IDAHO (/ˈaɪdəhoʊ/ ( listen )) is a state in the northwestern
region of the
United States . It borders the state of
Montana to the
east and northeast,
Wyoming to the east,
Utah to the south,
and Washington and
Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small
portion of the Canadian border with the province of
British Columbia .
With a population of around 1.6 million and an area of 83,569 square
miles (216,440 km2),
Idaho is the 14th largest , the 39th most
populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states.
The state's capital and largest city is
Idaho prior to European settlement was inhabited solely by Native
American peoples , some of which still live in the area. In the early
Idaho was considered part of the
Oregon Country , an
area disputed between the U.S. and the
United Kingdom . It officially
became U.S. territory with the signing of the
Oregon Treaty of 1846 ,
but a separate
Idaho Territory was not organized until 1863, instead
being included for periods in
Oregon Territory and Washington
Idaho was eventually admitted to the Union on July 3,
1890, becoming the 43rd state.
Forming part of the
Pacific Northwest (and the associated Cascadia
Idaho is divided into several distinct geographic and
climatic regions. In the state's north, the relatively isolated Idaho
Panhandle is closely linked with
Eastern Washington , with which it
Pacific Time Zone – the rest of the state uses the
Mountain Time Zone . The state's south includes the
Snake River Plain
(which contains most of the population and agricultural land), while
the south-east incorporates part of the
Great Basin .
Idaho is quite
mountainous, and contains several stretches of the
Rocky Mountains .
Additionally, around 38 percent of Idaho's land is held by the United
States Forest Service , the most of any state.
Industries significant for the state economy include manufacturing,
agriculture, mining, forestry, and tourism. A number of science and
technology firms are either headquartered in
Idaho or have factories
there, and the state also contains the
Idaho National Laboratory ,
which is the largest Department of Energy facility in the country.
Idaho's agricultural sector supplies a number of different products,
but the state is best known for its potato crop, which comprises
around one-third of the nationwide yield. The official state nickname
is the "Gem State", which references Idaho's reputation for gemstones
and, more broadly, its many wilderness areas.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Geography
* 2.2 Lakes/rivers
* 3 History
* 4 Demographics
* 4.1 Birth data
* 4.2 Religion
* 4.3 Language
* 5 Economy
* 6 Energy
* 7 Transportation
* 7.1 Highways
* 7.2 Airports
* 7.3 Railroads
* 7.4 Ports
* 8 Law and government
* 8.1 State constitution
Idaho Code and Statutes
* 8.3 State government
* 8.3.1 Executive branch
* 8.3.2 Legislative branch
* 8.3.3 Judicial branch
* 8.3.4 Counties
* 8.3.5 Politics
* 9 Cities and towns
* 10 Protected areas
* 10.1 National parks, reserves, monuments and historic sites
* 10.2 National recreation areas
* 10.3 National wildlife refuges and Wilderness Areas
* 10.4 National conservation areas
* 10.5 State parks
* 11 Education
* 11.1 Colleges and universities
* 12 Sports
* 13 Official state emblems
* 14 In popular culture
* 15 See also
* 16 References
* 17 External links
The exact origin of the name remains a mystery. In the early 1860s,
United States Congress was considering organizing a new
territory in the
Rocky Mountains , eccentric lobbyist George M.
Willing suggested the name "Idaho", which he claimed was derived from
Shoshone language term meaning "the sun comes from the mountains" or
"gem of the mountains". Willing later claimed he had simply invented
the name. Congress ultimately decided to name the area Colorado
Territory when it was created in February 1861. Thinking they would
get a jump on the name, locals named a community in
However, the name "Idaho" did not fall into obscurity. The same year
Colorado Territory, a county called
Idaho County was
created in eastern
Washington Territory . The county was named after a
steamship named Idaho, which was launched on the
Columbia River in
1860. It is unclear whether the steamship was named before or after
Willing's claim was revealed. Regardless, a portion of Washington
Idaho County, was used to create
Despite this lack of evidence for the origin of the name, many
textbooks well into the 20th century repeated as fact Willing's
account the name "Idaho" derived from the
Shoshone term "ee-da-how". A
Idaho history textbook says:
"Idaho" is a
Shoshoni Indian exclamation. The word consists of three
parts. The first is "Ee", which in English conveys the idea of "coming
down". The second is "dah" which is the
Shoshoni stem or root for both
"sun" and "mountain". The third syllable, "how", denotes the
exclamation and stands for the same thing in
Shoshoni that the
exclamation mark (!) does in the English language. The
is "Ee-dah-how", and the Indian thought thus conveyed when translated
into English means, "Behold! the sun coming down the mountain.
An alternative etymology attributes the name to the Plains Apache
word "ídaahę́" (enemy) that was used in reference to The
Map of Idaho.
Idaho borders six US states and one Canadian province. The states of
Oregon are to the west,
Utah are to the
Wyoming are to the east.
