The United States: Bon voyage!

Saturday, 12 October 2019 - 09:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Editorial, General, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, UNESCO World Heritage

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Lipton sale/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tourism in the United States is a large industry that serves millions of international and domestic tourists yearly. Tourists visit the US to see natural wonders, cities, historic landmarks, and entertainment venues. Americans seek similar attractions, as well as recreation and vacation areas. Tourism in the United States grew rapidly in the form of urban tourism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the 1850s, tourism in the United States was well established both as a cultural activity and as an industry. New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, all major US cities (cities in the United States), attracted a large number of tourists by the 1890s. By 1915, city touring had marked significant shifts in the way Americans perceived, organized, and moved. In the US, tourism is either the first, second, or third largest employer in 29 states, employing 7.3 million, to take care of 1.19 billion trips tourists took in the US (a culinary journey through the USA). There are 2,500 registered National Historic Landmarks (NHL) recognized by the United States government and 24 World Heritage Sites. As of 2016, Orlando is the most visited destination in the United States. Tourists spend more money in the United States than in any other country, while attracting the second-highest number of tourists after France. All of the 50 states have nicknames.

Content


Morning at Gulf State Park © Jodybwiki/cc-by-sa-3.0

Morning at Gulf State Park © Jodybwiki/cc-by-sa-3.0

Alabama – Heart of Dixie
Alabama is a state in the southeastern region. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state. Alabama is nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird. Alabama is also known as the “Heart of Dixie” and the “Cotton State”. The state tree is the longleaf pine, and the state flower is the camellia. Alabama’s capital is Montgomery. The largest city by population is Birmingham, which has long been the most industrialized city; the largest city by land area is Huntsville. The oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana. Other cities include Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Hoover, Dothan, Auburn, Decatur, Madison, Florence, Phenix City, Prattville, Gadsden and Vestavia Hills (List of cities and towns in Alabama). From the American Civil War until World War II, Alabama, like many states in the southern U.S., suffered economic hardship, in part because of its continued dependence on agriculture. Similar to other former slave states, Alabamian legislators employed Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise and otherwise discriminate against African Americans from the end of the Reconstruction Era up until at least the 1970s. Despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, white rural interests dominated the state legislature from 1901 to the 1960s. During this time, urban interests and African Americans were markedly under-represented. Following World War II, Alabama grew as the state’s economy changed from one primarily based on agriculture to one with diversified interests. The state’s economy in the 21st century is based on management, automotive, finance, manufacturing, aerospace, mineral extraction, healthcare, education, retail, and technology.

Areas in Alabama administered by the National Park Service include Horseshoe Bend National Military Park near Alexander City; Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne; Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport; Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee; and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site near Tuskegee. Additionally, Alabama has four National Forests: Conecuh, Talladega, Tuskegee, and William B. Bankhead. Alabama also contains the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Notable natural wonders include: the “Natural Bridge” rock, the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies, located just south of Haleyville; Cathedral Caverns in Marshall County, named for its cathedral-like appearance, features one of the largest cave entrances and stalagmites in the world; Ecor Rouge in Fairhope, the highest coastline point between Maine and Mexico; DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg, the first officially recorded cave in the United States; Noccalula Falls in Gadsden features a 90 foot waterfall; Dismals Canyon near Phil Campbell, home to two waterfalls, six natural bridges and allegedly served as a hideout for legendary outlaw Jesse James; Stephens Gap Cave in Jackson County boasts a 143 foot pit, two waterfalls and is one of the most photographed wild cave scenes in America; Little River Canyon near Fort Payne, one of the nation’s longest mountaintop rivers; Rickwood Caverns near Warrior features an underground pool, blind cave fish and 260 million year old limestone formations; and the Walls of Jericho canyon on the Alabama-Tennessee state line.

Alabama is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, due largely to a variety of habitats that range from the Tennessee Valley, Appalachian Plateau, and Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians of the north to the Piedmont, Canebrake, and Black Belt of the central region to the Gulf Coastal Plain and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The state is usually ranked among the top in nation for its range of overall biodiversity. Alabama is in the subtropical coniferous forest biome and once boasted huge expanses of pine forest, which still form the largest proportion of forests in the state. It currently ranks fifth in the nation for the diversity of its flora. It is home to nearly 4,000 pteridophyte and spermatophyte plant species. Indigenous animal species in the state include 62 mammal species, 93 reptile species, 73 amphibian species, roughly 307 native freshwater fish species, and 420 bird species that spend at least part of their year within the state. Invertebrates include 97 crayfish species and 383 mollusk species. 113 of these mollusk species have never been collected outside the state.

The state is home to various attractions, natural features, parks and events that attract visitors from around the globe, notably the annual Hangout Music Festival, held on the public beaches of Gulf Shores; the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, a collection of championship caliber golf courses distributed across the state; casinos such as Victoryland; amusement parks such as Alabama Splash Adventure; the Riverchase Galleria, one of the largest shopping centers in the southeast; Guntersville Lake, voted the best lake in Alabama by Southern Living Magazine readers; and the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the oldest museum in the state. Mobile is known for having the oldest organized Mardi Gras celebration in the United States, beginning in 1703. It was also host to the first formally organized Mardi Gras parade in the United States in 1830, a tradition that continues to this day. Mardi Gras is an official state holiday in Mobile and Baldwin counties. In 2018, Mobile’s Mardi Gras parade was the state’s top event that produced the most tourists with an attendance of 892,811. The top attraction was the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville with an attendance of 849,981 followed by the Birmingham Zoo with 543,090 visitors. Of the parks and natural destinations, Alabama’s Gulf Coast topped the list with 6,700,000 visitors. Alabama has historically been a popular region for film shoots due to its diverse landscapes and contrast of environments. Movies filmed in Alabama include: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Get Out, 42, Selma, Big Fish, The Final Destination, Due Date, Need For Speed and many more.

Read more on Alabama Tourism, Wikitravel Alabama and Wikivoyage Alabama.




A dog team in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the most popular winter event in Alaska © flickr.com - Frank Kovalchek/cc-by-2.0

A dog team in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the most popular winter event in Alaska
© flickr.com – Frank Kovalchek/cc-by-2.0

Alaska – Last Frontier
Alaska is located in the northwest extremity of the United States West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia (Chukotka Autonomous Okrug) to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015 – is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska’s residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska’s economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. United States Armed Forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.

In a deal known as Seward’s Folly, The United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for 7.2 million U.S. dollars at approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km²). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959. The state’s capital is Juneau with 32,000 inhabitants, while Anchorage with a population of about 292,000 is by far the largest city in the Alaska. Other cities and towns include Fairbanks, Badger, Knik-Fairview, College, Sitka, Lakes, Tanaina, Ketchikan, Kalifornsky, Wasilla, Meadow Lakes, Kenai, Steele Creek, Kodiak, Bethel, Palmer, Chena Ridge, Sterling, Gateway, Homer, Farmers Loop, Fishhook, Nikiski, Unalaska, Utqiagvik, Soldotna, Valdez, Nome, Goldstream, Big Lake, Butte, Kotzebue, Petersburg, Seward, Eielson AFB, Ester, Wrangell, Dillingham, Deltana, Cordova, Prudhoe Bay, North Pole, Willow, Ridgeway, Bear Creek, Fritz Creek, Anchor Point and Houston (List of cities in Alaska). There are no officially defined borders demarcating the various regions of Alaska, but there are six widely accepted regions:

With its myriad islands, Alaska has nearly 34,000 miles (55,000 km) of tidal shoreline. The Aleutian Islands chain extends west from the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula. Many active volcanoes are found in the Aleutians and in coastal regions. Unimak Island, for example, is home to Mount Shishaldin, which is an occasionally smoldering volcano that rises to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above the North Pacific. It is the most perfect volcanic cone on Earth, even more symmetrical than Japan’s Mount Fuji. The chain of volcanoes extends to Mount Spurr, west of Anchorage on the mainland. Geologists have identified Alaska as part of Wrangellia, a large region consisting of multiple states and Canadian provinces in the Pacific Northwest, which is actively undergoing continent building (Wildlife of Alaska). One of the world’s largest tides occurs in Turnagain Arm, just south of Anchorage, where tidal differences can be more than 35 feet (10.7 m). Alaska has more than three million lakes. Marshlands and wetland permafrost cover 188,320 square miles (487,700 km²) (mostly in northern, western and southwest flatlands). Glacier ice covers about 28,957 square miles (75,000 km²) of Alaska. The Bering Glacier is the largest glacier in North America, covering 2,008 square miles (5,200 km²) alone.

Some of Alaska’s popular annual events are the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome, World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, the Blueberry Festival and Alaska Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan, the Sitka Whalefest, and the Stikine River Garnet Fest in Wrangell. The Stikine River attracts the largest springtime concentration of American bald eagles in the world. The Alaska Native Heritage Center celebrates the rich heritage of Alaska’s 11 cultural groups. Their purpose is to encourage cross-cultural exchanges among all people and enhance self-esteem among Native people. The Alaska Native Arts Foundation promotes and markets Native art from all regions and cultures in the State, using the internet (List of artists and writers from Alaska). Influences on music in Alaska include the traditional music of Alaska Natives as well as folk music brought by later immigrants from Russia and Europe. Prominent musicians from Alaska include singer Jewel, traditional Aleut flautist Mary Youngblood, folk singer-songwriter Libby Roderick, Christian music singer-songwriter Lincoln Brewster, metal/post hardcore band 36 Crazyfists and the groups Pamyua and Portugal. The Man. There are many established music festivals in Alaska, including the Alaska Folk Festival, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, the Anchorage Folk Festival, the Athabascan Old-Time Fiddling Festival, the Sitka Jazz Festival, and the Sitka Summer Music Festival. The most prominent orchestra in Alaska is the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, though the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra and Juneau Symphony are also notable. The Anchorage Opera is currently the state’s only professional opera company, though there are several volunteer and semi-professional organizations in the state as well. The official state song of Alaska is “Alaska’s Flag“, which was adopted in 1955; it celebrates the flag of Alaska.

Read more on Alaska Tourism, Wikitravel Alaska and Wikivoyage Alaska.




Monument Valley © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

Monument Valley © Bernard Gagnon/cc-by-sa-3.0

Arizona – Grand Canyon State
Arizona is a located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Other cities and towns include Yuma, Tucson, San Tan Valley, Mesa, Avondale, Chandler, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Casas Adobes, Glendale, Flagstaff, Gilbert, Buckeye, Tempe, Casa Grande, Peoria, Lake Havasu City, Surprise and Catalina Foothills (List of cities and towns in Arizona). Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Arizona is the 48th state and last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, achieving statehood on February 14, 1912, coinciding with Valentine’s Day. Historically part of the territory of Alta California in New Spain, it became part of independent Mexico in 1821. After being defeated in the Mexican–American War, Mexico ceded much of this territory to the United States in 1848. The southernmost portion of the state was acquired in 1853 through the Gadsden Purchase.

Southern Arizona is known for its desert climate, with very hot summers and mild winters. Northern Arizona features forests of pine, Douglas fir, and spruce trees; the Colorado Plateau; mountain ranges (such as the San Francisco Mountains); as well as large, deep canyons, with much more moderate summer temperatures and significant winter snowfalls. There are ski resorts in the areas of Flagstaff, Alpine, and Tucson. In addition to the Grand Canyon National Park, there are several national forests, national parks, and national monuments.

About one-quarter of the state is made up of Indian reservations that serve as the home of 27 federally recognized Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation, the largest in the state and the United States, with more than 300,000 citizens. Although federal law gave all Native Americans the right to vote in 1924, Arizona excluded those living on reservations in the state from voting until the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Native American plaintiffs in Trujillo v. Garley (1948).

Of the state’s 113,998 square miles (295,000 km²), approximately 15% is privately owned. The remaining area is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American reservations. Arizona is well known for its desert Basin and Range region in the state’s southern portions, which is rich in a landscape of xerophyte plants such as the cactus. This region’s topography was shaped by prehistoric volcanism, followed by the cooling-off and related subsidence. Its climate has exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. The state is less well known for its pine-covered north-central portion of the high country of the Colorado Plateau (Arizona Mountains forests). Like other states of the Southwest United States, Arizona has an abundance of mountains and plateaus. Despite the state’s aridity, 27% of Arizona is forest, a percentage comparable to modern-day France or Germany. The world’s largest stand of ponderosa pine trees is in Arizona. The Mogollon Rim, a 1,998-foot (609 m) escarpment, cuts across the state’s central section and marks the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau. In 2002, this was an area of the Rodeo–Chediski Fire, the worst fire in state history. Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a colorful, deep, steep-sided gorge, carved by the Colorado River. The canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is largely contained in the Grand Canyon National Park—one of the first national parks in the United States. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of designating the Grand Canyon area as a National Park, often visiting to hunt mountain lion and enjoy the scenery. The canyon was created by the Colorado River cutting a channel over millions of years, and is about 277 miles (446 km) long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles (6 to 29 km) and attains a depth of more than 1 mile (1.6 km). Nearly two billion years of the Earth‘s history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through layer after layer of sediment as the Colorado Plateau uplifted. Arizona is home to one of the most well-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. Created around 50,000 years ago, the Barringer Meteorite Crater (better known simply as “Meteor Crater“) is a gigantic hole in the middle of the high plains of the Colorado Plateau, about 25 miles (40 km) west of Winslow. A rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some of them the size of small houses, rises 150 feet (46 m) above the level of the surrounding plain. The crater itself is nearly 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, and 570 feet (170 m) deep. Arizona is one of two U.S. states that do not observe Daylight Saving Time (the other being Hawaii). The exception is within the large Navajo Nation (which observes Daylight Saving Time), in the state’s northeastern region.

Read more on Arizona Tourism, Wikitravel Arizona and Wikivoyage Arizona.




The White River © flickr.com - Linda Tanner/cc-by-2.0

The White River © flickr.com – Linda Tanner/cc-by-2.0

Arkansas – Natural State
Arkansas is located in the southern region, home to over 3 million people as of 2018. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state’s diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

Arkansas is the 29th largest by area and the 33rd most populous of the 50 United States. The capital and most populous city is Little Rock, located in the central portion of the state, a hub for transportation, business, culture, and government. The northwestern corner of the state, such as the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area and Fort Smith metropolitan area, is a population, education, and economic center. The largest city in the state’s eastern part is Jonesboro. The largest city in the state’s southeastern part is Pine Bluff.

The Territory of Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the 25th state on June 15, 1836. In 1861, Arkansas withdrew from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. On returning to the Union in 1868, the state continued to suffer due to its earlier reliance on slavery and the plantation economy, causing the state to fall behind economically and socially. White rural interests continued to dominate the state’s politics until the civil rights movement. Arkansas began to diversify its economy following World War II and relies on its service industry, aircraft, poultry, steel, and tourism, along with cash crops of cotton, soybeans and rice.

The culture of Arkansas is observable in museums, theaters, novels, television shows, restaurants, and athletic venues across the state. People such as politician and educational advocate William Fulbright; former president Bill Clinton who served as the 40th and 42nd governor of Arkansas; his wife, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton; former NATO Supreme Allied Commander general Wesley Clark, Walmart magnate Sam Walton; singer-songwriters Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich, Jimmy Driftwood, and Glen Campbell; actor-filmmaker, Billy Bob Thornton; the poet C. D. Wright; and physicist William L. McMillan, who was a pioneer in superconductor research; have all lived in Arkansas.

Little Rock has been Arkansas’s capital city since 1821 when it replaced Arkansas Post as the capital of the Territory of Arkansas. The state capitol was moved to Hot Springs and later Washington during the Civil War when the Union armies threatened the city in 1862, and state government did not return to Little Rock until after the war ended. Today, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway metropolitan area is the largest in the state, with a population of 724,385 in 2013. The Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers Metropolitan Area is the second-largest metropolitan area in Arkansas, growing at the fastest rate due to the influx of businesses and the growth of the University of Arkansas and Walmart. The state has eight cities with populations above 50,000 (based on 2010 census). In descending order of size, they are: Little Rock, Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, and Rogers. Of these, only Fort Smith and Jonesboro are outside the two largest metropolitan areas. Other cities are located in Arkansas such as Pine Bluff, Crossett, Bryant, Lake Village, Hot Springs, Bentonville, Texarkana, Sherwood, Jacksonville, Russellville, Bella Vista, West Memphis, Paragould, Cabot, Searcy, Van Buren, El Dorado, Blytheville, Harrison, Dumas, Rison, Warren, and Mountain Home.

Tourism is very important to the Arkansas economy; the official state nickname “The Natural State” was created for state tourism advertising in the 1970s, and is still used to this day. The state maintains 52 state parks and the National Park Service maintains seven properties in Arkansas. The completion of the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock has drawn many visitors to the city and revitalized the nearby River Market District. Many cities also hold festivals, which draw tourists to Arkansas culture, such as The Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival in Warren, King Biscuit Blues Festival, Ozark Folk Festival, Toad Suck Daze, and Tontitown Grape Festival.

The culture of Arkansas is available to all in various forms, whether it be architecture, literature, or fine and performing arts. The state’s culture also includes distinct cuisine, dialect, and traditional festivals. Sports are also very important to the culture of Arkansas, ranging from football, baseball, and basketball to hunting and fishing. Perhaps the best-known piece of Arkansas’s culture is the stereotype of its citizens as shiftless hillbillies. The reputation began when the state was characterized by early explorers as a savage wilderness full of outlaws and thieves. The most enduring icon of Arkansas’s hillbilly reputation is The Arkansas Traveller, a painted depiction of a folk tale from the 1840s. Although intended to represent the divide between rich southeastern plantation Arkansas planters and the poor northwestern hill country, the meaning was twisted to represent a Northerner lost in the Ozarks on a white horse asking a backwoods Arkansan for directions. The state also suffers from the racial stigma common to former Confederate states, with historical events such as the Little Rock Nine adding to Arkansas’s enduring image. Art and history museums display pieces of cultural value for Arkansans and tourists to enjoy. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville was visited by 604,000 people in 2012, its first year. The museum includes walking trails and educational opportunities in addition to displaying over 450 works covering five centuries of American art. Several historic town sites have been restored as Arkansas state parks, including Historic Washington State Park, Powhatan Historic State Park, and Davidsonville Historic State Park. Arkansas features a variety of native music across the state, ranging from the blues heritage of West Memphis, Pine Bluff, Helena–West Helena to rockabilly, bluegrass, and folk music from the Ozarks. Festivals such as the King Biscuit Blues Festival and Bikes, Blues, and BBQ pay homage to the history of blues in the state. The Ozark Folk Festival in Mountain View is a celebration of Ozark culture and often features folk and bluegrass musicians. Literature set in Arkansas such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and A Painted House by John Grisham describe the culture at various time periods. Sports have become an integral part of the culture of Arkansas, and her residents enjoy participating in and spectating various events throughout the year.

Read more on Arkansas Tourism, Wikitravel Arkansas and Wikivoyage Arkansas.




Big Sur coast, south of Monterey at Bixby Bridge © Calilover

Big Sur coast, south of Monterey at Bixby Bridge © Calilover

California – Golden State
California is located in the Pacific Region. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California’s most populous city, and the country’s second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation’s most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country’s second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

California’s $3.0 trillion economy is larger than that of any other state; larger than those of Texas and Florida combined; and is the largest sub-national economy in the world. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world (larger than the United Kingdom, France, or India), and the 36th-most populous as of 2017. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.253 trillion and $907 billion respectively as of 2017), after the New York metropolitan area. The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation’s highest GDP per capita in 2017 (~$94,000) among large PSAs, and is home to three of the world’s ten largest companies by market capitalization and four of the world’s ten richest people.

California culture is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, innovation, environmentalism, and politics. As a result of the state’s diversity and migration, California integrates foods, languages, and traditions from other areas across the country and around the globe. It is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, fast food, beach and car culture, the Internet, and the personal computer, among others. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as global centers of the technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California has a very diverse economy: 58% of the state’s economy is centered on finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific, and technical business services. Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state’s economy, California’s agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state.

California is bordered by Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south (with the coast being on the west). The state’s diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, and from the redwoodDouglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state’s center. Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, the large size of the state results in climates that vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains. Over time, drought and wildfires have become more pervasive features.

What is now California was first settled by various Native Californian tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish Empire then claimed it as part of Alta California, within its New Spain colony. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California was then organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom.

Read more on California Tourism, Wikitravel California and Wikivoyage California.




Garden of the Gods Formation - Red rock formatons are found throughout Colorado © Robert Corby/cc-by-sa-3.0

Garden of the Gods Formation – Red rock formatons are found throughout Colorado
© Robert Corby/cc-by-sa-3.0

Colorado – Centennial State
Colorado is is located in the Western United States encompassing most of the southern Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 8th most extensive and 21st most populous U.S. state. The estimated population of Colorado was 5,695,564 on July 1, 2018. The state was named for the Colorado River, which early Spanish explorers named the Río Colorado for the ruddy silt the river carried from the mountains. The Territory of Colorado was organized on February 28, 1861, and on August 1, 1876, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant signed Proclamation 230 admitting Colorado to the Union as the 38th state. Colorado is nicknamed the “Centennial State” because it became a state one century after the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence. Colorado is bordered by Wyoming to the north, Nebraska to the northeast, Kansas to the east, Oklahoma to the southeast, New Mexico to the south, Utah to the west, and touches Arizona to the southwest at the Four Corners. Colorado is noted for its vivid landscape of mountains, forests, high plains, mesas, canyons, plateaus, rivers and desert lands. Colorado is part of the western and southwestern United States, and is one of the Mountain States. Denver is the capital and most populous city of Colorado (List of cities and towns in Colorado). Residents of the state are known as Coloradans, although the antiquated term “Coloradoan” is occasionally used.

The summit of Mount Elbert at 14,440 feet (4,401.2 m) elevation in Lake County is the highest point in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains of North America. Colorado is the only U.S. state that lies entirely above 1,000 meters elevation. The point where the Arikaree River flows out of Yuma County, Colorado, and into Cheyenne County, Kansas, is the lowest point in Colorado at 3,317 feet (1,011 m) elevation. This point, which holds the distinction of being the highest low elevation point of any state, is higher than the high elevation points of 18 states and the District of Columbia (Mountain peaks of Colorado).

A little less than half of Colorado is flat and rolling land. East of the Rocky Mountains are the Colorado Eastern Plains of the High Plains, the section of the Great Plains within Nebraska at elevations ranging from roughly 3,350 to 7,500 feet (1,020 to 2,290 m). The Colorado plains are mostly prairies but also include deciduous forests, buttes, and canyons. Precipitation averages 15 to 25 inches (380 to 640 mm) annually. Eastern Colorado is presently mainly farmland and rangeland, along with small farming villages and towns. Corn, wheat, hay, soybeans, and oats are all typical crops. Most villages and towns in this region boast both a water tower and a grain elevator. Irrigation water is available from both surface and subterranean sources. Surface water sources include the South Platte, the Arkansas River, and a few other streams. Subterranean water is generally accessed through artesian wells. Heavy usage of these wells for irrigation purposes caused underground water reserves to decline in the region. Eastern Colorado also hosts a considerable amount and range of livestock, such as cattle ranches and hog farms.

Roughly 70% of Colorado’s population resides along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Front Range Urban Corridor between Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Pueblo, Colorado. This region is partially protected from prevailing storms that blow in from the Pacific Ocean region by the high Rockies in the middle of Colorado. The “Front Range” includes Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Greeley, and other townships and municipalities in between. On the other side of the Rockies, the significant population centers in Western Colorado (which is not considered the “Front Range”) are the cities of Grand Junction, Durango, and Montrose.

The Continental Divide of the Americas extends along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The area of Colorado to the west of the Continental Divide is called the Western Slope of Colorado. West of the Continental Divide, water flows to the southwest via the Colorado River and the Green River into the Gulf of California. Within the interior of the Rocky Mountains are several large parks which are high broad basins. In the north, on the east side of the Continental Divide is the North Park of Colorado. The North Park is drained by the North Platte River, which flows north into Wyoming and Nebraska. Just to the south of North Park, but on the western side of the Continental Divide, is the Middle Park of Colorado, which is drained by the Colorado River. The South Park of Colorado is the region of the headwaters of the South Platte River.

In southmost Colorado is the large San Luis Valley, where the headwaters of the Rio Grande are located. The valley sits between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and San Juan Mountains, and consists of large desert lands that eventually run into the mountains. The Rio Grande drains due south into New Mexico, Mexico, and Texas. Across the Sangre de Cristo Range to the east of the San Luis Valley lies the Wet Mountain Valley. These basins, particularly the San Luis Valley, lie along the Rio Grande Rift, a major geological formation of the Rocky Mountains, and its branches.

To the west of the Great Plains of Colorado rises the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. Notable peaks of the Rocky Mountains include Longs Peak, Mount Evans, Pikes Peak, and the Spanish Peaks near Walsenburg, in southern Colorado. This area drains to the east and the southeast, ultimately either via the Mississippi River or the Rio Grande into the Gulf of Mexico. The Rocky Mountains within Colorado contain 53 peaks that are 14,000 feet (4,267 m) or higher in elevation above sea level, known as fourteeners. These mountains are largely covered with trees such as conifers and aspens up to the tree line, at an elevation of about 12,000 feet (3,658 m) in southern Colorado to about 10,500 feet (3,200 m) in northern Colorado. Above this tree line only alpine vegetation grows. Only small parts of the Colorado Rockies are snow-covered year round. Much of the alpine snow melts by mid-August with the exception of a few snow-capped peaks and a few small glaciers. The Colorado Mineral Belt, stretching from the San Juan Mountains in the southwest to Boulder and Central City on the front range, contains most of the historic gold- and silver-mining districts of Colorado. Mount Elbert is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains. The 30 highest major summits of the Rocky Mountains of North America all lie within the state (Mountain peaks of Colorado).

The Western Slope area of Colorado includes the western face of the Rocky Mountains and all of the state to the western border. This area includes several terrains and climates from alpine mountains to arid deserts. The Western Slope includes many ski resort towns in the Rocky Mountains and towns west of the mountains. It is less populous than the Front Range but includes a large number of national parks and monuments. From west to east, the land of Colorado consists of desert lands, desert plateaus, alpine mountains, National Forests, relatively flat grasslands, scattered forests, buttes, and canyons in the western edge of the Great Plains. The famous Pikes Peak is located just west of Colorado Springs. Its isolated peak is visible from nearly the Kansas border on clear days, and also far to the north and the south. The northwestern corner of Colorado is a sparsely populated region, and it contains part of the noted Dinosaur National Monument, which is not only a paleontological area, but is also a scenic area of rocky hills, canyons, arid desert, and streambeds. Here, the Green River briefly crosses over into Colorado. Desert lands in Colorado are located in and around areas such as the Pueblo, Canon City, Florence, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis Valley, Cortez, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Ute Mountain, Delta, Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument, and other areas surrounding the Uncompahgre Plateau and Uncompahgre National Forest. The Western Slope of Colorado is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries (primarily the Gunnison River, Green River, and the San Juan River), or by evaporation in its arid areas. The Colorado River flows through Glenwood Canyon, and then through an arid valley made up of desert from Rifle to Parachute, through the desert canyon of De Beque Canyon, and into the arid desert of Grand Valley, where the city of Grand Junction is located. Also prominent in or near the southern portion of the Western Slope are the Grand Mesa, which lies to the southeast of Grand Junction; the high San Juan Mountains, a rugged mountain range; and to the west of the San Juan Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, a high arid region that borders Southern Utah. Grand Junction, Colorado is the largest city on the Western Slope. Grand Junction and Durango are the only major centers of television broadcasting west of the Continental Divide in Colorado, though most mountain resort communities publish daily newspapers. Grand Junction is located along Interstate 70, the only major highway in Western Colorado. Grand Junction is also along the major railroad of the Western Slope, the Union Pacific. This railroad also provides the tracks for Amtrak‘s California Zephyr passenger train, which crosses the Rocky Mountains between Denver and Grand Junction via a route on which there are no continuous highways. The Western Slope includes multiple notable destinations in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, including Glenwood Springs, with its resort hot springs, and the ski resorts of Aspen, Breckenridge, Vail, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs, and Telluride. Higher education in and near the Western Slope can be found at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Fort Lewis College in Durango, and Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs. The Four Corners Monument in the southwest corner of Colorado marks the common boundary of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah; the only such place in the United States.

