even strolls in the desert. Washington claims a diverse population that matches its diverse topography well.