Geography of the USA

Geographical position of the USA. State symbols of the USA. The USA physical geography. Weather and climate. Mineral resources. Demographics of the United States. The USA economic geography. Washington, D.C. the capital city of the United States.

05.04.2012
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MODULE 2. MODERN REALIA OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA)

GEOGRAPHY OF THE USA

geography united states

The term United States, when used in the geographical sense, means the 48 states of continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands of the United States. Forty-eight of the States are in the single region between Canada and Mexico; this group is referred to, with varying precision and formality, as the continental or contiguous United States, and as the Lower 48. Alaska, which is not included in the term contiguous United States, is at the northwestern end of North America, separated from the Lower 48 by Canada. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

1. Geographical position of the USA

The United States of America is a country in the Western Hemisphere. The United States shares land borders with Canada (to the north) and Mexico (to the south), and a territorial water border with Russia in the northwest. The contiguous forty-eight states are otherwise bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast. Alaska borders the Pacific Ocean to the south, the Bering Strait to the west, and the Arctic Ocean to the north, while Hawaii lies far to the southwest of the mainland in the Pacific Ocean. The capital city, Washington, District of Columbia, is a federal district located on land donated by the state of Maryland. (Virginia had also donated land, but it was returned in 1847).

Total U.S. area is 9,631,418 km, of which land is 9,161,923 km and water is 469,495 km. Ranked by land area, the top countries in order are Russia, China, the U.S., and Canada.

2. State symbols of the USA

2.1. The flag of the USA

The flag of the US (also known as Old Glory, Stars and Stripes or Star-Spangled Banner) consists of 13 horizontal stripes, 7 red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

2.2. The US coat of arms

The image from the obverse (front) of the Great Seal is often used informally as national arms of the USA. It is only attached (affixed) to certain documents, such as foreign treaties and presidential proclamations. Both sides of the Great Seal can be seen on the back of a U.S. one-dollar bill.

The main figure on the obverse of the seal is a bald eagle with its wings outstretched (or displayed, in heraldic terms). From the eagle's perspective, it holds a bundle of 13 arrows in its left talon, (referring to the 13 original states), and an olive branch, in its right talon, together symbolizing that the United States of America has a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war. Although not specified by law, the olive branch is usually depicted with 13 leaves and 13 olives, again representing the 13 original states. The eagle has its head turned towards the olive branch, said to symbolize a preference for peace. In its beak, the eagle clutches the motto E pluribus unum (Out of Many, One). Over its head there appears a glory with 13 mullets (stars) on a blue field. In the current (and several previous) dies of the great seal, the 13 stars above the eagle are arranged in rows of 1-4-3-4-1, forming a six-pointed star.

The shield the eagle bears on its breast, though sometimes drawn incorrectly, has two main differences from the American flag. First, it has no stars on the blue chief (though other arms based on it do: the chief of the arms of the United States Senate may show 13 or 50 , and the shield of the 9/11 Commission has, sometimes, 50 mullets on the chief). Second, unlike the American flag, the outermost stripes are white, not red; so as not to violate the heraldic rule of tincture.

The 1782 resolution adopting the seal blazons the image on the reverse as A pyramid unfinished. In the zenith an eye in a triangle, surrounded by a glory, proper. The pyramid is conventionally shown as consisting of 13 layers of blocks to refer to the 13 original states. There are also 13 sides shown on the ribbon. The adopting resolution provides that it is inscribed on its base with the date MDCCLXXVI (1776) in Roman numerals. Where the top of the pyramid should be, the Eye of Providence watches over it. Two mottos appear: Annuit Cptis signifies that Providence has "approved of (our) undertakings. Novus Ordo Seclorum, freely taken from Virgil, means a new order of the ages.

2.3. The USA bird symbol

The American bald eagle was adopted as the official bird symbol of the United States of America in 1782. The bald eagle was chosen because of it's majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it's native to North America** Founding father Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be adopted as the US bird symbol. He wrote in a letter to his daughter: For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him ..

