Pacific Northwest

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The Pacific Northwest is a region in western North America, bound by the Pacific Ocean to the west. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners.[1] A common concept of the Pacific Northwest includes the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.[2] This definition is often restricted further to include only the coastal areas. Broader definitions may include the state of Alaska and the Yukon territory,[3] and may reach east to the Rocky Mountains.[2] Definitions based on the historic Oregon Country reach east to the Continental Divide, thus including nearly all of Idaho and part of western Montana. Sometimes the Pacific Northwest is defined as being the Northwestern United States, wholly in the United States. Often these definitions are made by government agencies whose scope is limited to the United States.[4] Some definitions include, in addition to Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, western Montana, the coast of northern California and a small part of northwestern Wyoming.[5] The term "Pacific Northwest" should not be confused with the Northwest Territory (also known as the Great Northwest, a historic term in the United States) or the Northwest Territories of Canada.

The term Northwest Coast is often used when referring only to the coastal regions. The term Northwest Plateau has been used to describe the inland regions, although they are commonly referred to as "the Interior" in British Columbia[6] and the Inland Empire in the United States.

The region's largest metropolitan areas are Seattle/Tacoma, Washington, with 3.3 million people;[7] Vancouver, British Columbia, with 2.3 million people;[8] and the Portland metropolitan area, with 2.2 million people.[9]

A key aspect of the Pacific Northwest is the US–Canada international border, which was established when the region was largely unsettled by non-indigenous peoples. The border along the 49th parallel and the Alaska Panhandle, has had a powerful effect on the region. According to Canadian historian Ken S. Coates, the border has not merely influenced the Pacific Northwest—rather, "the region's history and character have been determined by the boundary".[2]

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