Western United States

The Western United States (also called the American West, the Far West, and the West) is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.[2]

The U.S. Census Bureau's definition of the 13 westernmost states includes the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin to the West Coast, and the outlying state, Hawaii.

The West contains several major biomes, including arid and semi-arid plateaus and plains, particularly in the American Southwest; forested mountains, including two major ranges, the American Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains; the massive coastal shoreline of the American Pacific Coast; and the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.

Western United States
American West, Far West, or the West
Regional definitions vary from source to source. This map reflects the Western United States as defined by the Census Bureau. This region is divided into Mountain and Pacific areas.[1]
Regional definitions vary from source to source. This map reflects the Western United States as defined by the Census Bureau. This region is divided into Mountain and Pacific areas.[1]
CountryUnited States
StatesAlaska
Arizona
California
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Montana
Nevada
New Mexico
Oregon
Utah
Washington
Wyoming

Defining the West

HerdQuit
While the West is defined by many occupations , the American cowboy is often used as an icon of the region, here portrayed by C. M. Russell.
Monument Valley road
The West, as the most recent part of the United States, is often known for broad highways and freeways and open space. Pictured is a road in Utah to Monument Valley.

The Western U.S. is the largest region of the country, covering more than half the land area of the United States. It is also the most geographically diverse, incorporating geographic regions such as the temperate rainforests of the Northwest, the highest mountain ranges (including the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascade Range), numerous glaciers, and the western portions of the Great Plains. It also contains all of the desert areas located in the United States (the Mojave, Sonoran, Great Basin, and Chihuahuan deserts). Given this expansive and diverse geography it is no wonder the region is difficult to specifically define. Sensing a possible shift in the popular understanding of the West as a region in the early 1990s, historian Walter Nugent conducted a survey of three groups of professionals with ties to the region: a large group of Western historians (187 respondents), and two smaller groups, 25 journalists and publishers and 39 Western authors.[3] A majority of the historian respondents placed the eastern boundary of the West east of the Census definition out on the eastern edge of the Great Plains or on the Mississippi River. The survey respondents as a whole showed just how little agreement there was on the boundaries of the West.

Subregions

Within a region as large as and diverse as the Western United States, smaller areas with more closely shared demographics and geography have developed as subregions. The region is split into two smaller units, or divisions, by the U.S. Census Bureau:[1]

Mountain states 
Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada
Pacific states 
Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii

Other classifications distinguish between Southwest and Northwest. Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah are typically considered to be part of the Southwest, though Texas and Oklahoma are less frequently considered part of the Southwest as well. Meanwhile, the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington can be considered part of the Northwest or Pacific Northwest.

The term West Coast is commonly used to refer to just California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, whereas Hawaii is more geographically isolated from the continental U.S. and do not necessarily fit in any of these subregions.

State 2017 Estimate 2010 Census Change Area Density
Arizona 7,016,270 6,392,017 +9.77% 113,591.04 sq mi (294,199.4 km2) 62/sq mi (24/km2)
Colorado 5,607,154 5,029,196 +11.49% 103,641.81 sq mi (268,431.1 km2) 54/sq mi (21/km2)
Idaho 1,716,943 1,567,582 +9.53% 82,643.05 sq mi (214,044.5 km2) 21/sq mi (8/km2)
Montana 1,050,493 989,415 +6.17% 145,545.69 sq mi (376,961.6 km2) 7/sq mi (3/km2)
Nevada 2,998,039 2,700,551 +11.02% 109,781.09 sq mi (284,331.7 km2) 27/sq mi (11/km2)
New Mexico 2,088,070 2,059,179 +1.40% 121,455.60 sq mi (314,568.6 km2) 17/sq mi (7/km2)
Utah 3,101,833 2,763,885 +12.23% 82,169.56 sq mi (212,818.2 km2) 38/sq mi (15/km2)
Wyoming 579,315 563,626 +2.78% 97,093.07 sq mi (251,469.9 km2) 6/sq mi (2/km2)
Rocky Mountain 24,153,521 22,065,451 +9.46% 855,920.91 sq mi (2,216,825.0 km2) 28/sq mi (11/km2)
Alaska 739,795 710,231 +4.16% 570,640.51 sq mi (1,477,952.1 km2) 1/sq mi (1/km2)
California 39,536,653 37,253,956 +6.13% 155,779.10 sq mi (403,466.0 km2) 254/sq mi (98/km2)
Hawaii 1,427,538 1,360,301 +4.94% 6,422.62 sq mi (16,634.5 km2) 222/sq mi (86/km2)
Oregon 4,142,776 3,831,074 +8.14% 95,987.94 sq mi (248,607.6 km2) 43/sq mi (17/km2)
Washington 7,405,743 6,724,540 +10.13% 66,455.47 sq mi (172,118.9 km2) 111/sq mi (43/km2)
Pacific 53,252,505 49,880,102 +6.76% 895,285.64 sq mi (2,318,779.2 km2) 59/sq mi (23/km2)
Total 77,406,026 71,945,553 +7.59% 1,751,205.6 sq mi (4,535,602 km2) 44/sq mi (17/km2)

Outlying areas

West Texas in the Chihuahuan Desert may be considered as part of the Western U.S., as from a climatological perspective the West might be said to begin just west of Austin where annual rainfall drops off significantly from what is typically experienced in the East, with a concurrent change in plant and animal species. Fort Worth has long laid claim to be "Where the West Begins".