Idaho also shares a
short border with the Canadian province of
British Columbia to the
north. The landscape is rugged with some of the largest unspoiled
natural areas in the United States. For example, at 2.3 million acres
(930,000 ha), the
Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is
the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental
Idaho is a Rocky Mountain state with abundant natural
resources and scenic areas. The state has snow-capped mountain ranges,
rapids, vast lakes and steep canyons. The waters of the Snake River
Hells Canyon , the deepest gorge in the United States.
Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than
Niagara Falls . The major rivers in
Idaho are the
Snake River , the
Clark Fork /
Pend Oreille River , the Clearwater River , and the Salmon
River . Other significant rivers include the Coeur d\'Alene River ,
Spokane River , the
Boise River , and the
Payette River . The
Salmon River empties into the Snake in
Hells Canyon and forms the
southern boundary of
Nez Perce County on its north shore, of which
Lewiston is the county seat. The Port of Lewiston , at the confluence
of the Clearwater and the Snake Rivers is the farthest inland seaport
on the West Coast at 465 river miles from the Pacific at Astoria,
Idaho's highest point is
Borah Peak , 12,662 ft (3,859 m), in the
Lost River Range north of Mackay . Idaho's lowest point, 710 ft (216
m), is in Lewiston , where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River
and continues into Washington . The Sawtooth Range is often considered
Idaho's most famous mountain range. Other mountain ranges in Idaho
Bitterroot Range , the
White Cloud Mountains
White Cloud Mountains , the Lost
River Range , the
Clearwater Mountains , and the Salmon River
Idaho has two time zones , with the dividing line approximately
midway between Canada and
Nevada . Southern Idaho, including the Boise
metropolitan area ,
Idaho Falls , Pocatello , and Twin Falls , are in
Mountain Time Zone . A legislative error (15 U.S.C. ch. 6 §264)
theoretically placed this region in the
Central Time Zone
Central Time Zone , but this
was corrected with a 2007 amendment. Areas north of the Salmon River
, including Coeur d\'Alene , Moscow , Lewiston , and Sandpoint , are
Pacific Time Zone , which contains less than a quarter of the
state's population and land area.
Idaho's climate varies widely. Although the state's western border is
about 350 miles (560 km) from the Pacific Ocean, the maritime
influence is still felt in Idaho, especially in the winter when cloud
cover, humidity , and precipitation are at their maximum extent. This
influence has a moderating effect in the winter where temperatures are
not as low as would otherwise be expected for a northern state with
predominantly high elevations. The maritime influence is least
prominent in the eastern part of the state where the precipitation
patterns are often reversed, with wetter summers and drier winters,
and seasonal temperature differences are more extreme, showing a more
semi-arid continental climate .
Idaho can be hot, although extended periods over 98 °F (37 °C) for
the maximum temperature are rare, except for the lowest point in
elevation, Lewiston, which correspondingly sees little snow. Hot
summer days are tempered by the low relative humidity and cooler
evenings during summer months since, for most of the state, the
highest diurnal difference in temperature is often in the summer.
Winters can be cold, although extended periods of bitter cold weather
below zero are unusual. Idaho's all-time highest temperature of 118
°F (48 °C) was recorded at Orofino on July 28, 1934; the all-time
lowest temperature of −60 °F (−51 °C) was recorded at Island
Park Dam on January 18, 1943.
Monthly normal high and low temperatures for various
Lake Coeur d\'Alene in North
Redfish Lake in
Priest River winding through Whitetail Butte
* Brush Lake
* Bear River
Bear Lake (Idaho-Utah)
* Clearwater River
* Dawson Lake
* Dierkes Lake
* Henry\'s Lake
* Hidden Lake
* Lake Coeur d\'Alene
* Pend Oreille
Lucky Peak Lake
North Fork Clearwater River
Payette Lake , (McCall)
* Portneuf River
* River of No Return
* Smith Lake
* Williams Lake (Salmon)
History of Idaho
Humans may have been present in the
Idaho area as long as 14,500
years ago. Excavations at
Wilson Butte Cave near Twin Falls in 1959
revealed evidence of human activity, including arrowheads, that rank
among the oldest dated artifacts in North America. American Indian
peoples predominant in the area included the Nez Percé in the north
and the Northern and Western
Shoshone in the south.
An early presence of French-Canadian trappers is visible in names and
toponyms : Nez Percé, Cœur d'Alène, Boisé, Payette, some
Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark and Astorian expeditions which
themselves included significant numbers of French and Métis guides
recruited for their familiarity with the terrain.
Idaho, as part of the
Oregon Country , was claimed by both the United
States and Great Britain until the
United States gained undisputed
jurisdiction in 1846. From 1843 to 1849, present-day
Idaho was under
the de facto jurisdiction of the Provisional Government of
Oregon became a state, what is now
Idaho was in what remained of
Oregon Territory not part of the new state, and
designated as the Washington Territory.
