Geography and History of the World © 2010 Indiana Edition

Chapter 6: Cultural Geography of the United States and Canada

Chapter Overviews

Canada and the United States share common features in their patterns of settlement, their democratic forms of government, and their agricultural and industrial development. While much of their heritage and culture is shared, each country still manages to retain some individual characteristics.

The United States The population of the United States is among the most diverse in the world as most of its population is descended from immigrants. About 2.5 million of its 300 million people are descended from Native Americans. Most people live in urban or suburban areas.

History—Native Americans occupied the region undisturbed until the mid-1500’s when European explorers opened the area to immigration. In 1776, the new nation declared itself independent from Great Britain. During the 1800’s the United States expanded westward and industrialized. During the 1900’s industry expanded and revolutionized to meet the needs of two world wars. In the 1990’s, technology industries became more important. The United States began an international struggle against terrorism after sustaining attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Anti-terrorism remains the focus of its foreign policy.

Culture—English is the most commonly used language, but many people are bilingual. Christianity is the most widely practiced organized religion, but many other religions have a presence. The educational system is both publicly and privately funded, and it is well developed. Art in the United States is derived from a blend of many cultures, including European and African. Many citizens enjoy a high standard of living.

Canada Like the United States, Canada’s population has also been shaped by immigrants from around the world. 1 million Canadians identify themselves as Native American or Inuit. Most of Canada’s population lives in urban areas near the border with the United States.

History—Around 200,000 Native Americans occupied what is now Canada when explorers and settlers began arriving in the 1500s. A search for a passage to the Pacific led to a conflict between the British and French, with the British winning control of New France. Though French and British settlers feuded, fear of a U.S. takeover united the settlers into becoming a dominion within the British Empire. In the 1800s Canada expanded across the continent. It gained full independence from Britain in 1931. Today Canada is focused on the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and dealing with separatist demands from French-speaking Quebecois.

Culture—English and French are the official languages of Canada, but immigrants have brought other languages. Christianity is the largest religion in Canada, although many others are also practiced. Canada has a network of public and private schools, with mandatory education. The government provides health care for its citizens. The arts in Canada is influenced by British, French, American, and native cultures.

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