United States

Table of Contents

United States (USA / US)

The United States of America (USA or U.S.A.), commonly known as the United States (US or U.S.) or America, is a country primarily located in North America, between Canada and Mexico. It is a liberal democracy and republic of 50 federated states, a federal capital district (Washington, D.C.), and 326 Indian reservations that overlap with state boundaries. Outside the union of states, it asserts sovereignty over five major unincorporated island territories and various uninhabited islands. The country has the world’s third-largest land area, largest maritime exclusive economic zone, and the third-largest population, with over 334 million people. The federal government uses a presidential system with three separate branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

American territory was first settled by Paleo-Indians who migrated across the Bering land bridge over 12,000 years ago. Colonization by the British began in 1607. Thirteen colonies eventually rebelled against the British Crown over taxation and political representation, declaring independence on July 4, 1776. Their victory in the American Revolutionary War (1775–83) resulted in a confederation of states before the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified. The young nation continued to acquire neighboring territories and spanned North America by the late 1840s. Longstanding disagreements over slavery led to the secession of the southern Confederate States of America, which were defeated by the remaining Union in the American Civil War (1861–65). Slavery was abolished, but discriminatory laws persisted in the South. By 1900, rapid industrialization established the United States as a great power and the world’s largest economy. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States joined the Allies of World War II. After their victory, it competed against the Soviet Union for dominance in nuclear and conventional weaponry, ideology, and international influence during the Space Race and Cold War. Many racist practices in the country were overturned in the 1960s, and U.S. astronauts became the first humans to land on the Moon in 1969. The nation emerged as the world’s sole superpower after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The United States accounts for about 25% of the global economy and 30% of global wealth. It has the world’s largest nominal GDP and ranks high in measures of income, wealth, economic competitiveness, productivity, innovation, human rights, and higher education. The country is home to globally important industries in aerospace and defense, automobiles, energy, entertainment, finance, healthcare, and information technology. The United States is a founding member of the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of American States, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

United States Etymology

Diving into the roots of the United States’ name is like flipping through the pages of a well-worn history book, where each name and term carries the weight of stories untold. The name “United States” itself whispers tales of unity and independence, emerging from the early days of rebellion and the forging of a new nation. It’s a name that stands as a testament to the unyielding spirit of a country that decided its destiny would be one of together-standing states, united under a single banner of freedom and democracy.

The term “United States” was first coined in the Declaration of Independence, a groundbreaking document that, in 1776, announced the thirteen colonies’ break from British rule. Imagine the scene: a group of determined individuals, ready to change the course of history, choosing a name that would encapsulate their vision for a federated republic. This was no small feat; it was the beginning of a new era. The choice of “United States” underscored the ideal of states united in purpose yet sovereign in governance, a concept revolutionary at the time.

Fast forward through the corridors of time, and the etymology of “United States” continues to resonate with people worldwide. It’s more than just a geographical descriptor; it’s a symbol of unity, diversity, and the endless possibilities that emerge when people come together for a common cause. As we talk about the United States, we’re not just referring to a country on the map. We’re talking about an idea, a dream woven into the very fabric of its name. It’s a reminder that unity isn’t just found in the pages of history books but in the ongoing story of a nation continually striving towards its founding ideals.

The earliest documented usage of the term “United States of America” dates back to a letter penned on January 2, 1776, by Stephen Moylan, an aide to General George Washington, to Joseph Reed, Washington’s aide-de-camp. Moylan articulated his intention to travel “with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain” to solicit aid in the Revolutionary War endeavor. The phrase made its public debut in an anonymous essay published in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg on April 6, 1776.

By June 1776, the name “United States of America” had surfaced in preliminary versions of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, crafted by Founding Father John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. Additionally, it prominently featured in the Declaration of Independence, primarily authored by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

Indigenous Peoples

Cliff Palace, built by Ancestral Puebloans in present-day Montezuma County, Colorado, between c. 1200 and 1275
Cliff Palace, built by Ancestral Puebloans in present-day Montezuma County, Colorado, between c. 1200 and 1275

The earliest settlers of North America migrated from Siberia, traversing the Bering land bridge around 12,000 years ago. The emergence of the Clovis culture around 11,000 BC marked the beginning of widespread cultural development in the region. As time progressed, indigenous societies in North America flourished, with some, like the Mississippian culture, advancing in agriculture, architecture, and societal complexity. Diverse indigenous groups such as the Algonquian peoples, Ancestral Puebloans, and the Iroquois thrived across what is now the United States, with population estimates before European arrival ranging from 500,000 to nearly 10 million.

Capital: Washington, D.C.

United states flag
United states flag
Coat of arms of United States
Coat of arms of United States

Motto

Other Traditional Mottos

In God We Trust

  • “E pluribus unum” (Latin)
  • “Out of many, one”
  • “Annuit cœptis” (Latin)
  • “Providence favors our undertakings”
  • “Novus ordo seclorum” (Latin)
  • “New order of the ages”

Capital

Map ID

Washington, D.C.

