In case you don’t know, I love geography. I have spent most of my life staring at maps, trying to visualize the world and everything that is in it. When Google maps and earth came out, I was on Cloud Nine. Then I found out I could get Google maps on my PHONE and I became the first man to experience multiple orgasms in an AT&T store. At least I hope I was.
So this past week I decided to combine my creativity with my passion for cartography, and the result was what you see below. A map depicting the Regions of the United States. (A special thanks to MS Paint.)
This map represents my best attempt to define the regions of our country based on a variety of cultural, political, and geographical factors. And when in doubt, I followed in the footsteps of the great Stephen Colbert: I relied on my gut. If it works for him, then it’s bound to work for me.
Here is the breakdown of the Sixteen Regions of the United States:
Blue — The Northeast
Red — The Rust Belt
Light Green — The Pseudo South
Gray — The South
Orange — Central Florida
Dark Blue — South Florida
Burnt Orange — Texas
Yellow — The Lower Midwest
Maroon — The Upper Midwest
Light Blue — Big Sky Country
Dark Green — The West
Purple — The Pacific Northwest
Beige — Central California
Pink — Southern California
Light Gray — Alaska
Dark Purple — Hawaii
I will spare you the mind-numbing explanation for why I drew the map as I did. (Feel free to leave questions in the comment section if you are curious.)
Okay, now here is where you come in. Although I tried hard to get the map just right, I’ll admit that I have never been to half of these regions. However, I am sure that if you throw all of the people who read my site (yes, both of you) into the equation, we have them covered. So if you could give some feedback about regions that don’t seem to add up based on your own experiences in some of these places, it would be much appreciated.
EDIT: Alright, now that both of my two readers have requested that I explain myself, I have no choice but to go ahead and lay my cards on the table.
Here is a glimpse into the methods behind my madness:
The Northeast — I like to think of this as the “They Think The World Revolves Around Them” Region. Is it just me, or does it seem like every movie that comes out is set somewhere in the Northeast? I need to make a list one day. (In fact, I can only think of two that were not off the top of my head: Napoleon Dynamite and The Skeleton Key. That is sad.) When was the last time you saw a movie where the scenes take place in a state like Georgia? Gone With The Wind? How about a place like Wisconsin? Or Oklahoma? New Yorkers are not the only people with interesting lives! Okay, so I haven’t done a very good job of explaining why I drew this region like I did. But I needed to get that off my chest.
The Rust Belt — The region of manufacturing, mining, and The Michelin Man. I knew the region included Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana, but from there it got tough. Pennsylvania was perplexing. The greater Philadelphia area is definitely Northeast, but Pittsburgh is definitely Rust Belt. I decided to put central Pennsylvania in the Rust Belt because I figured it’s probably more like Ohio than like New York. Plus, the Penn State athletic teams in Happy Valley play in the same conference as the Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana teams (and not with the New York or New Jersey teams), so there must be some kind of connection there. Although I view West Virginia as a predominantly Rust Belt state due to its blue collar reputation, I split the state in half due to the “southern affinity” of its Southern region. I also chopped off the big toe of Indiana due to its high population of rural farmers, and the fact that it is in a different time zone than the rest of the state (go figure). I could swear I heard rest of Indiana say “ouch” when I did that. Then I chopped off Indiana’s ear as well, because it is also in a different time zone. They really hate me now.
The Psuedo South – The people there talk Southern, they act Southern, they may even think they are Southern . . . . but it is not the South. I’m looking at you, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. Kentucky and West Virginia blew their only chance to be part of the South when they refused to join the Confederacy during the Civil War. Virginia, on the other hand, was literally the birthplace of Southern culture but has since been overrun by Yankees. A large part of Virginia is now actually in the Northeast Region because of all the Yankee spill-over from the Washington, D.C. area! (Washington, Jefferson, and Lee are turning over in their graves as I type this.) And the Yankee invasion has not stopped at the Virginia border. They now inhabit a large portion of North Carolina, too, with a stronghold in the Research Triangle. Meanwhile, the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina are populated by a different type of people altogether, who speak with a Tidewater accent. Of course, Southern culture continues to thrive in this region. A strange mixture indeed.
