Geography of the United States
United States (Geography), the United States consists of 50 states as well as the federal district of Columbia, which coincides with the capital Washington, DC. 4500 km and includes four time zones; the distance from north to south is approximately 2700 km. The last two states are Alaska to the NW and the archipelago of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
The United States also includes some politically associated islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, including Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Together, the islands cover approximately 12,000 km2, and including the 200 nautical mile wide economic zone around the islands, the United States has larger sea areas than any other country. The land area is the fourth largest in the world (after Russia, Canada and China). The population (270 million) is surpassed only by China and India.
|The United States|
|name||capital city||population in mio. (1998)||area (1000 km2)|
|East North Central|
|West North Central|
|Iowa||I A||Des Moines||2.9||145.8|
|District of Columbia *||DC||0.5||0.2|
|East South Central|
|West South Central|
|New Mexico||NM||Santa Fe||1.7||314.9|
|Utah||UT||Salt Lake City||2.1||219.9|
|* Federal District|
In the good 200-year history of the United States, the country has received over 70 million. immigrants, refugees and slaves. It is therefore no exaggeration to characterize the United States as a nation of immigrants.
Immigration was seriously systematized after the American Civil War and continued in waves until the 1920’s, when legislation on land quotas sought to limit and regulate the influx. Later, the economic depression and World War II followed, after which immigration picked up again. In 1989-98, the United States received an average of over $ 1 million. immigrants and refugees per year. Of the current population is almost 1/10 born outside the United States, the rest are descendants of earlier immigrants and slaves in addition to a minority of Indian origin. In terms of race, whites make up 82%, blacks 13%, Asians 5% and indigenous peoples less than 1%.
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Where immigration was previously dominated by Europeans, the picture has become more diverse since World War II. The geographical spread is shown by a marked increase in immigrants from Latin America and Asia, to a lesser extent by new immigrants from e.g. Britain and Eastern Europe (after the fall of communism). Since 1970, the largest donor countries have been Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, China, Vietnam, India and Cuba. Here, for example, is the Spanish-speaking population, hispanics, grew to 12% nationwide, but to more than double in large immigrant states such as California and Texas. With the new immigrant groups, the United States has more than ever acquired the character of a multicultural society, where residents of a certain race and nationality or with different religions, occupations and incomes typically live in separate neighborhoods (in poor neighborhoods called ghettos or barrios).
Since the 1950’s, the annual growth rate has stabilized at approximately 1%. As in other western countries, there has been a decline in the birth and death rates, while the average age has risen from 30 to 35 years. Life expectancy, which is now 75 years (men) and 79 years (women), varies considerably. So does the income distribution and the share of the poor. While 12.7% of Americans in 1998 had an income below the official poverty line, the figure was more than twice as high for the Spanish-speaking and black population. The differences in the area and population of the states are also large. As many as 32 states have a smaller population than Denmark, while the most populous state, California, has 33 million. residents, Texas 20 million, New York 18 million. and Florida 15 million. That the average population density is only 29 residents per. km2, therefore, does not say much about the actual population pressure. Large areas of the Midwest and mountain states, not to mention the largest state in terms of area, Alaska, are almost empty of people.
Cities and suburbs
As early as 1920, the American urban population was larger than the rural population, and since then the difference has grown. Button 4/5of Americans now live in cities, the majority of which for approximately 20 metropolitan areas. Where the main migratory flows were still in the 1940’s directed from country to city, and over 1 million. blacks from southern rural areas sought out the factory towns of the Northeast and West, the migrations have since been dominated by a movement from the urbanized “frost belt” in the northeast to the towns of the southern “sun belt” (from Florida to California). Along with foreign immigration, this has meant that the country’s fastest growing cities, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, etc., are all in the sun belt, while the population has declined in Detroit since the 1950’s, Cleveland, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and many other old factory towns in the frost belt.
