OREGON (/ˈɒrᵻɡən/ ( listen ) ) is a state in the Pacific
Northwest region on the West coast of the
United States . The Columbia
River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary along Washington
state, while the
Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary
Idaho . The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary
Nevada . It is one of only three states of the
United States to have a coastline on the
Pacific Ocean .
Oregon was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before Western
traders, explorers, and settlers arrived. An autonomous government was
formed in the
Oregon Country in 1843 before the
Oregon Territory was
created in 1848.
Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.
Today, at 98,000 square miles (255,000 km²),
Oregon is the ninth
largest and, with a population of 4 million, 27th most populous U.S.
state. The state capital, Salem , is the second most populous of its
cities, with 164,549 residents, while Portland , with 632,309
residents, is the most populous, ranking as the 26th most populous
city in the United States. The
Portland metropolitan area , which also
includes the city of
Vancouver, Washington to the north, ranks the
23rd largest metro in the nation with a population of 2,389,228.
Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states in the United
States, marked by volcanoes, abundant bodies of water, dense
evergreen and mixed forests, as well as high deserts and semi-arid
shrublands . At 11,249 feet (3,429 m),
Mount Hood is the state's
highest point. Oregon's only national park,
Crater Lake National Park
, comprises the caldera surrounding
Crater Lake , the deepest lake in
the United States. The state is also home to the single largest
organism in the world,
Armillaria ostoyae , a fungus that runs beneath
8.9 km2 (2,200 acres) of the
Malheur National Forest .
Because of its diverse landscapes and waterways, Oregon's economy is
largely powered by various forms of agriculture, fishing, and
hydroelectric power. It is also the top timber -producer of the lower
48 states. Technology is another one of the state's major economic
forces, which began in the 1970s with the establishment of the Silicon
Forest and the expansion of
Intel . Sportswear company
Nike, Inc. , headquartered in Beaverton , is the state's largest
public corporation with an annual revenue of $30.6 billion.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Geography
* 2.1 Geology and terrain
* 2.2 Flora and fauna
* 2.3 Climate
* 3 History
* 3.1 Earliest inhabitants
* 3.2 European and pioneer settlement
* 3.3 Statehood
* 3.4 Post-Reconstruction
* 4 Cities and towns
* 5 Law and government
* 5.1 Federal representation
* 5.2 Politics
* 6 Economy
* 6.1 Agriculture
* 6.2 Forestry and fisheries
* 6.3 Tourism and entertainment
* 6.4 Technology
* 6.5 Corporate headquarters
* 6.6 Taxes and budgets
* 7 Demographics
* 7.1 Population
* 7.1.1 Ancestry groups
* 7.2 Religious and secular communities
* 7.3 Birth data
* 7.3.1 Future projections
* 8 Education
* 8.1 Primary and secondary
* 8.2 Colleges and universities
* 9 Sports
* 10 Sister regions
* 11 See also
* 12 Notes
* 13 References
* 14 External links
Oregon border welcome sign at
The earliest evidence of the name
Oregon has Spanish origins. The
term "orejón" comes from the historical chronicle Relación de la
Alta y Baja
California (1598) written by the new Spaniard Rodrigo
Motezuma and made reference to the Columbia river when the Spanish
explorers penetrated into the actual North American territory that
became part of the
Viceroyalty of New Spain . This chronicle is the
first topographical and linguistic source with respect to the place
name Oregon. There are also two other sources with Spanish origins
such as the name
Oregano which grows in the southern part of the
region. It is most probable that the American territory was named by
the Spaniards as there are some populations in Spain such as "Arroyo
del Oregón" which is situated in the province of
Ciudad Real , also
considering that the individualization in
Spanish language "El
Orejón" with the mutation of the letter "g" instead of "j".
Another early use of the name, spelled Ouragon, was in a 1765
petition by Major Robert Rogers to the
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain . The
term referred to the then-mythical River of the West (the Columbia
River). By 1778 the spelling had shifted to Oregon. In his 1765
petition, Rogers wrote:
The rout ...is from the Great Lakes towards the Head of the
Mississippi, and from thence to the River called by the Indians
One theory is the name comes from the French word ouragan
("windstorm" or "hurricane"), which was applied to the River of the
West based on Native American tales of powerful Chinook winds of the
lower Columbia River, or perhaps from firsthand French experience with
the Chinook winds of the
Great Plains . At the time, the River of the
West was thought to rise in western
Minnesota and flow west through
the Great Plains.
Joaquin Miller explained in Sunset magazine , in 1904, how Oregon's
name was derived:
The name, Oregon, is rounded down phonetically, from Aure il
agua—Oragua, Or-a-gon, Oregon—given probably by the same
Portuguese navigator that named the Farallones after his first
officer, and it literally, in a large way, means cascades: 'Hear the
waters.' You should steam up the Columbia and hear and feel the waters
falling out of the clouds of
Mount Hood to understand entirely the
full meaning of the name Aure il agua, Oregon.
Another account, endorsed as the "most plausible explanation" in the
Oregon Geographic Names , was advanced by
George R. Stewart in a
1944 article in
American Speech . According to Stewart, the name came
from an engraver's error in a French map published in the early 18th
century, on which the Ouisiconsink (Wisconsin) River was spelled
"Ouaricon-sint," broken on two lines with the -sint below, so there
appeared to be a river flowing to the west named "Ouaricon."
According to the
Oregon Tourism Commission (doing business as Travel
Oregon), present-day Oregonians /ˌɒrᵻˈɡoʊniənz/ pronounce
the state's name as "or-uh-gun, never or-ee-gone." After being
drafted by the
Detroit Lions in 2002, former
Oregon Ducks quarterback
Joey Harrington distributed "Orygun" stickers to members of the media
as a reminder of how to pronounce the name of his home state. The
stickers are sold by the
University of Oregon
University of Oregon Bookstore.
