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Article

  Profile of the People and Land of the United States

downArea
downPopulation
downRacial and Ethnic Diversity
downLanguages
downBorders
downCoastline and Shoreline
downIslands
downExtremes
downMountains
downWater
downCommonly Used Terms
downRelated Links

The United States of America is a large and varied country. Here you can find basic facts about our population and its racial and ethnic diversity, as well as statistics describing both the land and water features of our Nation.

  Area
  The United States has a total area of more than 3.5 million square miles, making it the third largest country in the world after Russia and Canada. It is slightly larger than China, and about half the size of Russia, but has the largest and most technically powerful economy in the world. The United States includes 50 States and one district, as well as several territories and other associated areas that are not States but that are under U.S. jurisdiction. The States vary in size from Rhode Island, the smallest with 1,231 square miles, to Alaska, the largest with 616,240 square miles. The District of Columbia, home to our nation's capital of Washington, DC, covers an area of only 68 square miles. How do the other States and areas stack up? Take a look at the table below. All area measurements are in square miles.
 
States and District Total area Land area Water area Rank
Alabama 52,218 50,744 1,475 30
Alaska 616,240 571,949 44,292 1
Arizona 113,998 113,634 364 6
Arkansas 53,178 52,068 1,110 28
California 158,854 155,959 2,896 3
Colorado 104,093 103,717 376 8
Connecticut 5,543 4,845 699 48
Delaware 2,396 1,954 442 49
District of Columbia 68 61 7 --
Florida 59,909 53,927 5,983 23
Georgia 58,970 57,906 1,064 24
Hawaii 6,461 6,423 38 47
Idaho 83,570 82,747 823 14
Illinois 57,914 55,583 2,331 25
Indiana 36,418 35,867 551 38
Iowa 56,271 55,869 402 26
Kansas 82,276 81,815 462 15
Kentucky 40,409 39,728 681 37
Louisiana 49,650 43,562 6,089 31
Maine 33,738 30,861 2,877 39
Maryland 12,297 9,774 2,523 42
Massachusetts 9,240 7,840 1,400 45
Michigan 96,716 56,804 39,912 11
Minnesota 86,938 79,610 7,329 12
Mississippi 48,282 46,907 1,375 32
Missouri 69,704 68,886 818 21
Montana 147,042 145,552 1,490 4
Nebraska 77,353 76,872 481 16
Nevada 110,560 109,825 735 7
New Hampshire 9,282 8,968 314 44
New Jersey 8,214 7,417 797 46
New Mexico 121,589 121,355 234 5
New York 54,077 47,214 6,863 27
North Carolina 52,670 48,711 3,960 29
North Dakota 70,699 68,976 1,724 18
Ohio 44,825 40,948 3,877 34
Oklahoma 69,898 68,667 1,231 20
Oregon 97,126 95,996 1,130 10
Pennsylvania 46,055 44,816 1,239 33
Rhode Island 1,231 1,045 187 50
South Carolina 31,190 30,109 1,080 40
South Dakota 77,116 75,884 1,232 17
Tennessee 42,143 41,217 926 36
Texas 267,256 261,796 5,460 2
Utah 84,898 82,143 2,755 13
Vermont 9,614 9,250 365 43
Virginia 42,328 39,594 2,734 35
Washington 70,634 66,544 4,090 19
West Virginia 24,230 24,078 152 41
Wisconsin 65,498 54,310 11,188 22
Wyoming 97,813 97,100 713 9
United States 3,718,694 3,537,422 181,272  
         
Other areas Total area Land area Water area Rank
Puerto Rico 3,507 3,425 83  
Virgin Islands of the U.S. 149 134 15  
American Samoa 287 77 209  
Guam 217 210 7  
No. Mariana Islands 179 179 0  
         
Total 3,723,033 3,541,447 181,587  
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2002
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  Population
  In terms of population, China and India are the two largest countres in the world; each has more than 1 billion people. Third in the population rankings is the United States with more than 280 million people. Those people are not evenly distributed across the country. For example, Alaska, the largest State in area, has one of the smallest populations. In contrast, New Jersey is one of the smallest States but it ranks ninth in population. The table below shows how the States rank for population and also lists the largest city in each State, along with its population.
 
