Background: Mt Raineer reflected in lake
Photo by Kelvin Kay

Living in Washington

Washington - SayWA!

History, Geography, Homes, and State Resources of Washington

Washington USA Map
Washington USA Map

With a nickname of The Evergreen State, Washington, is renowned for its hi-tech-savvy residents and evergreen forests. Over 60% of the state's population calls the Seattle metropolitan region home. Over in the Spokane region, another popular destination to move to in the state you’ll discover it's a Mecca for outdoorsmen, featuring 77 lakes along with many hiking trails and parks.

Washington is a place in which every city greatly varies, and there's a definite divide from one side of the Cascade Range to the other. There is a vast array of cities to select from when mapping your move to the state, and it is smart planning to do plenty of research prior making a decision where to call home. Around 60% of the population resides in Seattle, although there are smaller towns and cities that you shouldn’t overlook. Wenatchee, Tacoma, Spokane and Olympia just to suggest a few.

As part of the vast Oregon Country, Washington territory was visited by Spanish, American, and British explorers—Bruno Heceta for Spain in 1775, the American Capt. Robert Gray in 1792, and Capt. George Vancouver for Britain in 1792–1794. Lewis and Clark explored the Columbia River region and coastal areas for the U.S. in 1805–1806.

Rival American and British settlers and conflicting territorial claims threatened war in the early 1840s. However, in 1846 the Oregon Treaty set the boundary at the 49th parallel and war was averted.


The state has two distinct climate zones. Mild, humid, summer days west of the Cascades are rarely above 79°F, and winter days are seldom below 46°F while the east part of the state has warm summers and cool winters.


  • Washington Geography, Facts and History
  • Washington Facts & Trivia
  • Washington Flags
  • Famous People from Washington
  • Washington Timeline
  • Washington Official Song
  • Education

    Washington Colleges. Washington's 63 colleges and universities offer 242,975 full-time students a choice for all types of students. Explore them below to begin your college search. . Whether you are looking for a public or private school, a traditional campus, or an online campus, this Washington travel list provides a comprehensive guide to higher education in the state.


    The state's economy grew 3.7% in 2016, nearly two and a half times the national rate. The nation's largest concentration of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers live in Washington. Washington state is just behind California in the most patents filed last year.

    Flora and Fauna

    Washington State Flower - Coast Rhododendron
    Washington State Flower - Coast Rhododendron
    More than 1,300 plant species have been identified in Washington. Sand strawberries and beach peas are found among the dunes while fennel and spurry grow in salt marshes; greasewood and sagebrush predominate in the desert regions of the Columbia Plateau. Conifers include Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western hemlock, and Alaska cedar; big-leaf maple, red alder, black cottonwood, and western yew are among the characteristic deciduous trees. Wild flowers include the deerhead orchid and wake-robin; the western rhododendron is the state flower. In 2003, six plant species were threatened, including golden paintbrush, Nelson's checker-mallow, Kincaid's lupine, Spalding's catchfly, Ute ladies'-tresses, and water howelia. That year, four species were endangered, including Bradshaw's desert-parsley, showy stickseed, Wenatchee Mountains checkermallow, and marsh sandwort.

    Forest and mountain regions support Columbia black-tailed and mule deer, elk, and black bear; the Roosevelt elk, named after President Theodore Roosevelt, is indigenous to the Olympic Mountains. Other native mammals are the Canadian lynx, red fox, and red western bobcat. Smaller native mammals—western fisher, raccoon, muskrat, porcupine, marten, and mink—are plentiful. The whistler (hoary) marmot is the largest rodent. Game birds include the ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, and ring-necked pheasant. Sixteen varieties of owl have been identified; other birds of prey include the prairie falcon, sparrow hawk, and golden eagle. The bald eagle is more numerous in Washington than in any other state except Alaska. Washington is also a haven for marsh, shore, and water birds. Various salmon species thrive in coastal waters and along the Columbia River, and the octopus, hair seal, and sea lion inhabit Puget Sound.