Demographics

The population distribution by race in the Western United States (2010):[4]

As defined by the United States Census Bureau, the Western region of the United States includes 13 states[1] with a total 2013 estimated population of 74,254,423.[5]

The West is still one of the most sparsely settled areas in the United States with 49.5 inhabitants per square mile (19/km²). Only Texas with 78.0 inhabitants/sq mi. (30/km²), Washington with 86.0 inhabitants/sq mi. (33/km²), and California with 213.4 inhabitants/sq mi. (82/km²) exceed the national average of 77.98 inhabitants/sq mi. (30/km²).

American West census maps
These maps from the 2000 US Census highlight differences from state to state of three minority groups. Note that most of the American Indian, Hispanic, and Asian population is in the West.

The entire Western region has also been strongly influenced by European, Hispanic or Latino, Asian and Native Americans; it contains the largest number of minorities in the U.S. While most of the studies of racial dynamics in America such as riots in Los Angeles have been written about European and African Americans, in many cities in the West and California, Whites and Blacks together are less than half the population because of the preference for the region by Hispanics and Asians. African and European Americans, however, continue to wield a stronger political influence because of the lower rates of citizenship and voting among Asians and Hispanics.

The West also contains much of the Native American population in the U.S., particularly in the large reservations in the Mountain and Desert States.

The largest concentrations for African Americans in the West can be found in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Tacoma, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, and Colorado Springs.

The Western United States has a higher sex ratio (more males than females) than any other region in the United States.[6]

Because the tide of development had not yet reached most of the West when conservation became a national issue, agencies of the federal government own and manage vast areas of land. (The most important among these are the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management within the Interior Department, and the U.S. Forest Service within the Agriculture Department.) National parks are reserved for recreational activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, and boating, but other government lands also allow commercial activities like ranching, logging, and mining. In recent years, some local residents who earn their livelihoods on federal land have come into conflict with the land's managers, who are required to keep land use within environmentally acceptable limits.

The largest city in the region is Los Angeles, located on the West Coast. Other West Coast cities include San Diego, San Bernardino, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Bakersfield, Sacramento, Seattle, Tacoma, Anchorage, and Portland. Prominent cities in the Mountain States include Denver, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Boise, El Paso, and Billings.

Natural geography

US west coast physiographic regions map
The Western United States is subdivided into three major physiographic regions: the Rocky Mountains (16–19), the Intermontane Plateaus (20–22), and the Pacific Mountains (23–25)
Zion NP20
Zion National Park in southern Utah is one of five national parks in the state.
Oregon High Desert
The High Desert region of Oregon
Feral horses - Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range - Montana
Feral horses in the Pryor Mountains of Southeast Montana

Along the Pacific Ocean coast lie the Coast Ranges, which, while not approaching the scale of the Rocky Mountains, are formidable nevertheless. They collect a large part of the airborne moisture moving in from the ocean. East of the Coast Ranges lie several cultivated fertile valleys, notably the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys of California and the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Beyond the valleys lie the country boys in Sierra Nevada in the south and the Cascade Range in the north. Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m) the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states, is in the Sierra Nevada. The Cascades are also volcanic. Mount Rainier, a volcano in Washington, is also over 14,000 feet (4,300 m). Mount St. Helens, a volcano in the Cascades erupted explosively in 1980. A major volcanic eruption at Mount Mazama around 4860 BC formed Crater Lake. These mountain ranges see heavy precipitation, capturing most of the moisture that remains after the Coast Ranges, and creating a rain shadow to the east forming vast stretches of arid land. These dry areas encompass much of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. The Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert along with other deserts are found here.

Beyond the deserts lie the Rocky Mountains. In the north, they run almost immediately east of the Cascade Range, so that the desert region is only a few miles wide by the time one reaches the Canada–US border. The Rockies are hundreds of miles (kilometers) wide, and run uninterrupted from New Mexico to Alaska. The Rocky Mountain Region is the highest overall area of the United States, with an average elevation of above 4,000 feet (1,200 m). The tallest peaks of the Rockies, 54 of which are over 14,000 feet (4,300 m), are found in central and western Colorado. East of the Rocky Mountains is the Great Plains, the western portions (for example, the eastern half of Colorado) of which are generally considered to be part of the western United States.

The West has several long rivers that empty into the Pacific Ocean, while the eastern rivers run into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River forms the easternmost possible boundary for the West today. The Missouri River, a tributary of the Mississippi, flows from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains eastward across the Great Plains, a vast grassy plateau, before sloping gradually down to the forests and hence to the Mississippi. The Colorado River snakes through the Mountain states, at one point forming the Grand Canyon.

