Geography and climate vary greatly across the United States. The total area of the US is over 9.6 million square kilometers, making it either the third or fourth largest country in the world (its rank depends on how China's size is calculated). The United States is comprised of 48 "contiguous" or "continental" states, which refers to the states located in a single connected region on the continent of North America. The US has two additional states: Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska is located in the northwestern most part of North America, but Canada separates it from the "contiguous" states. Hawaii is also separated; it is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Together, the 50 states cover various geographic regions, including the following topographies:
- broad, flat coastal plains lining the Atlantic and Gulf shores - rolling hills and temperate forests
- mountain ranges (e.g. The Rocky Mountains, The Appalachian Mountains)
- The Great Lakes, located in the north-central portion of the country
- subtropical forests in the southeast
- mangrove wetlands near the gulf coast (especially Florida)
- farmland in the midwest
- deserts and badlands
- Arctic tundra
- tropical, volcanic islands (Hawaii)
The desert of Death Valley in California is lowest point in the US at 86 meters below sea level, and the country's highest point is Alaska's Mount McKinley (alsp known as Denali) at 6,194 meters. Because of its size and varied geography, the United States contains examples of almost every global climate. The range of temperature extremes include northern Alaska's tundra and arctic conditions at one end of the spectrum, where temperatures can drop as low as -62°C, and Death Valley, California at the other, where it once reached 56.7°C.
Use the map below to compare daily temperatures and weather conditions across the United States.
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