Salem ( /seɪləm/) is the capital of the U.S. state of Oregon, and the county seat of Marion County. It is located in the center of the Willamette Valley alongside the Willamette River, which runs north through the city. The river forms the boundary between Marion and Polk counties, and the city neighborhood of West Salem is in Polk County. Salem was founded in 1842, became the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851, and was incorporated in 1857.
Salem had a population of 154,637 at the 2010 census, making it the third largest city in the state after Portland and Eugene. Salem is less than an hour driving distance away from Portland. Salem is the principal city of the Salem Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that covers Marion and Polk counties and had a combined population of 347,214 at the 2000 census. A 2009 estimate placed the metropolitan population at 396,103, the state's second largest.
The city is home to Willamette University and Corban University, as well as the main city in the Salem-Keizer School District and is home to the main campus of Chemeketa Community College. Other schools include the Chemawa Indian School, and the Oregon School for the Deaf. The state of Oregon is the largest employer in the city, with Salem Hospital as the largest private employer. Transportation includes public transit from Salem-Keizer Transit, Amtrak service, and non-commercial air travel at McNary Field. Major roads include Interstate 5, Oregon Route 99E, and Oregon Route 22 which connects West Salem across the Willamette River via the Marion Street and Center Street bridges.