The Balkanized USA

… or the Disunited States of America.

Theorizing how the US would split is something of a fun past-time. After all, it’s not outside within the realm of possibility that the US could one day collapse. It’s happened once before. And it’s affected larger countries, like the Soviet Union. Neil Gaiman, in the novel American Gods, remarked that America was really made of several smaller countries. Valuable insight from a man not born in this country.

Unfortunately, many scenarios are absolutely laughable. Like this map developed by a former KGB agent. Seriously, does anyone living in the US think these divisions are remotely plausible? Whatever the Soviet government was paying Igor Panarin, it was too much.

And there’s also this odd breakdown by Matt Kirkland, which is “dedicated to breaking the US into smaller, more functional nations”.

Or this one by a Turkish citizen who envisions a nation of Afro-Americans on the East Coast and a nation of Native Americans in the Plains region.

There’s the map for the TV show “Jericho,” which sees a pretty firm East-West split (with Texas breaking off… of course.)

The most plausible division came from Joel Garreau in 1981, which splits out the US more along cultural lines. However, I still think he’s overthinking it.

Thus my attempt, one based on nearly zero educational knowledge. Well, beyond visiting 35 of the 50 states pictured here. Fiction writers and game developers, feel free to use my Balkanized USA map as a guideline.

Basic ground rule: I’m not splitting up any State. California could easily be split up into 4 different regions, but doing so would establish a difficult precedent. Isn’t upstate New York a different world than Long Island? How about north and south Missouri? Eastern and Western Washington? I’m keeping state boundaries the same, mainly because it’s easier to color in the borders.

Also: no one region is the true United States. In the Civil War, the North could claim such. Not in this scenario. Why? I don’t want to start a flame war, for one thing. Second, I wouldn’t be able to split the US into as many regions as I could. If any of the regions could legitimately claim to still be the United States, I doubt most would leave. This includes the notoriously rebellious South.


The Northern States – These include most of the States that joined the North during the Civil War. Some scenarios see New England splitting from the rest of the Union, or New York City becoming a city state, or the Midwest forming their own group. For some reason, I just can’t see Chicago disassociating themselves from Boston, or New York being alienated from Milwaukee. Each state is rather pretty independent, yet united in the sense they’re strong manufacturing centers with high population densities.

Missouri was tricky, as it could eventually end up with several of the countries, but I eventually settled on how its major city, St. Louis, as strong ties to the North.

Why the vaguely generic “The Northern States”? Well, sticking to my own rules, I couldn’t call this area the United States, like it was back in the Civil War. I’m sure New Englanders would balk if I called it The Mid-West, and vice versa.

Maybe “Yankeevania”?

Capital: Columbus, OH (mainly for its midpoint location between the East Coast and the Midwestern States).

Dixie — This constitutes most of the Confederate States, minus Texas and Florida and adding former Border States Kentucky.

These states have very strong ties with one another. If Georgia struck out on its own, likely South Carolina would join them in solidarity. Same with Alabama and Mississippi.

I chose “Dixie”, by the way, since Confederate States has racial connotations in some parts (and the idea is that the local politicians would be savvy enough to figure that out). Yeah, the “Dixie” song might be pinpointed by some people out as racist — what being sung from the perspective of a freed slave who reminisces he had it better in The Land of Cotton — but I’m assuming no one really thinks about that.

Capital: Atlanta

The Dominion of the Atlantic — While traditionally Southern, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina have, over the years, moved separately beyond their Southern kin. In the case of Maryland and Virginia, it’s the influence of the DC area, which has populated both states with federal offices. In the case of North Carolina, it’s the diversification of the Piedmont Triad and the Triangle regions, which is bringing in high-tech companies and immigrants. And in the case of Delaware … it sorta shares the Delmarva peninsula with the other two states, so it’s joining ’em.

The region is often called the Mid-Atlantic. I threw Dominion in there because of Virginia’s nickname, “Old Dominion,” and the rather royal sounding names all the states have.

Capital: Washington, DC

Dakota — Originally, I had this region staying with The Northern States (or even the Midamerica region). The nature of these four states are rather distinct: wide-open spaces and small communities with few major city centers (Wyoming being the least populated state in America). Can this region survive on its own? However, looking at it another way, there may be sentiment that, with fewer people, the mainly conservative citizens of this region may be overlooked within another region’s urban-centered politics. Economically, I think it would be similar to Canada: an area rich in natural resources that can be traded to its neighbor countries.

Named after the Dakota Territory that encompassed much of this area.

Capital: Pierre, S.D.

Midamerica — This region contains several key cities that we tend to forget: Denver, Boulder, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Wichita, greater Kansas City, and Omaha. The industry tends heavily toward agriculture, and the population is booming. Politically, the region is conservative. It may tend towards joining the neighbors in Dixie … yet, the people themselves don’t exhibit much Southern culture.

I named this country Midamerica, by the way, because folks in Kansas seem to name EVERYTHING Midamerica this or Midamerica that.

Capital: Oklahoma City

Oregon — a.k.a. The Pacific Northwest. (I didn’t settle on that name, though, since it doesn’t sound quite right for a country. I went with the original Oregon Territory appelation.) Anchored by Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland in the East, and Spokane and Boise in the West. It’s mixed, politically: West Coast is quite liberal, eastern regions are conservative. I really couldn’t see anyone here siding with California (as shown in most scenarios).

Idaho was a bit tricky: culturally, it’s closer to the folk in Dakota … or even Utah to the south. Yet, its major city centers (around Boise) are closer to Washington and Oregon. I imagine Idaho would choose commerce and trade over political solidarity.

Capital: Olympia, WA

Mojave — The region shares traits beyond geographical similarities (i.e., the desert). The area, outside of Sin City, is typically conservative. There is a strong Latino population, mainly in the Border States of Arizona and New Mexico. Plus, the states are caught between California and Texas, two states that would likely overlook the needs of these less populated regions should an alliance be formed. Named after the desert in south Nevada and north Arizona.

Capital: Phoenix, AZ

Separate States

Texas — Someone else said it best: Texas is pretty much the only place where State takes precedence over country. Should the US disintegrate, you just know they’re off on their own.

Capital: Austin (duh).

Florida — While the panhandle folk may be itching to join their brothers in Dixie, the regions of Central and Southern Florida are more culturally similar to their neighbors in the Caribbean.

Capital: Tallahassee.

California — Pretty much one of the world’s largest economies on its own.

Capital: Sacramento.

Utah — Should the US fragment, I imagine the Latter Day Saints would take the opportunity to establish a nation centered around their beliefs, as was the goal when they moved to the region in 1846. Alternate name: Deseret, which I think is from the Book of Mormon.

Capital: Salt Lake City.

Alaska (not pictured) — Potential to merge with nearby regions of Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nanavut (providing the pressures that cause the US to stop existing also affect Canada).

Capital: Juneau.

Hawaii (not pictured) — Would exist as a separate island nation. Think Samoa or Fiji.

Capital: Honolulu.


5 thoughts on “The Balkanized USA

  1. I think thats a fairly realistic break. Many like to but Florida in with the south but Growing up here and living in various areas of the state and the Bahamas over the past nearly 50 years, I am sure it would be its own state and is one of the few that has the resources to be independant directly and be able to use as negotiation fodder which would be needed for any state or group of states becoming a mini nation. I could see the Miami area breaking off but the Keys would want to be a part of or a territory of Florida otherwise Cuba would annex them in a week. For anyone that want to poopoo the idea It has been thought through by academics of various disciplines here:

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