Countries of the World - Geography
Geography - (written in 1998)

The Northeastern United States

The United States ranks fourth among the nations of the earth in physical size, and third in poulation. Yet it is the richest and most prosperous nation in history. It owes its success partly to a combination of hard-working people, rich farmland, abundant resources, and good climate. Its variety of lands and peoples is unmatched by any other nation.
The United States is divided into four main regions - the Northeast, the Sout, the Midwest, and the West. The Northeast has a special place in the hearts of Americans. Visitors from all over the nation come to see reminders of America's early history. Nine of the original thirteen colonies were in the Northeast. Monuments remind Americans of the many ways that the Northeast has contributed to this nation's greatest treasure - liberty.
True freedom is a gift from the Lord. God tells Christians to use their liberty not selfishly but for the good of all.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another (Gal. 5:13)

New England

The six states at the far northeast corner of the United States are very small - all six could fit inside Missouri. Yet they have played a big role in the nation.
The explorer John Cabot claimed this region for England in 1497. He called it New England. Closer to the British Isles than any other part of the United States, its shores were easily reached by ships sailing across the Atlantic. At least nine out of ten people in New England are descendants of Englishmen. The first settlers were proud of their British heritage. They created a "New" England by following the best traditions from "old" England. Many families trace their family tree back to the very firt English settlers.
Because the wide ocean separated these colonies from the mother country, freedom flourished in New England. Liberty took root in three important areas - business, politics, and religtion.
Capitalism developed in New England because settlers were able to start businesses with little interference from the crown. From the first year they arrived, these touch, pioneering souls set an example of hard work and an independent spirit.
Democracy also took root in New England because colonists were free to run their own political affairs. They divided land into districts called townships. Property owners within each township met regularly to vote on community matters. Many old meeting halls still stand at the town center. Today townships are joined together into larger political units called counties.
America's greatest liberty - freedom of religion - also took root in New England. Fleeing persecution by the Church of England, colonists wanted to worship God as they chose. The preaching of the gospel allowed many colonists to discover the true liberty that is found only in Jesus Christ. Christian principles guided social life in the colonies. Church steeples still dominate the skyline of every New England town.

Lower New England

If you look at the physical map, you will see that a series of hills and mountains divide New England from the rest of the nation. Because no deep rivers cut through the high wall, New England has always depended on the Atlantic Ocean for travel and trade. Settlements hug the Atlantic seaboard (the land along the Atlantic coast). Although the entire Northeast has a humid continental climate, New England is not very good for farming. New England's winters are cold, and the growing season is short.
New England is divided into three types of terrain: lowlands, uplands, and mountain ranges. The lowlands are a a narrow strip of coastal plains. The New England uplands is a low, rocky plateau that rises above the coastal lowlands. Farther inland, several mountain ranges rise within the Appalachian Mountain system.
The New England uplands cover most of the three "lower" states - Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The soil is often too rocky for profitable farms, even along the large stretches of coastal lowlands. Past glaciers exposed the underlying rock and made the soil shallow. Most good farmland arises in the river valleys. Deep harbors have allowed large cities to thrive on trade and fishing.


