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State of Oregon
Flag of Oregon.svg Seal of Oregon.svg
Flag Seal
The Beaver State
Motto(s): Alis volat propriis
(English: She flies with her own wings)
State song(s): Oregon, My Oregon
Map of the United States with Oregon highlighted Oregon in United States.svg
Map of the United States with Oregon highlighted
Official language De jure : none [1]
De facto : Pacific Northwest English
Demonym Oregonian
Capital Salem
Largest city Portland
Largest metro Portland metropolitan area
Area Ranked 9th
  Total98,381 sq mi
(254,806 km2)
  Width400 miles (640 km)
  Length360 miles (580 km)
  % water2.4
  Latitude42° N to 46° 18′ N
  Longitude116° 28′ W to 124° 38′ W
Population Ranked 27th
  Total4,190,713 (2018)
   Density 39.9/sq mi  (15.0/km2)
Ranked 39th
   Median household income $60,212 [2] (21st)
  Highest point Mount Hood [3] [4] [5]
11,249 ft(3,428.8 m)
  Mean3,300 ft  (1,000 m)
  Lowest pointPacific Ocean [4]
Sea level
Before statehood Oregon Territory
Admitted to the Union February 14, 1859 (33rd)
Governor Kate Brown (D)
Secretary of State Beverly Clarno (R)
Legislature Legislative Assembly
   Upper house State Senate
   Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D)
Jeff Merkley (D)
U.S. House delegation 4 Democrats
1 Republican (list)
Time zones  
 • primary Pacific: UTC −8/−7
 • primary for Malheur County Mountain: UTC −7/−6
ISO 3166 US-OR
Abbreviations OR, Ore.
Website www.oregon.gov
Oregon state symbols
Flag of Oregon.svg
Seal of Oregon.svg
Living insignia
Bird Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
Crustacean Dungeness crab
(Metacarcinus magister)
Fish Chinook salmon
(Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Flower Oregon grape
(Mahonia aquifolium)
Grass Bluebunch wheatgrass
(Pseudoroegneria spicata)
Insect Oregon swallowtail
(Papilio oregonius)
Mammal American beaver
(Castor canadensis)
Tree Douglas-fir
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Dance Square dance
Food Pear
Fossil Metasequoia
Gemstone Oregon sunstone
Rock Thunderegg
Shell Oregon hairy triton
(Fusitriton oregonensis)
Slogan The Union
Soil Jory soil
OtherNut: Hazelnut
State route marker
OR 140.svg
State quarter
2005 OR Proof.png
Released in 2005
Lists of United States state symbols

Oregon ( /ˈɒrɪɡən/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) ORR-ih-gən) [6] 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 with Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary with Idaho. The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary with California and Nevada.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Pacific Northwest Region that includes parts of Canada and the United States

The Pacific Northwest (PNW), sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a geographic region in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and (loosely) by the Cascade Mountain Range on the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) and the U.S. states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Broader conceptions reach north into Southeast Alaska and Yukon, south into northern California, and east to the Continental Divide to include Western Montana and parts of Wyoming. Narrower conceptions may be limited to the coastal areas west of the Cascade and Coast mountains. The variety of definitions can be attributed to partially overlapping commonalities of the region's history, culture, geography, society, and other factors.


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 (250,000 km2), Oregon is the ninth largest and, with a population of 4 million, 27th most populous U.S. state. The capital, Salem, is the second most populous city in Oregon, with 169,798 residents. Portland, with 647,805, ranks as the 26th among U.S. cities. The Portland metropolitan area, which also includes the city of Vancouver, Washington, to the north, ranks the 25th largest metro area in the nation, with a population of 2,453,168.

Oregon Country Early 19th century US fur trade district in North America

The Oregon Country was a predominantly American term referring to a disputed region of the Pacific Northwest of North America. The region was occupied by British and French Canadian fur traders from before 1810, and American settlers from the mid-1830s, with its coastal areas north from the Columbia River frequented by ships from all nations engaged in the maritime fur trade, most of these from the 1790s through 1810s being Boston-based. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 ended disputed joint occupancy pursuant to the Treaty of 1818 and established the British-American boundary at the 49th parallel.

The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Oregon. Originally claimed by several countries, the region was divided between the UK and US in 1846. When established, the territory encompassed an area that included the current states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, as well as parts of Wyoming and Montana. The capital of the territory was first Oregon City, then Salem, followed briefly by Corvallis, then back to Salem, which became the state capital upon Oregon's admission to the Union.

Salem, Oregon State capital city in Oregon, United States

Salem is the capital of the U.S. state of Oregon, and the county seat of Marion County. It is located in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River, which runs north through the city. The river forms the boundary between Marion and Polk counties, and the city neighborhood of West Salem is in Polk County. Salem was founded in 1842, became the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851, and was incorporated in 1857.

Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states in the U.S., [7] 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, a stratovolcano, 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 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) of the Malheur National Forest. [8]

High Desert (Oregon) a region of the U.S. state of Oregon

The Oregon high desert is a region of the U.S. state of Oregon located east of the Cascade Range and south of the Blue Mountains, in the central and eastern parts of the state. Divided into a southern region and a northern region, the desert covers most of five Oregon counties and averages 4,000 feet (1,200 m) above sea level. The southwest region is part of the Great Basin and the southeast is the lower Owyhee River watershed. The northern region is part of the Columbia Plateau, where higher levels of rainfall allow the largest industry on private land to be the cultivation of alfalfa and hay. Public land within the region is owned primarily by the Bureau of Land Management, which manages more than 30,000 square miles (78,000 km2) including five rivers designated as Wild and Scenic.

Shrubland plant community characterised by vegetation dominated by shrubs

Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterised by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity. It may be the mature vegetation type in a particular region and remain stable over time, or a transitional community that occurs temporarily as the result of a disturbance, such as fire. A stable state may be maintained by regular natural disturbance such as fire or browsing. Shrubland may be unsuitable for human habitation because of the danger of fire. The term was coined in 1903.

