Washington State offers rugged coastline, deserts, forests, mountains, volcanoes, and hundreds of coastal islands to explore. The Cascade Mountains divide the state, with the damp forested coastal areas to the west, and pine forests, deserts and irrigated farmland of the Columbia River Plateau to the east. It is the adjacent to Canada.
The 2010 United States Census recorded the State's population at 6,724,540. Approximately 60 percent of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, industry along the Puget Sound. Washington's climate varies greatly from west to east. An Oceanic climate (also called "west coast marine climate") predominates in western Washington, and a much drier climate prevails east of the Cascade Range.
The state's nickname "Evergreen" was proposed in 1890 by Charles T. Conover of Seattle. The name proved popular as the forests were full of evergreen trees and the abundance of rain keeps the shrubbery and grasses green throughout the year.
Washington State is an aquatic wonderland of coastal waters, tide pools, saltwater inlets, glacier-fed rivers, low country and alpine lakes, reservoirs, protected wetlands and estuaries teeming with fish, birds and all sorts of watchable wildlife. It is also home to thousands of waterfalls, including some as dramatic and spectacular as Palouse Falls and Snoqualmie Falls. Washington has over 1,000 dams, built for a variety of purposes including irrigation, power, flood control, and water storage.
Washington's Pacific coast offers a wealth of beaches; some you can drive on (Long Beach) and some are so wild you can't get a car within 20 miles of them (stretches of protected shoreline in Olympic National Park). Even most Washingtonians don't know that the state's 170 miles of Pacific coast is only a small fraction of its total saltwater coastline. When you take into account Washington's numerous bays and tidal inlets, the perimeters of its coastal islands, the San Juan Islands, and the islands of Puget Sound, and then add in the shorelines of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Admiralty Inlet, Hood Canal and Puget Sound, Washington has an astounding 3,036 miles of saltwater coastline. If you stretched out the States' meandering coastline into one straight line, it would more than cover the distance from Seattle to Washington, D.C.
Washington is also home to many beautiful rivers, none more majestic than the mighty Columbia, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest and the largest hydroelectric power-producing river in North America. Along the way, it flows through the Grand Coulee Dam, which is the largest single producer of hydroelectricity in the United States. The Columbia River Gorge is famous for its vast panoramas of spectacularly dramatic scenery. Its strong winds also make it a world-famous windsurfing destination.
Many of Washington's waters, mountains and forests are protected by the State's three National Parks, some 120 State parks, numerous wilderness areas, recreation areas and preserves. It's no surprise then that Washington is a haven for watchable wildlife: whales and other sea mammals, migratory and native birds, deer, bears, cougars, otters, foxes and much more.