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The Yakima Valley is located east of the Cascade foothills and north of the Columbia River, surrounded by velvety rolling hills, with the snow-covered peaks of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier visible in the distance. Situated on Interstate 82, the area enjoys freeway links to Seattle, Portland, OR and Spokane - all within 2-1/2 to 4 hours drive. Regular air service is provided by Horizon Air and United Express; additional air access is available through the Tri-Cities, 74 miles to the southeast, and Sea-Tac International Airport just 2-1/2 hours driving time from Yakima. Yakima County covers 4,296.1 square miles; the City of Yakima covers 16.83 square miles and sits at an altitude of 1,068 feet.
The population of the city of Yakima is approximately 71,845. The population of Yakima County is approximately 222,581. Between 1980 and 1990, Yakima County's population grew at an annual rate of .9%. Since 1990, growth has accelerated and has averaged 1.6 percent through 1996. In addition to the permanent resident base, the county has a large seasonal population related to the agriculture industry. This temporary population has been estimated at up to 50,000 during peak activity. The median age overall is 32.67.
Sometimes touted as the Palm Springs of Washington, the area boasts of having an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. The normal precipitation is just 8 inches a year, almost half of which occurs as snowfall in the months of November, December and January. Average temperatures range in degrees Fahrenheit from 22 to 55 in winter, 36 to 80 in spring, 45 to 87 in summer and 22 to 64 in fall.
There is no income tax in the State of Washington. Sales tax within the city of Yakima is currently at 7.9%; in unincorporated areas within the county the sales tax is 7.6%.
Agriculture is the primary industry in the Yakima Valley, thanks to the rich volcanic soil that covers the valley floor and man-made irrigation systems. Of the 3,072 counties in the United States, Yakima County ranks first in the number of all fruit trees; first in the production of apples, mint, winter pears and hops; and fourth in the value of all fruits. Due to its central location, on a major highway and with both established air and rail transportation systems, Yakima is also an important distribution center.