Posted by: Llywelyn Graeme, Ambassador’s OMS
Although other territories became states after Washington, we were the limit of the contiguous United States. No one goes through Washington and decides to stop there, we are the end of the continent, the north western limit of the United States. The people who settle there always mean to go there. We are a land of individualists and pioneers.
The state is divided down the middle by the Cascade Range, part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” Mt. St. Helens, Baker and Rainier are all semi-active volcanoes. It is not impossible to stand on a rural road and see a “Tsunami evacuation route” sign pointing inland and a “Volcano evacuation route” sign pointing towards the coast. East of the mountains is dry, flat and brown. Most of the United States’ apples, potatoes, cherries and peas come from there. While nowhere near as fertile as Ukraine, the vast irrigation and power projects of the 1930s transformed the land from a high desert to a bountiful garden. That is also where the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is, one of the world’s oldest nuclear research sites. The moist air of the Pacific Ocean sweeps across the swamps and coastal plains to run into the Cascades. There it dumps large amounts of rain. It does not rain all the time in Western Washington, but it is gray and cloudy almost year round. In fact it rains over three meters a year in the Hoh Rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula, the wettest place in all of North America!
Over the years Washington has given the U.S., and the world, many iconic companies. Boeing, the inventor of the first widely successful jet plane for commercial use, Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest timber companies, Microsoft and Nintendo, Amazon and Starbucks. Together, Seattle and Tacoma are one of the busiest ports on the West Coast, surpassed only by L.A./Long Beach. As the closest port to Asia, we ship out logs, grain and cars, and receive goods from around the world. While settled predominantly by Scandinavians and Northern European families, Washington is also home to a large Latino population and every East Asian country has a sizeable Diaspora population in the coastal cities, from Korean to Thai to Chinese.
Washington has something for almost everyone. High Deserts, culturally vibrant cities, peaceful ocean beaches, dark verdant forests, towering glaciated mountains and deep blue lakes. Not a day goes by that I do not think of Washington, my home.