2000 Population Total Rank Largest City Population
Alabama 4,447,100 23 Birmingham 242,820
Alaska 626,932 48 Anchorage 260,283
Arizona 5,130,632 20 Phoenix 1,321,045
Arkansas 2,673,400 33 Little Rock 183,133
California 33,871,648 1 Los Angeles 3,694,820
Colorado 4,301,261 24 Denver 554,636
Connecticut 3,405,565 29 Bridgeport 139,529
Delaware 783,600 45 Wilmington 72,664
District of Columbia 572,059 50 Washington 572,059
Florida 15,982,378 4 Jacksonville 735,617
Georgia 8,186,453 10 Atlanta 416,474
Hawaii 1,211,537 42 Honolulu 371,657
Idaho 1,293,953 39 Boise 185,787
Illinois 12,419,293 5 Chicago 2,896,016
Indiana 6,080,485 14 Indianapolis 781,870
Iowa 2,926,324 30 Des Moines 198,682
Kansas 2,688,418 32 Wichita 344,284
Kentucky 4,041,769 25 Louisville 256,231
Louisiana 4,468,976 22 New Orleans 484,674
Maine 1,274,923 40 Portland 64,249
Maryland 5,296,486 19 Baltimore 651,154
Massachusetts 6,349,097 13 Boston 589,141
Michigan 9,938,444 8 Detroit 951,270
Minnesota 4,919,479 21 Minneapolis 382,618
Mississippi 2,844,658 31 Jackson 184,256
Missouri 5,595,211 17 Kansas City 441,545
Montana 902,195 44 Billings 89,847
Nebraska 1,711,263 38 Omaha 390,007
Nevada 1,998,257 35 Las Vegas 478,434
New Hampshire 1,235,786 41 Manchester 107,006
New Jersey 8,414,350 9 Newark 273,546
New Mexico 1,819,046 36 Albuquerque 448,607
New York 18,976,457 3 New York 8,008,278
North Carolina 8,049,313 11 Charlotte 540,828
North Dakota 642,200 47 Fargo 90,559
Ohio 11,353,140 7 Columbus 711,470
Oklahoma 3,450,654 27 Oklahoma City 506,132
Oregon 3,421,399 28 Portland 529,121
Pennsylvania 12,281,054 6 Philadelphia 1,517,550
Rhode Island 1,048,319 43 Providence 173,618
South Carolina 4,012,012 26 Columbia 116,278
South Dakota 754,844 46 Sioux Falls 123,975
Tennessee 5,689,283 16 Memphis 650,100
Texas 20,851,820 2 Houston 1,953,631
Utah 2,233,169 34 Salt Lake City 181,743
Vermont 608,827 49 Burlington 38,889
Virginia 7,078,515 12 Virginia Beach 425,257
Washington 5,894,121 15 Seattle 563,374
West Virginia 1,808,344 37 Charleston 53,421
Wisconsin 5,363,675 18 Milwaukee 596,974
Wyoming 493,782 51 Cheyenne 53,011
United States 281,421,906      
U.S. Census Bureau, 2000 Census of Population and Housing
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  Racial and Ethnic Diversity
  The United States is a nation of many different races. The Census Bureau collects both racial and ethnic information based on how people describe themselves. The majority of Americans give their race as White, but many other races are represented in our diverse population.
 
Race Number % of Population
American Indian and Alaska Native 2,475,956
0.9
Asian 10,242,998
3.6
Black or African American 34,658,190
12.3
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 398,835
0.1
White 211,460,626
75.1
Some other race 15,359,073
5.5
Two or more races 6,826,228
2.4
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000
 

A significant number of people in the United States describe themselves as Hispanic or Latino. According to the Office of Management and Budget, Hispanic or Latino is defined as "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race." In data collection and presentation, Federal agencies are required to use a minimum of two ethnicities: "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino."

 
Hispanic Or Latino Number Percent of total population
Hispanic or Latino 35,305,818
12.5
Not Hispanic or Latino 246,116,088
87.5
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000
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  Languages
  While the United States does not have an official language, 82 percent of the population speaks English at home and English is the language most commonly used for government business. English is used for legislation and other official documents, and laws making it the official language have been passed in more than half the States. However, millions of people in the United States speak languages other than English. Eleven percent of the population speaks Spanish or Spanish Creole at home, and the remaining population speaks a variety of other languages. Census Bureau statistics on language are only collected for people over the age of 5. The major languages spoken in the United States are listed in the table below.
 
