Microsft, Amazon, and all the rain are some things we instantly associate with Washington state, but besides these, what is Washington known for?
Located in Northwest USA, Washington shares internal borders with Oregon to the south, Idaho to the East, and an international border with Canada (British Columbia) to the north. It is the 18th largest state and the 13th most populated.
Nicknamed the evergreen state because of its many forests and evergreen trees, Washington was named after President George Washington. In 1889, Washington became the 42nd state to join the union. For obvious reasons, it’s often confused with Washington, DC, the capital of the USA.
But here, we will only explore what is Washington state known for!
17 things Washington known for
It is peculiar that the first thing on this list is the rain in a state famous for so many products, landmarks, companies, and cultural traits. However, it is usually the first thing that comes to mind when people are asked, “what is Washington known for?”
The annual precipitation average in Washington varies within the state, ranging from 70 to 100 inches on the Coast to more than 150 inches of rain on the slopes of the mountains.
So, it rains a lot in Washington state – and people don’t forget it! However, Washington is not even the rainiest state, that is, Hawaii. Furthermore, Seattle is far from being the rainiest city. Yearly, it rains less in Seattle than in Boston, Massachusetts, or NYC, New York.
The thing is, most of the precipitation in Seattle and the state is a drizzle or light rain that occurs about 150 days a year. So, it may not be heavy rain, but it rains almost every other day!
What is Washington famous for producing? Apples are a standard answer! Besides having vast quantities of apples, they are notoriously sweet and succulent.
Washington state is the largest apple producer in the United States, growing about 60% of the total apples consumed in America. Other large producers include California, New York, and Michigan.
Washington’s fertile soils and mild climate are excellent for growing various apples, including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.
Over 175 000 acres of land are used to produce apples in Washington, making apples the most important agricultural product of the state. In total, about 10 to 12 billion apples are grown in Washington annually.
Starbucks is a globally famous brand and the leader in coffee sales worldwide. But did you know that the first Starbucks opened in Washington? More precisely, in Pike Place Market, Seattle, in 1971.
Even more interesting is that the same Starbucks coffee shop with vintage chairs and signs is still open to the public. It is a charming coffee shop with history, but it is usually crowded with tourists who want to see how it all started.
Going to a Starbucks is more than just having your coffee – it is an experience that changed how people take their coffee.
They introduced a wider variety of coffee experiences in America, serving hot and cold drinks, differentiating coffee origins, and offering a wide range of micro ground instant coffee, expresso, caffe latte, full, frappuccinos, and many more.
Today (2023), Starbucks has more than 35 000 stores in 83 countries, employing more than 400 000 people. In the US, Starbucks has about 9000 licensed and company-operated locations.
From Pike Place Seattle, it became an enormous company and one of the symbols of Washington state.
As big as Starbucks is, it is pretty tiny compared to Amazon, another famous company from Washington.
Founded by Jeff Bezos in Bellevue in 1994, Amazon started as an online marketplace for books but expanded into one of the largest companies in the world.
Amazon is mostly famous for its online store, which sells basically everything and is thus called “the everything store.” However, today it is much more than that and has subsidiaries in cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, satellite internet, computer hardware, streaming, websites, and even Whole Foods Market.
How giant is Amazon? In 2021 it generated almost 470 billion USD in revenues and had about 1.5 million employees (almost 1 million in the USA).
Along with Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google, Amazon is considered one of the big five American technology companies. Naturally, it is one of the world’s most influential economic and cultural forces globally and one of the most valuable brands.
Besides Amazon, Microsoft also has its headquarters in Washington. And who hasn’t heard about Microsoft and used many of its products?
Although Microsoft wasn’t originally created in Washington, but in New Mexico in 1975. In 1979 it moved to Washington and in 1986 to the Redmond campus, where they are today.
Microsft Redmond Campus is enormous, occupying 8 million square feet (740,000 m2) of office space, and has over 50 000 employees.
During the 1980s, Microsoft grew exponentially, rising to dominate the personal computer operating system with Ms-DOS and Windows. Today it is a much more diverse company offering numerous products and services like LinkedIn, Skype, Microsft Surface, and more.
