Idaho is a northwestern U.S. state known for mountainous landscapes, and vast swaths of protected wilderness and outdoor recreation areas. The capital, Boise, is set in the Rocky Mountain foothills and is bisected by the Boise River, which is popular for rafting and fishing. The city’s riverfront Julia Davis Park is a downtown green space containing a rose garden, museums and a zoo.
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 around 1.7 million people and an area of 83,569 square miles (216,440 km2), Idaho is the 14th largest and 39th most populous of the 50 states. The state’s capital and largest city is Boise.
Idaho prior to European settlement was inhabited solely by Native American peoples, some of which still live in the area. In the early 19th century, Idaho was considered part of the Oregon Country, an area disputed between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. 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 (and the associated Cascadia bioregion), Idaho is divided into several distinct geographic and climatic regions. In 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 (which contains most of the population and agricultural land), while the south-east incorporates part of the Great Basin. Idaho is quite mountainous, and contains several stretches of the Rocky Mountains. Additionally, around 38 percent of Idaho’s land is held by the United States Forest Service, the most 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 largest Department of Energy facility in the country. Idaho’s agricultural sector supplies a number of different 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 reputation for gemstones and, more broadly, its many wilderness areas. To learn more about Idaho click here