Mount Hood northern Oregon stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc

Mount Hood, called Wy'east by the Multnomah tribe, is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. It was formed by a subduction zone on the Pacific coast and rests in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located about 50 miles (80 km) east-southeast of Portland, on the border between Clackamas and Hood River counties. In addition to being Oregon's highest mountain, it is one of the loftiest mountains in the nation based on its prominence.

Because of its diverse landscapes and waterways, Oregon's economy is largely powered by various forms of agriculture, fishing, and hydroelectric power. Oregon is also the top timber producer of the contiguous United States, and the timber industry dominated the state's economy in the 20th century. [9] Technology is another one of Oregon's major economic forces, beginning in the 1970s with the establishment of the Silicon Forest and the expansion of Tektronix and Intel. Sportswear company Nike, Inc., headquartered in Beaverton, is the state's largest public corporation with an annual revenue of $30.6 billion. [10]

Hydroelectricity electricity generated by hydropower

Hydroelectricity is electricity produced from hydropower. In 2015, hydropower generated 16.6% of the world's total electricity and 70% of all renewable electricity, and was expected to increase about 3.1% each year for the next 25 years.

Silicon Forest Nickname for the cluster of high-tech companies near Portland, USA

Silicon Forest is a nickname for the cluster of high-tech companies located in the Portland metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Oregon, and most frequently refers to the industrial corridor between Beaverton and Hillsboro in northwest Oregon.

Tektronix American test and measurement devices company

Tektronix, Inc., historically widely known as Tek, is an American company best known for manufacturing test and measurement devices such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and video and mobile test protocol equipment.


Oregon border welcome sign at Denio, Nevada 2014-07-06 14 49 35 View north along Harney County Route 201 (Fields-Denio Road) at the end of Nevada State Route 292 (Denio Road) at the Oregon border in Denio, Nevada.JPG
Oregon border welcome sign at Denio, Nevada

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) [11] written by the new Spaniard Rodrigo Montezuma 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". [12]

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish, known in the Middle Ages as Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Columbia River River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States

The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It flows northwest and then south into the US state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state of Oregon before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. The river is 1,243 miles (2,000 km) long, and its largest tributary is the Snake River. Its drainage basin is roughly the size of France and extends into seven US states and a Canadian province. The fourth-largest river in the United States by volume, the Columbia has the greatest flow of any North American river entering the Pacific.

Oregano Perennial herb

Oregano is a flowering plant in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is native to temperate Western and Southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.

Another early use of the name, spelled Ouragon, was in a 1765 petition by Major Robert Rogers to the 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. [13] In his 1765 petition, Rogers wrote:

Kingdom of Great Britain Constitutional monarchy in Western Europe between 1707 and 1801

The Kingdom of Great Britain, officially called simply Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 1 January 1801. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government that was based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover.

The rout[ sic ]...is from the Great Lakes towards the Head of the Mississippi, and from thence to the River called by the Indians Ouragon... [14]

One theory is that 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 on 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. [15]

Joaquin Miller explained in Sunset magazine, in 1904, how Oregon's name was derived:

The name, Oregon, is rounded down phonetically, from Ouve água—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 Ouve a água, Oregon. [16]

Another account, endorsed as the "most plausible explanation" in the book 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, present-day Oregonians /ˌɒrɪˈɡniənz/ [17] pronounce the state's name as "or-uh-gun, never or-ee-gone". [18] 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. [19] [20] The stickers are sold by the University of Oregon Bookstore. [21]


Crater Lake during summer Crater Lake - panoramio.jpg
Crater Lake during summer

Oregon is 295 miles (475 km) north to south at longest distance, and 395 miles (636 km) east to west. 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. [22] 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 along the Oregon Coast. [23] Oregon's mean elevation is 3,300 feet (1,006 m). Crater Lake National Park is the state's only national park and the site of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States at 1,943 feet (592 m). [24] Oregon claims the D River as the shortest river in the world, [25] though the state of Montana makes the same claim of its Roe River. [26] Oregon is also home to Mill Ends Park (in Portland), [27] 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 Valley, Cascade Range and Klamath Mountains; and in Central and Eastern Oregon: the Columbia Plateau, the High Desert, and the Blue Mountains.

Oregon lies in two time zones. Most of Malheur County is in the Mountain Time Zone, while the rest of the state lies in the Pacific Time Zone.

Geology and terrain

Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon Mt. Hood (8081466807).jpg
Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon

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, 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 affecting some areas there. [28]

The 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 Cascades (the Klamath River in southern Oregon is the other). About 15,000 years ago, the Columbia repeatedly flooded much of Oregon during the Missoula Floods; the modern fertility of the Willamette Valley is largely the result. 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 Oregon Badlands Wilderness is in this region of the state. [29]

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, [30] 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. [30] Oregon is the top timber producer of the lower 48 states. [9] [31]

Pronghorn antelope in Fort Rock Antilocapra americana.jpg
Pronghorn antelope in Fort Rock

Moose have not always inhabited the state but came to Oregon in the 1960s; the Wallowa Valley herd numbered about 60 as of 2013. [37] Gray wolves were extirpated from Oregon around 1930 but have since found their way back; most reside in northeast Oregon, with two packs living in the south-central part. [38] Although their existence in Oregon is unconfirmed, reports of grizzly bears still turn up, and it is probable some still move into eastern Oregon from Idaho. [39]

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. [8]

Oregon has three national park sites: Crater Lake National Park in the southern part of the Cascades, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument east of the Cascades, and Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks on the north coast. [40] [41]


