The Gem State

Where is it?

State Flag




Geographic coordinates:
42° N to 49° N
111° W to 117° W
total:83,574 sq mi
land: 82,751 sq mi
water: 823 sq mi
coastline: N/A
shoreline: N/A
Bordering States:
Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: 709 ft
highest point: Borah Peak 12,662 ft
The landscape is rugged with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the country. It is a Rocky Mountain state with exciting scenery and enormous natural resources. The state has towering, snow-capped mountain ranges, swirling white rapids, peaceful lakes and steep canyons. The churning waters of Snake River rush through Hells Canyon, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon. Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than that of Niagara Falls. The major rivers in Idaho are the Snake River, the Clearwater River and the Salmon River. Other significant rivers include the Boise River and the Payette River. Idaho's highest point (12,662 feet) is Borah Peak in the Lost River Mountains north of Mackay. Idaho's lowest point is in Lewiston, where the Clearwater River joins the Snake River and continues into Washington.




1,634,464 (2014)
Largest City:
Boise: 205,671 (2010)
Age structure:
0-5 years old: 7.4%
<18 years old: 26.7%
65 years and over: 11.4%
Male: 50.1% Female: 49.9%
Population growth rate:
10.4% (2000-2005)
Population density:
15.64 per sq mi
Race(2000 Census):
White non-Hispanic: 87.2%
Hispanic: 8.9%
Black: 0.6%
Asian: 1.0%
Native American: 1.4%
Native Native Idahon or Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Multi-Race: 1.3%
Christian: 79%
Other: <1%
Non-Religious: 20%




Humans may have been present in the Idaho area as long as 14,500 years ago. Excavations at Wilson Butte Cave near Twin Falls in 1959 revealed evidence of human activity, including arrowheads, that rank among the oldest dated artifacts in North America. Native American tribes predominant in the area included the Nez Perce in the north and the Northern and Western Shoshone in the south. Idaho, as part of the Oregon Country, was claimed by both the United States and United Kingdom until the United States gained undisputed jurisdiction in 1846. Between then and the creation of the Idaho Territory in 1863, parts of the present-day state were included in the Oregon, Washington, and Dakota Territories. The new territory included most of present-day Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. After some tribulation as a territory, including the chaotic transfer of the territorial capital from Lewiston to Boise and a federal attempt to split the territory between Washington Territory and the state of Nevada, Idaho achieved statehood in 1890. The economy of the state, which had been primarily supported by metal mining, shifted towards agriculture and tourism. In recent years, Idaho has changed itself from an agricultural and tourism state into a science and technology center. Science and technology has become the largest single economic center (over 25% of the State's total revenue) within the State and is greater than agriculture, forestry and mining combined. However, potatoes are still the best source of wealth to its economy.




July 3, 1890 (43rd State)
State Tree:
Western White Pine
State Bird:
Mountain Bluebird
State Flower:
The constitution of Idaho provides for 3 branches of government: the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Idaho has a bicameral legislature, elected from 35 legislative districts, each represented by one senator and two representatives. Idaho still operates under its original (1889) state constitution. Since 1946 statewide elected constitutional officers have been elected to four-year terms. They include: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller (Auditor before 1994), Treasurer, Attorney General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. Last contested in 1966, Inspector of Mines was an original elected constitutional office. Afterwards it was an appointed position and ultimately done away with entirely in 1974. Idaho is an alcohol monopoly or Alcoholic beverage control state.




Gross state product for 2004 was US$43.6 billion. The per capita income for 2004 was US$26,881.

Idaho is an important agricultural state, producing nearly one third of the potatoes grown in the United States. Other important agricultural products are beans, lentils, sugar beets, cattle, dairy products, wheat, and barley.

Important industries in Idaho are food processing, lumber and wood products, machinery, chemical products, paper products, electronics manufacturing, silver and other mining, and tourism. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), a government lab for nuclear energy research, is also an important part of the eastern Idaho economy.

Today, the largest industry in Idaho is the science and technology sector. It amounts for over 25% of the State's total revenue and 70%+ of the State's exports (in dollars). Idaho's industrial economy is growing, with high-tech products leading the way. Since the late 1970s, Boise has emerged as a center for semiconductor manufacturing. Boise is the home of Micron Technology Inc., the only U.S. manufacturer of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Hewlett-Packard has operated a large plant in Boise, in southwestern Idaho, since the 1970s, which is devoted primarily to laserjet printer production. Dell, Inc. operates a major customer support call center in Twin Falls.

The state personal income tax ranges from 1.6% to 7.8% in 8 income brackets. Idahoans may apply for state tax credits for taxes paid to other states, as well as for donations to Idaho state educational entities and some nonprofit youth and rehabilitation facilities.

The state sales tax is 5%. Sales tax applies to the sale, rental or lease of tangible personal property and some services. Food is taxed, but prescription drugs are not. Hotel, motel, and campground accommodations are taxed at a higher rate (7% to 11%). Some jurisdictions impose local option sales tax.