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Idaho Facts

Idaho is in the northwestern United States. Although it’s the 14th largest of the U.S. states, it’s also the 12th least populous.


It’s known for potatoes, scenic mountain landscapes, miles of protected wilderness, and outdoor recreation areas.

Related: Idaho State History

The Boise River is a popular destination for fishing and rafting, and Idaho has thousands of trails for walking, hiking, and biking.


Quick Facts

Capital: Boise

Population: 1.7 million

Nickname: The Gem State

Key Cities: Meridian, Boise, Nampa, Idaho Falls

Postal Abbreviation: ID

Major Industries: Manufacturing, healthcare, tourism, agriculture, food and beverage

farmer in field


How did Idaho get its name: When Congress was considering developing a new territory in the Rocky Mountains, a lobbyist named George M. Willing suggested the name “Idaho.”

He claimed it was from a Shoshone word meaning “Gem of the Mountains.”

US Congress

It turned out that Willing had made the word up, but his lie wasn’t discovered until the name Idaho was already commonly used.

Date admitted to the Union: Thursday, July 3, 1890


Size: 83,642 sq. miles

Lowest point: Snake River at 710 feet


Highest point: Borah Peak at 12,662 feet

Counties: 44

Famous locations: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Sun Valley Resort, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Shoshone Falls, Bear River Massacre Historical Site


Famous Idahoans

Ezra Pound- poet

Torrie Wilson- wrestler

Scout Willis- actress


Joe Albertson- grocery chain founder

Amanda Moore- model

James F. Reilly- astronaut

nasa moon astronauts

Fun Facts

Idaho is nicknamed “The Gem State” because almost every known type of gemstone has been found in the state, including the largest diamond discovered in the United States.

More than 72 gemstones are mined from Idaho.

The state produces 1/3 of all the potatoes grown in the United States. That’s about 27 billion potatoes each year!

How to Make a Potato Clock

Idaho even has a potato museum that features the world’s largest potato chip and the world’s largest Styrofoam potato.

It’s also home to the Spud Drive-In Giant Potato, where you can go to the movies and pose with a giant (fake) potato.


Idaho’s Boise State University Broncos play on the only blue football field in the world. It’s known as the Smurf Turf!

Idaho is a nature lover’s dream. It has 3,100 miles of rivers, which is more than any other state in the nation.

Niagara Falls State Park

The state’s Shoshone Falls is nicknamed “the Niagara of the West” and actually drops 45 feet more than the real Niagara Falls.

And at 7,900 feet, Idaho’s Hells Canyon is the deepest gorge in the United States, even deeper than the Grand Canyon.


Idaho’s combined wilderness spans over 4.7 million acres, larger than the three smallest states in the nation (Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut) combined.

Inspired by its famous potatoes, Idaho has come up with some odd potato-themed treats.


“Ice cream potatoes,” made with vanilla ice cream, cocoa, and whipped cream, are meant to look like baked potatoes topped with sour cream.

ice cream

One candy company in Idaho also makes the “Idaho Spud,” a marshmallow covered with chocolate and coconut.

United States


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