For Geographers regions are a system of categorization, a way of organizing a complex set of facts about places into a more compact, meaningful set of information. As with any categorization, the regions are satisfactory if they identify understandable patterns in the facts and if they help clarify the complex patterns. There are as many regions as there are geographers.
Regional boundaries and regions themselves are not static. Settlement patterns shift, society develops significant new technological abilities, and political patterns are altered; regions reflecting these patterns may expand, contract, appear, or disappear. A regionalization of the United States for the year of its discovery, 1492, would have been quite different from one for 1776, 1865, or 1991. There is no reason to believe that the pattern for 2100 will be similar to that for 2000.
To geographers, a region can be either nodal or uniform, single featured or multifeatured. A nodal region is characterized by a set of places connected to another place by lines of communication or movement. The places in the set are associated with each other because they share a common focus, even though each place may be quite different from the others.
In comparison, a uniform region is a territory with one or more features present throughout and absent or unimportant elsewhere. A uniform region may represent some characterization of the total environment of an area, including both its physical and cultural features.
The perception of the nature of a region, of the things that together shape its personality, is based on a relatively small group of criteria. In each major section of the United States, there are one or two underlying themes that reflect ways in which the population has interacted (within itself or with the physical environment) to create a distinctive region.
The most important identifying themes for a region may vary greatly from one region to another. It is impossible to speak of the American Southwest without a focus on aridity and water erosion, of the North without its cold winters, or of the Northeast without cities and manufacturing. The key element that establishes a total uniform region, then, is not how that section compares with others on a predetermined set of variables, but how a certain set of conditions blend there.
Regions are presented largely as though they are distinct territorially, even though they are not. The "feeling" of a region is a function of place, but it is also a function of the subject theme chosen. Therefore, for example, the intense urban character of Megalopolis is distinct from the aspects of manufacturing that affect New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and other manufacturing core cites. There are two important aspects of regional feeling in the region usually called "the Midwest" -- the urban-industrial and the rural-agricultural.
Rigid regional boundaries do not fit the landscape of the United States. A given portion of the country may be occupied by parts of two or more regions, but the boundaries of many regions may also be fairly broad transitional zones that contain many of a region's characteristics. At times, these zones mark an area where the mix of characteristics is so subtle or complex that it is difficult to assign the area to any one region. Parts of the margin between the Farm Belt and the Great Plains are examples of this, as are sections of the transition between the Farm Belt and Dixie.
12 Federal Reserve District boundaries are based on economic considerations; the Districts operate independently but under the supervision of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The Federal Reserve officially identifies Districts by number and Reserve Bank city. In the 12th District, the Seattle Branch serves Alaska, and the San Francisco Bank serves Hawaii. The System serves commonwealths and territories as follows: the New York Bank serves the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the San Francisco Bank serves American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Board of Governors revised the branch boundaries of the System in February 1996. As originally envisioned, each of the 12 Reserve Banks was intended to operate independently from the other Reserve Banks. Variation was expected in discount rates--the interest rate that commercial banks were charged for borrowing funds from a Reserve Bank. The setting of a separately determined discount rate appropriate to each District was considered the most important tool of monetary policy at that time. The concept of national economic policymaking was not well developed, and the impact of open market operations--purchases and sales of U.S. government securities--on policymaking was less significant.
10 The Federal Regional Councils were established by Executive Order 11647, February 10, 1972, as amended. One council was created for each of the ten standard federal administrative regions. The councils assisted state and local governments in the coordination and operation of federal programs. In addition, the councils coordinated local and state federal grant applications, resolved disputes between federal agencies, evaluated programs with two or more federal agency participants, formulated means to best utilize federal resources at the local and state level, and develop improved interagency administrative procedures at the regional level. The councils consisted of senior officials in each region of the Departments of Labor, Health, Education, and Welfare, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and the Small Business Administration.
12 Delivery of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) program services to the federally recognized tribes and individual Indians and Alaska Natives, whether directly or through contracts, grants or compacts, is administered by the twelve regional offices and 83 agencies that report to the BIA Deputy Director-Field Operations, located in Washington, DC. Each regional office is headed by a Regional Director who is responsible for all Bureau activities within a defined geographical area except education, law enforcement and functions of an administrative nature. The twelve regional offices are located in the heart of Indian Country with the agencies located at the reservation level. The Deputy Regional Director for Trust Services oversees a staff of specialists responsible for natural resources (water resources, forestry and fire, irrigation and safety of dams), agriculture, (farm, pasture, and range), fish, wildlife and parks and real estate services (land acquisition and disposal land title records office, probate, rights-of-way, and lease/permit). The Deputy Regional Director for Indian Services oversees a staff of specialists responsible for transportation (planning, design, construction, and maintenance) and Indian services (tribal governments, human services, housing improvement).
11 In his fourth book, "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America," award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US. Woodard examined the events of the past four centuries to understand the forces that drive our behaviors across the nation. Woodard describes how the continental USA is comprised of primarily nine nations, since each region throughout the continent has a distinctive history that creates a unique identity — often times resulting in cross-cultural conflicts today. (There are another two nations located in Canada, with some spillover of the Midlands into Ontario). Colonized by settlers from the war-ravaged borderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Greater Appalachia is stereotyped as the land of hillbillies and rednecks.
9 In The Nine Nations of North America written in 1981, Joel Garreau suggests that North America can be divided into nine regions, or "nations", which have distinctive economic and cultural features. He also argues that conventional national and state borders are largely artificial and irrelevant, and that his "nations" provide a more accurate way of understanding the true nature of North American society. Paul Meartz of Mayville State University called it "a classic text on the current regionalization of North America". The mountains of western Colorado are totally alien from the wheat fields of eastern Colorado. And Miami is part not of Florida, but its own watery Caribbean realm. Garreau's book was outstanding in it's time, but it is dated (based on info from the 1970s). An updated versions would be appreciated. For a much more recent book on "nations" in North America, look to Woodard's American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Garreau's book is largely a travelogue while Woodard's book has lots of history. The history of a region helps explain why the region is the way it is now. Unfortunaley, Garreau's dated travelogue only offers some insight into what the "nations" are like now.
2 Jesusland is the slang term for the 30-odd American states that typically vote for Republican candidates. It includes the central and western Red States, as well as the south-central and southeastern states known as the Bible Belt. The term first surfaced in 2004 during the US presidential election, when a satirical map of the country split into Jesusland and its Blue State counterpart, “The United States of Canada,” began to circulate on various online forums, illustrating the split between the parties’ fundamental ideologies. On November 3rd, 2004, the day following the 2004 US Presidential election, G. Webb posted the map in a thread titled “I’ve solved it! – Now the Jesusland watch thread” on YakYak forum, a message board for fans of video game designer Jeff Minter.
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