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

Jan 2015
3,152
Rupert's Land ;)
#21
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).]

Anyway, why exactly does the northwestern U.S. have so few people even right now?
Futurist, only Washington & Oregon are in the "Pacific Northwest "

Dakota's and Nebraska are never considered "Northwest", they are "Great Plains"

Montana, Wyoming & Colorado aren't Northwest either, they are Rocky Mountains
 
Dec 2011
4,293
Iowa USA
#22
Futurist, only Washington & Oregon are in the "Pacific Northwest "

Dakota's and Nebraska are never considered "Northwest", they are "Great Plains"

Montana, Wyoming & Colorado aren't Northwest either, they are Rocky Mountains

By far, more of Montana's land would be plains than mountains. I don't see why this organization of States into three groupings is necessarily better than Futurist's dichotomy of "North"-"South".

The political boundaries of the States are probably less helpful in understanding an ultimate answer to his question than a geophysical map, though.

North Dakota as Great Plains? I'd say that over 80%of ND's population are more "Upper Midwest" culturally than Great Plains, so these are REALLY amorphous categories.
 
Jan 2015
3,152
Rupert's Land ;)
#23
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.
The "West" may be drier than the East, but the Northwest is not dry. Even the Eastern part of Washington/Oregon as well as Idaho is not without water, as there's irrigation from the Colunbia/Snake system
 
Jan 2015
3,152
Rupert's Land ;)
#24
By far, more of Montana's land would be plains than mountains. I don't see why this organization of States into three groupings is necessarily better than Futurist's dichotomy of "North"-"South".

The political boundaries of the States are probably less helpful in understanding an ultimate answer to his question than a geophysical map, though.

North Dakota as Great Plains? I'd say that over 80%of ND's population are more "Upper Midwest" culturally than Great Plains, so these are REALLY amorphous categories.
All correct, however my point is that Dakota aren't Northwest, though Montana sometimes is. (Wrongly I think, as it has little in common politically, culturally or geographically with Washington/Oregon )

Eastern part of Montana is still fairly hilly & rugged, its not flat.

Yes, Dakota's are Great Plains, (see attached image) but also can be considered Upper Midwest.
 

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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,384
Dispargum
#25
The "West" may be drier than the East, but the Northwest is not dry. Even the Eastern part of Washington/Oregon as well as Idaho is not without water, as there's irrigation from the Colunbia/Snake system
Yes, but irrigation is expensive. Everything else being equal, it's cheaper to farm in the east where you don't have to irrigate than in the west where irrigation is necessary. The same rule applies to any other economic activity that requires water. People only moved into the west, where life is more difficult, after the east was filled up.
 
Dec 2011
4,293
Iowa USA
#26
All correct, however my point is that Dakota aren't Northwest, though Montana sometimes is. (Wrongly I think, as it has little in common politically, culturally or geographically with Washington/Oregon )

Eastern part of Montana is still fairly hilly & rugged, its not flat.

Yes, Dakota's are Great Plains, (see attached image) but also can be considered Upper Midwest.
I never imagined when I was a thirty year old that I would meet as many North Dakotans in my forties as I did!

For me... Kansas and Oklahoma are the "heart of the Plains" in a cultural context. North Dakotans are in many measures of demographics (including European roots, as N. Dakota is one of the most Scandinavian heavy parts of the whole nation) not like the Kansans and Oklahomans.

Back to the issues around providing sufficient resources for the Phoenix metro area to develop, there is a little-remembered GOP Congress named John Rhoades who was a great force in tilting the legal authority to use the Colorado River to the distinct benefit of Arizona.
 
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Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
4,935
Canary Islands-Spain
#27
The Northwest of the US has been on one of the economic and demographic corners of the World

The Northeast and all the East had easy connections to Europe, the southwest to Mexico and the rest of the Americas. These are trade and labour markets

In addition, the Northwest suffer from bad fluvial connections, making transport more expensive
 
Likes: Futurist

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,804
San Antonio, Tx
#28
Futurist, only Washington & Oregon are in the "Pacific Northwest "

Dakota's and Nebraska are never considered "Northwest", they are "Great Plains"

Montana, Wyoming & Colorado aren't Northwest either, they are Rocky Mountains
Sounds correct to me. The Northwest was really settled last and didn’t become big deals until the east-west railroad made it to Sacramento in California. Getting to Oregon took real effort and determination. As for the “interior states”, there’s no mystery for me that farm/ranching states are sparsely populated because, well, farms take up a lot of room and are very low in density - sort of obvious.

Yet the farm states are extremely productive in terms of food production per acre. Incidentally, some of these states have vast national parks in them which reflects partially their conditions of settlement and the fact that those states do not control the national parklands within its own borders. Unlike those states, Texas, for example, owns all of its own public lands which makes it unique among states. Texas was “poor in cash” but “rich in land” which is how they were able to pay for that magnificent state Capitol in Austin.
 
Likes: Futurist

royal744

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
9,804
San Antonio, Tx
#29
Yes, but irrigation is expensive. Everything else being equal, it's cheaper to farm in the east where you don't have to irrigate than in the west where irrigation is necessary. The same rule applies to any other economic activity that requires water. People only moved into the west, where life is more difficult, after the east was filled up.
OK, but, ummm, the “east” was settled first because that’s where it all started. Not exactly a trick question.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,384
Dispargum
#30
Getting back to the OP, Why have California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas experienced significant population growth in the past 50 years while Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, and the Dakotas have not?

Does anyone have anything other than climate, proximity to Mexico, natural resources, and government policy at all levels?

Frank, care to expand on why transportation is more expensive in the northwest?
 
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