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Chapter 4-1
From Seas to Shining Sea
****Essential Questions*****
1. Define the following terms
a. Contiguous
b. Megalopolis
c. Coral reef
2. How does the US rank in size among all
countries of the world?
3. Which US region once supported Native
Americans and millions of buffalo?
4. What is the largest group of freshwater lakes
in the world?
5. How were the Hawaiian Islands formed?
6. What challenges do you think result from
the distance between Hawaii, Alaska and the
other states?
United States
- 2807 miles east to west across the middle
of NA
- Contiguous states
o All states except Hawaii
 2400 miles SW of US
o and Alaska
o Aka – lower 48
o Bordered by
 Atlantic
 Pacific
 Gulf of Mexico
Vast and Scenic Land
- US is the 3rd largest country in the world.
o Only Russia and Canada are larger
o 5 main physical regions
 Coastal Plains
 Appalachian Mountains
 Interior Plains
 Mountains and Plateau
 Pacific Coast
 Alaska and Hawaii have their
own separate landforms.
- Coastal Plain
o Lowland running along the eastern
and southeastern coast of the US
 Eastern lowlands
 Atlantic Coastal Plain
 Southeastern lowlands
 Gulf Coastal Plain
 Excellent harbors
 Shipping ports
 Thin and rocky soil located in
the northern section of this
o Major cities in the Atlantic Coastal
 NY
 Philadelphia
 Baltimore
 Washington DC
 Create a megalopolis
o Huge urban areas that are
connected .
Gulf Coastal Plain
- Wider than Atlantic Coastal Plain
- Soils are better
- Large Cities include
o Houston
o New Orleans
Essential question:
1. What river forms part of the border
between the US and Mexico?
2. What is the highest mountain in elevation
in the US?
Appalachian Highlands
- Hilly and fertile Piedmont area
- Run from eastern Canada to Alabama
- Oldest mountains in the US. How can you
tell this?
- Highest peak
o Mt. Mitchell – 6684 feet
Interior Plains
Essential Question: What river divides
much of the Interior Plains?
- Located just west of the Appalachian
- East of the Mississippi River
o Central Lowland
 Grassy hills
 Rolling flatlands
 Thick forests
 Fertile land
 Productive farms
 Important waterways
- Great Lakes
o Largest freshwater lakes in the world
o Carved out by glaciers
 Superior
 Michigan
 Huron
 Erie
 Ontario
 Connected to Atlantic Ocean
by the St. Lawrence River
- Great Plains
o West of the Mississippi River
 Grain fields
 Grassy pastures
 Checkerboard fashion
o Google Earth
o 500 miles wide
 West from the Rockies
 North into Canada
 South to Mexican border
o Once home of millions of buffalo and
lands of Native Americans
o Used today to raise crops and
Mountains and Plateaus
- The Rocky Mountains
o Begin in Alaska
o Run south to Mexico
 Continental Divide
 Ridge along the tops of this
 Separates the of the rivers
o Some flow to the Pacific
o Others flow to the Gulf of
o The source of many rivers
begin here.
 Rio Grande
 Missouri
 Platte
 Arkansas
 Red River
 All flow east
 Colorado
 Snake
 Columbia
 All flow west
o Between the Rockies and the Pacific
coast are
 Plateaus
 Flat land that rise above the
land around them
 Canyons
 Deep valleys with steep sides
 Grand Canyon
 Deserts
The Pacific Coast
- Two mountain ranges
o The Cascades
 Washington to California
 Active volcanoes
o Sierra Nevada
 “snow covered” in Spanish
- West of the mountain ranges
o Fertile valleys
 Willamette
 Oregon
 Central Valley
 California
o Both produce abundant crops
 Fruits and vegetables
- Mountain ranges
o Encircle northern, eastern and
southern parts of Alaska
o Mt. McKinley
 Highest peak in NA
 20,320 feet
 Part of the Alaska Range
- Arctic Ocean
o Northern border
o Can almost see Russia – 50 miles
Most people in Alaska live along the
southern coastal plain or in the central
Yukon River valley.
- 8 large islands
- More than 120 smaller islands
- Formed by volcanic eruptions
- Coral reefs
o Formed by skeletal remains of small
sea animals.
Variety of Climates
- Large area of US includes many climates
- Lies in the middle latitudes
o 23 1/2˚N to 60˚N
- Northeast US
o Humid continental
o Cold winters – hot summers
- Southeast US
o Humid subtropical
o Near Gulf Coast and Caribbean
o Subject to hurricanes and tornadoes
- Pacific Coast
o Marine West Coast
o Mild temps all year long
o Rainy
- Mediterranean
o Southern California
o Dry warm summers
o Mild rainy winters
- Great Plains
o Dry steppe
o Moisture blocked by mountain ranges
o Southwest is arid with less rainfall
 Hot, desert like
- Alaska
o High latitudes
o Subarctic
o Tundra
- Hawaii and Florida
o Warm tropical climates
o Heavy rainfall much of the year.