Oregon, Pacific Coast state in the northwestern United States; bordered by Washington to the north, Idaho to the east, Nevada and California to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Land and climate
Oregon has 6 main land regions. In the west, along the coast, the Cascade Mountains in the north merge into the Klamath Mountains in the south. Just east of the Coast Range lies the narrow Willamette Lowland, the valley of the Willamette River. East of there, the Cascade Mountains run from north to south, dividing western Oregon from the east. This region's snowcapped volcanic peaks are among the highest in North America. The high Columbia Plateau, which occupies most of Oregon east of the Cascades, is the state's chief wheat-growing area. In southeastern Oregon lies the Basin and Range Region, an area of semiarid land. The Columbia River and its tributary, the Willamette, are Oregon's major rivers. There are many waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge. In the east, the Snake River cuts Hells Canyon, the deepest chasm in North America. Other rivers include the John Day, in the east, and the Deschutes, in central Oregon. Oregon's volcano-formed Crater Lake is the deepest body of water in the U.S. Forests cover nearly half of the state. Western Oregon has a mild, moist climate; eastern Oregon is drier, with cold winters and hot summers. Principal cities are Portland and Eugene.
Manufacturing is Oregon's leading economic activity. Chief manufactured goods are lumber and wood products, processed foods, scientific instruments, machinery, paper products, printed materials, primary metals, and fabricated metal products. Wholesale and retail trade is also important. Agriculture and mining are less important to the economy. Agriculture is led by timber. Chief crops are wheat, greenhouse and nursery products, and vegetables; chief livestock products are beef cattle and milk. Sand and gravel are the chief mining products.
Oregon's constitution was adopted in 1857. The governor serves a 4-year term. The state's legislature, called the Legislative Assembly, consists of 30 senators serving 4-year terms and 60 representatives serving 2-year terms. In the U.S. Congress, Oregon is represented by 2 senators and 5 representatives.
Many Native American peoples were living in the area when Spanish sailors first sighted Oregon's coast in the 1500s. American Captain Robert Gray sailed into the Columbia River (named for his ship) in 1792. The Lewis and Clark expedition explored Oregon in 1805–6. In the early 1800s, U.S. and British fur traders competed in the region; in 1843, thousands of American settlers began arriving via the Oregon Trail. In 1846, the United States and Britain agreed on a boundary dividing “the Oregon Country” that stretched from Russian Alaska to Spanish California. (The U.S. portion was present-day Washington and Oregon.) Oregon became the 33rd state in 1859. In 1880–90, after a series of Indian rebellions was quelled, white settlement boomed. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the U.S. government built Bonneville Dam, which provided hydroelectric power for new industries developed during World War II. New uses for wood and paper products, plus new methods of planting and timber conservation, improved lumber-related industries in the 1960s. In the 1980s, nationwide economic problems strained those industries, but growth of the computer and other industries helped to stabilize Oregon's economy.