In order to understand the geography of the United States and how it has influenced the history of the country, it's important to know how to read and interpret a map. The first map of the United States that you'll need to become familiar with is the one below, which shows the country's important geographic features, such as lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges. Because two states, Alaska and Hawaii, are located so far away from the continental United States (the other 48 states), they will be shown in separate boxes on the bottom left in most of the maps in this interactive.
This editable Main Article is under development and not meant to be cited; by editing it you can help to improve it towards a future approved, citable version. The United States occupies a band across the entire width of North America, and includes Alaska, a peninsula at the northwest extreme of North America, and Hawaii, a group of volcanic islands in the north Pacific Ocean. The Appalachian Mountains, which run southwest to northeast near the east coast, are an ancient mountain range which existed before the separation of North America. West of the Appalachian Mountains is a very large broad basin which extends west to the Rocky Mountains. West of the Rockies lie a number of smaller mountain ranges and basins, forming the Basin and Range country.
Further west lie the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, and the Cascades of Washington, Oregon and far northern California.
Zones of sea-floor spreading create transform faults between them; one of the largest transform faults in the world is California's San Andreas Fault, which starts in Southern California near the Salton Sea and runs to the Mendocino Triple Junction at the borders of the North American Plate, the Juan de Fuca Plate, and the Pacific Plate. Hawaii is a series of tropical volcanic islands; the "Big Island" of Hawaii has two active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea, with an offshore underwater volcano named Loihi currently active.
The state of Alaska consists of a coastal strip west of British Columbia in Canada, and the bulk of the Alaska Peninsula. The climate is diverse in the United States, but many parts have a continental climate, often with hot summers and great variations in temperature during a year. The climate is mostly warm in the southern states along the Gulf, and there is rarely snow during the winter. The climate is more varied on the east coast and in the Appalachian Mountains, but a common denominator is that these areas often receive lot of precipitation. The first human settlement of the territory of the United States was that of the Native Americans, migrating south and eastwards from Asia, across a land bridge which connected Alaska to Siberia during a period of glaciation.[3] Native American culture within the territory of the United States had reached the level of small cities in the vicinity of Cahokia and in the Pueblos of the Southwest, and settled agricultural villages in much of the eastern part of the United States. The first European contact with North America was the settlement of Vinland in the vicinity of Newfoundland by the Vikings, around 1000 AD. The first English settlement in the territory of the United States was the Roanoke Colony, established in 1585, which disappeared around 1590.
Further settlements were made by the English at Plymouth in 1620, by the Dutch at several locations in New Netherlands in 1624 and 1625, and the Swedish at Christiana, Delaware in 1638. The English settlements grew faster than the others, and English military action resulted in the passing of the Dutch, Swedish, and French settlements along the Atlantic coast and Canada under British rule. Two million British settlers in 13 colonies (along with German and other immigrants, and African slaves) comprised the Thirteen Colonies of 1775. The country expanded westward, as the frontier shaped the characteristic American traits of expansion, adventure, violence and democracy.
After the war rapid industrialization and urbanization turned the nation into the strongest economic power.
The United States is a representative democracy, and its structure and system of checks and balances are established by the United States Constitution. There are three main levels of government in the United States, and they are hierarchical, i.e.
The judicial branch is headed by the "Highest Court in the Land," the Supreme Court of the United States (nicknamed "SCOTUS"). The economy of the United States is based upon capitalism, with elements of a mixed economy. The United States is rich on natural resources, and has for example gold, silver, petroleum, coal, iron, and uranium.
Today, much of the United States is employed in the service industries, and in the knowledge economy. Air service is extensive, with a dense network comprising major carriers and numerous regional carriers, The industry has been financially troubled since the 9-11 Attack, but prices keep falling. In 1956, the federal government began systematic building of high speed superhighways linking all major cities and most minor ones. Church and State are separated federally by the First Amendment, extended to the states by the Fourteenth; no government aid is allowed to religion or religious schools, although the exact line is controversial. Religion is an important part of American politics, and the personal beliefs of candidates are often used in political campaigns. While the United States is often thought of as a place that bears an antipathy to intellectualism and abstract thought, it has been the home of many great writers, scientists, philosophers, academics and others engaged in the life of the mind. The anti-intellectual streak in American history was written about in depth by the historian Richard Hofstadter in Anti-intellectualism in American Life, where he stated that the causes of American anti-intellectualism stem from a business-minded utilitarian ethic, a self-reliant distrust of elites and a strident Protestant evangelical movement. The longest un-dammed river in the contiguous USA is the Yellowstone River; it is 692 miles long. Rivers provide drinking water, irrigation water, transportation, electrical power, drainage, food, and recreation.