Koppen climate types in Oregon Oregon Koppen.svg
Köppen climate types in Oregon

Most of Oregon has a generally mild climate, though there is significant variation given the variety of landscapes across the state. [42] The state's western region (west of the Cascade Range) has an oceanic climate, populated by dense evergreen mixed forests. 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 humidity year-round. [43]

The state's southwestern portion, particularly the Rogue Valley, has a Mediterranean climate with drier and sunnier winters and hotter summers, similar to Northern California. [44]

Oregon's northeastern portion has a steppe climate, and its 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 at a given elevation than comparable latitudes elsewhere in North America, such as the Upper Midwest, Ontario, Quebec and New England. [43] However, the state ranks fifth for coolest summer temperatures of any state in the country, after Maine, Idaho, Wyoming, and Alaska. [45]

The eastern two thirds of Oregon, which largely comprise high desert, have cold, snowy winters and very dry summers. Much of the east is semiarid to arid like the rest of the Great Basin, though the Blue Mountains are wet enough to support extensive forests. Most of Oregon receives significant snowfall, but the Willamette Valley, where 60 percent of the population lives, [46] has considerably milder winters for its latitude and typically only sees light snowfall. [43]

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. [47]


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. [48]

Earliest inhabitants

Paul Shoaway, a Native of the Umatilla tribe in the Columbia Plateau region, 1899 Paul Shoaway, Umatilla Indian, in ceremonial dress, Washington (4951753872).jpg
Paul Shoaway, a Native of the Umatilla tribe in the Columbia Plateau region, 1899

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, [49] and there is evidence supporting inhabitants in the region at least 15,000 years ago. [50] 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 then Lake Missoula, located in what would later become Montana. These massive floods occurred during the last glacial period and filled the valley with 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) of water. [51]

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, Killamuk, Neah-kah-nie, Umatilla, and Umpqua. [52] [53] [54] [55]

European and pioneer settlement

Monument near Coos Bay, Oregon, of Francis Drake's first North American Encounter. Plaque by Oregon State Parks and Oregon Historical Society. Monument near Coos Bay, Oregon, of Francis Drake's first North American Encounter.jpg
Monument near Coos Bay, Oregon, of Francis Drake's first North American Encounter. Plaque by Oregon State Parks and Oregon Historical Society.

The first Europeans to visit Oregon were Spanish explorers led by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sighted southern Oregon off the Pacific coast in 1543. [56] Sailing Golden Hind in search of the Strait of Anian, the English explorer and privateer Sir Francis Drake briefly sought shelter anchoring at South Cove, Cape Arago, just south of Coos Bay, Oregon, before sailing for what is now California. [57] [58] 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, British captain James Cook also explored the coast. [59]

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 Franchere fort astoria 1813.jpg
Fort Astoria, as established by John Jacob Astor in 1813

The Lewis and Clark Expedition travelled through northern Oregon also in search of the Northwest Passage. They built their winter fort in 1805–06 at Fort Clatsop, near the mouth of the Columbia River, staying at the encampment from December until March. [60]

British explorer David Thompson also conducted overland exploration. In 1811, while working for the North West Company, Thompson became the first European to navigate the entire Columbia River. [61] 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 area. [62]

Also in 1811, New Yorker John Jacob Astor financed the establishment of Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River as a western outpost to his Pacific Fur Company; [63] this was the first permanent European settlement in Oregon.

Map of Oregon Country, 1818-46 Oregoncountry2.png
Map of Oregon Country, 1818–46

In the War of 1812, the British gained control of all Pacific Fur Company posts. The 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 dominated the Pacific Northwest from its Columbia District headquarters at Fort Vancouver (built in 1825 by the district's chief factor, John McLoughlin, across the Columbia from present-day Portland).

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. [64] Doctor Ira Babcock of Jason Lee's Methodist Mission was elected supreme judge. [65] Babcock chaired two meetings in 1842 at Champoeg, (halfway 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. [66] This government was the first acting public government of the Oregon Country before annexation by the government of the United States. It was succeeded by a Second Executive Committee, made up of Peter G. Stewart, Osborne Russell, and William J. Bailey, and this committee was itself succeeded by George Abernethy, who was the first and only Governor of Oregon under the provisional government.

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. [67] He directed that some 200 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 1842–43, the Oregon Trail brought many new American settlers to the Oregon Country. For some time, it seemed that Britain and the 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. [68] The Oregon Territory was officially organized on August 13, 1848. [69]

Settlement increased with the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and the forced relocation of the native population to Indian reservations in Oregon.


In December 1844, Oregon passed its Black Exclusion Law, which prohibited 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, and 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. [70] 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 United States. [71]

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. [72] 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 Oregon to keep peace and protect the populace. The First Oregon Cavalry served until June 1865.


Downtown Portland in 1898 Portland Oregon waterfront 1898.tif
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. [73] Due to the 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", [74] 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. [75] In 1902, Oregon introduced direct legislation by the state's citizens through initiatives and referenda, known as the Oregon System. [76]

On May 5, 1945, six civilians were killed by a Japanese balloon bomb that exploded on Gearhart Mountain near Bly. [77] [78] They remained the only people on American soil whose deaths were attributed to an enemy balloon bomb explosion during World War II. The bombing site is now located in the Mitchell Recreation Area.

Industrial expansion began in earnest following the 1933–37 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. [79]

During the 1970s, the Pacific Northwest was particularly affected by the 1973 oil crisis, with Oregon suffering a substantial shortage. [80]

In 1994, 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 Oregon was approved on November 4, 2014, making Oregon only the second state at the time to have legalized gay marriage, physician-assisted suicide, and recreational marijuana. [81]

Cities and towns

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). [82]

Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, was the first permanent English-speaking settlement west of the Rockies in what is now the United States. 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. [83] [ better source needed ] In southern Oregon, Medford is a rapidly growing metro area and is home to the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, the state's third-busiest airport. To the south, near the California border, are the communities of Ashland and Grants Pass.

