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The Pacific Northwest is the region of the western United States located adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. It runs north to south from British Columbia, Canada, to Oregon. Idaho, parts of Montana, northern California, and southeastern Alaska are also listed as parts of the Pacific Northwest in some accounts. Much of the Pacific Northwest consists of rural forested land; however, there are several large population centers which include Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Portland, Oregon.
The region of the Pacific Northwest has a long history that was mainly occupied by various Native American groups. Most of these groups are believed to have been engaged in hunting and gathering as well as fishing. Today, there are still visible artifacts from the Pacific Northwest's early inhabitants as well as thousands of descendants that still practice historic Native American culture.
What to Know About the Pacific Northwest
- One of the first United States claims to the lands of the Pacific Northwest region came after Lewis and Clark explored the area in the early 1800s.
- The Pacific Northwest is highly active geologically. The region is dotted with several large active volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range. Such volcanoes include such Mount Shasta in northern California, Mount Hood in Oregon, Mount Saint Helens and Rainier in Washington and Mount Garibaldi in British Columbia.
- There are four mountain ranges dominating the Pacific Northwest. They are the Cascade Range, the Olympic Range, the Coast Range and parts of the Rocky Mountains.
- Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the Pacific Northwest at 14,410 feet (4,392 m).
- The Columbia River, which begins in the Columbia Plateau in western Idaho and flows through the Cascades to the Pacific Ocean, has the second-largest flow of water (behind the Mississippi River) than any other river in the lower 48 states.
- In general, the Pacific Northwest has a wet and cool climate which has led to the growth of extensive forests featuring some of the largest trees in the world. The region's coastal forests are considered temperate rainforests. More inland, however, the climate can be drier with more harsh winters and warmer summers.
- The economy of the Pacific Northwest is varied, but some of the world's largest and most successful technology companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Expedia, and Amazon.com are located in the region.
- Aerospace is also an important industry in the Pacific Northwest as Boeing was founded in Seattle and currently some of its operations in the Seattle area. Air Canada has a large hub at the Vancouver International Airport.
- The Pacific Northwest is considered an educational center for both the United States and Canada as large universities such as the University of Washington, the University of Oregon and the University of British Columbia are located there.
- The dominant ethnic groups of the Pacific Northwest are Caucasian, Mexican and Chinese.