Spokane (play /spoʊˈkæn/, us dict: spō·kăn′) is a city located in the Northwestern United States in the state of Washington. It is the largest city and county seat of Spokane County, as well as the metropolitan center of the Inland Northwest region. The city is located on the Spokane River in Eastern Washington, 110 miles (180 km) south of the Canadian border, approximately 20 miles (32 km) from the Washington-Idaho border, and 271 miles (436 km) east of Seattle.
David Thompson explored the Spokane area and began European settlement with the westward expansion and establishment of the North West Company’s Spokane House in 1810. This trading post was the first long-term European settlement in Washington and the center of the fur trade between the Rockies and the Cascades for 16 years. In the late 1800s, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest. The Spokane area is considered to be one of the most productive mining districts in North America. Spokane’s economy has traditionally been natural resource based, however, the city’s economy has diversified to encompass other industries, including the high-tech and biotech sectors.
The city of Spokane (then known as “Spokane Falls”) was settled in 1871 and officially incorporated as a city in 1881. The city’s name is drawn from the Native American tribe known as the Spokane, which means “Children of the Sun” in Salish. The name is often mispronounced “Spo-CAIN”, while the correct pronunciation is “Spo-CAN”. Spokane’s official nickname is the “Lilac City”, named after the flowers that have flourished since their introduction to the area in the early 20th century. Completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought major settlement to the Spokane area.
With a population of 202,319 as of 2008, Spokane is the second largest city in Washington, and the third largest in the American portion of the Pacific Northwest, behind Seattle, and Portland, Oregon. The City Of Spokane is slightly larger than Tacoma. Spokane is the principal city of the Spokane Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is coterminous with Spokane County. As of 2008, the county had a population of 462,677.
Directly east of Spokane County is the Coeur d’Alene Metropolitan Statistical Area, comprised entirely of Kootenai County, Idaho; the combined population of the two counties was estimated at 600,152 in 2008, fourth largest in the Pacific Northwest behind Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, Canada.
Spokane’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is expected to be officially combined with Kootenai County by the Federal Government and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget once the 2010 Census is tallied. The new MSA is likely to be named “Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Metropolitan Area”. It is expected that by that time, the area will have upwards of 650,000, and this change will occur no later than 2013.