The Importance of Geography
The United States covers a large chunk of the North American continent,
incorporating a variety of climates and bound on two sides by ocean. The country’s
unique geography has given it a number of benefits:
Isolation from conflict: For much of its early history, the
United States was able to keep out of political and military entanglements with
the rest of the world. Separated from Europe by one ocean and from Asia by
another, America avoided the conflicts and wars among states in those regions.
Peace provided a rich environment for the development and growth of the new
Vibrant trade: Although vast oceans separate the United
States from much of the world, access to these oceans allowed for the
development of lively trade routes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The United States traded regularly with Europe and increasingly with Asia as the
nineteenth century wore on. America also possesses a number of long navigable
rivers (including the Mississippi River) that allowed for extensive trade within
Rich farmland: Large parts of the United States contain
excellent farmland. By producing more food than necessary, the United States
could trade excess food to support a growing manufacturing economy.
A vast frontier: Early white settlers were able to expand
across the continent. Access to a vast frontier encouraged development as
thousands of people pushed westward. The frontier also played a role in shaping
the American character.
Natural resources: The size and vastly different ecologies of
the terrain have also provided Americans with an abundance of natural resources,
such as timber, metal ores, coal, oil, and natural gas. Unlimited access to
these resources allowed the United States to develop politically and militarily
because it did not have to worry about acquiring the natural resources needed to
sustain its citizens.