2.4. The USA national anthem

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, a then 35-year-old amateur poet. The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song To Anacrean in Heaven, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a London social club. Although the song has 4 stanzas, onle the first is commonly sung today:

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

OHH, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

3. The USA physical geography

The conterminous United States may be divided into seven broad physiographic divisions: from east to west, the Atlantic-Gulf Coastal Plain; the Appalachian Highlands; the Interior Plains; the Interior Highlands; the Rocky Mountain System; the Intermontane Region; and the Pacific Mountain System. An eighth division, the Laurentian Uplands, a part of the Canadian Shield, dips into the United States from Canada in the Great Lakes region. It is an area of little local relief, with an irregular drainage system and many lakes, as well as some of the oldest exposed rocks in the United States.

The Atlantic-Gulf Coastal Plain begins at Cape Cod and Long Island (moraines and outwash plains) and contains southeastern Atlantic and Gulf continental shelf - includes all of Florida and Louisiana. It is low and flat.

The Appalachian Highlands sweeping from Newfoundland to Alabama dominate the landscape of the Eastern seaboard. Their peaks, ridges, hills, and valleys form a belt almost 3,200 kilometers long and up to 580 kilometers wide.

The Interior Plains may be divided into two sections: the fertile central lowlands, the agricultural heartland of the United States; and the Great Plains, a treeless plateau that gently rises from the central lowlands to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

The Interior Highlands are located just West of the Mississippi River between the Interior Plains and the Gulf Coastal Plain. This region consists of the rolling Ozark Plateau to the north and the Ouachita Mountains, which are similar in structure to the ridge and valley section of the Appalachians, to the east.

The Rocky Mountain System is a geologically young and complex system that extends into northwest United States from Canada and runs south into New Mexico. There are numerous high peaks in the Rockies; the highest is Mountain Elbert (4,399 m). The Rocky Mountains are divided into four sections - the Northern Rockies, the Middle Rockies, the Wyoming (Great Divide) Basin, and the Southern Rockies. Along the crest of the Rockies is the Continental Divide, separating Atlantic-bound drainage from that heading for the Pacific Ocean.

The Intermontane Region is between the Rocky Mountains and the ranges to the west. It is an arid expanse of plateaus, basins, and ranges. The Columbia Plateau, in the north of the region, was formed by volcanic lava and is drained by the Columbia River and its tributary the Snake River, both of which have cut deep canyons into the plateau. The enormous Colorado Plateau, an area of sedimentary rock, is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries; there the Colorado River has entrenched itself to form the Grand Canyon, one of the world's most impressive scenic wonders. West of the plateaus is the Basin and Range province, an area of extensive semidesert.

The Pacific Mountain System is between the Intermontane Region and the Pacific Ocean. It is a series of ranges generally paralleling the coast, formed by faulting and volcanism. The Cascade Range, with its numerous volcanic peaks extends south from southwest Canada into northern California, and from there is continued south by the Sierra Nevada, a great fault block. Mountain Whitney (4,418 m), in the Sierra Nevada, is the highest peak in the conterminous United States.

Alaska contains some of the most dramatic and untapped scenery in the country. Tall, prominent mountain ranges rise up sharply from broad, flat tundra plains. On the islands off the south and southwest coast are many volcanoes. Hawaii, far to the south of Alaska in the Pacific Ocean, is a chain of tropical, volcanic islands, popular as a tourist destination for many from East Asia and the mainland United States.

3.1 The USA major rivers and lakes

The longest river in the United States is the Missouri River** The world's longest river is the Nile, which is located in Egypt. It is almost 6 670 km long!. The Missouri River starts in Montana and covers 4 090 km before flowing into the Mississippi River, the second longest river in the United States. The Mississippi (3 770 km) flows to the south and empties into the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans.

The Missouri-Mississippi river system is the third longest river in the world.

Another important river of the United States is the Hudson River which flows across the northeastern part of the country and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at New York.

The rivers in the west of the country are unsuitable for navigation because they flow through deep canyons and are cut by numerous rapids, which fact, however, makes them a good source of electric power. These rivers start in the Cordilleras and empty into the Pacific Ocean. The largest among them are the Columbia River and the Colorado River.

World-famous is the region of the Great Lakes, situated in the north-east of the United States bordering Canada. It is a system of five great lakes (Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) joined together by natural channels. These are fresh lakes. Lake Superior is the largest lake that's partly in the United States at 82 413 km2. The largest lake entirely contained in the United States is Lake Michigan, 58 016 km2.

