- The northernmost point of the contiguous United States is the Northwest Angle, Minnesota.
- The southernmost point of the continental United States is Key West, Florida.
- Overall the continental United States is approximately 3,119,884 square miles.
The Continental U.S. is made up of 48 states and Washington, D.C. Therefore, states like Hawaii, Alaska, and the offshore U.S. territories do not form part of the contiguous USA. The total area of the 48 continental states is approximately 3,119,884 square miles, of which 160,820 square miles is water and 2,959,064 square miles is land. But how tall is the United States from North to South?
The Northernmost Tip in the Continental United States
One of Minnesota’s main attractions is the northernmost point of the continental U.S., located in the Northwest Angle. People also call this area the “Chimney” or “Top of the Nation.” This area of Minnesota is a geographical anomaly because, looking at the map, it is surrounded by water on one side and Canada on the other. Therefore, the Northwest Angle does not touch Minnesota at all. However, it is bordered by Ontario and Manitoba.
In 1783, while drafting the Treaty of Paris, Great Britain recognized and approved a boundary between the United States and Canada. But, the Brits didn’t realize there was a series of mapping errors, which incorrectly recorded the location of the Northwest Angle. However, in 1798, a British explorer proved the maps wrong, and in 1842, this area was properly plotted. But, the U.S. refused to relinquish the Northwest Angle to the Brits, not because it was economically valuable, but because they didn’t want to give up anything gained in the treaty of independence. So, while Canada and water surround this little community, it remains part of Minnesota and the United States.
The Southernmost Tip of the Continental United States
Key West is the southernmost tip of the continental United States. It is 755 farther south than Los Angeles, 159 miles from Miami, and only 90 miles from Cuba. Furthermore, it is surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Oceans. As a result, Key West usually receives soothing tropical breezes. While Key West has a population of roughly 25,500 residents, visitors flood the area throughout the year to enjoy its warm weather, turquoise waters, and beautiful white, sandy beaches.
Key West’s most famous resident was Ernest Hemmingway, who lived there with his wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Hemmingway loved the weather and also enjoyed deep-sea fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, his home was the first to have piped water and a pool in the city. You can visit the house today as part of Hemmingway’s Museum. Here you can learn about the author’s history in Key West and the homes of 60 polydactyly cats, descendants of Hemmingway’s original cat.
At first, the Spanish controlled Key West. But as time passed and America gained its independence, the US took control of the island and named it Key West.
How Does the United States Compare to Other Large Countries?
The United States is the third largest country in the world. Russia is the biggest, with a total area of 6,601,668 square miles. While Canada comes in second with a total area of 3,855,103 square miles.
Wildlife in the United States
Besides being the third largest country in the world, the United States is also home to a diverse ecosystem that supports an array of wildlife, like:
While many know these massive animals as buffalos, their real name is the American bison. These large buffalos are the largest terrestrial animals in North America, as they reach six feet tall. Additionally, male bison weigh approximately one ton, but females are smaller, weighing around 900 pounds. However, their size is not their only identifiable feature. They also have a hump on their backs, deep brown long fur, long beard, and manes. Furthermore, their heads are large because of their thick skulls, which they use to fight other bison by crashing their horns together. Male and female bison have short, curved black horns that grow to around two feet long.
As the second-largest cat in the USA, the cougar is feared by many. They are big, slender cats with course coats. Their color varies from tawny to grayish brown, with lighter bellies, chests, and throats. Cougars have pinkish noses and black stripes on their muzzles, behind their ears, and at the tips of their tails. Furthermore, they have grayish-brown to golden eyes. These majestic cats have long tails, up to one-third of the total body length. Additionally, they have short, muscular limbs and board paws with five digits on the front feet and five on the back.
Cougars primarily eat large mammals, making them hypercarnivores. As a result, their diet consists of:
Unfortunately, farmers don’t like these cats because they will sometimes hunt livestock, like chickens, sheep, goats, pigs, and calves.
The black bear is the smallest of the bear species in the USA. Furthermore, these bears are only native to North America. They have short, non-retractable claws, providing incredible tree-climbing abilities. These bears are usually one solid color, except for their muzzles and light markings that typically appear on their chests. However, despite their name, these bears vary in color. For example, western populations of black bears are usually brown, blond, or cinnamon, while eastern populations are generally black. Additionally, unique black bears found in the coastal areas of British Columbia in Canada have whitish-blue fur, called Kermode bears.
The American alligator is a large crocodilian that only occurs in the USA. These massive reptiles can grow over 12 feet long and weigh approximately 1000 pounds. Females are generally smaller than males, but this doesn’t make them any less intimidating. These alligators have sufficient protection because their dark skin is covered in bony scales named scutes. Furthermore, they have webbed feet and powerful tails that help propel them through the water.
American alligators are cold-blooded, so they depend on the resources in their environment to keep them warm. For example, they tend to inhabit warmer climates so they can bask in the sun. Additionally, they dig holes in the mud, which traps the heat. While these large reptiles often bask on the shores of lakes, swamps, or rivers, it might be hard to spot them because they lay so still they look like rocks.
The emblem of the United States, the bald eagle, stands for courage, strength, and freedom. These large predatory raptors are best distinguished by their brown bodies and wings with white heads and tails. In addition, bald eagles have hooked yellow beaks, legs, and feet with sharp black talons. However, the offspring look completely different. For example, juveniles are usually almost entirely brown, with some white markings on their wings, chest, and undersides. But, as they start growing, their brown bill changes to yellow, and their head and tail turn white. These birds of prey grow to around 2.5 to 3 feet tall, with a wingspan of approximately 6.5 feet wide. Females are bigger than males, but they have the same coloration.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jim Pruitt/Shutterstock.com
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