It is estimated that since its IPO in 1986, Microsoft has been responsible for creating 3 Billionaires (Bill Gates is the most famous) and 12 000 millionaires with employees included.
In 2022, Microsft was considered the fourth-highest global brand in terms of valuation. As Amazon was nr 2, Washington state is the headquarters of two of the four most valuable brands worldwide.
Another major contributor to Washington’s economy is the aerospace industry. It generates millions of dollars and is responsible for thousands of jobs in the state and exporting services and products worldwide.
Boeing is the most famous name in the sector, as it is one of the largest aerospace companies worldwide (only second to Aerobus). Boeing’s factory in Everett produces many famous airplanes, like the 747, 767, 777, and 787.
However, there are more aerospace companies, like Blue Origin (created by Jeff Bezons from Amazon), Aerojet Rocketdyne, and several R&D centers for the US military and NASA.
Washington’s aerospace industry is crucial for the state and the USA, as it is vital for developing new technologies, global communications, and national security.
Wealthy and Liberal
With so many large companies employing so many people, it is only expected that Washington is also known for being wealthy. In fact, it is the state with the third largest GDP per capita, only behind (but very close) New York and Massachusetts.
The state’s strong economy, famous companies, and wealth attract young, educated, and talented people who tend to be more liberal.
So, the state is also famous for being one of the most liberal in the US, particularly in the Urban areas around Seattle. Thus, Washington is usually home to progressive politics and environmental and social activism.
Nevertheless, we need to note that the state is diverse. There are many conservative rural areas and a few not-so-affluent regions.
What is Washington known for? The grunge movement is one of the first things to come to mind, particularly for music lovers.
The grunge music and movement surged in the 1980s, in Washington state, particularly in Seattle and the vicinity towns. It emerged as a bridge between hard rock and post-post punk rock, incorporating indie rock influences too.
Grunge music uses some punk rock, heavy metal, and indie rock elements, featuring distorted electric guitar sounds, bass guitar, drums, and vocals.
The lyrics in grunge music are typically dark, addressing themes that range from self-doubt and social alienation to assault, betrayal, and trauma. Many times also the desire for freedom and escape.
Some of the most famous grunge bands include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, Alice in Chains, and the Stone Temple Pilots.
The Columbia River is the largest in the Pacific Northwest region. Flowing from the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada, to Washington and then to the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia river is 1 243 miles (about 2 000 km).
During the last hundred km, the Columbia river forms most of the border between Washington and Oregon. Besides being a long river, it is also the 4th largest river in the US by river flow and the largest North American that discharges into the Pacific.
The river and its tributaries are central to Washington’s culture and economy. It has been used for transportation since pre-Columbian times, connecting people and facilitating trade.
The construction of several dams increased, even more, the river’s importance, allowing better flood control, navigation, irrigation, and power generation. The hydroelectric dams of the Columbia river contribute to almost half of the hydroelectric power produced in the USA.
Olympic National Park
Located on the Olympic Peninsula, the Olympic national park is one of the USA’s most popular and well-known parks. It is naturally one of the most famous things in Washington, providing visitors with various experiences and activities, from hiking through old-growth forests to exploring tide pools along the coast.
The Olympic park is well-known for its diverse range of ecosystems and landscapes with four major regions, the rugged pacific coast, the alpine areas, the temperate rainforest, and the drier forest on the east side.
UNESCO designated Olympic National Park as an international biosphere reserve in 1976 and a world heritage site in 1981 as a testament to the park’s ecological and cultural significance.
The park’s proximity to two major metropolises, Seattle and Portland, makes it one of the most popular and accessible wilderness areas in the USA.
Towering over 14 000 feet, Mount Rainier is the highest point in Washington and one of the most impressive natural wonders in the USA.
Mount Rainier is part of the Cascade Range and an active volcano. Despite not erupting for over 150 years and not having a large eruption for more than 500 years, it is considered one of the most dangerous in the USA because of its great height, frequent earthquakes, active hydrothermal system, and extensive glacier mantle.
As one of Washington’s prominent features, Mount Rainier is a preferred destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The area around the mountain is popular for hiking, camping, backpacking, and rock climbing. In winter is also popular for snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding.
