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Chapter 3 – North America

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1 Chapter 3 – North America
A – The Landscape B – Settling the Territory C – Continental Expansion D – Regions of the Realm Source: adapted from the PowerPoint slides of deBlij & Muller, 11th edition.

2 A The Landscape Continentalism Canada: US: Mexico:
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: 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.


4 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.

5 East/west gradient in precipitation
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.

6 Precipitation in North America
Cold Temperature Precipitation Hot & Dry Hot & Wet

7 Maritime Fronts of North America
Arctic Pacific Great Lakes Atlantic Gulf of Mexico

8 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.

9 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 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.

10 Settling the Territory
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.

11 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 ( ). Independence and expansion ( ). Imperialism (1898-).

12 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).

13 North America, 1750


15 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.

16 Settling the Territory
Nouvelle France (New France): 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.

17 The First 13 Colonies, 1790 2 1 New Hampshire 2 New York
3 Pennsylvania 4 Massachusetts 5 Rhode Island 6 Connecticut 7 New Jersey 8 Delaware 9 Maryland 10 Virginia 1 4 New England Fall Line 2 6 5 3 7 Middle Colonies 8 9 Mason-Dixon Line 10 Cumberland passage Southern Colonies 11 12 13 11 North Carolina 12 South Carolina 13 Georgia

18 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.

19 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 ( ). Russian pogroms against Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe (from 1881).

20 Immigration to the United States, 1820-2002
Latin America Asia Southeast Europe Germany Scandinavia British Isles Source: Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services,

21 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.

22 Continental Expansion
The township The main territorial development model of the post-independence 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).

23 The Township Model County limits 150 acres (1/4th of a section)
36 sections Main road Railway Township 6 miles

24 Counties, Great Plains States

25 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.

26 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.

27 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.

28 Continental Expansion
Interstate Highway System Built since the 1950s: 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.

29 The Interstate Highway System

30 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.

31 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?




35 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.

36 The North American Core
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.

37 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.

38 Commercial Harvests in the Northwest Atlantic of Some Fish Stocks, 1950-95 (in 1,000 metric tons)
Commercial Harvests in the Northwest Atlantic of Some Important Fish Stocks, According to an FAO analysis, based on fish harvest records from 1950 to 1994, 35 percent of the most important commercial fish stocks show a pattern of declining yields and require immediate action to halt overharvesting. Another 25 percent show steady yields but are being fished at their biological limit and are vulnerable to declines if fishing levels increase. For more information see Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Fishstat-PC (FAO, Rome, 1997).

39 Regions of the Realm French Canada
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.

40 The Continental Interior
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.

41 North American Regional Agricultural Specialization

42 Regions of the Realm The South The Southwest
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.

43 Regions of the Realm The Western Frontier
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.

44 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.

45 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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