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Southern United States
The South (South east)
Cultural region of the United States
Houston from Sabine Park.jpg
Ryman Auditorium.jpg CathedralBasilicaSAFL.JPG
Downtown Atlanta skyline panorama.jpg
Orleans and Royal French Quarter New Orleans Jan 2019 04.jpg Mississippi Railroad Bridge Vicksburg.jpg
Left - right from top: Downtown Houston skyline, Ryman Auditorium, Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, Atlanta, Georgia, French Quarter of New Orleans, Bridge over the Mississippi River
The Southern United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.
The Southern United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.
Subregion
  • Southeastern United States
  • South Central United States
  • Deep South
  • Upland South
  • Dixie
  • South Atlantic
  • East South Central
  • West South Central
Country  United States
States  Alabama
 Arkansas
 Delaware
 Florida
 Georgia
 Kentucky
 Louisiana
 Maryland
 Mississippi
 North Carolina
 Oklahoma
 South Carolina
 Tennessee
 Texas
 Virginia
 West Virginia
Population (2018 United States Census Estimates)
 • Total 124,753,948
Demonym(s) Southerner

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. Some scholars have proposed definitions of the South that do not coincide neatly with state boundaries. 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.

Geography

Texas Hill Country 187N-2
Texas Hill Country

The question of how to define the subregions in the Sup has been the focus of research for nearly a century.

Kentucky horse farm
Bluegrass region, Kentucky
Gloss Mountains
Glass Mountains, Oklahoma
Lone Oak in Saint Bernard Parish
Field of yellow wildflowers in Saint Bernard Parish, Louisiana
Pearl River backwater in Mississippi
Pearl River backwater in Mississippi
Misty Bluff along the Buffalo River
Misty Bluff along the Buffalo River, Ozark Mountains, Arkansas
ChesapeakeTidalWetlands
Tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland
Cherry River West Virginia
Cherry River in West Virginia
Grayson County VA
The highlands of Grayson County in Southwest Virginia

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 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:

  1. Virginia
  2. Tennessee
  3. Arkansas
  4. Louisiana
  5. North Carolina
  6. South Carolina
  7. Mississippi
  8. Alabama
  9. Georgia
  10. Florida
  11. Texas

Border States are also sometimes called Southern:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. West Virginia
  3. Kentucky
  4. Maryland
  5. Delaware
  6. Missouri

The cuisine of the Southern United States is distinct from other regions.

Major cities

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.

Houston night
Houston
San Antonio Skyline
San Antonio
Dallas view
Dallas
Austin Evening
Austin
Jacksonville at Night (39527326802)
Jacksonville
Fort Worth Skyline1
Fort Worth
Charlotte Skyline 2011 - Ricky W
Charlotte
WashMonument WhiteHouse
Washington D.C.
Downtown El Paso at sunset
El Paso
Nashville panorama Kaldari 01
Nashville
Rank City State Population
(2018 est.)
1 Houston TX 2,325,502
2 San Antonio TX 1,532,233
3 Dallas TX 1,345,047
4 Austin TX 964,254
5 Jacksonville FL 903,889
6 Fort Worth TX 895,008
7 Charlotte NC 872,498
8 Washington DC 702,455
9 El Paso TX 682,669
10 Nashville TN 669,053
11 Memphis TN 650,618
12 Oklahoma City OK 649,021
13 Louisville KY 620,118
14 Baltimore MD 602,495
15 Atlanta GA 498,044
16 Miami FL 470,914
17 Raleigh NC 469,298
18 Virginia Beach VA 450,189
19 Tulsa OK 400,669
20 Arlington TX 398,112

Major metropolitan areas

Rank Metropolitan Statistical Area State(s) Population
(2018 est.)
1 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX 7,539,711
2 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land TX 6,997,384
3 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria VA-MD-WV-DC 6,249,950
4 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach FL 6,198,782
5 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell GA 5,949,951
6 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL 3,142,663
7 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson MD 2,802,789
8 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford FL 2,572,692
9 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia NC-SC 2,569,213
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
13 Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin TN 1,930,961
14 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC 1,728,733
15 Jacksonville FL 1,534,701
16 Oklahoma City-Norman OK 1,396,445
17 Raleigh-Cary NC 1,362,540
18 Memphis-Forrest City TN-MS-AR 1,350,620
19 Richmond-Petersburg VA 1,306,172
20 Louisville-Jefferson County* KY-IN 1,297,310

* Asterisk indicates part of the metropolitan area is outside the states classified as Southern.

Demographics

Except for Florida and Texas, most of the South did not have as many immigrants arriving from other countries as the rest of the United States did, in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Most of the people in the South are of English, Scottish, or Irish ancestry, or the descendants of African-American slaves. Some Southerners identify themselves as being of "American" ancestry.

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