The Colorado River is a major source of water in the Southwest and many dams, such as the Hoover Dam, form reservoirs along it. So much water is drawn for drinking water throughout the West and irrigation in California that in most years, water from the Colorado River no longer reaches the Gulf of California. The Columbia River, the largest river in volume flowing into the Pacific Ocean from North America, and its tributary, the Snake River, water the Pacific Northwest. The Platte runs through Nebraska and was known for being a mile (2 km) wide but only a half-inch (1 cm) deep. The Rio Grande forms the border between Texas and Mexico before turning due north and splitting New Mexico in half.

According to the United States Coast Guard, "The Western Rivers System consists of the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, Cumberland, Arkansas, and White Rivers and their tributaries, and certain other rivers that flow towards the Gulf of Mexico."[7]

Climate and agriculture

Most of the public land held by the U.S. National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management is in the Western states. Public lands account for 25 to 75 percent of the total land area in these states.[8]

As a generalization, the climate of the West can be summed up as semi-arid. However, parts of the West get extremely high amounts of rain or snow, and still other parts are true desert and get less than 5 inches (130 mm) of rain per year. Also, the climate of the West is quite unstable, as areas that are normally wet can be very dry for years and vice versa.

The seasonal temperatures vary greatly throughout the West. Low elevations on the West Coast have warm summers and mild winters with little to no snow. The desert southwest has very hot summers and mild winters. While the mountains in the southwest receive generally large amounts of snow. The Inland Northwest has a continental climate of warm to hot summers and cold to bitter cold winters.

Annual rainfall is greater in the eastern portions, gradually tapering off until reaching the Pacific Coast where it increases again. In fact, the greatest annual rainfall in the United States falls in the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest. Drought is much more common in the West than the rest of the United States. The driest place recorded in the U.S. is Death Valley, California.[9]

Violent thunderstorms occur east of the Rockies. Tornadoes occur every spring on the southern plains, with the most common and most destructive centered on Tornado Alley, which covers eastern portions of the West, (Texas to North Dakota), and all states in between and to the east.

Agriculture varies depending on rainfall, irrigation, soil, elevation, and temperature extremes. The arid regions generally support only livestock grazing, chiefly beef cattle. The wheat belt extends from Texas through The Dakotas, producing most of the wheat and soybeans in the U.S. and exporting more to the rest of the world. Irrigation in the Southwest allows the growing of great quantities of fruits, nuts, and vegetables as well as grain, hay, and flowers. Texas is a major cattle and sheep raising area, as well as the nation's largest producer of cotton. Washington is famous for its apples, and Idaho for its potatoes. California and Arizona are major producers of citrus crops, although growing metropolitan sprawl is absorbing much of this land.

Starting in 1902, Congress passed a series of acts authorizing the establishment of the United States Bureau of Reclamation to oversee water development projects in seventeen western states.

During the first half of the 20th century, dams and irrigation projects provided water for rapid agricultural growth throughout the West and brought prosperity for several states, where agriculture had previously only been subsistence level. Following World War II, the West's cities experienced an economic and population boom. The population growth, mostly in the Southwest states of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada, has strained water and power resources, with water diverted from agricultural uses to major population centers, such as the Las Vegas Valley and Los Angeles.

Geology

Plains make up much of the eastern portion of the West, underlain with sedimentary rock from the Upper Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic eras. The Rocky Mountains expose igneous and metamorphic rock both from the Precambrian and from the Phanerozoic eon. The Inter-mountain States and Pacific Northwest have huge expanses of volcanic rock from the Cenozoic era. Salt flats and salt lakes reveal a time when the great inland seas covered much of what is now the West.

The Pacific states are the most geologically active areas in the United States. Earthquakes cause damage every few to several years in California. While the Pacific states are the most volcanically active areas, extinct volcanoes and lava flows are found throughout most of the West.

History

The Western United States has been populated by Native Americans since at least 11,000 years ago, when the first Paleo-Indians arrived. Pre-Columbian trade routes to kingdoms and empires such as the Mound Builders existed in places such as Yellowstone National Park since around 1000 AD. Major settlement of the western territories developed rapidly in the 1840s, largely through the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush of 1849. California experienced such a rapid growth in a few short months that it was admitted to statehood in 1850 without the normal transitory phase of becoming an official territory.[10]

One of the largest migrations in American history occurred in the 1840s as the Latter Day Saints left the Midwest to build a theocracy in Utah.

Both Omaha, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri laid claim to the title, "Gateway to the West" during this period. Omaha, home to the Union Pacific Railroad and the Mormon Trail, made its fortunes on outfitting settlers; St. Louis built itself upon the vast fur trade in the West before its settlement.

