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Located 52 miles (84 km) southeast of Vancouver, 90 miles (145 km) north of Seattle, and 21 miles (33 km) south of the Canada-US border, Bellingham is in between two major metropolitan areas, Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.
The city's population was 80,885 at the 2010 United States Census.
Prior to Euro-American settlement, Bellingham was in the homeland of Coast Salish peoples of the Lummi and neighboring tribes.
The first Caucasian immigrants reached the area in 1854.
Coal was mined in the Bellingham area from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries.
Lake Whatcom forms part of the eastern boundary of the city, while many smaller lakes and wetland areas are found around the region.
At first, attempts to combine Fairhaven and Whatcom failed, and there was controversy over the name of the proposed new city.
Whatcom citizens wouldn't support a city named Fairhaven, and Fairhaven residents would not support a city named Whatcom.
The mine extended to hundreds of miles of tunnels as deep as 1200 feet.
It ran southwest to Bellingham Bay, on both sides of Squalicum Creek, an area of about one square mile.