Subject Material

Geography, Regions and Dialects

Published: 31.08.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017
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Pre-reading

  1. Have you ever been to the United States? Where and when? Share your stories with a partner.
  2. Where would you like to visit? In which part of the country? Which state(s)?
  3. Can you take a guess at approximately how many people live there?
  4. As the country is extremely vast, can you name some similarities and differences that you would find if traveling from one end to the other?

You can find and easy version of the text here: Introduction to the USA – Text in Brief 

USA - Geography  

Colonies to States

The birth of the US goes back to 1776, when 13 British colonies were established on the Atlantic coast. Today it is a federation that consists of fifty states, 48 of them on the mainland. The two last states to be included in 1959 were Alaska and Hawaii, both physically separate from the other states. In addition to the fifty states, the US also consists of Washington DC (District of Colombia), the free Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and some Pacific Islands, like Guam.

Vastness

Vast USA landscape. Photo.USA - vastness    The nation is huge, with enormous distances; it is the third largest country by size in the world (after Russia and Canada) and 30 times the size of Norway. If you were to drive a car the 4,500 km from the eastern to the western coast, it would take you five to six days. A coast-to-coast trip by train takes you three days. From Canada to Mexico it is 2,500 km. In comparison, the distance from Oslo to Paris is 1,600 km.

The landscape, climate and topography can vary even within a short distance. In California, for instance, it does not take long to travel from sun and sea to mountains and snow or to the desert.

The USA has approximately 304 million inhabitants, making its population the world’s third largest (after China and India). The US is also much more sparsely populated than Western Europe. Each American – in theory – has more space than people in Western Europe.

USA. Map. USA   

Geographical Regions

We can divide the nation into the following four main regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South and the West. There are great differences in size and population between the regions.

Although Americans tend to relocate a lot, each region has its own distinct characteristics, especially when it comes to race and cultural background. We also see that people within a region share common values. They share concerns over economic questions, and they identify with the history and traditions of their region. Food is one example of such traditions. Local dishes may vary a lot, from the seafood dishes of coastal states like California, or the Creole dishes of New Orleans, to the piles of steaks devoured by meat-loving Texans.

 

Dialects Vary

Dialects also vary greatly. It is not difficult to recognize the difference between a man from the Northeast, for example a city like Boston, and an American from the Midwestern State of Kansas. In addition, the styles of speaking may be different. Farmers of New England are known for their short, concise sentences, and for being men and women of few words, while others, for example people from the South, often talk in a very slow manner.

Considering the size of the USA, it is easy to understand that people from the Northeast feel closer to Europe than for example Texans might, both as far as news coverage and other forms of culture are concerned. Texans, on their part, have Mexico and other Latin American states as their closest neighbors, and are therefore more heavily influenced by Mexico and Mexican culture.

 

 

Tasks and Activities

True or False?

The USA-Geography, Regions (True or False)    

 

Comprehension

1. How many British colonies were there in 1776?
2. How many states are there in the US?
3. What were the last two states to be added to the federation?
4. What is the difference between Washington DC and Washington?
5. How many times larger is the USA than Norway?
6. Approximately how many inhabitants are there in the USA?
7. What are the four main geographical regions called?
8. Give examples of how these regions are different.

 

Vocabulary

Vocabulary Practice

Make a table with the following words in your text editor and fill it out.

EnglishTranslate into NorwegianMake a sentence using the wordPossible synonym
Approximately   
Similarities   
Federation   
Consists 
   
Comparison   
Topography   
For instance   
Desert   
Inhabitants   
Sparsely   
Tend 
   
Relocate
   
Common values   
Concerns   
Devoured   
Recognize   
Manner
   
Coverage   

 

Synonym Dictionary 

Hide

 

Translation

Copy the paragraph below into your text editor and translate the text into Norwegian.

The birth of the US goes back to 1776, when the first 13 colonies were established on the Atlantic coast. Today it is a federation of fifty states. In addition it includes: Washington DC (District of Colombia), the free Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and some Pacific Islands. It is the third largest country in the world, both in size and number of inhabitants. The nation is divided into four regions which vary in size, population, race, dialects and cultural background.

 

Games

Geography Games  

 

Further Reading

The USA - The Northeast 

The USA - The Midwest  

The South - Historical, Tropical and Flavorful 

The West - Attractive and Tempting Still 

US - Dialects and Accents 

 

 

Tasks

General