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United States, US, USA


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United States Geography, study of the land, physical features, and climate of the United States of America, and the interaction between these natural features and the plants, animals, and people that live in the country.

The United States of America is a federal republic on the continent of North America. It has an area of 9,826,630 sq km (3,794,083 sq mi) and is the third largest country in the world after Russia and Canada. The estimated U.S. population for the year 2008 is 303,824,650, third in the world behind China and India.

The United States consists of 48 contiguous states and the noncontiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii. In addition, the United States includes a number of outlying areas, such as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United States, which are located on the Caribbean Sea, and the islands of American Samoa and Guam, located in the Pacific Ocean. The national capital is Washington, D.C., located along the banks of the Potomac River between the states of Maryland and Virginia.

The 50 U.S. states vary widely in size and population. The largest states in area are Alaska at 1,717,854 sq km (663,267 sq mi), followed by Texas, and California. The smallest state is Rhode Island, with an area of 4,002 sq km (1,545 sq mi). The state with the largest population is California (36,553,215, 2007 estimate), followed by Texas, and New York. Only 522,830 people (2007 estimate) live on the plateaus and rugged mountains of Wyoming, the least populous state.

Each state is subdivided into counties, with the exception of Louisiana, where comparable political units are called parishes. Within these counties and parishes, there are communities that range in size from small villages to towns to cities. Extensive areas of urban sprawl exist in larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City.


For younger readers

Baines, John. The United States. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1994. In the Country Facts Files series, for readers in grades 4 to 8.

Brownstone, David M., and Irene M. Franck. Natural Wonders of America. Diane Publishing, 1997. For readers in grades 4 to 7.

National Geographic United States Atlas for Young Explorers. National Geographic, 1999. A beginning atlas for younger readers.

United States (Geography)

Jackson, John Brinckerhoff. Ed. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. Landscape in Sight: Looking at America. Yale University Press, 1997. A collection of essays in appreciation of American landscapes.

Mattson, Mark T. Color Atlas of the States. Macmillan, 1996. Information on the physical, economic, and human geography of each state.

McKnight, Tom L. Regional Geography of the United States and Canada. Prentice Hall, 2000. Description and development of North American landscapes.

National Geographic Society. Heart of a Nation: Writers and Photographers Inspired by the American Landscape. National Geographic Society, 2000. Seventeen well-known writers and photographers look at America's natural beauty.

Shelley, Fred M., and others, eds. Political Geography of the United States. Guilford, 1996. The influence of geography on politics in U.S. history.

Wexler, Alan, and Carl Waldman. The Atlas of Westward Expansion. Facts on File, 1995. Maps the growth of the United States from the 1750s to the early 1900s.


Boehm, Richard G., B.S., M.A., Ph.D. Professor of Geography and Planning, Southwest Texas State University. Author of Geography: The World and Its People and World Geography: A Physical and Cultural Approach.

Microsoft Encarta 2009. 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.

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