Massachusetts played a leading role in the nation's founding. The first New England colony was built by the Pilgrims, who landed near Plymouth Rock on December 26, 1620. Their courageous struggle to build a new life on the savage frontier inspired every American who came after them.
The Pilgrims laid the foundation for self-government in America. It came as a result of a navigational error by the captain of the Mayflower. He landed at Plymouth Harbor hundreds of miles north of his intended destination in Virginia. Before going ashore, the men on the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact (an agreement to make laws to govern themselves).
Plymouth never became a major port, however. The best harbors in New England were north of Plymouth, on Massachusetts Bay. Thousands of Puritans who migrated to America in the 1630s built homes on this bay. You can stilll see dock workers busily unloading materials from all over the world. The main port, Boston, soon became the largest city in New England. It is the capital of the Bay State.
Bostonians led in the colonies' decision to break with England. When the king began violating their rights, the colonies united in a long, bloody War for Independence (1776-83). What youngster has not heard thrilling stores of the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere's midnight ride, and Lexington's "shot heard round the world"? Visitors can still see where many of these events occurred, along Boston's "Freedom Trail." This walking tour ends at the top of Bunker Hill, the first and blodiest major battle in the War for Independence.
Most of the state's population live on the coastal plain on the eastern part of the state. Boston and its neighboring cities have built many industries on these lowlands. The state's most famous body of water, Walden Pond, is west of Boston. On this beautiful pond the early naturalist Henry David Thoreau lived alone for two years and then wrote a novel about his experiences. The swampy plain south of Boston produces almost one-half of the nation's cranberries.
The coastal plain includes Cape Cod and many islands. Cape Cod is a long peninsula that curls like a fishhook into the Atlantic. Its beautiful sandy beaches are now protected as a national seashore. Two islands south of Cape Cod are famous: Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket - once the whaling capital of the world. Whaling was a uniquely American industry. Whalers plied the seven seas and battled the elements in search of precious whale oil. Moby Dick tells the fictional story of Captain Ahab, who sailed from Nantucket to find the Great White Whale. Ferry boats now take visitors to museums and historic buildings on these islands.
The two remaining areas are the central uplands and the western hills and mountains. The New England uplands run through the heart of Massachusetts. The fertile Connecticut River valley divides this low plateau into eastern and western portions. West of the plateau are the Berkshire Hills, a low range of the Appalachians. The scenic hills are covered with maple, ash, and birch forests that turn beautiful colors int he fall. On the western line of the state are the narrow Taconic Mountains, which form the border between Massachusetts and New York.

Rhode Island: Religious Freedom

Expelled from Massachusetts by Puritans, Roger Williams went to an area southwest of Boston where several others had already gone. Williams helped to settle disagreements among these refugees and founded the Rhode Island colony. The capital, Providence, was named in honor of God's provisions. Though the smallest colony, Rhode Island made a vital contribution to the nation: the colonists became outspoken on religious freedom.
Rhode Island has the most independent spirit of any northeastern state. Its people burned a British vessel in protest long before the events of Lexington and Concord, and they renounced British rule on May 4, 1776 - two months before teh Declaration of Independence. It was also the last of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the Constitution. Religious freedom attracted settlers of many faiths, including Jews.
The Cradle of American Industry was located at the town of Pawtucket, just north of Providence. Slater's Mill became the first major industry in the nation, in 1793. A young English laborer named Samuel Slater, who had secretly memorized the plans of an English cloth factory, reproduced the design after he moved to Rhode Island. As a result, England's firm grip on the textile industry was broken. The looms wove textiles (cloth). Textile mills in New England once produced more cloth than any other place in the world, and they are still important to Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is sandwiched on the coast between Massachusetts and Connecticut. It has no mountains and sparsely populated uplands in the northwest. Most people live on the coastal plain along Narragansett Bay. The capital, Providence, is the second largest city in New England. Its harbor is protected by many offshore islands. The name of the state comes from the largest of these islands, Rhode Island. The America's Cup yacht races are held each year near this island.

Connecticut: The Constitution State

Connecticut is nicknamed the Consitution State for two reasons. It was the first colony to write a constitution (1639). A constitution is a set of laws describing and limiting the government's power. Its second contribution came when the states met in 1787 to draft a national constitution. Connecticut offered the Great Compromise that resolved a debate that threatened to break up the meeting. This "middle-sized" state proposed a bicameral system with two law-making bodies that share power: the Senate, where small states have the same votes as large states; and the House, where large states receive more votes equal to their population.
The people in Connecticut enjoy a high standard of living despite the state's lack of natural resources. In fact, its per capita income - over $32,000 per person - is higher than any other state's. Connecticut owes much of its success to Yankee ingenuity. Skilled inventors and businessmen have started thousands of manufacturing plants. Samuel Colt invented the Colt revolver. Eli Whitney, the enventor of the cotton gin, built a musket factory in Connecticut based on the new concept of mass production. Workers made gun parts from molds, all identical, rather than handmaking each gun one at a time. Virtually every factory on earth now uses this money-saving technique.
Most of Connecticut consists of hilly uplands. (A narrow strip of lowlands lies on the coast, and a few Taconic Mountains dip down from Massachusetts.) The English settlers built their first cities on the broad, fertile valley of the Connecticut River, which cuts the state in half. Hartford, the state's capital and largest city, is located on the Connecticut - the longest river in New England. Although it has many industries, Hartford is most proud of its role as the Insurance Capital of the World. Ship owners first started these insurance companies to protect themselves from the high risk of their cargo sinking in the ocean.
Several small towns on the Connecticut River experienced the first and most famous revival in American history. Jonathan Edwards, the greatest early American preacher, delivered a sermon that students still study in school today, entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." His written account of a revival in his church (1735) was read throughout the colonies and helped to spark the first Great Awakening.
Many ports arose in Connecticut along Long Island Sound. Long Island, the largest island on the Atlantic seaboard, protects the Connecticut coast from Atlantic storms. (Long Island belongs to Connecticut's western neighbor, New York.) A rivalry with Boston inspired the port city of New Haven to build Yale University - teh second college in the Northeast. Another port, Groton, became the submarine capital of the world. Groton launched the first modern submarine. It also produces most of the nation's nuclear subs and is a submarine base. Near Groton is Mystic Seaport. Once a whaling center in New England, it has been restored as a popular tourist spot.

