Portland (/ˈpɔːrtlənd/, PORT-lənd) is the largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in Northwestern Oregon. As of 2019, Portland had an estimated population of 654,741, making it the 26th most populated city in the United States, the sixth-most populous on the West Coast, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest after Seattle. Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous in the United States. Its combined statistical area (CSA) ranks 19th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon’s population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.[a]
Named after Portland, Maine, the Oregon settlement began to be populated in the 1830s near the end of the Oregon Trail. Its water access provided convenient transportation of goods, and the timber industry was a major force in the city’s early economy. At the turn of the 20th century, the city had a reputation as one of the most dangerous port cities in the world, a hub for organized crime and racketeering. After the city’s economy experienced an industrial boom during World War II, its hard-edged reputation began to dissipate. Beginning in the 1960s, Portland became noted for its growing progressive political values, earning it a reputation as a bastion of counterculture.
The city operates with a commission-based government guided by a mayor and four commissioners as well as Metro, the only directly elected metropolitan planning organization in the United States. The city government is notable for its land-use planning and investment in public transportation. Portland is frequently recognized as one of the world’s greenest cities to live and Portland was the first city to enact a comprehensive plan to reduce CO2 emissions. Its climate is marked by warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. This climate is ideal for growing roses, and Portland has been called the “City of Roses” for over a century.
During the prehistoric period, the land that would become Portland was flooded after the collapse of glacial dams from Lake Missoula, in what would later become Montana. These massive floods occurred during the last ice age and filled the Willamette Valley with 300 to 400 feet (91 to 122 m) of water.
Before American colonizers began arriving in the 1800s, the land was inhabited for many centuries by two bands of indigenous Chinook people – the Multnomah and the Clackamas. The Chinook people occupying the land were first documented in 1805 by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Before its European settlement, the Portland Basin of the lower Columbia River and Willamette River valleys had been one of the most densely populated regions on the Pacific Coast.