Mount Rainier is also an iconic image of Washington because of its scenic beauty. Its snow-capped peak is the most heavily glaciated in the 48 lower states. As it is visible from many locations throughout the state, making it one of the most famous natural landmarks in the state.
Volcanos and the Cascade Range
Mount Rainier may be the most famous, but it is far from the only volcano in Washington state. But, there are five active volcanoes in Washington, Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens. Plus, few more inactive ones.
Together with California, Washington is the only state in the contiguous 48 states that has seen a volcano eruption in the last 250 years.
The Cascade Range and its volcanoes are one of the most important features of the state and an essential part of its geology and natural history. Plus, as mentioned above, they are also incredibly popular as an outdoor recreation area.
The Space Needle is the most iconic landmark in Seattle and one of the most famous in Washington state. This observation tower was constructed for the 1962 World Fair in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood.
Once the tallest structure west o Mississippi, the Space Needle isn’t particularly high when compared to today’s buildings. With 184 meters (650 feet), it is no longer the highest in Seattle. But it is the most famous, appearing in multiple movies, TV series, and even logos, as a symbol of the city.
From the Observation deck at 160 meters high, one can see Seattle’s Downtown, the Olympic National Park, the Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, and Mount Bakes, and even Puget Sound.
Another thing Washington is known for is its evergreen forests and parks. According to the USDA, more than half of the state’s area is covered with public and private forests.
The whole region where Washington state is situated is famous for being one of the world’s most important temperate rainforest systems. Characterized by high rainfall, fertile soils, and mild weather, it is a haven for trees and lush vegetation.
Some of these trees are huge, growing over 300 feet tall and living for hundreds of years. Some of the most famous species include Douglas firs, western hemlocks, and red cedars.
The evergreen forests are an iconic part of the state’s natural heritage, which is why the state is also at the forefront of sustainable and responsible forest management.
The trees and forests of Washington are also crucial for the state’s economy, as timber is one of the state’s most well-known products.
The forest industry has been central to Washington’s economy since the beginning. The region’s abundant forests fueled the western expansion of the USA, which is still the state’s third-largest manufacturing industry.
The timber industry provides thousands of jobs and generates millions in revenue yearly. However, forest management is thoughtful and considered one of the best in the world, as it ensures that this critical resource is preserved for the future.
Orcas and whales
Whales are one of the most fascinating and intriguing animals in the world. Washington is famous for being the home of several species of whales and other marine animals, but especially for the unique orcas, also known as killer whales.
Although technically, Orcas aren’t whales, the similarity and size make people associate them. Orcas are the largest species of Dolphins, weighing over 10 000 pounds and reaching up to 30 feet. They are APEX predators and majestic animals.
One of the most popular activities in Washington is going on whale watching tours, typically in Puget Sound. These tours will allow you to see Orcas and learn about their lives and fun facts, but it is also possible to see Gray whales, Humpback whales, and sea lions.
Washington fun facts
From breathtaking natural wonders to unique records and facts, Washington is truly one-of-a-kind. And many of these Washington fun facts are recognized worldwide, only adding to the state’s popularity and recognition. So, let’s dive into some of the most interesting and well-known facts about this lovely state.
- Washington has more than 3000 glaciers. Apart from Alaska, it is the state with more glaciers in the union.
- Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State is the largest hydropower producer in the United States, providing electricity to over 2 million households.
- Washington’s flag is the only green flag of the American states.
- The first general strike in the USA happened in Seattle in 1919 and lasted 5 days.
- Seattle was also the city to have cops on bikes.
- The lunar rover was built in Washington’s Everett Boeing factory.
- Washington is the only state named after a president.
- Dungeness Spit is the longest natural spit in the US.
- Washington is one of only seven states that does not levy a personal income tax.
- Ginkgo Petrified Forest is one of the largest petrified forests worldwide.
- Besides apples, Washington is also a major producer of red raspberries, hops, sweet cherries, pears, Concord grapes, and Niagara grapes.
We also read that there’s a law stating, “It is mandatory for a motorist with criminal intentions to stop at the city limits and telephone the chief of police as he is entering the town.” But this can’t be true, can it?
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