The United States is composed of 50 states, various overseas territories, as well as the city of Washington, D.C., a federal district and the nation’s capital. Below is a rough grouping of these states into regions, from the Atlantic to the Pacific:
New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont)
- Home to gabled churches, rustic antiques, and steeped in American history, New England offers beaches, spectacular seafood, rugged mountains, frequent winter snows, and some of the nation’s oldest cities, in a territory small enough to tour (hastily) in a week. The small town environments have managed to maintain a large degree of autonomy for centuries.
Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia)
- Ranging from New York in the north to Washington, D.C., the Mid-Atlantic is home to some of the nation’s most densely populated cities, as well as historic sites, rolling mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the Lehigh Valley, and seaside resorts like the Long Island beaches and the Jersey Shore. Bridging New England and the steamy South, the Mid-Atlantic includes some of the most cosmopolitan areas in the world as well as small enclaves of American history, natural beauty, including lush river passes and low-lying mountains. The climate is humid subtropical, albeit with cooler winters than in the south.
South (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee)
- The South is celebrated for its hospitality, down-home cooking and its blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, and country music traditions. A distinct literature, accents, and religiosity help distinguish Southerners as well. This lush, largely subtropical region includes cool, verdant mountains, waterfalls, cave systems hidden in vegetation, mist-shrouded limestone cliffs, alligators, tropical microclimates, tropical and subtropical fruit and crop growing, ring-tailed cats, southern flying squirrels, possums, snakes, and armadillos, agricultural plantations of cotton and sugarcane, vast cypress swamps, and long, white sand, palm tree studded beaches.
- Florida, hosting a variety of tropical climates, is a vacationers paradise. Here, you’ll find resort destinations and giant theme parks in the central portion, and white sand beaches on both coasts. Southern Florida and Caribbean-influenced Miami and Key West is home to tropical rainforests and savannas and warm sandy beaches. An extremely popular tourist attraction, Florida includes some of the nicest attractions that the United States has to offer and is conveniently located in the Caribbean, facilitating travel to exotic islands. Florida’s collection of tropical jungles, blue waters, coral reefs, and exotic wildlife are sure to excite any vacationer.
Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin)
- The Midwest is home to farmland, forests, picturesque towns, industrial cities, and the Great Lakes, the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world, forming the North Coast of the US. Midwesterners are known for their straight-forwardness and hospitality. Explore soft dune fields along vast blue lakes, lakeside caves, huge caves shrouded in dense vegetation, natural getaways full of interesting rock formations and waterfalls, and enjoy the many hours of fun to be had in boats on lakes and rivers the region over. The southern portion, with its subtropical fertile loess-lands full of jungle-y cypress swamps and unique wildlife, is distinct from the northern portion, with its harsher continental climes, coniferous-forested lake islands, and big game.
- The second biggest state in the nation is like a separate country (and in fact, briefly was), with strong cultural influences from its Spanish and Mexican past. The state is also a nexus of Southwestern and Southern cultures. The terrain ranges from southeastern subtropical jungles and savannas, to the cattle-ranching, rugged South Plains, to the sandy beaches of South Texas, to the mountains and hot deserts of West Texas. Explore a mangrove forest, climb a rugged mountain while glaring at alien flora and fauna, descend slowly down a river amidst soaring canyon walls, or lay back on a sun-soaked beach.
Great Plains (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma)
- Travel westward through these supposedly flat states, from the edge of the eastern forests through the prairies and onto the High Plains, an enormous expanse steppes (short grass prairies) nearly as desolate as in the frontier days. Explore the lunar-like badlands, get comfortable in a wild-west town in the middle of the Black Hills, climb the otherworldly red mountains of Oklahoma, gaze at the bizarre chalk and sandstone formations, discover oddities such as grass covered sand dunes, discover animals such as rattlesnakes, coyotes, prairie dogs, and pronghorn antelope, or witness some of the wildest, most dangerous, and most beautiful weather spectacles in the world.
Rocky Mountains (Colorado, Montana, Wyoming)
- The spectacular snow-covered Rockies offer hiking, rafting, and excellent snow skiing as well as deserts, subtropical lowlands, continental highlands, and some large cities. This is one of the highest altitude regions on earth. Tourist cities include some of the nicest amenities for hundreds of miles and some parts of the Rockies are virtually untouched by man. Hot springs, hanging lakes, geysers and geothermal features, red deserts, huge sand dunes, mini-rainforests, warmer getaway destinations, these mountain states have it all.
Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah)
- Heavily influenced by Spanish and Mexican culture, this area is home to some of the nation’s most spectacular natural attractions and some flourishing artistic communities. Although mostly empty, the region’s hot deserts have some of the nation’s largest cities such as Phoenix. Las Vegas is home to gambling and shows. Additionally, a strong Native American influence can be felt throughout as this region includes many large reservations and sovereign territorial lands. The alien landscape looks as if it were mars, the creatures that inhabit this region, large and small, are vicious and fascinating, and with endless amounts of soaring canyons, meteor craters, canyon-side cliff dwellings, white sand dunes, salt flats, and giant mountains, this region is sure to entertain for days.
- Like the Southwest, California has a history under Spanish and Mexican rule and is heavily influenced by Spanish and Mexican culture in addition to massive immigration from around the world. California offers world-class cities, deserts, rainforests, geothermal features, Mediterranean coastlines, snowy mountains, and beautiful beaches. Northern California (above the San Francisco Bay Area) and Southern California (below the San Francisco Bay Area) are culturally distinct.
Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, Oregon)
- The Pacific Northwest offers outdoor pursuits as well as cosmopolitan cities. The terrain ranges from spectacular temperate rain forests to scenic mountains and volcanoes to beautiful coastlines, to Mediterranea-type beaches and coastline, to sage-covered steppes and deserts. In minutes, you can travel from a high-tech metropolis to a thick forest or a mountaintop.
- One-fifth as large as the rest of the United States, Alaska reaches well into the Arctic, and features mountainous wilderness. The state has a rich and diverse tapestry of native cultures including Yupik, Inupiat, Tlingit and others. Around 15% of the residents are of native origin.
- A volcanic archipelago in the tropical Pacific, 2,300 miles south west of California (the nearest state), laid-back Hawaii is a vacation paradise. With beautiful cliffs, jungles, waterfalls, and beaches, its definitely a place to unwind. The indigenous Polynesian population are known for being accommodating and fun-loving.
Politically, the US is a federation of states, each with its own rights and powers (hence the name). The US also administers a motley collection of non-state territories around the world, the largest of which are Puerto Rico (which has the special status of a “commonwealth”) and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean plus American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (also has special status of a “commonwealth”) in Oceania, along with many others.