Another characteristic development is the declining urban population of large cities compared to their growing MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area). The difference between the two inventories, which partly reflects the size of the suburban population, is shown by the figures for the three largest cities in the United States: New York 7.4 million. (19.9 million), Los Angeles 3.6 million. (15.5 million), Chicago 2.8 million. (8.6 million). Although the difference between city and MSAin fact is hardly so simple, it is a fact that urban growth has especially taken place in the suburbs. More clearly than is known from other countries, Americans have become suburban residents who, with the construction of sprawling industrial and office parks and shopping and amusement centers, have freed themselves more and more from the original city center. With certain exceptions, the commute between city and suburbs is now less than the interconnection between the suburbs. The driving force behind this development has been a combination of cars and highways. Only a few places have a well-functioning public transport system outside the city, and even here you will most often be in a bad place without a car.
The opposite of the flat urban structure in the suburban detached houses is found in the city’s core area, downtown, which to varying degrees is dominated by skyscraper complexes and multi-storey dwellings. Apart from the skyscrapers, which typically house offices of finance, industry and media companies mixed with hotels, convention and shopping centers, this part of the city is often run-down and dilapidated, mainly due to declining tax revenues after the middle class and high-income groups (especially whites) are moved to the suburbs. Back in the city center is an over-representation of socially disadvantaged communities consisting of poor blacks and other minorities.
In addition to this general pattern, there are, of course, divergent examples in a country the size of the United States. In many mid-sized cities, especially in the Midwest, the city center is almost extinct, while urban renewal programs in New York, Boston, Baltimore, and other old metropolitan areas have succeeded in revitalizing parts of downtown and attracting new groups of highly educated youth. Elsewhere, completely new urban communities have emerged. In the solar belt states, the number of special retirement towns has grown rapidly, as has the so-called “trailer parks”, where the residents live in large, firmly anchored, but mobile caravans, mobile homes.
In step with technological development, traditional goods-producing industries have lost importance in relation to an expanding service sector. Almost 4/5 of the workforce is currently employed in service-related industries, ranging from a large health and education sector for example, media, information and entertainment. Pga. the large material consumption of the population and the long distance between producer and consumer, trade and transport are also important industries, just as the country continues to have its strength in a broad economy with productive raw material, industrial and agricultural sectors.
approximately 13% are employed in the public sector, making the federal state and the states’ largest employers. In addition, the federal government in particular has a great deal of influence on which industries and research areas are to be promoted. Reasoned for national security, investments in, for example, the aerospace industry since World War II have resulted in billions in contracts for aircraft factories and electronics companies. As the orders are primarily located in California, Texas, Florida and other sun belt states, the federal state has thereby supported the regional shift of jobs and growth zones from north to south. More generally, research and education have been a key factor in the high-tech growth of recent decades. At the same time as the country has attracted more foreign researchers than the rest of the world, For example, private companies and public authorities have together invested huge sums in capital-intensive research such as information and genetic engineering. Growth centers for influential research includeSilicon Valley in California, The Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and “The Electronics Highway” around Boston. Characteristic of these and many other industrial and research centers is that they have sprung up near large universities and often in areas where local authorities have actively supported companies with tax breaks and loans.
Another characteristic feature of American business is that almost all industries are dominated by large corporations, which, through franchises, branches and subsidiaries, assert their influence globally. On the list of the world’s leading transnational corporations, there is a preponderance of American corporations that have benefited from the liberalization of trade and investment that has characterized global developments since the 1980’s. In addition to numerous well-known industrial companies – Ford, GM, Exxon, Texaco, IBM, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola, etc. – this also applies to fast-growing finance companies and franchisees such as McDonald’s, 7-Eleven and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
External trade is the world’s largest, but relatively modest in value when assessed in relation to domestic trade and GDP. Since the 1970’s, imports have grown faster than exports, which has resulted in a large trade deficit and increased the country’s external debt; therefore, the government has at times introduced import restrictions for certain product groups, especially steel and cars. Total economic turnover, expressed by GDP, is far greater than in any other country ($ 8450 billion in 1998).
Agriculture. The United States has extensive agricultural land, which combined with the use of auxiliaries, machinery and high-performance plants and animals is the background for agriculture’s international leadership. In addition to supplying most of the domestic market, agriculture and the closely linked food industry are major exporters of citrus fruits, soybeans, corn, wheat, rice, beef, poultry, cotton, tobacco and vegetable oils. The variation in crops and use structure reflects differences in natural conditions, but is also a consequence of state aid schemes and market conditions.