Language spoken at home Population over age 5
English 215,423,557
Spanish or Spanish Creole 28,101,052
Chinese 2,022,143
French 1,643,838
German 1,383,442
Tagalog 1,224,241
Vietnamese 1,009,627
Italian 1,008,370
Total population over age 5 262,375,152
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000
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  Borders
  The United States shares borders with both Canada and Mexico. The 5,525-mile boundary between Canada and the United States is the longest undefended boundary in the world. There are more than 86 million passenger trips between the United States and Canada each year, and more than 227 million between the United States and Mexico. Only those States with international borders are included in the table below.
 
State or District Length of International border (Statute Miles) Country with which border is shared
Alaska 1,538 Canada
Idaho 45 Canada
Maine 611 Canada
Michigan 721 Canada
Minnesota 547 Canada
Montana 545 Canada
New Hampshire 58 Canada
New York 445 Canada
North Dakota 310 Canada
Ohio 146 Canada
Pennsylvania 42 Canada
Vermont 90 Canada
Washington 427 Canada
United States-Canada total 5,525 Canada
Arizona 373 Mexico
California 140 Mexico
New Mexico 180 Mexico
Texas 1,241 Mexico
United States-Mexico total 1,933 Mexico
Source: U.S.-Canada lengths: International Boundary Commission, 2003
U.S.-Mexico lengths: U.S. Geological Survey, 1976
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  Coastline and Shoreline
  The shore offers us both recreation and commerce. The extensive shoreline of the United States includes beaches, rocks, and swamps; it is the home of many major ports and the location of thousands of homes.

The term coastline is used to describe the general outline of the seacoast. For the table below, United States coastline measurements were made from small-scale maps, and the coastline was generalized. The coastlines of large sounds and bays were included. Measurements were made in 1948.

Shoreline is the term used to describe a more detailed measure of the seacoast. The tidal shoreline figures in the table below were obtained in 1939-1940 from the largest-scale charts and maps then available. Shoreline of the outer coast, offshore islands, sounds, and bays was included, as well as the tidal portion of rivers and creeks.

Only States with coastline or shoreline are included in the following table.

 
State or District
Coastline (Statute Miles)
General Coastline Tidal Shoreline
Alabama
53
607
Alaska
6,640
33,904
California
840
3,427
Connecticut
--
618
Delaware
28
381
Florida
1,350
8,426
Georgia
100
2,344
Hawaii
750
1,052
Louisiana
397
7,721
Maine
228
3,478
Maryland
31
3,190
Massachusetts
192
1,519
Mississippi
44
359
New Hampshire
13
131
New Jersey
130
1,792
New York
127
1,850
North Carolina
301
3,375
Oregon
296
1,410
Pennsylvania
--
89
Rhode Island
40
384
South Carolina
187
2,876
Texas
367
3,359
Virginia
112
3,315
Washington
157
3,026
Atlantic
2,069
28,673
Gulf of Mexico
1,621
17,141
Pacific
7,623
40,298
United States
12,383
88,633
Source: National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 1975
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  Islands
 

The island of Hawaii is the largest island in the United States, although small by world standards (Australia is more than 2 million square miles, and Greenland is more than 800,000 square miles). Most of the other large islands in the United States are in Alaska. The top 20 islands in the United States are listed below.

 
Island
Area in square miles
Hawaii, Hawaii
4,054
Kodiak, Alaska
3,698
Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico
3,372
Prince of Wales, Alaska
2,630
Chichagof, Alaska
2,083
St. Lawrence, Alaska
1,903
Admiralty, Alaska
1,688
Nunivak, Alaska
1,639
Baranof, Alaska
1,632
Unimak, Alaska
1,599
Long Island, New York
1,352
Revillagigedo, Alaska
1,150
Kupreanof, Alaska
1,094
Unalaska, Alaska
1,084
Nelson, Alaska
885
Kuiu, Alaska
771
Maui, Hawaii
739
Afognak, Alaska
727
Umnak, Alaska
700
Oahu, Hawaii
607
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 2002
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  Extremes
 

Elevation

Death Valley, the lowest point in the United States, is hot, dry, and far below sea level. Mount McKinley, the highest point in the United States, is cold, icy, and thousands of feet above sea level.