    Animals driven away from the slopes of Mt. St. Helen's by the volcanic eruption in 1980 have largely returned; more than 25 species of mammals and over 100 species of birds have been observed inhabiting the mountain again. The number of elk and deer in the vicinity was roughly the same as prior to the eruption although the mountain goat population reportedly had been killed off. Earlier, on 17 August 1982, the Mt. St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument was created by an act of Congress; it includes about 110,000 acres (44,500 ha) of the area that had been devastated by the original eruption.

    In 2003, 30 animal species were listed as threatened or endangered in Washington, including the Columbian white-tailed deer, woodland caribou, short-tailed albatross, brown pelican, pygmy rabbit, humpback whale, nine species of salmon, and two species (green and leatherback) of sea turtle.

  • Washington State Bird (American Goldfinch)
  • Washington Official State Flower (Coast rhododendron)
  • Washington Official State Tree (Western Hemlock)
  • Government

    Washington State Capitol
    Washington State Capitol
    The Washington State Capitol or Legislative Building in Olympia is the home of the government of the state of Washington. It contains chambers for the Washington State Legislature and offices for the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and treasurer and is part of a campus consisting of several buildings. Buildings for the Washington Supreme Court, executive agencies and the Washington Governor's Mansion are part of the capitol campus. Located on the campus are the Legislative Building, Temple of Justice, John A. Cherberg Senate office building, Irv Newhouse Senate office building, Insurance Building, John L. O'Brien House office building, Joel M. Pritchard Building, and several other office buildings.

    Executives elected statewide are the governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, auditor, superintendent of public education, and officers of insurance and public land. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and serve four-year terms. Candidates for these offices must be qualified voters in the state. The governor is limited to serving eight out of 14 years.

    Voters in Washington must be US citizens, at least 18 years old, and residents of the state, their county, and their precinct for at least 30 days prior to election day. Restrictions apply to those convicted of certain crimes and to those judged by the court as mentally incompetent to vote.

  • State of Washington Official Website
  • Attractions

    The natural world seems larger than life in Washington State, where giant conifers are covered with lush green mosses in the Hoh Rain Forest, and volcanoes sit quietly (Mount Rainier and Mount Baker) or show the devastating effects of an eruption (Mount St. Helens). Seattle is the state's largest and trendiest city - its museums, attractions, and technology companies never being far from the historic waterfront. The state capital, Olympia, centers on an impressive legislative building but is otherwise evergreen and sleepy.

    Washington State national parks range from the often-visited Olympic National Park to the seldom-toured North Cascades National Park. And throughout the Pacific Northwest state, communities large and small tempt with beaches, island getaways, and lakes suited to pleasure boating.

    Lime Kiln Lighthouse
    Lime Kiln Lighthouse
    Lighthouses in Washington  -Lighthouses in the state of Washington as identified by the United States Coast Guard. There are eighteen active lights in the state; three are standing but inactive, three were supplanted by automated towers, and two have been completely demolished. Two lights, one of them still active, serve as museums.

    The Cape Disappointment Light was the first lighthouse in the state (lit 1856) and is still active.

  •  Official Tourism Site, State of Washington
  • Amusement Parks

    Pier 57, Seattle
    Remlinger Farms, Carnation
    Riverfront Park, Spokane
    Washington State Fair, Puyallup
    Wild Waves Theme Park, Federal Way

    National Parks

    Mount Rainier National Park Mount Rainier National Park
    Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, Coupeville, WA
    Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Vancouver, OR,WA
    Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail, WA,OR,ID,MT
    Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle Unit National Historical Park, Seattle, WA
    Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, the Canadian border going to Coulee Dam along the Columbia River, WA
    Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Long Beach to Cannon Beach, OR,WA
    Mount Rainier National Park, Ashford, Enumclaw, Packwood, Wilkeson, WA
    Nez Perce National Historical Park, four states ID,MT,OR,WA
    North Cascades National Park, Marblemount, WA
    Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, WA
    Oregon National Historic Trail, Various States ID,KS,MO,NE,OR,WA,WY
    San Juan Island National Historical Park, Friday Harbor, WA

