The United States of America
("USA", "US", "United States", "America",
or "The States") is a large country in central and north-western North America.
The U.S. also includes several Pacific islands (primarily represented by the
state of Hawaii) and an unincorporated Caribbean territory (the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico). One of the largest, richest, and most powerful countries
in the world, it has a mixture of densely-populated urban areas with wide
areas of low population and incredible natural beauty. With a history of immigration
dating to the 17th century, the U.S. prides itself on its "melting pot" of
different cultures from around the globe. Even the briefest visit to the United
States is a study in contrasts.
The U.S. is difficult to characterize because of its size and diversity,
both in geography and in people, but an overview will help travelers to see
these differences and perhaps help to find what they are most interested in.
It is not realistic to see a little of everything unless one has a very long
time to spend indeed; even lifetime residents have trouble taking it all in.
Part of the States' appeal is that you can experience so much in one country.
See the list below for a breakdown in regions:
- New England -- Home to gabled churches, rustic antiques, and steeped in
American history, New England offers beaches, spectacular seafood, rugged
mountains, frequent winter snows, and some of the young nation's oldest
cities, in a territory small enough to reasonably cover (quickly) within
- The Mid-Atlantic -- Ranging from New York in the north to Washington DC,
the Mid-Atlantic is densely populated and home to a number of the nation's
largest cities, but also rolling mountains and traditional seaside resorts
like Long Island and the Jersey Shore.
- The South -- The slow-going, friendly South is celebrated for its down-home
cookin' and its blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, and country music traditions.
This lush, largely subtropical region includes verdant (and refreshingly
cool) mountains, stately agricultural plantations, and vast cypress swamps.
- Florida -- Northern Florida is similar to the rest of the South, but head
further south into the megaresorts of Orlando, retirement communities, and
tropical Miami. Don't forget to visit the Everglades swamp, although you
certainly wouldn't want to live there.
- Texas -- The second biggest state in the nation, it's like a whole other
country (and in fact, once was). Terrain ranges from Southern swamplands
to the cattle-ranching South Plains to the Mountains and desert of west
- The Midwest -- The Midwest is home to rolling farmland, large forests,
picturesque towns, and many bustling industrial cities. Many of these states
border the Great Lakes, the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world,
forming the North Coast of the U.S.
- The Great Plains -- Travel westward through these supposedly "flat" states,
from the edge of the eastern forests through the prairies and onto the High
Plains, an enormous expanse of steppes (shortgrass prairies) as desolate
as it was in the frontier heyday.
- The Rocky Mountains -- The spectacular snow-covered Rockies offer outdoor
pursuits such as hiking, rafting, and skiing on some of the greatest snow
on Earth. There are also deserts and some large cities.
- The Southwest -- Heavily influenced by Hispanic culture, the arid Southwest
is home to some of the nation's most spectacular natural attractions, and
a flourishing artistic culture. Although mostly empty, the region's deserts
have some of the nation's largest cities.
- California -- In some ways quintessentially American, and in others completely
atypical, California offers world-class cities, mountains, deserts, rain
forests, snow (and great skiing), and a famous beach lifestyle.
- The Pacific Northwest -- The pleasantly cool Pacific Northwest offers
outdoor pursuits as well as cosmopolitan cities. The terrain ranges from
spectacular rain forests to scenic mountains and volcanoes to sage-covered
steppes and interior deserts.
- Alaska -- One fifth as large as the rest of the United States, Alaska
reaches well into the Arctic, and features expansive mountainous wilderness.
- Hawaii -- A volcanic archipelago in the tropical Pacific, 2,300 miles
from California (the nearest state), laid-back Hawaii has long been a vacation
Politically, the U.S. is divided further into semi-independent states.
This web site, logo, name, content, photos, and design are protected by international copyright law.
Original versions of our photos can be purchased & web versions can be shared subject to conditions.