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By the Numbers: America’s Land Usage

National  + Healthcare  | 

As a nation with 48 contiguous states, America encompasses 1.9 billion acres of land. So, how do Americans use their land to generate wealth?

Between real estate in urban centers and expansive farm lands, the data collected from surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies can be pieced together state-by-state to give an overall view of how land usage helps to power the economy.

Here’s some interesting takeaways, by the numbers:

  • If put together, cropland would take up more than a fifth of the contiguous states
  • The largest land-use type is for pastures, spanning more than 1/3 of the United States
  • All of the country’s cities and towns would fit in the Northeast
  • Four out of five Americans live, work, and play in urban areas, yet urban land makes up just 3.6% of the country
  • At an average of one million additional acres a year, the U.S. is becoming more urbanized
  • Two million acres is dedicated to golf courses, three million is airports, and 25 million  is taken up by defense
  • One-fifth of the land is agricultural, yet the land that is used to supply food to the population is only the size of Indiana, Illinois and half of Iowa combined. The rest is for ethanol production, exports, and livestock feed
  • Despite a trade surplus, America imports a lot of its produce from neighboring countries like Canada and Mexico
  • Since 2008, 100 of the largest private landowners have increased their holdings from 28 million acres to 40 million

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