Section Review

1. List the three basic freedoms that took root in New England.
2. What three basic types of terrain are found in New England? Which lower state lacks mountains?
3. Find the largest city in each state of lower New England. Explain how geography helped these cities to grow.
4. Name one tourist site and one product associated with each state in lower New England.
5. Why is Connecticut called the Constitution State?
6. (Lightbulb). Why did Connecticut's main cities arise on a river, not on the coast?


Popular Trails
Perhaps the most spectacular hike east of the Rocky Mountains is the Knife Edge Trail in Maine. The mile-long trail, five to twenty feet wide, follows a ridge on the top of Mount Katahdin. The entire ridge, whose sides drop two tousand feet to the wooded valley, is well above timber line.
The Northeast was the birthplace of the nation's most famous trail - the Appalachian Trail. In 1921 Benton MacKaye, who had traveled the entire length of the Green Mountains, published plans for a chain of trails through the Appalacian Mountains. Another backpacker, Earl Shaffer, became the first man to hike the entire route in 1948, even before it was completed. Congress declared it a "national scenic trail" in 1968, along with trails on the Pacific Crest and on the Continental Divide. The Appalacian Trail runs two thousand miles across fourteen stats, from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Every year hundreds of "through hikers" devote over half a year of their lives walking the entire length of the trail.
Horseback riding and mountain biking are also popular in the mountains of the Northeast - in the Whites of New Hampshire, the Greens of Vermont, the Poconos of Pennsylvania, and the Catskills and Adirondacks of New York. The Great Smokey Mountains are a famous destination for horseback riders in the South, and the Sierra Nevada are popular in the West.

Upper New England

Upper New England refers to the three northernmost New England states. Though small, these states are much larger than the lower three states. Several factors have hindered settlement, however. Upper New England has the highest mountain range in the Northeast. Glaciers exposed rocky soils, making farming difficult. The mountains not only block travel; they also shorten the growing seasons. Instead of seeing sprawling cities, one sees moose browsing in remote ponds.
Mountains truly dominate upper New England. All three states have mountains that rise above the timber line, the altitude at which the climate is too cold for trees to grow. Only one other state east of the Mississippi (New York) has mountains above the timber line. Everything above the timber line is called the alpine zone because the climate and stunted vegetation is similar to that in the Alps. Without trees and other obstructions, climbers can enjoy spectacular views but have no protection from fierce winds and storms.

