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United States Human Geography

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					                                     United States Human Geography

The countries that have more people than the United States include China, with around 1.2 billion
people, and India, with around 1 billion people. The 2000 U.S. Census recorded around 283 million
people living in the United States. Indonesia is next in size after the United States with approximately
200 million people, followed by Brazil with around 150 million, and Russia with around 120 million.

The population distribution of the United States is best described as primarily found in cities, especially
in the Northeast and along the coasts. Around 75% of Americans live in cities or suburbs, which makes
the United States a highly urbanized country. The economic activities of cities that provide jobs attract
high concentrations of people. Yet, there are large parts of the United States, mostly in the West in the
interior of the country, with small population densities.

Megalopolis is the region extending from southern New Hampshire and Maine to south of Washington,
D.C., that is dominated by urban land use. It received this name from Jean Gottmann, a French
geographer, in 1961. Although non-urban land uses, such as farming, can be found in the region, cities
and suburbs and their activities predominate. The term, Megalopolis, is appropriate because the area
appears to be one big metropolis or large city.

The predominant direction of settlement in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries was
westward. Many Europeans and their descendants first settled on the East Coast. The desire for cheap
land and the fertile soils of the Prairies, the building of the railroads, and new legislation including the
Homestead Act led to more and more settlement to the west.

Within the United States, internal migration in the latter part of the 20th century involved movement to
the western, southern, and southwestern parts of the United States. These areas offer milder climates,
cheaper labor, less expensive land, and frequently little traffic congestion in the beginning of settlement.
Many people and firms left the Northeast to move to these areas. Both legal and illegal migrations
occur -- legal ones to Canada and illegal ones from Mexico. However, both are external migration, not
internal migration. Internal migration occurs within a country, not from one country to another.
Migration to Canada is not very large, although in the late 1960s and early 1970s it was significant for
young men who did not want to fight in Vietnam. Illegal migration from Mexico is more significant.

The area of the country that grew the most during the last decades of the 20th century is the Sun Belt.
The Sun Belt includes the Western, Southern, and Southwestern states. This area is sunnier and warmer
than the rest of the contiguous United States, hence the name Sun Belt.

Immigration to the United States was dominated by northern and western Europeans until the late 19th
century. Beginning roughly about the 1880s, this pattern changed and most immigrants came from
southern and eastern Europe. The United States government passed legislation in the 1920s to limit the
total number of immigrants and to favor people entering from northern and western Europe. This
legislation has changed over the years, affecting the volume and type of migrants. In the last half of the
20th century through today, most immigrants have been coming from Latin America and Asia.
Rural land use is important to the United States because farming is basic to the economy and open
space is important to the American heritage. Agriculture provides food for Americans as well as
contributing to exports. Americans have always valued open space for relaxation and renewal. The
rural landscape is an important part of how many Americans think of the United States and thus forms
an inseparable part of the American heritage, whether it is in the movies, in painting, on television, in
music, or in actuality.

Agribusiness produces, processes, distributes, and markets food. Agribusiness controls the food
production process from start to finish -- from seed to the final distribution and sale to the consumer.
Farming in the United States is becoming more and more specialized as is the processing, marketing,
and distributing of its products. Breakfast cereal may originate as oats on the farm, but to get to the
table, it has to be processed, boxed, advertised, and delivered to the store for sale.

Agriculture, hunting, mining, forestry, and fishing are called primary activities because they extract
natural resources from the earth. Although classified as primary, the activities listed may use modern
technology in the process of extracting the natural resources. Secondary activities process these raw
materials into finished goods, and tertiary activities involve the distribution of goods and provision of
services.

An example of extensive agriculture is cattle ranching. Extensive agriculture involves the application of
small amounts of labor to large units of land. Thus, the yield (or output) per acre is small. Vegetable
farming, dairy farming, and pig raising are examples of intensive agriculture. They apply large amounts
of labor and capital to relatively small areas of land. Their yield per acre is large.

Modern agriculture in the United States is best described as increasingly specialized (concentrating on
limited numbers of crops or types of animals). Although mixed crop and livestock farming still exists,
more and more farms concentrate on one or a few crops and animals. Examples include dairy farming,
corn and soybean farms, pig-raising operations, specialized vegetable farming around cities, and large-
scale wheat production. Machinery can be used more economically on large amounts of land than on
smaller plots. Thus, mechanization is very important, and the average farm size continues to increase.
Even though many farmers are either limiting their use of fertilizer and pesticides or using ones that are
less ecologically damaging, farming as a whole remains dependent on these chemicals.

The Northeast and the Great Lakes regions are major dairy farming regions because the cool
temperatures help keep the milk fresh. The same cool temperatures limit the ability to grow other
agricultural products. For instance, the summer temperatures are not sufficiently warm to allow corn to
fully ripen. The soil is also not as fertile as other areas, which also limits the ability to produce other
products. Cows graze on natural pasture grasses during the summer and eat silage, or fermented plant
material stored in silos, over the winter. These dairy farming areas are also in close proximity to their
urban markets. This is very advantageous since milk is perishable.

The Corn Belt of the United States also produces soybeans as well as corn on highly mechanized farms.
Farming is intensive on naturally fertile land resulting in high yields per acre. Although corn is a valuable
food crop for people, it is grown primarily as feed for animals. Soybeans have been included in the crop
rotation because the bacteria on their roots help to fertilize the soils and because they can be made into
oil, meal, and other useful products.

Large-scale wheat growing takes place on large farms on the Great Plains and is highly dependent on
mechanization. Since wheat needs less precipitation than most other crops, it can grow in the relatively
dry Plains where other crops cannot. Wheat also does not need as much labor as other crops because it
does not require much care while it is growing. The flat topography combined with the large areas of
the farms and little labor makes mechanization logical and economical.

Cattle ranching in the United States takes place largely in the West where the cattle graze on private and
public lands. Later the cattle are fattened in feedlots at local meatpacking plants before slaughter. It is
an extensive type of agriculture because it requires large amounts of land. Commercial cattle raising
occurs in the West because the rainfall there is insufficient for crop growing. Thus, having cattle graze
on the natural grasslands is a logical use of the land.