Between then and the creation of the
Idaho Territory on March 4,
1863, at Lewiston, parts of the present-day state were included in the
Oregon , Washington , and Dakota Territories. The new territory
included present-day Idaho,
Montana , and most of
Wyoming . The Lewis
and Clark expedition crossed
Idaho in 1805 on the way to the Pacific
and in 1806 on the return, largely following the Clearwater River both
directions. The first non-indigenous settlement was
Kullyspell House ,
established on the shore of
Lake Pend Oreille for fur trading in 1809
by David Thompson of the
North West Company . In 1812 Donald
Mackenzie , working for the
Pacific Fur Company at the time,
established a post on the lower Clearwater River near present-day
Lewiston. This post, known as "MacKenzie's Post" or "Clearwater",
operated until the
Pacific Fur Company was bought out by the North
West Company in 1813, after which it was abandoned. The first
attempts at organized communities, within the present borders of
Idaho, were established in 1860. The first permanent, substantial
incorporated community was Lewiston in 1861.
After some tribulation as a territory, including the chaotic transfer
of the territorial capital from Lewiston to
Mormon polygamists upheld by the U.S. Supreme
Court in 1877, and a federal attempt to split the territory between
Washington Territory which gained statehood in 1889, a year before
Idaho, and the state of
Nevada which had been a state since 1864,
Idaho achieved statehood in 1890.
Idaho was one of the hardest hit of the
Pacific Northwest states
Great Depression . Prices plummeted for Idaho's major
crops: in 1932 a bushel of potatoes brought only $.10 compared to
$1.51 in 1919, while
Idaho farmers saw their annual income of $686 in
1929 drop to $250 by 1932.
In recent years,
Idaho has expanded its commercial base as a tourism
and agricultural state to include science and technology industries.
Science and technology have become the largest single economic center
(over 25% of the state's total revenue) within the state and are
greater than agriculture, forestry and mining combined.
There are large numbers of
Americans of German and English
Idaho population density map
United States Census Bureau estimates Idaho's population was
1,654,930 on July 1, 2015, a 5.57% increase since 2010 .
At the 2010 Census,
* 89.1% of the population was
* 0.6% Black or
* 1.4% American Indian and
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
* 2.5% of two or more races.
11.2% of Idaho's population was of Hispanic or Latino (they may be of
any race). As of 2011, 27.2% of Idaho's children under the age of one
belonged to racial or ethnic minority groups, meaning they had at
least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white.
IDAHO RACIAL BREAKDOWN OF POPULATION
Native Hawaiian and
Pacific Islander –
Two or more races
Idaho had an estimated population of 1,654,930 in 2015, which was an
increase of 20,466, from the prior year and an increase of 87,348, or
5.57%, since 2010. This includes a natural increase since the last
census of 58,884 people (that is, 111,131 births minus 52,247 deaths)
and an increase due to net migration of 75,795 people into the state.
There are large numbers of
Americans of English and German ancestry in
Idaho. Immigration from outside the
United States resulted in a net
increase of 14,522 people, and migration within the country produced a
net increase of 61,273 people.
Idaho the sixth fastest-growing state after
Florida , Georgia , and
Utah . From 2004 to 2005,
the third-fastest, surpassed only by
Nevada and Arizona.
Nampa , about 20 miles (30 km) west of downtown Boise, became the
state's second largest city in the late 1990s, passing Pocatello and
Idaho Falls . Nampa's population was under 29,000 in 1990 and grew to
over 81,000 by 2010. Located between Nampa and Boise, Meridian also
experienced high growth, from under 10,000 residents in 1990 to over
75,000 in 2010 and is now Idaho's third largest city. Growth of 5% or
more over the same period has also been observed in Caldwell , Coeur
d\'Alene , Post Falls , and Twin Falls .
From 1990 to 2010, Idaho's population increased by over 560,000
Boise Metropolitan Area (officially known as the Boise
City-Nampa, ID Metropolitan Statistical Area) is Idaho's largest
metropolitan area. Other metropolitan areas in order of size are Coeur
Idaho Falls , Pocatello and Lewiston .
As of 2006, six official micropolitan statistical areas are based in
Idaho. Twin Falls is the largest of these.
The most common reported ancestries in the state are: German (18.9%),
English (18.1%), Irish (10%), American (8.4%), Norwegian (3.6%), and
Note: Births in table don't add up, because Hispanics are counted
both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall
Live Births by Race/Ethnicity of Mother
Hispanic (of any race)
Idaho Falls Idaho Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints , November 2006
According to the
Pew Research Center on Religion the Catholic Church
with 123,400; the non-denominational
Evangelical Protestant with
62,637; and the Assemblies of God with 22,183.
English is the state's predominant language. Minority languages
include Spanish and various Native American languages .
Idaho locations by per capita income
American Falls Dam
American Falls Dam
Gross state product for 2015 was $64.9 billion, and the per capita
income based on 2015 GDP and 2015 population estimates was $39,100.
