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The Pacific Northwest is a region in the northwest of North America, bound by the Pacific Ocean to the west. There are several partially overlapping definitions of the region, but they generally include the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon, and often including Southeast Alaska, Idaho, western Montana and northernmost California. The term "Pacific Northwest" should not be confused with the Northwest Territory (also known as the Great Northwest, a historic term in the United States) or the Northwest Territories of Canada. The term Northwest Coast is often used when referring only to the coastal regions. The term Northwest Plateau has been used to describe the inland regions, although they are commonly referred to as "the Interior" in British Columbia and the Inland Empire in the United States.

The region's biggest metropolitan areas are Seattle, Washington; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Portland, Oregon.



The Pacific Northwest was occupied by a diverse array of Native American peoples for millennia, beginning with Paleoindians who explored and colonized the area roughly 15,000 years before Europeans arrived. The Pacific Coast is seen by a growing number of scholars as a major migration route for late Pleistocene peoples moving from northeast Asia into the Americas. Archaeological evidence for these earliest Native Americans is sketchy--in part because heavy glaciation, flooding, and post-glacial sea level rise have radically changed the landscape--but fluted Clovis-like points found in the region were probably left by Paleoindians at least 13,000 years ago. Even earlier evidence for human occupation dating back as much as 14,500 years ago is emerging from Paisley Caves in central Oregon.

With a history of human occupation spanning many millennia, and the incredible richness of Pacific Northwest fisheries (salmon, etc.), it is not surprising that the Indian Tribes who occupied the area historically were some of the most complex hunter-gatherer-fishers in history. They lived in large villages or towns, built plank houses and large canoes, and had sophisticated artistic and technological traditions. In British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, for instance, maritime tribes like the Tlingit and Haida erected the large and elaborately carved totem poles that are iconic of Pacific Northwest artistic traditions. Throughout the area, thousands of descendants of these proud Pacific Northwest tribes still live and many of their cultural traditions continue to be practiced.

Initial European exploration

.]] British Captain and erstwhile privateer Francis Drake may have sailed off the Oregon coast in 1579. Juan de Fuca, a Greek captain in the employ of Spain, may have found the Strait of Juan de Fuca around 1592. The strait was named for him, but whether he discovered it or not has long been questioned. During the early 1740s, Imperial Russia sent the Dane Vitus Bering to the region. By the late 1700s and into the mid-19th century, Russian settlers had established several posts and communities on northeast Pacific coast, eventually reaching as far south as Fort Ross, California.

In 1774 the viceroy of New Spain sent Juan Pérez in the ship Santiago to the Pacific Northwest. Peréz made landfall on the Queen Charlotte Islands on July 18, 1774. The northernmost latitude he reached was 54°40′ N. This was followed, in 1775, by another Spanish expedition, under the command of Bruno de Heceta and including Juan Peréz and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra as officers. On July 14, 1775 they landed on the Olympic Peninsula near the mouth of the Quinault River. Due to an outbreak of scurvy, Heceta returned to Mexico. On August 17, 1775 he sighted the mouth of the Columbia River but could not tell if it was a river or a major strait. His attempt to sail in failed due to overly strong currents. He named it Bahia de la Asúnciõn. While Heceta sailed south, Quadra continued north in the expedition's second ship, the Sonora. He reached 59° N, before turning back.[1]

