Chapter 11 – The United States
Section Notes
Physical Geography
History and Culture
The United States Today
Impact of Immigration
World Almanac
Population of Major U.S. Cities
Quick Facts
Chapter 11 Visual Summary
The United States: Political
The United States: Physical
The United States: Climate
Natural Hazards in the United States
Western Expansion
Regions of the United States
Land Use and Resources
The United States
Assessment Map
Grand Canyon
Tornado Diagram
Diverse America
Physical Geography
The Big Idea
The United States is a large country with diverse physical
features, climates, and resources.
Main Ideas
• Major physical features of the United States include
mountains, rivers, and plains.
• The climate of the United States is wetter in the East and
South and drier in the West.
• The United States is rich in natural resources such as
farmland, oil, forests, and minerals.
Main Idea 1:
Major physical features of the United States
include mountains, rivers, and plains.
The United States is the third largest country.
Physical features from east to west include:
Coastal Plain
Flat, close to sea level
Rises to a higher level called the Piedmont
Main mountain range in the East
Millions of years of erosion so that highest peak is
about 6,700 feet
Interior Plains •
Filled with hills, lakes, and rivers
Physical Features, continued
Great Lakes
The largest group of freshwater lakes in the world
Important for trade between the United States and
North America’s longest and most important river
Has many tributaries, or smaller streams or rivers
that flow into a larger stream or river
E.g., the Missouri and Ohio rivers which help drain
the entire Interior Plains.
These rivers deposit rich silt that creates the fertile
farmlands of the Interior Plains.
Great Plains
At higher elevation has vast areas of grasslands
Physical Features West of the Rockies
Alaska and
Enormous rugged mountain ranges that rise above
14,000 feet
A line of high peaks in the Rocky Mountains
A continental divide is an area of high ground that
divides the flow of rivers towards opposite ends of a
continent. Rivers to the east empty into the
Mississippi River and to the west into the Pacific
At 20,320 feet, Alaska’s Mount McKinley is the
highest mountain in North America.
Hawaii formed by volcanoes millions of years ago.
Main Idea 2:
The climate of the United States is wetter in
the East and South and drier in the West.
East and South
• Northeast: Humid
climate with
snowy winters
and warm, humid
• South: Humid
climate with
milder winters
and warm, humid
• Florida: Warm all
Interior Plains
• Most of the
region: A humid
• Great Plains: Hot
and dry summers
• West: Mostly dry
• Pacific Northwest
coast: A wet,
mild coastal
• Alaska: Sub-arctic
and tundra
• Hawaii: A warm,
tropical climate
Main Idea 3:
The United States is rich in natural resources
such as farmland, oil, forests, and minerals.
• Alaska, California, or Louisiana: oil
– The U.S. is a major oil producer but uses more oil than it produces.
• Appalachians and Rockies: minerals including coal
– Coal supplies the energy for more than half of the electricity
produced in the U.S.
– The U.S. has about 25 percent of the world’s coal reserves.
• Forests: lumber
• Farmlands: wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton, fruits, and vegetables
History and Culture
The Big Idea
Democratic ideas and immigration have shaped the history
and culture of the United States.
Main Ideas
• The United States is the world’s first modern democracy.
• The people and culture of the United States are very
Main Idea 1:
The United States is the world’s first modern
• 1500s: Europeans settlers established colonies, or territories
inhabited and controlled by people from a foreign land.
• Mid-1700s: The British Empire included more than a dozen colonies
along the Atlantic coast.
• Boston and New York became major seaports.
• Plantations, or large farms that grow mainly one crop, harvested
tobacco, rice, or cotton using enslaved Africans.
• July 1776: The colonial representatives adopted the Declaration of
Independence, which did not give rights to everyone, but was a
great step toward equality and justice.
• 1781: General George Washington's army defeated the British in
the Revolutionary War, which had started in Massachusetts and
spread west and south.
• Britain recognized the independence of the U.S. and granted the
U.S. all its land east of the Mississippi River.
Expansion and Industrial Growth
• These first settlers who traveled west for land and plentiful
resources were called pioneers.
• Groups of families undertook the harsh trip along the 2,000-mile
Oregon Trail.
• Late 1840s: Discovery of gold brought tens of thousands of
people to California.
• 1850: More than 23 million people
• Late 1880s: Major steel, oil, and textile production
• Most industrial cities in Northeast and Midwest.
• The development of waterways and railroads helped industry and
expansion into interior.
• Late 1800s/early 1900s: Immigration from Europe creates a
culturally diverse nation.
Wars and Peace
• The United States fought in several wars during the 1900s.
• Many Americans died in World Wars I and II.
• The United States and the Soviet Union became rivals in the Cold
– 1950s: War in Korea
– 1960s and 1970s: War in Vietnam
• Early 1990s: The collapse of the Soviet Union marked the end of
the Cold War.
