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The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic re ...
comprising the westernmost
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. As American settlement in the U.S.
expanded westward
expanded westward
, the meaning of the term ''the West'' changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the
Appalachian Mountains The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a mountain range, system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians first formed roughly 480 million years ago during the Ordovician, Ordovician Period. They once reache ...

Appalachian Mountains
was seen as the western frontier. test westward and eventually the lands west of the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
were considered the West. The U.S. Census Bureau's definition of the 13 westernmost states includes the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
and the
Great Basin The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the ...
to the Pacific Coast, and the mid-Pacific islands state, Hawaii. To the east of the Western United States is the
Midwestern United States The Midwestern United States, also referred to as the Midwest or the American Midwest, is one of four census regions of the United States Census Bureau (also known as "Region 2"). It occupies the northern central part of the United States. It ...
and the
Southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
, with
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Oce ...

Canada
to the north, and
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to ...

Mexico
to the south. The West contains several major
biome A biome is a collection of flora, plants and fauna, animals that have common characteristics for the natural environment, environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological community (ecology ...
s, including
arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in d ...

arid
and
semi-arid A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables ove ...
plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...

plateau
s and
plain In geography Geography (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...

plain
s, particularly in the
American Southwest The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the Southwest, is a geographic and cultural region of the United States that generally includes Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣona ...
;
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

forest
ed
mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hill, typically rising at least ...

mountain
s, including three major ranges, the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...

Sierra Nevada
, the Cascades, and
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
; the long
coastal The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ...

coastal
shoreline A shore or a shoreline is the fringe of land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consist ...

shoreline
of the American Pacific Coast; and the
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
s of the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western bounded by its coastal waters of the to the west and, loosely, by the to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the U.S. states of , , ...
.


Defining the West

The Western U.S. is the largest region of the country, covering nearly half the land area of the contiguous United States. It is also the most geographically diverse, incorporating geographic regions such as the temperate
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
s of the
Northwest The points of the compass are an evenly spaced set of Vertical and horizontal, horizontal directions (or Azimuth#In navigation, azimuths) used in navigation and geography. A compass rose is primarily composed of four cardinal directions—north, e ...
, the highest mountain ranges (including the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
, the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...
, and the
Cascade Range The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structur ...
), numerous
glaciers A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice Ice is into a state. Depending on the presence of such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less bluish-white color. In the , ice is abunda ...
, and the western edge of the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of in . It is located west of the and east of the , much of it covered in , and . It is the southern and main part of the , which also include the ...
. It also contains the majority of the desert areas located in the United States. The
Mojave Mojave or Mohave most often refers to: *Mojave Desert *Mojave River *Mohave people Mojave or Mohave may also refer to: Places * Fort Mojave Indian Reservation * Mohave County, Arizona * Mohave Valley, a valley in Arizona * Mohave Valley, Arizona, ...

Mojave
and
Great Basin The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the ...
deserts lie entirely within the Western region, along with parts of the
Sonoran
Sonoran
and
Chihuahuan
Chihuahuan
deserts (the latter extends significantly into Texas). Given this expansive and diverse geography it is no wonder the region is difficult to specifically define. Sensing a possible shift in the popular understanding of the West as a region in the early 1990s, historian Walter Nugent conducted a survey of three groups of professionals with ties to the region: a large group of Western historians (187 respondents), and two smaller groups, 25 journalists and publishers and 39 Western authors. A majority of the historian respondents placed the eastern boundary of the West east of the Census definition out on the eastern edge of the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of in . It is located west of the and east of the , much of it covered in , and . It is the southern and main part of the , which also include the ...
or on the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
. The survey respondents as a whole showed just how little agreement there was on the boundaries of the West.


Subregions

The region is split into two smaller units, or divisions, by the U.S. Census Bureau: ;
Mountain states in Wyoming, a subset of the Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch in great-circle distance, straight-line distance from the northernmo ...
:
Montana Montana () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Montana
,
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
,
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
,
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
,
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
,
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
, and
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
;
Pacific states The West Coast of the United States, also known as the Pacific Coast, Pacific states, and the western seaboard, is the coastline along which the Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. The term typically refers to the Contiguous United ...
:
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
,
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
,
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
, and
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
Other classifications distinguish between
Southwest The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...
and
Northwest The points of the compass are an evenly spaced set of Vertical and horizontal, horizontal directions (or Azimuth#In navigation, azimuths) used in navigation and geography. A compass rose is primarily composed of four cardinal directions—north, e ...
. Arizona, New Mexico,
West Texas West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the desert climate, arid and semi-arid climate, semiarid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Texas, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Texas, ...
, and the
Oklahoma panhandle The Oklahoma Panhandle (previously called No Man's Land and the Neutral Strip) is the extreme northwestern region of the U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. o ...

Oklahoma panhandle
are typically considered to be the Southwest states. Meanwhile, the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington can be considered part of the Northwest or
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western bounded by its coastal waters of the to the west and, loosely, by the to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the U.S. states of , , ...
. The term
West CoastWest Coast or west coast may refer to: Geography Australia * Western Australia *Regions of South Australia#Weather forecasting, West Coast of South Australia * West Coast, Tasmania **West Coast Range, mountain range in the region Canada * British ...
is commonly used to refer to just California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, whereas Hawaii is more geographically isolated from the continental U.S. and do not necessarily fit in any of these
subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth an ...
s.


Outlying areas

The three inhabited
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific
U.S. territories The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all ...
(
American Samoa American Samoa ( sm, Amerika Sāmoa, ; also ' or ') is an unincorporated territory of the United States Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a countr ...