There are 2,130 square miles of the United States below sea level, and 20,230 square miles above 10,000 feet. See the table below for the elevation extremes for each State in the United States.

State Extreme points County Elevation in feet
Alabama Highest point Cheaha Mtn. Cleburne 2,407
Lowest point Gulf of Mexico
-
Sea Level
Alaska Highest point Mt. McKinley
-
20,320
Lowest point Pacific Ocean
-
Sea Level
Arizona Highest point Humphreys Peak
Coconino
12,633
Lowest point Colorado River
Yuma
70
Arkansas Highest point Magazine Mtn.
Logan
2,753
Lowest point Ouachita River
Ashley-Union
55
California Highest point Mt. Whitney
Inyo-Tulare
14,494
Lowest point Death Valley
Inyo
-282
Colorado Highest point Mt. Elbert
Lake
14,433
Lowest point Arikaree River
Yuma
3,315
Connecticut Highest point Mt. Frissell
Litchfield
2,380
Lowest point Long Island Sound
-
Sea level
Delaware Highest point Ebright Road at Delaware-Pennsylvania State line
New Castle
448
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
District of Columbia Highest point Tenleytown at Reno Reservoir
-
410
Lowest point Potomac River
-
1
Florida Highest point Britton Hill
Walton
345
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Georgia Highest point Brasstown Bald Towns-Union 4,784
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Hawaii Highest point Pu'u Wekiu, Mauna Kea Hawaii 13,796
Lowest point Pacific Ocean
-
Sea level
Idaho Highest point Borah Peak Custer 12,662
Lowest point Snake River Nez Perce 710
Illinois Highest point Charles Mound Jo Daviess 1,235
Lowest point Mississippi River Alexander 279
Indiana Highest point Hoosier Hill Wayne 1,257
Lowest point Ohio River Posey 320
Iowa Highest point Hawkeye Point Osceola 1,670
Lowest point Mississippi River Lee 480
Kansas Highest point Mt. Sunflower Wallace 4,039
Lowest point Verdigris River Montgomery 679
Kentucky Highest point Black Mtn. Harlan 4,145
Lowest point Mississippi River Fulton 257
Louisiana Highest point Driskill Mtn. Bienville 535
Lowest point New Orleans Orleans -8
Maine Highest point Mt. Katahdin Piscataquis 5,268
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Maryland Highest point Backbone Mtn. Garrett 3,360
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Massachusetts Highest point Mt. Greylock Berkshire 3,491
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Michigan Highest point Mt. Arvon Baraga 1,979
Lowest point Lake Erie
-
571
Minnesota Highest point Eagle Mtn. Cook 2,301
Lowest point Lake Superior - - 601
Mississippi Highest point Woodall Mtn. Tishomingo 806
Lowest point Gulf of Mexico
-
Sea Level
Missouri Highest point Taum Sauk Mtn. Iron 1,772
Lowest point St. Francis River Dunklin 230
Montana Highest point Granite Peak Park 12,799
Lowest point Kootenai River Lincoln 1,800
Nebraska Highest point Panorama Point Kimball 5,424
Lowest point Missouri River Richardson 840
Nevada Highest point Boundary Peak Esmeralda 13,140
Lowest point Colorado River Clark 479
New Hampshire Highest point Mt. Washington Coos 6,288
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
New Jersey Highest point High Point Sussex 1,803
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
New Mexico Highest point Wheeler Peak Taos 13,161
Lowest point Red Bluff Reservoir Eddy 2,842
New York Highest point Mt. Marcy Essex 5,344
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
North Carolina Highest point Mt. Mitchell Yancey 6,684
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
North Dakota Highest point White Butte Slope 3,506
Lowest point Red River Pembina 750
Ohio Highest point Campbell Hill Logan 1,550
Lowest point Ohio River Hamilton 455
Oklahoma Highest point Black Mesa Cimarron 4,973
Lowest point Little River McCurtain 289
Oregon Highest point Mt. Hood Clackamas- Hood River 11,239
Lowest point Pacific Ocean
-
Sea level
Pennsylvania Highest point Mt. Davis Somerset 3,213
Lowest point Delaware River Delaware Sea level
Puerto Rico Highest point Cerro de Punta Ponce District 4,390
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Rhode Island Highest point Jerimoth Hill Providence 812
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Samoa Highest point Lata Mtn. Tau Island 3,160
Lowest point Pacific Ocean
-
Sea level
South Carolina Highest point Sassafras Mtn. Pickens 3,560
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
South Dakota Highest point Harney Peak Pennington 7,242
Lowest point Big Stone Lake Roberts 966
Tennessee Highest point Clingmans Dome Sevier 6,643
Lowest point Mississippi River Shelby 178
Texas Highest point Guadalupe Peak Culberson 8,749
Lowest point Gulf of Mexico
-
Sea level
Utah Highest point Kings Peak Duchesne 13,528
Lowest point Beaverdam Wash Washington 2,000
Vermont Highest point Mt. Mansfield Chittenden 4,393
Lowest point Lake Champlain
-
95
Virginia Highest point Mt. Rogers Grayson-Smyth 5,729
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Virgin Islands Highest point Crown Mtn. St. Thomas Island 1,556
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean
-
Sea level
Washington Highest point Mt. Rainier West Pierce 14,411
Lowest point Pacific Ocean
-
Sea level
West Virginia Highest point Spruce Knob Pendleton 4,863
Lowest point Potomac River Jefferson 240
Wisconsin Highest point Timms Hill Price 1,951
Lowest point Lake Michigan
-
579
Wyoming Highest point Gannett Peak Fremont 13,804
Lowest point Belle Fourche River Crook 3,099
     
