The Land - شهية الطبخ المغربي

The Land

The United States has an area of 3,615,292 square miles (9,363,563
square kilometers). The country, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, can be
divided into seven major land regions. The regions are: (1) the
Appalachian Highlands; (2) the Coastal Lowlands; (3) the Interior Plains;
(4) the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands; (5) the Rocky Mountains; (6) the
Western Plateaus, Basins, and Ranges; and (7) the Pacific Ranges and
Lowlands. For a discussion of the land regions of Alaska and the islands of
Hawaii, see the articles on those states.
The Appalachian Highlands extend from the northern tip of Maine
southwestward to Alabama. This rugged region has many mountain
The White Mountains and the Green Mountains of northern New England
are old mountains, worn down but craggy in some places. Southern New
England consists mostly of hilly land. New England's chief river is the
Connecticut. The Adirondack Upland of northern New York includes
mountains and many beautiful lakes.
From central New York southward, the Appalachian Highlands has three
main subdivisions. They are, from east to west: the Blue Ridge Mountains
Area, the Ridge and Valley Region, and the Appalachian Plateau.
The Blue Ridge Mountains Area consists of some of the oldest mountains
in the country. The Blue Ridge Mountains themselves are a narrow chain
that stretches from southeastern Pennsylvania to northeastern Georgia.
The Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina are also
part of this area. The Hudson Highlands of New York and New Jersey form
a northern extension of the area. Several mighty rivers, including the
Delaware, Hudson, Potomac, and Susquehanna, cut through the
mountains to form water gaps. The gaps provide low, level land for
highways and railroads.
The Ridge and Valley Region consists of the Great Valley in the east and a
series of alternating ridges and valleys in the west. The rolling Great
Valley is actually a series of valleys, including the Cumberland, Lebanon,
and Lehigh valleys in Pennsylvania; the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia; the
Valley of East Tennessee; the Rome Valley in Georgia; and the Great
Valley of Alabama. The region has some forests, but other wooded areas
have been cleared to take advantage of fertile soil and relatively level land
for farming. About 50 dams on the Tennessee River and its branches in
the southern Great Valley provide flood control and hydroelectric power.
The Appalachian Plateau extends from New York to Alabama. Glaciers
covered the northern plateau during the most recent ice age, which ended
about 11,500 years ago, and carved out natural features, including the
Finger Lakes in New York. Deep, narrow river valleys cut through the
plateau in some areas, creating steep, rugged terrain. Deposits of coal,
iron ore, oil, and other minerals lie beneath the surface, and many people
in the region work in mining. Parts of the region have good farmland. But
thin, rocky soil covers much of the plateau, and the steep hillsides are
badly eroded.
The Coastal Lowlands extend from southeastern Maine, across the eastern
and southern United States, to eastern Texas. Forests of hickory, oak,
pine, and other trees are common throughout the lowlands. The region
has three subdivisions: (1) the Piedmont, (2) the Atlantic Coastal Plain,
and (3) the Gulf Coastal Plain.
The Piedmont is a slightly elevated rolling plain that separates the Blue
Ridge Mountains from the Atlantic Coastal Plain. It stretches from
southern New York to Alabama. The eastern boundary of the Piedmont is
called the Fall Line. Rivers that reach the Fall Line tumble down from the
Piedmont to the lower coastal plains in a series of falls and rapids. In the
early days of settlement of the eastern United States, boats traveling
inland on coastal rivers stopped at the Fall Line and unloaded their
cargoes. The rapids prevented the boats from traveling farther. They also
provided water power for early industries. As a result, many cities grew up
along the Fall Line. Tobacco is a leading agricultural product of the
Piedmont, and the region also has many orchards and dairy farms.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain extends eastward from the Piedmont to the
Atlantic Ocean. It ranges from a narrow strip of land in New England to a
broad belt that covers much of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and
Florida. In colonial times, the broad southern part of the plain encouraged
the development of huge plantations for growing cotton. Cotton is still
grown there. Other farm products include vegetables, citrus fruits,
peanuts, and tobacco. In New England, where the plain narrows to a width
of about 10 miles (16 kilometers) in some places, farming has always
been less important. Many New Englanders turned to manufacturing,
fishing, or shipping instead of farming.
Numerous rivers cross the plain and flow into the Atlantic Ocean. They
include the Delaware, Hudson, James, Potomac, Roanoke, Savannah, and
Susquehanna. Bays cut deeply into the plain in some areas, creating
excellent natural harbors. They include Cape Cod Bay, Boston Bay,
Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and Long Island Sound.
Many resort areas flourish around the beautiful sandy beaches and
offshore islands that line much of the Atlantic shore from New England to
Florida. In some inland regions, swamps and other wetlands cover large
areas, where trees and grasses rise up from shallow waters and tangled
vines and roots form masses of vegetation.
The Gulf Coastal Plain borders the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to southern
Texas. Numerous rivers-including the Alabama, Mississippi, Rio Grande,
and Trinity-cross the plain and flow into the Gulf. The Mississippi, which
originates in the Interior Plains to the north, is the most important of
these rivers. Barges carrying cargoes from many parts of the country
travel along the river. Soil deposited along the banks of the Mississippi
and other rivers in the Gulf Coastal Plain creates fertile farmland. The
plain also has belts of hilly forests and grazing land, and large deposits of
petroleum and natural gas lie beneath it and in the offshore Gulf waters.
The Gulf Coastal Plain has many sandy beaches, swamps, bays, and
offshore islands.
The Interior Plains occupy a huge expanse of land that stretches from the
Appalachian Highlands in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west.
Glaciers covered much of the region during the Ice Age. They stripped the
topsoil from parts of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and carved out
thousands of lakes. Today, much of this area is heavily forested. Farther
south-in parts of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio-the glaciers flattened
the land and deposited rich soil ideal for growing crops. The plains slope
gradually upward from east to west and get progressively drier.
