About Idaho

Many people don’t know much about Idaho except “famous potatoes.” But, since you are here, you would probably like to know more.

Adjacent to Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho is a big state. It’s been said if you flatten all the mountains in Idaho, the state would be the size of Texas. Idaho covers two time zones, runs from Canada to Nevada, and encompasses the western side of the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains. Rivers, mountains and farmland dominate the state’s landscape. The panhandle has emerald green hillsides, timbered mountains and pristine lakes. Central Idaho is covered with jagged peaks. The Snake River Plain, with its wide open vistas, irrigated farm lands and vibrant cities forms the character of Southern Idaho.

Idaho’s history lies with its native tribes, the Lewis and Clark Expedition and determined pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Today’s Idaho is both cosmopolitan and small-town friendly. Boise, the capital and largest city, developed near Fort Boise along the Oregon Trail has grown to a population of 190,000. Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are Idaho’s major industries. Abundant outdoor recreation opportunities and scenic vistas around every turn attract over 20 million tourists annually.

Whichever part of this magnificent state you choose to discover, you’ll find spectacular scenery, fun things to do and friendly, helpful people. You’ll also find a place that’s unhurried, unspoiled and unassuming. So linger awhile and discover Idaho.

Facts About Idaho

As the 13th largest state in the U.S., Idaho produces 72 types of precious and semi-precious stones. Some of these stones can be found nowhere else in the world, which is why our great state is known as The Gem State.

Population: 1,567,582 (2010 Census)
Land Area: 83,557 square miles
Capital City: Boise
Date of Statehood: July 3rd, 1890
Highest Elevation: 12,662 ft. (Mt. Borah)
Lowest Elevation: 738 ft. (Lewiston, ID)
Water Area: 823 square miles
River Miles: 3,100 miles (more than any other state)

State Flag and Seal

Idaho State Flag A silk flag, with a blue field, 5 feet 6 inches high, 4 feet 4 inches on pike is bordered by gilt fringe 2 1/2 inches wide, with the State Seal of Idaho in the center. The words “State of Idaho” are embroidered in gold block letters two inches high on a red band below the Great Seal. It was adopted by the 1907 legislature. The state seal was designed by Emma Edwards Green.

State Flower: The Syringa (Philadelphus lewisii)

SyringaThe syringa was designated the state flower of Idaho by the legislature in 1931. It is a branching shrub up to 12 feet tall with clusters of white, fragrant flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer. The blossoms are similar to the mock orange, have four petals, and the flowers grow at the ends of short, leafy branches.

State Bird: The Mountain Bluebird (Sialia arctcia)

Mountain BluebirdThe mountain bluebird was adopted as the state bird for Idaho by the state legislature in 1931. The Bluebird is about seven inches long, has an azure blue coat, and a blue vest with white under-feathers. The mother bird wears a quiet blue-gray dress and usually lays six or seven blue-white eggs. The Bluebird’s nest is usually built in a hollow tree or in a crevice. The Bluebird is very neat about its home and carries all refuse some distance from the nest.

State Tree: The Western White Pine (Pinus Monticola pinaceae)

Western White PineOur state tree is probably most notable since the largest remaining stand of this timber in the United States grows in the northern part of Idaho. Tall and slender, the Western White Pine is native to forests of the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia to Montana and as far south as central California. It has blue-green needles, slender cones and can grow to 100 ft. It has many other fine qualities such as straight grain and soft, even texture. The Western White Pine was named Idaho’s state tree in 1935.

State Horse: Appaloosa

AppaloosaThe Appaloosa was the first horse breed to be acquired by the Nez Perce tribe around the 1700’s leading to the tribe developing into excellent horsemen and breeders. Settlers began to refer to their horses as “a Palouse horse” in reference to the Palouse River in north Central Idaho. The term evolved from that to “Palousey”, “Appalousey” and finally “Appaloosa”. An Appaloosa Horse Club was chartered in 1938 and has become one of the leading equine breed registries in the world. The Appaloosa was named Idaho’s state horse in 1975 because of its importance to Idaho history.

State Fruit: Wild Huckleberry
Fish: Cutthroat Trout
Gem: Star Garnet
Dance: Square Dance
Motto: “Esto Perpetua” meaning “It is perpetual.”

Major Industries

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Health Care
  3. Tourism
  4. Agriculture
  5. Food Processing
  6. Timber
  7. Mining

#1 National Producer

  1. Potatoes
  2. Trout
  3. Austrian Winter Peas
  4. Lentils

12 Largest Cities (2010 Census)

1. Boise: 205,671
2. Nampa: 81,557
3. Meridian: 75,092
4. Idaho Falls: 56,813
5. Pocatello: 54,255
6. Caldwell: 46,237
7. Coeur d’Alene: 44,137
8. Twin Falls: 44,125
9. Lewiston: 31,894
10. Post Falls: 27,574
11. Rexburg: 25,484
12. Moscow: 23,800

Moving to Idaho


Idaho’s climate is diverse and influenced by weather patterns off the Pacific Ocean. Generally, the northern part of the state receives more precipitation than southern Idaho, which has warmer summer temperatures.

