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The deserts in the vicinity of the Columbia River gradually give way to rolling wheat fields of the Palouse as you move farther east. Taking the Columbia River as the rough western boundary, the Inland Empire can be considered that part of Washington that views Spokane as its major urban center. Except for the northern border areas with Canada, which never as hot and dry, desert-like conditions give way to more temperate conditions as you travel east.

Irrigation, much of it resulting from the Grand Coulee Dam, even the dry parts have become important agriculturally.

The major urban centers are the tri-cities of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, Walla Walla, and Pullman, home of Washington State University.

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