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Southern United States

Fun Geography for Kids on the Appalachian Mountains in Southern United States Image
Fun Geography for Kids on the Appalachian Mountains in Southern United States Image

Every part of the United States has its own culture and traditions, and the South is no exception. The South is known for stick-to-your-ribs, home cooking, country and blues music and cotton. The Southern states, including Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, gained their wealth by farming – mostly tobacco and cotton. In the mid-1800s, the Southern states raised more than 80 percent of the world’s cotton.

Southern United States Facts For Kids

  • Known as “The South.”
  • Famous for BBQ food.
  • Hot summers, mild winters.
  • Country music is big.
  • Has vast cotton fields.
  • The Mississippi River flows here.
  • Home to many alligators.
  • Civil War history is key.
  • Sweet tea is a favorite.
  • Mardi Gras is a huge festival.

Civil War

Often simply called ‘The South,’ the Southern United States was a key player in the American Civil War from 1861 to 1865. Dominated by an agricultural landscape of large plantations growing cotton, tobacco, and other crops, the South’s economy and societal structure were deeply rooted in the institution of slavery, which relied heavily on the labor of enslaved African Americans.

The Civil War erupted primarily due to this dependence on slavery when the Northern states began advocating for its abolition. In response, seven Southern states opted for secession, forming a new entity known as the Confederate States of America.

This led to a protracted and brutal war, with much of the fighting taking place on Southern soil. Despite putting up fierce resistance, the South was ultimately defeated. The end of the Civil War ushered in the Reconstruction era, a period marked by the reintroduction of the Southern states into the Union and the abolition of slavery.

Slavery

The Southern United States, colloquially known as the South, was a cornerstone in the historical narrative of American slavery. From the early 17th century until the conclusion of the American Civil War in 1865, the South operated predominantly as an agrarian society.

Its economic vitality heavily hinged on agricultural practices, particularly the cultivation of labor-intensive crops like cotton and tobacco. The demand for massive labor led to the extensive exploitation of enslaved Africans, marking a sorrowful and challenging chapter in America’s history. The enslaved were subjected to harsh conditions, devoid of any rights or freedoms.

This era profoundly influenced the South’s cultural and developmental trajectory, leaving an indelible imprint that continues to manifest in numerous ways in contemporary times.

Plantations

Plantations, large farms that were prominent in the Southern United States’ history and economy, predominantly specialized in the production of cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugarcane.

These substantial estates were usually owned by affluent landowners and operated by enslaved individuals until slavery was abolished at the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. The influence of this plantation system permeated Southern culture, shaping aspects from its economy and societal structure to its architectural style and culinary practices.

Today, several of these historical plantations have been preserved and remain accessible to the public as a testament to the past.

Bible Belt

The Southern United States, often known as the ‘Bible Belt,’ is a region recognized for its firm commitment to the Christian faith, particularly to Protestant denominations. This moniker emerged in the early 20th century due to the widespread practice of regular church attendance and adherence to Christian teachings among the populace.

The presence of numerous churches in small towns and cities across the South is testament to this. The ‘Bible Belt’ term has become a significant part of the area’s cultural identity, reflecting a unique blend of faith, tradition, and culture.

The celebration of various Christian holidays and traditions with great fervor further underscores the distinctive religious spirit of the Southern United States.

Dixie

Often recognized as ‘Dixie,’ the Southern United States is a region that has significantly shaped the country’s history and culture. It is noted for its warm hospitality, mouth-watering cuisine, including fried chicken and grits, and distinctive music genres such as blues, jazz, and country.

The region, which encompasses states like Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, played a pivotal role in the American Civil War as the Confederate States.

Its climate is typically warmer than other parts of the country, characterized by mild winters and hot, humid summers. Dixie is also celebrated for its diverse wildlife and captivating landscapes, ranging from the majestic blue ridge mountains to the expansive, fertile plains.

Cajun culture

The Cajun culture, deeply ingrained in the Southern United States and particularly in Louisiana, is a vibrant testament to the French Canadians who settled there in the 18th century. Retaining a distinctive identity marked by a singular French dialect, music, and food, the Cajun people are celebrated for their unique cuisine.

Their global culinary fame is attributed to mouth-watering dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and crawfish étouffée, all seasoned with an enticing mix of spices. The Cajun culture also boasts a dynamic musical tradition, from Cajun blues to Cajun Zydeco, that resonates through the unique sounds of the accordion and the fiddle.