In 1776 English mariner Captain James Cook visited Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island and also voyaged as far as Prince William Sound. In 1779 a third Spanish expedition, under the command of Ignacio de Artega in the ship Princesa, and with Quadra as captain of the ship Favorite, sailed from Mexico to the coast of Alaska, reaching 61° N. Two further Spanish expeditions, in 1788 and 1789, both under Esteban Jose Martínez and Gonzalo López de Haro, sailed to the Pacific Northwest. During the second expedition they met the American captain Robert Gray near Nootka Sound. Upon entering Nootka Sound, they found William Douglas and his ship the Iphigenia. There followed the Nootka Crisis, which was resolved by agreements known as the Nootka Convention. In 1790 the Spanish sent three ships to Nootka Sound, under the command of Francisco de Eliza. After establishing a base at Nootka, Eliza sent out several exploration parties. Salvador Fidalgo was sent north to the Alaska coast. Manuel Quimper, with Gonzalo López de Haro as pilot, explored the Strait of Juan de Fuca, discovering the San Juan Islands and Admiralty Inlet in the process. Francisco de Eliza himself took the ship San Carlos into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From a base at Port Discovery, he explored the San Juan Islands, Haro Strait, Rosario Strait, and Bellingham Bay. In the process he discovered the Strait of Georgia, exploring it as far north as Texada Island. He returned to Nootka Sound by August of 1791. Alessandro Malaspina, sailing for Spain, explored and mapped the coast from Yakutat Bay to Prince William Sound in 1791, then sailed to Nootka Sound. A scientific expedition in the manner of James Cook, Malaspina's scientists studied the Tlingit and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples before returning to Mexico. Another Spanish explorer, Jacinto Caamaño, sailed the ship Aranzazu to Nootka Sound in May of 1792. There he met Quadra, who was in command of the Spanish settlement. Quadra sent Caamaño north, where he explored the region of today's Alaska panhandle. Various Spanish maps, including Caamaño's, were given to George Vancouver in 1792, as the Spanish and British worked together to chart the complex coastline.[1]

George Vancouver charted the Pacific Northwest on behalf of Great Britain, including the Strait of Georgia, the bays and inlets of Puget Sound, and the Johnstone Strait-Queen Charlotte Strait and the much of the rest of the British Columbia Coast and Alaska Panhandle shorelines. From Mexico Malaspina dispatched last Spanish exploration expedition in the Pacific Northwest, under Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayentano Valdes aboard the schooners Sutíl and Mexicana.[2] They met Vancouver in the Strait of Georgia on June 21, 1792. Vancouver had explored Puget Sound just previously. The Spanish explorers knew of Admiralty Inlet and the unexplored region to the south, but decided to sail north. They discovered and entered the Fraser River shortly before meeting Vancouver. After sharing maps and agreeing to cooperate, Galiano, Valdés, and Vancouver sailed north, charting the coastline together. They passed through Johnstone Strait and returned to Nootka Sound. As a result, the Spanish explorers, who had set out from Nootka, became the first Europeans to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. Vancouver himself had entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca directly without going to Nootka first, so had not sailed completedly around the island.[1]

In 1786 Jean-François de La Pérouse, representing France, sailed to the Queen Charlotte Islands after visiting Nootka Sound but any possible French claim to this region were lost when La Pérouse and his men and journals were lost in a shipwreck near Australia. Captain James Barclay (also spelled Barkley) also visited the area flying the flag of the Austrian Empire. American merchant sea-captain Robert Gray traded along the coast and discovered the mouth of the Columbia River.

Territorial disputes

' 1841 Map of the Oregon Territory from "Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition." Philadelphia: 1845]] Initial formal claims to the region were asserted by Spain, based on the Treaty of Tordesillas which, in the Spanish Empire's interpretation, endowed that empire with the Pacific Ocean as a "Spanish lake". Russian maritime fur trade activity extending from the farther side of the Pacific prompted Spain to send expeditions north to assert Spanish ownership, while at the same time British claims were made and advanced by Captain James Cook and subsequent expeditions by George Vancouver. Potential French, Austrian and Portuguese claims were never advanced. As of the Nootka Conventions, the last in 1794, Spain gave up its exclusive a priori claims and agreed to share the region with the other Powers, giving up its garrison at Nootka Sound in the process.

The United States later established a claim following the exploration of the region by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, partly through the negotiation of former Spanish claims north of the Oregon-California boundary. From the 1810s until the 1840s, modern-day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana, along with most of British Columbia, were part of what Americans called the Oregon Country and the British called the Columbia District. This region was jointly claimed by the United States and Great Britain after the Treaty of 1818, which established a condominium of interests in the region in lieu of a settlement. In 1840 American Charles Wilkes explored in the area. John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, headquartered at Fort Vancouver, was the de facto local political authority for most of this time.

