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Welcome to Idaho

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Idaho State Flag
Idaho State Flag
Idaho State Seal
Idaho State Seal
Idaho Location
Idaho Location


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 a 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 USS Idaho was named in honor of this state.

State nicknames Gem State
Capital Boise
Largest City Boise
Governor (2004) Dirk Kempthorne
- Total
- Land
- Water
- % water
Ranked 14th
216,632 kmē
214,499 kmē
2,133 kmē
- Total (2000)
- Density
Ranked 39th
Admittance into Union
- Order
- Date

July 3, 1890
Time zone Northern Idaho: - Pacific: UTC-8/-7
Southern Idaho: - Mountain: UTC-7/-6
42° N to 49° N
111° W to 117° W
- Highest
- Mean
- Lowest
491 km
771 km

3,859 meters
1,524 meters
216 meters
ISO 3166-2 US-ID


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, as plants are built to process the state's rich agricultural and natural resources. Since in the late 1970s Boise has emerged as a center of semiconductor manufacturing.

A troubling recent development in Idaho has been the location therein of many right-wing extremist political groups, most notably those holding Neo-Nazi views, such as the Aryan Nation. These groups are most heavily concentrated in the northern part of the state, particularly in the vicinity of Coeur d'Alene. Their existence has become so proverbial in American popular culture that an unfortunate joke asks what Idaho is most famous for, and the answer is: "Potatoes and Nazis."


The current constitution of Idaho provides for 3 branches of government, the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The legislative body consists of the Senate and the House.

The Current (2004) Governor of Idaho is Dirk Kempthorne (Republican) and the U.S. Senators are Larry E. Craig (Republican) and Mike Crapo (Republican).


Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed Idaho borders Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Montana, Wyoming and the Canadian province of British Columbia (the Idaho-BC border which 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.

  • Coeur d'Alene
  • Payette Lake (McCall)
  • Pend Oreille
  • Sawtooth National
  • Recreational Area
    • Redfish Lake
    • Alturas Lake
    • Petit Lake
    • Sawtooth Lake
  • Balanced Rock
  • City of Rocks
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument
  • Farragut State Park
  • Harriman State Park
  • Hells Canyon
  • Massacre Rocks
  • Yellowstone National Park


Major highways
  • Interstate 15
  • Interstate 84
  • Interstate 86
  • Interstate 90
  • Interstate 184
  • U.S. Highway 2
  • U.S. Highway 20
  • U.S. Highway 26
  • U.S. Highway 95
  • U.S. Highway 93


The state's gross product for 1999 was $34 billion placing it 44th among the states. The Per Capita Income for 2000 was $24,180.

Idaho is an important agricultural state, producing nearly one third of the potatoes grown in the United States. Other important agricultral 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 Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), a government lab for nuclear energy research, is also an important part of the eastern Idaho economy.

Important Cities and Towns

Population > 100,000 (urbanized area) Population > 10,000 (urbanized area) Smaller Towns and Cities

Colleges and Universities

  • Albertson College of Idaho
  • Boise State University
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho
  • Idaho State University
  • Lewis-Clark State College
  • Northwest Nazarene College
  • University of Idaho

Professional Sports Teams

The Minor League baseball teams are:

  • Boise Hawks
  • Idaho Falls Chukars

Other minor league sports teams:

  • Idaho Stampede
  • Idaho Steelheads


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