List of regions of Oregon
Crater Lake during summer.
Oregon is 295 miles (475 km) north to south at longest distance, and
395 miles (636 km) east to west at longest distance. With an area of
98,381 square miles (254,810 km2),
Oregon is slightly larger than the
United Kingdom . It is the ninth largest state in the United States.
Oregon's highest point is the summit of Mount Hood, at 11,249 feet
(3,429 m), and its lowest point is the sea level of the Pacific Ocean
Oregon Coast. Oregon's mean elevation is 3,300 feet (1,006
Crater Lake National Park is the state's only national park and
the site of
Crater Lake , the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 feet
Oregon claims the
D River as the shortest river in the
world, though the state of
Montana makes the same claim of its Roe
Oregon is also home to
Mill Ends Park (in Portland), the
smallest park in the world at 452 square inches (0.29 m2).
Oregon is split into eight geographical regions. In
Western Oregon :
Oregon Coast (west of the Coast Range ), the
Willamette Valley , Rogue
Cascade Range and
Klamath Mountains ; and in Central and
Eastern Oregon : the
Columbia Plateau , the High Desert , and the Blue
Oregon lies in two time zones . Most of Malheur County is in the
Mountain Time Zone
Mountain Time Zone while the rest of the state lies in the Pacific
Time Zone .
GEOLOGY AND TERRAIN
List of rivers in Oregon ,
List of Oregon mountain ranges ,
List of Oregon state parks
Mt. Hood is the highest peak in
Western Oregon's mountainous regions, home to three of the most
prominent mountain peaks of the
United States including
Mount Hood ,
were formed by the volcanic activity of the
Juan de Fuca Plate
Juan de Fuca Plate , a
tectonic plate that poses a continued threat of volcanic activity and
earthquakes in the region. The most recent major activity was the 1700
Cascadia earthquake . Washington's
Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 ,
an event visible from northern
Oregon and affected some areas there.
Columbia River , which forms much of Oregon's northern border,
also played a major role in the region's geological evolution, as well
as its economic and cultural development. The Columbia is one of North
America's largest rivers, and one of two rivers to cut through the
Klamath River in
Southern Oregon is the other). About
15,000 years ago, the Columbia repeatedly flooded much of Oregon
Missoula Floods ; the modern fertility of the Willamette
Valley is largely a result of those floods. Plentiful salmon made
parts of the river, such as
Celilo Falls , hubs of economic activity
for thousands of years.
Today, Oregon's landscape varies from rain forest in the Coast Range
to barren desert in the southeast, which still meets the technical
definition of a frontier . Oregon's geographical center is further
west than any of the other 48 contiguous states (although the
westernmost point of the lower 48 states is in Washington). Central
Oregon 's geographical features range from high desert and volcanic
rock formations resulting from lava beds . The
Wilderness is in this region of the state.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Typical of a western state,
Oregon is home to a unique and diverse
array of wildlife. Roughly 60 percent of the state is covered in
forest, while the areas west of the Cascades are more densely
populated by forest, making up around 80 percent of the landscape.
Some 60 percent of Oregon's forests are within federal land. Oregon
is the top timber producer of the lower 48 states.
* Typical tree species include the
Douglas fir , the state tree, as
well as redwood , ponderosa pine (generally east of the Cascades),
western red cedar , and hemlock .
Ponderosa pine are more common in
the Blue Mountains in the eastern part of the state and firs are more
common in the west.
Pronghorn antelope in Fort Rock .
* There are many species of mammals that live in the state, which
include, but are not limited to, opossums , shrews , moles , little
pocket mice, great basin pocket mice, dark kangaroo mouse, California
kangaroo rat, chisel-toothed kangaroo rat, ord's kangaroo rat, bats ,
rabbits , pikas , mountain beavers , chipmunks , western gray
squirrels , yellow-bellied marmots , beavers , porcupines , coyotes ,
wolves , red foxes , common grey fox, kit fox, black bears , raccoons
, badgers , skunks , antelopes , cougars , bobcats , lynxes , deer ,
elk , and moose .
* Marine mammals include seals , sea lions , humpback whales ,
killer whales , gray whales , blue whales , sperm whales , pacific
white-sided dolphin , and bottlenose dolphin .
* Notable birds include American widgeons , mallard ducks , great
blue herons , bald eagles , golden eagles , western meadowlarks (the
state bird ), barn owls , great horned owls , rufous hummingbirds ,
pileated woodpeckers , wrens , towhees , sparrows , and buntings .
Moose have not always inhabited the state but came to
Oregon in the
Wallowa Valley herd numbered about 60 as of 2013. Gray
wolves were extirpated from
Oregon around 1930 but have since found
their way back; there are now two packs living in the south-central
part of the state. Although their existence in
Oregon is unconfirmed,
reports of grizzly bears still turn up the state and it is probable
some still move into eastern
Oregon from Idaho.
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.
Oregon has three national park sites:
Crater Lake National Park in
the southern part of the Cascades, John Day Fossil Beds National
Monument , and
Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks .
Climate of Oregon Köppen climate types in Oregon
Oregon's climate is generally mild. The state has an oceanic climate
west of the Cascade mountain range . The climate varies with dense
evergreen mixed forests spreading across much of the west, and a high
desert sprawling to the east. The state's southwestern portion,
Rogue Valley , has a
Mediterranean climate with drier
and sunnier winters and hotter summers, similar to Northern California
Oregon's northeastern portion has a steppe climate , and the high
terrain regions have a subarctic climate . Like
Western Europe ,
Oregon, and the
Pacific Northwest in general, is considered warm for
its latitude, and the state has far milder winters for the given
elevation than the comparable latitude parts of North America, such as
Upper Midwest ,
New England .
Western Oregon's climate is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean.
