United states of America: geography, history, culture

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1. Physical Geography of the USA

 

The U.S. is divided into 50 states and 1 district. Most of the States in central North America The total area is more than 9 and a half million sq. km. The world’s 3rd largest country. Three land borders: 2 with Canada and 1 with Mexico. The United States shares land borders with Canada (to the north) and Mexico (to the south) and a territorial water border with Russia in the northwest. The contiguous forty-eight states are otherwise bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast. Alaska borders the Pacific Ocean to the south the Bering Strait to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north while Hawaii lies far to the southwest of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean.

Forty-eight of the states are in the single region between Canada and Mexico; this group is referred to with varying precision and formality as the continental or contiguous United States and as the Lower 48. Alaska which is not included in the term contiguous United States is at the northwestern end of North America separated from the Lower 48 by Canada. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. The capital city Washington District of Columbia is a federal district located on land donated by the state of Maryland. (Virginia had also donated land but it was returned in 1847.) The United States also has overseas territories with varying levels of independence and organization.

United States landscape varies greatly: temperate forestland on the East cast the Mississippi-Missouri river system the Great Lakes shared with Canada Rocky Mountains west of the plains deserts and temperate coastal zones west of Rocky Mountains and temperate rainforests in the Pacific Northwest volcanic islands of Hawaii and Alaska.


2. Regions

united states geography war holiday

The geography of the United States varies across their immense area. Within the continental U.S. eight distinct physiographic divisions exist though each is composed of several smaller physiographic subdivisions. These major divisions are:

Laurentian Upland - part of the Canadian Shield that extends into the northern United States Great Lakes area.

Atlantic Plain - the coastal regions of the eastern and southern parts includes the continental shelf the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast.

Appalachian Highlands - lying on the eastern side of the United States it includes the Appalachian Mountains the Watchung Mountains the Adirondacks and New England province originally containing the Great Eastern Forest.

Interior Plains - part of the interior contentintal United States it includes much of what is called the Great Plains.

Interior Highlands - also part of the interior contentintal United States this division includes the Ozark Plateau.

Rocky Mountain System - one branch of the Cordilleran system lying far inland in the western states.

Intermontane Plateaus - also divided into the Columbia Plateau the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range Province it is a system of plateaus basins ranges and gorges between the Rocky and Pacific Mountain Systems. It is the setting for the Grand Canyon the Great Basin and Death Valley.

Pacific Mountain System - the coastal mountain ranges and features in the west coast of the United States.

Highest Point:

Mt. McKinley (Alaska) 20 320 ft. (6 194 m).

Highest Point: (continental 48 states)

Mount Whitney (California) is the highest point at 14 495ft (4 418 m)

Lowest Point:

Death Valley (California)(-282 ft.) (-86 m)

Mean Elevation: (average) 2 512 feet

Land Borders:

Alaska USA - Canada 1 538 miles (2 475 km)

Canada - USA 3 145 miles (5 061 km)

Mexico - USA 1 951 miles (3 141 km)

Bordering Countries (2) Canada and Mexico

Coastlines:

Coastlines: 12 383 miles (19 928 km)

Atlantic coastline: 2 069 miles (3 330 km)

Pacific coastline:+ Hawaii: 7 623 miles (12 268 km)

Gulf of Mexico coastline: 1 631 miles (2 625 km)

Alaska coastline: 1 060 miles (1 706 km)

3. Main Rivers

Colorado River

Beginning in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado it moves southwest ending in the Gulf of California. It is (1 450 miles) (2 333 km) in length and has formed numerous canyons along its winding path. The most famous of these is the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.

The river has more than 30 electric power plants along its run and dozens of dams and reservoirs.

Columbia River

This wide fast-flowing river begins in the Canadian Rockies of southeast British Columbia Canada flowing south through the State of Washington then forming the natural border between Washington and Oregon. It ends in the Pacific Ocean and it is (1 152 miles) (1 857 km) in length.

