capped with snow. When the Rocky Mountains were formed (over 100 million years ago) the molten rock which was forced up carried with it gold, copper, lead, silver and other metals, so they are very rich in minerals.
Another subdivision of the Cordilleras is the Sierra Nevada — Cascade Range, which extends from the Canadian border to the Mexican boundary and is part of the Pacific ranges. Most of the major earthquake activity in the region has occurred in the areas along the Pacific ranges. The Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range form an almost unbroken mountain wall between inland United States and the Pacific coast land. The only east route from the interior to the coast is at the point where the Columbia River cuts through the mountains in a wide pass. There are great forests in the Cascades and large gold deposits in the Sierra Nevada.
The Pacific slope of the Cordillera Mountains includes the Pacific valleys and the Coast Ranges. These ranges form two parallel mountain systems stretching along the Pacific coast. The Coast Ranges are known also as the Maritime Cordilleras.
Between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific ranges in the United States lies an area of mixed landforms, which include the Colorado and Columbia plateaus and the Great Basin. Deep gorges cut through parts of the Great Basin. Mesas are also found between the Rockies and the Pacific ranges in this area.
The eastern and western chains of the Cordilleras enclose the Great North - American Plateau. The climate here is markedly continental and dry, vegetation — of the desert and semi-desert types. The central part of the Great North-American Plateau — the Great Basin — is a semi-desert area with the only large sheet of water — the Great Salt Lake. In the region between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Reno, Nevada, there is nothing but dead lakes, dry rivers, snakes and small animal life, enormous mineral wealth, and the inhuman beauty of the desert. The climate is so dry and hot that even fairly large rivers from the mountains evaporate so rapidly that they die before reaching the end of the desert. The sun shines nine-tenths of the year, and the temperature goes up to about 50 degrees centigrade in the shade. But occasionally it rains, even here.
Close to the western edge of the Sierra Nevada, in California, there is a particularly lonely stretch of desert named Death Valley by pioneers who tried to cross it in their rush to the goldfields. For 225 kilometers hardly a bush can be seen in this ancient lakebed 85 meters below sea level — the bottom of the United States.
But even in the vast, silent desert there are rich and prosperous towns, which were built where men found sufficient water. The Colorado, the Gila and other smaller rivers have made the desert bloom along their shores. Centuries ago, American Indians used these western rivers to irrigate their fields. Ruins of their old canals are still found throughout the desert. Observing these canals, early settlers reasoned that bringing water to this land would be easy. They had seen that the mountains held plenty of snow and rain, and that the Mountain Rivers could be put to work.
The water that is brought down the mountains is stored in two natural lakes — Utah Lake and Bear Lake — and six man-made storage facilities. These facilities account for about 75 percent of the total water in the state. More than 100 towns and countless gardens now flourish in this region which had once been considered worthless.
After 1848, when gold was found in the river beds of California, great numbers of people crossed the mountains over trails discovered by the hunters. Today, eight railroads and a dozen highways go winding over the mountains, following routes made by these settlers.
It should be mentioned here that the United States is divided into 50 states. Those which border one another on the continent are grouped into seven regions: New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont), Middle Atlantic States (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania), Southern States (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia), Midwestern States (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin), Rocky Mountain States (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming), Southwestern States (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas) and Pacific Coast States (California, Oregon, Washington). In addition, Hawaii and Alaska are grouped separately. Vocabulary provincial to border on sea communications
fertile to drain a sea route
maritime to bloom storage facilities
rugged to adjoin to extend from ... (in)to
striking to enclose to account for
peninsula to flourish to merge with
plateau to irrigate to evaporate
lakebed to subdue to come to terms with
encounter to confront to play into one's hands
abrupt latitude longitude Comprehension Check Exercise I. Scan the text for the answers to the following questions:
What proves the idea that America is an abundance of geography but a shortage of history?
What is the general geographic outline of the United States?
How are the chief mountain ranges distributed across the country?
How do the Appalachians and the Cordillera differ?
Describe the Rocky Mountains.
Vocabulary Study Exercise I. Look up the following words in an English – English dictionary and write out the principal meanings: 1) basin; 2) plateau; 3) mesas; 4) rapids; 5) lakebed; 6) prairies; 7) fertile; 8) gorge. Exercise II. Find in the text the English words and phrases corresponding to the Russian equivalents: 1) путем проб и ошибок; 2) морские коммуникации; 3) покорить территорию; 4) возникать, брать начало; 5) водохранилище; 6) процветать; 7) граничить с чем-либо, примыкать; 8) приморский; 9) прилегать, граничить с, соприкасаться; 10) экономически независимый в области сельского хозяйства; 11) сыграть кому-либо на руку; 12) пойти на уступки, принять условия, прийти к соглашению; 13) преуспевать; 14) неожиданная встреча. Exercise III. Supply the words or word combinations from the text which correspond to the following: 1) to bring under control, into subjection, to conquer; 2) to reach an agreement; 3) superior in influence, authority; 4) sudden, unexpected; 5) to come face to face with; to face boldly or with defiance; 6) having a quality that thrusts itself into attention; 7) distance north or south of the equator, measured in degrees; 8) to enfold or to surround completely with smth.; 9) to be the reason or explanation for; 10) to cause to change into a vapor; 11) capable of reproducing or marked by great fruitfulness; 12) to supply with water, as with channels or ditches or streams; 13) to flow off gradually; 14) characteristic of the territory occupied by one of the constituent administrative districts of a nation or their people; 15) angular distance east or west of a given meridian, measured in degrees. Exercise IV. Guess what is meant by the following definitions:
A line where rivers drop sharply from hilly region toward the lowlands.
A large or small depression, or low spot, in the land surface.
A relatively flat highland.
A large mass of land projecting into a body of water.
A part of a river where the current is very fast.
A flat tableland with steep edges.
A narrow deep ravine between mountains (usually with a river running through it).
Topographically very uneven, rocky and steep.
A ravine formed by a river in an area with little rainfall.
Exercise V. Using the map, identify each location listed below by writing the letter of the correct landform region in each blank. A. Atlantic Coastal Plain; B. Gulf Coastal Plain; C. Appalachians; D. Central Plains; E.Great Plains; F. Rocky Mountains and Western Plateaus; G. Pacific West