Specialized fruit and vegetable farming is located around most large cities and also in areas with special
climate and soil advantages. The location around large cities allows perishable fresh vegetables and
fruit to reach their market quickly. These crops are frequently grown in greenhouses during the cold
winter. However, consumers want fresh fruit and vegetables all year long, so other areas of the country
which have longer growing seasons specialize in these crops. These regions include the Pacific coast, the
Southwest, the Gulf Coast, and the Great Lakes.

Manufacturing as a secondary activity transforms natural resources into more useful and useable forms.
Secondary activities involve all processing and manufacturing from the original natural resource through
intermediate forms to a final product. Manufacturing accounts for a smaller proportion of the work
force than do tertiary activities (service activities), but it contributes billions of dollars to the United
States economy as well as goods that consumers want. Although the Northeast has declined in relative
importance in terms of manufacturing jobs and output, the region remains significant.

The Manufacturing Belt declined because some of its machinery and processing techniques became
obsolete; it had higher labor costs than other parts of the country or overseas; and consumer tastes
changed, making its products less desirable. It also declined because some companies wanted to locate
in more pleasant climates in the warmer parts of the country. The new, growing service activities could
operate successfully in these warmer areas, since many of them do not depend on being near raw
materials.

Examples of tertiary activities include banking and financial services. The tertiary sector of the economy
includes the distribution of goods and the provision of services. Education, retailing, wholesaling, health
care, television and radio communications, computer programming, professional services, and
transportation are other examples of tertiary activities.

The growth of tertiary activities has led to greater economic and population growth in the South,
Southwest, and West. Entrepreneurs found the climate, low wages, and relatively cheap land in the
Southern and Western regions of the country attractive. Tertiary activities include the distribution of
goods and the provision of services. These activities are not as tied to natural resources as
manufacturing activities were, and could be profitable in the South, West, and Southwest.

The first national park established in the world was Yellowstone National Park. Banff National Park was
the first national park in Canada. The United States Congress recognized in 1872 that the country's
natural resources and scenery should be treasured and preserved while still contributing to economic
growth. Until that date, no other country had set up a national park. Many countries have since
followed the United States' lead. Now, over 350 national parks exist in the United States. The mission
to both preserve the national parks and at the same time allow for present-day enjoyment can be
difficult to achieve. The day-to-day decisions involve wise management practices and a lot of
compromise.

Congress passed legislation protecting the environment starting in the 1960s and 1970s because of the
serious consequences of contaminated air and water. Americans increasingly realized the consequences
of the contamination that had accumulated over the years. Around 300 people died from air pollution
in New York City in 1963 and the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1969, caught fire from oil
pollution.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 saved some protected species, but more species still need to be
protected. A variety of techniques, including habitat improvement, has been used to save the plants
and animals. The "Superfund" is used to clean up chemical and toxic waste contaminated sites.

A good example of public-private cooperation in lessening environmental deterioration is the operation
of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (once called the Soil Conservation Service). The Soil
Conservation Service was established in the 1930s to help farmers correct the problems of soil erosion.
Scientists, government officials, and farmers worked together. It is now called the Natural Resource
Conservation Service. Low tax rates on gasoline generally encourage more consumption of gasoline.
Lax enforcement of environmental protection laws frequently results in more environmental
deterioration.

The population distribution and composition of the United States when it first became a country can
best be described as spread along the East Coast, consisting of approximately 20% of people of African
descent and the rest primarily of western and northern European ancestry. Most were of British
ancestry, followed by German and Dutch. Since they had come from Europe, most people settled close
to the Atlantic Coast. Those of African descent generally did not have the same choice of movement,
and lived along the East Coast as slaves. It should be noted that the term East Coast refers to a broad
region, extending inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Not everyone lived literally on the seacoast.

Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined to expand to the Pacific Ocean. This
doctrine encouraged population expansion across the continental United States, and was used to justify
any means the settlers used, including killing Native Americans and taking their lands. It was also used
in conflicts and wars with Mexico.
Internal migration in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries generally followed the pattern of
settlement first on the East Coast, then to the treeless prairies, next to the West Coast, followed by
settlement in the interior. Since most settlers came from Europe or western Africa, they normally first
settled close to the Atlantic Ocean. Later, as farmland on the East Coast became harder to obtain, new
settlement shifted from the Eastern forests to the treeless prairies, with their fertile soils. In the 1840s,
the California gold rush attracted many to California. In the mid-to-late 19th century, the federal
government offered incentives -- including the Homestead Act that offered inexpensive or free land -- to
encourage settlement in the interior. It should be noted that these movements are generalized patterns
and trends; other movements were also occurring at the time.

The significance of the closing of the frontier was that it indicated that new unexplored lands were no
longer available. Americans were thus faced with the notion that their land and other resources were
not unlimited. Americans had viewed the bounty of the land as being infinite -- as it must have
appeared as they settled across the vast continent. Even though the country still has lots of open space,
there is no unexplored land and Americans are beginning to recognize that their resources are finite.

Immigration into the United States has been shaped by legislation greatly restricting Chinese
immigration through the Chinese Exclusion Acts beginning in 1882. These were a series of laws first
passed in 1882 that restricted Chinese from entering the United States. They were not repealed until
1943. Until the 1880s, most immigrants to the United States were from northern and western Europe,
but in the closing years of the 19th century and the opening ones of the 20th, immigration from
southern and eastern Europe increased tremendously. In response, Congress in the 1920s passed
legislation that restricted total immigration and favored immigration from western and northern
Europe. In the 1960s, Congress removed the discriminatory national origins quota system, and legal
immigration, especially from Latin America, Canada, and Asia, started to increase. By the closing years
of the 20th century and the opening ones of the 21st, immigrants were primarily coming from Latin
America and Asia. Illegal immigration remains a serious problem and has not been solved.

Megalopolis is a good description of the urbanized Northeast United States because it describes an area
in which one city after another appears to have merged into its neighbors. Megalopolis extends from
southern New Hampshire to a bit south of Washington, D.C. Yet, although it includes the major cities of
Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., it also contains farmland and non-
urban land uses. The term, Megalopolis, was first used by a French geographer, Jean Gottmann, in
1961, because the region appeared as one gigantic metropolis (city).

