Yankees vs. Southerners: 15 Key Cultural Divides

The rich culture of the USA has distinct differences when it comes to social norms, heritage, and political views between the North and the South. From their unique tastes in food to their approaches to life, here are 15 key cultural divides between the regions.


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Known for comfort food, the South is famous for whipping up dishes such as fried chicken, cornbread, and collard greens, and Forbes says, “The South continually steps to the gastronomic forefront with highly imaginative recipes and creative culinary techniques.” Northern food, on the other hand, tends to take influence from cultures such as Italian and Irish cuisine.

Language and Accents

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Slow, drawn-out vowels are a distinct feature of the southern accent, and you’ll hear more phrases such as “y’all” and “bless your heart.” Northern accents, such as the New York or Boston accents, are typically faster-paced, with expressions such as “you guys” and “wicked.” 

Attitudes Toward Time

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Northerners are typically seen as hurried and time-efficient, especially in urban centers like New York City. Southerners, on the other hand, are often perceived as having a more laid-back approach to time, valuing a slower pace of life. This is also replicated in businesses, as southern companies have more flexible hours.


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The South is characterized by warmth, friendliness, and a strong sense of community. According to Southern Living, kindness is important to southerners, and the phrase “There are no strangers, just friends we haven’t met yet” is commonly used. In the North, interactions are often more direct and less formal.


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With cities like New York and Boston, the North is more urbanized, and these areas play a central role in the region’s lifestyle. The South has a mix of urban and rural areas, with cities like Atlanta and rural areas that maintain a distinct southern culture.

Sports and Recreation

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College football is a significant aspect of southern culture, while professional sports teams dominate in the North. The weather also plays a role in sporting culture, as the warmer climate of the South allows for year-round golf and fishing, unlike the North, which tends to see seasonal sports activities.

Historical Perspectives

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The history of southern America is deeply influenced by the Civil War, and this has shaped the regional identity and heritage we know today. Southern landmarks often commemorate events of the war. In the North, the historical narrative focuses on industrialization and immigration, and landmarks relate to the American Revolution and early U.S. history.

Education and Academia

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Historic universities such as the University of Virginia can be found in the South, while the North is known for its Ivy League institutions, such as Harvard. In the past, there have been disparities in educational achievements and literacy rates between the regions, with the North typically having higher rates, although this gap has been narrowing.

Economic Industries

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The northern economy is historically industrial, with a strong emphasis on finance, technology, and manufacturing. In comparison, the southern economy has traditionally been agricultural; however, it has diversified in recent decades, and the National Review says, “There are now roughly the same number of southerners employed in manufacturing as there are midwesterners.”

Music and the Arts

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Southern America is the birthplace of musical genres like country, blues, and jazz, which reflect its rich cultural heritage, and art in this region often tells stories of historical and cultural importance. In the North, there is a strong classical and Broadway music tradition, and the art scene reflects diversity and more contemporary themes.

Political Beliefs and Voting Patterns

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Generally speaking, the South has leaned more conservative, particularly in rural areas. This region has had a strong affiliation with the Republican Party in recent decades. The North, on the other hand, is more widely known for its liberal beliefs and generally favors the Democratic Party.

Social Norms and Values

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While the North tends to be characterized as more progressive when it comes to things like LGBTQ+ rights and environmentalism, the South is generally viewed as more conservative, with a strong emphasis on religion. Pew Research Center found that “U.S. adults tend to be more religious, on a number of measures, in the South.”

Family Dynamics and Community

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Families in the South often have deep-rooted traditions and a strong sense of heritage, which is reflected in community gatherings and events. In the North, however, community involvement is more likely to be centered around social causes rather than traditional ties.


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Warm most of the year, the southern climate has influenced the region’s lifestyle, and the longer growing season impacts agricultural practices and local cuisine. The North, on the other hand, experiences four distinct seasons, which affect its agricultural output, energy consumption, and recreational activities.

Attitudes Toward Change and Tradition

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The South is often seen as more resistant to change, valuing tradition and history, while the North is typically perceived as more adaptable and forward-looking. This difference can be seen in the rate of technology adoption, where the North is generally quicker to embrace new innovations, while the South maintains a stronger attachment to historical practices.

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