The West

Profiling Alaska and Hawaii


There are many factors that shape the West. One would be the abundance of water an area would have. Water shapes the West's natural vegetation, economic activity, and population density. Some areas of the West receive adequate rainfall and contain rich forests, like Seattle, Washington. While others receive very little rain and in result they become dry and barren, like Reno, Nevada.

Another factor would be how the natural resources influence the economy. The West provides many resources like minerals, oil, natural gas, and fish. In the mid-1800s, gold and silver deposits were discovered. This was the Gold Rush, which changed the lives of many. Fortune-seeking prospectors and settlers swarmed the area which changed the economy greatly. Manufacturing and trade businesses, and newly formed banks flourished because of the Gold Rush. The national economy was also influenced because many companies invested in the Gold Rush in some way. The West also has an abundant amount of fish. Billions of tons of fish are caught in the waters off of Alaska, Hawaii, and other Pacific Coast states which bring in billions of dollars annually throughout the world.

The West has many physical features. The West has some of the nations most important physical features. One major one would be the Rocky Mountains. This mountain range is important because it is home to large wildlife populations and it is rich in environmental treasures. Another major feature would be the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These mountains are important because they capture precipitation, like rain and snow, which helps to supply California with water and electricity. Some other physical features in the West would be the Cascade Range, Mount St. Helens, Death Valley, and the Great Basin.


Alaska is the largest state, but it is one of the least populated. The population is around 736,732. Alaska has various mountains, glaciers, active volcanoes, huge tracks of forested land, and some of the planets most harsh weather. Very few roads pass through the rugged mountains, the Alaska Range and the Brooks Range, which cover much of Alaska. Mt.McKinley is the highest point in Alaska and in all of North America. Juneau, the state capital, can be reached only by boat or airplane. Even Anchorage, a city with more than 250,000 residents, has only two roads leading out of town. Alaska has a large abundance of natural resources like, oil, fish, forests, minerals, and water. They have big industries like fishing, mining, and lumber.
The first humans in Alaska are thought to have arrived about 20,000 years ago, crossing the Bering Land Bridge from what is now Siberia. They are the ancestors of today's Alaska Natives. Alaska Natives, who make up 15 percent of the state's population, maintain many traditions such as whaling, subsistence hunting and fishing, and old ways of making crafts and art.


The state of Hawaii is made up of eight main islands and more than 100 smaller islands in the central Pacific Ocean. The islands are located more than 2,000 miles from the United States mainland. Since Hawaii is so far away from the U.S, they are limited to certain things. But today, technological improvements have shortened the distance between Hawaii and the mainland. With the development of communications satellites and the Internet, Hawaiians no longer have to rely on radios for news from around the world.
Hawaii has a variety of beaches, mountain ranges, and rain forests. Mauna Kea is an active volcano and is the highest point on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Hawaii's natural resources are its climate, soil, vegetation, groundwater supply, and surrounding ocean. Its fertile soil is composed of lava ash and soft, sandy stone. Since Hawaii has a mild climate and fertile soil, the crop year never ends. The population of Hawaii is around 1.4 million. The culture of the Native Hawaiians is about 1500 years old and has its origins in the Polynesians who voyaged and settled in Hawaii. These people developed culinary, artistic and religious culture and practices. One well-known aspect of the Hawaiian culture is the hula dance. Each movement the performer makes has a specific meaning and representation. Hawaii is the only American state to have two official languages.