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Department of Geography, Department of Geography, Department of Geography,
University of Oregon University of Oklahoma University of Oregon

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Hardwick, Susan Wiley.
The geography of North America : environment, culture, economy/Susan Wiley Hardwick, Fred M. Shelley, Donald G.
Holtgrieve.[2nd ed.].
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-321-76967-1ISBN 978-0-13-009727-9
1. North AmericaGeographyTextbooks. 2. Human geographyNorth AmericaTextbooks. 3. Environmental geography
North AmericaTextbooks. 4. North AmericaEconomic conditionsTextbooks. I. Shelley, Fred M., II. Holtgrieve, Donald G.
III. Title.
E40.5.H37 2013

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10QGD15 14 13 12 11 ISBN-10: 0-321-76967-8; ISBN-13: 978-0-321-76967-1
Brief Contents
1 Introduction 2

2 North Americas Environmental Setting 16

3 Historical Settlement of North America 42

4 The North American Political Economy 70

5 The Atlantic Periphery 90

6 Quebec 108

7 Megalopolis 128

8 The Great Lakes and Corn Belt 150

9 The Inland South 170

10 The Coastal South 188

11 The Great Plains 204

12 The Rocky Mountain Region 226

13 The Intermontane West 244

14 MexAmerica 264

15 California 282

16 The Pacific Northwest 302

17 Hawaii and the Pacific Islands 322

18 The Far North 340

19 The Future of North America 358

Preface xii
About the Authors xvi
Book and mygeoscienceplace Overview xviii
Historical Settlement
1 ofNorth America 42
Exploration, Discovery,
Introduction 2 Settlement, and Exploration 44
Why Study North America? 3 Indigenous Patterns and Imprints 44
Putting Geography Back on the Map 6 Early European Explorers and Settlers 46
Why Study Regional Geography? 7 Colonial Settlement: New Land Uses,
Approaches Used in This Book 9 New Cultures 48
Review Questions 13 Ongoing Migration, Expansion, and
Group Activities 13 Settlement 55
Suggestions for Further Reading 14 North American Culture Hearths and Territorial
Expansion 55

2 Evolving Economic Development and

Urbanization 62
Evolving Immigration Patterns and Issues 63
North Americas Nativism and the Passage of Canadian and U.S.
Environmental Immigration Laws 63
Setting 16 Post1980s Immigration: New Patterns, Old
Issues 65
Landforms, Hydrology, Soils 17
Conclusions 66
Landforms and Geomorphic Processes in North
Review Questions 67
America 17
Group Activities 68
Hydrologic Patterns 21
Suggestions for Further Reading 68
North Americas Physiographic
Provinces 24
Weather and Climate 26
North American Climate Zones 30
Biogeography and Ecology 35
Forests 37
Tundra 37
Grasslands and Steppes 37
Deserts and Steppes 38
Mediterranean Scrub 38
Subtropical Wetland 38
Ecosystems and Watersheds 38
Conclusion 40
Review Questions 40
Group Activities 40
Suggestions for Further Reading 41

The North American
Political Economy 70
The Contemporary North American Economy 71
Economic Base and Economic Sectors 72
The Primary Sector 72
The Secondary Sector 75
The Tertiary Sector 76
The Quaternary Sector 78
The Changing Urban System of North America 80
North America and the World Economy 84
Political Institutions in North America 86
Conclusion 87
Review Questions 87
Group Activities 88
Suggestions for Further Reading 88
5 Quebec 108
The Atlantic Periphery 90 Environmental Setting 110
Landforms 110
Environmental Setting 91 Weather, Climate, and Hazards 111
Landforms 91 ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Climate Change in Northern
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY The Collapse of the Great Stone Quebec 112
Face 93 Historical Settlement 113
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 94 Regional Economies and Politics 116
Historical Settlement 94 Economic Activities 116
Pre-European Settlement 94 Quebecs Urban and Industrial Economies 117
European Settlement 94 The Development of Quebecois Nationalism and
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY The AcadiansA Founding People of the Quiet Revolution 118
Canada 96
The Secession Movement in Quebec 118
Regional Economies and Politics 97
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Hockey and Ethnic Identity
AgricultureA Marginal Proposition 97 in Quebec 119
Resources from the Forest and the Sea 98 Culture, Peoples, and Places 120
Manufacturing, Innovation, and Trade 99 ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY An Update on Separatism from an On-
Spillovers from Megalopolis 100 Site Correspondent in Quebec to the American Geographical
Culture, Peoples, and Places 101 Society 121

Metropolitan Areas 102 Southern Quebec 121

ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Northern Maine Becomes North Northern Quebec 122
Americas Biathlon Center 104 Urban Places in Quebec 123
The Future of the Atlantic Periphery 105 The Future of Quebec 124
Environmental Impacts 105 Toward Cultural Sustainability 125
Review Questions 106 Review Questions 126
Group Activities 106 Group Activities 126
Suggestions for Further Reading 106 Suggestions for Further Reading 126

7 Other Cities of the Northeastern

Corridor 142
Nonurban Places in an Urban Region 143
Megalopolis 128 POLITICAL ECONOMY The Revitalization of
Environmental Setting 130 Atlantic City 144

Landforms 130 CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Homelessness in

Washington, D.C. 146
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 131
The Future of Megalopolis 147
Land Cover 131
Review Questions 147
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Geography and Conservation in
Megalopolis 132 Group Activities 148
Historical Settlement 132 Suggestions for Further Reading 148
Regional Economies and Politics 135

The Establishment of Megalopolis 135
The Emergence of New York and
Washington, D.C. 135
Industrialization and Deindustrialization The Great Lakes and Corn
in the Northeast 136 Belt 150
Cities and Suburbs 136
Environmental Setting 153
Unity and Diversity in Megalopolis 138
Landforms 153
Culture, Peoples, and Places 138
Lakes and Rivers 153
The Major Cities of Megalopolis 138
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 153
Environmental Issues 141
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Jumping Asian Carp and Other
Great Lakes Threats 154
Historical Settlement 155
Regional Economies and Politics 157
Agriculture and Other Primary-Sector
Activities 157
Industry in the Great Lakes and
Corn Belt 158
Tertiary and Quaternary Economic
Sectors 160
Culture, Peoples, and Places 161
Canadian Places on the Great Lakes 161
American Places on the Great Lakes 162
POLITICAL ECONOMY Surviving Globalization and the
Postindustrial Transition in the Rust Belt 163
American Places in the Corn Belt 165
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY The Geography of Rap Music in Detroit:
Eminem and Eight Mile Road 166
The Future of the Great Lakes/Corn Belt
Region 167
Review Questions 168
Group Activities 168
Suggestions for Further Reading 168

African Americans, Latin Americans, and

Vietnamese Immigrants 193
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Galveston: Ellis Island of the Coastal
South 194
Regional Economies and Politics 194
Primary and Secondary Economic Activities 195
Government Services and the Military 197
Resorts, Tourism, and Retirement 197

9 Cultures? 199
Culture, Peoples, and Places 200
The Inland South 170 Other Places in the Coastal South 201
The Future of the Coastal South 201
Environmental Setting 171 Review Questions 202
Landforms 172 Group Activities 202
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 172 Suggestions for Further Reading 203
Historical Settlement 174
Population Changes in the South After
the Civil War 175
Regional Economies and Politics 176
The Changing Economic Position The Great Plains 204
of the Inland South 176
The Primary and Secondary Sectors in the Environmental Setting 205
Contemporary Inland South 177 Landforms 207
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Mountaintop Removal Mining 179 Hydrology 208
The Tertiary and Quaternary Sectors 179 Weather, Climate, and Hazards 208
Culture, Peoples, and Places 180 ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Is Kansas Flatter than a
Pancake? 209
POLITICAL ECONOMY Riding with the Legend 181
Historical Settlement 211
Places in the Eastern Inland South 181
Early Settlement of the Great Plains 211
Places in the Central Inland South 182
Aging in Place on the Great Plains 212
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Nicodemus, Kansas 214
Places in the Western Inland South 183
Regional Economies and Politics 215
The Future of the Inland South 184
Agriculture and the Boom and Bust Cycle 215
Review Questions 185
Energy Production and Mining 217
Group Activities 185
ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Oil Deposits on the U.S.-Canadian
Suggestions for Further Reading 186 Border 218
Manufacturing and Meatpacking 218

10 Tertiary- and Quaternary-Sector Economic

Activities 219
Culture, Peoples, and Places 220
The Coastal South 188 The Canadian Great Plains (Prairies) 220
Environmental Setting 189 The Northern U.S. Great Plains 221
Landforms 190 The Central U.S. Great Plains 221
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 190 The Southern U.S. Great Plains 223
Historical Settlement 191 The Future of the Great Plains 223
Native Americans 191 Review Questions 224
Early European Settlement 191 Group Activities 224
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Restoring the Gulf Coast 192 Suggestions for Further Reading 225

12 ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY The Story of Butte, Montana

Culture, Peoples, and Places 238

Urban Growth 238

The Rocky Mountain Cities in the Rocky Mountain Region 240
Region 226 The Future of the Rocky Mountain
Environmental Setting 228 Region 241
Landforms 229 Review Questions 241
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 230 Group Activities 242
Vegetation Patterns 231 Suggestions for Further Reading 242
Environmental Hazards 233
Historical Settlement 233 13
Native American and First Nations
Settlement 234
The Intermontane
Early Euro-American Settlement 234 West 244
Early Canadian Settlement 234 Environmental Setting 245
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Chief Joseph Speaks Out 235 Landforms 246
American Settlement 235 ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY The Great Missoula Flood 248
Regional Economies and Politics 235 Weather, Climate, and Hazards 248
The Primary Sector 235 Natural Vegetation and Environmental
Secondary, Tertiary, and Quaternary Sectors 236 Issues 250
Historical Settlement 250
Indigenous Imprints 250
Spanish and Mexican Settlement 250
Euro-American Settlement: A Land of
Discontinuous Settlement 250
The Latter-day Saints 251
Other Migration Streams in the Intermontane
West 253
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Russian Doukhobors in British
Columbias Intermontane 254
Regional Economies and Politics 255
Farming, Ranching, and Water
Resources 255
Minerals and Other Natural Resources 256
ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Where Is the Water? 257
Tertiary- and Quaternary-Sector Activities 258
Culture, Peoples, and Places 260
Places in the Canadian Intermontane
West 260
Places in the Central and Southern U.S.
Intermontane West 260
The Future of the Intermontane West 262
Review Questions 262
Group Activities 262
Suggestions for Further Reading 263
MexAmerica 264
Environmental Setting 266
Landforms 266
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 267
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Conservation in Conflict: Threats
to the Desert Tortoise 268
Historical Settlement 269
Native Americans and the Spanish
and Mexican Era 269
The Spanish and Mexican Era 269
Regional Economies and Politics 271
Culture, Peoples, and Places 274
Places in South and Central Texas 274
ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Spring BreakTexas Style 275
The Future of MexAmerica 276
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Building Fences, Dividing
Communities 277
Review Questions 279
Group Activities 279
Suggestions for Further Reading 280

15 Hollywood and the Entertainment

Industry 293
California 282 Silicon Valley and the High-Technology
Industry 294
Environmental Setting 283
California and the Pacific Rim 294
Landforms 285
Culture, Peoples, and Places 294
Earthquake 286 Californias Cities 294
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 287 The Southern California Conurbation 295
Water Resources and Environmental The San Francisco Bay Urban Region 296
Modification 288 ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Chinatown: Residential Place, Tourist
Space 297
Historical Settlement 288
Cities in the Central Valley and Beyond 298
Native Americans 289
The Future of California 298
Early Spanish and Mexican
Review Questions 300
Settlement 290
Group Activities 300
Impacts of the Gold Rush 290
Suggestions for Further Reading 300
Regional Economies and Politics 291
Agriculture and Natural Resources 291
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY An Early Look at Steinbecks Salinas
Valley 292
California and the Defense Industry 293


16 Places in British Columbia 317

Places in Washington 317
Places in Oregon 318
The Pacific Northwest 302 The Future of the Pacific Northwest 319
Environmental Setting 303 Review Questions 320
Landforms 304 Group Activities 320
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 304 Suggestions for Further Reading 321
Historical Settlement 306

Native Americans and First Nations
People 307
Early Europeans 307
Post-1880s Settlement 309 Hawaii and the Pacific
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Slavic Settlement in the Pacific Islands 322
Northwest 310
Regional Economies and Politics 310 Environmental Setting 323
Resources and the Primary Sector 310 Landforms 323
ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY The Geography of Microbrews in the Weather, Climate, and Hazards 326
Pacific Northwest 312 Biogeography and Biodiversity 327
The Pacific Rim Connection 313 ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Adaptive Radiation
The Pacific Rim Connection Today 314 in Hawaii 328

High Technology, Tourism, and the Pacific Hazards and Water Resources 328
Northwest Economy 314 Historical Settlement 329
Population Growth and Environmental Settlers from the Pacific Islands 329
Issues 315 European and American Settlement 329
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Forestry Management in the Regional Economies and Politics 330
Pacific Northwest 316 Agriculture 330
Culture, Peoples, and Places 316 The Crossroads of the Pacific 331
Places in Alaska 317 Tourism 331
Culture, Peoples, and Places 332
ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY Should Hawaii Legalize Casino
Gambling? 333
Oahu and Honolulu 333
The Big Island 334
Maui and Its Neighbors 336
Kauai and Niihau 336
The Pacific Islands 337
The Future of Hawaii 337
Review Questions 338
Group Activities 339
Suggestions for Further Reading 339
The Far North 340
Environmental Setting 341
Landforms 342
Weather, Climate, and Hazards 343
Environmental Issues in the Far North 343
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Impacts of Global Climate Change
in the Far North 344
Historical Settlement 344
Indigenous Peoples 344
European, American, and Canadian
Settlement 345
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY The Survival of Inuit Culture in Canadas
Newest Territory 346
Settlement Patterns in the 20th Century 347
Regional Economies and Politics 347
The Traditional Economy of the Far North 347
Mining and Mineral Extraction 349 Culture, Race, and Ethnicity in the 21st
Integrating the Far North into North America Century 365
and the World 350 The North American Economy 367
ENVIRONMENTAL GEOGRAPHY Saving the Arctic National Wildlife
The Legacy of the Past 367
Refuge? 351
Economic Shifts in the 21st Century? 367
Culture, Peoples, and Places 352
Urbanization and Shifting Urban Growth
Lingering Cultural and Ethnic Divides 352
Patterns 369
Greenland 352
The Legacy of the Past 369
The Future of the Far North 353
Urbanization and Urban Settlement Patterns in
Review Questions 355
the 21st Century 370
Group Activities 355
North Americas Role in the World 372
Suggestions for Further Reading 356
The Legacy of the Past 372
North American Geopolitics and

19 Globalization 373
North America in the 21st Century 374
The Future of North Review Questions 375
Group Activities 375
America 358 Suggestions for Further Reading 375
Environmental Issues 359
The Legacy of the Past 359
Environmental Issues in the 21st Century 360
Select North America Maps 377
Demography and Population Patterns 361
The Legacy of the Past 361 Glossary 403
Demographic and Population Patterns in the Credits 414
21st Century 362
Culture, Race, and Ethnicity 364
Index 415
The Legacy of the Past 364

elcome to the geography of North America! 2010 U.S. Census Data. Throughout each regional
If you live on this huge continent, come from chapter, data has been drawn from the most reliable
some other part of the world, or have traveled and latest sources, including the 2010 U.S. Census
in Canada, the United States, or Greenland, this text- and the 2006 Canadian Census.
book is for you. Whether or not you have taken a ge- New Maps and Map Appendix. The second edition
ography class before or visited different parts of North of the text includes not only new and insightful histor-
America (on the road or on your laptop), we have de- ical and contemporary maps, but also an easy-to-use
signed this textbook with you in mind. appendix of key chapter maps to highlight environ-
The three authors of this book are all professional mental, economic, and physical geographic elements.
geographers who have taught classes on the geography 20-year Population Tables. Focusing on the five
of North America in Oklahoma, Oregon, California, largest metropolitan areas in each region, each
Montana, Florida, and Texas. Weve also taken road trips chapter now contains a table summarizing popula-
to all of the regions discussed in this book. So, as you tion changes from 1990 to 2010.
can imagine, were very enthusiastic about sharing what Review Questions and Group Activities. Follow-
weve learned in the chapters ahead. After you finish ing through on the Learning Objectives and Con-
reading this book, you might even want to take it with ceptual Checkpoints in each chapter, new Review
you on your next trip, along with your maps, a GPS unit, Questions test a students understanding of core
travel guides, and your trusty cell phone. concepts, whereas Group Activities give students
the opportunity to apply their understanding with
their fellow students.
New to This Edition Premium Website. The
second edition is supported by a Premium Website at
North America has changed dramatically since the first, where students can ac-
edition of this book was published in 2008. Increasing cess resources to help their studies, such as MapMaster
attention to green policies designed to help protect the interactive maps, videos, Google Earth activities, In
continents natural environments, the challenges of a the News RSS feeds, Web links, glossary flashcards,
major global economic recession, and the devastating quizzes, and more.
impacts of natural hazards such as tornadoes, hurri-
canes, floods, and climate change continue to make the
study of geography more and more relevant. Distinguishing Features
The following new features help distinguish this new
The new features listed above are designed to provide
edition of The Geography of North America: Environment,
you with the most up-to-date information available
Culture, Economy:
on geographic patterns and issues in different parts
Dedicated Feature Essays. Each regional chap- of North America. The authors of this book also spent
ter now includes key feature essays that cover a great deal of time selecting the best maps, photo-
Environmental Geography, Economic Geography, graphs, and other visuals to include in each chapter,
and Cultural Geography and touch on important is- as well as the most interesting and appropriate geo-
sues beyond each chapters narrative. graphical stories and case studies to include in each
Revised Visual Program. The art and photo pro- of the three feature essays in chapters on each region
grams have been greatly updated since the first edi- in North America.
tion, with over 120 new photos and over 70 new or In addition to these new features, we also greatly ex-
modified maps and figures. panded our coverage of Canadian issues and regions in
Learning Outcomes and Conceptual Checkpoints. this edition. This expanded coverage of the geography
Each chapter has been reorganized with definitive of Canada benefited immensely from the assistance of
goals for its user. Introduced with Learning Out- Canadian geographers and other scholars and class-
comes, each student will be better guided by the room teachers who live north of the 49th parallel. We
text to understand the important concepts in the hope that our interpretation of what these Canadian
chapter, which are further enforced through the colleagues taught us is reflected accurately and sensi-
use of the Conceptual Checkpoints, where students tively throughout the book.
have a chance to stop and check their understand- Another change in this new edition of The Geography
ing before moving on with the chapter. of North America: Environment, Culture, Economy is our

greatly expanded coverage of critical environmental to tests, and print the test in a variety of customized
concerns and issues in North America. This expanded formats. This Test Bank includes nearly 1000 multi-
coverage of environmental issues in the book reflects ple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short-answer/es-
our own passion for doing all we can to protect the nat- say questions. Questions are correlated to the revised
ural environment of North America and the rest of the U.S. National Geography Standards and Blooms
planet. This edition focuses on issues such as climate Taxonomy to help instructors better map the assess-
change and sustainability in North America due to the ments against both broad and specific teaching and
increased attention to green issues and green solu- learning objectives. The Test Bank is also available in
tions in many parts of the world today. Youll note Microsoft Word and is importable into Blackboard.
that environmental considerations frame all of the top-
ics discussed in Chapter2 on North Americas physical Encounter Geosystems: Interactive Explorations
geography. In addition to environmental topics, in this of Earth Using Google Earth (0321636996/
introductory chapter we also discuss some of the most 9780321636997). Encounter Geosystems provides
pressing environmental issues and the overall physical rich, interactive explorations of physical
patterns of each region that are covered in all of the re- geography concepts through Google Earth
gional chapters that follow. explorations. All chapter explorations are
Overall then, this new edition of the book is more available in print format as well as via online
colorful, more environmental, more up to date, and quizzes and downloadable PDFs, accommodating
more Canadian in its focus. It is also more richly different classroom needs. Each worksheet is
grounded in critical thinking and in interactive and accompanied by corresponding Google Earth
collaborative learning throughout. We hope this geo- KMZ media files containing the placemarks,
graphical overview of life and landscape in North overlays, and annotations referred to in the
America helps you understand and apply key geo- w o r k s h e e t s , a v a i l a b l e f o r d o w n l o a d f ro m
graphic concepts, themes, skills, and perspectives in
your other college or university courses and in your Goodes World Atlas, twenty-second edition
life in general. (0321652002/9780321652003). Goodes World Atlas
has been the worlds premiere educational atlas
since 1923, and for good reason. It features over 250
pages of maps ranging from definitive physical and
The Geography of North America political maps to important thematic maps that il-
Learning/Teaching Package lustrate the spatial aspects of many important top-
ics. The twenty-second edition includes 160 pages
The second edition provides a complete North Ameri-
of new, digitally produced reference maps, as well
can geography program for students and teachers.
as new thematic maps on global climate change,
Premium WebsiteInstant Access sea-level rise, CO2 emissions, polar ice fluctuations, This online re- deforestation, extreme weather events, infectious
source contains self-study quizzes, In the News diseases, water resources, and energy production.
RSS feeds, Google Earth tours, MapMaster Dire Predictions (0136044352/9780136044352). Pe-
layered thematic and place-name interactive maps, riodic reports from the Intergovernmental Panel
and additional references and resources to extend on Climate Change (IPCC) evaluate the risk of cli-
learning beyond the text. mate change brought on by humans. But the sheer
Instructor Resource Center (Download only) volume of scientific data remains inscrutable to the
(0321811887/9780321811882). The Instructor general public, particularly to those who may still
Resource Center (IRC) provides high-quality question the validity of climate change. In just over
electronic versions of photos and illustrations from 200 pages, this practical text presents and expands
the book, as well as customizable PowerPointTM on the essential findings in a visually stunning and
lecture presentations, Classroom Response System undeniably powerful way to the lay reader. Scien-
questions in PowerPoint, and the Instructor tific findings that provide validity to the implica-
Resource Manual and Test Bank in MS Word and tions of climate change are presented in clear-cut
TestGen formats. The IRC also includes all of graphic elements, striking images, and understand-
the illustrations and photos from the text in able analogies.
presentation-ready JPEG files. For easy reference and Television for the Environment Life Human
identification, all resources are organized by chapter. Geography Videos on DVD (0132416565/ 9780132416566). This three-DVD set is designed to
TestGen Computerized Test Bank (Download enhance any human geography course. It contains
only) (0321811917/9780321811912). TestGen is a 14 complete video programs (average length 25
computerized test generator that lets instructors minutes) covering a wide array of issues affecting
view and edit Test Bank questions, transfer questions people and places in the contemporary world,

including international immigration, urbanization, Joan Mylroie, Mississippi State University

g l o b a l t r a d e , p o v e r t y, a n d e n v i ro n m e n t a l Erik Prout, Texas A & M University
destruction. The videos included on these DVDs
Keith Ratner, Salem State College
are offered at the highest quality to allow for full-
screen viewing on a computer and projection in Diana Richardson, San Diego State University
large lecture classrooms. Scott Roper, Castleton State College
Television for the Environment Life World Benjamin Timms, California Polytechnic State
Regional Geography Videos on DVD (0321606132/ University
9780321606136). This two-DVD set brings globali-
Alexander C. Vias, University of Connecticut
zation and the developing world to the attention of
any world regional geography course. These 10 full- Robert Watrel, South Dakota State University
length video programs highlight matters such as the Gerald R. Webster, University of Alabama
growing number of homeless children in Russia, the William Wyckoff, Montana State University
lives of immigrants living in the United States trying
to aid family still living in their native countries, and The assistance of these outside reviewers and of
the European conflict between commercial interests other geographers who used and commented on the
and environmental concerns. first edition of our book during the past three years
Television for the Environment Earth Report have all greatly improved the approach and content of
Geography Videos on DVD (0321662989/ this new version of the text.
9780321662989). This three-DVD set is designed to In addition to the reviewers who made the book
help students visualize how human decisions and more informational and readable, we owe a debt of
behavior have affected the environment and how gratitude to the many graduate students and other
individuals are taking steps toward recovery. With colleagues who made important contributions to each
topics ranging from the poor land management chapter. They include our recent Graduate Teaching As-
promoting the devastation of river systems in Cen- sistants at the University of Oregon, Innisfree McKin-
tral America to the struggles for electricity in China non, Gretchen Hill, Marissa Isaak, and Lindsay Naylor;
and Africa, these 13 videos from Television for the our faculty colleague Andrew Marcus, for his invaluable
Environments global Earth Report series recognize help in structuring the book and providing support all
the efforts of individuals around the world to unite along the way; and the research and writing assistance
and protect the planet. of Lisa DeChano, Ryan Daley, Alexander Ginsburg,
and Andre Duguay (Andre is currently a researcher at
the University of Monctons Institut deetudes Acadi-
Acknowledgments ennes). These special research assistants provided in-
valuable support with selected focus boxes and other
We deeply appreciate the recommendation, advice, text included in this edition of the book.
and support of the two external reviewers of the first Other supporters who made this new edition of the
edition of this book: Innisfree McKinnon, University book possible include our special Editorial Assistant
of Oregon, and Ezra Zeitler, University of Wisconsin at Charity Book who proved invaluable in assisting us
Eau Claire. We are also thankful for the earlier contri- with the final editing of the first edition of the books
butions of the following reviewers: pre-submission manuscript; Gordon Holtgrieve for
sharing his firsthand information about Hawaii and
Paul Adams, University of TexasAustin
Alaska; James Book, whose micro-brew expertise and
Thomas Bell, University of Tennessee insider knowledge of popular culture, made many
William Berentsen, University of ConnecticutStorrs important contributions to the Pacific Northwest
Mark Drayse, California State UniversityFullerton chapter; Kimberly Zerr for her overall editorial assis-
tance; Amanda Coleman for her help conceptualiz-
Eric C. Ewert, Weber State University
ing the Inland South chapter as a long-term resident;
Alison Feeney, Shippensburg University of and Rebecca Marcus, Brittany Jones, Joanne Stanley,
Pennsylvania and Maureen Kelly for their creative efforts to lo-
James Fonseca, Ohio UniversityZanesville cate data needed for maps and tables and several of
the most elusive photographs for the art manuscript.
Jay R. Harman, Michigan State University
We are also indebted to fellow Pearson author, Robert
Tom Martinson, Auburn University Christopherson, for allowing us to use some of his
Chris Mayda, Eastern Michigan University powerful graphics in Chapter 2.
Cynthia Miller, Minnesota State University Our editors at Pearson have been inspiring, patient,
Mankato and helpful in all regards. We are especially grate-
ful to Christian Botting, Pearsons Geography Edi-
Daniel Montello, University of CaliforniaSanta
tor for supporting this new edition of the book. His

ultra-supportive, zen-like executive editing style guided hard to make this new edition of the book as student-
us through the pre-publication process and supported friendly, innovative, up to date, and edgy as possible.
us all along the way. In addition to Christian Bottings After using this book and the materials provided on
leadership of this second edition of the book, we were the books website, we hope you will find our concep-
fortunate to have the invaluable assistance and support tual, collaborative, and somewhat quirky approach
of Sean Hale and a effective crew of editing and pro- helpful in understanding more about the many differ-
duction experts including Editorial Assistant Bethany ent geographies of North America.
Sexton, Project Manager Ed Thomas, and Managing The support of each of these students, faculty, exter-
Editor Gina Cheselka. We owe a sincere debt of gratitude nal reviewers, editors, cartographers, other colleagues,
to Christian, Sean, and each of their colleagues for shar- and family members proved invaluable in the produc-
ing their expertise with us throughout the preparation tion of this book. Any and all weaknesses or errors in
of this book. Their leadership and inspiration, as well as both the first and second editions, however, are the re-
the invaluable help of Innisfree McKinnon during the sult of our own shortcomings and are not the fault of
later stages of production (who carefully reviewed each any of these invaluable assistants and supporters.
of the draft chapters for accuracy and also developed the A warm welcome to the world of regional geog-
useful and very well-designed ancillaries for the book), raphy and the study of North America! Please let us
is appreciated beyond measure. know if you have any additional ideas for improving
Finally, this text could never have been written with- the text after you finish reading each of the following
out the support and recommendations of the literally chapters. We hope that the ideas, concerns, and inspi-
thousands of students who have taken our geography rations shared by the many readers of the first edition
classes during the past 30 years. Their feedback on ear- of this book have helped make this newly updated
lier versions of these chapters helped us realize that edition even more useful and enjoyable for geography
things have changed a great deal since we were stu- students, faculty, and the geographically inclined gen-
dents. Our students need and deserve dramatically dif- eral public for many years to come.
ferent kinds of learning materials today than they did
Susan Wiley Hardwick
in the past. It is essential, for example, that textbooks
Eugene, Oregon
now include key Learning Outcomes to guide students
as they read and study each chapter, along with ac- Fred M. Shelley
tive learning strategies and collaborative assignments. Norman, Oklahoma
Due to the many suggestions and critiques we have
Donald G. Holtgrieve
received from students enrolled in our classes during
Eugene, Oregon
these past few years in particular, we have tried very
About the Authors

Susan Wiley Hardwick, a native Fred M. Shelley received his Donald G. Holtgrieve has used
of western Pennsylvania, is a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark his geography training in a variety
Professor of Geography at the University, his Master of Arts de- of applied areas as well as in the
University of Oregon. She special- gree from the University of Illinois classroom as a professor of geog-
izes in geographic education, the at UrbanaChampaign, and his raphy and environmental studies
geography of the United States and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. at California State Universitys
Canada, urban and cultural geogra- Dr. Shelley has served as Chair and East Bay and Chico campuses. He
phy, and North American immigra- Professor of Geography at the Uni- founded and headed an environ-
tion patterns and issues. Professor versity of Oklahoma since 2004. mental research firm, coordinated
Hardwick is the author of 11 other His research and teaching interests projects for citizen environmental
geography books and numerous include political geography, world groups, and was a consulting ur-
journal articles and book chapters.
systems, cultural geography, and ban planner for several state and
She is past President of the National
North America. He has published local public agencies. In addition,
Council for Geographic Education
over 70 scholarly articles and book some of his more satisfying pro-
and is best known as the co-host of
an Annenberg series produced for chapters as well as 10 books. fessional experiences were as an
public television, The Power of inner-city high school teacher, re-
Place. Her most recent book is a gional parks police officer, reserve
co-edited volume on immigration state fish and game warden, Ai-
and integration in U.S. cities pub- kido teacher, and land planner for
lished by the Brookings Institution. sustainable development projects
Professor Hardwick was awarded (including four wildlife preserves).
the statewide California Outstanding He now enjoys teaching and ap-
Professor Award (out of more than plied research at the University of
23,000 faculty in the California State Oregon in Eugene. Drs. Holtgrieve
University system) when she was a and Hardwick are the proud par-
geography professor at California ents of four sons and a 120-pound
State University, Chico; the Asso- Newfoundland dog.
ciation of American Geographers
Gilbert Grosvenor Honors in
Geographic Education award; the
Distinguished University Educa-
tor Award, and the Distinguished
Mentor Award from the National
Council for Geographic Education.

To our fathers
who learned by doing and taught by example:
Asa G. Wiley, Fred Shelley,
and Edwin C. Holtgrieve

About Our Sustainability Initiatives

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The Latest Data and Applications
NEW! Current Data and Statistics
All maps and data have been updated with the
0 150 300 mi

0 150 300 km ME
Lak or

latest information and statistics, including the



Lak e Mich i g
ar io

2010 U.S. Census.

ID SD e On t
L ak


WY E rie RI
La 40N

ARCTIC 160W 140W 30N
AK 0 200 mi
PACIFIC OCEAN Gulf of Mexico
60N 0 200 km 155W
0 100 mi RURAL POPULATION CHANGE, 20002010
20N 80W
Metro areas 0 to 9.7% of Cance
160W 140W 0 100 km
More than 75%90W -0.1 to -5%
30.1 to 75.0% -5 to -10%
20.1 to 30.0% -10.1 to -38.8% Geography graduate student Alexander harder to procure country foods (hunted Most importantly, climate change is
9.7 to 20.0% Ginsburg is currently studying the impacts or harvested foods), contributed to a loss making it more for Sallumiut to
of climate change on local cultural systems of traditional knowledge, and undermined maintain the traditions of their ancestors.
U.S. total population increased 9.7% from 2000 to 2010
in the Northern Village of Salluit, Quebec. traditional sharing practices. Residents For them, new barriers to carrying out
Salluit is one of 14 Inuit villages in the acutely experience these consequences of land-based activities will continue to alter
northern Quebec region of Nunavik. Alexs climate change. For example, food prices in the social fabric. In that way, for many
Fulbright-funded research is investigating Nunavik are often more than twice as high Inuit climate change is an extension of the
how climate change Inuit culture in than those in southern Canada, and many colonialism that has imposed foreign in-
northern Canada. he is study- store-bought foods are heavily processed. stitutions on them over the past 60 years.
ing some of the ways that Inuit understand Since country foods can provide highly Yet, as several Sallumiut have
the causation and consequences of climate nutritious and more alternatives We cannot become Qallunaat (white
change within the context of their unique to store-bought foods, a decline in hunt- people). Despite the challenges they face,
ways of knowing and dwelling in the world. ing and the availability of local foods has many Sallumiut are actively working to
Sallumiut (Inuit residents of Salluit) profound economic and health on maintain and strengthen their traditions
have already seen the manifestations of the community. while adapting to climate change.
climate change in their isolated village.

Environmental In 1998, melting permafrost destabilized

much-needed public housing, causing a

mudslide. Since then, researchers at the
Universit Laval have mapped permafrost
instability and worked collaboratively with
the community to develop a safe land-use
These feature essays focus on plan. Yet, local residents are still faced with
winters that start late and end early, as

the push and pull between

well as decreased snow accumulation and
sea ice. In the abnormally warm winter of
20102011, sea ice that usually forms in

physical and environmental November did not develop until January.

In addition, many Sallumiut have noticed
changes in the behavior of staple species
issues of the region, and the arrival of some animals that have
never been seen in the region before.

complimenting the chapters During Alexs on-site in Salluit

during the winter of 2011, he learned that
climate change exacerbates many chal-

increased coverage of lenges the community already faces. Along

with delaying new housing construction,

environmental issues.
the changes in the land have made hunt-
ing more and dangerous, made it Salluit, Quebec, an Inuit village.

Unique case studies on the major In February 2011, hundreds of athletes
from around the world converged on Fort
(280 centimeters) of snow each winter.
The 10th Mountain Center includes state-
competed in the 2011 World Cup, which
attracted more than 35,000 specta-

economic issues of the region. Kent, Maine, to participate in the Inter-

national Biathlon World Cup. Biathlon is
a winter sport combining Nordic skiing
of-the-art training facilities, more than
(15.5 miles) of biathlon
trails, and a lodge that 360-degree
tors and was broadcast on television to
European countries with a total of over
100 million people. These visitors spent
with target shooting. The sport origi- views of biathlon competitions. The Inter- more than $10 million in northern Maine,
nated in Scandinavia and the majority of national Biathlon Union, which sponsors and they called worldwide attention to
its world-class competitors come from eight World Cup competitions throughout Maines potential to host major inter-
Scandinavia and the former Soviet Union. the world each year, has designated the national sporting events. Not only has
Biathlon is an Olympic sport that is highly 10th Mountain Center as a world-class northern Maine become the major North
popular in northern Europe but has biathlon venue. American center for biathlon, but the
never achieved this popularity in North By 2010, the 10th Mountain Center sport has become a major source of de-
CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY HOCKEY AND ETHNIC IDENTITY IN QUEBEC America. However, Fort Kents leaders are had come to be recognized as North velopment capital for a region historically
working to make the sport more popular Americas premier biathlon venue. More dependent on extractive and declining
Le Chandail de Hockey (The Hockey The Richard Riot and the story The in Canada have for their early experi-
in North America while infusing needed than 250 biathletes from 30 countries industries.
Sweater), a French-Canadian short story Hockey Sweater, illustrate not only the ences on the ice.
income into depressed northern Maine.
originally titled The Abominable Maple overwhelming importance of hockey in
The boys I played hockey with have gone Fort Kent is located in northern Aroos-
Leaf on Ice (Une Abominable Feuille deravle Canadian culture but also the isolation
on, the more successful of them, to run took County along the U.S.-Canadian
sur glace), was published by Canadian felt by many rural Quebecois. Perhaps
newspapers and department stores, to border. Many of its 4233 residents are
author Roch Carrier in 1979. Despite its nowhere has this feeling been captured
become chemists and lawyers. But there of French-Canadian ancestry and speak
recent appearance, this story has become more succinctly and powerfully than
is not one who would not have been a French as their language. Historically,
one of the best known works of literature back of a series of bills
Aroostook Countys economy has been
in Canada today, especially among young produced as part of a series of Canadian
matured, we chose other heroes, and even based on potato cultivation and logging.
people in Quebec. The story is based on banknotes in 2001:
in the days of our boyhood there may However, long-run declines in both of
the real-life experience of Carrier, a loyal
In writing one line, one simple quote, have been those among us who dreamed these extractive industries have taken
fan of the Montreal Canadiens who grew
Roch Carrier summed up our entire of other futures. But all of us dreamed of their toll on northern Maines economy,
up in an isolated part of Quebec in the
country, our culture, our history, our peo- hockey glory. Later, when Elvis Presley with high unemployment rates and low
1940s. When the authors beloved hockey
ple. He is Canada. There are some things sang or Pierre Trudeau made his way incomes.
sweater wears out, his mother orders a
that are simply Canadian that belong to through adoring throngs, we envied and In the late 1990s, the Maine Winter
new sweater from a mail-order company.
us and us alone. That is Roch Carrier. admired them. But when Bobby Hull Sports Center (MWSC) was established.
Unfortunately, the boy receives a Toronto
wheeled down the wing, his sweater bulg- Recognizing Maines cold winters and
Maple Leafs sweater by mistake. Because Roch Carriers popular story of the
ing in the wind, we were there with him. heavy snowfalls as a development oppor-
of the his mother, as a French- hockey sweater captured the minds
We understood; we knew what it felt like. tunity, leaders of this organiza-
speaking Quebecois, has in communicat- and hearts of French Canadians and
All that separated us from our true heroes tion saw snow skiing and other winter
ing the error to the company in English, their attachment to the sport of hockey
was that they were better at something sports as a means of promoting economic
Carrier is forced to wear this incorrect and to their ethnic identity; Peter
we all had done. They belonged to us, as development in depressed rural com-
sweater to his hockey games where he is Gzowski speaks to these same themes
no other kind of hero ever could, at once munities throughout the state. One of
humiliated in front of his friends and team- in The Game of Our Lives. Gzowski grew
more celebrated and more approachable MWSCs projects was the construction
mates who are all proudly wearing their up in the 1940s in Anglo Canada in
because of what we shared. They were of of the 10th Mountain Center in Fort Kent,
Montreal Canadiens sweaters. Stressed Ontario where he idolized the Leafs,
us, playing the game of our lives. which receives an average of 116 inches Activities at the Maine Winter Sports Program.
out by his show of loyalty for their Quebec while Carrier grew up in Quebec and
home team, young Carrier smashes his idolized the Montreal Canadiens. Both
Sources: Roch Carrier, The Hockey Sweater and Other
hockey stick in the ice, is expelled from the Gzowskis book and Carriers short story Stories, translated by Sheila Fischman (Montreal:
game by his coach, and then storms focus on the powerful nostalgia that Tundra Press, 1984); Peter Gzowski, The Game of Our
in a rage. both Francophones and Anglophones Lives (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1981).

Hudson ND




Vancouver Calgary


Cultural Geography
National Hockey League city Toronto

These features focus on unique cultural

Canadian Hockey League city

Hockey teams in Canada. nuances and case studies from the regions.
New Structured Learning Path
After reading this chapter, you should be able to: Learning Outcomes open each chapter,
Describe the geographic visitors to Megalopolis guiding students through the priority of
landform patterns and relationship between each year. of New York City and then
topics, information, and skills they should
comparative locations
of Megalopoliss three
the Fall Line and the
Piedmont. Then list at least
Although Megalopolis list some of the common
environmental issues they master after reading the chapter.
is known primarily as an
urban region, agriculture are facing today (or may
provinces. is also important here. face in the future).

Explain some of the location in this zone. List and discuss some of List some of the reasons
geomorphic reasons why Analyze some of the the important specialty why Megalopolis is such
estuaries are common reasons why port groups that are grown in a popular area for tourism
features along the eastern cities were so critically rural parts of this North for visitors from the United
edge of the Megalopolis important to the growth of American region. States and other parts of
region. Megalopolis in its earliest
Analyze the reasons why the world.

List some of the reasons years of Euro-American

Megalopolis became a Compare and contrast the
why the planned city of vitally important early impacts of racial covenants
Philadelphias urban Compare and contrast at center of industrial as compared to fair housing
morphology development during policies on the integration
from other early cities in of tourist attractions and after the Industrial of U.S. suburbs in the
Megalopolis? that attract thousands of Revolution. 1960s.


Construct a list of reasons showing why the major snow
and ice storms that struck the Midwest during the winter
of 2010 did not cause as much damage in local communi-
ties as might have been anticipated.
NEW! Conceptual Checkpoints
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 8.3 These questions are integrated throughout
Describe three scenarios illustrating that, despite the text, often at the end of major sections,
recent impacts of the global recession and the earlier giving students a chance to stop, check, and
challenges brought on by deindustrialization, practice their understanding of key topics
Lakes and Corn Belt region has been able to maintain a
relatively balanced economy overall.
and concepts before moving on with the
chapter reading.

