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State of Idaho
State flag of Idaho State seal of Idaho
(Flag of Idaho) (Seal of Idaho)
State nickname: Gem State
Map of the U.S. with Idaho highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Boise
Largest city Boise
Governor Dirk Kempthorne (R)
Senators Larry Craig (R)

Mike Crapo (R)

Official language(s) none
Area 216,632 km² (14th)
 - Land 214,499 km²
 - Water 2,133 km² (0.98%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 1,293,953 (39th)
 - Density 6.04 /km² (44th)
Admission into Union
 - Date July 3, 1890
 - Order 43rd
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7 (northern)
Mountain: UTC-7/-6 (southern)
Latitude 42° N to 49° N
Longitude 111° W to 117° W
Width 491 km
Length 771 km
 - Highest point 3,859 m
 - Mean 1,524 m
 - Lowest point 216 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-ID
Web site

Idaho is a state located in the northwestern United States. Its capital is Boise and the U.S. postal abbreviation is ID.



Idaho is perhaps the only state to be named as the result of a hoax. When a name was being selected for new territory, eccentric lobbyist George M. Willing suggested "Idaho," an Indian term he claimed meant "gem of the mountains." It was later revealed Willing had made up the name himself, and the original Idaho territory was re-named Colorado because of it. Eventually the controversy was forgotten, and modern-day Idaho was given the made-up name when the Idaho Territory was formally created in 1863.


The Lewis and Clark expedition entered present-day Idaho on August 12, 1805, at the Lemhi Pass. At that time, approximately 8,000 Native Americans lived in the region.

Idaho was subsequently part of Oregon Territory and later Washington Territory, fur trading and missionary work attracting the first settlers to the region. While thousands passed through Idaho during the California gold rush of 1849, few people settled there. The first organized town in Idaho was Franklin, settled in 1860 by Mormon pioneers. When organized as a territory in 1863, Idaho's total population was under 17,000.

On March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed an act creating Idaho Territory. The political stability of the territorial period encouraged settlement. Almost immediately, a public school system was created, stage coach lines were established and a newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, began publication. In 1865, Boise replaced Lewiston as capital. The 1861 discovery of gold in Idaho and the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1869 brought many new people to the territory, including Chinese laborers who came to work the mines. When President Benjamin Harrison signed the law admitting Idaho as a U.S. state on July 3, 1890, the population was 88,548. An interesting fact is that Idaho almost never became a state - in 1887, President Grover Cleveland refused to sign a bill that would have combined southern Idaho with Nevada and northern Idaho with the Washington Territory. Sectionalism in early Idaho was abated by moving the University of Idaho from its planned location in Eagle Rock (near Idaho Falls) to Moscow in northern Idaho. Idaho still operates under its original (1889) state constitution.

As Idaho approached statehood, mining and other extractive industries became increasingly important to her economy. By the 1890s, for example, Idaho exported more lead than any other state. Although Idaho's dependence on mining has decreased, the state remains a top producer of silver and lead. Today, Idaho's industrial economy is growing, with high-tech products a leading sector. Since the late 1970s, Boise has emerged as a center for semiconductor manufacturing. Boise is the home of Micron Technology Inc., the only U.S. manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Hewlett-Packard has operated a large plant in Boise, in southwestern Idaho, since the 1970s, devoted primarily to LaserJet printers.[1]

A troubling development in the 1980s was the development in North Idaho of a few right-wing extremist and "survivalist" political groups, most notably one holding Neo-Nazi views, the Aryan Nations. These groups were most heavily concentrated in the Panhandle region of the state, particularly in the vicinity of Coeur d'Alene, a resort town. Although Idaho is a conservative state politically, with the most Republican legislature in the U.S., the vast majority of its residents reject such hateful ideologies. In 2002 the Aryan Nations compound, which had been located in Hayden Lake, Idaho, was confiscated as a result of a court case, and the organization moved out of state. About the same time Boise installed an impressive stone Human Rights Memorial featuring as bronze statue of Anne Frank and quotations from her and many other writers extolling human freedom and equality.

Law and government

State government

The current Governor of Idaho is Dirk Kempthorne (Republican), re-elected in 2002.

