Federal Way has an estimated population of 83,259 residents, and is located between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. It is is considered a bedroom community for these two adjacent cities. Federal Way's western boundary is Puget Sound. Originally a logging settlement, the city derives its name from the federal highway, U.S. Highway 99, now known as Pacific Highway South.
On January 9, 2007, Federal Way made national headlines when the showing of "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's film on global warming, was blocked by the local school board from being shown in schools. It took two weeks for the decision to be rescinded after being criticized in both the national and the local press.
Over the years, Federal Way has been the focus of protests and standoffs with environmental groups like Earth First for questionable logging operations. More recently, Weyerhaeuser, the largest private owner of softwood timberland in the world, has suspended most of its clear cutting operations and has reached out to the community at large by opening much of its land holdings to the public. Some of these include the establishment of the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden and the Pacific rim Bonsai Collection. Other outdoor attractions include the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, Wild Waves Enchanted Village, purchased and operated by Six Flags. Major city and state parks in the area provide the greater metropolitan area with swimming, picnic areas, boat launches, hiking trails, and canoeing. These parks include Steel Lake Park, Celebration Park, Dash Point State Park, Five Mike Lake, and the West Hylebos Wetlands Park.
Much of the economic growth of the area is due to residents working in the surrounding cities and commuting home to Federal Way. However, World Vision, Six Flags, St. Francis Hospital, and Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. also provide much of the city's revenue. Along with these major employers, the city also has a vibrant independent business community that employs local residents and contributes greatly to the character and vitality of the city.