Even though most Americans live in cities and suburbs, rural life is a vital part of the American identity
because many think that open space and farms are an inseparable part of America and its heritage.
Many Americans feel that the fast-paced and intense city and suburban life style is only part of the
American way of life. They feel that open space is necessary for the United States to be what it is -- that
it is important to the identity of the United States. Once, farms and rural life formed the bulk of the
economy. They still form a vital part of America's history and heritage. Many people may also believe
that rural spaces are important because they find renewal in natural settings. Perhaps Americans also
form some of their impressions from the images evoked by songs like "America the Beautiful."
Whatever the reason, rural life is part of the American psyche.

An example of a regional pattern of culture is variations in speech patterns and accents across the
country. The United States is a nation of immigrants and is composed of many ethnic groups. Regions
based on cultural characteristics can be recognized across the United States. Some are based on religion
and some are based on language.The Manufacturing Belt is an economic region while the Sun Belt is
both an economic region and a climatic region. The fast-food hamburger outlets found throughout the
United States illustrate how American culture can be spread across many different regions within the
country.

The image of the cowboy herding cattle on the open range is not an accurate description of commercial
cattle ranching in the United States today because land use changes and other economic activities have
eliminated the open range. From the 1860s to the 1880s, cattle were driven to railroads to be taken to
slaughterhouses. However, other economic activities, farming especially, began to employ grazing lands
for other uses. With the invention of barbed wire, private lands could be fenced in cheaply and easily,
thus limiting where the cowboys could graze the cattle. Previously, fences had to be made of wood,
which was very expensive because it was scarce on the treeless prairies. Nowadays, cattle are raised on
private ranches or leased public or private grazing lands, and frequently fattened in commercial feedlots
before slaughter. Meatpacking houses are generally located within the cattle raising areas so the cattle
do not have to be taken far.

Spring wheat is grown in the states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota because the winters
are too cold to support the higher-yielding winter wheat. In the winter wheat belt, centered near
Kansas, winter wheat is planted in the late fall, sprouts, and is protected from cold temperatures by the
snow. However, the temperatures of the spring wheat belt are too cold for the winter wheat to survive
through the winter, so spring wheat is grown instead. It is planted in the early spring, grows through the
summer, and is harvested in the fall. Spring wheat does not produce as high a yield as winter wheat and
so must be grown on larger farms in order to be economical. A significant change has occurred over the
last few decades. Hardier breeds of winter wheat have been developed and it can now be grown in
areas where it could not previously.Despite the names (winter wheat belt and spring wheat belt), these
areas are not solely devoted to wheat. Other crops, such as sorghum, sunflowers, and barley are also
grown and some livestock are raised.

The environmental advantages and human influences that contribute to the success of California
specialty farming include fertile soils, a long growing season, cheap labor, good transportation facilities,
elaborate marketing arrangements, and cheap irrigation water. The natural properties of fertile soil and
a long growing season probably would not be sufficient for California to be as prosperous a producer as
it is. Cheap labor, good transportation, marketing arrangements, and inexpensive irrigation tend to
keep costs low.

Rice is grown in the California desert because warm temperatures and plentiful and inexpensive supplies
of irrigation water support it. Rice is generally grown where water is naturally plentiful as the rice fields
must be flooded. In a desert, water is in short supply so flooding fields would normally be difficult and
expensive. In California, the government subsidizes water provision, and farmers do not pay the true
cost of the water they use. Thus, they do not use it wisely all the time. Growing rice in the desert is a
prime example of an unwise use of water.

Fruit can be grown near the Great Lakes, which is in the northern (and normally colder) part of the
country because the lakes have a moderating effect on winter temperatures in the surrounding area.
The Great Lakes, as with all large bodies of water, do not cool off as quickly as land. Thus, the water
itself and the nearby areas have warmer temperatures than might otherwise be expected in the
northern locations. As a result, western Michigan apple orchards make the state the third largest apple
producer after Washington and New York. Michigan also leads the country in the production of tart
cherries.

The growing of tobacco is controversial because farmers are dependent on it for income, but smoking or
chewing it causes cancer. Farmers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky
are the primary growers of tobacco. Their economic well-being must be balanced with concerns about
public health.

A trend that exists in modern farming in the United States today is more specialization in crop and
animal production. This increasing specialization has been accompanied by increased use of machinery
and advanced technology, and increasing farm size. The federal government provides millions of dollars
in subsidies to farmers.Another trend in modern farming in the United States is a growing dependence
on migrant labor. Some of the laborers are legal immigrants or residents, but many are illegal
immigrants. Most work very hard, their wages are usually low, and their working and living conditions
are usually not the best. It should be recognized that although the growers reap the immediate benefit
of using these workers, anyone that buys the food they grow benefits too -- the food would probably
cost more if the workers were paid more.

Egg and poultry production is different from most other types of farming in the United States because it
uses contracts extensively. The egg and poultry farmer agrees to provide the management, labor,
facilities, and equipment needed for a fee, but the product is owned by the other party to the contract,
the food processor or broker. For other types of farming, the farmer and buyer may set a price for the
purchase of a certain quantity of the commodity before it is harvested or marketed, but prior to the
harvest, the product is usually owned by the farmer. These agreements are called marketing contracts.
For poultry and egg production, however, the contractor owns the product, not the farmer. Other types
of farming, including cattle, hogs, and some vegetables may also have contract arrangements, but it is
far more common in egg and poultry production. A much higher percentage of the farms involved in
these activities have contractual arrangements.

Meat Belt might be a better name for the Corn Belt because most of the corn is grown for animal
consumption, particularly pigs. The grain is fed to animals, either on the farms themselves or in special
complexes or on feedlots. Although corn is produced in the Corn Belt, it is not necessarily the ultimate
product, beef from cattle and pork from hogs and pigs are.
The northeastern to midwestern part of the United States developed into the Manufacturing Belt
because of the close proximity of natural resources, labor, marketplace, and cheap transportation. The
iron and steel industry needed the iron ore of Minnesota and the coal of western Pennsylvania and
West Virginia nearby. Food processing and farm equipment manufacturing industries grew as
agriculture expanded and mechanized. The rivers and Great Lakes, combined first with the Erie Canal
and later with the railroads, provided cheap transportation. The large population clusters, including
Megalopolis, provided markets and labor.

