Oregon (Listeni/ˈɔrɨɡən/ ORR-ə-gən) is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern boundaries, respectively. Humans have inhabited the area that is now Oregon for at least 15,000 years. In recorded history, mentions of the land date to as early as the 16th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries, European powers – and later the United States – quarreled over possession of the region until 1846 when the U.S. and Great Britain finalized division of the region. Oregon became a state in 1859 and is now home to over 3.8 million residents.The area was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before the arrival of traders, explorers, and settlers who formed an autonomous government in Oregon Country in 1843. The Oregon Territory was created in 1848, and Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.
Oregon is the 9th most extensive and the 27th most populous of the 50 United States. Salem is the state's capital and third-most-populous city; Portland is the most populous. Portland is the 29th-largest U.S. city, with a population of 583,776 (2010 US Census) and a metro population of 2,241,841 (2009 estimate), the 23rd-largest U.S. metro area. The valley of the Willamette River in western Oregon is the state's most densely populated area and is home to eight of the ten most populous cities.
Oregon contains a diverse landscape including the windswept Pacific coastline, the volcanoes of the rugged and glaciated Cascade Mountain Range, many waterfalls (including Multnomah Falls), dense evergreen forests, mixed forests and deciduous forests at lower elevations, and high desert across much of the eastern portion of the state, extending into the Great Basin. The tall Douglas firs and redwoods along the rainy Western Oregon coast contrast with the lower density and fire-prone pine tree and juniper forests covering portions of the eastern half of the state. Alder trees are common in the west and fix nitrogen for the conifers; aspen groves are common in eastern Oregon. Stretching east from Central Oregon, the state also includes semi-arid shrublands, prairies, deserts, steppes, and meadows. Mount Hood is the highest point in the state at 11,249 feet (3,429 m). Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon.
Oregon is home to what is considered the largest single organism in the world, an Armillaria solidipes fungus beneath the Malheur National Forest of eastern Oregon.
The state maintains formal relationships with the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon:
Burns Paiute Tribe
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Coquille Indian Tribe
In March 2011, Oregon ranked amongst the top seven "Best" states in the American State Litter Scorecard, for overall effectiveness and quality of its public space cleanliness—-primarily roadway and adjacent litter—from state and related debris removal efforts.
Land in the Willamette Valley owes its fertility to the Missoula Floods, which deposited lake sediment from Glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana onto the valley floor.
Oregon is also one of four major world hazelnut growing regions, and produces 95% of the domestic hazelnuts in the United States.
While the history of the wine production in Oregon can be traced to before Prohibition, it became a significant industry beginning in the 1970s. In 2005, Oregon ranked third among U.S. states with 303 wineries. Due to regional similarities in climate and soil, the grapes planted in Oregon are often the same varieties found in the French regions of Alsace and Burgundy.
Oregon is one of only five states that have no sales tax. Oregon voters have been resolute in their opposition to a sales tax, voting proposals down each of the nine times they have been presented. The last vote, for 1993's Measure 1, was defeated by a 72–24% margin.
Oregon has the nation's first doctor-assisted suicide law, called the Death with Dignity law (which was challenged, unsuccessfully, in 2005 by the Bush administration in a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court), legalization of medical cannabis, and among the nation's strongest anti-urban sprawl and pro-environment laws.
The state has been thought of as politically split by the Cascade Range, with western Oregon being liberal and Eastern Oregon being conservative. In a 2008 analysis of the 2004 presidential election, a political analyst found that according to the application of a Likert scale, Oregon boasted both the most liberal voters and the most conservative voters, making it the most politically polarized state in the country.
The base of Democratic support is largely concentrated in the urban centers of the Willamette Valley. The eastern two-thirds of the state beyond the Cascade Mountains typically votes Republican; in 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush carried every county east of the Cascades. However, the region's sparse population means that the more populous counties in the Willamette Valley usually outweigh the eastern counties in statewide elections.