38°53′N 77°1′W

Largest City

Map ID

 New York City

40°43′N 74°0′W

Official Languages

None at the Federal Level

National Language

English

Ethnic By Race (2020)

White

Black

Asian

Native American

Pacific Islander

Two or more races

other

61.6%

12.4%

6.0%

1.1%

0.2%

10.2%

8.4%

Ethnic By origin (2020)

Non-Hispanic or Latino

Hispanic or Latino

81.3%

18.7%

Religion (2022)

70% Christianity
34% Protestantism
23% Catholicism
2% Mormonism
11% other Christian
21% unaffiliated
2% Judaism
6% other religion
1% unanswered

Demonym(s)

American

Government

  • President
  • Vice President
  • House Speaker
  • Chief Justice
  • Federal Presidential Republic
  • Joe Biden
  • Kamala Harris
  • Mike Johnson
  • John Roberts

Legislature

  • Upper house
  • Lower house

 Congress

  • Senate
  • House of Representatives

Independence from Great Britain

Revolution

Declaration

Confederation

Recognized

Constitution

Last Amendment

March 22, 1765

July 4, 1776

March 1, 1781

September 3, 1783

June 21, 1788

May 5, 1992

Total  Area

Total Area

Water (%)

Land Area

3,796,742 sq mi

9,833,520 km2

7.0 % (2018)

3,531,905 sq mi (9,147,590 km2)

Population

2023 Estimate

2020 Census

Density

334,914,895

331,449,281

87/sq mi (33.6/km2)

GDP (PPP) – 2023

Total

Per Capita

Increase $26.950 Trillion

Increase $80,412

GDP (nominal) – 2023

Total

Per Capita

Gini (2020)

HDI (2021)

Increase $26.950 Trillion

Increase $80,412

39.4 Medium

0.921 Very High

Currency

U.S. dollar ($) (USD)

Time zone

UTC−4 to −12, +10, +11 , UTC−4 to −10

Date Format

Driving side

Calling code

ISO 3166 code

Internet TLD

mm/dd/yyyy

right

+1

US

.us

Oh, the rich tapestry of the United States isn’t just about the bustling cities or the technological advancements that catch the world’s eye. It’s deeply rooted in the vibrant cultures and histories of the Indigenous peoples. These groups have been the original stewards of the land long before the Mayflower even hit Plymouth Rock. With a legacy that stretches back thousands of years, these communities have maintained their traditions, languages, and practices against all odds. It’s like they’ve woven an intricate web of stories and knowledge that’s as vast as the American landscape itself.

Diving into the diversity among these communities, it’s like opening a book with endless chapters. From the Navajo in the Southwest, with their incredible weaving and silverwork, to the Iroquois Confederacy in the Northeast, known for their democratic governance system that, believe it or not, influenced the U.S. Constitution. Each community offers a unique lens through which to view the American story, a narrative enriched by their contributions, resilience, and unyielding connection to the land. It’s not just about acknowledging their past; it’s about recognizing their vibrant presence and contributions today.

And here’s the thing, the journey of the Indigenous peoples in the United States is a testament to resilience and strength. Despite the trials and tribulations faced over centuries, these communities continue to fight for their rights, preserve their heritage, and make significant contributions to American society. From activism to the arts, from environmental stewardship to education, the impact of Indigenous peoples is felt across multiple spheres. It’s crucial to understand and appreciate this depth of history and culture to fully grasp the essence of what the United States represents. Their story is an integral thread in the fabric of the nation, constantly reminding us of the strength found in diversity and the importance of respecting the Earth and each other.

United States Washington, D.C.

Ah, Washington, D.C., the heart and soul of the United States. It’s not just a city; it’s a symbol of democracy, a melting pot of history, politics, and culture. Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River, D.C. isn’t merely the nation’s capital; it’s a bustling metropolis where the past and present dance in a lively tango. You’ve got monuments and museums that tell the tales of the country’s journey, from its struggle for independence to becoming a global superpower. But it’s not all serious business here; the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, from the historic charm of Georgetown to the trendy buzz of Adams Morgan, showcase its diverse character.

Diving into the essence of the United States through the lens of Washington, D.C., offers a fascinating journey. This city, a patchwork of green spaces, grand buildings, and memorials, reflects the nation’s ideals, struggles, and achievements. The National Mall, a verdant expanse stretching from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building, is like an open-air museum, narrating stories of heroism, leadership, and innovation. It’s where you can stroll and ponder the Lincoln Memorial’s solemn beauty or marvel at the soaring spire of the Washington Monument.

But Washington, D.C., isn’t just about looking back; it’s a city that pulses with the present and looks forward to the future. Its culinary scene is a testament to the melting pot that is America, with eateries serving dishes from every corner of the globe. The city’s arts and entertainment scene is just as rich, with venues like the Kennedy Center hosting performances that span genres and cultures. And let’s not forget the cherry blossoms that paint the city pink every spring, a symbol of renewal and friendship with Japan.

In wrapping up, Washington, D.C., is more than a city; it’s a living, breathing storybook of the United States. Its streets, buildings, and parks are chapters that tell tales of aspiration, triumph, and the continual quest for a more perfect union. Whether you’re gazing up at the stars and stripes fluttering over the Capitol or enjoying a quiet moment by the Reflecting Pool, D.C. invites you to experience the essence of America. It’s a city that educates, inspires, and reminds us of where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

United States New York City

Ah, New York City – the Big Apple! This bustling metropolis isn’t just a concrete jungle where dreams are made of; it’s a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and countless stories. Nestled in the heart of the United States, NYC stands as a testament to the American spirit, embodying the hustle and the relentless pursuit of greatness. From the iconic Statue of Liberty standing tall, welcoming all to its shores, to the neon lights of Times Square that never seem to dim, New York City offers a glimpse into the soul of America.