American Samoa
,
Guam Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an in the subregion of the western . It is the and territory of the United States (reckoned from the ); in , it is the largest and southernmost of the and the largest island in Micronesia. Guam's capital is , and t ...

Guam
and the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
) are sometimes considered part of the Western United States. American Samoa is in
Polynesia Polynesia (, ; from grc, πολύς "many" and grc, νῆσος "island") ( to, Faka-Polinisia; mi, Porinihia; haw, Polenekia; fj, Kai-Polinesia; sm, Polenisia; rar, Porinetia; ty, Pōrīnetia; tvl, Polenisia; tkl, Polenihia) is a ...

Polynesia
in the
South Pacific Ocean South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germa ...
, while Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are in the
Mariana Islands The Mariana Islands (; also the Marianas; in ChamorroChamorro may refer to: * Chamorro language, an Austronesian language indigenous to The Marianas * Chamorro people, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific * Chamorr ...
in the western
North Pacific Ocean North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating Direction (geometry), direction or geography. Etymology Th ...
. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands have district courts within the 9th Circuit, which includes western states such as California and Nevada. (See
District Court of Guam The District Court of Guam (in case citations, D. Guam) is a United States territorial court with jurisdiction over the United States territory In the United States, a territory is any extent of region under the sovereign Sovereign is a title whi ...
and District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands). American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands are also considered part of the western U.S. by the
U.S. National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mecha ...
, the
Federal Reserve Bank A Federal Reserve Bank is a regional bank of the Federal Reserve System The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve or simply the Fed) is the central bank A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an ...
system,
FEMA The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the U.S. The United States of America (USA), commonly known ...

FEMA
, and the
USGS The United States Geological Survey, abbreviated USGS and formerly simply known as the Geological Survey, is a scientific agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, a ...
.


Demographics

The population distribution by race in the Western United States (2010): * 66.4%
Non-Hispanic Whites Non-Hispanic Whites (also referred to as Anglo-Americans)Mish, Frederic C., Editor in Chief ''Webster's Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary'' Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A.:1994--Merriam-Webster See original definition (definition #1) of ''Anglo'' ...
* 28.6% were
Hispanic or Latino The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano or ) refers to people, cultures, or countries related to Spain, the Hispanidad, Spanish language, Spanish culture, culture, or Spanish people, people. The term commonly applies to countries with a cultural and ...
(of any race) * 9.3%
Asian Asian may refer to: * Items from or related to the continent of Asia: ** Asian people, people in or descending from Asia ** Asian culture, the culture of the people from Asia ** Asian cuisine, food based on the style of food of the people from Asi ...
* 4.8%
Black Black is a color which results from the absence or complete absorption of visible light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be visual perception, perceived by t ...
or
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that ...
* 1.9% American Indian or
Alaska Native Alaska Natives or Alaskan Natives are indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a particular p ...
* 12.4% Some other race As defined by the
United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, ...
, the Western
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic re ...

region
of the United States includes 13 states, with a total 2020 population of 78,588,572. The West is one of the most sparsely settled areas in the United States with 49.5 inhabitants per square mile (19/km2). Only
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
with 78.0 inhabitants/sq mi. (30/km2),
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
with 86.0 inhabitants/sq mi. (33/km2), and
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
with 213.4 inhabitants/sq mi. (82/km2) exceed the national average of 77.98 inhabitants/sq mi. (30/km2). The entire Western region has also been strongly influenced by
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European
,
Hispanic or Latino The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano or ) refers to people, cultures, or countries related to Spain, the Hispanidad, Spanish language, Spanish culture, culture, or Spanish people, people. The term commonly applies to countries with a cultural and ...
,
Asian Asian may refer to: * Items from or related to the continent of Asia: ** Asian people, people in or descending from Asia ** Asian culture, the culture of the people from Asia ** Asian cuisine, food based on the style of food of the people from Asi ...
and
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
; it contains the largest number of minorities in the U.S. While most of the studies of racial dynamics in America such as riots in
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
have been written about
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European
and
African-Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from othe ...
, in many cities in the West and
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
,
whites White is a racialized classification of people and a skin color Afghan children with fair skin Human skin color ranges from the darkest brown to the lightest hues. Differences in skin color among individuals is caused by variation in p ...
and blacks together are less than half the population because of the preference for the region by
Hispanics The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano or ) refers to people, cultures, or countries related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazon ...
and
Asians Asian people (or Asiatic people)United States National Library of Medicine. Medical Subject Headings. 2004. November 17, 200Nlm.nih.gov: ''Asian Continental Ancestry Group'' is also used for categorical purposes. are the people A peopl ...
.
African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethnic groups ...
and
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European
Americans, however, continue to wield a stronger political influence because of the lower rates of citizenship and voting among
Asians Asian people (or Asiatic people)United States National Library of Medicine. Medical Subject Headings. 2004. November 17, 200Nlm.nih.gov: ''Asian Continental Ancestry Group'' is also used for categorical purposes. are the people A peopl ...
and
Hispanics The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano or ) refers to people, cultures, or countries related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazon ...
. The West also contains much of the
Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
population in the U.S., particularly in the large in the
Mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hill, typically rising at least ...
and Desert States. The largest concentrations for
African-Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from othe ...
in the West can be found in
San Diego San Diego ( , ; ) is a city in the U.S. state of California on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexico–United States border, Mexican border. With a 2020 population of 1,386,932, San Diego is the List of United ...

