History of Idaho
Archeological evidence confirmed that this area was inhabited as far back as 14,500 years ago. Some of the most ancient archeological finds in the North America have been found in 1959 at Wilson Butte Cave in the vicinity of Twin Falls. Before the coming of the Europeans to the state, the area was inhabited by the Western Shoshone people in the south of the region and Nez Perce tribe in the northern sections of today’s Idaho.
Names of some of the plaices indicate that the French-Canadian trappers have had a strong presence in the area. It was probably them that have named places like Payette, Boise and Coeur d’Alene. Most of these places already existed when Louis and Clark came to the region guided by Metis and French guides who were already familiar with the region.
While it was still a part of the Oregon County, Idaho was claimed both by Britain and the US, until, in 1846, it finally came under the United States jurisdiction. Between 1843 and 1849, the Provisional Government of Oregon has had the de facto jurisdiction over the region. Once Oregon was granted statehood, the area of today’s Idaho was just a part of the former Oregon Territory that didn’t go into the new Oregon state, and it was included in the Washington Territory. Before Idaho Territory was formed in 1863, parts of the area forming today’s state of Idaho belonged to a number of different territories, such as Dakota, Washington and Oregon Territory. Idaho territory was made up of areas that were parts of today’s Wyoming and Montana. The first settlement in the region that was formed by colonists was fur trading post Kullyspell House that was built in 1809 on the Lake Pend Oreille by David Thompson who was working under instructions from the North West Company. Soon enough, in 1812, another fur trading company, Pacific Fur Company, prompted one of its employees, Donald Mackenzie, to build their own post on the Clearwater River in the area of today’s Lewiston. This post called either ‘Clearwater’ or ‘Mackenzie’s Post’ was operational for a year before it was bought by the North West Company which just left it abandoned. The first actual, organized settlements inhabited by a number of families were established in 1860. The largest and most organized of these settlements was Lewiston, which was established in 1861.
The following period was rather tumultuous for the new territory, at first it went through the illegal and frantic transfer of the state’s capital from Lewiston to Boise in 1865, and then it had to deal with the fact that the federal government was trying to split the area of Idaho Territory between The state of Nevada and the newly formed Washington state. Idaho has finally been admitted to the Union in 1890. Its economy, previously focused on metal mining, started diversifying and exploring the potential of tourism, forest products and agriculture. As of more recently, the state devoted much more attention to technology and science, and since then those industries have become much more developed in the state than tourism and agriculture, contributing with a quarter of the state’s total revenue.
In 2004 GSP (gross state product) of Idaho amounted to $43.6 billion, meaning that the per capita income in the state was $26,881. Nearly a third of the potatoes produced in the US comes from Idaho. It is also one of the few states that are known to grow all three types of wheat, Soft White, Hard Red and Dark Northern Spring wheat. In fact, Nez Perce County is one of the best areas in the world for growing the Soft White variety.
Some of the most important industries in the state are tourism, silver and other mining, electronics manufacturing, paper products, chemical products, machinery, lumber and wood products and food processing. The city of Gooding has the largest factory for the production of barrel cheese in the world. It is a member of the Glanbia group, and it can produce 120,000 metric tons of barrel cheese every year. Another important facility, located in the eastern Idaho is the Idaho National Laboratory, and its primary purpose is conducting nuclear energy research. Three facilities of the Anheuser-Busch company dealing with the production of malt for breweries are also located in this state.
There are a number of industries that are quite important on the local level. This includes local tourist attractions such as snowmobile rides or other outdoor activities that are offered in most parts of the state. Lewiston is becoming an attractive retirement community due to a number of rivers in the area which are providing countless opportunities for partaking in interesting activities, as well as because of its pleasant climate that suits seniors. Other industries include companies such as the ATK Corporation that is specialized in the production of ammunition components and ammunition itself in its three factories based in Lewiston. Lewis-Clark valley has more companies dealing with the production of ammunition, as well as 4 out of the world’s 6 companies that are making welded aluminum jet boats that are used for navigating river rapids. Before the prohibition, the area in the Idaho’s Panhandle region between Julietta and Kendrick was utilized by the French Rothschilds for growing wine grapes. Even if Idaho doesn’t have any larger breweries or wineries, there are a number of smaller, usually quite acclaimed microbreweries and boutique wineries, usually located in the northern parts of the state.