Diving into the essence of the United States, it’s clear that this country is a tapestry of diverse landscapes and experiences. From the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the serene beaches of California, the U.S. is a place of contrast and harmony. The spirit of innovation and freedom runs deep, fueling advancements in technology, arts, and culture. The American Dream, a beacon of hope and opportunity, attracts souls from every corner of the globe, each adding a unique thread to the nation’s vibrant mosaic.

What truly sets New York City apart, though, is its unparalleled ability to encapsulate the American ethos within its five boroughs. Each neighborhood tells its own tale of resilience, ambition, and community. Whether it’s the artistic allure of Brooklyn, the historic streets of Harlem, or the bustling markets of Chinatown, NYC serves as a microcosm of the United States itself. It’s a city that never sleeps, constantly evolving and adapting, much like the country it resides in. New York City, in all its glory, is a reminder of the endless possibilities that await within the United States.

History of the United States

European Colonization

The 1750 colonial possessions of Britain (in pink and purple), France (in blue), and Spain (in orange) in present-day Canada and the United States
The 1750 colonial possessions of Britain (in pink and purple), France (in blue), and Spain (in orange) in present-day Canada and the United States

The saga of European colonization in what is now the United States is a captivating tale brimming with adventure, conflict, and transformation. Envision a vast, uncharted land adorned with dense forests, majestic rivers, and a mosaic of cultures. In the late 15th century, Europeans arrived with eager eyes, drawn by the allure of new frontiers. The Spanish were quick to establish footholds in Florida and the Southwest, while the French ventured down the Mississippi River, and the English claimed the Eastern Coast with settlements like Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. Each group sought wealth, fresh beginnings, and, for some, religious liberty. However, encounters with Native Americans and rival European powers inevitably sparked both cooperation and centuries of strife.

Delving deeper, the English colonies took center stage by the 17th century, forming the backbone of what would evolve into the United States. Life in these colonies offered both opportunities for industrious settlers and challenges imposed by harsh conditions and social hierarchies. While the colonists brought their traditions and governance ideals, this era also bore witness to the grim realities of forced labor and displacement of indigenous populations, underscoring the complex legacy of colonization.

Fast forward to the 18th century, and whispers of independence from British rule began to stir among the colonists. Grievances over issues like taxation without representation fueled a growing desire for self-rule. This period set the stage for the Revolutionary War, a pivotal moment in American history that culminated in the birth of a new nation. The enduring impact of European colonization on the United States is undeniable, shaping its demographic, cultural, and political landscape. It is a tale of resilience, innovation, and the enduring pursuit of freedom, etched into the very soul of the nation.

Revolution and expansion (1776–1861)

Declaration of Independence, a portrait by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting the draft of the Declaration to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776, in Philadelphia
Declaration of Independence, a portrait by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting the draft of the Declaration to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776, in Philadelphia

The United States underwent significant transformations between 1776 and 1861, marked by the revolutionary fervor of the American Revolution and the nation’s expansion across the continent. The period began with the colonies’ bold declaration of independence from British rule, fueled by ideals of liberty and self-governance. The successful establishment of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 laid the foundation for a nation dedicated to principles of democracy, though it also grappled with issues of slavery and states’ rights.

As the United States emerged from the Revolutionary War, it embarked on a journey of nation-building and territorial expansion. The adoption of the Constitution in 1787 under George Washington’s leadership ushered in a new era of governance, replacing the Articles of Confederation with a more centralized system. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 further solidified the nation’s presence on the continent, doubling its size and setting the stage for westward expansion.

However, this period was not without its challenges. Tensions over slavery and states’ rights simmered, ultimately erupting into the Civil War in 1861. The United States grappled with its identity and values as it navigated conflicts both at home and abroad. From the War of 1812 to the Mexican-American War, the nation asserted its power on the international stage while confronting internal divisions. This era of revolution and expansion was a pivotal time in shaping the United States into the diverse and complex nation it is today.

Civil War (1861–1865)

During the colonial era, slavery was legally practiced in the American colonies, though it faced increasing scrutiny during the American Revolution. Northern states began enacting abolition laws, while Southern states, buoyed by the profitability of inventions like the cotton gin, strengthened their support for slavery. This tension over slavery ultimately erupted in the American Civil War (1861–1865).

Following the war, eleven slave states seceded to form the Confederate States of America, while others remained in the Union. Conflict broke out in April 1861 when the Confederacy bombarded Fort Sumter. The Union gained momentum after key victories at the Siege of Vicksburg and the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. The Confederacy surrendered in 1865 after the Union’s decisive victory at the Battle of Appomattox Court House.

The post-war Reconstruction era saw the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments aimed at protecting the rights of African Americans. Meanwhile, national infrastructure projects such as transcontinental telegraph lines and railroads spurred growth in the American frontier.

Post-Civil War era (1865–1898)

Between 1865 and 1917, the United States experienced an unprecedented influx of immigrants, totaling 24.4 million from Europe alone. The majority of these immigrants arrived through the port of New York City, contributing to the growth of diverse communities, including Jewish, Irish, Italian, and Central European populations in cities along the East Coast and the Midwest. Additionally, approximately one million French Canadians migrated from Quebec to New England during this period. Concurrently, the Great Migration saw millions of African Americans leaving the rural South for urban centers in the North, seeking better opportunities.