The center of gravity of agriculture lies in the former prairie areas of the Midwest, which are favored by a flat terrain with fertile soils. Where agriculture, incl. fallow and grazing fields, occupies approximately 45% of the area nationwide, the figure in the Midwestern states is 70-95%. In the area, also known as the “United States Grain Chamber”, most of the country’s wheat, corn, soy and sunflowers are produced in addition to beef and pork as well as milk. Heat-demanding crops such as sugar cane, rice, cotton, tobacco and citrus fruits are grown in the sun-belt states, while production in the rain-poor regions to the west is conditioned by irrigation or limited to extensive animal husbandry (cattle, sheep). In New England, agriculture has only a minor role (mostly part-time use of vegetables, fruits and dairy products), while the former plantation areas in the South have in many places been planted with forest or replaced by chicken and turkey farms and crops such as soybeans and peanuts. Viticulture is found mainly in California, which by virtue of the productive, irrigated Central Valley has the country’s largest agricultural turnover, followed by Texas, Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa.
Employment and the number of holdings have fallen sharply since the 1950’s. At the same time, the remaining uses have become larger and more specialized, which is accelerated by state aid schemes that have particularly benefited large farms. In the Midwest, family farms are still prevalent, while corporate farms have emerged in many other places, especially in beef, poultry and fruit. Regardless of ownership, most farms are run just as commercially as any other production business. It has strengthened competitiveness, but also caused problems in the form of surplus production and environmental damage. In addition, farmers’ use of antibiotics, hormones and genetically modified crops has been met with growing resistance among domestic consumers and in the export markets in e.g. EU. For culture and traditions of United States, please check calculatorinc.
The environmental problems are manifested by the side effects of a large consumption of fertilizers and pesticides, but also by the salting of irrigated fields and a periodically extensive soil erosion. To combat the cultivation-created erosion (see Dust Bowl), since the 1930’s, the Federal Government has implemented concrete relief measures and compensated farmers for leaving the poorest lands out of operation. When the result has not been commensurate with the effort, this is partly due to the fact that erosion has been shown to be more affected by economic conditions on the world market than by government regulations. During periods of high demand and high prices for eg wheat, fallow marginal soils have again been included in the operation, whereby erosion has grown.
The same problem is known from attempts to regulate surplus production (and thus price formation) by limiting the cultivated area through financial subsidies or compensation in the form of in-kind (cereals). The latter scheme was used during the Reagan administration in the 1980’s, when the land bank, as the sheltered area was called, reached almost 400,000 km2, after which it gradually shrank during the subsequent boom in the 1990’s and covers 77,000 km2 in 1999..
Forestry. After major clearings in the 1800’s. the forest area has increased since the 1930’s and now amounts to approximately 1/3of the area. The most notable change has occurred in the South, which after replanting with fast-growing pine species has become the United States’ most productive forest region, followed by the northwestern coniferous forest belt in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. The mixed deciduous and coniferous forests of New England have modest commercial value, while timber exports to Japan have increased the importance of forestry in Alaska. Remains of natural forests, such as the temperate rainforests of Washington and the redwoods of California, are today found mainly only in national parks. Although the country is the world’s largest timber producer and second largest producer of cellulose and paper, large quantities of timber and wood products are imported, mostly from Canada.
Fishing. Most of the fishing takes place in the North Pacific off Alaska, while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and especially in the North Atlantic has been declining due to overfishing. The catches are dominated by consumer fish with species of cod, herring, salmon and flatfish in addition to crabs, shrimp and other shellfish. The total catch, incl. aquaculture and freshwater fishing, is the world’s fifth largest.
Industry. In the years after World War II, the United States was by far the world’s largest and most versatile industrial producer. The enormous production capacity, which was based on own raw materials and domestic capital, included almost all types of basic products, machinery, means of transport and consumables. At the same time, approximately 70% of the factory workers and most of the production, regardless of major industrial centers in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston, concentrated in the industrial belt, Manufacturing Belt, which from the late 1800-t. had arisen between the northeast Atlantic cities and Chicago to the west.
