Where Is Washington State? See Its Map Location and Surrounding States

Written by Shreya Agrawal
Published: September 26, 2023
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The state of Washington has diverse landscapes, a rich cultural scene, as well as a reputation for innovation.

Washington’s Location: The Jewel of the Pacific Northwest

Washington State is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Geographically, it lies in the western part of the country, bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, Oregon to the south, Idaho to the east, and the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north. Its central coordinates are approximately 47° N and 120° W.

When Did the State of Washington Officially Join the US?

Washington officially became the 42nd state of the United States on November 11, 1889. It was the only state that became part of the Union during President Benjamin Harrison’s administration. The path to statehood included a growing population, economic development, and a desire for representation in the federal government.

Which States Border the State of Washington?

Washington State shares its borders with several neighboring states as well as a Canadian province. Each of these contributes to the region’s unique characteristics and interactions. Let’s explore these neighboring regions:


Oregon is Washington’s southern neighbor, and together, they form the Pacific Northwest, which is famous for its lush landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities.

Shared Border and Natural Features

The border between Washington and Oregon stretches along the Columbia River, a vital waterway that flows from the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. This river also serves as a natural boundary, and the Columbia River Gorge, which straddles both states, is famous for its dramatic scenery, waterfalls, as well as opportunities for windsurfing.

Similar Climate

Both Washington and Oregon share a similar maritime climate influenced by the Pacific Ocean. This climate involves mild, wet winters and springs and warm, dry summers, making the Pacific Northwest ideal for agriculture, including vineyards and orchards.

Outdoor Recreation

The natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest extends into Oregon, where outdoor enthusiasts can explore national parks, go hiking in the Cascade Range, or visit the stunning Crater Lake, which is the deepest lake in the United States.

Aerial view of Sauvie island farm and wildlife area and the Columbia River leading west toward Astoria, Oregon, from Vancouver, Washington

Aerial view of Sauvie island farm and wildlife area and the Columbia River leading west toward Astoria, Oregon, from Vancouver, Washington

©Bob Pool/Shutterstock.com


Idaho borders Washington to the east and also contributes to the region’s geographical diversity.

Mountainous Terrain

Eastern Washington and northern Idaho share the rugged landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. The Bitterroot Range goes across the border and offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.

Cultural Connections

The border region also has cultural ties, with residents frequently crossing state lines for work, recreation, and cultural events. Coeur d’Alene, a city in northern Idaho, is a popular destination for Washingtonians. This is because it is famous for its scenic lake and outdoor activities.

Unique Character

Idaho’s character is distinct from Washington’s, with a strong emphasis on agriculture, including potatoes and wheat. The state’s more rural and sparsely populated areas, therefore, contrast with the urban centers of western Washington.

British Columbia, Canada

To the north, Washington State shares its border with the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Friendly Relations

The U.S.-Canada border is peaceful, especially in this region, and residents of both regions enjoy friendly interactions. The border region leads to several shared cultural and economic ties, and also contributes to the exchange of goods and services.

Cross-Border Trade

As mentioned earlier, Washington and British Columbia engage in significant cross-border trade. This is because Vancouver, British Columbia’s largest city, serves as a major economic hub. Trade agreements and transportation links connect the two regions and bolster economic collaboration.

Border Crossings

Several border crossing sites connect Washington and British Columbia, including the Peace Arch Border Crossing in Blaine, Washington, and the Pacific Highway Border Crossing in Surrey, British Columbia. These crossings facilitate the movement of people and goods between the two regions.

A female Southern Resident Killer Whale breaches in the calm blue waters of the Salish Sea between Washington State and British Columbia, Canada.

A female Southern Resident

Killer Whale

breaches in the calm blue waters of the Salish Sea between Washington State and British Columbia, Canada.

©Monika Wieland Shields/Shutterstock.com

Is the State of Washington a Good Place to Live?

Washington State offers a high quality of life for its residents, with a diverse range of attractions and amenities. Here are some factors contributing to its appeal:

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Recreation

Washington’s landscapes are absolutely breathtaking. The state is home to the rugged Cascade Range, including the iconic Mount Rainier and Mount Baker, which provide nature lovers with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and mountaineering.

Strong Economy and Job Opportunities

The state’s economy has a robust technology sector. With companies like Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in the Seattle area, the state’s economy keeps growing. This has resulted in a thriving job market within the major cities like Seattle, attracting professionals from around the world.

Education and Culture

Washington is also famous for its world-class universities, including the University of Washington and Washington State University. The state also has a vibrant cultural scene, with theaters, museums, and music venues.

Healthcare and Quality of Life

Residents also have access to top-notch healthcare facilities and medical research institutions. Additionally, Washington is known for its commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation.

While Washington State has much to offer, it is essential to consider negative factors such as housing costs, traffic congestion in urban areas, and the occasional rainy weather, which is truly characteristic of the Pacific Northwest.

Beautiful Seattle in the Evening with Mt.Rainer

Seattle is the largest city in King County, Washington.


What Is the Climate in the State of Washington?

Washington State has a diverse range of climates, primarily due to its varying topography and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. The state consists of three climate zones:

Western Washington

Western Washington, including cities like Seattle and Tacoma, experiences a maritime climate influenced by the Pacific Ocean. Key characteristics of this region include mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Rainfall is prominent during the fall and winter months, and temperatures rarely drop below freezing. This climate is ideal for lush vegetation, including forests and vineyards.

Eastern Washington

Eastern Washington, including cities like Spokane and Walla Walla, has a semi-arid or continental climate. Winters are colder, with temperatures occasionally plunging below freezing. Summers are hot and dry, making this region suitable for certain kinds of agriculture, particularly the cultivation of wheat, apples, and grapes. Eastern Washington receives significantly less rainfall compared to the western part of the state.

Mountainous Regions

Washington’s mountainous regions, such as the Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula, have alpine and subalpine climates. These areas receive heavy snowfall during the winter, creating ideal conditions for skiing and snowboarding. Summers are short but pleasant, with wildflower blooms and hiking opportunities.

Lake Crescent at Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Lake Crescent at Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

©Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock.com

What Is the State of Washington Most Known For?

Washington state is known for many things, including the below:

Technology Hub

The state’s largest city, Seattle, is often dubbed the “Emerald City.” It is famous for being the birthplace of tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon. The city’s technology industry has actually had a profound global impact.

Coffee Culture

Seattle is also renowned for its coffee culture. This is because the famous global coffee chain Starbucks originated in the city. The love of coffee is, therefore, deeply ingrained in the local lifestyle.

Aerospace Innovation

Boeing, one of the world’s leading aerospace companies, was also founded in Seattle. The company’s aircraft, including the iconic Boeing 747, have left an important mark on the aviation industry.

Natural Wonders

Washington State is also celebrated for its stunning natural wonders, including Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park.

Cultural Vibrancy

Finally, Seattle is also a cultural hub known for its music scene. This city gave rise to famous bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The city also has several world-class art museums and theaters.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Claudia G Cooper/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Shreya is a climate scientist. She also studies paleontology and evolutionary biology. She enjoys reading all kinds of literature and listening to rock music in her free time.

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