Cultural regions in America
The United States is commonly divided into four major regions: Northeast, South, Midwest (North Central) and West. The subdivisions is used by journalists, the United States Census Bureau, and polling organizations searching for variations in attitudes or opinions. The Northeast has its capital in New York City, but includes New England and the Middle Atlantic States. The South extends from Virginia to Texas, but excludes Missouri. The Midwest centers on Chicago, while everything west of the Great Plains, including Hawaii and Alaska, becomes the West. Clearly these are regions of convenience, as are their further subdivisions into categories such as “Far West” or “Southeast”.
Recent interest in regions of America has been primarily concerned with cultural regions, that is, with regions defined by the historical experience and qualities of the people that make up their population. The cultural regions that emerged beyond the Atlantic Coast can be seen as developments westward of the original regional organization of the country.
Centered on Boston, New England had been established in the early 1800s by deeply religious people anxious to escape the domination and corruption they found in England. Their colonies and their communities were to be an example to the world. Education, work, family, community, and church were central. It was more religious, more thickly settled, and more jealous of its independence from British control than the other colonies.
Centering on New York and Philadelphia, the Middle Atlantic states were populated by much more cosmopolitan mix of peoples. The Dutch had ruled New York for several years from the 1620s to 1664, and the Swedish had even had a colony in Delaware in the 1630s. German immigrants settled in large numbers near Philadelphia before 1800.
The Southern states, from Virginia south – although Maryland, too, was largely Southern at this time – were again different. Here there were few non-British people and very little urban development. The South contained most of the large agricultural plantations with a labor force of slaves imported from Africa or the West Indies.
Thirteen regions can be distinguished by their cultural or historical particularity, and, within these, important further subdivisions should also be pointed out. The basic regions distinguished in modern America are: New England, New York Metropolitan, Pennsylvanian, South, Upper Midwest, Central Midwest, Rocky Mountain, Mormon, Interior Southwest, Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Alaskan, and Hawaiian.