Southern United States facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Southern United States
The South (South east)
Cultural region of the United States
The Southern United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.
(2018 United States Census Estimates)
The Southern United States, also known as the American South or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Western United States, with the Midwestern United States and Northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.
The South does not fully match the geographic south of the United States but is commonly defined as including the states that fought for the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. The Deep South is fully located in the southeastern corner. California, Arizona and New Mexico, which are geographically in the southern part of the country, are rarely considered part, while West Virginia, which separated from Virginia in 1863, commonly is. While the states of Delaware and Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia, permitted slavery prior to and during the Civil War, they remained with the Union. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, they became more culturally, economically, and politically aligned with the industrial Northern states, and are often identified as part of the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast by many residents, businesses, public institutions, and private organizations; however, the United States Census Bureau continues to define them as in the South with regard to census regions.
Usually, the South is defined as including the southeastern and south-central United States. The region is known for its culture and history, having developed its own customs, musical styles, and cuisines, which have distinguished it in some ways from the rest of the United States.
The Southern ethnic heritage is diverse and includes strong European (mostly English, Italian, Scottish, Scotch-Irish, Irish, German, French, Portuguese and Spanish American), African and some Native American components.
Some other aspects of the historical and cultural development of the South have been influenced by the institution of slave labor on plantations in the Deep South to an extent seen nowhere else in the United States; the presence of a large proportion of African Americans in the population; support for the doctrine of states' rights, and the legacy of racism magnified by the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, as seen in thousands of lynchings (mostly from 1880 to 1930), the segregated system of separate schools and public facilities known as "Jim Crow laws", that lasted until the 1960s, and the widespread use of poll taxes and other methods to frequently deny black people of the right to vote or hold office until the 1960s.
Since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, black people have held many offices in Southern states, especially in the coastal states of Virginia and South Carolina. Black people have also been elected or appointed as mayors and police chiefs in the metropolises of Baltimore, Charlotte, Raleigh, Birmingham, Richmond, Columbia, Memphis, Houston, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Jackson, and New Orleans, and serve in both the U.S. Congress and state legislatures. Scholars have characterized pockets of the Southern United States as being "authoritarian enclaves" from Reconstruction until the Civil Rights Act.
Historically, the South relied heavily on agriculture, and was highly rural until after 1945. It has since become more industrialized and urban and has attracted national and international migrants. The American South is now among the fastest-growing areas in the United States. Houston is the largest city in the Southern United States. Sociological research indicates that Southern collective identity stems from political, demographic, and cultural distinctiveness from the rest of the United States.
The region contains almost all of the Bible Belt, an area of high Protestant church attendance (especially evangelical churches such as the Southern Baptist Convention) and predominantly conservative, religion-influenced politics. Indeed, studies have shown that Southerners are more conservative than non-Southerners in several areas, including religion, morality, international relations, and race relations. This is evident in both the region's religious attendance figures and in the region's usually strong support for the Republican Party in political elections since the 1960s, and especially since the 1990s. Apart from its climate, the living experience in the South increasingly resembles the rest of the nation.
The question of how to define the subregions in the Sup has been the focus of research for nearly a century.
As defined by the United States Census Bureau, the Southern region of the United States includes sixteen states. As of 2010, an estimated 114,555,744 people, or thirty seven percent of all U.S. residents, lived in the South, the nation's most populous region. The Census Bureau defined three smaller divisions:
- The South Atlantic States: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
- The East South Central States: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
- The West South Central States: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.
The Council of State Governments, an organization for communication and coordination between states, includes in its South regional office the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Other terms related to the South include:
- The Old South: can mean either the slave states that existed in 1776 (Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) or all the slave states before 1860 (which included the newer states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas).
- The New South: usually including the South Atlantic States.
- Dixie: various definitions, but most commonly associated with the 11 states of the Old Confederacy.
- Southeastern United States: usually including the Carolinas, the Virginias, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.
- The Solid South: region largely controlled by the Democratic Party from 1877 to 1964, especially after disfranchisement of most blacks at the turn of the 20th century. Before that, blacks were elected to national office and many to local office through the 1880s; Populist-Republican coalitions gained victories for Fusionist candidates for governors in the 1890s. Includes at least all the 11 former Confederate States.
- Southern Appalachia: mainly refers to areas situated in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, namely Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Western Maryland, West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, North Georgia, and Northwestern South Carolina.