Law and government

Golden Pioneer atop the Oregon State Capitol OregonCapitolTop.jpg
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. [86] 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. Oregon maintained a territorial government until February 14, 1859, when it was granted statehood. [87]

Oregon state government has a separation of powers similar to the federal government. It has three branches:

Governors in Oregon serve four-year terms and are limited to two consecutive terms, but an unlimited number of total terms. Oregon has 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. [88] 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 debate over whether to move to annual sessions is a long-standing battle in 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, there being no sales tax, state 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 legislative sessions. Oregon Initiative 71, passed in 2010, mandates the 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
Klamath Tribes
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, Oregon has been represented by four Democrats and one Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since 2009, the state has had two Democratic U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Oregon voters have elected Democratic governors in every election since 1986, most recently electing Kate Brown over Republican Bud Pierce in a 2016 special election.

The base of Democratic support is largely concentrated in the urban centers of the Willamette Valley. The eastern two-thirds of the state beyond the Cascade Mountains typically votes Republican; in 2000 and 2004, George W. Bush carried every county east of the Cascades. However, the region's sparse population means that the more populous counties in the Willamette Valley usually outweigh the eastern counties in statewide elections.

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). [89] In the 2004 general election, Oregon voters passed ballot measures banning same-sex marriage [90] and restricting land use regulation. [91] In the 2006 general election, voters restricted the use of eminent domain and extended the state's discount prescription drug coverage. [92]

Federal representation

Like all U.S. states, Oregon is represented by two senators. Since the 1980 census, Oregon has had five congressional districts. After Oregon was admitted to the Union, it began with a single member in the House of Representatives (La Fayette Grover, who served in the 35th 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.

The United States District Court for the District of Oregon hears 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. [93] 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.


Gubernatorial election results [94]
Year Democratic Republican
1950 34.0% 171,75066.0%334,160
1954 43.1% 244,17056.9%322,522
1958 44.7% 267,93455.3%331,900
1962 41.6% 265,35954.2%345,497
1966 44.7% 305,00855.3%377,346
1970 44.2% 293,89255.6%369,964
1974 57.7%444,81242.1% 324,751
1978 45.1% 409,41154.9%498,452
1982 35.9% 374,31661.4%639,841
1986 51.9%549,45647.9% 506,989
1990 45.7%508,74940.0% 444,646
1994 51.0%622,08342.4% 517,874
1998 64.4%717,06130.0% 334,001
2002 49.0%618,00446.2% 581,785
2006 50.7%699,78642.8% 589,748
2010 49.3%716,52547.8% 694,287
2014 49.9%733,23044.1% 648,542
2016 50.6%985,02743.4% 845,609
2018 50.1%934,49843.7% 814,988
Presidential election results [94]
Year Democratic Republican
1952 38.9% 270,57960.5%420,815
1956 44.8% 329,20455.3%406,393
1960 47.3% 367,40252.6%408,060
1964 63.7%501,01736.0% 282,779
1968 43.8% 358,86649.8%408,433
1972 42.3% 392,76052.5%486,686
1976 47.6% 490,40747.8%492,120
1980 38.7% 456,89048.3%571,044
1984 43.7% 536,47955.9%685,700
1988 51.3%616,20646.6% 560,126
1992 42.5%621,31432.5% 475,757
1996 47.2%649,64139.1% 538,152
2000 47.0%720,34246.5% 713,577
2004 51.4%943,16347.2% 866,831
2008 56.8%1,037,29140.4% 738,475
2012 54.3%970,34342.2% 754,095
2016 50.1%1,002,10639.1% 782,403
Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election. United States presidential election in Oregon, 2016.svg
Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.
Party registration in Oregon, 1950-2006
Democratic Party
Republican Party
non-affiliated and minor parties Oregon voter reg 1950-2006.png
Party registration in Oregon, 1950–2006
  Democratic Party
  Republican Party
  non-affiliated and minor parties
Party registration by county (October 2018):
Democrat >= 30%
Democrat >= 40%
Democrat >= 50%
Republican >= 30%
Republican >= 40%
Republican >= 50%
Unaffiliated--<30% Oregon party registration by county.svg
Party registration by county (October 2018):
  Democrat >= 30%
  Democrat >= 40%
  Democrat >= 50%
  Republican >= 30%
  Republican >= 40%
  Republican >= 50%

Political opinions in Oregon are geographically split by the Cascade Range, with western Oregon being more liberal and Eastern Oregon being conservative. [95] In a 2008 analysis of the 2004 presidential election, a political analyst found that according to the application of a Likert scale, Oregon boasted both the most liberal Kerry voters and the most conservative Bush voters, making it the most politically polarized state in the country. [96]

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 Democratic challenger, 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 directly, making Oregon the first state to adopt such a system. Today, roughly half of U.S. states do so. [97]

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, [98] 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.[ citation needed ] 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 one of just two states, the other being Washington, where voting by mail is the only method of voting.

