In their best-selling book, "The Geography of North America,." Hardwick, Shelly and Holtgrieve define 13 geographic regions of the United States. A vignette of each region appears below.
Geographers tend to base regions on unifying physical characteristics like landforms and climate. But two of the regions described by Hardwick, et al., Megalopolis and MexAmerica, are areas of common cultural character.
Though no larger than Illinois, this region, which revolves around the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. "contains the greatest concentration of wealth and power in the history of the world." Immigration from every part of the globe contributes to the unparalleled cultural mix of Megalopolis.
In the Atlantic Periphery, the Appalachian Mountains descend into the sea and reemerge - beyond the borders of the Essential Geography of the USA - as the Long Range Mountains of Newfoundland (island) near L'Anse aux Meadows where, 1,000 years ago, Norse explorer Leif Ericson established the first European settlement in North America.
Situated along the Coastal Plain from Texas to Virginia, this region of hot summers and mild winters historically has had an economy based on shipping and the production of citrus fruits, sugarcane, rice and vegetables. Today, oil production, military bases, space exploration, tourism, and retirement also make important economic contributions to the Coastal South.
From Western Music in Texas to the Blues along the Mississippi River, and from Country Music in Nashville to Old-time music in Appalachia, the Inland South has contributed richly to American culture. In the last half century, the Civil Rights Movement and economic diversification have made important changes to life in this rapidly growing region of the United States.
Consisting of flat and rolling terrain, most of this region - which is the world's most productive agricultural area - reflects the impact of reoccurring glaciation. Heavy industry, though historically important here, has declined in recent years.
A part of Mexico until the mid-1800's, MexAmerica retains strong cultural influences of Mexico. Native American cultures also influence this region as does the culture of Spanish ranchers who settled here prior to Mexico's 1821 independence from Spain.
One of the world's great semi-arid grasslands, the Great Plains form a 300 to 500 mile-wide arc from Alberta to Texas. In combination with a dry climate, the grasses that once covered the Great Plains created deep and fertile soil that is well-suited for grain crops. Today, little of the original landscape remains uncultivated.
No other landform in North America has as much influence on which direction water flows than the 3,000 miles of discontinuous sub-ranges called the Rocky Mountains, which divide the river drainages of the continent east from west and reach their maximum elevation in Colorado.
A high desert of broad plateaus, abrupt mountain ranges and few people, the Intermountain West is a land of cactus and National Parks to the south with sagebrush, wheat farms and cattle ranches to the north.
The colliding Pacific and North American Plates, marked by the San Andreas Fault, created the highest and lowest points in the contiguous 48 states here in California, the state that leads the US in population and agriculture, both of which rely on water projects that are among the most extensive worldwide.
Glacier-clad mountains isolate this region of conifer forests, salmon runs and abundant water from the rest of North America. In the Pacific Northwest, the State of Washington operates the world's busiest ferry system and the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway can transport passengers from Bellingham, Washington all the way to the Aleutian Islands port of Unalaska.
Dipping as far south as Minnesota's border with Canada, this broad region is too far north for large-scale commercial agriculture. In the Far North, the pursuit of self-determination by people of Native ancestry led to the 1971 establishment of 13 Alaska Native Regional Corporations.
Hawai'i, the 50th state to join the union, has two official languages; 'Ōlelo Hawai'i, spoken by perhaps 27,000 Native Hawaiians, and English. Performed by masters such as George Kuo and "flowing with vivid tropical images," Hawaiian slack-key guitar music is one of the world's great musical traditions.
© Copyright Imus Geographics. All rights reserved.
Shopping Cart Web Site powered by MightyMerchant v4.7