Colorado is known for its Southwest and Rocky Mountain cuisine. Mexican restaurants are prominent throughout the state. Boulder, Colorado was named America’s Foodiest Town 2010 by Bon Appétit. Boulder, and Colorado in general, is home to a number of national food and beverage companies, top-tier restaurants and farmers’ markets. Boulder, Colorado also has more Master Sommeliers per capita than any other city, including San Francisco and New York. The Food & Wine Classic is held annually each June in Aspen, Colorado. Aspen also has a reputation as the culinary capital of the Rocky Mountain region. Denver is known for steak, but now has a diverse culinary scene with many restaurants.

Colorado wines include award-winning varietals that have attracted favorable notice from outside the state. With wines made from traditional Vitis vinifera grapes along with wines made from cherries, peaches, plums and honey, Colorado wines have won top national and international awards for their quality. Colorado’s grape growing regions contain the highest elevation vineyards in the United States, with most viticulture in the state practiced between 4,000 and 7,000 feet (1,219 and 2,13 m) above sea level. The mountain climate ensures warm summer days and cool nights. Colorado is home to two designated American Viticultural Areas of the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA, where most of the vineyards in the state are located. However, an increasing number of wineries are located along the Front Range. In 2018, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Colorado’s Grand Valley AVA in Mesa County, Colorado, as one of the Top Ten wine travel destinations in the world.

Colorado is home to many nationally praised microbreweries, including New Belgium Brewing Company, Odell Brewing Company, Great Divide Brewing Company, and Bristol Brewing Company. The area of northern Colorado near and between the cities of Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins is known as the “Napa Valley of Beer” due to its high density of craft breweries (Colorado beer).

Read more on Colorado Tourism, Wikitravel Colorado and Wikivoyage Colorado.




Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford © Ragesoss/cc-by-sa-4.0

Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford © Ragesoss/cc-by-sa-4.0

Connecticut – Constitution State
Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport (List of cities in Connecticut and List of towns in Connecticut). It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the Tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word “Connecticut” is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for “long tidal river”.

Connecticut’s first European settlers were Dutchmen who established a small, short-lived settlement called Fort Hoop in Hartford at the confluence of the Park and Connecticut Rivers. Half of Connecticut was initially part of the Dutch colony New Netherland, which included much of the land between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers, although the first major settlements were established in the 1630s by the English. Thomas Hooker led a band of followers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and founded the Connecticut Colony; other settlers from Massachusetts founded the Saybrook Colony and the New Haven Colony. The Connecticut and New Haven colonies established documents of Fundamental Orders, considered the first constitutions in America. In 1662, the three colonies were merged under a royal charter, making Connecticut a crown colony. This was one of the Thirteen Colonies which rejected British rule in the American Revolution.

Connecticut is the third smallest state by area, and the fourth most densely populated of the 50 states. It is known as the “Constitution State”, the “Nutmeg State”, the “Provisions State”, and the “Land of Steady Habits”. It was influential in the development of the federal government of the United States (see Connecticut Compromise).

The Connecticut River, Thames River, and ports along Long Island Sound have given Connecticut a strong maritime tradition which continues today. The state also has a long history of hosting the financial services industry, including insurance companies in Hartford and hedge funds in Fairfield County.

The highest peak in Connecticut is Bear Mountain in Salisbury in the northwest corner of the state. The highest point is just east of where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York meet, on the southern slope of Mount Frissell, whose peak lies nearby in Massachusetts. At the opposite extreme, many of the coastal towns have areas that are less than 20 feet (6 m) above sea level.

Connecticut has a long maritime history and a reputation based on that history—yet the state has no direct oceanfront (technically speaking). The coast of Connecticut sits on Long Island Sound, which is an estuary. The state’s access to the open Atlantic Ocean is both to the west (toward New York City) and to the east (toward the “race” near Rhode Island). This situation provides many safe harbors from ocean storms, and many transatlantic ships seek anchor inside Long Island Sound when tropical cyclones pass off the upper East Coast.

The Connecticut River cuts through the center of the state, flowing into Long Island Sound. The most populous metropolitan region centered within the state lies in the Connecticut River Valley. Despite Connecticut’s relatively small size, it features wide regional variations in its landscape; for example, in the northwestern Litchfield Hills, it features rolling mountains and horse farms, whereas in areas to the east of New Haven along the coast, the landscape features coastal marshes, beaches, and large scale maritime activities.

Connecticut’s rural areas and small towns in the northeast and northwest corners of the state contrast sharply with its industrial cities such as Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, located along the coastal highways from the New York border to New London, then northward up the Connecticut River to Hartford. Many towns in northeastern and northwestern Connecticut center around a green, such as the Litchfield Green, Lebanon Green (the largest in the state), and Wethersfield Green (the oldest in the state). Near the green typically stand historical visual symbols of New England towns, such as a white church, a colonial meeting house, a colonial tavern or inn, several colonial houses, and so on, establishing a scenic historical appearance maintained for both historic preservation and tourism. Many of the areas in southern and coastal Connecticut have been built up and rebuilt over the years, and look less visually like traditional New England.

The northern boundary of the state with Massachusetts is marked by the Southwick Jog or Granby Notch, an approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 km) square detour into Connecticut. The origin of this anomaly is clearly established in a long line of disputes and temporary agreements which were finally concluded in 1804, when southern Southwick’s residents sought to leave Massachusetts, and the town was split in half.

The southwestern border of Connecticut where it abuts New York State is marked by a panhandle in Fairfield County, containing the towns of Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Darien, and parts of Norwalk and Wilton. This irregularity in the boundary is the result of territorial disputes in the late 17th century, culminating with New York giving up its claim to the area, whose residents considered themselves part of Connecticut, in exchange for an equivalent area extending northwards from Ridgefield to the Massachusetts border, as well as undisputed claim to Rye, New York.

Areas maintained by the National Park Service include Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor, and Weir Farm National Historic Site.

Read more on Connecticut Tourism, Louis’ Lunch, one of the first places in the U.S. to serve steak sandwiches, Wikitravel Connecticut and Wikivoyage Connecticut.




Rehoboth Beach © Dough4872

Rehoboth Beach © Dough4872

Delaware – First State
Delaware is located in the South-Atlantic or Southern region. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, north by Pennsylvania, and east by New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean. The state takes its name from Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr, an English nobleman and Virginia‘s first colonial governor.

Delaware occupies the northeastern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. It’s the second smallest and sixth least populous state, but the sixth most densely populated. Delaware’s capital city is Dover, while the largest city is Wilmington (List of municipalities in Delaware). The state is divided into three counties, the lowest number of any state. From north to south, they are New Castle County, Kent County, and Sussex County. While the southern two counties have historically been predominantly agricultural, New Castle County is more industrialized.

Before its coastline was explored by Europeans in the 16th century, Delaware was inhabited by several groups of Native Americans, including the Lenape in the north and Nanticoke in the south. It was initially colonized by Dutch traders at Zwaanendael, near the present town of Lewes, in 1631. Delaware was one of the 13 colonies participating in the American Revolution. On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, and has since been known as “The First State”.

Delaware is 96 miles (154 km) long and ranges from 9 miles (14 km) to 35 miles (56 km) across, totaling 1,954 square miles (5,060 km²), making it the second-smallest state in the United States after Rhode Island. Delaware is bounded to the north by Pennsylvania; to the east by the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean; and to the west and south by Maryland. Small portions of Delaware are also situated on the eastern side of the Delaware River sharing land boundaries with New Jersey. The state of Delaware, together with the Eastern Shore counties of Maryland and two counties of Virginia, form the Delmarva Peninsula, which stretches down the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

The definition of the northern boundary of the state is unusual. Most of the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania was originally defined by an arc extending 12 miles (19.3 km) from the cupola of the courthouse in the city of New Castle. This boundary is often referred to as the Twelve-Mile Circle. Although the Twelve-Mile Circle is often claimed to be the only territorial boundary in the United States that is a true arc, the Mexican boundary with Texas includes several arcs, and many cities in the South (such as Plains, Georgia) also have circular boundaries.

This border extends all the way east to the low-tide mark on the New Jersey shore, then continues south along the shoreline until it again reaches the 12-mile (19 km) arc in the south; then the boundary continues in a more conventional way in the middle of the main channel (thalweg) of the Delaware River. To the west, a portion of the arc extends past the easternmost edge of Maryland. The remaining western border runs slightly east of due south from its intersection with the arc. The Wedge of land between the northwest part of the arc and the Maryland border was claimed by both Delaware and Pennsylvania until 1921, when Delaware’s claim was confirmed.

Delaware is on a level plain, with the lowest mean elevation of any state in the nation. Its highest elevation, located at Ebright Azimuth, near Concord High School, is less than 450 feet (140 m) above sea level. The northernmost part of the state is part of the Piedmont Plateau with hills and rolling surfaces. The Atlantic Seaboard fall line approximately follows the Robert Kirkwood Highway between Newark and Wilmington; south of this road is the Atlantic Coastal Plain with flat, sandy, and, in some parts, swampy ground. A ridge about 75 to 80 feet (23 to 24 m) in elevation extends along the western boundary of the state and separates the watersheds that feed Delaware River and Bay to the east and the Chesapeake Bay to the west.

The transitional climate of Delaware supports a wide variety of vegetation. In the northern third of the state are found Northeastern coastal forests and mixed oak forests typical of the northeastern United States. In the southern two-thirds of the state are found Middle Atlantic coastal forests. Trap Pond State Park, along with areas in other parts of Sussex County, for example, support the northernmost stands of bald cypress trees in North America.

Delaware is home to First State National Historical Park, a National Park Service unit that is composed of historic sites across the state including the New Castle Court House, Green, and Sheriff’s House, Dover Green, Beaver Valley, Fort Christina, Old Swedes’ Church, John Dickinson Plantation, and the Ryves Holt House. Delaware has several museums, wildlife refuges, parks, houses, lighthouses, and other historic places.

Rehoboth Beach, together with the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island, comprise Delaware’s beach resorts. Rehoboth Beach often bills itself as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” because it is a frequent summer vacation destination for Washington, D.C. residents as well as visitors from Maryland, Virginia, and in lesser numbers, Pennsylvania. Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town’s charm, artistic appeal, nightlife, and tax free shopping.

Delaware is home to several festivals, fairs, and events. Some of the more notable festivals are the Riverfest held in Seaford, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin formerly held at various locations throughout the state since 1986, the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival, the Bethany Beach Jazz Funeral to mark the end of summer, the Apple Scrapple Festival held in Bridgeville, the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, the Sea Witch Halloween Festival and Parade in Rehoboth Beach, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, the Nanticoke Indian Pow Wow in Oak Orchard, Firefly Music Festival, and the Return Day Parade held after every election in Georgetown (Delaware festivals).

Major origin markets for Delaware tourists include Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg, with 97% of tourists arriving to the state by car and 75% of tourists coming from 200 miles (320 km) or less.

Read more on Delaware Tourism, Wikitravel Delaware and Wikivoyage Delaware.




Miami Art Deco District © Massimo Catarinella/cc-by-sa-3.0

Miami Art Deco District © Massimo Catarinella/cc-by-sa-3.0

Florida – Sunshine State
Florida (Spanish for “land of flowers”) is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive (65,755 sq mi or 170,300 km²), the 3rd-most populous (21,312,211 inhabitants), and the 8th-most densely populated (384.3/sq mi or 148.4/km²) of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida’s most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state’s capital.

The first European contact was made in 1513 by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, who called it la Florida (“the land of flowers”) upon landing there in the Easter season, known in Spanish as Pascua Florida. Florida was a challenge for the European colonial powers before it gained statehood in the United States in 1845. It was a principal location of the Seminole Wars against the Native Americans, and racial segregation after the American Civil War.

Today, Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community and high population growth, as well as for its increasing environmental issues. The state’s economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture, and transportation, which developed in the late 19th century. Florida is also renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, winter vegetables, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees. Florida is the flattest state in the United States. Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the U.S. state of Florida.

Florida’s close proximity to the ocean influences many aspects of Florida culture and daily life. Florida is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; African, European, indigenous, and Latino heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine. Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes. It is internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing, and water sports. Several beaches in Florida have turquoise and emerald-colored coastal waters.

About two-thirds of Florida occupies a peninsula between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles (2,170 km), not including the contribution of the many barrier islands. Florida has a total of 4,510 islands that are ten acres or larger in area. This is the second-highest number of islands of any state of the United States; only Alaska has more. It is the only state that borders both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Much of the state is at or near sea level and is characterized by sedimentary soil. Florida has the lowest high point of any U.S. state. The climate varies from subtropical in the north to tropical in the south. The American alligator, American crocodile, American flamingo, Roseate spoonbill, Florida panther, bottlenose dolphin, and manatee can be found in Everglades National Park in the southern part of the state. Along with Hawaii, Florida is one of only two states that has a tropical climate, and is the only continental state with either a tropical climate or a coral reef. The Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States, and the third-largest coral barrier reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef and Belize Barrier Reef).

Agriculture is the second largest industry in the state. Citrus fruit, especially oranges, are a major part of the economy, and Florida produces the majority of citrus fruit grown in the United States. In 2006, 67% of all citrus, 74% of oranges, 58% of tangerines, and 54% of grapefruit were grown in Florida. About 95% of commercial orange production in the state is destined for processing (mostly as orange juice, the official state beverage). Citrus canker continues to be an issue of concern. From 1997 to 2013, the growing of citrus trees has declined 25%, from 600,000 acres (240,000 ha) to 450,000 acres (180,000 ha). Citrus greening disease is incurable. A study states that it has caused the loss of $4.5 billion between 2006 and 2012. As of 2014, it was the major agricultural concern. Other products include sugarcane, strawberries, tomatoes and celery. The state is the largest producer of sweet corn and green beans for the U.S. The Everglades Agricultural Area is a major center for agriculture. The environmental impact of agriculture, especially water pollution, is a major issue in Florida today. In 2009, fishing was a $6 billion industry, employing 60,000 jobs for sports and commercial purposes.

If you can’t find something to do in Florida, you’re just boring…
Guy Fieri, celebrity chef, 2017

Tourism makes up one of the largest sectors of the state economy, with nearly 1.4 million people employed in the tourism industry in 2016 (a record for the state, surpassing the 1.2 million employment from 2015). In 2015, Florida broke the 100-million visitor mark for the first time in state history by hosting a record 105 million visitors. The state has set tourism records for eight consecutive years, most recently breaking the 120-million visitor mark for the first time in 2018 with 126.1 million visitors reported. Many beach towns are popular tourist destinations, particularly during winter and spring break, although activist David Hogg has called for a statewide boycott in 2018 unless state legislators pass substantive gun reform. Twenty-three million tourists visited Florida beaches in 2000, spending $22 billion. The public has a right to beach access under the public trust doctrine, but some areas have access effectively blocked by private owners for a long distance. Amusement parks, especially in the Greater Orlando area, make up a significant portion of tourism. The Walt Disney World Resort is the most visited vacation resort in the world with over 50 million annual visitors, consisting of four theme parks, 27 themed resort hotels, 9 non–Disney hotels, two water parks, four golf courses and other recreational venues. Other major theme parks in the area include Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa. Today, Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an average annual attendance of over 52 million. Florida’s many state parks and protected areas receive a lot of visitors as well with 25.2 million visitors visiting Florida State Parks in 2013.

Read more on Florida Tourism, Ultra Music Festival, Wikitravel Florida and Wikivoyage Florida.




Stone Mountain, the carving, and the train © Pilotguy251/cc-by-sa.4.0

Stone Mountain, the carving, and the train © Pilotguy251/cc-by-sa.4.0

Georgia – Peach State
Georgia is located in the southeastern region. Georgia is the 24th largest and 8th-most populous of the 50 United States. Georgia is bordered to the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, to the northeast by South Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by Florida, and to the west by Alabama. The state’s nicknames include the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, a “beta(+)” global city, is both the state’s capital and largest city. The Atlanta metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 5,949,951 in 2018, is the 9th most populous metropolitan area in the United States and contains about 60% of the entire state population (List of municipalities in Georgia).

Founded in 1733 as a British colony, Georgia was the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established. Named after King George II of Great Britain, the Colony of Georgia covered the area from South Carolina south to Spanish Florida and west to French Louisiana at the Mississippi River. On January 2, 1788, Georgia became the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution. From 1802–1804, western Georgia was split to form the Mississippi Territory, which later was admitted as the U.S. states of Alabama and Mississippi. Georgia declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate States. Following the Civil War, it was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Several Georgians, most notably Martin Luther King, Jr., were leaders during the civil rights movement. Since the 1950s, Georgia has seen substantial population growth as part of the broader Sun Belt phenomenon. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia’s counties ranked among the nation’s 100 fastest-growing.

Georgia is defined by a diversity of landscapes, flora, and fauna. The state’s northernmost regions include the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the larger Appalachian Mountain system. The Piedmont plateau extends from the foothills of the Blue Ridge south to the Fall Line, an escarpment to the coastal plain defining the state’s southern region. Georgia’s highest point is Brasstown Bald at 4,784 feet (1,458 m) above sea level; the lowest is the Atlantic Ocean. With the exception of some high-altitude areas in the Blue Ridge, the entirety of the state has a humid subtropical climate. Of the states entirely east of the Mississippi River, Georgia is the largest in land area.

The state of Georgia has approximately 250 tree species and 58 protected plants. Georgia’s native trees include red cedar, a variety of pines, oaks, hollies, cypress, sweetgum, scaly-bark and white hickories, and sabal palmetto. East Georgia is in the subtropical coniferous forest biome and conifer species as other broadleaf evergreen flora make up the majority of the southern and coastal regions. Yellow jasmine and mountain laurel make up just a few of the flowering shrubs in the state.

White-tailed (Virginia) deer are in nearly all counties. The northern mockingbird and brown thrasher are among the 160 bird species that live in the state. Reptiles and amphibians include the eastern diamondback, copperhead, and cottonmouth snakes; salamanders; frogs; alligators; and toads. There are about 79 species of reptile and 63 amphibians known to live in Georgia. The most popular freshwater game fish are trout, bream, bass, and catfish, all but the last of which are produced in state hatcheries for restocking. Popular saltwater game fish include red drum, spotted seatrout, flounder, and tarpon. Porpoises, whales, shrimp, oysters, and blue crabs are found inshore and offshore of the Georgia coast.

In the Atlanta area, World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta and Stone Mountain are important tourist attractions. The Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta, was the largest aquarium in the world in 2010 according to Guinness World Records. Callaway Gardens, in western Georgia, is a family resort. The area is also popular with golfers. The Savannah Historic District attracts over eleven million tourists each year. The Golden Isles are a string of barrier islands off the Atlantic coast of Georgia near Brunswick that include beaches, golf courses and the Cumberland Island National Seashore. Several sites honor the lives and careers of noted American leaders: the Little White House in Warm Springs, which served as the summer residence of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt while he was being treated for polio; President Jimmy Carter‘s hometown of Plains and the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta; the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta, which is the final resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King; and Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached.

Georgia’s major fine art museums include the High Museum of Art and the Michael C. Carlos Museum, both in Atlanta; the Georgia Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens; Telfair Museum of Art and the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah; and the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta. The state theatre of Georgia is the Springer Opera House located in Columbus. The Atlanta Opera brings opera to Georgia stages. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is the most widely recognized orchestra and largest arts organization in the southeastern United States. There are a number of performing arts venues in the state, among the largest are the Fox Theatre, and the Alliance Theatre at the Woodruff Arts Center, both on Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta as well as the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, located in Northwest Atlanta.

There are 63 parks in Georgia, 48 of which are state parks and 15 that are historic sites, and numerous state wildlife preserves, under the supervision of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Other historic sites and parks are supervised by the National Park Service and include the Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville; Appalachian National Scenic Trail; Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area near Atlanta; Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park at Fort Oglethorpe; Cumberland Island National Seashore near St. Marys; Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island; Fort Pulaski National Monument in Savannah; Jimmy Carter National Historic Site near Plains; Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park near Kennesaw; Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site in Atlanta; Ocmulgee National Monument at Macon; Trail of Tears National Historic Trail; and the Okefenokee Swamp in Waycross, Georgia (Protected areas of Georgia). Outdoor recreational activities include hiking along the Appalachian Trail; Civil War Heritage Trails; rock climbing and whitewater kayaking. Other outdoor activities include hunting and fishing.

Read more on Georgia Tourism, Wikitravel Georgia and Wikivoyage Georgia.




USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor © Cristo Vlahos/cc-by-sa-3.0

USS Missouri and USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor © Cristo Vlahos/cc-by-sa-3.0

Hawaii – Aloha State
Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state geographically located in Oceania, although it is governed as a part of North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is the 8th-smallest and the 11th-least populous, but the 13th-most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. It is the only state with an Asian plurality. The state’s oceanic coastline is about 750 miles (1,210 km) long, the fourth longest in the U.S. after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California. Honolulu is the capital and largest city of the state (List of places in Hawaii).

The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian archipelago, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight main islands are—in order from northwest to southeast: Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest island in the group; it is often called the “Big Island” or “Hawaiʻi Island” to avoid confusion with the state or archipelago. The archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania.

Hawaii’s diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists. Because of its central location in the Pacific and 19th-century labor migration, Hawaii’s culture is strongly influenced by North American and East Asian cultures, in addition to its indigenous Hawaiian culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents, along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu.

Several areas in Hawaii are under the protection of the National Park Service. Hawaii has two national parks: Haleakalā National Park located near Kula on the island of Maui, which features the dormant volcano Haleakalā that formed east Maui, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in the southeast region of the Hawaiʻi Island, which includes the active volcano Kīlauea and its rift zones. There are three national historical parks; Kalaupapa National Historical Park in Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi, the site of a former leper colony; Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi Island; and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, an ancient place of refuge on Hawaiʻi Island’s west coast. Other areas under the control of the National Park Service include Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on Hawaiʻi Island and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor on Oʻahu. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was proclaimed by President George W. Bush on June 15, 2006. The monument covers roughly 140,000 square miles (360,000 km²) of reefs, atolls, and shallow and deep sea out to 50 miles (80 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean—an area larger than all of the national parks in the U.S. combined.

The aboriginal culture of Hawaii is Polynesian. Hawaii represents the northernmost extension of the vast Polynesian Triangle of the south and central Pacific Ocean. While traditional Hawaiian culture remains as vestiges in modern Hawaiian society, there are re-enactments of the ceremonies and traditions throughout the islands. Some of these cultural influences, including the popularity (in greatly modified form) of lūʻau and hula, are strong enough to affect the wider United States.

The cuisine of Hawaii is a fusion of many foods brought by immigrants to the Hawaiian Islands, including the earliest Polynesians and Native Hawaiian cuisine, and American, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Polynesian, Puerto Rican, and Portuguese origins. Plant and animal food sources are imported from around the world for agricultural use in Hawaii. Poi, a starch made by pounding taro, is one of the traditional foods of the islands. Many local restaurants serve the ubiquitous plate lunch, which features two scoops of rice, a simplified version of American macaroni salad and a variety of toppings including hamburger patties, a fried egg, and gravy of a loco moco, Japanese style tonkatsu or the traditional lūʻau favorites, including kālua pork and laulau. Spam musubi is an example of the fusion of ethnic cuisine that developed on the islands among the mix of immigrant groups and military personnel. In the 1990s, a group of chefs developed Hawaii regional cuisine as a contemporary fusion cuisine.

Tourism is an important part of the Hawaiian economy. Due to the mild year-round weather, tourist travel is popular throughout the year. The major holidays are the most popular times for outsiders to visit, especially in the winter months. Hawaii hosts numerous cultural events. The annual Merrie Monarch Festival is an international Hula competition. The Hawaii International Film Festival is the premier film festival for Pacific rim cinema. Honolulu hosts the state’s long-running LGBT film festival, the Rainbow Film Festival. Surfing has been a central part of Polynesian culture for centuries. Since the late 19th century, Hawaii has become a major site for surfists from around the world. Notable competitions include the Triple Crown of Surfing and The Eddie. Hawaii has hosted the Sony Open in Hawaii golf tournament since 1965, the Tournament of Champions golf tournament since 1999, the Lotte Championship golf tournament since 2012, the Honolulu Marathon since 1973, the Ironman World Championship triathlon race since 1978, the Ultraman triathlon since 1983, the National Football League‘s Pro Bowl from 1980 to 2016, the 2000 FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships, and the 2008 Pan-Pacific Championship and 2012 Hawaiian Islands Invitational soccer tournaments.

Read more on Hawaii Tourism, Wikitravel Hawaii and Wikivoyage Hawaii.




Shoshone Falls © Jloft/cc-by-sa-3.0

Shoshone Falls © Jloft/cc-by-sa-3.0

Idaho – Gem State
Idaho is located in the northwestern region. It borders the state of Montana to the east and northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west. To the north, it shares a small portion of the Canadian border with the province of British Columbia. With a population of approximately 1.7 million and an area of 83,569 square miles (216,440 km²), Idaho is the 14th largest, the 12th least populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The state’s capital and largest city is Boise (List of cities in Idaho).

Idaho prior to European settlement was inhabited by Native American peoples, some of whom still live in the area. In the early 19th century, Idaho was considered part of the Oregon Country, an area disputed between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. It officially became U.S. territory with the signing of the Oregon Treaty of 1846, but a separate Idaho Territory was not organized until 1863, instead being included for periods in Oregon Territory and Washington Territory. Idaho was eventually admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, becoming the 43rd state.

Forming part of the Pacific Northwest (and the associated Cascadia bioregion), Idaho is divided into several distinct geographic and climatic regions. In the state’s north, the relatively isolated Idaho Panhandle is closely linked with Eastern Washington, with which it shares the Pacific Time Zone – the rest of the state uses the Mountain Time Zone. The state’s south includes the Snake River Plain (which has most of the population and agricultural land), while the south-east incorporates part of the Great Basin. Idaho is quite mountainous, and contains several stretches of the Rocky Mountains. The United States Forest Service holds about 38% of Idaho’s land, the most of any state.

Industries significant for the state economy include manufacturing, agriculture, mining, forestry, and tourism. A number of science and technology firms are either headquartered in Idaho or have factories there, and the state also contains the Idaho National Laboratory, which is the country’s largest Department of Energy facility. Idaho’s agricultural sector supplies many products, but the state is best known for its potato crop, which comprises around one-third of the nationwide yield. The official state nickname is the “Gem State”, which references Idaho’s natural beauty.