Hydroelectric power development in the river basin brought inexpensive electricity to the Pacific Northwest but it severely affected salmon spawning and local fish migration.

Mississippi River

It is the major river of North America and the United States (2 339 miles) (3 765 km). It flows from northwestern Minnesota south to the Gulf of Mexico just below the city of New Orleans. It is a significant transportation artery and when combined with its major tributaries (the Missouri and Ohio rivers) it becomes the third largest river system in the world.

Missouri River

It begins in southern Montana in the Rocky Mountains first flowing north then generally southeast across the heart of the United States ending at the Mississippi River just to the north of St. Louis Missouri. It is the longest river in the United States (2 500 miles) (4 023 km).

Ohio River

Beginning at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers nesr Pittsburgh Pennsylvania it runs southwest ending at the Mississippi River on the Illinois and Missouri borders. It is (980 miles) (1 557 km) in length.

Rio Grande River

It is one of the longest rivers in North America. (1 885 miles) (3 034km). It begins in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado then flows south through New Mexico. It forms the natural border between Texas and the country of Mexico as it flows southeast to the Gulf of Mexico. In Mexico it is known as Rio Bravo del Norte.

Used for drinking water by both countries the river is becoming more poluted as population centers that dot the river grow in size and then dump sewage and pesticides into the water.

Sacramento & San Joaquin Rivers

The Sacramento (380 miles) (610 km) in length begins in the Klamath Mountains of northern California flowing southwest then south to join the San Joaquin River before entering San Francisco Bay. The San Joaquin comes out of the Sierra Nevada near Yosemite National Park. It flows north to meet the Sacramento River east of San Francisco. It's namesake valley is one of the most fertile agricultural regions in the USA. (350 miles) (563 km) in length.

Snake River

This branch of the Columbia River begins near the Wyoming border and winds west and then north through the Pacific Northwest ending near the southeast corner of Washington where it drains into the Columbia River. It plays a significant role in hydroelectric power generation and its many tributaries are the life-blood of regional agricultural. (1 160 miles) (1 965 km) in length.

Yellowstone River

Beginning in the Rocky Mountains of northwest Wyoming this beautiful river flows through Yellowstone Lake then northeast through Montana ending near the North Dakota border. It is (671 miles) (1 080 km) in length.

Greatest Lakes:

Lake Superior-Ontario  Lake Huron Lake Michigan Lake Erie-Ontario Lake Ontario-Ontario       Great Salt Lake-Utah Lake of the Woods Iliamna Lake-Alaska Lake Oahe Lake Okeechobee-Florida Lake Pontchartrain-Louisiana Lake Sakakawea-North Dakota Lake Champlain- Quebec Becharof Lake-Alaska Lake St. Clair-Ontario.

Waterfalls:

10. GRAND FALLS (OF THE LITTLE COLORADO RIVER)

Despite this waterfall's short season when it's on it's one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the US. The muddy Little Colorado River spills over Grand Canyon-like cliffs as the stream meanders its way towards its bigger brother further to the west. Add to this the terraced layers leading to the three-step 181ft cumulative drop and you have one of the most unique waterfalls found anywhere and hence earns a spot on the list.

9. MCWAY FALLS

I have to believe that this maybe one of the most beautifully situated waterfalls in the country. It almost seems too good to be true that you have a year-round waterfall gracing the picturesque coastline that have made Big Sur California legendary. Who cares if this waterfall isn't powerful? It's still some 80ft tall it spills almost directly into the Pacific Ocean and it's one of the best places to witness where the ocean meets the sky. That's enough to make me biased towards this diminutive attraction and put it amongst America's Top 10.

8. ILLILOUETTE FALL

Plunging some 370ft with a wide flow and unique shape this maybe the best little-known waterfall (at least relative to the rest of the neighboring waterfalls) in California's prime nature retreat - Yosemite National Park. The reason why it's a bit lesser-known is because you have to hike to get views of it. Moreover you'll have to brave your fear of heights to get a good view of it. Nonetheless it's easily deserving of a spot on our list and should not be missed in a visit to the park.

