The Regions of the United States

The United States can be divided into a number of regional areas.

The US has regions that share distinct geographical, climatic, demographic, and economic characteristics among others. Together with the regions, there are two US states, Alaska and Hawaii, which do not share a land border with the US. Alaska is the biggest US state, bigger than some regions covered below. Lastly, the US has sixteen geographically dispersed territories directly under its jurisdiction. These are mostly small islands states whose security and administration is a responsibility of the US federal government. The boundaries herein are from the US Census Bureau (USCB).

8. The West

The landscape of the Pacific Northwest in Washington State, Western United States.

Western United States (also known as the Far West, American West, or the West), is the largest region and comprises thirteen states at the western side of the US with a diverse geography and climate. Entirely, the region has a sundry biome that includes desert, semi-desert, and forest areas among others. USCB divides the West into two sub-regions of the Pacific States and the Mountain States. The Mountain States include Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado while the Pacific States comprises of Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska, and California. The Pacific States are geologically active with periodic earthquakes and some volcano prone areas. The 2013 statistics put the total population at 74,254,423 people. The ratio of male to female is highest in this region. Los Angeles is the largest city in this region.

7. The Midwest

Chicago, the largest city in the American midwest.

The American Midwest (Middle West or the West) occupies the central part of the US, bordering Canada to the North. It is made up of twelve states - Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois although the Council of State Governments omit Missouri. There are two divisions in this region in which Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois make up the first division, East North Central Division, whereas South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, and Iowa make up the second division, the West North Central Division. The 2012 census indicated that there are 65,377,684 people in the region and Chicago is the economic center as well as the most populated city. The generally flat region has few hilly places and experiences more rainfall on the eastern than the western side. Economically, due to the rich soils, the agricultural sector leads in employment and export trade on products like veal, beef, pork, and eggs among other dairy products.

6. The Southwest

Arizona is sometimes considered to be both part of the American West as well as the American Southwest.

The Southwest region is not quite as well defined as different sources include some Midwestern states in the Southwest. The Southwest has a sparse population, vast deserts, mountains, plateaus, plains, and features like Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon as well as Native Americans like the Apache, Ute, and Comanche. With this in mind, the Southwest includes states with some form of aridity like Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas although some sources may include parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. The climate is mostly arid and semi-arid but high-altitude areas receive significant precipitation and may get very cold. Plant species include yucca plants and different cactus varieties while animals that adapt to hot and dry climates like the rattlesnake, bobcat, and Elk dominate the region.

5. The Southeast

Naples Beach, Florida, Southeast United States.

Just like the Southwest, the number of Southeast region states vary depending on different official sources with some listing twelve while others fourteen. These states are South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, and Louisiana. Throughout the region, summers are hot whereas winters vary based on altitude. Precipitation is high due to tropical air masses that cause hurricanes like hurricanes Andrew and Katrina. There is a boom in the service, manufacturing, technology, and financial sectors based on the number of global automobile plants, tourists, headquarters of Fortune 500 companies, as well as the lowest unemployment rates in the entire US. Also known as the Dixie, this region is the birthplace of country music and home to Disney world. Most of the Dixie states are religious and conservatives thus informally called the "Bible Belt".

4. The Northeast

Fall in the Northeastern United States.

The Northeast, bordered by the Southeast region to the south, Canada to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the East, and the Midwest to the west, is US’ most economically developed, culturally diverse and densely populated states. These are the Mid-Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) and the New England states (Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut). The Association of American Geographers and Geological Society of America include Delaware and Maryland on this list respectively. Winters are extremely cold while summers are warm and humid in this region. The 2013 census puts this region’s population at 55,943,073 with New York as the richest and most populous state. Economically, the region accounts for 23% of the US GDP.

3. Alaska

Glacier Bay, Alaska, United States.

In the entire US, Alaska is the biggest state by land and water areas and has the longest coastline, longer than the entire US coastline. Separated from the rest of the US by Canada, this state is in the Arctic Circle and borders Russia by sea. Alaska is the least densely populated state with a total population of 738,432 people as of 2015. Economically, the state is dependent on fishing, tourism, and natural gas and oil extraction and has an unemployment rate of 6.6% based on the 2014 statistics. 17 of the top 20 highest peaks in the US are in Alaska including Denali as well as the third longest US river, the Yukon River. In total, Alaska has 3 million lakes, 3,000 rivers, and 100,000 glaciers. This state has Point Barrow, Pochnoi, and Amatignak Island which are the northernmost, easternmost, and westernmost points of the US respectively.

2. Hawaii

The skyline of Honolulu, the largest city as well as capital of Hawaii.

Hawaii is an archipelago located in the central Pacific Ocean (the only US state outside North America) and gained statehood in 1959. This state covers over one hundred islands totaling to approximately 1,500 miles long with the main ones being Lānaʻi, Niʻihau, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, and the Island of Hawaiʻi. Hawaii is a popular tourist destination due to its beaches, culture, as well as diverse plant and animal species. Climate-wise, the state experiences mild temperatures all year round, frequent northeasterly winds, average humidity, and occasional storms. May to October is the dry season while the wet season runs from November to April. With a population of 1,431,603 people as per 2014 estimates, the economy is largely dependent on agriculture, tourism, and numerous military installations.

1. Territories

San Juan, Puerto Rico, the capital of the US territory of Puerto Rico.

US territories are areas outside the borders of the US but under the jurisdiction of the US federal government. There are five inhabited and eleven uninhabited such territories. The inhabited ones include Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Marina Islands while the uninhabited ones are Midway Islands, Kingman Reef, Johnston Atoll, Jarvis Island, Palmyra Atoll, Baker Island, Howland Island, Wake Island, Serranilla Bank, Navassa Island, and Bajo Nuevo Bank. Puerto Rico is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea with the main language being Spanish (94.7%) followed by English (5.3%). The population is 75.8% white, 12.4% black, and the rest being of Native American, Asian and other races. The general landscape is mountainous dotted with waterfalls and tropical rainforest. Guam is in Micronesia and known for its tropical beaches and ancient latte-stone pillars. Guamanians are American citizens by birth. The Northern Marina Islands is a series of fifteen islands totaling to 183.5 square miles in the Pacific Ocean to the north of Guam. This territory is famous for its mountainous landscape and sandy beaches. The US Virgin Islands are a group of islands located 40 miles to the east of Puerto Rico preferred by tourists for the reefs, beaches, and green hills. Lastly, the American Samoa covers five islands and two atolls dominated by tropical rainforests, reefs and sandy beaches.

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