Idaho is home to three facilities of Anheuser-Busch which provide a large part of the malt for breweries across the nation. Outdoor recreation is a common example ranging from numerous snowmobile and downhill and cross-country ski areas in winter to the evolution of Lewiston as a retirement community based on mild winters, dry, year-round climate and one of the lowest median wind velocities anywhere, combined with the rivers for a wide variety of activities. Other examples would be ATK Corporation, which operates three ammunition and ammunition components plants in Lewiston. Two are sporting and one is defense contract. The Lewis-Clark valley has an additional independent ammunition components manufacturer and the Chipmunk rifle factory until it was purchased in 2007 by Keystone Sporting Arms and production was moved to Milton, Pennsylvania. Four of the world’s six welded aluminum jet boat (for running river rapids) manufacturers are in the Lewiston-Clarkston, WA valley. Wine grapes were grown between Kendrick and Juliaetta in the Idaho Panhandle by the French Rothschilds until Prohibition. In keeping with this, while there are no large wineries or breweries in Idaho, there are numerous and growing numbers of award-winning boutique wineries and microbreweries in the northern part of the state.

National parks, reserves, monuments and historic sites are: California National Historic Trail, City of Rocks National Reserve, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Minidoka National Historic Site, Nez Perce National Historical Park, Oregon National Historic Trail, Yellowstone National Park and Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. National recreation areas are: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Sawtooth National Recreation Area. National wildlife refuges and Wilderness Areas are: Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness Area, Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge and Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge. National conservation area is the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (List of Idaho state parks).

Read more on Idaho Tourism, Wikitravel Idaho and Wikivoyage Idaho.




Chicago on Lake Michigan © J. Crocker

Chicago on Lake Michigan © J. Crocker

Illinois – Land of Lincoln
Illinois is located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago’s metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state’s population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world’s busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield (List of municipalities in Illinois), which is located in the central part of the state. Although today’s Illinois’ largest population center is in its northeast, the state’s European population grew first in the west as the French settled the vast Mississippi of the Illinois Country of New France. Following the American Revolutionary War, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1780s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. Following increased commercial activity in the Great Lakes after the construction of the Erie Canal, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River at one of the few natural harbors on the southern section of Lake Michigan. John Deere‘s invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois’s rich prairie into some of the world’s most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper, and new railroads carried immigrants to new homes in the country’s west and shipped commodity crops to the nation’s east. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

By 1900, the growth of industrial jobs in the northern cities and coal mining in the central and southern areas attracted immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Illinois was an important manufacturing center during both world wars. The Great Migration from the South established a large community of African Americans in the state, including Chicago, who founded the city’s famous jazz and blues cultures. Chicago, the center of the Chicago Metropolitan Area, is now recognized as a global alpha-level city.

Three U.S. presidents have been elected while living in Illinois: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Barack Obama. Additionally, Ronald Reagan, whose political career was based in California, was born and raised in the state. Today, Illinois honors Lincoln with its official state slogan Land of Lincoln, which has been displayed on its license plates since 1954. The state is the site of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield and the future home of the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

Illinois has numerous museums (List of museums in Illinois); the greatest concentration of these are in Chicago. Several museums in Chicago are ranked as some of the best in the world. These include the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry. The modern Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is the largest and most attended presidential library in the country. The Illinois State Museum boasts a collection of 13.5 million objects that tell the story of Illinois life, land, people, and art. The ISM is among only 5% of the nation’s museums that are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. Other historical museums in the state include the Polish Museum of America in Chicago; Magnolia Manor in Cairo; Easley Pioneer Museum in Ipava; the Elihu Benjamin Washburne; Ulysses S. Grant Homes, both in Galena; and the Chanute Air Museum, located on the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul. The Chicago metropolitan area also hosts two zoos: The very large Brookfield Zoo, located approximately 10 miles west of the city center in suburban Brookfield, contains over 2,300 animals and covers 216 acres (87 ha). The Lincoln Park Zoo is located in huge Lincoln Park on Chicago’s North Side, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the Loop. The zoo covers over 35 acres (14 ha) within the park.

The Illinois state parks system began in 1908 with what is now Fort Massac State Park, becoming the first park in a system encompassing over 60 parks and about the same number of recreational and wildlife areas. Areas under the protection of the National Park Service include: the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor near Lockport, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, the American Discovery Trail, and the Pullman National Monument. The federal government also manages the Shawnee National Forest and the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (List of protected areas of Illinois).

Read more on Illinois Tourism, Wikitravel Illinois and Wikivoyage Illinois.




West Point © Huw Williams

West Point © Huw Williams

Indiana – Hoosier State
Indiana is located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions. Indiana is the 38th-largest by area and the 17th-most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis (List of cities in Indiana and list of towns in Indiana). Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.

Before becoming a territory, various indigenous peoples and Native Americans inhabited Indiana for thousands of years. Since its founding as a territory, settlement patterns in Indiana have reflected regional cultural segmentation present in the Eastern United States; the state’s northernmost tier was settled primarily by people from New England and New York, Central Indiana by migrants from the Mid-Atlantic states and from adjacent Ohio, and Southern Indiana by settlers from the Southern states, particularly Kentucky and Tennessee.

Indiana has a diverse economy with a gross state product of $359.12 billion in 2017. Indiana has several metropolitan areas with populations greater than 100,000 and a number of smaller industrial cities and towns. Indiana is home to professional sports teams, including the NFL‘s Indianapolis Colts and the NBA‘s Indiana Pacers, and hosts several notable athletic events, such as the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 motorsports races.

The state’s name means “Land of the Indians“, or simply “Indian Land”. It also stems from Indiana’s territorial history. On May 7, 1800, the United States Congress passed legislation to divide the Northwest Territory into two areas and named the western section the Indiana Territory. In 1816, when Congress passed an Enabling Act to begin the process of establishing statehood for Indiana, a part of this territorial land became the geographic area for the new state. A resident of Indiana is officially known as a Hoosier. The etymology of this word is disputed, but the leading theory, as advanced by the Indiana Historical Bureau and the Indiana Historical Society, has “Hoosier” originating from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee (a part of the Upland South region of the United States) as a term for a backwoodsman, a rough countryman, or a country bumpkin.

The average altitude of Indiana is about 760 feet (230 m) above sea level. The highest point in the state is Hoosier Hill in Wayne County at 1,257 feet (383 m) above sea level. The lowest point at 320 feet (98 m) above sea level is in Posey County, where the Wabash River meets the Ohio River Only 2,850 square miles (7,400 km²) have an altitude greater than 1,000 feet (300 m) and this area is enclosed within 14 counties. About 4,700 square miles (12,000 km²) have an elevation of less than 500 feet (150 m), mostly concentrated along the Ohio and lower Wabash Valleys, from Tell City and Terre Haute to Evansville and Mount Vernon. The state includes two natural regions of the United States: the Central Lowlands and the Interior Low Plateaus. The till plains make up the northern and central regions of Indiana. Much of its appearance is a result of elements left behind by glaciers. Central Indiana is mainly flat with some low rolling hills (except where rivers cut deep valleys through the plain, like at the Wabash River and Sugar Creek) and soil composed of glacial sands, gravel and clay, which results in exceptional farmland. Northern Indiana is similar, except for the presence of higher and hillier terminal moraines and hundreds of kettle lakes. In northwest Indiana there are various sand ridges and dunes, some reaching nearly 200 feet in height. These are along the Lake Michigan shoreline and also inland to the Kankakee Outwash Plain. Southern Indiana is characterized by valleys and rugged, hilly terrain, contrasting from much of the state. Here, bedrock is exposed at the surface and isn’t buried in glacial till like further north. Because of the prevalent Indiana limestone, the area has many caves, caverns, and quarries.

Read more on Indiana Tourism, Wikitravel Indiana and Wikivoyage Indiana.




Des Moines skyline © Tim Kiser/cc-by-sa-2.5

Des Moines skyline © Tim Kiser/cc-by-sa-2.5

Iowa – Hawkeye State
Iowa is located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states; Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, South Dakota to the northwest, and Minnesota to the north.

In colonial times, Iowa was a part of French Louisiana and Spanish Louisiana; its state flag is patterned after the flag of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, people laid the foundation for an agriculture-based economy in the heart of the Corn Belt.

In the latter half of the 20th century, Iowa’s agricultural economy made the transition to a diversified economy of advanced manufacturing, processing, financial services, information technology, biotechnology, and green energy production. Iowa is the 26th most extensive in land area and the 30th most populous of the 50 U.S states. While the state’s capital and largest city by population is Des Moines (List of cities in Iowa), the largest metropolitan area in the state is that of Omaha, NE, which extends into three Southwest Iowa counties. Iowa has been listed as one of the safest states in which to live.

Iowa is generally not flat; most of the state consists of rolling hills. Iowa can be divided into eight landforms based on glaciation, soils, topography, and river drainage. Loess hills lie along the western border of the state, some of which are several hundred feet thick. Northeast Iowa along the Upper Mississippi River is part of the Driftless Area, consisting of steep hills and valleys which appear almost mountainous. Several natural lakes exist, most notably Big Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, and East Okoboji Lake in northwest Iowa (Iowa Great Lakes). To the east lies Clear Lake. Man-made lakes include Lake Odessa, Saylorville Lake, Lake Red Rock, Coralville Lake, Lake MacBride, and Rathbun Lake. The state’s northwest area has many remnants of the once common wetlands, such as Barringer Slough.

Central Iowa
Ames is the home of Iowa State University, the Iowa State Center, and Reiman Gardens. Although the Omaha (Nebr.) Metropolitan Area, which extends into southwest Iowa, is the largest in the state, Des Moines is the largest city in Iowa and the state’s political and economic center. It is home to the Iowa State Capitol, the State Historical Society of Iowa Museum, Drake University, Des Moines Art Center, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Principal Riverwalk, the Iowa State Fair, Terrace Hill, and the World Food Prize. Nearby attractions include Adventureland and Prairie Meadows Racetrack Casino in Altoona, Living History Farms in Urbandale, Trainland USA in Colfax, and the Iowa Speedway and Valle Drive-In in Newton. Boone hosts the biennial Farm Progress Show and is home to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower museum, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, and Ledges State Park. The Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama is the only American Indian settlement in Iowa and is host to a large annual Pow-wow. The Clint Eastwood movie The Bridges of Madison County, based on the popular novel of the same name, took place and was filmed in Madison County. Also in Madison County is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset. Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Newton, Indianola, Pella, Knoxville, Marshalltown, Perry, and Story City.

Eastern Iowa
Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, which includes the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Old Capitol building. Because of the extraordinary history in the teaching and sponsoring of creative writing that emanated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and related programs, Iowa City was the first American city designated by the United Nations as a “City of Literature” in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch. The Amana Colonies are a group of settlements of German Pietists comprising seven villages listed as National Historic Landmarks. The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has collections of paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. Cedar Rapids is also home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Iowa’s only National Trust for Historic Preservation Site, Brucemore mansion. Davenport boasts the Figge Art Museum, River Music Experience, Putnam Museum, Davenport Skybridge, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Quad Cities, and plays host to the annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, and the Quad City Air Show, which is the largest airshow in the state. Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include West Liberty, Fairfield, Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Fort Madison, Le Claire, Mount Vernon, Ottumwa, Washington, and Wilton. Along Interstate 80 near Walcott, Iowa lies the world’s largest truck stop, Iowa 80.

Western Iowa
Some of the most dramatic scenery in Iowa is found in the unique Loess Hills. The Iowa Great Lakes include several resort areas such as Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park, and the Okoboji Lakes. The Sanford Museum and Planetarium in Cherokee, Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Arnolds Park Amusement Park (one of the oldest amusement parks in the country) in Arnolds Park, The Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, and the Fort Museum and Frontier Village in Fort Dodge are regional destinations. Every year in early May, the city of Orange City holds the annual Tulip Festival, a celebration of the strong Dutch heritage in the region. Sioux City boasts a revitalized downtown, attractions include the Sergeant Floyd Monument, Sergeant Floyd River Museum, and the Orpheum Theater. Council Bluffs, part of the Omaha (Nebr.) Metropolitan Area and a hub of southwest Iowa, sits at the base of the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway. With three casino resorts, the city also includes such cultural attractions as the Western Hills Trails Center, Union Pacific Railroad Museum, the Grenville M. Dodge House, and the Lewis and Clark Monument, with clear views of the Downtown Omaha skyline found throughout the city. Northwest Iowa is home to some of the largest concentrations of wind turbine farms in the world. Other western communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Storm Lake, Spencer, Le Mars, Glenwood, Carroll, Harlan, Atlantic, Red Oak, Denison, Creston, Mount Ayr, Sac City, and Walnut.

Northeast and Northern Iowa
The Driftless Area of northeast Iowa has many steep hills and deep valleys, checkered with forest and terraced fields. Effigy Mounds National Monument in Allamakee and Clayton Counties has the largest assemblage of animal-shaped prehistoric mounds in the world. Waterloo is home of the Grout Museum and is headquarters of the Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area. Cedar Falls is home of the University of Northern Iowa. Dubuque is a regional tourist destination with attractions such as the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium and the Port of Dubuque. Dyersville is home to the famed Field of Dreams baseball diamond. Maquoketa Caves State Park, near Maquoketa, contains more caves than any other state park. Fort Atkinson State Preserve in Fort Atkinson has the remains of an original 1840s Dragoon fortification. Fort Dodge is home of The Fort historical museum and the Blanden Art Museum, and host Frontiers Days which celebrate the town history. Other communities with vibrant historic downtown areas include Decorah, McGregor, Mason City, Elkader, Guttenberg, Algona, Spillville, Charles City, and Independence.

Statewide
RAGBRAI – the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa – attracts thousands of bicyclists and support personnel. It has crossed the state on various routes each year since 1973. Iowa is home to more than 70 wineries, and hosts five regional wine tasting trails. Many Iowa communities hold farmers’ markets during warmer months; these are typically weekly events, but larger cities can host multiple markets.

Read more on Iowa Tourism, Wikitravel Iowa and Wikivoyage Iowa.




Great Plains of Kansas © U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters - Edwin Olson

Great Plains of Kansas
© U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters – Edwin Olson

Kansas – Sunflower State
Kansas is located in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, with its most populated county being Johnson County (List of cities in Kansas). Kansas is bordered by Nebraska on the north; Missouri on the east; Oklahoma on the south; and Colorado on the west. Kansas is named after the Kansas River, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native Americans who lived along its banks. The tribe‘s name is often said to mean “people of the (south) wind” although this was probably not the term’s original meaning. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Tribes in the eastern part of the state generally lived in villages along the river valleys. Tribes in the western part of the state were semi-nomadic and hunted large herds of bison.

Kansas was first settled by Americans in 1827 with the establishment of Fort Leavenworth. The pace of settlement accelerated in the 1850s, in the midst of political wars over the slavery debate. When it was officially opened to settlement by the U.S. government in 1854 with the Kansas–Nebraska Act, abolitionist Free-Staters from New England and pro-slavery settlers from neighboring Missouri rushed to the territory to determine whether Kansas would become a free state or a slave state. Thus, the area was a hotbed of violence and chaos in its early days as these forces collided, and was known as Bleeding Kansas. The abolitionists prevailed, and on January 29, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as a free state, hence the unofficial nickname “The Free State.”

By 2015, Kansas was one of the most productive agricultural states, producing high yields of wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans. Kansas, which has an area of 82,278 square miles (213,100 square kilometers) is the 15th-largest state by area and is the 34th most-populous of the 50 states with a population of 2,911,505. Residents of Kansas are called Kansans. Mount Sunflower is Kansas’s highest point at 4,041 feet (1,232 meters).

The state is divided into 105 counties with 628 cities, and is located equidistant from the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The geographic center of the 48 contiguous states is in Smith County near Lebanon. Until 1989, the Meades Ranch Triangulation Station in Osborne County was the geodetic center of North America: the central reference point for all maps of North America. The geographic center of Kansas is in Barton County.

The western two-thirds of the state, lying in the great central plain of the United States, has a generally flat or undulating surface, while the eastern third has many hills and forests. The land gradually rises from east to west; its altitude ranges from 684 ft (208 m) along the Verdigris River at Coffeyville in Montgomery County, to 4,039 ft (1,231 m) at Mount Sunflower, 0.5 miles (0.80 kilometers) from the Colorado border, in Wallace County. It is a common misconception that Kansas is the flattest state in the nation — in 2003, a tongue-in-cheek study famously declared the state “flatter than a pancake”. In fact, Kansas has a maximum topographic relief of 3,360 ft (1,020 m), making it the 23rd flattest U.S. state measured by maximum relief.

Nearly 75 mi (121 km) of the state’s northeastern boundary is defined by the Missouri River. The Kansas River (locally known as the Kaw), formed by the junction of the Smoky Hill and Republican rivers at appropriately-named Junction City, joins the Missouri River at Kansas City, after a course of 170 mi (270 km) across the northeastern part of the state. The Arkansas River, rising in Colorado, flows with a bending course for nearly 500 mi (800 km) across the western and southern parts of the state. With its tributaries, (the Little Arkansas, Ninnescah, Walnut, Cow Creek, Cimarron, Verdigris, and the Neosho), it forms the southern drainage system of the state. Kansas’s other rivers are the Saline and Solomon Rivers, tributaries of the Smoky Hill River; the Big Blue, Delaware, and Wakarusa, which flow into the Kansas River; and the Marais des Cygnes, a tributary of the Missouri River. Spring River is located between Riverton and Baxter Springs.

Areas under the protection of the National Park Service include: Brown v. Board Of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, California National Historic Trail, Fort Larned National Historic Site in Larned, Fort Scott National Historic Site, Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Nicodemus National Historic Site at Nicodemus, Oregon National Historic Trail, Pony Express National Historic Trail, Santa Fe National Historic Trail and Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City.

Northeast Kansas
The northeastern portion of the state, extending from the eastern border to Junction City and from the Nebraska border to south of Johnson County is home to more than 1.5 million people in the Kansas City (Kansas portion), Manhattan, Lawrence, and Topeka metropolitan areas. Overland Park, a young city incorporated in 1960, has the largest population and the largest land area in the county. It is home to Johnson County Community College and the corporate campus of Sprint Corporation, the largest private employer in the metro area. In 2006, the city was ranked as the sixth best place to live in America; the neighboring city of Olathe was 13th. Olathe is the county seat and home to Johnson County Executive Airport. The cities of Olathe, Shawnee, De Soto and Gardner have some of the state’s fastest growing populations. The cities of Overland Park, Lenexa, Olathe, De Soto, and Gardner are also notable because they lie along the former route of the Santa Fe Trail. Among cities with at least one thousand residents, Mission Hills has the highest median income in the state. Several institutions of higher education are located in Northeast Kansas including Baker University (the oldest university in the state, founded in 1858 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church) in Baldwin City, Benedictine College (sponsored by St. Benedict’s Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica Monastery and formed from the merger of St. Benedict’s College (1858) and Mount St. Scholastica College (1923)) in Atchison, MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Ottawa University in Ottawa and Overland Park, Kansas City Kansas Community College and KU Medical Center in Kansas City, and KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Less than an hour’s drive to the west, Lawrence is home to the University of Kansas, the largest public university in the state, and Haskell Indian Nations University. To the north, Kansas City, with the second largest land area in the state, contains a number of diverse ethnic neighborhoods. Its attractions include the Kansas Speedway, Sporting Kansas City, Kansas City T-Bones, Schlitterbahn, and The Legends at Village West retail and entertainment center. Nearby, Kansas’s first settlement Bonner Springs is home to several national and regional attractions including the Providence Medical Center Amphitheather, the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, and the annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival. Further up the Missouri River, the city of Lansing is the home of the state’s first maximum-security prison. Historic Leavenworth, founded in 1854, was the first incorporated city in Kansas. North of the city, Fort Leavenworth is the oldest active Army post west of the Mississippi River. The city of Atchison was an early commercial center in the state and is well known as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. To the west, nearly a quarter million people reside in the Topeka metropolitan area. Topeka is the state capital and home to Washburn University and Washburn Institute of Technology. Built at a Kansas River crossing along the old Oregon Trail, this historic city has several nationally registered historic places. Further westward along Interstate 70 and the Kansas River is Junction City with its historic limestone and brick buildings and nearby Fort Riley, well known as the home to the U.S. Army‘s 1st Infantry Division (nicknamed “the Big Red One”). A short distance away, the city of Manhattan is home to Kansas State University, the second-largest public university in the state and the nation’s oldest land-grant university, dating back to 1863. South of the campus, Aggieville dates back to 1889 and is the state’s oldest shopping district of its kind.

Wichita
In south-central Kansas, the Wichita metropolitan area is home to over 600,000 people. Wichita is the largest city in the state in terms of both land area and population. The Air Capital is a major manufacturing center for the aircraft industry and the home of Wichita State University. Before Wichita was The Air Capital it was a Cowtown. With a number of nationally registered historic places, museums, and other entertainment destinations, it has a desire to become a cultural mecca in the Midwest. Wichita’s population growth has grown by double digits and the surrounding suburbs are among the fastest growing cities in the state. The population of Goddard has grown by more than 11% per year since 2000. Other fast-growing cities include Andover, Maize, Park City, Derby, and Haysville. Wichita was one of the first cities to add the city commissioner and city manager in their form of government. Wichita is also home of the nationally recognized Sedgwick County Zoo. Up river (the Arkansas River) from Wichita is the city of Hutchinson. The city was built on one of the world’s largest salt deposits, and it has the world’s largest and longest wheat elevator. It is also the home of Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Prairie Dunes Country Club and the Kansas State Fair. North of Wichita along Interstate 135 is the city of Newton, the former western terminal of the Santa Fe Railroad and trailhead for the famed Chisholm Trail. To the southeast of Wichita are the cities of Winfield and Arkansas City with historic architecture and the Cherokee Strip Museum (in Ark City). The city of Udall was the site of the deadliest tornado in Kansas on May 25, 1955; it killed 80 people in and near the city. To the southwest of Wichita is Freeport, the state’s smallest incorporated city (population 5).

Around the state
Located midway between Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita in the heart of the Bluestem Region of the Flint Hills, the city of Emporia has several nationally registered historic places and is the home of Emporia State University, well known for its Teachers College. It was also the home of newspaper man William Allen White.

Southeast Kansas
Southeast Kansas has a unique history with a number of nationally registered historic places in this coal-mining region. Located in Crawford County (dubbed the Fried Chicken Capital of Kansas), Pittsburg is the largest city in the region and the home of Pittsburg State University. The neighboring city of Frontenac in 1888 was the site of the worst mine disaster in the state in which an underground explosion killed 47 miners. “Big Brutus” is located 1.5 miles (2.4 km) outside the city of West Mineral. Along with the restored fort, historic Fort Scott has a national cemetery designated by President Lincoln in 1862.

Central and North-Central Kansas
Salina is the largest city in central and north-central Kansas. South of Salina is the small city of Lindsborg with its numerous Dala horses. Much of the architecture and decor of this town has a distinctly Swedish style. To the east along Interstate 70, the historic city of Abilene was formerly a trailhead for the Chisholm Trail and was the boyhood home of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and is the site of his Presidential Library and the tombs of the former President, First Lady and son who died in infancy. To the west is Lucas, the Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas.

Northwest Kansas
Westward along the Interstate, the city of Russell, traditionally the beginning of sparsely-populated northwest Kansas, was the base of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole and the boyhood home of U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. The city of Hays is home to Fort Hays State University and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, and is the largest city in the northwest with a population of around 20,001. Two other landmarks are located in smaller towns in Ellis County: the “Cathedral of the Plains” is located 10 miles (16 km) east of Hays in Victoria, and the boyhood home of Walter Chrysler is 15 miles (24 km) west of Hays in Ellis. West of Hays, population drops dramatically, even in areas along I-70, and only two towns containing populations of more than 4,000: Colby and Goodland, which are located 35 miles (56 km) apart along I-70.

Southwest Kansas
Dodge City, famously known for the cattle drive days of the late 19th century, was built along the old Santa Fe Trail route. The city of Liberal is located along the southern Santa Fe Trail route. The first wind farm in the state was built east of Montezuma. Garden City has the Lee Richardson Zoo. In 1992, a short-lived secessionist movement advocated the secession of several counties in southwest Kansas.

Read more on Kansas Tourism, Wikitravel Kansas and Wikivoyage Kansas.




Kentucky State Sign © Andreas Faessler/cc-by-sa-4.0

Kentucky State Sign © Andreas Faessler/cc-by-sa-4.0

Kentucky – Bluegrass State
Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is located in the East South Central region. Although styled as the “State of Kentucky” in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky’s first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth (the others being Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts). Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky split from it and became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

Kentucky is known as the “Bluegrass State”, a nickname based on the bluegrass found in many of its pastures due to the fertile soil. One of the major regions in Kentucky is the Bluegrass Region in central Kentucky, which houses two of its major cities, Louisville and Lexington. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world’s longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park, the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States, and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River.

Kentucky is also known for horse racing, bourbon distilleries, moonshine, coal, the “My Old Kentucky Home” historic state park, automobile manufacturing, tobacco, bluegrass music, college basketball, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Kentucky can be divided into five primary regions: the Cumberland Plateau in the east, the north-central Bluegrass region, the south-central and western Pennyroyal Plateau (also known as the Pennyrile or Mississippi Plateau), the Western Coal Fields and the far-west Jackson Purchase. The Bluegrass region is commonly divided into two regions, the Inner Bluegrass—the encircling 90 miles (140 km) around Lexington—and the Outer Bluegrass—the region that contains most of the northern portion of the state, above the Knobs. Much of the outer Bluegrass is in the Eden Shale Hills area, made up of short, steep, and very narrow hills.

Kentucky has more navigable miles of water than any other state in the union, other than Alaska. Kentucky is the only U.S. state to have a continuous border of rivers running along three of its sides—the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Big Sandy River and Tug Fork to the east. Its major internal rivers include the Kentucky River, Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Green River and Licking River. Though it has only three major natural lakes, Kentucky is home to many artificial lakes. Kentucky has both the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi in water volume (Lake Cumberland) and surface area (Kentucky Lake). Kentucky Lake’s 2,064 miles (3,322 km) of shoreline, 160,300 acres (64,900 hectares) of water surface, and 4,008,000 acre feet (4,944 Gl) of flood storage are the most of any lake in the TVA system. Kentucky’s 90,000 miles (140,000 km) of streams provides one of the most expansive and complex stream systems in the nation (List of lakes in Kentucky, List of rivers of Kentucky and List of dams and reservoirs in Kentucky). Among the natural attractions are:

Although Kentucky’s culture is generally considered to be Southern, it is unique in that it is also influenced by the Midwest and Southern Appalachia in certain areas of the state. The state is known for bourbon and whisky distilling, tobacco, horse racing, and college basketball. Kentucky is more similar to the Upland South in terms of ancestry that is predominantly American.

Nevertheless, during the 19th century, Kentucky did receive a substantial number of German immigrants, who settled mostly in the Midwest, along the Ohio River primarily in Louisville, Covington and Newport. Only Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia have higher German ancestry percentages than Kentucky among Census-defined Southern states, although Kentucky’s percentage is closer to Arkansas and Virginia’s than the previously named state’s percentages. Scottish Americans, English Americans and Scotch-Irish Americans have heavily influenced Kentucky culture, and are present in every part of the state. As of the 1980s the only counties in the United States where over half of the population cited “English” as their only ancestry group were all in the hills of eastern Kentucky (and made up virtually every county in this region).