This lively spirit and rich heritage are further showcased during various annual festivals, such as the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles, which serve as an exuberant celebration of Cajun traditions.

Confederate States of America

Commonly known as the Confederacy, the Confederate States of America was a coalition of 11 southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia – that seceded from the United States between 1860 and 1861, on the eve of the American Civil War.

This secession was primarily driven by their disagreement with the federal government’s stance on slavery, an institution integral to their economy and culture. The Confederacy, with its capital in Richmond, Virginia, existed from 1861 until its defeat by the Union in 1865, after which the states were reintegrated into the United States.

Appalachian Mountains

The Appalachian Mountains, colloquially referred to as the Appalachians, are a prominent mountain range in the Eastern region of the Southern United States. Stretching from Alabama in the South to areas of Pennsylvania and New York in the North, the Appalachians are over 480 million years old, qualifying them as one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges.

This ancient mountain system is famed for its abundant biodiversity, dense forests, and distinct bluish hue when viewed from afar. A favorite among children residing in the Southern United States, the Appalachians offer ample opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife exploration.

The Appalachian Trail, one of the longest hiking-only trails globally, adds to its appeal. The mountains also serve as a custodian of a rich cultural history, housing traditional music and crafts unique to the region.

Cotton

Known as the ‘Cotton Belt’, the Southern United States, specifically states like Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas, boasts a rich cotton-producing history. This legacy dates back to the 16th century when cotton was first introduced to North America.

The South’s warm climate and extended growing season made it an ideal environment for cultivating this crop, leading to the region’s dominance in global cotton production by the mid-19th century, supplying nearly 75% of the world’s cotton. The cotton bolls, which contain the seeds and fibrous material, are either handpicked or harvested by machines.

These are then processed to extract the seeds, allowing the raw cotton to be spun into thread or yarn. This is subsequently used in the fabrication of various products such as clothes, blankets, and more.

Southern accent

Recognized for its distinctive Southern accent, the Southern United States exhibits a unique linguistic culture, marked by elongated vowel sounds and gentle consonants that lend a melodic allure.

It’s crucial to underline that this accent isn’t uniform throughout the region; rather, it varies significantly, with different states and even sub-regions within the same state showcasing distinct variations.

For instance, the Texan accent greatly differs from those heard in Georgia or North Carolina. These variances in accent, deeply ingrained in the Southern culture and history, enrich the diverse linguistic tapestry of the United States.

Fun Science Facts for Kids All about the Southern United States - the Traditional Food in Southern United States Image
Fun Science Facts for Kids All about the Southern United States – the Traditional Food in Southern United States Image

These crops were grown on large plantations and slaves provided the labor necessary to care for the crops. After the Civil War, the large plantations no longer had the workers they needed. Plantations were sold off into smaller farms. You can still see large plantation houses, but the old way of life is mostly gone.

All about the Southern United States Easy Science for Kids - Image of Cypresses in the Swamps in Louisiana
All about the Southern United States Easy Science for Kids – Image of Cypresses in the Swamps in Louisiana

Fun Facts about the Southern United States for Kids

  • Swamps cover one-fifth of Florida. Here you can see manatees, alligators and the Florida panther.
  • Memphis, Tennessee is the birthplace of jazz and blues music.
  • The Appalachian Mountains run through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. These areas were built around coal mines and steel mills. Today, many of the mines and factories have closed. People have a hard time finding work. This area is among the poorest in the United States.
  • Traditional Southern foods include fried chicken, biscuits, sweet cakes, okra and collards.
  • Some of the country’s best writers have come from the South. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, about a small town in Alabama.
Fun Science Facts for Kids All about the Southern United States - the Traditional Food in Southern United States Image
Fun Science Facts for Kids All about the Southern United States – the Traditional Food in Southern United States Image

Southern United States Vocabulary

  1. Tradition: long-held beliefs or customs
  2. Stick-to-your-ribs: delicious, hearty food that fills you up
  3. Wealth: riches
  4. Plantation: very large farm

Learn More All about the Southern United States

Here’s a great video for kids on Southern United States:

A video documentary of the geography and nature in Southern United States.

Southern United States Q&A

Question: Does it snow in the South?

Answer: Rarely, although it can get cold in the northern areas.

Map of Southern United States

Here’s a map of Southern United States and all its cities and villages. Zoom in to get into street level or zoom out to see countries around Southern United States! You can see the terrain, but also see the roads, images of the buildings and even take a 3D tour through the streets of the cities in Southern United States, as though you are actually there!

 

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