An Intro to Major American Regions

An Intro to Major American Regions

When you move to a new country, it’s essential to know the lay of the land. Not just so you don’t feel left out of conversations, but also for your dose of travel inspiration to explore new places.

The United States is a pretty large country; the third largest in the world, in fact.

This size reflects in its geographical and cultural diversity. The country is divided into many regions (and sub-regions) based on time zones, geography, and culture.

Some of these are official government regions, like the four U.S. Census Bureau regions, or the 10 Standard Federal Regions.

But, a more common division of America is the seven geographic regions. In fact, you might have already heard these names in conversations to refer to areas, cultures, or even types of people.

They are New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, The Rocky Mountains, Southwest, and Pacific Coastal.

These regions are informal groupings of states that have similar landscapes, climates, cultures, foods, or histories.

To keep you from feeling lost the next time you hear about them, here’s everything you need to know about the seven geographical regions of America.

1. The New England Region

States in the region: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

This collection of is states on the northeastern tip of the U.S. is probably the oldest region in the United States. It dates all the way back to the 1620s, when English immigrants arrived and settled there, hence the name New England.

It still carries that strong colonial heritage. The region has many historical sites from America’s founding days, and was also the country’s first industrial region.  

The area is known for its beautiful coastline, forested mountains, cliffs, and stunning autumn foliage.

Finally, New England is home to some of the country’s most important educational institutions, including a few Ivy League universities.

2. The Mid-Atlantic Region

States in the region: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Plus the District of Columbia (also called Washington D.C., and the capital of the country).

The Mid-Atlantic is America’s most heavily populated region, with diverse cultures and huge cities. It is home to popular cities like New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh.

It is also the most economically developed region, with advanced infrastructure and industries.

This region has a very ‘east coast’ culture. Large immigrant communities from all over the world, and strong European ties in culture and commerce define the region. But, most cities have their own individual cultures that residents associate with.

3. The Southeast Region:

States in the region: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Also known simply as ‘the South,’ this region is known for its unique culture, generous hospitality, and country music.

Through the years it has developed very distinctive food, music, and religious traditions that set it apart from the rest of the country. The locals of these states are even known for their slower, more rounded ‘Southern drawl’ accents.

While there are a few large cities like Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, and Nashville, the South is characterized by its many charming small towns.

The Southern states are generally more conservative and formal than the rest of the U.S. They have a reputation for a relaxed, slower pace of life.

Historically, the Southeast has been the location for many defining events, like the Civil War, abolition of slavery, and the American Revolution.

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4. The Midwest Region

States in the region: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Nestled between the Rocky Mountains, the Appalachian range, and the Great Lakes are the vast prairielands of the Midwest. The region is blessed with fertile land which produces large amounts of wheat, corn, and oats. This farming culture gives it the name ‘Breadbasket of America.’

The region is known for friendly people, affordable living, and a stress-free lifestyle.

Apart from some major cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Indianapolis, the region has many quaint lakeshore towns and plains villages.

5. The Rocky Mountain Region

States in the region: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

Located along the length of the commanding Rocky Mountains, this region has some of the highest peaks in the country. Despite the name, the region also contains large deserts and grassy plains.

From alpine forests, glaciers, and hot springs, to deserts with giant red rock formations, it is home to a few iconic national parks. The most popular among them being Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Apart from the stunning natural landscapes, the region is home to large cities such as Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

6. The Southwest Region

States in this region: Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

The vast, dry area of the Southwest is known for large deserts, arid plains and mountains, red rock formations, and the famous Grand Canyon. With these landscapes also comes a culture of outdoor activities, like hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing.

But, because of a lack of water and scorching heat, much of the region is sparsely populated. The major cities in the region include Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Albuquerque.

These states also have the largest population of Native Americans in the country. Their culture, tradition, and heritage can still be experienced in parts of the region.

7. The Pacific Coastal Region

States in this region: California (Pacific Southwest), Oregon and Washington (Pacific Northwest). Sometimes this region also includes Alaska and Hawaii.

States bordering the Pacific Ocean are celebrated for their rugged mountains, beautiful coastlines, and deserts.

While they fall under the same region, the north and south states have different climates. The northern states are known for frequent rains and wet weather, whereas the California region is known for its clear blue skies and sunny days.

Aside from the scenic beauty, the West Coast is also filled with thriving cities and a young, diverse population. While many cultures call the Pacific Coast home, the region has a strong Hispanic influence.

Apart from these major geographical regions, here are two minor ones you need to know about:

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Minor Regions

1. The Great Lakes Region

This region is home to the five ‘Great Lakes’ along the edge of the U.S./Canada border. The lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario form the largest freshwater system in the world.

This region lies within a few major Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states in the U.S., and in Ontario in Canada.

2. The Great Plains

The plains are a broad stretch of flat land that lies between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River. They cover the entire region from the Dakotas in the north to Texas in the south. The region is arid, sparsely populated, and known for its many cattle ranches.

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