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Vancouver, Washington, is Portland's largest suburb by population. It's the seat of Clark County and the fourth-largest city in Washington.

Vancouver was among the first European settlements in the Portland area. It grew up around Fort Vancouver, a military installation named for a British explorer, Capt. George Vancouver.

Today, about a third of Vancouver's labor force works in Oregon. The communities are linked by auto bridges on Interstate 5 and Interstate 205. This is an unusually small number of bridges for two U.S. communities of such size; for example, in the similarly-sized Cincinnati metropolitan area, six auto bridges connect Cincinnati with its Kentucky suburbs, Newport and Covington.

Since at least the mid-20th century, most urban growth in the Vancouver area has occurred outside its city limits, in unincorporated parts of Clark County that have Vancouver addresses. Since the 1990s, the city has sought to expand into more of the surrounding urban area, annexing Cascade Park and part of Orchards, near I-205. More annexations are anticipated in Orchards, Minnehaha and eventually Hazel Dell, Salmon Creek and Felida.

Vancouver's rapid urban growth is sometimes seen as an unintended consequence of Oregon's relatively tight restrictions on development. State Rep. Joe King of Vancouver, the former speaker of the Washington House of Representatives, responded to rapid development in Vancouver and elsewhere by modeling Washington's Growth Management Act of 1990 after Oregon's growth management laws.