Chapter 3 - North America

Report
GEOG 101 – World Regional Geography
Professor: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Chapter 3 – North America
A – The Landscape
B – Settling the Territory
C – Continental Expansion
D – Regions of the Realm
A The Landscape
■ Continentalism
• Canada:
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Second largest country in the world.
The longest non-militarized border in the world (8,900 km).
Trade agreement since 1989.
Several similarities but different societies.
• US:
• Fourth largest country in the world.
• 48 continental (conterminous or contiguous) states.
• Mexico:
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Longest border between a developed and a Third World country.
Border problems related to illegal immigration and drug traffic.
Trade agreement since 1992.
An advanced and a transitional (Third World) country.
The Landscape
■ Climate
• Very diversified, ranging from continental humid to sub tropical.
• Relatively simple weather system:
• Varies from west to east.
• Influenced by air masses moving from the arctic (cold and dry) and from
the gulf of Mexico (hot and wet).
• The southeast section of the United States:
• A high precipitation level.
• Result of movements of air masses from the gulf of Mexico.
• Subject to tropical storms coming from the South Atlantic.
The Landscape
■ East/west gradient in precipitation
• Wet air from the Pacific.
• When reaching the coastal chain and the Sierra Nevada is
forced to gain altitude.
• Air cooling process forces precipitation over the West Side of
these mountain chains.
• Once the ridges passed over, the air becomes dryer.
• Low level of rain falling over the high plateaus and the western
part of the Great Plains.
• As it moves east, air masses gain in humidity through land
evaporation and precipitation levels rise.
Precipitation in North America
Cold
Precipitation
Hot & Dry
Hot & Wet
Maritime Fronts of North America
Arctic
Pacific
Great Lakes
Gulf of Mexico
Atlantic
Territorial Definition
■ The Anglo-American cultural space
• Prominence of English institutions.
• Opposed to Latin America (Spanish and Portuguese cultural
origin).
• A few exceptions:
• French Canada, Hawaii, US/Mexico border regions, southeast Florida,
First Nations and the Black population.
• Immigration is changing this space.
• English remains the language of power and business.
Territorial Definition
■ Overcoming space
• Always been a challenge.
• Massive transport infrastructure (from trails to railways to
highways to the information highway).
• Regional cultural differences requiring different marketing
strategies.
■ Territorial scale and diversity impose organization
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Diversity of landscapes but uniformity of society.
Created problems of territorial uniformity and organization.
Several decision centers are spread over the territory.
Not absolute primacy.
Relative isolationism has favored local entrepreneurship.
B Settling the Territory
■ Exploration
• Took 125 years after its discovery for continent to be first settled.
• Spain and Portugal, the main colonial powers, were more
interested in Central and South America.
• Later England, France and Spain settled North America.
■ Territorial development
• Continental mass of difficult access
• Process where economic, political, demographic and social
forces organize the territory and the human landscape.
• A question of national perception.
• Accumulation of infrastructures and populations.
Settling the Territory
■ Processes of territorial development
• Annexing new territories.
• Conquering territories from other colonial empires.
• Exterminating and repelling First Nations.
■ Three major phases:
• The colonial era (1492-1783).
• Independence and expansion (1783-1898).
• Imperialism (1898-).
Settling the Territory
■ Colonization of the The North American Territory
• Colonized by three major colonial powers.
• Spain:
• Occupied the south of the United States, including Florida, California,
Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
• Part of the Spanish Empire of Mexico.
• Massive organization of the native labor.
• France:
• Controlled the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi basin.
• More interested in fur trade than in colonization.
• England:
• Occupied the Atlantic Coast with 13 colonies (1620 and 1681).
• Strong emphasis on agriculture and economic development.
• High population densities constrained by the Appalachians.
• Holland:
• Bought Manhattan Island (New Amsterdam) for $24 (1626).
• Conquered by the British and renamed New York (1664).
North America, 1750
Settling the Territory
■ Five major core colonial regions
• New England:
• Limited agricultural potential compensated by fishing and logging.
• Hydraulic power (grain and saw mills).
• Boston was the main commercial centre.
• The Middle Colonies:
• More liberal with Pennsylvania and Delaware as main colonies (initial
utopias).