New Hampshire: Live Free or Die

New Hampshire is the only Upper New England state that was one of the thirteen original colonies. As the ninth state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, its vote put the Constitution into effect. It also has traditionally hosted the first presidential primary in the election years. These contributions explain why the state proudly claims the mottow: "Live Free or Die."
The White Mountains, known for their white peaks and Christmas tree farms, dominate the northern region of the state. Tourists flock to ski resorts in winter and to covered bridges and rock formations in summer. The most famous rock formation, the Old Man of the Mountains, resembles the side of a face and has become a symbol of the state.
The Presidential Range is the most famous range in the White Mountains. The highest peaks are named after presidents, including Mt. Washington, Mt. Adams, Mt. Quincy Adams, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Madison, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Pierce, and Mt. Eisenhower. Most of these exceed five thousand feet in elevation. A few peaks in the Franconia Range, such as Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Lafayette, also rise this high.
Local highways wind through several notches in the White Mountains. A notch is a low place on a ridge or a mountain range through which a road can pass. The cuts in the ridges look as though a huge axe "notched" them out. Other regions call these low spots a pass or a gap. Many tourists stop at Franconia Notch to view the Old Man of the Mountains.
The highest peak in the White Mountains is Mt. Washington (6,288 ft.), the only mountain in the Northeast that exceeds six thousand feet. Because it stands at a junction of weather systems, it has terrible weather. In April 1934, its weather station clocked a world-record wind speed of 231 miles per hour. In winter, snow accumulates to a depth of fifteen feet. The winds and storms have earned it the dubious distinction of having the "worst weather in the world." Tourists can ride the cog railway or drive to the summit to experience life in the alpine zone.
Most people live in the southern part of the state. The state's major industrial centers arose in this region - Nashua, Manchester, and the capital, Concord. Most of the south is New England uplands. One famous solitary mountain, Mt. Monadnock, rises above the landscape. The word manadnock has come to describe any rocky peak standing alone.
Only eighteen miles of New Hampshire's border touches the coean. Portsmouth is the state's only major seaport. It is located on a narrow strip of coastal lowlands.

Vermont: The Green Mountain State

Vermont was once part of New York and New Hampshire. For many years, settlers from both colonies argued over who owned the mountainous land between them. Finally the mountain settlers decided to form their own militia in 1770, called the Green Mountain Boys. They drove out the settlers from New York and refused to recognize the government in New Hampshire. The tough Green Mountain Boys captured Britain's Fort Ticonderoga (1776), an early victory in the War for Independence, Vermont declared itself an independent republic on January 15, 1777. After fourteen years of independence, Vermont became the first state to join the union after the original thirteen.
Though it is the only landlocked state in New England, Vermont displays all the other New England hallmarks. Its church steeples, barns, dairy farms, and hillside villages represent New England so well that the state became Norman Rockwell's preferred location for painting. Vermont boasts over one hundred covered bridges. Visitors come from all corners of the nation to view Vermont's most wonderful feature - the brilliant colors of autumn leaves.
Vermont has the lowest population in the Northeast for a couple of reasons. Like other New England states, it has little good farmland. Since the state is landlocked, Vermonters cannot make a living from fishing or trade. Instead they make the most of their mountain resources. The city of Barre is the nation's greatest producer of granite. Fair Haven quarries several colors of slate, and Proctor is famous for marble. The state is most known, however, for its maple syrup. Farms are covered with acres of ancient sugar maple trees. The Indians taught the early settlers how to gather maple sap and turn it into sugar and syrup.
The Green Mountains, extending from north to south, comprise most of Vermont's portion of the Appalacian Mountains. These high mountains are named for their evergreen carpets. Tourists ride gondolas or drive a toll-road to the top of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. Because only five peaks exceed four thousand feet, this mountain offers a rare opportunity for Vermonters to see the alpine zone.
Valleys border the state on the east and west. The Connecticut River begins near Canada and forms the eastern boundary between Vermont and New Hampshire. Lake Champlain sprawls over the western border. This large lake is famous for the sightings of Champ, the Vermont verson of the Loch Ness monster. These two valleys - along the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain - support most of the state's population.


