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Salem is the capital of Oregon State, a U.S. state on the Pacific coast. The city of Salem lies in the Willamette Valley and is bisected by the Willamette River. It serves as the county seat of Marion County. Salem is in both Polk and Marion counties, with the river functioning as the boundary between counties. The city of Salem is a mid-sized city - with about 154,600 people, it is the third largest in Oregon after the cities of Portland and Eugene.

The city of Salem is the main city in the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area. This area serves more than 395,000 residents. The larger city of Portland is less than one hour away.

Within a decade after its founding in 1842, the city of Salem was named the capital of the Oregon Territory, usurping Oregon City for that title. Some years later, Salem was replaced for nearly a year as capital by the nearby Corvallis City, before being restored once again to its former status. Salem was incorporated as a city in the year 1857, making it one of Oregon's oldest communities. The original name of the region was Chemeketa, a Native American word that translates to "resting place" or "meeting".

The city's first two Capitol buildings were destroyed by fire. One of these was modeled partially after the U.S. Capitol building and had a dome made of copper. The current Oregon State Capitol building was constructed in the year 1938. Its capital dome is surmounted by a gold-plated pioneer statue, referred to as the Oregon Pioneer.

Salem has many Educational Institutions, including Willamette University, Corban University, Oregon School for the deaf, Chemeketa Community College and Chemawa Indian School. The largest public employer of Salem is the State of Oregon. Salem Hospital is the largest private employer with practically 3,000 staff.

As a major agricultural food processing center, the city of Salem serves as a focal point for the neighboring farming communities. Correctional facilities provide a large number of jobs. In addition to being the home of Oregon State Penitentiary, the only maximum security facility within Oregon, Salem has four state correctional facilities and the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Important companies include GE Security, the T-Mobile Calling Center, NORPAC Foods, Inc., Wells Fargo Customer Contact Center, Sanyo and Roth's Family Market. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde operate the Spirit Mountain Casino west of Salem City.