Idaho is an important agricultural state, producing nearly one-third
of the potatoes grown in the United States. All three varieties of
wheat , dark northern spring, hard red, and soft white are grown in
Nez Perce County is considered a premier soft white growing
Important industries in
Idaho are food processing, lumber and wood
products, machinery, chemical products, paper products, electronics
manufacturing, silver and other mining, and tourism. The world's
largest factory for barrel cheese, the raw product for processed
cheese is in
Gooding, Idaho . It has a capacity of 120,000 metric tons
per year of barrel cheese and belongs to the
Glanbia group. The Idaho
National Laboratory (INL) is the largest Department of Energy facility
in the country by area. INL is an important part of the eastern Idaho
Idaho also is home to three facilities of Anheuser-Busch
which provide a large part of the malt for breweries across the
Locally, a variety of industries are important. Outdoor recreation is
a common example ranging from numerous snowmobile and downhill and
cross-country ski areas in winter to the evolution of Lewiston as a
retirement community based on mild winters, dry, year-round climate
and one of the lowest median wind velocities anywhere, combined with
the rivers for a wide variety of activities. Other examples would be
ATK Corporation, which operates three ammunition and ammunition
components plants in Lewiston. Two are sporting and one is defense
contract. The Lewis-Clark valley has an additional independent
ammunition components manufacturer and the Chipmunk rifle factory
until it was purchased in 2007 by Keystone Sporting Arms and
production was moved to
Milton, Pennsylvania . Four of the world's six
welded aluminum jet boat (for running river rapids) manufacturers are
in the Lewiston-Clarkston, WAvalley.
Wine grapes were grown between
Kendrick and Juliaetta in the
Idaho Panhandle by the French
Prohibition . In keeping with this, while there are
no large wineries or breweries in Idaho, there are numerous and
growing numbers of award-winning boutique wineries and microbreweries
in the northern part of the state.
Today, Idaho's largest industry is the science and technology sector.
It accounts for over 25% of the state's revenue and over 70% of the
state's exports. Idaho's industrial economy is growing, with high-tech
products leading the way. Since the late 1970s,
Boise has emerged as a
center for semiconductor manufacturing .
Boise is the home of Micron
Technology , the only U.S. manufacturer of dynamic random-access
memory (DRAM) chips. Micron at one time manufactured desktop
computers, but with very limited success.
Hewlett-Packard has operated
a large plant in
Boise since the 1970s, which is devoted primarily to
LaserJet printers production. Boise-based
Clearwater Analytics is
another rapidly growing investment accounting and reporting software
firm, reporting on over $1 trillion in assets.
ON Semiconductor ,
whose worldwide headquarters in Pocatello , is a widely recognized
innovator in modern integrated mixed-signal semiconductor products,
mixed-signal foundry services, and structured digital products.
Coldwater Creek , a women's clothing retailer, is headquartered in
Sun Microsystems (now a part of
Oracle Corporation ) has
two offices in
Boise and a parts depot in Pocatello. Sun brings $4
million in annual salaries and over $300 million of revenue to the
state each year.
Wheat harvest on the
A number of
Fortune 500 companies started in or trace their roots to
Idaho, including Safeway in American Falls , Albertsons in Boise, JR
Simplot across southern Idaho, and
Potlatch Corp. in Lewiston.
Zimmerly Air Transport in Lewiston-Clarkston was one of the five
companies in the merger centered around
Varney Air Lines of Pasco,
Washington , which became
United Airlines and subsequently Varney Air
Group that became
Continental Airlines .
The state personal income tax ranges from 1.6% to 7.8% in eight
income brackets. Idahoans may apply for state tax credits for taxes
paid to other states, as well as for donations to
educational entities and some nonprofit youth and rehabilitation
The state sales tax is 6% with a very limited, selective local option
up to 6.5%.
Sales tax applies to the sale, rental or lease of tangible
personal property and some services. Food is taxed, but prescription
drugs are not. Hotel, motel , and campground accommodations are taxed
at a higher rate (7% to 11%). Some jurisdictions impose local option
The sales tax was introduced at 3% in 1965, easily approved by
voters, where it remained until 1983.
Idaho emerged as the second most small business friendly
state, ranking behind Utah, based on a study drawing upon data from
over 12,000 small business owners.
Idaho has a state gambling lottery which contributed $333.5 million
in payments to all
Idaho public schools and
Idaho higher education
from 1990 to 2006.
Average Fuel Mix (2011–2015)
Idaho's energy landscape is favorable to the development of renewable
energy systems. The state is rich in renewable energy resources but
has limited fossil fuel resources. The
Snake River Plain and smaller
river basins provide
Idaho with some of the nation's best
hydroelectric power resources and its geologically active mountain
areas have significant geothermal power and wind power potential.
These realities have shaped much of the state's energy landscape.
Most of the energy consumed in
Idaho is imported from other states.