 
United States Highest point Mt. McKinley, AK
-
20,320
Lowest point Death Valley Inyo, CA -282
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 2002
 

Extent

 

The United States crosses 6 time zones, about 120 degrees of longitude, and more than 50 degrees of latitude. What point in the conterminous United States is the farthest north? What point in the 50 States is farthest south? The table below lists the extreme points of the United States.

We have included several listings for the easternmost and westernmost points. Technically, both the easternmost and the westernmost points in the United States are in Alaska, because the tip of the Aleutian Islands is in the Eastern hemisphere. However, when many people think of the extent of the U.S., they are thinking of the span from Maine to Alaska, the way the nation is often shown on a map.

For several of the extreme points, we've used the coordinates for offshore islands as shown on USGS topographic maps. For two of these extremes, there are more accessible places on the mainland that are usually thought of as the extreme point, and we've included the coordinates of those locations in parentheses.

 
Extreme State and Location Latitude Longitude
North - 50 States Alaska - Point Barrow 71°23' N 156°28' W
North - 48 conterminous States Minnesota - Lake of the Woods 49°23' N 95°09' W
South - 50 States Hawaii - Kalae 18°55' N 155°41' W
South - 48 conterminous States Florida - Ballast Key 24°31' N 81°58' W
(Key West) (24°33' N) (81°48' W)
East Maine - West Quoddy Head 44°49' N 66°57' W
West - 50 States Alaska - Cape Wrangell, Attu Island 52°55' N 172 27 E
West - 48 conterminous States Washington - Bodelteh Islands 48°11' N 124°46' W
(Cape Alava) (48°10' N) (124°44' W)
East measured from Greenwich Alaska - Pochnoi Point, Semisopochnoi Island 51°57' N 179°47' E
West measured from Greenwich Amatignak Island 51°17' N 179°09' W
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 2003
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  Mountains
  Mountains historically have presented barriers to exploration and challenges to the adventurous. The United States has varied and beautiful mountains, from the Appalachians in the East, to the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains in the West.

Counting each summit on mountains with multiple summits, there are 102 summits over 14,000 feet in the United States, and more than 3500 summits over 10,000 feet.

Where are the largest mountains in the United States? See the table below for a list of the 20 highest mountains. Mountains with multiple summits are listed only once.

 
Mountain
Elevation in Feet
Mount McKinley, Alaska
20,320
Mount St. Elias, Alaska
18,008
Mount Foraker, Alaska
17,400
Mount Bona, Alaska
16,500
Mount Blackburn, Alaska
16,390
Mount Sanford, Alaska
16,237
Mount Vancouver, Alaska
15,979
Mount Churchill, Alaska
15,638
Mount Fairweather, Alaska
15,300
Mount Hubbard, Alaska
14,950
Mount Bear, Alaska
14,831
Mount Hunter, Alaska
14,573
Mount Alverstone, Alaska
14,500
Mount Whitney, California
14,494
University Peak, Alaska
14,470
Mount Elbert, Colorado
14,433
Mount Massive, Colorado
14,421
Mount Harvard, Colorado
14,420
Mount Rainier, Washington
14,411
Mount Williamson, California
14,370
U.S. Geological Survey, Geographic Names Information System, 2003
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  Water
 