The Compromise of 1877 marked the end of Reconstruction and ushered in a period of increased white supremacist control over Southern politics. African Americans faced heightened racism during this time, known as the nadir of American race relations. Supreme Court decisions, such as Plessy v. Ferguson, weakened the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, allowing for the proliferation of Jim Crow laws in the South, as well as segregation practices in other parts of the country, including sundown towns in the Midwest. The federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation further entrenched segregation through its policy of redlining.

Technological advancements, coupled with the utilization of cheap immigrant labor, fueled rapid economic growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, positioning the United States ahead of England, France, and Germany combined. However, this period also saw the concentration of power among a few wealthy industrialists, who formed trusts and monopolies to stifle competition in industries such as railroads, petroleum, and steel. The rise of the automotive industry further exemplified American innovation. Nevertheless, economic inequality, poor living conditions in urban slums, and social unrest spurred the emergence of labor unions and paved the way for reforms during the Progressive Era.

Rise as a superpower (1898–1945)

Pro-American forces in Hawaii orchestrated the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, leading to the annexation of the islands in 1898. Following the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded to the United States by Spain. American Samoa became a territory of the United States in 1900 after the Second Samoan Civil War, while the U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917. The country entered World War I alongside the Allies, contributing to the defeat of the Central Powers. In 1920, a constitutional amendment granted nationwide women’s suffrage. The 1920s and 30s saw the rise of radio and early television, transforming communication on a national scale. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 sparked the Great Depression, prompting President Franklin D. Roosevelt to implement New Deal policies to address the economic crisis.

Initially neutral during World War II, the United States began providing military aid to the Allied powers in March 1941, before entering the conflict following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of that year. The U.S. played a pivotal role in the war, developing and utilizing the first nuclear weapons against Japan in August 1945, effectively ending the conflict. As one of the “Four Policemen” who shaped the postwar world, along with the United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China, the United States emerged from the war with enhanced economic and political influence on the global stage.

Cold War (1945–1991)

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty at the White House, 1987.
Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty at the White House, 1987.

Following World War II, the United States found itself embroiled in the Cold War, a period characterized by intense geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, shaping global politics. During this time, both nations vied for dominance and influence, engaging in activities such as regime changes in perceived Soviet-aligned governments and competing fiercely in the Space Race. The climax of this competition came with the historic achievement of the first crewed Moon landing in 1969.

On the domestic front, the United States underwent significant transformations in the post-war era. Economic growth, urbanization, and population expansion reshaped the American landscape. Concurrently, the civil rights movement gained momentum, with figures like Martin Luther King Jr. leading the charge for racial equality. President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society initiative implemented far-reaching legislation and policies aimed at addressing institutional racism and social inequality. Additionally, the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s brought about profound societal changes, challenging norms regarding drug use, sexuality, and opposition to military intervention, notably in the Vietnam War. This period also witnessed a substantial increase in female labor participation, reflecting evolving gender roles and workforce dynamics. The late 1980s and early 1990s marked a pivotal moment as the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the Soviet Union signaled the end of the Cold War, cementing the United States’ position as the preeminent global superpower.

Contemporary (1991–present)

The Twin Towers in New York City during the September 11 attacks of 2001
The Twin Towers in New York City during the September 11 attacks of 2001

The 1990s marked a significant period of economic growth in American history, highlighted by the longest recorded expansion. Crime rates also experienced a notable decline, while technological advancements soared. Breakthroughs such as the World Wide Web, the Pentium microprocessor following Moore’s law, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, gene therapy trials, and cloning emerged and progressed throughout the decade. Additionally, milestone initiatives like the launch of the Human Genome Project in 1990 and the construction of the Large Hadron Collider in 1998 underscored the era’s commitment to scientific progress. Notably, Nasdaq became the first U.S. stock market to facilitate online trading, revolutionizing the financial landscape.

However, the dawn of the new millennium brought unforeseen challenges, most notably the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks orchestrated by Al-Qaeda ushered in an era of war on terror, leading to military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The cultural impact of these attacks reverberated for years, shaping international relations and domestic policies.

Economic turbulence ensued in the mid-2000s, culminating in the 2006 housing bubble burst and subsequent Great Recession, the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. As the 2010s unfolded, political polarization intensified, fueled by heated debates on cultural issues. This division reached a boiling point during the January 2021 Capitol attack, where a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, underscoring the deep-rooted societal tensions within the country.

Geography and Landscape

A topographic map of the United States
A topographic map of the United States

The United States ranks as the world’s third-largest country in terms of both land area and total area, trailing behind Russia and Canada. Its contiguous 48 states, along with the District of Columbia, cover a combined area of 3,119,885 square miles (8,080,470 km2). The landscape varies widely, from the coastal plains of the Atlantic seaboard to the inland forests and rolling hills of the Piedmont plateau region.

To the east, the Appalachian Mountains and the Adirondack massif separate the East Coast from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi River System, the world’s fourth-longest river system, flows mainly north-south through the heart of the country. Stretching westward, the flat and fertile prairies of the Great Plains give way to a highland region in the southeast, while the Rocky Mountains dominate the western landscape, peaking at over 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado.