Half a century later, the picture is different. Production capacity remains large, but both industry-wise and geographically, much has changed, just as a growing part of production now takes place at foreign-owned factories.
As the industry’s core area, the Manufacturing Belt has disappeared. Instead, a large number of more or less scattered centers are seen, many of which have been preserved/recreated in the old belt, and new ones have especially emerged in the sun belt. The geographical pattern has thus become more complex, which is due to the development of the infrastructure, which has not completely removed, but has nevertheless reduced previous regional differences, eg in the form of numerous airports, of which approximately 800 with regular scheduled traffic, and an over 70,000 km long highway network (Interstate Highway System). When formerly industrial-poor southern states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee have attracted many new industries, such as Japanese and German car factories, it is also because wages and the proportion of unionized workers are significantly lower in the south than in the north. In addition, the electronics industry and other growth industries are not bound by heavy raw material deliveries, as is known from, for example, the iron and steel industry (coal, iron, lime).
While the iron and steel industry, shipyards, tobacco industry, shoe industry and textile and clothing industry are examples of industries that have declined sharply, the automotive industry and not least GM, Ford and to a lesser extent Chrysler (all headquartered in Detroit) have regained some of ancient greatness after extensive rationalizations in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Although car imports are the largest single item in foreign trade, the United States is now again the world’s largest carmaker (ahead of Japan). Another large and rapidly growing industry until the end of the 1980’s is the aerospace industry, aerospace industry, which has benefited from federal investment in civilian and military space programs and periodically large orders for fighter jets and missiles. Led by McDonnell Douglas and especially the Boeing factories in Seattle, the aerospace industry is also a major exporter. In addition, the United States is a world leader in the chemical industry (petroleum products, plastics, plastics, fertilizers, pesticides) in addition to the food industry, paper industry, pharmaceutical industry and a fast-growing electronics and computer industry since the 1960’s.
Just as foreign companies have increased their involvement in the United States since the 1970’s, American groups have multiplied their investments in e.g. Europe and close partner countries such as Canada and Mexico (see NAFTA). Investments have also been directed at low-wage areas in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, which now manufacture the majority of well-known US branded products such as Levi’s, Reebok and Nike.
The landscape is varied and rich in contrast, but in a sense also uniform, as the same type of landscape can cover thousands of square kilometers. Prominent regions are the mountainous areas to the east and west as well as the intermediate inland plains and coastal plains along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
The eastern mountain region is made up of the Appalachians, whose mountain ranges and valleys extend almost parallel to the coastal plain from Alabama in the SW to Canada in the NE; highest point is Mt. Mitchell (2037 m) in the Blue Ridge Mountains. On the east side, the mountains continue in the hilly Piedmont Plateau, which is bounded by the coastal plain by a 150-100 m high waterfall line (Fall Line). The transition to the inner plains to the west consists of The Cumberland Plateau, which via mountain passes became the first encounter of many settlers with the open plains beyond the Appalachians.
The inland plains are the name of the vast expanse of land between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, from the central lowlands in the east to the Great Plains in the west. The terrain is predominantly flat, in some places almost contourless, in other places more hilly, with the lowest sections around the Mississippi River in the central interior. Elevated areas are found at the transition to the Rocky Mountains (approximately 1700 m) and in the edge zone of the Canadian Shield west of Lake Superior; in addition, isolated ridges are found in South Dakota (Black Hills) and in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas (Ozark Plateau, Ouachita Mountains). Large parts of the region are marked by the last ice age. This does not only apply to the former ice-covered areas south of the Great Lakes), whose current topography is reminiscent of Denmark’s moraine landscapes, but also the areas outside the ice edge, where wind-borne clay particles (lice) have formed a wide belt of fertile black soils. Elsewhere, such as in South Dakota’s barren badlands, the soil layer has almost eroded away after millions of years of wear.
