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What is Unique About the Appalachian Region?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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The Appalachian region of the United States has a unique culture centered on a rich history and a combination of northern European ancestries that makes the area distinct. The area stretches from southern New York State down to the northern part of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi in the general vicinity of the Appalachian Mountains. The region was originally home to Native American tribes such as the Cherokee, but it was settled in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries primarily by Scottish, Irish, and English settlers.

The people who settled in the Appalachian region were known as hearty people who lived in an often difficult environment. They were deeply religious, and that aspect of the region still carries on today. In fact, religion has played a major role in shaping the communities and the historical events that have taken place over the course of centuries. Because many of the settlers were of Scots-Irish descent, they brought their traditional music with them to the Appalachian region. Irish and English ballads were a popular form of music among early settlers, and that music evolved into New World ballads that were written entirely in the Appalachian region, as opposed to the "Old World" ballads people brought with them from Europe. The Appalachian region was also the home to bluegrass music and country music, which evolved from traditional Appalachian music combined with blues music played primarily by African Americans.

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In more recent years, the Appalachian region has become known for outdoor recreation as well. The Appalachian trail meanders through the Appalachian mountains from its starting point at Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way up through the Appalachian states and beyond to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine. The mountainous region has become synonymous with pristine wilderness and fantastic views, often in narrow corridors of wilderness bounded by cities and other urban areas. The Appalachian region is also home to national parks and several national forests besides the Appalachian trail.

Unfortunately, not all the reasons that make the region unique are positive ones. Poverty has been a problem in the Appalachians since it was first recognized as a distinct region. For a brief period of time, residents prospered off the lumber and coal mining industries, but as those industries faded, families became impoverished, and that poverty persisted. The education system in the Appalachians has also suffered as a result, and due to a lack of funding and emphasis on the importance of education, the school systems in the region are often far behind the national trends.

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