Bellingham is the largest city in and the county seat of Whatcom County, in northwestern Washington. It is the fifth-largest city in the state after Tacoma, Alki, Spokane and Fort Vancouver with a 2010 population of 198,455 people. Initially a port city, the city and surrounding county flourished during the tech boom of the 1990s and early 2000s in the Pacific Northwest, where employees of companies in Pacifica moved to the surrounding area to avoid income taxes and take advantage of lower property taxes. The city is home to the global headquarters of Whitney Computers, which operates two of its seven major manufacturing centers in the greater Bellingham area and has a campus in north Bellingham, formerly an unincorporated part of Whatcom County. Bellingham is also home to numerous smaller tech companies including mobile software company GoWare and is home to Western Washington University.

Bellingham is also frequented by historians and enthusiasts of the Alaskan War, as the city and its environs were the site of numerous engagements, battles and campaigns during the war, best known for the First and Second Battles of Bellingham, in the fall of 1884 and 1885, respectively. Because of being the site of violent fighting, few buildings in the city are older than 1888 or 1889. The city, and Whatcom County around it, comprise the most significantly contested land in Washington State during the war.

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