When Michael Girdley first considered the idea of leaving the United States, he embarked on a journey of research and reflection. He pondered the notion of seeking opportunities and a better future in another part of the world. However, as he delved deeper into his exploration, he came to a surprising realization: leaving the USA might not be the wisest choice after all.
Girdley recognized that the United States holds a unique and unassailable position as the global superpower and a land of unparalleled opportunities. While many factors contribute to this, one crucial element stood out among the rest: geography.
Here are some key aspects that highlight the significance of geography in America’s prosperity:
Mississippi River System: The USA boasts the largest naturally navigable waterway globally, the Mississippi River system. This network allows ships to traverse from the Gulf of Mexico to Minnesota, making water transportation 10 to 30 times cheaper than alternative methods. This unparalleled water route grants American goods a competitive advantage, even in inland areas like Pittsburgh.
Prime Farmland: Overlaying the Mississippi River system is the world’s most extensive expanse of prime farmland. This combination ensures the USA can efficiently and inexpensively deliver food to markets, outperforming other countries in food exports. The USA exports twice as much food as the second-ranking country, Germany.
Great Lakes: The USA is blessed with the world’s most extensive freshwater lake system, which is now connected to the Mississippi River in Chicago and the Atlantic. This interconnected water system turns numerous inland cities into virtual seaports, further favoring the American goods trade.
Barrier Islands: The Mississippi River connects with a unique barrier island system, creating a “virtual” coastal river with calm, navigable waters. This intricate network supports low-cost water transport from Texas to Rhode Island, granting American goods a competitive edge in reaching markets.
Size: The USA is the fourth-largest country by area globally, providing it with the necessary scale for global markets. The quality of its land sets it apart, as much of the land in larger countries like Canada, Russia, and China is unproductive.
Energy Reserves and Production: The USA is rich in domestic energy resources, including oil and natural gas. It is the top producer of oil and natural gas globally, accompanied by abundant wind and solar resources. This proximity to energy sources contributes to the efficiency of American production.
Natural Ports: America possesses top-tier natural harbors and ports along the world’s two largest oceans. Cities like New York City, Chesapeake, Puget Sound, Los Angeles, and San Francisco Bay are well-connected by road, rail, and water to support international trade, with 99% of global trade volume conducted by ship.
Large Coastline: The USA’s coastline is five times longer than Africa’s, offering more inlets and large bays. This vast expanse allows for greater control of ocean within the country’s exclusive economic zones.
Correct Side of Ocean Currents: Ocean currents favor the USA, with the East Coast receiving warm, moist air from the tropics, benefiting timber and agriculture. The climate in California’s croplands is ideal for agriculture despite its latitude.
The North: Canada’s challenging geography, characterized by a cold climate and less productive agriculture, hinders its potential to rival the USA. Moreover, mountain ranges often necessitate trade with the US rather than within the country.
The South: Mexico faces geographical challenges, including arable land in the central regions, deserts in the north, jungles in the south, and limited access to rivers and ports. Mountainous terrain and valleys further complicate integration.
Oceans: The vast Pacific and Atlantic Oceans act as substantial barriers, providing a significant deterrent against the USA ever facing the threat of invasion, as famously depicted in the movie “Red Dawn.”
Northern Hemisphere: Being situated in the northern half of the planet offers a substantial advantage due to its larger landmass, which facilitates easier trade and competitiveness. Most international travel between South America and Africa requires connections through the northern hemisphere.
East-West Orientation: An east-west orientation, as seen in Asia and North America, is advantageous for the spread of crop types, animals, and ideas. It eliminates the need to “jump” across bands with varying climates, promoting greater productivity and interconnectedness.
He emphasizes the profound influence of geography on the United States’ and while numerous factors contribute to the nation’s prosperity, its geographical blessings play an indispensable role in maintaining its status as a global superpower and a land of unparalleled opportunity.
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