Review Questions Review Questions

End of chapter Review
1. What were some of the tensions that existed 6. How do the events that unfolded during and
Questions have students between the British and French during the colo- after the Haymarket Riot in Chicago illustrate the
synthesize and apply nial era? power of nativism in the United States?

chapter Review concepts, 2. How did the construction of the transcontinental 7. What is the theory of first effective settlement and
railroad and the expansion of the highway system how does it help to explain the residual impacts
as the last step in the in the United States influence the settlement of the of the English settlers at Jamestown and Massa-
West? chusetts Bay Colony on North American cultural
structured learning path. landscapes?
3. Why is the density of settlement different on the
western side of the 100th meridian as compared to 8. What were the differences between early Spanish
the eastern side of this imaginary line of demarca- colonias, pueblos, villas, and ranchos in the Southwest?
tion in North America?
9. What were some of the reasons why the Russian
4. What were the outcomes of the Chinese Exclusion government decided to sell all of its North Ameri-
Act in the United States and the Chinese Head Tax can territory to the United States in the 1840s?
in Canada in the 1880s?
10. What is a culture hearthand how and why did
5. What were some of the impacts of manifest des- the colonial-era New England culture hearth dif-
tiny on territorial expansion in the United States fer from the Pennsylvania culture hearth?
over the years?

NEW! Group Activities Group Activities

Collaborative Group Activities 1. Your group has been invited to participate in a 2. Work with your group to make a list of the ways
that the territorial expansion of the United States
national debate on the settlement of the United
at the end of each chapter States in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters of from a relatively small nation of only 13 colonies
up to the addition of the new states of Hawaii
provide flexible opportunities the National Geographic Society. To win this de-
bate, you must convince the judges of the follow- and Alaska illustrates the long-term impacts of
for collaborative group work ing argument: imperialism and manifest destiny.

in discussion sections and as It would have been much easier for the Chinese to
settle the Pacific Coast of North America than it was
3. Collaborate with a group or a partner to propose
a new ethnic heritage tourism site in Canada or the
homework assignments. for the British to settle the Atlantic Coast during the United States.
colonial era.
The Premium Website at
contains a variety of resources to help students explore
North America and master geographic literacy, including
quizzes, a flashcard glossary, and assignable and
assessable media.

These interactive maps
provide students with
both place name practice
and dynamic mini-GIS
thematic map layering,
helping reinforce students
spatial reasoning skills and
geographic literacy.
Tools to access current news and data
and extend the textbook

NEW! Encounter
North America
Rich, interactive
explorations of North
America through Google
Earth activities. Each
Exploration consists of a
worksheet, quizzes, and
a corresponding Google
Earth KMZ file.

NEW! RSS Feeds

Constantly updated news
articles related to the
books topics from across
the internet give students
access to the latest news
and information available,
helping to extend learning
beyond the classroom.
1 Introduction
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Understand the Define basic concepts Summarize some of the Distinguish between the
importance of applying the and themes in geography similarities and differences two primary types of
geographic perspective to such as scale, region, between the political regions: functional region
solve real-world problems globalization, and human systems that govern and formal region.
and issues. environment interaction. Canada as compared to the
Learn why Canada
Summarize the impacts Provide a list of reasons why U.S. system of government. is referred to as a
of colonialism on the the term cultural diversity Explain the difference Commonwealth country as
current politics, cultures, is often used to describe between thematic compared to the United
and cultural landscapes of the cultures, peoples, and geography and regional States.
Canada, the United States, societies of both Canada geography.
and Greenland. and the United States.

Without geography, you are nowhere.

(Jimmy Buffett, American popular songwriter)

s in our first edition of this book, this newly ex- borderlands are also critical to our story of North
panded and updated textbook provides readers America. Both of these parts of the continent are impor-
with the latest information on North Americas tant not only because of their large size, close relation-
geographic patterns and key environmental, economic, ship, and proximity to Canada and the United States but
political, and cultural issues. Because of the numerous in- also because their peoples, places, and global economic
terconnections linking the United States to the Mexican connections make them distinct and fascinating places
borderlands and Canada to Greenland, we also include for geographic study in their own right.
some information about these two areas in the chapters Although Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are
that follow. Because of the ever-increasing environmental, part of the United States jurisdiction, we did not include
economic, political, and cultural linkages in todays inter- them in this book because these interesting and important
connected and globalized world, we believe it is essential places are usually covered in Geography of Latin America
to extend our discussion wherever possible to include all courses. Likewise, many consider Mexico to be located in
parts of this vast continent (see Figure 1.1). North America, but we reserved coverage of this part of
the world to other geographers who specialize in the ge-
ography of Central America and the Caribbean.
Why Study North America? Politically, all parts of of North America share a
colonial past dominated by European conquerers and
North America is the worlds third largest continent. an earlier indigenous heritage. After the much ear-
Its two largest countries, Canada and the United States, lier settlement of aboriginal peoples who first came
cover more than 7.5 million square miles (20 million to the continent between 14,000 and 50,000 years ago,
square kilometers). Canada now has jurisdiction over al- the political structure and cultural and economic
most 6.7 percent of the worlds land area, and the United foundation of the postcolonial United States was domi-
States controls nearly 6.4 percent. The territorial and po- nated by Great Britain; Canada by the British and
litical control of so much of a portion of earth by these French; Greenland by Denmark; and the southwest-
two nation-states makes the continent of North America ern United States and Mexico by Spain. Each of these
of particular importance to world affairs. Added to the colonial powers exerted their influence on the cultures
importance of Canada and the United States large size and the economies of the indigenous peoples who had
is the geographical significance of Greenland located already lived in North America for a very long time.
just offshore. Not only is Greenland currently experi- Central to understanding the current political, eco-
encing major environmental adjustments brought on nomic, and cultural geographies of Canada and the
by the impacts of global climate change, it is by far the United States is understanding the different ways that
worlds largest island. The rapidly changing cultural, each of these nation-states emerged from its colonial
political, and economic geographies of the U.S.-Mexico past. The United States became independent after six

Backpacking at Wonder Pass above the turquoise waters of Lake Gloria in the Canadian Rockies of Banff
National Park, Canada. 3



Elevation in meters

RUSSIA 4000+
5002000 ARCTIC

Sea Level 0200 OCEAN 10W

Below sea


Prudhoe Bay
B a f fi n
on R Bay




160W Iqaluit
on R.





Juneau Yellowknife
0 300 600 mi NE


0 300 600 km ND

R. & 50W
Hudson LA

Bay RA N
BRITISH Churchill DO 50
bas Island of

At R. Newfoundland



Over 1,000,000 Prince Edward I.
P.E.I. Cape

La w r
Vancouver Calgary Breton I.
500,0001,000,000 ONTARIO
N.B. Charlottetown

(selected cities) Seattle Regina
Winnipeg St. John N.S.
WASH. Quebec
Selected smaller cities Columbia Montreal

(National capitals shown in red) N. DAK. Ottawa VT.

Toronto N.H.Boston 40
Minneapolis- Mi WIS. N.Y. MA. R.I.
IDAHO St. Paul MICH. Buffalo 60W
S. DAK. CT. Providence

WYO. R. Milwaukee

PACI FI C Cleveland PENN. N.J. New York


Reno Pittsburgh Philadelphia
OCE AN Sacramento Cheyenne IOWA Chicago OHIO

140W Salt Lake IND. Baltimore (MD.)

NEV. NEB. Indianapolis Columbus
San Francisco City ur R DEL.

i . ILL. Cincinnati Washington, D.C.

UTAH Kansas City W.VA. VA.
30 CALIF. COL. MO. R. Norfolk
N KAN. hio Louisville
St. Louis
KY. N.C. Richmond

Las Vegas S T A T E S Charlotte

Los Angeles Salton
Sea ARIZ. Oklahoma City TENN.
Nashville AT L AN T IC
S.C. N
San Diego Albuquerque ARK. Atlanta OC EAN 30

Phoenix OKLA. Memphis


Mi s sissipp

NEW Birmingham
Mexicali MISS.
Tucson MEX. Dallas- ALA. GEORGIA
Nogales Ft. Worth
22N Nogales Ciudad El Paso TEXAS Jacksonville
Honolulu Juarez Rio G Houston LA. New Orleans Orlando
HAWAII Hermosillo Tampa-

San Antonio St. Petersburg FLA.

nd e

OCEAN Nuevo Laredo Laredo Gulf of Miami
0 75 150 mi Brownsville MEXICO Mexico
Monterrey 70W N
cer 20
Tropic of Can
0 75 150 km
160W 158W 156W 90W
110W 80W

FIGURE 1.1 Physical and political features of North America.

years of war with Britain, which fought hard to retain American society for hundreds of years. The popula-
the Thirteen Colonies as a part of the British Empire. tion of the United States also includes more immigrants
Canada remained loyal to Britain for a longer period, than any other nation in total numbers, while Canada
until the Dominion of Canada was ratified peace- currently has the highest rate of immigration (as a per-
fully in 1867. After centuries of Danish rule, Greenland centage of its total population) in the world.
achieved partial independence from Denmark in 1979, Historically, Canadas population has been domi-
although Denmark retains control over Greenlands nated by both Anglophone (English-speaking) and
defense and foreign policy (Figure 1.2). North America Francophone (French-speaking) groups, as well as pop-
is probably the most culturally diverse region on earth. ulated by diverse First Nations, Aleut, and Inuit peoples
People from throughout the world have contributed in and immigrants and their descendants. Since the 1960s,
many ways to the cultural diversity, economic success, new immigrants from the Caribbean and other parts of
and spirit of innovation that has characterized North Latin America, Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world
FIGURE 1.2 Greenlandic people perform
traditional music wearing traditional island
regalia on special occasions.

have added diversity to Canadas European and indig- proximity to the United States geographically, culturally,
enous heritage. The United States also has a long history politically, and economically, many Americans seem to
of cultural diversity. The population of the United States know very little about Canada. This immense nation-
at the time of American independence in 1789 was domi- state stretches 3730 miles (5500 kilometers) across the
nated by immigrants from western Europe and their continent from the eastern edge of Newfoundland,
descendants, along with African-American slaves and west across the prairies to the Canadian Rockies, to
Native Americans. Since then, the cultural diversity of Vancouver Island just off the Pacific Coast. Seven per-
the United States has been enriched by the arrival of mil- cent of Canada is covered with lakes and rivers, and it
lions of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe in contains three of the worlds 20 longest rivers. Overall
the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the immigra- Canada controls about 25 percent of the worlds fresh
tion of millions of people from Latin America, Asia, and water resources. Politically, Canada is divided into ten
other parts of the world since the 1960s. The diversity of provinces and four territories, although the majority of
the United States has been enhanced further by the Civil its population of 34 million people reside in towns and
Rights Movement, which led to the increasing accep- cities located within 150 miles (250 kilometers) of the
tance of African Americans into mainstream society. This U.S.-Canada border (Figure 1.3).
ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity has been enhanced In comparison to Canada with its provinces and ter-
even more by declining levels of discrimination on the ritories, the United States is divided into 50 states. These
basis of gender, religion, and sexual orientation in North include the 48 conterminous states located between
America during the past few decades. the Canadian border to the north and the Mexican bor-
Canada and the United States share the longest der and the Gulf of Mexico to the south along with the
peaceful international political border in the world. states of Alaska and Hawaii, which are located far from
Yet despite its importance in world affairs and close the other states. The legal systems of both countries

FIGURE 1.3 Population distribution 150W 140W 130W 120W 110W 100W 90W 80W 70W
in Canada. One dot equals 1000 persons







0 400 800 mi
40N 0 400 800 km OCEAN


provide specifically for separation of power between the country and a member of the legislative branch of
the federal governments on the one hand and state the government. The United States, on the other hand,
or provincial governments on the other. Regional and is a presidential republic in which the executive and
provincial governments are much more self-sustaining legislative branches of government are fully separated.
in Canada than are state governments in the United
States. As shown on the diagram in Figure 1.4, both CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 1.1
Canada and the United States have multitiered systems What is a parliamentary system of governance, and why
of government. In the United States, the Tenth Amend- do Commonwealth countries such as Canada have this
ment to the Constitution specifies that any power not type of political system?
specifically granted to the federal government by the
Constitution is reserved to the states or to the people. In
practice, however, power flows from the federal level at
the top down to city governments at the bottom. Putting Geography
One major difference in the political systems of these
two North American countries is that Canada is closely
Back on the Map
connected to Great Britain as a Commonwealth coun- The contemporary world is highly interconnected. What
try. As such, the Queen of England is officially the head happens in North America affects people throughout
of state of Canada. However, the British monarchy the world, and vice versa. For example, the price that
has no real power in Canada, and the prime minister Americans and Canadians pay for gasoline at the pump
serves as the elected, in-residence head of the federal has often been affected by political events in the Middle
government. The political system of Canada, like that of East. Each of us is linked to other people and places
Britain, is a parliamentary system in which the prime in the world in ways we may take for granted as we
minister serves simultaneously as the chief executive of shop for groceries imported from around the world, eat
in ethnic or international restaurants, and call relatives
and friends on our cell phones as easily as if they lived
right next door. We also depend on global transporta-
tion and communications systems to connect us with
Federal Government
other people in the world like never before in history.
Territorial Government
The very fact that the world has become so global-
State Government ized and interconnected has meant that the study of ge-
ography is more important today than at any time in
history. The word geography comes from the ancient
(Regional Government)
Greek words geo, or earth, and graph, or writ-
ing. In other words, geography means literally writing
County Government about the earth. Since ancient times, people have stud-
ied and written about the characteristics of the environ-
City Government ments, cultures, and places in which they have lived or
City Government
traveled. Until the 20th century, geography was closely
linked to exploration. People visiting unfamiliar places
wrote and circulated accounts of the people and land-
scapes that they observed. During ancient and medieval
CANADA times, many of these observations were characterized
by errors, exaggerations, and fictional accounts of fan-
Federal Government ciful places. With the development of modern science,
Territorial Government observations became more accurate. By the early 20th
Provincial Government century, educated people throughout the world knew
the basic characteristics of the earths surface, including
its landforms, climates, economies, and populations.
Regional Government Todays geographers are still explorers, but the na-
ture of geographic exploration is far different than it
County Government was centuries ago when people set out by land or sea to
visit unfamiliar places. Geography today is the study of
interconnectedness. Geographers have a unique ability
City Government City Government
to examine and understand how places on the earths
surface are interconnected and how the earths physical
system, the global economy, and cultural diversity in-
FIGURE 1.4 Differing governmental structures in the United States teract. The exploration process of modern-day geogra-
and Canada. phy has been enhanced greatly by enormous quantities
FIGURE 1.5 Cajun musicians in La Vacherie,

of data about conditions in different places, by mapping

programs such as Google Earth and Mapquest, and by
Why Study Regional
geographic information systems that allow users to un- Geography?
dertake statistical analysis of data while mapping the
In this book, we examine the environments, cultures,
results of this analysis. These techniques enable geogra-
and political economies of the major regions of North
phers to visualize interconnections in new and unique
America. In doing so, it is important to recognize that
ways, further helping decision makers and the public
regions can be conceptualized at a variety of geo-
to understand how and why people and places on the
graphic scales. For example, North America as a con-
earths surface continue to affect one another.
tinent is a region unto itself. This large region also can
Geographic analyses can be grouped into three broad
be divided into a series of smaller regions divided by
categories: studies of earths physical systems, study of
political boundaries such as Canada, the United States,
earths peoples, cultures, and cultural landscapes; and
and Greenland. In turn, these four large political re-
studies of earths political economies. But the key to
gions can be divided into other, smaller regions. For
doing geography and using the geographic perspec-
example, California is the largest U.S. state by popula-
tive is realizing that none of these categories can be
tion and is often conceptualized as a region unto itself,
studied without reference to the other two. For example,
as is done in this book. Yet California includes several
hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have often affected oil-
regions including Northern and Southern California.
drilling operations. When these operations are curtailed
Southern California, in turn, encompasses the Los
or shut down, gasoline supplies are reduced and gasoline
Angeles basin, the Inland Empire including Riverside
prices therefore increase. Many of the residents of south
and San Bernandino, the San Diego area, the hot and
Louisiana and southeastern Texas are of Cajun ancestry
arid Imperial Valley, and the picturesque communities
and are descendants of people who moved from Nova
such as Ventura and Santa Barbara along the Pacific
Scotia or Acadia to this area nearly 250 years ago. Drill-
Ocean west and north of Los Angeles. Los Angeles and
ing operations in the Gulf have created numerous jobs
its suburbs in turn can be divided into many distinct
for people of Cajun ancestry. This employment base has
regions, each of which has a distinctive environment,
enabled many to remain in their homeland and main-
culture, and economy. The wealthy and upscale neigh-
tain their distinctive culture at a time when many other
borhoods of Santa Monica and Malibu, bohemian West
local cultural landscapes have disappeared because of
Hollywood, the heavily Mexican-American neighbor-
changing environmental and economic conditions. Thus,
hoods of East Los Angeles, and the middle-class ethni-
the long-term survival of the Cajuns distinctive culture
cally mixed suburbs of the San Fernando Valley are all
and cultural landscapes is closely linked to understand-
highly distinctive regions within the very diverse Los
ing their dependence on the natural resources of the Gulf
Angeles area (Figure 1.6).
Coast, together with the environmental hazards this area
Distinctive places such as the Sun Belt or Canadas
poses, as well as the global politics shaping the political
Prairie Provinces are also referred to as regions be-
economy of this part of North America (Figure 1.5).
cause they have certain characteristics in common that
can be defined and identified by insiders and outsiders
alike. The government also uses a regional approach
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 1.2 to divide up space such as census regions, wilderness
What are the three broad categories of geographic analy- regions, and watershed regions. One example of these
ses, and why do geographers favor their integration to regions within regions at the urban level is shown
most effectively study and understand systems? in Figure 1.7.
FIGURE 1.6 Stanford Avalon Gardens in Watts, Los
Angeles, California, is a 7.6 acre community farm
with over 200 plots. Farmers grow many different
fruits and vegetables as well as Mexican herbs and
spices such as halache, pipicha, epazote, papalo,
and chipiline.

FIGURE 1.7 The North American regions discussed in this book.


0 500 1000 mi

0 500 1000 km




Far North 40W

i fi

c N


y M

PA C I F I C 50W

N Quebec


Int We

S Plains Great Lakes/


Corn Belt Megalopolis

m t







a Inland N


MexAm South

22N eri S AT L A N T I C
N Hawaii
20N Gulf of Mexico
0 75 150 mi 20

0 75 150 km 90W
160W 158W 156W

140W 130W 120W 110W 80W 70W

CHAPTER 1 Introduction 9

Approaches Used

Great Lakes/Corn Belt
Inland South
inThisBook Coastal South
Great Plains
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 of this book are thematic
Rocky Mountains
geography chapters. These three chapters focus on
Intermontane West
the physical landscape and environment of North
America (Chapter 2), the historical patterns, cultures,
and peoples of North America (Chapter 3), and the po-
The Pacific Northwest
litical economy of North America (Chapter 4). These
thematic chapters are followed by a series of regional
Far North
geography chapters (Chapters 5 through 18) that focus
on particular parts or regions of North America. The
book then concludes in Chapter 19 with a few predic- It is important to note here that regions can be di-
tions about what may lie ahead for people and places vided up in many different ways and there are many
in North America in the future. different types of regions. Our division of North
As is traditional in most geographical and histori- America into the regions listed above is only one way
cal examinations of North America, we arranged the to conceptulize this large continent, and we spent many
regional chapters spatially from east to west. Thus, we hours deciding how to best accomplish this to maxi-
begin our road trip across the continent on the North mize your learning. However, other books, atlases,
Atlantic coast and end with chapters on the Pacific and/or websites that you come across in your studies
Northwest, Hawaii, and, finally, the Far North includ- may have divided up North America into regions dif-
ing Greenland. As shown on the map in Figure 1.7, we ferent from the ones we define in this book. Journalist
divide our study of North America into the following Joel Garreau, for example, wrote a best-selling book
regions in this book called the Nine Nations of North America that divided
the continent into regions based mostly on their cul-
The Atlantic Periphery tural charactertistics (see Figure 1.8). After a great deal
Quebec of debate, we decided to include one of his regions,
Megalopolis MexAmerica, in this textbook because it works so well

FIGURE 1.8 Garreaus regions of


North America.




Quebec New
40 England
N The Empty
Quarter N
Ecotopia 40
E The
S Foundry
N Breadbasket

0 500 1000 mi MexAmerica
0 500 1000 km Islands 20

140W 130W 120W 110W 80W 70W


170W 160W 150W 140W 130W 120W 110W 100W 90W 80W

180 G

170W NS



50 C








0 300 600 mi BA



0 300 600 km N



Gulf of St. Lawrence




(meters) I E





40 N
5099 40


100199 L

200299 I N




500699 OCEAN







1,1001,299 N
30N P 30
1,3001,499 L
1,5001,699 C OA W

1,7001,999 SOUTHEAS

Gulf of Mexico
3,000 and above
120W 90W 80W 70W

FIGURE 1.9 Landform regions of North America.

in describing this unique part of the North American activities or functions that occur there. The func-
continent. tional unity of this type of region is often provided by
As shown on the maps in Figures 1.9 and 1.10, there a node,and thus, functional regions are also often
are many other approaches to regionalizing North referred to as nodal regions. An example of a fun-
America. The map presented in Figure 1.9 divides up cational or nodal region is a metropolitan region such
the continent according to its landform regions, as Chicago (or Chicagoland as it is called by insid-
while the map in Figure 1.10 divides the same land ers!), because this distinct global shares a variety of
area into agricultural regions. As you can see, regions economic, political, and other functions and connec-
are a shifting concept, and the regionalizing of North tions and is held together by interconnected nodes of
America is not only ever-changing, but also can be ac- activity).
complished in all kinds of different ways. Formal regions are areas distinguished by recog-
To help you make sense of these different kinds of nized boundaries that have fairly uniform physical,
regions, note that overall regions may be divided into economic, or cultural characteristics. An example of a
two major overarching typesfunctional regions formal region, for example, could be the part of Canada
and formal regions. A functional region is defined where everyone speaks French as their primary lan-
as an area distinguished by the interrelatedness of guage (formally bounded by the provincial boundaries
CHAPTER 1 Introduction 11

140W 90W 50W N


S 40
40 SB H
130W R
F S Co
H Co
Co S
V Co
Po 30
30 C C Po
Po S C S
C Po C
R SC r
an c e
ic of C
C Trop
F Gulf of Mexico

0 250 500 mi

0 250 500 km

120W 110W 80W 70W

Specialty crop or livestock farming Feed grains and livestock (Corn Belt) Nonfarming
C Cotton Co Corn
T Tobacco S Soybeans Irrigated agriculture
Varied crop specialties include fruits,
P Peanuts vegetables, cotton, sugarbeets, and rice.
Commercial wheat and other
R Rice small grain farming
S Soybeans
SC Sugarcane Dairy farming
SB Sugarbeets H Hay
F Fruit
V Vegetables General farming
Po Poultry
W Wheat Range livestock farming
P Potatoes

FIGURE 1.10 Generalized agricultural regions of North America.

of Quebec). Other examples of formal regions in North In addition to discussing each regions geographic
America include other formally defined areas such patterns and issues, we also embed key geographic
as the Corn Belt (an economic region), the Rocky concepts into all of these regional chapters. This ap-
Mountains (a physical region), or the Hip Hop proach will help you master both a regional and a con-
region (a cultural region based on a set of shared pop ceptual approach to studying the geography of North
culture criteria). America. To help you focus your attention on the most
In the regional chapters in this book, we discuss important geographic concepts in each chapter, we
various formal and functional North American regions show each concept in bold the first time it is mentioned
that are a combination of environmental, cultural, and in a chapter and define each one in a glossary at the
economic charactertistics and contain many different end of the book.This integrated regional and concep-
kinds of subregions (as shown in the randomly se- tual approach is designed to help you understand
lected region depicted in Figure 1.11). and apply the geographic perspective to real-world

FIGURE 1.11 The San Francisco Bay Region viewed from Space. Urban areas appear in gray. The mysterious orange places are salt
evaporation ponds in San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.

issues at a variety of scales. Ultimately we hope this CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 1.3

approach will help you to become a more participatory Make a list of all the different North American regions
and well-informed global citizen. covered in this textbook by browsing through the books
As you prepare to read Chapter 2 on North Amer- table of contents. Then choose any one of these regions
icas physical/environmental geography next, take a to examine more closely for this exercise. After examining
moment to go back to Figure 1.7 in this chapter. What the regional map of your selected region at the begin-
regions might you change if you were asked to update ning of the chapter that focuses on it, speculate on some
this book? How and why are your regions different of the subregions that may be located within this larger
or the same as the regions shown on the maps in this region. List each of these subregions on a piece of paper
chapter? Reflecting on these questions, and other ideas and then compare them to the map of your selected
that may have come to mind while you were reading larger region, How might this region, and the subregions
this first chapter, will help guide you through the chap- that are located within it, be useful in helping to explain
ters that follow as we study the people and places of what is meant by the geographic concept of scale?
North America.
CHAPTER 1 Introduction 13

Review Questions
1. Why is understanding what is meant by the geo- of your regions onto a map of North America.
graphic perspective such an important part of Label each region you have informally drawn on
geographic analysis? your map as either functional or formal.

2. What European countries originally dominated 6. Geographers often use the concept of scale to
Canada and the United States during the colonial analyze different parts of the earth. Using Canada,
era, and what are some of the impacts of each of the United States, or Greenland as the focus of
these colonial empires on the political systems your answer to this question, select at least three
and cultures of these two North American coun- examples of particular regions or places located in
tries today? North America that help illustrate different spa-
tial scales.
3. Make a list of some of the reasons the popula-
tions and cultures of both Canada and the United 7. This text is primarily a regional geography book
States have such a long and rich culturally diverse because the majority of chapters in it cover the ge-
heritage. ographies of a specific region of North America.
Only three of the chapters in the book focus on
4. What are the major differences between the politi- thematic geography instead of on regional ge-
cal system that governs the United States and the ography. List the titles of these three chapters and
system of government in Canada? make an argument that they are, indeed, more
5. Name at least one North American example of a thematic than regional in scope by browsing the
functional and a formal region. Then sketch each outline of the contents of each one.

Group Activities
1. Each of the assigned groups in your class has been 2. Your group has been hired to work as a collab-
asked to select a film to view and analyze for this orative educational consultant team for a well-
assignmenton YouTube, at the movie theater, or known publisher of regional geography text-
on one of the digital channels on your TV. Ask a books. To receive your first paycheck, your group
member of your group to take notes while all of must come up with a list of newly defined North
you view this film together outside of your regu- American regions that will appeal to college and
lar class time. As you watch the movie, look for university students (and capture their attention
specific examples of one or more of the geographic better than other textbooks). Begin by looking
concepts that was discussed in this chapter. View back at the list of specific North American regions
each scene in the film very closely to see if you outlined in the table of contents of this book to see
can find any specific moments in the script or the how the authors of this book decided to divide up
setting that illustrate the importance of concepts the continent. Then, compare their regions to the
such as location, scale, or human-environment regions depicted on the final two maps in Chap-
interaction (for example, to the plot or character ter 1 and the regions shown on the map discussed
development of the movie overall) or that lend earlier in this chapter that appeared in Garreaus
more drama to its storyline. Ask your note taker book, The Nine Nations of North America. After you
to make a careful and complete list of each of have discussed various ways to divide up North
these examples for your group to use for an oral America with the other members of your educa-
report to the class that will provide a group analy- tional consulting team (based on the maps shown
sis of the outcome of this collaborative geo-film in Chapter 1 and other new ideas your group
experience. comes up with, such as regions based on sports

teams, regions based on popular music in each your various regions and argues that your new
place, etc.), work with the other members of your North American regions should be used in all fu-
group to write a collaborative Consultants Re- ture regional geography textbooks on the United
port to submit to the executive editor of the pub- States and Canada Thereafter, your teams con-
lishing company who hired you to complete this sulting report can be submitted to your instructor
task. Then prepare a 20-minute PowerPoint talk to to receive a grade based on its logic, clarity, and
present to the editorial board that makes a strong writing, and level of spatial thinking involved in
case for the criteria that define the boundaries of your work.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Agnew, John A. 1999. Regions on the Mind Does Not Equal Garreau, Joel. 1981. The Nine Nations of North America.
Regions of the Mind. Progress in Human Geography 23: Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
9196. A journalists popular interpretation and defense of a whole
A scholarly and quite fascinating analysis of regions, new way of seeing regions in North America based on their
perceptions, and mental maps. cultures, economic and environmental characteristics, and
senses of place.
Allen, James, Doreen Massey, and Allan Cochrane. 1998.
Rethinking the Region. London: Routledge. Geography for Life: National Geography Standards. 2011
Commentary on regions and regionalizing space and place (2nd edition). Washington, DC: National Geographic
by a team of British geographers who very effectively inte- Education Implementation Project.
grate theory and empirical data in their research. Gersmehl, Phil. 2005. Teaching Geography. New York:
Ayers, Edward L., and Peter S. Onuf. 1996. Introduction to Guilford Press.
All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions. Edward This is the book to have if you are a geography teacher or
L.Ayers, Patricia Nelson Limerick, Stephen Nissbaum, are in training to become one.
and Peter S. Onuf, eds. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins
Granatstein, J. L., and Norman Hillmer. 1991. For Better or for
University Press, 110.
Worse: Canada and the United States in the 1990s. Toronto,
A historical take on regions in the United States and some Ontario: Copp Clark Pitman, Ltd.
of the reasons why thinking regionally is a useful way to
A readable analysis of the relationship between the
analyze people and places through time.
United States and Canada in the final decade of the
Buttimer, Anne. 1993. Geography and the Human Spirit. 20thcentury.
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Kerr, Donald, and Deryk W. Holdsworth, eds. 1990. Historical
Haggett, Peter. 1995. The Geographers Art. London: Atlas of Canada: Addressing the Twentieth Century. Vol. 3.
Blackwell. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
A classic study of the field of geography with an empha- A useful and comprehensive atlas of the economic, envi-
sis on the geographic perspective and ways of thinking ronmental, and cultural features of Canada at different time
geographically. periods during the past century.
Hardwick, Susan W., and Donald G. Holtgrieve. 1996. Martin, Geoffrey J., and Preston E. James. 1993. All Possible
Geography for Educators: Standards, Themes, and Concepts. Worlds: A History of Geographical Ideas. New York: John
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Wiley and Sons.
An introductory level textbook for geography teachers and Classic overview of the discipline of geography that provides
future geography teachers structured around the National both introductory students and more advanced geographers
Geography Standards and five fundamental themes with background in the key ideas and scholars important to
ofgeography. the disciplines evolution.
CHAPTER 1 Introduction 15

Smith, Gary Alden. 2004. State and National Boundaries of the United States Bureau of the Census. Statistical Abstracts of the
United States. Jefferson, North Carolina: Mc Farland & United States. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing
Company. Office, annual.
A detailed regional analysis of how each state boundary was A useful statistical compilation of facts and figures on the
created as well as the story of how the various land acquisi- population and other characteristics of people and places in
tions came about. There are also sections on how surveying the United States based on decadal census tabulations.
was done, how native American groups were affected and
Warkentin, John. 1997. Canada: A Regional Geography.
how the supreme court played a roll.
Scarborough, ON: Prentice Hall Canada.
Statistics Canada. Ottawa, Canada: Queens Printer, annual. A textbook focusing on the geography of Canada that
The Canadian counterpart to the U.S. Census Bureau that expands on many of the key themes discussed in this
publishes invaluable statistical analyses based on the book.
Canadian census at different time periods.
Van Loon, Hendrik Willem. 1932. Van Loons Geography. New
Stein, Mark. 2008. How the states got their shapes. NY: Harper York: Simon and Schuster.
Collins. Dont miss this fascinating read for a whole new way of
This is a popular version of the Smith book cited above. It visualizing and understanding more about our home on
treats each state individually rather than regionally and was planet Earth.
made into a television production.

Log in to for MapMaster interactive maps, In the

News RSS feeds, glossary flashcards, self-study quizzes, web links, and other resources
to enhance your study of Introduction.
2 North Americas
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Explain the difference composite cone volcano in Compare and contrast the continental air mass and a
between physical geography North America. different kinds of landforms Tropical maritime air mass.
and human geography.
Distinguish between an created by continental
Differentiate between
Identify the major ecosystem and a biome. glaciers as compared to
alpine glaciers.
North Americas
geomorphic processes that
Explain why environmental Mediterranean, Continental
shaped the Appalachian planners often prefer to Differentiate between Midlatitude, and West Coast
Mountains as compared use a map showing an North Americas five major Marine climate zones.
to the Rocky Mountains
through time.
areas watershed instead of river drainage systems
according to the general
Explain why a comparison
a map based on political of maps showing (1)
List and describe North boundaries. direction of their flow
outward to the sea.
general climate zones; (2)
Americas 12 major
List and discuss the landforms; (3) soil types;
physiographic provinces. impacts of four climate Describe the major and (4) vegetation biomes

Compare and contrast controls on weather and temperature and moisture

properties of a Polar
may prove useful for
geographic analysis.
a shield volcano and a climate in North America.

The earths vegetation is part of a web of life in which there are intimate and
essential relations between plants and the earth, between plants and other plants,
between plants and animals. Sometimes we have no choice but to disturb these
relationships, but we should do so thoughtfully, with full awareness that what we
do may have consequences remote in time and place.
(Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962, 64)

hysical geography is the study of the environ- landforms, hydrology, and soils, and then we discuss the
mental characteristics of Earth, whereas human continents predominant patterns of weather and climate,
geography focuses on human activity on the planet. vegetation, and ecosystems.
This chapter provides an overview of the physical geog-
raphy of North America, with an emphasis on its broad
patterns of landforms, climate, hydrology, natural vegeta-
tion, and ecosystems. The terrestrial portion of the North Landforms, Hydrology, Soils
American continent encompasses nearly 6.7 million square
miles (17 million square kilometers). Because it is such a Landforms and Geomorphic
large continent, North Americas physical geography and
related human patterns are extremely diverse.
Processes in North America
Understanding North Americas physical patterns and About one-third of the topography of North America is
processes provides a great deal of insight into where hu- mountainous, with older, more eroded mountains in the
man settlements were located historically and what envi- eastern United States and southeastern Canada and more
ronmental constraints influenced human decision making recent and much higher mountains in the western parts
over the years. Therefore, each of these environmental of the continent. Most of the mountain ranges in North
variables is discussed here with reference to how they af- America have a northsouth orientation (with a few ex-
fected historic and present-day human landscapes to help ceptions such as the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains in
set the stage for the chapters that follow. We begin with the Inland South and Alaskas Brooks Ranges). An exten-
an overview of the processes that shaped North Americas sive plain covers the central portion of the continent.

This spot in Zion National Park illustrates the interactions of air, water and earth materials
to create unique landscapes. 17

Alternating forces of erosion and deposition have barrier to travel and trade since mechanized transpor-
sculpted the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian chain, tation had not yet been invented and long-distance
as well as the continents valleys, coastal plains, and river trips could be taken only on foot, on horseback, or by
deltas. Over long periods of time, rivers can dramatically animal-powered stagecoaches or wagons. This was
erode land surfaces. This down-cutting has created the enough to keep settlement primarily focused on the
Grand Canyon of the Colorado River and many other eastern side of this mountain range during the earliest
well-known landforms throughout the United States and years of post-indigenous settlement in North America.
Canada. Glaciers have also been at work over geologic In other places, however, topographic features en-
time eroding and depositing soil and rock and carving couraged trade and settlement. For example, during
out features such as the Great Lakes and thousands of the 17th century, French voyageurs based in Montreal
smaller lakes, as well as numerous high mountain val- and Quebec City used canoes to travel as far west as the
leys in parts of the United States and Canada. Great Lakes in search of furs. In doing so, as discussed
Some of these topographic features have been barri- in more detail in Chapter 6, these early explorers con-
ers to travel and settlement, whereas others have pro- tributed greatly to early geographic knowledge of North
vided resources for successful settlement. For example, if America. In the early 19th century, financiers in New
you look at a map of cities on the East Coast you will York City recognized that the valley of the Mohawk
notice that Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Balti- River between the present-day cities of Albany and
more, Washington, and Richmond form a line in be- Buffalo was the only flat land that extended all the way
tween and paralleling the coastline and the Appalachian across the Appalachian range from east to west. As a
Mountains. These cities are located along the Fall Line, result, these investors decided to finance the construc-
an imaginary line connecting the head of navigation of tion of the Erie Canal, which connects the Hudson River
the Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac, and other major with Lake Erie and ultimately became a major artery of
rivers that flow eastward from the Appalachians to the commerce connecting the Atlantic Coast with the Great
Atlantic Ocean. Sites along the Fall Line were attractive Lakes states. This important canal also ensured that
to settlers because they were accessible to ocean-going New York would become the largest city and major fi-
ships, while waterfalls often provided power to support nancial center of North Americaa position that it has
water-powered grain mills and other industries at a time retained to the present day, as discussed in Chapter 8.
prior to the invention of electricity. With a landing and a Topographic features also determine political bound-
mill site, a new community had advantages for growth. aries in Canada and the United States. The Bitteroot
The Appalachian Mountains also formed a topo- Mountains separating Idaho from Montana, and the
graphic barrier to settlement in early America. From crest of the Appalachians serving as a dividing line be-
the perspectives of westerners, this mountain chain tween North Carolina and Tennessee, were laid out
may not seem to be very high since the highest peak in along the crest of mountain ranges. In other cases, rivers
the Appalachians, Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, is were used to help define boundaries. Examples of this
6684 feet above sea level (whereas many peaks in the important role of rivers as boundaries include the St.
Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, and Cascade Ranges John and St. Croix rivers forming part of the boundary
are more than 14,000 feet above sea level!). Nonethe- between Maine and New Brunswick, and several pairs
less the Appalachian Mountains posed a considerable of U.S. states being separated by the Mississippi River.

FIGURE 2.1 The tectonic base of the 120E 140E 160E 180 160W 140W 120W 100W 80W 60W 40W 20W 0
North American continent. 80N
0 1,500 3,000 mi

0 1,500 3,000 km

160W 140W 120W 100W 80W 20W 0
FIGURE 2.2 Mount St. Helens in the Cascade
Range, 2004.

Earths surface is composed of more than 24 tectonic these earthquakes were of magnitudes between 7.0 and
plates that move against one another, producing folding, 8.0 on the Richter scale, nearly as powerful as the San
faulting, earthquakes, and volcanoes (Figure 2.1). Most Francisco earthquake of 1906. Fortunately, few people
of the North American continent is located on the North lived in the New Madrid area in the early 19th century.
American plate except for parts of the West Coast, which Today, however, an earthquake of similar magnitude
lie on the Pacific Plate. The collision of these plates causes could devastate St. Louis, Memphis, and other nearby
the western margin of North America to be the most tec- cities and towns in the area.
tonically active region of the continent. Western North America also has approximately
Where tectonic plates collide or slide against one 70 volcanoes. Mount St. Helens, which experienced
another over time, earthquakes may occur along fault a major eruption in 1980 and a minor but dramatic
lines. One of the best-known faults in the world is the eruption in 2004, is perhaps the most famous of all
San Andreas Fault, which extends from the Salton Sea the volcanoes in the Cascade Ranges (Figure 2.2)
area of Southern California to north of San Francisco. Volcanoes in this part of North America are formed
From northern California to southern British Columbia, from magma moving toward the surface through a
the Juan de Fuca Plate rides under the North American central vent from deep inside Earth. In volcanic areas
Plate while it pulls away from the Pacific Plate. along the Pacific Coast and in places such as Yellow-
Crustal movement during orogeny (mountain stone National Park, the tremendous heat from the
building) can build up tremendous amounts of fric- rising magma boils groundwater, creating geother-
tion and strain in rocks. When this occurs suddenly, mal energy that can be seen as geysers and thermal
energy is released and may be felt as an earthquake. springs. When conditions are right, eruptions occur,
The seismic release of energy is sometimes measur- spreading lava, ash, and other materials onto the
able at Earths surface, and physical infrastructures landscape.
are damaged. Many earthquakes have been recorded Volcanism in the Cascade Ranges has resulted in a
in North America, including the San Francisco earth- series of composite cone volcanoes. This type of vol-
quake in 1906 and the 1994 Northridge earthquake; the cano erupts explosively and shoots gases and heat
risk of earthquakes is a fact of life on the West Coast into the atmosphere. If this explosive volcanic material
of the United States. Preventing large earthquakes is reaches high altitudes, it may travel long distances be-
impossible, but it is possible to help alleviate signifi- fore being deposited elsewhere. Chapter 16 provides
cant damage from earthquakes through monitoring more information about this form of volcanism.
and warning systems. As a result, many places require Hawaiis shield volcanoes have been created by a
building codes that specify construction and design different type of volcanism. They may also exhibit effu-
methods that help withstand seismic movements and sive lava flow eruptions capable of shooting fountains of
zoning codes that prohibit the construction of build- lava into the atmosphere. But this type of volcano is not
ings in fault zones. usually as violent as a composite cone type, although
Although earthquakes are much more common on shield volcanoes often do produce enormous amounts
the West Coast than elsewhere in North America, major of lava. These lava flows have a low viscosity that al-
earthquakes have struck other parts of the United lows them to move easily over the landscape. As the
States and Canada at various times in recorded his- lava travels into the ocean it cools and creates new land.
tory. The most powerful of these was a series of earth- Kileauea, located on the big island of Hawaii, has been
quakes centered near the community of New Madrid, erupting since 1983. Other famous volcanoes of Hawaii
Missouri, in 1811 and 1812. Geologists estimated that are Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea and Haleakala on

Maui. Further discussion and a series of photographs of Another type of glaciation occurs in high mountain
Hawaiis volcanic landscapes are found in Chapter 17. areas where alpine glaciers have created many of the
Glaciation has also helped shape the landforms of most spectacular mountain scenery in on the continent.
North America. Glacial ice forms when snowpack in Here, glaciers have created alpine lakes, called tarns,
high latitudes or high elevations does not completely and eroded cirques and u-shaped glaciated river
melt during the summer; more snow is added in valleys.
winter, and again, the snowpack does not melt. This Karst landscapes are found in areas that have high
layering technique builds up snow layers that will concentrations of water-soluble rock such as limestone,
eventually transform into glacial ice under their own dolomite, and gypsum. Several conditions are necessary
weight. When enough ice has formed, the glacier will for karst processes to form, including (1) a rock structure
begin to move down slope. that allows water to infiltrate into the subsurface; (2) a
Most of northern North America was covered in zone containing air between the water table and the
continental glaciers at periodic intervals that began ground surface; and (3) a type of vegetation cover with
approximately 1.5 million years ago and ended about enough organic acids to enhance the solution process.
10,000 years ago. During this time a great expanse of Karst can weaken layers of soil above the water table,
ice, centering on what is now Hudson Bay, covered and the surface material begins to sink forming a circular
most of Canada and Alaska and extended as far south depression or a sinkhole (Figure 2.4). At times these sink-
as the Ohio and Missouri rivers and the middle Co- holes may collapse and leave a deep depressions in the
lumbia River (Figure 2.3). Landscapes in the southward landscape. When this occurs under a road surface, cars
path of a glacier were sculpted by both erosional and are in danger of falling in without prior warning. In areas
depositional processes. For instance, continental glaciers where sinkholes are prevalent, such as Florida, Kentucky,
carved out the Great Lakes, which are still rebounding and Indiana, autos, houses, and businesses have been de-
from having the great amount of weight lifted when the stroyed. Karst processes, therefore, are a reminder in this
glaciers retreated. part of North America that geomorphic processes may at
In some of the northern U.S. states such as New times be invisible to humans but are ongoing.
York and Michigan, parallel hills called drumlins and Coastal fluvial processes are also important agents
extensive systems of scoured and infilled glacial drift of change on Earth. Along the continents coastal
sediments cover the landscape. Moraines are more margins, both erosional and depositional forces form
common in parts of the upper Midwest, where glaciers distinctive landforms. Waves are one of the most pow-
dumped their debris during periods of melting ice. erful forces along shorelines, since they carry sediment

FIGURE 2.3 Prehistoric glaciation in

0 250 500 mi

North America. Maximum extent of glaciation

Contemporary glaciers

0 250 500 km




140W 50W



40 60W

CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 21

and erode into steep bluffs. In North America exten-

sive loess deposits are located in the central Plains, in
the Palouse Region of eastern Washington and Oregon,
and along the lower reaches of the Mississippi River.
Smaller pockets of loess deposits can also be found
in southern Alberta and Manitoba, and along the
Missouri River in Iowa and South Dakota.