Further west, one encounters the rocky Great Basin and deserts like the Chihuahua, Sonoran, and Mojave. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast. Notably, the lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States lie within California, just 84 miles (135 km) apart. Alaska’s Denali stands as the country’s highest peak, reaching an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190.5 m). The nation’s geographic diversity extends to its climate, encompassing humid continental, humid subtropical, semi-arid, Mediterranean, and arid climates, among others. From hurricanes along the Gulf of Mexico to tornadoes in Tornado Alley, the U.S. experiences a wide range of extreme weather phenomena, with an increasing frequency of heatwaves and droughts in the 21st century.

Biodiversity and Conservation

The United States stands out as one of 17 megadiverse countries, boasting a remarkable array of endemic species. Within its borders, one can find approximately 17,000 species of vascular plants in the contiguous United States and Alaska, with Hawaii harboring over 1,800 species of flowering plants, many of which are unique to the islands. The country is also home to an impressive diversity of wildlife, including 428 mammal species, 784 bird species, 311 reptile species, 295 amphibian species, and a staggering 91,000 insect species.

The U.S. is renowned for its natural beauty and conservation efforts, with 63 national parks and numerous other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas overseen by agencies such as the National Park Service. About 28% of the nation’s land is publicly owned and federally managed, predominantly in the western states. While much of this land is protected, some portions are leased for commercial purposes, and a small fraction is designated for military use.

Environmental issues are a key focus in the United States, with ongoing debates surrounding non-renewable resources, nuclear energy, air and water pollution, biodiversity, logging, deforestation, and climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays a central role in addressing these concerns, while legislation such as the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 provides frameworks for conservation efforts. Despite challenges, the U.S. has made commitments to environmental sustainability, including joining the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2016 and participating in various international initiatives.

Government and Politics in the United States

700px Map of USA with state names 2.svg

The United States functions as a federal republic comprising 50 states, with its capital situated in a federal district. Additionally, it holds sovereignty over five unincorporated territories and several uninhabited island possessions, some of which are subject to dispute. It stands as the world’s oldest surviving federation and, according to the World Economic Forum, the oldest democracy. Operating as a liberal representative democracy, it upholds the principle of majority rule while safeguarding minority rights through legal protections. The Constitution of the United States serves as the nation’s supreme legal document, delineating the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its interaction with individual states.

The intricacies of American government and politics form a dynamic and multifaceted landscape, deeply ingrained in the country’s fabric. It’s a system characterized by federalism, where power is shared between the national government and the states, maintaining equilibrium through checks and balances across the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Politics serves as the lifeblood of governance, featuring a diverse array of ideologies and parties competing for influence at various levels of government. While Democrats and Republicans dominate the stage, third parties and independents inject diversity and challenge conventional wisdom, ensuring a vibrant and ever-evolving political arena.

Looking ahead, the trajectory of U.S. politics remains uncertain yet bound to change. Emerging issues continually shape the political discourse, propelled by the influence of social media and the activism of a empowered youth. From climate change to social justice, the voices of the people drive the agenda, pushing for progress and accountability. As the United States marches onward, its government and politics reflect the aspirations, struggles, and aspirations of its populace, navigating the complexities of a rapidly changing world.

National Government

The federal government of the United States, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consists of three branches, each subject to a robust system of checks and balances. The U.S. Congress, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, holds the power to make federal laws, declare war, approve treaties, control spending, and impeach officials. The Senate, with 100 members, features two representatives from each state serving six-year terms, while the House of Representatives, with 435 members, is allocated based on population and serves two-year terms.

The President of the United States, as the commander-in-chief of the military, holds the authority to veto legislative bills, appoint Cabinet members and other officials (pending Senate approval), and enforce federal laws through various agencies. Presidential elections, conducted indirectly through the Electoral College, determine the winner who serves a four-year term, renewable for a maximum of two terms. The federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court, courts of appeals, and district courts, interprets laws and ensures their constitutionality. Supreme Court justices, appointed for life by the President with Senate confirmation, play a pivotal role in upholding the principles of the Constitution.

The United States’ three-branch system, often referred to as the presidential system, stands in contrast to parliamentary systems where the executive is part of the legislative body. The framework established by the U.S. Constitution in 1789 has served as a model for many countries worldwide, particularly in the Americas, influencing the structure and function of governments across the globe.

Political Subdivisions

In the United States federal system, authority is divided between two levels of elected government: the national and state governments. Additionally, individuals within the states are represented by locally elected governments, which serve as administrative divisions. States are further subdivided into counties or their equivalents, and these are often divided into municipalities. The District of Columbia, a federal district, houses the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The territories, along with the District of Columbia, function as administrative divisions under the federal government’s purview.

Political Parties

The Constitution of the United States doesn’t explicitly mention political parties, but that didn’t stop them from emerging in the 18th century. The Federalist and Anti-Federalist parties were among the earliest, laying the groundwork for the two-party system that dominates American politics today. Fast forward to the present, and you’ll find the Democratic and Republican parties as the main players on the national stage. While they may have different names and faces over the years, the two-party tradition remains a cornerstone of American democracy.

The Democratic and Republican parties each have their own distinct identities and platforms. Democrats tend to lean towards progressive policies, advocating for social justice, environmental protection, and a more active role for the government in addressing societal issues. On the other hand, Republicans typically embrace conservative values, promoting smaller government, lower taxes, and a free-market approach to economics. This ideological tug-of-war shapes the political landscape and drives much of the debate in the United States.

