- This page is about the region that includes parts of Canada and the United States. For the U.S.-only region, see Northwestern United States.
The Pacific Northwest is a region in the northwest of North America (the term refers to the land, not the ocean). There are several partially overlapping definitions but the term Pacific Northwest should not be confused with the Northwest Territory (aka the Great Northwest) or the Northwest Territories. 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" (which in British Columbia is by convention capitalized and is used as a proper name). The inland portion of the U.S. is called the Inland Empire.
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, comprising the world's largest temperate rain forest zone, stretch 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 and Fraser 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.
- 1 Definitions and related terms
- 2 History
- 3 Geology
- 4 Geography
- 5 Climate
- 6 Population
- 7 Politics
- 8 Economy
- 9 Culture
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Definitions and related termsDifferent definitions of Pacific Northwest and related terms. Click image for legend.
The Pacific Northwest, broadly defined, extends from the ocean to the continental divide and includes all of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, part of British Columbia, and adjoining parts of Alaska, Montana, Yukon Territory and California. Both the name Pacific Northwest and the name Cascadia, which is derived from the Cascade Range, are commonly used without a definition, although the term "Pacific Northwest" is considerably older, having its origins in the early 19th century.
Cascadia is of recent coinage (1980s) and is sometimes used in geology, ecology and climatology and increasingly by community members and small businesses and organizations with a regional-marketing identity. It is also the name of a two-year college in Bothell, Washington. Of the two terms, only "Pacific Northwest" is in general use throughout the region, and also encompasses more area than the Cascadia concept, which tends to be more coastal and limited to the Evergreen Triangle area of Washington and Oregon and British Columbia. As a bioregion, Cascadia has been defined as "the watersheds of rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean through North America's temperate rainforest zone."
In the United States, the term Pacific Northwest is also used for most of the official region of the Northwestern United States, which includes the American states of the Pacific Northwest but excludes areas of it in Canada. Canadians might be forgiven for asking "Northwest of what?" since the areas popularly designated "Pacific Northwest" are actually to the South and West of central Canada; however, the dominance of US popular culture in Canada means that many Canadians accept this term as applying to British Columbia's coastal regions.
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 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 ExplorationLandscape in Oregon Country, by Charles Marion Russell.
British Captain and erstwhile privateer Francis Drake sailed off the Oregon coast in 1579. Juan de Fuca, Greek captain in the employ of Spain, might 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.
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 explores 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.
George Vancouver charted the Pacific Northwest on behalf of Great Britain, including the bays and inlets of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia 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. 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.
In 1786 Jean François 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 disputesUS Navy Admiral Charles Wilkes' 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 degrees latitude, 40 minutes north - 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 Straight between Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands still continue.
See the main article at Geology of the Pacific Northwest.
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, and Seattle 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 occurs in various areas such as Victoria, British Columbia.
PopulationMap of Cascadia megacity, 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, the Seattle metropolitan area and the Portland metropolitan area totaled almost nine million people.
Population is expected to increase steadily.
A major divide in political opinion separates the region's greatly more populous urban core and Western rural areas from its less populated Eastern rural areas. The former - especially in the cities of Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland 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 latter tends to be more conservative and consistently supports right-wing candidates and causes (though it should be noted that the religious right has far less influence throughout the region than elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.).
The urban core is known for supporting liberal political views of a controversial nature. Many jurisdictions have relatively liberal abortion laws, gender equality laws, legalized medical marijuana, and are supportive of LGBT rights. 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 (and remains the only) U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide, with the Death with Dignity Act of 1994. Colegio Cesar Chavez, the nation'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 .
The region also has a long history of starting cooperative and communal businesses and organizations, including Group Health , 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.
Some of the notable industries and products from the region:
- Agriculture (Washington Apples, Idaho potatoes, Tillamook Cheese, wine)
- Aerospace (Boeing, Alaska Air, CHC Helicopter)
- Diversified (Jim Pattison Group, Finning, Washington Marine Group)
- Entertainment industry (film and television, Lions Gate Entertainment, Lionsgate Studios, Lionsgate Television, Vancouver Film Studios, Bridge Studios)
- Finance and Banking (Washington Mutual, HSBC Bank Canada)
- Fishing and canning (salmon, halibut, herring, geoducks and other clams, crab, sea-urchin)
- High Technology and E-commerce (Microsoft, Intel, Tektronix, Amazon.com, Expedia, Ballard Power Systems, MacDonald Dettwiler, Electronic Arts Canada)
- Higher Education (University of Washington, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, University of Victoria, Western Washington University,Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, University of Puget Sound, Seattle University, Portland State University, Reed College, Lewis & Clark College, Washington State University, Oregon State University, University of Oregon), University College of the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island University
- Hydroelectric power (Grand Coulee Dam, Bonneville Dam, Bridge River Power Project)
- Lumber (Weyerhaeuser, Canfor, Tolko, Pope & Talbot, Inc.)