San Diego
,
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
,
Oakland Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public ad ...
,
Sacramento ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = Location within Sacramento ...

Sacramento
, ,
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in the U.S. state of California. Located in Northern Califo ...

San Francisco
,
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washington, King County, Washington (state), Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the largest city in bo ...

Seattle
,
Tacoma Tacoma ( ) is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tier ...
, ,
Las Vegas Las Vegas (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambi ...

Las Vegas
,
Denver Denver () is a consolidated city and county, the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more forma ...

Denver
, and
Colorado Springs The City of Colorado Springs is the List of cities and towns in Colorado#Home rule municipality, Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the List of cities and towns in Colorado, most populous municipality of El Paso County, Colorado, ...
. The Western United States has a higher
sex ratio The sex ratio is the ratio In mathematics, a ratio indicates how many times one number contains another. For example, if there are eight oranges and six lemons in a bowl of fruit, then the ratio of oranges to lemons is eight to six (that is, 8 ...

sex ratio
(more
male Male (symbol: ♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete (sex cell) known as sperm, which fuses with the larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male organism cannot sexual reproduction, reproduce sexually ...

male
s than
female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex Sex is either of two divisions, typically male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of ...

female
s) than any other region in the United States. Because the tide of development had not yet reached most of the West when
conservation Conservation is the preservation or efficient use of resources, or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. Conservation may also refer to: Environment and natural resources * Nature conservation, the protection and manageme ...
became a national issue, agencies of the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
own and manage vast areas of land. (The most important among these are the
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mecha ...
and the
Bureau of Land Management The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the responsible for administering . Headquartered in and with oversight over , it governs one eighth of the country's landmass. President created the BLM in 1946 by combining two ex ...
within the
Interior Department An interior ministry (sometimes called ministry of internal affairs or ministry of home affairs) is a government ministry responsible for internal affairs, particularly public security, emergency management, civil registration and identification ...
, and the U.S. Forest Service within the Agriculture Department.)
National park#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state dec ...

National park
s are reserved for recreational activities such as
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, ...

fishing
,
camping Camping is an outdoor activity Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time spent away f ...

camping
,
hiking Hiking is a long, vigorous walk Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of terrestrial locomotion among legged animals. Walking is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendu ...

hiking
, and
boating s are recreational boats Boating is the leisurely activity of travelling by boat A boat is a watercraft of a large range of types and sizes, but generally smaller than a ship, which is distinguished by its larger size, shape, cargo or passen ...

boating
, but other government lands also allow commercial activities like
ranch A ranch (from es, rancho) is an area of landscape, land, including various structures, given primarily to ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep. It is a subtype of a farm. These terms are most often appl ...
ing,
logging Logging is the process of cutting, processing, and moving trees to a location for transport. It may include skidder, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or trunk (botany), logs onto logging truck, trucks or flatcar#Skeleton car, s ...

logging
, and
mining Mining is the extraction of valuable mineral In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure that occu ...

mining
. In recent years, some local residents who earn their livelihoods on federal land have come into conflict with the land's managers, who are required to keep land use within environmentally acceptable limits. The largest city in the region is
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
, located on the
West CoastWest Coast or west coast may refer to: Geography Australia * Western Australia *Regions of South Australia#Weather forecasting, West Coast of South Australia * West Coast, Tasmania **West Coast Range, mountain range in the region Canada * British ...
. Other
West CoastWest Coast or west coast may refer to: Geography Australia * Western Australia *Regions of South Australia#Weather forecasting, West Coast of South Australia * West Coast, Tasmania **West Coast Range, mountain range in the region Canada * British ...
cities include
San Diego San Diego ( , ; ) is a city in the U.S. state of California on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexico–United States border, Mexican border. With a 2020 population of 1,386,932, San Diego is the List of United ...

San Diego
,
San Bernardino San Bernardino (; Spanish for "Saint Bernardino") is a city located in the Inland Empire region of Southern California Southern California (popularly known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally ...
, San Jose,
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in the U.S. state of California. Located in Northern Califo ...

San Francisco
,
Oakland Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public ad ...
,
Bakersfield Bakersfield is a charter city in Kern County, California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of ...
, ,
Sacramento ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = Location within Sacramento ...

Sacramento
,
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washington, King County, Washington (state), Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the largest city in bo ...

Seattle
,
Tacoma Tacoma ( ) is a mid-sized urban port city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative centerAn administrative centre is a seat of regional administration or local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tier ...
,
Anchorage Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; : ) is a unified municipal in the U.S. state of , on the . With an estimated 288,000 residents in 2019, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains nearly 40% of the state's popula ...
, and - some of which are dozens of miles inland. Prominent cities in the
Mountain States in Wyoming, a subset of the Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch in great-circle distance, straight-line distance from the northernmo ...
include
Denver Denver () is a consolidated city and county, the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more forma ...

Denver
,
Colorado Springs The City of Colorado Springs is the List of cities and towns in Colorado#Home rule municipality, Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the List of cities and towns in Colorado, most populous municipality of El Paso County, Colorado, ...
, ,
Tucson Tucson (; es, Tucsón; O'odham The O'odham peoples, including the Tohono O'odham, the Pima Pima or PIMA may refer to: Places * Pima, Arizona, a town in Graham County * Pima County, Arizona * Pima Canyon, in the Santa Catalina Mountains * Pim ...
, Albuquerque,
Las Vegas Las Vegas (; Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambi ...

Las Vegas
,
Salt Lake City Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or c ...

