Seattle

Location and geography
Established in 1869, Seattle lies 182 km/113 mi south of the Canadian border. It is the largest city in Washington state, with a population of more than half million people. Include the surrounding King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap Counties, and metro Seattle's population is about 3.6 million. Approximately 600,000 live in the city itself.

Seattle proper is roughly 233 sq.km/90 sq.mi. Its topography is varied, and its temperate, moist climate fosters the lushness responsible for its nickname, the Emerald City. The Cascade Mountain range - and Mt. Rainier at 4,402 m/14,441 ft. - are visible, but Seattle itself is at sea level on Puget Sound.

Over 6,100 acres of parkland and a wealth of waterways afford Seattle residents ample outdoor recreation area. The distinctive Space Needle, a landmark built for the 1962 World's Fair, punctuates the city's skyline.

History
Seattle was originally a logging town, economically reliant on the vast Northwest forests. Travelers bound for the Yukon gold territory in the late 1800s swelled the area's population. The railroad's arrival in 1893 facilitated trade between Seattle and the rest of the country.

Twenty-five blocks in Seattle's center burned to the ground in 1889. While rebuilding the city, its original design was improved, and the foundation laid for today's modern Seattle.

Economy
A major influence on the city is the explosive growth of the local high-technology industry. Technology permeates the city; residents and visitors log on and sip coffee at the abundant cafés.

Seattle's economy has undergone transitions in recent years. Software companies and related businesses first drew young computer specialists to the area in the early 1990s, and other high-tech industries have also lured sophisticated professionals to the area. Forest products are still an important industry. The closest U.S. port to Asia, Seattle does a booming import-export trade in agricultural products, timber, energy, and various manufactures. The U.S. Navy has a naval base and shipyard at Bremerton, across Puget Sound.

Society
Seattle has a decidedly international flavor. Asians are Seattle's largest ethnic groups, and heavily influence local business. Proximity to Vancouver, British Columbia draws Canadian businesspeople and tourists. There is a Scandinavian presence, and Russian immigration - a more recent phenomenon - adds to the mix of nationalities.

The technology boom of the 1980s and 1990s infused the city with a young, specialized workforce. Cultural offerings have grown as a result. Only New York City has more theater performances annually than Seattle. Performing arts venues are plentiful, as are coffee bars. An evening out may include both. Local wineries and microbreweries exist in and around Seattle.

Residents nurture the city's progress. Those traveling or relocating to Seattle should find it diverse and welcoming. Seattle has been recently ranked as the best major U.S. city for children, and is one of its fastest growing.