Rivers

Rivers provide transportation, recreation opportunities, water supplies, and habitat for animals. They also shape the surface of the earth. The Mississippi River is probably the most famous river in the United States and it has the greatest discharge, but it isn't the longest river. See the table below for statistics on the rivers of the United States, including the location of the river source, length and rank, discharge and rank, and drainage area and rank.

 
River Mouth Source Length in mi. (rank) Discharge (rank) Drainage (rank)
Missouri2 Missouri Red Rock Creek, Beaverhead County, MT 2,540 (1) 76.2 (6) 529 (2) (U.S.- Canada)
Mississippi (excluding Atchafalaya- Red River basin)1,2 Louisiana Mississippi River,Clearwater County, MN 2,340 (2) 593 (1) 1,150 (1) (U.S.-Canada)
Yukon Alaska McNeil River, Yukon Territory, Canada. 1,980 (3) 225 (5) 328 (5) (U.S.-Canada)
Rio Grande Mexico - Texas Rio Grande, San Juan County, CO 1,900 (4) * (-) 336 (4) (U.S.-Mexico)
St. Lawrence (-Great Lakes) Canada North River, Lake County, MN 1,900 (4) 348 (2) 396 (3) (U.S.-Canada)
Arkansas Arkansas East Fork Arkansas River, Lake County, CO 1,469 (6) 41 (16) 161 (9)
Colorado Mexico Colorado River, Grand County,   CO 1,450 (7) * (-) 246 (7) (U.S.-Mexico)
Atchafalaya (excluding water diverted from the Mississippi River)1 Louisiana Tierra Blanca Creek, Curry County, NM 1,420 (8) 58 (11) 95.1 (11)
Ohio Illinois- Kentucky Allegheny River, Potter County, PA 1,310 (9) 281 (3) 203 (8)
Red1 Louisiana Tierra Blanca Creek, Curry County, NM 1,290 (10) 56 (13) 93.2 (12)
Brazos Texas Blackwater Draw, Curry County, NM 1,280 (11) * (-) 45.6 (19)
Columbia Oregon - Washington Columbia River, British Columbia, Canada. 1,249 (12) 265 (4) 258 (6) (U.S.-Canada)
Snake Washington Snake River, Teton County, WY 1,040 (13) 56.9 (12) 108 (10)
Platte Nebraska Grizzly Creek, Jackson County, CO 990 (14) * (-) 84.9 (13)
Pecos Texas Pecos River, Mora County, NM 926 (15) * (-) 44.3 (-)
Canadian Oklahoma Canadian River, Las Animas, County, CO 906 (16) * (-) 46.9 (18)
Tennessee Kentucky Courthouse Creek, Transylvania County, NC 886 (17) 68 (7) 40.9 (-)
Colorado (of Texas) Texas Colorado River (of Texas), Dawson County, TX 862 (18) * (-) 42.3 (-)
North Canadian Oklahoma Corrumpa Creek, Union County, NM 800 (19) * (-) 17.6 (-)
Mobile Alabama Tickanetley Creek, Gilmer County, GA 774 (20) 67.2 (8) 44.6 (-)
Kansas Kansas Arikaree River, Elbert County, CO 743 (-) * (-) 59.5 (15)
Kuskokwim Alaska South Fork Kuskokwim River at terminus of unnamed glacier, AK 724 (-) 67 (9) 48 (17)
Yellowstone North Dakota North Folk Yellowstone River, Park County, WY 692 (-) * (-) 70 (14)
Tanana Alaska Nabesna River at terminus of Nabesna Glacier, AK 659 (-) 41 (16) 44.5 (-)
Gila Arizona Middle Fork Gila River, Catron County, NM 649 (-) * (-) 58.2 (16) (U.S.- Mexico)
Porcupine Alaska Porcupine River, Yukon Territory, Canada 569 (-) 23 (-) 45.1 (20) (U.S.-Canada)
Susquehanna Maryland Hayden Creek, Otsego County, NY 447 (-) 38.2 (18) 27.2 (-)
Stikine Alaska Stikine River, British Columbia, Canada 379 (-) 56 (13) 20 (-) (U.S.-Canada)
Susitna Alaska Susitna River at terminus of Susitna Glacier, AK 313 (-) 51 (15) 20 (-)
Willamette Oregon Middle Fork Willamette River, Douglas County, OR 309 (-) 37.4 (19) 11.4 (-)
Copper Alaska Copper River at Terminus of Copper Glacier, AK 286 (-) 59 (10) 24.4 (-)
Nushagak Alaska Nushagak River, AK 285 (-) 36 (20) 13.4 (-)
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, 1990
*Less than 15,000 cubic feet per second and therefore not among the largest rivers in terms of discharge.