While some of the USA rivers and lakes serve as vital waterways for inland navigation others are useful sources of irrigation and power generation.
Besides the USA rivers, the USA river map also shows the various lakes, streams and other water bodies in the USA. Usually, north is at the top, south is at the bottom, east is on the right, and west is on the left.
Symbols such as lines, colors, or pictures are often used in maps to represent geographical features, such as lakes, rivers, or mountains. Examine it closely since you'll need to know the locations of these features for this chapter and the ones that follow. The country is a federal constitutional republic[1] that consists of 48 contiguous states as well as the two non-contiguous states Alaska and Hawaii. The plain very gradually rises westward to the Appalachian Mountains, and is drained by a large number of rivers.
Along the northern boundary of the United States is a series of 5 large lakes, called the Great Lakes.
The northern part of this region, primarily in Montana and Idaho, is well-watered and drains to the Pacific Ocean through the Columbia River , its major tributary the Snake River, and their tributaries. The drainage of the west slope of the Sierra Nevada flows into a series of small rivers, which ultimately feed the Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River, which meet at the California Delta prior to discharging through San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. The fault runs further inland in Southern California, and closer to the ocean in Northern California; it enters the Pacific Ocean just south of San Francisco, and makes a brief landfall at Point Reyes in Marin County north of San Francisco. There is however a big difference between the northern and southern parts of the west cost. Viking explorations may have reached into the territory of the United States, but the settlement failed, and very few records remained. Throughout this time, English, Dutch, and French fishing vessels began fishing off the coast of New England, and occasionally landing to trade with the native Americans, but the native Americans did not permit settlements. Permanent French settlements were established in the territory of Canada in 1599 at Tadoussac and in 1608 at Quebec, but the first permanent French settlements within the boundaries of the United States were not made until 1699 in Louisiana.
Angered by deprivation of their historic rights by Britain, they revolted in 1775, and voted to declare independence on July 2, 1776, as the new nation, The United States of America. The Democratic party (founded 1828) and the Republican party (founded 1854) have traded control back and forth in the states and nationwide.
The Federal government is divided by the Constitution into three branches - Executive, Judicial and Legislative. The Congress is bicameral (two houses), and consists of the House of Representatives and Senate.
The Federal Reserve is independent from the government, and Congress does not interfere with its policies. Soybeans and cotton are important in the South, but tobacco is being phased out after 400 years in Virginia (as well as North Carolina and Kentucky). Most airlines use a hub-and-spoke configuration with the main hubs at Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas.
Religion is an integral part of daily life for most Americans, and society is not as secularized as in many other developed nations.
Christianity is the largest religion, divided about equally among mainline Protestants, evangelical Protestants, and Roman Catholics. All presidents of the United States have had a Protestant background, with the exception of John F. The poetry and philosophy of Transcendentalism combined the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and German idealism with Romanticism and the Vedic philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita.
Charles Sanders Peirce is widely considered to be the originator of this philosophy, which was then developed in the writings of William James and John Dewey.
During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Obama's background as a law professor and as an intellectual caused many to suggest that it would make him out-of-touch[13], although many celebrated a change in style from President Bush's "folksy" persona.
However Compare Infobase Limited,its directors and employees do not own any responsibility for the correctness or authenticity of the same. The longest river in the USA is the Missouri River; it is a tributary of the Mississippi River and is 2,540 miles long. For certain cities like New Orleans, river basins usher in growth and prosperity for the city and its people.
The lake system of the US comprises Great Lakes of Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario and Lake Michigan, the first four of which are shared with Canada. Of the five Great Lakes, only Lake Michigan falls entirely within the territory of the United States with the remaining four being shared with Canada.
