The 43rd state admitted to the United States, perhaps best known as the source for an easy crude joke.note
Idaho is a state in the Mountain West region of the United States, easily identified by its distinctive "pointed" shape. To the west, it borders Washington and Oregon; to the south, Nevada and Utah; and to the east, Montana and Wyoming. It also shares a short border with British Columbia in Canada to the north. The etymology of the state's name is uncertain, but it's most likely completely made up. Attempts have been made to link it with an Apache word idaahe meaning "enemy territory" (in reference to the Comanche) — slightly undercut by the fact that neither nation ever lived anywhere near the area. Its capital and largest city is Boise (which is pronounced "boy see," not "boy zee"), and three of the next four largest are the Boise suburbs/satellite cities of Meridian (2), Nampa (3), and Caldwell (5). Other significant cities include Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Coeur d'Alene, and Twin Falls.
The area now known as Idaho has traditionally formed part of the homelands of the Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene, and Shoshone nations. It was one of the last areas in the continental United States to be explored by Europeans or European Americans, which only happened between 1811 and 1812. The first ethnically European inhabitants were fur traders; both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company competed for control of the fur trade along the rivers. Later, Americans started entering the area, the first being Mormons migrating north from Utah Territory. Settlement increased as many migrants heading for Oregon decided to stop along the way; the Oregon Trail cut right through southern Idaho. Idaho Territory was established in 1863, and it was admitted to the Union in 1890.
Today, Idaho's population is around 1.8 million, making it the 13th-least populated and 7th-least densely populated state. However, it's growing fast; it's averaged around 20% growth each census since 1990, and between 2010 and 2020 was the second-fastest growing state after Utah. Culturally, it can be broken down broadly into three regions:
- East Idaho: This region, consisting of thirteen counties, borders Utah and Wyoming. Due to its proximity to Utah, this region has a substantial Mormon influence, with the state containing the third highest Mormon population after Utah and California. The potatoes the state is famed for are mostly grown in this region, especially in communities adjacent to the state's biggest city outside of the Boise metro, Idaho Falls. Other cities include Blackfoot, Pocatello (home to Idaho State University), and Rexburg.
- The Panhandle: Consists of the ten northernmost counties. While the rest of Idaho observes Mountain Time, almost all of this region has ties to the Washington city of Spokane and observes Pacific Time.note Most of the population lives around US Highway 95 and within half an hour from the Washington state border. Landscapes to the west are influenced by Eastern Washington, with the Columbia Basin, Palouse Hills, and an assortment of forests, mountains, and lakes to the north. The area also gets more forested, mountainous, and sparsely populated further east. It also has the highest proportion of Native Americans in the state, with three of the state's five reservationsnote . Cities include Coeur d'Alene, its suburb/satellite city of Post Falls, Lewiston (the original territorial capital of Idaho), Moscow (home to the University of Idaho), and Sandpoint.
- South Idaho: Most of the population lives around the Snake River, but the region is vast and diverse, ranging from the mountains of the sparsely-populated central region to the arid Northern Basin in the very southwest. Outside of the Boise metropolitan area, major cities include Burley, Hailey, Mountain Home, Payette, and Twin Falls.
Like most of its Mountain West neighbors, Idaho is famed for its state and national parks, which attract tourists from all over the world to admire the views; Sun Valley and Brundage Mountain to the south and Schweitzer Mountain and the Silver Valley to the north are famous for their ski resorts. Within the US, it's also well known as a source of potatoes. Other major industries include mining, chemical manufacturing, and lumber. The federal government also has a strong presence in the state, including the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory.
In politics, Idaho is generally considered a safe Republican state. Republicans have a lock on the governorship, state legislature, and Congressional delegation, and this seems unlikely to change without major demographic shifts (the state has seen an influx of Californians over the last 10-15 years, but since these are generally the most conservative Californians and they're leaving because of the Golden State's sapphire blue hue, they've just served to further entrench GOP control in Idaho). However, Boise, like most American cities, is much more pro-Democratic party and generally elects Democratic mayors (Ada County, which contains Boise and approximately one-quarter of the state's population, still remains stubbornly Republican, although Democrats have been making gains in the late 2010s). The few other pockets of Democratic support include Blaine County (home to the Sun Valley ski resort), Latah County (which is home to the University of Idaho), and Teton County (which is a gateway to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park in neighboring Wyoming — not coincidentally, Teton County, Wyoming is essentially the only Democratic stronghold in that staunchly conservative state apart from the city of Laramie note .
Works set in or shot at Idaho:
- Dante's Peak - The titular resort town was set somewhere in Washington but filmed in the North Idaho town of Wallace.
- The short lived The Grinder was set in Boise
- My Own Private Idaho
- Napoleon Dynamite - Shot at and took place in the town of Preston in the southeast.
- Pale Rider - set in California but mostly shot in the Boulder Mountains and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
- The River Wild
- Toys - Set in Moscow
- Wayward Pines
- Built To Spill (Boise)
- Bill Fagerbakke (born in California, raised in Rupert)
- Ernest Hemingway (moved to Sun Valley later in his life)
- Margaux Hemingway (born in Oregon, moved to Sun Valley)
- Mariel Hemingway (born in California, moved to Sun Valley)
- Patrick McManus (often wrote about his childhood in Blight, Idaho, a No Communities Were Harmed version of his hometown of Sandpoint)
- Genevieve Padalecki (born in California, later moved to Sun Valley)
- Sarah Palin (born in Sandpoint)
- Aaron Paul (Emmett)
- Paul Revere and the Raiders (Boise)
- William Petersen (born in Illinois, moved to Boise)
- Sydney Sweeney (born in Washington, raised in NW Idaho)