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Idaho State Description
Idaho is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It borders the state of Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canadian border with the province of British Columbia. With a population of approximately 1.7 million and an area of 83,569 square miles, Idaho is the 14th largest, the 12th least populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The state's capital and largest city is Boise.
For thousands of years Idaho has been inhabited by Native American peoples. In the early 19th century, Idaho was considered part of the Oregon Country, an area disputed between the United States and the British Empire. It officially became U.S. territory with the signing of the Oregon Treaty of 1846, but a separate Idaho Territory was not organized until 1863, instead being included for periods in Oregon Territory and Washington Territory. Idaho was eventually admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, becoming the 43rd state.
Forming part of the Pacific Northwest, Idaho is divided into several distinct geographic and climatic regions. The state's north, the relatively isolated Idaho Panhandle, is closely linked with Eastern Washington with which it shares the Pacific Time Zone the rest of the state uses the Mountain Time Zone. The state's south includes the Snake River Plain. The state's southeast incorporates part of the Great Basin. Idaho is quite mountainous, and contains several stretches of the Rocky Mountains. The United States Forest Service holds about 38% of Idaho's land, the highest proportion of any state.
Industries significant for the state economy include manufacturing, agriculture, mining, forestry, and tourism. A number of science and technology firms are either headquartered in Idaho or have factories there, and the state also contains the Idaho National Laboratory, which is the country's largest Department of Energy facility. Idaho's agricultural sector supplies many products, but the state is best known for its potato crop, which comprises around one-third of the nationwide yield. The official state nickname is the "Gem State", which references Idaho's natural beauty.
The name's origin remains a mystery. In the early 1860s, when the U.S. Congress was considering organizing a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, the name "Idaho" was suggested by George M. Willing, a politician posing as an unrecognized delegate from the unofficial Jefferson Territory. Willing claimed that the name was derived from a Shoshone term meaning "the sun comes from the mountains" or "gem of the mountains", but it was revealed later that there was no such term and Willing claimed that he had been inspired to coin the name when he met a little girl named "Ida". Since the name appeared to be fabricated, the U.S. Congress ultimately decided to name the area Colorado Territory instead when it was created in February 1861, but by the time this decision was made, the town of Idaho Springs, Colorado had already been named after Willing's proposal.
The same year Congress created Colorado Territory, a county called Idaho County was created in eastern Washington Territory. The county was named after a steamship named Idaho, which was launched on the Columbia River in 1860. It is unclear whether the steamship was named before or after Willing's claim was revealed. Regardless, part of Washington Territory, including Idaho County, was used to create Idaho Territory in 1863. Eventually, the name was given to the Idaho Territory, which would later become the U.S. state.