But let’s not overlook the smaller players in the political arena. Third parties and independent candidates may not always grab the headlines, but they play a vital role in challenging the status quo and offering alternative perspectives. From the Libertarian Party to the Green Party to various independent movements, these underdogs add diversity and depth to the American political landscape. In a country as vast and diverse as the United States, there’s room for all voices to be heard, even if they’re not part of the mainstream conversation.

Foreign Relations

The United States boasts a well-established framework for foreign relations, evidenced by its status as the home of the world’s second-largest diplomatic corps as of 2021. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and the location of the United Nations headquarters, the U.S. holds significant influence in global affairs. Additionally, the country is actively involved in key international organizations such as the G7, G20, and OECD. Virtually every nation maintains a diplomatic presence in the U.S., with the exception of a few, including Iran, North Korea, and Bhutan. Despite lacking formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan maintains close unofficial relations with the U.S., bolstered by regular military equipment support to deter potential threats.

The United Nations headquarters has been situated along the East River in Midtown Manhattan since 1952; in 1945, the United States was a founding member of the UN.
The United Nations headquarters has been situated along the East River in Midtown Manhattan since 1952; in 1945, the United States was a founding member of the UN.

The United States enjoys a “Special Relationship” with the United Kingdom and maintains strong alliances with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and several European Union countries. Collaboration with NATO allies is crucial for addressing military and national security concerns, while partnerships in the Americas are facilitated through organizations like the Organization of American States and trade agreements such as the United States–Mexico–Canada Free Trade Agreement. In South America, Colombia is recognized as a particularly close ally. Furthermore, the U.S. holds full international defense authority over Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau through the Compact of Free Association. Recent years have seen increased strategic cooperation with India, although relations with China have experienced strains, and the U.S. has emerged as a key ally to Ukraine, providing substantial military support following Russia’s invasion in 2022.

Military and Defense in the United States

The President serves as the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces and appoints its key leaders, including the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Department of Defense, headquartered at the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., oversees five of the six service branches: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Space Force. The Coast Guard, on the other hand, falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime and can be transferred to the Department of the Navy during wartime.

The Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense in Arlington County, Virginia, is one of the world's largest office buildings with about 6.5 million square feet (600,000 m2) of fl
The Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense in Arlington County, Virginia, is one of the world's largest office buildings with about 6.5 million square feet (600,000 m2) of fl

In 2022, the United States allocated a staggering $877 billion to its military, a figure surpassing that of any other nation. This accounts for 39% of global military spending and represents 3.5% of the country’s GDP. Additionally, the U.S. possesses 45% of the world’s nuclear weapons, second only to Russia. Despite these formidable figures, the U.S. ranks third globally in terms of combined armed forces, trailing behind the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Indian Armed Forces. The U.S. military operates approximately 800 bases and facilities worldwide and maintains deployments exceeding 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.

When discussing the United States Military, one delves into a realm characterized by unparalleled strength, a rich historical legacy, and an unyielding commitment to duty. Beyond its sheer might, the U.S. military represents a blend of tradition, innovation, and a steadfast dedication to global peace and security. From the high seas navigated by the Navy to the expansive skies patrolled by the Air Force, and the rugged terrains conquered by the Army and Marines, each branch brings its unique essence to the collective force. This orchestrated symphony of capabilities underscores the military’s multifaceted role in safeguarding national interests and advancing global stability.

United States Law Enforcement and Crime

In the United States, law enforcement is a complex web of approximately 18,000 agencies, spanning from local to national levels. These agencies, including local police departments and sheriff departments, enforce laws within their respective municipal or county jurisdictions. State police departments hold authority within their states, while federal agencies like the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have nationwide jurisdiction, handling specialized duties such as protecting civil rights, national security, and enforcing federal laws and court rulings.

J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in Washington, D.C.
J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in Washington, D.C.

As of January 2023, the United States holds the sixth-highest per-capita incarceration rate globally, with nearly 2 million people behind bars. Additionally, U.S. homicide rates are notably higher than in other high-income countries, primarily driven by significantly elevated gun homicide rates. Navigating the intricate landscape of law enforcement and crime prevention in the U.S. can be likened to navigating a labyrinth. Each agency operates under its own set of rules and regulations, contributing its unique approach to maintaining community safety.

Despite the challenges, the fight against crime in the U.S. continues with resilience and innovation. Law enforcement strategies adapt to evolving crime trends and technological advancements, employing tools like facial recognition and data analytics to combat criminal activities. Success stories abound, with community policing initiatives fostering stronger relationships between officers and communities, leading to notable reductions in crime rates. Education and rehabilitation programs offer hope for reducing recidivism and building a safer society. Ultimately, the pursuit of law and order in the United States is a collective effort that requires dedication and collaboration at every level of society.

Economy and Trade

Since approximately 1890, the United States has held the title of the world’s largest economy. With a gross domestic product (GDP) of $27 trillion, it constitutes over 15% of the global GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP). Over the years, the U.S. has maintained strong economic growth, with a real compounded annual GDP growth rate of 3.3% from 1983 to 2008, outpacing the rest of the Group of Seven countries. It leads the world in nominal GDP and disposable income per capita, ranking second in GDP (PPP) after China and ninth in GDP (PPP) per capita.

