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(Detailed view of both sides) (full size)
State nickname: Beaver State
State motto: She Flies With Her Own Wings

Other U.S. States
Capital Salem
Largest City Portland
Governor Ted Kulongoski
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water
 - % water
Ranked 9th
255,026 km˛
248,849 km˛
6,177 km˛
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 28th
into Union

 - Order
 - Date

February 14, 1859
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7
Mountain: UTC-7/-6
All but majority of Malheur County is in Pacific
42°N to 46°15'N
116°45'W to 124°30'W
420 km
580 km

3,426 meters
1,005 meters
sea level
ISO 3166-2:US-OR
[T]his state of scenic grandeur and easygoing individualism is writing the preface to what may be the future for all Americans: simple living, conservation, and limited growth. -- A 1977 article in U.S. News and World Report on Oregon.
Oregon is a state located in the western United States bordering the Pacific Ocean, California, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. Its northern border lies along the Columbia River and the east along the Snake River. Two north-south mountain ranges - the Coastal Range and the Cascade Mountain Range - form the two boundaries of the Willamette Valley, one of the most fertile and agriculturally productive regions in the world. Oregon is known for its rain, but only the western half of the state is notably rainy; east of the Cascades the climate is much more arid.

Oregonians are proud of their state's wealth of beautiful forests and streams, and place great importance on proper use of their environment, yet struggle to balance this with the desire for economic and housing development to support its increasing population. The state has pioneered some of the nation's environmental firsts, such as the Oregon Bottle Bill, but has also suffered under the rapid pace of logging its forests.

Its population in 2000 was 3,421,399, a 20.4% increase over 1990; the 2002 estimate was 3,504,700.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Origin of Oregon
3 Geography
4 Law and government
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Major cities and towns
8 Colleges and universities
9 Professional sports teams
10 Broadcasting
11 State symbols
12 Trivia
13 External links


Oregon was originally home to a number of Native American tribes, including the Bannock, Chinook, Klamath, and Nez Perce. James Cook explored the coast in 1778 in search of the Northwest Passage. The Lewis and Clark Expedition travelled through the region during their expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase, at the direction of Thomas Jefferson. They built their winter fort at Fort Clatsop, near the mouth of the Columbia River. Exploration by Lewis and Clark (1805-1806) and Britain's David Thompson (1811) publicized the abundance of fur in the area. In 1811, New York financier John Jacob Astor established Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River with the intention of starting a chain of Pacific Fur Company trading posts along the river. Fort Astoria was the first permanent white settlement in Oregon. In the War of 1812 the British gained control of all of the Pacific Fur Company posts.

By the 1820s and 1830s the British Hudson's Bay Company dominated the Pacific Northwest. John McLoughlin, who was appointed the Company's Chief Factor of the Columbia District, built Fort Vancouver in 1825.

The Oregon Trail infused the region with new settlers, starting in 1842-43, as the United States sought to wrest control of the Oregon Country from the United Kingdom. A popular slogan among the Democrats who wanted the Pacific territory as far north as latitude 54°40′ was "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight." This controversy was resolved in 1846 after a period of saber rattling where it seemed that the United States and the United Kingdom would go to war a third time in 75 years. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and the boundary between the United States and British North America was set at the 49th parallel. The Oregon Territory was officially organized in 1848. The state was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859.

In the 1880s, railroads enabled marketing of the state's lumber and wheat, and the more rapid growth of its cities.

Industrial expansion began in earnest following the construction of the Bonneville Dam in 1943 on the Columbia River. The power, food, and lumber provided by Oregon have helped fuel the development of the west, and the periodic fluctuations in the nation's building industry has severely impacted the state's economy on multiple occasions.

The state has a long history of polarizing conflicts: Native Americans vs. British fur trappers, British vs. settlers from the U.S., ranchers vs. farmers, wealthy growing cities vs. established but poor rural areas, loggers vs. environmentalists, white supremacists vs. anti-racists, supporters of social spending vs. anti-tax activists, and native Oregonians vs. Californians (or outsiders in general). State ballots frequently illustrate the extremes of the political spectrum - anti-gay, pro-religious measures on the same ballot as liberal drug decriminalization measures.

Origin of Oregon

The origin of the state's name is something of a mystery.

The earliest known use of this proper noun was in a 1765 petition by Major Robert Rogers to the English Crown. The petition referred to Ouragon and asked for money to finance an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage.

Why Rogers used the name has led to many theories, which include:

Less supported theories are based on it having a Spanish etymology. The theory that it comes from oregano, was dismissed years ago by Henry W. Scott, an early editor of Oregonian. He wrote that it was "a mere conjecture absolutely without support. More than this, it is completely disproved by all that is known of the name." Others have speculated that the name is related to the kingdom of Aragon.

In 1778, Jonathan Carver used Oregon to label the River of the West in his book Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America. The poet William Cullen Bryant took the name from Carver's book and used it in his poem "Thanatopsis" to refer to the recent discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition; this use helped establish it in modern use.


See also: List of Oregon counties, Oregon Geographic Names, List of Oregon rivers

Oregon's geography may be split roughly into six areas:

The state varies from rain forest in the Columbia Gorge to barren desert in the southeast, which still meets the technical definition of frontier.

The state is about 360 miles (580 km) long and 261 miles (420 km) wide. Oregon is the ninth largest state, covering 98,386 square miles (254,819 square kilometres).

Its highest point is the summit of Mount Hood, at 11,239 feet (3,428 meters). As a West Coast state, its lowest point is sea level. Its mean elevation is 3300 ft (1 km).