Hydrologic Patterns
Figure 2.5 shows major river drainage basins in North
America. East of the Continental Divide, there are five
prominent drainage systems including the (1) Great
Lakes-St. Lawrence system; (2) Mississippi-Missouri
Basin; (3) major rivers of the West Coast; (4) major riv-
ers of the eastern United States; and (5) rivers draining
into the Arctic Ocean. The Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence
system is responsible for draining areas in southeastern
Canada and the northeastern and north central United
States. The Great Lakes, St.Lawrence Seaway, and ad-
joining waterways, in fact, are a major transportation
artery that links central Canada and the United States
to the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the world.
Much of the central part of the continent is drained
by the Mississippi-Missouri system. The main stem of
the Mississippi River begins in Itasca State Park in cen-
tral Minnesota, and then this massive river flows all the
way south to the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. This
important waterway was historically the gateway to the
western part of the continent via its tributary, the Mis-
FIGURE 2.4 Sinkhole in Karst soil formation, Winterland Park, souri River. Another major tributary of the Mississippi
Florida. is the Ohio River which flows into the Mississippi River
from the east. The Ohio drains the northern Appalachian
onto shore and also erode beaches with wave back- area and the eastern portion of the Midwest. Many major
wash. Eroded coastlines in North America, particularly cities including Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, St. Louis, New
on the West Coast, are usually rugged and have nar- Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, and Minneapolis-St.
row beaches. Other features such as sea cliffs, wave- Paul were established on the banks of the Mississippi,
cut platforms, and sea stacks are common as well. In Missouri, or Ohio rivers. During the early 20th century,
contrast, coastlines shaped by the depositional forces of engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River in Chi-
wave activity are more common in eastern North Amer- cago and constructed canals connecting the Great Lakes
ica, feature larger beaches, spits (arms of deposited ma- with the Mississippi drainage basin, allowing water trade
terial attached to the shore), bay barriers, and lagoons. and transportation from the mouth of the Mississippi to
The force of wind can also affect landform devel- the mouth of the St. Lawrence far to the northeast.
opment, especially in arid areas and along coastlines. The western United States drains to the Bering Sea
Winds can create or modify landforms in two ways, and the Pacific Ocean via the Fraser, Columbia, and
deflation and abrasion. Deflation is the process of lift- Sacramento-San Joaquin River systems and other, smaller
ing and removing loose material. Fine particles can be streams such as the coastal rivers and streams in western
caught up in suspension and carried long distances California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and
before being deposited. Wind process can sculpt rocks Alaska. Before it was dammed and used up for agricul-
into distinct angular landforms such as can be seen in tural and domestic needs, the Colorado River flowed
Arizona and Utah. When particles are deposited on from its source in the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of
the landscape, dunes can form. Dunes can typically Cortez in Mexico. However, due to overuse and evapora-
be found along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well tion from large reservoirs, this important western river
as along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Loess, is completely used up before it reaches the international
or windborne clay deposits, may originate great dis- boundary.
tances from where they are found. Loess deposits are The eastern United States is drained by several major
highly fertile for farming, but also sensitive to erosion rivers and their tributaries such as the Charles, Con-
after plowing. These particles bind together, weather, necticut, Hudson, Delaware, Susquehanna, Potomac,


7 0 N




Sea Baffin Bay
ko n R.
Pacific Ar rcle
drainage YUKON Ci



zie R.


Gulf of


Hudson R-N
Bay 50
R. nB
dso ge
Hu raina



as rc n NORTH SLOPE-
th ab C hu ls o
R .
Saskatchewan NELSON ic
At ge
th aina
dra rctic ay/

A nB

Pacific ST.

millions m3 per year drainage LAWRENCE


(millions acre-feet per year)

COASTAL Missour i R . RED
St. Lawrence R. N
Pacific 602,000 (488) GREAT 40
Arctic 440,000 (356) COLUMBIA
dra ntic

Hudson Bay 682,000 (553)


NORTH Hudson R.

Atlantic 670,000 (544) Allegheny R. ATLANTIC

of Mexico 105 (0.9) MISSISSIPPI Delaware R.



drainAtlantic Susquehanna R.
OCEAN Internal Gulf/

UNITED STATES: age Atlantic

Drainage R.


millions acre-feet per year


(millions m3 per year) oR
. Arkan
sas R.

ad ge
or SS
Pacific 334 (412,000) NE OCEAN



i R

Gulf/Atlantic 718 (886,000)

M ississipp

Atlantic 293 (361,000) LOWER SOUTH

Continental divides COASTAL
0 250 500 mi S

0 250 500 km Gulf of
of Ca
nc e r Mexico 20N

130W 120W 110W 90W 80W

FIGURE 2.5 Major drainage basins of North America.

and James rivers. These rivers, though not as long as Water that comes into these areas flows into shallow or
the Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado, or Ohio rivers dry lakes known as wadis and then is evaporated or
tothe west, were critically important for transportation, percolated into the soil.
drinking water, and eventually water power for Native River systems in North America were essential for
Americans and later, for Euro-American settlers. Most long-distance transportation prior to the development
of the major cities of the East Coast including Boston, of railroads and automobiles, and some remain impor-
New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and tant for this purpose even today. Some of the rivers
Richmond are located along major rivers. To the north, and river basins that were located in close proximity
the Mackenzie River flows into the Arctic Ocean with to each other were connected by canal systems with
many of central Canadas rivers flowing into the most located in eastern Canada and the United States.
Hudson Bay, an arm of the Arctic, although the Arctic is
much less feasible for transportation and access to dis- Soils North America contains some of the most pro-
tant markets than the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. ductive agricultural soils on Earth. The distinctive
Some parts of North America have no external drain- characteristics of soils are very site specific, but may be
age. This type of internal drainage occurs in the Great generalized into the classifications called soil orders as
Basin states of Nevada, Utah, and a part of California. shown on the map in Figure 2.6.
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 23



0 500 1000 mi

1000 km N
0 500 40

Aridisols E
Inceptisols 30N

Complex soil region
Areas with little or no soil
120W 110W 80W 70W

FIGURE 2.6 General soil types in North America.

Soils are formed by weathering of surface rocks, the technology for drawing well water, plowing the deep
mixing of this material with organic matter, and mois- grassland soils, and fencing large areas from livestock
ture. Climate is perhaps the most influential factor in was developed. In other places, such as the American
determining the geographic distribution of soils in Southeast, soils are lower in fertility and have histori-
North America. Temperature and moisture determine cally been misused through agricultural practices that
how weathering takes place and how much moisture did not allow for nutrient regeneration and through
will support the development of biota (living organ- planting crops such as cotton that expose soil to erosion.
isms). Some of the best agricultural soils on Earth are These soils often are a reddish color because they con-
found in the Middle West and the Great Plains. It is in- tain substantial amounts of iron and aluminum oxide.
teresting to compare the soils map shown in Figure 2.6
with the map of natural vegetation shown in Figure 2.16.
Compare these maps with Figure 1.8 of current agricul- CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 2.1
tural patterns in North America to see how successful Develop a presentation based on a set of comparative
agricultural production depends on both the quality and mapsof your local region (e.g., landforms, vegetation,
type of soil in an area as well as its moisture availability. climate, soils maps) that defends some of the reasons
It is interesting to note that the extremely fertile soils why many of the patterns shown on these maps look
of the Great Plains were not used for farming until the the same.

North Americas The first is the St. Lawrence Valley, the transition zone
between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River
Physiographic Provinces Valley. This area is famous for its lime-rich soils, which
create good pasture for raising livestock such as the fa-
Environmentally defined parts of North America that
mous racehorse farms of Kentucky Bluegrass country.
feature interrelated patterns of landforms, vegetation,
The second main subregion of this physiographic prov-
soils, and hydrology are known as physiographic prov-
ince is the MississippiGreat Lakes section. The level
inces. Each of the 12 major physiographic provinces in
nature of this part of the province is due to its heavy
North America (as shown on the map in Figure 1.9 in
glaciation. The Balcones Escarpment in Texas marks its
Chapter 1) are discussed below to provide an environ-
southwestern boundary.
mental context for understanding the various geographic
The Great Plains gently rolling grasslands have
regions covered in the chapters that follow.
been shaped primarily by the wind and water through
The first of these physiographic provinces is the
time. Along this physiographic provinces western bor-
Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, a lowland area that
der, the erosional forces of wind and water can be seen
flanks the Atlantic Ocean all the way from New York
in the sculpted South Dakota Badlands and Sand Hills
south to the tip of Florida and then west along the Gulf
of Nebraska. Historical settlement in this part of North
of Mexico. This province is characterized by some of the
America was filled with use and misuse of the land, in-
flattest terrain on the continent that gently slopes toward
cluding cattle drives, railroad promotion schemes, and
the sea. Wetland areas here provide habitat for waterfowl
damaging farming operations. Examples of results of
and other wildlife in fertile estuaries, swamps, marshes,
the overuse of resources here include the Dust Bowl in
and lagoons. These include estuaries such as Chesapeake
the 1930s (caused by drought and other climatic chal-
and Delaware Bays and the well-known Great Dismal
lenges and poor farming techniques), and this areas
Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina and Okefenokee
continuing overdependence on groundwater for agri-
Swamp of Georgia. Farther west, the coastal plains at
cultural and urban use today.
the mouth of the Mississippi River deposit tons of sedi-
The Rocky Mountains or Cordilleran province
ment into the Gulf of Mexico. As the velocity of the river
trending in a northsouth direction was formed by up-
slows due to the decreasing slope of this area, a heavy
lift, folding, and faulting processes. This province ex-
sediment load is deposited to form the Mississippi Delta.
tends from New Mexico to the Liard River in Canada.
In recent decades, land rejuvenated from sedimentation
Mining, ranching, recreation, and tourism are important
has not kept up with loss of land by sea-level rises and
economic activities here. In the far north, the Northwest-
levees. Another significant part of the coastal plain in-
ern Highlands extend this provinces boundaries as far
cludes a chain of offshore islands (fittingly called barrier
north as Alaska. This area has also been shaped by volca-
islands) that protect coastal shipping and shoreline land
nism. The Continental Divide, a line demarcating where
development from Atlantic storms.
water falling on the east flows into the Gulf of Mexico
The Appalachian Mountain province is an ancient
and water from the mountains western slopes flows into
assembly of parallel mountains and valleys that trend
the Pacific Ocean, is located along the high peaks of the
southwest to northeast along the eastern portion of the
Rockies from New Mexico northward to Alberta, British
North American continent. Its easternmost component
Columbia, and Alaska (Figure 2.7).
is the Piedmont (literally, the foot of the mountains),
The Intermontane is located between the Rocky
an area of low, rolling hills with moderate relief. The
Mountains and the Pacific Coast mountains. This region
Piedmont was important in colonial times for cotton and
has been shaped by both wind and water, and it often
tobacco farming, but these crops are now grown farther
features spectacular scenery. Several subregions are
west due to overuse of previously fertile Piedmont soils.
important here, including the Colorado Plateau where
West of the Piedmont, the Appalachians extend from
the Colorado River and its tributaries have greatly in-
Newfoundland to central Alabama. The highest part of
cised the landscape to create steep canyons and a se-
this mountain range is the Blue Ridge (4000 to 6000
ries of mesas and buttes (Figure 2.8). Wind erosion and
feet; 1219 to 1828 meters), which marks the drainage
volcanism have also helped shape this southwestern
divide between easterly flowing streams that flow into
landscape. Adjacent to the Colorado Plateau is basin-
the Atlantic and westerly flowing streams that eventu-
and-range country that includes the Great Basin and
ally join the Mississippi River drainage system.
Death Valley. This distinct area is characterized by short,
The Interior Uplands province is not directly connected
rugged mountain ranges intermingled with flat valleys
with the southern Appalachians, but is very similar to
and no drainage to the sea. Much of the annual rainfall
it. This area includes the Ozark Mountains in southern
in this region evaporates quickly, thereby creating the
Missouri and northern Arkansas and the Ouachita Moun-
extremely dry conditions that characterize this province.
tains in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
In many places, the landscape is barren of most vegeta-
The Interior Plains province is located west of the
tion and is subjected to extensive erosion by wind.
Appalachian Mountains and north of the coastal plains.
The northernmost section of the Intermontane in the
Several different sections comprise this now heavily
United States features the plateaus and basins of the
industrialized and urbanized physiographic province.
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 25

FIGURE 2.7 Rocky Mountains above

the tree line have conditions similar
to polar conditions.

Snake River in southern Idaho and the Columbia River The Pacific Coast province extends along the West
of eastern Washington. Here, evidence of the giant gla- Coast of North America from Southern California all
cial Lake Missoula floods that occurred 15,000 years the way north to western Alaska. Although this may
ago is visible in deeply incised canyons. The Colum- look like one long province on a map, the landscape is
bia and Snake rivers have cut into this areas volcanic varied here due to climate differences and the various
landscape, creating deep canyons and dramatic water- geomorphic processes that have shaped it. All along
falls. The northernmost portion of the Intermontane the shoreline, for example, coastal processes are at
extends from the Canadian-U.S. border north to the work with steep cliffs that have been cut by wave ac-
central Yukon and northern British Columbia. Portions tion and beaches that are continually being expanded
of this subregion are flat, with other parts of it covered or eroded by powerful waves. In more northerly
by dissected plateaus much like the Intermontane. coastal locations bays, fjords, and offshore islands

FIGURE 2.8 Monument

Valley mesas and buttes
landscape in Navajo
Tribal Park, Arizona.

have been created by these coastal processes as well as region that is geographically disconnected from the
by ancient glacial activity. mainland of the continent by more than 2000 miles.
In this Pacific Coast province, a host of mountain
ranges such as the Cascade Ranges, Coast Ranges, CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 2.2
Sierra Nevada, and Olympic Mountains provide evi- Develop a promotional brochure to advertise one of
dence of volcanism and widespread tectonic uplift. North Americas physiographic provinces as an appropri-
This area is also marked with several structural de- ate site for development of a new ecotourism resort.
pressions, including the Willamette Valley in Oregon,
Puget Sound in Washington, and the Central Valley of
California. These fertile valleys provide fertile land for
agricultural production as well as ample level land for
Weather and Climate
urban development. Weather refers to day-to-day atmospheric conditions
The huge physiographic province known as the (or what you experience when you walk out the door in
Canadian Shield covers more than half of Canada, all the morning!), while the term climate refers to the long-
of Greenland, and the far northern parts of Minnesota term pattern of weather and atmospheric conditions on
and upstate New York. This area is a wide expanse Earths surface. Climatologists deal primarily with four
of ancient rock that has been greatly compressed by basic elements of weather and climatetemperature,
ice and then contorted into the rugged landscape that atmospheric pressure, wind, and precipitation.
is visible today. The Shield is rich in valuable min- The factors that influence weather and climate are
erals such as iron ore, silver, nickel, and gold. There numerous and interrelated. These important control
are also numerous rivers and lakes here, connected factors include latitude, a critically important variable
by anetwork of streams. The southern portion of the that determines the amount of solar radiation received
Canadian Shield is covered with slow-growing boreal at selected points and the length of daylight in each
vegetation, which transitions into bogs and tundra 24-hour period. Differences in latitude help explain why
in more northern locations. Land use in most of this places located near the equator are generally warmer
province is limited to extractive or primary industries than places located farther away from it because they
such as fishing, forestry, and mining, with settlements receive more direct rays of the sun through the atmo-
small and widely dispersed. sphere. Figure 2.9 symbolizes such a place. Likewise,
North of the Canadian Shield is the Hudson Bay polar areas receive less direct solar energy, particularly
Lowland-High Arctic Mountain Province. Both are very in winter, when they experience days of 24-hour dark-
sparsely populated. Here, the Yukon Basin and North- ness. In general, the farther a location is from the equa-
western Highlands occupy most of central Alaska and tor, the less solar energy is received throughout the year.
the southern part of the Yukon Territory where most of Differences in the heating and cooling potential of
the land is hilly or mountainous. land and water are another important climatic control.
Last, but certainly not least of the 12 major phys- Land surfaces do not allow radiation to pass through,
iographic regions discussed in this chapter, is the and thus they heat and cool very rapidly. Water sur-
Hawaiian province. Here, the impacts of volcanism, faces, on the other hand, heat and cool more slowly
a warm tropical climate, and tourism come together than do land surfaces. This means that places lo-
to form a unique part of the greater North American cated close to the ocean tend to have less temperature

FIGURE 2.9 The southernmost bar in the

United States at 19latitude on the Big
Island of Hawaii. In business, it is often
said that location is everything.
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 27

variation than do places further inland. These differ- winds. In contrast, however, Chinook winds in Colo-
ences between coastal and inland climates can be mea- rado often bring welcome relief from bitter cold winters
sured by comparing the average summer and winter to residents of the northern and central Great Plains.
temperatures of places such as Vancouver, British Co- Frontal storms are common in many parts of North
lumbia and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Both of these cities America as well. A front is the point of contact between
are located at approximately the same latitude, but two different air masses. When a warmer (and usually
Vancouver has a July mean temperature of 71F (22C) moister) air mass is forced to rise above cooler air, a
and a January mean temperature of 42F (6C), result- discontinuity of surface temperature and air pressure
ing in an annual temperature range of 29F (16C). In is created and precipitation may occur. As warm air is
contrast, the July mean temperature in Winnipeg, lo- pushed off the ground, cold temperatures and gusty
cated more than a thousand miles (1600 kilometers) in- winds mark the passage of the front with cloud forma-
land from the Pacific Coast, in contrast, is 79F (26C) tions also marking the progress of frontal storms.
and the January mean temperature is 9F (13C)an Average summer and winter temperatures in North
annual range of 70F (39C). This comparison of tem- America are shown in Figure 2.10. Contour lines of
perature averages in Vancouver and Winnipeg illus- equal temperature, as shown on this map, are called
trates the general principle that the further away from isotherms. The hottest average annual temperatures in
large bodies of water a place is located, the greater the North America are found in the deserts of Arizona and
range (high summerlow winter) of its temperatures. southeastern California. The highest surface tempera-
The force or weight exerted by air on a unit area ture ever recorded in North America was 134F at Death
on Earths surface is known as atmospheric pressure. Valley, California, where temperatures over 115 degrees
Pressure differences at the surface reflect whether the occur regularly in July and August. Death Valley is also
air is slowly rising or descending. These vertical mo- the driest location in North America, with some portions
tions often reflect the temperature of the air and are recording only an inch of precipitation per year on av-
measured with a barometer. We feel the movement of erage. In contrast, average temperatures decrease with
air from an area of high pressure toward an area of low latitude. A combination of high latitude, high elevation,
pressure (called a pressure gradient) as wind. and distance from water has contributed to the coldest
Elevation is another important climatic control. On recorded temperature in continental North America at
average, temperatures decline with elevation at a rate of 81F (63C) at a place called Snag, in the Yukon Terri-
about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit every 1000 feet (2 degrees tory of Canada.
Celsius with every 300 meters) of elevation. This rate of
decline is called the normal lapse rate. Thus, Denver at
FIGURE 2.10 Mean annual temperatures (in centigrade) for North
5280 feet (1610 meters) elevation has an average tem-
America in January and July.
perature in January of 29.7F (1.3C), whereas nearby
Aspen at 7907 feet (2410 meters) has an average January
-24 -30
temperature of only 20.7F (6.3C).
Mountain barriers may also exert an influence onpre-
cipitation patterns. Orographic precipitation, caused -12 Isotherms
by the cooling of air as it is uplifted, is especially com- 0 equatorward
mon in parts of the world where moist air masses come 50N
in contact with high mountain barriers. One example of 6
this is the impact of the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada 40N 12
Mountains in California that block the passage of mari-
time air from the west. The result is more abundant 30N 18
precipitation to the west of this mountain barrier along
the Pacific Coast of California and the immense and WINTER
very dry Great Basin desert in the rain shadow on the
downwind side of these mountains. 6
Other topographically caused winds include the
Chinook winds in the Rocky Mountains and Southern
Californias infamous Santa Ana winds. Both are hot, 60N

dry regional winds that descend from high to low eleva-

tions over a mountain barrier or a high plateau. Santa 50N
Ana winds are perceived negatively in Southern Califor- 12
nia: It has been documented that homicide and assault Isotherms
rates increase in the Los Angeles basin when this fierce bend
wind blows. Numerous wildfires and losses of residen- 30

30N 24 27
tial homes in the mountains rimming the Los Angeles



basin also are associated with these often damaging SUMMER


There are also significant geographical variations in or Maritime air masses depending on whether they
climate at the local level. For example, large cities gen- originate over land masses and are dry (continental) or
erally experience temperatures that are several degrees over oceans or large lakes and are more moist (maritime).
warmer than those in the surrounding countryside. This Other types of air masses are identified according to their
urban heat island is associated with heat generated from temperatures as either Tropical (hot) or Polar (cold).
human activity such as the injection of pollutants into the Warmer air masses can carry relatively more moisture
atmosphere, heat retention of roofs and parking lots, and than colder ones.
the effects of tall buildings on local wind patterns. Figure 2.11 shows the general patterns of summer and
As mentioned previously, air masses are very large winter air masses over North America. Polar air masses
bodies of relatively stable air. They are called Continental form at high latitudes (centered at approximately 55N),

FIGURE 2.11 Air mass regions of North

America in a) winter and b) summer. 10 Sea surface temerature in C
SH Specific humidity Continental arctic
cA Very(avg.
cold, very dry, stable
SH 0.1 g/kg)

Continental polar
(N. Hemi. only) cold, dry,
5 stable. and high pressure 0
mP (avg. SH 1.4 g/kg) Maritime polar
Maritime polar Cool, humid,
Cool, humid, cP unstable all year
unstable all year (avg. SH 4.4 g/kg)
(avg. SH 4.4 g/kg)



Maritime tropical
Maritime tropical Warm, humid, unstable
Warm, humid, stable to (avg. SH 14 g/kg)
conditionally unstable mT
(avg. SH 10 g/kg)


a) Winter pattern

10 Sea surface temerature in C

SH Specific humidity 5

Continental polar mP
Cool, dry, moderately stable Maritime polar
10 10 Cool, humid,

mP unstable all year

cP (avg. SH 4.4 g/kg)
Maritime polar
Cool, humid, 15
unstable all year 20
(avg. SH 4.4 g/kg)


25 cT 28
mT 28
Maritime tropical
28 Warm, humid, very unstable
Maritime tropical (avg. SH 17 g/kg)
Warm, humid, stable to Conditional tropical
conditionally unstable Hot, low relative humidity
(avg. SH 13 g/kg) stable aloft, unstable at surface,
turbulent in summer
(avg. SH 10 g/kg)
b) Summer pattern
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 29

TABLE 2.1 Air Masses of North America

and Moisture Stability
Air Characteristics in Source
Mass Source Region in Source Region Region Associated Weather
cA Arctic basin and Bitterly cold and Stable Cold waves in winter
Greenland ice cap very dry in winter
cP Interior Canada and Very cold and dry Stable entire year a. Cold waves in winter
Alaska in winter b. Modified to cPk in winter over Great Lakes bringing
lake-effect snow to leeward shores
mP North Pacific Mild (cool) and Unstable a. Low clouds and showers in winter
humid entire year in winter b. Heavy orographic precipitation on windward side of
Stable in summer western mountains in winter
c. Low stratus and fog along coast in summer; modified
to cP inland
mP Northwestern Cold and humid Unstable a. Occasional noreaster in winter
Atlantic inwinter inwinter b. Occasional periods of clear, cool weather in summer
Cool and humid Stable in summer
cT Northern interior Hot and dry Unstable a. Hot, dry, and cloudless, rarely influencing areas
Mexico and outside source region
southwestern U.S. b. Occasional drought to southern Great Plains
(summer only)
mT Gulf of Mexico, Warm and humid Unstable entire a. In winter it usually becomes mTw moving northward
Caribbean Sea, entire year year and brings occasional widespread precipitation or
western Atlantic advection fog
b. In summer, hot and humid conditions, frequent
cumulus development and showers or
mT Subtropical Pacific Warm and humid Stable entire year a. In winter it brings fog, drizzle, and occasional
entire year moderate precipitation to N.W. Mexico and S.W.
United States
b. In summer this air mass occasionally reaches the
western United States and is a source of moisture for
infrequent convectional thunderstorms.

and tropical air masses form at low latitudes (centered by Polar maritime (cold, moist) air masses. Locations
at approximately 25N). These characteristics combine that are influenced by maritime polar air masses,
to form different air masses that then dominate weather such as Juneau, Alaska, tend to experience wet winter
and climate in North America. Table 2.1 provides more weather and cool summers. The movement of these
details on the characteristics of each of these types of air maritime polar air masses brings heavy snow to the
masses. eastern and central parts of Canada and the United
High-latitude air masses are associated with cool States in winter.
summer weather and bitterly cold winters in the Tropical maritime (warm, moist) air masses generate
northern interior. Polar continental (cold, dry) air strong flows of warm, wet air into areas of the southern
masses filter air into northern Canada bringing ex- United States. These air masses are responsible for the
tremely frigid temperatures but not producing much, warm, humid conditions experienced in the American
if any, precipitation. Locations such as Fairbanks, Southeast during the summer. Tropical continental
Alaska may experience temperatures as low as 50F (warm, dry) air flows from central Mexico into the inte-
(46C) when continental Arctic air masses arrive rior of the United States but is typically only a major in-
in winter. These air masses sometimes spill into the fluence on weather during the summer months, when
United States in winter, bringing frigid temperatures hot, dry weather invades the central United States.
as far south as Texas. In winter, the weather in north- Occasionally, these air masses bring unusual heat as far
ern West and East Coast locations is often dominated north as Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The high-altitude jet stream often discussed on time, one thing is abundantly clear: climate change is
the Weather Channel can bend as far south as Texas happening at a seemingly unprecedented rate in re-
while funneling cold air into the United States in the corded history. The many impacts of this crisis are al-
winter and influencing eastward-moving storm sys- ready being felt in North America and other parts of
tems. At other times, the jet stream may move north to the world. Over the last two centuries there has been
the Prairie Provinces in Canada and bring warm, dry a noticeable rise in sea level along both the Atlantic
weather to southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Mani- and Gulf coasts of North America (see Figure 2.14), no
toba. During the summer, the jet stream has less of an doubt owing to the impact of global warming of melt-
influence on day-to-day weather in the United States ing ice. As a result, local governments in some of North
and southern Canada because it stays in the higher Americas most fragile coastal areas now restrict con-
latitudes. struction near active shorelines.
North Americas climate is greatly influenced by Average annual temperatures are increasing over
subtropical high-pressure systems that form the basis most of Earths land and water surfaces but not at
of the westerly winds that move weather systems the same rates. It has been proven that polar environ-
in a west-to-east pattern across the continent. These ments are experiencing greater temperature increases
pressure systems migrate seasonally so that the sub- than the tropical areas at the present time. And these
tropical high-pressure cell that lies just to the south- higher average temperatures are creating longer grow-
west of California during the winter shifts northward ing seasons that will, in turn, affect plant distribution
and westward as July approaches. More northerly patterns.
locations face weather and winds associated with the Increases in average temperatures may also affect
subpolar low-pressure systems. Because winds blow the shifting location patterns and amounts of pre-
from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, cipitation in particular areas. While the amount of
interior Canada and other parts of the continent may rainfall is increasing in some places and decreasing
experience variable weather due to its being influ- in others, it has not yet been adequately predicted
enced by both subtropical high- and subpolar low- exactly where this change will occur and to what de-
pressure systems. gree. Snowfall has been decreasing worldwide in re-
The Westerlies also carry moisture onto the conti- cent decades as well. Storms very likely may become
nent from the Pacific Ocean, with the Pacific Northwest more severe, but again, we dont know where or
coast of the United States and Canadas southwest when these increases will occur. Likewise, the num-
coast receiving the most annual precipitation from this ber and severity of floods may increase due to greater
flow. Henderson Lake in British Columbia holds the rainfall levels and less water storage in snowfields.
record for the greatest average annual precipitation of Related to the loss of polar ice, sea levels are rising.
262 inches (665 centimeters). North Americas high- In many of the midlatitude zones of places like North
est snowfall in one season (1027 inches or 2600 centi- America, grasslands are turning to desert conditions
meters) occurred in this same part of the continent in without irrigation.
Washington States Cascade Ranges. The patterns of weather and climate in North
Figure 2.12 provides a summary of North Americas America are currently undergoing a dramatic but un-
average annual precipitation. The southwestern states predictable period of change within the time period of
generally receive the lowest annual precipitation. an average human life. Understanding the processes
They comprise the driest part of North America, that shape these patterns will no doubt continue to
including parts of eastern California at Death Valley, prove helpful in finding new ways to predict what
and Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, where continental changes lie ahead and how these changes may impact
air masses dominate and mountains block the arrival human systems at local levels. Some of the local im-
of maritime air from the Pacific Ocean. In contrast, plications of climate processes bear examination in
the windward side of these mountains, such as at the next section.
Donner Pass, California, receives the highest annual
snowfall in the world. Also for the record books, CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 2.3
Mt. Waialiale in Hawaii boasts the highest rainfall Speculate on some of the impacts of global climate
in the world, with an average of 460 inches (1170 change on a group of local indigenous residents who live
centimeters) per year as discussed in Chapter 17. in a small village located on edge of the Hudson Bay in
A summary of the results of all of these processes the Canadian Arctic region.
is provided on the map of North American climate
zones shown in Figure2.13.
But how will global climate change affect the pat-
terns of weather and climate in North America? Al-
North American Climate Zones
though many uncertainties remain in predicting the Based on the work of early climatologist Vladimir
precise impacts of climate change at this point in Koeppen, six major climatic zones have been identified
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 31




30N 0 500 1000 mi

Centimeters Inches 0 500 1000 km

Over 40 Over 16
Gulf of
2040 816 25N
1020 48
510 24
2.55 110
Below 2.5 Below 1
95W 85W 80W




30N 0 500 1000 mi

0 500 1000 km
Centimeters Inches
Over 40 Over 16
Gulf of
2040 816 25N
1020 48
510 24
2.55 110
Below 2.5 Below 1
95W 85W 80W

FIGURE 2.12 North American precipitation patterns in winter and summer.

on Earth. Figure 2.13 shows the distribution of these summer as is the case in the continental southeastern
climatic zones in North America based on the follow- United States, and hence many A climate dwellers
ing system of lettering: regard their weather as less oppressive.
Tropical Humid A Climates are characterized by Dry B Climates are found where less than 20
warm and humid weather year-round. In North Amer- inches of precipitation falls annually. Climatologists
ica, they are limited to southern Florida and Hawaii. generally divide these climates into steppe climates,
Both of these areas are influenced by maritime tropi- with 10 to 20 inches of rain per year, and desert cli-
cal air masses bringing moisture-laden warm air into mates, with less than 10 inches of rain per year. Death
the region. However, because both areas are nearly Valley, as we have seen, is an extreme example of a
surrounded by water, temperatures are not as hot in desert climate. Desert climates are found in much of

Anchorage Churchill
100 25 100 25

80 20 ARCTIC ET 80 20

Precipitation (in.)

Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)

Temperature (F)
60 60
15 OCEAN 15


40 40


10 10
20 20

0 5 5

-20 0 -20 0
Annual Precip.: 15.8 Annual Precip.: 16.0


B a f fi n
Dfc ET
Anchorage ONTARIO
100 25
80 20

Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)
ET 15


100 25 0

80 20 Dfc ET -20 0
Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)

Annual Precip.: 32.2
15 Hudson 50

40 Churchill Bay


0 5

-20 0 Dfc
J FMAM J J A SOND Columbus
Annual Precip.: 57.4 H OHIO
100 25
80 20

Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)
Cfb Dfb


Cheyenne 10
100 25 BSk 5
80 20
BSk Toronto
Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)

-20 0
15 Annual Precip.: 37.9

Cheyenne Dfa Philadelphia

20 Columbus 100 25
5 H
0 80 20

Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)

-20 0 60
Annual Precip.: 14.4
Cs 15

Los Angeles 40

BSk H BSk 20
0 250 500 mi Cfa 0 5
Dallas OCEAN -20 0
0 250 500 km J F MA M J J A S OND
Annual Precip.: 41.4

Los Angeles Dallas Miami

22N 100 25 100 25 100 25
PACIFIC 80 20 80 20 Miami 80 20
Precipitation (in.)
Precipitation (in.)

Precipitation (in.)
Temperature (F)

Temperature (F)
Temperature (F)

60 60 60
HAWAII 15 15 15


40 40 40


10 10 10
0 75 150 mi Af 20 20 20

0 5 5 0 5
0 75 150 km
-20 0 -20 0 -20 0
Annual Precip.: 15.0 Annual Precip.: 32.3 80W Annual Precip.: 57.1


Tropical wet Humid subtropical, without MIDLATITUDE CLIMATES ET Tundra
Af Cfa
climate dry season, hot summers Dfa Humid continental,
Tropical savanna Marine west coast, without dry warm summer EF Ice cap
Aw Cfb season, warm to cool summers
climate Dfb Humid continental,
cool summer
Cs Mediterranean summerdry H HIGHLAND
B DRY CLIMATES Dfc Subarctic
BWh Subtropical desert Marine west coast, H mountain
Cfc short, cool summers
BSk Midlatitude steppe climates

FIGURE 2.13 Climate regions of North America.

CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 33

FIGURE 2.14 Rising sea levels and erosion threatens

beach front houses, North Topsail Beach, North
Carolina. Sea levels have risen at a mean rate of
1.8 mm a year for the past century, but this yearly
rate has increased to 2.83.1 mm in recent years.

western North America between the Sierra Nevada climate and marine west coast climates dominate along
and Cascades to the west and the western Great Plains the West Coast. The humid subtropics receive precipita-
to the east. tion all year, with mild winters and hot summers. The
In areas with desert and steppe climates, subtropical moist unstable air mass brought in by the wind from
high-pressure systems bring subsiding air with low rel- the warm-water source region of the southern Atlantic
ative humidity into these areas. Adiabatic heating (the Ocean and Gulf of Mexico can produce convectional
warming of air as it descends in elevation) also adds to rain showers over the area. Hurricanes can dump large
the arid and semiarid conditions of this geographic re- quantities of rain in this area, many times causing severe
gion. As mentioned earlier in this chapter, orographic flooding due to the already saturated soils as occurred
uplift (air that is forced up by blocking landforms) in the devastating Katrina storm of fall 2005 on the Gulf
pushes moisture-laden air over the western mountains. Coast of the United States and in the earlier hurricane-
As these parcels expand and cool, water vapor changes flood of 1900 in Galveston, Texas. Other severe weather
from a gas to a liquid, resulting in clouds and then pre- is generated from cyclonic storms or frontal activities
cipitation. The air then descends on the leeward side of produced from the clash of a continental polar air mass
the mountains and is warmed in the process. The ca- from the north and a maritime tropical air mass from the
pacity of descending (warming) air for holding water south. In portions of the Appalachian highlands, higher
vapor is increased, so the land in the rain shadow is rel- elevations result in lower summer temperatures. The
atively dry. Such arid conditions are found in southeast Great Smoky Mountains National Park and nearby com-
California, along the southern and central portions of munities such as Asheville, North Carolina, and Gatlin-
Arizona, in New Mexico, and along the southwest mar- burg, Tennessee, are popular with tourists wishing to
gin of Texas, spilling over into Mexico. The southern escape from heat and humidity at lower elevations.
portions of Utah and Nevada also experience desert- Tornadoes are another form of midcontinent extreme
like conditions. These arid climates are characteristic weather event and are discussed in Chapter 11.
of cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, and El Paso. Most of coastal California, including the metropoli-
Mild Midlatitude C Climates are located primar- tan areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento,
ily along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the continent. and San Diego, has a Mediterranean climate. Places
This climatic zone runs the entire length of the West with this type of midlatitude climate receive most of
Coast of North America from southeastern Alaska to their annual precipitation during the winter months
Southern California. East of the Rocky Mountains, these and experience a dry summer season, which is the op-
midlatitude climates can be found in a region from the posite of most other areas of North America. This pat-
Atlantic to about the 98 W longitude (that is, as far west tern of precipitation is due to subtropical high-pressure
as Oklahoma City, Dallas, and San Antonio) and north- blocking winds that would otherwise bring moisture
ward to about the 40th parallel of latitude (that is, as far to the area from the maritime polar air mass during
north as Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Kansas City). the summer. In winter the subtropical high pressure
There are several distinct types of mesothermal cli- shifts away from the coast and allows moisture-laden
mates. The southeast region is classified as having air to flow in from the Gulf of Alaska. Summer fogs
a humid subtropical climate, while Mediterranean often occur along the West Coast, in places with

Mediterranean climates. The term Mediterranean used

to describe this type of rainy season-dry season climate

refers to the fact that this climate is also characteristic

of countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece which border

the Mediterranean Sea.
Farther north, in the Pacific Northwest, maritime
polar air masses dominate for longer periods of time

over the course of the year, resulting in a marine west 50
coast climate. This climate is associated with cooler W
summers, rainier winters, and more unpredictable 40
weather patterns as compared to the humid subtropi- S

cal climate and the Mediterranean climate. Winter

fogs occur frequently. They are created by the flow of
relatively warm moist air flowing over the moderating 0 500 1,000 mi
effect of very cold water. Marine west coast climates 0 500 1,000 km
associated with coastal areas of Oregon, Washington,
British Columbia, and southeastern Alaska affect cities Continuous 20
such as Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and Juneau.
Continental Midlatitude D Climates are found permafrost
along the northern tier of the United States from the Sporadic
East Coast to the upper Midwest and throughout
most of Canada. They are associated with longer, 130W 120W 110W 100W 90W 80W
colder winters relative to mild midlatitude climates.
FIGURE 2.15 Permafrost zones in North America.
Typically, average temperatures are below freezing for
several months each winter. The humid continental
hot summer locations on Figure 2.13 are influenced and unprofitable, so most areas with subarctic climates
by the continental polar air mass but can also be af- support very few people. Exceptions are mining and
fected by continental tropical and maritime air masses other communities with economies not dependent on
throughout the year. When the colder, drier air from agriculture such as Schefferville, Quebec, and Thomp-
the north clashes with the warmer, wetter air from son, Manitoba.
the south, violent storms can erupt, dumping large Polar E Climates are found in the extreme north
quantities of rain or snow on the landscape, similar to of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland where locations
what occurs in the Southeast. Cities in the central area are influenced by continental Arctic and polar air
of the United States such as Des Moines and Omaha masses. There is no true summer in this zone since
have humid continental climates with hot summers monthly average temperatures never rise above 50F
and cold winters. or 10C. Because of its extreme northern location, the
Higher latitude, humid continental mild summer sun does not rise for several weeks during the winter,
climates are characterized by a frost-free period of producing continuous night. Snow covers the land-
at least three months and less precipitation than the scape for as much as eight to ten months of the year
humid continental hot summer climates or the meso- causing either permafrost or ground ice conditions.
thermal climates. In North America, the Great Lakes Tundra plants, such as sedges, mosses, lichens, and
moderate winter cold and reduce summer heating in some flowering plants, appear when the snow melts.
places like upstate New York and southern Ontario. Few settlements dot the polar climate landscape.
Thus, while the lake effect snow in winter months Polar regions are also areas of low precipitation with
may pose challenges for residents, moderate tempera- less than 10 inches (25 centimeters) per year, and
tures support vineyards for wine grapes in this part of thus are technically deserts. North American polar
North America. Parts of the New England states and areas are feeling the effects of ongoing global climate
the Atlantic provinces of Canada also experience this change more than any other region. In fact, due to
type of climate. melting sea ice caused by global warming, it is now
The Subarctic subregion of the midlatitude climates possible for ships to go from the Atlantic Ocean to the
is located poleward of the humid continental mild Pacific Ocean across the formerly frozen Arctic Ocean
summer zone. This area experiences dry conditions during the summer season.
compared to its lower latitude counterparts. Here, Semidry climates in North America include areas
cooler summers with short growing seasons and long, to the east of the Rocky Mountains through northern
cold winters are common. Parts of the Subarctic also New Mexico and north and west Texas, as well as the
lie within the permafrost zone, where soils are totally western margin of the Great Plains. Cities such as Den-
or partially frozen all year (Figure 2.15). The short ver, Cheyenne, Great Falls, and Calgary have semiarid
growing season here often makes agriculture risky climates.
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 35

The Highland H Climate realm is located in elevations mimic those of the polar climates, ranging
places where the presence of high mountains causes from short grasses, sedges, and mosses to a constant
extensive local climatic variation. There are a few cover of snow and/or ice.
pockets of highland climates in North America, in-
cluding a finger that extends from southeastern Cali-
fornia and northwestern Arizona through western
Nevada and eastern Oregon and Washington; a larger
Biogeography and Ecology
area in eastern British Columbia, mid- and south- Vegetation is a mirror of climate, hydrology, and soil
ern Alberta, Idaho, western Montana, and northern types. Note that natural vegetation is the term used
Utah; and a pocket in Colorado. Resort communi- to identify plant species that were in a particular place
ties such as Aspen, Vail, and Steamboat Springs, as before Europeans appeared in the 17th century. Natural
well as many popular national parks in the United vegetation is often a key indicator of what kinds of soils
States and Canada, including Yellowstone, Glacier, are beneath and what kinds of climatic cycles to expect.
Jasper, and Banff, are included in the highland cli- The natural vegetation map in Figure 2.16 may be com-
mate region. These locations are unique because, al- pared to the soils and climate maps (Figures 2.6 and
though some are located at fairly low latitudes, their 2.13) to visualize some of these relationships. For exam-
high elevations produce climates similar to those ple, annual rainfall totals are especially significant for
found at higher latitudes. Landscapes at these higher vegetation patterns and the availability of precipitation

FIGURE 2.16 North American vegetation zones.