- Mass Retail (Starbucks, Tullys, Blenz, Nordstrom, Zumiez)
- Mining (Goldcorp, Cominco)
- Outdoor Tourism (Alpine Skiing (Whistler-Blackcomb), Snowboarding, Hiking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, sport fishing, big-game hunting, ATVing and 4x4ing, surfing)
- Shoes & Apparel (Nike, Columbia, R.E.I., Lululemon)
Aluminium smelting was once an important part of the region's economy. 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.
The region as a whole, but especially Seattle, 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.
The Pacific Northwest's culture is quite varied, and to a certain degree reflects the varied geography of the region.
Environmentalism is prominent throughout the region. Ecologically conscious services such as recycling and public transportation are fairly well-developed and generally available in the more populated 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. Conservative Northwesterners, like U.S. Senator Slade Gorton, are prominent in the development of conservative approaches to environmental protection. Seattle, in particular, is an epicenter of environmentalism, with a mayor who has lead the national movement of cities ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, large philanthropic institutions like the Bullitt, Brainerd and Glazer Foundations, the sustainability thinktank Sightline, and two of the nation's leading online environmental journalism magazines, Grist and Worldchanging.
Skiing, snowboarding, climbing, hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, boating and water sports are popular outdoor activities. In general, residents appreciate the region's varied geography, and enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. The region is noted for a large number of gardening clubs as well.
In his book Nine Nations of North America, author Joel Garreau claimed that the Pacific Rim region he called "Ecotopia" after the novel of the same name had a different culture from that of what he called The Empty Quarter to the east, and was necessarily different economically as well as ecologically. It must be noted that "Ecotopia," and "Cascadia," vary in definition and can be used to signify a large array of concepts.
Video game usage is higher per-capita than any other region of the country.
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. This area is where bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Presidents of The United States of America, Heart (band), Death Cab For Cutie, Modest Mouse, Nickelback, Nelly Furtado, Swollen Members, Alice in Chains and Nirvana got their start and became essential rock bands of their times. KEXP.org is a popular and nationally-noted Seattle-based public indie music radio station.
Cuisine of the area include wild salmon, huckleberries, and locally-produced fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. A distinct version of West Coast fusion cuisine more influenced by Asian and Mid-East influences than its Californian counterpart. Due to the close proximity of locally-grown fruit and vegetables, weekly and monthly farmers markets are popular during the growing season.
Northwest craft beers and premium Northwest wines are popular with alcohol consumers. Cannabis use is relatively popular and tolerated, especially around Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia, Portland, and Eugene.This section needs additional citationsfor verification.
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Latinos make up much of the agricultural labor force and population east of the Cascade Range in the U.S. states, and are an increasing presence in the general labor force in the western regions as well. African Americans are less numerous than either Asians or Latinos in many communities in the American Pacific Northwest, however the overall African American population has been on an upwards growing trend in other smaller urban areas throughout the American portion of the region, such as Spokane and Eugene. They are concentrated in western urban areas such as Seattle and Portland, though unlike other regions, there are fewer majority black communities than the majority Asian communities that can be found in Vancouver and Seattle. 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 and King County executive, while Washington state elected a Chinese American Governor during the 1990s, Gary Locke. British Columbians of many ethnicities are prominent in all levels of politics and government there, 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 non-white Lieutenant-Governor, the Hon. David Lam.
The Pacific Northwest English accent is considered to be "very neutral" to most Americans and Canadians. Although it does possess the low back vowel merger, or the Cot-caught merger, it 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".  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 religionPlurality of religious preference by state, 2001. The Pacific Northwest is the only part of the U.S. where the largest plurality of citizens report no religion.
Religious views are very much less commonly expressed in Northwest American politics than in the rest of the United States, and conservative Christians have considerably less political influence than in other regions.