See: List of Idaho Governors

The constitution of Idaho provides for 3 branches of government: the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Idaho has a bicameral legislature, elected from 35 legislative districts, each represented by one Senator and two Representatives.

Federal government

United States Senators:

House of Representatives: Idaho has two House Representatives

Idaho is a strongly Republican state and has not supported a Democrat for president since 1964. Although even in that election, Lyndon Johnson only defeated Barry Goldwater by less than two percentage points. In 2004, George W. Bush won easily there, by a margin of 38 percentage points and 68.4% of the vote. Only Blaine County, which contains ski resort Sun Valley, voted for the Democrats.


Map of Idaho
Map of Idaho
Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in the Owyhee Mountains about 50 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho.
Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in the Owyhee Mountains about 50 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho.

See: List of Idaho counties

Idaho borders Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and the Canadian province of British Columbia (the Idaho-BC border is 48 miles long). Idaho has a rugged landscape with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the country. Idaho is a Rocky Mountains state with exciting scenery and enormous natural resources. Idaho has towering, snow-capped mountain ranges, swirling white rapids, peaceful lakes and steep canyons. The churning waters of Snake River rush through Hells Canyon, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon. Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than that of Niagara Falls.

The major rivers in Idaho are the Snake River, the Clearwater River and the Salmon River. Other significant rivers include the Boise River and the Payette River.

Idaho's highest point is Borah Peak in the Lost River Mountains north of Mackay. Idaho's lowest point is in Lewiston, where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River and continues into Washington.

The northern half of Idaho is in the Pacific Standard Time Zone and the lower half is in the Mountain Standard Time Zone.


  • Sawtooth National Recreational Area
    • Redfish Lake
    • Alturas Lake
    • Petit Lake
    • Sawtooth Lake

National Parks

State Parks

Surrounding Territories


The state's gross product for 2004 was $43.6 billion. The Per Capita Income for 2004 was $26,881.

Idaho is an important agricultural state, producing nearly one third of the potatoes grown in the United States. Other important agricultural products are beans, lentils, sugar beets, cattle, dairy products, wheat, and barley.

Important industries in Idaho are food processing, lumber and wood products, machinery, chemical products, paper products, electronics manufacturing, silver and other mining, and tourism. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), a government lab for nuclear energy research, is also an important part of the eastern Idaho economy.

Idaho: A Healthy and Diversified Economy

   * Idaho's personal income increased nearly 22 percent between 1999 & 2003, ranking the state 10th nationally, exceeding the national average (BEA, 4/2003).
   * Idaho exports increased 6.5% in value during 2003, reversing two years of decline. Top export products include high tech, food & agriculture and wood & building materials. 
     (U.S. Department of Commerce)
   * Idaho is number one in the nation in the production of potatoes, trout and winter peas. The state ranks in the top 10 in 22 other products.
   * Idaho is 7th in the nation in population growth rate. (U.S. Census)

Idaho: A Great Place to Do Business

   * Idaho has the 14th lowest overall cost of doing business in U.S., 4th lowest in West (, 11/ 2003).
   * Idaho's overall tax burden per capita is the 2nd lowest in the West.
   * Idaho has the 2nd lowest state and local per capita debt in the nation.
   * Between 1997-2004, Idaho ranks fourth in growth of women-owned businesses, first in the nation in employment growth and 3rd in sales. (Center for Women’s Business Research).
   * Forbes recently named Idaho the fourth best state in the country for "economic freedom," based on a study it did in conjunction with the Pacific Research Institute.
   * "The Gold Guide," published by the National Policy Research Council in Washington, D.C., placed Idaho 13th among all states in the "Best of the Best" ranking. We ranked third in the nation for
     infrastructure costs and resources (public services and facilities that support business activity), seventh for low crime rate, 14th for economic dynamism and quality of life, and 16th for
     entrepreneurial climate.