• New York and Philadelphia were main centers.
• Southern Colonies:
• Predominantly rural.
• Plantation system with slave labor.
Settling the Territory
• Nouvelle France (New France):
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Centered along the St. Lawrence.
Quebec and Montreal as major cities.
Focus of fur trade.
Limited agriculture.
• Mexico:
• Mines and plantations.
• Natives incorporated in colonial exploitation.
Settling the Territory
■ First Treaty of Paris (1763)
• Ended the Seven Years War (France and Spain vs. England).
• France:
• Lost almost all its North American colonies (Except Louisiana and St.
Pierre & Miquelon).
• Spain:
• Lost Florida (given back in 1783 during the American Revolution).
• Britain:
• Won Nouvelle France and territories from the Appalachian to the
Mississippi.
■ Second Treaty of Paris (1783)
• Formally recognized the United States as a sovereign nation.
• Removed the colonial constraints.
• Expanded territorial development towards the Mississippi.
C Continental Expansion
■ Growth of immigration
• The 19th century was a century of huge territorial growth.
• Vast movements from Europe causing territorial pressure.
• The population grew from 31 millions in 1860 to 95 millions in
1914.
• About 300,000 immigrants per year.
• Linked to European crises and demographic pressures:
• The Irish famine (1845-1847).
• Russian pogroms against Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe (from
1881).
Immigration to the United States, 1820-2002
Latin America
Asia
Southeast
Europe
1,400,000
1,200,000
Germany
Scandinavia
1,000,000
800,000
600,000
British
Isles
400,000
200,000
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Continental Expansion
■ Rail technology:
• Available after 1850.
• Several construction programs established.
• State subsidies and land concessions to speed up the process.
■ The Gold Rush (1849)
• Discovery of gold in California.
• Massive movement of population.
• Accelerated rail construction.
■ Transcontinental (completed in 1869)
• From New York to San Francisco.
• Journey was reduced from 6 months by trail to 1 week by train.
• The industrial East could now have access to the resources of
the West.
Continental Expansion
■ The township
• The main territorial development model of the postindependence United States and Canada.
• Created by the Land Ordinance Act of 1785.
• Social unit of territorial occupation.
• 150 acres basic unit.
• Oriented along pre-defined parallels and meridians.
• Occupies only the western part of the United States and Canada
(west of the Appalachians).
• Other territorial structures exists.
• Formed the morphology of several cities.
• Impossible to have a perfect pattern (hydrography and
physiography).
The Township Model
County limits
150 acres
(1/4th of a
section)
36 sections
Main road
Railway
Township
6 miles
Counties, Great Plains States
Min ne sot a
South Dakot a
our
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W y o m i n g No
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Nebraska
Iowa
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saK a n s a s
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Okl ahoma
New Mexico
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Arkansas
Continental Expansion
■ Air conditioning
• Rose during the post-WWII period.
• Ability to achieve interior climate control.
• Made several parts of the country much more livable during the
summer months:
• Tremendous impact in Florida and in the states of the Southwest and
California.
• States that have registered the highest rates of population growth during
the post-war period, far surpassing the rest of the country.
• Also resulted in the amenities migrations of many retired
persons, seeking to avoid the harshness of northern winters.
• Massive migrations by the older age population.
Continental Expansion
■ Moving people, goods and information
• A mean for territorial control and constant challenge.
• Overcome with technology and infrastructures.
• Mobility is a key element of the American society.
■ Three phases of technological change
• 1) To the middle of the 19th century:
• Waterways and trails.
• Development limited.
• 2) From the middle of the 19th century:
• Railways.
• Territorial development expanded with regional specialization.
• 3) The 20th century:
• Roads.
• Space became a commodity.
Continental Expansion
■ Transportation
• Supports the economic efficiency of the United States and
Canada.
• Comes with high energy and infrastructure costs.
• Transportation uses 27% of all the energy.
• The American mode of territorial occupation consumes 3 times
more energy than the European mode.
Continental Expansion
■ Interstate Highway System
• Built since the 1950s:
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Peak construction during the 1960s.
Mainly completed by 1991.
Currently about 45,000 miles of highways.
Construction slowed down significantly.
• Trans Canadian highway is the Canadian equivalent.