In 1994, Oregon adopted the Oregon Health Plan, which made health care available to most of its citizens without private health insurance. [99]

In the U.S. Electoral College, Oregon casts seven votes. Oregon has supported Democratic candidates in the last eight elections. Democratic incumbent 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. [100]


As of 2015, Oregon ranks as the 17th highest in median household income at $60,834. [2] 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. [101]

Oregon's unemployment rate was 5.5% in September 2016, [102] while the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.0% that month. [103] Oregon has the third largest amount of food stamp users in the nation (21% of the population). [104]


Teenagers harvesting berries in Boring in 1946 Shirley Gamble and Haroldine DeBord, 1946 (5836929896).jpg
Teenagers harvesting berries in Boring in 1946

Oregon's diverse landscapes provide ideal environments for various types of farming. Land in the Willamette Valley owes its fertility to the Missoula Floods, which deposited lake sediment from Glacial Lake Missoula in western Montana onto the valley floor. [105] In 2016, the Willamette Valley region produced over 100 million pounds (45 kt) of blueberries. [106]

Oregon is also one of four major world hazelnut growing regions, and produces 95% of the domestic hazelnuts in the United States. While the history of the wine production in Oregon can be traced to before Prohibition, it became a significant industry beginning in the 1970s. In 2005, Oregon ranked third among U.S. states with 303 wineries. [107] 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. [108]

In the southern Oregon coast, commercially cultivated cranberries account for about 7 percent of U.S. production, and the cranberry ranks 23rd among Oregon's top 50 agricultural commodities. Cranberry cultivation in Oregon uses about 27,000 acres (110 square kilometers) 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. [109] Oregon farmers and ranchers also produce cattle, sheep, dairy products, eggs and poultry.

Forestry and fisheries

Fish ladder at Bonneville Dam, Multnomah County Fish Ladder, Bonneville Dam-2.jpg
Fish ladder at Bonneville Dam, Multnomah County

Vast forests have historically made Oregon one of the nation's major timber-producing 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. 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 constant. [110]

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. [111] The slowing of the timber and lumber industry has caused high unemployment rates in rural areas. [112]

Oregon has one of the largest salmon-fishing industries in the world, although ocean fisheries have reduced the river fisheries in recent years. [113] Because of the abundance of waterways in the state, it is also a major producer of hydroelectric energy. [114]

Tourism and entertainment

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is in Ashland OSF Elizabethan Stage.jpg
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is in Ashland

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 Park, Multnomah Falls, the Painted Hills, the Deschutes River, and the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Mount Hood, and Mount Bachelor also draw visitors year round for skiing and snow activities. [115]

Oceanarium at the Oregon Coast Aquarium Aquarium tunnel.jpg
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. [116] 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 & World Report and CNN. [117] [118] Oregon is home to many breweries, and Portland has the largest number of breweries of any city in the world. [119]

The state's coastal region produces significant tourism as well. [120] The Oregon Coast Aquarium comprises 23 acres (9.3 ha) along Yaquina Bay in Newport, and was also home to Keiko the orca whale. [121] It has been noted as one of the top ten aquariums in North America. [122] Fort Clatsop in Warrenton features a replica of Lewis and Clark's encampment at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805. The Sea Lion Caves in Florence are the largest system of sea caverns in the United States, and also attract many visitors. [123]

In Southern Oregon, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, held in Ashland, is also a tourist draw, as is the Oregon Vortex and the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site, a historic inn where Jack London wrote his 1913 novel Valley of the Moon . [124]

Oregon has also historically been a popular region for film shoots due to its diverse landscapes, as well as its proximity to Hollywood (see List of films shot in Oregon ). [125] Movies filmed in Oregon include: Animal House , Free Willy , The General , The Goonies , Kindergarten Cop , One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , and Stand By Me . Oregon native Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons , has incorporated many references from his hometown of Portland into the TV series. [126] Additionally, several television shows have been filmed throughout the state including Portlandia, Grimm, Bates Motel, and Leverage. [127] The Oregon Film Museum is located in the old Clatsop County Jail in Astoria.


High technology industries located in Silicon Forest have been a major employer since the 1970s. Tektronix was the largest private employer in Oregon until the late 1980s. Intel's creation and expansion of several facilities in eastern Washington County continued the growth that Tektronix had started. Intel, the state's largest for-profit private employer, [128] [129] operates four large facilities, with Ronler Acres, Jones Farm and Hawthorn Farm all located in Hillsboro. [130]

The spinoffs and startups that were produced by these two companies led to the establishment in that area of the so-called Silicon Forest. The recession and dot-com bust of 2001 hit the region hard; 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 capabilities. [131] Oregon is home to several large datacenters that take advantage of cheap power and a climate conducive to reducing cooling costs. Google operates a large datacenter in The Dalles, and Facebook built a large datacenter near Prineville in 2010. Amazon opened a datacenter near Boardman in 2011, and a fulfillment center in Troutdale in 2018. [132] [133]

Corporate headquarters

Nike headquarters near Beaverton Nike Headquarters Oregon.jpg
Nike headquarters near Beaverton
Largest Public Corporations Headquartered in Oregon (December 2016) [134]
CorporationHeadquarters Market cap (USD$billion)
1. Nike Beaverton 91.35
2. FLIR Systems Wilsonville 4.77
3. Portland General Electric Portland 4.05
4. Columbia Sportswear Beaverton4.03
5. Umpqua Holdings Corporation Portland3.68
6. Lithia Motors Medford 2.06
7. Northwest Natural Gas Portland1.7
8. The Greenbrier Companies Lake Oswego 1.25

Oregon is also the home of large corporations in other industries. The world headquarters of Nike are located near Beaverton. Medford is home to 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 houses, 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. [135] 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 Adidas. [136] Intel Corporation employs 18,600 in Oregon [129] 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. [137]

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 seven 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. [138]

Taxes and budgets

Oregon's biennial state budget, $2.6 billion in 2017, comprises General Funds, Federal Funds, Lottery Funds, and Other Funds. [139]

Oregon is one of only five states that have no sales tax. [140] Oregon voters have been resolute in their opposition to a sales tax, voting proposals down each of the nine times they have been presented. [141] The last vote, for 1993's Measure 1, was defeated by a 75–25% margin. [142]

The state also has a minimum corporate tax of only $150 a year, [143] 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. [144] [ better source needed ] As a result, the state relies on property and income taxes for its revenue. Oregon has the fifth highest personal income tax in the nation. According to the 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. [145]

A few local governments levy sales taxes on services: the city of Ashland, for example, collects a 5% sales tax on prepared food. [146]

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 Portland. [147]

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. [148] [149]