The western third of
Oregon is very wet in the winter, moderately to
very wet during the spring and fall, and dry during the summer. The
relative humidity of
Western Oregon is high except during summer days,
which are semi-dry to semi-humid;
Eastern Oregon typically sees low
The eastern two thirds of
Oregon have cold, snowy winters and very
dry summers; much of it is semiarid to arid like the rest of the Great
Basin , though the Blue Mountains are wet enough to support extensive
forests. Most of the state receives significant snowfall, but the
Willamette Valley , where 60 percent of Oregon's population lives,
has considerably milder winters for its latitude and typically only
sees light snowfall.
Oregon's highest recorded temperature is 119 °F (48 °C) at
Pendleton on August 10, 1898, and the lowest recorded temperature is
−54 °F (−48 °C) at Seneca on February 10, 1933.
History of Oregon
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 on February 14, 1859 and as of
2015 is home to over 4 million residents.
Native American peoples of Oregon and
Paul Shoaway, a Native of the Umatilla tribe in the Columbia Plateau
While there is considerable evidence that
Paleo-Indians inhabited the
region, the oldest evidence of habitation in
Oregon was found at Fort
Rock Cave and the
Paisley Caves in Lake County . Archaeologist Luther
Cressman dated material from Fort Rock to 13,200 years ago, and there
is evidence supporting inhabitants in the region at least 15,000 years
ago. By 8000 BC there were settlements throughout the state, with
populations concentrated along the lower
Columbia River , in the
western valleys, and around coastal estuaries.
During the prehistoric period , the
Willamette Valley region was
flooded after the collapse of glacial dams from
Lake Missoula ,
located in what would later become
Montana . These massive floods
occurred during the last ice age and filled the valley with 300 to 400
feet (91 to 122 m) of water.
By the 16th century,
Oregon was home to many Native American groups,
including the Chinook , Coquille (
Ko-Kwell ), Bannock , Chasta ,
Kalapuya , Klamath , Klickitat , Molalla , Nez Perce , Takelma ,
Tillamook , Umatilla , and Umpqua .
EUROPEAN AND PIONEER SETTLEMENT
See also: History of the
United States (1789–1849) and Oregon
The first Europeans to visit
Oregon were Spanish explorers led by
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who sighted southern
Oregon off the Pacific
Coast in 1543. Francis Drake made his way to Nehalem Bay in 1579 and
spent 5 weeks in the middle of summer repairing his ship and claimed
the land between 38–48 degrees N latitude as a Symbolic Sovereign
Act for England. Exploration was retaken routinely in 1774, starting
with the expedition of the frigate Santiago by Juan José Pérez
Hernández (see Spanish expeditions to the
Pacific Northwest ), and
the coast of
Oregon became a valuable trading route to Asia. In 1778,
James Cook also explored the coast.
French Canadian and métis trappers and missionaries arrived in the
eastern part of the state in the late 18th and early 19th centuries,
many having travelled as members of Lewis and Clark and the 1811 Astor
expeditions. Some stayed permanently, including Étienne Lussier,
believed to be the first European farmer in the state of Oregon. The
evidence of this French Canadian presence can be found in the numerous
names of French origin in that part of the state, including Malheur
Lake and the
Malheur River , the Grande Ronde and Deschutes rivers,
and the city of La Grande .
Fort Astoria , as established by John
Jacob Astor in 1813.
Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through northern
in search of the Northwest Passage. They built their winter fort in
Fort Clatsop , near the mouth of the Columbia River,
staying at the encampment from December until March.
British explorer David Thompson also conducted overland exploration.
In 1811, while working for the
North West Company
North West Company , Thompson became
the first European to navigate the entire Columbia River. Stopping on
the way, at the junction of the Snake River, he posted a claim to the
region for Great Britain and the North West Company. Upon returning to
Montreal , he publicized the abundance of fur-bearing animals in the
Also in 1811, New Yorker
John Jacob Astor
John Jacob Astor financed the establishment
Fort Astoria at the mouth of the
Columbia River as a western
outpost to his
Pacific Fur Company ; this was the first permanent
European settlement in Oregon. Map of
Oregon Country, 1818–46.
War of 1812
War of 1812 , the British gained control of all Pacific Fur
Company posts. The
Treaty of 1818
Treaty of 1818 established joint British and
American occupancy of the region west of the
Rocky Mountains to the
Pacific Ocean. By the 1820s and 1830s, the Hudson\'s Bay Company
Pacific Northwest from its Columbia District
Fort Vancouver (built in 1825 by the district's chief
John McLoughlin , across the Columbia from present-day
In 1841, the expert trapper and entrepreneur
Ewing Young died leaving
considerable wealth and no apparent heir, and no system to probate his
estate. A meeting followed Young's funeral at which a probate
government was proposed. Doctor
Ira Babcock of Jason Lee 's Methodist
Mission was elected supreme judge. Babcock chaired two meetings in
1842 at Champoeg , (half way between Lee's mission and
Oregon City ),
to discuss wolves and other animals of contemporary concern. These
meetings were precursors to an all-citizen meeting in 1843, which
instituted a provisional government headed by an executive committee
made up of David Hill ,
Alanson Beers , and
Joseph Gale . This
government was the first acting public government of the Oregon
Country before annexation by the government of the United States.
Also in 1841, Sir George Simpson , governor of the Hudson's Bay
Company, reversed the Hudson's Bay Company's long-standing policy of
discouraging settlement because it interfered with the lucrative fur
trade. He directed that some 200
Red River Colony
Red River Colony settlers be
relocated to HBC farms near Fort Vancouver, (the James Sinclair
expedition), in an attempt to hold Columbia District.