Imports account for more than 80% of total energy consumption,
including all of Idaho's natural gas and petroleum supplies and more
than half of its electricity. Of the electricity consumed in
2005, 48% came from hydroelectricity, 42% was generated by burning
coal and 9% was generated by burning natural gas. The remainder came
from other renewable sources such as wind.
The state's numerous river basins allow hydroelectric power plants to
provide 556,000 MWh, which amounts to about three-fourths of Idaho's
electricity generated in the state. Washington State provides most of
the natural gas used in
Idaho through one of the two major pipeline
systems supplying the state. Although the state relies on out-of-state
sources for its entire natural gas supply, it uses natural gas-fired
plants to generate 127,000 MWh, or about ten percent of its output.
Coal-fired generation and the state's small array of wind turbines
supplies the remainder of the state's electricity output. The state
produces 739,000 MWh but still needs to import half of its electricity
from out-of-state to meet demand.
While Idaho's 515 trillion
BTU total energy consumption is low
compared with other states and represents just 0.5% of United States
consumption, the state also has the nation's 11th smallest population,
1.5 million, so its per capita energy consumption of 352 million Btu
is just above the national average of 333 million Btu. As the
13th‑largest state in terms of land area (83,570 sq.
mi=53,485,000ac), distance creates the additional problem of "line
loss". When the length of an electrical transmission line is doubled,
the resistance to an electric current passing through it is also
Idaho also has the 6th fastest growing population in the
United States with the population expected to increase by 31% from
2008 to 2030. This projected increase in population will contribute
to a 42% increase in demand by 2030, further straining Idaho's finite
Idaho has an upper-boundary estimate of development potential to
generate 44,320 GWh/year from 18,076 MW of wind power, and 7,467,000
GWh/year from solar power using 2,061,000 MW of photovoltaics (PV),
including 3,224 MW of rooftop photovoltaics, and 1,267,000 MW of
concentrated solar power .
IDAHO WIND GENERATION (GWH, MILLION KWH)
IDAHO GRID-CONNECTED PV CAPACITY (MW)
The current state license plate design, modified since its
introduction in 1991
Idaho Transportation Department is the government agency
responsible for Idaho's transportation infrastructure, including
operations and maintenance as well as planning for future needs. The
agency is also responsible for overseeing the disbursement of federal
, state, and grant funding for the transportation programs of the
List of state highways in Idaho I-15 shield
Idaho is among the few states in the nation without a major freeway
linking its two largest metropolitan areas,
Boise in the south and
Coeur d\'Alene in the north. U.S. Route 95 (US-95) links the two ends
of the state, but like many other highways in Idaho, it is badly in
need of repair and upgrade. In 2007, the
Department stated the state's highway infrastructure faces a $200
million per year shortfall in maintenance and upgrades. I-84 is the
main highway linking the southeast and southwest portions of the
state, along with I-86 and I-15 . Major federal aid highways in Idaho:
* US 2
* US 12
* US 91
* US 93
* US 95
* US 20
* US 26
* US 30
Major airports include the
Boise Airport serving the southwest region
of Idaho, and the
Spokane International Airport (in Spokane,
Washington ), which serves northern Idaho. Other airports with
scheduled service are the
Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport serving the
Palouse ; the Lewiston-
Nez Perce County Airport , serving the
Lewis-Clark Valley and north central and west central Idaho; The Magic
Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls; the
Idaho Falls Regional
Airport ; and the
Pocatello Regional Airport .
Idaho is served by three transcontinental railroads. The Burlington
Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) connects the
Idaho Panhandle with
Portland , and Spokane to the west, and
Minneapolis and Chicago to the
BNSF travels through Kootenai , Bonner , and Boundary
Union Pacific Railroad crosses North
Idaho entering from
Canada through Boundary and Bonner , and proceeding to Spokane .
Canadian Pacific Railway
Canadian Pacific Railway uses
Union Pacific Railroad tracks in North
Idaho carrying products from Alberta to Spokane and Portland,
Amtrak 's Empire Builder crosses northern Idaho, with its only stop
being in Sandpoint .
Montana Rail Link also operates between Billings,
Sandpoint, Idaho .
Union Pacific Railroad also crosses southern
between Portland, Oregon, Green River,
Wyoming , and Ogden,
Boise , Nampa , Twin Falls , and Pocatello .
The Port of Lewiston is the farthest inland Pacific port on the west
coast. A series of dams and locks on the
Snake River and Columbia
River facilitate barge travel from Lewiston to Portland , where goods
are loaded on ocean-going vessels.
LAW AND GOVERNMENT
Idaho State Capitol in
The constitution of
Idaho is roughly modeled on the national
constitution with several additions. The constitution defines the form
and functions of the state government, and may be amended through
plebiscite . Notably, the state constitution presently requires the
state government to maintain a balanced budget. As result,
limited debt (construction bonds, etc.).
IDAHO CODE AND STATUTES
All of Idaho's state laws are contained in the
Idaho Code and
Statutes. The code is amended through the legislature with the
approval of the governor.