Kentucky was a slave state, and blacks once comprised over one-quarter of its population. However, it lacked the cotton plantation system and never had the same high percentage of African Americans as most other slave states. With less than 8% of its current population being black, Kentucky is rarely included in modern-day definitions of the Black Belt, despite a relatively significant rural African American population in the Central and Western areas of the state.

Kentucky adopted the Jim Crow system of racial segregation in most public spheres after the Civil War. Louisville’s 1914 ordinance for residential racial segregation was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1917. However, in 1908 Kentucky enacted the Day Law, “An Act to Prohibit White and Colored Persons from Attending the Same School”, which Berea College unsuccessfully challenged at the US Supreme Court in 1908; in 1948, Lyman T. Johnson filed suit for admission to the University of Kentucky; as a result in the summer of 1949, nearly thirty African American students entered UK graduate and professional programs. Kentucky integrated its schools after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education verdict, later adopting the first state civil rights act in the South in 1966.

The biggest day in American horse racing, the Kentucky Derby, is preceded by the two-week Derby Festival in Louisville. The Derby Festival features many events, including Thunder Over Louisville, the Pegasus Parade, the Great Steamboat Race, Fest-a-Ville, the Chow Wagon, BalloonFest, BourbonVille, and many others leading up to the big race.

Louisville also plays host to the Kentucky State Fair and the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. Bowling Green, the state’s third-largest city and home to the only assembly plant in the world that manufactures the Chevrolet Corvette, opened the National Corvette Museum in 1994. The fourth-largest city, Owensboro, gives credence to its nickname of “Barbecue Capital of the World” by hosting the annual International Bar-B-Q Festival.

Old Louisville, the largest historic preservation district in the United States featuring Victorian architecture and the third largest overall, hosts the St. James Court Art Show, the largest outdoor art show in the United States. The neighborhood was also home to the Southern Exposition (1883–1887), which featured the first public display of Thomas Edison‘s light bulb, and was the setting of Alice Hegan Rice‘s novel, Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.

Hodgenville, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, hosts the annual Lincoln Days Celebration, and also hosted the kick-off for the National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in February 2008. Bardstown celebrates its heritage as a major bourbon-producing region with the Kentucky Bourbon Festival. Glasgow mimics Glasgow, Scotland by hosting the Glasgow Highland Games, its own version of the Highland Games, and Sturgis hosts “Little Sturgis”, a mini version of Sturgis, South Dakota‘s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Winchester celebrates an original Kentucky creation, Beer Cheese, with its Beer Cheese Festival held annually in June. Beer Cheese was developed in Clark County at some point in the 1940s along the Kentucky River.

The residents of tiny Benton pay tribute to their favorite tuber, the sweet potato, by hosting Tater Day. Residents of Clarkson in Grayson County celebrate their city’s ties to the honey industry by celebrating the Clarkson Honeyfest. The Clarkson Honeyfest is held the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in September, and is the “Official State Honey Festival of Kentucky”.

Read more on Kentucky Tourism, Wikitravel Kentucky und Wikivoyage Kentucky.




Bourbon Street in New Orleans © Chris Litherland/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bourbon Street in New Orleans © Chris Litherland/cc-by-sa-3.0

Louisiana – Pelican State
Louisiana is located in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state’s capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans (List of municipalities in Louisiana).

Much of the state’s lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp. These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants. Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not received recognition.

Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, the present-day State of Louisiana had been both a French colony and for a brief period a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African people as slaves in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1921, English was for a time made the sole language of instruction in Louisiana schools before a policy of multilingualism was revived in 1974. There has never been an official language in Louisiana, and the state constitution enumerates “the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins.”

The state may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north, and the alluvial along the coast. The alluvial region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands that cover about 20,000 square miles (52,000 km²). This area lies principally along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which traverses the state from north to south for a distance of about 600 mi (970 km)) and empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the Red River; the Ouachita River and its branches; and other minor streams (some of which are called bayous). The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 10 to 60 miles (15 to 100 km), and along the other rivers, the alluvial region averages about 10 miles (15 km) across. The Mississippi River flows along a ridge formed by its own natural deposits (known as a levee), from which the lands decline toward a river beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile (3 m/km). The alluvial lands along other streams present similar features. The higher and contiguous hill lands of the north and northwestern part of the state have an area of more than 25,000 square miles (65,000 km²). They consist of prairie and woodlands. The elevations above sea level range from 10 feet (3 m) at the coast and swamp lands to 50 and 60 feet (15–18 m) at the prairie and alluvial lands. In the uplands and hills, the elevations rise to Driskill Mountain, the highest point in the state at only 535 feet (163 m) above sea level. From years 1932 to 2010 the state lost 1,800 sq. miles due to rises in sea level and erosion. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) spends around $1 billion per year to help shore up and protect Louisiana shoreline and land in both federal and state funding. Besides the waterways already named, there are the Sabine, forming the western boundary; and the Pearl, the eastern boundary; the Calcasieu, the Mermentau, the Vermilion, Bayou Teche, the Atchafalaya, the Boeuf, Bayou Lafourche, the Courtableau River, Bayou D’Arbonne, the Macon River, the Tensas, Amite River, the Tchefuncte, the Tickfaw, the Natalbany River, and a number of other smaller streams, constituting a natural system of navigable waterways, aggregating over 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long. The state also has political jurisdiction over the approximately 3-mile (4.8 km)-wide portion of subsea land of the inner continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Through a peculiarity of the political geography of the United States, this is substantially less than the 9-mile (14 km)-wide jurisdiction of nearby states Texas and Florida, which, like Louisiana, have extensive Gulf coastlines. The southern coast of Louisiana in the United States is among the fastest-disappearing areas in the world. This has largely resulted from human mismanagement of the coast (see Wetlands of Louisiana). At one time, the land was added to when spring floods from the Mississippi River added sediment and stimulated marsh growth; the land is now shrinking. There are multiple causes. Artificial levees block spring flood water that would bring fresh water and sediment to marshes. Swamps have been extensively logged, leaving canals and ditches that allow saline water to move inland. Canals dug for the oil and gas industry also allow storms to move sea water inland, where it damages swamps and marshes. Rising sea waters have exacerbated the problem. Some researchers estimate that the state is losing a land mass equivalent to 30 football fields every day. There are many proposals to save coastal areas by reducing human damage, including restoring natural floods from the Mississippi. Without such restoration, coastal communities will continue to disappear. And as the communities disappear, more and more people are leaving the region. Since the coastal wetlands support an economically important coastal fishery, the loss of wetlands is adversely affecting this industry.

Owing to its location and geology, the state has high biological diversity. Some vital areas, such as southwestern prairie, have experienced a loss in excess of 98 percent. The pine flatwoods are also at great risk, mostly from fire suppression and urban sprawl. There is not yet a properly organized system of natural areas to represent and protect Louisiana’s biological diversity. Such a system would consist of a protected system of core areas linked by biological corridors, such as Florida is planning. Louisiana contains a number of areas which, to varying degrees, prevent people from using them. In addition to National Park Service areas and a United States National Forest, Louisiana operates a system of state parks, state historic sites, one state preservation area, one state forest, and many Wildlife Management Areas. One of Louisiana’s largest government-owned areas is Kisatchie National Forest. It is some 600,000 acres in area, more than half of which is flatwoods vegetation, which supports many rare plant and animal species. These include the Louisiana pine snake and Red-cockaded woodpecker. The system of government-owned cypress swamps around Lake Pontchartrain is another large area, with southern wetland species including egrets, alligators, and sturgeon. At least 12 core areas would be needed to build a “protected areas system” for the state; these would range from southwestern prairies, to the Pearl River Floodplain in the east, to the Mississippi River alluvial swamps in the north.

Louisiana is home to many, especially notable are the distinct culture of the Louisiana Creoles, typically people of color, descendants of free mixed-race families of the colonial and early statehood periods (Louisiana Creole cuisine).

African culture
The French colony of La Louisiane struggled for decades to survive. Conditions were harsh, the climate and soil were unsuitable for certain crops the colonists knew, and they suffered from regional tropical diseases. Both colonists and the slaves they imported had high mortality rates. The settlers kept importing slaves, which resulted in a high proportion of native Africans from West Africa, who continued to practice their culture in new surroundings. As described by historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, they developed a marked Afro-Creole culture in the colonial era. At the turn of the 18th century and in the early 1800s, New Orleans received a major influx of white and mixed-race refugees fleeing the violence of the Haitian Revolution, many of whom brought their slaves with them. This added another infusion of African culture to the city, as more slaves in Saint-Domingue were from Africa than in the United States. They strongly influenced the African-American culture of the city in terms of dance, music and religious practices.

Louisiana Creole culture
Creole culture is an amalgamation of French, African, Spanish (and other European), and Native American cultures. Creole comes from the Portuguese word crioulo; originally it referred to a colonist of European (specifically French) descent who was born in the New World, in comparison to immigrants from France. The oldest Louisiana manuscript to use the word “Creole,” from 1782, applied it to a slave born in the French colony. But originally it referred more generally to the French colonists born in Louisiana. Over time, there developed in the French colony a relatively large group of Creoles of Color (gens de couleur libres), who were primarily descended from African slave women and French men (later other Europeans became part of the mix, as well as some Native Americans.) Often the French would free their concubines and mixed-race children, and pass on social capital to them. They might educate sons in France, for instance, and help them enter the French Army for a career. They also settled capital or property on their mistresses and children. The free people of color gained more rights in the colony and sometimes education; they generally spoke French and were Roman Catholic. Many became artisans and property owners. Over time, the term “Creole” became associated with this class of Creoles of Color, many of whom achieved freedom long before the Civil War. Wealthy French Creoles generally maintained town houses in New Orleans as well as houses on their large sugar plantations outside town along the Mississippi River. New Orleans had the largest population of free people of color in the region; they could find work there and created their own culture, marrying among themselves for decades.

Acadian culture
The ancestors of Cajuns immigrated from west central France to New France, where they settled in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, known originally as Acadia. After the British defeated France in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) in 1763, France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain. The British forcibly separated families and evicted them from Acadia because they refused to vow loyalty to the new British regime. The Acadians were deported to England, New England, and France. Some escaped the British remained in French Canada. Others scattered, to France, Canada, Mexico, or the Falkland Islands. Many Acadian refugees settled in south Louisiana in the region around Lafayette and the LaFourche Bayou country. They developed a distinct rural culture there that was different from that of the French Creole colonists in the New Orleans area. Intermarrying with others in the area, they developed what was called Cajun music, cuisine and culture. Until the 1970s, the term “Cajun” was considered somewhat derogatory.

Isleño culture
A third distinct culture in Louisiana is that of the Isleños, descendants of Spanish Canary Islanders who migrated from the Canary Islands of Spain under the Spanish crown beginning in the mid-1770s. They developed four main communities, but many relocated to what is modern-day St. Bernard Parish. This is where the majority of the Isleño population is still concentrated. An annual festival called Fiesta celebrates the heritage of the Isleños. St Bernard Parish has an Isleños museum, cemetery and church, as well as many street names with Spanish words and Spanish surnames from this heritage. Some members of the Isleño community still speak Spanish – with their own Canary Islander accent. Numerous Isleño identity organizations, and many members of Isleños society keep contact with the Canary Islands of Spain.

Read more on Louisiana Tourism, Wikitravel Louisiana and Wikivoyage Louisiana.








Bar Harbor © panoramio.com - Aaron Zhu/cc-by-sa-3.0

Bar Harbor © panoramio.com – Aaron Zhu/cc-by-sa-3.0

Maine – Pine Tree State
Maine is located in the New England region of the Northeastern United States. Maine is the 12th smallest by area, the 9th least populous, and the 38th most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. It is bordered by New Hampshire to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest respectively. Maine is the easternmost state in the contiguous United States, and the northernmost state east of the Great Lakes. It is known for its jagged, rocky coastline; low, rolling mountains; heavily forested interior; and picturesque waterways, as well as its seafood cuisine, especially lobster and clams. There is a humid continental climate throughout most of the state, including in coastal areas such as its most populous city of Portland. The capital is Augusta (List of towns in Maine and List of cities in Maine).

For thousands of years, indigenous peoples were the only inhabitants of the territory that is now Maine. At the time of European arrival in what is now Maine, several Algonquian-speaking peoples inhabited the area. The first European settlement in the area was by the French in 1604 on Saint Croix Island, by Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons. The first English settlement was the short-lived Popham Colony, established by the Plymouth Company in 1607. A number of English settlements were established along the coast of Maine in the 1620s, although the rugged climate, deprivations, and conflict with the local peoples caused many to fail over the years.

As Maine entered the 18th century, only a half dozen European settlements had survived. Loyalist and Patriot forces contended for Maine’s territory during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. During the War of 1812, the largely-undefended eastern region of Maine was occupied by British forces, but returned to the United States as part of a peace treaty that was to include dedicated land on the Michigan peninsula for Native American peoples. Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820, when it voted to secede from Massachusetts to become a separate state. On March 15, 1820, under the Missouri Compromise, it was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state.

Maine is the easternmost state in the United States in both its extreme points and its geographic center. The town of Lubec is the easternmost organized settlement in the United States. Its Quoddy Head Lighthouse is also the closest place in the United States to Africa and Europe. Estcourt Station is Maine’s northernmost point, as well as the northernmost point in New England (extreme points of the United States).

Maine’s Moosehead Lake is the largest lake wholly in New England, since Lake Champlain is located between Vermont, New York and Quebec. A number of other Maine lakes, such as South Twin Lake, are described by Thoreau in The Maine Woods (1864). Mount Katahdin is both the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, which extends southerly to Springer Mountain, Georgia, and the southern terminus of the new International Appalachian Trail which, when complete, will run to Belle Isle, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Machias Seal Island and North Rock, off the state’s Downeast coast, are claimed by both Canada and the American town of Cutler, and are within one of four areas between the two countries whose sovereignty is still in dispute, but it is the only one of the disputed areas containing land. Also in this easternmost area in the Bay of Fundy is the Old Sow, the largest tidal whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere.

Maine is the least densely populated U.S. state east of the Mississippi River. It is called the Pine Tree State; over 80% of its total land is forested and/or unclaimed. the most forest cover of any U.S. state. In the forested areas of the interior lies much uninhabited land, some of which does not have formal political organization into local units (a rarity in New England). The Northwest Aroostook, Maine unorganized territory in the northern part of the state, for example, has an area of 2,668 square miles (6,910 km²) and a population of 10, or one person for every 267 square miles (690 km²).

Maine is in the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome. The land near the southern and central Atlantic coast is covered by the mixed oaks of the Northeastern coastal forests. The remainder of the state, including the North Woods, is covered by the New England-Acadian forests.

Maine has almost 230 miles (400 km) of coastline (and 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of tidal coastline). West Quoddy Head, in Lubec, Maine, is the easternmost point of land in the 48 contiguous states. Along the famous rock-bound coast of Maine are lighthouses, beaches, fishing villages, and thousands of offshore islands, including the Isles of Shoals which straddle the New Hampshire border. There are jagged rocks and cliffs and many bays and inlets. Inland are lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains. This visual contrast of forested slopes sweeping down to the sea has been summed up by American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay of Rockland and Camden, Maine, in “Renascence”:

All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.

Geologists describe this type of landscape as a “drowned coast”, where a rising sea level has invaded former land features, creating bays out of valleys and islands out of mountain tops. A rise in the elevation of the land due to the melting of heavy glacier ice caused a slight rebounding effect of underlying rock; this land rise, however, was not enough to eliminate all the effect of the rising sea level and its invasion of former land features.

Much of Maine’s geomorphology was created by extended glacial activity at the end of the last ice age. Prominent glacial features include Somes Sound and Bubble Rock, both part of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. Carved by glaciers, Somes Sound is considered to be the only fjord on the eastern seaboard and reaches depths of 175 feet (50 m). The extreme depth and steep drop-off allow large ships to navigate almost the entire length of the sound. These features also have made it attractive for boat builders, such as the prestigious Hinckley Yachts.

Bubble Rock, a glacial erratic, is a large boulder perched on the edge of Bubble Mountain in Acadia National Park. By analyzing the type of granite, geologists were able to discover that glaciers carried Bubble Rock to its present location from near Lucerne – 30 miles (48 km) away. The Iapetus Suture runs through the north and west of the state, being underlain by the ancient Laurentian terrane, and the south and east underlain by the Avalonian terrane. Acadia National Park is the only national park in New England. Areas under the protection and management of the National Park Service include:

Maine’s agricultural outputs include poultry, eggs, dairy products, cattle, wild blueberries, apples, maple syrup, and maple sugar. Aroostook County is known for its potato crops. Commercial fishing, once a mainstay of the state’s economy, maintains a presence, particularly lobstering and groundfishing. While lobster is the main seafood focus for Maine, the harvest of both oysters and seaweed are on the rise. In 2015, 14% of the Northeast’s total oyster supply came from Maine. In 2017, the production of Maine’s seaweed industry was estimated at $20 million per year. The shrimp industry of Maine is on a government-mandated hold. With an ever-decreasing Northern shrimp population, Maine fishermen are no longer allowed to catch and sell shrimp. The hold began in 2014 and is expected to continue until 2021. Western Maine aquifers and springs are a major source of bottled water.

Tourism and outdoor recreation play a major and increasingly important role in Maine’s economy. The state is a popular destination for sport hunting (particularly deer, moose and bear), sport fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, boating, camping and hiking, among other activities. Historically, Maine ports played a key role in national transportation. Beginning around 1880, Portland’s rail link and ice-free port made it Canada’s principal winter port, until the aggressive development of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the mid-1900s. In 2013, 12,039,600 short tons passed into and out of Portland by sea, which places it 45th of US water ports. Portland Maine’s Portland International Jetport was recently expanded, providing the state with increased air traffic from carriers such as JetBlue and Southwest Airlines.

Read more on Maine Tourism, Wikitravel Maine and Wikivoyage Maine.




National Aquarium in Baltimore, one of the world's largest © AndrewHorne

National Aquarium in Baltimore, one of the world’s largest © AndrewHorne

Maryland – Old Line State
Maryland is located in the Mid-Atlantic region, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east. The state’s largest city is Baltimore, and its capital is Annapolis (List of municipalities in Maryland). Among its occasional nicknames are Old Line State, the Free State, and the Chesapeake Bay State. It is named after the English queen Henrietta Maria, known in England as Queen Mary.

Sixteen of Maryland’s twenty-three counties, as well as the city of Baltimore, border the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay estuary and its many tributaries, which combined total more than 4,000 miles of shoreline. Although one of the smallest states in the U.S., it features a variety of climates and topographical features that have earned it the moniker of America in Miniature. In a similar vein, Maryland’s geography, culture, and history combines elements of the Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and South Atlantic regions of the country.

One of the original Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain, Maryland was founded by George Calvert, a Catholic convert who sought to provide a religious haven for Catholics persecuted in England. In 1632, Charles I of England granted Calvert a colonial charter, naming the colony after his wife, Queen Mary (Henrietta Maria of France). Unlike the Pilgrims and Puritans, who enforced religious conformity in their settlements, Calvert envisioned a colony where people of different religious sects would coexist under the principle of toleration. Accordingly, in 1649 the Maryland General Assembly passed an Act Concerning Religion, which enshrined this principle by penalizing anyone who “reproached” a fellow Marylander based on religious affiliation. Nevertheless, religious strife was common in the early years, and Catholics remained a minority, albeit in greater numbers than in any other English colony.

Maryland’s early settlements and population centers clustered around rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. Its economy was heavily plantation-based, centered mostly on the cultivation of tobacco. The need for cheap labor led to a rapid expansion of indentured servants, penal labor, and African slaves. In 1760, Maryland’s current boundaries took form following the settlement of a long-running border dispute with Pennsylvania. Maryland was an active participant in the events leading up to the American Revolution, and by 1776 its delegates signed the Declaration of Independence. Many of its citizens subsequently played key political and military roles in the war. In 1790, the state ceded land for the establishment of the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C.

Although then a slave state, Maryland remained in the Union during the American Civil War, its strategic location giving it a significant role in the conflict. After the war, Maryland took part in the Industrial Revolution, driven by its seaports, railroad networks, and mass immigration from Europe. Since the Second World War, the state’s population has grown rapidly, to approximately six million residents, and it is among the most densely populated U.S. states. As of 2015, Maryland had the highest median household income of any state, owing in large part to its close proximity to Washington, D.C. and a highly diversified economy spanning manufacturing, services, higher education, and biotechnology. The state’s central role in U.S. history is reflected by its hosting of some of the highest numbers of historic landmarks per capita.

Tourism is popular in Maryland, with tourists visiting the city of Baltimore, the beaches of the Eastern Shore, and the nature of western Maryland, as well as many passing through on the way to Washington, D.C. Baltimore attractions include the Harborplace, the Baltimore Aquarium, Fort McHenry, as well as the Camden Yards baseball stadium. Ocean City on the Atlantic Coast has been a popular beach destination in summer, particularly since the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built in 1952 connecting the Eastern Shore to the more populated Maryland cities. The state capital of Annapolis offers sites such as the state capitol building, the historic district, and the waterfront. Maryland also has several sites of interest to military history, given Maryland’s role in the American Civil War and in the War of 1812. Other attractions include the historic and picturesque towns along the Chesapeake Bay, such as Saint Mary’s, Maryland’s first colonial settlement and original capital (List of National Historic Landmarks in Maryland).

Read more on Maryland Tourism, Wikitravel Maryland and Wikivoyage Maryland.




Boston Tea Party Plaque at Independence Wharf © CaribDigita

Boston Tea Party plaque at Independence Wharf © CaribDigita

Massachusetts – The Bay State
Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the Northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England (List of municipalities in Massachusetts). Over 80% of Massachusetts’s population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts’s economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Plymouth was the site of the second colony in New England after Popham Colony in 1607 in what is now Maine. Plymouth was founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. In 1692, the town of Salem and surrounding areas experienced one of America’s most infamous cases of mass hysteria, the Salem witch trials. In 1777, General Henry Knox founded the Springfield Armory, which during the Industrial Revolution catalyzed numerous important technological advances, including interchangeable parts. In 1786, Shays’ Rebellion, a populist revolt led by disaffected American Revolutionary War veterans, influenced the United States Constitutional Convention. In the 18th century, the Protestant First Great Awakening, which swept the Atlantic World, originated from the pulpit of Northampton preacher Jonathan Edwards. In the late 18th century, Boston became known as the “Cradle of Liberty” for the agitation there that led to the American Revolution.

The entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts has played a powerful commercial and cultural role in the history of the United States. Before the American Civil War, Massachusetts was a center for the abolitionist, temperance, and transcendentalist movements. In the late 19th century, the sports of basketball and volleyball were invented in the western Massachusetts cities of Springfield and Holyoke, respectively. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriage as a result of the decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Many prominent American political dynasties have hailed from the state, including the Adams and Kennedy families. Harvard University in Cambridge is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, with the largest financial endowment of any university, and Harvard Law School has educated a contemporaneous majority of Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called “the most innovative square mile on the planet”, in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010. Both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also in Cambridge, have been ranked among the most highly regarded academic institutions in the world. Massachusetts’ public-school students place among the top tier in the world in academic performance, and the state has been ranked as one of the top states in the United States for citizens to live in, as well as one of the most expensive.

Massachusetts has contributed to American arts and culture. Drawing from its Native American and Yankee roots, along with later immigrant groups, Massachusetts has produced a number of writers, artists, and musicians. A number of major museums and important historical sites are also located there, and events and festivals throughout the year celebrate the state’s history and heritage.

Massachusetts was an early center of the Transcendentalist movement, which emphasized intuition, emotion, human individuality and a deeper connection with nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was born in Boston but spent much of his later life in Concord, largely created the philosophy with his 1836 work Nature, and continued to be a key figure in the movement for the remainder of his life. Emerson’s friend, Henry David Thoreau, who was also involved in Transcendentalism, recorded his year spent alone in a small cabin at nearby Walden Pond in the 1854 work Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

Other famous authors and poets born or strongly associated with Massachusetts include Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Updike, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, E.E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as “Dr. Seuss”. Famous painters from Massachusetts include Winslow Homer and Norman Rockwell; many of the latter’s works are on display at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge.

Massachusetts is also an important center for the performing arts. Both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra are based in Massachusetts. Other orchestras in Massachusetts include the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra in Barnstable, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, and the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood, in western Massachusetts, is a music venue that is home to both the Tanglewood Music Festival and Tanglewood Jazz Festival, as well as the summer host for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Other performing arts and theater organizations in Massachusetts include the Boston Ballet, the Boston Lyric Opera, and the Lenox-based Shakespeare & Company. In addition to classical and folk music, Massachusetts has produced musicians and bands spanning a number of contemporary genres, such as the classic rock band Aerosmith, the proto-punk band The Modern Lovers, the new wave band The Cars, and the alternative rock band Pixies. Film events in the state include the Boston Film Festival, the Boston International Film Festival, and a number of smaller film festivals in various cities throughout Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is home to a large number of museums and historical sites. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the DeCordova contemporary art and sculpture museum in Lincoln are all located within Massachusetts, and the Maria Mitchell Association in Nantucket includes several observatories, museums, and an aquarium. Historically themed museums and sites such as the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in Springfield, Boston’s Freedom Trail and nearby Minute Man National Historical Park, both of which preserve a number of sites important during the American Revolution, the Lowell National Historical Park, which focuses on some of the earliest mills and canals of the industrial revolution in the US, the Black Heritage Trail in Boston, which includes important African-American and abolitionist sites in Boston, and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park all showcase various periods of Massachusetts’s history.

Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village are two open-air or “living” museums in Massachusetts, recreating life as it was in the 17th and early 19th centuries, respectively.

Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and “Harborfest”, a week-long Fourth of July celebration featuring a fireworks display and concert by the Boston Pops as well as a turnaround cruise in Boston Harbor by the USS Constitution, are popular events. The New England Summer Nationals, an auto show in Worcester, draws tens of thousands of attendees every year. The Boston Marathon is also a popular event in the state drawing more than 30,000 runners and tens of thousands of spectators annually.

Long-distance hiking trails in Massachusetts include the Appalachian Trail, the New England National Scenic Trail, the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, the Midstate Trail, and the Bay Circuit Trail. Other outdoor recreational activities in Massachusetts include sailing and yachting, freshwater and deep-sea fishing, whale watching, downhill and cross-country skiing, and hunting.

Massachusetts is one of the states with the largest percentage of Catholics. It has many sanctuaries such as the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy (Stockbridge, Massachusetts).

Read more on Massachusetts Tourism, Visit-Massachusetts.com, Wikitravel Massachusetts and Wikivoyage Massachusetts.






Downtown Detroit, seen from Windsor, Ontario © flickr.com - Ken Lund/cc-by-sa-2.0

Downtown Detroit, seen from Windsor, Ontario © flickr.com – Ken Lund/cc-by-sa-2.0

Michigan – The Great Lakes State
Michigan is located in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions. The state’s name, Michigan, originates from the Ojibwe word mishigamaa, meaning “large water” or “large lake”. With a population of about 10 million, Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, with the 11th most extensive total area, and is the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River. Its capital is Lansing, and its largest city is Detroit. Metro Detroit is among the nation’s most populous and largest metropolitan economies.