They can also be used to represent borders between countries, cities, capitals, and other manmade landmarks. The current head of state and government is President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008. The Great Lakes ultimately drain to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River in Canada. The northeastern parts of the United States have a lot of snow in the winter, including the coastal areas.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which expressed the nation's commitment to republican ideals, and was signed on July 4, 1776.
The question of the exact relationship is the issue of "federalism"; the main points were settled by the Civil War and Reconstruction, but small points remain a matter of political and constitutional debate.
The current head of state and head of government is President Barack Obama, serving a four-year term ending in 2013, and eligible for re-election to one additional term. All states have two senators, and each state's number of representatives is decided by the state's population.
Airline deregulation occurred in 1978 ending the necessity for government approval of air fares and air routes within the United States. Six out of ten Americans feel that their faith plays a very important role in their lives.[12] American freedom of religion was initially tried in Rhode Island which, unlike the more Puritan New England states, allowed a great diversity of religious practice, to the point where it was referred to by many as "Rogue Island". The United States has led to the founding of a number of new religious movements, some reaching the point of being recognized as world religions: Mary Baker Eddy claimed to have discover a specifically Christian "mind cure" which she established as the Church of Jesus Christ, Scientist - better known as the Christian Science movement - whose central church is in Boston, Massachusetts. Transcendentalism can be seen in the work of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and in the community founded by Bronson Alcott.
As an example, James, a professor at Harvard, produced a series of Gifford Lectures on the varieties of religious experience, which looked at religion not from the truth value of the beliefs or the philosophical and theological considerations that go into believing them, but the psychological status of those beliefs - the benefits and drawbacks of different religious beliefs, and how they fit into the lives of adherents. This kind of erosion can even form canyons, like the Grand Canyon, and waterfalls, like Niagara Falls. The whole drainage topography of the USA may be divided into two main subsystems, namely the Eastern systems and the Pacific systems. Apart from being the site for large population concentrations and industrial activities, the Great Lakes also handle the highest volume of fresh water shipping tonnage in the world. The Great Basin covers most of Nevada and much of Utah, and extends into the surrounding states. The southern and central parts of California have a typical Mediterranean climate, with very little precipitation during late spring, summer, and early fall, and sun most of the year. The slavery issue led to the American Civil War when the Republican party elected Abraham Lincoln president in 1860 promising to stop the expansion of slavery, and the South seceded and tried to form a new country. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, rapid advances in technology, a large growing super-rich element, and a high rate of immigration (including 12 million illegal immigrants).
The judicial branch consists of a system of federal courts, with the Supreme Court at the top. The Big Three are now shrinking, as consumers move toward smaller, more fuel-efficient Japanese models built in the U.S by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. The First Amendment has roots in Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statutes for Religious Freedom, written in 1779, to make it so that "no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever" and to ensure "that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion".
New York state resident Joseph Smith claimed to have found a set of gold plates placed which contained a follow-on volume to the New Testament detailing how Jesus travelled to America.
The writings and ideas of the Transcendentalists have influenced American thought ever since. George Washington, who led the military effort, chaired the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which divided powers between the states and national government, and divided powers in the latter among legislative (Congress), executive (President) and judicial (Supreme Court) branches. The Confederacy was defeated, the union was saved, the slaves all freed and during Reconstruction the slaves were made citizens and voters. Roosevelt met the challenge with New Deal programs of relief, recovery and reform, and built a Democratic party coalition, the New Deal Coalition, comprising unions, ethnics, city machines and the South, that dominated politics until the 1960s, with a commitment to equality. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to interpret federal law, determine if laws are incompatible with the U.S. Social spending is increasing, and the cost of federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid is growing.
African-Americans, mostly descended from slaves brought from Africa in the 1700s, were recently displaced as the largest minority group by Hispanics, who arrived from Mexico and other Latin American nations. This became the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - popularly known as Mormonism - which now has a global following, and is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Ohio River drains much of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky to the Mississippi River. The Alaska Range continues to the southwest to form the Aleutian Peninsula and ultimately the Aleutian Islands. Constitution, determines the legality of decisions made by the Court of Appeals and makes determinations of due process but does not normally make factual determinations or findings of fact. Other religious movements founded in the United States include the Jehovah's Witnesses movement, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Church of Scientology. The Ohio River is formed by the confluence of the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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