The San Juan Islands are part of the U.S. state of Washington.
In the archipelago, four islands are accessible by passenger ferry operated by the Washington State Ferries system.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) defines the San Juan Islands as the archipelago north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, west of Rosario Strait, east of Haro Strait, and south of Boundary Pass.
To the north lie the open waters of the Strait of Georgia. The USGS definition coincides with San Juan County. Islands not in San Juan County are not part of the San Juan Islands, according to the USGS.
Archaeologists use the term "Gulf of Georgia Culture Area" to refer to the San Juan and Gulf Islands, the whole of which shows many archaeological commonalities.
The San Juan Islands were part of the traditional area of various peoples of the Coast Salish ethnolinguistic group. Linguistically, Coast Salish groups in the area consist of the Nooksack, Northern Straits (which includes the Lummi, Klallam, Saanich, and Songhees dialects. Exploration and settlement by Europeans brought smallpox to the area by the 1770s.
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