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The United States and Canada
Physical Geography
The U.S. and Canada have several
major mountain ranges:
A. The Rocky Mountains
B. The Appalachian Mountains
C. Pacific Coastal Ranges
The Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains extend about
3,000 miles from Alaska south to New
Mexico. They are younger and taller
than the Appalachian Mountains. Some
soar over 14,000 ft. The Continental
Divide is the line of highest points in the
Rockies that marks the separation of
rivers flowing eastward and westward.
The Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains extend
about 1,600 miles north to south from
Newfoundland in Canada to Alabama.
Pacific Coastal Ranges
A series of small mountain ranges
stretch from southern California to
Washington. These ranges are low
in elevation and right on the coast.
They make the coastline rugged
and steep. This area is also on the
Ring of Fire and has many active
and dormant volcanoes (Mount
Rainier and Mount Saint Helens).
Earthquakes are common in this
Include the Sierra Nevada, the
Cascade Range, & the Alaska
Range (Mt. McKinley)
Questions, Part I
What are the three
main mountain
ranges in the United
States and Canada?
2. The
the line of highest
points in the Rockies
that marks the
separation of rivers
flowing eastward and
3. Which mountain range
is in the picture?
4. Which mountain
range is on the Ring
of Fire?
5. What force created
those mountains?
Other Landforms
A. The Canadian Shield
B. Interior Lowlands
C. Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains
D. Basin and Range
E. Great Plains
F. Grand Canyon
G. Piedmont
Canadian Shield
The Canadian Shield is a rocky, mainly
flat area around Hudson Bay. Created
by glacial erosion.
Interior Lowlands
An area that spreads from the
Appalachian Mountains to the
Mississippi River. This area is mostly
flat with rolling hills.
Arctic and Gulf Coastal Plains
These are flat areas that stretch along
the Gulf of Mexico in the south and the
Arctic Ocean in the north. The Arctic
Coastal Plain is tundra.
Basin and Range
This area is mostly in Nevada and it
consists of rocky outcroppings of rock
and large depressions.
Death Valley: the hottest and lowest
place in the United States.
Why is Death Valley so dry?
Questions, Part II
5. What’s this called?
(the red part)
6. _______ is the area
that spreads from
the Appalachian
Mountains to the
Mississippi River.
7. What is the hottest
and lowest place in
the United States?
Why is it like that?
Great Plains
A largely treeless flat (actually slopes
downward to Mississippi River) area
that extends from Canada down to
Mexico. The soil is very fertile and good
for farming but the climate can be harsh
with cold winters and hot summers.
This area also gets many tornadoes.
Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon was formed by water
erosion from the Colorado River. The canyon
is 277 miles long and ranges in width from 4
to 18 miles. Most of the canyon is in Grand
Canyon National Park in Arizona. in Grand Canyon.htm
Piedmont is a plateau
region located in the
eastern United States
between the Atlantic
Coastal Plain and the
main Appalachian
Mountains stretching
from New Jersey in
the north to central
Alabama in the south.
Fall Line: marks the
place where the
higher land drops to
the Plains, resulting in
waterfalls and rapids
Groups of Islands
Hawaiian archipelago - A group of 19 islands and
islets in the Pacific Ocean that formed over a
hotspot in the earth’s crust. The largest island,
Hawaii, has an active volcano.
Aleutian Islands - A chain of over 300 small
volcanic islands that extend from Alaska to Russia.
Manhattan Island: major economic center
Canada’s Islands: Newfoundland, Prince Edward
Island, Cape Breton and Vancouver Island
Greenland: Denmark Territory, world’s largest
Questions, Part III
8. The Great Plains are important,
because this is where ____ takes place.
9. How was the Grand Canyon formed?
10. The place where the higher land
drops to the Plains, resulting in
waterfalls and rapids, is called the ____.
11. Which five islands make up Canada’s
Some major rivers in the United States
A. Mississippi
B. St. Lawrence
C. Colorado
D. Columbia
E. Rio Grande
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has a length of
2,340 miles. The river is an important
transportation route from the grain
producing states of middle America to
the Gulf of Mexico.
• The Mississippi drains all or part of 31
U.S. states and 2 Canadian provinces.
St. Lawrence River
The St. Lawrence River connects the
Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The
river has a system of locks that allow
large ships to transport loads of
minerals and goods. Part of the river
serves as the boarder between Canada
and the United States.
• Niagara Falls, located on a river
connecting Lake Ontario and Lake
Erie, is a major source of
hydroelectric power for Canada
and the United States.
Questions, Part IV
12. Which areas of the United states and
Canada would you predict are the most
densely populated? Why do you think
13. Why is the Mississippi River
14. Which river is part of the U.S. /
Canada border?
15. Why is Niagara Falls important?
Colorado River
The Colorado River flows from
Colorado to the Gulf of California. The
river formed the Grand Canyon by
erosion and it is an important source of
fresh water in an arid region. The
Hoover Dam on the river provides
electricity for Los Angeles.
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the fourth largest
river in the U.S. and the largest river in
the Pacific Northwest. The river has
many dams that are used to create
hydroelectric power. The dams have
impacted the local salmon industry.
Other Water Features
Some other important water features are:
Gulf of Mexico
Great Lakes
Arctic Ocean
Pacific Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
Hudson Bay
Great Lakes
Formed by glacial erosion
Provide a link between inland and coastal
Lead to the development of Chicago
Questions, Part V
16. What does “hydroelectric” mean?
17. How were the Great Lakes formed?
• Fuels An abundance of resources,
such as fossil fuels and minerals, has
contributed to the prosperity of the
United States and Canada.
Natural Resources (cont.)
• Minerals Gold, silver, and copper are
found in the Rocky Mountains. Nickel
and iron are mined in parts of the
Canadian Shield.
• Deposits of low-grade iron ore exist
in northern Minnesota and Michigan.
• Canada supplies much of the world’s
potash, copper, and silver.
Natural Resources (cont.)
• Timber Today forests cover less than
50 percent of Canada and just 30
percent of the United States.
• Commercial loggers face the challenge
of harvesting trees while preserving the
remaining forests.
Natural Resources (cont.)
• Fishing The coastal waters of the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the
Gulf of Mexico are important sources
of fish and other sea animals.
• Because of overfishing, however, the
Grand Banks, off Canada’s southeast
coast, are now off limits to cod fishers.
Canada and the United States are in
the middle and high latitudes. The
most common climates are:
A. Humid Subtropical and Continental
B. Semiarid and Arid
C. Marine West Coast and Mediterranean
D. Tundra and Icecap
Most of the Eastern United States is
humid subtropical. This climate zone
has a mild winter and hot humid
summers. The Northern states are
humid continental. They have much
colder winters but the summers can still
be hot and uncomfortable.
Semiarid = Great Plains into the Southwest
Arid = Southwest
Marine West Coast = Coast of Oregon and
Mediterranean = Coast of Southern California
Tundra = Northern Canada and Alaska
Tropical Wet = Hawaii
The tundra is a flat treeless plain with lichens, shrubs,
and some flowers.
The taiga is a coniferous forest that grows in subarctic
climates. Only coniferous trees grow because of the
Lack of sunlight in the wintertime.
Questions, Part VI
18. What is “overfishing”? Is overfishing
part of sustainable development?
19. What’s “tundra”?
20. What’s “taiga”?