Great Salt Lake, located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Utah, is the largest salt lake in the western hemisphere. Although it has been called America's Dead Sea, the lake provides habitat for millions of native birds, brine shrimp, shorebirds, and waterfowl.

3.2 The USA major mountains ranges

The country has three major mountain ranges. The Appalachians extend from Canada to the state of Alabama, a few hundred miles west of the Atlantic Ocean. They are the oldest of the three mountain ranges, and offer spectacular sightseeing and excellent camping spots. The Rockies are the highest in North America, extending from Alaska to New Mexico, with many areas protected as national parks. They offer hiking, camping, and sightseeing opportunities. The combined Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges are the youngest. The Sierras extend across the backbone of California, with sites such as Lake Tahoe and Yosemite National Park, then give way to the even younger volcanic Cascade range, with some of the highest points in the country.

The highest mountain in the USA is Denali/Mountain McKinley (6,194 m) in south central Alaska.

3.3 The USA major cities

The biggest city in the USA is New York City, New York, which has over 8 million people. The second-biggest city in the USA is Los Angeles, California, which has almost 4 million people.

Here is the list of some other big cities.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis, in conjunction with its neighboring city, St Paul, has a population of more than two million. Known as the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St Paul serve as the financial and cultural center of Minnesota.

St. Louis, Missouri

Located on the Mississippi River, which separates Missouri from Illinois, St Louis is known as the Gateway to the West. This heritage is symbolized by the city's famous Gateway Arch, which was built in 1965 and is 192 m high. With a population of approximately 2,6 million, St Louis offers a vibrant waterfront area, a zoo, and art and history museums.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and the largest city in New England. Known for its charming neighborhoods and historic landmarks, Boston's greater metropolitan area is home to more than five million people.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded in 1682, Philadelphia boasts a historic past. This is the city that witnessed the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Home to more than five million residents in the metropolitan area, Philadelphia is just two hours from both New York City and Washington, D.C.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is the business center of the Southeast, with CNN, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and United Parcel Service all headquartered there. This city of four million also has professional sports, a world-class orchestra, and charming neighborhoods.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas - along with its neighboring city, Ft Worth - is home to five million residents and has a distinctly western flavor. Culture and international business go hand-in-hand here: the city is famous for its live rodeos and country music and is also home to major corporations.

Miami, Florida

This city of two million is located on the southernmost tip of Florida and encompasses more than 80 miles of Atlantic coastline. The city is known for its Cuban flavor, beautiful beaches, and plentiful nightlife.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Entertainment Capital of the World is home to more than 1,5 million people in the metropolitan area. Las Vegas is a culturally and ethnically diverse city with a history steeped in African-American, Hispanic, European, Native American, and Asian heritage. Located in southeastern Nevada, Las Vegas has a dry desert climate. Las Vegas is a popular tourist destination that features resorts and outdoor recreational areas.

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and is now the sixth-largest city in the United States, with a population of more than three million. Located in the Sonoran desert, Phoenix enjoys a warm, sunny climate all year round. Summers are hot, but in the winter many Americans migrate to the Phoenix area to escape the cold weather, snow, and ice in other parts of the country. This may explain why some of the fastest growing cities in the United States are in Arizona.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is located on Puget Sound approximately 100 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border. The city is home to more than three million people, and is a commercial, cultural, and technological hub of the Pacific Northwest. Surrounded by mountains and water, Seattle features picture-perfect views and abundant recreational opportunities year-round.

3.4 Weather and climate in the USA

Due to the immense size and spread of topology in the US the climate is incredibly varied. If there is a general climate then it is temperate, but it is also tropical in Florida and Hawaii, arctic in Alaska, arid in the Great Basin of the southwest and semi-arid in the Great Plains to the west of the Mississippi River.

The temperature range runs between the extremes of 57 degrees C during the summer months in California's Death Valley to -62 degrees C in Alaska, with every other shade in between. The northern states are the coldest, with bitter, freezing winters - especially in the plains, Midwest and Northeast. Low temperatures in January and February in the Northwest are occasionally tempered by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

In contrast, the southern states are known as the Sunbelt, where it rarely drops below freezing.

Hot summers are the norm throughout the US, except in New England, Oregon and Washington state, all of which are rainier and less predictable than the rest of the country.