Maine is the largest New England state. In fact, the other New England states could all fit within its borders. Yet Maine was not one of the thirteen original colonies. It was a frontier owned since 1677 by the Massachusetts colony. Citizens in the region resisted the Stamp Act of 1765 and later captured a British ship near Machias in the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War. Maine was occupied by Britain during the war, and it later suffered from repeated raids during the War of 1812. Maine gained statehood in 1820.
Cities in Maine are small. Portland, the only large city, is the closest port in America for ships sailing to and from Europe. Most of Maine's coast is rocky, contrasting sharply with the beaches of the rest of the Atlantic states. The fifteen-hundred-foot Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the entire Atlantic Coast between Labrador in Canada and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is part of the Acadia National Park, the first national park in the East and the only national park in the Northeast. Quoddy Head, a rocky cape extending into the Atlantic, is the easternmost point of the United States (longitude 6657' W).
Tourists visit the state to see its many ocean attractions. At the docks you can watch lobstermen unloading lobster pots. Maine lobster is world famous - the most valuable seafood catch worldwide. Boat rides will take visitors far out into the ocean to watch large whales surfacing. Others go to the islands off Penobscot Bay, which have America's only colonies off puffins outside Alaska. These funny birds, sometimes called "sea parrots," have colorful beaks like parrots and orange webbed feet like ducks.
North and west of the state are the Longfellow and White Mountains. These are the northernmost ranges of the great Appalachian Mountain system, which stretches from Maine to Alabama. The highest peak in the Longfellow Mountains is Mt. Katahdin. Its horseshoe ridge offers spectacular alpine scenery.
Wilderness covers much of Maine's mountain and upland area. Indeed, the Pine Tree State has the largest wilderness region east of the Mississippi. Its trees produce most of the nation's toothpicks - one hundred million every day. The trackless northern border with Canada was disputed until 1842. Fighting between lumberjacks almost sparked a war. Building forts with spade and shovel was the only action in the so-called Aroostook War. The fertile Aroostook Valley is now the nations second largest producer of potatoes.

Section Review

1. Define alpine zone. What four Eastern states have an alpine zone?
2. What mountain range is associated with New Hampshire? with Vermont?
3. What are notches?
4. Name the highest mountain in each upper New England state. What do these peaks have in common?
5. Name one main product associated with each state in upper New England.
6. Vermont's countryside displays all the hallmarks of a New England state. Name at least five of these hallmarks.
7. (lightbulb). Why does Maine have the lowest per capita income in all of New England?

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, the tallest statue ever built, has inspired millions of immigrants seeking freedom in America. Lady Liberty is dressed in flowing robes, chains of bondage lying at her feet, while her right hand raises the torch of freedom. Seven rays on her crown radiate freedom to all nations. Her left hand carries a law book, inscribed with the date July 4, 1776.
The people of France spent $400,000 to build the statue. They wanted to give the American people a gift to commemorate their first one hundred years of independence, which France helped them to win. The statue, first conceived in 1865, was builtin France and then disassembled for shipment. An American architect completed its magnificent pedestal on Liberty Island. President Cleveland dedicated the statue on October 28, 1886.
From toe to crown, Lady Liberty stands 111 feet high. The outstretched arm and torch add another 40 feet. The iron framework was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who later created the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The three hundred copper sheets that cover the iron frame are now weathered, giving the 225-ton statue its green color. Though Lady Liberty does not stand as tall as the Motherland Statue in Russia, the 154-foot pedestal adds enough height to make it the tallest ever built. The statue's nose alone is the size of a person. Each year two million visitors ascend a 171-step spiral staircase to view New York harbor from an observation point inside the crown.

The Big Apple

New York City is the largest city in the United States. For many years it was the largest city in the world. Although other cities are now larger than New York, it remains a leader in business, finance, fashion, and the arts.
The mayor of New York City is responsible for more people than the governors for forty-three states! New York City's five districts, or boroughs (BUR oze), are almost as famous as the city itself. Have you ever heard of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx? Only the Bronx lies on the mainland of New York State. The other four boroughs are spread across three islands.
Manhattan, the central part of the city, stands on an island at the mouth of the Hudson River. The Dutch discovered this harbor - the best harbor on the East Coast of North America. In 1626 they bought the island from the Indians for about twenty-four dollars worth of trinkets. The Dutch called their town New Amsterdam after thier own capital, Amsterdam, the best port in Europe. (The name was later changed to New York in honor of the Duke of York, who captured the colony for England.)
Now Manhattan Island houses over 1.5 million people. During work days, over 3 million people earn their living on the island. To accommodate so many, Manhattan has many skyscrapers. The skyline includes the Empire State Building, once the tallest building the world, and the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
Manhattan's street names are known worldwide. Banks, stock exchanges, and other financial institutions line Wall Street. Theaters line Broadway. Fifth Avenue is famous for department stores and fashion shops. Advertising agencies have offices along Madison Avenue, and impressive office complexes and apartments rise beside Park Avenue. Central Park, a large open area of trees, ponds, paths, museums, and art galleries, provides a haven from the crowded streets and buildings of the city.
Toll bridges and tunnels have replaced most of the ferry boats that once brought people to the islands. However, the Staten Island Ferry still carries sightseers from Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry passes by Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty raises her torch above the harbor. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which joins Staten Island and Long Island, has the longest suspension span on the North American continent.
New York has many ethnic neighborhoods, such as Cuban, Greek, Irish, and Puerto Rican. China Town is a popular tourist area in south Manhattan. The largest population of Jews outside of Israel lives in Brooklyn. Greenwich Village, originally settled by Bohemians, is now famous for art shops, bookstores, curio shops, and cafes. Most immigrants in the 1990s have come from Latin American countries, such as Jamaica and Haiti. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic make up the largest ethnic neighborhood in the city.
Of course, in such a large city, some neighborhoods are miserable slums where criminals threaten the residents daily. Only a few small churches preach the true gospel. Regardless of wealth or background, all New Yorkers need to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior. Pray for New York City.
Niagara Falls