However, the region is certainly not without religion, and three of the four large international charities in the region are faith-based: Northwest Medical Teams International, World Concern, World Vision International, and Mercy Corps. The archetype of the Skid Road mission, a shelter offering soup and sermons to down-and-out workers and inebriates, was launched on the skid roads of Seattle and Vancouver, with the Salvation Army having deep roots in Vancouver's 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.
Despite its low rate of church attendance, the region is also known as a magnet for unique Christian groups, ranging from the Doukhobors to the Mennonites of British Columbia, and countless religiously-based communal efforts by ethnic groups such as Finns, Norwegians, Danes and others. The Mennonite Central Committee Supportive Care Services is based in Abbotsford, BC. Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Disaster Service enjoy a heavy rate of enlistment and donations from the strong Mennonite community in BC'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."American Buddhist with Thai Buddha", Living Enrichment Center, Wilsonville, Oregon, 1998.
Eastern religions (especially Buddhism and Taoism) have been adopted by an unusual number of people in the Pacific Northwest, and Tibetan Buddhism in particular has a strong local following. The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association, claimed to be the largest organization of its kind in the world, was founded in Portland in 1993. Yogic teachings, Sufism, tribal and ancient beliefs and other philosophies are widely studied and appreciated. Because of immigration to Canada the Lower Mainland of British Columbia has a very large Sikh community and cultural presence as well as a major growth in Chinese Buddhist temples and congregations since the increase in immigration from Asia in the 1980s. 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.
People in the area also embrace alternative religions and spirituality, such as New Age spirituality and Neo-Paganism. Before its closure in 2004, Mary Manin Morrissey's "megachurch" called Living Enrichment Center, located in Wilsonville, Oregon, was one of the biggest New Thought churches in the entire world, with a congregation estimated at between two thousand and five thousand members. Morrissey's "Life Keys" religious program was broadcast to several major networks around the U.S. West Coast. Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God, lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he runs a retreat center. Gangaji, an internationally recognized spiritual teacher and disciple of Poonjaji, lives in Ashland, Oregon. Established in more recent times, the training school of the immortal (according to the organization) being Ramtha is headquartered in Yelm, Washington. The followers of the Guru Rajneesh, the sannyasins, established a center for their beliefs and lifestyle near Antelope, Oregon, which included an ashram complex as well as, for a while, an attempted takeover of the local economy. The Emissaries of the Divine Light are a notable presence in the region of 100 Mile House, BC. More controversially, the commune run by Brother Twelve in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia early in the 20th century. Oregon's Willamette Valley has a large population of Russian Old Believers. 
- Oregon Country
- Oregon boundary dispute
- Alaska Boundary Dispute
- History of the west coast of North America
- Chinook Jargon
- Atlantic Northeast, another region shared between Canada and the US
- Climate change in Washington
- Northwest Coast art
- Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast
- ^ Orkin, David. "Pacific Northwest: The Complete Guide To The Pacific Northwest", The Independent (London), May 26, 2001. Retrieved on 2008-03-12.
- ^ http://www.sightline.org/research/cascadia_scorecard/res_pubs/cascadia
- ^ a b c Hayes, Derek (1999). Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest: Maps of exploration and Discovery. Sasquatch Books. ISBN 1-57061-215-3.
- ^ Captain Alexandro Malaspina. Malaspina University-College. Retrieved on 2008-02-05.
- ^ Communism in Washington State - History and Memory Project
- ^ HistoryLink Essay: Group Health Cooperative - Part 1: Planting the Seeds, 1911-1945
- ^ Aluminum, Columbia River History, Northwest Power & Conservation Council
- ^ "Seattle Top Gaming City?", Digital Trends, May 2, 2006.
- ^ uwnews.washington.edu
- ^ Crosscut Seattle - Why Washington Republicans got creamed in 2006 and what they can do about it
- ^ Mennonite Central Committee Supportive Care Services
- ^ NY Times Advertisement
- ^ ABC News: School Says Halloween Disrespectful to Witches
- ^ Oregon Historical Society article about Old Believers Retrieved February 9, 2007
- Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest
- American Indians of the Pacific Northwest from the Library of Congress
- What is the Northwest? and a "Provocative description", articles from a commercial website
- The Cascadia Institute promotes consciousness of a bioregion extending along the coast from northern California up to northern British Coumbia and extending east into parts of Idaho and Alberta.
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