The 1850s were marked by political battles over the expansion of slavery into the western territories, issues leading to the Civil War.[11]

The history of the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has acquired a cultural mythos in the literature and cinema of the United States. The image of the cowboy, the homesteader, and westward expansion took real events and transmuted them into a myth of the west which has shaped much of American popular culture since the late 19th century.[12]

Writers as diverse as Bret Harte and Zane Grey celebrated or derided cowboy culture, while artists such as Frederic Remington created western art as a method of recording the expansion into the west. The American cinema, in particular, created the genre of the western movie, which, in many cases, use the West as a metaphor for the virtue of self-reliance and an American ethos. The contrast between the romanticism of culture about the West and the actuality of the history of the westward expansion has been a theme of late 20th and early 21st century scholarship about the West. Cowboy culture has become embedded in the American experience as a common cultural touchstone, and modern forms as diverse as country and western music have celebrated the sense of isolation and independence of spirit inspired by the frontiersmen on virgin land.[13]

20th century

The advent of the automobile enabled the average American to tour the West. Western businessmen promoted Route 66 as a means to bring tourism and industry to the West. In the 1950s, representatives from all the western states built the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center to showcase western culture and greet travelers from the East. During the latter half of the 20th century, several transcontinental interstate highways crossed the West bringing more trade and tourists from the East. Oil boom towns in Texas and Oklahoma rivaled the old mining camps for their rawness and wealth. The Dust Bowl forced children of the original homesteaders even further west.[14]

The movies became America's chief entertainment source featuring western fiction, later the community of Hollywood in Los Angeles became the headquarters of the mass media such as radio and television production.[15]

California has emerged as the most populous state and one of the top 10 economies in the world. Massive late 19th–20th century population and settlement booms created two megalopolis areas of the Greater Los Angeles/Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area/Northern California regions, one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas and in the top 25 largest urban areas in the world. Four more metropolitan areas of San Bernardino-Riverside, San Diego, Denver, Phoenix, and Seattle have over a million residents, while the three fastest growing metro areas were the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, the Las Vegas metropolitan area; and the Portland metropolitan area.[16][17]

Although there has been segregation, along with accusations of racial profiling and police brutality towards minorities due to issues such as illegal immigration and a racial shift (i.e. White flight and now black flight) in neighborhood demographics, sometimes leading to racially based riots (i.e. the 1992 Los Angeles riots and 1965 Watts Riots), the West has a continuing reputation for being open-minded and for being one of the most racially progressive areas in the United States.

Los Angeles has the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico, while San Francisco has the largest Chinese community in North America and also has a large LGBT community, and Oakland, California has a large percentage of residents being African-American, as well as Long Beach, California which also has a significant Black community. The state of Utah has a Mormon majority (estimated at 62.4% in 2004),[18] while some cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico; Billings, Montana; Spokane, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona are located near Indian Reservations. In remote areas there are settlements of Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians.

Culture

Facing both the Pacific Ocean and the Mexican border, the West has been shaped by a variety of ethnic groups. Hawaii is the only state in the union in which Asian Americans outnumber white American residents. Asians from many countries have settled in California and other coastal states in several waves of immigration since the 19th century, contributing to the Gold rush, the building of the transcontinental railroad, agriculture, and more recently, high technology.

The border states—California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas—and other southwestern states such as Colorado, Utah, and Nevada all have large Hispanic populations, and the many Spanish place names attest to their history as former Spanish and Mexican territories. Mexican-Americans have also had a growing population in Northwestern states of Oregon and Washington, as well as the southern states of Texas and Oklahoma.

Hollywood-Sign
Hollywood is a well-known area of Los Angeles and the symbolic center of the American film industry.

Alaska—the northernmost state in the Union—is a vast land of few people, many of them native, and of great stretches of wilderness, protected in national parks and wildlife refuges. Hawaii's location makes it a major gateway between the United States and Asia, as well as a center for tourism.

In the Pacific Coast states, the wide areas filled with small towns, farms, and forests are supplemented by a few big port cities which have evolved into world centers for the media and technology industries. Now the second largest city in the nation, Los Angeles is best known as the home of the Hollywood film industry; the area around Los Angeles also was a major center for the aerospace industry by World War II, though Boeing, located in Washington State would lead the aerospace industry. Fueled by the growth of Los Angeles, as well as the San Francisco Bay area, including Silicon Valley, the center of America's high tech industry, California has become the most populous of all the 50 states.

Oregon and Washington have also seen rapid growth with the rise of Boeing and Microsoft along with agriculture and resource based industries. The desert and mountain states have relatively low population densities, and developed as ranching and mining areas which are only recently becoming urbanized. Most of them have highly individualistic cultures, and have worked to balance the interests of urban development, recreation, and the environment.

Newspaperrock
Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, Utah, contains petroglyphs left by the first inhabitants of the American Southwest.

Culturally distinctive points include the large Mormon population in the Mormon Corridor, including southeastern Idaho, Utah, Northern Arizona, and Nevada; the extravagant casino resort towns of Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; and the numerous American Indian tribal reservations.