The U.S. dollar, most-used currency in international transactions and the world's foremost reserve currency
The U.S. dollar, most-used currency in international transactions and the world's foremost reserve currency

The U.S. economy is bolstered by its dominance in international finance and trade. It hosts 136 of the world’s 500 largest companies and boasts the most widely used currency in international transactions—the U.S. dollar. With free trade agreements like the USMCA and a robust manufacturing sector, the U.S. remains highly competitive globally. New York City serves as the financial capital of the world, home to major stock exchanges and leading financial institutions. Additionally, the U.S. excels in technological innovation, particularly in sectors like artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals, and aerospace.

Despite its economic prowess, income inequality remains a significant challenge in the United States. While it ranks high in average household and employee income among OECD member states, wealth is highly concentrated, with the top 10% owning a majority of the country’s household wealth. Income inequality persists, with the top earners capturing a disproportionate share of national income. Social issues like homelessness, food insecurity, and poverty also persist, highlighting the need for greater social welfare measures and income redistribution policies.

Technology and Innovation

Science, technology, and energy have long been cornerstones of the United States’ global influence and economic strength. Since the late 19th century, the U.S. has been at the forefront of technological innovation, pioneering methods for mass production and advancing scientific research. With the development of interchangeable parts and the establishment of a machine tool industry, the country laid the foundation for the large-scale manufacturing of consumer products. By the early 20th century, innovations like factory electrification and the assembly line revolutionized industrial production, cementing the U.S.’s position as a leader in mass production techniques.

U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin saluting the American flag on the Moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission; the United States is the only country that has landed crews on the lunar surface.
U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin saluting the American flag on the Moon during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission; the United States is the only country that has landed crews on the lunar surface.

In the realm of scientific research, the United States continues to excel, ranking second globally in the number of published scientific papers as of 2022. The country also boasts a strong record in innovation, ranking third in the Global Innovation Index in 2023. Additionally, the U.S. is a powerhouse in patent applications, trademark registrations, and industrial design applications, reflecting its ongoing commitment to technological advancement and creativity.

Despite strides in renewable energy and technological innovation, the United States remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels for its energy needs. As of 2022, petroleum and natural gas together accounted for the majority of the country’s energy consumption. With a transportation infrastructure dominated by automobiles and a sprawling network of public roads, the U.S. faces challenges in transitioning to more sustainable energy sources. However, initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy offer hope for a greener and more sustainable future.

Demographics

As of April 1, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded a population of 331,449,281 residents, positioning the United States as the world’s third-most populous country, trailing behind China and India. According to the Bureau’s U.S. Population Clock data from January 28, 2021, the U.S. population experienced a net increase of one person every 100 seconds, translating to approximately 864 people added per day. In 2018, statistics showed that 52% of Americans aged 15 and over were married, while 6% were widowed, 10% divorced, and 32% had never married. The total fertility rate in 2021 stood at 1.7 children per woman, with the United States holding the highest percentage of children (23%) living in single-parent households in 2019.

Mexico–United States border wall between San Diego's border patrol offices in California, US (left) and Tijuana, Mexico (right)
Mexico–United States border wall between San Diego's border patrol offices in California, US (left) and Tijuana, Mexico (right)

The United States boasts a diverse population, with 37 ancestry groups comprising more than one million members each. White Americans, encompassing those with European, Middle Eastern, or North African heritage, constitute the largest racial and ethnic group, comprising 57.8% of the U.S. population. Hispanic and Latino Americans follow as the second-largest group, making up 18.7% of the population. African Americans rank as the third-largest ancestry group, representing 12.1% of the total U.S. population. Asian Americans account for 5.9% of the population, while Native Americans number around 3.7 million, constituting approximately 1%. The median age of the U.S. population in 2020 was 38.5 years.

Language

English is the predominant language spoken in the United States, with the vast majority of the population using it as their primary means of communication. Although there is no official language mandated at the federal level, English is standardized for various purposes, such as U.S. naturalization requirements. Additionally, most states have designated English as their official language. However, three states and four U.S. territories have recognized local or indigenous languages alongside English. These include Hawaiian in Hawaii, twenty Native languages in Alaska, Sioux in South Dakota, Samoan in American Samoa, Spanish in Puerto Rico, Chamorro in Guam, and Carolinian and Chamorro in the Northern Mariana Islands. In Puerto Rico, Spanish is more commonly spoken than English.

According to the American Community Survey conducted in 2010, the majority of the U.S. population—about 229 million people out of a total of 308 million—spoke only English at home. Spanish emerged as the second most commonly spoken language, with approximately 37 million speakers. Other languages spoken at home by over one million people include Chinese (2.8 million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), Korean (1.1 million), and German (1 million). This linguistic diversity reflects the multicultural fabric of American society.

