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Tillamook County is a county in the state of Oregon, located along the Pacific Coast. The county is a coastal county, with all its incorporated communities located within a few miles of the coast. Much of the county is taken up by the sparsely inhabited Oregon Coast Range, however. The county is about medium sized by the standards of Oregon counties, at about 1100 square miles, which still makes it a little larger than Luxembourg and a little smaller than Rhode Island. It is much more sparsely populated than either of those, however, with a population of around 25,000. Any population figure given for Tillamook County is probably somewhat deceiving, since the county has many part time residents, as described below.

Tillamook County, like almost any other area in the Western States, was first settled by Europeans seeking to exploit natural resources, specifically timber, fishing and agriculture. Of these three, agriculture is probably the most important, with the lush flood plain around the city of Tillamook providing prime land for dairy farming and also cheese making. However, perhaps even more important than even agriculture is tourism. The county lies along the scenic Oregon Coast, and is an hour or so drive from the almost two million people living in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. As such, there are many people who make the area their second home, or who stay in hotels or take day trips to the area. The narrative of Tillamook County's economic and social development is a familiar one for many rural areas in the Western States: an area originally founded around natural resources switching to an economy based on other things, in this case tourism. It is also undergoing many of the same political shifts as other rural areas in the United States. In 2004, for example, the vote went slightly for Bush, and in 2008, it went slight for Obama.

Tillamook County can be a very beautiful place, having both long reaches of natural coastline and fairly large mountains. However, like many naturally beautiful places, some of the developed areas in it are somewhat ugly. Some of the tourist locations are crowded, noisy and expensive. I don't imagine that I would want to live there for long, because like many such places, it is a good place to visit, but probably not a good place to live. I myself don't mind this much, I find it part of the coastal experience, with the fervent development contrasting with nature's equally fervent ability to break things down under a steady wind of salt and the type of vegetative growth that happens in an area with 90 inches of rain a year. In time and space, the county fades from glossiness and busyness to densely, deeply forested thickets that seem to want to press into the little crossroads towns.

Sources: Oregon Blue Book entry
2008 Election Results

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