Temperate states are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, while humidity is characteristic of the south, east coast and Midwest (smog levels rise accordingly and can make visiting some cities uncomfortable for those with respiratory problems), and heatwaves common in the Southwest.

Spring and autumn conditions are generally mild, warm and sunny - but also wet in some areas, particularly the Pacific Northwest.

Tornado season arrives in the Midwest between April and June, and hurricanes are common in early summer along the southern East Coast and Gulf of Mexico coast - TV and radio will broadcast warnings for both, but the chances of encountering one on a short visit are remote.

3.5 Mineral resources of the USA

The chief mineral products of the USA are, in order of value, petroleum (US ranks second, after Saudi Arabia, in the production of petroleum), natural gas (USA is second after Russia in natural gas production), and coal (USA ranks second in coal after China). Major deposits of petroleum and natural gas occur in Alaska, California, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. Most coal deposits lie in the Interior Plains and the Appalachian Highlands.

Other important minerals include clay, copper, gold, granite, iron ore, limestone, salt, sand, zinc, timber.

Land use: arable land: 19% permanent crops; 25% forests and woodland; 30% other.

Sources to generate energy are petroleum (40%) - for powering motor vehicles, heating houses and factories; natural gas (25%) - industrial use; household use; coal (25%); electric power.

3.6 Demographics of the United States

The United States has a population of 306 million. It is a very urbanized nation, with 81% of the population residing in cities and suburbs as of mid-year 2005 (the worldwide urban rate was 49%). The population center of the United States has consistently shifted westward and southward, with California and Texas currently the most populous states. The total fertility rate in the United States estimated for 2008 is 2,1 children per woman, which is roughly the replacement level. However, U.S. population growth is among the highest in industrialized countries, due to strong immigration, and the United States Census Bureau shows an increase of 1,01% between November 2007 and November 2008. Nonetheless, though high by industrialized country standards, this is below the world average annual rate of 1,19%. Long term, the U.S. growth rate is projected to surpass that of the world at large: the Census Bureau projects a population of 439 million in 2050, which is a 46% gain from 2007, compared to the world population's gain of 38% over the same period, per United Nations projections; per the U.N., the U.S. increase will be 32%, from 306 million in 2007 to 402 million in 2050.

People under 20 years of age made up over a quarter of the U.S. population (27,6%), and people aged 65 and over made up one-eighth (12,6%) in 2007. The national median age was 36,7 years.

Ethnic groups in the United States. The United States is a diverse country racially and ethnically. White Americans are the racial majority and are spread throughout the country; racial minorities, composing one fourth of the population, are concentrated in coastal and metropolitan areas. The Black American or African American population is concentrated in the South, and also spread throughout parts of the Northeast and Midwest. Black Americans make up the largest racial minority in the United States.

White Americans make up 76% of the total population per the 2006 American Community Survey (ACS). Of the White American population, 8% are Hispanic (comprising approximately half of the Hispanic group's population). White Americans are the majority in every region but attain their highest concentration in the Midwest, where they account for 84% of the population. Asian Americans are concentrated in the Western states; 47% of them reside there, mostly in California and Hawaii. Half of the American Indian population resides in the West; there were 4,1 million in 2000, including those of partial ancestry, their highest population ever since the U.S. was founded in 1776. The Inuit population is mainly found in Alaska, and more than three quarters of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population is found in the West, mostly in Hawaii and California. The population of those described as two or more races resides mostly in the West and South, where a combined 69% of all multiracial Americans reside. Americans of some other race - a catchall, non-standard category almost all of whose members are reclassified as white in official documents - are nearly all Hispanic or Latino in ancestral or national origin, and 44% lived in the West in 2006.

Hispanic and Latino Americans form a racially and ethnically diverse ancestral group, constituting the nation's largest collated ancestral minority. Hispanics and Latinos are most concentrated in the West, where they represent 27% of the population, corresponding to 43% of the group's population nationwide.

The official language of the USA is de facto English. Knowledge of English is required of immigrants seeking naturalization. Some Americans advocate making English the official language, which is the law in 27 states. Three states also grant official status to other languages alongside English: French in Louisiana (which is a former French colony), Hawaiian in Hawaii, and Spanish in New Mexico (former Mexican territory).

