The Tri-Cities is a metropolitan area in the southeastern part of the US state of Washington, consisting of Benton and Franklin counties. Three neighboring cities are the principal cities for the metropolitan area: Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. The cities are located at the confluence of the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers in the semi-arid region of the Southeastern Washington. A fourth neighboring city, West Richland, is generally included as part of the Tri-City area and region.
The population of the metropolitan area was 228,992 at the 2007 Census estimates. If the Tri-Cities were a single city, it would be the fourth largest city in the state of Washington, behind Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma.
The Tri-Cities Airport located in Pasco provides the region with commercial and private air service. Pasco is the seat of Franklin County, while the other cities are located in Benton County.
Pasco was the first of the Tri-Cities to be incorporated, in 1891. Kennewick was incorporated in 1904, and Richland followed in 1910. West Richland was founded by dissatisfied residents of Richland, who wished to be home owners rather than renters of government-owned houses, after the arrival of Hanford. Despite attempts by Richland to annex the community, they remained separate and eventually became incorporated in 1955. Pasco was the largest city in the Tri-Cities until the founding of Hanford, mostly due to its railroad station. It also had the most land for easy irrigation and farming. Farming was the basis of virtually every sector of the economy in the early years.
Climate and geography:
The Tri-Cities are in a semi-arid climate, receiving an average of 7 to 8 inches of precipitation every year. Winds periodically exceed 30 mph when Chinook wind conditions exist. There are 300 days of sunshine every year and average temperatures range from as low as 10 degrees F in the winter to as high as 110 degrees F in the summer, and even reached 115 degrees F in July 2006. The region receives occasional snow most years. Thanks to the aforementioned rivers, a large amount of cheap irrigation is available.
- Current higher education opportunities in the Tri-Cities include: Washington State University, a four-year branch campus of Washington State University located in Richland.
- Columbia Basin College, a mid-sized four-year institution (6000 students). The main campus is located in Pasco while a branch campus and a large nursing school are located in Richland.
- Tri-Tech Skills Center, a smaller vocational school run by the Kennewick School District and located in Kennewick.