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Interactives -- United States History Map Pick another interactive:

About this Interactive

Introduction | Goals | How to Use This Site | Credits


The United States History Map is an interactive Web site where students can learn about the geographic features of the United States, the regions and areas of the United States, and the development of the geography of the United States over the course of history.

In the first section of the site, students will be asked to examine a map of the United States and correctly identify major geographic features of North America, such as mountains, rivers, and oceans. The second section of the site focuses on the various regions of the United States, as well as the individual states contained in those regions. The next three sections of the site focus on the original inhabitants of North America, the European colonists who settled the continent, and the expansion of the United States' territory from "sea to shining sea." After reviewing interactive overviews in each section, students will be challenged in a series of timed quizzes to correctly identify different elements relevant to the geography and history of the United States.


The United States History Map Web site is designed for use by students in upper elementary and middle school grades. However, as social studies and geography assessments often illustrate, there is a continual need for students of all ages and grade levels to develop even a basic understanding of the geographic features of the United States and their role in the nation's history.

The National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) has established eighteen learning standards for the creation of "geographically informed" students. Elements of the United States History Map support half of these standards, including:


  • How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.

  • How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on the earth's surface.


  • The physical and human characteristics of places.

  • That people create regions to interpret the earth's complexity.


  • The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on the earth's surface.

  • The process, patterns, and functions of human settlement.

  • How forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of the earth's surface.


  • How to apply geography to interptret the past.

  • To apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

In addition, the National Council of Social for the Social Studies (NCSS) defines social studies as "the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence." Understanding and study of geography are essential to this integrated study. The NCSS learning standards are based on ten thematic strands, two of which are:

  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

    Human beings seek to understand their historical roots and to locate themselves in time. Such understanding involves knowing what things were like in the past and how things change and develop. Knowing how to read and reconstruct the past allows one to develop a historical perspective and to answer questions such as: Who am I? What happened in the past? How am I connected to those in the past? How has the world changed and how might it change in the future? Why does our personal sense of relatedness to the past change? How can the perspective we have about our own life experiences be viewed as part of the larger human story across time? How do our personal stories reflect varying points of view and inform contemporary ideas and actions?

  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

  • Technological advances connect students at all levels to the world beyond their personal locations. The study of people, places, and human-environment interactions assists learners as they create their spatial views and geographic perspectives of the world. Today's social, cultural, economic, and civic demands on individuals mean that students will need the knowledge, skills, and understanding to ask and answer questions such as: Where are things located? Why are they located where they are? What patterns are reflected in the groupings of things? What do we mean by region? How do landforms change? What implications do these changes have for people? This area of study helps learners make informed and critical decisions about the relationship between human beings and their environment. In schools, this theme typically appears in units and courses dealing with area studies and geography.

The United States History Map has been created with these standards and thematic strands in mind. After completing this interactive, students should be able to:

  • Describe the locations of major geographic features of the United States.

  • Identify states of the United States, as well as categorize states by region.

  • Identify the regions most closely associated with various North American Indian tribes.

  • Discuss areas of settlement by European colonists.

  • Describe patterns of expansion and settlement throughout United States history.

  • Describe the development of the geography of the United States as it is today.

How to Use This Site

The United States History Map consists of five sections plus an assessment.

The sections are broken down as follows: 1) From Sea to Shining Sea, which focuses on geographic features of North America; 2) 50 States, which focuses on the regions of the United States and the individual states contained in those regions; 3) Indians, which focuses on the original inhabitants of North America, 4) Colonists, which focuses on the areas of the current United States settled by European powers, and 5) The Nation Expands, which examines how the United States achieved its current landscape through wars, treaties, and land purchases.

Each section, including the assessment, provides background information on the topic, an interactive, and a timed quiz to test students' knowledge.


Although there are several terms used to refer to the original inhabitants of North America, including Indians, American Indians, and Native Americans, there is no general agreement as to which term is preferred. Therefore, we've elected to use the term Indians throughout this interactive.

Technical Requirements

  1. Browser using Internet Explorer 5 (and higher) and Mozilla 5 (and higher). Best results will be with using latest browser versions

  2. Flash player 7 minimum requirement

  3. Javascript in browser is turned on


Production Credits

United States History Map is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York. Copyright 2007, Annenberg Media. All rights reserved.

Content Production

Christopher W. Czajka, Writer
Christopher W. Czajka is the Associate Director of the [email protected], which creates, supervises, and executes community and educational outreach initiatives associated with Thirteen/WNET's national broadcast and online productions. Czajka supervises the creative development of Thirteen's outreach projects, and creates workshops, online resources, and support materials associated with local and national initiatives.

In addition to his outreach work, Czajka served as a historical consultant for Thirteen's smash hit series Frontier House, and as the educational consultant for Broadway: The American Musical, Colonial House, and Texas Ranch House. His work on the Web-based educational interactivities for Colonial House was recognized by Entertainment Weekly's "Must List," a first-ever achievement for a PBS production. Czajka also developed substantial Web-based resources associated with Slavery and the Making of America, The Rise And Fall of Jim Crow, and Extreme Oil, as well as online interactives for productions such as African American Lives, What's Up in Finance?, Simon Schama's Power of Art, and the kid-friendly news and current events site, News Flash Five. Czajka has taught at the Idyllwild School for Music and the Arts and at Arizona State University. He holds a B.S. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and an M.F.A. in Theater for Young Audiences from Arizona State University.

Interactive and Broadband Unit

Anthony Chapman, Director of Interactive and Broadband
Anu Krishnan, Producer
Michael DiMauro, Flash Programmer
Radik Shvarts, Designer
Gabriel Torres and Ying Zhou-Hudson, Graphics Production
Brian Santalone, HTML Implementation
Leslie Kriesel, Copy Editor

Related Resources

Primary Sources: Workshops in American History
Biography of America
American Passages: A Literary Survey
America's History in the Making

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