- His book " American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America " breaks down those cultures and the regions they each dominate.
- From the utopian "Yankeedom" to the conservative "Greater Appalachia" and liberal "Left Coast," looking at these cultures sheds an interesting light on America's political and cultural divides.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories .
In his fourth book, " American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America ," award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct culturesthat have historically divided the US.
"The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty," Woodard, a Maine native who won the 2012 George Polk Award for investigative reporting, told Business Insider.
"[But] in order to have any productive conversation on these issues," he added, "you need to know where you come from. Once you know where you are coming from it will help move the conversation forward."
Woodard says that among these 11 nations, Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations.
"We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture," Woodard says. "Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat."
Woodard also believes the nation is likely to become more polarized, even though America is becoming a more diverse place every day. He says this is because people are "self-sorting."
"People choose to move to places where they identify with the values," Woodard says. "Red minorities go south and blue minorities go north to be in the majority. This is why blue states are getting bluer and red states are getting redder and the middle is getting smaller."
Here's how Woodard describes each nation:
Matthew Speiser contributed to a previous version of this article.
This is an update of an earlier post.
Encompassing the entire Northeast north of New York City and spreading throughMichigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Yankeedomvalues education, intellectual achievement, communal empowerment, and citizen participation in government as a shield against tyranny. Yankees arecomfortable with government regulation. Woodard notes that Yankees have a "Utopian streak." The area was settled by radical Calvinists.
New Netherland in the New York area has a "materialistic" culture.
A highlycommercial culture, New Netherland is "materialistic, with a profound tolerance for ethnic and religious diversity and an unflinching commitment to the freedom of inquiry and conscience," according to Woodard. It is a natural ally with Yankeedom and encompasses New York City and northern New Jersey. The area was settled by the Dutch.
The Midlands, largely located in the Midwest, oppose government regulation.
Settled by English Quakers, The Midlands are a welcoming middle-class society thatspawned the culture of the "American Heartland." Political opinion is moderate, and government regulation is frowned upon. Woodard calls the ethnically diverse Midlands "America's great swing region." Within the Midlands are parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.
Tidewater started as a feudal society that embraced slavery.
Tidewater was built by the young English gentry in the area around the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina. Starting as a feudal society that embraced slavery, the region places a high value on respect for authority and tradition. Woodard notes that Tidewater is in decline, partly because"it has been eaten away by the expanding federal halos around D.C. and Norfolk."
Greater Appalachia encompasses parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Texas.
Colonized by settlers from the war-ravagedborderlands of Northern Ireland, northern England, and the Scottish lowlands, Greater Appalachia is stereotyped as the land of hillbillies and rednecks. Woodard says Appalachia values personal sovereignty and individual liberty and is "intensely suspicious of lowland aristocrats and Yankee social engineers alike." It sides with the Deep South to counter the influence of federal government. Within Greater Appalachia are parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas.
Deep South adopts a rigid social structure and opposition to government regulation.
The Deep South was established by English slave lords from Barbados and was styled as a West Indies-style slave society, Woodard notes. It has a very rigid social structure and fights against government regulation that threatens individual liberty. Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and South Carolina are all part of the Deep South.
El Norte has a dominant Hispanic culture.
Composed of the borderlands of the Spanish-American empire, El Norte is "a place apart" from the rest of America, according to Woodard. Hispanic culture dominates in the area, and the region values independence, self-sufficiency, and hard work above all else. Parts of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California are in El Norte.
The Left Coast, located in coastal California, is a lot like Yankee and Appalachian.
Colonized by New Englanders and Appalachian Midwesterners, the Left Coast is a hybrid of "Yankee utopianism and Appalachian self-expression and exploration," Woodard says, adding that it is the staunchest ally of Yankeedom. Coastal California, Oregon, and Washington are in the Left Coast.
The Far West spans state in the central US including Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.
The conservative west. Developed through large investment in industry, yet where inhabitants continue to "resent" the Eastern interests that initially controlled that investment. The Far West spans several states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, and California.
New France inhabitants are comfortable with government involvement in the economy.
A pocket of liberalism nestled in the Deep South, its people are consensus driven, tolerant, and comfortable with government involvement in the economy. Woodard says New France is among the most liberal places in North America. New France is focused around New Orleans in Louisiana as well as the Canadian province of Quebec.
First Nation, most of whose people live in the northern part of the country, are made up of Native Americans.
Made upof Native Americans, the First Nation's members enjoy tribal sovereignty in the US.Woodard says the territory of the First Nations is huge, but its population is under300,000, most of whose people live in the northern reaches of Canada.
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