Why does the northwestern U.S. have so few people?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#1
One thing that I've noticed about the U.S. is that the northwestern U.S. contains very few people. For instance, in the U.S. House of Representatives (which is based on population), the southwestern U.S. has more than 100 seats (out of 435 total for the entire U.S.) while the northwestern U.S. has less than 20 seats (less than 25 seats if one includes the Dakotas and Nebraska):



Out of all of the U.S. states in the northwestern U.S., only Washington has a significant population (with its 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives reflecting this fact).

This is also visible on this map--other than the coastal areas, most of the northwestern U.S. is a desolate wasteland (OK, maybe that's a little harsh, but you get my point here):



Anyway, why exactly does the northwestern U.S. have so few people even right now?
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,246
Dispargum
#2
Cold winters, lack of water, little to attract people to move there in terms of natural resources. The southwest has similar issues but at least they have warmer weather. Some of the population growth in the southwest has been immigration from Mexico which had no need to go as far north as Montana.
 
Dec 2011
4,265
Iowa USA
#3
Factor number One: the Northwest didn't benefit from a project as expansive as the Hoover (Boulder) Dam.

Without the Hoover Dam the Southwest's population density would very likely be lower today than the Northwest.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#4
Factor number One: the Northwest didn't benefit from a project as expansive as the Hoover (Boulder) Dam.

Without the Hoover Dam the Southwest's population density would very likely be lower today than the Northwest.
What did the Hoover Dam do to make the Southwest more habitable?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#5
Cold winters, lack of water, little to attract people to move there in terms of natural resources. The southwest has similar issues but at least they have warmer weather. Some of the population growth in the southwest has been immigration from Mexico which had no need to go as far north as Montana.
Why does the Northwest have a lack of water?

Also, while a lot of Hispanics did move to the Southwestern U.S., it also has a very significant non-Hispanic White population. Thus, even without the Hispanics, it would still be much more populous than the Northwest is.

In addition to this, what's interesting is that some areas in the Northwest--such as in the interior of Washington state--actually did get a lot of Hispanics in recent years:

 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#6
BTW, I really don't get the scale on the map above, but it should be clear enough in regards to population and demographics. The larger the circle, the larger the population. Also, the pie charts in the circles represent the demographics of each county in Washington state.
 
Oct 2015
686
Virginia
#7
The Puget Sound area (Seattle, Tacoma,Olympia) is nice but it rains all the time. Much of the state is desert and mountains, including the scenic Olympic and Cascade ranges (including volcanos). They have the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River for power and irrigation.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,246
Dispargum
#9
Why does the Northwest have a lack of water?
The whole west is dry. See on that second map in post # 1. Draw a north-south line through San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Ft Worth, Oklahoma City, Wichita and on northward. To the right of that line there is yellow. To the left of that line it's more green. That's the dry line. People can't live where there is no water. With the exception of a few places like Seatle, there is very little rainfall west of that line. The southwest has been reckless in the way they have encouraged population and economic growth to the point of severely stressing the water supply. The northwest either has not tried to excede sustainable population or more likely has tried but has failed to attract more people. The lower population level of the northern plains and Rocky Mountains is much more environmentally sustainable.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#10
The Puget Sound area (Seattle, Tacoma,Olympia) is nice but it rains all the time. Much of the state is desert and mountains, including the scenic Olympic and Cascade ranges (including volcanos). They have the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River for power and irrigation.
The Southwest is also full of deserts and mountains, no?