The western mountain regionbelongs to the North American Cordilleras, which stretch from the Rocky Mountains in the east via a dry interior with plateaus, depressions and deep gorges, such as the Grand Canyon in the Colorado Plateau, to the mountain system of the Pacific Coast. The latter, which is characterized by earthquakes along the Sankt Andreas fault and contains active volcanoes (most recent major eruption was Mount St. Helens in Washington in 1980), consists of two almost contiguous mountain ranges of resp. the west side (Coast Ranges) and the east side (Cascade Range-Sierra Nevada) of an elongated burial depression from Puget Sound in Washington to the Central Valley in California. The highest mountain here is Mount Whitney (4418 m) in the Sierra Nevada, only 160 km from the lowest point, Death Valley (−86 m) in the Great Basin. North of the 48 contiguous states, the Cordillers continue through Canada to Alaska with the highest mountain in the United States, Mount McKinley (6194 m), and many active volcanoes, especially on the Aleutian archipelago. Most of the country’s glaciers are also found in Alaska.
The coastal plains include a zone up to several hundred kilometers wide of low-lying deposits along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Next to Texas and the South Atlantic coast, the plains form narrow barrier islands with sandy beaches and shallow lagoons; Elsewhere, coastal areas consist of vast swamps, such as Louisiana and Florida. While the ocean since the ice age has flooded large parts of the North Atlantic Plain, which has completely disappeared off the New England states, the opposite has happened at the Mississippi outlet, where new deposits have caused the delta to grow year by year.
Weather and climate. Although the United States can exhibit all types of climates, most of the country has temperate continental climates with large differences in summer and winter temperatures. The polar climate is found in northern Alaska and in places in the mountains, while the southern coastal areas have subtropical climates with mild winters. Tropical climates are found only in southern Florida and in Hawaii.
Pga. the north-south orientation of the mountain ranges, the inner plains are open to the intrusion of cold air masses from the north and warm air masses from the south, which can cause temperature jumps of up to 40 °C in the course of a day. At the same time, the plains and Mississippi catchment area are haunted annually by over 200 tornadoes, which typically occur on the border between the two air masses. Another dreaded weather phenomenon is late summer’s tropical whirlwinds, hurricanes, which on their northeastern course from the Gulf of Mexico frequently wreak havoc.
In terms of precipitation, the country ranges from mean values from approximately 1500 mm along the North Pacific Coast and East Gulf Coast to less than 100 mm in the Great Basin and the southwest deserts. Apart from these extremes, which also include Hawaii with precipitation numbers up to 11,000 mm, the country can be divided into a rainy eastern part and a low-rain western part, which is separated by the 500 mm precipitation zone across the prairie states (approximately 100 ° west).. The arid plains between the border zone and the Rocky Mountains have a large annual rainfall deficit and are often hit by dust storms and droughts. The water supply in these areas is based on flooded rivers and rapidly dwindling groundwater reservoirs (see Ogallala Aquifer). Persistent drought in the 1990’s brought the water problems of the southwestern United States. This is especially true of the areas along the Rio Grande border between Texas and Mexico, where U.S. farmers, in addition to drought, were hit by failing supplies from the two countries’ shared water reservoirs in Lakes Amistad and Falcon. An agreement between Mexico and the United States to share the waters of the Rio Grande Basin between the two countries dates from 1944.
Lakes and rivers
The United States has rivers and large lakes, which are regulated to varying degrees and are used for hydropower, water supply, sailing and recreational purposes. Flat-water, drainless lakes, such as Great Salt Lake in Utah, are also used for salt extraction.
The total network of waterways is among the longest in the world, and although shipping has lost importance in relation to other modes of transport, it is still important for the transport of bulk goods and heavy goods. The main sailing route is the Saint Lawrence Seaway (USA/Canada) between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, the Great Lakes are connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Erie Canal and the Hudson River (New York State Barge Canal) and to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi and its northern canal to Lake Michigan (Illinois Waterway). Navigable stretches are also found on the Mississippi tributaries, while the rivers on the Atlantic coastal plain can be navigated in several places up to the waterfall line. Along the coast, the domestic shipping route continues as the Intracoastal Waterway from Texas to New York.