0 500 1000 mi 40

0 500 1000 km


Broadleaf deciduous forest W

Mixed broadleaf deciduous and
needleleaf evergreen forest 30N
Needleleaf evergreen forest
Mixed grassland and mesquite
Broadleaf evergreen shrubland
Mediterranean shrubland
Little or no vegetation
120W 110W 80W 70W



13 17


15 16


1 4


W 19 N
20 11
N 5

21 9
N 0 500 1000 mi
0 500 1000 km 10

140W 130W 120W 110W 21 80W 70W

1 Sitkan 7 Californian 12 Aleutian Islands 18 Grasslands

2 Oregonian 8 Sonoran 13 Alaskan tundra 19 Rocky Mountains
3 Yukon taiga 9 Chihuahuan 14 Canadian tundra 20 Sierra Cascade
4 Canadian taiga 10 Tamaulipan 15 Arctic Archipelago 21 Madrean-Cordilleran
5 Eastern forest 11 Great Basin 16 Greenland tundra 22 Great Lakes
6 Austroriparian 17 Arctic Desert and Icecap 23 Everglades

FIGURE 2.17 Bioregions of North America.

determines whether an area is desert, grassland, or in Alaska. You may see from examining the vegetation
forest. This is true regardless of temperature, soil char- map in this chapter that deserts, grasslands, and forests
acteristics, or topography. Figure 2.17 shows the com- occur naturally at most latitudes.
bined soil, climate, and vegetation patterns as biomes In contrast, biomes such as midlatitude temper-
or bioregions. ate deserts in North America are generally hot in the
The number, range, and specific characteristics of summer and have cold winters, but support a variety
species within a biome are influenced by soil type, to- of succulents, shrubs, and seasonal wildflowers. Desert
pography (including elevation and sun angles), tem- soils are almost always nutrient deficient because the
perature, moisture, and human factors. As such, there growth rates of plants are slow and there is little bio-
are tropical rain forests in Hawaii and boreal forests mass to decompose into humus.
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 37

Neither desert nor forest, the Mediterranean scrub years have been put in place in an attempt to achieve
biome, found in California and southern Oregon, sustainable levels of production.
is a greater reflection of the influence of climate on Broadleaf deciduous forests with oak, hickory,
vegetation than the other biomes. Its deep-rooted, beech, and maple trees are located in places with warm
small-leaved, perennial shrubs mixed with scattered, to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Thus, they
savanna-like woodland is particularly adapted to sum- correspond to the humid subtropical and continental
mer drought and mild winters. When irrigated dur- climates of the eastern United States and southeastern
ing dry months of the year, this environment becomes Canada. Continuing northward into cooler and drier
highly productive for agriculture because many of its regions, deciduous and mixed forests are replaced by
soils are deep and fertile. Warm, sunnier summers also needleleaf evergreen forests dominated by firs, pines,
have resulted in these regions becoming the focus of and spruces. These forests are also termed boreal for-
tourism and resort industries. ests or taigas. This is perhaps the largest biome in
Six broad patterns and locations of North American North America in terms of areal extent. It extends over
biomes are shown in Figure 2.17 forest, tundra, grass- most of Canada, all of the Upper Peninsula of Michi-
land, scrubland, desert and steppe, and subtropical gan, and northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Signs of
wetland. Each type is discussed in the following sec- the influence of global warming are beginning to be
tions. As on the other large-scale maps shown in this seen in many boreal forests. The warmer temperatures
chapter, note that local conditions may vary from the are thawing more of the active layer of soil, causing
broad patterns shown at macro scale on Figure 2.17 since waterlogging of soils, which these tree species cannot
biomes transition across climate and soil-type boundar- tolerate. The ultimate result is a dying off of these trees
ies. In addition, the general distribution patterns of bi- in response to the excess of water in many parts of the
omes or bioregions in North America greatly overlap Far North.
each other (further distorting the patterns shown on
these maps).
The tundra biome (Regions 12 through 17) is found in
Forests the highest latitudes of North America that can sus-
tain vegetation. This zone corresponds closely to polar
Forests (Regions 1 through 6 and 19 through 21) oc-
climates where soils are poorly drained and exhibit a
cur in undisturbed areas where rainfall patterns are
thinner permafrost layer than the soils of needle leaf
regular and average over 30 inches (75 centimeters) per
forests. This biome consists of vegetation that can en-
year. The primary requisite for tree cover is adequate
dure cold winters, low amounts of heating, and little
year-round rainfall. The various forest types of North
sunlight with a short growing season. This biome in-
America include tropical and temperate rain forests,
cludes grasses, sedges, lichens, and some low shrubs.
broadleaf deciduous forest, mixed broadleaf decidu-
Tundra locations are also excellent breeding habitats
ous and evergreen needle leaf forests, and coniferous
for waterfowl such as geese and swans, and grazing ar-
forests. The only location in our definition of North
eas for mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Areas along
America that possesses a tropical rain forest is Hawaii.
the Arctic coast of Alaska and Canada contain this tun-
Temperate rain forests correspond with marine west
dra vegetation.
coast climates and are therefore found in the western
portions of the Pacific Northwest of the United States
and along the western margin of Canada. These forests
support a lush mix of broadleaf and needleleaf trees.
Grasslands and Steppes
However, fewer tree species are found here relative Grasslands (Region 18) are located in the Great Plains
to their tropical counterparts. These rain forests are region of the continent. The 98th to the 100th meridian
unique not only because they are found at higher lati- divides the short-grass from the tall-grass prairie. This
tudes but also because they receive a large amount of demarcation is the result of a difference in precipita-
moisture from summer fog and the maritime polar air tion, with areas to the east experiencing more rainfall
mass. North Americas temperate rain forests house the than evaporation. To the west, potential evaporation
tallest trees found on Earthcoastal redwoods (Sequoia exceeds precipitation. In Chapter 11, we discuss ma-
sempervirens). They also contain commercially valu- jor consequences in historical settlement of the Great
able species such as Douglas fir, spruce, hemlock, and Plains that are related to these phenomena. Naturally
cedar. Few areas of this type of forest are native old occurring trees found in the grassland biome are gener-
growth; most are secondary growth forests, meaning ally restricted to stream and river corridors. However,
that in the past these forests were cut down and were people have also planted and cultivated large numbers
either replanted or left to regenerate naturally. Poor of trees in cities and towns and near farmsteads in or-
timber management plans have plagued these areas der to provide shade and windbreaks, as well as for
in the past, but better management practices in recent aesthetic reasons.

Temperate grasslands tend to have limited and ir- Subtropical Wetland

regular rainfall and a large seasonal temperature range
(warm summers and cold winters). Most are located in The Subtropical (Everglades) Wetland (Region 23) is a
the centers of land masses away from the moderating comparatively tiny region. It is critically important to
influence of oceans. Soils in the temperate grasslands the survival of many plant and animal species, how-
are among the best on Earth for field agriculture and ever, and consists mostly of protected marshes and
produce a major portion of the worlds wheat, maize mangrove zones in and around Everglades National
(corn), livestock, and vegetables. The deep top soils are Park. It has recently become well known as the part
very fertile due to their large humus content. Nutrients of North America (excluding Hawaii) that is most
are stored in the soil rather than in the living biomass impacted by the illegal introduction of many tropical
(as in forest ecosystems). plants and animals.
Today, less than 1 percent of the original midconti-
nent grasslands in North America remain in their origi-
nal state, having been heavily used because of high soil
fertility, value for grazing livestock, and improved ir-
Ecosystems and Watersheds
rigation technology. This biome is the most modified It has long been a major challenge to accurately map
by humans because it is the area of greatest crop and the physical systems of an area as compared to the
livestock agricultural production. patterns of human settlement and economic activi-
ties. One way to accomplish this objective is to use
Geographic Information System (GIS) software to
combine, display, and compare multiple layers of in-
Deserts and Steppes formation. The GIS-based map shown in Figure 2.18
West of the grassland biome is the driest, least vegetated shows 76 different ecoregions that have been identi-
biome of the continent. This desert and steppe biome fied by overlapping the distributions of precipi-
(Regions 8, 9, and 11) is associated with an extremely dry tation, temperature, elevation, hydrology, geology,
type of B climate. In this region, annual rainfall totals soils, vegetation, and human impact. It is similar to
are less than 10 inches (25 centimeters). This low amount Figure 2.17 but much more detailed. A problem facing
of precipitation and high potential evapotranspiration cartographers interested in mapping biogeographic
defines these dry areas as a desert biome. Vegetation that information lies in selecting an appropriate scale that
survives in this landscape must not only tolerate very lit- is compatible with other variables to be shown on the
tle water on average but also must be rooted well enough map. The use of ecoregions helps solve this problem
to withstand flash flooding. This biome is increasing in since ecoregions are an intermediate level of scale
areal extent as desertification takes place, owing mainly (in between a very generalized description of global
to native vegetation removal, intensive agricultural prac- biomes and a more site-specific biotic community at
tices, and poor soil moisture management, which can the local scale). The U.S. Environmental Protection
lead to increased erosion and salinization. Agency and other federal agencies use four levels of
detail on ecoregional maps depending on their needs.
Thus, Figure 2.18 shows North America at a Level II
scale, while Level I is more generalized and Level III
Mediterranean Scrub is more regionally specific.
To the west, the desert biome gives way to the Mediter- Estimates of the degree of correspondence or
ranean scrubland (Region 7) of western California and overlap of different kinds of regions also provide in-
southern Oregon. This area corresponds with the Medi- sights into what regional factors may have influenced
terranean climate zone and is located north of the areas human decisions regarding settlement patterns, land
shifting subtropical high-pressure cells. Because of the use, or cultural imprints. The use of watersheds
dry conditions that exist, fire is a constant possibility and, (Figure 2.5), for example, makes it possible to ana-
in fact, was historically part of the natural ecosystem. lyze the physical features of the surface of Earth as
Vegetation in these fire-prone areas, called chaparral in they are bounded by common drainage systems. Re-
California, is well adapted to this hazard because it has source planners and managers also use watershed
deep root systems and the ability to re-sprout roots after maps because these regions are often inhabited by
a fire episode. Chaparral typically includes blue and live people with common interests, making them cultur-
oak, Toyon, Manzanita, and many other shrub species. ally identifiable regions (as well as physical regions).
The climate and soils of this region allow for subtropi- There are almost an infinite number of watersheds in
cal fruits, vegetables, and nuts to be grown. European North America, with many identified for flood con-
wine grapes are particularly profitable. Some other crops trol management, habitat restoration, and other con-
include citrus fruits, olives, avocados, artichokes, and al- servation-related projects. In recent years, a number
monds, most of which are grown only in this biome in of environmental planners have suggested that local
North America and very few other parts of the world. political boundaries should be redrawn to follow
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 39


1.1 1.1

2.1 1.1



2.1 1.1

2.1 1.1
6.1 2.1 1.1
2.2 2.3 2.1
2.2 6.1 6.1 2.1 1.1
3.1 2.1
2.1 2.1

2.2 7.1 2.1


2.2 1.1
6.1 2.4
3.2 2.1 2.1
7.1 2.1
7.1 2.1
7.1 2.4
3.3 2.4
3.4 3.4

0 500 1000 mi 3.4 50
0 500 1000 km 5.4 5.1
40 5.1
N 7.1
5.1 8.1 5.3
6.2 8.1
5.3 5.3
9.2 5.2
6.2 10.1

6.2. 5.2 8.2 8.5

8.1 5.3
1.0 Arctic Cordillera 8.1
6.2 5.3
2.0 Tundra 8.5
7.1 10.1 9.2
3.0 Taiga 10.1
4.0 Hudson Plain 8.4
7.1 6.2 E
5.0 Boreal forests 8.3
8.3 W
11.1 10.1
6.0 Northwestern forested mountains 13.1
9.4 N
7.0 Marine west coast forest 13.1
13.1 13.1
8.0 Eastern temperate forests 10.2

9.0 Great Plains 12.1

8.3 8.3

10.0 Deserts and steppes 9.4 8.5

11.0 Mediterranean California 14.3
12.0 Southern semi-arid highlands 13.2 9.6
10.2 15.4
13.0 Temperate sierras
14.0 Tropical dry forests 12.1
14.6 14.3 13.3
15.0 Tropical wet forests 15.5 14.1 14.2
13.4 15.1
130W 120W 110W 13.5
14.1 15.2 80W
14.5 13.4


1.1 Arctic Cordillera 8.1 Mixed wood plains 13.2 Western Sierra Madre
2.1 Northern Arctic 8.2 Central USA plains 13.3 Eastern Sierra Madre
2.3 Alaskan tundra 8.3 Southeastern USA plains 13.4 Transversal neo-volcanic system
2.4 Brooks Range tundra 8.4 Ozark, Ouachita-Appalachian forests 13.5 Southern Sierra Madre
3.1 Alaskan boreal interior 8.5 Mississippi alluvial and southeast USA coastal plains 13.6 Central American Sierra Madre and Chiapas highlands
3.2 Taiga cordillera 9.2 Temperate prairies 14.1 Dry Gulf of Mexico coastal plains and hills
3.3 Taiga plain 9.3 West-central semi-arid prairies 14.2 Northwestern plain of the Yucatan Peninsula
3.4 Taiga shield 9.4 South-central semi-arid prairies 14.3 Western pacific coastal plain, hills and canyons
4.1 Hudson Plain 9.5 Texas-Louisiana coastal plain 14.4 Interior depressions
5.1 Softwood shield 9.6 Tamaulipas-Texas semi-arid plain 14.5 Southern pacific coastal plain and hills
5.2 Mixed wood shield 10.1 Cold deserts and steppes 14.6 Sierra and plains of El Cabo
5.3 Atlantic Highlands 10.2 Warm deserts and steppes 15.1 Humid Gulf of Mexico coastal plains and hills
5.4 Boreal plain 11.1 Mediterranean California 15.2 Plain and hills of the Yucatan Peninsula
6.1 Boreal cordillera 12.1 Western Sierra Madre piedmont 15.3 Sierra Los Tuxtlas
6.2 Western cordillera 12.2 Mexican high plateau 15.4 Everglades
7.1 Marine west coast forest 13.1 Upper Gila mountains 15.5 Western pacific plain and hills
15.6 Coastal plain and hills of Soconusco

FIGURE 2.18 Level Two Ecoregions of North America.


watershed boundaries before making important deci- prior to Euro-American contact. As people from other
sions related to resource use and conservation. places settled in North America in the post-indigenous
era, they either adapted to the physical setting or began
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 2.4 to change it significantly. Many of these changes had di-
Develop a list of recommendations for preserving the natu- sastrous consequences, resulting in disturbances such
ral vegetation and streamflow patterns of an ecosystem lo- as soil erosion, flooding, deforestation, and unwise land
cated near your home town that is slated for development. uses in certain places.
As a result, by the early 21st century very few pop-
ulated areas on the continent looked anything like
the 16th-century landscape. This historical process of
Conclusion landscape modification sets the stage for the story of
The physical geography of North America has been dis- how North America was settled by the mix of diverse
cussed in this chapter at a general scale from the per- peoples discussed in the following chapter.
spective of the patterns that existed on the continent

Review Questions
1. How are the location patterns of earthquakes, vol- 6. How are the landforms common to North Amer-
canoes, and fault lines in North America related to icas Intermontane physiographic province differ-
its tectonic plate boundaries? ent from those that are visible in the Great Plains
2. What have been some of the different erosional
impacts of glaciers, running water, wind, and 7. Specify four types of biomes that are found in
wave action on the geomorphology of the Ameri- North America based on their general location
can and Canadian West? on the continent and their interrelated patterns of
natural vegetation and climate.
3. What are some examples that illustrate the rela-
tionship between topographic barriers and hu- 8. What evidences seen in the physical environment
man settlement on the North American continent of a particular area indicate that it was shaped by
during the Euro-American era? continental glaciation in the past?

4. How do the barriers posed by high mountains in- 9. What is the name of at least one major river sys-
fluence precipitation patterns on the windward tem that flows into the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic
side as compared to the leeward side of a range? oceans?

5. Why are watershed maps useful to environmental 10. What are three examples of rivers or other topo-
planners and other local decision makers in delin- graphic features that have been used to delineate
eating appropriate places for preserving natural political boundaries in North America?
systems and eschewing economic development?

Group Activities
1. Your group has been hired by a transportation plan- from France. Select an ideal site to locate your first
ner to provide assistance determining the route of a settlement based on its potential for successful ag-
newly proposed hybrid bus line through a large re- riculture and the possibility of establishing trans-
gional park. The goal of your assignment is to sug- portation linkages both with the interior of eastern
gest a route that minimizes environmental impacts North America and with Europe.
in the park. Using a GIS map showing the interre-
lationships of the areas natural vegetation, stream 3. Describe three different scenarios that illustrate
drainage patterns, and landform features, draft when the use of a bioregions map of North Amer-
a list of recommendations that can be included in ica as compared to a map showing the continents
this planners final report. physiographic provinces would prove to be most
useful in defending a plan to protect the natural
2. It is three centuries ago, and your group has just ar- resource base of your state or province.
rived in northeastern North America as colonizers
CHAPTER 2 North Americas Environmental Setting 41

Suggestions for Further Reading

Bailey, Robert G. 1995. Descriptions of the EcoRegions of the Marsh, William M. 2005. Landscape Planning: Environmental
United States, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Department Implications. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
of Agriculture, Forest Service. A how-to manual designed to help planners deal with
As the title suggests, this small, but fact-filled, book in- various environmental issues in land-use planning and land
cludes a large reference map and details about how all of development in North America.
the ecosystems in the country are classified.
Orme, Anthony R., ed. 2002. The Physical Geography of North
Chris, Daniel, and John Reganold. 2010. Natural Resource America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Conservation Management for a Sustainable Future. Engle- This book includes 25 articles on various aspects of the
wood Cliffs, NJ: Pearson. physical geography of North America.
A helpful guide that illustrates how environmental geogra-
Ricketts, Taylor H., et al. 1999. Terrestrial Ecoregions of North
phy can be useful in conservation practices.
America: A Conservation Assessment. Covelo, CA: Island
Christopherson, Robert W. 2003. Geosystems: An Introduction Press.
to Physical Geography. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. The authors of this book argue that the use of an ecoregion-
This widely used physical geography textbook is based on based assessment of biodiversity is the most effective way
the systems approach to understanding Earths physical to implement conservation planning.
Vale, Thomas R. 2005. The American Wilderness: Reflections on
Daniels, Tom, and Katherine Daniels. 2003. The Environmental Nature Protection in the United States. Charlottesville: Uni-
Planning Handbook for Sustainable Communities and Regions. versity of Virginia Press.
Chicago: American Planning Association. This important publication examines the various mean-
This book provides information about how to develop sus- ings we attribute to nature as expressed through pro-
tainable management practices geared to the wise use of tected landscapes in the United States at scales ranging
resources. from the wooded corners of city parks to vast wilderness
areas such as Yosemite, the Everglades, and Okeefenokee
Diamond, Jared. 1997. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of
Human Society. New York: W.W. Norton.
A Pulitzer Prizewinning book that integrates the human and
environmental history of Earth in an engrossing popular style.

Log in to for MapMaster interactive maps, In the

News RSS feeds, glossary flashcards, self-study quizzes, web links, and other resources
to enhance your study of North Americas Environmental Setting.
3 Historical
Settlement of
North America
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Summarize at least two Spanish land grants on Identify the approximate Canal and the subsequent
examples of Zelinskys theory the settlement patterns of boundaries and primary development of New York
of first effective settlement. the western United States. diffusion routes of four of Citys hinterland helped

Contrast the early settlement Identify at least four North Americas early Euro-
American culture hearths.
New York grow into such a
large and important city.
patterns of one group of features commonly used
First Nations people in in the early towns and List and discuss the Discuss the impacts of
Canada as compared to a cities of New Spain that Homestead Act, Donation the Great Migration on
group of Native Americans are still visible in the Land Claim Act, and the growth of eastern and
in the United States. urban landscape in the Preemption Act as they midwestern cities in the

Identify some of the long- southwestern United relate to the settlement of United States.
term impacts of indigenous States today. the United States by the
Formulate an argument
people on North American Trace the pathways of end of the 19th century. defending some of
culture. the forced migration of Compose a list of some of the reasons why U.S.

Describe the triangular sugar Acadians to the eastern

and southern United States
the advantages of North
American port cities for
immigration policies
legislated in the 1960s
and slave trade that linked
early Portugal traders and from eastern Canada. population growth and greatly increased the
entrepreneurs with western Compare the early economic expansion in
the early years after their
diversity of newly arriving
immigrants in the United
Africa and the Americas. settlement patterns of
founding. States as compared to the
Differentiate between the the Vikings, English, and
impacts of the township French in Atlantic North Summarize some of the 1920s era National Origins
Quota Acts.
and range system and America. reasons why the Erie

Despite all the fascinating New World novelties, the wish for a westward passage
to India still dominated. The unexpected continent continued to seem less a
resource for new hopes than an obstacle to the old.
(Daniel Boorstin, 1983)

o some, North America was a wild and forbid- Considering these mixed messages about its livabil-
ding land. Dense impenetrable forests and wil- ity, and the large numbers of indigenous people who
derness, with dangerous wild animals and hos- already resided on the North American continent, why
tile indigenous people, must have seemed formidable would migrants from far away decide to relocate to
and at times frightening to early Europeans when they such an uncertain place? After their arrival, how were
saw North America for the first time. Others perceived native peoples affected by their many impacts on the
it as a paradise overflowing with wealth and promise. land? And how were local and regional economies and
These contrary images helped create myths about North cultures shaped and changed by the 400-year influx
America that many still hold today. The perception that of outsiders from Europe and other parts of the world
it was an unsettled wilderness ripe for the taking by in todays North America? This chapter discusses the
explorers and frontiersmen remains. However, in real- answers to these questions to provide a historical and
ity, the continent had been inhabited for at least 12,000 geographic context for the information on each North
years by a diverse population of aboriginal people prior to American region presented in later chapters of this
European contact. book. As a beginning point for this chapter, it is critically

Historic district in Charleston, South Carolina. 3


important to rethink some of our assumptions about Although aboriginal North Americans are often
why the settlement of the continent happened the way treated as a homogeneous cultural group, the first
it did in the context of the patterns and experiences of residents of North America were more diverse than
indigenous people, other ethnic and racial groups, and many of the immigrants who arrived centuries later.
women. Some suggest that it was the rapid expansion By the time European explorers arrived on the scene
of early English cultural systems in the United States in the 15th century, explorers journals and travel ac-
and English and French culture in Canada that most in- counts reported that indigenous people lived in many
fluenced subsequent landscape tastes and the evolution different parts of the continent. They spoke hundreds
of particular cultural landscapes. Geographer Wilbur of mutually unintelligible languages and developed a
Zelinsky postulated that groups who successfully settled large number of complex cultures whose economies
a place first had the longest impacts. He called this the and cultural landscapes were often connected closely
theory of first effective settlement. to the environments in which each culture lived. Fun-
Recognizable local cultures began to evolve all across damental to the worldview of most Native American
North America as new immigrants survived their first cultures, however, was their melding of environmen-
critical years of contact with a new physical environ- tal and social aspects of life. This belief had important
ment and with the cultures of earlier settlers. According implications for their lack of interest in owning land as
to Zelinsky, local landscapes developed as a result of a property (a strongly held European belief). Although
combination of the ongoing selection and maintenance the use of fire, hunting, agriculture, and construction
of certain cultural traits from overseas; the interactions had left noticeable imprints on the cultural landscape
of newcomers with the physical environments of their at least 10,000 years ago, the environmental impacts
place of settlement; and the spatial mixing of ethnic and of these earliest North Americans remained relatively
racial groups who had been widely separated in Europe, minimal over the years, especially compared with
Africa, and elsewhere. These processes led to cultural in- those of later arrivals.
terchange and helped create unique identities in differ- The settlement patterns of various native peoples
ent parts of the continent. (referred to as First Nations in Canada and Native
Despite the challenges of distance and the limitations Americans in the United States) shifted through time.
of transportation technologies at least up until the 20th As a general rule, population densities were highest
century, North America was never really isolated from in those parts of North America with the most natu-
the rest of the world even during its earliest years of ral resources, including the present-day southeastern
European settlement. Trade connections between North United States, California, and the Pacific Northwest.
America and Europe were extensive, and not all those Along the northwest coast, for example, aboriginal
who intended to settle North America stayed; many residents occupied a region with abundant marine
returned to Europe. This process meant that the con- resources for sustainability. Here, groups like the
nections between immigrants and their homelands were Kwakwakawakw invented complex rituals and be-
never completely severed. Thus, the process of nation- lief systems. Along the California coast, in contrast,
building in North America was part of a larger global net- groups such as the Chumash organized elaborate trad-
work from the very beginning. ing networks with each other and with interior tribes.
In California, with its mild climate and abundant
resources, population densities of hunter-gatherers
Exploration, Discovery, were greater than any other place in North America be-
fore European contact.
Settlement, and Desert areas had much lower population densities
Exploration because water, wood, and game animals were scarce.
In these areas, survival depended on careful man-
agement of scarce resources and maintaining trad-
Indigenous Patterns and Imprints ing networks with outsiders. In the vast grasslands in
Small groups of hunters and explorers from Asia were the interior of North America, settlers found herds of
the first to inhabit the North American continent more bison and other animals. For thousands of years, these
than 12,000 years ago (Figure 3.1). These adventurers peoples tracked game animals on foot, constructing
crossed the Bering Land Bridge during the interglacial settlements along rivers and streams in order to ensure
period following the most recent ice age (when land themselves an adequate supply of fresh water. After
connecting Asia and North America was exposed), or the arrival of Spanish settlers in present-day Mexico
they may have traveled in small boats from Eurasia in the 16th and 17th centuries, however, the lifestyles of
along the North American coastlines. They ultimately Plains cultural groups changed dramatically. The Span-
penetrated the Pacific and Arctic coasts and moved iards brought horses to North America, and indigenous
into the interior of the continent in search of game and Plains people bought or stole them from the Spaniards
other resources. and captured escaped horses. Horses gave Plains tribes
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 45

SIB E R I A Benelekh 70N


ID Baffin
G Bay

















Selby Meadowcroft
Butte Cave
Migration route
to the Americas Dutton

Dispersal route Hills
to the Americas
Former shoreline Springs Folsom
Clovis G R E AT 30N
Present shoreline Diego PLAINS
Glacial ice: ATLANTIC
20,000 years OCEAN
before present San Isidro
12,000 years Gulf of Mexico
before present Cedral Tamaulipas

Evidence of human activity: 20N

25,000 years ago
Tepexpan Tlapacoyan
15,000 years ago 0 250 500 mi Coxcatln
12,000 years ago
0 250 500 km El Bosque
11,000 years ago FIGURE 3.1 Probable early human
110W 100W 90W 80W
migrations to the Americas.

far more mobility, and as a result these cultures in- from one place to another, farmers could remain in one
creased rapidly in population and political influence place for long periods of time and could construct houses
until theEuro-Americans took over their territories in and other more permanent buildings.
the 19th century. Changes in resource availability precipitated most
Not all of these earliest North American residents lived of the earliest large-scale human migrations in North
in rural places. Some groups also constructed towns and America. Later, the shifting tides of political control
cities in the Mississippi Basin and the American South- over land by Europeans and then by Canadians and
west. They were often farmers of annual crops. The larg- Americans dramatically changed the settlement pat-
est of these cities may have been Cahokia, located in to- terns of native peoples. It is estimated that despite their
days Illinois, a city that was home to more than 30,000 earlier dense population in the interior of the North-
people by the 13th century. Cultures associated with east and South, one generation after the arrival of
larger permanent settlements generally relied on agri- Europeans on the continent, more than 75 percent of all
culture rather than hunting and gathering. Whereas the native peoples in North America lived west of the
hunters and gatherers were often nomadic, and there- Mississippi River. This distribution pattern was due to
fore could own only what they could carry on their backs their sustained contact with European diseases, which

increased the death rate, particularly east of the Missis-

sippi, after the 1600s.
The economic systems of these earliest North
American residents also varied depending on their lo-
cations and relationships with outside groups. Many
lived on plants and animals secured by hunting, fish-
ing, and gathering. Others depended on extensive
agricultural systems. In northern Mexico and what
would become the southwestern United States, for ex-
ample, groups such as the Hohokam who lived near
todays city of Phoenix developed a complex agricul-
tural system dependent on irrigation canals, dams,
and well-bounded fields by A.D. 550. This agrarian
group also domesticated a new variety of drought-
resistant maize. Indigenous agriculture was also well
established on the East Coast by the time Europeans
Any discussion of the impacts of European explor-
ers and settlers on native peoples must be framed
within a larger discussion of imperialism in North
America. Geographer Donald Meinig defines impe-
rialism as the aggressive encroachment of one people
upon the territory of another, resulting in the subjuga-
tion of the latter people to alien rule. The rapid decline
in the number of indigenous people in North America FIGURE 3.2 Native American-owned casino, Lincoln City, Oregon.
soon after the arrival of outsiders, and the virtual One form of economic development among many tribes is
the operation of entertainment and gaming casinos. Others
elimination of many native cultures, provide evidence
support tourism and cultural education. Some also depend upon
of the life-threatening damage caused by progress
farming, livestock grazing, or subsistence hunting and fishing.
in the name of imperialism. Millions were killed by
epidemics of infectious diseases such as smallpox, bu-
bonic plague, typhus, influenza, and measlesall of
these being the diseases brought in by the explorers Early European Explorers
and first colonizers. Europeans also brought with them
other destructive animal species, weeds, alcoholic
drinks, and new technologies that dramatically altered The first European visitors to North America were Vi-
indigenous ways of life. kings who came around 1000 years ago. Although
By the year 1900, only a small percentage (10 per- many of their voyages are well documented, until a cen-
cent by some estimates) of the original population of tury and a half ago many scholars considered the idea
North America remained. Today, after more than four of Viking settlement in North America to be a folk tale.
centuries of domination by outsiders, many continue The first theory relating to their arrival was proposed in
to look for ways to hold onto their native cultures and 1837 by a Danish literary historian who examined po-
to survive economically within the larger imposed sys- tential Viking settlement sites on the North American
tem of government and national identity (Figure 3.2). coast. He concluded that Vinland had been a real place
Meanwhile, the lingering impacts of indigenous peo- settled by the Norse. Even to this day, however, there is
ple on the cultural landscapes of the continent remain disagreement on the location of Vinland. Many believe
as place-names, food preferences, clothing styles, envi- a settlement discovered and excavated at LAnse aux
ronmental attitudes, and the spiritual beliefs of many Meadows in Newfoundland to be the first Viking settle-
of todays native and nonnative residents alike. The ment in North America. Others share a belief that Vin-
Department of the Interior map presented in Figure 3.3 land was farther to the south, perhaps in New England.
shows the larger American Indian lands, and Figure 3.4 But wherever the Vinland settlement was located, it
provides information on the First Nations reserves in was abandoned after a few years and the Vikings left no
Canada today. long-lasting imprint on the North American landscape.
Europeans did not begin settling North America
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 3.1 again until more than 500 years later. Columbus and
Create a PowerPoint presentation that explains why there other European explorers made numerous trips to the
were so few Native Americans in the United States in east coasts of present-day Canada, the United States,
1900 as compared to their much larger numbers prior to and Mexico. They returned with accounts of the vast
the arrival of Euro-Americans. and relatively unexplored North American continent,
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 47

WA Indian lands

e Superio ME
MT ND Lak r




Lake Michig
ID SD e Ont


WY ie
La PA 40N

ARCTIC 160W 140W
0 200 mi

PACIFIC OCEAN Gulf of Mexico
0 200 km 155W
HI 0 150 300 mi
0 100 mi
20N 80W
PACIFIC OCEAN 0 150 300 km nc er
160W 140W 0 100 km Tropic of Ca

FIGURE 3.3 Larger Native American lands in the United States.

80W 60W
NUNAVUT Indian reserve

90W 50W


Bay AN




0 200 400 mi NEW

0 200 400 km ATLANTIC N


FIGURE 3.4 Native American lands in Canada. (Other indigenous groups not shown.)

150W 120W 0 30E 60E 90E 120E 150E 180

Arctic Circle N

W E 60N
S Drake
Coln Tropic of Cancer

Magalhes Co
Cabral Da OCEAN
Cook Dias Equator
0 0
SOUTH Cabral
De Da
Tropic of Capricorn Magalhes Gama
Dias 30S
30S Drake
0 1,500 3,000 mi De
Cabral Cook
0 1,500 3,000 km Cook
150W 120W 90W 60W 30W 0 30E 60E 90E 120E 150E 180


Diogo Co (14821485) Cristbal Coln (14921493) John Cabot (1497) Giovanni da Verrazano (1523)
Bartholomeu Dias (14871488) Fernando de Magalhes Francis Drake (15771578) Jacques Cartier (15341535)
Vasco da Gama (14971498) James Cook (17681771)
Pedro Cabral (1500)

FIGURE 3.5 The Atlantic Ocean used as a European sea from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

and their reports were circulated widely throughout contact. All were part of the explosion of European
Europe. Many Europeans began to ponder whether energy and domination that erupted after the Middle
they should cross the Atlantic for commercial or set- Ages when seafarers turned their attention away from
tlement purposes. The reasons subsequent European the Mediterranean and ventured out into the Atlantic
explorers and settlers left their homelands to travel (Figure 3.5). These efforts launched an international
thousands of miles across a largely unknown ocean movement that would eventually change the entire
are complex. The commercial exploitation of new world and mark the beginning of the modern world
lands and peoples by the Portuguese, French, Spanish, economic system and globalization processes that con-
English, Russian, and Dutch was, in part, a direct out- tinue to this day (see Meinig, 1986).
growth of each countrys need to secure funds to repay By the end of the 16th century, the process of Europe-
the merchants who supported (and paid for) their anizing North America was in full swing. Discovery and
monarchs rise to power at home in Europe. Indeed, exploration in the Americas were complex processes
European interest in exploring, developing, settling, that historians refer to as the Columbian Exchange.
and exploiting North America was a direct outgrowth This term also describes the ecological exchanges and
of a changing world economic order that emerged after impacts that Columbus and his successors initiated,
the Middle Ages. which so often had lethal consequences for aboriginal
This post1300s European world was built on the peoples and the environment.
political and economic desires of feudal leaders for
power and financial stability. Gaining power over
peoples and resources in North America, then, was but Colonial Settlement:
one part of a much larger story. Enmeshed within this
larger story was the forced migration of West Africans
New Land Uses, New Cultures
who came as slaves to augment the labor supply The evolving North American cultural landscapes in
needed to build and support this European-dominated the centuries after the arrival of European settlers may
system of exploitation and conquest. These laborers be visualized as an ancient parchment called a palimp-
were imported mainly because so many indigenous sest that contained layer upon layer of settlement his-
Native Americans had died following initial European tories. Many of the aboriginal landscape features were
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 49

removed (as on one of these erasable parchments) as attitudes and the inhumane laws that allowed slavery
new landscapes emerged, although numerous place- would have an impact on North American culture and
names throughout North America are of Native society for centuries to come.
American origin. In turn, Spanish, French, Portuguese,
English, Dutch, Russian, and African newcomers French Settlement French, Russian, British, Spanish,
stamped their own landscape impacts onto the North and Dutch settlers all began moving to the Americas
American scene. Beginning in the late 1500s, a num- in large numbers in the 17th century. The French
ber of small-scale settlement schemes were attempted penetrated the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries.
in North America such as Sir Walter Raleighs efforts Montreal, at the head of navigation on the St. Lawrence,
to civilize the woods of North Carolina and Sir was founded in 1642. The fur trade was of great im-
Humphrey Gilberts attempt to construct a settlement portance to the French colonies in northeastern North
in Newfoundland. All of these early settlements failed, America. By the 1670s, French traders had traveled as
however, except the Spanish town of St. Augustine, far west as Lake Superior. They traded guns, knives,
Florida. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 and is the blankets, whiskey, and other European goods to local
oldest continually occupied European settlement on Native Americans in exchange for furs, which were
the continent. brought back to Montreal and eventually shipped to
Europe. French colonies along the St. Lawrence River
Portuguese and African Settlement Well before developed agricultural systems that depended on
Columbus began his search for a new passage to the In- French-born cattle imported from the West Indies and
dies, the Portuguese had established trade with East Asia the cultivation of hardy cereals, tobacco, and corn.
by circumnavigating the African continent and crossing Early French settlers also were dependent on the ag-
the Indian Ocean. This global triangular system lined ricultural skills of native people already living in the
three continents and affected the lives of tens of thou- area. By the late 1600s, approximately 10,000 people re-
sands of West Africans (Figure 3.6). By the early 16th ce- sided on French farms in the area on free land granted
nutry, Portuguese seafaring predators carried slaves from by the crown. Thereafter, French settlements extended
West Africa and the islands just offshore to North and to trading towns on the outer edge of the Great Lakes
South America and returned in a regular cycle carrying and agricultural villages along the Mississippi and
sugar back to Europe. This system of forced migration lower Ohio rivers that extended as far south as New
brought tens of thousands of Africans to the Americas Orleans. The map in Figure 3.7 shows the extent of
where they were viewed as the consummate other. These French settlement in North America by 1700.

FIGURE 3.6 The slave trade from Africa to the Americas.

New York

New 500,000
ve s

0 sl a

West Indies
300 , 00

Mexico City 200,000

slaves AFRICA
Central 4 . 5 m i ll i o n s la ve s SENEGAL
Cartagena SIERRA
OCEAN Paramaribo A
50 0,0 00 s

Slave trade region SOUTH
Slave trade route AMERICA ves
la v


Tobacco Lima


Cotton OCEAN
Sugar Rio de Janeiro
Mining 0 500 1,000 mi
Rice Buenos
Valparaso Aires 0 500 1,000 km

FIGURE 3.7 France in North America, drawn in England by Edward Wells in 1700.

