Oregon is one of the Pacific states of the United States. It contains a number of the nation’s most beautiful scenery and some of America’s richest soils and timberlands. It was the beaver, however, with Oregon’s streams teeming with the furry flat-tailed water rodents back in the early 19th century, that first gave rise to the state’s development, giving it the nickname the “Beaver State.” The fertile land of Willamette Valley is the source of a vast number of agricultural products. 95% of the US’ domestic hazelnuts is also produced in Oregon, and since the 1970s, wine production has also been a significant industry in the state. Farming, ranching and lumbering are also among the state’s other economic activities, as well as technology manufacturing.

The origin of the name Oregon is unknown. It is thought, however, to be derived from the French “ouragan,” which means “storm” or “hurricane.” The state joined the Union as the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Salem is its capital while Portland is its largest city.

Oregon offers ideal conditions for outdoor activities with a myriad of beaches broken by rocky cliffs, snow-covered peaks, river valleys, canyons, streams, lakes, and thick forests. Mount Hood seems to be the most popular recreation area. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument allows visitors to view animal and plant fossils dating back more than 40 million years ago. Crater Lake National Park, the state’s only national park, surrounds Mount Mazama, an extinct volcano whose crater encloses one of the deepest, most beautiful lakes in the world.

Nez Perce National Historical Park showcases the rich history of the region. The fish ladders that aid salmon in swimming over the Bonneville Dam and Multnomah Falls are an interesting sight near Portland. The World Forestry Center in Portland exhibits a gallery of trees and other displays relating to the industry of forestry. Pine Mountain Observatory houses the three biggest telescopes in the Northwest.

Popular events in the Beaver State include the Pendleton Round-Up, a rodeo held each September. Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival, taking place annually from July until Labor Day, presents Shakespeare’s plays in an Elizabethan theater which is a replica of the original London Globe Theatre. The state fair is held in Salem early in September each year.

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