Regions of the United States

What Region Is Your State Located in?

A map of U.S. regions.
A map of U.S. regions. There are no boundaries on this map because these regions are of course relative and represent different things to different people. (Map by Matt Rosenberg)

Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.

The United States is composed of many "regions," areas with a common physical or cultural aspect. While there is no official designations regarding which states do or do not fit within each region, there are some generally accepted guidelines.

Also, one particular state may be part of several different regions. For instance, you can assign Kansas as a Midwestern state and just as easily call it a Central state, just as you could call Oregon a Pacific state, a Northwestern state, or a Western state.

A List of the Various Regions of the United States

Atlantic States: The states that border the Atlantic Ocean from Maine in the north to Florida in the South.

Does not include the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, even though it is part of the Atlantic Ocean.

Dixie: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia

Eastern States: States east of the Mississippi River (not used generally with states that lie on the Mississippi River).

Great Lakes Region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

Great Plains States: Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming

Gulf States: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas

Lower 48: The conterminous 48 states; excludes Alaska and Hawaii

Mid-Atlantic States: Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.

Midwest: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

New England: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

Northeast: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

Pacific Northwest: Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington

Pacific States: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

Rocky Mountain States: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming

South Atlantic States: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia

Southern States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

Southwest: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah

Sunbelt: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, Nevada

West Coast: California, Oregon, Washington

Western States: States west of the Mississippi River (not used generally with states that lie on the Mississippi River).

United States Geography


North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico

Geographic coordinates:

38 00 N, 97 00 W

Map references:

North America


total: 9,631,418 sq km
land: 9,161,923 sq km
water: 469,495 sq km
note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia

Area - comparative:

about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; almost two and a half times the size of the European Union

Land boundaries:

total: 12,034 km
border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km
note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba; the base boundary is 29 km


19,924 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified


mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains


vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Death Valley -86 m
highest point: Mount McKinley 6,194 m

Natural resources:

coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber



Natural hazards:

tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the midwest and southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development

Environment - current issues:

air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the US and Canada; the US is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural fresh water resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes

Geography - note:

world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent


Country name:

conventional long form: United States of America
conventional short form: United States
abbreviation: US or USA




Washington, DC



Source: Based on a classification from the Library of Congress

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Rosenberg, Matt. "Regions of the United States." ThoughtCo, Feb. 28, 2017, Rosenberg, Matt. (2017, February 28). Regions of the United States. Retrieved from Rosenberg, Matt. "Regions of the United States." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 17, 2018).