The Pacific Coast region of western North America was originally inhabited by native people from several culture areas. These included California Indians, the Salishan- and Nadene-speaking Indians of the Pacific Northwest, the Eskimo-Aleut groups of the Bering Sea area, and the Indians of the Columbia Plateau.
The first group explore the region were the Spanish after the discovery of the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Later the United States' desire to acquire the West Coast was a significant factor behind the war with Mexico from 1846 to 1848. In 1850, California was officially admitted to the Union as the 31st state. Both the British and the United States attempted to claim Oregon region in order to establish inland trading operations. Eventually, in 1846, the two countries agreed that anything north of the 49th latitude would belong to the British and anything south of the 49th latitude would belong to the United States. Later the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. Until the admission of Hawaii as a state in 1959, this region represented the borderlands of the United States. The region is still faced with unique issues such as large-scale immigration from Mexico and Central America as well as rapid urban population growth.