The United States of America, referred to as just the United States, USA, US, or America, is a federal constitutional republic made up of 50 states and is located primarily in North America, where 48 continental states are located. The United States lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and is bordered by Mexico to the south and Canada to the North. Alaska, another state is located in the northwestern part of the North American continent, though only attached to Canada, not the United States. Hawaii is an archipelago, and is the fiftieth state. It is located within the mid-Pacific Ocean. The United States also has a number of territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, including the United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and Midway Islands.
According to a recent reading by the United States Census Bureau, the resident population of the United States is 312,814,668 (December 2011). There is also an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living inside the United States. Throughout the twentieth century, the population in the United States nearly quadrupled from the population size since 1900. It is the third most populated country in the world (China and India being the first two). It is also the only industrialized nation around the world where large increases in population are routinely expected.
The population in the United States is known for being extremely diverse. The largest racial group in the United States is Caucasian. Three of the largest ancestry groups are English Americans, Irish Americans, and German Americans. African Americans like up the largest racial minority in the country as well as another one of the largest ancestry groups. The second largest racial minority are Asian Americans (mainly Chinese and Filipino).
While each of the fifty states that make up the United States has its own capital city, the capital for the United States as a whole is Washington DC. It is located between the states of Virginia and Maryland. It was made the capital of the United States in July 1790 when Congress approved the establishment of national capital that would remain permanent. The name of the capital was derived from George Washington, who was the first president of the United States.
The nation’s capital is home to all three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial – of the United States government, as well as national embassies from more than 175 different countries around the world. Washington DC is the headquarters to a number of global headquarters, including the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, and the Pan American Health Organization. It is also home to a large number of non-profit organizations, trade unions, lobbying groups, and various professional associations.
Washington DC remains a very popular destination for travelers from all around the globe. The most well known symbol of Washington DC is of course the White House, but it is also known for a number of other important historical sites, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the United States Capitol building, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as the looming Washington Monument. It is also home to a number of world famous museums, including the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Language and Culture
Just about all Americans in the United States speak English. There are a variety of regional accents depending on where people visit, such as New York City, New England, the South (including Texas), and the upper Midwest. These regional dialects and accents normally do not pose any kind of problem to a visitor. Visitors who come into the United States are expected to understand and speak English. While some Americans are familiar with French or Spanish as it is taught in high school and university, many are not fluent in a second language. Spanish is the primary secondary language in the United States as many states like Florida, Texas, and California have large Spanish-speaking populations. However, unless a visitor is traveling in an area heavily populated by immigrants who speak the same language, English is required to get by when traveling through the country.
The United States is a multicultural nation and home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, each holding their own values and traditions. Aside from small populations of Native Americans, nearly the entire American population has immigrated to the United States over the last five centuries. American culture is seen as a type of Western Culture derived from European immigrant traditions and influences. The culture in the United States is often considered the most individualistic found anywhere in the world.
When it comes to popular media, the United States is credited with a number of films, television series, and music. Everyone around the world knows of Hollywood and all the major film studios. When it comes to music, the United States created a number of popular music genres, including jazz, rock and roll, folk revival, house music, and country music.
In the world of literature, eleven Americans have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner are often credited as two of the most influential writers that came out of the twentieth century. Literary genres like hardboiled crime fiction and the western were developed in the United States.
One last popular example of American culture can be seen in the sports. Baseball, since the latter half of the nineteenth century, has been known as the national sport. College football and basketball are also extremely popular. American invented sports games include snowboarding, volleyball, and cheerleading.
The United States is marked by a capitalist mixed economy fueled by a well-developed infrastructure, lots of natural resources, and a high level of productivity. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) listed the United States as having a GDP of $15.1 trillion, which makes up approximately 22 percent of the gross world product in regards to market exchange rates, and more than 19 percent of the gross world product in terms of purchasing power parity.
The United States is marked as the largest importer of various goods and the third largest global exporter. The United States trade deficit by 2010 stood at $634.9 billion. The countries that are the top trading partners with the United States are Canada, Mexico, Germany, China, and Japan. Oil was listed in 2010 as the largest commodity to be imported into the country, and transportation equipment was the largest export for the country.
The country that holds a majority of the public debt in the United States is China.
Because of the sheer size of the United States, with numerous influential cities, the country as a whole is a primary tourist destination for millions around the world every year. Tourism is an extremely viable economic industry in the United States. Each destination in every state offers something a bit different in terms of culture, food, entertainment, and attractions. Many people enjoy visiting the United States because of its history, the cuisine, the friendly people, and the amazing culture that it offers all who step foot onto the nation.