4. The USA economic geography

The United States has a capitalist mixed economy, which is fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity.

Mining. The United States is a major contributor to the global mining industry - petroleum, natural gas and coal.

Agriculture - is a major industry in the United States and the country is a net exporter of food. The country is a top producer of corn, soy beans, rice, and wheat. Beef cattle rank as most valuable product of American farms. Other leading farm products, in order of value, include milk, chickens and eggs, cotton. US farms also produce large amounts of hay, tobacco, turkeys, potatoes, tomatoes, apples and peanuts.

Fishing. The greatest quantities of fish are taken from the Gulf of Mexico (shrimp, oysters). The Pacific Ocean supplies Alaska Pollock, cod, crabs, herring, salmon, tuna. The Atlantic yields cod, flounder, herring and other fish.

Manufacturing. The value of American manufactured goods is greater than that of any other country. The leading categories of US products are, in order of importance, transportation equipment, food products, chemicals, nonelectrical machinery, electrical machinery and equipment, fabricated metal products, printed materials, primary metals, paper products, scientific and medical instruments.

Services: finance, insurance, real estate, commodity and security exchanges.

Creative industries: include more than 12,000 stations, about 1,550 television stations, and more than 1,400 cable TV systems. Hollywood film industry and popular music also make a great contribution to the country's economy.

Transport. The backbone of the nation's transportation infrastructure is a network of high-capacity highways. America created car culture, so don't be surprised by the fact that nearly everyone of legal driving age has a car and uses it at every possible opportunity.

The rail network is among the world's best, though the passenger rail network is underdeveloped by European and Japanese standards. For a country that owes so much to the penetration of railroads and that has such a potent railroad mythology, the US has a train system that can be surprisingly impractical and not always comfortable. Ticket prices vary in value, but the earlier you make a reservation, the cheaper the ticket.

Air travel is the preferred means of travel for long distances. Most visitors arrive by air, and heavy competition on popular routes means that inexpensive flights are often available. The main international airports are in Boston, New York, Washington, Miami, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are connecting flights from these airports to hundreds of other US cities.

IT. The major centres for technology in the USA are the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Northwest.

Silicon Valley is the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, United States. The term originally referred to the region's large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers, but eventually came to refer to all the high-tech businesses in the area; it is now generally used as a metonym for the high-tech sector. Despite the development of other high-tech economic centers throughout the United States, Silicon Valley continues to be the leading high-tech hub because of its large number of engineers and venture capitalists. Geographically, Silicon Valley encompasses the northern part of Santa Clara Valley and adjacent communities.

5. Washington, D.C. - the capital city of the United States

Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the Territory of Columbia until an act of Congress in 1871 effectively merged the City and the Territory into a single entity called the District of Columbia. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. The District has a resident population of 591,833.

Washington replaced Philadelphia as the nation's capital in 1800.

The District has a total area of 177 km2, of which 159 km2 is land and 18 km2 (10.16%) is water. The District is no longer 260 km2 due to the retrocession of the southern portion of the District back to the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1846. The District's current area consists only of territory ceded by the state of Maryland. Washington is therefore surrounded by the states of Maryland to the southeast, northeast, and northwest and Virginia to the southwest.

Washington, D.C. is a planned city. The design for the City of Washington was largely the work of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, a French-born architect, engineer, and city planner who first arrived in the colonies as a military engineer with Major General Lafayette during the American Revolutionary War. In 1791, President Washington commissioned L'Enfant to plan the layout of the new capital city. L'Enfant's plan was modeled in the Baroque style, which incorporated broad avenues radiating out from rectangles and circles, providing for open space and landscaping. In March 1792, President Washington dismissed L'Enfant due to his insistence on micromanaging the city's planning, which had resulted in conflicts with the three commissioners appointed by Washington to supervise the capital's construction. Andrew Ellicott, who had worked with L'Enfant surveying the city, was then commissioned to complete the plans. Though Ellicott made revisions to the original plans, including changes to some street patterns, L'Enfant is still credited with the overall design of the city. The City of Washington was bounded by what is now Florida Avenue to the north, Rock Creek to the west, and the Anacostia River to the east.

Major sights of Washington, D.C.