Idaho's Emerging Science & Technology Economy:

   * Idaho is number one in the nation for patents issued per capita. Idaho companies such as Micron, Hewlett-Packard and the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Lab account for a large
     percentage of the patents issued (US Patent Trademark Office, 2001).
   * Science and technology employ one out of every ten workers and represents nearly 25% of Idaho's economy ($9.3 billion)
   * Idaho's high-tech industry is one of the state's largest employers.
   * Idaho ranks 5th in the nation in semiconductor employment with 12,000 jobs.
   * Idaho is 14th in the nation in per capita research and development spending.
   * Idaho ranks third in the US in percentages of exports coming from high-tech firms (60 percent), behind New Mexico and Vermont (AEA 11/2003)
   * Micron Technology and AMI Semiconductors are two of Idaho's largest semiconductor manufacturers. Micron Technology is the largest manufacturer of DRAM semiconductor chips in the U.S. and the
     2nd largest in the world.
   * Idaho ranks 4th in the nation in growth of venture capital investments. (AEA, 2003)
   * Idaho is #3 on Business Facilities' list of Top 10 High Tech Rapid Growth States, 2000-2010. (Business Facilities, August, 2003)
   * Pocatello is number one in high tech growth for smaller metros, and Boise is first in high-tech growth for larger metros in the Milken Instituteís annual survey of the nation's best performing
     cities. (Milken Institute, November, 2004)

Idaho is Well-Connected:

   * Idaho is eighth in the nation for being consumer friendly for Internet transactions. (The Washington D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute, March 2002).
   * In 2000, Idaho ranked 3rd among states for ‘digital government' (Center for Digital Government).
   * In 1999, 97 percent of Idaho's schools had Internet access; 86 percent had access from more than one classroom (Tech Counts '99; EdWeek, 2000).


Historical populations

1870 14,999
1880 32,610
1890 88,548
1900 161,772
1910 325,594
1920 431,866
1930 445,032
1940 524,873
1950 588,637
1960 667,191
1970 712,567
1980 943,935
1990 1,006,749
2000 1,293,953

As of 2004, the population of Idaho was estimated to be 1,393,262. There were 81,000 foreign-born in the state (comprising 5.6% of the state population), of which 19,000 were illegal aliens (illegal aliens comprised about one-fourth of the foreign-born population and 1.4% of state population).

Since 1990, Idaho's population has increased 386,000 (38%).

The racial makeup of Idaho:

The five largest reported ancestries in the state are: German (18.9%), English (18.1%), Irish (10%), American (8.4%), Norwegian (3.6%).


South-Eastern Idaho is primarily Mormon, while the Northern and South-Western regions of Idaho are traditional Christian (Protestants and Catholics).

As with many other western states, the percentage of Idaho's population identifying themselves as "non-religious" (an umbrella term which is sometimes synonymous with or includes elements of atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, freethought, humanism, secular humanism, heresy, logical positivism, and apathy) is higher than the rest of the country.

The current religious affiliations of the people of Idaho are shown in the table below:

Important cities and towns

Population > 100,000 (urbanized area)

(state capital)

Population > 10,000 (urbanized area)

Smaller Towns and Cities


Colleges and universities

Professional sports teams

The Minor League baseball teams are:

Other minor league sports teams:

Miscellaneous information

Major highways

Well-known Idahoans

See also

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Flag of Idaho

State of Idaho

State capital:



Boise metropolitan area / Treasure Valley | Eastern Idaho | Idaho Panhandle | Magic Valley | North Central Idaho | Wood River Valley

Largest cities:

Boise | Idaho Falls | Nampa | Pocatello | Twin Falls

Smaller cities:

Blackfoot | Burley | Caldwell | Chubbuck | Coeur d'Alene | Eagle | Garden City | Hayden | Lewiston | Meridian | Moscow | Mountain Home | Post Falls | Rexburg | Sandpoint |


Ada | Adams | Bannock | Bear Lake | Benewah | Bingham | Blaine | Boise | Bonner | Bonneville | Boundary | Butte | Camas | Canyon | Caribou | Cassia | Clark | Clearwater | Custer | Elmore | Franklin | Fremont | Gem | Gooding | Idaho | Jefferson | Jerome | Kootenai | Latah | Lemhi | Lewis | Lincoln | Madison | Minidoka | Nez Perce | Oneida | Owyhee | Payette | Power | Shoshone | Teton | Twin Falls | Valley | Washington |

Political divisions of the United States Flag of the United States
States Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Federal district District of Columbia
Insular areas American Samoa | Baker Island | Guam | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll | Kingman Reef | Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Palmyra Atoll | Puerto Rico | Virgin Islands | Wake Island
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