Geography is the study of the earth's physical features such as mountains, rivers, lakes, harbors, rocky soil, etc. Geography has shaped the United States of America both positive and negative. For example, wetlands like rivers and lakes (i.e.. the Mississippi River) make shipping natural resources from region to region easier. However, some geographic features hinder people's lives like the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Mountains hindered people from settling west to search for a better life. Usually, mountains have a negative impact on people. Also, different regions of the U.S. have diverse geographical features. For example, the south has fertile soil in order to help grow crops. However, in the northerners have a hard time growing crops, because the Northern part of the U.S. doesn't have fertile soil. The north is more industrial then the south is as well. This section covers important geographical information that you need to know!

Where to find geographic information?

You can find geographic information in several locations. For example, a political map shows boundary lines, borders, major cities, and important bodies of water. A physical map shows detailed information about rivers, lakes, mountains, plains, etc. However, an atlas is good for looking at mountain ranges.

Political Map of USA

The Appalachian Mountains

Prior to the American Revolutionary War, the colonists settled east of the Proclamation Line of 1763. The line was established by the British's Proclamation of 1763 which declared that the colonists could not settle west of the Appalachian Mountains. This prevented the early colonists from moving westward, and having conflicts with the Native Americans. This was one of the causes of the American Revolutionary War.


During America's colonial period, rivers along the Atlantic coast influenced where the first English settlers settled. Rivers benefited the colonies, because goods could be shipped down rivers quickly. However, the Mississippi River gave several farmers and merchants access to the Gulf of Mexico. Also, in 1803 the U.S. took over New Orleans during the Louisiana Purchase. The purchase allowed the U.S. to ship natural resources down the Mississippi River faster. In the Ohio River Valley, people benefited from New Orleans's port for goods. The purchase also doubled the size of the U.S.

The Mississippi River

The Great Plains

The Great Plains are located between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. The area is known for farming crops. The Dust Bowl during the Depression had a negative impact on the Great Plains as well.

The Great Plains are indicated by the blue shaded area.

The New England Colonies

The New England colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) is known for it's forests, rocky soil, short growing season, small farms, fishing, etc. The rocky soil and short growing season made it hard to grow crops in the New England colonies. During the first half of the 1800's, New England's economy was impacted by certain geographic features. The geographic features helped promote the growth of trade and manufacturing in the colonies.

The South

People were able to live down south do to the fertile soil, long growing season, and people could grow crops. The plantation system was an important factor for the development of cotton which led to slavery.

Other Geography Information

The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans helped the U.S. to maintain neutrality during the 1800's. The colonies of Jamestown, New Amsterdam (New York), and Plymouth are located near coast lines. The natural harbors in America led to the development of commerce.

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