Geographic Facts About Oregon

The history of this Pacific NW state goes back thousands of years

Canon Beach, Oregon
Fog over Canon Beach, Oregon at sunset, Oregon Coast. Greg Osadchuk / Getty Images

Oregon is a state located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is north of California, south of Washington and west of Idaho. Oregon has a population of 3,831,074 people (2010 estimate) and a total area of 98,381 square miles (255,026 sq km). It is most known for its diverse landscape that includes a rugged coastline, mountains, dense forests, valleys, high desert and large cities such as Portland.

Oregon Fast Facts

  • Population: 3,831,074 (2010 estimate)
  • Capital: Salem
  • Largest City: Portland
  • Area: 98,381 square miles (255,026 sq km)
  • Highest Point: Mount Hood at 11,249 feet (3,428 m)

Interesting Info to Know About the State of Oregon

  1. Scientists believe that humans have inhabited the region of present-day Oregon for at least 15,000 years. The area was not mentioned in recorded history however until the 16th century when Spanish and English explorers spotted the coast. In 1778 Captain James Cook mapped part of Oregon’s coast while on a journey looking for the Northwest Passage. In 1792 Captain Robert Gray discovered the Columbia River and claimed the region for the United States.
  2. In 1805 Lewis and Clark explored the Oregon region as part of their expedition. Seven years later in 1811 John Jacob Astor established a fur depot called Astoria near the mouth of the Columbia River. It was the first permanent European settlement in Oregon. By the 1820s the Hudson’s Bay Company became the dominant fur traders in the Pacific Northwest and it established a headquarters at Fort Vancouver in 1825. In the early 1840s, Oregon’s population grew considerably as the Oregon Trail brought many new settlers into the region.​
  3. In the late 1840s, the United States and British North America had a dispute about where the border between the two would be. In 1846 the Oregon Treaty set the border at the 49th parallel. In 1848 the Oregon Territory was officially recognized and on February 14, 1859, Oregon was admitted into the Union.
  4. Today Oregon has a population of over 3 million people and its largest cities are Portland, Salem, and Eugene. It has a relatively strong economy that depends on agriculture and various high-tech industries as well as natural resource extraction. The major agricultural products of Oregon are grain, hazelnuts, wine, assorted types of berries and seafood products. Salmon fishing is a major industry in Oregon. The state is also home to large companies such as Nike, Harry and David and Tillamook Cheese.
  5. Tourism is also a major part of Oregon’s economy with the coast being a major travel destination. The state’s large cities are also tourist destinations. Crater Lake National Park, the only national park in Oregon, averages about 500,000 visitors per year.
  6. As of 2010, Oregon had a population of 3,831,074 people and a population density of 38.9 people per square mile (15 people per square kilometer). Most of the state’s population, however, are clustered around the Portland metropolitan area and along the Interstate 5/ Willamette Valley corridor.
  7. Oregon, along with Washington and sometimes Idaho, is considered a part of the United States’ Pacific Northwest and it has an area of 98,381 square miles (255,026 sq km). It is famous for its rugged coastline that stretches 363 miles (584 km). The Oregon coast is divided into three regions: the North Coast that stretches from the mouth of the Columbia River to Neskowin, the Central Coast from Lincoln City to Florence and the South Coast that stretches from Reedsport to the state’s border with California. Coos Bay is the largest city on the Oregon coast.
  8. Oregon’s topography is highly varied and consists of mountainous regions, large valleys such as the Willamette and Rogue, high elevation desert plateau, dense evergreen forests as well as redwood forests along the coast. The highest point in Oregon is Mount Hood at 11,249 feet (3,428 m). It should be noted that Mount Hood, like most of the other tall mountains in Oregon, is a part of the Cascade Mountain Range -- a volcanic range stretching from northern California into British Columbia, Canada.
  9. In general Oregon’s varied topography is normally divided into eight different regions. These regions consist of the Oregon Coast, the Willamette Valley, the Rogue Valley, the Cascade Mountains, the Klamath Mountains, the Columbia River Plateau, the Oregon Outback and the Blue Mountains ecoregion.
  10. Oregon’s climate varies throughout the state but it is generally mild with cool summers and cold winters. The coastal regions are mild to cool year round while eastern Oregon’s high desert areas are hot in the summer and cold in the winter. High mountain areas such as the region around Crater Lake National Park have mild summers and cold, snowy winters. Precipitation generally occurs year-round in much of Oregon. Portland’s average January low temperature is 34.2˚F (1.2˚C) and its average July high temperature is 79˚F (26˚C).
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Briney, Amanda. "Geographic Facts About Oregon." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Briney, Amanda. (2023, April 5). Geographic Facts About Oregon. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Geographic Facts About Oregon." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).