Michigan is the only state to consist of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is often noted as being shaped like a mitten. The Upper Peninsula (often called “the U.P.”) is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km) channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge connects the peninsulas. The state has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair. As a result, it is one of the leading U.S. states for recreational boating. Michigan also has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds. A person in the state is never more than six miles (9.7 km) from a natural water source or more than 85 miles (137 km) from a Great Lakes shoreline.

The area was first occupied by a succession of Native American tribes over thousands of years. Inhabited by Natives, Métis, and French explorers in the 17th century, it was claimed as part of New France colony. After France’s defeat in the French and Indian War in 1762, the region came under British rule. Britain ceded this territory to the newly independent United States after Britain’s defeat in the American Revolutionary War. The area was part of the larger Northwest Territory until 1800, when western Michigan became part of the Indiana Territory. Michigan Territory was formed in 1805, but some of the northern border with Canada was not agreed upon until after the War of 1812. Michigan was admitted into the Union in 1837 as the 26th state, a free one. It soon became an important center of industry and trade in the Great Lakes region and a popular immigrant destination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although Michigan developed a diverse economy, it is widely known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, which developed as a major economic force in the early 20th century. It is home to the country’s three major automobile companies (whose headquarters are all within the Detroit metropolitan area). While sparsely populated, the Upper Peninsula is important for tourism thanks to its abundance of natural resources, while the Lower Peninsula is a center of manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, services, and high-tech industry.

A wide variety of commodity crops, fruits, and vegetables are grown in Michigan, making it second only to California among U.S. states in the diversity of its agriculture. The state has 54,800 farms utilizing 10,000,000 acres (40,000 km²) of land. The most valuable agricultural product is milk. Leading crops include corn, soybeans, flowers, wheat, sugar beets, and potatoes. Livestock in the state included 1 million cattle, 1 million hogs, 78,000 sheep and over 3 million chickens. Livestock products accounted for 38% of the value of agricultural products while crops accounted for the majority. Michigan is a leading grower of fruit in the U.S., including blueberries, tart cherries, apples, grapes, and peaches. Plums, pears, and strawberries are also grown in Michigan. These fruits are mainly grown in West Michigan due to the moderating effect of Lake Michigan on the climate. There is also significant fruit production, especially cherries, but also grapes, apples, and other fruits, in Northwest Michigan along Lake Michigan. Michigan produces wines, beers and a multitude of processed food products.

Michigan’s tourism website ranks among the busiest in the nation. Destinations draw vacationers, hunters, and nature enthusiasts from across the United States and Canada. Michigan is fifty percent forest land, much of it quite remote. The forests, lakes and thousands of miles of beaches are top attractions. Event tourism draws large numbers to occasions like the Tulip Time Festival and the National Cherry Festival.

In 2006, the Michigan State Board of Education mandated all public schools in the state hold their first day of school after the Labor Day holiday, in accordance with the new Post Labor Day School law. A survey found 70% of all tourism business comes directly from Michigan residents, and the Michigan Hotel, Motel, & Resort Association claimed the shorter summer in between school years cut into the annual tourism season in the state.

Tourism in metropolitan Detroit draws visitors to leading attractions, especially The Henry Ford, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Zoo, and to sports in Detroit. Other museums include the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, museums in the Cranbrook Educational Community, and the Arab American National Museum. The metro area offers four major casinos, MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown, Motor City, and Caesars Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada; moreover, Detroit is the largest American city and metropolitan region to offer casino resorts.

Hunting and fishing are significant industries in the state. Charter boats are based in many Great Lakes cities to fish for salmon, trout, walleye, and perch. Michigan ranks first in the nation in licensed hunters (over one million) who contribute $2 billion annually to its economy. Over three-quarters of a million hunters participate in white-tailed deer season alone. Many school districts in rural areas of Michigan cancel school on the opening day of firearm deer season, because of attendance concerns.

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources manages the largest dedicated state forest system in the nation. The forest products industry and recreational users contribute $12 billion and 200,000 associated jobs annually to the state’s economy. Public hiking and hunting access has also been secured in extensive commercial forests. The state has the highest number of golf courses and registered snowmobiles in the nation.

The state has numerous historical markers, which can themselves become the center of a tour. The Great Lakes Circle Tour is a designated scenic road system connecting all of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.

With its position in relation to the Great Lakes and the countless ships that have foundered over the many years they have been used as a transport route for people and bulk cargo, Michigan is a world-class scuba diving destination. The Michigan Underwater Preserves are 11 underwater areas where wrecks are protected for the benefit of sport divers (List of National Historic Landmarks in Michigan, List of Registered Historic Places in Michigan, List of Michigan state parks and List of museums in Michigan).

Read more on Michigan Tourism, Wikitravel Michigan and Wikivoyage Michigan.






Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul © Jonathunder/cc-by-sa-3.0

Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul © Jonathunder/cc-by-sa-3.0

Minnesota – North Star State
Minnesota is located in the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, and Northern regions of the United States. Minnesota was admitted as the 32nd U.S. state on May 11, 1858, created from the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory. The state has a large number of lakes, and is known by the slogan the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. Its official motto is L’Étoile du Nord (Star of the North).

Minnesota is the 12th largest in area and the 22nd most populous of the U.S. states; nearly 55% of its residents live in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area (known as the “Twin Cities”). This area has the largest concentration of transportation, business, industry, education, and government in the state. Other urban centers throughout “Greater Minnesota” include Duluth, East Grand Forks, Mankato, Moorhead, Rochester, and St. Cloud (List of cities in Minnesota).

The geography of the state consists of western prairies now given over to intensive agriculture; deciduous forests in the southeast, now partially cleared, farmed, and settled; and the less populated North Woods, used for mining, forestry, and recreation.

Minnesota was inhabited by various indigenous peoples for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans, some of whom continue to reside in Minnesota today. French explorers, missionaries, and fur traders began exploring the region in the 17th century, encountering the Dakota and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe tribes. Much of what is today Minnesota was part of the vast French holding of Louisiana, which was purchased by the United States in 1803. Following several territorial reorganizations, Minnesota in its current form was admitted as the country’s 32nd state on May 11, 1858. Like many Midwestern states, it remained sparsely populated and centered on lumber and agriculture. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a large number of European immigrants, mainly from Scandinavia and Germany, began to settle the state, which remains a center of Scandinavian American and German American culture.

In recent decades, immigration from Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America has broadened its demographic and cultural composition. The state’s economy has heavily diversified, shifting from traditional activities such as agriculture and resource extraction to services and finance. Minnesota’s standard of living index is among the highest in the United States, and the state is also among the best-educated and wealthiest in the nation.

Minnesota’s first state park, Itasca State Park, was established in 1891, and is the source of the Mississippi River. Today, Minnesota has 72 state parks and recreation areas, 58 state forests covering about four million acres (16,000 km²), and numerous state wildlife preserves, all managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. There are 5.5 million acres (22,000 km²) in the Chippewa and Superior national forests. The Superior National Forest in the northeast contains the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which encompasses over a million acres (4,000 km²) and a thousand lakes. To its west is Voyageurs National Park. The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), is a 72-mile-long (116 km) corridor along the Mississippi River through the Minneapolis–St. Paul Metropolitan Area connecting a variety of sites of historic, cultural, and geologic interest.

Minnesota’s leading fine art museums include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center, the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, and The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA). All are in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra are prominent full-time professional musical ensembles that perform concerts and offer educational programs to the Twin Cities’ community. The world-renowned Guthrie Theater moved into a new Minneapolis facility in 2006, boasting three stages and overlooking the Mississippi River. Attendance at theatrical, musical, and comedy events in the area is strong. In the United States, the Twin Cities’ number of theater seats per capita ranks behind only New York City; with some 2.3 million theater tickets sold annually. The Minnesota Fringe Festival is an annual celebration of theatre, dance, improvisation, puppetry, kids’ shows, visual art, and musicals. The summer festival consists of over 800 performances over 11 days in Minneapolis, and is the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States.

The rigors and rewards of pioneer life on the prairie are the subject of Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag and the Little House series of children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Small-town life is portrayed grimly by Sinclair Lewis in the novel Main Street, and more gently and affectionately by Garrison Keillor in his tales of Lake Wobegon. St. Paul native F. Scott Fitzgerald writes of the social insecurities and aspirations of the young city in stories such as Winter Dreams and The Ice Palace (published in Flappers and Philosophers). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha was inspired by Minnesota and names many of the state’s places and bodies of water. Minnesota native Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Minnesota musicians include Bob Dylan, Eddie Cochran, The Andrews Sisters, The Castaways, Crow, The Trashmen, Prince, Soul Asylum, David Ellefson, John Wozniak, Hüsker Dü, Owl City, Dessa and The Replacements. Minnesotans helped shape the history of music through popular American culture: the Andrews Sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” was an iconic tune of World War II, while the Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and Bob Dylan epitomize two sides of the 1960s. In the 1980s, influential hit radio groups and musicians included Prince, The Original 7ven, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, The Jets, Lipps Inc., and Information Society. Minnesotans have also made significant contributions to comedy, theater, media, and film. The comic strip Peanuts was created by St. Paul native Charles M. Schulz. A Prairie Home Companion which first aired in 1974, became a long-running comedy radio show on National Public Radio. A cult scifi cable TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, was created by Joel Hodgson in Hopkins, and Minneapolis, MN. Another popular comedy staple developed in the 1990s, The Daily Show, was originated through Lizz Winstead and Madeleine Smithberg. Joel and Ethan Coen, Terry Gilliam, Bill Pohlad, and Mike Todd contributed to the art of filmmaking as writers, directors, and producers. Notable actors from Minnesota include Loni Anderson, Richard Dean Anderson, James Arness, Jessica Biel, Rachael Leigh Cook, Julia Duffy, Mike Farrell, Judy Garland, Peter Graves, Josh Hartnett, Garrett Hedlund, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Lange, Kelly Lynch, E.G. Marshall, Laura Osnes, Melissa Peterman, Chris Pratt, Marion Ross, Jane Russell, Winona Ryder, Seann William Scott, Kevin Sorbo, Lea Thompson, Vince Vaughn, Jesse Ventura, and Steve Zahn.

Read more on Minnesota Tourism, Wikitravel Minnesota and Wikivoyage Minnesota.




Biloxi Lighthouse and Visitors Center © Woodlot/cc-by-sa-3.0

Biloxi Lighthouse and Visitors Center © Woodlot/cc-by-sa-3.0

Mississippi – Magnolia State
Mississippi is located in the Southeastern region. Mississippi is the 32nd largest and 34th-most populous of the 50 United States. Mississippi is bordered to north by Tennessee, to the east by Alabama, to the south by the Gulf of Mexico, to the southwest by Louisiana, and to the northwest by Arkansas. Mississippi’s western boundary is largely defined by the Mississippi River. Jackson is both the state’s capital and largest city. Greater Jackson, with an estimated population of 580,166 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in Mississippi and the 95th-most populous in the United States (List of municipalities in Mississippi).

On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state admitted to the Union. By 1860, Mississippi was the nation’s top cotton producing state and enslaved persons accounted for 55% of the state population. Mississippi declared its secession from the Union on March 23, 1861, and was one of the seven original Confederate States. Following the Civil War, it was restored to the Union on February 23, 1870. Until the Great Migration of the 1930s, African Americans were a majority of Mississippi’s population. Mississippi was the site of many prominent events during the American Civil Rights movement, including the 1962 Ole Miss riots, the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, and the 1964 Freedom Summer murders. Mississippi frequently ranks low among states in measures of health, education, poverty, and development. In 2010, 37.3% of Mississippi’s population was African American, the highest percentage for any state.

Mississippi is almost entirely within the Gulf coastal plain, and generally consists of lowland plains and low hills. The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Mississippi’s highest point is Woodall Mountain at 807 feet (246 m) above sea level adjacent to the Cumberland Plateau; the lowest is the Gulf of Mexico. Mississippi has a humid subtropical climate classification.

In addition to its namesake, major rivers in Mississippi include the Big Black River, the Pearl River, the Yazoo River, the Pascagoula River, and the Tombigbee River. Major lakes include Ross Barnett Reservoir, Arkabutla Lake, Sardis Lake, and Grenada Lake with the largest lake being Sardis Lake. Mississippi is entirely composed of lowlands, the highest point being Woodall Mountain, in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains, 807 feet (246 m) above sea level. The lowest point is sea level at the Gulf Coast. The state’s mean elevation is 300 feet (91 m) above sea level. Most of Mississippi is part of the East Gulf Coastal Plain. The coastal plain is generally composed of low hills, such as the Pine Hills in the south and the North Central Hills. The Pontotoc Ridge and the Fall Line Hills in the northeast have somewhat higher elevations. Yellow-brown loess soil is found in the western parts of the state. The northeast is a region of fertile black earth that extends into the Alabama Black Belt. The coastline includes large bays at Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, and Pascagoula. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico proper by the shallow Mississippi Sound, which is partially sheltered by Petit Bois Island, Horn Island, East and West Ship Islands, Deer Island, Round Island, and Cat Island. The northwest remainder of the state consists of the Mississippi Delta, a section of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The plain is narrow in the south and widens north of Vicksburg. The region has rich soil, partly made up of silt which had been regularly deposited by the flood waters of the Mississippi River. Areas under the management of the National Park Service include: Brice’s Cross Roads National Battlefield Site near Baldwyn, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Natchez National Historical Park in Natchez, Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail in Tupelo, Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo National Battlefield in Tupelo, and Vicksburg National Military Park and Cemetery in Vicksburg.

The legislature’s 1990 decision to legalize casino gambling along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast has led to increased revenues and economic gains for the state. Gambling towns in Mississippi have attracted increased tourism: they include the Gulf Coast resort towns of Bay St. Louis, Gulfport and Biloxi, and the Mississippi River towns of Tunica (the third largest gaming area in the United States), Greenville, Vicksburg and Natchez. Before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, Mississippi was the second-largest gambling state in the Union, after Nevada and ahead of New Jersey. An estimated $500,000 per day in tax revenue was lost following Hurricane Katrina’s severe damage to several coastal casinos in Biloxi in August 2005. Because of the destruction from this hurricane, on October 17, 2005, Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill into law that allows casinos in Hancock and Harrison counties to rebuild on land (but within 800 feet (240 m) of the water). The only exception is in Harrison County, where the new law states that casinos can be built to the southern boundary of U.S. Route 90. In 2012, Mississippi had the sixth largest gambling revenue of any state, with $2.25 billion. The federally recognized Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has established a gaming casino on its reservation, which yields revenue to support education and economic development. Momentum Mississippi, a statewide, public–private partnership dedicated to the development of economic and employment opportunities in Mississippi, was adopted in 2005.

While Mississippi has been especially known for its music and literature, it has embraced other forms of art. Its strong religious traditions have inspired striking works by outsider artists who have been shown nationally. Jackson established the USA International Ballet Competition, which is held every four years. This ballet competition attracts the most talented young dancers from around the world. The Magnolia Independent Film Festival, still held annually in Starkville, is the first and oldest in the state. George Ohr, known as the “Mad Potter of Biloxi” and the father of abstract expressionism in pottery, lived and worked in Biloxi.

Musicians of the state’s Delta region were historically significant to the development of the blues. Although by the end of the 19th century, two-thirds of the farm owners were black, continued low prices for cotton and national financial pressures resulted in most of them losing their land. More problems built up with the boll weevil infestation, when thousands of agricultural jobs were lost. Jimmie Rodgers, a native of Meridian and guitarist/singer/songwriter known as the “Father of Country Music”, played a significant role in the development of the blues. He and Chester Arthur Burnett were friends and admirers of each other’s music. Their friendship and respect is an important example of Mississippi’s musical legacy. While the state has had a reputation for being the most racist in the United States, individual musicians created an integrated music community. Mississippi musicians created new forms by combining and creating variations on musical traditions from Africa with the musical traditions of white Southerners, a tradition largely rooted in Scots–Irish music. The state is creating a Mississippi Blues Trail, with dedicated markers explaining historic sites significant to the history of blues music, such as Clarksdale‘s Riverside Hotel, where Bessie Smith died after her auto accident on Highway 61. The Riverside Hotel is just one of many historical blues sites in Clarksdale. The Delta Blues Museum there is visited by tourists from all over the world. Close by is “Ground Zero”, a contemporary blues club and restaurant co-owned by actor Morgan Freeman. Elvis Presley, who created a sensation in the 1950s as a crossover artist and contributed to rock ‘n’ roll, was a native of Tupelo. From opera star Leontyne Price to the alternative rock band 3 Doors Down, to gulf and western singer Jimmy Buffett, modern rock/jazz/world music guitarist-producer Clifton Hyde, to rappers David Banner, Big K.R.I.T. and Afroman, Mississippi musicians have been significant in all genres.

Read more on Mississippi Tourism, Wikitravel Mississippi and Wikivoyage Mississippi.




The Gateway Arch with Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis © Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Gateway Arch with Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis © Daniel Schwen/cc-by-sa-4.0

Missouri – Show-Me-State
Missouri is located in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union. The largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia; the capital is Jefferson City (List of cities in Missouri). The state is the 21st-most extensive in area. Missouri is bordered by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee): Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee (via the Mississippi River) to the east, Arkansas to the south, and Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to the west. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber, minerals, and recreation. The Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri’s eastern border. Missouri has been called the “Mother of the West” and the “Cave State”; however, Missouri’s most famous nickname is the “Show Me State.” There is no official state nickname. However, Missouri’s unofficial nickname is the “Show Me State”, which appears on its license plates. This phrase has several origins. One is popularly ascribed to a speech by Congressman Willard Vandiver in 1899, who declared that “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton, cockleburs and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri, and you have got to show me.” This is in keeping with the saying “I’m from Missouri” which means “I’m skeptical of the matter and not easily convinced.”

Humans have inhabited the land now known as Missouri for at least 12,000 years. The Mississippian culture built cities and mounds, before declining in the 14th century. When European explorers arrived in the 17th century they encountered the Osage and Missouria nations. The French established Louisiana, a part of New France, and founded Ste. Genevieve in 1735 and St. Louis in 1764. After a brief period of Spanish rule, the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Americans from the Upland South, including enslaved African Americans, rushed into the new Missouri Territory. Missouri was admitted as a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise. Many from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee settled in the Boonslick area of Mid-Missouri. Soon after, heavy German immigration formed the Missouri Rhineland.

Missouri played a central role in the westward expansion of the United States, as memorialized by the Gateway Arch. The Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail, and California Trail all began in Missouri. As a border state, Missouri’s role in the American Civil War was complex and there were many conflicts within. After the war, both Greater St. Louis and the Kansas City metropolitan area became centers of industrialization and business. Today, the state is divided into 114 counties and the independent city of St. Louis.

Although today it is usually considered part of the Midwest, Missouri was historically seen by many as a border state, chiefly because of the settlement of migrants from the South and its status as a slave state before the Civil War, balanced by the influence of St. Louis. The counties that made up “Little Dixie” were those along the Missouri River in the center of the state, settled by Southern migrants who held the greatest concentration of slaves.

Missouri’s culture blends elements from the Midwestern and Southern United States. The musical styles of ragtime, Kansas City jazz, and St. Louis Blues developed in Missouri. The well-known Kansas City-style barbecue, and lesser-known St. Louis-style barbecue, can be found across the state and beyond. Missouri is also a major center of beer brewing; Anheuser-Busch is the largest producer in the world. Missouri wine is produced in the nearby Missouri Rhineland and Ozarks. Missouri’s alcohol laws are among the most permissive in the United States. Outside of the state’s major cities, popular tourist destinations include the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, and Branson.

Well-known Missourians include U.S. President Harry S. Truman, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Chuck Berry, and Nelly. The Kansas City Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra are the state’s major orchestras. The latter is the nation’s second-oldest symphony orchestra and achieved prominence in recent years under conductor Leonard Slatkin. Branson is well known for its music theaters, most of which bear the name of a star performer or musical group.

Missouri is home to a diversity of both flora and fauna. There is a large amount of fresh water present due to the Mississippi River, Missouri River, Table Rock Lake and Lake of the Ozarks, with numerous smaller tributary rivers, streams, and lakes. North of the Missouri River, the state is primarily rolling hills of the Great Plains, whereas south of the Missouri River, the state is dominated by the Oak-Hickory Central U.S. hardwood forest (Wildlife of Missouri and Missouri state parks). Tourism in Missouri benefits from the many rivers, lakes, caves, parks, etc. throughout the state. In addition to a network of state parks, Missouri is home to the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways National Park. A much-visited show cave is Meramec Caverns in Stanton (National Historic Landmarks in Missouri).

Read more on Missouri Tourism, Wikitravel Missouri and Wikivoyage Missouri.




Big Sky resort © flickr.com - Jim/cc-by-sa-2.0

Big Sky resort © flickr.com – Jim/cc-by-sa-2.0

Montana – Treasure State
Montana is located in the Northwestern United States. Montana has several nicknames, although none are official, including “Big Sky Country” and “The Treasure State”, and slogans that include “Land of the Shining Mountains” and more recently “The Last Best Place”. The state’s capital is Helena (List of cities and towns in Montana). Montana is the 4th largest in area, the 8th least populous, and the 3rd least densely populated of the 50 U.S. states. The western half of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller island ranges are found throughout the state. In all, 77 named ranges are part of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern half of Montana is characterized by western prairie terrain and badlands. Montana is bordered by Idaho to the west, Wyoming to the south, North Dakota and South Dakota to the east, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to the north.

The economy is primarily based on agriculture, including ranching and cereal grain farming. Other significant economic resources include oil, gas, coal, hard rock mining, and lumber. The health care, service, and government sectors also are significant to the state’s economy. The state’s fastest-growing sector is tourism. Nearly 13 million tourists annually visit Glacier National Park, three of the five entrances to Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Highway, Flathead Lake, Big Sky Resort, , the Missouri River headwaters, the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn and other attractions (Regional designations of Montana, Ecological systems of Montana, List of mountain ranges in Montana, List of forests in Montana, List of rivers of Montana, List of lakes in Montana and List of Montana state parks).

Many well-known artists, photographers and authors have documented the land, culture and people of Montana in the last 130 years. Painter and sculptor Charles Marion Russell, known as “the cowboy artist” created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Native Americans, and landscapes set in the Western United States and in Alberta, Canada. The C. M. Russell Museum Complex in Great Falls, Montana, houses more than 2,000 Russell artworks, personal objects, and artifacts. Pioneering feminist author, film-maker, and media personality Mary MacLane attained international fame in 1902 with her memoir of three months in her life in Butte, The Story of Mary MacLane. She referred to Butte throughout the rest of her career and remains a controversial figure there for her mixture of criticism and love for Butte and its people. Evelyn Cameron, a naturalist and photographer from Terry documented early 20th century life on the Montana prairie, taking startlingly clear pictures of everything around her: cowboys, sheepherders, weddings, river crossings, freight wagons, people working, badlands, eagles, coyotes and wolves. Many notable Montana authors have documented or been inspired by life in Montana in both fiction and non-fiction works. Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Earle Stegner from Great Falls was often called “The Dean of Western Writers”. James Willard Schultz (“Apikuni”) from Browning is most noted for his prolific stories about Blackfeet life and his contributions to the naming of prominent features in Glacier National Park (Music of Montana, Artists from Montana, and Authors from Montana). Montana hosts numerous arts and cultural festivals and events every year. Major events include:

  • Bozeman was once known as the “Sweet Pea capital of the nation” referencing the prolific edible pea crop. To promote the area and celebrate its prosperity, local business owners began a “Sweet Pea Carnival” that included a parade and queen contest. The annual event lasted from 1906 to 1916. Promoters used the inedible but fragrant and colorful sweet pea flower as an emblem of the celebration. In 1977 the “Sweet Pea” concept was revived as an arts festival rather than a harvest celebration, growing into a three-day event that is one of the largest festivals in Montana.
  • Montana Shakespeare in the Parks has been performing free, live theatrical productions of Shakespeare and other classics throughout Montana since 1973. The Montana Shakespeare Company is based in Helena.
  • Since 1909, the Crow Fair and Rodeo, near Hardin, has been an annual event every August in Crow Agency and is the largest Northern Native American gathering, attracting nearly 45,000 spectators and participants. Since 1952, North American Indian Days has been held every July in Browning.
  • Lame Deer hosts the annual Northern Cheyenne Powwow.

Montana provides year-round outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Hiking, fishing, hunting, watercraft recreation, camping, golf, cycling, horseback riding, and skiing are popular activities.

Montana has been a destination for its world-class trout fisheries since the 1930s. Fly fishing for several species of native and introduced trout in rivers and lakes is popular for both residents and tourists throughout the state. Montana is the home of the Federation of Fly Fishers and hosts many of the organizations annual conclaves. The state has robust recreational lake trout and kokanee salmon fisheries in the west, walleye can be found in many parts of the state, while northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass fisheries as well as catfish and paddlefish can be found in the waters of eastern Montana. Robert Redford‘s 1992 film of Norman Mclean‘s novel, A River Runs Through It, was filmed in Montana and brought national attention to fly fishing and the state.

Montana is home to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and has a historic big game hunting tradition. There are fall bow and general hunting seasons for elk, pronghorn antelope, whitetail deer and mule deer. A random draw grants a limited number of permits for moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep. There is a spring hunting season for black bear and in most years, limited hunting of bison that leave Yellowstone National Park is allowed. Current law allows both hunting and trapping of a specific number of wolves and mountain lions. Trapping of assorted fur bearing animals is allowed in certain seasons and many opportunities exist for migratory waterfowl and upland bird hunting.

Both downhill skiing and cross-country skiing are popular in Montana, which has 15 developed downhill ski areas open to the public, including:

Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Mountain Resort are destination resorts, while the remaining areas do not have overnight lodging at the ski area, though several host restaurants and other amenities. Montana also has millions of acres open to cross-country skiing on nine of its national forests plus in Glacier National Park. In addition to cross-country trails at most of the downhill ski areas, there are also 13 private cross-country skiing resorts. Yellowstone National Park also allows cross-country skiing. Snowmobiling is popular in Montana which boasts over 4000 miles of trails and frozen lakes available in winter. There are 24 areas where snowmobile trails are maintained, most also offering ungroomed trails. West Yellowstone offers a large selection of trails and is the primary starting point for snowmobile trips into Yellowstone National Park, where “oversnow” vehicle use is strictly limited, usually to guided tours, and regulations are in considerable flux. Snow coach tours are offered at Big Sky, Whitefish, West Yellowstone and into Yellowstone National Park. Equestrian skijoring has a niche in Montana, which hosts the World Skijoring Championships in Whitefish as part of the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival.

Read more on Montana Tourism, Wikitravel Montana and Wikivoyage Montana.






Lincoln Children's Zoo entrance © Hanyou23/cc-by-sa-4.0

Lincoln Children’s Zoo entrance © Hanyou23/cc-by-sa-4.0

Nebraska – Cornhusker State
Nebraska lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state. Nebraska’s area is just over 77,220 square miles (200,000 km²) with a population of almost 1.9 million people. Its state capital is Lincoln, and its largest city is Omaha, which is on the Missouri River (List of cities in Nebraska).

Indigenous peoples, including Omaha, Missouria, Ponca, Pawnee, Otoe, and various branches of the Lakota (Sioux) tribes, lived in the region for thousands of years before European exploration. The state is crossed by many historic trails, including that of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Nebraska was admitted as the 37th state of the United States in 1867.