Starting in 1842–1843, the
Oregon Trail brought many new American
Oregon Country. For some time, it seemed that Britain and
United States would go to war for a third time in 75 years (see
Oregon boundary dispute ), but the border was defined peacefully in
1846 by the
Oregon Treaty . The border between the
United States and
British North America was set at the 49th parallel . The Oregon
Territory was officially organized on August 13, 1848.
Settlement increased with the
Donation Land Claim Act
Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the
forced relocation of the native population to Indian reservations in
In December 1844,
Oregon passed its Black Exclusion Law, which
African Americans from entering the territory while
simultaneously prohibiting slavery. Slave owners who brought their
slaves with them were given three years before they were forced to
free them. Any
African Americans in the region after the law was
passed were forced to leave, those who did not comply were arrested
and beaten. They received no less than twenty and no more than
thirty-nine stripes across their bare back. If they still did not
leave, this process could be repeated every six months. Slavery
played a major part in Oregon's history and even influenced its path
to statehood. The territory's request for statehood was delayed
several times, as members of Congress argued among themselves whether
the Territory should be admitted as a "free" or "slave" state.
Eventually politicians from the south agreed to allow
Oregon to enter
as a "free" state, in exchange for opening slavery to the southwest
Oregon was admitted to the Union on February 14, 1859. Founded as a
refuge from disputes over slavery,
Oregon had a "whites only" clause
in its original state Constitution. At the outbreak of the American
Civil War , regular U.S. troops were withdrawn and sent east.
Volunteer cavalry recruited in
California were sent north to
keep peace and protect the populace. The First
Oregon Cavalry served
until June 1865.
Downtown Portland in 1898.
Beginning in the 1880s, the growth of railroads expanded the state's
lumber , wheat, and other agricultural markets, and the rapid growth
of its cities. Due to its abundance of timber and waterway access via
the Willamette River, Portland became a major force in the lumber
industry of the Pacific Northwest, and quickly became the state's
largest city. It would earn the nickname "Stumptown," and would later
become recognized as one of the most dangerous port cities in the
United States due to racketeering and illegal activities at the turn
of the 20th century. In 1902,
Oregon introduced direct legislation by
the state's citizens through initiatives and referenda , known as the
Oregon System .
On May 5, 1945, six people were killed by a Japanese bomb that
exploded on Gearhart Mountain near Bly . This is the only fatal
attack on the
United States mainland committed by a foreign nation
Mexican–American War , making
Oregon the only U.S. state
that has experienced fatal casualties by a foreign army since 1848, as
Hawaii was not yet a state when
Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. The
bombing site is now called the
Mitchell Recreation Area .
Industrial expansion began in earnest following the 1933–1937
construction of the
Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.
Hydroelectric power , food, and lumber provided by
Oregon helped fuel
the development of the West, although the periodic fluctuations in the
U.S. building industry have hurt the state's economy on multiple
occasions. Portland in particular experienced a population boom
between 1900 and 1930, tripling in size; the arrival of World War II
also provided the northwest region of the state with an industrial
boom, where Liberty ships and aircraft carriers were constructed.
During the 1970s, the
Pacific Northwest was particularly affected by
1973 oil crisis , with
Oregon suffering a substantial shortage.
Oregon became the first
U.S. state to legalize
physician-assisted suicide through the
Oregon Death with Dignity Act .
A measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana in
approved on November 4, 2014, making
Oregon only the second state to
have legalized gay marriage , physician-assisted suicide , and
CITIES AND TOWNS
Further information: List of cities and unincorporated communities in
Oregon's population is largely concentrated in the Willamette Valley
, which stretches from Eugene in the south (home of the University of
Oregon ) through Corvallis (home of
Oregon State University ) and
Salem (the capital) to Portland (Oregon's largest city).
Astoria , at the mouth of the Columbia River, was the first permanent
English-speaking settlement west of the Rockies in what is now the
Oregon City , at the end of the
Oregon Trail , was the
Oregon Territory 's first incorporated city, and was its first capital
from 1848 until 1852, when the capital was moved to Salem. Bend , near
the geographic center of the state, is one of the ten fastest-growing
metropolitan areas in the United States. In the southern part of the
state, Medford is a rapidly growing metro area, which is home to The
Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport , the third-busiest airport
in the state. To the south, near the California-
Oregon border, are the
communities of Ashland and Grants Pass .
Largest cities or towns in Oregon
LAW AND GOVERNMENT
Government of Oregon Golden Pioneer atop the Oregon
State Capitol .
A writer in the
Oregon Country book A Pacific Republic, written in
1839, predicted the territory was to become an independent republic.
Four years later, in 1843, settlers of the
Willamette Valley voted in
majority for a republic government. The
Oregon Country functioned in
this way until August 13, 1848, when
Oregon was annexed by the United
States and a territorial government was established.
a territorial government until February 14, 1859, when it was granted
Oregon state government has a separation of powers similar to the
federal government . It has three branches:
* a legislative branch (the bicameral
Oregon Legislative Assembly ),
* an executive branch which includes an "administrative department"
and Oregon\'s governor serving as chief executive, and
* a judicial branch , headed by the Chief Justice of the Oregon
Supreme Court .
Oregon serve four-year terms and are limited to two
consecutive terms, but an unlimited number of total terms.
no lieutenant governor ; in the event that the office of governor is
vacated, Article V, Section 8a of the
Oregon Constitution specifies
that the Secretary of State is first in line for succession. The
other statewide officers are Treasurer , Attorney General ,
Superintendent , and Labor Commissioner . The biennial Oregon
Legislative Assembly consists of a thirty-member Senate and a
sixty-member House . The state supreme court has seven elected
justices, currently including the only two openly gay state supreme
court justices in the nation. They choose one of their own to serve a
six-year term as Chief Justice. The only court that may reverse or
modify a decision of the
Oregon Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of
United States .
