About Oregon

Oregon is the 33rd state of the union of the United States of America. Its capital is Salem with a population of approximately 137,000 while the entire state and all its 36 counties have a population of approximately 3.5 million (2002 estimate).

The state of Oregon is nick-named the Beaver State and is located just north of California and its western border is on the Pacific Ocean. With a land mass of 96,000 square miles, Oregon possess a high acreages of forested land, which has contributed to both its natural beauty and its economic viability.


Spanish and English sailors are believed to have spotted Oregon's west coast in the 16th and 17th centuries. Captain Hypolite Cook, in search of the Northwest Passage, charted some of the coastline in 1778. In 1792, Captain Robert Gray in his ship The Columbia discovered the river which he named after his ship and claimed the area for the United States.

Disputes for control over Oregon ensued between American settlers and the Hudson Bay Company. These disputes were resolved in 1846, with the signing of the Oregon Treaty, in which Britain gave up any claims to the region.

There were many tensions in the 1850's, with the nation on course to the Civil War, and diversions between slave owners and abolitionists. The Republican Party was born. Abraham Lincoln was appointed as the 16th President of the USA. The Republicans had decided that there was to be no further expansion of slavery.

Oregonians voted in 1857 to hold a constitutional convention at which a constitution was drafted based on Iowa, Indiana and Michigan States models. By referendum, voters faced three questions. Did they approve the constitution? Did they want slavery? Did they want freed African-Americans to live in Oregon? To the first two questions they voted overwhelmingly yes. To the final questions, they voted 8 to 1 against having the freed slaves live in Oregon. They did not see freed slaves, Indians or women standing equally before the law.

In June 1858, residents of the territory elected officials as defined by their new constitution and in February 1859, Oregon joined the Federal Union and became the 33rd state.


Oregon voters elect six officials to manage the states' Executive Branch of Government. These officials are: the Governor, the Secretary-of-State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of Labor and Industries, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The legislative branch comprises representatives from the 36 counties for the Legislative Assembly.

The Judicial Branch deliberates on civil, criminal and constitutional matters and the judges review the actions of the executive and legislative branches to ensure compliance with the constitution.


From the time of the early settlers from Europe in the 1800's, the forestry resources became the main focus of industrial activity in Oregon. Complemented by agricultural production and exploitation of the fisheries resources, Oregon and specifically, its largest city Portland, became a center with a thriving industrial base.

Due to its timber resources and its location on the pacific coast, Oregon was relied on for its timber and shipyard facilities during World War II. After the war, the state's natural resource industries continued to be the driving force of the economy. Factories, producing lumber and plywood were exported around the country for the construction of houses.


The presence of a vast amount of water from the Oregon Rivers presented further opportunity for the development of hydro generated electricity at a very competitive price and therefore the further diversification of its industrial bases to metal fabrication and the manufacture of paper.

The forest products industry showed strong growth till the 1980's when there was a downturn in the natural economy and a slow down in housing construction. On the heels of this downturn in construction, restriction were introduced on the use of federal forests lands for conservation purposes and Oregon was forced to turn to other activities to sustain its employment base and its economy.

High technology industries were introduced. Semiconductor design and manufacture, as well as software development, instrumentation and computer equipment production were encouraged. With the advent of Dot.Com Industries to the Pacific Northwest states, Oregon has emerged into a highly diversified economy, with high technology, forest products, agricultural goods and processed foods, fabricated metals and transportation equipment.

With access to the Asian markets, Oregon is well placed to take advantage of the reviving Japanese market and the emerging Chinese economy.

Economic Outlook

Oregon's rural communities continue to rely on the natural resource based industries and the state continues to struggle with strategies to assist these communities in promoting their competitive advantages.

With signs that the economic recession is over, Oregon is optimistic that its industrial out-put will outpace the national average. The economic recovery is labeled as a jobless recovery and creates anxiety on the employment front. Positive migration and population growth indicates that Oregon unemployment rate will probably stay above the national average for the foreseeable future. Among the non-manufacturing sectors which show positive growth include services and finance, insurance and real estate.