Major metropolitan areas

These are the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with a population above 500,000 in the 13 Western states with population estimates as of July 1, 2015 as defined by the United States Census Bureau:[19]

Rank
(West)
Rank
(USA)[20]
MSA Population State(s)    
1 2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim MSA 13,340,068 California Los Angeles skyline
2 11 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward MSA 4,656,132 California San Francisco cityscape
3 12 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale MSA 4,574,531 Arizona Phoenix cityscape
4 13 San Bernardino-Riverside-Ontario MSA 4,489,159 California San Bernardino skyline
5 15 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue MSA 3,733,580 Washington Seattle skyline
6 17 San Diego-Carlsbad MSA 3,299,521 California Downtown San Diego
7 19 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA 2,814,330 Colorado Downtown Denver
8 23 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA 2,389,228 Oregon
Washington
Portland, Oregon, from the east
9 27 Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade MSA 2,274,194 California The Sacramento Riverfront
10 29 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise MSA 2,114,801 Nevada The Las Vegas Strip
11 35 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,976,836 California Downtown San Jose
12 48 Salt Lake City MSA 1,170,266 Utah Salt Lake City
13 53 Tucson MSA 1,010,025 Arizona Tucson, Arizona
14 54 Honolulu MSA 998,714 Hawaii Downtown Honolulu
15 56 Fresno MSA 974,861 California Downtown Fresno
16 60 Albuquerque MSA 907,301 New Mexico Downtown Albuquerque
17 61 Bakersfield-Delano MSA 882,176 California Downtown Bakersfield
18 66 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura MSA 850,536 California Aerial view of Ventura
19 77 Stockton-Lodi MSA 726,106 California The University of the Pacific in Stockton
20 80 Colorado Springs MSA 697,856 Colorado Downtown Colorado Springs
21 81 Boise City MSA 676,909 Idaho Idaho State Capitol building in Boise
22 86 Ogden-Clearfield MSA 642,850 Utah Downtown Ogden
23 93 Provo-Orem MSA 585,799 Utah Panoramic View of Provo and Utah Valley after Sunset from the Y Mountain Trailhead
24 100 Spokane-Spokane Valley MSA 547,824 Washington Downtown Spokane
25 102 Modesto MSA 538,388 California The Modesto Arch
26 106 Santa Rosa MSA 502,146 California Old Courthouse Square in Downtown Santa Rosa

Other population centers

Politics

Map of USA medicinal marijuana
States where state-level laws allowed legalized medicinal marijuana before 2005
Map of USA highlighting euthanasia
States with legalized physician-assisted suicide
Map of USA highlighting states with no income tax
States that have no income tax at the state level

The region's distance from historical centers of power in the East, and the celebrated "frontier spirit" of its settlers offer two clichés for explaining the region's independent, heterogeneous politics. Historically, the West was the first region to see widespread women's suffrage, with women casting votes in Utah and Wyoming as early as 1870, five decades before the 19th Amendment was ratified by the nation. California birthed both the property rights and conservation movements, and spawned such phenomena as the Taxpayer Revolt and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement. It has also produced three presidents: Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan.

The prevalence of libertarian political attitudes is widespread. For example, the majority of Western states have legalized medicinal marijuana (all but Utah and Wyoming) and some forms of gambling (except Utah); Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Montana have legalized physician-assisted suicide; most rural counties in Nevada allow licensed brothels, and voters in Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington have legalized recreational use of marijuana.[21]

The West Coast, Colorado, Hawaii and New Mexico lean toward the Democratic Party. San Francisco's two main political parties are the Green Party and the Democratic Party. Seattle has historically been a center of radical left-wing politics. One of the Democratic leaders of the Congress is from the region: Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California.

Alaska and most Mountain states are more Republican, with Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming being Republican strongholds, and Nevada being a swing state. The state of Nevada is considered a political bellwether, having correctly voted for every president except twice (in 1976 and 2016) since 1912. New Mexico too is considered a bellwether, having voted for the popular vote winner in every presidential election since statehood, except in 1976. The state of Arizona has been won by the Republican presidential candidate in every election except one since 1948, while the states of Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming have been won by the Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1964. Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah have been some of the country's most Republican states.

As the fastest-growing demographic group, after Asians, Latinos are hotly contested by both parties. Immigration is an important political issue for this group. Backlash against illegal aliens led to the passage of California Proposition 187 in 1994, a ballot initiative which would have denied many public services to illegal aliens. Association of this proposal with California Republicans, especially incumbent governor Pete Wilson, drove many Hispanic voters to the Democrats.[22]

The following table shows the breakdown of party affiliation of governors, attorneys general, state legislative houses, and U.S. congressional delegation for the Western states, as of 2019.

State Governor Attorney General Upper House Majority Lower House Majority Senior U.S. Senator Junior U.S. Senator U.S. House Delegation
AK Republican Republican Republican
13-7
Republican
23-16-1
Republican Republican Republican
1-0
AZ Republican Republican Republican
17-13
Republican
31-29
Democratic Republican Democratic
5-4
CA Democratic Democratic Democratic
29-11
Democratic
61-19
Democratic Democratic Democratic
46-7
CO Democratic Democratic Democratic
19-16
Democratic
41-24
Democratic Republican Democratic
4-3
HI Democratic Democratic Democratic
24-1
Democratic
46-5
Democratic Democratic Democratic
2-0
ID Republican Republican Republican
28-7
Republican
56-14
Republican Republican Republican
2-0
MT Democratic Republican Republican
30-20
Republican
58-42
Democratic Republican Republican
1-0
NV Democratic Democratic Democratic
13-8
Democratic
29-13
Democratic Democratic Democratic
3-1
NM Democratic Democratic Democratic
26-16
Democratic
46-24
Democratic Democratic Democratic
3-0
OR Democratic Democratic Democratic
19-11
Democratic
38-22
Democratic Democratic Democratic
4-1
UT Republican Republican Republican
23-6
Republican
59-16
Republican Republican Republican
3-1
WA Democratic Democratic Democratic
28-21
Democratic
57-41
Democratic Democratic Democratic
7-3
WY Republican Republican Republican
27-3
Republican
50-9-1
Republican Republican Republican
1-0

