USA, North & Central America
The United States of America is a large country in North America, often referred to as the "USA," the "U.S.," the "United States," "America," or simply "the States". It has a land area of about 9.6 million sq km (about half the size of Russia and about the same size as China). It also boasts the world's third largest population after China and India, with over 300 million people. It includes both densely-populated cities with sprawling suburbs, and vast, uninhabited and naturally beautiful areas. With its history of mass immigration dating from the 17th century, it is a "melting pot" of cultures from around the world.
The United States is composed of 50 states, as well as the city of Washington, D.C., a federal district and the nation's capital. Below is a rough grouping of these states into regions, from the Atlantic to the Pacific:
New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) Home to gabled churches, rustic antiques, and steeped in American history, New England offers beaches, spectacular seafood, rugged mountains, frequent winter snows, and some of the nation's oldest cities, in a territory small enough to tour (hastily) in a week.
Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania) Ranging from New York in the north to Washington, D.C., the Mid-Atlantic is home to some of the nation's most densely populated cities, as well as historic sites, rolling mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the Lehigh Valley, and seaside resorts like the Long Island beaches and the Jersey Shore.
South (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia) The South is celebrated for its hospitality, down-home cooking and its blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, and country music traditions. This lush, largely subtropical region includes cool, verdant mountains, agricultural plantations, and vast cypress swamps.
Florida Northern Florida is similar to the rest of the South, but not so the resorts of Orlando, retirement communities, tropical Caribbean-influenced Miami, the Everglades swamp, and 1200 miles of sandy beaches.
Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin) The Midwest is home to farmland, forests, picturesque towns, industrial cities, and the Great Lakes, the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world, forming the North Coast of the U.S. Texas The second biggest state in the nation, it's like a whole other country (and in fact, once was). The terrain ranges from southeastern swamplands to the cattle-ranching South Plains to the sandy beaches of South Texas to the mountains and deserts of West Texas.
Great Plains (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma) Travel westward through these supposedly flat states, from the edge of the eastern forests through the prairies and onto the High Plains, an enormous expanse of steppes (shortgrass prairies) as desolate as in the frontier days.
Rocky Mountains (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) The spectacular snow-covered Rockies offer hiking, rafting, and excellent snow skiing as well as deserts, and some large cities.
Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah) Heavily influenced by Spanish and Mexican culture, this area is home to some of the nation's most spectacular natural attractions and some flourishing artistic communities. Although mostly empty, the region's deserts have some of the nation's largest cities.
California Like the Southwest, California has a history under Spanish and Mexican rule and is heavily influenced by Spanish and Mexican culture. California offers world-class cities, deserts, rain forests, snowy mountains, and beautiful beaches. Northern California (around the Bay Area) and Southern California (around Los Angeles) are culturally distinct.
Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon) The pleasantly mild Pacific Northwest offers outdoor pursuits as well as cosmopolitan cities. The terrain ranges from spectacular rain forests to scenic mountains and volcanoes to beautiful coastlines to sage-covered steppes and deserts. Alaska One fifth as large as the rest of the United States,
Alaska reaches well into the Arctic, and features mountainous wilderness.
Hawaii A volcanic archipelago in the tropical Pacific, 2,300 miles south west of California (the nearest state), laid-back Hawaii is a vacation paradise.
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