Throughout the French-dominated parts of North France. In the meantime, France retained control of
America, crops were planted and land ownership some of their fishing rights in Newfoundland and two
patterns were determined by the long lot system, as tiny islands in the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.
discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. This land di- However, Spain was given control of formerly French-
vision schema was especially useful along rivers be- dominated Louisiana in a secret treaty, and the British
cause it allowed for as many people as possible to were awarded all of the rest of todays Canada, in-
have access to river transportation. Each farmer would cluding Acadia and southern Newfoundland (along
construct a house along the waterfront and would with all of the former French holdings in what was to
cultivate fields farther away from the river. From become the United States). More about this dramatic
Quebec to theGulf of Mexico, long ribbon-like pieces story is discussed in Chapter6 where we focus on the
of land were laid out along the water. Behind them, region of Quebec in more detail.
the French created open spaces of common land for
the community and other open land reserved for the Russian Settlement Along the outer edges of
communitys grazing purposes. The type of settle- the North American Pacific Rim, another story of
ment system was implemented in other parts of New European expansionism was unfolding as Russians
France as well. The end of French domination over settled the Aleutian Islands and todays Alaska as
all of eastern Canada as well as the St. Lawrence and far south as the coast of northern California. Like the
Mississippi drainage areas began in 1755 in Acadia French, the Russians established a transnational fur
located in todays province of Nova Scotia. After the trade. This trans-North Pacific connection linking
British assumed power here, they made the shocking North America to Russia, however, did not last long.
decision to deport all French-speaking Acadians. Most The invasions of American and British trappers in the
of these forced migrants traveled up the St. Lawrence 19th century, and the depletion of fur-bearing ani-
and settled in other parts of Canada or ended up in the mals caused by unsustainable hunting practices, led
New England colonies. Some moved to the Louisiana ultimately Russias decision to abandon its efforts.
Territory west of New Orleans (where they came to Eventually, Russia sold its North American territory
be called Cajuns). Others were sent to England or to the United States in 1867.
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 51

Latin America
in 1650
1511 N e Mexico
PACIFIC Caribbean
OCEAN 1544
1538 &1567 SANTA FE
1549 Unexplored Treaty of
New Granada Spanish Tordesillas,
60W 40W Territory 1494
40N 1563

Latin America Unexplored Spanish




1821 States with date of independence

Mexico Tropic of Cancer 1559

20N Veracruz 20N

Mexico City
La Plata
PACIFIC 1565 &
Unexplored 0 500 1,000 mi
Bogot Territory
Equator 0 500 1,000 km
0 Quito 0
Viceroyalty of New Spain
Natal Viceroyalty of Peru
PERU 1822 Brazil (Portuguese)
OCEAN Lima 1821 Salvador
La Paz
Rio de
20S ricorn
Tropic of Cap PARAGUAY
Asuncin So Paulo
Santiago Buenos
Aires Montevideo
0 500 1,000 mi PROVINCES
0 500 1,000 km ATLANTIC
FIGURE 3.8 Spanish and Portuguese influence in the
120W 100W 80W 60W 40W 20W

Spanish Settlement Meanwhile, the Spanish had legendary and supposedly fabulously rich Seven Cities
the greatest impact on cultural landscapes during the of Cibola and other such treasures. Although the Seven
first century of European settlement in North America Cities of Cibola did not exist in reality, these expedi-
(Figure 3.8). Following Columbuss well-known first tions contributed much geographical knowledge about
voyage in the name of Spain in the late 1400s, the pas- the present-day American Southwest and the South-
sage of the Laws of the Indies in 1573 dictated the ern Plains as far north and east as contemporary cen-
development and design guidelines for construction tral Kansas. These expeditions as well as Spanish slave
of presidios (forts), missions, civil communities, and raiding of Indian pueblos resulted in their military
land grants in a huge area stretching from north of control of southern and western North America. The
the Rio Grande all the way south to Tierra del Fuego. Spanish Empire continued to expand in size and influ-
Based on a plan used by the Romans when they con- ence into the early years of the 19th century.
quered the Mediterranean region centuries earlier, New Spain was an empire of missions and towns as
the Spanish imposed a uniform system of settlement well as rural estates and ranches. Todays familiar street
in the area, often supplanting the earlier designs that patterns laid out on a grid and Spanish-inspired central
had been laid out by indigenous peoples. The center plazas continue to provide evidence of their long-term
of Spanish influence was Mexico City, which was built occupation. The continued presence of the Spanish lan-
on the ruins of the capital of the Aztec Empire. Subse- guage, Spanish-style architecture, and Catholic religion
quent exploratory trips by Cabeza de Vaca, Coronado, remain as evidence of this long period of Spanish and,
and others expanded the geographical knowledge later, Mexican rule in the Western Hemisphere. Missions
of todays North American borderlands area. Many were established in order to convert local Indians to
of these expeditions were undertaken to discover the Christianity. In New Mexico and Florida, these Spanish

missions were built immediately adjacent to existing 19th century: the U.S. annexation of Texas in 1845, the
Native American settlements in places like San Diego Mexican Cession in 1948, and the Gadsden Purchase
and Santa Barbara. Elsewhere, they were constructed in 1853.
as separate rectangular compounds. Presidios, or forts,
were established in order to protect the Spanish mis- Dutch Settlement Spanish, French, and British colo-
sionaries and other settlers. Los Angeles is the largest nizers faced an unexpected contender for power in
city founded as a Spanish pueblo. North America in the late 1500s when Dutch mer-
The Spanish government authorized three types chants set up trade networks with ports in Africa,
of land grants to individuals: pueblos (places), villas South America, and Asia. By 1602, the Dutch East
(villages), or ciudades (cities), depending on their size. India Company was formed with state backing. Seven
In addition, larger land grants for cattle raising were years later, it began to search for new trading opportu-
awarded in Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, and Califor- nities in the Americas. Following the advice and expe-
nia. After Mexico became independent from Spain in rience of their British consultant, Henry Hudson, this
1821, two other types of land grants were laid out Dutch company decided to focus its expansion plans
ranchos for stock raising in California and large on the Connecticut, Delaware, and Hudson River val-
colonias destined for settlement by families and other leys of New Jersey and Long Island. Control of this
colonists in Texas (Figure 3.9). These various types land provided access to all the land between Virginia
of land grants created a rectangular system of land and New England. At the same time, plans were made
ownership; they show up on aerial photographs as to colonize places in Guiana, Brazil, and the Caribbean
large blocky pieces of land with squared-off edges and West Indies.
distinctive boundaries. The Dutch purchased land for a new colony from
Along with their distinctive land-surveying patterns local Indians and then laid out their new city of New
and architectural styles, the Spanish also initiated a Amsterdam on todays Manhattan Island (Figure3.10).
two-way transfer of plants, animals, and diseases from A group of Flemish and Walloon Protestant colonists
Europe to North America, with maize (corn), cacao were recruited to relocate to this new land. With the ad-
(chocolate), potatoes, and squash going to Europe and ministrative center of their colony at New Amsterdam,
Africa; and wheat, oats, barley, horses, cattle, measles, New Netherlands eventually stretched all the way
and smallpox coming into North America. The lasting from the lower Delaware River to Albany in upstate
impacts and the citizenship of many of todays North New York. The Dutch claimed all of the land between
American residents resulted from this early Spanish the Connecticut and Delaware rivers, which they
settlement and from three geopolitical decisions in the called the North River and South River, respectively.

FIGURE 3.9 Historic land grant

boundaries in Texas and NEBRASKA Mexican land grant boundaries
surrounding areas. Current state boundaries
Political divisions from 18211836
E x e te
r an d Brazos
W ils o
n ( 18 2 6
Col. Juan Dominguez

Chambers (1830)

*In 1834 the Department of Bexar was
Padilla and


divided into the Departments of Bexar,

NUEVO MEXICO Brazos, and Nacogdoches
Wavells Colony
Exeter and Wilson (1826)
e r on
s s G
r ant
( 182 8
C a me Grant
( 18 2 7 ) n ss G ran t Austins (1831)
and Burnets
Williams Grant
G r ant (1 828)
Gran t
Vehlei ns

Woodbury and Company Grant Grant (1826)

(1826) (1825)
(182 9)

Za valas

CHIHUAHUA Austins Little Colony (1824)

Austins N
Milams Colony (1826) Colony
1st & 2nd
(1825) E
McMullen and Austins Coast Colony (1828)
McGloins Colony
Grant and (1828) S
Beales Dewitts Grant (1825) Gulf of Mexico
De Leons Grant (1824)
Powers Grant (1826)
0 250 500 mi
0 250 500 km
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 53


FIGURE 3.10 Manhattan Island at the time of Dutch settlement.

Despite this well-organized system, things did not Long Island emerged as unique and diverse places by
work out for the Dutch. While their fur trading and 1700 and were home to most of the 19,000 residents of
fishing colonies continued to expand, labor shortages what had once been all of New Netherlands, but was
in urban settlements, along with the Dutch companys now a part of Britain. Nevertheless, the legacy of the
feudalistic land grant system, resulted in the failure Dutch occupation of 17th-century North America is
to create and support successful settlements in North preserved in many place-names in the Mid-Atlantic
America. The Dutch regarded settlers as employees of states. Brooklyn, the Bronx, Harlem, Staten Island, and
the Company, but many of the new immigrants from Coney Island are among the Dutch place-names in
Holland were attracted to the relative freedoms of present-day New York City.
British colonies in New Jersey and New York and de-
cided to relocate there. British Settlement Despite the early dominance of
In 1664, the British captured all of New Nether- British governmental systems, culture, and society
lands. Their new possessions included such Dutch in much of Canada and the United States that contin-
legacies on lower Manhattan Island as a series of well- ues to this day, England entered the colonizing race in
designed streets, storybook-looking houses, taverns, a North America relatively late. Yet, less than a century
large state building, and a canal and windmill all the after its initial colonies were founded in the 1600s, there
way north to the site of todays Wall Street. Of par- were at least 250,000 British settlers residing in small
ticular note were the 200 red- and black-tiled, two- or settlements and farms near the Atlantic coast between
three-story, gabled row houses. Over the years, Anglo South Carolina and southern Maine. Why did Britain
landscapes slowly replaced this Dutch-looking citys have such a powerful and lasting impact on shaping
street and building designs. As a result, Manhattan and Canadian and American cultures today? Was it the

comparatively large number of people who came from States from British and French-held territory in North
England over the years, or was it their distinctive set- America.
tlement system of encouraging more families (instead Meanwhile, more contentious land disputes were
of individuals) to relocate here that most influenced also occurring in other parts of the continent. In the
their power to shape local and national identity and 1820s, both the United States and Britain claimed own-
culture? Was it their decision to modify their British ership to the Columbia River system in Oregon Coun-
heritage to adapt to the peculiar characteristics of try in the far west. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Albert
the new place that helped shape the eventual blend Gallatin, argued for the rights of Americans over this
of British-North American identity? Or, as historian land in his statement called the Land West of the Rockies.
Frederick Jackson Turner suggested, was it the frontier This document claimed that all land adjacent to already
experience that most shaped the distinctive identity of settled territory could reasonably be claimed by the
North Americans because of the mobility and freedom owner of the formerly settled territory. This document
created by westward expansion? laid a foundation for future policies based on manifest
We may never know exactly how distinctive destiny in the United Statesthe belief that it was ac-
American and Canadian cultures came to be. We ceptable for the U.S. government to claim all land as far
can be certain, however, that the values and percep- west as the Pacific Ocean no matter who occupied it or
tions of provincial rural England were brought to held power over it.
North America with the first Puritan settlers in the At this same time, British fishing towns along the At-
New England colonies and the many other English im- lantic Coast in todays Canada had evolved into ethni-
migrants who followed. The British brought with them cally and culturally diverse places. These small towns
a firm belief in the rightness and righteousness of their were home not only to the British, but to many other
Christian faiths, the right of individuals to own and groups as well. Other parts of British North America
manage their own land, and a sense that being truly also evolved into religiously and culturally mixed
civilized meant encompassing these English values places (Figure 3.11). In Pennsylvania, for example,
above all others. English Quaker William Penn developed a landscape
Jamestown, the first permanent British settlement, of unexpected experimentation and innovation. Penn
was established in 1607. Less than two decades later in set out to create a community where religious freedom
1620, a group of strict Puritan Separatists established and entrepreneurial skills would work hand in hand.
their colony at Plymouth just north of Cape Cod. Soon Unlike the religious philosophies that guided the for-
thereafter the Maryland Colony was established, and mation of colonies in New England, his vision was to
there was a large in-migration of new British settlers recruit advocates of diversity and multiculturalism
to Massachusetts. By the end of the 18th century, there from many parts of Europe to settle in Pennsylvania.
were more than 250,000 Europeans living in an area
that stretched from the tidewaters of North Carolina
to the rocky coasts of Maine. Plymouth was the most
FIGURE 3.11 Source areas of early immigrants into
English of all these earliest settlements due to its
the United States.
religious and socially cohesive population of Separatist
Puritans and its relative isolation from other colonists. Augusta
Later, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony was Portland
founded, settlers from England formed a series of dis- NEW
tinctive and more dynamic settlements. Between 1700 NEW YORK
and the beginning of the American Revolution, the total PENNSYLVANIA
CONN. Newport
population of the original 13 British colonies reached Haven
New York

almost 2.5 million. Despite their common culture and Philadelphia NEW JERSEY
economic ties with Britain, by then most had begun to Baltimore COLONIES
define themselves distinctly as Americans. By 1820, DELAWARE

the population of America had exceeded Englands. VIRGINIA ATLANTIC

English settlements soon emerged in other parts Norfolk
of North America. The Treaty of Paris, signed in
1763, gave ownership of all land northward from NORTH CAROLINA 0 100 200 mi
New Bern
Massachusetts to Acadia and Quebec to Britain, but the
Wilmington ES 0 100 200 km
exact boundaries of this expanding British Empire re- SOUTH NI
mained elusive. Therefore, in the years following the N
CO English
American Revolution, it became apparent that this ER N
GEORGIA U TH Scotch-Irish
boundary needed clarification to identify the exact lim- Savannah SO German
its of the new U.S. territory. In 1817 the boundary was Dutch
determined to be along the Atlantic Coast, and later, S
in 1842, a line was drawn inland dividing the United
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 55

As a result, new immigrants began to flood into the

city of Philadelphia, and by the time of the American
Ongoing Migration,
Revolution, Germans made up one-third of the total Expansion, and Settlement
population of Pennsylvania. Most were Mennonite
and Amish conservatives who came to the New World North American Culture Hearths
seeking religious freedom. andTerritorial Expansion
The British introduced the metes and bounds sys-
tem that contrasted with the French long lot system of Settling a new home and developing it into a commu-
settlement and the more irregularly drawn land grants nity in an isolated environment meant that differences
of the Spanish. Metes and bounds for land surveying among those communities would appear. Over genera-
left the drawing of boundaries up to individual land tions, differences in language, ways of building, food
purchasers, not some central authority. As the desired preferences, religious practices, and even music selec-
quantity of land was purchased, buyers were then free tions became so varied that they could be mapped.
to lay out their own boundaries based on tree markers Places that developed their own characteristics of cul-
or topographical features. A desire to secure the greatest ture are known as culture hearths. Three identifiable
amount of level, well-watered, fertile land means that culture hearths, each with its own set of unique cul-
individuals often scrambled to lay out boundaries. Later tural and economic characteristics, developed in what
buyers could purchase an entire plot of land or only a is now the United States by the end of the colonial pe-
part of it. The resulting changes in boundary features riod. At the same time, Canada maintained two more
created a somewhat chaotic pattern of land ownership general cultural traditions, those of English ancestry
common to all the British colonies. This system resulted and those with French heritage.
in a more irregular land-use pattern in the first 13 colo- These hearths and the pathways where they dif-
nies as compared to other parts of North America. fused to the west are shown in Figure 3.13. They were:
In the earliest years of the 19th century, approxi- (1) southern New England centered in the Boston
mately half the population of the United States lived area; (2) the Middle Colonies centered in the city of
south of the Mason-Dixon Line (Figure 3.12). This Philadelphia; and (3) the areas south of the Chesapeake
population pattern made the decision to locate Wash- Bay centered in Virginia and Georgia. The arrows
ington, D.C., halfway between these two parts of the shown in Figure 3.13 show the routes of diffusion
country as the ideal site for a federal capital in 1791. taken as people and their cultural baggage migrated
southward and westward. Even today, patterns of
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 3.2 speech, and other cultural characteristics can be identi-
Draw a sketch of early Philadelphias distinctive urban fied as having come from one or more of the colonial
landscape as specified by the citys founder, William Penn, culture hearths.
as compared to the Dutch-inspired landscape of early By the mid-19th century, the Souths plantation sys-
Manhattan Island. tem had spread from its core in Virginia, Maryland,
and North Carolina all the way across the Virginia
Piedmont into the interior. As soils were depleted and
FIGURE 3.12 The Mason-Dixon boundary was made famous as innovations such as the cotton gin eased cotton har-
a line between free and slave states before the Civil War. The vesting, the region identified as the South expanded
survey establishing the boundary between Maryland and into Georgia and South Carolina first, and later into
Pennsylvania was begun in 1763 and completed in 1784. Florida and still later into Texas.
0 50 100 mi On the Atlantic Coast, English settlers had settled
NEW YORK Nova Scotia and the coastlines of the Gasp Peninsula
rie 0 50 100 km and New Brunswick. By the latter part of the 19th
century, settlers had expanded westward into the
Canadian prairies, north into the interior, across the
almost impenetrable barrier of the Canadian Rockies
to the western coast and offshore islands that make up
OHIO todays British Columbia. Those from the New Eng-
NEW land culture hearth migrated along the southern parts
MARYLAND JERSEY of the great lakes region and then went on to the north-
WEST ern Great Plains and finally, to the Pacific Northwest
DELAWARE over a period of many generations. The middle colony
Deakins Line culture hearth generated thousands of migrants over
Ellicott Line several generations that traveled through what is now
Mason-Dixon Line ATLANTIC called middle America, extending from Pennsylvania
Transpeninsular Line OCEAN through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and westward to the
Great Plains.

is h
En g l

Mid Atlantic
Mid America Baltimore

Angeles Santa Fe
Spa Southern

s Hearth


New Orleans OCEAN
FIGURE 3.13 Early culture hearths French
0 150 300 mi Louisiana
and diffusion pathways in North PACIFIC
America, except Hawaii and OCEAN Spanish Gulf of Mexico
0 150 300 km

As the western migration of people and ideas con- as the western boundary of the newly independent
tinued in earnest in the 19th century, the cultures and country. The land area of the new nation was then
values of each of these hearths were carried along doubled with the purchase of Louisiana in 1803.
migration pathways to new destinations. In Canada, Soon thereafter, the famous Lewis and Clark Expedi-
territory dominated by the British expanded westward, tion set out to locate the headwaters of the Missouri
while the French hearth remained confined to its origi- River in order to help define the western bound-
nal location in Quebec. The territorial expansion of ary of American sovereignty. The Lewis and Clark
English Canada all the way to the Pacific Ocean ulti- Expedition eventually reached the Pacific Ocean near
mately brought English culture and economic systems present-day Astoria, Oregon.
as far west as Victoria on Vancouver Island and as far At the same time, an expedition under the com-
north as the Arctic Circle. mand of Zebulon Montgomery Pike set out to dis-
Meanwhile, the Spanish conquest of most of Middle cover the headwaters of the Mississippi. Pikes expe-
America sent explorers and settlers from its culture dition discovered the Falls of St. Anthony, the head
hearth at Mexico City all the way to what is now New of navigation on the river at the site of present-day
Mexico and Texas. Other Spanish transfers of culture Minneapolis, Minnesota, but failed to discover the
went by land and sea to what is now California. As source of the Mississippi. (In 1837 Henry School-
a result of the mission system, establishment of cities craft found Lake Itasca in central Minnesota to be the
(pueblos), and military explorations, the Spanish- source of the Mississippi.) In 1818, the American and
influenced culture realm extended far as Florida to British governments signed a treaty establishing the
the east and into the Southwest and Great Basin tothe boundary between the United States and present-
north. Use of the Spanish language and belief in the day Canada. At that time, it was mistakenly believed
Roman Catholic faith formed the official dogma of that Lake of the Woods was the source of the Missis-
government and society in this area. After Mexico won sippi. Thus it was that present-day northeastern Min-
its independence from Spain in 1821, Latino traditions nesota became American rather than Canadian. The
in this part of North America continued. Figure 3.14 treaty also established the 49th parallel as the bound-
shows the total composite of Euro-American settle- ary from Lake of the Woods westward to the Rocky
ment as it spread across the continent from 1750 to Mountains.
1910. Notice how much of the continent was not set- Florida was also acquired in 1819 by purchase from
tled at a density of six persons per square mile after Spain. The territory extended from the Mississippi
the beginning or the 20th century. River to the Atlantic Ocean and north to the 31st par-
New land areas were added to the United States allel, which was then the southern boundary of the
over the 19th century through treaties with other na- United States. It encompassed not only the present-day
tions, purchase, or military conquest (Figure 3.15). state of Florida, but also southern Alabama, southern
When the U.S. colonies gained their independence Mississippi, and eastern Louisiana including the cities
from England, the Mississippi River was agreed upon of Mobile and Biloxi.
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 57

N Hudson 50

0 250 500 mi

0 250 500 km

St. Lawrence
Valley Maritimes
40 N
N 40
New England
New Netherlands
(New York)
N Upper OCEAN 30
Rio Grande South Carolina

Louisiana a nce
ic of C
European Settlement Expansion Gulf of Mexico
Settled by 1750 N
20N 20
Settled 17501850
Settled by 1910

120W 110W 80W 70W

FIGURE 3.14 European settlement expansion in North America from 1750 to 1910.

The Republic of Texas, independent since 1836, be- Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, and
came a U.S. state in 1845. Soon thereafter the Oregon Hawaii was annexed in 1898. At the end of the Span-
Country was annexed. This large area was originally ish-American War in 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded by
defined as all of the land between the Rocky Mountains Spain to the United States and has been administered
on the east, the 42nd parallel (now the northern bound- as a commonwealth ever since. In 1917, the United
ary of California) on the south, and the 54 degrees States bought the Danish West Indies in the Caribbean
40 minutes parallel, which touches the southern tip Sea, renaming them the U.S. Virgin Islands. By 1860,
of the Alaska Panhandle. Spain, Russia, Great Britain, United States territory had tripled and its popula-
and the United States all had laid some claim to it. tion had grown 15 times. Only five years later in 1865,
Ultimately, a greatly contested agreement gave British despite the ravages of the Civil War, the still young
Columbia to Great Britain and the Oregon Territory to United States had become the third largest economy
the United States in 1848. The treaty extended the 49th in the world.
parallel boundary to the Pacific Ocean with the excep- Almost all of the newly secured territory west of
tion that all of Vancouver Island, which extends south the OhioPennsylvania boundary was eventually sur-
of the 49th parallel, would remain under British and veyed based on the township and range system. This
later Canadian sovereignty. plan was conceived through the Northwest Land
Shortly thereafter, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hi- Ordinance in 1785 by future President Thomas Jeffer-
dalgo ending the Mexican War in 1848 added the son, then a land speculator and geographer (among
Mexican Cession to the United States. This territory of other things). The township and range system began
more than half a million square miles included what with a carefully surveyed baseline and a principal
would become the future states of Colorado, Utah, meridian as starting points for laying out 36-square-
Wyoming, Nevada, and California, along with much mile (93-square-kilometer) townships. Each of these
of Colorado and most of Arizona and New Mexico. townships was subdivided into 36 sections that
In 1853, the Gadsden Purchase added southern Ari- were each 1 square mile (1.6 kilometers) in size. This
zona and southern New Mexico, including the sites rectangular grid system began in eastern Ohio and
of present-day Tucson, Yuma, and Las Cruces. Next, then gradually extended westward. All of the basic

tic C



1999 1949 N
50 J 50
1912 1873
1870 H
40 A 40
N 1846
6 3
1803 OCEAN
7 2
30 N 30

1845 W

5 S

22N 8
0 250 500 mi
1854 1819
4 0 250 500 km
PACIFIC 10 Gulf of
20N 20
Ca nc e r
0 75 150 mi Tropic of

0 75 150 km
160W 158W 156W
80N 70N


1 Territories and claims of the original 13 states A Formation of the Dominion of Canada
2 Louisiana Purchase B Acquisition of Northwest Territories and creation of Manitoba
3 Red River cession C Creation of British Columbia
4 Purchase of Florida D Unification of Prince Edward Island
5 Annexation of Texas E Addition of Arctic islands
6 Oregon compromise F Formation of Yukon Territory
7 Mexican cession G Creation of Alberta and Saskatchewan
8 Gadsden Purchase H Expansion of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec
9 Purchase of Alaska I Newfoundland joins Canada
10 Annexation of Hawaii J Formation of Nunavut

FIGURE 3.15 Territorial acquisitions in North America from 1790 to 1949.

CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 59

Township 4N, Range 2E

NW 1/4 NE 1/4
160 acres 160 acres

40 acres 40 acres
SW 1/4 FIGURE 3.16 The U.S. land survey system
160 acres
was used to record land ownership
40 acres 40 acres whenever a previous system was not
in place. Today many states use a
Section 14 = 1 sq mi = 640 acres combination of survey systems.

surveying of the area shown in Figure 3.16 was com- By the mid-19th century, as agriculture, mining,
pleted within half a century. A close-up of the town- lumbering, cattle raising, and other pursuits pro-
ship and range pattern in a portion of western Illinois vided possibilities for economic development in
is shown in the second drawing in this figure. The former Native American territory, other distinctive
third drawing shows the 6-mile-by-6-mile grid of a (but spatially disconnected) culture hearth areas
typical township, and the sequential numbering of emerged in the western United States. Each of these
the one-mile sections. culture hearths was associated with very differ-
In most areas this land settlement system resulted ent reasons for initial settlement. Pioneers from the
in a rectangular land ownership pattern all across the Church of the Latter-day Saints built an agricultural
country to the Pacific Ocean. Since roads and field pat- community along the shores of the Great Salt Lake
terns follow this same alignment, it is easy to make in the Wasatch Valley of present-day Utah begin-
out the checkerboard patterns when flying over the ning in 1848. The Mormon culture hearth, centered in
Midwest and West. This regularity of squared-off Salt Lake City, eventually expanded to include most
townships is interrupted only in places where cen- of Utah and southern Idaho. In northern California,
ter pivot irrigation systems make landscapes appear thousands of people arrived in the hopes of strik-
rounded, as in Nebraska and other Great Plains states, ing it rich during the California Gold Rush of 1849.
and where Spanish land grant boundaries still hold Gold miners and later arrivals established the major
sway (Figure 3.17). cities of San Francisco and Sacramento. To the north,
FIGURE 3.17 Center pivot irrigated area
overlayed on top of a township and range
pattern in eastern Colorado.

farmers flocked to the Willamette Valley of Oregon, real estate and land development agents were sent
where fertile farmland was opened up and cultivated directly to cities such as Stockholm, Hamburg, New
beginning with the Donation Land Claim Act. In York, and Atlanta to try to do whatever they could to
many other areas discovery of gold, silver, copper, lure new settlers to the central and western parts of
and other minerals resulted in the development of North America.
communities oriented to mining. Unlike the other Political decisions provided additional impetus for
culture hearths, mining camps were often rough, this movement ever westward. Perhaps no legislation
violent societies. Many became ghost towns once was as critical to opening up the area for settlement as
mineral deposits were exhausted. Today, some such the Homestead Act signed by President Abraham Lin-
as Virginia City, Nevada, Deadwood, South Dakota, coln in 1862. Thereafter, any adult citizen or person who
and Tombstone, Arizona, thrive because of tourism intended to obtain citizenship could file for 160 acres
associated with their colorful histories. (647 square meters) of public land, pay a nominal reg-
Settlement of the central and western parts of istration fee, and receive title after residing on the land
North America continued in earnest throughout the for five years and showing proof of improvements.
19th century. Motives for immigration and settlement Prior to passage of the Homestead Act, most land had
of this area included the availability of fertile land for been purchased under the Preemption Act of 1841,
farming, individual initiative, political oppression in which allowed settlers to buy land at $1.25 an acre.
their homeland, escape from crises such as the potato After the passage of the Homestead Act, set-
famine, and other political, social, and environmen- tlers advanced westward along the Platte and Kan-
tal events that occurred in Europe and other parts of sas valleys and other river valleys, crossing beyond
the world. This period of mass migration into North the 100th meridian (Figure 3.18). This is the line on
America resulted in a population increase in the the map that historian Walter Prescott Webb called
United States from about 17 million in 1840 to more an institutional fault line because, he claimed, it ef-
than 105 million in 1920. Many individuals in the fectively divided the humid east from the arid west.
vanguard of this movement westward wrote letters Despite the impact of this climatic boundary, eastern-
home encouraging their friends and relatives to join ers, southerners, and new foreign-born immigrants
them. While some of the information about the glories seeking free land soon pushed well beyond this cli-
of the new land presented in these letters no doubt matological line of demarcation to build homes and
was exaggerated, thousands of immigrants were en- set up farmsteads all the way to the Rockies. Even
couraged to leave their homes and travel west by though many of the pioneers did not remain in these
this mechanism. In an era before e-mail and televised areas, more land was settled due to the Homestead
news reports, information was also spread by church Act and its enlarged versions passed in 1909 and 1916
newsletters, railroad land companies, immigration (expanding the size of grants to 320 and 640 acres)
bureaus, and newspaper advertisements. In addition, between 1898 and 1917 than during the previous 30

CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 61

0 150 300 mi

0 150 300 km



Council New 40

Bluffs York
G r e a t Great
Salt Baltimore

Oakland B a s i n Lake

30N Charleston

Transcontinental New Orleans
railroad OCEAN
Other railroads MEXICO Gulf of Mexico
120W 100W 90W 80W

FIGURE 3.18 Route of the transcontinental railroad in 1870 and the 100-degree meridian between the
humid East and the arid West.

years. In Montana, for example, in the peak year of network of new towns at regular intervals along the
1910, almost 22,000 homestead applications were tracks to serve as water stops and grain collection
filed at the Montana Land Office with an average of points. So many purely speculative towns sprang up
more than 14,000 filed every year until 1919. Home- that not all of them could compete economically. As
steading in most areas of the United States, except a result, they disappeared from the map by the early
Alaska, was discontinued in 1934. 20th century.
The completion of transcontinental railroads (the During this same time period, as new settlers
first one in 1869; see Figure 3.18) in Canada and the boarded trains heading west, Native Americans con-
United States also increased the pace of westward tinued to struggle to adjust to reservation life. By 1890,
expansion in North America. In the United States, the U.S. government had set up a system of small
where an aggressive effort was made to fill boxcars with reservations on less valuable lands throughout the
grain and Homestead Act land with people, settlers Great Plains all the way to the Pacific. Here aboriginal
were actively, and at times quite aggressively, recruited people were isolated from new settlers and forced to
by railroad companies. The transcontinental railroads sell or give away their most valuable lands. The ex-
also established linkages between the previously dis- istence of Indian Country had been threatened in
connected culture hearths of the West. In partnership 1887 after the passage of the Dawes Act that required
with immigration bureaus, new potential residents of individuals to claim their own allotment within the
midwestern and western states and territories were re- reservation as individual land. Thereafter, most
cruited at county fairs, churches, and other social gath- of these parcels were sold to non-Indians, with all
erings. During what came to be called the Boom of the of the unclaimed land then made available for sale
Eighties, immigrants from the east and from Europe to Euro-American settlers. Despite these and other
responded in earnest with tens of thousands boarding severe injustices, many tribes did all they could to
trains heading west. Once in place, many remained de- hold onto their territory and their culture as the in-
pendent on the railroads for transportation of their ag- creasingly bloody impact of the nations belief in the
ricultural products to markets far away. Later, county greater good of manifest destiny continued. When
road systems would allow opening more untilled land. gold was discovered in California, and later in Idaho,
Even the street patterns of U.S. frontier towns re- Montana, the Yukon, and elsewhere, army posts were
flected the importance of the railroad. Main streets built to protect the routes to the mines and, in some
were laid out perpendicular or parallel to the railroad cases, to help protect the indigenous peoples from
tracks, which were flanked by depots, grain eleva- the miners. Conflicts between the original indigenous
tors, and lumberyards. Companies laid out a dense inhabitants of the continent and these newcomers

intensified, with warfare continuing until the last

Native American resistance effort was eliminated at
Evolving Economic
places such as Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and Development and
Chief Josephs Wallowa Valley in Oregon.
Another often overlooked aspect of population di-
versity in North America in the late 19th and early The economic, cultural, and political functions of
20th centuries were the Latinos in the Southwest. urban places continued to evolve and change in
Mexicans continued to occupy this earlier Hispano North America in this post-indigenous era of settle-
homeland in the upper Rio Grande Valleyan area ment. Early Spanish cities such as St. Augustine, Los
stretching all the way from Colorado to El Paso Angeles, San Antonio, and Santa Fe began as fron-
coastal California, and the Tucson area after the arrival tier outposts. Similarly, the Dutch settlement of New
of other settlers. Although many of these Mexican- Amsterdam was originally a fur-trading post, and the
American settlers worked in agriculture, significant early French built fur-trading posts that were later
numbers also migrated north to seek employment in to become the cities of Quebec, Montreal, Detroit,
railroad construction and mining. Others moved to St. Louis, and New Orleans. It could probably safely
border cities such as El Paso and San Diego, where be said that more of the area of North America was
they formed some of the first urban ethnic enclaves in explored in search of furs than for any other reason. In
the American West. contrast, most early English-founded cities and towns
In the mid- and late-19th century, the interior of such as Williamsburg, Annapolis, Charleston, Boston,
western parts of Canada continued to evolve and grow Savannah, Toronto, and Baltimore were primarily port
as new river and railroad routes west to the Pacific cities and centers for trade and commerce. Philadelphia
opened. Two massive and competitive commercial was the largest population center in the United States
ventures, the Hudson Bay Company and the North until 1790, but thereafter, all of the earliest large cities
West Company, built outposts all across the prairies in the United States were seaports. These ports not
that eventually extended into the Rockies and beyond. only connected cities to European markets, but they
As mentioned earlier in this chapter, the resolution of also served hinterlands from which commodities
the Oregon boundary dispute in the 1840s resulted in a were collected and to which imports were distributed.
compromise that established the international bound- The expansion and eventual economic dominance
ary between the United States and Canada at the 49th of New York City, for example, was due primarily to
parallel. the opening of the Erie Canal because it increased the
After the U.S. Civil War, Canadians once again be- size of the citys hinterland. Transportation technology
came greatly concerned about the possible takeover and accessibility were also important factors in the
of Canadian land due to the strong belief in manifest economic success or relative failure of towns and cities.
destiny. As a result, the British Parliament passed the Coastal cities that prospered during this early pe-
British North America Act in 1867 that created the riod of seacoast transportation were served by sailing
Dominion of Canada made up of Quebec, Ontario, ships and wagon roads. Then, as canals and railroads
New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The Dominions first linked the Atlantic Coast with the interior in the 1830s
prime minister proposed a national policy to expand through the 1850s, new cities were created and older
Canadian territory, unity, and progress. As a result of settlements such as Buffalo, Cincinnati, Louisville,
this policy, the Canadian transcontinental railroad and and Pittsburgh began to grow. This sail-wagon age
an aggressive immigration effort thereafter helped gave way to the importance of steam power by rail
transform the Canadian prairies and far west, with the and steamboat. St. Louis became the major assembly
Northwest Territories becoming part of Canada in the point and distribution center for those traveling into
late 1860s and the provinces of Manitoba and British lands west of the Mississippi River. Cities such as New
Columbia added a few years later. Other territorial Orleans and Galveston became important points of
expansions occurred in the decades that followed, and entry and exit in the Coastal South.
the still young Dominion of Canada became a huge The role of railroads in the creating the urban land-
nation filled with promise for the future. scape also cannot be overstated. By 1890, most of the
major cities in North America were connected by
a network of rail lines centered on Chicago (in the
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 3.3 United States) and on Toronto (in Canada). Trans-
Prepare a poster that presents two bulleted lists of (1) continental, regional, and local rail lines increasingly
the processes that shaped the settlement of the West in connected river towns, coastal towns, and even more
Canada in the late 19th century as compared to (2) some small agricultural towns with larger industrial centers,
of the factors that shaped westward expansion in the government offices, universities, and entry points from
United States during this same time period. Europe and Asia.
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 63

As the industrial core of the Canadian and the hearth. Today, as in earlier time periods, family con-
American Northeast continued to expand after the nections and social networks both keep people in
1890s, many of the immigrants who had originally place once they settle in certain areas and help draw
settled in rural areas relocated to urban places, drawn them home when they migrate away from these initial
by employment opportunities there. These earlier im- settlement nodes.
migrants from western Europe were joined in large
cities by northern, southern, and eastern Europeans CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 3.4
in the 1880s. Cities such as Boston and San Francisco Speculate on some of the reasons why relatively large
soon became home to large populations of Irish and numbers of African Americans from northern and western
Italian immigrants, while the port cities of the Great U.S. cities such as Chicago, Illinois and Oakland, California,
Lakes (e.g., Hamilton, Ontario, and the American cities have migrated back to the American South in recent years.
of Milwaukee, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago) as well as
Austin and San Antonio in Texas attracted ever larger
populations of Germans. Meanwhile, the Dutch clus-
tered in urban places on both sides of the Canadian- Evolving Immigration
American border near the Great Lakes, while Scandina-
vian immigrants relocated to cities such as Minneapolis
Patterns and Issues
and St. Paul, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; and As discussed earlier in this chapter, North America
Madison, Wisconsin. Between 1890 and 1920, eastern is a land of immigrants. The earliest settlement of
European and Russian immigrants also flocked into the continent by indigenous people from Asia was
cities located in the industrial core such as Chicago, followed many centuries later by the arrival of early
Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cleveland where they found European settlers. Between 1815 and 1860, about
employment in heavy industry. In contrast, many of 5 million new immigrants settled in the United
the Jewish arrivals from the Russian Empire made their Statesmore people than the entire nation had in
homes in midtown Manhattan where they worked in 1790. The largest source area of this wave of immi-
the garment industry, and later, in large cities such as grants was Ireland, followed by Germany, the Scan-
Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, and Los Angeles. dinavian countries, Holland, Switzerland, Scotland,
With the growth of the continents manufacturing Wales, and China.
sector and this ongoing arrival of new immigrants Comparatively, there were only about 3.5 mil-
to work in it, cities grew exponentially by the turn of lion people in Canada after it became a nation in
the 20th century due to ongoing improvements in 1867, with only about 6 percent of the new nations
transportation and communication technologies. Many total population immigrants by the late 19th century.
cities developed mass transit systems, for example, However, because of the importance of immigration
that allowed workers to live further from where they to nation-building and the settlement of vast areas of
worked. Land uses became increasingly more spe- open land, an active campaign was launched to re-
cialized into districts, and larger population densities cruit new immigrants from eastern Europe, Russia,
could be supported. By 1920, more than half of the and other parts of the world in the late 19th and early
population in the United States was urban. 20th centuries. As a result, by 1910, at least 45 percent
The distributions of new immigrants in North of Canada was foreign-born. Most of the immigrants
America remained somewhat fixed by industrial labor who arrived during this time period were from Brit-
needs, at least up to the 1920s. Regional changes that ain, Scotland, Germany, Russia, and China. Table 3.1
did occur were the result of new economic opportu- presents a summary list of the historical settlement of
nities in developing areas. By far the most conspicu- some of Canadas selected immigrant groups. One of
ous change in the distribution of U.S. ethnic and racial the largest groups during this time period came from
groups was the Great Migration of African Americans Scotland (over 5 million Canadians claim Scottish heri-
to the cities of the Midwest, Northeast, and West that tage today). Most initially settled in Nova Scotia (New
began in the 1920s. As is true of patterns for other eth- Scotland), New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Ontario.
nic and racial groups, African-American settlement
patterns have shifted through time in response to
changing political and economic situations. In recent Nativism and the Passage of
years, however, many African Americans living in
northern and western cities such as Oakland, Detroit,
Canadian and U.S. Immigration Laws
and Chicago have begun to return to the South in rel- Early anti-immigrant legislation in both the United
atively large numbers as family ties and the relative States and Canada was imposed in response to large
stability of life in small towns and rural places draw waves of newcomers instead of by planned policy deci-
them back to this original African-American culture sions. The first Chinese Head Tax legislation in Canada,

TABLE 3.1 Historical Settlement of Ethnic and Racial Groups in Canada

Group Dates Major Occupations
Aboriginal people pre1600 Self-contained societies, supporting occupations
French 16091755 Fishing, farming, fur trading
Loyalists and other Americans 1770s on Farming, small business, city jobs
English and Scots mid 1600s on Farming, skilled crafts
Germans and Scandinavians 18301850, 1900s on Farming, mining, city jobs
Irish 1840s on Farming, logging, construction
African Americans 1850s1870s on Farming
Mennonites and Hutterites 1870s1880s Farming
Chinese 1850s on Gold panning, railway work, mining (19th century); urban
settlement, business (20th and 21st centuries)
Jews 18901914 on Factory work, skilled trades, small business
Japanese 18901914 on Logging, service jobs, mining, fishing
East Indians 18901914, 1970s on Logging, service jobs, skilled trades, professions
Ukrainians 18901914, 1940s, 1950s Farming, variety of jobs
Italians 18901914, 1950s, 1960s Railway work, construction, small business, construction,
skilled trades
Poles 19451950 on Skilled trades, factory jobs, mining
Portuguese 1950s1970s on Factory work, construction, service jobs, farming
Greeks 19551975 on Factory work, small business, skilled trades
Hungarians 19561957 on Professions
West Indians 1950s, 1967 on Factory work, skilled trades, professions, service
Latin Americans 1970s on Professions, factory and service jobs
Vietnamese late 1970searly 1980s Variety of occupations
Source: Adapted from E. Herberg, Ethnic Groups in Canada: Adaptations and Transitions. 1989 Nelson Canada, Scarborough, Ontario. Update by
S. W. Hardwick.