Oregon is one of six states with a revenue limit. [150] The "kicker law" stipulates that when income tax collections exceed state economists' estimates by 2% or more, any excess must be returned to taxpayers. [151] Since the enactment of the law in 1979, refunds have been issued for seven of the eleven biennia. [152] 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. [153]

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. [154]


For health insurance, as of 2018 Cambia Health Solutions has the highest market share at 21%, followed by Providence Health. [155] In the Portland region, Kaiser Permanente leads. [156] Providence and Kaiser are vertically integrated delivery systems which operate hospitals and offer insurance plans. [157] Aside from Providence and Kaiser, hospital systems which are primarily Oregon-based include Legacy Health mostly covering Portland, Samaritan Health Services with five hospitals in various areas across the state, and Tuality Healthcare in the western Portland metropolitan area. In Southern Oregon, Asante runs several hospitals, including Rogue Regional Medical Center. Some hospitals are operated by multi-state organizations such as PeaceHealth and CommonSpirit Health. Some hospitals such Salem Hospital operate independently of larger systems.

Oregon Health & Science University is a Portland-based medical school which operates two hospitals and clinics.

The Oregon Health Plan is the state's Medicaid managed care plan, and it is known for innovations. [158] The Portland area is a mature managed care and two-thirds of Medicare enrollees are in Medicare Advantage plans. [158]



Graph of Oregon's population growth from 1850-2010 Oregon population growth.png
Graph of Oregon's population growth from 1850–2010
Historical population
1850 12,093
1860 52,465333.8%
1870 90,92373.3%
1880 174,76892.2%
1890 317,70481.8%
1900 413,53630.2%
1910 672,76562.7%
1920 783,38916.4%
1930 953,78621.8%
1940 1,089,68414.2%
1950 1,521,34139.6%
1960 1,768,68716.3%
1970 2,091,53318.3%
1980 2,633,15625.9%
1990 2,842,3217.9%
2000 3,421,39920.4%
2010 3,831,07412.0%
Est. 20184,190,7139.4%
Sources: 1910–2010 [160]
2018 estimate [48]
Oregon population by county using 2012 estimates OregonPop12.jpg
Oregon population by county using 2012 estimates

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Oregon was 4,190,713 on July 1, 2018, a 9.39% increase over the 2010 United States Census. [48]

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%). [162] Oregon was also the top moving destination in 2013, [163] and second most popular destination in 2010 through 2012. [164] [165]

As of the 2010 Census, the population of Oregon was 3,831,074. The gender makeup of the state was 49.5% male and 50.5% female. 22.6% of the population were under the age of 18; 63.5% were between the ages of 18 and 64; and 12.5% were 65 years of age or older. [166]

The table below shows the racial composition of Oregon's population as of 2016.

Oregon racial composition of population [167]
RacePopulation (2016 est.)Percentage
Total population3,982,267100%
White 3,387,82585.1%
Black or African American 74,0121.9%
American Indian and Alaska Native 45,2331.1%
Asian 160,1554.0%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 14,9360.4%
Some other race 124,5653.1%
Two or more races 175,5414.4%
Oregon historical racial composition
Racial composition1970 [168] 1990 [168] 2000 [169] 2010 [166]
White 97.2%92.8%86.6%83.6%
Black or African American 1.3%1.6%1.6%1.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.6%1.4%1.3%1.4%
Asian 0.7%2.4%3.0%3.7%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.2%0.3%
Other race 0.2%1.8%4.2%5.3%
Two or more races 3.1%3.8%

According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 12.4% of Oregon's population were of Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race): Mexican (10.4%), Puerto Rican (0.3%), Cuban (0.1%), and other Hispanic or Latino origin (1.5%). [167] The five largest ancestry groups were: German (19.1%), Irish (11.7%), English (11.3%), American (5.3%), and Norwegian (3.8%). [170]

The state's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic white, has declined from 95.8% in 1970 to 77.8% in 2012. [171] [172]

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. [173] 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. [174] Around 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area. [175]

As of 2009, Oregon's population comprised 361,393 foreign-born residents. [176] 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%). [176]

Percentage of population identifying as Hispanic or Latino by county.
20.0%+ Oregon Hispanic population percentage by county.svg
Percentage of population identifying as Hispanic or Latino by county.

Religious and secular communities

Oregon has frequently been cited by statistical agencies for having a smaller percentage of religious communities than other U.S. states. [178] [179] According to a 2009 Gallup poll, Oregon was paired with Vermont as the two "least religious" states in the United States. [180]

In the same 2009 Gallup poll, 69% of Oregonians identified themselves as being Christian. [181] The largest Christian denominations in Oregon by number of adherents in 2010 were the Roman Catholic Church with 398,738; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 147,965; and the Assemblies of God with 45,492. [182] Oregon also contains the largest community of Russian Old Believers to be found in the United States. [183] 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. [184]

Most of the remainder of the population had no religious affiliation; the 2008 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. [185] [186] Secular organizations include the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP), and the United States Atheists (USA).