• Changes in urban morphology:
• The construction of beltways has changed the nature of spatial
interactions within metropolitan areas.
• Reduced the dominance of the CBD (downtown).
• Providing an alternative locational choice - both for commercial and
residential activities.
• From uninodal to multinodal regions.
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Continental Expansion
• Impacts on businesses:
• Attracted by the lower land rents in the suburbs (and beyond) where the
beltways are located.
• Availability of parking space.
• Proximity to suppliers and customers.
• Individual families:
• The interstates made commuting much easier (more distance for the
same amount of time).
• Car ownership increased dramatically, as the result of the
increased affluence of the post-war economic boom.
• Public transport was relatively neglected in this process.
Continental Expansion
■ Suburban America
• Made possible by available land made accessible by highways
and personal mobility.
• Reflects American ideals of private ownership and individualism:
• Attracted by the more spacious surroundings for housing.
• Fled the cities with all of their urban problems.
• Increase in the size of housing units.
• Automobile dependency.
• Future of suburbanization?
D Regions of the Realm
■ Canada
• Similar to Russia:
• Continental scale.
• Nordicity.
• High dependency to the United States:
• Trade 75%.
• Finance.
• Resources are in the north while population is in the south.
• Provinces and territories combined in a federal system.
Regions of the Realm
■ The North American Core
• Demographic, economic, corporate and cultural weight:
• Financial markets.
• Corporate HQs.
• Media and cultural centers.
• Dynamical component including the Megalopolis, the Midwest,
southern New England and southern Ontario.
• A third of American and Canadian populations.
• Obsolescence issues:
• Snow belt vs. Sun belt.
• Restructuring of the economy.
Regions of the Realm
■ Maritime Northeast
• Three US states:
• Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
• Four Canadian provinces:
• Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and newest province
of Newfoundland and Labrador.
• First settled: proximity to Europe.
• Strong regional identity.
• Maritime orientation:
• Low quality agricultural land.
• Importance of fishing, but declining resources.
Commercial Harvests in the Northwest Atlantic of
Some Fish Stocks, 1950-95 (in 1,000 metric tons)
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Flatfishes (flounders, halibuts, etc.)
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Haddock
1990
Red hake
Atlantic cod
Regions of the Realm
■ French Canada
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Linguistic and cultural distinctiveness.
Along the St. Lawrence Valley settled in “long lots”.
Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world.
Significant lumber, mining and hydroelectric resources.
Regions of the Realm
■ The Continental Interior
• Dominance of agriculture:
• Constitute a tremendous agricultural resource for a sparsely populated
population.
• Spring wheat in the north:
• Planted in the early Spring and harvested in the early Fall.
• Winter wheat in the south:
• Planted in the Fall and harvested in the Spring.
• Corn / soybean in the middle:
• Soybeans are the cheapest source of protein.
• Rotated with corn production.
• Urban centers linked with agricultural processing.
North American Regional Agricultural Specialization
Regions of the Realm
■ The South
• Used to be lagging behind the snow belt.
• Part of the “sun belt”.
• “Right-to-work” States, which do not promote social protection
and unions.
• Acute economic inequalities.
■ The Southwest
• Bicultural regional complex:
• Anglo-Americans and Latino-Americans.
• Foundations:
• Air conditioning.
• Water supply.
• The automobile.
Regions of the Realm
■ The Western Frontier
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Traditionally mining and lumber.
Highly dynamical area.
Low intensity agriculture (ranching).
90% of the development confined to a few poles:
• Las Vegas: 30 million tourists per year.
• Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.
• Correspond to oasis.
Regions of the Realm
■ The Northern Frontier
• Most of it in Canada with the exception of Alaska.
• Many natural resources, but difficult to access:
• Distances.
• Permafrost.
• Low populations concentrated along extraction sites.
• Tar sands of Northern Alberta:
• More oil than Saudi Arabia.
• Trapped as bitumen in sand formations.
Regions of the Realm
■ The Pacific Hinge
• The new front of North American immigration:
• From the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
• California:
• Most populated and multiethnic state.
• 36 million, larger than the population of Canada.
• 6th largest economy in the world.
• Core of new technological activities:
• Silicon valley.
• Seattle: aeronautic (Boeing) and software (Microsoft).

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