The U.S. Archipelago

American population distribution is uneven. This uneven distribution of the population is due to historical and physical factors (climate, landforms, soil conditions). Therefore, approximately 40 percent of the U.S. population lived in counties on the shore, and the vast expanses of the western United States are almost deserted.

To depict the uneven distribution of the population more clearly, I tried to represent the U.S. block-level population density of the United States as a relief map. Unpopulated areas are colored like a continental shelf.

Map of the U.S. block level population density
High-resolution maps: 1990, 2000, 2010; High-resolution maps with U.S. state borderlines: 1990, 2000, 2010

The maps below illustrate how the population density distribution changed from 1990 to 2010.

Map of the U.S. population density

Population decline hit most nonmetro U.S. counties in the Great Plains from North Dakota to West Texas, stretching into Corn Belt lands of Illinois and parts of other Midwestern States.

Population decline also happened in comparatively high poverty regions in the southern Coastal Plains from eastern Texas to Virginia and Appalachia from east Kentucky within upstate New York. Vast territories of population drop have also emerged on the North Carolina – Virginia boundary.

Speedy population increases in nonmetro counties nearest to large and mediocre sized metro areas showed everlasting suburbanization drifts that changed hundreds of rural regions and little towns. Before-mentioned nonmetro areas include those near Atlanta in northern Georgia, Raleigh-Durham in central North Carolina, and Minneapolis-Saint Paul in southern Minnesota.

The accelerated increase was also gathered in recreation regions with beautiful landscape and retirement destinations, such as throughout the Pacific Coast and the Mountain West (influencing many U.S. counties in Utah, Idaho, Nevada), in the Ozarks Mountains and southern Appalachia, and along the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic seashores.

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