During much of the 1990s, a group of conservative Christians formed the Oregon Citizens Alliance, and unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation to prevent "gay sensitivity training" in public schools and legal benefits for homosexual couples. [187]

Birth data
Note: Births in table don't add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.
Live births by single race/ethnicity of mother
Race 2013 [188] 2014 [189] 2015 [190] 2016 [191] 2017 [192]
White 40,219 (89.1%)40,634 (89.2%)40,484 (88.7%)......
> Non-Hispanic White 31,998 (70.8%)32,338 (71.0%)32,147 (70.4%)31,057 (68.2%)29,232 (67.0%)
Asian 2,696 (6.0%)2,811 (6.2%)2,895 (6.3%)2,354 (5.2%)2,376 (5.4%)
Black 1,331 (2.9%)1,333 (2.9%)1,463 (3.2%)944 (2.1%)994 (2.3%)
American Indian 909 (2.0%)778 (1.7%)813 (1.8%)427 (0.9%)429 (1.0%)
Pacific Islander .........315 (0.7%)300 (0.7%)
Hispanic (of any race)8,448 (18.7%)8,524 (18.7%)8,518 (18.6%)8,467 (18.6%)8,275 (19.0%)
Total45,155 (100%)45,556 (100%)45,655 (100%)45,535 (100%)43,631 (100%)

Future projections

Projections from the 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. [193] The state's own projections forecast a total population of 5,425,408 in 2040. [194]


Primary and secondary

In the 2013–2014 school year, the state had 567,000 students in public primary and secondary schools. [195] There were 197 public school districts, served by 19 education service districts. [195]

In 2016, the largest school districts in the state were: [196] 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, comprising 21,118 students; and North Clackamas School District, comprising 17,053 students.

Colleges and universities

Johnson Hall at the University of Oregon. Johnson Hall, University of Oregon (2014).JPG
Johnson Hall at the University of Oregon.
The Memorial Union at Oregon State University Memorial Union at Oregon State University.jpg
The Memorial Union at Oregon State University

Especially since the 1990 passage of Measure 5, which set limits on property tax levels, Oregon has struggled to fund higher education. Since then, Oregon has cut its higher education budget and now ranks 46th in the country in state spending per student. However, 2007 legislation funded the university system far beyond the governor's requested budget though still capping tuition increases at 3% per year. [197] Oregon supports a total of seven public universities and one affiliate. It is home to three public research universities: The 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 which is classified as a research university with high research activity. [198]

UO is the state's highest nationally-ranked and most selective [199] public university by U.S. News & World Report and Forbes . [200] OSU is the state's only land-grant university, has the state's largest enrollment for fall 2014, [201] and is the state's highest ranking university according to Academic Ranking of World Universities , Washington Monthly , and QS World University Rankings . [202] OSU receives more annual funding for research than all other public higher education institutions in Oregon combined. [203] The state's urban Portland State University has Oregon's second largest enrollment.

The state has three regional universities: Western Oregon University in Monmouth, 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 & Science University (OHSU) includes medical, dental, and nursing schools, and graduate programs in biomedical sciences in Portland and a science and engineering school in Hillsboro. The state also supports 17 community colleges.

Eliot Hall at Reed College Winter storm, January 2017, southeast Portland, Oregon - 26.jpg
Eliot Hall at 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 and Marylhurst University are both Catholic universities located in or near Portland, affiliated with the Congregation of Holy Cross, and the 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. [204]

Other private institutions in Portland include Concordia University; Lewis & Clark College; Multnomah University; Portland Bible College; Warner Pacific College; 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 to 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 University, New Hope Christian College, and Gutenberg College.


The Moda Center (formerly the Rose Garden) during a Portland Trail Blazers game Portland Trail Blazers, Dec. 26, 2013.jpg
The Moda Center (formerly the Rose Garden) during a Portland Trail Blazers game
Providence Park during a Portland Thorns FC match. Portland Thorns 2017-04-15 10.jpg
Providence Park during a Portland Thorns FC match.

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. [205]

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. [206] 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. [207] [208] 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. [209]

The 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. [210] The Timbers repurposed the formerly multi-use stadium into a soccer-specific stadium in fall 2010, increasing the seating in the process. [211] 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, have won two league championships, in the inaugural 2013 season and also in 2017, and have been by far the NWSL's attendance leader in each of the league's seasons.

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. [212] 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.

The 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: Oregon State won back-to-back college baseball championships in 2006 and 2007, [213] winning a third in 2018; [214] and the University of Oregon won back-to-back NCAA men's cross country championships in 2007 and 2008. [215]

Sister regions

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Related Research Articles

Portland, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Portland is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2018, Portland had an estimated population of 653,115, making it the 25th most populated city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous MSA in the United States. Its Combined Statistical Area (CSA) ranks 19th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.

Gladstone, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Gladstone is a city located in Clackamas County, Oregon, United States. The population was 11,491 at the 2010 census. Gladstone is an approximately 4-square-mile (10 km2) suburban community, 12 miles (19 km) south of Portland, the largest city in Oregon, and located at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette rivers.

Willamette River major river in northwest Oregon

The Willamette River is a major tributary of the Columbia River, accounting for 12 to 15 percent of the Columbia's flow. The Willamette's main stem is 187 miles (301 km) long, lying entirely in northwestern Oregon in the United States. Flowing northward between the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range, the river and its tributaries form the Willamette Valley, a basin that contains two-thirds of Oregon's population, including the state capital, Salem, and the state's largest city, Portland, which surrounds the Willamette's mouth at the Columbia.

Polk County, Oregon County in the United States

Polk County is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, the population was 75,403, making it the least populous county in the Willamette Valley. The county seat is Dallas. The county is named for James Knox Polk, the 11th president of the United States.

Multnomah County, Oregon County in the United States

Multnomah County is one of 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 United States Census, the county's population was 735,334. Its county seat, Portland, is the state's largest city. Multnomah County is part of the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and though smallest in area, it is the state's most populous county.

West Linn, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

West Linn is a city in Clackamas County, Oregon, United States. An affluent southern suburb within the Portland metropolitan area, West Linn has a history of early development, prompted by the opportunity to harvest energy from nearby Willamette Falls. It was named after U.S. Senator Lewis F. Linn of Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, who had advocated the American occupation of Oregon as a counterclaim to the British. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 25,109.

Oakridge, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Oakridge is a town in Lane County, Oregon, United States. The population was 3,205 as of the 2010 census. It is located east of Westfir on Oregon Route 58, about 40 miles (64 km) east of Eugene and 150 miles (240 km) southeast of Portland. Surrounded by the Willamette National Forest and the Cascade Range, Oakridge is popular with outdoor enthusiasts for its hiking, mountain biking, wildflowers, fly fishing, birding, watersports, and nearby Willamette Pass Resort.