The United States is the type of country that can be visited at any time during the year. Every season brings it own unique, exciting charms. The spring and summer months are often considered the best time to visit the United States, especially in the south and around the coastal areas. The temperatures are quite warm and there are numerous festivals and outdoor activities. It is also a perfect time for people to enjoy outdoor activities, walking around major cities, or taking in an outdoor sporting event, such as baseball, one of the major pastimes in the United States. However, in the winter, parts of the country turn into a winter wonderland, providing the perfect conditions for those who enjoy winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding.
While there are numerous places to visit in the United States, here is just a few of the most popular destinations in the country:
New York City, New York. New York City, often referred to as just NYC or “The Big Apple,” is the most populated city in the United States with more than eight million people. Divided into five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, it is an international hub for food, culture, media, research, art, fashion, trade, and finance. It has the largest and most well-recognized skyline in the world. It is also the home of the Yankees baseball team.
Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles is known as the “City of Angels” or just LA. It is the largest city in the state of California and the second largest in the United States in terms of its population. It is a very important center for business, culture, international trade, and media. It is also the center of the global entertainment industry.
Orlando, Florida. Orlando is very well known for being the home of Walt Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studies. It is also known for a number of dinner attractions, including Medieval Times, and smaller theme parks like Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not.
Boston, Massachusetts. Boston is one of the most influential, wealthy, and historical cities in the United States. It contains a number of historical sites and museums. The Freedom Trail provides a great walk to some of the most historic sites in the city. There is also Fenway Park – home to the Red Sox.
Chicago, Illinois. For the home of jazz music and the blues, go to Chicago. It is also the heart of comedy and the birthplace of the skyscraper. It is the center of the Midwest region and known for its world-class museums, parks, and modern architecture.
Las Vegas, Nevada. Known to most as “Sin City” or the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas is known for the numerous casinos, luxury shopping options, and of course, a plethora of casinos where anyone can try to discover Lady Luck at a slot machine or poker table.
San Francisco, California. Known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco is full of lush gardens and parks, and numerous cultures that can be spotted clearly in all the cuisine options lining the street. It is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in all of the United States.
The United States is listed as the oldest surviving federation in the world. It is a representative democracy as well as constitutional republic. The United States Constitution defines the system as one regulated by a system of check and balances, which means there is a separation of powers. The Constitution is the primary legal document for the entire country. There are three levels of government – the federal level, state level, and local level.
The federal government is divided into three distinct branches – the executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch is the President of the United States, who is also the commander-in-chief of the United States military. The latest elections were held in 2008 and Democratic candidate Barak Obama was listed as the forty-fourth president to the United States. The president also has the power to veto any legislative bills prior to becoming law, and with the approval of the Senate, can appoint Cabinet members. The legislative branch is the bicameral Congress, which is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Legislative branch creates federal laws, approves treaties, declares war, and has the power to remove members of the government, known as impeachment. The judicial branch is made up of the federal courts and the Supreme Court.
There are 435 members of the House of Representative. Each member has a two year term and is appointed by each state. The Senate consists of 100 members, with each state having two members. They are elected for six year terms. The president is elected to a four year term and has a two year term limit. Rather than being elected via direct vote by the citizens, the president is elected indirectly via an Electoral College system.
The responsibilities and the structure of the federal government are outlined within the Constitutions text. The first ten amendments of the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights and provide freedoms such as the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and freedom from the application of cruel and unusual punishment.
The United States is defined by a two-party system for a majority of its history. There are primary elections to select the major party nominees, followed by a general election. The two major parties in the United States are Republican Party (established in 1854) and the Democratic Party (established in 1824). The Republican Party is considered the conservative party, maintaining a center-right stance, while the Democratic Party is considered the liberal party, taking a center-left stance. In common jargon, “blue states” are the one that are categorized as being democratic in nature, while “red states” are those states that are categorized as being republican in nature.
The United States maintains a lot of political influence over the rest of the world. It has a permanent seat in the Security Council of the United Nations, giving it veto power. It is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations, and is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as the G8 and the G20. Just about all the countries in the world maintain diplomatic relations with the United States aside from the Republic of China, Bhutan, Cuba, Iran, and North Korea. The country has especially strong ties with the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, and Israel.