Courtesy of Tufts Magazine
Courtesy of Tufts Magazine

“There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way.”

That’s according to author and Portland Press Herald reporter Colin Woodward. In a recent Tufts Magazine article — and in greater detail in his book American Nations — Woodard argues that much of North America can be neatly divided into 11 separate nation-states — from Yankeedom and the Far West, to the Left Coast and the Deep South — each shaped heavily by its unique geography and dominant ethnicities, Shaped since the early days of settlement, the distinct cultures of these regions, he notes, are determinate factors in a wide range of social and political positions, from voting patterns to attitudes on government and violence.  “To understand violence or practically any other divisive issue, you need to understand historical settlement patterns and the lasting cultural fissures they established,” Woodard writes. The article includes a complete description of all 11 of Woodard’s constructed “nations.”

America as 15 divided “counties”

In another take on America’s divides, journalist Dante Chinni divides the country into 15 types of counties, from Big Cities to Aging Farmlands. A project of the American Communities Project, the analysis uses a set of 36 different indicators – from population density to numbers military service members. The site includes a detailed description of each county and the methodology used to delineate them. The map below was created by WNYC in collaboration with ACP. It shows the distribution of these “counties” throughout the country. Mouse over and zoom in for greater detail.


Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @KQEDlowdown

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