Salt Lake City
,
Boise Boise () is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowercas ...

Boise
,
El Paso El Paso (; "the pass") is a city and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2019 population estimate for the city from the 2010 United States Census, U.S. Census was 681,728, making it ...

El Paso
, and Billings.


Natural geography

Along the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
coast lie the
Coast Ranges The Pacific Coast Ranges (officially gazetted as the Pacific Mountain System in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, prim ...
, which, while not approaching the scale of the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
, are formidable nevertheless. They collect a large part of the airborne moisture moving in from the ocean. East of the Coast Ranges lie several cultivated fertile
valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by erosion of the land surface by rivers or streams over a ...

valley
s, notably the San Joaquin and
Sacramento ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = Location within Sacramento ...
valleys of
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
and the
Willamette Valley The Willamette Valley () is a long valley in Oregon Oregon () is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the List ...
of
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
. Beyond the valleys lie the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...
in the south and the
Cascade Range The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structur ...
in the north.
Mount Whitney Mount Whitney ( Paiute: ''Too-man-i-goo-yah'') is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states (plus the District of C ...
, at the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states, is in the
Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada () is a mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and align ...
. The Cascades are also volcanic.
Mount Rainier Mount Rainier (), also known as Tahoma,Tacoma or Tacobet, is a large active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, located in Mount Rainier National Park about south-southeast of Seattle. With a summit elevation of , it is ...

Mount Rainier
, a volcano in
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, is also over .
Mount St. Helens Mount St. Helens (known as Lawetlat'la to the Indigenous Cowlitz people The term Cowlitz people covers two culturally and linguistically distinct indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest; the Lower Cowlitz or Cowlitz proper, and th ...

Mount St. Helens
, a volcano in the Cascades erupted explosively in 1980. A major volcanic eruption at
Mount Mazama Mount Mazama (''Giiwas'' in the Native American language Klamath language, Klamath) is a complex volcano in the state of Oregon, United States, in a segment of the Cascade Volcanoes, Cascade Volcanic Arc and Cascade Range. Most of the mountain ...
around 4860 BC formed
Crater Lake Crater Lake (Klamath language, Klamath: ''Giiwas'') is a Volcanic crater lake, crater lake in south-central Oregon in the western United States. It is the main feature of Crater Lake National Park and is famous for its deep blue color and water ...

Crater Lake
. These mountain ranges see heavy precipitation, capturing most of the moisture that remains after the Coast Ranges, and creating a
rain shadow A rain shadow is an area of significantly reduced rain Rain is liquid water in the form of drop (liquid), droplets that have condensation, condensed from atmosphere, atmospheric water vapor and then precipitation (meteorology), become he ...

rain shadow
to the east forming vast stretches of arid land. These dry areas encompass much of
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
, and
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
. The
Mojave Desert The Mojave Desert ( ; mov, Hayikwiir Mat'aar) is a xeric Deserts and xeric shrublands are a biome A biome is a collection of plants Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a ...

Mojave Desert
and
Sonoran Desert The Sonoran Desert ( es, Desierto de Sonora) is a North American desert and ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=n ...

Sonoran Desert
along with other deserts are found here. Beyond the deserts lie the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
. In the north, they run almost immediately east of the
Cascade Range The Cascade Range or Cascades is a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structur ...
, so that the desert region is only a few miles wide by the time one reaches the Canada–US border. are hundreds of miles (kilometers) wide, and run uninterrupted from
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
to
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
. The Rocky Mountain Region is the highest overall area of the United States, with an average elevation of above . The tallest peaks of , 54 of which are over , are found in central and western
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
. East of the Rocky Mountains is the Great Plains, the western portions (for example, the eastern half of Colorado) of which are generally considered to be part of the western United States. The West has several long rivers that empty into the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
, while the eastern rivers run into the
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an ocean basin 400px, Diagrammatic cross-section of an ocean basin, showing the various geographic features In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek: wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning ...

Gulf of Mexico
. The
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
forms the easternmost possible boundary for the West today. The
Missouri River The Missouri River is the longest river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its cours ...
, a tributary of the
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...

Mississippi
, flows from its headwaters in the
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
eastward across the
Great Plains The Great Plains (french: Grandes Plaines), sometimes simply "the Plains", is a broad expanse of in . It is located west of the and east of the , much of it covered in , and . It is the southern and main part of the , which also include the ...
, a vast grassy plateau, before sloping gradually down to the forests and hence to the
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...

Mississippi
. The
Colorado River The Colorado River ( es, Río Colorado) is one of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The river drains an expansive, arid drainage basin, watershed that encompasses parts of ...

Colorado River
snakes through the
Mountain states in Wyoming, a subset of the Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch in great-circle distance, straight-line distance from the northernmo ...
, at one point forming the
Grand Canyon The Grand Canyon (, yuf-x-yav, Wi:kaʼi:la, , ) is a steep-sided canyon A canyon (; archaic British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West G ...

Grand Canyon
. The
Colorado River The Colorado River ( es, Río Colorado) is one of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The river drains an expansive, arid drainage basin, watershed that encompasses parts of ...

Colorado River
is a major source of water in the Southwest and many dams, such as the
Hoover Dam Hoover Dam is a in the of the , on the border between the U.S. states of and . It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President . Its construction was the result of a massive ef ...

Hoover Dam
, form reservoirs along it. So much water is drawn for drinking water throughout the West and irrigation in
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
that in most years, water from the
Colorado River The Colorado River ( es, Río Colorado) is one of the principal rivers (along with the Rio Grande) in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The river drains an expansive, arid drainage basin, watershed that encompasses parts of ...