The United States Capitol serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. Although not in the geographic center of the District of Columbia, the Capitol is the origin by which the quadrants of the district are divided. Officially, both the east and west sides of the Capitol are referred to as fronts. Historically, however, the east front was initially the side of the building intended for the arrival of visitors and dignitaries.

The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Above these chambers are galleries where visitors can watch the Senate and House of Representatives. It is an example of the neoclassical architecture style. The statue on top of the dome is the Statue of Freedom. Underground tunnels (and even a private underground railway) connect the main Capitol building with each of the Congressional office buildings in the surrounding complex. All rooms in the Capitol (540) are designated as either S (for Senate) or H (for House), depending on whether they are north (Senate) or south (House) of the Rotunda.

The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., it was built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the late Georgian style and has been the executive residence of every U.S. President since John Adams. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the home in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) expanded the building outward, creating two colonnades which were meant to conceal stables and storage.

The White House is made up of six stories - the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The term White House is regularly used as a metonym for the Executive Office of the President of the United States and for the president's administration and advisors in general. The property is owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President's Park.

The Washington Monument (also known as Pencil) is the most prominent structure in Washington, D.C. and one of the city's early attractions.  It was built in honor of George Washington, who led the country to independence and then became its first President. The Monument is shaped like an Egyptian obelisk and offers views in excess of thirty miles. It was finished on December 6, 1884.

The Lincoln Memorial stands at the west end of the National Mall as a neoclassical monument to the 16th President. The memorial is designed by Henry Bacon, after ancient Greek temples. It is surrounded by a peristyle of 38 fluted Doric columns, one for each of the thirty six states in the Union at the time of Lincoln's death, and two columns in-antis at the entrance behind the colonnade. The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address. Lying between the north and south chambers is the central hall containing the solitary figure of Lincoln sitting in contemplation. The statue was carved in four years by the Piccirilli brothers under the supervision of the sculptor, Daniel Chester French. The statue of Lincoln and weighs 175 tons. The original plan was for the statue to be only ten feet high, but this was changed so that the figure of Lincoln would not be dwarfed by the size of the chamber. A commission to plan a monument was first proposed in 1867, shortly after Lincoln's death. The design for that plan called for six equestrian and 31 pedestrian statues of colossal size, with a huge statue of Lincoln in the center.

That project was never started for lack of funds. Congress approved the bill to construct this memorial in 1910. Construction began in 1914, and the memorial was opened to the public in 1922. The Memorial is visited by millions of visitors each year and is the site of many large public gatherings and protests. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech to a crowd by the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Damaged over the years by heavy visitation and environmental factors, the Lincoln Memorial is currently undergoing a major restoration.

The Library of Congress is the de facto national library of the United States and the research arm of the United States Congress. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and holds the largest number of books. The head of the Library is the Librarian of Congress, currently James H. Billington.

Capitol Hill, aside from being a metonym for the United States Congress, is the largest historic residential neighborhood in Washington D.C., stretching easterly in front of the U.S. Capitol along wide avenues. It is one of the oldest residential communities in Washington, and with roughly 35 000 people in just under two square miles, it is also one of the most densely populated. As a geographic feature, Capitol Hill rises in the center of the District of Columbia and extends eastward. Pierre L'Enfant, as he began to develop his plan for the new Federal City in 1791, chose to locate the Congress House on the crest of the hill, facing the city, a site that L'Enfant characterized as a pedestal waiting for a superstructure.

The Capitol Hill neighborhood today straddles two quadrants of the city, Southeast and Northeast, and a large portion is now designated as the Capitol Hill historic district. The name Capitol Hill is often used to refer to both the historic district and to the larger neighborhood around it. To the east of Capitol Hill lies the Anacostia River, to the north is the H Street corridor, to the south are the Southeast/Southwest Freeway and the Washington Navy Yard, and to the west are the National Mall and the city's central business district.

The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C.Oficially termed by the National Park Service the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the term commonly includes the areas that are officially part of West Potomac Park and Constitution Gardens to the west, and often is taken to refer to the entire area between the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol, with the Washington Monument providing a division slightly west of the center.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Deliberately setting aside the controversies of the war, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the men and women who served when their Nation called upon them. The designer, Maya Lin, felt that the politics had eclipsed the veterans, their service and their lives. She kept the design elegantly simple to allow everyone to respond and remember. The Memorial Wall, designed by Maya Ying Lin, is made up of two black granite walls 75 meters long. The walls are sunk into the ground, with the earth behind them.

