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The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, 326 Indian reservations, and some minor possessions. At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million square kilometers), it is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area. The United States shares significant land borders with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south as well as limited maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, and Russia. With a population of more than 331 million people, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago, and European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Disputes with Great Britain over taxation and political representation led to the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which established the nation's independence. In the late 18th century, the U.S. began expanding across North America, gradually obtaining new territories, sometimes through war, frequently displacing Native Americans, and admitting new states; by 1848, the United States spanned the continent. Slavery was legal in the southern United States until the second half of the 19th century, when the American Civil War led to its abolition. The Spanish–American War and World War I established the U.S. as a world power, a status confirmed by the outcome of World War II. During the Cold War, the United States fought the Korean War and the Vietnam War but avoided direct military conflict with the Soviet Union. The two superpowers competed in the Space Race, culminating in the 1969 spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. The Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991 ended the Cold War, leaving the United States as the world's sole superpower.
The United States is a federal republic and a representative democracy with three separate branches of government, including a bicameral legislature. It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, NATO, and other international organizations. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Considered a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, its population has been profoundly shaped by centuries of immigration. The U.S. ranks high in international measures of economic freedom, quality of life, education, and human rights; it has low levels of perceived corruption. However, the country has been criticized for inequality related to race, wealth, and income; use of capital punishment; high incarceration rates; and lack of universal health care.
The United States is a highly developed country, accounts for approximately a quarter of global GDP, and is the world's largest economy by GDP at market exchange rates. By value, the United States is the world's largest importer and second-largest exporter of goods. Although its population is only 4.2% of the world's total, it holds 29.4% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share held by any country. Making up more than a third of global military spending, it is the foremost military power in the world and internationally a leading political, cultural, and scientific force.
The history of the United States is what happened in the past in the United States, a country in North America.
Native Americans lived in the Americas for thousands of years. English people in 1607 went to the place now called Jamestown, Virginia. Other European settlers went to the colonies, mostly from England and later Great Britain. France, Spain, and the Netherlands also colonized North America. In 1775, a war between the thirteen colonies and Britain began when the colonists were upset over paying taxation to their government in the UK, but were not being given any chance to vote in the UK/British elections, to contribute to how that money was spent.
Just after dawn on April 19, 1775, the British attempted to disarm the Massachusetts militia at Concord, Massachusetts[source?], this beginning the war with the "Shot Heard Round the World." On July 4, 1776, Founding Fathers wrote the United States Declaration of Independence. They won the Revolutionary War and started a new country. They signed the constitution in 1787 and the Bill of Rights in 1791. General George Washington, who had led the war, became its first president. During the 19th century, the United States gained much more land in the West and began to become industrialized. In 1861, several states in the South attempted to leave the United States to start a new country called the Confederate States of America. This caused the American Civil War. After the war, Immigration resumed. Some Americans became very rich in this Gilded Age, and the country developed one of the largest economies in the world.
In the early 20th century, the United States became a world power, fighting in World War I and World War II. Between the wars, there was an economic boom called the Roaring Twenties, when many people became richer, and a bust, called the Great Depression, when most were poorer. The Great Depression ended with World War II.
The United States and the Soviet Union entered the Cold War. This included wars in Korea and Vietnam. During this time, African-Americans, Chicanos, and women sought more rights. In the 1970s and 1980s, the United States started to make fewer things in factories. The country then went through the worst recession it had since the Great Depression. In the late 1980s, the Cold War ended, helping the United States out of recession. The Middle East became more important in American foreign policy, especially after the September 11 attacks in 2001. In the 2010s, Barack Obama's presidency helped many domestic problems in the country such as the auto business and healthcare coverage. After Obama, the country saw a rise in populist politics with the presidency of Donald Trump. In 2020, the country oversaw the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest over racial justice and disputes over the 2020 election results which led to violent reactions.
The 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia occupy a combined area of 3,119,885 square miles (8,080,470 km2). Of this area, 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,940 km2) is contiguous land, composing 83.65% of total U.S. land area. Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, is 10,931 square miles (28,311 km2) in area. The five populated but unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands together cover 9,185 square miles (23,789 km2). Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada.
The United States is the world's third- or fourth-largest nation by total area (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and nearly equal to China. The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted, and how the total size of the United States is measured.
The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by a highland region in the southeast.
The Rocky Mountains, west of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, peaking around 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado.Farther west are the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahua and Mojave.The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast, both ranges reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States are in the state of California,and only about 84 miles (135 km) apart.At an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190.5 m), Alaska's Denali is the highest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south.The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of Florida are tropical, as well as its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. States bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur in the country, mainly in Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South.Overall, the United States receives more high-impact extreme weather incidents than any other country in the world.