    National Forests

    Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
    Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
    Gilford Pinchot National Forest - 1,312,274 acres
      Gifford Pinchot National Forest includes Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and parts of seven wilderness areas. There are 1,475 miles of trails and 4,104 miles of roads in the forest.
    Olympic National Forest - 631,808 acres
      Olympic National Forest surrounds Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. There are five wilderness areas, occupying about 14% of the forest. This part of Washington receives more rainfall annually than anywhere else in the United States.
    Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest - 2,562,955 acres
      In the Cascade Range, this forest includes Mount Baker, at an elevation of 10,781 feet, a glaciated stratovolcano. Mount Baker National Recreation Area, the Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail, and portions of ten wilderness areas are in the forest
    Colville National Forest - 954,668 acres
      With 486 miles of hiking trails, Colville National Forest has elevations that range up to 7,300 feet in the Kettle River and Selkirk mountains. Part of the Salmo-Priest Wilderness is in the forest along with part of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.
    Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest - 1,501,826 acres
      Located on the eastern side of the Cascade Range, this forest stretches from the Canada–US border to the Columbia and Okanogan rivers. There are 1,285 miles of trails in the forest, including part of the Pacific Crest Trail.


    If you’re a sports fan you’ll love Washington State, home to professional baseball, football, soccer and hockey teams, as well as numerous top-ranked college teams. Whatever sport or level of play you enjoy watching, Washington is a great place for spectator sports.

  • Washington Sports
  • Taxes

    Washington Tax Facts
    • Income tax: none
    • Sales tax: 7% - 10.4%
    • Property tax: 1.06% average effective rate
    • Gas tax: 49.4 cents per gallon of regular gasoline and diesel



    Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
    Seattle–Tacoma International Airport
    Washington Airports. There are 140 public airfields in Washington, including 16 state airports belonging to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

    Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) is Seattle's main commercial airport. Boeing Field in Seattle is one of the busiest non-hub airports in the US


    The state highways incorporate an extensive network of bridges and the largest ferry system in the United States to serve transportation needs in the Puget Sound area. Washington's marine highway constitutes a fleet of twenty-eight ferries that navigate Puget Sound and its inland waterways to 20 different ports of call, completing close to 147,000 sailings each year.

    Port of Tacoma
    Port of Tacoma


    Washington has a number of seaports along the Pacific Ocean, including Seattle, Tacoma, Kalama, Anacortes, Vancouver, Longview, Greys County, Olympia, and Port Angeles.


    Washington is crossed by a number of freight railroads, and Amtrak's passenger Cascade route between Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, BC is the eighth busiest Amtrak service in the nation. The Sounder commuter rail service operates partly along the Cascade route, between Everett and Lakewood.


    Washington has a system of state highways, called State Routes, as well as an extensive ferry system which is the largest in the nation and the third largest in the world.

    The Cascade Mountain Range also impedes transportation. Washington operates and maintains roads over seven major mountain passes and eight minor passes. During winter months some of these passes are plowed, sanded, and kept safe with avalanche control. Not all stay open through the winter. The North Cascades Highway, State Route 20, closes every year due to snowfall and avalanches in the area of Washington Pass. The Cayuse and Chinook Passes east of Mount Rainier also close in winter.

    Washington Housing

    The median home value in Washington is $375,200. Washington home values have gone up 8.1% over the past year and predictions are they will rise 6.1% within the next year. The median list price per square foot in Washington is $227. The median price of homes currently listed in Washington is $395,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $346,500. The median rent price in Washington is $2,000.
    Washington Association of Realtors
    Washington Real Estate Commission
    Washington Real Estate Listings

    Washington Cities & Towns

    Washington is split up into 39 counties containing 281 incorporated municipalities that are divided into cities and towns. Legally, a city in Washington can be described primarily by its class. There are five classes of municipalities in Washington: first class city, second class city, town, unclassified city, and code city. The largest municipality by population in Washington is Seattle with 608,660 residents, and the smallest municipality by population is Krupp with 48 residents. The largest municipality by land area is Seattle, which covers 83.84 square miles, while Beaux Arts Village is the smallest at 0.08 square miles.
  • Washington Cities and Towns
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    Living in Washington . Living in Washington