Variance in Topography by US State

State Similarity Index rubric, Geography category, topography

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on geography. 10% of a state’s geography score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index score) is based on a state’s topography. The following factors were included in the calculation:

Mountainous Land

Although West Virginia does not have the highest mountains in the United States, it does have the highest percentage of mountainous land in the country. The state is covered by the Appalachian Mountains. Hawaii is the second most mountainous state. On the other end of the spectrum, the state with the highest percentage of flat land is Florida. The state was primarily shaped by sedimentation over time. As a result, its landmass is relatively young and composed of mostly flat terrain, with large areas of coastal plains and wetlands.

Source: Geographical Review

States were grouped by percentage of mountainous land:
44.5-48.5, 48.5-52.5, 52.5-56.5, 56.5-60.5, 60.5-64.5, 64.5-68.5, 68.5-72.5, 72.5-76.5, 76.5-80.5, 80.5-84.5, 84.5-88.5

Elevation Range

Alaska has the biggest difference between its high point and its low point, since it has the tallest mountain in the United States, Denali, but it also borders the Pacific Ocean. States in the western portion of the country tend to have higher mountains and therefore a bigger elevation range from their high point to their low point. Florida is not only the flattest state, but it also has the lowest elevation range as well. Its highest point is just 100 feet above sea level.

Source: Statista

States were grouped by elevation range in meters:
0-450, 450-900, 900-1800, 1800-2700, 2700-4500, 4500-6300

Average Elevation

Colorado has the highest average elevation in the country at 6,800 feet above sea level. However, Wyoming, a bordering state has a similar elevation. States in the Rocky Mountains have the highest averages. Delaware as the lowest average elevation. It is one of the smallest states and most of its land is close to the coastline. It is important to note that states like Nebraska and Kansas are quite flat, but they still have higher average elevations than many mountainous states like Alaska and West Virginia.

Source: Statista

States were grouped by average elevation in meters:
0-100, 100-200, 200-400, 400-800, 800-1600, 1600-3200

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