This arrangement ended as U.S. settlement grew and President James K. Polk was elected on a platform of calling for annexation of the entire Oregon Country and of Texas. After his election, supporters coined the famous slogan "Fifty-four Forty or Fight", referring to 54°40' north latitude - the northward limit of the region. After a war scare with the United Kingdom, the Oregon boundary dispute was settled in the 1846 Oregon Treaty, partitioning the region along the 49th parallel and resolving most but not all of the border disputes (see Pig War).

The mainland territory north of the 49th parallel remained unincorporated until 1858, when a mass influx of Americans and others during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush forced the hand of Colony of Vancouver Island's Governor James Douglas, who declared the mainland a Crown Colony, although official ratification of his unilateral action was several months in coming. The two colonies were amalgamated in 1866 to cut costs, and joined the Dominion of Canada in 1871. The U.S. portion became the Oregon Territory in 1848; it was later subdivided into territories that were eventually admitted as states, the first of these being Oregon itself in 1859. See Washington Territory.

American expansionist pressure on British Columbia persisted after the colony became a province of Canada, even though Americans living in the province did not harbor annexationist inclinations. The Fenian Brotherhood openly organized and drilled in Washington, particularly in the 1870s and the 1880s, though no cross-border attacks were experienced. During the Alaska Boundary Dispute, U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt threatened to invade and annex British Columbia if Britain would not yield on the question of the Yukon ports. In more recent times, during the so-called "Salmon War" of the 1990s, Washington Senator Slade Gorton called for the U.S. Navy to "force" the Inside Passage, even though it is not an official international waterway. Disputes between British Columbia and Alaska over the Dixon Entrance of the Hecate Strait between Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands still continue.


The Northwest is still geologically active, with both active volcanoes and geologic faults.


The Pacific Northwest is a diverse geographic region, dominated by several mountain ranges, including the Coast Mountains, the Cascade Range, the Olympic Mountains, the Columbia Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. The highest peak in the Pacific Northwest is Mt. Rainier, in the Washington Cascades, at 14,410 feet (4,392 m). Immediately inland from the Cascade Range there is a broad plateau, narrowing progressively northwards, and also getting higher. In the US this region, semi-arid and often completely arid, is known as the Columbia Plateau, while in British Columbia it is the Interior Plateau, also called the Fraser Plateau. The Columbia Plateau was the scene of massive ice-age floods, as a consequence there are many coulees, canyons, and plateaus. The Columbia River cuts a deep and wide gorge around the rim of the Columbia Plateau, and through the Cascade Range on its way to the Pacific Ocean. After the Mississippi, more water flows through the Columbia than any other river in the lower 48 states.

Because many areas have plentiful rainfall, the Pacific Northwest has some of North America's most lush and extensive forests, and at one time, the largest trees in the world. Coastal forests in some areas are classified as temperate rain forest, or in some local slang, "cold jungle".

The major cities of Vancouver, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma all began as seaports supporting the logging, mining, and farming industries of the region, but have developed into major technological and industrial centers (such as the Silicon Forest), which benefit from their location on the Pacific Rim.

The region has four U.S. National Parks: Crater Lake in Oregon, and Olympic, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades in Washington. Other outstanding natural features include the Oregon Coast, the Columbia River Gorge, The Columbia River, Mt. St. Helens, and Hells Canyon on the Snake River between Oregon and Idaho. There are several Canadian National Parks in the Pacific Northwest, from Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park in the Selkirk Range alongside Rogers Pass, as well as Kootenay National Park and Yoho National Park on the British Columbia flank of the Rockies. Although unprotected by national parks and only a handful of provincial parks, the south-central Coast Mountains in British Columbia contain the five largest mid-latitude icefields in the world.


The Pacific Northwest experiences a wide variety of climates. Oceanic climate ("marine west coast climate") occurs in many coastal areas, typically between the ocean and high mountain ranges. Alpine climate dominates in the high mountains. Semi-arid and Arid climate is found east of the higher mountains, especially in rainshadow areas. The Harney Basin of Oregon is an example of arid climate in the Pacific Northwest. Hemiboreal climate occurs in places such as Revelstoke, British Columbia. Subarctic climate occurs farther north. Mediterranean climate (Csb) occurs in various areas such as Victoria, British Columbia.