for example, was passed in 1885 as a response to the relatively easy for other Asians to be discriminated
increasingly large numbers of Chinese who had come against as well (such as the Japanese who migrated
to help build the Canadian Pacific Railway. More than to the West Coast in smaller numbers in the late 19th
two decades later, the Canadian government passed and early 20th centuries).
the more all-encompassing Chinese Immigration Act. Anti-immigrant sentiment was also expressed
Chinese were forbidden to enter Canada until the Act against those who were accused of being politi-
was repealed in 1947. cal radicals. In 1886, after a bomb exploded during
A rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment also a labor rally in Chicago that killed a policeman and
swept through the United States during this same several onlookers, an event called the Haymarket
period. The Asian Exclusion Act passed in the 1880s Riot erupted and resulted in the hanging of four al-
was directed at Chinese gold miners and railroad leged anarchists who were mostly German-born.
workers. The Chinese were the first immigrant Thereafter, a series of un-American activities, as
group to be legally excluded from the United States. they were called, were blamed on Germans, as well
Anti-Chinese attitudes can be traced to extreme as Slavic, Jewish, and Italian immigrants, especially in
othering and blatant racism; a steep decline in East Coast cities. Negative stereotypes against these
the supply of gold and fertile, inexpensive land; and other groups of workers and businesspeople
frustration with ambitions to get ahead; and fear of often resulted in violence against other groups such
the future. Once the Chinese were excluded, it was as Ukrainian miners, Italian grocers and construction
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 65

workers, and Russian Jews who worked in New York impact on immigration during the past 50 years. But
Citys garment district. this most recent era of immigration has been almost as
These anti-immigrant attitudes, racist beliefs, and large in absolute numbers (though not as a percentage
fears that certain groups were going to take over the of the nations total population) as the massive period
United States culminated in passage of the National of immigration into North America that occurred in the
Origins Quota Acts in 1921 and 1924. This law limited early 20th century.
admission of immigrants from any country to 2percent Migration into Canada and the United States since
of the number already residing in the United States 1980 has been part of a larger global period of immi-
from that country in the year 1890. Since the total num- gration from rural areas to cities and from Third World
ber of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe nations to industrialized nations. Unlike the late 19th
did not surpass the number from western and north- century when recruiters encouraged new immigrants
ern Europe in 1890, this law limited the number of to come to farm the Canadian and American prairies
new immigrants from certain parts of the world and or work in industry in eastern cities, recent arrivals are
favored others. These U.S. immigration laws remained entering the United States and Canada on their own
unchanged until passage of the 1952 Immigration and initiative or as refugees. In addition, the source areas
Nationality Act. The 1952 law continued the quotas of these newest North Americans have also changed.
established by the 1924 legislation, but expanded the Today, the majority of new Canadians and Americans
overall number of refugees allowed admission into the are from Latin America and Asia. More details about
country. Immigration policies changed yet again with the migration experiences, patterns, and cultural im-
passage of the 1965 Immigration Act. This law elimi- pacts of Latin American immigrants are provided in
nated the quota system altogether and abolished dis- Chapter 14.
crimination against Asians. It also opened the doors to These most recent North American immigrants are
admission of a much more diverse pool of new immi- motivated to leave their homelands for North America
grants, including greater numbers of Latin Americans for a variety of reasons. They also come from a wide
beginning in the 1970s. variety of social backgrounds, skills, and education
Changes were also made to Canadian immigration levels. Since the 1980s, for example, along with un-
policies in the 1960s when employment provisions skilled workers have come a large number of profes-
were added for new arrivals and a points system was sional class immigrants. Like other immigrants, these
established that has defined Canadas goals and poli- brain drain immigrants are seeking higher earnings
cies since that time. This law favored family reunifica- and wider economic opportunities. On the other end of
tion policies. No other major changes were made until the economic spectrum, thousands of immigrants and
2002 when the Immigrant and Refugee Act was ap- refugees also continue to migrate to North America in
proved to allow more displaced and persecuted people a desperate attempt to escape poverty, oppression, or
to enter Canada. other cultural, political, or environmental crises in their
Today, Canada admits four categories of immi- homelands.
grants: family class (those closely related to people More documented and undocumented immigrants
who are already residents of Canada); economic im- arrived in North America during the 1990s than dur-
migrants (skilled workers and businesspeople); other ing any other decade on record. Because of the strong
immigrants (e.g., those accepted for humanitarian or economies of both Canada and the United States,
compassionate reasons); and refugees (those who are the newcomers were generally welcomed or at least
escaping persecution, torture, or cruel and unusual tolerated. However, the burst in the technology in-
punishment). The top 10 source areas of immigrants dustry and the mild recession that followed in the
in Canada in 2009 were China, the Philippines, India, late 1990s set off a chain reaction of anti-immigrant
United States, United Kingdom, France, Pakistan, Iran, sentiment in the United States that persists to the
South Korea, and Morocco. present day. These events, followed soon thereafter
by terrorist attacks in 2001 and the subsequent U.S.
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have added to the eco-
Post1980s Immigration: nomic and political challenges caused by the global
NewPatterns, Old Issues recession in more recent years. As a result, some ob-
servers suggest that current levels of fear, anger, and
New immigration legislation approved in the 1960s hostility directed at immigrants are as intense as the
was one reflection of renewed concerns for social jus- anti-immigrant rhetoric that was expressed more
tice in both the United States and Canada. Few people than a century ago.
expected that the abolishment of the old quota systems The spatial patterns of new U.S. immigrants have
in the United States and the establishment of the point also changed during the early years of the 21st cen-
system in Canada, however, would have such a major tury. Historically, immigrant neighborhoods that were

mostly European in origin were located in the down- an earlier era. Similarly, air transport in the late 20th
towns of large immigrant gateway cities such as New and early 21st centuries have made nearly all aspects
York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. These immigrant-rich of life in North America a part of a global system. Some
neighborhoods were often referred to as enclaves, bar- have suggested that the ongoing globalization that
rios, or ghettos. However, the location of immigrant is a direct result of these new technologies will mean
settlement nodes have changed drastically in recent the end of the unique geographic differences among
years owing to economic restructuring, the decentral- people and places. Others argue that technology of-
ization of cities and expansion of suburbs, the advent fers more options to more people. Thus, while the ge-
of new transportation and communication technolo- ographies of local places may continue to change, the
gies, and the higher cost of living downtown compared counterbalancing forces of localization will ensure that
to the suburbs. As a result, new immigrants are now places continue to cling to and maintain their unique
more likely to settle in suburban neighborhoods than identities despite globalization.
in the inner city. Along with these dramatic changes in the trans-
In addition, the majority of todays immigrants are portation sector have come other technological in-
settling in second-tier cities such as Dallas, Texas, or novations in communication systems that are linking
Portland, Oregon, instead of in the traditional immi- the world and its people like never before. The wide-
grant gateways. As Audrey Singer of the Brookings spread dissemination and ever increasing dependence
Institution pointed out recently, although 21st-cen- on the Internet, cell phones, and GPS (global position-
tury suburban gateway cities such as Minneapolis, ing systems), for example, have dramatically changed
Minnesota, and Charlotte, North Carolina, may have both the nature and speed of human connectivity on
been almost entirely native-born in 1970s, these smaller the planet.
and often more peripherally located cities have emerged These technological changes have occurred during
recently as the fastest growing immigrant destinations an equally dramatic period of demographic change
in North America. in North America during the past half century. In-
deed, the major increase in the diversity of Canadas
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 3.5 and the United States populations as a result of im-
Access data provided on the websites of the U.S. Census migration has outpaced all prior time periods. After
Bureau and Statistics Canada to create a table that shows passage of more open and inclusive immigration
(1) the total number of Asians living in the United States laws in the 1960s, more new immigrants have ar-
in the year 2000 and 2010 and (2) the number of Asians rived in ever larger numbers and from more places
in Canada in 2001 and 2006. Then write a two-page than ever before. The foreign-born population in the
paper summarizing the differences that show up on United States surged to 11.3 million or 13 percent of
these two tables. the nations total population by the year 2000, and,
only a few years later, immigrants made up as much
as 15 percent of the nations population. Throughout
Conclusions the past three decades up until the global recession
that began in 2008, astoundingly, about a million new
The peopling of North America has unfolded as a immigrants have been added to the U.S. population
dramatic process of change that began with the ear- each year.
liest years of aboriginal settlement and extends up The recession that began in 2008 has also had an
to the present day. Perhaps the most dramatic era of impact on North American cultural and economic
change ever to sweep the continent occurred dur- systems. One of these effects is a slight downturn in
ing the past 50 years owing to a number of interre- the number of new immigrants flowing into the coun-
lated global processes, including: (1) technological try, especially those moving to cities that boomed
innovations in transportation and communication in recent years such as Phoenix, Riverside and San
systems; and (2) mass migrations from Third World Bernardino in California, and Tampa, Florida. In
nations to the developed world and increasing other places where the recession has had the least ef-
limitations of natural resources. Some of the changes fect, such as Austin and Houston, Texas and Seattle,
that these high-tech innovations, resource limita- there has been a continuing increase in the number of
tions and mass migration have precipitated in North new immigrants each year during the past decade. It
America are discussed here. will be interesting to compare the immigration trends
Ongoing technological changes in the transporta- and numbers in Canada during and after the reces-
tion sector continue to make human mobility more sion when the results of the next Canadian census
possible. The interstate highway system built from are released in 2012. At this point in time, we predict
the 1950s into the 21st century, greatly reduced travel that the large inflow of Canadian immigrants from
times for people and products, as did the railroads of China and other parts of the world will continue in
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 67

the coming years. This prediction is based on two continue to define and defend the unique identities
factors: (1) the lesser impact of the global recession of peoples and places. How might the maintenance
on Canadas economy than in the United States and of place-based cultures and economic systems be ac-
other immigrant-receiving nations; and (2) Canadas complished? A few examples of ways to increase pro-
strong support of multiculturalism, universal health ductive linkages between global and local forces in
care, and integration policies in support of newly your local community include (1) working on a his-
arriving immigrants and refugees. toric preservation project in your city or neighbor-
In the United States, despite the impacts of the hood; (2) supporting a local urban farming initiative;
recession, new data tabulated from the 2010 U.S. and (3) participating in a heritage tourism festival to
Census of Population revealed that the nations eth- celebrate the ethnic and racial diversity of your city,
nic and racial diversity has increased almost every- region, state, or province.
where during the past decade. An analysis of census The impacts of issues such as global climate change
tabulations revealed that the widely used Diversity and increases in the prices of fuels, foods, building ma-
Index increased from a score of 40 in 1990, 49 in terials, and other retail goods are directly related to
2000, and an all-time high of 55 in 2010 in the United labor costs and the supply of global resources. Through-
States. This index measures the probability that two out North America, a new sensitivity to living green
people chosen randomly are from different races or is emerging. As a result, more people are addressing
ethnicities. some of these issues, and future geographic patterns of
As these figures indicate, North American society movement, settlement, employment, land use, and re-
is continuing to become more diverse each year. It source conservation and will become increasingly sig-
is likely that this trend will continue in the years to nificant in the years to come.
come with the arrival of more and more new immi- It is appropriate to end this discussion of the pro-
grants and refugees. At the same time, North Ameri- cesses that have shaped North American culture and
cans also are becoming ever more interconnected society by introducing Chapter 4, which deals with
with each other, with their local community, and with political and economic issues in North America from
the rest of the world. Although these layers of inter- a geographic perspective. Following this next chapter
connections may increase the homogenizing impact on political economy, we then turn our attention to a
of globalization on local and regional landscapes, geographic analysis of each region of North America in
we predict that the counter forces of localization will the chapters that follow.

Review Questions
1. What were some of the tensions that existed 6. How do the events that unfolded during and
between the British and French during the colo- after the Haymarket Riot in Chicago illustrate the
nial era? power of nativism in the United States?

2. How did the construction of the transcontinental 7. What is the theory of first effective settlement and
railroad and the expansion of the highway system how does it help to explain the residual impacts
in the United States influence the settlement of the of the English settlers at Jamestown and Massa-
West? chusetts Bay Colony on North American cultural
3. Why is the density of settlement different on the
western side of the 100th meridian as compared to 8. What were the differences between early Spanish
the eastern side of this imaginary line of demarca- colonias, pueblos, villas, and ranchos in the Southwest?
tion in North America?
9. What were some of the reasons why the Russian
4. What were the outcomes of the Chinese Exclusion government decided to sell all of its North Ameri-
Act in the United States and the Chinese Head Tax can territory to the United States in the 1840s?
in Canada in the 1880s?
10. What is a culture hearthand how and why did
5. What were some of the impacts of manifest des- the colonial-era New England culture hearth dif-
tiny on territorial expansion in the United States fer from the Pennsylvania culture hearth?
over the years?

Group Activities
1. Your group has been invited to participate in a 2. Work with your group to make a list of the ways
national debate on the settlement of the United that the territorial expansion of the United States
States in Washington, D.C., at the headquarters of from a relatively small nation of only 13 colonies
the National Geographic Society. To win this de- up to the addition of the new states of Hawaii
bate, you must convince the judges of the follow- and Alaska illustrates the long-term impacts of
ing argument: imperialism and manifest destiny.

It would have been much easier for the Chinese to 3. Collaborate with a group or a partner to propose
settle the Pacific Coast of North America than it was a new ethnic heritage tourism site in Canada or the
for the British to settle the Atlantic Coast during the United States.
colonial era.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Billington, Ray Allen, and Richard Overton. 2001. Westward Hornsby, Stephen J. 2005. British Atlantic, American Frontier.
Expansion: A History of the American Frontier, 6th ed. New Spaces of Power in Early Modern British America. Hanover,
York: MacMillan Company. NH: University Press of New England.
A historian looks at the emerging western frontier from a A comparative and transnational perspective on the devel-
geographic perspective. opment of British America in the 17th and 18th centuries,
including a provocative argument that extreme differences
Boorstin, Daniel J. 1983. The Discoverers. New York: Random
existed between the American eastern seaboard and the
Atlantic regions of eastern Canada and the West Indies.
Popular book that captures the excitement, challenges, and
exploitation of the age of exploration. Hudson, John C. 2002. Across This Land: A Regional Geography
of the United States and Canada. Baltimore, MD: Johns
Brown, Ralph H. 1948. Historical Geography of the United Hopkins University Press.
States. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.
A thorough in-depth historical geography of the United
A classic among historical geographers and others inter- States focusing on distinctive regions of the country and
ested in understanding the historical settlement and devel- their comparative lands and peoples.
opment of the United States up to the early 20th century.
Jordan, Terry, and Matti Kaups. 1989. The American Backwoods
Conzen, Michael P., ed. 2010. The Making of the American Frontier: The Ethnic and Ecological Interpretation. Baltimore,
Landscape. New York; Routledge. MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
An edited volume filled with ideas for understanding the A fascinating look at the cultures and landscapes of the
key processes that shaped the cultural landscapes of the backwoods in the United States that includes a new
United States through time. take on the development of log-building styles on the
Conzen, Michael P., Thomas A. Rumney, and Graeme American frontier.
Wynn. 1993. A Scholars Guide to Geographical Writing on Kerr, Donald, and Gordon Grady, eds. 1966. A Historical Atlas
the American and Canadian Pasts. Chicago: University of of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Chicago Press.
Cartographic analysis of the historical evolution of Canada
A comprehensive book that provides citations of more than in the 19th and 20th centuries.
10,000 books, articles, and dissertations on the historical
geography of North America. Meinig, D. W. 1986. The Shaping of America: A Geographical
Perspective on 500 Years of History, Vol. 1, Atlantic America,
Fisher, Ron, ed. 2004. National Geographic Historical Atlas of 14921800; Vol. 2, The Shaping of America: A Geographical
the United States. Washington, DC: National Geographic Perspective on 500 Years of History: Continental America,
Society. 18001867 (1993); Vol. 3, The Shaping of America: A Geo-
Harris, Cole. 2001. France in North America. In Thomas graphical Perspective on 500 Years of History: Transcontinental
F. McIlwraith and Edward K. Muller, eds., North America: America, 18501915; Vol. 4, TheShaping of America: A Geo-
The Historical Geography of a Changing Continent, pp. 7588. graphical Perspective on 500Years of History: Global America,
Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. 19152000. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

A book that provides information about French migration Four comprehensive volumes that analyze the key pro-
and settlement patterns and subsequent landscape expres- cesses that have shaped North America based on a world
sions in early North America. systems perspective.
CHAPTER 3 Historical Settlement of North America 69

Mitchell, Robert D. 2001. The Colonial Origins of Anglo- Ward, David, ed. 1979. Geographic Perspectives on Americas
America. In Thomas F. McIlwraith and Edward K. Past. New York: Oxford University Press.
Muller, eds., North America: The Historical Geography of a A concise but rich discussion of the historical geography of
Changing Continent, pp. 89118. Lanham, MD: Rowman the United States.
and Littlefield.
Zelinsky, Wilbur. 1973. rev. 1992. The Cultural Geography of the
A foundational explanation for understanding Anglo culture
United States. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
and settlement patterns to help clarify the underpinnings of
much of todays North American landscapes. Classic book describing and analyzing the origins, patterns,
and expressions of diversity within American culture in
Sauer, Carl Ortwin. 1971. Sixteenth Century North America: comparative regions and places.
The Land and People as Seen by Europeans. Berkeley: Univer-
sity of California Press.
A view of Canada and the United States before repeated
European contacts caused everything to change.

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News RSS feeds, glossary flashcards, self-study quizzes, web links, and other resources
to enhance your study of Historical Settlement of North America.
4 The North
American Political
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Identify and explain the defend its usefulness as on the technological to the economies of both
differences between a more inclusive concept treadmill. Canada and the United
primary production, for understanding North
Defend the reason States.
secondary production,
tertiary production, and
Americas economic and
political systems.
why both Canada and Analyze some of the
the United States are primary economic impacts
quaternary production in
the North American context.
Construct a model federal states when the of the postindustrial era on
that shows how the governmental systems of U.S. Rust Belt cities located
Define the meaning of economies of two or these two countries differ on the Great Lakes, such as
a citys economic base more places in the from one another in so Cleveland and Detroit.
and list two examples United States are highly many other ways.
List some of the reasons
of North American cities
whose economic base is
interdependent, with
each filling specialized but
Differentiate between the why the defenders of the
impacts of globalization North American Free Trade
particularly well known interrelated roles in the and economic develop- Agreement (NAFTA) argued
and closely associated with larger economic system. ment that occur at a more that it would greatly
the identity of the city (e.g.
Sudbury, Akron, Detroit).
Explain why farmers who local or regional scale. benefit the health of the
are attempting to grow
Identify at least two types U.S. economy in the 1990s
Explain the meaning of the crops on marginal land of primary production that and beyond.
term political economy and often find themselves have long been important

Las Vegas continued to be the fastest growing major metropolitan area per capita
in the U.S., adding 41.8 % to its population between 2000 and 2010. But the Las
Vegas margin was very thin. . . . If Raleigh [NC] had added just 10 more people, it
would have been the leader.
(Joel Kotkin, 2009)

uring the past 400 years, the United States and themes developed in this chapter will then be reinforced
Canada have evolved into the wealthiest and most in our discussion of specific regions of North America
productive economies in recorded history. During presented in subsequent chapters. All have an impact on
this period, North Americans have created a unique polit- the Canadian and American people.
ical economy, or set of economic and political institutions
governing the production, distribution, and consumption
of goods and services. In this chapter, we examine the
contemporary political economy of North America, focus- The Contemporary North
ing on its development into a global economic and politi-
cal power over the course of the past four centuries. We
American Economy
examine the North American economic system, political The evolving political economy of North America re-
system, and urban structure in order to provide an over- flects not only changes in science, technology, resource
view of the North American political economy today. management, and culture but also changing relation-
Analysis of the North American political economy ships between North America and other parts of the
must be undertaken recognizing that there are close world. The United States and Canada were European
linkages between the continents political economy and colonies throughout most of the 17th and 18th centu-
its physical environment (as discussed in Chapter 2) and ries. During the 19th century, the political and economic
its cultural evolution (as discussed in Chapter 3). The power of the United States and Canada increased

Political geography on the Landscape. The Peace Bridge is an international connection between Canada and
the United States at the east end of Lake Erie on the Niagara River above Niagara Falls. It connects the city of 71
Buffalo, New York with the town of Fort Erie, Ontario.

steadily. By the end of World War II, the United States finished products comprise the tertiary sector. Occupa-
was the leading political power in the world. tions in the tertiary sector include merchants, grocers,
automobile dealers, physicians, attorneys, mechanics,
and salespeople. The quaternary sector includes those
Economic Base and activities associated with management, planning, tech-
Economic Sectors nology, research, and development. Communication,
financial services, scientific research, education, and
The economic base of a community is that set of eco- government activity are also included in the quater-
nomic activities the community relies on in order to nary sector.
generate income from elsewhere. For example, the au- Understanding economic sectors is a key to under-
tomotive industry has historically been the economic standing any regions economy and its geographical
base of Detroit; government is the major economic base linkages with other places. Comparing the relative size
of Washington, D.C.; and the entertainment and aero- and importance of the four sectors provides a rough
space industries contribute heavily to the economic measure of an economys level of development. Gener-
base of Los Angeles. The concept of an economic base ally speaking, more developed economies are charac-
is no less important to smaller communities; thus we terized by larger and stronger tertiary and quaternary
associate Battle Creek, Michigan, with breakfast cereal; sectors. In North America, over 85 percent of all work-
Akron, Ohio, with tires and rubber products; and ers are employed in the tertiary and quaternary sectors,
Sudbury, Ontario, with nickel mining. New York City while the primary and secondary sectors are relatively
and Los Angeles are usually recognized as the centers small. In less developed countries, on the other hand,
of the entertainment industry. Frequently, the economic the percentage of persons employed in primary- and
base of a community is reflected in local and regional secondary-sector occupations is considerably higher.
cultures. Detroit, for example, is often called the Motor The relative importance of the tertiary and quater-
City or Motown, reflecting its history as a center for nary sectors tends to increase over time as an economy
automobile production. Likewise, Los Angeles is some- develops. In North America, the percentage of persons
times called Tinseltown. The Midland-Odessa region employed in agriculture has declined steadily since
of West Texas is sometimes called the Petroplex, re- 1900, and the percentage of persons employed in man-
flecting the importance there of the oil industry. Other ufacturing has declined steadily since the 1950s. The
places use the term silicon in its name to demote a pres- history of the 20th-century North American economy
ence of the electronics industry such as Californias has been one of steady expansion of the tertiary and
Silicon Valley, Portland, Oregons Silicon Forest, quaternary sectors relative to the primary and second-
and the Silicon Hills of Austin, Texas. ary sectors. Strong evidence indicates that this trend
Within any community, basic employment generates will continue into the future.
nonbasic employment. Nonbasic employees provide
goods and services to employees in the basic indus-
tries of a community. For example, teachers, retailers,
and physicians in the Ottawa area provide services to The Primary Sector
the families of persons who work for the Canadian Prior to 1900, the United States and Canada were pri-
government. The political economy of any society, in- marily agricultural societies. Well over 90 percent of
cluding North America, is comprised of places with Americans earned their livings by farming or agricultural
different economic bases and the relationships among labor (including slave labor) at the time of American in-
these places, as well as between that society and the dependence in 1776. Today, barely 1 percent of North
rest of the world. Americans earn a living by farming. Even in farming
Economists and geographers divide regional econ- states and provinces such as Iowa, North Dakota, and
omies into four sectors: primary, secondary, tertiary, Saskatchewan, only small minorities of the population
and quaternary. Each of these four sectors represents are actually employed in agriculture.
a different stage of production. The primary sector of Despite continued declines in the number of farm-
any countrys economy includes activities associated ers, North America is often called the worlds bread-
with the identification and extraction of raw materials. basket. In 2003, Canada and the United States together
Agriculture, forestry, mining, and fishing are important produced more than 88 million metric tons of wheat,
primary-sector occupations. The secondary sector or 15 percent of the worlds total. The United States
includes activities associated with the transformation alone produced over 256 million metric tons of corn, or
of raw materials into finished products. Thus the about 40 percent of the worlds total. Vast quantities of
secondary sector is often called the manufacturing or food and food products are exported from the United
industrial sector. States and Canada throughout the world. In 2010, for
Once a product is manufactured, it must then be example, the United States exported nearly 30 million
distributed to the consumer and subsequently serviced metric tons of wheat. These exports were valued at
and maintained. The distribution and servicing of nearly $9 trillion. North America has become the most
FIGURE 4.1 Corn production in the Great Lakes Corn
Belt region, for human consumption and other uses
such as animal feed or auto fuel.

productive food-producing region in the world despite farming across North America. In areas most highly
dramatic declines in the overall number of farmers. suitable for crop production, such as the Corn Belt and
Why has the productivity of individual farms in- the Great Plains, the percentage of land under cultiva-
creased so dramatically, while the number of people tion has not declined very much in recent years. In other
employed in agriculture continues to decline? To a con- areas, such as parts of New England and the South, ag-
siderable extent, the increased productivity of North riculture has all but disappeared. Despite the declining
American agriculture is the result of technology. Fer- number of farms and farmers, agriculture continues to
tilizers, pesticides, improved tillage and crop rotation play an important role in the economies of many areas
practices, new crop varieties, and hybrids have gener- of the United States and Canada (see Figure 4.1).
ated per-acre yields undreamed of a century ago. While Within North America, there are several distinct
technological improvement has caused great increases agricultural regions, each of which is oriented to a
in the per-acre productivity of North American agricul- different type of agricultural production. Two factors
ture, the continued introduction of new technology has underlie the distinction between these various forms of
placed economic stress on large numbers of individual agricultural production. First, farmers in some regions
farmers. specialize in crop production, whereas those in other
A farmers profit is determined by the difference be- regions specialize in livestock production. Second, the
tween the cost of producing a crop and the price that outputs of some commercial farms are sold directly to
the farmer receives by selling it. In order to increase consumers, while other farmers sell crops and livestock
profit, farmers invest in new technologies that increase to food-processing companies.
per-acre yields or decrease the per-acre cost of produc- Farmers who sell grain crops directly are known
tion. However, increasing yields cause an increase in as cash-grain farmers. Corn, wheat, soybeans, and
the overall crop supply, and increased supply depresses other commodities are produced on cash-grain farms.
prices. To maintain profit margins in the face of lower Cash-grain farming is practiced in several areas of the
profits, the farmer must continue to increase production. Middle West. East-central Illinois and north-central
Further increases in production require theadoption of Iowa specialize in cash-grain production of corn and
additional technology. Thus technology improves pro- soybeans, while cash-grain production of wheat is
ductivity while lowering prices. This in turn generates common in the Great Plains. Cash-grain farming
incentives to develop more technology, and the process ishighly capital-intensive, and labor requirements are
repeats itself. minimal. Many North American cash-grain farmers
This process is sometimes called the technological in fact spend the winter months in Sun Belt locations
treadmill. The technological treadmill forces farmers such as Florida and Arizona. Other commercial farm-
who are unable to keep up with technological advances ers specialize in the production of fruits and vegeta-
out of production. In marginal agricultural areas, their bles. Production of carrots, grapes, citrus fruits, and
farms may be abandoned or converted to other land many other fruits and vegetables that are intolerant
uses. In profitable areas, farmers who have been driven of frost has made California, whose Mediterranean
out of production usually sell or rent their land to more climate is characterized by usually frost-free winters,
successful neighbors. Thus the number of farms de- into the leading agricultural state in the United States.
creases, while the size of the average farm increases and California is the United States leading agricultural
production becomes concentrated on the most profit- state. The Central Valley of California, which extends
able land. The effects of the technological treadmill from Redding north of Sacramento, south and east
are evident in examining the changing distribution of to Bakersfield, is the most important agricultural

region of California. Huge quantities of fruits, veg- production, but most of the profits come from the sale
etables, and grain crops are produced in the Central of livestock. In North America, about 60 percent of
Valley every year. However, this production has been grain produced is used for livestock feed. About 5 per-
dependent on massive changes to the environment, cent is used to produce ethanol, starches, corn syrup,
including rearranging water systems, heavy reliance sugars, and industrial products. Thus only about a third
on pesticides and fertilizers, and soil depletion. Many of the grain produced in North America is consumed
critics have argued that agribusiness in the Central directly by people.
Valley, as in other areas dependent on large-scale Farmers living near large urban areas sometimes
technological inputs to production, may no longer be specialize in fruit and vegetable production as well.
sustainable. Florida, the Pacific Northwest, and the These farmers typically sell their products to individ-
Great Lakes region are also known for the production ual consumers at roadside stands or farmers markets,
of various types of fruits and vegetables. or to supermarkets and other retail outlets. These op-
Some farmers specialize in the production of live- erations are often called truck farms because farmers
stock or animal products. Many dairy farms are located may use pickups or other small trucks to transport
near large cities. Milk is sold to dairies, which process their produce to consumers. Truck farms are often
the milk and distribute it to supermarkets and other small and cultivated intensively to maximize produc-
retail outlets. Because fluid milk is bulky and perishable, tion efficiency. In areas where land values are high,
it is generally produced in areas near where it is con- some truck farms are located in unlikely areas. For ex-
sumed. Those dairy farmers living at greater distances ample, commercial flowers, fruits, and vegetables are
from their markets typically sell milk to producers of grown on small plots underneath power lines in the
butter, cheese, and other less perishable products. Four densely populated Los Angeles Basin.
major dairy-producing areas in eastern North America Many of these local operations now specialize in pro-
are northern New England and southern Quebec; the ducing organically grown fruits, vegetables, and other
valleys of central Pennsylvania and western Maryland; crops. Consumer interest in organic crops is often mo-
upstate New York; and southern Ontario and Wisconsin tivated by concerns about health and about protecting
and neighboring states. All are located near major urban the environment where these crops are produced. Many
areas, and in each case cool summers and short growing consumers and producers of organic crops are highly
seasons prevent the profitable cultivation of corn, which critical of large-scale commercial agriculture because
requires longer, warmer summers. of its reliance on environmentally degrading fertilizers,
Ranches specialize in the commercial production of pesticides, and genetically modified crops. In fact, more
cattle, sheep, and other livestock. Livestock ranching than 7 percent of all farming operations in Vermont spe-
is typically practiced in areas where the climate is too cialize in organic crops. Many of these organic crops
dry for crop production. Ranching is a prevalent form are sold at local farmers markets, which have become
of agriculture in much of the dry western portion of very popular in and around most North American cit-
North America (see Figure 4.2). ies. Although the impact of small-scale truck farms and
Many commercial farmers produce both crops and organic farm operations is small relative to the overall
livestock. These operations are called mixed farms. North American agricultural economy, over the past
Corn and other grains produced on mixed farms are two decades the overall average farm size in the United
fed to cattle, hogs, and other animals that are marketed States has declined slightly because of the increasing
commercially. Most of the land is devoted to grain number of these local farm enterprises.

FIGURE 4.2 Cattle ranch near the Bitterroot

Mountains, Montana.
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 75

Other primary-sector activities include min- to other areas has occurred in response to changes in
ing, fishing, and logging. Although the number of the relative cost of production and distribution in dif-
people involved in these activities is small, they re- ferent areas. For example, the availability of cheaper
main important components of the economic bases labor was an important factor underlying large-scale
of some places. Historically, mining was a critical movement of textile production from New England
component of the economic base of many commu- to the Southeast.
nities in the Rocky Mountain region (as discussed Contemporary North America produces a stagger-
in more detail in Chapter 12) and the Intermontane ing variety of manufactured goods. As in the case of
West (see Chapter 13). Coal mining remains impor- agriculture, however, we can identify several distinc-
tant to the economies of Kentucky, West Virginia, and tive types of manufacturing. Each type has distinctive
Pennsylvania as well as in Wyoming, which produces locational attributes, and therefore different types are
more than a third of all U.S. coal. Petroleum and natu- predominant in different regions of North America.
ral gas production is important along the Gulf Coast, The production of durable goods, or heavy in-
in the Great Plains, and in parts of northern Canada dustry, is most associated with the traditional Manu-
and Alaska. Logging is an important commercial ac- facturing Belt. This type of manufacturing includes
tivity in northern Maine, eastern Canada, the Pacific the production of automobiles, aircraft, heavy machin-
Northwest, and parts of the South. Commercial fish- ery, appliances, and other large manufactured goods.
ing continues to provide livelihoods for many people Many of these machines are in turn used to produce
in coastal areas of both the United States and Canada. other goods, while others such as trucks and automo-
Indeed, concerns about overfishing have prompted biles are used directly by consumers. Cities through-
the Canadian and American governments to curtail out the Manufacturing Belt are known for production
commercial fishing in the North Atlantic off the coast of particular durable goods. Well-known examples
of Newfoundland and other places in the Atlantic include production of automobiles in Detroit, steel in
Periphery (see Chapter 5), with significant conse- Pittsburgh, and tires and rubber products in Akron
quences for local residents. (see Figure 8.6). Some newer points of auto assembly
are Georgetown, Kentucky; Smyrna, Tennessee; and
Canton, Mississippi; plants in these locations manufac-
ture foreign cars such as Toyota and Honda. Areas
The Secondary Sector along the fringes of the Manufacturing Belt are more
The secondary sector of the economy encompasses oriented to lighter forms of industry. New England has
manufacturing and industry. In recent years, the rela- long been known as a center for industrial innovation.
tive importance of this sector has declined across North Food processing also is concentrated on the fringes of
America. Nevertheless, North America remains one of the Manufacturing Belt. Many food-processing firms
the most productive industrial regions of the contem- are also located near zones of agricultural production.
porary world. Examples of such firms include Purina Animal Foods
The significance of manufacturing to the econ- in Gray Summit, Missouri, Quaker Oats in Cedar
omy varies widely across North America. The North Rapids, Iowa, and Kellogg and Post Cereals in Battle
American Manufacturing Belt contains the most con- Creek, Michigan (see Figure 4.3).
centrated area of manufacturing on the continent.
This region extends from southern New England
westward to the Great Lakes and includes such man- FIGURE 4.3 The Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, Michigan.
ufacturing centers as New York, Toronto, Cleveland,
Detroit, and Chicago. It emerged as one of the lead-
ing manufacturing regions of the world in the 19th
century. Today it remains one of the great manufac-
turing areas of the world, although production has
declined in many of these places. The decline and
abandonment of manufacturing has led to the Man-
ufacturing Belts frequent designation as the Rust
Belt (see Chapter 8).
Although much North American industry remains
concentrated in the Manufacturing Belt, an increas-
ing proportion of industry in Canada and the United
States is taking place outside the traditional indus-
trial core of North America. Significant industrializa-
tion has taken place in the Southeast, along the West
Coast, and in other areas. To a considerable extent,
movement of industry from the Manufacturing Belt
FIGURE 4.4 Nike sportsware manufacturing plant in

In the contemporary world, a large number of man- America, a major raison detre for small urban commu-
ufacturing firms are multilocational. Such firms main- nities and towns was the provision of services to local
tain production facilities in different communities. farmers and rural residents. The service sector gener-
Many are transnational, with production facilities in ally consisted of nonbasic employees whose income
many different countries. Because the cost structure was generated indirectly from the basic economic
of different attributes of the production process dif- activities associated with the communities in which
fers from one aspect of production to another, multi- they lived and worked.
locational firms can save money in different aspects of The increasing dominance of tertiary-sector em-
production. For example, the actual work of manufac- ployment in the 20th century was accompanied by
turing is more labor-intensive than is the research and a shift from individual entrepreneurship to multi-
development that goes into turning out new products. locational, corporate service provision. Many retail
Thus actual production plants are located in areas enterprises are still owned by individual operators or
where labor is cheap, while other factors determine families, but a large majority of retail sales in North
the location of corporate headquarters. Nike Shoes, America today are recorded at outlets of large retail
for example, is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, shopping chains. Corporations such as Wal-Mart,
but most of the actual manufacturing occurs in China, K-mart, and Dayton Hudson (Target) maintain
Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and other countries thousands of large (Big Box) department stores in
(Figure 4.4). communities throughout the United States, Canada,

The Tertiary Sector

FIGURE 4.5 Health care is a large and growing tertiary sector
As we have seen, a very important component of
the development of the North American political
economy in the 20th century has been the shift in
employment from the primary and secondary to the
tertiary and quaternary sectors. Tertiary-sector or
service-sector employment comprises such activities
as personal services, including health care and retail-
ing (see Figure 4.5).
Historically, such employment was distributed
relatively evenly across North America relative to the
overall distribution of population. Most services were
provided by individual entrepreneurs and small firms
with predominantly local clienteles. Every small com-
munity had its own locally owned bank, hotel, grocery
store, dry-goods store, and other retail enterprises
whose customers were generally local residents and
nearby farmers. Physicians, dentists, lawyers, barbers,
and other tradespersons provided various personal
services to local inhabitants as well. Especially outside
the large manufacturing cities of northeastern North
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 77

and elsewhere. Most of these large stores are located opportunity to take long-distance trips. With these
in the suburbs or other places outside central cit- opportunities, the number of recreational travel-
ies because of their space requirements and because ers has increased dramatically over the past several
of the increasing number of potential customers in decades. In many parts of North America, tourism
suburban areas. In addition, large corporations domi- became a major contributor to the local economy.
nate retail markets for various specialty itemssuch as Many different types of places have emerged as
True-Value, Ace, Home Depot, and Lowes in hard- tourist destinations. Gambling (usually called gam-
ware; Albertsons and Safeway in groceries; Eckerd ing) became a focus of tourism in Las Vegas, Atlantic
and Walgreens in pharmacies; and many others. City, and more recently in small communities such
Corporate management has also pervaded the provi- as Tunica, Mississippi (Figure 4.7).
sion of many personal services, as is evident to anyone Other communities have built amusement parks in
eating at McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken, order to attract tourists. A prime example, of course,
drinking coffee at Starbucks, getting a haircut at Su- is Orlando, where Walt Disney World has become one
percuts, buying eyeglasses at PearleVision, or staying of the worlds most popular tourist attractions and
overnight in a Motel 6 or Holiday Inn. where numerous other theme parks and tourist sites
The growth of large retail outlets in the provision have been developed. Other places have emerged
of goods and personal services has allowed certain as tourist destinations because of the availability of
communities to specialize in the tertiary sector. For spectacular natural environments, history and culture,
example, Wal-Marts emergence as the worlds larg- or popular recreational activities. Areas near national
est retailer has created hundreds of jobs in and near its parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Banff have
Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, making north- prospered because of the millions of tourists who visit
west Arkansas one of North Americas leading centers these parks each year. Cities such as Washington, New
for retail-based employment. In northwest Arkansas, York, Boston, and Montreal draw millions of tour-
therefore, retailing has become a basic rather than a ists to visit landmarks and museums associated with
nonbasic activity. North American history. Ski resorts such as Aspen
Another major component of growth in the ter- and Vail, Colorado, and beach resorts such as Myrtle
tiary sector has been the development of tourism and Beach, South Carolina, and Destin, Florida, are also
the tourism industry (see Figure 4.6). In 1900, few very popular among tourists and provide economic
North Americans had the time or money to travel bases to these communities.
very far from home. Only the wealthy had sufficient Ironically, retailing has itself become an important
leisure or sufficient income to take pleasure trips. locus for tourist activity. The Mall of America outside
By the 1950s, tourist travel had become much more Minneapolis is one of the Upper Middle Wests leading
common among middle-class North Americans. tourist attractions. Factory outlet malls, many of which
Most North Americans held nonfarm jobs, and by are located outside major metropolitan centers, have
the end of World War II, most employers granted become popular tourist destinations as well. The fac-
paid vacation time to their employees. Moreover, tory outlet mall near San Marcos, Texas, is that states
the mass diffusion of the automobile gave people the fourth leading tourist attraction.

FIGURE 4.6 A remote eco-tourism based

fishing resort at Aleknagik, Alaska.
FIGURE 4.7 The Las Vegas strip.

The Quaternary Sector of these funds were spent on military bases. In the
United States, the lions share of military installations
The quaternary sector includes government, financial has been located in the South and in the Sun Belt. The
services, research and development, education, jour- concentration of military bases in the South is due to
nalism and the media, and similar activities. Unlike a number of factors, including the influence of pow-
tertiary-sector employment, quaternary-sector em- erful Southerners in Congress (the Souths culture is
ployment has long been concentrated in relatively more favorably disposed to military activity as a way
few places. Government functions are concentrated of life than other parts of the country) and the presence
in Washington and Ottawa at the federal level, in of infrastructure supporting military needs. Military
state and provincial capitals, and in county seats. The base communities generate substantial levels of civil-
growth of government activity during the 20th cen- ian employment. For example, Tinker Air Force Base
tury has created economic booms in Washington and outside Oklahoma City is Oklahomas largest single-
Ottawa as well as in many state capitals. site civilian employer (see Figure 4.8). In addition, the
Of course, not all government expenditures are con- presence of military personnel and civilian employers
centrated in state capitals. Especially during and after generates substantial demand for teachers, physicians,
World War II, military and defense spending formed merchants, and other nonbasic employees.
a significant component of federal spending in the Financial services including banking, insurance,
United States and to a lesser extent in Canada. Much business development, and investing are also important

FIGURE 4.8 Base exchange at Tinker Air

Force Base demonstrates the importance of
employment and economic development to
local populations.