Colorado River
no longer reaches the
Gulf of California The Gulf of California ( es, :es:Golfo de California, Golfo de California), also known as the Sea of Cortés (''Mar de Cortés'') or Sea of Cortez, or less commonly as the Vermilion Sea (''Mar Bermejo''), is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean t ...

Gulf of California
. The
Columbia River The Columbia River (Upper Chinook Upper Chinook, endonym Kiksht, also known as Columbia Chinook, and Wasco-Wishram after its last surviving dialect, is a recently extinct language of the US Pacific Northwest. It had 69 speakers in 1990, of w ...

Columbia River
, the largest river in volume flowing into the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents o ...

Pacific Ocean
from
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
, and its tributary, the
Snake River The Snake River is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest region in the United States. At long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Snake Ri ...

Snake River
, water the Pacific Northwest. The runs through
Nebraska Nebraska () is a in the region of the . It is bordered by to the north; to the east and to the southeast, both across the ; to the south; to the southwest; and to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state. Indigenous pe ...

Nebraska
and was known for being a mile (2 km) wide but only a half-inch (1 cm) deep. The
Rio Grande The Rio Grande ( and ), known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte and as the Río Bravo, is one of the principal river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another riv ...

Rio Grande
forms the border between
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
and
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to ...

Mexico
before turning due north and splitting
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
in half. According to the
United States Coast Guard The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the maritime security, search and rescue, and maritime law enforcement, law enforcement military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the country's eight Uniformed services ...
, "The Western Rivers System consists of the
Mississippi Mississippi () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; a ...

Mississippi
,
Ohio Ohio () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

Ohio
,
Missouri Missouri is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...
,
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a in the region of the . Of the fifty U.S. states, it has the , population, and the . is the state's largest city and the fifth with the capital in , located in the center of the state; other major metropolitan areas in ...
,
Tennessee Tennessee (, ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The S ...

Tennessee
,
Cumberland Cumberland ( ) is a historic county of North West England North West England is one of nine official and consists of the of , , , and . The North West had a population of 7,052,000 in 2011. It is the in the United Kingdom, after the ...
,
Arkansas Arkansas () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegihan languages, Dhegiha Siouan la ...
, and White Rivers and their tributaries, and certain other rivers that flow towards the
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an ocean basin 400px, Diagrammatic cross-section of an ocean basin, showing the various geographic features In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek: wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning ...

Gulf of Mexico
." The Ohio River portion of the system includes parts of several Atlantic coastal states, from Georgia to New York.


Climate and agriculture

Most of the public land held by the U.S. National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management is in the Western states. Public lands account for 25 to 75 percent of the total land area in these states. The climate of the West is
semi-arid A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables ove ...
, yet parts of the region get high amounts of rain or snow. Other parts are true desert which receive less than of rain per year. The climate is unstable, as areas that are normally wet can be very dry for years and vice versa. The seasonal temperatures vary greatly throughout the West. Low elevations on the
West CoastWest Coast or west coast may refer to: Geography Australia * Western Australia *Regions of South Australia#Weather forecasting, West Coast of South Australia * West Coast, Tasmania **West Coast Range, mountain range in the region Canada * British ...
have warm summers and mild winters with little to no snow. The
desert southwest The southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the Southwest, is a geographic and cultural region of the United States that generally includes Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak ...
has very hot summers and mild winters. While the mountains in the southwest receive generally large amounts of snow. The
Inland Northwest The Inland Northwest, historically and alternatively known as the Inland Empire, is a region of the American Northwest centered on the Greater Spokane Area, that includes all of Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Northeastern Oregon and Western ...
has a continental climate of warm to hot summers and cold to bitterly cold winters. Annual rainfall is greater in the eastern portions, gradually tapering off until reaching the Pacific Coast where it increases again. In fact, the greatest annual rainfall in the United States falls in the coastal regions of the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western bounded by its coastal waters of the to the west and, loosely, by the to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the U.S. states of , , ...
. Drought is much more common in the West than the rest of the United States. The driest place recorded in the U.S. is Death Valley, California. Violent thunderstorms occur east of the Rocky Mountains, Rockies. Tornadoes occur every spring on the southern plains, with the most common and most destructive centered on Tornado Alley, which covers eastern portions of the West, (
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
to North Dakota), and all states in between and to the east. Agriculture varies depending on rainfall, irrigation, soil, elevation, and temperature extremes. The arid regions generally support only livestock grazing, chiefly beef cattle. The ''Corn Belt, wheat belt'' extends from
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
through The Dakotas, producing most of the wheat and soybeans in the U.S. and exporting more to the rest of the world. Irrigation in the
Southwest The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...
allows the growth of great quantities of fruits, nuts, and vegetables as well as grain, hay, and flowers.
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
is a major cattle and sheep raising area, as well as the nation's largest producer of cotton.
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
is famous for its apples, and
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
for its potatoes.
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
and
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
are major producers of citrus crops, although growing metropolitan sprawl is absorbing much of this land. Many varieties of New Mexico chile, chile peppers are grown in the valleys of
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
. Starting in 1902, Congress passed a series of acts authorizing the establishment of the United States Bureau of Reclamation to oversee water development projects in seventeen western states. During the first half of the 20th century, dams and irrigation projects provided water for rapid agricultural growth throughout the West and brought prosperity for several states, where agriculture had previously only been subsistence level. Following World War II, the West's cities experienced an economic and population boom. The population growth, mostly in the
Southwest The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...
states of
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
,
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
,
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
, and
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
, has strained water and power resources, with water diverted from agricultural uses to major population centers, such as the Las Vegas Valley and
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
.