The rivers in the Pacific region have only limited shipping traffic, but great importance for hydropower and water supply. This is especially true of the Colorado and Columbia Rivers, which are flooded by several large dams, such as Hoover Dam with the Lake Mead Dam in the Colorado River and Grand Coulee Dam with Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake in the Columbia River. These and many other combined hydropower and river regulation projects, incl. the dams of the Tennessee River and the Central Valley Project in California, were implemented by the federal government in the 1930’s. Other major dam projects, including several in Oregon, California and the semi-arid Mountain states, dates from the period up to the 1970’s, after which environmental regulations and the protection of particularly scenic river systems have slowed down development. An ambitious plan to divert water from the water-rich rivers of Alaska to the arid areas of the southwest has also been abandoned.
Energy and mining
The United States is among the world’s largest producers of metals and energy raw materials. Nevertheless, since the Second World War, the country has had to supplement its own production with imports of e.g. oil, copper, iron and various alloying metals. This development is partly due to a colossal growth in consumption, especially of energy. Current energy consumption is equivalent to almost 1/4 of world consumption, constitute oil 39%, natural gas 23%, coal 23%, nuclear power 8% and hydro 4%. Renewable energy sources, based on the use of solar, wind, geothermal energy and biomass, despite an increasing trend, have only local significance.
Since the 1960’s, no new large oil discoveries have been made, and as the country has at the same time exhausted the most valuable deposits and has been able to import cheap oil from e.g. In the Middle East, Venezuela, Mexico and Canada, domestic production has fallen. The downturn has particularly affected major oil states such as Texas, California, Louisiana and Oklahoma, just as Alaska, which became the second-largest producer after the opening of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1977, has now also seen a slight decline. Similarly, it can be expected that the production of nuclear power, by far the world’s largest, will decrease in line with the decommissioning of the functioning 104 reactors (1998). Several reactors have previously been taken out of operation, and after the accident on Tremileøen in 1979, plans to build new nuclear power plants have been put on hold.
The production of natural gas is very large, but has long been stagnant, while coal is now mined in larger quantities than ever before. The deposits are widespread, but not equally fragile. According to the Clean Air Act of 1970, the mining has been aimed at low-sulfur coal in e.g. Wyoming, now the largest producer, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky and other states in the Appalachian coal field. Most of the coal used in power plants that supply 3/4 of the country’s electricity.
Today, coal and metal-bearing ores are mined predominantly in open mines. The center of gravity for the extraction of Copper, lead, zinc, uranium, molybdenum, gold and silver are found in the western mountain areas, while the Mesabi Range in Minnesota is one of the few places in the United States where iron is still mined in large quantities. Although the production of both iron and certain other minerals has declined, the country has large reserves in the form of e.g. manganese nodules and other metal deposits on the deep seabed off Hawaii and the South Pacific Islands.
After the great deforestation and the cultivation of the land, which happened in step with the federal state in the latter half of the 1800-t. divested large parts of the nation’s new acquisitions to settlers and railroad companies, there have been no significant restrictions in federal lands. The federal state currently has almost DKK 3 million at its disposal. km2 – more than 1/4 of the entire country – and is thus a key manager of the natural, as from the end of 1800 t. has been the idea to cherish.
However, the fact that the federal state also takes care of other considerations is clear from the fact that the administration of the federal areas, apart from military areas and Native American reserves, falls under four administrative bodies: the National Park Agency, the Danish Forest Agency, the Danish Fisheries and Game Agency and the Agency for Land Management. While nature protection and the protection of historically valuable areas have the highest priority for the National Park Agency, the other bodies are equally concerned with recreational and financial interests. The extent to which the state must allow private companies, for example, to extract raw materials and cut down forests on public land is therefore a recurring topic of conflict in American policy.
The federal land lines are found especially in the western mountain areas and Alaska. This also applies to the national parks, of which Yellowstone (1872) in Wyoming and Sequoia, Yosemite (both in California) and Mount Rainier in Washington were established before the formation of the National Park Board in 1916. Today, the board manages approximately 320,000 km2 divided into 54 national parks and approximately 300 otherwise protected areas (national monuments, game parks, historical parks, etc.). Seven of the country’s ten largest national parks are located in Alaska, while the Everglades in Florida and the Great Smoky Mountains in the Appalachians are the largest and most visited in the eastern United States.