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Note that these types of definitions are often made by government agencies whose scope is limited to the United States.In addition to the conventional grouping of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia, some definitions also include Southeast Alaska, western Montana, the coast of northern California, and a small part of northwestern Wyoming.
The Northwest Coast is the coastal region of the Pacific Northwest and the Northwest Plateau (also commonly known as "the Interior" in British Columbia and the Inland Empire in the United States) is the inland region.
The term "Pacific Northwest" should not be confused with the Northwest Territory (also known as the Great Northwest, a historical term in the United States) or the Northwest Territories of Canada.
The region's largest metropolitan areas are Greater Seattle, Washington, with 3.7 million people, A key aspect of the Pacific Northwest is the US–Canada international border, which the United States and the United Kingdom established at a time when the region's inhabitants were composed mostly of indigenous peoples.
At this landing site, probably near present-day San Francisco, Drake made a symbolic claim of the region for England, naming it New Albion.
Juan de Fuca, a Greek captain sailing for the Crown of Spain, supposedly found the Strait of Juan de Fuca around 1592.
The coastal migration hypothesis has been bolstered by findings such as the report that the sediments in the Port Eliza caves on Vancouver Island indicate the possibility of survivable climate as far back as 16 ka (16,000 years) in the area, while the continental ice sheets were nearing their maximum extent.