• 1991: The United States fought Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
• 2003: United States invaded Iraq and is helping Iraqis rebuild
their country today.
• Today the United States is one of the most powerful members of
the United Nations.
U.S. Government and Citizenship
A limited, democratic government with an elected
president and Congress
The Constitution defines the powers of the federal
The federal government handles issues affecting the
whole country.
States, counties, and cities have their own
governments that provide state and local services,
such as trash collection, road building, electricity,
and public transportation.
U.S. citizens have the right to vote from age 18.
Citizens are encouraged to participate in their
Participation is essential to democratic government.
Main Idea 2:
The people and culture of the United States
are very diverse.
Native Americans
African Americans
• Many came from
Mexico, Cuba,
and other Latin
• For thousands of
years, Native
Americans were
the only people in
the Americas.
• Most live in the
states that border
• Today most live in
the west,
particularly in
Arizona and New
• African Americans
live in every
region, but
southern states
and many large
cities have a
European Descendents
• About 7 out of every 10 people
Asian Americans
• Live mostly in California
Language and Religion
Language •
After English, Spanish is the most widely spoken
About 17 million Americans speak Spanish.
Over 50 million are bilingual, or speak two languages.
Most people are Christians. Some are Jewish or Muslim.
A small percentage is Hindu or Buddhist.
Many religious holidays: Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah,
Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan and the feast
called ‘Id al-Fitr
African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa, a holiday that
is based on a traditional African festival.
Food, Music, and Popular Culture
Food And
Diverse ethnic foods like Mexican tacos, Italian pasta, or
Japanese sushi are now part of the American diet.
Music from around the world have also influenced
American culture.
American musical styles include blues, jazz, rock, and
hip hop.
American culture, such as movies, television programs,
and sports, are popular abroad.
E.g., Star Wars seen by millions, baseball in Japan,
Starbucks in almost every major city, and an MTV
channel in Asia
The United States Today
The Big Idea
The United States has four main regions and faces
opportunities and challenges.
Main Ideas
• The United States has four regions—the Northeast, South,
Midwest, and West.
• The United States has a strong economy and a powerful
military but is facing the challenge of world terrorism.
Main Idea 1:
The United States has four regions—the
Northeast, South, Midwest, and West.
The Northeast
• Industrial and financial centers
• Economy: banks, investment
firms, insurance companies,
respected universities
• Rich farmland, coal, steel
production, and fishing
• Most densely populated region
in the U.S. with 40 million
• Cities from Boston to
Washington, D.C. form a
megalopolis, or a string of
large cities that have grown
• Cities founded in colonial era
became important seaports.
The South
• Rich farmlands grow cotton,
tobacco, and citrus fruit.
• This region is becoming more
urban and industrialized.
– Atlanta metropolis has
grown from 1 million in
1960 to 4 million today.
– Research Triangle in North
Carolina is growing hightech area.
– Texas Gulf Coast and lower
Mississippi Rover areas
have huge oil refineries
and petrochemical plants.
• Important trade centers with
Mexico and Central and South
American countries. E.g., Miami
The Midwest and the West
The Midwest
The West
• One of the most productive
farming regions in the world
• Large open spaces with major
cities on the Pacific Coast
• Crops: corn, wheat, and
• More than 10 percent of the
nation lives in California, where
farming, technology, and
entertainment are important
• Dairy farms in Wisconsin,
Michigan, and Minnesota
• Major cities are located near the
Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and
the Great Lakes because
products are easily shipped to
and from these centers.
– Detroit, Michigan, is the
country’s leading
automobile producer.
– Chicago, Illinois, is the
third largest city in the
• Economy of other states:
ranching and growing wheat
• Mineral resources: coal, oil,
gold, silver, copper, and others
• Oregon and Washington:
forestry and fishing
• Seattle: Washington’s largest
city with many industries.
• Alaska: oil, forests, and fish
• Hawaii: pineapple, sugarcane,
and tourism
Main Idea 3:
The United States has a strong economy and
a powerful military but is facing the
challenge of world terrorism.
Largest economy in the world
Many natural resources, modern technologies, and
Beneficial trade with Canada, Mexico, China, Japan,
and Europe
1992: The North American Free Trade Agreement,
NAFTA, has made trade easier with Mexico and
A powerful military to protect the U.S.
Helps other countries defend themselves
• September 11, 2001: Terrorists hijacked four American jets
and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the
• The hijackers wanted to disrupt the U.S. economy with
terrorism, or violent attacks that cause fear.
• President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism and
established the Department of Homeland Security.
• The U.S. sent forces to Afghanistan to kill or capture
members of al Qaeda, a terrorist group, and established a
new democratic government in the country.
• 2003: Bush believed Iraq was another threat and ordered
an invasion of Iraq.
• World leaders are working with the U.S. to combat
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