The area's biomes and ecoregions are distinct from the surrounding areas. The Georgia Strait-Puget Sound basin is shared between British Columbia and Washington, and the Pacific temperate rain forests ecoregion, which is the largest of the world's temperate rain forest ecozones in the system created by the World Wildlife Fund, stretches along the coast from Alaska to California. The dryland area inland from the Cascade Range and Coast Mountains is very different from the terrain and climate of the Coast, and comprises the Columbia, Fraser and Thompson Plateaus and mountain ranges contained within them. The interior regions' climates are a northward extension of the Great Western Desert which spans the Great Basin farther south, although by their northern reaches dryland and desert areas verge with boreal forest and various alpine flora regimes.


", showing population density (shades of yellow/brown), highways (red), and major railways (black). Public land shown in shades of green.]]

Most of the population of the Pacific Northwest is concentrated in the Vancouver-Seattle-Portland corridor. This area is sometimes seen as a megacity (also known as a conurbation, an agglomeration, or a megalopolis). This "megacity" stretches along Interstate 5 in the states of Oregon and Washington and Hwy 99 in the province of British Columbia. As of 2004, the combined populations of the Greater Vancouver/Lower Mainland area, the Seattle metropolitan area and the Portland metropolitan area totaled almost nine million people.


A major divide in political opinion separates the region's greatly more populous urban core and rural areas west of the mountains from its less populated rural areas to their east and (in B.C.) their north. The coastal - especially in the cities of Vancouver, Victoria, Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland, Corvallis and Eugene - is one of the most politically liberal parts of North America, consistently supporting left-wing political candidates and causes by significant majorities, while the Interior and North tend to be more conservative and consistently support right-wing candidates and causes. It should be noted that the religious right has far less influence throughout the region than elsewhere in the U.S., although it is very strong in the Fraser Valley suburbs of Vancouver, B.C., and also that certain areas of the BC Interior, particularly the West Kootenay and some areas of Vancouver Island and the BC Coast, have long histories of labour, environmental and social activism.

The urban core in addition to certain rural districts known for supporting liberal political views, perceived as controversial in much of the rest of North America. Many jurisdictions have relatively liberal abortion laws, gender equality laws, legalized medical marijuana, and are supportive of LGBT rights, especially British Columbia, where gay marriage is legal. Due to the urban core's size and voting impact, their counties and states as a whole have generally followed their leads (often to the disgruntlement of the more conservative rural areas). Oregon was the first U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, with the Death with Dignity Act of 1994. Washington State was the second with I-1000 passed in 2008. Colegio Cesar Chavez, the U.S.'s first fully accredited Hispanic college, was founded in Mount Angel, Oregon in 1973. King County, Washington, of which Seattle is a part, rebranded itself in honor of Martin Luther King.

These areas, especially around Puget Sound, have a long history of political radicalism. The radical labor organizers called Wobblies were particularly strong there in the mines, lumber camps and shipyards. A number of anarchist communes sprung up there in the early 1900s (see Charles Pierce LeWarne's Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885-1915 for an excellent overview of this popular yet forgotten movement). Seattle is still the only major city in North America in which the populace engaged in a general strike and was the first major American city to elect a woman mayor, Bertha Landes. Socialist beliefs were once widespread (thanks in large part to the area's large numbers of Scandinavian immigrants) and the region has had a number of Socialist elected officials: so great was its influence that the U.S. Postmaster General, James Farley, jokingly toasted the "forty-seven states of the Union, and the Soviet of Washington," at a gala dinner in 1936 [3].

The region also has a long history of starting cooperative and communal businesses and organizations, including Group Health [4], REI, Puget Consumer's Co-ops and numerous granges and mutual aid societies. It also has a long history of publicly-owned power and utilities, with many of the region's cities owning their own public utilities. In part as a result, the region enjoys the lowest electrical power rates on the continent. In British Columbia, credit unions are common and popular cooperatively-owned financial institutions.