The Manufacturing Belt was called the Rust Belt in the latter decades of the 20th century because the
word that describes the deterioration of iron into rust was an appropriate name to give to a region
where the iron and steel and related industries were in great decline. The South, West, and Southwest
were called the Sun Belt because of their sunny climates; Rust Belt mimicked that name. In many cases,
old factories had literally turned to rust, but the whole region was considered obsolete and
deteriorated.

The marketplace site has become increasingly important for industry because many industries have
become more efficient and transportation costs are less expensive than they used to be. Since many
industries are more efficient now, fewer raw materials are used to produce the same products than
used to be necessary. With lower transportation costs, those raw materials can now be shipped more
cheaply to the manufacturing sites.In our modern fast-paced economy, it is important to supply the
product to the customer quickly. Locales close to the marketplace have become even more attractive.
Thus, industries such as iron and steel, that used to be located near their raw materials, are now usually
smaller in scale and located closer to their customers. Marketplace sites frequently also have other
advantages, such as a plentiful supply of labor and attractive cultural and economic activities.

Dairy farms are largely family owned and operated because the cows need so much care that only family
members are usually considered reliable enough to work on the farm. The cows need to be milked
twice a day; they must be fed and for much of the year taken to pasture. The farms consist of barns to
shelter the animals, silos to store food for the winter, crop-growing machinery (such as tractors and
harvesters), and refrigerated equipment to prevent the milk from spoiling. Thus, dairy farms involve a
high capital investment. Barns, silos, and other structures involve a substantial investment. Tractors,
harvesters, and other farm machinery are expensive. In recent years, some dairy farms have started to
rely on non-family labor.

An example of how American environmental policy is contradictory is that the national forests are
supposed to be managed for sustainable yield and multiple use, but lumbering was emphasized over
other land uses for decades. This is contradictory because lumbering cannot easily co-exist with many of
the other activities, like hiking, hunting, and camping. The other answers are examples of how
legislation worked to protect the environment.

The belief that environmental legislation is only as good as the enforcement policy is supported by the
fact that some state governments have not always ensured that mining areas have been properly
restored. Existing environmental legislation requires that the vegetation and surrounding area be
restored to its original state prior to the mining activities. Proper ecological restoration can be costly,
however, so it is not always done as fully and completely as legally required.Mining companies have to
balance these restoration costs and their other costs (including paying their workers) against the price
that their customers will pay for the product. Since they must make a profit for their investors, the
amount that they receive for the product must exceed the amount that they pay to mine it. This lack of
governmental enforcement can also be true for other environmental problems, including solid and toxic
waste disposal. State governments must balance an enforcement of the law with the employment of
workers and company profits.

Laws that were designed to clean up toxic waste sites include the Resource Conservation and Recovery
Acts (RCRA) of 1976 and 1980 and the Superfund Act of 1984 with revisions in 1986 and 1990. These
laws also were intended to handle emergencies resulting from spills of dangerous chemicals. Although
the laws have resulted in the cleanup of some sites, many more remain -- and the effects of the spills are
long lasting. Regardless of whether the contamination was deliberate or accidental, the effects are
frequently unpredictable in the long-term both to the environment and to human health. The billions of
dollars spent so far have not been sufficient to correct all of the damage.

Tertiary activities are an important economic sector in the United States because they account for
around 75% of the labor force. Most Americans make their living through the provision of services and
the distribution of goods. The location of tertiary activities is generally more flexible than that of
manufacturing or primary activities, which frequently have to be located near their raw materials.
Tertiary activities have grown most rapidly in the Sun Belt. However, to say that tertiary activities are
the most important sector of the economy is somewhat misleading. Tertiary activities cannot exist by
themselves. Before raw materials and goods can be distributed, they must be extracted, processed, and
produced. The service industries are dependent on both the primary and secondary industries, as well
as their workers. Thus, manufacturing and primary activities are very important to the economy as well.

According to the pie chart, 95% of all immigrants came from Northern and Western Europe in the period
1821 to 1860. Only 2% came from Canada. Three percent came from "other" regions, but the pie chart
does not tell us what those other regions are. Regardless, the 3% from the "other" regions is much
smaller than 95%.

Southern and Eastern Europe experienced the greatest decline in percentage of legal immigrants
entering the U.S. between the early and mid-1900s. The pie chart for 1901 to 1930 shows that 58% of
the legal immigrants to the United States came from Southern and Eastern Europe. For 1931 to 1960,
the percentage of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe declined to 17%. The reason for this
decline was new immigration legislation passed in the 1920s. The legislation limited total immigration
and set quotas that favored Northern and Western Europeans.Not only do the pie charts for the two
periods show different percentages for immigration from different regions, but the pie charts also vary
significantly in size. The pie chart for 1931 to 1960 is much smaller than the one for 1901 to 1930. The
decline in size is a reflection of the new legislation that sharply limited the total number of immigrants
allowed into the United States.
Latin Americans accounted for 47% of all legal immigrants in the 1980s. Asians also were a sizeable
minority, contributing 37%. Europeans accounted for 10% in the 1980s. Canadians accounted for only
2%. Since 1965, priority has been given to immigrants with special skills or professions as well as to
those with family already living in the United States. Legislation in the 1980s and later in the 1990s
facilitated more immigration from Latin America and Asia.

Asians accounted for only 13% of legal immigrants from 1961 to 1970, but 35% from 1971 to 1980. The
decade of the 1960s was the first period for which Europeans were no longer in the majority of
immigrants. The major reason for these shifts was federal immigration legislation of the 1960s, which
removed the national-origins quota system, thus allowing more non-Europeans to enter the country
legally.

The percentage of immigrants from Northern and Western Europe declined. The size of the pie chart
indicates the total amount of immigration. The pie chart for 1821 to 1860 is much smaller than the one
for 1861 to 1900, showing that immigration was much larger in the second half of the 19th century. In
the first half of the 19th century, almost all immigrants (95%) came from Northern Europe. By the
second half, Northern Europeans were still in the majority (68%), but Southern and Eastern Europeans
represented a significant minority (22%). The percentage of Southern and Eastern European immigrants
continued to grow through the first two decades of the 20th century. However, federal immigration
legislation passed in the 1920s led to a sharp decline in total immigration and particularly immigration
from Southern and Eastern Europe.

