Geographic/cultural divisons in the United States

I realize right up front that this might best go in IMHO, but I’m going to start it here in GQ. If a moderator feels like moving it they are welcome to.

I was wondering if there is a standard accepted way of dividing the United States into regions, i.e. is there a book or similar source that has general acceptance among those who should know?

I’d also like to know, and here we are getting in IMHO, or rather IYHO, how would you divide the United States geographically and/or culturally. I’m thinking West coast, southwest, midwest, south, East coast. There are probably division within these such as Pacific Northwest, New England, Midlands and south etc.

So what I’m asking is both for opinion and “fact”.

Even looking for facts, you are going to find contradictions or opposing views based on perspective.

Take Ohio:

Based on industry, much of Ohio is clearly Rust Belt–although that is based on a ring of cities around the perimeter of the state with Columbus clearly having no connection to the Rust Belt. (It could be argued that Cincinnati is also not Rust Belt, even though nearby Dayton is part of it.)

Based on agriculture, Ohio was considered the eastern edge of the Midwest through most of the 19th and 20th centuries. At the end of the 20th century, a movement began that limited the term Midwest to the states with many large agribusinesses (Kansas, Nebraska, etc.) and Ohio has been placed into the Great Lakes region by some folks, even though agriculture is still an extremely important part of the Ohio economy.

Certainly, Ohio is a Great Lakes state–yet the Lake Erie Basin extends fewer than forty miles into the state and places like Columbus and Cincinnati (to say nothing of the sparsely populated southeast section of the state) have little or no connection to the Great Lakes.

Do you base it on accents and culture? There is a clear “accent” line running across the state, so which section is the state in?

You are going to have to either pick one perspective, or acknowledge that multiple contradictory answers are “true.”

I think one of the best ways to divide up the country is by looking at who says “soda,” who says “pop,” and who says “coke.” There’s an actual map of this here:

http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~almccon/pop_soda/

I say it divides up the country fairly well. And if you take off the green and purple layers, the map looks eerily familiar…

You want a geographical divisions?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides up the U.S. as shown below when it publishes its weekly tables of disease incidence (e.g., http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5117md.htm#tab2).

Note that there are two entries for NY, one for the city and one for upstate. Note also the use of archaic state abbreviations. I assume this breakdown originated with the Bureau of the Census but a quick search their website did not turn up any non-alphabetical listings of states.

NEW ENGLAND
Maine
N.H.
Vt.
Mass.
R.I.
Conn.
MID. ATLANTIC
Upstate N.Y.
N.Y. City
N.J.
Pa.
E.N. CENTRAL
Ohio
Ind.
Ill.
Mich.
Wis.
W.N. CENTRAL
Minn.
Iowa
Mo.
N. Dak.
S. Dak.
Nebr.
Kans.
S. ATLANTIC
Del.
Md.
D.C.
Va.
W. Va.
N.C.
S.C.
Ga.
Fla.
E.S. CENTRAL
Ky.
Tenn.
Ala.
Miss.
W.S. CENTRAL
Ark.
La.
Okla.
Tex.
MOUNTAIN
Mont.
Idaho
Wyo.
Colo.
N. Mex.
Ariz.
Utah
Nev.
PACIFIC
Wash.
Oreg.
Calif.
Alaska
Hawaii

And also, TomnDebb, Ohio has been described as the northernmost “Southern” state. And having been born and raised in Akron, with many of my neighbors from West Virginia and Kentucky, I will attest to that.

…And, just to chime in, I’d like to add that Northern Californians consider themselves culturally distinct from Southern Californians. And the “Bay Area” considers itself distinct from the rest of Northern California. And San Franciscans seem to think themselves distinct from the other cities of the Bay Area.

And don’t get me STARTED on the central valley…
Ranchoth

Take a look at this website:

http://www.harpercollege.edu/~mhealy/g101ilec/namer/nac/nacnine/na9intro/nacninfr.htm

It’s a summary of the theories about the true social/economic/cultural divisions of the U.S., as given in Joel Garreau’s book The Nine Nations of North America.