General Question

Blackberry's avatar

What are some reasons why we (humans) populate the coast more than the middle of the country?

Asked by Blackberry (31011points) July 29th, 2010

There’s only one reason I can think of: With the arduous journey across an ocean, people would be extremely tired and not want to go any further once they have reached their destination.

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20 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Commerce. People make a living buying and selling things from each other, the coasts have the action.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

ocean view. simple as that.

tinyfaery's avatar

The ocean is an abundant food source and the weather is often temperate along the coast. I always say I have no idea why some people stopped in the middle of the country (USA). One year with that weather and I would have kept heading west.

Heroworks's avatar

The ocean’s beauty and vastness has captured mankind’s attention for centuries.

deni's avatar

because so many goods travel by ocean. ports. ports are always bustling towns.

Brian1946's avatar

Perhaps because the ocean gives coastal cities an additional medium for international transportation, therefore giving them an additional area of commerce, and therefore another major source of jobs.

When a city such as New York or Los Angeles has a harbor that can accommodate transoceanic ships, then it’s going to have that additional source of commerce from aquatic recreation, tourism, shipping, and in some cities like Boston, ship maintenance.

Afos22's avatar

Many more resources, and it makes trade easier.

Cruiser's avatar

Surfing, beach volleyball, bikinis and fish boils.

truecomedian's avatar

Path of least resistance.

wundayatta's avatar

In the US, there is a demographic trend where people are leaving the center of the country and moving to the Coasts. The movement may also be towards cities—or metropolitan areas around cities.

I think it has to do with a lot of factors. Certainly if you don’t like strict religion, you’ll want to move away from areas where that predominates. If you are a member of a stigmatized group—like homosexuals or mentally ill, you’ll want to move to places where there are more people like you, or where you can blend in to the background more because there are more people.

I think the young tend to want more excitement, and move to cities or coasts to find it. They may return later on in life when they want to slow down. Not sure. There’s also the liberal factor. The coasts tend to be more liberal and more supportive of people of all kinds. The center of the country is more homogeneous. So perhaps liberals are moving away from their conservative roots to places where they are the majority.

In any case, it’s been a steady trend, although it may have slowed lately with the poor economy, or maybe as people’s values change. And like any trend, it can change. With more and more immigrants settling in center states, diversity there is rising. Maybe that will make things more friendly for those who are different. Or for liberals.

perspicacious's avatar

People like being near the water. That’s it.

Ponderer983's avatar

It all started when ships were the major way to transport goods. People worked, and therefore lived, around port towns because back then, we didn’t have the complex transportation systems we have today. No cars, therefore no highway, and no way to get too far inland. Railways began to expand the nation by being able to more efficiently brings goods from the ports to more remote areas. It wasn’t until the more widespread use of cars that outward spread of the populace really began to happen. More intricate highway systems and the trucking industry. When you look back in history, all the major cities with the most people were along the coast and waterways that led to the ocean. It was the ease of it all.

Now, the foundation has been set. Because of this, these areas are still home to the most major cities in the world. It has become more about the ease and convenience of what is available as these cities have had the most time to develop. People also enjoy water and serenity it brings – the calming sound and movement of the waves. There is also a great transcendentalist quality about it – thinking about how vast it is and how many secrets still lie in its depths.

tan235's avatar

water, we need water – maybe it’s some amphibian recessive gene within us, but humans needs water, we need to see it, drink it, bathe in it.
water holy water.

kevbo's avatar

In permaculture, there is a tenet that life is abundant at the “edge”—where land meets water in it’s many permutations—as well as other forms of edges.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think @jaytkay is right. Historically, human populations have tended to concentrate near water, near the oceans and near rivers because access to water waterways has and is still necessary for trade and commerce, for agriculture, for subsistence and commercial fishing and for industry. But the idea that people_ most_ people who live near oceans and rivers live there just because they are nice places to live is just wrong, I think; not that they aren’t nice places to live, and yes, a certain percentage of people live in those places because they are nice and because they can afford the nicer aspects of that lifestyle.

Nullo's avatar

It would be more accurate to say that people flock to cities (and have for the last few millennia, and that a number of large cities sit on the coasts. This they do in order to take advantage of seagoing trade.
San Diego, for instance, sprang up as a trade center, where cowhides were exchanged for goods made in New England. Richard Henry Dana Jr. in his autobiography, Two Years Before the Mast commented that the “Californians,” having no industry to speak of, would often end up buying back their cowhides in the form of footwear and other leather products.

laureth's avatar

…and when there builds a mass of people on the coast for trade, there are (by necessity, pretty much) many ways of life there. This diversity brings a kind of culture and diversity that you just don’t find where people are more homogenous. And that diversity and culture attracts even more people. It’s a circle like that.

Blackberry's avatar

Great answers, everyone. I don’t know why I couldn’t think of them lol. Thanks.

Nullo's avatar

It’s also worth noting that there’s a sort of momentum at work, too. Once the cities hit critical mass, they’ll just keep drawing in more people, building more infrastructure, and generally get bigger.

RocketGuy's avatar

@wundayatta I like your comment about mentally ill people living on the coast – I live in the Bay Area.

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