- Gulf Coast of the United States
The Gulf Coast region of the
United Statescomprises the coasts of states which border the Gulf of Mexico. The states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Floridaare known as the Gulf States. All Gulf States are located in the Southern region of the United States.
Geography and climate
The Gulf Coast is intersected by numerous rivers, the largest of which is the Mississippi. Land along the Gulf Coast tends to be low and flat, and much of it is (or was)
marshland. The western portions of the Gulf Coast include many barrier islands and peninsulas, including the 130 mile (210 km) Padre Islandand Galveston Island. These landforms protect numerous bays and inlets. The central part of the Gulf Coast, from eastern Texas through Louisiana, consists primarily of marshland. Even though it is a gulf, geographically it is technically part of the east coast of the US, even though it is not popularly thought of as such. Fact|date=August 2008
Because of its proximity to the subtropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast area is vulnerable to hurricanes.
Floods and severe thunderstorms also affect the region; tornadoes are infrequent at the coast but do occur (they are much more frequent in the inland portions of those states). Earthquakesare virtually unheard of, but a surprise 6.0 earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico on September 10, 2006, was felt from New Orleans to Tampa. [cite web
title=Central Florida Feels Quake
The Gulf Coast is a major center of economic activity. The marshlands along the Louisiana and Texas coasts provide breeding grounds and nurseries for ocean life that drive the fishing and
shrimping industries. The Port of South Louisiana(between New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Laplace) and the Port of Houstonare two of the ten busiest ports in the world by cargo volume. cite web
title=Busiest Ports in the Worldfdfmkjf
format=HTML] In fact, as of 2004 seven of the top ten busiest ports in the U.S. are on the Gulf Coast.cite web|url= http://www.iwr.usace.army.mil/ndc/wcsc/portname04.htm|title= Waterborne Commerce Statistics: Tonnage for Selected U.S. Ports in 2004|accessdate= 2006-10-15|author= |last=Rosenberg|first=Matt|authorlink= |coauthors= |date=14 |year=2003 |month=06 |format=HTML |work= |publisher= |pages= |archiveurl= |archivedate=] The discovery of oil and gas deposits along the coast and offshore, combined with easy access to shipping, have made the Gulf Coast the heart of the U.S.
petrochemicalindustry. Besides this the region features other important industries including aerospaceand biomedical research, as well as older industries such as agriculture and, especially since the development of the Gulf Coast beginning in the 1950s and the increase in wealth throughout the United States, tourism.
The history of the Gulf Coast is an important part of United States history; as economically important as the Gulf Coast is to the United States today, it arguably once held an even greater position of prominence in the U.S.
The first Europeans to settle the Gulf Coast were primarily the French and the Spanish. The
Louisiana Purchaseand the Texas Revolution, and made the Gulf Coast a part of the United States during first half of the 19th century. As the U.S. population continued to expand its frontiers westward, the Gulf Coast was a natural magnet in the South providing access to shipping lanes and both national and international commerce. The development of sugarand cottonproduction (enabled by slavery) allowed the South to prosper. By the mid 19th century, the South, including the Gulf, by some standards was populated by the nation's wealthiest people. The city of New Orleans in particular, being situated as a key to commerce on the Mississippi Riverand in the Gulf, had become the largest U.S. city not on the Atlantic seaboardand the fourth largest in the U.S. overall.
Two major events were turning points in the earlier history of the Gulf Coast region. The first was the
American Civil War, which caused severe damage to some economic sectors in the South, including the Gulf Coast. The second event was the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. At the end of the 19th century Galvestonwas, with New Orleans, one of the most developed cities in the region. The city had the third busiest port in the U.S.cite web|url= http://www.1900storm.com/isaaccline/isaacsstorm.lasso|title= The 1900 Storm|accessdate= 2006-07-11|author= |last=|first=|authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= |month= |format= |work= |publisher= |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate=] and its financial district was known as the "Wall Street of the Southwest." cite web
title=GALVESTON.COM: Galveston, Texas History
format=HTML] The storm mostly destroyed the city (which has never regained its former glory) and set back development in the region.
Since these darker times the Gulf Coast has redeveloped dramatically over the course of the 20th century. The petrochemical industry, launched with the major discoveries of oil in Texas and spurred on by further discoveries in the Gulf waters, has been a vehicle for development in the central and western Gulf which has spawned development on a variety of fronts in these regions.
Texasin particular has benefited tremendously from this industry over the course of the 20th century and economic diversification has made the state a magnet for population and home to more Fortune 500companies than any other U.S. state. Floridahas grown as well, driven to a great extent by its long established tourism industry but also by its position as a gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America. As of 2006, these two states are the second and fourth most populous states in the nation, respectively (see this article). Other areas of the Gulf Coast have benefited less, though economic development fueled by tourism has greatly increased property values along the coast, and is now a severe danger to the valuable but fragile ecosystems of the Gulf Coast.
The following are the 10 largest metropolitan areas "along" the Gulf Coast of the United States.
Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission
Geography of the United States
List of U.S. ports
Mississippi Gulf Coast
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