The debate over whether to move to annual sessions is a long-standing
Oregon politics, but the voters have resisted the move from
citizen legislators to professional lawmakers. Because Oregon's state
budget is written in two-year increments and, having no sales tax, its
revenue is based largely on income taxes, it is often significantly
over- or under-budget. Recent legislatures have had to be called into
special session repeatedly to address revenue shortfalls resulting
from economic downturns, bringing to a head the need for more frequent
Initiative 71, passed in 2010, mandates
Legislature to begin meeting every year, for 160 days in
odd-numbered years, and 35 days in even-numbered years.
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
Oregonians have voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate in
every election since 1988. In 2004 and 2006, Democrats won control of
the state Senate and then the House. Since the late 1990s,
been represented by four Democrats and one Republican in the U.S.
House of Representatives. Since 2009, the state has had two Democratic
Ron Wyden and
Jeff Merkley .
Oregon voters have elected
Democratic governors in every election since 1986, most recently
Kate Brown over Republican
Bud Pierce in a 2016 special
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
George W. Bush
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.
In the 2002 general election,
Oregon voters approved a ballot measure
to increase the state minimum wage automatically each year according
to inflationary changes, which are measured by the consumer price
index (CPI). In the 2004 general election,
Oregon voters passed
ballot measures banning same-sex marriage , and restricting land use
regulation . In the 2006 general election , voters restricted the use
of eminent domain and extended the state's discount prescription drug
Like all US states,
Oregon is represented by two U.S. Senators .
Since the 1980 census ,
Oregon has had five Congressional districts .
Oregon was admitted to the Union, it began with a single member
in the House of Representatives (
La Fayette Grover , who served in the
United States Congress for less than a month). Congressional
apportionment increased the size of the delegation following the
censuses of 1890 , 1910 , 1940 , and 1980. A detailed list of the past
and present Congressional delegations from
Oregon is available.
United States District Court for the District of
federal cases in the state. The court has courthouses in Portland ,
Eugene , Medford, and Pendleton. Also in Portland is the federal
bankruptcy court, with a second branch in Eugene.
Oregon (among other
western states and territories) is in the 9th Court of Appeals . One
of the court's meeting places is at the
Pioneer Courthouse in downtown
Portland, a National Historic Landmark built in 1869.
Politics of Oregon See also: Political party strength
Oregon Party registration in Oregon, 1950–2006. total
Democratic Party Republican Party non-affiliated and minor parties
Gubernatorial election results
Presidential election results
Political opinions in
Oregon are geographically split by the Cascade
Range , with western
Oregon being more liberal and Eastern Oregon
being conservative . In a 2008 analysis of the 2004 presidential
election , a political analyst found that according to the application
Likert scale ,
Oregon boasted both the most liberal Kerry voters
and the most conservative Bush voters, making it the most politically
polarized state in the country.
While Republicans typically win more counties by running up huge
margins in the east, the Democratic tilt of the more populated west is
usually enough to swing the entire state Democratic. In 2008, for
instance, Republican Senate incumbent
Gordon H. Smith lost his bid for
a third term even though he carried all but eight counties . His
Jeff Merkley , won Multnomah County by 142,000
votes, more than double the overall margin of victory.
During Oregon's history it has adopted many electoral reforms
proposed during the
Progressive Era , through the efforts of William
S. U\'Ren and his
Direct Legislation League . Under his leadership,
the state overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 1902 that
created the initiative and referendum for citizens to introduce or
approve proposed laws or amendments to the state constitution
Oregon the first state to adopt such a system. Today,
roughly half of U.S. states do so.
In following years, the primary election to select party candidates
was adopted in 1904, and in 1908 the
Oregon Constitution was amended
to include recall of public officials. More recent amendments include
the nation's first doctor-assisted suicide law, called the Death with
Dignity Act (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. More recently, 2004\'s
Measure 37 reflects a backlash against such land-use laws. However, a
further ballot measure in 2007, Measure 49 , curtailed many of the
provisions of 37.
Of the measures placed on the ballot since 1902, the people have
passed 99 of the 288 initiatives and 25 of the 61 referendums on the
ballot, though not all of them survived challenges in courts (see
Pierce v. Society of Sisters , for an example). During the same
period, the legislature has referred 363 measures to the people, of
which 206 have passed.
Oregon pioneered the American use of postal voting , beginning with
experimentation approved by the
Oregon Legislative Assembly in 1981
and culminating with a 1998 ballot measure mandating that all counties
conduct elections by mail. It remains the only state, with the
exception of Washington , where voting by mail is the only method of
Oregon adopted the
Oregon Health Plan , which made health
care available to most of its citizens without private health
In the U.S. Electoral College ,
Oregon casts seven votes.
supported Democratic candidates in the last eight elections.
Barack Obama won the state by a margin of twelve
percentage points, with over 54% of the popular vote in 2012. In the
2016 election, Hillary Clinton won
Oregon by 11 percentage points.
Economy of Oregon See also:
Oregon locations by per
As of 2015,
Oregon ranks as the 17th highest in median household
income at $60,834. The gross domestic product (GDP) of
Oregon in 2013
was $219.6 billion, a 2.7% increase from 2012;
Oregon is the 25th
wealthiest state by GDP. In 2003,
Oregon was 28th in the U.S. by GDP.
The state's per capita personal income (PCPI) in 2013 was $39,848, a
1.5% increase from 2012.
Oregon ranks 33rd in the U.S. by PCPI,
compared to 31st in 2003. The national PCPI in 2013 was $44,765.
Oregon's unemployment rate was 5.5% in September 2016, while the
U.S. unemployment rate was 5.0% that month.
Oregon has the third
largest amount of food stamp users in the nation (21% of the
Teenagers harvesting berries in the town of Boring in 1946.
