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.

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.

They can also be used to represent borders between countries, cities, capitals, and other manmade landmarks.

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