Pacific Northwest

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Location within the United States

The Pacific Northwest ( PNW or PacNW ) is a large region in the northwest of North America . There is no exact definition. In the narrowest interpretation, the Pacific Northwest refers to the US states of Oregon and Washington , often supplemented by Idaho . In a broader definition, the region roughly corresponds to the historic Oregon Country , including parts of California , Montanas , Wyoming and the Canadian province of British Columbia .

The region is historically, culturally and biologically different from other regions in North America.


Portland with Mount Hood in the background
The Columbia (here at the Bonneville Dam ) is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest

During the settlement by Europeans , among others, Russia , Spain and Great Britain raised territorial claims to the Pacific Northwest. The United States made its claim to exploration through the Lewis and Clark Expedition and Robert Gray's exploration drives . From the 1810s to the 1840s, today's states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana, as well as most of British Columbia, were part of the Oregon Country . The latter was administered jointly by the United States and Great Britain under the Treaty of 1818 . The regional director of the Hudson's Bay Company , John McLoughlin, was de facto the political force at that time.

These conditions changed when the settlement by US citizens increased and President James K. Polk drew into the presidential campaign with the slogan Fifty-Four Forty or Fight (54 ° 40 'or war). When war arose with Great Britain, the United States and Great Britain signed the Oregon Treaty in 1846 , in which Oregon Country was divided by the 49th parallel. This cleared almost all of the regional disputes . The British part of British Columbia was integrated into Canada in 1871 , the US part became the Oregon Territory .

One of the worst shipping accidents to date in the Pacific Northwest occurred on January 22, 1906, when the American passenger steamer Valencia missed the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait in a stormy sea , rammed a reef and sank. 136 passengers and crew members were killed.


There are several mountain ranges in the Pacific Northwest such as the Coast Mountains , Oregon Coast Range , Cascade Range , and Rocky Mountains . Because of the heavy rainfall and low population density, the area is one of the most heavily forested in the United States. A large proportion of electricity is generated from hydroelectric plants , for example along the Columbia River .

The largest cities are Seattle, United States, Vancouver, Canada, and Portland, United States, all of which were founded because of their seaports to serve the timber, mining, and agriculture industries. The cities developed into technical and industrial centers like the Silicon Forest .

The highest mountains are Mount Rainier , Mount Adams and Mount Hood . The largest river is the Columbia River with a length of 1953 kilometers.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca is still a matter of disputed territorial claims .

The California coast runs south of the region, on the Pacific Ocean .

Vancouver in Canada


  • David J. Jepsen, David Norberg: Contested Boundaries: A New Pacific Northwest History. John Wiley & Sons, New York 2017, ISBN 978-1-119-06554-8 .

Web links

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