More recently, in 2003 a group of community organizers and academics following Eugene Mallove's fringe science established the New Energy Movement in northern California. Their grassroots activism in the area notably helped to promote research by Alden Bryant and Brian O'Leary to a hearing of the California Energy Commission, and they claim to have organised a "new energy" speaking tour around the world.[5]


Some of the notable industries and products from the region:

Aluminium smelting was once an important part of the region's economy due to the abundance of once-cheap hydroelectric power and despite any bauxite reserves in the region. Hydroelectric power generated by the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia River powered at least ten aluminium smelters during the mid-20th century. By the end of World War II these smelters were producing over a third of the United States' aluminium. Production rose during the 1950s and 1960s, then declined. By the first decade of the 21st century the aluminium industry in the Pacific Northwest was essentially defunct.[6] The Alcan smelter at Kitimat continues in operation and is fed by the diversion of the Nechako River (a tributary of the Fraser) to a powerhouse on the coast at Kemano, near Kitimat.

The region as a whole, but especially the Seattle eastern suburbs, is a hot-bed of high-tech business. It is also a leading "creative class" economic driver, with a thriving cultural sector, many knowledge workers and numerous international advertising, media and design firms.

B.C., Washington and Oregon together generate more than $450 billion worth of goods and services annually. If the three were a separate country, their GDP would be in the top 20 economies of the world.[citation needed]


The Pacific Northwest has a diverse culture resulting from the varied geography of the region.

Environmentalism is prominent throughout the region, especially west of the Cascades. Environmentally conscious services such as recycling and public transportation are widespread, especially in the more populous areas. The international organization Greenpeace was born in Vancouver in 1970 as part of a large public opposition movement in British Columbia to US nuclear weapons testing on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians. Liberal and Conservative Northwesterners, such as former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) and moderate Democrats like former Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-WA), have been prominent in the development of conservative approaches to environmental protection. Seattle in particular is also home to a large number of publications and institutions concerned with the environment and sustainability, including both Worldchanging and, the U.S.'s two largest online green magazines.

Skiing, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, boating, and water sports are popular outdoor activities. The region is noted for a large number of gardening clubs as well, with Victoria having an annual flower count in February.

Seattle is considered by Digital Trends magazine to be the top gaming city in America, a possible indicator of markedly higher rates of video game usage throughout the Pacific Northwest[7]. Asian cultural trends such as anime and manga are also much more popular here than any other region of the United States.

The Pacific Northwest is also known for indie music, especially grunge and alternative rock as well as historically-strong folk music and world music traditions. Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Presidents of The United States of America, Heart, Death Cab for Cutie, DOA, Foo Fighters, Modest Mouse, Nickelback, Everclear, Swollen Members, Alice in Chains, the Subhumans, Nelly Furtado, Bryan Adams and Nirvana were local artists who became ground-breaking rock bands of their times. Many are associated with the famous independent label Sub Pop. is a popular and nationally-noted Seattle-based public indie music radio station. Among the area's largest music festivals are the Merritt Mountain Music Festival, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and Seattle's Bumbershoot.

Cuisine of the area include wild salmon, huckleberries, a wide variety of Asian cuisines, and locally-produced fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. Italian and Greek cuisines are prevalent throughout Vancouver BC, and reflect the strong presence of those communities in the restaurant industry there; similarly eateries featuring Persian and Indo-Canadian cuisines are common throughout Greater Vancouver, as are ethnic specialty restaurants of all kinds. Ethnic staples ranging from frozen perogies to frozen dim sum are common in British Columbia supermarkets.

Locally-made craft beers and premium wines from various wine-growing area within the region are popular with drinkers and diners.

Cannabis use is relatively popular, especially around Vancouver BC, Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia, Spokane, Portland, and Eugene. Several of these jurisdictions have made arrests for cannabis a low enforcement priority. Medical marijuana is legal in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon.

In the US side of the region, Latinos make up a large portion of the agricultural labor force east of the Cascade Range, and are an increasing presence in the general labor force west of the Cascades. African Americans are less numerous in the Pacific Northwest, however the overall African American population has been growing in other smaller urban areas throughout the region, such as Spokane and Eugene.[8] They are concentrated in western urban areas such as Seattle, Tacoma and Portland. Nonetheless, blacks still have a large presence in Tacoma's Hilltop and South Tacoma neighborhoods, Seattle's Central District and Rainier Valley neighborhoods and in Portland's Northeast Quadrant. As of the 2000s, many Asians were moving out and into middle class suburbs, though some would voice concern about preserving historical communities.