Troutdale, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Troutdale is a city in Multnomah County, Oregon, United States, immediately north of Gresham and east of Wood Village. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 15,962. The city serves as the western gateway to the Historic Columbia River Highway, the Mount Hood Scenic Byway, and the Columbia River Gorge. It is approximately 12 miles (19 km) east of Portland.

Hillsboro, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Hillsboro is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and is the county seat of Washington County. Lying in the Tualatin Valley on the west side of the Portland metropolitan area, the city hosts many high-technology companies, such as Intel, that comprise what has become known as the Silicon Forest. At the 2010 Census, the city's population was 91,611.

Wilsonville, Oregon City in Oregon, United States

Wilsonville is a city primarily in Clackamas County, Oregon, United States. A portion of the northern section of the city is in Washington County. It was founded as Boones Landing because of the Boones Ferry which crossed the Willamette River at the location; the community became Wilsonville in 1880. The city was incorporated in 1969 with a population of approximately 1,000. The population was 13,991 at the 2000 census, and grew to 19,509 as of 2010. Slightly more than 90% of residents at the 2000 census were white, with Hispanics comprising the largest minority group.

Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon is the eastern part of the U.S. state of Oregon. It is not an officially recognized geographic entity; thus, the boundaries of the region vary according to context. It is sometimes understood to include only the eight easternmost counties in the state; in other contexts, it includes the entire area east of the Cascade Range. Cities in the basic 8-county definition include Baker City, Burns, Hermiston, Pendleton, John Day, La Grande, and Ontario. Umatilla County is home to the largest population base in Eastern Oregon; accounting for 74% of the region's population in 2016. Hermiston, located in Umatilla County, is the largest city in the region. Major industries include transportation/warehousing, timber, agriculture, and tourism. The main transportation corridors are I-84, U.S. Route 395, U.S. Route 97, U.S. Route 26, U.S. Route 30, and U.S. Route 20.

Forest Park (Portland, Oregon)

Forest Park is a public municipal park in the Tualatin Mountains west of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Stretching for more than 8 miles (13 km) on hillsides overlooking the Willamette River, it is one of the country's largest urban forest reserves. The park, a major component of a regional system of parks and trails, covers more than 5,100 acres (2,064 ha) of mostly second-growth forest with a few patches of old growth. About 70 miles (110 km) of recreational trails, including the Wildwood Trail segment of the city's 40-Mile Loop system, crisscross the park.

Portland metropolitan area Metropolitan area in the United States

The Portland metropolitan area or Greater Portland is a metropolitan area in the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington centered on the principal city of Portland, Oregon. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget identifies it as the Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro, OR–WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan statistical area used by the United States Census Bureau (USCB) and other entities. The OMB defines the area as comprising Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill Counties in Oregon, and Clark and Skamania Counties in Washington. The area's population is estimated at 2,753,168 in 2017.

History of Portland, Oregon

The history of the city of Portland, Oregon, began in 1843 when business partners William Overton and Asa Lovejoy filed to claim land on the west bank of the Willamette River in Oregon Country. In 1845 the name of Portland was chosen for this community by coin toss. February 8, 1851, the city was incorporated. Portland has continued to grow in size and population, with the 2010 Census showing 583,776 residents in the city.

Interstate 5 (I-5) in the U.S. state of Oregon is a major Interstate Highway that traverses the state from north to south. It travels to the west of the Cascade Mountains, connecting Portland to Salem, Eugene, Medford, and other major cities in the Willamette Valley and across the northern Siskiyou Mountains. The highway runs 308 miles (496 km) from the California state line near Ashland to the Washington state line in northern Portland, forming the central part of Interstate 5's route between Mexico and Canada.

Vancouver, Washington City in Washington, United States

Vancouver is a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, and the largest suburb of Portland, Oregon. Incorporated in 1857, it is the fourth largest city in the state, with a population of 161,791 as of April 1, 2010 census. Vancouver is the county seat of Clark County and forms part of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, the 23rd largest metropolitan area in the United States. Originally established in 1825 around Fort Vancouver, a fur-trading outpost, the city is located on the Washington/Oregon border along the Columbia River, directly north of Portland. In 2005, Money magazine named it No. 91 on its list of best places in America to live. In 2016, WalletHub ranked Vancouver the 89th best place in the US for families to live.

Blue River Reservoir

Blue River Reservoir is an artificial impoundment, about 6 miles (10 km) long, of the Blue River in Lane County in the U.S. state of Oregon. The reservoir is about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of Oregon Route 126 in the Willamette National Forest about 45 miles (72 km) east of Eugene.

Willamette Valley valley in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States

The Willamette Valley is a 150-mile (240 km) long valley in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The Willamette River flows the entire length of the valley, and it is surrounded by mountains on three sides – the Cascade Range to the east, the Oregon Coast Range to the west, and the Calapooya Mountains to the south. It forms the cultural and political heart of Oregon, and is home to approximately 70 percent of its population including its six largest cities: Portland, Eugene, Salem, the state capital, and the cities of Gresham, Hillsboro and Beaverton in the Portland metropolitan area. Eight of Oregon's ten – and 16 of its 20 – largest cities are located in the Willamette Valley.

Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands

The Oregon and California Railroad Revested Lands, are approximately 2,600,000 acres (1,100,000 ha) of land located in eighteen counties of western Oregon. Originally granted to the Oregon & California Railroad to build a railroad between Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California, the land was reconveyed to the United States government by act of Congress in 1916 and is currently managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management.



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Preceded by
List of U.S. states by date of statehood
Admitted on February 14, 1859 (33rd)
Succeeded by