Which States Border Washington?

"Welcome to Washington" sign.
"Welcome to Washington" sign.

Washington State is bordered to the south by Oregon, to the east by Idaho, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the north by British Columbia (a Canadian Province). The capital of the state is Olympia, while the largest city is Seattle. 


The Washington territory was comprised of a vast area that includes parts of modern-day Idaho and Wyoming. In 1863 the Washington territory was revised leading to the creation of the states of Idaho and later Wyoming and Montana. During the creation of Idaho, petitions were made to Congress to establish a new territory through two competing proposals for the territorial boundaries on the new territory. One of the proposals was by Lieutenant John Mullan sought to leave the Idaho panhandle as well as part of Montana in the Territory of Washington. The proposal would have left southern Idaho and the state of Wyoming as the new Idaho. The residents of Washington were at the time eager to let go of Idaho and Montana.

Oregon and Canada

The Washington border with Oregon is formed in part by the Columbia River which flows for 1,243 miles. Present day Washington was initially part of the Oregon country that was defined by Euro-Americans between the late 1700s and the mid-1800s. The area covered stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the continental divide. Spain was the first to map and explore the Pacific coast in the 16th century. Parts of the expansive country were claimed by the Russians, French, American, and British Governments. The British and American had ratified a treaty after the war of 1812 allowing both powers to settle and trade from the 42nd Parallel to the 54 degrees 40 minutes north in what is the present day the Alaska–British Columbia border. Between 1818 and 1846 both the Americans and the British were still enforcing their claims to the Oregon Country with each power hoping to control the strategic harbors of Puget Sound as well as to access and navigate the Columbia River. The Spanish soon relinquished claims to the north of 42nd line of the parallel, and in 1824 Russia ceded its claims below of the 54th line of the parallel. American settlement in the 1840s in the area occupied by modern-day Washington, especially in the Willamette Valley, made British claims to the territory a challenge to enforce. In 1846, the British and Americans signed a treaty granting the United States the territory between the 42nd parallel and the 49th parallel. In 1845, the provisional government was created, and it began to lobby the United States Government to grant it territorial status.


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