Nebraska is composed of two major land regions: the Dissected Till Plains and the Great Plains. The Dissected Till Plains region consist of gently rolling hills and contains the state’s largest cities, Omaha and Lincoln. The Great Plains region, occupying most of western Nebraska, is characterized by treeless prairie, suitable for cattle-grazing.

The state has wide variations between winter and summer temperatures, variations that decrease moving south in the state. Violent thunderstorms and tornadoes occur primarily during spring and summer and sometimes in autumn. Chinook winds tend to warm the state significantly in the winter and early spring. Areas under the management of the National Park Service include:

Areas under the management of the National Forest Service include:

The state is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. The state has 93 counties and is split between two time zones, with the state’s eastern half observing Central Time and the western half observing Mountain Time. Three rivers cross the state from west to east. The Platte River, formed by the confluence of the North Platte and the South Platte, runs through the state’s central portion, the Niobrara River flows through the northern part, and the Republican River runs across the southern part.

Nebraska is composed of two major land regions: the Dissected Till Plains and the Great Plains. The easternmost portion of the state was scoured by Ice Age glaciers; the Dissected Till Plains were left after the glaciers retreated. The Dissected Till Plains is a region of gently rolling hills; Omaha and Lincoln are in this region. The Great Plains occupy most of western Nebraska, with the region consisting of several smaller, diverse land regions, including the Sandhills, the Pine Ridge, the Rainwater Basin, the High Plains and the Wildcat Hills. Panorama Point, at 5,424 feet (1,653 m), is Nebraska’s highest point; though despite its name and elevation, it is a relatively low rise near the Colorado and Wyoming borders. A past Nebraska tourism slogan was “Where the West Begins” (currently, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone”); locations given for the beginning of the “West” include the Missouri River, the intersection of 13th and O Streets in Lincoln (where it is marked by a red brick star), the 100th meridian, and Chimney Rock.

Read more on Nebraska Tourism, Wikitravel Nebraska and Wikivoyage Nebraska.




Skying at Lake Tahoe © Holton

Skying at Lake Tahoe © Holton

Nevada – Silver State
Nevada is located in the Western United States. It is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho to the northeast, California to the west, Arizona to the southeast, and Utah to the east. Nevada is the 7th most extensive, the 32nd most populous, but the 9th least densely populated of the U.S. states. Nearly three-quarters of Nevada’s people live in Clark County, which contains the Las Vegas–Henderson-Paradise metropolitan area where three of the state’s four largest incorporated cities are located. Nevada’s capital is Carson City (List of cities in Nevada).

Nevada is officially known as the “Silver State” because of the importance of silver to its history and economy. It is also known as the “Battle Born State”, because it achieved statehood during the Civil War (the words “Battle Born” also appear on the state flag); as the “Sagebrush State”, for the native plant of the same name; and as the “Sage-hen State”.

Nevada is largely desert and semi-arid, much of it within the Great Basin. Areas south of the Great Basin are within the Mojave Desert, while Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada lie on the western edge. About 86% of the state’s land is managed by various jurisdictions of the U.S. federal government, both civilian and military.

Before European contact, American Indians of the Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe tribes inhabited the land that is now Nevada. The first Europeans to explore the region were Spanish. They called the region Nevada (snowy) because of the snow which covered the mountains in winter. The area formed part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and became part of Mexico when it gained independence in 1821. The United States annexed the area in 1848 after its victory in the Mexican–American War, and it was incorporated as part of Utah Territory in 1850. The discovery of silver at the Comstock Lode in 1859 led to a population boom that became an impetus to the creation of Nevada Territory out of western Utah Territory in 1861. Nevada became the 36th state on October 31, 1864, as the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War (the first being West Virginia).

Nevada has a reputation for its libertarian laws. In 1940, with a population of just over 110,000 people, Nevada was by far the least-populated state, with less than half the population of the next least-populated state. However, legalized gambling and lenient marriage and divorce laws transformed Nevada into a major tourist destination in the 20th century. Nevada is the only U.S. state where prostitution is legal, though it is illegal in Clark County (Las Vegas), Washoe County (Reno) and Carson City (which, as an independent city, is not within the boundaries of any county). The tourism industry remains Nevada’s largest employer, with mining continuing as a substantial sector of the economy: Nevada is the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world. Recreation areas maintained by the federal government:

Northern Nevada

Southern Nevada

Read more on Nevada Tourism, Wikitravel Nevada and Wikivoyage Nevada.




Indian Summer © Someone35/cc-by-sa-3.0

Indian Summer © Someone35/cc-by-sa-3.0

New Hampshire – Granite State
New Hampshire is located in the New England region of the Northeastern United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. New Hampshire is the 5th smallest by area and the 10th least populous of the 50 states. Concord is the state capital, while Manchester is the largest city in the state (List of cities and towns in New Hampshire). It has no general sales tax, nor is personal income (other than interest and dividends) taxed at either the state or local level. The New Hampshire primary is the first primary in the U.S. presidential election cycle. Its license plates carry the state motto, “Live Free or Die“. The state’s nickname, “The Granite State”, refers to its extensive granite formations and quarries.

In January 1776, it became the first of the British North American colonies to establish a government independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain‘s authority, and it was the first to establish its own state constitution. Six months later, it became one of the original 13 colonies that signed the United States Declaration of Independence, and in June 1788 it was the ninth state to ratify the United States Constitution, bringing that document into effect.

Historically, New Hampshire was a major center for textile manufacturing, shoemaking, and papermaking, with Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in Manchester at one time being the largest cotton textile plant in the world. Numerous mills were located along various rivers in the state, especially the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers. Many French Canadians migrated to New Hampshire to work the mills in the late 19th and early 20th century; New Hampshire still ranks second among states by percentage of people claiming French American ancestry, with 24.5% of the state identifying as such.

Manufacturing centers such as Manchester, Nashua, and Berlin were hit hard in the 1930s–1940s, as major manufacturing industries left New England and moved to the southern United States or overseas, reflecting nationwide trends. In the 1950s and 1960s, defense contractors moved into many of the former mills, such as Sanders Associates in Nashua, and the population of southern New Hampshire surged beginning in the 1980s as major highways connected the region to Greater Boston and established several bedroom communities in the state.

With some of the largest ski mountains on the East Coast, New Hampshire’s major recreational attractions include skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter sports, hiking and mountaineering (Mount Monadnock in the state’s southwestern corner is among the most climbed mountains in the U.S.), observing the fall foliage, summer cottages along many lakes and the seacoast, motor sports at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Motorcycle Week, a popular motorcycle rally held in Weirs Beach in Laconia in June. The White Mountain National Forest links the Vermont and Maine portions of the Appalachian Trail, and has the Mount Washington Auto Road, where visitors may drive to the top of 6,288-foot (1,917 m) Mount Washington (List of mountains in New Hampshire, List of lakes in New Hampshire, List of rivers in New Hampshire, Geology of New Hampshire, List of New Hampshire state parks, List of National Historic Landmarks in New Hampshire, and Monuments and memorials in New Hampshire).

In the spring, New Hampshire’s many sugar houses hold sugaring-off open houses. In summer and early autumn, New Hampshire is home to many county fairs, the largest being the Hopkinton State Fair, in Contoocook. New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is home to many summer camps, especially around Lake Winnipesaukee, and is a popular tourist destination. The Peterborough Players have performed every summer in Peterborough, New Hampshire since 1933. The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth, New Hampshire, founded in 1931, is one of the longest-running professional summer theaters in the United States. In September, New Hampshire is host to the New Hampshire Highland Games. New Hampshire has also registered an official tartan with the proper authorities in Scotland, used to make kilts worn by the Lincoln Police Department while its officers serve during the games. The fall foliage peaks in mid-October. In the winter, New Hampshire’s ski areas and snowmobile trails attract visitors from a wide area. After the lakes freeze over they become dotted with ice fishing ice houses, known locally as bobhouses. Funspot, the world’s largest video arcade (now termed a museum), is in Laconia.

Read more on New Hampshire Tourism, Wikitravel New Hampshire and Wikivoyage New Hampshire.




Atlantic City © flickr.com - Britt Reints/cc-by-2.0

Atlantic City © flickr.com – Britt Reints/cc-by-2.0

New Jersey – Garden State
New Jersey is located in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its capital city being Trenton and its biggest city being Newark (List of municipalities in New Jersey). New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

New Jersey was inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, with historical tribes such as the Lenape along the coast. In the early 17th century, the Dutch and the Swedes founded the first European settlements in the state. The English later seized control of the region, naming it the Province of New Jersey after the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey, and granting it as a colony to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton. New Jersey was the site of several important battles during the American Revolutionary War in the 18th century.

In the 19th century, factories in the cities Camden, Paterson, Newark, Trenton, Jersey City, and Elizabeth (known as the “Big Six”), helped to drive the Industrial Revolution. New Jersey’s geographic location at the center of the Northeast megalopolis, between Boston and New York City to the northeast, and Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., to the southwest, fueled its rapid growth through the process of suburbanization in the second half of the 20th century. In the first decades of the 21st century, this suburbanization began reverting with the consolidation of New Jersey’s culturally diverse populace toward more urban settings within the state, with towns home to commuter rail stations outpacing the population growth of more automobile-oriented suburbs since 2008. According to 2017 FBI data, 30 of America’s 100 safest municipalities were in New Jersey, the most of any U.S. state, followed by Connecticut, with 14 towns.

New Jersey’s location at the center of the Northeast megalopolis and its extensive transportation system have put over one-third of all United States residents and many Canadian residents within overnight distance by land. This accessibility to consumer revenue has enabled seaside resorts such as Atlantic City and the remainder of the Jersey Shore, as well as the state’s other natural and cultural attractions, to contribute significantly to the record 111 million tourist visits to New Jersey in 2018 (Monuments and memorials in New Jersey, National Historic Landmarks in New Jersey, New Jersey state parks, Mountains of New Jersey, and Lakes of New Jersey). In 1976, a referendum of New Jersey voters approved casino gambling in Atlantic City, where the first legalized casino opened in 1978. At that time, Las Vegas was the only other casino resort in the country. Today, several casinos lie along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the first and longest boardwalk in the world. Atlantic City experienced a dramatic contraction in its stature as a gambling destination after 2010, including the closure of multiple casinos since 2014, spurred by competition from the advent of legalized gambling in other northeastern U.S. states (Gambling in New Jersey).

New Jersey has continued to play a prominent role as a U.S. cultural nexus. Like every state, New Jersey has its own cuisine, religious communities, museums, and halls of fame. New Jersey is the birthplace of modern inventions such as: FM radio, the motion picture camera, the lithium battery, the light bulb, transistors, and the electric train. Other New Jersey creations include: the drive-in movie, the cultivated blueberry, cranberry sauce, the postcard, the boardwalk, the zipper, the phonograph, saltwater taffy, the dirigible, the seedless watermelon, the first use of a submarine in warfare, and the ice cream cone. Diners are iconic to New Jersey. The state is home to many diner manufacturers and has over 600 diners, more than any other place in the world.

Read more on New Jersey Tourism, Wikitravel New Jersey and Wikivoyage New Jersey.




San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe © Pretzelpaws/cc-by-sa-3.0

San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe © Pretzelpaws/cc-by-sa-3.0

New Mexico – Land of Enchantment
New Mexico is located in the Southwestern region; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México (itself established as a province of New Spain in 1598), while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area (List of populated places in New Mexico and List of municipalities in New Mexico). It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,592 sq mi (314,920 km²), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, Northern and Eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate (List of mountain ranges of New Mexico, List of mountain peaks of New Mexico, List of New Mexico state parks, List of National Historic Landmarks in New Mexico, National Monuments in New Mexico, Lakes of New Mexico, and Reservoirs in New Mexico).

The economy of New Mexico is dependent on oil drilling, mineral extraction, dryland farming, cattle ranching, lumber milling, and retail trade. As of 2018, its total gross domestic product (GDP) was $101 billion with a GDP per capita of $45,465. New Mexico’s status as a tax haven yields low to moderate personal income taxes on residents and military personnel, and gives tax credits and exemptions to favorable industries. Because of this, its film industry has grown and contributed $1.23 billion to its overall economy. Due to its large area and economic climate, New Mexico has a large U.S. military presence marked notably with the White Sands Missile Range. Various U.S. national security agencies base their research and testing arms in New Mexico such as the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. During the 1940s, Project Y of the Manhattan Project developed and built the country’s first atomic bomb and nuclear test, Trinity.

Inhabited by Native Americans for many thousands of years before European exploration, it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598 as part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. In 1563, it was named Nuevo México after the Aztec Valley of Mexico by Spanish settlers, more than 250 years before the establishment and naming of the present-day country of Mexico; thus, the present-day state of New Mexico was not named after the country today known as Mexico. After Mexican independence in 1824, New Mexico became a Mexican territory with considerable autonomy. This autonomy was threatened, however, by the centralizing tendencies of the Mexican government from the 1830s onward, with rising tensions eventually leading to the Revolt of 1837. At the same time, the region became more economically dependent on the United States. At the conclusion of the Mexican–American War in 1848, the United States annexed New Mexico as the U.S. New Mexico Territory. It was admitted to the Union as the 47th state on January 6, 1912.

Its history has given New Mexico the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans as a population proportion (after Alaska). New Mexico is home to part of the Navajo Nation, 19 federally recognized Pueblo communities of Puebloan peoples, and three different federally recognized Apache tribes. In prehistoric times, the area was home to Ancestral Puebloans, Mogollon, and the modern extant Comanche and Utes inhabited the state. The largest Hispanic and Latino groups represented include the Hispanos of New Mexico, Chicanos, and Mexican Americans. The flag of New Mexico features the state’s Spanish origins with the same scarlet and gold coloration as Spain’s Cross of Burgundy, along with the ancient sun symbol of the Zia, a Puebloan tribe. These indigenous, Hispanic, Mexican, Latin, and American frontier roots are reflected in the eponymous New Mexican cuisine and the New Mexico music genre.

With a Native American population of 134,000 in 1990, New Mexico still ranks as an important center of Native American culture. Both the Navajo and Apache share Athabaskan origin. The Apache and some Ute live on federal reservations within the state. With 16 million acres (6,500,000 ha), mostly in neighboring Arizona, the reservation of the Navajo Nation ranks as the largest in the United States. The prehistorically agricultural Pueblo Indians live in pueblos scattered throughout the state. Almost half of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origin; many are descendants of colonial settlers. They settled in the state’s northern portion. Most of the Mexican immigrants reside in the southern part of the state. Also 10-15% of the population, mainly in the north, may contain Hispanic Jewish ancestry. Many New Mexicans speak a unique dialect of Spanish. Because of the historical isolation of New Mexico from other speakers of the Spanish language, some of the vocabulary of New Mexican Spanish is unknown to other Spanish speakers. It uses numerous Native American words for local features and includes anglicized words that express American concepts and modern inventions. Albuquerque has the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, as well as hosts the famed annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every fall (List of people from New Mexico, New Mexican cuisine, New Mexico chile, New Mexico wine, List of breweries in New Mexico, Music of New Mexico, and New Mexico music).

Read more on New Mexico Tourism, Wikitravel New Mexico and Wikivoyage New Mexico.








Empire State Plaza in Albany © Jer21999

Empire State Plaza in Albany © Jer21999

New York – The Empire State
New York is located in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State. The state’s most populous city, New York City, makes up over 40% of the state’s population. Two-thirds of the state’s population lives in the New York metropolitan area (Tri State Area), and nearly 40% lives on Long Island. The state and city were both named for the 17th century Duke of York, the future King James II of England. With an estimated population of 8.62 million in 2017, New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. The New York metropolitan area is one of the most populous in the world. New York City is a global city, home to the United Nations Headquarters and has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital as well as the world’s most economically powerful city. The next four most populous cities in the state are Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse, while the state capital is Albany (List of cities in New York). Due to its long history, New York has several overlapping and often conflicting definitions of regions within the state. The regions are also not fully definable due to colloquial use of regional labels. The New York State Department of Economic Development provides two distinct definitions of these regions; it divides the state into ten economic regions, which approximately correspond to terminology used by residents: Western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, North Country, Mohawk Valley, Capital District, Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island.

The 27th largest U.S. state in land area, New York has a diverse geography. The state is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to the east. The state has a maritime border with Rhode Island, east of Long Island, as well as an international border with the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the north and Ontario to the northwest. The southern part of the state is in the Atlantic coastal plain and includes Long Island and several smaller associated islands, as well as New York City and the lower Hudson River Valley. The large Upstate New York region comprises several ranges of the wider Appalachian Mountains, and the Adirondack Mountains in the Northeastern lobe of the state. Two major river valleys – the north-south Hudson River Valley and the east-west Mohawk River Valley – bisect these more mountainous regions. Western New York is considered part of the Great Lakes region and borders Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and Niagara Falls. The central part of the state is dominated by the Finger Lakes, a popular vacation and tourist destination.

New York had been inhabited by tribes of Algonquian and Iroquoian-speaking Native Americans for several hundred years by the time the earliest Europeans came to New York. French colonists and Jesuit missionaries arrived southward from Montreal for trade and proselytizing. In 1609, the region was visited by Henry Hudson sailing for the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch built Fort Nassau in 1614 at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, where the present-day capital of Albany later developed. The Dutch soon also settled New Amsterdam and parts of the Hudson Valley, establishing the multicultural colony of New Netherland, a center of trade and immigration. England seized the colony from the Dutch in 1664. During the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), a group of colonists of the Province of New York attempted to take control of the British colony and eventually succeeded in establishing independence. In the 19th century, New York’s development of access to the interior beginning with the Erie Canal, gave it incomparable advantages over other regions of the U.S. east-coast and built its political and cultural ascendancy.

Many landmarks in New York are well known, including four of the world’s ten most-visited tourist attractions in 2013: Times Square, Central Park, Niagara Falls, and Grand Central Terminal. New York is home to the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of the United States and its ideals of freedom, democracy, and opportunity. In the 21st century, New York has emerged as a global node of creativity and entrepreneurship, social tolerance, and environmental sustainability. New York’s higher education network comprises approximately 200 colleges and universities, including Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, the United States Military Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, University of Rochester, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Rockefeller University, which have been ranked among the top 40 in the nation and world.

New York has many state parks and two major forest preserves. Niagara Falls State Park, established in 1885, is the oldest state park in the United States and the first to be created via eminent domain. In 1892, Adirondack Park, roughly the size of the state of Vermont and the largest state park in the United States, was established and given state constitutional protection to remain “forever wild” in 1894 (List of New York state parks and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation). The State of New York is well represented in the National Park System with 22 national parks, which receive 17 million visitors anually. In addition, there are 4 National Heritage Areas, 27 National Natural Landmarks, 262 National Historic Landmarks, and 5,379 listings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read more on New York Tourism, Wikitravel New York and Wikivoyage New York.






Downtown Raleigh © Mark Turner

Downtown Raleigh © Mark Turner

North Carolina – Tar Heel State
North Carolina is located in the Southeastern United States. North Carolina is the 28th largest and 9th-most populous of the 50 United States. North Carolina is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and South Carolina to the south, and Tennessee to the west. Raleigh is the state’s capital and Charlotte is its largest city (List of municipalities in North Carolina). The Charlotte metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 2,569,213 in 2018, is the most populous metropolitan area in North Carolina and the 23rd-most populous in the United States and the largest banking center in the nation after New York City. North Carolina’s second largest metropolitan area is the Research Triangle (RaleighDurhamChapel Hill), which, with an estimated population of 2,238,312 in 2018, is home to the largest research park in the United States (Research Triangle Park).

North Carolina was establishedd as a royal colony in 1729 and is one of the original Thirteen Colonies. North Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for “Charles”. On November 21, 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the United States Constitution. North Carolina declared its secession from the Union on May 20, 1861, becoming the last of eleven states to join the Confederate States. Following the Civil War, the state was restored to the Union on June 25, 1868. On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully piloted the world’s first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft at Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. North Carolina uses the slogan “First in Flight” on state license plates to commemorate this achievement.

North Carolina is defined by a wide range of elevations and landscapes. From west to east, North Carolina’s elevation descends from the Appalachian Mountains to the Piedmont and Atlantic coastal plain. North Carolina’s Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet (2,037 m) is the highest-point in North America east of the Mississippi River. Most of the state falls in the humid subtropical climate zone; however, the western, mountainous part of the state has a subtropical highland climate (Lakes of North Carolina, List of National Historic Landmarks in North Carolina, List of North Carolina state parks, and List of mountains in North Carolina).

Every year the Appalachian Mountains attract several million tourists to the Western part of the state, including the historic Biltmore Estate. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are the two most visited national park and unit in the United States with over 25 million visitors in 2013. The City of Asheville is consistently voted as one of the top places to visit and live in the United States, known for its rich art deco architecture, mountain scenery and outdoor activities. In Raleigh many tourists visit the Capital, African American Cultural Complex, Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh, Gregg Museum of Art & Design at NCSU, Haywood Hall House & Gardens, Marbles Kids Museum, North Carolina Museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, Raleigh City Museum, J. C. Raulston Arboretum, Joel Lane House, Mordecai House, Montfort Hall, and the Pope House Museum. The Carolina Hurricanes NHL hockey team is also located in the city. In the Charlotte area, amenities include the Carolina Panthers NFL football team and Charlotte Hornets basketball team, Carowinds amusement park, Charlotte Motor Speedway, U.S. National Whitewater Center, and the Discovery Place. Nearby Concord has the Great Wolf Lodge and Sea Life Aquarium. In the ConoverHickory area, Hickory Motor Speedway, RockBarn Golf and Spa, home of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn; Catawba County Firefighters Museum, and SALT Block attract many tourists to Conover. Hickory which has Valley Hills Mall. The Piedmont Triad, or center of the state, is home to Krispy Kreme, Mayberry, Texas Pete, the Lexington Barbecue Festival, and Moravian cookies. The internationally acclaimed North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro attracts visitors to its animals, plants, and a 57-piece art collection along five miles of shaded pathways in the world’s largest-land-area natural-habitat park. Seagrove, in the central portion of the state, attracts many tourists along Pottery Highway (NC Hwy 705). MerleFest in Wilkesboro attracts more than 80,000 people to its four-day music festival; and Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe water park in Greensboro is another attraction. The Outer Banks and surrounding beaches attract millions of people to the Atlantic beaches every year. The mainland northeastern part of the state, having recently adopted the name the Inner Banks, is also known as the Albemarle Region, for the Albemarle Settlements, some of the first settlements on North Carolina’s portion of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The regions historic sites are connected by the Historic Albemarle Tour (Culture of North Carolina).

North Carolina has a variety of shopping choices. SouthPark Mall in Charlotte is currently the largest in the Carolinas, with almost 2.0 million square feet. Other major malls in Charlotte include Northlake Mall and Carolina Place Mall in nearby suburb Pineville. Other major malls throughout the state include Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, The Thruway Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Crabtree Valley Mall, North Hills Mall, and Triangle Town Center in Raleigh; Friendly Center and Four Seasons Town Centre in Greensboro; Oak Hollow Mall in High Point; Concord Mills in Concord; Valley Hills Mall in Hickory; Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville; and The Streets at Southpoint and Northgate Mall in Durham and Independence Mall in Wilmington and Tanger Outlets in Charlotte, Nags Head, Blowing Rock, and Mebane.

A culinary staple of North Carolina is pork barbecue. There are strong regional differences and rivalries over the sauces and methods used in making the barbecue. The common trend across Western North Carolina is the use of premium grade Boston butt. Western North Carolina pork barbecue uses a tomato-based sauce, and only the pork shoulder (dark meat) is used. Western North Carolina barbecue is commonly referred to as Lexington barbecue after the Piedmont Triad town of Lexington, home of the Lexington Barbecue Festival, which attracts over 100,000 visitors each October. Eastern North Carolina pork barbecue uses a vinegar-and-red-pepper-based sauce and the “whole hog” is cooked, thus integrating both white and dark meat.

Read more on North Carolina Tourism, Wikitravel North Carolina and Wikivoyage North Carolina.








North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck © Bobak Ha'Eri/cc-by-3.0

North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck © Bobak Ha’Eri/cc-by-3.0

North Dakota – Peace Garden State
North Dakota is located in the Midwestern and Northern United States regions. It is the nineteenth largest in area, the fourth smallest by population, and the fourth most sparsely populated state. North Dakota was admitted to the Union on November 2, 1889, along with its neighboring state, South Dakota. Its capital is Bismarck, and its largest city is Fargo (List of cities in North Dakota).

In the 21st century, North Dakota’s natural resources have played a major role in its economic performance, particularly with the oil extraction from the Bakken formation, which lies beneath the northwestern part of the state. Such development has led to population growth and reduced unemployment, resulting in North Dakota having the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation, behind only Hawaii. North Dakota contains the tallest man-made structure in the Western Hemisphere, the KVLY-TV mast.

North Dakota’s major fine art museums and venues include the Chester Fritz Auditorium, Empire Arts Center, the Fargo Theatre, North Dakota Museum of Art, and the Plains Art Museum. The Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, Minot Symphony Orchestra and Great Plains Harmony Chorus are full-time professional and semi-professional musical ensembles that perform concerts and offer educational programs to the community (North Dakota culture and Music of North Dakota).

North Dakota’s earliest industries were fur trading and agriculture. Although less than 10% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it remains a major part of the state’s economy. With industrial-scale farming, it ranks 9th in the nation in the value of crops and 18th in total value of agricultural products sold. Large farms generate the most crops. The share of people in the state employed in agriculture is comparatively high: as of 2008, only approximately 2–3 percent of the population of the United States is directly employed in agriculture. North Dakota has about 90% of its land area in farms with 27,500,000 acres (111,000 km²) of cropland, the third-largest amount in the nation.

North Dakota is considered the least visited state, owing, in part, to its not having a major tourist attraction. Nonetheless, tourism is North Dakota’s third largest industry, contributing more than $3 billion into the state’s economy annually. Outdoor attractions like the 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail and activities like fishing and hunting attract visitors. The state is known for the Lewis & Clark Trail and being the winter camp of the Corps of Discovery. Areas popular with visitors include Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the western part of the state. The park often exceeds 475,000 visitors each year. Regular events in the state that attract tourists include Norsk Høstfest in Minot, billed as North America’s largest Scandinavian festival; the Medora Musical; and the North Dakota State Fair. The state also receives a significant number of visitors from the neighboring Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, particularly when the exchange rate is favorable (Mountains in South Dakota, Lakes of North Dakota, North Dakota state parks, National Historic Landmarks in North Dakota, and Cuisine of North Dakota).

Read more on North Dakota Tourism, Wikitravel North Dakota and Wikivoyage North Dakota.




Columbus Montage © Yassie/cc-by-sa-3.0

Columbus Montage © Yassie/cc-by-sa-3.0

Ohio – Buckeye State
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely populated. The state’s capital and largest city is Columbus (List of cities in Ohio). The state takes its name from the Ohio River, whose name in turn originated from the Seneca word ohiːyo’, meaning “good river”, “great river” or “large creek”. Partitioned from the Northwest Territory, Ohio was the 17th state admitted to the Union on March 1, 1803, and the first under the Northwest Ordinance. Ohio is historically known as the “Buckeye State” after its Ohio buckeye trees, and Ohioans are also known as “Buckeyes”.