Government and politics
The United States is a federal republic of 50 states, a federal district, five territories and several uninhabited island possessions.It is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a federal republic and a representative democracy "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law." Since 2015, the U.S. has ranked 25th on the Democracy Index, and is described as a "flawed democracy".On Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, its public sector position deteriorated from a score of 76 in 2015 to 69 in 2019.
In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The local government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district.
The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document.The Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One protects the right to the writ of habeas corpus. The Constitution has been amended 27 times;the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review, and any law can be voided if the courts determine that it violates the Constitution. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803)in a decision handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall.
The federal government comprises three branches:
Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse,and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law (subject to congressional override), and appoints the members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional.
The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population. Each state then draws single-member districts to conform with the census apportionment. The District of Columbia and the five major U.S. territories each have one member of Congress—these members are not allowed to vote.
The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one-third of Senate seats are up for election every two years. The District of Columbia and the five major U.S. territories do not have senators.The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice. The president is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia.The Supreme Court, led by the chief justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $22.7 trillion constitutes 24% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 16% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity.In October 2021 the United States had a national debt of $28.8 trillion.
The United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total U.S. trade deficit was $635 billion.Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and the European Union are its top trading partners.
From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the G7.The country ranks fifth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and seventh in GDP per capita at PPP. The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency.
In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy.While its economy has reached a post-industrial level of development, the United States remains an industrial power.In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of 154.1 million people (50%). With 21.2 million people, the public sector is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. It has a smaller welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than most other high-income countries.
The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation and is one of a few countries in the world without paid family leave as a legal right.Some 74% of full-time American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same benefits.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported 331,449,281 residents as of April 1, 2020.This figure, like most official data for the United States as a whole, excludes the five unincorporated territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands) and minor island possessions. According to the Bureau's U.S. Population Clock, on January 28, 2021, the U.S. population had a net gain of one person every 100 seconds, or about 864 people per day.The United States is the third most populous nation in the world, after China and India. In 2020, the median age of the United States population was 38.5 years.
In 2018, there were almost 90 million immigrants and U.S.-born children of immigrants in the United States, accounting for 28% of the overall U.S. population.The United States has a diverse population; 37 ancestry groups have more than one million members.White Americans of European ancestry, mostly German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish and French,including White Hispanic and Latino Americans from Latin America, form the largest racial group, at 73.1% of the population. African Americans constitute the nation's largest racial minority and third-largest ancestry group, and are around 13% of the total U.S. population.Americans are the country's second-largest racial minority (the three largest Asian ethnic groups are Chinese, Filipino, and Indian).
In 2017, out of the U.S. foreign-born population, some 45% (20.7 million) were naturalized citizens, 27% (12.3 million) were lawful permanent residents, 6% (2.2 million) were temporary lawful residents, and 23% (10.5 million) were unauthorized immigrants.Among current living immigrants to the U.S., the top five countries of birth are Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and El Salvador. Until 2017, the United States led the world in refugee resettlement for decades, admitting more refugees than the rest of the world combined.
About 82% of Americans live in urban areas, including suburbs;about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000. In 2008, 273 incorporated municipalities had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four cities had over two million (namely New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston).Many U.S. metropolitan populations are growing rapidly, particularly in the South and West.
As of 2018, 52% of Americans age 15 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 32% had never been married.As of 2020, the total fertility rate stood at 1.64 children per woman.In 2013, the average age at first birth was 26, and 41% of births were to unmarried women. In 2019, the U.S. had the world's highest rate (23%) of children living in single-parent households; the rates in Canada and Mexico were 15% and 7%, respectively.
The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values.Aside from the Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Native Alaskan populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors immigrated or were imported as slaves within the past five centuries.Mainstream American culture is a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by slaves from Africa.More recent immigration from Asia and especially Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics.
Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism,as well as a unifying belief in an "American creed" emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government.Americans are extremely charitable by global standards: according to a 2006 British study, Americans gave 1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied.
The American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants. Whether this perception is accurate has been a topic of debate.While mainstream culture holds that the United States is a classless society,identify significant differences between the country's social classes, affecting socialization, language, and values.Americans tend to greatly value socioeconomic achievement, but being ordinary or average is also generally seen as a positive attribute.
Statue of Liberty in New York
Mount Rushmore in Keystone
The White House in Washington