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

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#31
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
I used a simplistic definition of Northwest here. If one tries to evenly partition the territory of the U.S. into four parts (four squares of equal size, excluding Alaska and Hawaii), my characterization here would make more sense.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#32
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.
Yes, there are a lot of farms in the interior states, but there's still plenty of room for cities to be built there. However, the cities that are there generally aren't that populous--especially when one also factors in the surrounding suburbs and compares these metro populations to, say, Atlanta's or Dallas's or Houston's or Phoenix's.