FIGURE 4.9 New York Citys lower Manhattan
is the largest of several financial centers with
corporate headquarters throughout North

components of the quaternary sector. Throughout Why have areas such as Seattle, Boston, and Aus-
the 19th and 20th centuries New York served as the tin been so successful in attracting these tertiary- and
financial hub of both the United States and Canada, but quaternary-sector activities? Historically, manufactur-
the 21st century brought the financial services industry ing operations were located at places that were conve-
to many other cities such as Chicago, San Francisco, nient to the locations of their raw materials and their
Toronto, and Los Angeles (Figure 4.9). markets. For example, the North American steel in-
Since financial services is a footloose industry, many dustry was centered in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Chi-
suburbs of major cities as well as many smaller cities cago, and Hamilton, Ontario. These cities were chosen
now have a significant number of employees working for steel production because they are relatively close
in that sector of the economy. to both of the two major raw materials that go into
Many companies maintain extensive research and steel production: iron from Minnesota and Michigan
development (R&D) operations, which are often located and coal from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ken-
near corporate headquarters. R&D activity is especially tucky. Moreover, they were easily accessible by water
critical to the development of high-technology industry, or railroad to major markets for steel. Both native-born
and areas like Californias Silicon Valley and Austins and immigrant workers flocked to these and other in-
Silicon Hills are well known for the importance of R&D dustrial communities in order to obtain jobs, but the
to local economic bases. Rochester, Minnesotas Mayo locations of the jobs were determined by the locations
Clinic has long been recognized as an important center of the raw materials and the markets, not by the pref-
for medical research. erences of the workers.
High-technology industries have been especially In the tertiary and quaternary sectors, however,
prevalent in areas near major research universities. the costs associated with obtaining raw materials and
Some, such as Apple and Dell Computers, were shipping finished products are minimal and in some
founded by university students and later expanded into cases nonexistent. Almost all of the cost of produc-
major corporations. The Silicon Valley of California is tion is associated with labor costs. Moreover, much of
located in easy proximity to the University of California the work is done by highly educated professionals as
at Berkeley and Stanford University in Palo Alto. opposed to blue-collar workers. Hence much more at-
Other major high-tech centers include the Boston area tention is paid to locating these activities in places that
(Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technol- are attractive to their educated workforces. Economic
ogy), Seattle (University of Washington), and Austin activities whose locations are not dependent on raw
(University of Texas). In some cases, very specialized materials, transportation costs, or large labor forces
high-tech firms arise near universities well known for are called footloose activities. Such activities can lo-
associated research in particular areas. For example, cate anywhere, and locations are often chosen because
Norman, Oklahoma, home of the National Weather of their perceived attractiveness to entrepreneurs and
Center and the National Severe Storms Laboratory, has their highly skilled employees. Some examples are
become the headquarters for companies that under- the Charlotte-Atlanta corridor, the Texas triangle of
take meteorological research, process weather-related Houston, AustinSan Antonio, and Dallas, southern
data, or manufacture meteorological instruments. Se- Floridas Tampa, Orlando, Miami area, the Denver
attle houses the western headquarters for the National Boulder area, New England, Toronto, and the Pacific
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAAs) Northwests Cascadia area of Portland, Seattle,
research facilities. Vancouver and points between them. All of these areas

have a combination of attractive physical environ-

ments, abundant cultural and outdoor recreational ac-
tivities, and highly educated and diverse populations.
The relative attractiveness and popularity of places
change over time. For example, Californias Silicon Val-
ley south and east of San Francisco was one of the first
centers for high technology in the United States. Dur-
ing the 1980s and 1990s, numerous high-technology
firms sprang up in the region and attracted thousands
of scientists, engineers, and other highly skilled em-
ployees. San Jose, at the center of Silicon Valley, grew
from less than 100,000 residents in 1950 to become the
tenth largest U.S. city by 2000. Today Silicon Valley has
become much less attractive to high-technology pro-
fessionals in large part because of its very high hous-
ing costs. Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are finding
it more and more difficult to recruit and retain their
employees, whereas competitors in places such as
Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Austin advertise their
much lower housing prices to persuade these employ-
ees to leave Silicon Valley and move to these cities.
Over the course of the 20th century, the role of for-
mal education in North American culture and society
has increased dramatically. In 1900, only a small mi-
nority of persons in North America graduated from
high school or attended college. The large majority of
persons left school as teenagers and entered the labor
force. During the early 20th century, however, business
and the professions began to expect or require higher
levels of formal education. For example, by the end of FIGURE 4.10 Yoda Fountain at the entrance to the Letterman
Digital Arts Center, Lucasfilm, in the Presidio of San Francisco.
World War II nearly every state required its teachers to
have graduated from college. Lawyers, who prior to the
20th century could be admitted to the bar following pri-
Tourists visiting Southern California often take trips to
vate study in the office of an experienced attorney, were
Hollywood as well as to the homes of movie and televi-
now expected to complete college and formal legal
sion stars and to production studios (Figure 4.10). Las
training in law schools. The result of this increased em-
Vegas, Atlantic City, and Branson, Missouri, are other
phasis on higher education has been economic growth
places whose tourist industries are closely linked to the
and development in college and university communi-
entertainment industry.
ties. Places such as Austin, Tallahassee, Columbus, and
Madison have grown in response to the combined im-
pacts of state universities and state governments. In
Distinguish between primary, secondary, tertiary, and
small, peripheral states, college and university com-
quaternary production and then provide at least one
munities have become growth centers even when their
North American example of each type.
states have not grown. For example, the college town of
Iowa City, Iowa, ranked ninth in population in Iowa in
1960 but ranks fourth in the state today. Oregon, West
Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Arkansas are The Changing Urban
other peripheral states where growth has been concen-
trated in college towns such as Eugene, Morgantown,
System of North America
Laramie, Brookings, and Fayetteville, respectively. The development of North Americas political economy
Another important aspect of quaternary-sector has also had dramatic impacts on its settlement patterns.
growth has involved journalism, publishing, the Prior to 1900, a large majority of North Americas people
media, and entertainment. For many years, the cities worked in the primary sector and lived in rural areas.
of New York and Los Angeles have been major media Urbanization, which was already evident before 1900,
centers in the United States. In recent years, cities became much more commonplace in the 20th century.
such as Atlanta, Vancouver, Orlando, and Nashville Changes in the economy of North America during the
have become increasingly important media centers. 20th century have contributed to a dramatic restructur-
The entertainment industry is often linked to tourism. ing of the continents system of settlement since 1900.
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 81

The 20th century witnessed a spectacular increase of the Manufacturing Belt and the Northeast. Urban
in the urban population of North America. Even in growth was concentrated in port cities in the late 18th
rural states and provinces, a large majority of the century, in river cities in the early 19th century, and in
population now resides in urban areas. As we have railroad cities after the Civil War. A network of steam,
seen, urban growth in North America prior to the 20th and later diesel electric railroads, connected most cit-
century was concentrated in the large industrial cities ies in the early 20th century (see Figure 4.11). In 1900,

FIGURE 4.11 Major rail routes in North America.




N Hudson
Prince Rupert Churchill
Bay N
George Edmonton
a y
Calgary aw

Vancouver Gasp

PACIFIC Winnipeg

OCEAN Halifax
40 Superior Montreal
N L.

Toronto N
L . ro n

L. Michigan

Minneapolis nta Boston

L. O
Milwaukee Hamilton Buffalo
Detroit Er
Chicago .
L Cleveland New York
Salt Lake City Omaha Philadelphia
San Francisco Pittsburgh
Baltimore ATLANTIC
Denver Cincinnati Washington
Kansas City O hio
St. Louis
30 Los Angeles Chattanooga

Atlanta 30




0 500 1,000 mi
Intra astal

El Paso

Houston 0 500 1,000 km

New Orleans
l wa
a sta
Gulf of Mexico Miami of Ca

Inland and intracoastal
waterway 20N
Major rail route

120W 110W 80W 70W


Their construction also encouraged business and

industry to relocate to suburban areas. Suburban
residents were now less and less reliant on the central
city for employment, shopping, and recreational and
cultural activities. Thus suburbs became increasingly
independent of central cities. The interstate highway
system also encouraged people to move to previously
rural communities on the fringes of metropolitan areas
in exurbs or edge cities.
In addition, an increasing number of minority
North Americans and new immigrants now reside
in the suburbs. Prior to the 1960s, institutionalized
racial and ethnic discrimination generally forbade or
discouraged minorities from living outside central
cities. Increasing prosperity, reduced institutional
prejudice, and the construction of affordable housing
FIGURE 4.12 A Pacific Electric Business Class car which carried in the suburbs began to encourage African Americans,
passengers to and from the suburbs surrounding Los Angeles
Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans to relocate
from the 1920s to the 1950s.
to suburbs during the latter third of the 20th century.
Today, minority- and immigrant-dominated suburbs
surround every large central city. Well-known ex-
a large majority of urban dwellers lived within the po- amples in the Los Angeles area, for example, include
litical boundaries of central cities. After World War I, predominantly Japanese-American Gardena and pre-
however, many urban dwellers began to relocate fur- dominantly African-American Inglewood and Baldwin
ther and further away from the central city, choosing Park; predominantly Chinese-American Monterey Park
instead to move to residences in the suburbs. Subur- is mixed Asian, and Montebello and Pico Rivera are
banization was abetted by the widespread diffusion of primarily Hispanic. These immigrant-rich areas outside
streetcar suburbs, communities developed by electric the downtown core that have significant high percent-
railroad companies (see Figure 4.12). Then the automo- ages of one ethnic group are known as ethnoburbs
bile, with the construction of new and improved roads (seeFigure 4.13).
replaced them. Movement to the suburbs accelerated The populations of some ethnoburbs are dominated by
greatly after World War II, and by 1990, over half of all second-, third-, and fourth-generation North Americans,
residents in the United States lived in suburbs as op- while other ethnoburbs are home to primarily first-
posed to either central cities or rural areas. generation immigrant arrivals. Historically, most im-
In the late 1950s, the United States government ini- migrants to the United States and Canada moved either
tiated construction of the interstate highway system. to rural areas or to industrial cities. In the 19th century,
Although these limited-access highways were designed large numbers of people from Germany, Scandinavia, the
to expedite long-distance transportation, they also had Netherlands, Ukraine, and Russia moved to rural areas
profound effects on cities. These highways made com- of the U.S. Midwest, the Great Plains, and the Canadian
muting by automobile easier and more convenient. Prairie Provinces where they established farms. By 1900,

FIGURE 4.13 Guanyin Buddhist temple in

Monterey Park, California.
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 83

much of the free or cheap land that had attracted earlier Montreal, on the other hand, reside in older downtown
European settlers was no longer available. Hence many neighborhoods due to the affordable housing there and
immigrants, particularly from eastern and southern this areas close proximity to employment opportuni-
European countries such as Italy, Hungary, and Poland, ties. It will be interesting to observe the settlement pat-
settled in large cities where they took manufacturing jobs. terns of new migrants from both inside and outside
In many cases, children and grandchildren of these im- Canada in other rapidly growing cities in Canada such
migrants moved to the suburbs while their parents and as Ottawa and Calgary (where oil migrants from Texas
grandparents remained behind in their neighborhoods, now make up a significant percentage of the citys
whose populations were dominated by members of their population).
ethnic groups. The Polish and Lithuanian Back of the Changes in urban structure in the United States are
Yards neighborhood in Chicago, the Polish enclave of also associated with the growth of the Sun Belt relative
Hamtramck, Michigan within Detroit, and the Italian to traditional North American manufacturing centers.
neighborhood in South Boston are a few of the many This is evident from lists of the ten largest cities in the
examples of such ethnic neighborhoods that sprang up United States in 1850, 1960, 1980, and 2010 (as shown
in the early 20th century. on Table 4.1). In 1850, all but one of the largest cit-
Today, far more immigrants move directly to sub- ies in the United States was located in the Northeast.
urbs than to central cities. Some move to exurbs such In 2010, however, seven of the ten largest cities in
as Woodburn, Oregon, whose population is domi- the United States (Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix,
nated by recent immigrants from Mexico and Russia San Diego, San Antonio, Dallas, and San Jose) were
or the suburbs of Westminster and Garden Grove in found in the Sun Belt. This table illustrates that this
Southern California where Vietnamese predominate. restructuring includes three dominant components:
Others live in neighborhoods scattered throughout the urbanization of North Americas population itself,
a metropolitan area. Ties to fellow immigrants from the development of the suburbs, and the growth of
their native countries are maintained by telephone, large metropolitan areas.
the Internet, and through periodic get-togethers to cel- That the Sun Belt is continuing to grow at the ex-
ebrate weddings, national and religious holidays, and pense of the Rust Belt is evident from data compar-
other social events. ing metropolitan areas in the United States on the
Selected Canadian cities exhibit many of these same basis of population change between 2000 and 2010.
structural change. In Vancouver, for example, the ma- During this period, the five cities that gained the most
jority of the citys Chinese residents reside in subur- residents were Houston, DallasFort Worth, Atlanta,
ban Richmond rather than in the original Chinatown RiversideSan Bernardino, and Phoenix. Together,
neighborhood located downtown. In contrast, Toronto, these metropolitan areas gained more than 5 million
Canadas largest and most cosmopolitan city, features a people during that decade. On a percentage basis, the
wide variety of immigrant-rich neighborhoods in older fastest-growing metropolitan areas were Charlotte, Las
downtown districts, as well as distinctive ethnic en- Vegas, Raleigh-Durham, Austin, and Riverside-San
claves in the older, inner suburbs. Most of the newest Bernardino. All nine of these metropolitan areas are
foreign-born arrivals in Canadas second largest city of located in the Sun Belt.

TABLE 4.1 Population of the Ten Largest Cities in the United States: 18502010
1850 1960 1980 2010
New York 515,547 New York 7,781,984 New York 7,071,639 New York 8,175,133
Baltimore 169,054 Chicago 3,550,404 Chicago 3,005,072 Los Angeles 3,792 ,621
Boston 136,881 Los Angeles 2,479,015 Los Angeles 2,966,650 Chicago 2,851,268
Philadelphia 121,376 Philadelphia 2,002,512 Philadelphia 1,688,210 Houston 2,257,926
New Orleans 116,375 Detroit 1,670,144 Houston 1,595,138 Philadelphia 1,547,297
Cincinnati 115,435 Baltimore 939,024 Detroit 1,203,339 Phoenix 1,593,629
Brooklyn 96,838 Houston 938,219 Dallas 904,078 San Antonio 1,327,407
St. Louis 77,860 Cleveland 876,050 San Diego 875,538 San Diego 1,307,402
Spring 58,894 Washington 763,956 Phoenix 789,704 Dallas 2,412,827
Albany 50,763 St. Louis 750,026 Baltimore 786,775 San Jose 945,942
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census Population, 1850, 1960, 1980, and 2010 (Top 50 Cities in the U.S. by Population and Rank).

On the other hand, five metropolitan areas lost pop- Industrialization coincided with the rise of North
ulation during the decade. These included the Rust Belt America as an international economic power. Despite
cities of Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo. In the fact that only a minority of Americans lived in cit-
addition, the only non-Rust Belt city that lost popula- ies by 1900, by that time the United States had become
tion between 2000 and 2010 was New Orleans. Most the worlds third-leading industrial power (following
of this population loss was due to the devastating the United Kingdom and Germany). The United States
impact of people leaving during and after Hurricane had several advantages that helped propel its economy
Katrina in 2005. Some is also the result of the limited to global prominence. It had an abundance of natural
restoration of its basic infrastructure after the storm. resources and a large and varied land base. Its popula-
Amazingly, according to geographer Joel Kotkin, New tion, though small relative to that of Europe, was well
Orleans job loss was less than that of both Detroit and educated and productive and was increasing rapidly
San Jose during this same time period. as a result of high birthrates and immigration. Its sys-
Urbanization, suburbanization, and the growth of tem of railroads and waterways was highly developed.
large metropolitan areas have resulted in the stagna- North American culture encouraged innovation, and
tion of many rural areas in North America. To be sure, many important new technologies, including electronic
some such areas have shared in the population growth devices, automobiles, telephones, television, and avia-
of metropolitan areas. These include areas adjacent to tion, were invented or perfected in North America.
or within commuting range of large cities, rural areas Moreover, North America was geographically remote
that have grown in response to large-scale retirement from Europe and therefore able to avoid direct in-
migration, and those areas whose economic bases em- volvement in ongoing European wars and other con-
phasize recreation and tourism. Places that are remote flicts. Until the 20th century, the defense budgets of the
from large cities and lack amenities attractive to tour- United States and Canada represented far lower per-
ists and retirees, however, have tended to stagnate or centages of their gross national products than was the
decline, as we will see in subsequent chapters. Exam- case in Europe; this freed a larger percentage of capi-
ples include much of the Great Plains, parts of Appa- tal for use in nonmilitary economic development. For
lachia, and some of the most rural areas in the Deep these reasons, North Americas economy continued to
South. develop and expand relative to that of Europe through-
out the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The growth
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 4.2 of North Americas economy was accompanied by the
Since the early 1990s, immigrants who have settled in establishment and expansion of trade networks. Over
U.S. metropolitan areas have most often chosen to live in the course of the 20th century, trade between North
the suburbs (instead of in downtown neighborhoods as America and the rest of the world increased exponen-
they did in the past). Why have ethnoburbs become more tially. This increase in international trade was criti-
common during the past two decades in U.S. cities as cal to North Americas rising influence in the global
compared to earlier eras when immigrants were drawn to economy.
ethnic enclaves located in or near the inner city? As the United States rose to economic prominence,
its involvement in the global economy and political
system increased. World War I signaled recognition
of the United States as a world power. The United
North America and States entry into the war on the side of the Allies in
theWorld Economy 1917 was critical to securing an Allied victory. Simi-
larly, American industrial power was critical to the
Examining the North American political economy re- defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan during
quires consideration of its relationships with other World War II. With the European economy shattered
parts of the world along with changes in these rela- by two world wars within 30 years, by the end of
tionships over time. The urbanization, suburbaniza- World War II the United States had unquestionably
tion, and changing urban geography of North America become the worlds leading economic powera sta-
coincided with its rise to prominence and its eventual tus it has maintained ever since. Canada developed
dominance within the global economy. along a parallel path with a growing trade with the
The United States and Canada were overwhelm- United States based primarily on the primary sector
ingly rural at the time of American independence in such as forest products.
the late 18th century. Canada was a still a predomi- As the United States came to be recognized as
nantly rural society when it became independent in a major world power, North American views of
1867. North America remained primarily rural through geopolitics were established and refined. Geopolitics
the 19th century. Half the population of the United refers to the relationships between geography and in-
States in 1900 was still rural, although the continent ternational relations, indicating how a given countrys
was experiencing rapid industrialization. foreign policy is influenced by its perception of its
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 85

location, resource base, and other geographical factors Ever since the invention of the airplane, U.S. for-
relative to its competitors. Over time, North America eign policy has emphasized American dominance
has experienced ongoing tension between activism in of the skies and, more recently, outer space. The im-
foreign policy and avoidance of interference in foreign portance of the airplane to North American geopoli-
conflicts. U.S. foreign policy has shifted between in- tics can be observed by constructing a polar map
trovert cycles, in which American interest in foreign projection centered on the Northern Hemisphere.
policy issues has been sublimated to domestic policy Canadian and U.S. geopolitics also emphasized the
concerns, and extrovert cycles, in which the United Arctic region. This emphasis began with Americas
States took a more active interest in international rela- purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. As aviation
tions. Each cycle has lasted 20 to 30 years. Within the developed, it became clear that this region is located
20th century, the extrovert cycles spanned from 1898 along the great circle air routes between Eurasia
to 1920, from 1941 to 1968, and between 1990 and the and North America. During the Cold War, the Arctic
beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002. was considered very important to North American
Historians recognize the periods between 19201941 defense in part because the great circle route between
and 19681990 as introvert periods. the Soviet Union and the United States crossed over
Even within an introvert or extrovert period, how- the region. Numerous military bases and missile
ever, various areas are recognized as relatively more tracking stations were operated in Alaska, northern
introverted or extroverted than others. Prior to the Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.
1960s, the Northeast and the South were relatively A geopolitical process that has come to dominate
extroverted and generally supportive of foreign inter- the economic geography of the 21st century is glo-
vention, while the Midwest and West tended to oppose balization. The process is identified with the growth
foreign entanglements. Similarly, many residents of the of multinational corporations, unparalleled migra-
Canadian Prairie Provinces strongly opposed Canadian tion from less developed countries to North America,
involvement in World Wars I and II. The northeastern high volumes of international trade and high levels
industrial economy was closely linked to that of Eu- of international banking and, as mentioned above,
rope, while southern agricultural products also were movement of manufacturing activities from devel-
exported in large quantities from North America. oped to developing countries. The actual and potential
Moreover, a preponderance of the United States mili- impacts of globalization have become highly contro-
tary bases and personnel were found in the South. In versial across North America. On the one hand, many
contrast, the agricultural economy of the Middle West believe that increased levels of international trade
and the resource-oriented economy of the West were benefit national economies. On the other hand, crit-
more oriented to domestic rather than foreign con- ics of globalization argue that increased trade and in-
sumption. Moreover, many Middle Westerners as well ternational economic integration benefit the wealthy
as Prairie Province settlers were descended from immi- and corporations at the expense of poorer people
grants from Germany, Russia, and other long-standing and blue-collar workers. The decline of the second-
European enemies of Americas British allies. Such ary sector of the economy has been accelerated over
people regarded North Americas and Britains alliance the past two decades by the closing of factories in
with skepticism. North America and the movement of production to
This pattern changed after the 1960s. During the less developed countries, where labor costs are much
last third of the 20th century, the Sun Belt tended to lower. As a result, fewer jobs are available to blue-
be supportive of an extrovert approach to foreign collar workers in this postindustrial economy. Not
policy, while the Rust Belt favored introversion. Sup- surprisingly, public opinion polls confirm that blue-
port for extroversion in the Sun Belt can be attributed collar communities and rural areas are more skeptical
to the regions dominance of the United States military about globalization than residents of rapidly growing
establishment as well as the large number of defense metropolitan areas.
contractors that operated in the region. All of these factors helped to integrate U.S. and
Three other components of U.S. geopolitics in- Canadian foreign policies. Since Canadas indepen-
clude relationships with the rest of the Americas, dence in 1867, the border between the two countries
dominance of the Arctic, and of the air and of space. has remained the worlds longest unfortified boundary.
In 1823, President James Monroe announced that the Canada was centrally located relative to U.S. objectives
United States would guarantee the independence of in the Arctic and along air routes between the Western
former colonies throughout the Western Hemisphere. and Eastern Hemispheres. Canadas foreign policy has
The Monroe Doctrine signaled to the rest of the world been closely tied to that of the United States through-
that the United States regarded itself as the dominant out the 20th and early 21st centuries. Nonetheless, at
power in the New World. It also established geopoliti- times many Canadians have expressed opposition to
cal domination of the hemisphere as a cornerstone of what they regard as American heavy-handedness and
U.S. foreign policy. overcommitment in world politics.

From the middle of the 19th century to the pres-

ent day, the United States and Canada have been
Political Institutions
major trading partners with each other. For the most inNorth America
part, this symbiotic trade relationship has benefited
Changes in North Americas position in the global
the economies of both countries. However, Canada
economy had considerable influence in domestic poli-
has frequently undertaken policy steps to ensure that
tics in both countries. The political geography of both
its economy remains independent rather than being
countries has evolved in response to both international
totally dominated by its southern neighbor. The ques-
and domestic events throughout North Americas
tion of how much to encourage trade between North
America and other areas of the world has been a mat-
To put these comments into context, let us briefly ex-
ter of ongoing political debate. Two major schools of
amine the political structure of the United States and
thought have arisen concerning international trade
Canada. Both countries are federal states, in which
policy. Over many years, some have argued for high
governmental power is shared formally between the
tariffs, which are taxes on importing and exporting
federal governments based in Washington and Ot-
goods across international boundaries. The intent
tawa, respectively, and the state or provincial govern-
of such tariffs is to protect domestic producers from
ments. The U.S. Constitution spells out the relationship
foreign competition. Advocates of free trade, on the
between federal and state authority. Of particular im-
other hand, argue that protective tariffs should be re-
portance is the 10th Amendment, which specifies that
duced or eliminated and that international exchange
all powers not explicitly granted to the federal govern-
is beneficial rather than harmful to the domestic econ-
ment in the Constitution are reserved to the States or
omy. In general, theNortheast has been supportive of
to the people.
protectionism while the South and West have tended
These considerations influence the structure of elec-
to support free trade. In Canada, support for free trade
toral competition in both countries. Both have explicitly
has been greatest in Ontario and in British Columbia,
defined legislative, executive, and judicial branches of
whereas Quebec, the Atlantic Provinces, and the Prairie
government. In both countries, voters elect representa-
Provinces tend to lean toward support for higher tariffs.
tives to federal, state or provincial, and local legislative
In the late 20th century, many countries through-
bodies. In both cases, geography is a significant basis of
out the world joined with their neighbors to establish
representation in that districts used to elect represen-
regional trade blocs. The United States, Canada, and
tatives to the U.S. House of Representatives and state
Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agree-
legislatures, as well as to Canadas House of Commons
ment (NAFTA) in 1993. The NAFTA agreement called
and provincial legislatures, are delineated territorially.
for the free movement of goods between the three coun-
Each representative is accountable primarily to the res-
tries. NAFTA was highly controversial in both Canada
idents of the territorially defined district from which he
and the United States. In both countries, legislative ap-
or she has been elected.
proval of NAFTA occurred only following intense, bit-
Despite these similarities, the relationships between
ter political debate. Many members of the U.S. House
the branches of government in the two countries vary
of Representatives strongly opposed the NAFTA agree-
considerably. The Canadian political system is modeled
ment. They and their constituents predicted that NAFTA
after that of the United Kingdom. The chief executive,
would cause significant loss of jobs as employers moved
or prime minister, is simultaneously a legislator and a
their operations to Mexico or other low-wage areas. In
member of the House of Commons. The prime minis-
contrast, the Sun Belt strongly supported NAFTA. For
ter is also the leader of the party or coalition of parties
example, all 30 members of Congress from Texas, both
holding a majority of seats in the House of Commons.
Democrats and Republicans, supported the NAFTA bill.
Should that party lose its majority, or should the govern-
Nearly two decades after NAFTA was initiated, it is evi-
ing coalition collapse, the prime minister resigns and is
dent that the agreement has had significant impacts on
replaced by the leader of the new majority. In the United
local economies and landscapes, as we will see in detail
States, in contrast, the legislative and executive branches
in some of the regional chapters. The NAFTA vote, like
are separated. The president is elected independently
other political debates involving trade and foreign pol-
of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and
icy, also symbolizes the ongoing changes in the internal
the president may or may not be a member of the party
political geography of North America.
holding a majority in either or both houses of Congress.
The U.S. president is elected through a system
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 4.3 known as the Electoral College. Seats in the House of
What are some of the benefits and challenges to a Representatives are apportioned among the states on
nations trade patterns caused by the establishment of the basis of population, and each state has two mem-
(1)regional trade blocs such as NAFTA; (2) tariffs; and/ bers of the Senate regardless of size. Each state has
or (3) protectionist policies in supporting or diminishing representation in the Electoral College in accordance
North American trade? with its representation in Congress. Thus Kansas, for
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 87

example, with two senators and four representatives, demographic, and cultural characteristics of both
has six electoral votes. The total number of electoral countries. As we begin to examine individual regions
votes is 538, with the Constitution requiring a majority of North America in subsequent chapters, we will look
to secure the presidency. at how these changes have affected individual regions
These considerations influence the electoral geog- and how the impact of such changes is reflected in the
raphy of both Canada and the United States. In both regions cultural landscapes and in the lifestyles of
countries, parties compete with each other for electoral their residents.
advantage across territorially defined states, provinces, Each of the next 14 chapters deals with a particular
and districts. The party that is successful in splicing region of North America. Some of these chapters (such
together a majority coalition wins control of the pres- as the two chapters on the U.S. South), deal solely with
idency, of either house of Congress, or in the case of the United States. Other chapters focus only on Canada
Canadas parliamentary system, of both. such as Chapter 6 on Quebec. Several others, including
the chapters on the Rust Belt (Chapter 8) and the Great
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 4.4 Plains (Chapter 11), deal with regions that cross the
The federal state system of government in Canada and the international boundary. Thus, these chapters, and the
United States share some commonalities. But each sys- chapter that follows on the Atlantic Periphery region,
tem is also unique. Make a list of some of the similarities discuss regions that are located in both Canada and the
and differences between the political systems of these United States.
two neighboring North American nations. Examining the geography of any region involves in-
tegrating knowledge of that regions environment, cul-
ture, and economy. Thus in each chapter, we address the
Conclusion major issues covered in Chapters 2 through 4 including
(1) the physical environment (covered in more depth
The 20th century was a remarkable period in the eco- in Chapter 2); culture (covered in Chapter 3); and the
nomic and political history of North America. The political economy (discussed in this chapter). In addi-
United States and Canada emerged as the strongest, tion to understanding each of these individual sections
most productive, and wealthiest countries in the his- of the following regional chapters, it is essential to con-
tory of the world. The transition of North America sider the relationships that exist between the various
to global political and economic leadership was as- regions of North America, as well as their connections
sociated with profound changes in the economic, with the rest of the world.

Review Questions
1. What is basic and nonbasic employment, and why 7. Where is the Rust Belt located, and why has manu-
are both of these important to the local economies facturing in this part of North America declined
of communities in North America? so dramatically in the postindustrial era in recent
2. What is it important to understand how North
Americas political economy functions as compared 8. What impacts did the U.S. Interstate Highway Act
to understanding its basic economic patterns? have on the morphology and structure of U.S. cit-
ies in the post1950s era?
3. What are at least three examples of types of eco-
nomic production in the primary sector of the 9. Why has globalization been viewed more nega-
North American economy? tively by workers living in rural parts of the
United States and Canada as compared to resi-
4. What is the technological treadmill, and why has this dents in urban areas in North America?
proven to be a challenge for farmers in marginal
areas in the North American heartland during the 10. What have been some of the major concerns of leg-
past two and a half decades or so? islators and others who opposed the approval of
NAFTA in the mid-1990s in terms of its potential
5. Why are both Canada and the United States to negatively impact local communities?
known as federal states?

6. What are some of the major differences in the loca-

tion patterns of truck farming, ranching, and cash-
grain farming in the United States?

Group Activities
1. The military defense and economic develop- chapter. Then write a 1- to 2-page paper that sum-
ment of the Arctic region of North America has marizes some of the differences and similarities of
provoked tensions between the United States the urban location patterns shown on these maps.
and Canada for many decades. Work with other
members of your group to conduct research in the 3. Farmers markets, such as Pike Place Market in
library and on the Web to learn more about his- Seattle, have become increasingly popular gather-
torical and present-day issues affecting this part ing places for shoppers in both the United States
of North America. Then divide your group into and Canada in recent years. Choose a farmers
two smaller subgroupsone representing U.S. market anywhere in North America for your
interests in the Arctic and the other representing group to study. Then use sources of information
Canadian interests. Then organize a debate to found on the Web and in the library to (a) learn
showcase what you learned during your research more about when this market first opened;
and present each of your subgroups opinions on: (b) find out how many local or regional vendors
(1) how to protect the Arctic from overdevelop- sell products there; and (c) identify and locate
ment of its natural resources or (2) how to protect some of the farms that supply the organic produce
this peripheral part of North America from mili- that is sold there. To complete your oral report on
tary attack. this research, you may also want to try to find out
whether any restaurants in nearby towns or cities
2. Create three sketch maps showing the ten largest depend on purchasing organic vegetables and
cities in the United States in the years 1850, 1960, fruits from these same organic farmers to meet the
and 2010 using data shown on Table 4.1 in this needs of their foodie customers.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Borchert, John R. 1987. Americas Northern Heartland: An Hudson, John C. 1993. Crossing the Heartland: Chicago to
Economic and Historical Geography of the Upper Midwest. Denver. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Historical examination of transportation, settlement, and
Historical economic geography of the region focusing on culture in the Corn Belt.
the Twin Cities and their relationship to the upper Midwest.
Johnson, Hildegard Binder. 1976. Order upon the Land: The
Bureau of the Census. 2010. Census of Population. Washington, U.S. Rectangular Land Survey and the Upper Mississippi
DC: United States Bureau of the Census. Country. New York: Oxford University Press.
Decadal information on economic, social, population, and Analysis of the impacts of the Northwest Ordinance on the
other variables useful in doing research and teaching about land settlement patterns in the Great Lakes and Corn Belt
the United States. regions.
Castells, Manuel. 1996. The Information Age: Economy, Kotkin, Joel. 2009. New Geography: The Census Fastest-
Society, and Culture. Vol. I, The Rise of the Network Society. Growing Cities of the Decade, Op-Ed piece, Forbes
Cambridge, UK: Blackwell. Magazine. November 3, 2009: 1.
A global perspective on the role of the United States, A current publication filled with fascinating facts gleaned
Canada, and other nation-states in shaping and reshaping from new U.S. Census reports. Kotkins popular New
todays Information Age. Geography column appears regularly in Forbes Magazine.
Cronin, William. 1991. Natures Metropolis: Chicago and the Lockridge, Ross, Jr. 1947. Raintree County. Boston: Houghton
Great West. New York: Norton. Mifflin.
Historical geography focusing on relationships between Historical novel about a rural county in Indiana during and
Chicago and the agricultural and mineral-producing areas after the Civil War.
of the West.
Meyer, David R. 2003. The Roots of Industrialization.
Dreidger, L., ed. 1987. Ethnic Canada: Identities and Inequalities. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Toronto: Copp Clark Pittman. A well-written analysis of the beginnings of industrialization
Analysis of ethnic settlement in Toronto and other parts of in North America and its impact on subsequent landscapes
Canada. and economic systems.
CHAPTER 4 The North American Political Economy 89

Singer, Audrey, Susan W. Hardwick, and Caroline Brettell, The most recently published atlas of U.S. population distri-
eds. 2008. Twenty-First Century Suburban Gateways: Immi- bution based on census data compiled in 2000.
grant Incorporation in Suburban America. Washington, DC:
Warkentin, J. 1997. Canada: A Regional Geography. Scarbor-
The Brookings Institution.
ough, NJ: Prentice Hall.
A patterns and policy-oriented discussion of the subur-
A well-written geography text on Canada focusing on the
banization of immigrants in post1990s immigrant gateway
nations various regions, peoples, and landscapes.
Weller, Phil. 1990. Fresh Water Seas: Saving the Great Lakes.
Stanford, Q. H., ed. 1998. Canadian Oxford World Atlas. 4th ed.
Toronto: Between the Lines Publishers.
Toronto: Oxford University Press. Comprehensive atlas
with mapped data showing Canadas economic, cultural, Environmental history and geography of the Great Lakes.
and political patterns, population distribution, and envi- Wheeler, James, Yuko Aoyama, and Barney Warf, eds. 2000.
ronmental features. Cities in the Telecommunication Age: The Fracturing of
Statistics Canada. 2006. Census of Population. Ottawa: Statis- Geographies. London: Routledge.
tics Canada. An excellent overview of the structures, functions, and
A rich source of information on Canada, including popula- linkages of todays cities as key players in the Information
tion data, economic and social statistics, and other vari- Age.
ables (comparable to the U.S. Census Bureau in scope and Zukin, Sharon. 1991. Landscapes of Power: From Detroit to
depth). Disneyland. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Suchan, Trudy A., Marc J. Perry, James D. Fitzsimmons, A must-read for all students interested in the geography
Anika E. Juhn, Alexander M. Tait, and Cynthia A. Brewer. of North America; one of the most cited sources on urban,
Census Atlas of the United States. Series CENSR-29, economic, and cultural landscapes in North America.
Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.

Log in to for MapMaster interactive maps, In the

News RSS feeds, glossary flashcards, self-study quizzes, web links, and other resources
to enhance your study of The North American Political Economy.
5 The Atlantic
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

List and locate the U.S. Complex groups that compared to neighboring Atlantic Periphery region
states and Canadian resided in the Atlantic regions. and the economic and
provinces located in the
Atlantic Periphery region of
Periphery prior to the
arrival of Europeans.
Discuss each type of primary cultural functions of its
largest cities.
production common to the
North America.
Compare and contrast economy of the Atlantic Discuss the distinctive
Describe the primary the settlement patterns Periphery region (e.g., sense of place and unique
geomorphic processes that of European and African farming, fishing, mining). cultural landscapes that
have helped shape the
landforms of the Atlantic
groups who settled in
this region from the
Predict some of the can be seen in the Atlantic
Periphery region.
environmental, economic
Periphery (e.g., glaciation,
mountain building, erosion).
earliest days of European
settlement up to the
and cultural impacts Predict the future of the
that may result from the Atlantic Periphery in the
Summarize and discuss at present day. arrival of large numbers of context of the potential
least two environmental Define and distinguish spillover migrants to this impacts of new settlers
hazards common to this between a core area and region from nearby urban and the constraints posed
North American region. a periphery area using centers. by this regions natural

List at least two of the examples of the Atlantic

Periphery region as
Discuss the patterns of resource base.
original Northeast Culture urban settlement in the

Still New Bedford is a queer place. Had it not been for us whalemen, that tract of land
would this day perhaps have been in as howling condition as the coast of Labrador.
(Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851)

he Atlantic Periphery includes the Canadian prov- the Appalachians, the Atlantic Periphery has experi-
inces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, enced the out-migration of its native-born population
Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick (see for decades. Many parts of the region have experienced
Figure 5.1). Collectively, these four provinces are known steady population losses, as natives of the region depart
as the Atlantic Provinces. On the U.S. side of the inter- for western Canada, the U.S. Sun Belt, or large metropoli-
national boundary, the Atlantic Periphery includes most tan areas. Yet the attachment to place shared by many
of Maine and New Hampshire, all of Vermont, and north- natives of the Atlantic Periphery is strong. The Atlantic
eastern New York State. The regions rugged and often Periphery, romanticized in classic novels and movies
spectacular scenery, its proximity to the ocean, and its such as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Anne of Green
cool, humid climate have all influenced the areas long and Gables, may experience a renaissance in the 21st cen-
colorful history and continue to influence the region today. tury as people opt out of the urban rat race and redis-
The Atlantic Periphery was the first part of North cover their attachments to local communities.
America to be explored and settled by Europeans. Leif
Ericsson established a settlement in present-day New-
foundland a thousand years ago. Five hundred years
later, British and French explorers saw the Atlantic Pe- Environmental Setting
riphery as a gateway to the riches of North America,
and they contested vigorously for control over the re-
gion. Despite this long and colorful history, this part of Much of the Atlantic Periphery is part of the Appala-
North America is an area highly dependent on outside chian Mountain chain, which stretches northeastward
economic and political forces. Like the Great Plains and from Alabama to eastern Canada. The Appalachians

Melting iceberg off the Newfoundland coast. 91


65W 60W 55W 50W N 45W

0 150 300 mi
0 150 300 km


LA 50
Lake ND
Happy Valley- LAnse aux Meadows

Goose Bay




Newfoundland St. Johns


Avalon Grand
Gulf of Peninsula Banks
St. Lawrence St. Pierre N
Gasp 45
and Miquelon
PRINCE (France)
Saint Jean
QUEBEC NEW Cape Breton
BRUNSWICK Charlottetown
Aroostook Fredericton SCOTIA


e Saint John ATLANTIC








National Park Cape Sable
RI Mt. Washington
TA Burlington Barre N
ON White Portland 40
Lake Placid Mts.

Old Orchard Beach

Green M

Mountains Waits River
Lake N.H. Merrimack R.
t R.

nect icu

Albany MA. Cape Cod State or province capital

NEW YORK Other city

CT. R.I.
Point of interest
UNITED Mountain peak
FIGURE 5.1 The Atlantic STATES
70W 65W 60W
Periphery region.

are a very old mountain range that has been affected scraping impact of glaciers and other erosional pro-
by millions of years of erosion. During the ice ages of cesses in the region remains on the landscape today
the past 2 million years, all but the highest of the re- in a feature known as the Great Stone Face. This huge
gions mountains were covered with ice. As a result, slab of granite was one of New Hampshires most fa-
even the highest peaks of the Atlantic Periphery are mous landmarks before it suddenly disappeared in
not nearly as high as those in the western United States 2003 (see Box 5.1).
and Canada. Mount Washington in New Hampshire The retreating ice scraped away much of the re-
is the highest peak in the region at 6288 feet (1920 gions soil cover, leaving much of the region cov-
meters) above sea level. Dramatic evidence of the ered with a thin, rocky soil that is not very useful
CHAPTER 5 The Atlantic Periphery 93


On May 3, 2003, one of New Hampshires gave way and tumbled down the moun- The task force recommended expanding
most famous landmarks suddenly disap- tainside, and the other four blocks quickly museum facilities, creating a traveling
peared. The Old Man on the Mountain, followed. educational display that would highlight
also known as the Great Stone Face, col- After the formation collapsed, New the geological and historical significance
lapsed and tumbled down the side of the Hampshires governor quickly appointed of the formation, and the installation
mountain. Thus one of the most enduring a task force and charged this group with of viewfinders that would re-create
symbols of the Granite State vanished making recommendations about how to the image when viewed from roadside
into history. deal with the loss of the Great Stone Face. parking areas.
The Old Man on the Mountain was
arock formation on the east side of
Cannon Mountain. It was created by
retreating glaciers roughly 12,000 years
ago. Five slabs of granite, one atop another,
resisted erosion. Viewed from the north,
the five blocks of granite looked like a
human face in profile overlooking nearby
Franconia Notch and Profile Lake. The for-
mation, which was more than 40feet (11
meters) high and about 25 feet (8 meters)
wide, was one of New Hampshires lead-
ing tourist attractions. It was the subject
of a famous short story by Nathaniel
Hawthorne, and it was depicted on the
New Hampshire state quarter in 2000.
Over many years, southerly winds
blew rain, snow, and ice into caverns,
cracks, and crevasses under the lowest
of the five blocks of granite that formed
the Great Stone Face. Geologists believe
that a cavern almost as high as the block
itself formed under the lowest block. Be-
cause water expands when it freezes, this
cavern and other cracks and crevasses in
the Great Stone Face became larger and
larger. The frequent freezes and thaws
characteristic of New Hampshires climate
caused continuing expansion of the
cracks, and more and more of the rock
eroded and wore away.
Erosion accelerated in response to
blasting associated with the nearby con-
struction of Interstate Highway 93 in the
1970s. Cables were installed in an effort
to prop the Great Stone Face and keep
it in place, but eventually enough of the
lowest rock wore away and it could no
longer hold the other blocks up. Early in
the morning of March 3, this lowest slab Postcard showing the Great Stone Face.

for agriculture. In inland areas, there are numerous the coastlines of the region are rugged and spec-
lakes and ponds, many of which are very popular tacular. Many of the regions numerous harbors
with campers, hunters, fishermen, and tourists. The are submerged river valleys that were modified by
coastal plain that is prevalent farther to the south is glaciation. Many of these harbors became the sites
largely absent in the Atlantic Periphery, and there- of cities and towns that have been settled for several
fore there is little flat land near the coast. Instead, centuries.