The population distribution of the United States is best described as primarily found in cities, especially
in the Northeast and along the coasts. Around 75% of Americans live in cities or suburbs, which makes
the United States a highly urbanized country. The economic activities of cities that provide jobs attract
high concentrations of people. Yet, there are large parts of the United States, mostly in the West in the
interior of the country, with small population densities.

A good example of public-private cooperation in lessening environmental deterioration is the operation
of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (once called the Soil Conservation Service). The Soil
Conservation Service was established in the 1930s to help farmers correct the problems of soil erosion.
Scientists, government officials, and farmers worked together. It is now called the Natural Resource
Conservation Service. Low tax rates on gasoline generally encourage more consumption of gasoline.
Lax enforcement of environmental protection laws frequently results in more environmental
deterioration.

Megalopolis is the region extending from southern New Hampshire and Maine to south of Washington,
D.C., that is dominated by urban land use. It received this name from Jean Gottmann, a French
geographer, in 1961. Although non-urban land uses, such as farming, can be found in the region, cities
and suburbs and their activities predominate. The term, Megalopolis, is appropriate because the area
appears to be one big metropolis or large city.

Congress passed legislation protecting the environment starting in the 1960s and 1970s because of the
serious consequences of contaminated air and water. Americans increasingly realized the consequences
of the contamination that had accumulated over the years. Around 300 people died from air pollution
in New York City in 1963 and the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1969, caught fire from oil
pollution.

Dairy farms are largely family owned and operated because the cows need so much care that only family
members are usually considered reliable enough to work on the farm. The cows need to be milked
twice a day; they must be fed and for much of the year taken to pasture. The farms consist of barns to
shelter the animals, silos to store food for the winter, crop-growing machinery (such as tractors and
harvesters), and refrigerated equipment to prevent the milk from spoiling. Thus, dairy farms involve a
high capital investment. Barns, silos, and other structures involve a substantial investment. Tractors,
harvesters, and other farm machinery are expensive. In recent years, some dairy farms have started to
rely on non-family labor.

The Manufacturing Belt declined because some of its machinery and processing techniques became
obsolete; it had higher labor costs than other parts of the country or overseas; and consumer tastes
changed, making its products less desirable. It also declined because some companies wanted to locate
in more pleasant climates in the warmer parts of the country. The new, growing service activities could
operate successfully in these warmer areas, since many of them do not depend on being near raw
materials.

The northeastern to midwestern part of the United States developed into the Manufacturing Belt
because of the close proximity of natural resources, labor, marketplace, and cheap transportation. The
iron and steel industry needed the iron ore of Minnesota and the coal of western Pennsylvania and
West Virginia nearby. Food processing and farm equipment manufacturing industries grew as
agriculture expanded and mechanized. The rivers and Great Lakes, combined first with the Erie Canal
and later with the railroads, provided cheap transportation. The large population clusters, including
Megalopolis, provided markets and labor.

Even though most Americans live in cities and suburbs, rural life is a vital part of the American identity
because many think that open space and farms are an inseparable part of America and its heritage.
Many Americans feel that the fast-paced and intense city and suburban life style is only part of the
American way of life. They feel that open space is necessary for the United States to be what it is -- that
it is important to the identity of the United States. Once, farms and rural life formed the bulk of the
economy. They still form a vital part of America's history and heritage. Many people may also believe
that rural spaces are important because they find renewal in natural settings. Perhaps Americans also
form some of their impressions from the images evoked by songs like "America the Beautiful."
Whatever the reason, rural life is part of the American psyche.

Modern agriculture in the United States is best described as increasingly specialized (concentrating on
limited numbers of crops or types of animals). Although mixed crop and livestock farming still exists,
more and more farms concentrate on one or a few crops and animals. Examples include dairy farming,
corn and soybean farms, pig-raising operations, specialized vegetable farming around cities, and large-
scale wheat production. Machinery can be used more economically on large amounts of land than on
smaller plots. Thus, mechanization is very important, and the average farm size continues to increase.
Even though many farmers are either limiting their use of fertilizer and pesticides or using ones that are
less ecologically damaging, farming as a whole remains dependent on these chemicals.

Asians accounted for only 13% of legal immigrants from 1961 to 1970, but 35% from 1971 to 1980. The
decade of the 1960s was the first period for which Europeans were no longer in the majority of
immigrants. The major reason for these shifts was federal immigration legislation of the 1960s, which
removed the national-origins quota system, thus allowing more non-Europeans to enter the country
legally.

The percentage of immigrants from Northern and Western Europe declined. The size of the pie chart
indicates the total amount of immigration. The pie chart for 1821 to 1860 is much smaller than the one
for 1861 to 1900, showing that immigration was much larger in the second half of the 19th century. In
the first half of the 19th century, almost all immigrants (95%) came from Northern Europe. By the
second half, Northern Europeans were still in the majority (68%), but Southern and Eastern Europeans
represented a significant minority (22%). The percentage of Southern and Eastern European immigrants
continued to grow through the first two decades of the 20th century. However, federal immigration
legislation passed in the 1920s led to a sharp decline in total immigration and particularly immigration
from Southern and Eastern Europe.

Fruit can be grown near the Great Lakes, which is in the northern (and normally colder) part of the
country because the lakes have a moderating effect on winter temperatures in the surrounding area.
The Great Lakes, as with all large bodies of water, do not cool off as quickly as land. Thus, the water
itself and the nearby areas have warmer temperatures than might otherwise be expected in the
northern locations. As a result, western Michigan apple orchards make the state the third largest apple
producer after Washington and New York. Michigan also leads the country in the production of tart
cherries.

Immigration into the United States has been shaped by legislation greatly restricting Chinese
immigration through the Chinese Exclusion Acts beginning in 1882. These were a series of laws first
passed in 1882 that restricted Chinese from entering the United States. They were not repealed until
1943. Until the 1880s, most immigrants to the United States were from northern and western Europe,
but in the closing years of the 19th century and the opening ones of the 20th, immigration from
southern and eastern Europe increased tremendously. In response, Congress in the 1920s passed
legislation that restricted total immigration and favored immigration from western and northern
Europe. In the 1960s, Congress removed the discriminatory national origins quota system, and legal
immigration, especially from Latin America, Canada, and Asia, started to increase. By the closing years
of the 20th century and the opening ones of the 21st, immigrants were primarily coming from Latin
America and Asia. Illegal immigration remains a serious problem and has not been solved.