Idaho still operates under its original
(1889) state constitution.
The constitution of
Idaho provides for three branches of government:
the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
Idaho has a
bicameral legislature, elected from 35 legislative districts, each
represented by one senator and two representatives.
Since 1946, statewide elected constitutional officers have been
elected to four-year terms. They include: Governor , Lieutenant
Governor , Secretary of State ,
Idaho state controller (Auditor before
1994), Treasurer, Attorney General, and Superintendent of Public
Last contested in 1966, Inspector of Mines was an original elected
constitutional office. Afterward it was an appointed position and
ultimately done away with entirely in 1974.
Idaho's government has an alcohol monopoly .
List of Governors of Idaho Further information:
Governor of Idaho Further information: Secretary of State
The governor of
Idaho serves a four-year term, and is elected during
what is nationally referred to as midterm elections. As such, the
governor is not elected in the same election year as the president of
the United States. The current governor is Republican CL "Butch" Otter
, who was elected in 2006, and re-elected in 2010 and 2014.
Idaho's legislature is part-time. However, the session may be
extended if necessary, and often is. Because of this, Idaho's
legislators are considered "citizen legislators", meaning their
position as a legislator is not their main occupation.
Terms for both the Senate and House of Representatives are two years.
Legislative elections occur every even numbered year.
Legislature has been continuously controlled by the
Republican Party since the late 1950s, although Democratic legislators
are routinely elected from
Boise , Pocatello , Blaine County and the
See also List of
Idaho senators and representatives
Courts of Idaho
Courts of Idaho
The highest court in
Idaho is the
Idaho Supreme Court . There is also
an intermediate appellate court , the
Idaho Court of Appeals , which
hears cases assigned to it from the Supreme Court. The state's
District Courts serve seven judicial districts.
Idaho is divided into political jurisdictions designated as counties
. Since 1919 there are 44 counties in the state, ranging in size from
410 to 8,502 square miles (1,060 to 22,020 km2).
(2008 est.) Population
(sq. mi.) AREA %
Total Counties: 44. Total 2008 Population Est.: 1 523 816. Total
Area: 87,530 square miles (226,700 km2).
Three counties were first designated as such by the Washington
Legislature in 1861; they were subsequently redesignated
Idaho counties in 1864. The 1861 Nez Percé county has since been
broken up into Nez Percé, Lewis, Boundary, Benewah, Latah, Kootenai,
and Clearwater counties.
Idaho license plates begin with a county designation based on the
first letter of the county's name. Where a letter is at the beginning
of more than one name, a number accompanies precedingly in
alphabetical order. This reflects an anomalous coincidental situation
wherein 10 counties begin with B, seven with C and four with L, which
is 21 of the 44 counties.
Presidential elections results
Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential
After the Civil War , many Midwestern and Southern Democrats moved to
Idaho Territory. As a result, the early territorial legislatures
were solidly Democrat-controlled. In contrast, most of the territorial
governors were appointed by Republican presidents and were Republicans
themselves. This led to sometimes-bitter clashes between the two
parties, including a range war with the Democrats backing the
sheepherders and the Republicans the cattlemen. That ended with the
"Diamondfield" Jack Davis murder trial. In the 1880s, Republicans
became more prominent in local politics.
In 1864, Clinton DeWitt Smith removed the territorial seal and the
state constitution from a locked safe, and took them to Boise. This
effectively moved the capital from where they were stored (Lewiston,
Idaho ) to the current capital Boise, Idaho.
Since statehood, the Republican Party has usually been the dominant
party in Idaho. At one time,
Idaho had two Democratic parties, one
being the mainstream and the other called the Anti-
lasting into the early 20th century. In the 1890s and early 1900s, the
Populist Party enjoyed prominence while the Democratic Party
maintained a brief dominance in the 1930s during the Great Depression
. Since World War II, most statewide elected officials have been
Republicans. The last time the Democratic Party held a majority in
either house of the state legislature was the House of Representatives
in 1958 by one seat. However, Democrats did hold the governorship from
1971 to 1995, despite the state's Republican tilt.
Idaho Congressional delegations have also been generally Republican
since statehood. Several
Idaho Democrats have had electoral success in
the House over the years, but the Senate delegation has been a
Republican stronghold for decades. Several
including current Senator
Mike Crapo , have won reelection to the
Senate, but only
Frank Church has won reelection as a Democrat. Church
was the last
Idaho Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race, in 1974. Walt
Minnick 's 2008 win in the First Congressional District was the
state's first Democratic Congressional victory in 16 years.
In modern times,
Idaho has been a reliably Republican state in
presidential politics as well. It has not supported a Democrat for
president since 1964 . Even in that election,
Lyndon Johnson defeated
Barry Goldwater in the state by fewer than two percentage points,
compared to a landslide nationally. In 2004 , Republican George W.