Geology

Plains make up much of the eastern portion of the West, underlain with sedimentary rock from the Upper Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. The
Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similari ...

Rocky Mountains
expose igneous and metamorphic rock both from the Precambrian and from the Phanerozoic eon. The Inter-mountain States and
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western bounded by its coastal waters of the to the west and, loosely, by the to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the U.S. states of , , ...
have huge expanses of volcanic rock from the Cenozoic era. Salt pan (geology), Salt flats and salt lakes reveal a time when the great inland seas covered much of what is now the West. The Pacific states are the most geologically active areas in the United States. Earthquakes cause damage every few to several years in
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
. While the
Pacific states The West Coast of the United States, also known as the Pacific Coast, Pacific states, and the western seaboard, is the coastline along which the Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. The term typically refers to the Contiguous United ...
are the most volcanically active areas, extinct volcanoes and lava flows are found throughout most of the West.


History

The Western United States has been populated by
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
since at least 11,000 years ago, when the first Paleo-Indians arrived. Pre-Columbian trade routes to kingdoms and empires such as the Mound Builders existed in places such as Yellowstone National Park since around 1000 AD. Major settlement of the western territories developed rapidly in the 1840s, largely through the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush of 1849.
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
experienced such a rapid growth in a few short months that it was admitted to statehood in 1850 without the normal transitory phase of becoming an official territory. One of the largest migrations in American history occurred in the 1840s as the List of denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement, Latter Day Saints left the Midwestern United States, Midwest to build a theocracy in
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
. Both Omaha, Nebraska and St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri laid claim to the title, "Gateway to the West" during this period. Omaha, Nebraska, Omaha, home to the Union Pacific Railroad and the Mormon Trail, made its fortunes on outfitting settlers; St. Louis built itself upon the vast fur trade in the West before its settlement. The 1850s were marked by political battles over the expansion of slavery into the western territories, Origins of the American Civil War (2/4)#The question of slavery in the West, issues leading to the Civil War. The history of the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has acquired a cultural mythos in the literature and cinema of the United States. The image of the cowboy, the Homestead Act, homesteader, and Manifest destiny, westward expansion took real events and transmuted them into a myth of the west which has shaped much of American popular culture since the late 19th century. Writers as diverse as Bret Harte and Zane Grey celebrated or derided cowboy culture, while artists such as Frederic Remington created Art of Europe, western art as a method of recording the expansion into the west. The Cinema of the United States, American cinema, in particular, created the genre of the Western (genre), western movie, which, in many cases, use the West as a metaphor for the virtue of self-reliance and an American ethos. The contrast between the romanticism of culture about the West and the actuality of the history of the westward expansion has been a theme of late 20th and early 21st century scholarship about the West. Cowboy culture has become embedded in the American experience as a common cultural touchstone, and modern forms as diverse as country and western music have celebrated the sense of isolation and independence of spirit inspired by the frontiersmen on "virgin land".


20th century

The advent of the automobile enabled the average American to tour the West. Western businessmen promoted U.S. Route 66, Route 66 as a means to bring tourism and industry to the West. In the 1950s, representatives from all the western states built the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center to showcase western culture and greet travelers from the Eastern United States, East. During the latter half of the 20th century, several transcontinental interstate highways crossed the West bringing more trade and tourists from the East. Oil boom towns in
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
and Oklahoma rivaled the old mining camps for their rawness and wealth. The Dust Bowl forced children of the original homesteaders even further west. The movies became America's chief entertainment source featuring western fiction, later the community of Hollywood in
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
became the headquarters of the mass media such as radio and television production. History of California 1900–present, California has emerged as the most populous state and one of the top 10 economies in the world. Massive late 19th–20th century population and settlement booms created two megalopolis areas of the Greater Los Angeles/Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area/Northern California regions, one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas and in the top 25 largest urban areas in the world. Four more metropolitan areas of
San Bernardino San Bernardino (; Spanish for "Saint Bernardino") is a city located in the Inland Empire region of Southern California Southern California (popularly known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally ...
-Riverside, California, Riverside,
San Diego San Diego ( , ; ) is a city in the U.S. state of California on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and immediately adjacent to the Mexico–United States border, Mexican border. With a 2020 population of 1,386,932, San Diego is the List of United ...

San Diego
,
Denver Denver () is a consolidated city and county, the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more forma ...

Denver
, , and
Seattle Seattle ( ) is a port, seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the county seat, seat of King County, Washington, King County, Washington (state), Washington. With a 2020 population of 737,015, it is the largest city in bo ...

Seattle
have over a million residents, while the three fastest growing metro areas were the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, the Las Vegas Valley, Las Vegas metropolitan area; and the Portland metropolitan area. Since the mid-1970s, historians of the West have emphasized the World War II years as a major watershed, as a region experienced enormous social and economic change, and became the pacesetter for societal evolution. The population soared, especially in metropolitan areas, as a result of massive expansion of the manufacture of airplanes, ships and munitions and of military and Naval training facilities. California upgraded universities to world-class status, intensified scientific research, and expanded infrastructure. After the war millions more migrated using the GI Bill to buy suburban homes, many of them recalling rewarding wartime experience in military training facilities. The region had always been more democratic with greater racial and gender equality, and continued as a national pacesetter in modernization. New problems emerged, especially environmental issues where westerners took the lead in areas such as the allocation of scarce water resources as well as dealing with smog and air pollution. More recently historians have looked at nuances, pointing out that some of the trends began before 1941. Los Angeles has the largest Mexican Americans, Mexican population outside of
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to ...