Health

The Western United States consistently ranks well in health measures. The rate of potentially preventable hospitalizations in the Western United States was consistently lower than other regions from 2005 to 2011.[23] While the proportion of maternal or neonatal hospital stays was higher in the Western United States relative to other regions, the proportion of medical stays in hospitals was lower than in other regions in 2012.[24]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "Census Regions and Divisions of the United States" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  2. ^ Jody Halsted (31 July 2014). "On the road along the Mississippi River". Foxnews. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  3. ^ Nugent, Walter (Summer 1992). "Where Is the American West? Report on a Survey". Montana The Magazine of Western History. 42 (3): 2–23. JSTOR 4519496.
  4. ^ "Race and Hispanic or Latino Origin: 2010". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  6. ^ http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/people/a_gender.html
  7. ^ "Inland Aids to Navigation" (PDF). Coast Guard Auxiliary: National ATON-CU study guide (Section XIV). United States Coast Guard. pp. 14–2. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
  8. ^ "Western States Data Public Land Acreage". www.wildlandfire.com.
  9. ^ "Death Valley: Hottest, Driest, Lowest (SpotHopping.com)". spothopping.com.
  10. ^ H. W. Brands, The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream (2002)
  11. ^ Michael Morrison, Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War (1997)
  12. ^ Gary J. Hausladen, Western Places, American Myths: How We Think About The West (U. of Nevada Press, 2006)
  13. ^ Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Harvard University Press, 1950)
  14. ^ Donald Worster, Dust bowl: the southern plains in the 1930s (Oxford University Press, 1982)
  15. ^ Allen John Scott, On Hollywood: The place, the industry (Princeton University Press, 2005)
  16. ^ Lawrence Larsen, The urban West at the end of the frontier (1978).
  17. ^ Earl Pomeroy, American Far West in the Twentieth Century (Yale University Press, 2008)
  18. ^ Canham, Matt (July 24, 2005). "Mormon Portion of Utah Population Steadily Shrinking". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved February 23, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Estimates of Resident Population Change and Rankings: July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015". United States Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  21. ^ "Slate". 5 November 2014.
  22. ^ Stephen D. Cummings and Patrick B. Reddy, California after Arnold (2009) pp. 165–70
  23. ^ Torio CM, Andrews RM (September 2014). "Geographic Variation in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations for Acute and Chronic Conditions, 2005–2011". HCUP Statistical Brief No. 178. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
  24. ^ Wiess, AJ and Elixhauser A (October 2014). "Overview of Hospital Utilization, 2012". HCUP Statistical Brief No. 180. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Further reading

  • Beck, Warren A., Haase, Ynez D.; Historical Atlas of the American West. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.
  • Everett, Derek R. Creating the American West: Boundaries and Borderlands. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014.
  • Lamar, Howard. The New Encyclopedia of the American West. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.
  • Milner II, Clyde A; O'Connor, Carol A.; Sandweiss, Martha A. The Oxford History of the American West. Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Phillips, Charles; Axlerod, Alan; editor. The Encyclopedia of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
  • Pomeroy, Earl. The American Far West in the Twentieth Century. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
  • Turner, Frederick Jackson. Rereading Frederick Jackson Turner: 'The Significance of the Frontier in American History' and Other Essays. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998.
  • White, Richard. "It's Your Misfortune and None of My Own": A New History of the American West. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991.

External links

Coordinates: 40°N 113°W / 40°N 113°W

1992 Utah gubernatorial election

The 1992 Utah gubernatorial election took place on November 7, 1992. Republican nominee Michael Leavitt won the three way election.

Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Daily Star is the major morning daily newspaper that serves Tucson and surrounding districts of southern Arizona in the United States. The paper was purchased by Pulitzer in 1971; Lee Enterprises bought Pulitzer in 2005. At present, the paper's business operations are owned jointly by Lee Enterprises and the Gannett Company.

California ground squirrel

The California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi), also known as the Beechey ground squirrel, is a common and easily observed ground squirrel of the western United States and the Baja California Peninsula; it is common in Oregon and California and its range has relatively recently extended into Washington and northwestern Nevada. Formerly placed in Spermophilus, as Spermophilus beecheyi, it was reclassified in Otospermophilus in 2009 as it became clear that Spermophilus as previously defined was not a natural (monophyletic) group. A full species account was published for this species in 2016.