City Elevation Annual Precip. Mean Snowfall Jul. High Temp. Jan. Low Temp.
Boise 2,840 ft. 12.1 in. 21.3 in. 90.2 21.6
Coeur d’Alene 2,158 ft. 25.9 in. 52.2 in. 85.4 23.3
Idaho Falls 4,730 ft. 10.9 in. 37.5 in. 86.0 10.0
Lewiston 1,440 ft. 12.4 in. 19.8 in. 89.0 27.6
Pocatello 4,450 ft. 12.1 in. 47.2 in. 88.1 14.4
Twin Falls 3,670 ft. 10.4 in. 31.3 in. 85.0 18.6

Cost of Living

Based on average housing costs, utilities, health care, transportation, groceries and other services, Idaho’s cost of living is the second lowest of the 11 western states.

Crime Rate

According to FBI statistics, Idaho’s crime rate is the lowest in the West. The rate of serious crime is 21.3 percent less than the national average.


Idaho ranks in the top third among the 50 states for percentage of adults aged 25 and older who
have graduated from high school (84.7 percent). Nearly 64% of the state’s general fund is dedicated to
education and almost 94% of school age children attend public schools. Almost every city with a population
over 20,000 has a college or university and six professional-technical training centers provide vocational
education as well.

Environmental Quality

Much of Idaho’s surface water flows out of the high mountains and is generally of high quality. Air quality is good throughout the year with the exception of winter temperature inversions and the effects of pollen in a few locations.


Idaho’s housing costs are moderate and affordable with homes available from modest cottages to executive estates. Values will vary from one city to another. Median home values in major cities are:

Boise $234,904
Coeur d’Alene $222,923
Idaho Falls $177,447
Lewiston $163,080
Pocatello $156,082
Twin Falls $155,741

Jobs and Employment

Idaho has a strong and diversified economy. Manufacturing and agriculture remain top industries while high-tech, tourism, retail, healthcare, business and information services are growth sectors. For job listings start with Idaho Commerce and Labor, which has 24 offices scattered throughout the state.

For starting or relocating a business, visit commerce.idaho.gov/business.


Boise Idaho Statesman
Coeur d’Alene The Coeur d’Alene Press
Idaho Falls The Post Register
Moscow The Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Nampa Idaho Press Tribune
Pocatello The Idaho State Journal
Twin Falls The Times News


Idaho’s population is 1,523,816 (2008)

Boise 205,314
Nampa 80,362
Meridian 66,916
Pocatello 54,901
Idaho Falls 54,334

For a longer list of cities download population data from Idaho Department of Commerce.

Residential Energy Costs

Idaho provides a substantial energy cost advantage over much of the nation. Natural gas rates are competitive and residential electric rates are among the lowest in the country.


The combined total of state and local taxes on income, property, sales and autos for a family of four with a $25,000 annual income in Boise is lower than comparable tax in the largest city of 44 other states. For an income level of $50,000, Boise’s total tax is lower than the largest city of 30 other states.

In fiscal year 2002, 36 of the 50 states had higher overall taxes per $1,000 of total personal income than Idaho and all but seven states had higher overall taxes per capita.

Idaho’s income tax parallels the federal government in that the same deductions are allowed and the same income is taxed. Idaho income tax rates range from 1.6 percent to 7.4 percent of taxable income.

The Idaho Blue Book, filled with information on Idaho’s history, government, economy, education system and recreational opportunities, can be purchased for $10 from the Secretary of State, Room 203, Statehouse, Boise, ID 83720-0080.

Idaho Regions

There’s plenty to see and lots to do in Idaho. Cast a line. Hike a trail. Raft a river. You’ll get away from it all yet still feel at home.

  • North Idaho

    Sapphire Lakes. Thick forests. Amazing wildlife. Set your own pace to explore and enjoy all the beauty and adventure of North Idaho.

  • North Central Idaho

    Trace the steps of Lewis & Clark as they sought a “Northwest Passage” to the Pacific. Journey through the forests and rivers of Nez Perce territory. North Central Idaho: take a lesson in history while enjoying world-class adventure.

  • Southwest Idaho

    The capital city offers cultural experiences from the Boise Art Museum, to the Basque Block and the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. Just minutes outside of Boise you’ll find raptors gliding above high deserts and rocky canyons.

  • Central Idaho

    See Idaho’s tallest mountain peak, cast your line in Hemingway’s favorite creek, raft for days on the famous Middle Fork or Main Salmon River. Enjoy Central Idaho’s outdoor adventures, history, and scenery whether you’re camping under the stars or staying at a resort hotel.

  • South Central Idaho

    Rock climb, horseback ride, or photograph your way through national reserves and state parks filled with impressive granite formations. South Central Idaho: revel in the region’s natural history, distinctive landscape, and mighty rivers.

  • East Idaho

    Eastern Idaho is adventure’s second home. Here you’ll find wildlife roaming the pristine landscapes framed by mountains and carved by some of the best rivers in the west. Eastern Idaho is both a sportsman’s paradise and a sightseer’s must-see destination.

  • Southeast Idaho

    Take in the scenery and recreation of a 20 mile long turquoise-blue lake. Relax in hot springs powered by an ancient volcano. Southeastern Idaho: Come and indulge yourself in Idaho’s pioneering roots, Native American history, bubbling hot springs, and outdoor adventures.