African-Americans have held the positions of Mayor of Seattle and King County executive, while the state of Washington elected a Chinese American Governor during the 1990s, Gary Locke.

British Columbians of many ethnicities are prominent in all levels of politics and government, and the province has a number of "firsts" in Canadian political history, including the first non-white Premier, Ujjal Dosanjh (who is Indo-Canadian) and the first Asian Lieutenant-Governor, the Hon. David Lam. The current Lieutenant-Governor, Steven Point, is of aboriginal origin, being Stó:lō (the dominant type of Coast Salish in BC's Lower Mainland) from the Chilliwack area. The current leader of the opposition party, the NDP, is Carole James, who is of partial Métis origin. Colonial governor James Douglas was himself mulatto of Guyanese extraction and his wife was of Cree origin.


The Pacific Northwest English accent is considered to be "very neutral" to most Americans. It does, however, possess the low back vowel merger, or the Cot-caught merger. Pacific Northwest English is one of the closest living accents to conservative General American English. It lacks the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, and does not participate as strongly in the California Vowel Shift or the Canadian raising as do other regional accents. Because of its lack of any distinguishing vowel shift, the accent is very similar to and hard to distinguish from conservative speakers in other dialect regions especially the Northern Midlands, California, and the prairies.

Chinook Jargon was a pidgin or trade language established among the indigenous inhabitants of the region. After contact with Europeans, French, English and Cree words entered the language, and "eventually Chinook became the lingua franca for as many as 250,000 people along the Pacific Slope from Alaska to Oregon".[9] Chinook Jargon reached its height of usage in the 19th century though remained common in resource and wilderness areas, particularly but not exclusively by Native Americans and Canadian First Nations people, well into the 20th century. Today its influence is felt mostly in place names and a handful of localized slang terms, particularly the word skookum, which remains hallmark of people raised in the region.

Besides English and indigenous languages, Chinese has been common since the gold rushes of the mid-19th century, particularly in British Columbia. Since the 1980s the Toishan, a Cantonese-based dialect which was predominant in the area, has been replaced by mainstream Cantonese and by Mandarin because of large-scale immigration from Asia. Punjabi is also common in British Columbia, which has a large Sikh community.

Spirituality and religion

The Pacific Northwest has the lowest rate of church attendance in the United States and consistently reports the highest percentage of atheism;[10][11] this is most pronounced on the part of the region west of the Cascades.[12] A recent study indicates that one quarter of those in Washington and Oregon believe in no religion.[13]

Religion plays a smaller part in Pacific Northwest politics than in the rest of the United States. The religious right has considerably less political influence than in other regions[14].

That said, three of the four major international charities in the region are religious in nature: Northwest Medical Teams International, World Concern, World Vision International, and Mercy Corps. This is part of a long tradition of activist religion. The Skid Road group, a shelter offering soup and sermons to the unemployed and recovering alcoholics, was launched in Vancouver, with the Salvation Army having deep roots in the Gastown district, dating back to the era of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (1880s) and attained prominence in the same centers during the Klondike Gold Rush.

The region is also known a magnet for a wide range of philosophical and spiritual belief systems. Eastern spiritual beliefs have been adopted by an unusually large number of people (by North American standards), and Tibetan Buddhism in particular has a strong local following.[15] The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association, claimed to be the largest organization of its kind in the world, was founded in Portland in 1993.

The region is home to many unique Christian communities, ranging from the Doukhobors to the Mennonites. The Mennonite Central Committee Supportive Care Services is based in Abbotsford, BC.[16] Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Disaster Service enjoy a heavy rate of enlistment and donations from the strong Mennonite community in British Columbia's Fraser Valley. Also within the region there is a fairly strong representation of Orthodox churches (Greek, Russian, Serbian and others) as well as the Ukrainian Uniate Catholic church.

