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Salem is the capital of the state of Oregon and county seat of Marion County. The district of West Salem lies in Polk County. It is located in the mid-Willamette Valley, between Portland and Eugene, in one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. As of July 1, 2005, it had a population of 147,250, making it the second largest city in Oregon (after Portland).

"Salem" is derived from the Arabic word "Salam" and the Hebrew word "Shalom", both meaning "peace". Historically, Salem has been nicknamed the "Cherry City", because of the importance of the local cherry growing industry.

The annual World Beat Festival, held in June, is sponsored by the nonprofit Salem Multicultural Institute. The event lasts for two days and is held at the Riverfront Park. It features international crafts, music, dance, food, and folklore from every continent, and in recent years has held a Dragon Boat race similar to the ones held during the Rose Festival in Portland.


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