Oregon's diverse landscapes provide ideal environments for various
types of farming. Land in the
Willamette Valley owes its fertility to
Missoula Floods , which deposited lake sediment from Glacial Lake
Missoula in western
Montana onto the valley floor. In 2016, the
Willamette Valley region produced over 100 million pounds (45 kt) of
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.
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 . In 2014, 71 wineries opened in the state. The
total is currently 676, which represents growth of 12% over 2013.
Southern Oregon coast commercially cultivated cranberries
account for about 7 percent of US production, and the cranberry ranks
23rd among Oregon's top 50 agricultural commodities. Cranberry
Oregon uses about 27,000 acres (110 km2) in southern
Coos and northern Curry counties, centered around the coastal city of
Bandon . In the northeastern region of the state, particularly around
Pendleton , both irrigated and dry land wheat is grown. Oregon
farmers and ranchers also produce cattle, sheep, dairy products, eggs
FORESTRY AND FISHERIES
List of freshwater fishes of Oregon
Fish ladder at
Bonneville Dam , Multnomah County .
Vast forests have historically made
Oregon one of the nation's major
timber production and logging states, but forest fires (such as the
Tillamook Burn ), over-harvesting, and lawsuits over the proper
management of the extensive federal forest holdings have reduced the
timber produced. According to 1914 data,
Australia was the single
largest purchaser of the state's lumber. Between 1989 and 2011, the
amount of timber harvested from federal lands in
Oregon dropped about
90%, although harvest levels on private land have remained relatively
Even the shift in recent years towards finished goods such as paper
and building materials has not slowed the decline of the timber
industry in the state. The effects of this decline have included
Weyerhaeuser 's acquisition of Portland-based
Willamette Industries in
January 2002, the relocation of
Louisiana-Pacific 's corporate
headquarters from Portland to Nashville , and the decline of former
lumber company towns such as Gilchrist . Despite these changes, Oregon
still leads the
United States in softwood lumber production; in 2011,
4,134 million board feet (9,760,000 m3) was produced in Oregon,
compared with 3,685 million board feet (8,700,000 m3) in Washington,
1,914 million board feet (4,520,000 m3) in Georgia , and 1,708 million
board feet (4,030,000 m3) in
Mississippi . The slowing of the timber
and lumber industry has caused high unemployment rates in rural areas.
Oregon has one of the largest salmon -fishing industries in the
world, although ocean fisheries have reduced the river fisheries in
recent years. Because of the abundance of waterways in the state, it
is also a major producer of hydroelectric energy .
TOURISM AND ENTERTAINMENT
See also: Tourism near Portland and Tourism in Portland The
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of many tourist attractions in the
Tourism is also a strong industry in the state. Much of this is
centered on the state's natural features; Oregon's mountains, forests,
waterfalls, rivers, beaches and lakes, including
Crater Lake National
Multnomah Falls , the
Painted Hills , the Deschutes River , and
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve .
Mount Hood , and
Mount Bachelor also draw visitors year round for skiing and snow
Oceanarium at the
Oregon Coast Aquarium .
Portland is home to the
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry , the
Portland Art Museum , and the
Oregon Zoo , which is the oldest zoo
west of the
Mississippi river . The
International Rose Test Garden is
another prominent attraction in the city. Portland has also been named
the best city in the world for street food by several publications,
including the U.S. News many high technology employers reduced the
number of their employees or went out of business. Open Source
Development Labs made news in 2004 when they hired
Linus Torvalds ,
developer of the
Linux kernel . In 2010, biotechnology giant Genentech
opened a $400-million facility in Hillsboro to expand its production
Oregon is home to several large datacenters that take
advantage of cheap power and a climate in
Central Oregon conducive to
reducing cooling costs. Google has a large datacenter in The Dalles
and Facebook has built a large datacenter in Prineville . In 2011,
Amazon began operating a datacenter in northeastern
Nike headquarters near Beaverton .
Largest Public Corporations Headquartered in
Oregon (December 2016)
MARKET CAP (USD)
3. Portland General Electric
Umpqua Holdings Corporation
7. Northwest Natural Gas
The Greenbrier Companies
Oregon is also the home of large corporations in other industries.
The world headquarters of Nike are located near Beaverton . Medford is
Harry and David , which sells gift items under several brands.
Medford is also home to the national headquarters of
Lithia Motors .
Portland is home to one of the West's largest trade book publishing
Graphic Arts Center Publishing .
Oregon is also home to Mentor
Graphics Corporation, a world leader in electronic design automation
located in Wilsonville and employs roughly 4,500 people worldwide.
Adidas Corporations American Headquarters is located in Portland and
employs roughly 900 full-time workers at its Portland campus. Nike,
located in Beaverton, employs roughly 5,000 full-time employees at its
200-acre (81 ha) campus. Nike's Beaverton campus is continuously
ranked as a top employer in the Portland area-along with competitor
Intel Corporation employs 18,600 in
Oregon with the majority
of these employees located at the company's Hillsboro campus located
about 30 minutes west of Portland.
Intel has been a top employer in
Oregon since 1974.
The U.S. Federal Government and Providence Health systems are
respective contenders for top employers in
Oregon with roughly 12,000
federal workers and 14,000 Providence Health workers.
In 2015, a total of 7 companies headquartered in
Oregon landed in the
Fortune 1000 : Nike, at 106;
Precision Castparts Corp. at 302; Lithia
Motors at 482;
StanCorp Financial Group at 804; Schnitzer Steel
Industries at 853;
The Greenbrier Companies at 948; and Columbia
Sportswear at 982.
TAXES AND BUDGETS
Oregon's biennial state budget, $2.6 billion in 2017, comprises
General Funds, Federal Funds, Lottery Funds, and Other Funds.
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 75–25% margin.
The state also has a minimum corporate tax of only $10 a year,
amounting to 5.6% of the General Fund in the 2005–7 biennium; data
about which businesses pay the minimum is not available to the public.