Yogic teachings, Sufism, tribal and ancient beliefs and other philosophies are widely studied and appreciated in the region. The Lower Mainland of British Columbia has a very large Sikh community. There has been major growth in Chinese Buddhist temples since the increase in immigration from East Asia in the 1980s, especially in Vancouver.

There is a small Hindu population, a number of Parsee (Zoroastrians), and an emerging Muslim population from India, the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

Some people in the area also embrace alternative religion, such as New Age spirituality and Neo-Paganism.[17]

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The Pacific Northwest of the United States is best known for its beautiful coastline, green interior, rainy weather, and spectacular mountains.

States, cities, and other destinations of the Pacific Northwest
States, cities, and other destinations of the Pacific Northwest

Sometimes the neighboring areas of northern California, western Idaho, Southeastern Alaska, and British Columbia are also considered part of the Pacific Northwest.


There are hundreds of cities and towns in the Pacific Northwest; check the states above for more complete listings. Here are seven of them.

Other destinations

The Pacific Northwest is an outdoorsy place, and there are lots of places to camp and see in the Pacific Northwest. Here are some major ones you should check out.

  • Mount St. Helens: Is alive again after a few years of quietness.
  • Mount Rainier: Extremely photogenic mountain, rising from close to sea level to 14,410 feet (4392m). The tallest base to peak in the world.
  • Olympic National Park: Contains a coastal temperate rain forest and several mid-sized mountains.
  • Crater Lake National Park: The deepest lake in North America, known for its clear blue color.
  • Mount Hood: Skiing year round and the largest night ski area in America.
  • Mount Bachelor: Ski area near Bend, OR.
  • Mount Baker: Ski the glacier in July.
  • San Juan Islands: Famous for abundant eagles and orca whales, the islands are the sunniest and warmest location along this entire coast thanks to the "rain shadow".
  • Opal Creek: Located in Central Oregon, this world renowned protected area hosts a rich history, incredible hiking and swimming, and unique lodging.


Most people associate the Pacific Northwest with a lush region that receives large amounts of rain during the winter months, with wonderful summer days. But the Northwest has a wide variety of climate regions, from the Pacific Coast to the valley and, once over the mountains, a desert region -- all within a few hours drive of each other. There is enough to keep the outdoor enthusiast busy. The Pacific Northwest is known for its airplane and computer product facilities. Some of the largest and most well known corporations call the Northwest home, these include: Costco, Eddie Bauer, Expedia,, Starbucks, Tully's Coffee, Lionsgate Studios, Boeing, Microsoft, Intel, and Nike just to name a few. There are many exciting areas to see.

  • River Drifters, 405 Deschutes Ave. PO Box 40, Maupin, OR. 97037, 800-972-0430 (, fax: efax: 240.414.0854), [1]. Oregon & Washington rafting trips on the Deschutes, Clackamas, Owyhee, Santiam, Sandy, White Salmon, Klickitat & Wind Rivers since 1979!  edit
  • Sea Quest Kayaks, 360-378-5767 or 888-589-4253 (), [2]. Including (1) Orca Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands Biologist guides lead tours to the prime orca whale watching waters. Abundant seals, eagles, and other marine wildlife. Tour lengths range from a half-day up to 2, 3 and 5 day camping trips to the smaller islands. (2) Birding and Bird-watching Tours in Washington Join a local biologist guide and see some of the 400+ species of birds in the area. Tour lengths from half-day to full day to multi-days.  edit
  • Bug repellent is a neccessity, especially for warding off insects carrying diseases.
  • Sunblock!
  • When hiking wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Carry or bring a lot of water everywhere you travel.
  • If going on an excursion of any type (camping for a weekend or just an afternoon hike) bring a small first aide kit.
  • If it is possible, bring a cell phone. Be advised, however, that cell phone coverage is spotty in rural areas away from interstate highways.
  • Don't forget batteries- assuming that you are carrying something that uses batteries. A flashlight, maybe?
  • Tap water in Western Washington and Oregon is some of the safest in the world!
  • Crime in most Northwest cities is pretty low. Perhaps the highest crime rate of any city in the Northwest is in Tacoma (mainly in East Tacoma, Hilltop and South Tacoma) while the most dangerous neighborhood in the Northwest is the Rainier Valley neighborhood in Seattle. Other areas visitors should use caution in include Northeast Portland (especially the King neighborhood), Seattle's Central District and Lake City neighborhoods, White Center, Parkland, Spanaway and Lakewood (especially the Tillicum neighborhood).
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Pacific Northwest


Pacific Northwest

  1. The region of North America along the Pacific coast, the core of which is the states of Washington and Oregon, variously including southern British Columbia, northern California, Idaho, and the panhandle of or all of Alaska.