Currently, the largest and the most important industry in state is the technology and science sector. It is responsible for more than a quarter of Idaho’s total revenue and for more than 70% of its exports value. High-tech products are having the most significant impact on the growth of the state’s industry. Ever since the second half of the 1970s the state’s capital, Boise has been growing as a center of the semiconductor manufacturing industry. It is also the home of the only company in the US that deals with the manufacturing of DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chips, Micron Technology Inc. At one point in its history, this company also attempted making desktop computers, but it didn’t really excel in that line of work. Since 1970s, Boise is also the home to one of the Hewlett-Packard factories, which today mostly deals with the manufacturing of Laser Jet printers. ON Semiconductor is another important company in the region, often recognized as an important innovator when it comes to the production of semiconductor and other high-tech products. It is also important to mention Sun Microsystems, a company that has a warehouse in Pocatello and two offices in Boise, and that is responsible for $300 million of the state’s yearly revenue.
There are also a lot of Fortune 500 companies that deserve mention, including Lewiston based Potlatch Corp, JR Simplot in southern part of the state, Albertsons that is located in Boise, Safeway in American Falls and JC Penny in Twin Falls.
The income tax in Idaho comes in 8 brackets, going from 7.8% to 1.6%. The residents of the state have the option of applying for tax credits in case that they are paying some taxes to another state or that they have been making donations to some of the state’s educational institutions or to youth and rehabilitation, nonprofit organizations. The sales tax in Idaho is 6%, while some local conditions might raise it to 6.5%. It applies to lease, rental or sale of personal property or to certain services. It also applies to food, but not to prescription drugs. Some of the hospitality services such as campgrounds, motels and hotels are subjectable to higher tax rates ranging from 7% to 11%. Some counties might want to adjust their sales tax rates, and they have the full authority to do so. Idaho also has a state gambling lottery, the proceeds of which help with the financing of higher education and public schools in Idaho. Until now it managed to gather $333.5 million for this purpose.
The state is rather rich in potential for harvesting the renewable energy resources, and, at the same time, rather poor in fossil fuels. The state’s many rivers have amazing hydroelectric potential while the mountainous areas are offering great opportunities for harvesting wind and geothermal power. Idaho is currently importing more than 80% of the energy that it is consuming, including all of the petroleum and natural gas that is used in the state, as well as more than 50% of the electricity. Out of the electricity that state uses, 9% comes from natural gas, 42% from coal, 48% from hydroelectricity and the rest is gained from wind and other renewable resources. As far as the state’s energy production potential is concerned, more than 75% of its energy, or 556,000 MWh comes from hydroelectricity, while some is crated with the help of wind power and natural gas that is imported from Washington State.
Idaho Geography and Climate
Idaho has Wyoming and Montana on the east, Utah and Nevada on the south and Oregon and Washington on the west. It also borders British Columbia, a Canadian province on the north. The state is characterized by rugged landscape, and some of the best preserved stretches of uncorrupted nature. The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is a great example of nature unspoiled by man. It stretches over 2.3 million acres and it the largest region in the contiguous US consisting of pure, protected wilderness. The state is located in the Rocky Mountains region, and is heavily influenced by it. Some of the most awe inspiring features of the region are steep canyons, beautiful lakes, rapids and snow covered mountain peaks. The deepest gorge in the US, Hells Canyon, is located in Idaho.
This state is also where Shoshone Falls are located. These falls are known for being even higher than the famous Niagara Falls. Idaho can boast a number of rivers such as Payette River, Boise River, Spokane River, Coeur d'Alene River, Salmon River, Clearwater River, Clark Fork/Pend Oreille River and the Snake River. The Port of Lewiston that is located on the confluence of the Snake River and the Clearwater River is 465 river miles distant from the Pacific Ocean, which makes it the farthest West Coast inland seaport.
The point with the highest elevation in Idaho is Borah Peak, located in the Lost River Range, which stands at 12,662 feet above the sea level, while the point with the lowest elevation is in Lewiston and is 710 feet above the sea level. Idaho also has a number of mountain ranges, the best known of which is the Sawtooth Range, but the Salmon River Mountains, the Lost River Range, the White Cloud Mountains and the Bitterroot Range are also worthy of mention. Northern parts of the state belong to the Mountain Time Zone, while the southern parts are in the Pacific Time Zone.