Mexico
, while
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in the U.S. state of California. Located in Northern Califo ...

San Francisco
has the largest Chinese Americans, Chinese community in
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
and also has a large LGBT community, and Oakland, California has a large percentage of residents being
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that ...
, as well as Long Beach, California which also has a significant black community. The state of
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
has a Mormons, Mormon majority (estimated at 62.4% in 2004), while some cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico; Billings, Montana; Spokane, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona are located near Indian Reservations. In remote areas there are settlements of Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians.


Culture

Facing both the Pacific Ocean and the Mexico, Mexican border, the West has been shaped by a variety of ethnic groups.
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
is the only state in the union in which Asian Americans outnumber White Americans, white American residents. Asians from many countries have settled in
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
and other coastal states in several waves of immigration since the 19th century, contributing to the Gold rush, the building of the transcontinental railroad, agriculture, and more recently, high technology. The border states—
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
,
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
,
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
, and
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
—and other southwestern states such as
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
, and
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
all have large Hispanic populations, and the many Spanish language, Spanish place names attest to their history as former Spanish and Mexican territories. Mexican Americans, Mexican-Americans have also had a growing population in Northwestern states of
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
and
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, as well as the southern states of
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
and Oklahoma. In the Pacific states, the wide areas filled with small towns, farms, and forests are supplemented by a few big port cities which have evolved into world centers for the media and technology industries. Now the second largest city in the nation,
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
is best known as the home of the Hollywood film industry; the area around
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
also was a major center for the aerospace industry by World War II, though Boeing, located in Washington (state), Washington state would lead the aerospace industry. Fueled by the growth of
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; xgf, Tovaangar; es, Los Ángeles, , ), commonly referred to by the L.A., is the in . With a 2020 population of 3,898,747, it is the in the , following . Los Angeles is known for its , ethnic and cultural diversity, a ...

Los Angeles
, as well as the San Francisco Bay area, including Silicon Valley, the center of America's high tech industry,
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
has become the most populous of all the 50 states.
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
—the northernmost state in the Union—is a vast land of few people, many of them native, and of great stretches of wilderness, protected in national parks and wildlife refuges. Hawaii's location makes it a major gateway between the United States and Asia, as well as a center for tourism.
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
and
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
have also seen rapid growth with the rise of Boeing and Microsoft along with agriculture and resource based industries. The desert and mountain states have relatively low population densities, and developed as ranching and mining areas which are only recently becoming urbanized. Most of them have highly individualistic cultures, and have worked to balance the interests of urban development, recreation, and the environment. Culturally distinctive points include the large Mormons, Mormon population in the Mormon Corridor, including southeastern
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
, Northern
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
, and
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
; the extravagant casino resort towns of Las Vegas Valley, Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, Reno,
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
; and the numerous American Indian tribal reservations.


Major metropolitan areas

These are the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with a population above 500,000 in the 13 Western states. Population estimates are as of July 1, 2015 as defined by the
United States Census Bureau The United States Census Bureau (USCB), officially the Bureau of the Census, is a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System, responsible for producing data about the American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, ...
:


Other population centers

* The MSA of
El Paso El Paso (; "the pass") is a city and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2019 population estimate for the city from the 2010 United States Census, U.S. Census was 681,728, making it ...

El Paso
, although belonging to
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish language, Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, ...

Texas
, considered part of the
Southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
, it is sometimes also considered part of the Western United States. Its estimated population in July 2015 was 838,972. * The largest MSA in
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
is
Anchorage Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; : ) is a unified municipal in the U.S. state of , on the . With an estimated 288,000 residents in 2019, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains nearly 40% of the state's popula ...
; it has an estimated population of 399,790, as of July 2015. * In the outlying areas of the Western United States, the largest population centers are Tafuna in
American Samoa American Samoa ( sm, Amerika Sāmoa, ; also ' or ') is an unincorporated territory of the United States Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a countr ...

American Samoa
; Dededo, Guam, Dededo in
Guam Guam (; ch, Guåhan ) is an in the subregion of the western . It is the and territory of the United States (reckoned from the ); in , it is the largest and southernmost of the and the largest island in Micronesia. Guam's capital is , and t ...

Guam
; and Saipan in the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
.


Politics

The region's distance from historical centers of power in the East, and the celebrated "frontier spirit" of its settlers offer two clichés for explaining the region's independent, heterogeneous politics. Historically, the West was the first region to see widespread Women's suffrage in the United States, women's suffrage, with women casting votes in
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
and
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
as early as 1870, five decades before the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 19th Amendment was ratified by the nation.
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
birthed both the Right to property, property rights and conservation movements, and spawned such phenomena as the California Proposition 13 (1978), Taxpayer Revolt and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. It has also produced three presidents: Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. The prevalence of Libertarianism, libertarian political attitudes is widespread. For example, the majority of Western states have legalized medicinal marijuana (all but
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
and
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
) and some forms of gambling (except
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
);
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
,
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, and
Montana Montana () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Montana
have legalized Assisted suicide, physician-assisted suicide; most rural counties in
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
allow licensed brothels, and voters in
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
,
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
,
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
,
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
, and
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
have legalized recreational use of marijuana.
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
,
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
,
Colorado Colorado (, other variants) is a state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It encompasses most of the Southern Rocky Mountains, as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the weste ...

