What Is the Capital of Washington?

Washington State Capitol building in Olympia, Washington.
Washington State Capitol building in Olympia, Washington.

The state of Washington is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Olympia is the state capital of Washington, and also serves as the administrative seat of Thurston County. The city is located at an altitude of 95 feet above sea level and covers an area estimated at 19.68 square miles, 91% of which is land, and 9% is covered by water. The population of Olympia is estimated to be 50,302 as at 2015, and has a population density of 2,685 people per square mile. The current mayor of Olympia is Cheryl Selby.

History of Olympia

Olympia has been inhabited by the Lushootseed people for several thousands of years. The native community included the Puyallup, Squaxin, Chehalis, Nisqually, Duwamish, and the Suquamish tribes. The first record of Europe settlers occurred in 1792, when the British Vancouver Expedition, led by Peter Puget, arrived in the area. Levi Smith and Edmund Sylvester both claimed the land that is now constitutes Olympia in 1846. By 1851, the US Congress sanctioned the creation of Customs District in Washington Territory, and the population grew over the years when Oregon Trail immigrants settled in the area. The name Olympia was given to the town in 1850, when Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, a resident, suggested the name because the Olympic Mountains in the northwest were visible from the town. In 1896, the Olympia Brewing Company was established in Olympia, and it brewed the Olympia Beer brand until 2003. In 1949, a major Earthquake hit Olympia and destroyed most of the city's historic buildings. The city was hit again by earthquakes in 1965 and 2001.


The population of Olympia is predominantly Caucasian (86%), and also includes Asians (6.05%), mixed race (3.8%), African Americans (1.4%), Native Americans (1.06%), and native Hawaiians (0.37%). 87% of Olympia's citizens speak English, and 5% speak Spanish. Literacy levels in Olympia are high, standing at 92% of adults aged above 25 years. About 41% of people above 25 years hold a bachelor's degree. About 46% of the men and 43% of women are married, while 40% of men and 30% of the women have never been married. The median age of the people living in Olympia is about 38 years.

Economic Activities

The main economic activity of Olympia has been manufacturing, especially the manufacturing of plastics and industrial supplies. Recently, tourism has increased due to Olympia’s broad range of conservation areas and public parks. Tourism has increased by 27% between 1998 and 2003, and has been increasing ever since. Commercial shipping at the Port of Olympia is also a substantial contributor to the economy of this city.

Weather and Climate

The area surrounding Olympia experiences warm summer, Mediterranean climate. Olympia's dry and warm season begins at the end of June and ends in mid-September, with temperatures averaging 70°F. The cold season starts in mid-November and ends at the end of February, and is wet and chilly with temperatures averaging 43°F.


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