Chimichanga

Chimichanga (; Spanish: [tʃimiˈtʃaŋɡa]) is a deep-fried burrito that is popular in Tex-Mex and other Southwestern U.S. cuisine. The dish is typically prepared by filling a flour tortilla with a wide range of ingredients, most commonly rice, cheese, beans, machaca (dried meat), carne adobada (marinated meat), carne seca (dried beef), or shredded chicken, and folding it into a rectangular package. It is then deep-fried and can be accompanied by salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or cheese.

Dahlberg Arena

Dahlberg Arena is a 7,321-seat multi-purpose arena in the western United States, located on the campus of the University of Montana in Missoula. The arena opened 66 years ago in 1953 and is home to the Montana Grizzlies and Lady Griz basketball teams. It has hosted the Big Sky Conference men's basketball tournament five times: 1978, 1991, 1992, 2000, and 2012.

Opened in late 1953, the field house was named for newly-retired track coach Harry Adams in June 1966.

In the 1980s, Adams Field House seated over 9,000 and was known as the toughest arena for visiting teams in the Big Sky, and also enjoyed a national reputation. Its laminated wood arches were constructed in Portland, Oregon. The elevation of the floor is approximately 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level.

Alumnus George P. (Jiggs) Dahlberg (1900–1993) was head coach of the Grizzlies from 1937 to 1955 and retired as athletic director in 1961. He was one of four brothers known as "The Four Norseman of Butte" who competed in athletics for the Griz.The arena can be configured to seat 5,500 people for a traditionally staged concert or can use all of the seats for a concert with a central stage. It has hosted many concerts, including Pearl Jam, Grateful Dead, Gym Class Heroes, Rascal Flatts, and Macklemore.

Dillard's

Dillard's Inc. is an American department store chain with approximately 292 stores in 29 states headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Currently, the largest number of stores are located in Florida with 42 and Texas with 57, but the company also has stores in 27 more states although it is absent from the Northeast (Washington DC northward), most of the Upper Midwest (no Michigan, Chicago, Wisconsin, or Minnesota stores), the Northwest, and most of California, aside from three stores in smaller cities.

Dornblaser Field

Dornblaser Field is the name of two outdoor athletic stadiums in the western United States, located in Missoula, Montana. Both were former home fields of the University of Montana Grizzlies football teams and were named for Paul Dornblaser, a captain of the football team in 1912 who was killed in World War I. Both stadiums had conventional north-south orientations at an approximate elevation of 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level.

The first ivy-covered stone venue opened 107 years ago in 1912 on campus at the base of Mount Sentinel and east of University Hall. Its southwestern portion (46.859°N 113.983°W / 46.859; -113.983) is now the location of the Mansfield Library, completed in 1978. It hosted the Griz until an off-campus stadium opened in 1968, a "temporary" stadium about a mile (1.6 km) southwest which held 12,500 spectators in steel and wood bleachers. The second stadium was replaced for football when Washington–Grizzly Stadium opened in October 1986, back on campus, east of Dahlberg Arena.

Recently renovated, Dornblaser Field continues as the home venue for the Grizzlies' track and field teams.

Four Corners

The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico. The Four Corners area is named after the quadripoint at the intersection of approximately 37° north latitude with 109° 03' west longitude, where the boundaries of the four states meet, and are marked by the Four Corners Monument. It is the only location in the United States where four states meet. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribal reserves and nations. The Four Corners region is part of a larger region known as the Colorado Plateau and is mostly rural, rugged, and arid. In addition to the monument, commonly visited areas within Four Corners include Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The most populous city in the Four Corners region is Farmington, New Mexico, followed by Durango, Colorado.

Great Falls Tribune

The Great Falls Tribune is a daily morning newspaper printed in Great Falls, Montana. It's one of Montana's largest newspaper companies. Its Sunday circulation is 60,763, with 40,434 on weekdays. The Great Falls Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 2000 for a yearlong series on alcoholism.

High Plains (United States)

The High Plains are a subregion of the Great Plains mostly in the Western United States, but also partly in the Midwest states of Nebraska, Kansas, and South Dakota, generally encompassing the western part of the Great Plains before the region reaches the Rocky Mountains. The High Plains are located in eastern Montana, southeastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, western Nebraska, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma, and to just south of the Texas Panhandle. The southern region of the Western High Plains ecology region contains the geological formation known as Llano Estacado which can be seen from a short distance or on satellite maps. From east to west, the High Plains rise in elevation from around 1,800 feet (550 m) to over 7,000 feet (2,100 m).

Intermountain West

The Intermountain West, or Intermountain Region, is a geographic and geological region of the Western United States. It is located between the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada on the west.

Northeast Sportbike Association

The Northeast Sportbike Association (NESBA), of the US, is a non-profit, volunteer-run institution founded in 1996 by sportbike enthusiasts and former racers. With close to 200 track days in 2009, NESBA was the largest single sportbike track day organization in the country. It offered riding opportunities at many venues throughout the Northeast, the Midwest, the South and the Western United States.