As a result, the state relies on property and income taxes for its
Oregon has the fifth highest personal income tax in the
nation. According to the
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau ,
Oregon ranked 41st out
of the 50 states in taxes per capita in 2005 with an average amount
paid of 1,791.45.
A few local governments levy sales taxes on services: the city of
Ashland , for example, collects a 5% sales tax on prepared food.
The City of Portland imposes an Arts Education and Access Income Tax
on residents over 18 – a flat tax of $35 collected from individuals
earning $1,000 or more per year and residing in a household with an
annual income exceeding the federal poverty level. The tax funds
Portland school teachers, and art focused non-profit organizations in
The State of
Oregon also allows transit district to levy an income
tax on employers and the self-employed. The State currently collects
the tax for
TriMet and the
Lane Transit District .
Oregon is one of six states with a revenue limit. The "kicker law "
stipulates that when income tax collections exceed state economists'
estimates by 2% or more, any excess must be returned to taxpayers.
Since the enactment of the law in 1979, refunds have been issued for
seven of the eleven biennia. In 2000, Ballot Measure 86 converted the
"kicker" law from statute to the
Oregon Constitution , and changed
some of its provisions.
Federal payments to county governments that were granted to replace
timber revenue when logging in National Forests was restricted in the
1990s, have been under threat of suspension for several years. This
issue dominates the future revenue of rural counties, which have come
to rely on the payments in providing essential services.
55% of state revenues are spent on public education, 23% on human
services (child protective services, Medicaid, and senior services),
17% on public safety, and 5% on other services.
List of people from Oregon ; List of people from Portland,
Oregon ; and
Oregon locations by per capita income
Graph of Oregon's population growth from 1850–2010
Oregon population by county using 2012 estimates
United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of
Oregon was 4,093,465 on July 1, 2016, a 6.8% increase over the 2010
United States Census .
Oregon was the U.S.'s "Top Moving Destination" in 2014 with two
families moving into the state for every one moving out of state
(66.4% to 33.6%).
Oregon was also the top moving destination in 2013,
and second most popular destination in 2010 through 2012.
As of the census of 2010,
Oregon had a population of 3,831,074,
which is an increase of 409,675, or 12%, since the year 2000. The
population density was 39.9 inhabitants per square mile (15.4/km2).
There were 1,675,562 housing units, a 15.3% increase over 2000. Among
them, 90.7% were occupied.
In 2010, 78.5% of the population was white alone (meaning of no other
race and non-Hispanic), 1.7% was black or
African American alone, 1.1%
was Native American or
Alaska native alone, 3.6% was Asian alone, 0.3%
Native Hawaiian and other
Pacific Islander alone, 0.1% was another
race alone, and 2.9% was multiracial. Hispanics or Latinos of any race
made up 11.7% of the total population.
OREGON RACIAL BREAKDOWN OF POPULATION
Native Hawaiian and
Pacific Islander –
Two or more races
The state's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic white , has
declined from 95.8% in 1970 to 77.8% in 2012.
As of 2011, 38.7% of Oregon's children under one year of age belonged
to minority groups , meaning they had at least one parent who was not
a non-Hispanic white. Of the state's total population, 22.6% was
under the age 18, and 77.4% were 18 or older.
The center of population of
Oregon is located in Linn County , in the
city of Lyons . Around 60% of Oregon's population resides within the
Portland metropolitan area .
As of 2009, Oregon's population comprised 361,393 foreign-born
residents. Of the foreign-born residents, the three largest groups
are originally from countries in: Latin America (47.8%), Asia (27.4%),
and Europe (16.5%). Percentage of population identifying as
Hispanic or Latino by county. 1.0–4.9% 5.0–9.9% 10.0–19.9%
ANCESTRY GROUPS IN OREGON
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
The largest reported ancestry groups in
Oregon as of 2009 are:
German (22.4%), English (13.8%), Irish (13.2%), Scandinavian (8.4%)
and American (5.0%). Approximately 62% of
Oregon residents are wholly
or partly of English, Welsh, Irish or Scottish ancestry. Most Oregon
counties are inhabited principally by residents of
Northwestern-European ancestry. Concentrations of Mexican-Americans
are highest in Malheur and Jefferson counties. But despite the fact
that Russians account for only 1.4% of the population, Russian is the
third most spoken language in
Oregon after English and Spanish .
RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR COMMUNITIES
Religion in Oregon
Religion in Oregon and Religion in the
Religious affiliation in
% OF OREGON POPULATION
Don't Know/No Answer
Oregon has frequently been cited by statistical agencies for having a
smaller percentage of religious communities than other U.S. states.
According to a 2009
Gallup poll ,
Oregon was paired with
the two "least religious" states in the United States.
In the same 2009 Gallup poll, 69% of Oregonians identified themselves
as being Christian. The largest Christian denominations in
number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 147,965;
and the Assemblies of God with 45,492.
Oregon also contains the
largest community of Russian
Old Believers to be found in the United
States. The Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association is headquartered
in Portland. There are an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Muslims in Oregon,
most of whom live in and around Portland.
Most of the remainder of the population had no religious affiliation;
American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) placed Oregon
as tied with
Nevada in fifth place of U.S. states having the highest
percentage of residents identifying themselves as "non-religious", at
24 percent. Secular organizations include the Center for Inquiry
(CFI), the Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP), and the United States
During much of the 1990s, a group of conservative Christians formed
Oregon Citizens Alliance , and unsuccessfully tried to pass
legislation to prevent "gay sensitivity training" in public schools
and legal benefits for homosexual couples.
