The Info List - Western United States

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The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West, the Far West, or simply the West, traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time. Prior to about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
was seen as the western frontier. Since then, the frontier generally moved westward and eventually, the lands west of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
came to be referred to as the West.[2] Though no consensus exists, even among experts, for the definition of the West as a region, the U.S. Census Bureau's definition of the 13 westernmost states includes the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin
Great Basin
to the West Coast, and the outlying states of Hawaii
and Alaska. The West contains several major biomes. It is known for arid to semi-arid plateaus and plains, particularly in the American Southwest – forested mountains, including the major ranges of the American Sierra Nevada
and Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountains
– the massive coastal shoreline of the American Pacific Coast – and the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest.


1 Defining the West

1.1 Subregions 1.2 Outlying areas

2 Demographics 3 Natural geography

3.1 Climate and agriculture 3.2 Geology

4 History

4.1 20th century

5 Culture 6 Major metropolitan areas

6.1 Other population centers

7 Politics 8 Health 9 See also 10 References 11 Further reading 12 External links

Defining the West[edit]

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While the West is defined by many cultures, the American cowboy is often seen as iconic of the region, here portrayed by C. M. Russell.

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, and the Sierra Nevada), the Great Plains, and all of the desert areas located in the United States
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
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[edit] Within a region as large 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]

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 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
and Washington, whereas Alaska
and Hawaii
are more geographically isolated from the other states of the region 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 7000976613485226960♠+9.77% 113,591.04 sq mi (294,199.4 km2) 62/sq mi (24/km2)

Colorado 5,607,154 5,029,196 7001114920555890050♠+11.49% 103,641.81 sq mi (268,431.1 km2) 54/sq mi (21/km2)

Idaho 1,716,943 1,567,582 7000952811399977800♠+9.53% 82,643.05 sq mi (214,044.5 km2) 21/sq mi (8/km2)

Montana 1,050,493 989,415 7000617314271564510♠+6.17% 145,545.69 sq mi (376,961.6 km2) 7/sq mi (3/km2)

Nevada 2,998,039 2,700,551 7001110158260295769♠+11.02% 109,781.09 sq mi (284,331.7 km2) 27/sq mi (11/km2)

New Mexico 2,088,070 2,059,179 7000140303489886020♠+1.40% 121,455.60 sq mi (314,568.6 km2) 17/sq mi (7/km2)

Utah 3,101,833 2,763,885 7001122272815258230♠+12.23% 82,169.56 sq mi (212,818.2 km2) 38/sq mi (15/km2)

Wyoming 579,315 563,626 7000278358344008259♠+2.78% 97,093.07 sq mi (251,469.9 km2) 6/sq mi (2/km2)

Rocky Mountain 24,153,521 22,065,451 7000946307419685190♠+9.46% 855,920.91 sq mi (2,216,825.0 km2) 28/sq mi (11/km2)

Alaska 739,795 710,231 7000416258935473110♠+4.16% 570,640.51 sq mi (1,477,952.1 km2) 1/sq mi (1/km2)

California 39,536,653 37,253,956 7000612739490002080♠+6.13% 155,779.10 sq mi (403,466.0 km2) 254/sq mi (98/km2)

Hawaii 1,427,538 1,360,301 7000494280310019620♠+4.94% 6,422.62 sq mi (16,634.5 km2) 222/sq mi (86/km2)

Oregon 4,142,776 3,831,074 7000813615189891920♠+8.14% 95,987.94 sq mi (248,607.6 km2) 43/sq mi (17/km2)

Washington 7,405,743 6,724,540 7001101301055536880♠+10.13% 66,455.47 sq mi (172,118.9 km2) 111/sq mi (43/km2)

Pacific 53,252,505 49,880,102 7000676101865228740♠+6.76% 895,285.64 sq mi (2,318,779.2 km2) 59/sq mi (23/km2)

Total 77,406,026 71,945,553 7000758972969462060♠+7.59% 1,751,205.6 sq mi (4,535,602 km2) 44/sq mi (17/km2)

Outlying areas[edit] West Texas
in the Chihuahuan Desert
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[edit] The population distribution by race in the Western United States (2010):[4]

66.4% Non- Hispanic
Whites 28.6% were Hispanic
or Latino
(of any race) 9.3% Asian 4.8% Black or African American 1.9% American Indian or Alaska
Native 12.4% Some other race

As defined by the United States
United States
Census Bureau, the Western region of the United States
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).

