The United States government divides the country into four major regions: the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. The Northeast has fewer natural resources than the other regions. Its rocky soil and steep hills make farming difficult. Coal, found mainly in Pennsylvania, is its main mineral resource. But the Northeast’s waters have made it a center of trade, business, and industry. The North Atlantic Ocean is a rich source of fish. Excellent harbors helped ports to grow. The region’s fast-flowing rivers pro- vided power for early factories that made shoes, cloth, and other goods. River val- leys became the routes for boats, wagons, railroads, and then highways. By the early 1900s, the Northeast was the world’s most productive manufacturing region. Cities on the Atlantic Ocean became international ports and shipbuilding cen- ters. Population grew as people moved to the cities to work in new industries. Large numbers of European immigrants settled in the cities of the Northeast.vvAs cities grew they began to spread and run together. The far suburbs of one city reached to the suburbs of another. By the 1960s the area from Boston to Washington, D.C., became known as a megalopolis, or very large city made of several cities and their suburbs. Today about 40 million people, one sev- enth of the country’s population, live in this megalopolis. Some Northeast cities are los- ing population. As a result, city governments receive less in taxes and can provide fewer services.

1 - Name two ways that rivers were important in helping the Northeast to grow.
2 - Map Skills: Which seven states of the Northeast border the Atlantic Ocean?


The South includes the city of Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital. The region is rich in resources and has become a popular place to live and work.
The South is warmer than other regions. It receives plenty of pre- cipitation. Mixed forests grow in the warm, wet climate. The west- ern part of the region, Oklahoma and western Texas, are semiarid. Native Americans grew crops in the rich soil of the region. Some Europeans built huge plantations and used enslaved workers to grow tobacco, rice, and cotton. Farming is still important in the South. Texas’s oil industry began in 1901, and oil is still important to the region. Some of the largest oil reserves in the United States are located in the South. In the 1950s, new businesses began coming to the South. The space industry developed in Florida, Alabama, and Texas. Some businesses moved from the Northeast to take advantage of the South’s lower land and labor costs.Thousands of people moved to the South in search of jobs. The region’s mild climate also helped it to attract tourists and retired people. The states of the South and West became known as the Sunbelt. The South has a very diverse popula- tion. Among the region’s major cities are New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.

#3 - What are two reasons for the South’s rapid growth?
#4 - Map Skills: Which states border the Gulf of Mexico?


The Midwest is often called “the nation’s breadbasket” because the region’s farms are among the most productive in the world. The export of farm products con- tributes to the wealth of the United States. Differences in climate and soil affect farming. There are also differences in the growing season, the average number of days between the last frost of spring and the first frost of fall. The growing season in southern Kansas is more than 200 days, while near the Canadian border it is less than 120 days. The warmer, wetter areas of Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa raise corn, soybeans, and hogs. In the drier Great Plains states to the west, farmers grow wheat, oats, and sunflowers. The cooler northern parts of the region produce hay and dairy cattle. Technology has helped farmers grow more crops with fewer workers. Business in many Midwestern cities and towns depends on farming. The Chicago Board of Trade is the largest grain exchange—a place where buyers and sellers make deals for grain. Natural resources made the area a center of heavy manufac- turing, oil and coal production, steel mills, and the auto industry. Water transportation helped industries and cities grow. Many large cities are on major rivers or the Great Lakes. The railroads also play an important part in shipping grain, livestock, and meat.

#5 - Why is the Midwest called “the nation’s breadbasket”?
#6 - Map Skills: Which six states of the Midwest border the Great Lakes?


Water is the major factor affect- ing the West’s natural resources, economic activity, and popula- tion density. Some areas have plenty of water, others have too little. Most of the region has either a semiarid or arid climate. Yet the western side of the moun- tains receives enough rain and has rich forests. Hawaii has a wet, tropical climate and tropical rain forests. Northern Alaska is mostly tundra, a cold, dry, treeless plain. Gold, silver, uranium, and other miner- als are found in the Rocky Mountains and in the Sierra Nevada. People once came to the region hoping to get rich by finding gold and silver. Others set up businesses to serve the miners. Oil and natural gas are also found in the region. Forestry and fishing are major industries. Cities in the West grew when the first transcontinental railroad was completed across the country in 1869. Los Angeles, California, is now the second largest city, after New York, in the United States. To support its growing population, Los Angeles must bring in water through aqueducts, pipes that carry water over long distances. Alaska is the largest state but has a small population. Some places can be reached only by boat or airplane. Hawaii, made up of many islands in the Pacific Ocean, is located more than 2,000 miles (3,218 km) from the United States mainland.

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#7 How does Los Angeles provide enough water for its population?
#8 Map Skills: What ocean borders the West?