Perhaps the most famous waterfall in North America is Niagara Falls. It is located on the Niagara River, which flows between Ontario, Canada, and western New York. It serves as part of the international boundary between Canada and the United States.
Niagara Falls is really a combination of falls. Goat Island divides the river into two falls. On the United States side of the island is the American Falls. It is more than 1,000 feet long and is 182 feet high. On the Canadian side is Horseshoe Falls. It received its name because the brink is shaped like a horseshoe. Horseshoe Falls, about 2,600 feet long and 173 feet high, is the more powerful of the two.
Niagara Falls may be the most powerful falls in the world. Someone has estimated that 500,000 tons of water go over the falls every minute. Put another way, 114 million gallons fall over Horseshoe Falls every minute, and another 6 million gallons flow over the American Falls.
Niagara Falls is a favorite tourist attraction. It has earned the reputation of being a "honeymooner's paradise" because so many newlyweds visit the breathtaking site. At night, multicolored spotlights shine on the falls, adding to the beauty of the falling water. Tour boats take riders on the river below the falls through the spray of tumbling water. Although they get wet, the riders see some spectacular views of the falls.

New York

Albany, the capital of New York, is known as the Cradle of the Union. Here in 1754 Benjamin Franklin presented the first formal plan to unite the colonies against their common enemies - the French and the Indians. During the War of Independence, the British believed they could destroy the American rebellion by capturing Albany. One out of every three battles in the war was fought on New York soil.
During the nineteenth century New York became a "melting pot" where millions of immigrants experienced liberty for the first time in their lives with nobody telling them where to live, where to work, or how to worship. The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the nation, still greets nearly one hundred thousand foreign immigrants who arrive each year.

A Megalopolis

New York City is the largest city in the nation. Its total population, seven million, is more than double that of the second largest city, Los Angeles. It also has a higher population density than any other city - over twenty-three thousand people per square mile! This great mass of people makes things happen. New York City has more cultural attractions than any other city in the nation.
The population of New York City has outgrown the city limits. People have moved to nearby towns and communities called suburbs. When we talk about a city, we often mean both the city and its suburbs, called the metropolitan area. The metropolitan area for New York City includes suburbs in four states and exceeds 19.5 million people!
A megalopolis (meaning "great city") is a combination of several metropolitan areas that have run into each other. Almost the entire northeastern seaboard has become one big megalopolis. A continuous chain of cities runs from Boston to Washington, D.C., with New York City at its heart. Four of the top seven metro areas of the United States are in this megalopolis: New York City (first), Philadelphia-Trenton (fifth), and Boston (seventh). This is the most densely populated area in America. It was the first megalopolis in the world, and it is still growing.