Idaho by a margin of 38 percentage points and with 68.4%
of the vote, winning in 43 of 44 counties. Only Blaine County , which
contains the Sun Valley ski resort, supported
John Kerry , who owns a
home in the area. In 2008
Barack Obama 's 36.1 percent showing was
the best for a Democratic presidential candidate in
Idaho since 1976 .
However, Republican margins were narrower in 1992 and 1976 .
In the 2006 elections, Republicans, led by gubernatorial candidate CL
"Butch" Otter , won all the state's constitutional offices and
retained both of the state's seats in the
United States House of
Representatives . However, Democrats picked up several seats in the
Idaho Legislature, notably in the
Republicans lost one of the House seats in 2008 to Minnick, but
Jim Risch retained
Larry Craig 's Senate seat for the GOP
by a comfortable margin. Minnick lost his seat in the 2010 election
to Republican State Rep.
Raul Labrador . Further information:
Political party strength in Idaho
CITIES AND TOWNS
List of cities in Idaho
Largest cities or towns in Idaho
Sunset in Coeur d\'Alene
Idaho Falls Pocatello
POPULATION > 100,000 (URBANIZED AREA)
Boise – state capital
POPULATION > 50,000 (URBANIZED AREA)
Idaho Falls – location of the main offices of the
* Nampa – home of
Northwest Nazarene University
* Pocatello – home of
Idaho State University
Idaho State University
* Meridian – suburb of Boise, fastest growing city in Idaho
POPULATION > 30,000 (URBANIZED AREA)
* Caldwell – home of the
College of Idaho
* Coeur d\'Alene – home of
North Idaho College , major tourist hub
* Lewiston – home of
Lewis-Clark State College , inland port
* Twin Falls – home of
College of Southern Idaho ,
POPULATION > 10,000 (URBANIZED AREA)
* Ammon – suburb of
* Blackfoot – home of the
Chubbuck, Idaho – suburb of Pocatello
* Eagle – suburb of Boise
* Garden City – suburb of Boise
* Kuna – suburb of Boise
* Moscow – home of the
University of Idaho
* Mountain Home – U.S. Air Force Base
* Post Falls
* Rexburg – home of
Brigham Young University–Idaho
SMALLER TOWNS AND CITIES
* American Falls – first town to be entirely relocated
* Arco – first city to be lit by electricity generated from a
nuclear power plant
* Bonners Ferry – northernmost major town in Idaho
* Buhl – "trout capital of the world"
* Bone – population 2, but still has a gas station
* Cascade –
Lake Cascade and dam
* Driggs – skiing (Grand Targhee )
* Grangeville –
Idaho County seat
* Filer – suburb of Twin Falls
* Homedale – "gateway to the Owyhees"
* Island Park – snowmobiling, world-class fishing
* Kimberly – suburb of Twin Falls
* Kellogg – skiing (Silver Mountain Ski Resort )
* Lapwai – "Lep'wey" – business headquarters of the Nez Perce
* Malad City – where
Utah buys lottery tickets
McCall – skiing (
Brundage Mountain Resort ) and recreation
Melba, Idaho – south of Nampa, Idaho
* Middleton – small town
* Montpelier – bank robbed by the Wild Bunch
* Mullan – silver/lead/zinc mining
* New Meadows – at the
45th parallel north
* New Plymouth – first planned community in Idaho, third west of
the Rocky Mountains
* Nezperce – Lewis County seat
* Oakley – famous pioneer town, home of many historic buildings
* Orofino – site of
Dworshak Dam , highest straight-axis dam in
* Paris – Bear Lake County seat
* Parma – site of Old Fort Boise
* Payette – Payette County seat
* Pierce – location of the first discovery of gold in Idaho
* Plummer – CDA tribal headquarters
* Preston – location of the 2004 film
Napoleon Dynamite and the
annual International Bed Races
* Rigby – television birthplace
* Riggins – near the
Seven Devils Mountains
* Rupert – Minidoka County seat
* Salmon – gateway to "River of No Return" (Salmon River )
* Sandpoint – skiing (
Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort ) and
Lake Pend Oreille
* Shelley – home of the russet potato
* Soda Springs – U.S.'s only captive geyser
* St. Anthony – sand dunes and several lava tubes
* St. Maries – Benewah County seat
Stanley, Idaho – heart of the Sawtooth mountains
Star, Idaho – suburb of Boise
* Sun Valley – year-round resort with world-class skiing
* Wallace – historic district and
Shoshone County seat
* Weippe – where the
Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark Expedition first met the Nez
* Weiser – Washington County seat, home of the National Oldtime
* Wilder – hometown of former governor
* Worley – casino
NATIONAL PARKS, RESERVES, MONUMENTS AND HISTORIC SITES
California National Historic Trail
City of Rocks National Reserve
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Lewis and Clark
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Minidoka National Historic Site
Nez Perce National Historical Park
Oregon National Historic Trail
Yellowstone National Park
Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail
NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS
Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
Sawtooth National Recreation Area
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGES AND WILDERNESS AREAS
Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Camas National Wildlife Refuge
Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge
Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness Area
Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge
NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREAS
Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
