Skip to Content

The South

The South is made up of the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida on the Atlantic Coast, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas farther to the west. Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and Texas are sometimes considered southern states also. Florida, because of its multi-ethnic nature, is often not included in the mix. This region is very varied, from Atlantic coastal plains, to the Mississippi river valley, to the Gulf Coast. People in this large area speak many dialects of English, though the southern accent in general is characterized as having long vowels and nasalized vocal pitch.

Traditionally rural and agricultural over much of American history, the South in the second half of the twentieth century saw significant migration from the north and the growth of a number of its major cities, including Atlanta in Georgia and both Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina. Other major cities with rich cultural heritages include Charleston in South Carolina, Savannah in Georgia, New Orleans in Louisiana, and Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee. While south Florida is technically a part of the South, its large city of Miami, with its heavy Northeastern and Latin American influences, is not truly a part of the southern culture.

Without the South, American culture would be poor indeed. Almost all American music either originated in the South or has been heavily influenced by southern traditions: blues, jazz, country & western, bluegrass, folk music, Cajun music, gospel, and much more. Southern cooking in its many varieties delights (and fattens) Americans all over the country. It is so varied that a number of Life In The USA food sections have been devoted to it: Southern CookingCajun CuisineLow Country CookingCreole Cuisine, and let’s not forget the significantly southern side of the glories of Hot Sauce and, that American culinary triumph, Barbecue.

The heritage of southern literature is also quite deep. Mark Twain is considered the father of southern literature, but in the twentieth century he was followed by such major writers as William Faulkner, Caroline Gordon, Tennessee Williams, Katherine Anne Porter, Allen Tate, Thomas Wolfe, Robert Penn Warren, Truman Capote, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Reynolds Price, James Dickey, Walker Percy, Harper Lee, and John Kennedy Toole, to name but a few.

Next Section:Appalachia

Land, History and Language: Chapter Home

Life in the USA Home Page.