United States Human and Economic Geography

State of North America. The beginning of the new millennium saw the political-military weight of the US further strengthen on the world stage; moreover, the main choices of the republican president GW Bush and his neocons advisers have mostly declined in terms of unilateralism the role of the superpower on the major theaters of crisis. Frequent disagreements with other major hubs of the world order have resulted from this, even within the UN, oriented rather towards multilateral decision-making processes: this seems to make US supremacy a ‘domination without hegemony’.

The guidelines of the Washington government drew further impetus from the reaction to the bloody attacks carried out on 11 September 2001 by Islamic terrorists of fundamentalist origin against the Twin Towers in New York and against the Pentagon headquarters. The impact of these attacks, which followed others of similar inspiration against US civilians and military in Africa and Asia, was, moreover, shocking at the level of public opinion for the thousands of victims caused and, even more so, for the collapse of the traditional sense of security from external enemies experienced on US soil. The country’s determined campaign against international terrorism began in November 2001 with a heavy military action undertaken in Afghānistān and continued, since March 2003, with the powerful ‘preventive’ military offensive against the Irāq of Ṣ. Ḥusayn (see below: History). The Iraqi war, which cost over 3,000 lives to the Washington armed forces in four years, nevertheless evokes the specter of Vietnam in the US, provoking protests and widespread dissent, of which the republican defeat in the midterm parliamentary elections is an expression (late 2006). Meanwhile, the effort to establish security in line with Washington’s expectations in the ‘great’ Middle East and to defeat terrorist threats has exacerbated the existing tensions between the US and countries such as Syria and Iran and induced the American air force to attack., in January 2007, alleged al-Qā̔ida bases in Somali territory.

Fears of terrorist infiltration have led to tighter border controls, particularly along the southern slope bordering Mexico. Concern also weighs on the 3,200 km of this last perimeter for the powerful and continuous flow of immigrants from the poorest areas of Latin America: a phenomenon that is incisively transforming the human geography of the South of the US and that arouses conflicts among supporters. of the identity of some regions and the defenders of the tradition of openness that generated the American melting pot. A large share of the transits along the border is given by illegal immigrants (at least 400 thousand a year), channeled by criminal organizations that would profit from this traffic 40 billion dollars a year; some of these organizations, moreover, also intervene in the transit of drugs, which sees Mexico as the main supply route for the market in the United States. To better protect this border, along which hundreds of desperate people die every year, the decision was made in 2006 to build a wall of about 1100 km and to support the border police with the National Guard and volunteer patrols (cazamigrantes).

If the border with Canada is traditionally free of tensions, except for some water use problems in the Great Lakes region, the prospects of melting Arctic ice due to global warming threaten to transform it into a difficult terrain for comparison.. It is announced, in fact, within the 1920s of the 21st° century, the possibility of activating the mythical ‘North-West passage’: ships could use the Arctic route, which is essential, for example, for the transport of Alaskan crude oil to the Atlantic coasts. But for the control of the waterway, and for the appropriation of the hoped-for energy resources of the Arctic area, a dispute is already igniting (also with other countries bordering the polar lands), which is already tending to the discussions of international jurists to complement the old arguments of gunboats.

According to estimates, the US population was close to 300 million. in autumn 2006. The average density is 31 residents per km 2 with a marked contrast between the areas of the oldest white colonization of the north-east coast, where in New Jersey there are more than 430 individuals per km 2, and the mountainous districts of the West, where in Wyoming and Montana the same surface it hosts just 2 ; the icy spaces of Alaska then remain below 0.5 residents per km 2. The overall population growth from the nineties of the 20° sec. it is valued in the order of one fifth, at a slightly decreasing rate, which in 2006 was 1.1 % per annum. The contribution of natural balances is stabilizing at around half of this value, thanks to a birth rate of just over 14% and a mortality anchored at around 8.5‰. But the contribution of the different ethnic components to the prevalence of births expresses one of the most delicate fronts of change in the country: without the white group of European origin around zero growth, there are the other main groups (starting with individuals of Latin American origin) to dictate the expansive rhythms. The increase in residents linked to immigration also bears a similar sign, since about one half of the million new legal entries per year come from Central America (Mexico and Puerto Rico in the first place); and the same origin – as we have seen – has most of the irregular. The result of this combination of demographic pressures is the rise of the Latin community in particular, which in the early 21st century.13 % of the total, surpassing for the first time the share of African Americans (12, 5 %), while Asians are close to 4 %. Whites of European origin, while remaining in the clear majority with almost 69 %, are gradually losing positions, and this phenomenon raises serious alarms in some environments more sensitive to the persistence of the country’s white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant footprint.