Inscribed on the walls with the Optima typeface are the names of servicemen who were either confirmed to be KIA (Killed in Action) or remained classified as MIA (Missing in Action) when the walls were constructed in 1982. They are listed in chronological order, starting at the apex on panel 1E in 1959 (although it was later discovered that the first casualties were military advisers who were killed by artillery fire in 1957), moving day by day to the end of the eastern wall at panel 70E, which ends on May 25, 1968, starting again at panel 70W at the end of the western wall which completes the list for May 25, 1968, and returning to the apex at panel 1W in 1975. Symbolically, this is described as a wound that is closed and healing.

The Jefferson Memorial. Situated on the South side of the Tidal Basin, in West Potomac park, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial is one of the cities most picturesque landmarks. Dedicated in 1943, on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth, this simple circular classical white marble monument is in keeping with a style much favored by the third U.S. president, architect, scholar and political thinker. At its center, a towering bronze portrait statue (the plaster one, in position until after WWII, is in the basement, too large to be removed intact) stands on a pedestal. Panels are inscribed with excerpts of Jefferson's writing, including one that best sums up the man: I have sworn upon the alter of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. The view from the steps is magnificent, especially at night when a halo of blue light crowns the structure.

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington DC is next to the Tidal Basin.

The Roosevelt Memorial dedicated on May 2, 1997 traces twelve years of American history through a sequence of four outdoor rooms. Each is devoted to one of President Roosevelt's terms of office.

The memorial has several statues with one showing Roosevelt in a wheeled chair and another depicting him riding in a car during his first inaugural.

Pennsylvania Avenue is a street in Washington, D.C. joining the White House and the United States Capitol. Called America's Main Street, it is the location of official parades and processions, as well as protest marches and civilian protests. Moreover, Pennsylvania Avenue is an important commuter route and is part of the National Highway System.

Glossary

arid

 lacking sufficient water or rainfall

blazon

official symbols of a family, state, etc.

cede

relinquish possession or control over

chinook

warm dry wind blowing down the eastern slopes of the Rockies

conterminous/

contiguous

 connecting without a break; within a common boundary

die (n)

mold into which molten metal or other material is forced

inuit

member of a people inhabiting the Arctic (northern Canada or Greenland or Alaska or eastern Siberia); the Algonquians called them Eskimo (eaters of raw flesh) but they call themselves the Inuit (the people)

median

value below which 50% of the cases fall

perseverance

persistent determination

talon

sharp hooked claw especially on a bird of prey

tincture

heraldic metal, color, or fur

valor

qualities of a hero or heroine; exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger (especially in battle)

vigilance

vigilant attentiveness

Comprehension

Exercise 1. Fill in the gaps in the following text with proper names:

The United States of America (also known as the _____, the ____, the ____, and ____) is a country in _____ that shares land borders with _____ and _____, and a sea border with _____. Extending from the _____ Ocean to the _____ Ocean, the United States is a federal republic, with its capital in ______.

Exercise 2. Answer the following questions bout the state symbols of the United States:

1. What is the flag of the US called? Describe it and the symbolic meaning of its parts.

2. What fulfills the functions of the coat of arms in the US? Describe it.

3. What is the bird symbol of the country?

4. What is the national anthem of the USA called?

Exercise 3. Indicate the surrounding waters and major terrain features of the US mainland:

Exercise 4. Fill in the table about the USA:

Total area

Major rivers

Major lakes

The highest mountain

Major cities

Exercise 5. Fill in the gaps in the text with sentences below. There is one sentence you don't need:

Due to its large size and wide range of geographic features, the United States contains examples of nearly every global climate. (1) Average annual temperatures range from -13 C in Barrow, Alaska, to 25.7 C in Death Valley, California. The highest temperature ever recorded in the country was 57 C. (2) The lowest recorded temperature was -62 C. It was registered at Prospect Creek, Alaska, near Barrow, on Jan. 23, 1971.