Northwestern United States

The Northwestern United States is an informal geographic region of the United States. The region consistently includes the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho—and usually Montana and Wyoming. Some sources include Southeast Alaska in the Northwest. The related but distinct term "Pacific Northwest" generally excludes areas from the Rockies eastward.

The Northwestern United States is a subportion of the Western United States (which is, itself, even more ambiguous). In contrast, states included in the neighboring regions (Southwestern United States and Great Plains) and Utah are not simultaneously considered part of both regions.

Like the southwestern United States, the Northwest definition has moved westward over time. The current area includes the old Oregon Territory (created in 1848–Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and areas in Montana west of the Continental Divide). The region is similar to Federal Region X, which comprises Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.

It is home to over 14.2 million people. Some of the fastest growing cities in this region and in the nation include Seattle, Spokane, Bellevue, Tacoma, Vancouver, Kennewick, Pasco, Yakima, Portland, Eugene, Salem, Boise, Missoula, Bozeman and Billings.

Peet's Coffee

Peet's Coffee is a San Francisco Bay Area-based specialty coffee roaster and retailer. Founded in 1966 by Alfred Peet in Berkeley, California, Peet's introduced the United States to its darker roasted Arabica coffee in blends including French Roast and grades appropriate for espresso drinks. Peet's offers freshly roasted beans, brewed coffee and espresso beverages, as well as bottled cold brew. In 2007, Peet's opened the first LEED Gold Certified roastery in the United States. Peet’s coffee is sold in over 14,000 grocery stores across the United States.

Pico de gallo

In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpiko ðe ˈɣaʎo], lit. Peak of rooster), also called salsa fresca or salsa cruda, is made from chopped tomato, onion, cilantro.

Pico de gallo can be used in much the same way as other Mexican liquid salsas, but since it contains less liquid, it can also be used as a main ingredient in dishes such as tacos and fajitas.

The tomato-based variety is widely known as salsa picada (minced/chopped sauce). In Mexico it is normally called salsa mexicana (Mexican sauce). Because the colours of the red tomato, white onion, green chili and cilantro are reminiscent of the colours of the Mexican flag, it is also sometimes called salsa bandera (flag sauce).

In many regions of Mexico the term refers to any of a variety of salads (including fruit salads), salsa, or fillings made with tomato, tomatillo, avocado, orange, jícama, cucumber, papaya, or mild chilis. The ingredients are tossed in lime juice and either hot sauce or chamoy, then sprinkled with a salty chili powder.

Refried beans

Refried beans (Spanish: frijoles refritos) is a dish of cooked and mashed beans and is a traditional staple of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, although each cuisine has a different approach when making the dish. Refried beans are also popular in many other Latin American countries.In this dish, after being boiled and then mashed into a paste, the beans are sometimes then fried or baked, though usually neither, thus making the term "refried" even more misleading.

Skyline Conference (1938–1962)

The Skyline Conference, also known as the Mountain States Conference, was a college athletic conference based in the Western United States. The league was established in 1938 when the seven charter members (see below) pulled out of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

From 1938 to 1947, the conference was popularly known as the Big Seven. After Colorado left in 1947 to join the Big Six Conference (later the Big Eight Conference) the MSC became popularly known as the Skyline Conference or Skyline Six, while the Big Six took over the Big Seven name. The conference became known as the Skyline Eight after New Mexico and Montana joined in 1951.

The conference dissolved in early 1962 after four of its members (BYU, Utah, New Mexico, and Wyoming) departed to form the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in July. Montana operated as an independent for one football season in 1962 until the formation of the Big Sky Conference in 1963. Colorado State became independent until it joined the WAC in 1968. Utah State operated as an independent for fifteen seasons, until it joined the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1977.

Southwestern United States

The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest, is the informal name for a region of the western United States. Definitions of the region's boundaries vary a great deal and have never been standardized, though many boundaries have been proposed. For example, one definition includes the stretch from the Mojave Desert in California (117° west longitude) to Carlsbad, New Mexico (104° west longitude), and from the Mexico–United States border to the southern areas of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada (39° north latitude). The largest metropolitan areas are centered around Phoenix (with an estimated population of more than 4.7 million as of 2017), Las Vegas (more than 2.2 million), Tucson (more than 1 million), Albuquerque (more than 900,000), and El Paso (more than 840,000). Those five metropolitan areas have an estimated total population of more than 9.6 million as of 2017, with nearly 60 percent of them living in the two Arizona cities—Phoenix and Tucson.

Most of the area was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain in the Spanish Empire before becoming part of Mexico. European settlement was almost non-existent outside New Mexico in 1848, when it became part of the United States through the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, while southern areas of Arizona and southwestern New Mexico were added in the later Gadsden Purchase.

West Coast of the United States

The West Coast or Pacific Coast is the coastline along which the continental Western United States meets the North Pacific Ocean. As a region, this term most often refers to the coastal states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. More specifically, it refers to an area defined on the east by the Alaska Range, Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada, and Mojave Desert, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The United States Census groups the five states of California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii together as the Pacific States division.

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