The South – The land of fried chicken, country music, mud tires, tank tops, and tailgate parties. The south is big, so there is plenty of room to spread out and make yourself comfortable. However, if you’re driving southbound on a Florida highway and you start passing a bunch of roadside vendors selling oranges, turn around. You’ve gone too far.
Central Florida – Home of Disneyland, destination weddings, and Tiger Woods. Former home of Tiger’s ex-wife. Like the Pseudo South, Central Florida is overrun with Yankees. It also has a high population of Latin American immigrants that give the place an atmosphere that is totally distinct from the South. And judging from the news stories I read, it seems to have a lot of crazy people. I’ll be honest, Central Florida scares me.
South Florida – Never been there, but it sounds even scarier than Central Florida. South Florida has lots of crazies, like the santeria people who publicly sacrifice animals and try to exorcise demons by suffocating people with plastic bags. If that’s not scary enough, you could always get lost in the Everglades or eaten by a shark while swimming at South Beach. I’m thinking LeBron James made a bad decision.
Texas – If you live in Texas, you know why we are our own region. Heck, we used to be our own country. Still feels like we are. ; )
The Lower Midwest – This was a tough one to draw cuz it’s right smack dab in the middle of everything. The shoo-ins were Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. At first I had Iowa in the Upper Midwest because it usually votes Democratic unlike the four I just listed. But, I thought about it some more, and I bet you cannot even tell the difference when you cross the border from Nebraska into Iowa. (I’ve never been there either.) From what I hear, they are both full of cornfields and wide open spaces. Those states have to be in the same region. So I threw Iowa in there, too. Still, the university system in Iowa is much better than Nebraska. And, Iowa is home to a lot of insurance companies. Nebraska is home to a lot of corn. So, there are some differences. If I had to re-draw the map, I would consider splitting Iowa in half, with the west being in the Lower Midwest and the east being in the Upper Midwest. If anyone has lived there, let me know what you think about that. As for eastern Colorado, I have been there, and it’s just like Kansas. Then, right before you hit the mountains, everything changes.
The Upper Midwest – The place where I hid Indiana’s big toe and ear. Shhhhh. Don’t tell them.
Big Sky Country – The most rural region of the United States. Not one major city. I envision this region as a place where life is just like it was 125 years ago, when European settlers co-existed on the plains with Native Americans. You know, the kinda place that the song “Home On The Range” was written for. I would say I’ve never been there, but I watched a Man vs. Wild episode featuring this region, so I guess I kinda have. In my mind.
The West – It’s big. It’s wild. It’s shaped like a human heart. The defining feature of the West are the Rocky Mountains and the desert. Once you reach them, you are not in Kansas anymore. The West does not include the plains of the Midwest and it certainly does not include the lush, temperate paradise of the West Coast. It’s everything in between. However, the West does include a large portion of California, specifically the Sierra Nevada’s and the Mojave desert. The majority of the people in the West live in big cities like Denver, Phoenix, Reno, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. The rugged rural portions of the West are untamed, and stretch for hundreds of miles in all directions. Not too many people live out there, but the ones who do drive off-road vehicles and star in Marlboro commercials.
The Pacific Northwest – Remember the Oregon Trail? Yeah, this is the place all those weary, cholera-stricken pioneers were fording rivers to get to. The land of apples and wine vineyards. I’ve never been to this region, either, but I hear it’s gorgeous. Apparently, the panhandle of Idaho does not get along with the rest of the state, and is in the Pacific time zone unlike the rest of Idaho, so it has jumped ship into this region. Upon further consideration, I think all of Oregon should be the Pacific Northwest. I need to redraw it.
Central California – The area of California that is south of wine country, north of the Tehachapi Mountains, west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and east of Eden.
Southern California – The only place in the country where people can live comfortably without air conditioning or heat. Oh yeah, and life is pretty much perfect there. May we never hear them complain.
Alaska & Hawaii – If you need me to explain either of these regions, please meet me after class for tutoring. ; )