The western part of the region, called the Great Plains, has vast
grasslands where livestock graze. It also has large areas of fertile soil that
yield corn, wheat, and other crops. Few trees grow on the Great Plains.
Some rugged hills, including the Black Hills of South Dakota and
Wyoming, rise up out of the plains.
Deposits of iron ore and coal provide raw materials for many
manufacturing industries in the eastern part of the Interior Plains.
Important deposits of petroleum and metal ores lie in the western part.
Glaciers carved out the five Great Lakes in the Interior Plains. The lakes-
Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario, and Superior-are the largest group of
freshwater lakes in the world. The lakes provide a vital transportation
route for shipping the agricultural and industrial products of the Interior
Plains. The Mississippi River is the region's other great waterway. The
Mississippi and its many branches, including the Missouri and Ohio rivers,
form a river system that reaches into all parts of the Interior Plains.
The Ozark-Ouachita Highlands rise up between the Interior Plains and
Coastal Lowlands. The highlands form a scenic landscape in southern
Missouri, northwest Arkansas, and eastern Oklahoma. The region is
named for the Ozark Plateau and the Ouachita (pronounced WAWSH ih
tah) Mountains. Rivers and streams have cut deep gorges through the
rugged highland terrain. The highlands include forested hills, artificial
lakes, and many underground caves and gushing springs. Much of the
region has poor soil for farming but fertile land lies along the river valleys.
Deposits of coal, iron ore, and other minerals are valuable natural
resources of the highlands.
The Rocky Mountains form the largest mountain system in North America.
They extend from northern Alaska, through Canada and the western
United States to northern New Mexico. Many peaks of the Rockies are
more than 14,000 feet (4,270 meters) high. The Continental Divide, also
called the Great Divide, passes through the mountains. It is an imaginary
line that separates streams that flow into the Pacific Ocean from those
that flow into the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Arctic Ocean. Many
important rivers, including the Colorado, Missouri, and Rio Grande, begin
in the Rockies.
Forests cover the lower mountain slopes. The timber line marks the
elevation above which trees cannot grow. Grasses, mosses, and lichens
grow above the line. Bighorn sheep, elk, deer, bears, mountain lions, and
other animals live in the mountains. Lakes and streams add to the
region's spectacular beauty.
Lumbering and mining are important industries in the Rockies. The
mountains are a storehouse of such metals as copper, gold, lead, silver,
and zinc. The region also has large deposits of oil and natural gas.
Mountain meadows provide grazing land for beef and dairy cattle, and
valleys are used for growing crops.
For many years, the Rockies formed a major barrier to transportation
across the United States. In the 1860's, the nation's first transcontinental
rail line was built, passing through the Rocky Mountain region at the
Wyoming Basin. Today, other railroads and highways cut through tunnels
and passes in the mountains, and airplanes fly over the mountains.
The Western Plateaus, Basins, and Ranges lie west of the Rocky
Mountains. This region extends from Washington south to the Mexican
border. It is the driest part of the United States. Parts of it are deserts
with little plant life. But the region has some forested mountains, and
some fertile areas where rivers provide irrigation water necessary for
growing crops. In other areas, livestock graze on huge stretches of dry
The Columbia Plateau occupies the northernmost part of the region. It has
fertile volcanic soil, formed by lava that flowed out of giant cracks in the
earth thousands of years ago. The Colorado Plateau lies in the southern
part of the region. It has some of the nation's most unusual landforms,
including natural bridges and arches of solid rock and huge, flat-topped
rock formations. The plateau's spectacular river gorges, including the
Grand Canyon, rank among the world's great natural wonders.
The Basin and Range part of the region is a vast area of mountains and
desert lowlands between the Columbia and Colorado plateaus. It includes
Death Valley in California. Part of Death Valley lies 282 feet (86 meters)
below sea level and is the lowest place in the United States. The Great
Basin is an area within the larger Basin and Range area. Great Salt Lake is
the largest of many shallow, salty lakes in the Great Basin. Bathers cannot
sink in Great Salt Lake because the high salt content provides great
buoyancy, enabling swimmers to float with ease. Near the lake is the
Great Salt Lake Desert, which includes a large, hard, flat bed of salt.
The Pacific Ranges and Lowlands stretch across western Washington and
Oregon and most of California. The region's eastern boundary is formed
by the Cascade Mountains in the north and by the Sierra Nevada in the
south. Volcanic activity formed the Cascades. Two of the Cascades-Lassen
Peak in California and Mount St. Helens in Washington-are active
volcanoes. Some of the range's highest peaks have glaciers and
permanent snowfields. Evergreen forests cover the lower slopes and
provide the raw materials for lumber and paper products industries. The
Sierra Nevada are granite mountains, dotted with lakes and waterfalls.
Broad, fertile valleys lie west of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada
mountains. They include the Puget Sound Lowland of Washington, the
Willamette (pronounced wih LAM iht) Valley of Oregon, and the Central
Valley of California. Valley farms produce large amounts of fruits and
West of the valleys, the Coast Ranges line the Pacific shore. In many
places, they rise up abruptly from the ocean, creating craggy walls of
rock. In other areas, the mountains lie behind sandy coastal plains. Deep
bays that jut into the coast include Puget Sound, Columbia River Bay, San
Francisco Bay, and San Diego Bay.
The San Andreas Fault runs through the Coast Ranges in California. It is a
break in the earth's rocky outer shell, along which movements of the rock
have taken place. Giant redwood trees grow on the mountains in northern
California. Set among the Coast Ranges are a number of rich agricultural
valleys that produce much of the nation's wine grapes and other fruit, and