Lesson 2: The American Landscape

Exploring the United States
Lesson 2: The American Landscape
 Vocabulary
 landform– features that make up the Earth’s surface such as mountains, hills,
valleys and plains
 sea level – where land is level with the surface of the ocean
 plateau – high, flat area of land
 source – place where a river begins
 tributary – a river or stream that flows into a larger river
 mouth – the place where a river empties into a larger body of water
 basin – low, bowl shaped land with higher ground around it
 canyon – deep, narrow valley with steep sides
 In the East
 The Coastal Plain
o stretches along the Atlantic Ocean
o area of low land that lies along the coast of an ocean
 Appalachian Mountains
o highest land in the eastern United States
o this chain of mountain stretches over 1,500 miles from Alabama into
o oldest mountains in North America
 In the Middle
 the Interior plains are found in the middle of the United States; low, grassy lands
 The Central Plains
o eastern part of interior plains
o features include wide rivers, grassy hills and forests
o Great Lakes are found here – largest freshwater lakes in the world
 The Great Plains
o western part of interior plains
o has some low mountains and plateaus
o has few lakes or rivers
 A Mighty River
o Mississippi River is one of the longest rivers in North America
o runs through the middle of the Interior Plains
o source is a small lake in Minnesota
o mouth is at the Gulf of Mexico
 In the West
 The Rocky Mountains
o North America’s longest mountain range
o more than 3,000 miles from Alaska to Mexico
 West of the Rockies
o Intermountain region – where the land gets lower after the Rockies
between mountain ranges
o Great Basin – in the middle of the intermountain region; has some of the
driest and lowest lands
 Pacific Mountains and Valleys
o Sierra Mountains, Cascade Range and Coast Range, Alaska Range