An example of how American environmental policy is contradictory is that the national forests are
supposed to be managed for sustainable yield and multiple use, but lumbering was emphasized over
other land uses for decades. This is contradictory because lumbering cannot easily co-exist with many of
the other activities, like hiking, hunting, and camping. The other answers are examples of how
legislation worked to protect the environment.

The population distribution and composition of the United States when it first became a country can
best be described as spread along the East Coast, consisting of approximately 20% of people of African
descent and the rest primarily of western and northern European ancestry. Most were of British
ancestry, followed by German and Dutch. Since they had come from Europe, most people settled close
to the Atlantic Coast. Those of African descent generally did not have the same choice of movement,
and lived along the East Coast as slaves. It should be noted that the term East Coast refers to a broad
region, extending inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Not everyone lived literally on the seacoast.

The Manufacturing Belt was called the Rust Belt in the latter decades of the 20th century because the
word that describes the deterioration of iron into rust was an appropriate name to give to a region
where the iron and steel and related industries were in great decline. The South, West, and Southwest
were called the Sun Belt because of their sunny climates; Rust Belt mimicked that name. In many cases,
old factories had literally turned to rust, but the whole region was considered obsolete and
deteriorated.

The growing of tobacco is controversial because farmers are dependent on it for income, but smoking or
chewing it causes cancer. Farmers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky
are the primary growers of tobacco. Their economic well-being must be balanced with concerns about
public health.

Megalopolis is a good description of the urbanized Northeast United States because it describes an area
in which one city after another appears to have merged into its neighbors. Megalopolis extends from
southern New Hampshire to a bit south of Washington, D.C. Yet, although it includes the major cities of
Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., it also contains farmland and non-
urban land uses. The term, Megalopolis, was first used by a French geographer, Jean Gottmann, in
1961, because the region appeared as one gigantic metropolis (city).

The Corn Belt of the United States also produces soybeans as well as corn on highly mechanized farms.
Farming is intensive on naturally fertile land resulting in high yields per acre. Although corn is a valuable
food crop for people, it is grown primarily as feed for animals. Soybeans have been included in the crop
rotation because the bacteria on their roots help to fertilize the soils and because they can be made into
oil, meal, and other useful products.

The significance of the closing of the frontier was that it indicated that new unexplored lands were no
longer available. Americans were thus faced with the notion that their land and other resources were
not unlimited. Americans had viewed the bounty of the land as being infinite -- as it must have
appeared as they settled across the vast continent. Even though the country still has lots of open space,
there is no unexplored land and Americans are beginning to recognize that their resources are finite.

The image of the cowboy herding cattle on the open range is not an accurate description of commercial
cattle ranching in the United States today because land use changes and other economic activities have
eliminated the open range. From the 1860s to the 1880s, cattle were driven to railroads to be taken to
slaughterhouses. However, other economic activities, farming especially, began to employ grazing lands
for other uses. With the invention of barbed wire, private lands could be fenced in cheaply and easily,
thus limiting where the cowboys could graze the cattle. Previously, fences had to be made of wood,
which was very expensive because it was scarce on the treeless prairies. Nowadays, cattle are raised on
private ranches or leased public or private grazing lands, and frequently fattened in commercial feedlots
before slaughter. Meatpacking houses are generally located within the cattle raising areas so the cattle
do not have to be taken far.

According to the pie chart, 95% of all immigrants came from Northern and Western Europe in the period
1821 to 1860. Only 2% came from Canada. Three percent came from "other" regions, but the pie chart
does not tell us what those other regions are. Regardless, the 3% from the "other" regions is much
smaller than 95%.

A trend that exists in modern farming in the United States today is more specialization in crop and
animal production. This increasing specialization has been accompanied by increased use of machinery
and advanced technology, and increasing farm size. The federal government provides millions of dollars
in subsidies to farmers.Another trend in modern farming in the United States is a growing dependence
on migrant labor. Some of the laborers are legal immigrants or residents, but many are illegal
immigrants. Most work very hard, their wages are usually low, and their working and living conditions
are usually not the best. It should be recognized that although the growers reap the immediate benefit
of using these workers, anyone that buys the food they grow benefits too -- the food would probably
cost more if the workers were paid more.

Laws that were designed to clean up toxic waste sites include the Resource Conservation and Recovery
Acts (RCRA) of 1976 and 1980 and the Superfund Act of 1984 with revisions in 1986 and 1990. These
laws also were intended to handle emergencies resulting from spills of dangerous chemicals. Although
the laws have resulted in the cleanup of some sites, many more remain -- and the effects of the spills are
long lasting. Regardless of whether the contamination was deliberate or accidental, the effects are
frequently unpredictable in the long-term both to the environment and to human health. The billions of
dollars spent so far have not been sufficient to correct all of the damage.

Examples of tertiary activities include banking and financial services. The tertiary sector of the economy
includes the distribution of goods and the provision of services. Education, retailing, wholesaling, health
care, television and radio communications, computer programming, professional services, and
transportation are other examples of tertiary activities.

Agriculture, hunting, mining, forestry, and fishing are called primary activities because they extract
natural resources from the earth. Although classified as primary, the activities listed may use modern
technology in the process of extracting the natural resources. Secondary activities process these raw
materials into finished goods, and tertiary activities involve the distribution of goods and provision of
services.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 saved some protected species, but more species still need to be
protected. A variety of techniques, including habitat improvement, has been used to save the plants
and animals. The "Superfund" is used to clean up chemical and toxic waste contaminated sites.

The belief that environmental legislation is only as good as the enforcement policy is supported by the
fact that some state governments have not always ensured that mining areas have been properly
restored. Existing environmental legislation requires that the vegetation and surrounding area be
restored to its original state prior to the mining activities. Proper ecological restoration can be costly,
however, so it is not always done as fully and completely as legally required.Mining companies have to
balance these restoration costs and their other costs (including paying their workers) against the price
that their customers will pay for the product. Since they must make a profit for their investors, the
amount that they receive for the product must exceed the amount that they pay to mine it. This lack of
governmental enforcement can also be true for other environmental problems, including solid and toxic
waste disposal. State governments must balance an enforcement of the law with the employment of
workers and company profits.

