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Social Sci LibreTexts

4.1: Introducing the Realm

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  • Learning Objectives

    1. Define the physiographic regions of North America.
    2. Explain the two dominant climate patterns in North America.
    3. Find out which three European countries had the most significant early influence on North America, what parts of the region they dominated, and what their long-term impacts have been.
    4. Determine the population distribution of the United States and Canada.

    North America is divided into a number of physical regions with distinct landforms. The western part of the continent is marked by north-south mountain ranges in the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Mountains and Valleys physiographic provinces, with the Intermontane Basins and Plateaus in between. The eastern portion of North America is defined by the ancient Appalachian Highlands, a mountain range that is much less rugged than the Rockies but with no less influence on the history and development of the United States. The interior of the continent is characterized by plains—the Interior Lowlands and the Great Plains. To the north is the Canadian Shield, geologically the oldest part of North America, and a sparsely populated area with poor soils. At the southern and eastern edge of the continent is the Gulf-Atlantic Coastal Plain, a relatively flat zone that extends from New York to Texas.

    Figure 4.2 Physical Regions of the United States and Canada


    Wikimedia Commons – CC BY-SA 3.0.