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240 Map of the San Juan Archipelago and it's Disputed Boundaries

240 Map of the San Juan Archipelago and it's Disputed Boundaries

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The San Juan Archipelago and it's Disputed Boundaries

Located in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, at the meeting point of the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Vancouver Island, the Olympic Peninsula and the continental mainland, the San Juan Archipelago is a group of some 170 islands that is split into two groups on the basis of national sovereignty. On the U.S side is the San Juan Islands in Washington State, and the Gulf Islands makes up a portion of British Columbia, Canada. Spanish explorer Francisco Eliza, who explored the islands between 1790 and 1792, named the islands himself. British explorer George Vancouver, and American explorer Charles Wilkes, soon followed the Spanish into the region. In the 1840s, boundary disputes emerged from the Oregon Treaty, which placed the San Juan Archipelago into contested territory. Boundary reconciliation was reached in 1872, when Great Britain and the United States agreed to use an international arbitrator in the dispute, and ultimately the ruling favored the Haro Strait boundary line, finalizing the U.S.-Canada border in today’s Pacific Northwest.  

The wildlife of the San Juan Archipelago is extraordinary. Hundreds of species of birds are inhabitants to the islands, including seabirds, migrating marine birds, shorebirds, and birds of prey. Great blue herons, peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, oyster catchers, ospreys, and bald eagles are some of the creatures of the air that call the islands home. Black-tailed deer, red fox, and wild turkeys can be spotted, along with an abundance of sea life, which includes Dall's porpoise, seals, stellar sea lions, otters, and a variety of fish including salmon, lingcod and rockfish. Orca whales are regarded as the most famous inhabitants of the San Juan Archipelago.

The plant life of the islands is also diverse, and includes prairie, fir-hemlock-cedar forests, Garry oak woodlands, thickets, lagoons, and wetlands, along with non-native plants, such thistle, tansy ragwort, and blackberry. Douglas firs dominate the drier regions, and other trees include big leaf maple, Pacific madrone, and Pacific yew.

San Juan Archipelago offers a host of activities that everyone can enjoy. From a kayak trip, cycling around Lopez, hiking trails through forests or along the water, to climbing Mount Constitution on Orcas Island, there is no shortage of exciting activities on these islands. Other fun activities, ideal for the entire family includes, zip-lining, horseback riding, paddle boating, horseback riding, and sailing.


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