Weather, Climate, and Hazards America, it is not surprising that the region was long
the scene of conflict over political control. Migrants
The climate of the Atlantic Periphery reflects the re- from throughout the British Isles, France, and other Eu-
gions northern location and rugged topography. The ropean origins have had considerable influence on the
region has cool to mild summers and cold, snowy culture of the Atlantic Periphery.
winters. Precipitation levels are quite consistent from
month to month throughout the year, and snow cov-
ers the ground for several months each winter in many Pre-European Settlement
locations. During a wild April storm in 1934, a wind
gust of 231 miles per hour (372 kilometers per hour) Prior to extensive European contact, the Atlantic
was recorded at the summit of Mount Washington, Periphery was inhabited by Native Americans who
New Hampshire. This wind speed still stands as the belonged to the Northeast Culture Area complex. The
highest all-time surface wind speed observed in North Mikmaq lived in present-day southern Newfound-
America. land, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. This
Because weather systems in North America move group depended on hunting caribou and fished for
usually from west to east, the Atlantic Ocean has survival, and after the arrival of European settlers,
relatively little moderating influence on large-scale they exchanged these fish and furs for European
weather patterns. However, the Atlantic has consider- goods. Another indigenous group, the Beothuk, in-
able local influence on temperature and precipitation. habited the northern portion of Newfoundland while
Temperatures near the coast are cooler in summer and the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot cultures lived
milder in winter than at inland locations. The complex in present-day northern New England and New
pattern of ocean currents off the coast of the Atlantic Brunswick.
Periphery also influences the regions climate. The cold
Labrador Current drifts southward immediately off-
shore, and the warm Gulf Stream flows to the east of European Settlement
the Labrador Current. Offshore winds blowing across A thousand years ago, Norse traders from Green-
these ocean currents contribute to frequent maritime land built a settlement on the coast of a place that
fogs, especially in Newfoundland and along the New they called Vinland. After several years, however, the
England coast. These fogs result in cooler tempera- Norse gave up the settlement in part because of con-
tures, contribute to cloud cover, and sometimes cause flicts with local Native Americans whom they referred
hazards to shipping and aviation. to as Skraelings (most likely a part of the Beothuk
Heavy snowfalls, sometimes accompanied by bliz- culture group). In 1960, archaeologists discovered and
zard conditions, often occur in winter. Many com- began to excavate the ruins of the Vinland settlement
munities in northern New England and in Canadas at LAnse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland
Atlantic Provinces average more than a hundred inches (Figure 5.2).
(250centimeters) of snow each winter. Along the coast, During the late Middle Ages, European fishermen
some of this snow is brought in by noreasters, or discovered the Grand Banks, which are a series of
coastal storms associated with winds moving from the shallow underwater plateaus where the cold Labrador
northeast to the southwest. Noreasters can bring as Current and the warm Gulf Stream meet about
much as 2 or 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) of snow along 200miles (320 kilometers) off the coast of Newfound-
with high winds and blizzard conditions. Hurricanes land and Nova Scotia. The mixing of these currents
and tropical storms moving northward from the Carib- helps drive nutrients from the ocean floor to the sur-
bean and the south Atlantic coast occasionally bring face, creating what was once among the richest fishing
high winds and heavy rains to the coasts of Maine, grounds in the world. During the 14th and 15th centu-
New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia in late summer and ries, European fishing fleets visited the Grand Banks
early fall. in pursuit of cod (Gadus morhua). These visitors
probably sighted and may have landed on the island
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 5.1 of Newfoundland or on the North American main-
Describe the visible impacts of glaciation on the land. In 1497, the Italian explorer John Cabot, sail-
Appalachian Mountains and river valleys of the Atlantic ing for England, landed on the island that he named
Periphery region. Terra Nova. The islands name was soon Anglicized to
Newfoundland, which remained a British colony until
it joined Canada in 1948.
Historical Settlement Soon after Cabots voyage, English and other Eu-
ropeans established trading settlements. They traded
The Atlantic Periphery was the first part of North weapons, manufactured goods, and other com-
America to be settled by Europeans. Because of its loca- modities with indigenous residents of the area in
tion as a gateway between Europe and interior North exchange for animal skins and furs. Wherever there
FIGURE 5.2 LAnse aux
Meadows, Newfoundland.

was sustained contact with European settlers, the Acadians in Nova Scotia were expelled. Many moved
lifestyles of local First Nations changed rapidly and to Louisiana, where they and their descendants be-
dramatically. Many indigenous people died following came known as Cajuns (see Chapter 10). After the war
exposure to European diseases with the last Beothuk ended in 1763, France agreed to give up all of its pos-
tragically dying in St. Johns, Newfoundland in 1829. sessions in the present-day Atlantic Provinces, except
However, some of the descendants of other indig- for the small islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon off the
enous groups survived and still reside in the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland. The British took possession of
Periphery region today. Acadia, Cape Breton Island, and Ile Saint Jean. They
French explorers, who established the colony of renamed the latter Prince Edward Island to eliminate
Quebec (as discussed in the following chapter), also es- confusion between its former name and those of the
tablished settlements in present-day Nova Scotia and established cities of St. Johns, Newfoundland, and
New Brunswick. The first permanent French settle- Saint John, New Brunswick (whose name is written
ment in present-day Nova Scotia was established at out as Saint rather than St. to avoid confusion
Port Royal in 1604, and by the mid-1600s the French with St.Johns).
had established control over the Mikmaq settlements The removal of French political control and the ex-
in the area and renamed the area Acadia. pulsion of the Acadians opened the door for a rush of
Meanwhile, the British government sent a group settlement from the British Isles, as well as from other
of Scottish colonists to the area in the 1620s and British colonies in the United States. By the 1770s, a
named the territory Nova Scotia, or New Scotland. large majority of the population of the Atlantic Prov-
A peace agreement between France and Britain gave inces consisted of natives of the British Isles and their
Nova Scotia to France, and its Scottish settlers with- descendants. The British domination of the Atlantic
drew. Meanwhile, the first permanent English settle- Provinces was reinforced after the American Revolu-
ment of Newfoundland took place in 1610. Settlers tion. Thousands of British settlers moved northward
from England, Scotland, and Ireland moved to New- into the region during and after the Revolutionary War.
foundland and earned their living through fishing. Many supported the Revolution but were lured by the
Irish settlers who arrived in the 17th century called promise of free land. Others were Loyalists who op-
the island Talamh an Eisc, or Land of the Fish posed the Revolution and remained loyal to the British
in Irish Gaelic. The combination of English, Scottish, crown.
and Gaelic influences has resulted in the distinctive Although large numbers of Atlantic Periphery resi-
Newfie dialect that is still spoken in much of New- dents have British ancestry, immigrants from else-
foundland today. where continued to settle the area throughout the 19th
Later, in 1713, European powers agreed to the and 20th centuries. New Brunswick, which is the only
Treaty of Utrecht, which gave Britain control of New- officially bilingual province in Canada, has a substan-
foundland. France retained Prince Edward Island tial French-speaking population. About a third of the
(which the French had named Ile Saint Jean), the Port people of New Brunswick speak French as their first
Royal settlement, and Cape Breton Island. In 1754, war language. Many are descended from French speakers
again broke out between the British and the French. who left Nova Scotia during the Great Expulsion in the
The following year, the British forced most French 18th century.
settlers out of Acadia, in what became known as the The Francophone population of New Brunswick is
Great Expulsion (see Box 5.2). An estimated 14,000 concentrated in the northern and central parts of the


CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY Contributed by Andre Duguay, Institut de etudes Acadiennes, Universit de Moncton

The Acadians are the descendents of Drangement, the Great Upheaval. maintains numerous contacts with its
17th-century French pioneers who Some 14,000 Acadians were sent to the Cajun cousin in Louisiana. Furthermore,
settled in what are now the Maritime Thirteen Colonies and to prison camps it also has historic links with the New
Provinces of Canada. This French colony in England, while others fled to what England states where thousands of Aca-
was called Acadie and was conquered by are now New Brunswick and the Saint dians emigrated during the 19th century
the British in 1710. Even after they be- Lawrence Valley. Many Acadians even- and the first part of the 20th century. In
came British subjects, the Acadians kept tually settled in France and from there Canada, the Acadians consider them-
their French language, their customs, sailed to Louisiana where they became selves to be a nation within the Canadian
and their Roman Catholic faith. Caught the nucleus of what is now called the nation, having its own national flag, its
in the middle of imperialist struggles Cajunculture. national holiday, and an impressive net-
for North America between France and After the signing of the Paris Peace work of French-language associations
Great Britain, the Acadian leadership put Treaty of 1763, Acadians were allowed to and institutions such as the Universit de
forward a political culture of neutrality. settle back in the Maritimes. They slowly Moncton, founded in 1963, the largest
What Acadians perceived as a pragmatic rebuilt a dynamic society which they Canadian Francophone university outside
solution to their delicate situation was continually referred to as Acadie. Today, of Quebec.
not acceptable for the British colonial in the four provinces of Atlantic Canada,
rulers of Nova Scotia who, in 1755, at there are some 300,000 Francophones Sources: Jean Daigle (ed.), Acadia of the Maritimes:
the start of the French and Indian War, who identify themselves as Acadians, Thematic Studies from the Beginning to the Present
(Moncton: Chaire dtudes acadiennes, Universit
decided to expel the Acadian popula- most of them living in the province of
de Moncton, 1995); Shane K. Bernard, The Cajuns:
tion from the colony and to confiscate New Brunswick, Canadas only bilingual Americanization of a People (Jackson: University Press
their lands in the name of King George province since 1969. of Mississippi, 2003).
II. This dramatic event lasted eight Acadian culture is a vibrant element of
years and was referred to as the Grand contemporary Eastern Canada and also

province. English-speaking persons are more concen- escaped slaves who entered Canada prior to the
trated in southern New Brunswick, and many are de- American Civil War. In the 1920s and again during
scended from Loyalists who moved from the Thirteen the late 20th and early 21st centuries, thousands of
Colonies to present-day Canada during and after the people of African ancestry moved to Nova Scotia
American Revolution. Many Quebecois moved to New from the Caribbean islands.
England, especially between 1840 and 1930. At this In recent years, northern New England has wit-
time, very high birthrates in Quebec along with a lack nessed an influx of refugees from less developed
of available agricultural land induced many people to countries. The Somali Bantu are among the largest
leave Quebec in order to escape poverty and to search of these ethnic groups. Somali Bantu people are de-
for greater opportunity. Many French-Canadian mi- scended from slaves who were brought to southern
grants to New England took jobs in textile mills, facto- Somalia from present-day Kenya and Mozambique
ries, and paper mills. Even today, the states of Maine, during the 19th century. As civil war raged in Soma-
New Hampshire, and Vermont have the highest per- lia, thousands of Somali Bantu have claimed refugee
centages of people of French ancestry in the United status and left the country. About 13,000 have moved
States. to the United States since 2003, and more than 2500
People of African ancestry are also a thriving live in Burlington, Vermont, Manchester, New Hamp-
community in Nova Scotia. About 20,000 people shire, and Lewiston, Maine. Local and national com-
of African descent live in the province. These Black munity organizations have facilitated the resettlement
Nova Scotians have varying ancestries. Some ar- of the Somali Bantu by providing employment oppor-
rived from the United States prior to and during tunities, helping people adjust to a new and very dif-
the American Revolution when the British offered ferent environment, and sponsoring festivals, soccer
freedom to any slave of an American colonist who tournaments, and other social and cultural activities.
escaped behind British lines during the war. About
3500 African-American Loyalists moved to Nova Sco-
tia at that time, although some later left Nova Scotia CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 5.2
and moved to Africa where they helped found what Draw a rough map showing the general patterns of early
is now the country of Sierra Leone. Other people of settlement in the Atlantic Periphery of each of these
African ancestry in Nova Scotia are descended from groups: Mikmaq, French, British, and Acadians.
FIGURE 5.3 A cranberry bog

Regional Economies Elsewhere, commercial crop production has largely dis-

appeared from the Atlantic Periphery. Much of the land
andPolitics is in forest cover. In Aroostook County, Maine, 89 percent
of the land is covered with forests with only 10 percent
In examining the economies of various areas, geogra-
in farmland and the remaining 1 percent devoted to
phers distinguish between core areas and peripheral
urban use (Figure 5.5).
areas. A core area is one characterized by economic
strength and also by leadership and influence over other
economies. A peripheral area is economically weaker
and is dependent on decisions and policies established FIGURE 5.4 A tulip field on Prince Edward Island.
elsewhere. The Atlantic Periphery region is a periph-
eral area when compared to its neighboring regions. Its
economy is dependent on economic forces and policies
outside the region. In the 20th and 21st centuries, it has
been dominated by the economy of Megalopolis (see
Chapter 7) to the south and west. The peripheral status
of the Atlantic Periphery is associated with the regions
marginal agriculture, relative isolation, lack of natural
resources, and consequent lack of urbanization.

AgricultureA Marginal
Early Euro-American settlers of the Atlantic Periphery
soon learned that most of the region, with its cool climate
and rocky soils, was not suitable for large-scale commer-
cial agriculture. In some areas, however, specialty crops
have become important and today are grown commer-
cially (Figure 5.3). For example, Maine produces the ma-
jority of North Americas blueberries, with cranberries
produced in Maine and Massachusetts and maple syrup
and dairy products exported from Vermont. The Aroos-
took Valley in northern Maine and adjacent New Bruns-
wick is an important potato-producing region.
In Canada, the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia is a
well-known apple-producing region, and Prince Edward
Island remains agriculturally diversified (Figure 5.4).

FIGURE 5.5 Landscape of Aroostook

County, Maine.

Resources from the Forest Other settlers turned to the sea in order to make a
living (Figure 5.6). Returning from Newfoundland to
and the Sea England in 1497, John Cabot reported that codfish off
While the Atlantic Periphery lacks large quantities of the Newfoundland coast were so thick that they could
good farmland, it was blessed with large forests and be caught by hanging wicker baskets off the sides of
abundant quantities of offshore fish and other marine ships. Some weighed as much as 200 pounds (90.7
animals (Figure 5.5). European settlers cut down many kilograms). Before modern refrigeration was invented,
of the forests that had covered the Atlantic Periphery. dried and salted codfish could be kept for long periods
Not only did settlers wish to clear the land for farming, and were relatively light and easy to transport. Salted
but timber was in high demand in England and west- codfish from the waters off the Atlantic Periphery
ern Europe, whose forests had long since been cleared. became an important source of animal protein through-
The tall, straight trunks of white pine trees, some of out Europe as well as in North America.
which grew to heights of nearly 200 feet (60 meters), Residents of the coastal Atlantic Periphery harvested
were converted into ships masts. codfish and other marine animals in great numbers for

FIGURE 5.6 Atlantic cod fishing off the

coast of New England.
CHAPTER 5 The Atlantic Periphery 99

centuries, with little apparent impact on fish popula-

tions. In the 1950s, however, large and highly mecha-
nized fishing trawlers as large as small ocean liners
began to appear in the Grand Banks and other fishing
areas. Radar, sonar, echograms, and global position-
ing systems were implemented. These trawlersin
effect, floating fish factoriescould haul up as much
as 200tons (182 metric tons) of fish an hourtwice as
much as a 16th-century fishing ship could catch in an
entire year. While earlier fishing was limited to day-
light hours in the summer, these highly mechanized
ships hired rotating crews and were operated 24 hours
a day year-round. In effect, these factory ships strip-
mined the seas. Not surprisingly, by this time the an-
nual harvest of cod and other fish began to decline
significantly. In response, the U.S. and Canadian gov-
ernments began to impose limits on fishing, but these
limits had severe impacts on coastal fishing communi-
ties, especially in Newfoundland.
Lobsters are also associated with the Atlantic Pe-
riphery. About 80 percent of all lobsters caught and
sold in the United States are caught in Maines territo- FIGURE 5.7 Lobster fishing in Maine.
rial waters. In the 17th century, lobsters were so com-
mon that eating them was considered a sign of poverty.
Some indentured servants had contracts stating that come. Oil and gas exploration has taken place off the
their employers were not allowed to serve them lobster coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland for decades.
more than two or three times a week. By the time of the By the turn of the 21st century, three natural gas res-
Civil War, lobster fishermen began noticing declines in ervoirs with a combined productive capacity of over
lobster populations. In 1874, Maine enacted a law spec- 400 million cubic feet went into production near Sable
ifying a minimum size for a caught lobster. In the 20th Island, located 200 miles (321.9 kilometers) east of the
century, technological change increased lobster catches. Nova Scotian mainland. The $2 billion Sable Island
Lobster fishermen began to use motor-powered boats project is complemented by a $3.7 billion oil produc-
rather than sailboats or rowboats, allowing them to tion project off the Newfoundland coast. Some 150,000
catch lobsters farther offshore. Wire-mesh traps, which barrels of oil a day are currently pumped through this
are sturdier and last longer than older wooden traps, Hibernia oil project.
came into common use in the 1970s. However, the cod-
fish is the major natural predator of the lobster. Because Manufacturing, Innovation,
overfishing has reduced the cod population, the num-
ber of lobsters off the New England coast continues to
increase despite these technological changes in lobster For the most part, the Atlantic Periphery did not share
fishing. in the large-scale development of industry in North
In 2004, 71 million pounds of lobsters were caught America. The regions rugged terrain impeded trans-
off the coast of Maine, with a total value of $285 million portation, and its relatively small population reduced
(see Figure 5.7). However, after 2004 lobster prices available markets for industrial products. Many of the
began declining, while the cost of gasoline, bait, and few industries that did develop in this region were
traps increased. These changes reduced the profit oriented to natural resources, notably forestry and
margins associated with lobster fishing, forcing each fishing. Although many of the once-commonplace
lobsterman to catch more lobsters in order to make a pulp and paper mills of northern New England and
living. Some experts fear that increasing the numbers Atlantic Canada have been closed, paper production
of lobsters caught will eventually deplete the states continues in places such as northern New Hampshire,
lobster population. western Maine, and New Brunswick. Firms doing
Mineral resources in this region include granite business on the Internet ship lobsters from Maine
and marble in Vermont and iron ore in upstate New to gourmet restaurants and individual customers
York and Labrador. Historically, however, mining throughout the world.
and mineral exploitation have never been of more Other businesses and industries located in New
than local significance to the economy of the Atlantic England in recent years are associated with the regions
Periphery. This may change, however, in the years to culture, place image, and resource base. For example,

Spillovers from Megalopolis

The once-isolated economy of the Atlantic Periphery
has been affected increasingly by its relative proxim-
ity to Megalopolis, a region addressed in Chapter 7.
The population and wealth of the Boston through New
York City to Washington, D.C., area has spilled over
into the Atlantic Periphery and is evident in tourism,
industry, second-home development, and permanent
With increasing mobility, residents of the crowded
urban areas of Megalopolis have long associated the
Atlantic Periphery with scenic beauty, recreational op-
portunities, a lower cost of living, and a more relaxed
pace of life. Since the 19th century, urban dwellers
FIGURE 5.8 L.L. Bean headquarters in Maine. from large metropolitan areas in the United States and
Canada have vacationed in Atlantic Periphery resorts
such as Bar Harbor, Maine, and Campobello, New
many associate Vermont with Ben and Jerrys ice cream, Brunswick. These destinations have long attracted
reflecting the importance of dairy farming to the Green wealthy residents of Boston, New York, and other East
Mountain State. One of Maines most familiar busi- Coast cities. Old Orchard Beach on the Maine coast is
nesses is L.L. Bean, which began as a small company a favorite vacation destination of residents of Quebec
that provided rugged outdoor clothing to local fisher- where shopkeepers and motel owners post signs in
men and loggers Today, L.L. Bean manufactures and French (Figure 5.9).
sells clothing and equipment on a worldwide basis to Abundant winter snows and scenic mountain ranges
campers, cyclists, skiers, hikers, and recreational fish- made upstate New York and Vermont important ski re-
ermen (Figure 5.8). The company actively promotes sorts. Lake Placid, New York (the site of the 1980 Win-
awareness of ecologically sensitive use of the outdoors, ter Olympic Games) and Killington and Mount Snow
particularly in Maine and other parts of the Atlantic in Vermont are among the most popular ski resorts in
Periphery. the Atlantic Periphery. They attract thousands of ski-
ers from throughout the northeastern United States and
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 5.3 Canada every winter (Figure 5.10). In the autumn, thou-
You have been hired to work in the lobster industry in sands of people come to the Atlantic Periphery to view
theNorth Atlantic. Prepare a list of the most important the spectacular fall foliage (Figure 5.11). Packaged fall
considerations to resolve to ensure you will be able to foliage tours attract visitors from as far away as Texas,
make a profit lobstering before you venture out to sea. California, and Europe.

FIGURE 5.9 Old Orchard Beach

CHAPTER 5 The Atlantic Periphery 101

tax and no sales tax, has been especially attrac-

tive to those wishing to avoid high taxes in nearby
Many people who experience scenic rural areas
while vacationing eventually decide to purchase
second homes in these rural areas. Some are occu-
pied seasonally, and others are eventually occupied
year-round by their owners or by tenants. Through-
out northern New England, Nova Scotia, and other
parts of the Atlantic Periphery, thousands of people
who originally visited the area during winter, fall,
or summer vacations bought property in the region,
living in these second homes for several weeks or
months each year. Many decide eventually to retire to
these communities. At the same time, some younger
FIGURE 5.10 Skiing in Vermont. people anxious to avoid the fast pace of urban life
in Megalopolis decide to settle down in the Atlantic
Periphery. Since 1980, the states of New Hampshire
Tourism is also popular in summer when mild and Vermont, which are closest to Megalopolis, have
temperatures along with opportunities to participate had the highest population growth rates of the entire
in hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and other water northeastern United States.
sports attract numerous vacationers. Acadia National
Park along the coast of Maine is especially popular
among summer tourists.
The lower cost of living in this North American Culture, Peoples,
region has also attracted business opportunities. Ex-
ecutives of large corporations have recognized that
cheap housing and scenic amenities are attractive to The culture of the Atlantic Periphery has been influ-
their employees. In 1963, IBM opened a major facil- enced by its settlement patterns, its economy, and its
ity in Burlington, Vermont. This plant soon became physical environment. Throughout the region, these
Vermonts largest single-site employer, attracting a elements have resulted in distinctive cultural land-
white-collar workforce and paving the way for ad- scapes and, in many areas, a very strong sense of
ditional high-tech employment in the Lake Champ- place. The culture of Newfoundland is especially dis-
lain Valley. Even more people have moved to south- tinctive. As we have seen, Newfoundlands economy
ern New Hampshire and southern Maine, which are has been oriented to fishing for hundreds of years. For
within easy commuting range of the Boston metro- several centuries, many residents of Newfoundland
politan area. New Hampshire, which has no income lived in small fishing villages known as outports,

FIGURE 5.11 Fall season in the

town of Conway, at the foot of
the Berkshires, just west of the
Connecticut River Valley.

which were located along the coast wherever there of the Confederation Bridge, which links the town of
were suitable harbors along with sufficient space Borden-Carleton on the island with Cape Jourimain,
to construct houses and collect wood for construct- New Brunswick. Upon completion, the 9-mile, two-
ing buildings and racks for drying and salting fish. lane bridge was recognized as the longest bridge over
Interior regions of the island remain very sparsely ice-filled water in the world. The bridge replaced reg-
populated. Outport economies were sustained al- ular ferry service that had connected Prince Edward
most entirely by fishing, and transportation between Island with the mainland since 1917. Crossing the
outports was largely by boat. Outports were isolated bridge takes 10 minutes, as opposed to the 3-hour
from the outside world during storms and when har- ferry trip.
bors became icebound in winter. A historic sense of isolation has also character-
By the middle of the 20th century, government of- ized communities along the coast of Maine. Many
ficials became concerned that the isolation and small of these communities are located on islands, some of
size of many outports made the provision of educa- which are accessible to the mainland only by boat.
tion, health care, and other services inefficient and Historically, these communities sustained them-
uneconomical. Between 1954 and 1972, the New- selves by fishing and lobstering, and given limited
foundland government encouraged consolidation by access to the mainland, they developed highly
inducing people to abandon small outports and move independent, self-sufficient cultures. Some of these
to larger communities. By the 1980s, nearly half of island communities are inhabited only in the sum-
Newfoundlands more than 1200 tiny settlements had mer and empty out in the winter, when reliable
been abandoned. However, continued overfishing of transportation to and from the mainland is not avail-
the Grand Banks threatened the economies of the re- able. Many other Maine island communities are in-
maining outports. habited year-round, but their populations increase
In 1992, the Canadian government imposed a tem- during the summer months when tourists and sec-
porary ban on cod fishing in Canadian waters off the ond-home residents arrive. For example, the island
Atlantic Coast. In an effort to alleviate hardship, the community of Monhegan, where well-known artists
Canadian government provided fishermen, cannery Andrew Wyeth and Winslow Homer produced nu-
workers, and others who lost their jobs as a result of merous famous paintings, has only 75 year-round
the ban with payments equivalent to their previous residents, but its population swells to several hun-
wages for two years, provided that they would seek dred during the tourist season.
retraining in other fields. The governments intention
was to encourage resettlement of outport residents to
Ontario and western Canada. Metropolitan Areas
Today many native-born residents of Newfound-
By the standards of most other parts of the United
land have relocated to other parts of Canada. More
States and Canada, the metropolitan areas of the
than 15 percent of the people who live in the rapidly
Atlantic Periphery are of modest size and influence
growing community of Fort McMurray, Alberta (see
(see Table 5.1). Yet they are highly important to
Chapter 18) were born in Newfoundland. However,
the economies and cultures of their respective states
many Newfoundlanders remain strongly attached to
and provinces.
their native island and have refused to move despite
Most of the major cities of the Canadian part of
chronic poverty and unemployment. Newfoundlands
the Atlantic Periphery are located on the Atlantic
strong sense of place is reinforced by the fact that New-
foundland and Labrador was a separate British colony
until it became part of Canada in 1948. Even today,
public opinion polls confirm that a majority of the TABLE 5.1 Five Largest Metropolitan Areas in
islands residents identify themselves more with the the Atlantic Periphery
province than with Canada. 1990/ 2000/
The province of Prince Edward Island also has a City (1991) (2001) 2010
long history of isolation from the Canadian main- Portland-South 221,095 487,568 516,826
land. Prince Edward Island is Canadas smallest Portland-Biddeford, ME
province in both area and population. In contrast
Manchester-Nashua, 342,016 380,841 405,906
to the rest of the Atlantic Periphery, Prince Edward
Island has long been oriented to agriculture. Potatoes
are the largest cash crop, and fruit, vegetables, and Halifax, Nova Scotia 320,501 359,183 398,037
livestock continue to be produced and exported in Burlington, VT 151,506 198,889 208,055
large quantities.
St. Johns, 125,838 172,918 187,596
In 1997, Prince Edward Islands isolation from the
mainland was reduced dramatically by the opening
FIGURE 5.12 Downtown Halifax,
Nova Scotia.

Coast, or in the valleys of its major rivers. The two of the provinces population (Figure 5.13). As the
largest metropolitan areas of the Atlantic Periphery, Canadian port closest to Europe, Saint Johns plays
Halifax and Saint John, dominate Nova Scotia and an important role in trans-Atlantic trade. The citys
New Brunswick, respectively. Both serve as the pro- traditional orientation to fish processing is being
vincial capitals of their respective provinces. Halifax, replaced by increasing emphasis on the oil and gas
which was founded in 1749, is the eastern terminus industry, including the Canadian headquarters of
of Canadas major railroads and highways, and it ExxonMobil.
is the Atlantic Peripherys major port (Figure 5.12). Saint John is also a port city and the largest city
More than a third of Nova Scotias population lives in New Brunswick. Saint John is an industrial cen-
in the Halifax metropolitan area. The Canadian ter and the headquarters for the Canadian Navy.
Royal Navy also maintains extensive facilities in However, the major urban functions of New Bruns-
Halifax, which also serves as a processing center wick are divided among Saint John on the coast, the
for agricultural products, timber, and fish. St. Johns provincial capital of Fredericton in the interior, and
plays a similar role in the province of Newfoundland Moncton in the east. Moncton is also well known as
and Labrador. a center for French culture in New Brunswick. French
The Saint Johns metropolitan area and the sur- is the language of instruction at the Universit du
rounding Avalon Peninsula contain about 40 percent Moncton (University of Moncton), which is one of

FIGURE 5.13 St. Johns,




In February 2011, hundreds of athletes (280 centimeters) of snow each winter. competed in the 2011 World Cup, which
from around the world converged on Fort The 10th Mountain Center includes state- attracted more than 35,000 specta-
Kent, Maine, to participate in the Inter- of-the-art training facilities, more than tors and was broadcast on television to
national Biathlon World Cup. Biathlon is 25kilometers (15.5 miles) of biathlon European countries with a total of over
a winter sport combining Nordic skiing trails, and a lodge that affords 360-degree 100 million people. These visitors spent
with target shooting. The sport origi- views of biathlon competitions. The Inter- more than $10 million in northern Maine,
nated in Scandinavia and the majority of national Biathlon Union, which sponsors and they called worldwide attention to
its world-class competitors come from eight World Cup competitions throughout Maines potential to host major inter-
Scandinavia and the former Soviet Union. the world each year, has designated the national sporting events. Not only has
Biathlon is an Olympic sport that is highly 10th Mountain Center as a world-class northern Maine become the major North
popular in northern Europe but has biathlon venue. American center for biathlon, but the
never achieved this popularity in North By 2010, the 10th Mountain Center sport has become a major source of de-
America. However, Fort Kents leaders are had come to be recognized as North velopment capital for a region historically
working to make the sport more popular Americas premier biathlon venue. More dependent on extractive and declining
in North America while infusing needed than 250 biathletes from 30 countries industries.
income into depressed northern Maine.
Fort Kent is located in northern Aroos-
took County along the U.S.-Canadian
border. Many of its 4233 residents are
of French-Canadian ancestry and speak
French as their first language. Historically,
Aroostook Countys economy has been
based on potato cultivation and logging.
However, long-run declines in both of
these extractive industries have taken
their toll on northern Maines economy,
with high unemployment rates and low
In the late 1990s, the Maine Winter
Sports Center (MWSC) was established.
Recognizing Maines cold winters and
heavy snowfalls as a development oppor-
tunity, leaders of this nonprofit organiza-
tion saw snow skiing and other winter
sports as a means of promoting economic
development in depressed rural com-
munities throughout the state. One of
MWSCs first projects was the construction
of the 10th Mountain Center in Fort Kent,
which receives an average of 116 inches Activities at the Maine Winter Sports Program.

only two French-speaking universities in Canada Maine andcan be thought of as the northernmost ex-
outside of Quebec. tension of Megalopolis. Fort Kent, Maine, is the host
The cities of Portland, Manchester, and Burling- of the 10th Mountain Center, which serves as the
ton dominate the states of Maine, New Hampshire, headquarters for biathlon competition in the United
and Vermont, respectively, although none of these States. This competitive Nordic event has popular-
are the capital cities of their states. Most of Maines ized northern Maine as the best-known site of global
people live along or close to the coast. Interior north- biathlon competitions in the United States and
ern Maine is sparsely populated and heavily for- Canada (see Box 5.3).
ested. Much of the land is owned and operated by Southern New Hampshire is also often perceived as
timber companies. In addition to timber production, part of the region to the south known as Megalopolis
fishing and shipbuilding are important to Maines (as discussed in Chapter 7). Here, the city of Manches-
economy. Portland is located in the southern part of ter was historically a center for textile manufacturing
CHAPTER 5 The Atlantic Periphery 105

and other industries but is now increasingly oriented to prevent these species from becoming extinct. The
to Bostons economic and cultural sphere. Burlington, environmental impact of overfishing has resulted in
located on the shore of Lake Champlain, separates Ver- significant increases in unemployment and has forced
mont from New York. In addition to IBM, Burlingtons many residents of the Atlantic Periphery to turn to
white-collar workforce is oriented to medical services new ways to earn their livings or to move elsewhere.
and education. As the U.S. city that is located in clos- Entire communities, especially in Newfoundland,
est proximity to Montreal, Burlington also benefits have been abandoned. Lobstering off the coast of
from considerable trade between the United States and Maine remains profitable, but lobster populations
Canada. must be regulated carefully to prevent a similar col-
lapse. Significant research related to lobster manage-
CONCEPTUAL CHECKPOINT 5.4 ment is also being carried out.
Although you have lived in New York City for most of A number of significant changes are taking place
your life, you are interested in moving to a small town in this long-isolated peripheral region, with many
in northern New England in search of a slower pace driven by forces from outside the region. Urbanites
oflife. What questions would you ask a real estate agent from Megalopolis are attracted by the areas physical
who has offered to show you aroundand where do environment, history and distinctive culture, and the
you most prefer to live in this area? What geographic low cost of living. Many have bought second homes,
factors or other amenities attracted you to this and some have moved to the region permanently.
particular place? Areas closest to Megalopolis to the south, such as
New Hampshire and Vermont, have experienced
especially significant growth in recent years from
these new migrants.
The Future of the Atlantic It is not yet known if the increased number of re-
tiree baby-boomers with enough disposable income to
Periphery spend on second homes will be enough to overcome
the economic challenges of this resource-dependent
This chapter has shown that the political economy of
economy. We dont yet know how these newcomers
the Atlantic Periphery has long been oriented to its
from cities to the south change local cultures and local
natural resources. The rugged topography and cool,
landscapes. Will this part of the continent evolve into
wet climate of the region has also impacted its culture
a bedroom community for Megalopolis residents and
and economy in many ways. In part because the rug-
lose its unique sense of place in the future? Already,
ged terrain and chilly climate make agriculture diffi-
local residents and others have expressed grave con-
cult and unprofitable, the Atlantic Periphery has been
cerns that this invasion of newcomers may cause
oriented to the sea for more than 500 years. Per capita
the loss of local cultures and identities in the region;
incomes throughout the region remain below the U.S.
they caution that southern New Hampshire is al-
and Canadian national averages, and, for the most
ready becoming indistinguishable from the suburbs of
part, it remains a backwater of economic development.
nearby Boston.
One of the major causes of the regions economic chal-
Canadas share of the Atlantic Periphery may face
lenges has been the regions overdependence on and
even more serious, long-term economic challenges
overuse of its natural resources.
because of the regions location too far from Canadas
urban centers to benefit from the economic benefits of
this spillover growth. However, the protection afforded
Environmental Impacts by greater distance from the center of power may also
Until very recently, primary access to many of the protect Canadas portion of the Atlantic Periphery from
Atlantic Peripherys coastal communities has been losing the integrity of its cultures and experiencing the
by sea rather than over land. As discussed earlier in degradation of its natural systems.
this chapter, the Grand Banks off the coast of New- Despite the many challenges that the Atlantic Pe-
foundland and Nova Scotia is a region of the Atlantic riphery has faced over the years, new systems of sus-
Ocean in which the upwelling of nutrients caused by tainable fisheries management, the discovery of new
the mixing of cold-water and warm-water currents oil and gas deposits, and the influx of new migrants
provides prime habitat for many species of fish. Enor- from nearby cities may all contribute to economic
mous numbers of fish have been caught in the Grand growth in this region in the years to come. Along
Banks since the Middle Ages. But recent human ac- with this growth, however, care must be taken to en-
tivities have swept away the sustainability of some sure that resource extraction and overuse and popu-
important marine resources. Stocks of cod and other lation increases do not detract from the beautiful and
commercially important fish have declined so much largely unspoiled physical landscape of the Atlantic
that governments have placed severe limits on fishing Periphery.

Review Questions
1. How did the major landform features of the At- 6. What are the positive and negative impacts of
lantic Periphery provide opportunities and con- urban spillover migrants in this region?
straints for early settlement?
7. What are some of the distinctive cultural land-
2. Why is the region discussed in this chapter re- scape features that contribute to the Atlantic
ferred to as a peripheral area? Peripherys unique sense of place?

3. Name at least three types of primary production 8. Why did northern Maine become popular as a site
that have long been important to the economies of for a biathlon center and an international biathlon
the Atlantic Periphery. competition in recent years?

4. What are some of the economic, locational, and 9. Why did the government become concerned about
environmental challenges of the Canadian part the quality of life of residents of Newfoundlands
of this region, especially the province of Labrador outport settlements in the mid-20th century?
and Newfoundland?
10. Why is it critically important to develop and im-
5. Speculate on some of the reasons why the Vikings plement sustainable management approaches for
may have selected the location of LAnse-aux- Grand Banks fisheries?
Meadows as one of their preferred sites for early

Group Activities
1. Your group has been hired by an environmental 3. Imagine that your group is a band of early Viking
planning agency to write a report on the North explorers sent to explore the offshore islands and
Atlantic fishing industry. Prepare a one-page sum- coasts of the Atlantic Periphery region. Discuss
mary listing some of the major challenges facing specific sites located in this region that might
the regions fisheries today. Then provide a bul- offer the best options for successful Viking settle-
leted list of your recommendations to increase the ment. Then prepare a brief oral report to present
sustainability of this critically important fishery to Viking leaders back home that provides a ratio-
habitat in the years to come. nale for your recommendations of these particular
locations for long-term settlement.
2. Draw a sketch map showing the migration routes
and settlement patterns of Acadians after their
expulsion from their homeland in the Maritimes
French-speaking colonies.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Chute, Carolyn. 1985. The Beans of Egypt, Maine. New York: Irving, John. 1985. The Cider House Rules. New York: Ballantine.
Warner. Popular novel (and film) about a young man coming of age
A fictional account of the lives of a poor, rural Maine family. in mid-20th century Maine.
Clark, Andrew Hill. 1968. Acadia: The Geography of Nova Jenkins, Jerry, and Andy Keal. 2006. The Adirondack Atlas:
Scotia to 1760. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. AGeographic Portrait of Adirondack Park. Syracuse, NY:
A classic study of the early settlement of Nova Scotia prior Syracuse University Press.
to and during the Seven Years War (known as the French Facts and figures packaged in tight one-page essays on
and Indian War in the United States). every imaginable topic related to the Adirondacks.
Clark, Andrew Hill. 1959. Three Centuries and an Island: A McManis, Douglas R. 1975. Colonial New England: A Historical
Historical Geography of Settlement and Agriculture in Prince Geography. New York: Oxford University Press.
Edward Island, Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto A classic historical geography of rural New England prior to
Press. the American Revolution.
CHAPTER 5 The Atlantic Periphery 107

Montgomery, Lucy Maud. 1908. Anne of Green Gables. A thorough study of the historical geography of rural
A beloved childrens novel set in Prince Edward Island. New England with an emphasis on the regions cultural
Proulx, Annie. 1993. The Shipping News. New York: Scribner.
Wynn, Graeme. 1981. Timber Colony: A Historical Geography
Pulitzer Prizewinning novel about a family settling on the of Early New Brunswick. Toronto: University of Toronto
coast of northern Newfoundland. Press.
Wood, Joseph S. 1997. The New England Village. Baltimore, A comprehensive historical geography of New Brunswick.
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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6 Quebec
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

Differentiate between is prone to certain kinds of Compose a list of reasons and distinctive cultural
Francophones, Anglophones, natural hazards. to explain how Quebec has landscapes.
and Allophones in Canada.
List and discuss the been able to maintain its
Formulate an argument
Compare the meaning of contributions of French identity over the
centuries (despite early
defending recent
Lower Canada and Upper indigenous peoples to descriptions of Montreal
Canada as these terms relate early French settlement political control by the as one of Canadas primary
to the St. Lawrence River. and survival in New British and later pressures cultural capitals and most
to be absorbed into
Contrast the locations of France.
Anglophone Canada).
demographically diverse
Quebecs two largest cities Compare the French long cities.
Montreal and Quebec lot system in Quebec with Assess the importance Assess Quebecs potential
Cityand summarize the the metes and bounds of two types of primary for sustaining its unique
comparative advantages system more often used to production in Quebec French heritage in the
and disadvantages of each survey land holdings in the over the years in terms of future despite increasing
of these sites for successful New England colonies. their importance to the economic and political
regions political economy
human settlement.
List and discuss at least today.
pressures to become more

Describe some of the ways three important long-term like the rest of Canada.
that Quebecs environmental outcomes of the signing of Identify and discuss the List at least three kinds of
setting has influenced its the Treaty of Paris on French three pillars of Quebec environmental hazards that
economic patterns. and English settlement nationalism. regularly threaten Quebec

Summarize the reasons in North America in the Discuss some of the factors and discuss why this region
why the region of Quebec decades following the that have shaped Quebecs is especially prone to these
Seven Years War. unique sense of place types of threats.

We are Quebecois . . . [and] what that means first and foremost . . . is that we are
attached to this one corner of the earth where we can be completely ourselves; this
Quebec, the only place where we have the unmistakable feeling that here we can
really be home.
(Rene Levesque, Founder of the Parti Quebecois, 1968)

uebecs distinctive cultural landscapes and its its provincial boundaries since thousands of French Ca-
status as the only French-speaking province nadians have migrated to other parts of Canada and the
in Canada set this region apart from the rest of United States during the past two and a half centuries.
North America. Quebecs unique sense of place is based Canada was settled by two major groups of Europeans
on the importance of its early French settlement and British and Frenchfollowing centuries of earlier indig-
the lingering but intense feelings of separatism of many enous settlement there. In the earliest years, the term
Quebecois from the rest of Canada. Canadien referred to all French-speaking people along
Quebec is Canadas largest province in land area, with the other inhabitants of the area (including British set-
with 600,000 square miles (1.6 million square kilome- tlers, Loyalists from the United States, and other English
ters). If this province were ever to secede from Canada, speakers) except for its aboriginal peoples. After the con-
it would become the worlds 18th largest country in land federation of Canada in the 1860s, new terms were needed
areamore than twice the size of Texas and three times to describe each of these groups. Thereafter, Canadians of
the size of France. Quebecs history and geography French origin became known as les Canadiens francais,
clearly set it apart as a well-defined political and cultural a term that includes Francophones all over Canada, while
North American region because it is the only large cul- the term Quebecois referred to all residents of Quebec. In
tural hearth of French language, customs, and heritage Quebec and other parts of eastern Canada, as discussed
on the continent. And its influence stretches well beyond in Chapter 5, however, Acadians identified themselves

Montreal skyline. 109


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Baffin Island