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
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
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
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
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, 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[edit]

The geography of the Western United States
United States
is split into three major physiographic divisions: the Rocky Mountain
System (areas 16-19 on map), the Intermontane Plateaus
Intermontane Plateaus
(20-22), and the Pacific Mountain System (23-25).

regions of the Western United States
United States
as mapped in 1893

Zion National Park
Zion National Park
in southern Utah
is one of five national parks in the state.

Big Sur, California.

The High Desert region of Oregon.

The Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
covers much of the Southwestern United States, stretching from Nevada
into California, Arizona, and Utah.

Pryor Mountains
Pryor Mountains
in Montana, feral horses

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
in Colorado

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Along the Pacific Ocean
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 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
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
Mojave Desert
and Sonoran Desert
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
New Mexico
to Alaska. The Rocky Mountain
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. 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
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
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
New Mexico
in half. According to the United States
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[edit] Most of the public land held by the U.S. National Forest
Service and Bureau of Land Management
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 described as semi-arid; however, parts of the West get extremely high amounts of rain and/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
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. Local and state government officials started to understand, after several surveys made during the latter part of the 19th century, that only action by the federal government could provide water resources needed to support the development of the West[citation needed]. Starting in 1902, Congress passed a series of acts authorizing the establishment of the United States
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
Las Vegas
and Los Angeles. Geology[edit] 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
Rocky Mountains
expose igneous and metamorphic rock both from the Precambrian
and from the Phanerozoic
eon. The Inter-mountain States and Pacific Northwest
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
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
Pacific states
are the most volcanically active areas, extinct volcanoes and lava flows are found throughout most of the West. History[edit] Main articles: American frontier
American frontier
and Timeline of the American Old West The Western United States
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
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
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
Bret Harte
and Zane Grey
Zane Grey
celebrated or derided cowboy culture, while artists such as Frederic Remington
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[edit] 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
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
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
White flight
and now black flight) in neighborhood demographics, sometimes leading to racially based riots (i.e. the 1992 Los Angeles
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
Los Angeles
has the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico, while San Francisco
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 large 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
Alaskan Natives
and Native Hawaiians. Culture[edit] Facing both the Pacific Ocean
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
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.

is a well-known area of Los Angeles
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 U.S. 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
Los Angeles
is best known as the home of the Hollywood
film industry; the area around Los Angeles
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
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.

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[edit] 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
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

2 11 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward MSA 4,656,132 California

3 12 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale MSA 4,574,531 Arizona

4 13 San Bernardino-Riverside-Ontario MSA 4,489,159 California

5 15 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue MSA 3,733,580 Washington

6 17 San Diego-Carlsbad MSA 3,299,521 California

7 19 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA 2,814,330 Colorado

8 23 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA 2,389,228 Oregon Washington

9 27 Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade MSA 2,274,194 California

10 29 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise MSA 2,114,801 Nevada

11 35 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area 1,976,836 California

12 48 Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
MSA 1,170,266 Utah

13 53 Tucson MSA 1,010,025 Arizona

14 54 Honolulu
MSA 998,714 Hawaii

15 56 Fresno MSA 974,861 California

16 60 Albuquerque
MSA 907,301 New Mexico

17 61 Bakersfield-Delano MSA 882,176 California

18 66 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura MSA 850,536 California

19 77 Stockton-Lodi MSA 726,106 California

20 80 Colorado
Springs MSA 697,856 Colorado

21 81 Boise City MSA 676,909 Idaho

22 86 Ogden-Clearfield MSA 642,850 Utah

23 93 Provo-Orem MSA 585,799 Utah

24 100 Spokane-Spokane Valley
MSA 547,824 Washington

25 102 Modesto MSA 538,388 California

26 106 Santa Rosa MSA 502,146 California

Other population centers[edit]