Bear Lake viewed from Bear Lake State Park . See also: List of
Idaho state parks
* Bear Lake State Park
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Castle Rocks State Park
City of Rocks National Reserve
* Coeur d\'Alene Parkway State Park
Dworshak State Park
* Eagle Island State Park
Farragut State Park
* Harriman State Park
Hells Gate State Park
Henrys Lake State Park
Heyburn State Park
Lake Cascade State Park
Lake Walcott State Park
Land of the Yankee Fork State Park
Lucky Peak State Park
Massacre Rocks State Park
McCroskey State Park
Old Mission State Park
Ponderosa State Park
Priest Lake State Park
Round Lake State Park
Thousand Springs State Park
Thousand Springs State Park
Three Island Crossing State Park
* Trail of the Coeur d\'Alenes
Winchester Lake State Park
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
The Jacob Spori Building at
Brigham Young University-Idaho
Idaho State University
Idaho State University in Pocatello
University of Idaho Arboretum
in Moscow Albertsons Stadium
Boise State University in
Idaho State Board of Education oversees three comprehensive
University of Idaho in Moscow was the first
university in the state (founded in 1889). It opened its doors in 1892
and is the land-grant institution and primary research university of
Idaho State University
Idaho State University in Pocatello opened in 1901 as the
Academy of Idaho, attained four-year status in 1947 and university
status in 1963.
Boise State University is the most recent school to
attain university status in Idaho. The school opened in 1932 as Boise
Junior College and became
Boise State University in 1974. Lewis-Clark
State College in Lewiston is the only public, non-university 4-year
college in Idaho. It opened as a normal school in 1893.
Idaho has four regional community colleges:
North Idaho College in
Coeur d\'Alene ;
College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls ; College of
Idaho in Nampa , which opened in 2009, College of Eastern
Idaho Falls , which transitioned from a technical college in
Private institutions in
Boise Bible College , affiliated
with congregations of the
Christian churches and churches of Christ ;
Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg , which is affiliated with
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a sister college
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University ; The
College of Idaho in Caldwell , which
still maintains a loose affiliation with the Presbyterian Church;
Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa ; and New Saint Andrews College
in Moscow , of reformed
Christian theological background. McCall
College is a non-affiliated 2-year private college in
McCall , which
was founded in 2011 and later opened in 2013.
Boise Bible College
Boise State University
Brigham Young University-Idaho (formerly Ricks College)
College of Idaho (formerly Albertson College of Idaho)
College of Southern Idaho
College of Western Idaho
College of Eastern Idaho
Idaho State University
Idaho State University
Lewis-Clark State College
New Saint Andrews College
North Idaho College
Northwest Nazarene University
University of Idaho
Central Idaho is home to one of North America's oldest ski resorts ,
Sun Valley , where the world's first chairlift was installed in 1936.
Other noted outdoor sites include
Hells Canyon , the Salmon River ,
and its embarkation point of Riggins .
Northwest – (Class A)
Boise State Broncos
Div I FBS – MWC
Div I FBS – Sun Belt
Idaho State Bengals
Div I FCS – Big Sky
Idaho Falls Chukars
Pioneer – (Rookie)
Boise Open professional golf tournament is played at Hillcrest
Country Club since 1990 as part of the
Web.com Tour .
High school sports are overseen by the
Idaho High School Activities
In 2016, Meridian\'s Michael Slagowski ran 800 meters in 1:48.70.
That is one of the 35 fastest 800 meter times ever run by a high
school boy in the United States. Weeks later, he would become only
the ninth high school boy to complete a mile in under 4 minutes,
OFFICIAL STATE EMBLEMS
* State amphibian:
Idaho Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon aterrimus)
* State bird: mountain bluebird (Sialia currucoides)
* State dance: square dance
* State fish: cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)
* State flower: syringa (Philadelphus lewisii)
* State fossil:
Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens)
* State fruit: huckleberry
* State gem: star garnet
* State horse:
* State motto:
Esto perpetua ("Let it be perpetual")
* State insect: monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
* State raptor: peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)
* State song: "
Here We Have Idaho "
* State tree: western white pine (Pinus monticola)
* State vegetable: potato
IN POPULAR CULTURE
River Phoenix and
Keanu Reeves starred in the movie My Own Private
Idaho , portions of which take place in Idaho.
The 2004 cult film
Napoleon Dynamite takes place in
Preston, Idaho .
The director and his wife,
Jared and Jerusha Hess , attended Preston
High School .
Judy Garland performed the elaborate song-and-dance routine "Born in
a Trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho" in the 1954
version of the film A Star is Born .
Outline of Idaho – organized list of topics about Idaho
List of counties in Idaho
Index of Idaho-related articles
List of companies based in Idaho
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