A Brief Guide to Cascadia

Alex Mellon /
Alex Mellon / | © Culture Trip

Find out everything you need to know about the Cascadia, the bioregion that straddles the coastline of North America.


On the west coast of North America, Cascadia is predominantly made up of three states that believe they share cultural, ecological and environmental ties. Consisting of Oregon and Washington in the US, as well as British Columbia in Canada, it is sometimes referred to as the Pacific Northwest Bioregion.

Although the three states form the bulk of the region, there are arguments that it includes smaller parts of Yukon (in Canada) and Wyoming, Western Montana and Idaho (in the US).


Cascadia; the geologic evolution of the Pacific Northwest was a geology textbook by Bates McKee that was published in 1972. The book was the first to apply the term “Cascadia” to the entire geological region, although there had been a town with the same name in Oregon since the late 19th century. The concept of Cascadia as a bioregion gathered momentum when Seattle University professor David McCloskey proposed the boundaries (which stretched from northern California right up to southeast Alaska). McCloskey was also founder of the Cascadia Institute and co‐chair of Seattle University’s New Ecological Studies Program.

The volunteer-driven CascadiaNow! movement is one of, if not the single largest organisation promoting Cascadia, and more widely, the concept of bioregionalism.
Cascadia are competing at the 2018 CONIFA World Cup, here’s everything you need to know about the tournament.

Political status:

As part of the US and Canada, Cascadia has no actual independence and is governed by the two respective countries. The movement for independence is born out of bioregionalism, whereby the “borders” are defined by natural elements, such as waterways or specific characteristics of the terrain. How humans interact with their environment, through the region’s plant life, wildlife, local materials and sustainability, is essentially what underpins bioregionalism, with Cascadia defined by the likes of the Pacific Ocean, the Snake River Valley and the Great Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains, among others.

In 1991 the Pacific Northwest Economic Region was formed. Its governors are all voting members, along with influential non-profit private and public sector companies and is the only statutory, non-partisan, bi-national, public/private partnership in North America. The Cascadia Mayors Council was founded in 1996, bringing together mayors from cities in the region. The Cascadia Independence Party was founded in 2014.


Washington’s 2010 census showed the state’s population to be 77.3% white, with Oregon’s (in the same year) at 83.6%. Across North America, the largest Asian presence per capita is in British Columbia, where 10% of the population have Chinese ancestry. In Washington and Oregon the Asian population is significantly smaller, with a slightly higher percentage of the population made up of Latin-Americans.

Christianity is the dominant religion, but, according to a 2009 Gallup poll, Oregon, along with Vermont, was found to be one of the two “least religious” states in the United States.


Population: 16 million approx.
Capital: N/A (although Seattle is the area’s largest city).
Major languages: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Chinook Wawa, French dialects
Currency: US dollar, Canadian dollar
Major religions: Christianity

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