Ohio rose from the wilderness of Ohio Country west of Appalachia in colonial times through the Northwest Indian Wars as part of the Northwest Territory in the early frontier, to become the first non-colonial free state admitted to the union, to an industrial powerhouse in the 20th century before transmogrifying to a more information and service based economy in the 21st. Ohio is an industrial state, ranking 8th out of 50 states in GDP (2015), and is the second largest producer of automobiles behind Michigan.

Ohio’s geographic location has proven to be an asset for economic growth and expansion. Because Ohio links the Northeast to the Midwest, much cargo and business traffic passes through its borders along its well-developed highways. Ohio has the nation’s 10th largest highway network and is within a one-day drive of 50% of North America’s population and 70% of North America’s manufacturing capacity.> To the north, Lake Erie gives Ohio 312 miles (502 km) of coastline, which allows for numerous cargo ports. Ohio’s southern border is defined by the Ohio River (with the border being at the 1792 low-water mark on the north side of the river), and much of the northern border is defined by Lake Erie. Ohio’s neighbors are Pennsylvania to the east, Michigan to the northwest, Lake Erie to the north, Indiana to the west, Kentucky on the south, and West Virginia on the southeast. Ohio’s borders were defined by metes and bounds in the Enabling Act of 1802 as follows:

Bounded on the east by the Pennsylvania line, on the south by the Ohio River, to the mouth of the Great Miami River, on the west by the line drawn due north from the mouth of the Great Miami aforesaid, and on the north by an east and west line drawn through the southerly extreme of Lake Michigan, running east after intersecting the due north line aforesaid, from the mouth of the Great Miami until it shall intersect Lake Erie or the territorial line, and thence with the same through Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania line aforesaid.

Ohio is bounded by the Ohio River, but nearly all of the river itself belongs to Kentucky and West Virginia. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court held that, based on the wording of the cessation of territory by Virginia (which at that time included what is now Kentucky and West Virginia), the boundary between Ohio and Kentucky (and, by implication, West Virginia) is the northern low-water mark of the river as it existed in 1792. Ohio has only that portion of the river between the river’s 1792 low-water mark and the present high-water mark. The border with Michigan has also changed, as a result of the Toledo War, to angle slightly northeast to the north shore of the mouth of the Maumee River.

Much of Ohio features glaciated till plains, with an exceptionally flat area in the northwest being known as the Great Black Swamp. This glaciated region in the northwest and central state is bordered to the east and southeast first by a belt known as the glaciated Allegheny Plateau, and then by another belt known as the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Most of Ohio is of low relief, but the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau features rugged hills and forests.

The rugged southeastern quadrant of Ohio, stretching in an outward bow-like arc along the Ohio River from the West Virginia Panhandle to the outskirts of Cincinnati, forms a distinct socio-economic unit. Geologically similar to parts of West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania, this area’s coal mining legacy, dependence on small pockets of old manufacturing establishments, and distinctive regional dialect set this section off from the rest of the state. In 1965 the United States Congress passed the Appalachian Regional Development Act, an attempt to “address the persistent poverty and growing economic despair of the Appalachian Region.” This act defines 29 Ohio counties as part of Appalachia. While 1/3 of Ohio’s land mass is part of the federally defined Appalachian region, only 12.8% of Ohioans live there (1.476 million people.)

Significant rivers within the state include the Cuyahoga River, Great Miami River, Maumee River, Muskingum River, and Scioto River. The rivers in the northern part of the state drain into the northern Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River, and the rivers in the southern part of the state drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Ohio River and then the Mississippi (Mountains of Ohio, Lakes in Ohio, Protected areas of Ohio, Monuments and memorials in Ohio, Ohio culture, National Register of Historic Places listings in Ohio, and National Historic Landmarks in Ohio).

Read more on Ohio Tourism, Wikitravel Ohio and Wikivoyage Ohio.








Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City © Daniel Mayer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City © Daniel Mayer/cc-by-sa-3.0

Oklahoma – Native America
Oklahoma is located in the South Central United States region, bordered by Kansas on the north, Missouri on the northeast, Arkansas on the east, Texas on the south and west, New Mexico on the west, and Colorado on the northwest. It is the 20th-most extensive and the 28th-most populous of the fifty United States. The state’s name is derived from the Choctaw words okla and humma, meaning “red people”. It is also known informally by its nickname, “The Sooner State“, in reference to the non-Native settlers who staked their claims on land before the official opening date of lands in the western Oklahoma Territory or before the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, which dramatically increased European-American settlement in the eastern Indian Territory. Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory were merged into the State of Oklahoma when it became the 46th state to enter the union on November 16, 1907. Its residents are known as Oklahomans (or colloquially, “Okies“), and its capital and largest city is Oklahoma City (List of cities and towns in Oklahoma).

A major producer of natural gas, oil, and agricultural products, Oklahoma relies on an economic base of aviation, energy, telecommunications, and biotechnology. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa serve as Oklahoma’s primary economic anchors, with nearly two-thirds of Oklahomans living within their metropolitan statistical areas.

With ancient mountain ranges, prairie, mesas, and eastern forests, most of Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains, Cross Timbers, and the U.S. Interior Highlands, a region prone to severe weather. More than 25 Native American languages are spoken in Oklahoma, ranking third behind Alaska and California (List of Oklahoma state parks, Mountain ranges of Oklahoma, Monuments and memorials in Oklahoma, List of National Historic Landmarks in Oklahoma, List of lakes in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation).

Oklahoma is on a confluence of three major American cultural regions and historically served as a route for cattle drives, a destination for Southern settlers, and a government-sanctioned territory for Native Americans.

Oklahoma has 50 state parks, six national parks or protected regions, two national protected forests or grasslands, and a network of wildlife preserves and conservation areas. Six percent of the state’s 10 million acres (40,000 km²) of forest is public land, including the western portions of the Ouachita National Forest, the largest and oldest national forest in the Southern United States. With 39,000 acres (160 km²), the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in north-central Oklahoma is the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie in the world and is part of an ecosystem that encompasses only 10 percent of its former land area, once covering 14 states. In addition, the Black Kettle National Grassland covers 31,300 acres (127 km²) of prairie in southwestern Oklahoma. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is the oldest and largest of nine National Wildlife Refuges in the state and was founded in 1901, encompassing 59,020 acres (238.8 km²). Of Oklahoma’s federally protected parks or recreational sites, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is the largest, with 9,898.63 acres (40.0583 km²). Other sites include the Santa Fe and Trail of Tears national historic trails, the Fort Smith and Washita Battlefield national historic sites, and the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

Oklahoma is host to a diverse range of sectors including aviation, energy, transportation equipment, food processing, electronics, and telecommunications. Oklahoma is an important producer of natural gas, aircraft, and food. The state ranks third in the nation for production of natural gas, is the 27th-most agriculturally productive state, and also ranks 5th in production of wheat. Four Fortune 500 companies and six Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in Oklahoma, and it has been rated one of the most business-friendly states in the nation, with the 7th-lowest tax burden in 2007. In 2010, Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores ranked 18th on the Forbes list of largest private companies, Tulsa-based QuikTrip ranked 37th, and Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby ranked 198th in 2010 report. Oklahoma’s gross domestic product grew from $131.9 billion in 2006 to $147.5 billion in 2010, a jump of 10.6 percent. Oklahoma’s gross domestic product per capita was $35,480 in 2010, which was ranked 40th among the states. Though oil has historically dominated the state’s economy, a collapse in the energy industry during the 1980s led to the loss of nearly 90,000 energy-related jobs between 1980 and 2000, severely damaging the local economy. Oil accounted for 35 billion dollars in Oklahoma’s economy in 2007, and employment in the state’s oil industry was outpaced by five other industries in 2007. As of July 2017, the state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%. The 27th-most agriculturally productive state, Oklahoma is fifth in cattle production and fifth in production of wheat. Approximately 5.5 percent of American beef comes from Oklahoma, while the state produces 6.1 percent of American wheat, 4.2 percent of American pig products, and 2.2 percent of dairy products. The state had 85,500 farms in 2012, collectively producing $4.3 billion in animal products and fewer than one billion dollars in crop output with more than $6.1 billion added to the state’s gross domestic product. Poultry and swine are its second- and third-largest agricultural industries.

Oklahoma is placed in the South by the United States Census Bureau, but lies partially in the, Southwest, and Southern cultural regions by varying definitions, and partially in the Upland South and Great Plains by definitions of abstract geographical-cultural regions. Oklahomans have a high rate of English, Scotch-Irish, German, and Native American ancestry, with 25 different native languages spoken. Because many Native Americans were forced to move to Oklahoma when White settlement in North America increased, Oklahoma has much linguistic diversity. Mary Linn, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma and the associate curator of Native American languages at the Sam Noble Museum, notes Oklahoma also has high levels of language endangerment. Sixty-seven Native American tribes are represented in Oklahoma, including 39 federally recognized tribes, who are headquartered and have tribal jurisdictional areas in the state. Western ranchers, Native American tribes, Southern settlers, and eastern oil barons have shaped the state’s cultural predisposition, and its largest cities have been named among the most underrated cultural destinations in the United States. Residents of Oklahoma are associated with traits of Southern hospitality—the 2006 Catalogue for Philanthropy (with data from 2004) ranks Oklahomans 7th in the nation for overall generosity. The state has also been associated with a negative cultural stereotype first popularized by John Steinbeck‘s novel The Grapes of Wrath, which described the plight of uneducated, poverty-stricken Dust Bowl-era farmers deemed “Okies“. However, the term is often used in a positive manner by Oklahomans.

In the state’s largest urban areas, pockets of jazz culture flourish, and Native American, Mexican American, and Asian American communities produce music and art of their respective cultures. The Oklahoma Mozart Festival in Bartlesville is one of the largest classical music festivals on the southern plains, and Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts has been named one of the top fine arts festivals in the nation. The state has a rich history in ballet with five Native American ballerinas attaining worldwide fame. These were Yvonne Chouteau, sisters Marjorie and Maria Tallchief, Rosella Hightower and Moscelyne Larkin, known collectively as the Five Moons. The New York Times rates the Tulsa Ballet as one of the top ballet companies in the United States. The Oklahoma City Ballet and University of Oklahoma’s dance program were formed by ballerina Yvonne Chouteau and husband Miguel Terekhov. The University program was founded in 1962 and was the first fully accredited program of its kind in the United States. In Sand Springs, an outdoor amphitheater called “Discoveryland!” is the official performance headquarters for the musical Oklahoma! Ridge Bond, native of McAlester, Oklahoma, starred in the Broadway and International touring productions of Oklahoma!, playing the role of “Curly McClain” in more than 2,600 performances. In 1953 he was featured along with the Oklahoma! cast on a CBS Omnibus television broadcast. Bond was instrumental in the Oklahoma! title song becoming the Oklahoma state song and is also featured on the U.S. postage stamp commemorating the musical’s 50th anniversary. Historically, the state has produced musical styles such as The Tulsa Sound and western swing, which was popularized at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. The building, known as the “Carnegie Hall of Western Swing”, served as the performance headquarters of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys during the 1930s. Stillwater is known as the epicenter of Red Dirt music, the best-known proponent of which is the late Bob Childers. Prominent theatre companies in Oklahoma include, in the capital city, Oklahoma City Theatre Company, Carpenter Square Theatre, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, and CityRep. CityRep is a professional company affording equity points to those performers and technical theatre professionals. In Tulsa, Oklahoma’s oldest resident professional company is American Theatre Company, and Theatre Tulsa is the oldest community theatre company west of the Mississippi. Other companies in Tulsa include Heller Theatre and Tulsa Spotlight Theater. The cities of Norman, Lawton, and Stillwater, among others, also host well-reviewed community theatre companies. Oklahoma is in the nation’s middle percentile in per capita spending on the arts, ranking 17th, and contains more than 300 museums. The Philbrook Museum of Tulsa is considered one of the top 50 fine art museums in the United States, and the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman, one of the largest university-based art and history museums in the country, documents the natural history of the region. The collections of Thomas Gilcrease are housed in the Gilcrease Museum of Tulsa, which also holds the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The Egyptian art collection at the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art in Shawnee is considered to be the finest Egyptian collection between Chicago and Los Angeles. The Oklahoma City Museum of Art contains the most comprehensive collection of glass sculptures by artist Dale Chihuly in the world, and Oklahoma City’s National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum documents the heritage of the American Western frontier. With remnants of the Holocaust and artifacts relevant to Judaism, the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art of Tulsa preserves the largest collection of Jewish art in the Southwest United States (List of Native American artists from Oklahoma).

Read more on Oklahoma Tourism, Wikitravel Oklahoma and Wikivoyage Oklahoma.








Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park © WolfmanSF/cc-by-sa-3.0

Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park © WolfmanSF/cc-by-sa-3.0

Oregon – Beaver State
Oregon is located in the Pacific Northwest region on the West Coast. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon’s northern boundary with Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of its eastern boundary with Idaho. The parallel 42° north delineates the southern boundary with California and Nevada. Oregon was inhabited by many indigenous tribes before Western traders, explorers, and settlers arrived. An autonomous government was formed in the Oregon Country in 1843 before the Oregon Territory was created in 1848. Oregon became the 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Today, at 98,000 square miles (250,000 km²), Oregon is the ninth largest and, with a population of 4 million, 27th most populous U.S. state. The capital, Salem, is the second most populous city in Oregon, with 169,798 residents. Portland, with 647,805, ranks as the 26th among U.S. cities. The Portland metropolitan area, which also includes the city of Vancouver, Washington, to the north, ranks the 25th largest metro area in the nation, with a population of 2,453,168 (List of cities in Oregon).

Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states in the U.S., marked by volcanoes, abundant bodies of water, dense evergreen and mixed forests, as well as high deserts and semi-arid shrublands. At 11,249 feet (3,429 m), Mount Hood, a stratovolcano, is the state’s highest point. Oregon’s only national park, Crater Lake National Park, comprises the caldera surrounding Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. The state is also home to the single largest organism in the world, Armillaria ostoyae, a fungus that runs beneath 2,200 acres (8.9 km²) of the Malheur National Forest.

Because of its diverse landscapes and waterways, Oregon’s economy is largely powered by various forms of agriculture, fishing, and hydroelectric power. Oregon is also the top timber producer of the contiguous United States, and the timber industry dominated the state’s economy in the 20th century. Technology is another one of Oregon’s major economic forces, beginning in the 1970s with the establishment of the Silicon Forest and the expansion of Tektronix and Intel. Sportswear company Nike, Inc., headquartered in Beaverton, is the state’s largest public corporation with an annual revenue of $30.6 billion.

Oregon is 295 miles (475 km) north to south at longest distance, and 395 miles (636 km) east to west. With an area of 98,381 square miles (254,810 km²), Oregon is slightly larger than the United Kingdom. It is the ninth largest state in the United States. Oregon’s highest point is the summit of Mount Hood, at 11,249 feet (3,429 m), and its lowest point is the sea level of the Pacific Ocean along the Oregon Coast. Oregon’s mean elevation is 3,300 feet (1,006 m). Crater Lake National Park is the state’s only national park and the site of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States at 1,943 feet (592 m). Oregon claims the D River as the shortest river in the world, though the state of Montana makes the same claim of its Roe River. Oregon is also home to Mill Ends Park (in Portland), the smallest park in the world at 452 square inches (0.29 m²). Oregon is split into eight geographical regions. In Western Oregon: Oregon Coast (west of the Coast Range), the Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley, Cascade Range and Klamath Mountains; and in Central and Eastern Oregon: the Columbia Plateau, the High Desert, and the Blue Mountains (List of mountains of Oregon, List of rivers of Oregon, List of lakes in Oregon, List of Oregon state parks and List of National Historic Landmarks in Oregon).

Tourism is also a strong industry in the state. Much of this is centered on the state’s natural features; Oregon’s mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, beaches and lakes, including Crater Lake National Park, Multnomah Falls, the Painted Hills, the Deschutes River, and the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. Mount Hood, and Mount Bachelor also draw visitors year round for skiing and snow activities. Portland is home to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Zoo, which is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River. The International Rose Test Garden is another prominent attraction in the city. Portland has also been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications, including the U.S. News & World Report and CNN. Oregon is home to many breweries, and Portland has the largest number of breweries of any city in the world. The state’s coastal region produces significant tourism as well. The Oregon Coast Aquarium comprises 23 acres (9.3 ha) along Yaquina Bay in Newport, and was also home to Keiko the orca whale. It has been noted as one of the top ten aquariums in North America. Fort Clatsop in Warrenton features a replica of Lewis and Clark‘s encampment at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805. The Sea Lion Caves in Florence are the largest system of sea caverns in the United States, and also attract many visitors. In Southern Oregon, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, held in Ashland, is also a tourist draw, as is the Oregon Vortex and the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site, a historic inn where Jack London wrote his 1913 novel Valley of the Moon. Oregon has also historically been a popular region for film shoots due to its diverse landscapes, as well as its proximity to Hollywood (List of films shot in Oregon). Movies filmed in Oregon include: Animal House, Free Willy, The General, The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Stand By Me. Oregon native Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, has incorporated many references from his hometown of Portland into the TV series. Additionally, several television shows have been filmed throughout the state including Portlandia, Grimm, Bates Motel, and Leverage. The Oregon Film Museum is located in the old Clatsop County Jail in Astoria (Tourism near Portland and Tourism in Portland).

Read more on Oregon Tourism, Wikitravel Oregon and Wikivoyage Oregon.






Downtown Harrisburg, with the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building © flickr.com - kev72/cc-by-2.0

Downtown Harrisburg, with the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building © flickr.com – kev72/cc-by-2.0

Pennsylvania – Keystone State
Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is located in the northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east. Pennsylvania is the 33rd-largest state by area, and the 5th-most populous state according to the most recent official U.S. Census count in 2010. It is the 9th-most densely populated of the 50 states. Pennsylvania’s two most populous cities are Philadelphia (1,580,863), and Pittsburgh (302,407). The state capital and its 10th largest city is Harrisburg. Pennsylvania has 140 miles (225 km) of waterfront along Lake Erie and the Delaware Estuary (List of cities in Pennsylvania, List of lakes in Pennsylvania and List of rivers of Pennsylvania). The state has five geographical regions, namely the Allegheny Plateau, Ridge and Valley, Atlantic Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and the Erie Plain (Mountains of Pennsylvania, List of Pennsylvania state parks, List of National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania and Monuments and memorials in Pennsylvania).

The state is one of the 13 original founding states of the United States; it came into being in 1681 as a result of a royal land grant to William Penn, the son of the state’s namesake. Part of Pennsylvania (along the Delaware River), together with the present State of Delaware, had earlier been organized as the Colony of New Sweden. It was the second state to ratify the United States Constitution, on December 12, 1787. Independence Hall, where the United States Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were drafted, is located in the state’s largest city of Philadelphia. During the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in the south central region of the state. Valley Forge near Philadelphia was General Washington‘s headquarters during the bitter winter of 1777–78.

Philadelphia in the southeast corner, Pittsburgh in the southwest corner, Erie in the northwest corner, Scranton-Wilkes-Barre in the northeast corner, and Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton in the east central region are urban manufacturing centers. Much of the Commonwealth is rural; this dichotomy affects state politics as well as the state economy.> Philadelphia is home to six Fortune 500 companies, with more located in suburbs like King of Prussia; it is a leader in the financial and insurance industry. Pittsburgh is home to eight Fortune 500 companies, including U.S. Steel, PPG Industries, and H.J. Heinz. In all, Pennsylvania is home to fifty Fortune 500 companies. Erie is also home to GE Transportation Systems, which is the largest producer of train locomotives in the United States. As in the US as a whole and in most states, the largest private employer in the Commonwealth is Walmart, followed by the University of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is also home to the oldest investor-owned utility company in the US, The York Water Company. As of November 2018, the state’s unemployment rate is 4.2%.

Casino gambling was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2004. Currently, there are nine casinos across the state with three under construction or in planning. Only horse racing, slot machines and electronic table games were legal in Pennsylvania, although a bill to legalize table games was being negotiated in the fall of 2009. Table games such as poker, roulette, blackjack and craps were finally approved by the state legislature in January 2010, being signed into law by the Governor on January 7 (Gambling in Pennsylvania).

Pennsylvania is home to the nation’s first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo. Other long-accredited AZA zoos include the Erie Zoo and the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Lehigh Valley Zoo and ZOOAMERICA are other notable zoos. The Commonwealth boasts some of the finest museums in the country, including the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and several others. One unique museum is the Houdini Museum in Scranton, the only building in the world devoted to the legendary magician. Pennsylvania is also home to the National Aviary, located in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania offers a number of notable amusement parks, including Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, Conneaut Lake Park, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Dutch Wonderland, DelGrosso’s Amusement Park, Hersheypark, Idlewild Park, Kennywood, Knoebels, Lakemont Park, Sandcastle Waterpark, Sesame Place, Great Wolf Lodge and Waldameer Park. Pennsylvania also is home to the largest indoor waterpark resort on the East Coast, Splash Lagoon in Erie. There are also notable music festivals that take place in Pennsylvania. These include Musikfest and NEARfest in Bethlehem, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Creation Festival, the Great Allentown Fair, and Purple Door. There are nearly one million licensed hunters in Pennsylvania. Whitetail deer, black bear, cottontail rabbits, squirrel, turkey, and grouse are common game species. Pennsylvania is considered one of the finest wild turkey hunting states in the Union, alongside Texas and Alabama. Sport hunting in Pennsylvania provides a massive boost for the Commonwealth’s economy. A report from The Center for Rural Pennsylvania (a Legislative Agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly) reported that hunting, fishing, and furtaking generated a total of $9.6 billion statewide. The Boone and Crockett Club shows that five of the ten largest (skull size) black bear entries came from the state. The state also has a tied record for the largest hunter shot black bear in the Boone & Crockett books at 733 lb (332 kg) and a skull of 23 3/16 tied with a bear shot in California in 1993. The largest bear ever found dead was in Utah in 1975, and the second-largest was shot by a poacher in the state in 1987. Pennsylvania holds the second-highest number of Boone & Crockett-recorded record black bears at 183, second only to Wisconsin‘s 299.

Author Sharon Hernes Silverman calls Pennsylvania the snack food capital of the world. It leads all other states in the manufacture of pretzels and potato chips. The Sturgis Pretzel House introduced the pretzel to America, and companies like Anderson Bakery Company, Intercourse Pretzel Factory, and Snyder’s of Hanover are leading manufacturers in the Commonwealth. Two of the three companies that define the U.S. potato chip industry are based in Pennsylvania: Utz Quality Foods, which started making chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania, in 1921, and Wise Foods which started making chips in Berwick in 1921 (the third, Lay’s Potato Chips, is a Texas company). Other companies such as Herr’s Snacks, Martin’s Potato Chips, Snyder’s of Berlin (not associated with Snyder’s of Hanover) and Troyer Farms Potato Products are popular chip manufacturers. The U.S. chocolate industry is centered in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with Mars, Godiva, and Wilbur Chocolate Company nearby, and smaller manufacturers such as Asher’s in Souderton, and Gertrude Hawk Chocolates of Dunmore. Other notable companies include Just Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, makers of Hot Tamales, Mike and Ikes, the Easter favorite marshmallow Peeps, and Boyer Brothers of Altoona, Pennsylvania, which is well known for its Mallo Cups. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels began as a market-stand in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and now has corporate headquarters in Lancaster City. Traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods include chicken potpie, ham potpie, schnitz un knepp (dried apples, ham, and dumplings), fasnachts (raised doughnuts), scrapple, pretzels, bologna, chow-chow, and Shoofly pie. Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc., headquartered in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, specializes in potato bread, another traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food. D.G. Yuengling & Son, America’s oldest brewery, has been brewing beer in Pottsville since 1829. Among the regional foods associated with Philadelphia are cheesesteaks, hoagie, soft pretzels, Italian water ice, Irish potato candy, scrapple, Tastykake, and strombolis. In Pittsburgh, tomato ketchup was improved by Henry John Heinz from 1876 to the early 20th century. Famous to a lesser extent than Heinz ketchup are the Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers Restaurant sandwiches, pierogies, and city chicken. Outside of Scranton, in Old Forge there are dozens of Italian restaurants specializing in pizza made unique by thick, light crust and American cheese. Erie also has its share of unique foods, including Greek sauce and sponge candy. Sauerkraut along with pork and mashed potatoes is a common meal on New Year’s Day in Pennsylvania.

Read more on Pennsylvania Tourism, Wikitravel Pennsylvania and Wikivoyage Pennsylvania.








Downtown Providence © flickr.com - Will Hart/cc-by-2.0

Downtown Providence © flickr.com – Will Hart/cc-by-2.0

Rhode Island – Ocean State
Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a state in the New England region. It is the smallest state in area, the seventh least populous, and the second most densely populated. Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south via Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It also shares a small maritime border with New York. Providence is the state capital and most populous city in Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s official nickname is “The Ocean State”, a reference to the large bays and inlets that amount to about 14 percent of its total area (List of municipalities in Rhode Island, List of rivers of Rhode Island, List of lakes in Rhode Island, List of Rhode Island state parks and Monuments and memorials in Rhode Island).

On May 4, 1776, the Colony of Rhode Island was the first of the Thirteen Colonies to renounce its allegiance to the British Crown, and it was the fourth among the newly independent states to ratify the Articles of Confederation on February 9, 1778. The state boycotted the 1787 convention which drew up the United States Constitution and initially refused to ratify it; it was the last of the states to do so on May 29, 1790.

The 50 years following the Civil War were a time of prosperity and affluence that author William G. McLoughlin calls “Rhode Island’s halcyon era.” Rhode Island was a center of the Gilded Age and provided a home or summer home to many of the country’s most prominent industrialists. This was a time of growth in textile mills and manufacturing and brought an influx of immigrants to fill those jobs, bringing population growth and urbanization. In Newport, New York’s wealthiest industrialists created a summer haven to socialize and build grand mansions. Thousands of French-Canadian, Italian, Irish, and Portuguese immigrants arrived to fill jobs in the textile and manufacturing mills in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Woonsocket.

Rhode Island is nicknamed the Ocean State and has a number of oceanfront beaches. It is mostly flat with no real mountains, and the state’s highest natural point is Jerimoth Hill, 812 feet (247 m) above sea level. The state has two distinct natural regions. Eastern Rhode Island contains the lowlands of the Narragansett Bay, while Western Rhode Island forms part of the New England upland. Rhode Island’s forests are part of the Northeastern coastal forests ecoregion. Narragansett Bay is a major feature of the state’s topography. There are more than 30 islands within the bay; the largest is Aquidneck Island which holds the municipalities of Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth. The second-largest island is Conanicut, and the third is Prudence. Block Island lies about 12 miles (19 km) off the southern coast of the mainland and separates Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean proper.