The MSA of El Paso, Texas, although belonging to a state considered part of the Southern United States, is sometimes also considered part of the Western United States. Its estimated population is 838,972.[19] The Mexican border cities of Tijuana
(part of the San Diego
San Diego
MSA) and Mexicali
(part of the Yuma, AZ-El Centro, CA MSA) in the Mexican state of Baja California. The Canadian border cities of Vancouver, British Columbia
British Columbia
and Victoria, British Columbia
British Columbia
(the nearest US cities are Bellingham and Port Angeles, both in Washington). The largest MSA in Alaska
is Anchorage; it has an estimated population of 399,790, as of July 2015.[19]


States where state-level laws allowed legalized medicinal marijuana before 2005.

States with legalized physician-assisted suicide

States that have no income tax at the state level

Further information: Coastal California
§ Politics, and Left Coast 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); 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 and Hawaii
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: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi
of California. Alaska
and the Mountain
States are more Republican, with Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming
being Republican strongholds, and Colorado
and Nevada
being swing states. 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 and 2000. 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] Health[edit] The Western United States
United States
consistently ranks well in health measures. The rate of potentially preventable hospitalizations in the Western United States
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
United States
relative to other regions, the proportion of medical stays in hospitals was lower than in other regions in 2012.[24] See also[edit]

Art of the West (magazine) Autry Museum of the American West California
cuisine Folklore of the United States High Country News History of the west coast of North America History of the Jews in the American West Intermountain West Sunset magazine Professional sports in the Western United States Territories of the United States
United States
on stamps Western Canada Western White House


^ a b c "Census Regions and Divisions of the United States" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2014.  ^ Jody Halsted (31 July 2014). "On the road along the Mississippi River". Foxnews. Retrieved 8 November 2015.  ^ 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.  ^ "Race and Hispanic
or Latino
Origin: 2010". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2014.  ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". American Fact Finder. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 25 November 2014.  ^ http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/people/a_gender.html ^ "Inland Aids to Navigation" (PDF). Coast Guard Auxiliary: National ATON-CU study guide (Section XIV). United States
United States
Coast Guard. pp. 14–2. Retrieved 2009-03-21.  ^ "Western States Data Public Land Acreage". www.wildlandfire.com.  ^ "Death Valley: Hottest, Driest, Lowest (SpotHopping.com)". spothopping.com.  ^ H. W. Brands, The Age of Gold: The California
Gold Rush and the New American Dream
American Dream
(2002) ^ Michael Morrison, Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny
and the Coming of the Civil War (1997) ^ Gary J. Hausladen, Western Places, American Myths: How We Think About The West (U. of Nevada
Press, 2006) ^ Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Harvard University Press, 1950) ^ Donald Worster, Dust bowl: the southern plains in the 1930s (Oxford University Press, 1982) ^ Allen John Scott, On Hollywood: The place, the industry (Princeton University Press, 2005) ^ Lawrence Larsen, The urban West at the end of the frontier (1978). ^ Earl Pomeroy, American Far West in the Twentieth Century (Yale University Press, 2008) ^ Canham, Matt (July 24, 2005). "Mormon Portion of Utah
Population Steadily Shrinking". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved February 23, 2012.  ^ a b c "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". United States
United States
Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.  ^ "Estimates of Resident Population Change and Rankings: July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2015". United States
United States
Census Bureau, Population Division. March 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.  ^ "Slate". 5 November 2014.  ^ Stephen D. Cummings and Patrick B. Reddy, California
after Arnold (2009) pp 165-70 ^ Torio CM, Andrews RM (September 2014). "Geographic Variation in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations for Acute and Chronic Conditions, 2005-2011". HCUP Statistical Brief #178. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.  ^ Wiess, AJ and Elixhauser A (October 2014). "Overview of Hospital Utilization, 2012". HCUP Statistical Brief #180. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

Further reading[edit]

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[edit]

History of the American West Photo collection at Library of Congress Photographs of the American West: 1861-1912 US National Archives & Records Administration Institute for the Study of the American West Center of the American West History: American West, Vlib.us

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