- Upland South: Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and on rare occasions Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware. When combined with the southern Appalachian Mountains is sometimes referred to as "Greater Appalachia" following Ulster Protestant migrations to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Border South: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware were states on the outer rim of the Confederacy that did not secede from the United States in the 1860s, but did have significant numbers of residents who joined the Confederate armed forces. Kentucky and Missouri had Confederate governments-in-exile and were represented in the Confederate Congress and by stars on the Confederate battle flag. West Virginia formed in 1863 after the western region of Virginia broke away to protest the Old Dominion's joining of the Confederacy, but residents of the new state were about evenly divided on supporting the Union or the Confederacy.
- Tidewater: low-lying Atlantic coastal plain regions of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina.
- The Gulf South: various definitions, usually including Gulf coasts of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.
- The Deep South: various definitions, usually including Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. Also, parts of adjoining states are included (sections of North and East Texas, the Mississippi embayment areas of Arkansas and Tennessee, and northern and central Florida).
- The Mid-South: Various definitions, including that of the Census Bureau of the East and West South Central United States; in another informal definition, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and sometimes adjoining areas of other states.
The popular definition of the "South" is more informal and generally associated with the 11 states that seceded before or during the Civil War to form the Confederate States of America. In order of their secession, these were: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. These states share commonalities of history and culture that carry on to the present day. Oklahoma was not a state during the Civil War, but all its major Native American tribes signed formal treaties of alliance with the Confederacy.
The South is a diverse meteorological region with numerous climatic zones, including temperate, sub-tropical, tropical, and arid—though the South generally has a reputation as hot and humid, with long summers and short, mild winters. Most of the south—except for the higher elevations and areas near the western, southern and some northern fringes—fall in the humid subtropical climate zone. Crops grow readily in the South; its climate consistently provides growing seasons of at least six months before the first frost. Another common environment occurs in the bayous and swamplands of the Gulf Coast, especially in Louisiana and in Texas.
The States that make up "The South" are usually considered to be:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Border States are also sometimes called Southern:
The cuisine of the Southern United States is distinct from other regions.
The South was heavily rural as late as the 1940s, but now the population is increasingly concentrated in metropolitan areas. The following tables show the twenty largest cities, metropolitan, and combined statistical areas in the South. Houston is the largest city in the South.
Major metropolitan areas
|Rank||Metropolitan Statistical Area||State(s)||Population
|2||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land||TX||6,997,384|
|4||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach||FL||6,198,782|
|10||San Antonio-New Braunfels||TX||2,518,036|
|11||Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky| OH-IN-KY||2,190,209|
|12||Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos||TX||2,168,316|
|14||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News||VA-NC||1,728,733|
|20||Louisville-Jefferson County| KY-IN||1,297,310|
* Asterisk indicates part of the metropolitan area is outside the states classified as Southern.
The South is the most racially diverse region in the United States. The predominant culture of the original Southern states was English.
In the 17th century, most voluntary immigrants were of English origin, and settled chiefly along the eastern coast but had pushed as far inland as the Appalachian Mountains by the 18th century. The majority of early English settlers were indentured servants, who gained freedom after working off their passage. The wealthier men who paid their way received land grants known as headrights, to encourage settlement.
The Spanish and French established settlements in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana. The Spanish settled Florida in the 16th century, reaching a peak in the late 17th century, but the population was small because the Spaniards were relatively uninterested in agriculture, and Florida had no mineral resources.
In the British colonies, immigration began in 1607 and continued until the outbreak of the Revolution in 1775.
In the mid-to-late-18th century, large groups of Ulster Scots (later called the Scotch-Irish) and people from the Anglo-Scottish border region immigrated and settled in the back country of Appalachia and the Piedmont. They were the largest group of non-English immigrants from the British Isles before the American Revolution.
In the 1980 Census, 34% of Southerners reported that they were of English ancestry; English was the largest reported European ancestry in every Southern state by a large margin.
Images for kids
Atlanta's railroad roundhouse in ruins shortly after the end of the Civil War
An African American family, photo-graphed by O'Pierre Havens, circa 1868
A Home on the Mississippi, by Currier and Ives, 1871
Naval Air Station Miami, circa 1942–43
Street musicians in Maynardville, Tennessee, photographed in 1935
In Spanish: Sur de Estados Unidos para niños
Southern United States Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.