Simple English

view of the Pacific Northwest]]

The Pacific Northwest is a region on the west coast of North America. It refers to the northwestern corner of the United States and the southwestern part of Canada. The U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, western Montana, Oregon and northern California are located in the southern part of the Pacific Northwest. The Canadian province of British Columbia and the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Alaska is in the northern part. The entire region is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Historically, the Pacific Northwest had many Native Americans. Starting from about 15,000 years ago, Native Americans settled along the coastline and along the major rivers. From the 1500s to the 1700s, Europeans explored the region, beginning with the discovery of Oregon and Washington. In the early 1800s, the famous Lewis and Clark expedition arrived in Washington State. From the 19th century to present day, the region began to become settled. Today, the largest cities in the Northwest include Vancouver, Seattle and Portland.

The rugged mountains of the Northwest consist of the Coast Range, which is nearer the coast, and the Cascade Range. In northern Washington, the Cascade Range is called the North Cascades. In British Columbia, it is called the Canadian Cascades.[1] The many rivers of the Northwest result from its wet climate - the mountains trap wet Pacific air, leaving little rain for inland states like Idaho. The rivers once supported large salmon runs, but large power dams have been built on many rivers.

The main language of the Pacific Northwest is English in the United States and French in Canada; among the Native Americans Chinook Jargon is common. Among the many Asian immigrants, Chinese is receiving growing use in the Northwest. The United States part of the Northwest is known for its low religious population.


The Pacific Northwest basically extends from southeastern Alaska to Northern California. Along this entire length, is a large mountain range, the Cascade Range, that forms the geographic spine of the Pacific Northwest. The highest mountain in the Northwest is Mount Rainier. Rainier is 14,410 feet (4,390 m) high. Other notable mountains include Mount Shasta, at 14,163 feet (4,317 m), and Mount Baker, at 10,781 feet (3,286 m). East of the Cascades, there is the Columbia Plateau, a high area of land that stretches east to the Rocky Mountains in Idaho and Montana. In the west, the Coast Range borders the coast more closely. The Olympic Mountains are on the Olympic Peninsula, an extension of Washington State. Puget Sound is a large system of bays and straits in northwestern Washington and southeastern British Columbia.

The main rivers of the Pacific Northwest are the Fraser River, the Columbia River, and the Snake River. The Fraser River is mainly in British Columbia; it flows west to the Pacific Ocean near Vancouver. The Fraser drains most of the southern Canadian Cascades. The Columbia River begins in the Canadian Cascades and flows south, then turns west where it meets the Snake River. From there, it flows on to the ocean near Portland.[2] The Snake River is mainly in inland Idaho. After a journey west from the Rocky Mountains, it meets the Columbia at Kennewick, Washington.

Other river of the Northwest include the Finlay, the Skagit, the Umpqua, the Rogue, and the Klamath. The Finlay drains the northern Canadian Cascades and flows on to join the Mackenzie River, which flows through Canada to Hudson Bay. The Skagit also begins in the Canadian Cascades, and crosses into Washington; it turns west and flows into the sea north of Everett, Washington. The Umpqua River begins in the Southern Oregon Cascades, and flows west to the Pacific Ocean near Reedsport, Oregon. The Rogue parallels the Umpqua and dumps into the sea at Gold Beach, Oregon. The Klamath flows south from a valley in inland Oregon, then turns west through northern California, cutting through the Cascade Range to its mouth near Klamath, California.

Other pages


  1. "Canadian Cascades (Cascade Mountains)". Bivouac - Canadian Mountain Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  2. "Columbia River". Center for Columbia River History. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 


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