Precipitation varies from a yearly average of less than 5 centimeters at Death Valley to about 1,170 centimeters at Mount Waialeale in Hawaii. (3) The Midwest, the Middle Atlantic States, and New England experience warm summers and cold, snowy winters. In the South, summers are long and hot, and winters are mild. Along the Pacific Coast, and in some other areas near large bodies of water, the climate is relatively mild all year. (4) In the West, for example, the mountainous areas are cooler and wetter than the neighboring plains and plateaus. Parts of the West and Southwest have a desert climate.

The United States is affected by a large variety of natural disasters yearly. (5) Deadly and destructive hurricanes occur almost every year along the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. The Appalachian region and the Midwest experience the worst floods, though virtually no area in the U.S. is immune to flooding. The Southwest has the worst droughts; the West is affected by large wildfires each year.

A In general, however, most parts of the United States have seasonal changes in temperature and moderate precipitation.

B The climate is temperate in most areas, tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida, polar in Alaska.

C In central portions of the U.S., tornadoes are more common than anywhere else on Earth.

D It was registered at Death Valley on July 10, 1913.

E The uninterrupted flat grasslands of the Great Plains also leads to some of the most extreme climate swings in the world.

F Mountains also affect the climate.

Exercise 6. Answer the following questions:

1. What mineral resources does the US have?

2. What other natural resources is the country rich in?

3. Where are the main deposits of these resources?

4. What are the main sources of energy for the country?

5. What is the population of the US?

6. What are the major ethnic and national groups living in the country?

7. What languages are spoken in the US? Is there a state language?

Exercise 7. Characterise the branches of the country's economy, say where the major centers aremining

l agriculture

l fishing

l manufacturing

l services

l creative industries

l transport

l (IT) information technology

Exercise 8.

A. What is the history of Washington, D.C., how is it different from other American cities?

B. What do you know about the following places in Washington, D.C.?

l United States Capitol

l White House

l Washington Monument

l Lincoln Memorial

l Library of Congress

l Supreme Court

l Capitol Hill

l National Mall

l Vietnam Veterans Memorial

l Jefferson Memorial

l Roosevelt Memorial

l Pennsylvania Avenue

l Arlington National Cemetery

l Smithsonian Institution

l John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Exercise 1. Fill in the chart.

USA

Capital

Location

Border Countries

Area (total, land, water)

Population

Rivers

Lakes

Mountain ranges

Exercise 2. Give the names of natural resources the USA is rich in.

C

___

___

___

S

___

___

___

H

___

___

___

R

___

___

I

___

___

___

I

___

___

___

___

S

___

___

___

E

___

P

___

T

___

___

___

____

___

___

___

___

O

___

C

___

___

P

___

___

P

H

___

____

___

___

___

___

____

____

___

E

___

D

___

___

R

___

___

___

Y

___

I

___

C

___

O

___

___

___

O

L

___

___

___

E

___

___

___

___

U

___

G

___

___

___

N

___

___

M

___

___

R

B

___

U

___

___

___

___

N

___

___

U

___

___

___

___

___

S

P

___

___

___

S

___

Exercise 3. Human geography of the USA. Group the following categories of people to denote five ethnic groups.

Caucasian, Korean American, Native American, White, American Indian, African American, Black, Indian American, Chinese American, Hispanic, Asian American, Latino.

Exercise 4. Continue the list of the US chief industries and main agricultural products.

various services

grains

petroleum

wheat

steel

corn

motor vehicles

vegetables

lumber

fruits

mining

cotton

chemicals

beef

telecommunications

pork

consumer goods

poultry

electronics

diary products

food processing

fish

aerospace

forest products

Exercise 5. Innumerate climatic regions of the USA and characterize them.

Exercise 6. Match the names of the following natural hazards to the regions where they may occur.

tsunamis

Alaska

earthquakes

Pacific Basin

swelling of volcanoes

Territories along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts

hurricanes

Western parts of the country

forest fires

California

permafrost

Midwest and Southeast of the USA

floods

mud slides

tornadoes

Further Reading

1. Fifer. B. Everyday geography of the United States / Barbara Fifer. - N.Y.: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1993. - 176 p.

2. Shelley F. Political geography of the United States [1-t edition] / F. Shelley, C. Archer, F. Davidson, S. Brunn. - N.Y., London: The Guilford Press, 1996. - 364 p.

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