EU vs. EEUU: Parallel States Between America & Europe
With the uncertain fate of the Eurozone in the news recently, I thought it would be interesting to discuss some interesting parallels between Europe and the United States of America. Where the thought of a "United States of Europe" may continue to sound like a fantasy, I think it is interesting to take note of some subtle similarities between states in the EU and the USA (or as our country is known in Spanish, the EEUU).
Of course, there are major differences between Europe and the US -- more than what could be discussed in a mere article. Where one can hear English from coast-to-coast in the US, Europe has a diverse range of languages. Where the US is a melting pot of various cultures, various regions of Europe have their own particular cultural tastes. Even so, one cannot help but notice some parallels worth pondering in both culture and geography between European states and states within the US.
I recently wrote that northern states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota in the US are somewhat analogous (if only in location & climate) to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. (What is even more interesting is that if Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota are equivalent to Scandinavia, then that would make Michigan roughly equivalent to the Baltic states. And that is interesting because where Michigan looks like a left mitten, the Baltic states form the shape of a right mitten!) Anyhow, I thought it would be fun and a bit amusing to shed some light on other various state-parallels that one might perceive between the EU and the US. Let us begin...
1. Italy and Florida. (Italy : Europe :: Florida : US)
Italy and Florida seem to have quite a bit in common. Where historical Italy was made up of various, distinct city-states with their own respective cultures and styles such as Venice, Florence, and Milan, Florida also appears to made up of major cities that could stand alone by themselves. Where Italy had a diverse number of city-states such as Genoa, Mantua, Padua, and Parma among others, Florida also appears to have a substantial number of diverse and beautiful cities that for all intents and purposes can stand on their own culturally. These various Floridian cities include St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Furthermore, like Italy, Florida is situated on a peninsula. In comparing the EU and the US, one might equate the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Mexico. And like Italy, Florida's rich culture has a healthy amount of Spanish influence. One must also remember that like Italy, Florida has a city called "Naples".
2. Germany and Pennsylvania (Germany : Europe :: Pennsylvania : US)
If you had to choose an American equivalent to Germany, the choice would probably be difficult, but it would probably have to be Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day actually began as a Pennsylvanian German holiday, and the Pennsylvanian Dutch are known for having many Oktoberfest celebrations. With a healthy amount of Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, a substantial number of citizens with German roots, and with cities with names like "Harrisburg" and "Pittsburgh" (which even has a football stadium called Heinz Field), Pennsylvania wins the prize for being a viable US equivalent to the EU's Germany.
3. Poland and Ohio (Poland : Europe :: Ohio : US)
I think if only in geographical terms, Ohio appears to be an American mirror in comparison to Poland. Like Poland, Ohio is along a major body of water, and yet its beaches do not seem to be as popular as Florida's or California's. And like Poland, Ohio does not always seem to get the biggest say in the room with respect to politics, economics, and sports despite its relatively sizeable population. And while you're in Ohio, you might even get a taste of some Polish food like pierogis or kielbasa. Both Poland and Ohio seem to have a rich religious heritage that helps to form the backbone of their respective socio-cultural attitudes. Though Poland and Ohio do not always get the most attention they may deserve given their large populations, they both still manage to get their voice heard when it really counts.
4. Spain and "New Spain" (Spain : Europe :: Southwestern US : US)
You can't discuss the history of the US without mentioning Spain for one reason or another. For heaven's sake, the US even has a state called "New Mexico". With states with names like California, Nevada, and Arizona, we could look nowhere else to an American equivalent to Europe's Spain than the Southwestern US. In light of the extensive Spanish influence in the Southwestern US, similarities between Spain and "New Spain" are evident. Even some state flags in the Southwestern US reflect historical Spanish colors. In comparing socio-economic problems in Spain to the US, one cannot help but think of the dire situation in Nevada...which quite ironically is a Spanish word.
5. France and Louisiana (France : Europe :: Louisiana : US)
What would the US be without Mardi Gras in New Orleans every year? To where else can Americans turn to for culinary wonders like gumbo, jambalaya, and etouffee? If you are looking for an American equivalent to France, look no further than Louisiana, or in French, "Louisiane". It may be difficult today to think of the Territory of Louisiana as encompassing a piece of land stretching from modern-day Louisiana to the Canadian border, but at one point in time it was the case. Where American cities like St. Louis, Duquesne, and Detroit reflect French influence in their names, all that is left of the once great piece of land that was the Territory of Louisiana rests in the modern-day State of Louisiana. It is a shame to think so much of the Acadian culture was lost over time, but with hope despite various adversity, Louisiana will retain its French heritage in one form or another for decades to come. It would be a shame if Louisiana one day completely lost its Frenchness.
6. United Kingdom and New England (UK : Europe :: New England : US)
This connection is not too big of a stretch for namesake, but were one to think of a British equivalent in America, it would be hard to pass up the region known as New England. Both the UK and New England are located towards the top corner of their respective regions. Where New England and the UK may have had different historical functions in the US and the Europe, one cannot overlook the UK and New England's historical and expansive influence upon their respective unions. Both the UK and New England are known for their world renowned universities, and both the UK and New England are known for having some pretty good "football" teams. As much as New England may be parallel to the UK, it is hard to dispute the relative equivalence of London and New York in terms of being global financial & cultural centers. I can see how one would analogize the UK in Europe with New York in the US, but in name New England takes precedence.
7. Iceland and Alaska (Iceland : Europe :: Alaska : US)
One cannot help but notice the similarity in relative geography between Iceland and Alaska in terms of the continent/nation with which they are associated. Where Alaska is cut off from the US by land and sea, Iceland is cut off by ocean. Iceland and Alaska have similar near-arctic climates and relatively small populations. Given their locations and the prospect of arctic weather, one thinking about Iceland or Alaska might wonder, "How do people live up there?" Despite relatively remote locations, both Alaska and Iceland are able to garner attention from their respective unions as needed. Where Iceland has struggled greatly in the global financial crisis, Alaska has appeared to hold up well. With this all in mind, Iceland is to Europe as Alaska is to the US.
I'm sure that there are various others that could be mentioned, e.g. that the Canary Islands are to Europe as Hawaii is to the US. The list above is not exhaustive and the abovementioned parallels are by no means conclusive, permanent, or perfect, but I think it is interesting to consider equivalence between states in Europe and states in America. I recall several years ago in a college class when a professor taught us that the powerful EU countries like Germany and France may have wanted countries like Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria to be the European equivalents of Alabama, West Virginia, and Kentucky in the US. In this way, such considerations of equivalence between states in regions may be valid. And even if they are not wholly valid, then at the very least they are a bit thought-provoking, interesting, and amusing.
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