Which States Are on the West Coast?

Evening sunshine at the Pacific coastline near Big Sur, California.
Evening sunshine at the Pacific coastline near Big Sur, California.

The Pacific Coast or West Coast of the United States consists of the states along the North Pacific Ocean. These are Washington, Oregon, and California. The eastern boundary of the West Coast is defined by the Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada, and the Cascade Range while the Pacific Ocean defines the western boundary. Alaska is also sometimes included as a west coast state, although it is not one of the contiguous states. The US Census also includes the state of Hawaii in the group and defines the regions as the Pacific States division. The estimated population of the West Coast is 51 million.

History of the West Coast

The earliest humans to inhabit the West Coast were the Paleo-Indians who crossed the Bering Strait from Eurasia to Alaska and the rest of the continent. Isolated groups of hunters and gatherers migrated with large herds of animals through Yukon and British Columbia into Washington State. The Spanish, Russians, French, and British later arrived and began colonizing and settling the region.

Climate of the West Coast

The West Coast experiences the oceanic climate in the northern and eastern parts towards the US-Canada border and the Mediterranean climate from California to the US-Mexico border. During the summer, the coastline experiences mild temperature compared to further inland. Cold currents from the Pacific fluctuate the temperature along the coastline by up to 17°C (30°F). Southern California is generally warmer compared to the rest of the West Coast.

Culture of the West Coast

The culture of the West Coast is slightly younger compared to the East Coast because it was populated by immigrants more recently that the latter. The demographic composition of the region outlines its cultural difference from the rest of the country. California’s history as a Spanish colony and a Mexican territory give the southern half of the state a Hispanic tone. Los Angeles and San Francisco have large numbers of Asian Americans. Alaska’s culture is shaped by the state’s weather and is similar to the culture of the East Coast during the winter.

West Coast Economy

The West Coast boasts of several dominant industries. The region is the economic gatekeeper of the trade between the United States and Asia. Each year millions of tons of agricultural products from the Midwest is exported through ports in Oregon, California, and Washington. Silicon Valley is the epicenter of technology while multinationals such as Apple Inc., Google Inc., and Facebook Inc. are also headquartered in the regions. Microsoft Corporation and Amazon are both headquartered in Washington State. Oil and gas, tourism, and agriculture dominate the economy of Alaska.

West Coast States

RankStates on the West Coast

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