Colorado
,
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
and
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
lean toward the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party. In recent times, as seen in the 2020 United States presidential election,
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
&
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
are also beginning to lean towards the Democratic Party as well.
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a cultural, commercial, and financial center in the U.S. state of California. Located in Northern Califo ...

San Francisco
's two main political parties are the Green Party and the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party. One of the Democratic leaders of the Congress is from the region: Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
.
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
and most
Mountain states in Wyoming, a subset of the Rocky Mountains The Rocky Mountains, also known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch in great-circle distance, straight-line distance from the northernmo ...
are more Republican Party (United States), Republican, with
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
,
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
,
Montana Montana () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Montana
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
, and
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
being Republican strongholds, and
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
and Arizona being swing states. The state of
Nevada Nevada (, ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

Nevada
is considered a political bellwether, having correctly voted for every president except twice (in 1976 and 2016) since 1912.
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
too is considered a bellwether, having voted for the popular vote winner in every presidential election since statehood, except in 1976. The state of
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Arizona
has been won by the Republican presidential candidate in every election except three times since 1948, but in 2020 Arizona voted Democratic. Also, in 2018 and 2020, the GOP lost both Arizona Senate seats to the Democrats. The states of
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
,
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
, and
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
have been won by the Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1964.
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
,
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
, and
Utah Utah ( , ) is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bordered to its east by Colorado, to its northeast by Wyoming, to its north by Idaho, to its so ...

Utah
have been some of the country's most Republican states. As the fastest-growing demographic group, after Asian people, Asians, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Latinos are hotly contested by both parties. Immigration is an important political issue for this group. Backlash against undocumented immigrants led to the passage of California Proposition 187 in 1994, a ballot initiative which would have denied many public services to them. Association of this proposal with California Republicans, especially incumbent governor Pete Wilson, drove many Hispanic voters to the Democrats. The following table shows the breakdown of party affiliation of governors, attorneys general, state legislative houses, and U.S. congressional delegation for the Western states, . The following table shows the breakdown of party affiliation of governors, attorneys general, state legislative houses, and U.S. congressional delegation for the outlying areas of the Western United States, .


Health

The Western United States consistently ranks well in health measures. The rate of potentially preventable hospitalizations in the Western United States was consistently lower than other regions from 2005 to 2011. While the proportion of maternal or neonatal hospital stays was higher in the Western United States relative to other regions, the proportion of medical stays in hospitals was lower than in other regions in 2012.


See also

* Autry Museum of the American West * California cuisine * High Country News * History of the Jews in the American West * History of the west coast of North America * Intermountain West * New Mexican cuisine * Professional sports in the Western United States * Sunset (magazine), Sunset magazine * Territories of the United States on stamps * West Coast hip hop * Western Canada * Wildfires_in_the_United_States#Western_U.S._wildfire_trends, Western US wildfire trends * List of residences of Presidents of the United States#Western White House, Western White House


References


Notes


Further reading

* Abbott, Carl. ''How cities won the West: Four centuries of urban change in western North America'' (U New Mexico Press, 2008). * Avella, Steven M. "Catholicism in the twentieth-century American West: The next frontier." ''Catholic historical review'' 97.2 (2011): 219–249. * Beck, Warren A., Haase, Ynez D.; ''Historical Atlas of the American West''. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989. * Brilliant, Mark and David M. Kennedy, eds. ''World War II and the West It Wrought'' (2020
excerpt
* Everett, Derek R. ''Creating the American West: Boundaries and Borderlands.'' Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014. * González, Jesús Ángel. "New Frontiers for Post-Western Cinema: Frozen River, Sin Nombre, Winter's Bone." ''Western American Literature'' 50.1 (2015): 51–76. * Lamar, Howard. ''The New Encyclopedia of the American West.'' (Yale UP, 1998). * Lamont, Victoria. "Big books wanted: women and western American literature in the twenty-first century." ''Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers'' 31.2 (2014): 311-32
online
* Lehan, Richard. ''Quest West: American Intellectual and Cultural Transformations'' (LSU Press, 2014). * Milner II, Clyde A; O'Connor, Carol A.; Sandweiss, Martha A. ''The Oxford History of the American West.'' Oxford University Press, 1994. * Phillips, Charles; Axlerod, Alan; editor. ''The Encyclopedia of the American West.'' New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. * Pomeroy, Earl. ''The American Far West in the Twentieth Century.'' New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009. * Frederick Jackson Turner, Turner, Frederick Jackson. ''Rereading Frederick Jackson Turner: 'The Significance of the Frontier in American History' and Other Essays.'' New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998. * Weber, David J. “The Spanish Borderlands, Historiography Redux.” ''The History Teacher'', 39#1 (2005), pp. 43–56.
online
* Richard White (historian), White, Richard. ''"It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West.'' Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991. * Witschi, Nicolas S. ed. ''A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American'' (2011
excerpt
* Wright, Will. ''Six Guns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western'' (U of California Press, 1975), movies. * Wrobel, David M. ''America's West: A History, 1890–1950'' (Cambridge UP, 2017).


External links



Photo collection at ''Library of Congress''

''US National Archives & Records Administration''
Institute for the Study of the American West

Center of the American West

History: American West
Vlib.us
Collection: "Manifest Destiny and the American West"
from the University of Michigan Museum of Art {{Coord, 40, -113, region:US_dim:1000km, display=title Western United States, Lists of cities in the United States Census regions of the United States Regions of the United States