Within the United States, internal migration in the latter part of the 20th century involved movement to
the western, southern, and southwestern parts of the United States. These areas offer milder climates,
cheaper labor, less expensive land, and frequently little traffic congestion in the beginning of settlement.
Many people and firms left the Northeast to move to these areas. Both legal and illegal migrations
occur -- legal ones to Canada and illegal ones from Mexico. However, both are external migration, not
internal migration. Internal migration occurs within a country, not from one country to another.
Migration to Canada is not very large, although in the late 1960s and early 1970s it was significant for
young men who did not want to fight in Vietnam. Illegal migration from Mexico is more significant.

An example of a regional pattern of culture is variations in speech patterns and accents across the
country. The United States is a nation of immigrants and is composed of many ethnic groups. Regions
based on cultural characteristics can be recognized across the United States. Some are based on religion
and some are based on language.The Manufacturing Belt is an economic region while the Sun Belt is
both an economic region and a climatic region. The fast-food hamburger outlets found throughout the
United States illustrate how American culture can be spread across many different regions within the
country.

An example of extensive agriculture is cattle ranching. Extensive agriculture involves the application of
small amounts of labor to large units of land. Thus, the yield (or output) per acre is small. Vegetable
farming, dairy farming, and pig raising are examples of intensive agriculture. They apply large amounts
of labor and capital to relatively small areas of land. Their yield per acre is large.

The growth of tertiary activities has led to greater economic and population growth in the South,
Southwest, and West. Entrepreneurs found the climate, low wages, and relatively cheap land in the
Southern and Western regions of the country attractive. Tertiary activities include the distribution of
goods and the provision of services. These activities are not as tied to natural resources as
manufacturing activities were, and could be profitable in the South, West, and Southwest.
The first national park established in the world was Yellowstone National Park. Banff National Park was
the first national park in Canada. The United States Congress recognized in 1872 that the country's
natural resources and scenery should be treasured and preserved while still contributing to economic
growth. Until that date, no other country had set up a national park. Many countries have since
followed the United States' lead. Now, over 350 national parks exist in the United States. The mission
to both preserve the national parks and at the same time allow for present-day enjoyment can be
difficult to achieve. The day-to-day decisions involve wise management practices and a lot of
compromise.

Tertiary activities are an important economic sector in the United States because they account for
around 75% of the labor force. Most Americans make their living through the provision of services and
the distribution of goods. The location of tertiary activities is generally more flexible than that of
manufacturing or primary activities, which frequently have to be located near their raw materials.
Tertiary activities have grown most rapidly in the Sun Belt. However, to say that tertiary activities are
the most important sector of the economy is somewhat misleading. Tertiary activities cannot exist by
themselves. Before raw materials and goods can be distributed, they must be extracted, processed, and
produced. The service industries are dependent on both the primary and secondary industries, as well
as their workers. Thus, manufacturing and primary activities are very important to the economy as well.

Specialized fruit and vegetable farming is located around most large cities and also in areas with special
climate and soil advantages. The location around large cities allows perishable fresh vegetables and
fruit to reach their market quickly. These crops are frequently grown in greenhouses during the cold
winter. However, consumers want fresh fruit and vegetables all year long, so other areas of the country
which have longer growing seasons specialize in these crops. These regions include the Pacific coast, the
Southwest, the Gulf Coast, and the Great Lakes.

The Northeast and the Great Lakes regions are major dairy farming regions because the cool
temperatures help keep the milk fresh. The same cool temperatures limit the ability to grow other
agricultural products. For instance, the summer temperatures are not sufficiently warm to allow corn to
fully ripen. The soil is also not as fertile as other areas, which also limits the ability to produce other
products. Cows graze on natural pasture grasses during the summer and eat silage, or fermented plant
material stored in silos, over the winter. These dairy farming areas are also in close proximity to their
urban markets. This is very advantageous since milk is perishable.

Spring wheat is grown in the states of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota because the winters
are too cold to support the higher-yielding winter wheat. In the winter wheat belt, centered near
Kansas, winter wheat is planted in the late fall, sprouts, and is protected from cold temperatures by the
snow. However, the temperatures of the spring wheat belt are too cold for the winter wheat to survive
through the winter, so spring wheat is grown instead. It is planted in the early spring, grows through the
summer, and is harvested in the fall. Spring wheat does not produce as high a yield as winter wheat and
so must be grown on larger farms in order to be economical. A significant change has occurred over the
last few decades. Hardier breeds of winter wheat have been developed and it can now be grown in
areas where it could not previously.Despite the names (winter wheat belt and spring wheat belt), these
areas are not solely devoted to wheat. Other crops, such as sorghum, sunflowers, and barley are also
grown and some livestock are raised.

Manufacturing as a secondary activity transforms natural resources into more useful and useable forms.
Secondary activities involve all processing and manufacturing from the original natural resource through
intermediate forms to a final product. Manufacturing accounts for a smaller proportion of the work
force than do tertiary activities (service activities), but it contributes billions of dollars to the United
States economy as well as goods that consumers want. Although the Northeast has declined in relative
importance in terms of manufacturing jobs and output, the region remains significant.

Large-scale wheat growing takes place on large farms on the Great Plains and is highly dependent on
mechanization. Since wheat needs less precipitation than most other crops, it can grow in the relatively
dry Plains where other crops cannot. Wheat also does not need as much labor as other crops because it
does not require much care while it is growing. The flat topography combined with the large areas of
the farms and little labor makes mechanization logical and economical.

Immigration to the United States was dominated by northern and western Europeans until the late 19th
century. Beginning roughly about the 1880s, this pattern changed and most immigrants came from
southern and eastern Europe. The United States government passed legislation in the 1920s to limit the
total number of immigrants and to favor people entering from northern and western Europe. This
legislation has changed over the years, affecting the volume and type of migrants. In the last half of the
20th century through today, most immigrants have been coming from Latin America and Asia.

