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Oregon (/ˈɒrɪɡən/ (About this sound listen)) is a state in the Pacific Northwest region on the West Coast of the United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary along Washington state, while the Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary along Idaho. The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary with California and Nevada. Oregon is one of only three states of the contiguous United States to have a coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

Oregon was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before Western traders, explorers, and settlers arrived. An autonomous government was formed in the Oregon Country in 1843 before the Oregon Territory was created in 1848. Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Today, at 98,000 square miles (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 164,549 residents. Portland, with 632,309 residents, is the most populous and ranks as the 26th most populous city in the United States. The Portland metropolitan area, which also includes the city of Vancouver, Washington, to the north, ranks the 23rd largest metro area in the nation, with a population of 2,389,228.

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Field in Polk County
Credit: M.O. Stevens

Polk County lies in a farming region of the Willamette Valley. Here a broadleaf tree stands out in a field on a spring day.

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Joel Palmer
General Joel Palmer (1810–1881) was an American pioneer of the Oregon Territory in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. He was born in Canada, and spent his early years in New York and Pennsylvania before serving as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives. Palmer traveled to the Oregon Country in 1845, blazing the last leg of the Oregon Trail, the Barlow Road, with Sam Barlow and others. He wrote a popular immigrant guidebook, co-founded Dayton, Oregon, and served as a controversial Indian Affairs administrator. Prior to his time as Indian Affairs administrator he was a general for the Provisional Government of Oregon during the Cayuse War as well as a peace commissioner for the war. He would follow the gold rushes across the west for a few years following the war before returning to Oregon, interrupted by peace negotiations with the Native Americans in his role as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. After Oregon became a state in 1859, Palmer served in both branches of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. He was selected as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives for one session in 1862, and in 1870 narrowly lost a bid to become Governor of Oregon. Palmer would then serve as Indian agent before retiring to his home in Yamhill County. That home, Palmer House in Dayton, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

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Seal of the Provisional Government
The Provisional Government of Oregon was a popularly-elected government created in the Oregon Country, in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It existed from May 2, 1843 until March 3, 1849. Created at a time when no country had sovereignty over the region, this independent government provided a legal system and a common defense for pioneers settling the region. As laid out in Section 1 of the preamble to the Organic Laws of Oregon, which were adopted in 1843 to serve as a constitution, settlers only agreed to the laws “until such time as the United States of America extend their jurisdiction over us.” The government had three branches that included a legislature, judiciary, and executive branch. The executive branch was first the Executive Committee, consisting of three members, in effect from 1843 to 1845; in 1845, a single governor position was created. The judicial branch had a single supreme judge along with several lower courts, and a legislative committee of nine served as a legislature until 1845 when the Oregon House of Representatives was established. The government was superseded when the United States created the Oregon Territory in 1848. Once the territorial government arrived in 1849, the Provisional Government was dissolved, though all but one law continued in effect in the territory.

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American beaver
Western meadowlark
Chinook salmon
Oregon grape
Oregon Swallowtail butterfly
Douglas fir



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Oregon coastline looking south from Ecola State Park
Credit: Cacophony
The Oregon coastline looking south from Ecola State Park.

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Lewis & Clark commemorative coin
Ocian [sic] in view! O! the joy.
William Clark, journal entry upon sighting the Pacific Ocean at the Oregon Coast

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Oregon State Capital rotunda
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Lighthouse of Cape Meares, Oregon


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Coordinates: 44°00′N 120°30′W / 44°N 120.5°W / 44; -120.5