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
> Non-Hispanic White
Hispanic (of any race)
Projections from the
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau show Oregon's population
increasing to 4,833,918 by 2030, an increase of 41.3% compared to the
state's population of 3,421,399 in 2000. The state's own projections
forecast a total population of 5,425,408 in 2040.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
In the 2013–2014 school year, the state had 567,000 students in
public primary and secondary schools. There were 197 public school
districts, served by 19 education service districts .
In 2016, the largest school districts in the state were: Portland
Public Schools , comprising 47,323 students; Salem-Keizer School
District , comprising 40,565 students;
Beaverton School District ,
comprising 39,625 students;
Hillsboro School District
Hillsboro School District , comprising
21,118 students; and
North Clackamas School District , comprising
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
List of colleges and universities in Oregon and Oregon
Office of University Coordination Johnson Hall at University of
Oregon . The Memorial Union at
Oregon State .
Especially since the 1990 passage of Measure 5, which set limits on
property tax levels,
Oregon has struggled to fund higher education.
Oregon has cut its higher education budget and now ranks
46th in the country in state spending per student. However, 2007
legislation forced tuition increases to cap at 3% per year, and funded
the university system far beyond the governor's requested budget.
Oregon supports a total of seven public universities and one
affiliate. It is home to three public research universities: The
University of Oregon
University of Oregon (UO) in Eugene and
Oregon State University (OSU)
in Corvallis, both classified as research universities with very high
research activity, and
Portland State University
Portland State University which is classified
as a research university with high research activity.
UO is the state's highest nationally-ranked and most selective
public university by
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report and
Forbes . OSU is the
state's only land-grant university, has the state's largest enrollment
for fall 2014, and is the state's highest ranking university
Academic Ranking of World Universities , Washington
Monthly , and
QS World University Rankings
QS World University Rankings . OSU receives more annual
funding for research than all other public higher education
Oregon combined. The state's urban Portland State
University has Oregon's second largest enrollment.
The state has three regional universities:
Western Oregon University
Southern Oregon University in Ashland, and Eastern Oregon
University in La Grande. The
Oregon Institute of Technology has its
campus in Klamath Falls. The quasi-public
Oregon Health "> Eliot
Reed College .
Oregon is home to a wide variety of private colleges, the majority of
which are located in the Portland area. The
University of Portland
University of Portland and
Marylhurst University are both Catholic universities located in or
near Portland, affiliated with the
Congregation of Holy Cross
Congregation of Holy Cross , and
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary , respectively. Reed
College , a rigorous liberal arts college in Portland, was ranked by
Forbes as the 52nd best college in the country in 2015.
Other private institutions in Portland include Concordia University ;
Multnomah University ;
Portland Bible College ; Warner Pacific
Cascade College ; the National University of Natural
Medicine ; and
Western Seminary , a theological graduate school.
Pacific University is in the Portland suburb of Forest Grove . There
are also private colleges further south in the Willamette Valley.
McMinnville is home to
Linfield College , while nearby Newberg is home
George Fox University
George Fox University . Salem is home to two private schools:
Willamette University (the state's oldest, established during the
provisional period) and
Corban University . Also located near Salem is
Mount Angel Seminary , one of America's largest Roman Catholic
seminaries. The state's second medical school, the College of
Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Northwest , is located in
Lebanon. Eugene is home to three private colleges: Northwest Christian
New Hope Christian College , and
Gutenberg College .
See also: Sports in
Portland, Oregon The
Moda Center (formerly
the Rose Garden) during a
Portland Trail Blazers game.
Providence Park, Home of the Portland Timbers.
Oregon is home to three major professional sports teams: the Portland
Trail Blazers of the NBA , the
Portland Thorns of the NWSL and the
Portland Timbers of MLS .
Until 2011, the only major professional sports team in
Oregon was the
Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association. From
the 1970s to the 1990s, the Blazers were one of the most successful
teams in the NBA in terms of both win-loss record and attendance. In
the early 21st century, the team's popularity declined due to
personnel and financial issues, but revived after the departure of
controversial players and the acquisition of new players such as
Brandon Roy and
LaMarcus Aldridge . The Blazers play in the Moda
Center in Portland's Lloyd District, which also is home to the
Portland Winterhawks of the junior
Western Hockey League
Western Hockey League .
Portland Timbers play at
Providence Park , just west of downtown
Portland. The Timbers have a strong following, with the team regularly
selling out its games. The Timbers repurposed the formerly multi-use
stadium into a soccer-specific stadium in fall 2010, increasing the
seating in the process. The Timbers operate
Portland Thorns FC, a
women's soccer team that has played in the National Women's Soccer
League since the league's first season in 2013. The Thorns, who also
play at Providence Park, won the league's first championship , and
have been by far the NWSL's attendance leader in all four of its
seasons to date.
Eugene, Salem and Hillsboro have minor-league baseball teams. The
Eugene Emeralds the
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and the
Hillsboro Hops all
play in the Single-A
Northwest League . Portland has had minor-league
baseball teams in the past, including the
Portland Beavers and
Portland Rockies , who played most recently at
Providence Park when it
was known as PGE Park.
Oregon State Beavers and the University of
Oregon Ducks football
teams of the
Pac-12 Conference meet annually in the Civil War . Both
schools have had recent success in other sports as well:
won back-to-back college baseball championships in 2006 and 2007, and
University of Oregon
University of Oregon won back-to-back NCAA men\'s cross country
championships in 2007 and 2008.
* People\'s Republic of
Fujian Province – 1984
* Republic of
Taiwan Province – 1985
Toyama Prefecture – 1991
* Republic of Korea (South Korea),
Jeollanam-do Province – 1996
Iraqi Kurdistan – 2005
United States portal
* American Old West portal
Outline of Oregon (organized list of topics about Oregon)
Index of Oregon-related articles
National Register of Historic Places listings in Oregon
Oregon pioneer history
List of companies based in Oregon
List of Oregon state symbols
List of people from Oregon
List of films shot in Oregon
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