7. HAVASU FALLS

Nestled deep in the remote Havasupai Indian Reservation (a side canyon of the world famous Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona) this special year-round waterfall is one of the most beautifully situated waterfalls in the country. Adding to its scenic allure are the blue-green waters of Havasu Creek the travertine stalactites and dams surrounding the falls and the red-rock scenery that makes the Grand Canyon possibly the nation's most visited National Park. Putting this unique waterfall on the list was a no-brainer.

6. MULTNOMAH FALLS

One of the most iconic waterfalls in the US this is the star attraction of the famous Columbia River Gorge which itself boasts numerous waterfalls - many of which are serious waterfalls themselves. But this 620ft year-round waterfall with a concrete arched bridge over its lower drop as well as a historic lodge fronting it always draws millions of visitors each year. And after our visit to this waterfall we don't blame them!

5. VERNAL FALL AND NEVADA FALLS

Collectively comprising the lowest steps of the Giant Stairway this pair of giant waterfalls in Yosemite National Park California could've easily stood on this Top 10 List separately. But we figured you ought to see both falls in one go so we put them together here. Vernal Fall has a classic rectangular shape and is said to plunge some 307ft. Nevada Falls has an unusual trapezoidal horsetail shape as the Merced River plunges then slides (some 594ft in total) its way down towards Vernal Fall.

4.BRIDALVEIL FALL

While there are other similarly-sized waterfalls (or bigger) in the country I'm partial to this 620ft year-rounder because its position frames Yosemite Valley (arguably the most beautiful valley in the world) opposite the imposing El Capitan. Ever heard of "The Gates of Yosemite Valley"? Indeed this waterfall is part of the landscape imagery made famous by Ansel Adams and seen by just about every visitor thereafter (perhaps making it cliche to some). But on its own merits (ignoring the cliche aspect) there's no question it's one of the most beautifully situated waterfalls ever. Heck the sight of the incomparable valley when we leave the Wawona Tunnel and head into the valley during spring still leaves a lump in my throat every time.

3.LOWER FALLS (OF THE YELLOWSTONE RIVER)

Including this over 300ft waterfall amongst America's Top 10 was compulsory. After all its impossibly-scenic location at the head of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River makes this the must-see attraction of Yellowstone National Park Wyoming. That's saying something considering the park is more famous for predictable geysers and an abundance of wildlife that some consider America's version of the Serengeti.

2. YOSEMITE FALLS

This 2425ft waterfall is one of the tallest in the world and widely considered the crown jewel of Yosemite National Park's plethora of cliff-diving waterfalls. The falls is enjoyable from numerous spots where you can drive to as well as hike to. The only catch with this beauty is that it dries up by mid to late Summer as it runs through its massive winter snowpack very quickly thanks to its relatively bare unforgiving granite drainage. Nonetheless if it can induce superlatives from the likes of Ansel Adams John Muir Thomas Ayres Francois Matthes James Hutchings and more there's a good chance it can do the same to you too!

1. NIAGARA FALLS

The Granddaddy of the waterfalls in the United States it easily surpasses all others in the country in terms of sheer power size popularity and more. Shared between Western New York in the USA and Southeastern Ontario in Canada bring your passport and experience this world famous attraction from both sides as well as the plethora of activities on offer here. We consider this waterfall to be one of the World's Big Three so it easily occupies the top spot amongst America's Top 10. If you could only see one waterfall in the country besides crying make sure not to miss this one!

4. Climate

Climate: mostly temperate but tropical in Hawaii and Florida arctic in Alaska semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. USA can be divided into six climate regions excluding Alaska Hawaii and outlying territories. The climate varies considerably between different regions.

Northwest Pacific:

(Includes states like Oregon and Washington to the crest of the Cascade Mountains)

This is the perhaps the wettest part of the country. There are scattered rain showers all year round. Temperatures are mild averaging around 40 degree F. (32.2 degree C). The summer months are pleasantly warmer but never too hot.

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