1In east-central Louisiana 50 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, the Red River flows into the Atchafalaya River, a distributary of the Mississippi River. The discharge of the Atchafalaya River, as shown in the table above, includes the entire discharge of the Red River, but excludes all water diverted into the Atchafalaya River from the Mississippi River (about 167,000 cubic feet per second). Thus, the respective discharges represent drainage from corresponding drainage areas.
2The total discharge from the entire 1,250,00-square mile Mississippi River system, including the Atchafalaya, Red, and Missouri River basins, averages 651,000 cubic feet per second. For the Mississippi River system as a whole, the longest continuous river channel is from the Missouri River headwater source in Montana to the mouth of the Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico, a combined length of about 3,710 miles.

 

Lakes

The Great Lakes are the largest lakes in the United States and some of the largest lakes in the world. The 20 largest lakes in the United States are listed below. Included are manmade lakes and those that are only partially within the United States.

 
Lake Location
Area in Square Miles
Lake Superior Michigan-Minnesota-Wisconsin-Ontario
31,700
Lake Huron Michigan-Ontario
23,000
Lake Michigan Illinois-Indiana-Michigan-Wisconsin
22,300
Lake Erie Michigan-New York-Ohio-Pennsylvania-Ontario
9,910
Lake Ontario New York-Ontario
7,340
Lake of the Woods Minnesota-Manitoba-Ontario
1,485
Great Salt Lake Utah
2,117
Iliamna Lake Alaska
1,014
Lake Oahe (manmade) North Dakota-South Dakota
685
Lake Okeechobee Florida
662
Lake Pontchartrain Louisiana
631
Lake Sakakawea (manmade) North Dakota
520
Lake Champlain New York-Vermont-Quebec
490
Becharof Lake Alaska
453
Lake St. Clair Michigan-Ontario
430
Red Lake Minnesota
427
Selawik Lake Alaska
404
Fort Peck Lake (manmade) Montana
393
Salton Sea California
347
Rainy Lake Minnesota-Ontario
345
About our Great Lakes, NOAA, 2002
U.S. Geological Survey, 2003
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  Commonly Used Terms
 

Coastline – The general outline of the seacoast.

Conterminous – Enclosed within a common boundary.

Discharge – The volume of water that passes a given location within a given period of time. Usually expressed in cubic feet per second.

Drainage area – The land area drained by a stream or river, or a network of streams and rivers. Also called a drainage basin or a watershed. Large drainage areas can contain many smaller drainage areas.

Shoreline – A detailed outline of the seacoast.

Statute miles – A distance of 5,280 feet. In contrast, a nautical mile is about 6,076 feet.

Tidal – The portion of a river or creek that is affected by the tide.

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  Related Links
 

Online unit conversions

 

 

 

References

About our Great Lakes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Borderland lakes information

Boundaries of the United States and the Several States, F.K. Van Zandt, 1976, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 909.

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The World Factbook 2002, United States

Geographic Names Information System

The Great Lakes, an Environmental Atlas and Resource Book, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Environment Canada

International Boundary Commission

Largest Rivers in the United States, J.C. Kammerer, 1990, U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 87-242.

U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Brief, Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin

U.S. Census Bureau, City and County Data Book

U.S. Census Bureau, Detailed table of languages spoken at home

U.S. Census Bureau, Population Profile 2000, Chapter 2: Population Distribution and Composition

U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 2002, Section 6, Geography and Environment

U.S. Geological Survey, Elevations and Distances in the United States.

U.S. Geological Survey, EROS Data Center, personal communication: amount of land below sea level and above 10,000 feet.

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