Internal migration in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries generally followed the pattern of
settlement first on the East Coast, then to the treeless prairies, next to the West Coast, followed by
settlement in the interior. Since most settlers came from Europe or western Africa, they normally first
settled close to the Atlantic Ocean. Later, as farmland on the East Coast became harder to obtain, new
settlement shifted from the Eastern forests to the treeless prairies, with their fertile soils. In the 1840s,
the California gold rush attracted many to California. In the mid-to-late 19th century, the federal
government offered incentives -- including the Homestead Act that offered inexpensive or free land -- to
encourage settlement in the interior. It should be noted that these movements are generalized patterns
and trends; other movements were also occurring at the time.

The predominant direction of settlement in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries was
westward. Many Europeans and their descendants first settled on the East Coast. The desire for cheap
land and the fertile soils of the Prairies, the building of the railroads, and new legislation including the
Homestead Act led to more and more settlement to the west.

The area of the country that grew the most during the last decades of the 20th century is the Sun Belt.
The Sun Belt includes the Western, Southern, and Southwestern states. This area is sunnier and warmer
than the rest of the contiguous United States, hence the name Sun Belt.

The countries that have more people than the United States include China, with around 1.2 billion
people, and India, with around 1 billion people. The 2000 U.S. Census recorded around 283 million
people living in the United States. Indonesia is next in size after the United States with approximately
200 million people, followed by Brazil with around 150 million, and Russia with around 120 million.

Cattle ranching in the United States takes place largely in the West where the cattle graze on private and
public lands. Later the cattle are fattened in feedlots at local meatpacking plants before slaughter. It is
an extensive type of agriculture because it requires large amounts of land. Commercial cattle raising
occurs in the West because the rainfall there is insufficient for crop growing. Thus, having cattle graze
on the natural grasslands is a logical use of the land.

Southern and Eastern Europe experienced the greatest decline in percentage of legal immigrants
entering the U.S. between the early and mid-1900s. The pie chart for 1901 to 1930 shows that 58% of
the legal immigrants to the United States came from Southern and Eastern Europe. For 1931 to 1960,
the percentage of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe declined to 17%. The reason for this
decline was new immigration legislation passed in the 1920s. The legislation limited total immigration
and set quotas that favored Northern and Western Europeans.Not only do the pie charts for the two
periods show different percentages for immigration from different regions, but the pie charts also vary
significantly in size. The pie chart for 1931 to 1960 is much smaller than the one for 1901 to 1930. The
decline in size is a reflection of the new legislation that sharply limited the total number of immigrants
allowed into the United States.

The marketplace site has become increasingly important for industry because many industries have
become more efficient and transportation costs are less expensive than they used to be. Since many
industries are more efficient now, fewer raw materials are used to produce the same products than
used to be necessary. With lower transportation costs, those raw materials can now be shipped more
cheaply to the manufacturing sites.In our modern fast-paced economy, it is important to supply the
product to the customer quickly. Locales close to the marketplace have become even more attractive.
Thus, industries such as iron and steel, that used to be located near their raw materials, are now usually
smaller in scale and located closer to their customers. Marketplace sites frequently also have other
advantages, such as a plentiful supply of labor and attractive cultural and economic activities.

The environmental advantages and human influences that contribute to the success of California
specialty farming include fertile soils, a long growing season, cheap labor, good transportation facilities,
elaborate marketing arrangements, and cheap irrigation water. The natural properties of fertile soil and
a long growing season probably would not be sufficient for California to be as prosperous a producer as
it is. Cheap labor, good transportation, marketing arrangements, and inexpensive irrigation tend to
keep costs low.

Rice is grown in the California desert because warm temperatures and plentiful and inexpensive supplies
of irrigation water support it. Rice is generally grown where water is naturally plentiful as the rice fields
must be flooded. In a desert, water is in short supply so flooding fields would normally be difficult and
expensive. In California, the government subsidizes water provision, and farmers do not pay the true
cost of the water they use. Thus, they do not use it wisely all the time. Growing rice in the desert is a
prime example of an unwise use of water.
Egg and poultry production is different from most other types of farming in the United States because it
uses contracts extensively. The egg and poultry farmer agrees to provide the management, labor,
facilities, and equipment needed for a fee, but the product is owned by the other party to the contract,
the food processor or broker. For other types of farming, the farmer and buyer may set a price for the
purchase of a certain quantity of the commodity before it is harvested or marketed, but prior to the
harvest, the product is usually owned by the farmer. These agreements are called marketing contracts.
For poultry and egg production, however, the contractor owns the product, not the farmer. Other types
of farming, including cattle, hogs, and some vegetables may also have contract arrangements, but it is
far more common in egg and poultry production. A much higher percentage of the farms involved in
these activities have contractual arrangements.

Agribusiness produces, processes, distributes, and markets food. Agribusiness controls the food
production process from start to finish -- from seed to the final distribution and sale to the consumer.
Farming in the United States is becoming more and more specialized as is the processing, marketing,
and distributing of its products. Breakfast cereal may originate as oats on the farm, but to get to the
table, it has to be processed, boxed, advertised, and delivered to the store for sale.

Latin Americans accounted for 47% of all legal immigrants in the 1980s. Asians also were a sizeable
minority, contributing 37%. Europeans accounted for 10% in the 1980s. Canadians accounted for only
2%. Since 1965, priority has been given to immigrants with special skills or professions as well as to
those with family already living in the United States. Legislation in the 1980s and later in the 1990s
facilitated more immigration from Latin America and Asia.

Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined to expand to the Pacific Ocean. This
doctrine encouraged population expansion across the continental United States, and was used to justify
any means the settlers used, including killing Native Americans and taking their lands. It was also used
in conflicts and wars with Mexico.

Meat Belt might be a better name for the Corn Belt because most of the corn is grown for animal
consumption, particularly pigs. The grain is fed to animals, either on the farms themselves or in special
complexes or on feedlots. Although corn is produced in the Corn Belt, it is not necessarily the ultimate
product, beef from cattle and pork from hogs and pigs are.

Rural land use is important to the United States because farming is basic to the economy and open
space is important to the American heritage. Agriculture provides food for Americans as well as
contributing to exports. Americans have always valued open space for relaxation and renewal. The
rural landscape is an important part of how many Americans think of the United States and thus forms
an inseparable part of the American heritage, whether it is in the movies, in painting, on television, in
music, or in actuality.

				
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