The Upstate

New York is a big state - the biggest in the Northeast. Even though half the population lives in New York City, the city occupies only a small fraction of the state's area at the mouth of the Hudson River. The rest of the mainland is called Upstate New York or the Upstate. Upstate New Yorkers are not part of the New York metropolitan area, and they distinguish themselves from the "downstate."
The Upstate includes the most important valley in the Northeast. The Hudson River and its main tributary, the Mohawk River, provide the only northern gap through the Appalachian Mountains. This green valley gave the state access to the West (any land beyond the Appalachians). At the time of the American Revolution, however, the Mohawk Indians had large towns and forts all along the Mohawk River. They refused to sell land to the Whites. Their power was broken when they joined Britain's war against the colonies. Most fled to Canada, but a few thousand still live on reservations in New York today.
Two technological achievements helped settlers to settle the Upstate quickly. In 1807 Robert Fulton steered the first steamboat up the Hudson River to Albany, making two-way trade possible. In 1817 New York began constructing the famous Erie Canal in the Mohawk Valley, making it possible for boats to travel all the way from Albany to the Great Lakes. The Erie Canal was a marvel of engineering. It turned New York City into the trade capital of the world. The state's second and third largest cities are located at the end of the Erie Canal system - Buffalo, on Lake Erie, and Rochester, on Lake Ontario.
Few people live in the mountains that run through the heart of Upstate New York. The Mohawk Valley divides the mountains into two main ranges. South are the low Catskill Mountains. Rip Van Wrinkle supposedly slept on these hills for twenty years. North are the high Adirondack Mountains. They boast two 5,000-foot peaks and over forty 4,000-foot peaks. The twelve highest peaks reach the alpine zone. The Adirondacks have been the site of the Winter Olympics twice at Lake Placid. This vast, empty wilderness is part of the largest state park in the nation.
New York and Pennsylvania are the only two northeastern states that have large sections west of the Appalachian Mountains. There we find the Allegheny Plateau, named after the Allegheny River that flows west into the interior. The most prominent features of this region are the Finger Lakes. Glaciers carved these long, narrow "fingers." The highest waterfalls in the Northeast can be seen plummeting into the gorges left by glaciers. Vineyards all along the shores support a major wine industry.
West of the Allegheny Plateau is a narrow plain along the Great Lakes. The large surface area of the lakes moderates the climate here, allowing farmers to grow many fruits and vegetables near the shore.

Section Review

1. What is diversity? What role did New York play in bringing diversity to the United States?

2. Describe the three major geographic regions found in the Middle Atlantic. What two other geographic regions are found in New York?

3. Distinguish city, suburb, metropolitan area, and megalopolis.

4. Name the five boroughs of New York City. Which one is the business center?

5. What is the most important valley in the Northeast? Why?

6. (lightbulb). Why is New York City called the Big Apple?

The Amish

The Amish religious sect broke away from the Mennonites in the 1690s over a difference of opinion about church discipline. Jacob Amman, a Swiss Mennonite bishop, strongly believed that members who were excommunicated from the church should be avoided completely, or "shunned."
The Amish fled to North America around 1720 during a time of general religious persecution in Europe. At the invitation of William Penn, they first settled in eastern Pennsylvania. The largest concentration of Amish today is found on the fertile farmland of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Large communities of Amish are also located in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. At this time, there are virtually no Amish remnants in Europe.
The Amish people are known for their simple lifestyle and self-sufficiency of their communities. Amish doctrine emphasizes living apart from the world and close to the soil. Their plain clothing symbolizes their nonconformist way of life. Amish women wear simple homemade black dresses and bonnets. Traditionally, the men wear hats and do not shave their beards.
Farming provides the livelihood for most Amish families. They are generally excellent farmers, even though most of them refuse to use modern farm equipment. The Old Order Amish, the most conservative branch of the sect, strictly avoid electricity and automobiles. It is not uncommon for them to till the soil with horse-drawn plows and to rely on horses and buggies for transportation. Although they avoid many mechanical conveniences, Old Order farmers do not hesitate to use fertilizers and pesticides. Amish farms must be productive in order to support their large families.
Amish settlements are made up of church districts that are both self-contained and self-governing. The members meet in each other's homes, since there are no church buildings. The services are conducted in a mixture of German and English, commonly known as Pennsylvania Dutch. The Amish baptize only adults, when they join the church. Amish do not force their children to join the church. However, they continue to "shun" members who leave - excluding them from many of the activities of daily life.

The Pennsylvania Dutch descended from German immigrants who came to America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These people were called "Dutch," not because they were from the Netherlands, but because the German word for "German" is Deutsch. Americans simplified the pronunciation when describing these settlers.

Life on the Delaware River

The Delaware River forms the long boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Although it rises in New York and empties into the ocean in the state of Delaware, the river has exerted its primary influence on Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The distinct culture of the Delaware Valley is reflected in everyday words. For example, they eat "hot cakes" rather than "griddle cakes" or "pancakes."