Crater Lake National Park is Oregon's only national park.

Law and government

See also: List of Oregon governors, Oregon congressional districts, List of United States Senators from Oregon

Oregon's governor serves a four-year term. The legislature consists of a thirty member Senate and sixty member House. Senators serve four-year terms, and Representatives two. At the federal level, Oregon is represented by two senators and five representatives, which translates into seven electoral votes.

Oregon adopted many electorial reforms proposed during the Progressive Era, due to the efforts of William S. U'Ren and his Direct Legislation League. Under his leadership, the state overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 1902 that created the initiative and referendum processes for citizens to directly introduce or approve proposed laws or amendments to the state constitution. In following years, the primary election to select party candidates was adopted in 1904, and in 1908 the Oregon Constitution was amended to include recall of public officials.

Of the measures placed on the ballot since 1902, the people have passed 99 of the 288 initiatives and 25 of the 61 referenda on the ballot, though not all of them survived challenges in courts (see Pierce v. Society of Sisters, for example). During the same period, the legislature has referred 363 measures to the people, of which 206 have passed.

Oregon has been a pioneer in the use of vote-by-mail:


The Willamette Valley is very fertile, and coupled with Oregon's famous rains, gives the state a wealth of agricultural products. Appless and other fruits, cattle, dairy products, potatoes, and peppermint are all valuable products. Oregon is also one of four major world hazelnut growing regions. While the history of the wine production in Oregon can be traced to before Prohibition, it became a significant industry beginning in the 1970s, and Oregon is home to at least four wine appellations.

Her forests have historically made Oregon one of the nation's major timber production or logging states, but forest fires (such as the Tillamook Burn), over-harvesting, and law suits over the proper management of the extensive federal forest holdings have reduced the amount of timber produced. According to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, timber harvested from federal lands dropped some 96% from 1989 (when 4,333 million board feet was harvested) to 173 million board feet in 2001. While the 1980s saw an unsustainable amount of timber harvested, the drop in timber harvested is still significant, as the total amount of timber harvested in 2001 is less than half of that in the late 1970s. Even the shift in recent years towards finished goods such as paper and building materials have not slowed the decline of the timber industry. Examples include the Weyerhaeuser's acquisition of Willamette Industries in January, 2002, the announcement by Louisiana Pacific in September, 2003 that they will relocate their corporate headquarters from Portland to Nashville, and the experiences of small lumber towns like Gilchrist. Despite these changes, Oregon still leads the United States in softwood lumber production: in 2001, according to the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, 6,056 million board feet was produced in Oregon, against 4,5257 mbf. in Washington, 2,731 in California, 2,413 in Georgia and 2,327 in Mississippi.

High technology industries and services have been a major employer since the 1970s. Tektronix was the largest private employer in Oregon until the late 1980s. Intel's creation and expansion of several plants in eastern Washington County continued the growth that Tektronix had started. The spinoffs and startups that were produced by these two companies led to the establishment of the Portland metropolitan area as the Silicon Forest. The recession and dotcom bust of 2001 in the Silicon Valley has led to similar results in the Silicon Forest; many high technology employers have either reduced the number of their employees or gone out of business.

Oregon had one of the largest salmon-fishing industries in the world, although ocean fisheries have reduced the river fisheries in recent years. Tourism is also strong in the state; Oregon's evergreen mountain forests, waterfalls, pristine lakes (including Crater Lake National Park), and scenic beaches draw visitors year round. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a tourist draw near its Californian border which complements the area's scenic beauty and opportunity for outdoor activities.

Oregon is home to a number of smaller breweries.


As of the 2000 census, the population of Oregon is 3,421,399. Its population grew 20.4% (579,062) from its 1990 levels. According to the 2000 census,

86.6% (2,961,623)  identified themselves as White,
8% (275,314)  as Hispanic or Latino,
1.6% (55,662)  as black,
3% (101,350)  as Asian,
1.3% (45,211)  as American Indian or Alaska Native,
0.2% (7,976)  as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander,
4.2% (144,832)  as other, and
3.1% (104,745)  identified themselves as belonging to two or more races.

6.5% of its population were reported as under 5, 24.7% under 18, and 12.8% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.4% of the population.

See also the list of people from Oregon and the list of notable Portlanders.

Major cities and towns

See: List of Oregon cities

The capital is Salem and the largest city is Portland.

Oregon City was the first incorporated city west of the Mississippi River and later, the first capital of the Oregon Territory, from 1848 to 1852, when the territory capitol was moved to Salem, Oregon. It was also the end of the Oregon Trail and the site of the first public library established west of the Rocky Mountains, stocked with only 300 volumes.

Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

Portland is under consideration to be the home of the Montreal Expos or another major league baseball team.


State symbols

State flower: Oregon grape (since 1899)
State song: Oregon, My Oregon (written in 1920 and adopted in 1927)
State bird: Western meadowlark (chosen by the state's children in 1927)
State tree: Douglas-fir (since 1939)
State fish: Chinook salmon (since 1961)
State rock: Thunderegg (like a geode but formed in a rhyolitic lava flow; since 1965)
State animal: Beaver (since 1969)
State dance: Square dance (since 1977)
State insect: Oregon Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio oregonius; since 1979)
State gemstone: Oregon sunstone, a type of feldspar (since 1987)
State nut: Hazelnut (since 1989)
State seashell: Oregon hairy triton (Fusitriton oregonensis, a gastropod in the cymatiidae family; since 1991)


External links

Oregon is also the name of towns and villages in the United States of America:

and of several warships named in honor of the state.

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