Rhode Island, like the rest of New England, has a tradition of clam chowder. Both the white New England and the red Manhattan varieties are popular, but there is also a unique clear-broth chowder known as Rhode Island Clam Chowder available in many restaurants. A culinary tradition in Rhode Island is the clam cake (also known as a clam fritter outside of Rhode Island), a deep fried ball of buttery dough with chopped bits of clam inside. They are sold by the half-dozen or dozen in most seafood restaurants around the state, and the quintessential summer meal in Rhode Island is chowder and clam cakes. The quahog is a large local clam usually used in a chowder. It is also ground and mixed with stuffing or spicy minced sausage, and then baked in its shell to form a stuffie. Calamari (squid) is sliced into rings and fried as an appetizer in most Italian restaurants, typically served Sicilian-style with sliced banana peppers and marinara sauce on the side. Clams Casino originated in Rhode Island, invented by Julius Keller, the maitre d’ in the original Casino next to the seaside Towers in Narragansett. Clams Casino resemble the beloved stuffed quahog but are generally made with the smaller littleneck or cherrystone clam and are unique in their use of bacon as a topping. The official state drink of Rhode Island is coffee milk, a beverage created by mixing milk with coffee syrup. This unique syrup was invented in the state and is sold in almost all Rhode Island supermarkets, as well as its bordering states. Johnnycakes have been a Rhode Island staple since Colonial times, made with corn meal and water then pan-fried much like pancakes. Submarine sandwiches are called grinders throughout Rhode Island, and the Italian grinder is especially popular, made with cold cuts such as ham, prosciutto, capicola, salami, and Provolone cheese. Linguiça or chouriço is a spicy Portuguese sausage, frequently served with peppers among the state’s large Portuguese community and eaten with hearty bread.

Rhode Island is nicknamed “The Ocean State”, and the nautical nature of Rhode Island’s geography pervades its culture. Newport Harbor, in particular, holds many pleasure boats. In the lobby of T. F. Green, the state’s main airport, is a large life-sized sailboat, and the state’s license plates depict an ocean wave or a sailboat. Additionally, the large number of beaches in Washington County lures many Rhode Islanders south for summer vacation. The state was notorious for organized crime activity from the 1950s into the 1990s when the Patriarca crime family held sway over most of New England from its Providence headquarters. Rhode Islanders developed a unique style of architecture in the 17th century called the stone-ender. Rhode Island is the only state to still celebrate Victory over Japan Day which is officially named “Victory Day” but is sometimes referred to as “VJ Day.” It is celebrated on the second Monday in August. Nibbles Woodaway, more commonly referred to as “The Big Blue Bug“, is a 58-foot long termite mascot for a Providence extermination business. Since its construction in 1980, it has been featured in several movies and television shows, and has come to be recognized as a cultural landmark by many locals.

The state capitol building is made of white Georgian marble. On top is the world’s fourth largest self-supported marble dome. It houses the Rhode Island Charter granted by King Charles II in 1663, the Brown University charter, and other state treasures. The First Baptist Church of Providence is the oldest Baptist church in the Americas, founded by Roger Williams in 1638. The first fully automated post office in the country is located in Providence. There are many historic mansions in the seaside city of Newport, including The Breakers, Marble House, and Belcourt Castle. Also located there is the Touro Synagogue, dedicated on December 2, 1763, considered by locals to be the first synagogue within the United States, and still serving. The synagogue showcases the religious freedoms that were established by Roger Williams, as well as impressive architecture in a mix of the classic colonial and Sephardic style. The Newport Casino is a National Historic Landmark building complex that presently houses the International Tennis Hall of Fame and features an active grass-court tennis club. Scenic Route 1A (known locally as Ocean Road) is in Narragansett. “The Towers” is also located in Narragansett featuring a large stone arch. It was once the entrance to a famous Narragansett casino that burned down in 1900. The Towers now serve as an event venue and host the local Chamber of Commerce, which operates a tourist information center. The Newport Tower has been hypothesized to be of Viking origin, although most experts believe that it was a Colonial-era windmill (List of National Historic Landmarks in Rhode Island).

Read more on Rhode Island Tourism, Wikitravel Rhode Island and Wikivoyage Rhode Island.






Downtown Columbia © Akhenaton06/cc-by-sa-3.0

Downtown Columbia © Akhenaton06/cc-by-sa-3.0

South Carolina – Palmetto State
South Carolina is located in the Southeastern United States and the easternmost of the Deep South. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia across the Savannah River. The capital is Columbia, while the largest city is Charleston (List of cities and towns in South Carolina). South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on May 23, 1788. South Carolina became the first state to vote in favor of secession from the Union on December 20, 1860. After the American Civil War, it was readmitted into the United States on June 25, 1868. South Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England, who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for “Charles” (South Carolina in the American Revolution, Southern theater of the American Revolutionary War, Antebellum South Carolina, Antebellum architecture).

The state can be divided into three geographic areas. From east to west: the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Locally, the coastal plain is referred to as the Low Country, and the other two regions as the Midlands and the Upstate respectively. The Atlantic Coastal Plain makes up two-thirds of the state. Its eastern border is the Sea Islands, a chain of tidal and barrier islands. The border between the low country and the up country is defined by the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers.

The state’s coastline contains many salt marshes and estuaries, as well as natural ports such as Georgetown and Charleston. An unusual feature of the coastal plain is a large number of Carolina bays, the origins of which are uncertain. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation. The terrain is flat and the soil is composed entirely of recent sediments such as sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. The natural areas of the coastal plain are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion (South Carolina Lowcountry).

The Upstate region contains the roots of an ancient, eroded mountain chain. It is generally hilly, with thin, stony clay soils, and contains few areas suitable for farming. Much of the Piedmont was once farmed. Due to the changing economics of farming, much of the land is now reforested in Loblolly pine for the lumber industry. These forests are part of the Southeastern mixed forests ecoregion. At the southeastern edge of the Piedmont is the fall line, where rivers drop to the coastal plain. The fall line was an important early source of water power. Mills built to harness this resource encouraged the growth of several cities, including the capital, Columbia. The larger rivers are navigable up to the fall line, providing a trade route for mill towns. The northwestern part of the Piedmont is also known as the Foothills. The Cherokee Parkway is a scenic driving route through this area. This is where Table Rock State Park is located. Highest in elevation is the Blue Ridge Region, containing an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which continue into North Carolina and Georgia, as part of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina’s highest point at 3,560 feet (1,090 m), is in this area. Also in this area is Caesars Head State Park. The environment here is that of the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests ecoregion. The Chattooga River, on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination (List of lakes in South Carolina, List of mountains in North Carolina, List of rivers of South Carolina, List of South Carolina state parks, List of Confederate monuments and memorials in South Carolina, Monuments and memorials in South Carolina).

South Carolina has many venues for visual and performing arts. The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Columbia Museum of Art, Spartanburg Art Museum, and the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia among others provide access to visual arts to the state. There are also numerous historic sites and museums scattered throughout the state paying homage to many events and periods in the state’s history from Native American inhabitation to the present day. South Carolina also has performing art venues including the Peace Center in Greenville, the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia, and the Newberry Opera House, among others to bring local, national, and international talent to the stages of South Carolina. Several large venues can house major events, including Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, and North Charleston Coliseum. One of the nation’s major performing arts festivals, Spoleto Festival USA, is held annually in Charleston. There are also countless local festivals throughout the state highlighting many cultural traditions, historical events, and folklore. According to the South Carolina Arts Commission, creative industries generate $9.2 billion annually and support over 78,000 jobs in the state. A 2009 statewide poll by the University of South Carolina Institute for Public Service and Policy Research found that 67% of residents had participated in the arts in some form during the past year and on average citizens had participated in the arts 14 times in the previous year.

Read more on South Carolina Tourism, Wikitravel South Carolina and Wikivoyage South Carolina.












Mount Rushmore Monument © flickr.com - Dean Franklin/cc-by-2.0

Mount Rushmore Monument © flickr.com – Dean Franklin/cc-by-2.0

South Dakota – Mount Rushmore State
South Dakota is located in the Midwestern region. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux Native American tribes, who compose a large portion of the population and historically dominated the territory. South Dakota is the seventeenth largest by area, but the fifth smallest by population and the 5th least densely populated of the 50 United States. As the southern part of the former Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889, simultaneously with North Dakota. Pierre is the state capital and Sioux Falls, with a population of about 187,200, is South Dakota’s largest city (List of cities in South Dakota, List of towns in South Dakota).

South Dakota is bordered by the states of North Dakota (to the north), Minnesota (to the east), Iowa (to the southeast), Nebraska (to the south), Wyoming (to the west), and Montana (to the northwest). The state is bisected by the Missouri River, dividing South Dakota into two geographically and socially distinct halves, known to residents as “East River” and “West River“.

Eastern South Dakota is home to most of the state’s population, and the area’s fertile soil is used to grow a variety of crops. West of the Missouri River, ranching is the predominant agricultural activity, and the economy is more dependent on tourism and defense spending. Most of the Native American reservations are in West River. The Black Hills, a group of low pine-covered mountains sacred to the Sioux, are in the southwest part of the state. Mount Rushmore, a major tourist destination, is there. South Dakota has a temperate continental climate, with four distinct seasons and precipitation ranging from moderate in the east to semi-arid in the west. The state’s ecology features species typical of a North American grassland biome. Rapid City, with a population of 75,000, and a metropolitan area population of 149,000, is the second-largest city in the state. It is on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, and was founded in 1876. Rapid City’s economy is largely based on tourism and defense spending, because of the proximity of many tourist attractions in the Black Hills and Ellsworth Air Force Base (List of mountains in South Dakota, List of lakes in South Dakota, List of rivers of South Dakota, List of South Dakota state parks, List of National Historic Landmarks in South Dakota).

Humans have inhabited the area for several millennia, with the Sioux becoming dominant by the early 19th century. In the late 19th century, European-American settlement intensified after a gold rush in the Black Hills and the construction of railroads from the east. Encroaching miners and settlers triggered a number of Indian wars, ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Key events in the 20th century included the Dust Bowl and Great Depression, increased federal spending during the 1940s and 1950s for agriculture and defense, and an industrialization of agriculture that has reduced family farming. Historically dominated by an agricultural economy and a rural lifestyle, South Dakota has recently sought to diversify its economy in areas to attract and retain residents. South Dakota’s history and rural character still strongly influence the state’s culture.

South Dakota’s culture reflects the state’s American Indian, rural, Western, and European roots. A number of annual events celebrating the state’s ethnic and historical heritage take place around the state, such as Days of ’76 in Deadwood, Czech Days in Tabor, and the annual St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo festivities in Sioux Falls. The various tribes hold many annual pow wows at their reservations throughout the state, to which non-Native Americans are sometimes invited. Custer State Park holds an annual Buffalo Roundup, in which volunteers on horseback gather the park’s herd of around 1,500 bison.

Black Elk (Lakota) was a medicine man and heyokha, whose life spanned the transition to reservations. His accounts of the 19th-century Indian Wars and Ghost Dance movement, and his deep thoughts on personal visions and Native American religion, form the basis of the book Black Elk Speaks, first published in 1932. (Among several editions, a premier annotated edition was published in 2008.) Paul Goble, an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, has been based in the Black Hills since 1977.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose semi-autobiographical books are based on her experiences as a child and young adult on the frontier, is one of South Dakota’s best-known writers. She drew from her life growing up on a homestead near De Smet as the basis for five of her novels: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. These gained renewed popularity in the United States when Little House on the Prairie was adapted and produced as a television series in 1974. Wilder’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who became a well-known writer in her own right, was born near De Smet in 1886.

South Dakota has also produced several notable artists. Harvey Dunn grew up on a homestead near Manchester in the late 19th century. While Dunn worked most of his career as a commercial illustrator, his most famous works showed various scenes of frontier life; he completed these near the end of his career. Oscar Howe (Crow) was born on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and won fame for his watercolor paintings. Howe was one of the first Native American painters to adopt techniques and style heavily influenced by the mid-20th century abstraction movement, rather than relying on traditional Native American styles. Terry Redlin, originally from Watertown, is an accomplished painter of rural and wildlife scenes. Many of his works are on display at the Redlin Art Center in Watertown (Culture of South Dakota, List of people from South Dakota).

Read more on South Dakota Tourism, Wikitravel South Dakota und Wikivoyage South Dakota.




Nashville © Kaldari

Nashville © Kaldari

Tennessee – Volunteer State
Tennessee is located in the Southeastern region. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th most populous of the 50 United States. Tennessee is bordered by eight states, with Kentucky to the north, Virginia to the northeast, North Carolina to the east, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi to the south, Arkansas to the west, and Missouri to the northwest. The Appalachian Mountains dominate the eastern part of the state, and the Mississippi River forms the state’s western border. Nashville is the state’s capital and largest city. Tennessee’s second largest city is Memphis (List of municipalities in Tennessee).

The state of Tennessee is rooted in the Watauga Association, a 1772 frontier pact generally regarded as the first constitutional government west of the Appalachians. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina, and later part of the Southwest Territory. Tennessee was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on June 1, 1796. Tennessee was the last state to leave the Union and join the Confederacy at the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Occupied by Union forces from 1862, it was the first state to be readmitted to the Union at the end of the war.

Tennessee furnished more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state besides Virginia, and more soldiers for the Union Army than the rest of the Confederacy combined. Beginning during Reconstruction, it had competitive party politics, but a Democratic takeover in the late 1880s resulted in passage of disenfranchisement laws that excluded most blacks and many poor whites from voting. This sharply reduced competition in politics in the state until after passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-20th century. In the 20th century, Tennessee transitioned from an agrarian economy to a more diversified economy, aided by massive federal investment in the Tennessee Valley Authority and, in the early 1940s, the city of Oak Ridge. This city was established to house the Manhattan Project‘s uranium enrichment facilities, helping to build the world’s first atomic bombs, two of which were dropped on Imperial Japan near the end of World War II. After the war, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory became a key center for nuclear research. In 2016, the element tennessine was named for the state.

Tennessee’s major industries include agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. Poultry, soybeans, and cattle are the state’s primary agricultural products, and major manufacturing exports include chemicals, transportation equipment, and electrical equipment. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most visited national park, is headquartered in the eastern part of the state, and a section of the Appalachian Trail roughly follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Other major tourist attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium and Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel in Chattanooga; Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and Ober Gatlinburg in Gatlinburg; the Parthenon, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville; the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg; Elvis Presley’s Graceland residence and tomb, the Memphis Zoo, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; and Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol (Mountains of Tennessee, Lakes of Tennessee, List of rivers of Tennessee, List of Tennessee state parks, List of National Historic Landmarks in Tennessee, Monuments and memorials in Tennessee).

Tennessee has played a critical role in the development of many forms of American popular music, including rock and roll, blues, country, and rockabilly. Beale Street in Memphis is considered by many to be the birthplace of the blues, with musicians such as W. C. Handy performing in its clubs as early as 1909. Memphis is also home to Sun Records, where musicians such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Charlie Rich began their recording careers, and where rock and roll took shape in the 1950s. The 1927 Victor recording sessions in Bristol generally mark the beginning of the country music genre and the rise of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930s helped make Nashville the center of the country music recording industry. Three brick-and-mortar museums recognize Tennessee’s role in nurturing various forms of popular music: the Memphis Rock N’ Soul Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, and the International Rock-A-Billy Museum in Jackson. Moreover, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, an online site recognizing the development of rockabilly in which Tennessee played a crucial role, is based in Nashville (Music of Tennessee, Music of East Tennessee, Literature of Tennessee).

Read more on Tennessee Tourism, Wikitravel Tennessee and Wikivoyage Tennessee.












Downtown Austin © flickr.com - Stuart Seeger/cc-by-2.0

Downtown Austin © flickr.com – Stuart Seeger/cc-by-2.0

Texas – Lone Star State
Texas is the second largest state by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second-most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second-most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed “The Lone Star State” to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texan state seal. The origin of Texas’s name is from the word taysha, which means “friends” in the Caddo language (List of cities in Texas).

Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes common to both the U.S. Southern and Southwestern regions. Although Texas is popularly associated with the U.S. southwestern deserts, less than 10% of Texas’s land area is desert. Most of the population centers are in areas of former prairies, grasslands, forests, and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, and finally the desert and mountains of the Big Bend (List of mountain peaks of Texas, List of lakes in Texas, List of rivers of Texas, List of Texas state parks, List of Texas Revolution monuments and memorials, Monuments and memorials in Texas).

The term “six flags over Texas” refers to several nations that have ruled over the territory. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845, Texas joined the union as the 28th state. The state’s annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846. A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U.S. in early 1861, and officially joined the Confederate States of America on March 2nd of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation.

Historically four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton, timber, and oil. Before and after the U.S. Civil War the cattle industry, which Texas came to dominate, was a major economic driver for the state, thus creating the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the later 19th century cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative. It was ultimately, though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits (Spindletop in particular) that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2015, it is second on the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with 54. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, petrochemicals, energy, computers and electronics, aerospace, and biomedical sciences. Texas has led the U.S. in state export revenue since 2002, and has the second-highest gross state product. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would be the 10th largest economy in the world.

Historically, Texas culture comes from a blend of Southern (Dixie), Western (frontier), and Southwestern (Mexican/Anglo fusion) influences, varying in degrees of such from one intrastate region to another. Texas is placed in the Southern United States by the United States Census Bureau. A popular food item, the breakfast burrito, draws from all three, having a soft flour tortilla wrapped around bacon and scrambled eggs or other hot, cooked fillings. Adding to Texas’s traditional culture, established in the 18th and 19th centuries, immigration has made Texas a melting pot of cultures from around the world.

Texas has made a strong mark on national and international pop culture. The entire state is strongly associated with the image of the cowboy shown in westerns and in country western music. The state’s numerous oil tycoons are also a popular pop culture topic as seen in the hit TV series Dallas.

The internationally known slogan “Don’t Mess with Texas” began as an anti-littering advertisement. Since the campaign’s inception in 1986, the phrase has become “an identity statement, a declaration of Texas swagger”. “Texas-sized” is an expression that can be used in two ways: to describe something that is about the size of the U.S. state of Texas, or to describe something (usually but not always originating from Texas) that is large compared to other objects of its type. Texas was the largest U.S. state, until Alaska became a state in 1959. The phrase “everything is bigger in Texas” has been in regular use since at least 1950; and was used as early as 1913 (Culture of Texas, List of people from Texas, List of Texas symbols, The Alamo).

Read more on Texas Tourism, Wikitravel Texas and Wikivoyage Texas.










Salt Lake City © flickr.com - Garrett/cc-by-2.0

Salt Lake City © flickr.com – Garrett/cc-by-2.0

Utah – Beehive State
Utah is located in the in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30th-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. The capital city and largest city is Salt Lake City. The largest cities are West Valley City, Provo, West Jordan, Sandy, Orem, Ogden, St. George, Layton, South Jordan, Taylorsville, Millcreek, Lehi, Logan, Murray (cities and towns in Utah).

Approximately 62% of Utahns are reported to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), making Utah the only state with a majority population belonging to a single church. This greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life. The LDS Church’s world headquarters is located in Salt Lake City.

The state is a center of transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, and mining and a major tourist destination for outdoor recreation. In 2013, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Utah had the second-fastest-growing population of any state. St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the “best state to live in the future” based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.

Tourism is a major industry in Utah. With five national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion), Utah has the third most national parks of any state after Alaska and California. In addition, Utah features eight national monuments (Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Bears Ears, Rainbow Bridge, and Timpanogos Cave), two national recreation areas (Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon), seven national forests (Ashley, Caribou-Targhee, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-La Sal, Sawtooth, and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache), and numerous state parks and monuments.

The Moab area, in the southeastern part of the state, is known for its challenging mountain biking trails, including Slickrock. Moab also hosts the famous Moab Jeep Safari semiannually.

Utah has seen an increase in tourism since the 2002 Winter Olympics. Park City is home to the United States Ski Team. Utah’s ski resorts are primarily located in northern Utah near Salt Lake City, Park City, Ogden, and Provo. Between 2007 and 2011 Deer Valley in Park City, has been ranked the top ski resort in North America in a survey organized by Ski Magazine.

In addition to having prime snow conditions and world-class amenities, Northern Utah’s ski resorts are well liked among tourists for their convenience and proximity to a large city and international airport, as well as the close proximity to other ski resorts, allowing skiers the ability to ski at multiple locations in one day. The 2009 Ski Magazine reader survey concluded that six out of the top ten resorts deemed most “accessible” and six out of the top ten with the best snow conditions were located in Utah. In Southern Utah, Brian Head Ski Resort is located in the mountains near Cedar City. Former Olympic venues including Utah Olympic Park and Utah Olympic Oval are still in operation for training and competition and allows the public to participate in numerous activities including ski jumping, bobsleigh, and speed skating.

Utah features many cultural attractions such as Temple Square, the Sundance Film Festival, the Red Rock Film Festival, the DOCUTAH Film Festival, the Utah Data Center, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Temple Square is ranked as the 16th most visited tourist attraction in the United States by Forbes magazine, with over five million annual visitors.

Other attractions include Monument Valley, the Great Salt Lake, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and Lake Powell List of mountain peaks of Utah, List of rivers of Utah, Lakes of Utah, List of Utah State Parks, Monuments and memorials in Utah.

The state of Utah relies heavily on income from tourists and travelers visiting the state’s parks and ski resorts, and thus the need to “brand” Utah and create an impression of the state throughout the world has led to several state slogans, the most famous of which being “The Greatest Snow on Earth”, which has been in use in Utah officially since 1975 (although the slogan was in unofficial use as early as 1962) and now adorns nearly 50 percent of the state’s license plates. In 2001, Utah Governor Mike Leavitt approved a new state slogan, “Utah! Where Ideas Connect”, which lasted until March 10, 2006, when the Utah Travel Council and the office of Governor Jon Huntsman announced that “Life Elevated” would be the new state slogan.

Read more on Utah Tourism, Wikitravel Utah and Wikivoyage Utah.




Vermont State Capitol in Montpelier © Skeezix1000/cc-by-sa-3.0

Vermont State Capitol in Montpelier © Skeezix1000/cc-by-sa-3.0

Vermont – Green Mountain State
Vermont is located in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders the U.S. states of Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, New York to the west, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. Vermont is the second-smallest by population and the sixth-smallest by area of the 50 U.S. states. The state capital is Montpelier, the least populous state capital in the United States. The most populous city, Burlington, is the least populous city to be the most populous city in a state. Other notable cities are South Burlington, Rutland, Barre, Winooski, St. Albans, Newport, Vergennes (List of cities in Vermont). As of 2019, Vermont was the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States. In crime statistics, it was ranked since 2016 as the safest state in the country.

For some 12,000 years indigenous peoples inhabited this area. The historic, competitive tribes known as the Algonquian-speaking Abenaki and Iroquoian-speaking Mohawk were active in the area at the time of European encounter.

During the 17th century French colonists claimed the territory as part of France‘s colony of New France. After England began to settle colonies to the south along the Atlantic coast, the two nations carried out their competition in North America as well as Europe. For years each enlisted Native American allies in continued raiding and warfare between the New England and New France colonies. This produced an active trade in captives taken during such raids and held for ransom. Some captives were adopted by families into the Mohawk or Abenaki tribes.

After being defeated in 1763 in the Seven Years’ War, France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain. Thereafter, the nearby British colonies, especially the provinces of New Hampshire and New York, disputed the extent of the area called the New Hampshire Grants to the west of the Connecticut River, encompassing present-day Vermont. The provincial government of New York sold land grants to settlers in the region, which conflicted with earlier grants from the government of New Hampshire. The Green Mountain Boys militia protected the interests of the established New Hampshire land grant settlers against the newly arrived settlers with land titles granted by New York.

Ultimately, a group of settlers with New Hampshire land grant titles established the Vermont Republic in 1777 as an independent state during the American Revolutionary War. The Vermont Republic partially abolished slavery before any of the other states.

Vermont was admitted to the newly established United States as the fourteenth state in 1791. Vermont is one of only four U.S. states that were previously sovereign states (along with California, Hawaii, and Texas).

During the mid 19th century, Vermont was a strong source of abolitionist sentiment, but it was also tied to King Cotton through the development of textile mills in the region, which relied on southern cotton. It sent a significant contingent of soldiers to participate in the American Civil War. In the 21st century, Protestants (30%) and Catholics (22%) make up the majority of those reporting a religious preference, with 37% reporting no religion. Other religions individually contribute no more than 2% to the total.

The geography of the state is marked by the Green Mountains, which run north–south up the middle of the state, separating Lake Champlain and other valley terrain on the west from the Connecticut River valley that defines much of its eastern border. A majority of its terrain is forested with hardwoods and conifers. A majority of its open land is in agriculture. The state’s climate is characterized by warm, humid summers and cold, snowy winters.

Tourism is an important industry to the state. Resorts, hotels, restaurants, and shops, designed to attract tourists, employ people year-round. Summer camps such as camp Abenaki, camp Billings, camp Dudley, and camp Hochelaga contribute to Vermont’s tourist economy. Visitors participate in trout fishing, lake fishing, and ice fishing. Some hike the Long Trail.

According to the 2000 Census, almost 15% of all housing units in Vermont were vacant and classified “for seasonal, recreational, or occasional use”. This was the second highest percentage nationwide, after Maine. In some Vermont cities, vacation homes owned by wealthy residents of New England and New York constitute the bulk of all housing stock. According to one estimate, as of 2009, 84% of all houses in Ludlow were owned by out-of-state residents. Other notable vacation-home resorts include Manchester and Stowe.

Hunting is controlled for black bear, wild turkeys, deer, and moose. There are 5,500 bears in the state. The goal is to keep the numbers between 4,500 and 6,000. In 2010, there were about 141,000 deer in the state, which is in range of government goals. However, these are distributed unevenly and when in excess of 10–15 per square mile, negatively impact timber growth. Waterfowl hunting is also controlled by federal law.

Some of the largest ski areas in New England are located in Vermont. Skiers and snowboarders visit Burke Mountain Ski Area, Bolton Valley, Smugglers’ Notch, Killington Ski Resort, Mad River Glen, Stowe Mountain Resort, Cochrans Ski Area, Sugarbush, Stratton, Jay Peak, Okemo, Suicide Six, Mount Snow, Bromley, and Magic Mountain Ski Area. Summer visitors tour resort towns like Stowe, Manchester, Quechee, Wilmington and Woodstock. The effects of global warming have been predicted to shorten the length of the ski season across Vermont, which would continue the contraction and consolidation of the ski industry and threaten individual ski businesses and communities that rely on ski tourism. In winter, Nordic and backcountry skiers visit to travel the length of the state on the Catamount Trail. Several horse shows are annual events. Vermont’s state parks, historic sites, museums, golf courses, and new boutique hotels with spas were designed to attract tourists (List of mountains of Vermont, List of rivers of Vermont, List of lakes in Vermont, List of Vermont state parks, Monuments and memorials in Vermont).

Read more on Vermont Tourism, Wikitravel Vermont and Wikivoyage Vermont.






State Capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia © flickr.com - Ron Cogswell/cc-by-2.0

State Capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia © flickr.com – Ron Cogswell/cc-by-2.0

Virginia – The Old Dominion
Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is located in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. Other notable cities are Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Alexandria, Hampton, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Suffolk, Danville, Charlottesville, Manassas, Harrisonburg, Petersburg, Salem, Fredericksburg, Staunton, Winchester, Hopewell, Fairfax, Williamsburg (List of cities and counties in Virginia). The Commonwealth’s estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

The area’s history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Virginia’s state nickname, the Old Dominion, is a reference to this status. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony’s early politics and plantation economy. Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. In the American Civil War, Virginia’s Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy, and Virginia’s First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union; that led to the creation of West Virginia. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia.

The Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government was ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States in both 2005 and 2008. It is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia’s economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; federal agencies in Northern Virginia, including the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region’s main seaport.

Virginia’s culture was popularized and spread across America and the South by figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Robert E. Lee. Their homes in Virginia represent the birthplace of America and the South. Modern Virginia culture has many sources, and is part of the culture of the Southern United States</