The nation's two most important documents - the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - were signed at the Pennsylvania State House. This historic building, renamed Independence Hall, sits in downtown Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell is just across the street. Every year the United States celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, on Indpenedence Day. Pennsylvania also has a national cemetery in the town of Gettysburg, commemorating those who died in the nation's only civil war (1861-65). Thousands of Pennsylvanians and other troops died at Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle ever fought on the North American continent.
The state's largest city, Philadelphia, is located on a magnificent harbor on the banks of the deep Delaware River. The most populous city in colonial America, it still ranks fifth largest. The founder, William Penn, carefully planned the streets and parks of the old city with a grid pattern that has been imitated by many other cities.
Philadelphia was built in the wooded Piedmont at the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania. Quakers from England were the first occupants. They named the city from two Greek words meaning "city of brotherly love." Laws guaranteeing freedom of religion attracted many religious minorities, such as the Amish and the Mennonites of Germany. Americans still enjoy their products - the twisted pretzels of the Pennsylvania Dutch, Philadelphia cream cheese, and fine Amish furniture. Most of all, Americans enjoy chocolate from the town of Hershey, which as the largest chocolate factory in the world.
Low Appalachian Mountains cut through the center of the state. The Pocono Mountains are a scenic subrange that extends east to the border of New Jersey. Like New York, Pennsylvania stretches beyond the Appalachians to the Allegheny Plateau. Two large rivers - the Monongahela and the Allegheny - drain water from this plateau. These two rivers meet to form the Ohio River - the easternmost extension of the vast Mississippi River drainage basion. Ships can load goods on these navigable waters and ship them almost two thousand miles to the mouth of the Mississippi.
Located at the vital junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers is the city of Pittsburgh. It boasts the nation's largest steel industry. Both iron ore and coal are used in the making of steel. Hard coal, or anthracite coal, is best for making steel because it burns longer and makes less smoke than soft coal. Only five states in the nation have deposits of anthracite coal. Pennsylvania has the nation's most extensive hard coal deposits.
The Great Lakes Plain at the extreme norhtwest are the only lowlands in the state. The city of Erie on Lake Erie is the state's only port on the Great Lakes. Pennsylvania has inland sea ports on all three western waterways: the Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes.

New Jersey

Nearly one hundred battles were fought in New Jersey during the War for Independence. Each year people reenact George Washington's crossing of the ice-choked Delaware River to surprise a British outpost at Trenton on Christmas Day, 1776.
Most of New Jersey's population lives on the east side of the state, across the bay from New York City. A string of cities stretches from this end of the state west to Trenton, the capital. Trenton is located on the Fall Line of the Delaware River, the western boundary of the state. This heavily industrialized region is part of the northeastern megalopolis.
Coastal plains cover all of New Jersey south of the Fall Line. Port cities process the nation's largest clam catch. Atlantic City has the world's most famous boardwalk (an oceanfront sidewalk made from wooden planks.) Park Place and other street names in the game Monopoly came from Atlantic City. The Pine Barrens, a wooded and boggy wilderness, covers one thousand square miles of the coast. Tales abound of campers lost in the dense woods and of sightings of the legendary Jersey Devil.
New Jersey's climate is warmer than much of the Northeast, and its soil is extremely fertile. The warm, moist air from the Gulf Stream creates a humid subtropical climate. New Jersey was nicknamed the Garden State because of its many small farms and roadside produce stands. Farmers raise common garden crops such as beans, tomatoes, green peppers, and melons. Their farms are called truck farms because they can easily ship fresh products to the big cities by truck. The state also has many greenhouses for growing roses, orchids, lilies, poinsettias, and chrysanthemums.
The Piedmont covers most of the rest of the state. Truck farms and greenhouses appear in the Piedmont as well as in the coastal plains. The only mountainous area is Kittatinny Ridge of the Appalachians, which extends down into the northwest corner of the state.

Section Review

1. What religious gropu founded Pennsylvania? Why did so many other groups settle here?

2. Name a major Pennsylvania port on each side of the three great Eastern waterways.

3. What major industries are found in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?

4. Why is New Jersey called the Garden State?

5. (lightbulb). Why did Philadelphia become the largest city in the American colonies?

Geography - (written in 1998) (Countries of the World - Geography)    -    Author : Jacy - USA

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