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Olympia, WA

Olympia, Washington, was given its name due to the fact that the majestic Olympic Mountains could be seen from the town's site off to the northwest. Founded in 1853, it became the state capital when Washington became a state in 1889. It is also the county seat of Thurston County.

Olympia covers 18.5 square miles at the southern end of the Puget Sound. Capital Lake, one of the lakes in the area, was created in Olympia as a result of damming the Deschutes River estuary. While the city has suffered earthquake damage over the years (in 1949, 1965, and 2001), it still provides a stable and structured environment for Olympia's approximately 45,000 residents.

Residents of the city enjoy sunny and warm summers, but their winters are very gray with a heavy rainfall. There is often a veil of fog over the city during the winter and, during the months from November to February, flooding of the city's creeks, rivers, and city streets is common.

Much of the arts and culture scene of Olympia comes as a result of nearby Evergreen State College. In 2003, Olympia was named by Outside magazine as one of the best college towns in the United States.


There are a number of private schools and public schools in Olympia that educate the town's young residents. More than 12,000 students are enrolled in Olympia's 25 public schools, which are taught by nearly 600 teachers to create a student-to-teacher ratio of 21-to-1. The area's 11 private schools enroll just more than 1,000 students, who are taught by about 100 teachers. The student-to-teacher ratio in private schools is much lower at 11-to-1.

Olympia also has options for those seeking higher education:


Olympia has historically relied heavily on its port facilities and its lumber-based industries. Later, oyster farming and dairying became integral to the city's economy. After World War II, the city became a major transportation and service center for local lumber communities.

When compared to nearby towns and cities, Olympia has a small number of technology-based companies. Rather, it relies on the production of wood products, processed foods, metals, and paper products.

State employment is the largest employer in Olympia. Providence St. Peter Hospital is the largest private employer. Local and tribal government and public school districts are also major employers.


Olympia prides itself on being a very walkable city. Many of the neighborhoods are specifically designed to be pedestrian-friendly:


Cultural attractions in Olympia include:


Activities enjoyed in Olympia include bicycling, boating, canoeing, kayaking, golfing, hiking, and gambling. Annual events for residents and visitors to consider include:


Olympia is known as a culturally vivacious city and has a vibrant music scene. Riot grrrl band Sleater-Kinney took its name from the city's Sleater-Kinney Road. Kurt Cobain, front man for the grunge band Nirvana, wrote most of the band's album Nevermind while living in the city. Courtney Love's band, Hole, wrote and recorded "Olympia," a song on its album Live Through This, and Rancid, another nationally known band, offered its tribute to the city in "Olympia, WA."

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