The advance of browning America, the one with a brown complexion, is particularly evident in the States close to Mexico, in which the elements that have flown legitimately or illegally from Latin America are fundamental for the functioning of production and services and are now becoming serious political weight, so much so as to express, for example, the mayor of a metropolis like Los Angeles. The persistence of a sustained contribution from the outside of young and adult elements tones up the age structure of the population, keeping the share of the active central groups well above the extreme ones (20 % of residents under 15 and 17 over 65). To the ethnic complexity the US also unite a growing religious mixture, which to the prevailing Christian faithful (Protestants for a quarter and Catholics for over a fifth of the total), associates followers of many other creeds (among others, 2, 2 % of Jews and a 1, 6 % of Muslims). The dominance of English as the current language of expression exhibits some significant cracks: 82 % of Americans still use it, but there are now 30 million citizens who develop their relationships mainly in Spanish and over 2 million those who use Chinese.

The main social characteristics of the population are markedly affected by the distribution and weight of the major ethnic groups. In fact, the average values ​​that express a high life expectancy (around 80 years for women and around 75 for men) or a modest infant mortality (less than 7 ‰) are unknown within the slums of the large industrial districts. in disarmament of the North-East and the Great Lakes (where life lasts an average of 6 – 8 years less) or in the precarious housing of Latinos in the Californian countryside. Moreover, in the US as many as 45 millions of individuals do not have health protection and most of these do not even access the support programs launched by the administration for the poor and the elderly, affected by the cuts in public spending. The geography of the discomfort nestles in prevalence among African-American groups, touching delicate pillars of citizenship, such as justice, housing, access to education (them is the greatest contribution to 0, 5 % illiteracy) and l ‘ evolve school careers.

The urban population has settled on a quota of 80%, but the figure is now of little significance in the face of the changes recorded in the ways of urbanization on a large scale and in the internal structures of city spaces. The crisis of compact urban models has produced the expansion of settlements over vast metropolitan regions, innervated by a dense network of connections and invested by enormous flows of commuting, within which the ancient distinction between city and countryside is definitively dissolved. Many of the old central nuclei, depleted by the transfer of activities and motor classes, have suffered decades of neglect (thus, for example, in the large heavy industry districts of the area between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic front); but dating back to the 1990s they have often experienced a recovery phase thanks to investments in the redevelopment of coastal fronts or some neighborhoods, with the inclusion of dynamic financial sectors, innovative activities (e.g., in the field of medical care), of cultural functions and tourist attractions. The response of part of the middle and well-to-do classes to insecurity and the environmental discomfort of many large cities is represented, however, by the settlement in small peripheral nuclei characterized by social homogeneity, a good system of services (largely private) and efficient systems of control towards strangers: gated communities, whose model was rapidly exported and exasperated to other realities with strong social and urban imbalances (in particular, in Latin America).

Despite the importance assumed by the widespread city, there are eight metropolitan areas in the US that gather at least 5 million residents and another fifteen those that cross the 2 million threshold. At the top of the ranking remain the urban areas of New York, with over 18 million residents, of Los Angeles, with almost 13, and of Chicago, with over 9. These three great urban organisms, together with San Francisco and Washington, are also the main magnets of immigration on a very wide range, thus assuming marked features of cosmopolitanism; Miami is also a powerful attractor, but its immigrants are almost exclusively of Latin American origin (mostly Cubans). In the substantial internal flows, on the other hand, the main attraction nodes are offered by the cities of the economically growing spaces of the South-East and the West.

United States Human and Economic Geography