The United States of America (U.S.A.) (also referred to as the United States, U.S., or colloquially as America, the States), is a federal republic with a strong democratic tradition in North America that is currently the world's only superpower. The US shares land borders with Canada in the north and Mexico in the south and shares a marine border with Russia in the west. Established in 1776 as a collection of break-away English colonies, the United States has since eclipsed its mother nation and most other nations in terms of relative economic, political, military and - arguably - cultural importance. Some maintain that because of this the United States has often been accused of economic, political, military and cultural imperialism.
|National motto: "E pluribus unum"|
(Latin: "Out of many, one")
- % water
- Total (2000):
July 4, 1776
September 3, 1783
|Currency:||US dollar ($)|
|Time zone:||UTC-5 to UTC-10|
|National anthem:||Star-Spangled Banner|
Main article: History of the United States
Following the European colonization of the Americas, the United States became a federal republic and the world's first modern democracy after its break with Great Britain (1776) and the adoption of a constitution (1789). During the 19th century, many new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. Two of the major traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the American Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Buoyed by victories in World War I and World War II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation-state and only superpower.
The United States of America consists of 50 states, which have limited autonomy.
The government itself consists of three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. The head of the executive branch is the President of the United States of America. The legislative branch consists of the United States Congress, while the United States Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch.
The federal and state government is dominated by just two political parties, the Republicans (center-right) and the Democrats (center-left), although minor party candidates and independents are occasionally elected.
Main article: States of the United States
At the declaration of independence, the United States consisted of 13 states. In the following years, this number has grown steadily due to expansion to the west, conquest and purchase of lands by the American government, and division of existing states to the current number of 50.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
A separate district that is part of no state is formed by the District of Columbia, which contains the nation's capital city.
The states are divided into smaller administrative regions, called counties in most states - exceptions being Alaska (boroughs) and Louisiana (parishes). Counties can include a number of cities and towns, or sometimes just a part of a city.
- American Samoa
- Baker Island (uninhabited)
- Howland Island (uninhabited)
- Jarvis Island (uninhabited)
- Johnston Atoll (uninhabited)
- Kingman Reef (uninhabited)
- Midway Islands
- Navassa Island (uninhabited)
- Northern Mariana Islands
Main article: Geography of the United States
As the world's third largest nation (land area), the United States landscape varies greatly: temperate forestland on the East coast, mangrove forests in Florida, the Great Plains in the centre of the country, the Mississippi-Missouri river system, the Rocky Mountains west of the plains, and deserts west of the Rocky Mountains. Including the arctic regions of Alaska and the volcanic islands of Hawaii only increases the diversity.
Main article: Economy of the United States The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, a large trade deficit, and rapid advances in technology. The American economy can be regarded as the most important in the world. Several countries have coupled their currency with the dollar, or even use it as a currency, and the American stock markets are globally seen as an indicator of world economy.
The country has rich mineral resources, with among others gold, oil and uranium available. Agriculture brings the country among the top producers of, among others, maize, wheat, sugar and tobacco. American industry produces cars, airplanes and electronics. The biggest sector is however service industries; about three-quarters of Americans are employed in that sector.
Main article: Demographics of the United States
Most of the 280 million people currently living in the United States descend from European immigrants that have arrived since the establishment of the first colonies. About 12% (2000 census) of the people are Blacks - preferably called African-Americans - who largely descend from the African slaves that were brought to America. Immigration from Latin America in recent decades has driven a rapid increase in the Hispanic population to a similar level of about 12%, which has also brought increasing the use of the Spanish language in the United States (see Languages in the United States). A third significant minority is the Asian population (3.6%), which is especially present at the West Coast. The native population or Native Americans, such as Indians and Inuit make up less than 1% of the population.
A majority of Americans are Christians, with relatively small but politically significant Jewish and Muslim minorities. Although most American Christians are Protestant, the Catholic church is the group with the greatest number of members; Protestants are divided into a great number of smaller and bigger churches.
Main article: Culture of the United States
American culture has a large influence on the rest of the world, especially the Western world. American music is heard all over the world, American movies and television shows can be seen almost anywhere.
In literature, American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and more recently, Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O'Conner, pioneered the "short story." Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler pioneered gritty detective fiction that has had great influence on other genres and in other countries. After World War I, authors like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald developed new techniques for novels. Other noted American writers include Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Willa Cather.
American music has a long and diverse history; some of the more famous musicians include Billie Holliday, Miles Davis, B. B. King, Johnny Cash, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Kurt Cobain, Willie Nelson, Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Hank Williams, and Ray Charles and Elvis Presley. American inventor Thomas Alva Edison played an important role in the invention of film, and D.W. Griffith pioneered a filmic vocabulary that still dominates. Other famous American film directors include Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, John Ford, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Iconic American actors include Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Robert De Niro and Bette Davis.
Miscellaneous topics Edit
- United States Constitution
- Standard of living in the United_States_of_America
- Currency of the United_States_of_America
- United States Secretary of State
From the CIA World Factbook:
- Geography of the United_States
- Demographics of the United_States
- Government of the United_States
- Economy of the United_States
- Communications in the United_States
- Transportation in the United_States
- Military of the United_States
- Foreign relations of the United_States
- Official website of the United States government - Gateway to governmental sites
- The White House - Official site of the Presidential residence
- Senate.gov - Official site of the United States Senate
- House.gov - Official site of the United States House of Representatives
- SCOTUS - Official site of the Supreme Court of the United States
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