There are significant variations in the Idaho’s climate depending on the region. Even though the state is rather far away from the Pacific Ocean, its climate is still influenced by it. The influence of the ocean is best felt in the winter, when it moderates the low temperatures to some extent and causes high precipitation and humidity. This influence is naturally not as prominent in the eastern parts of the state which are the farthest from the Pacific, and that as such have the opposite patterns of precipitation with dry winters and wet summers, as well as larger differences between temperature extremes in the summer and winter months. The climate in eastern part of the state could be described as semi-arid continental.
Summer temperatures in the state can be rather high, but it is uncommon for the temperatures over 100 °F to last for too long except in Lewiston, due to its low elevation which is also the reason that this area is usually getting low quantities of snowfall. The highest differences between the temperatures during the day and during the night occur in the summer months, so it is not uncommon for the summer temperatures in the state to significantly drop with the coming of the evening. The highest ever temperature in Idaho was recorded in 1934 at Orofino and it was 118°F, while the lowest was −60 °F and it was recorded in 1943 at Island Park Dam.
In 2011 the population of Idaho was estimated at 1,584,985 people, which presented a 1.11% increase when compared to the previous year. The census from 2010 determined the 84% of the population consisted of non-Hispanic white people, 5.1% of Hispanic white, 0.6% of African Americans, 1.4% of American Natives and Alaska Natives, 1.2% of Asians, 0.1% of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders and 2,5% of multiethnic people.
In 2005 Idaho’s population counted 1,429,096 people, which was an increase of 2.4% or 33,956 people when compared to the previous year and 10.4% or 135,140 people when compared to population in the year 2000. The increase since the last year was a combination of 52,247 deaths and 111,131 births which resulted in a natural increase of 58,884 people, and the net migrations that have increased the state’s population by 75,795 people. This means that Idaho is the 6th state in the US when population growth is concerned. The most common ancestry groups in the state include 18.9% of people with German ancestry, 18.1% of those with English, 10% Irish, 8.4% American, 3.6% Norwegian and 3.5% Swedish.
When it comes to religion in 2008, 23% of the state’s inhabitants belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 22% were Evangelical Protestant, 18% Catholic, 18% were unaffiliated, 16% were Mainline Protestants, 2% were of some other denomination, 1% were Jehovah’s Witnesses while there was less than 0.5% of people who belonged to Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or other Christian denominations. When it comes to the number of members, in the year 2000 the largest denominations were The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that had 311,425 adherents, the Catholic Church with 130,847 members, the Assemblies of God with 18,745 believers and the United Methodist Church that had 17,683 adherents.
Idaho Government and Legislation
Idaho has a three-branch government, just like the other US states. These branches include the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch.
The highest official of the executive branch is the Governor of Idaho. Since 1946, the officers of the executive branch of government have been elected to serve four year terms. Other members of the executive branch include Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Controller, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor. They are elected in midterm elections, meaning that the elections of Idaho’s state officials are not held in the same years as presidential elections. Governor has the authority to veto bills that have been passed by the houses of the legislative branch, but they can override the Governors decision if they gather enough votes. Lieutenant Governor presides over Idaho Senate, and is meant to temporarily replace the Governor if he or she is temporarily or permanently unable to perform his or her duties.
Idaho’s legislative branch is bicameral, just like the legislative branches of all the other states apart from Nebraska. This means that the general Assembly of Idaho consists of two houses, the upper house, Idaho Senate and the lower Idaho House of Representatives. Idaho has 35 legislative districts, and each of them is represented by 2 members of the House of Representatives and one Senator, meaning the Idaho’s House of Representatives has 70 members, while the state Senate has 35. Seeing that legislature in Idaho is part time (even though sessions will generally last as long as they need to), members of the houses usually have other, primary occupations. They are elected for two year terms on even numbered years.
Idaho’s judicial branch is composed of a number of courts with different jurisdictions and purposes. This includes District and Appeal court, with the highest court in the state being the Idaho Supreme Court, which can relegate some cases to the Idaho Court of Appeals, or have cases relegated to it.