The most spoken native languages by the people of United States of America (United States) in 2021 were :

  

LanguagePopulation (million)Per%
English24578.5%
Spanish41.313.2%
Other most spoken popular migrant languages8.3%
Chinese (including Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and all other varieties)3.401.1%
Tagalog (including Filipino)1.720.5%
Vietnamese1.52 million (0.5%)0.5%
Arabic1.39 million 
French1.18 million 
Korean1.07 million 
Russian1.04 million 
Portuguese937 
Haitian Creole895 
Hindi865 
German857 
Polish533 
Italian513 
Urdu508 
Persian (including Farsi, Dari and Tajik)472 
Telugu460 
Japanese455 
Gujarati437 
Bengali403 
Tamil341
Punjabi319 
Thais (including Central Thai and Lao)284 
Serbo-Croatian (including Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian)266 
Armenian256
Greek253 
Hmong240
Hebrew215 
Khmer193 
Navajo155 
Other Indo-European languages662 
Yoruba, Twi, Igbo and other languages of West Africa640 
Amharic, Somali, and other Afro-Asiatic languages596 
Dutch, Afrikaans, Yiddish, Pennsylvania Dutch, and other West Germanic languages574 
Ilocano, Samoan, Hawaiian, and other Austronesian languages486 
Other languages of Asia460 
Nepali, Marathi, and other Indic languages448 
Ukrainian and other Slavic languages385 
Swahili and other languages of Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa288 
Malayalam, Kannada, and other other Dravidian languages280 
Other Native languages of North America169 
Other and unspecified languages327 

Immigration and Diversity

As of 2022, the United States boasts the largest immigrant population globally, numbering at a staggering 51 million individuals. This figure includes both immigrants and U.S.-born children of immigrants, comprising nearly 27% of the nation’s total population. Among the foreign-born population in 2017, approximately 45% (20.7 million) were naturalized citizens, 27% (12.3 million) were lawful permanent residents, 6% (2.2 million) held temporary lawful resident status, and 23% (10.5 million) were unauthorized immigrants. Mexico, accounting for 24% of immigrants, topped the list of countries of origin in 2019, followed by India (6%), China (5%), the Philippines (4.5%), and El Salvador (3%). Furthermore, the United States has remained a global leader in refugee resettlement, admitting more refugees than all other countries combined for decades.

Religion

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures the freedom of religion and prohibits Congress from making laws that establish or favor any particular religion. This provision has fostered a diverse and dynamic religious landscape within the country, with religious practices spanning a wide spectrum. The U.S. is home to the largest Christian population globally and also hosts a significant portion of the world’s Jewish community, as recognized by the Law of Return. Additionally, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and various New Age movements, alongside Native American religions, contribute to the country’s religious tapestry, with practices varying significantly across different regions.

Religious beliefs and practices are deeply ingrained in American society, with the majority of citizens professing belief in a higher power and engaging in spiritual rituals like prayer. However, religious observance varies greatly by geographical location, with the Southern states, particularly the “Bible Belt,” being characterized by a strong presence of evangelical Protestantism. Conversely, regions like New England and the Western United States tend to exhibit more secular tendencies. Furthermore, Mormonism, originating as a Restorationist movement in the 19th century, remains a dominant faith in Utah, where followers migrated to escape persecution and establish their religious community under the leadership of Brigham Young following the death of Joseph Smith.

Major Cities and Urbanization

Approximately 82% of Americans reside in urban areas, encompassing suburbs as well. Among them, roughly half live in cities boasting populations exceeding 50,000. As of 2022, there were 333 incorporated municipalities with populations surpassing 100,000, with nine cities hosting over one million residents each. Notably, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston each boasted populations exceeding two million. The population of many U.S. metropolitan areas is experiencing rapid growth, particularly in regions of the South and West.

Rank Name Region Pop.
1 New York Northeast 19,617,869
2 Los Angeles West 12,872,322
3 Chicago Midwest 9,441,957
4 Dallas–Fort Worth South 7,943,685
5 Houston South 7,340,118
6 Washington, D.C. South 6,373,756
7 Philadelphia Northeast 6,241,164
8 Atlanta South 6,222,106
9 Miami South 6,139,340
10 Phoenix West 5,015,678
11 Boston Northeast 4,900,550
12 Riverside–San Bernardino West 4,667,558
13 San Francisco West 4,579,599
14 Detroit Midwest 4,345,761
15 Seattle West 4,034,248
16 Minneapolis–Saint Paul Midwest 3,693,729
17 Tampa–St. Petersburg South 3,290,730
18 San Diego West 3,276,208
19 Denver West 2,985,871
20 Baltimore South 2,835,672

Healthcare System in the United States

In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the average life expectancy at birth in the United States was 77.5 years, with men averaging 74.8 years and women 80.2 years. While this marked an improvement from the 2021 average of 76.4 years, the CDC highlighted that it did not fully offset the 2.4-year decline observed between 2019 and 2021. Factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, along with increased mortality from opioid overdoses and suicides, were primarily attributed to the previous decrease in life expectancy.

Texas Medical Center in Houston is the largest medical complex in the world. As of 2018, it employed 120,000 people and treated 10 million patients annually.
Texas Medical Center in Houston is the largest medical complex in the world. As of 2018, it employed 120,000 people and treated 10 million patients annually.

The CDC’s report also indicated noteworthy gains in life expectancy for certain demographic groups in 2022, particularly for men, Hispanics, and American Indian–Alaskan Native people (AIAN). However, the United States has consistently lagged behind other developed nations in terms of life expectancy since 1998, with the gap in health outcomes widening over time. The country also grapples with high rates of suicide, obesity, and overweight individuals, with approximately one-third of the adult population falling into each category.

Despite spending more per capita and as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than any other nation, the United States continues to face challenges in achieving comparable healthcare outcomes to its peers. The absence of a universal healthcare system leaves a significant portion of the population uninsured, although government-funded programs like Medicaid for low-income individuals and Medicare for seniors provide coverage to eligible Americans. The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010 aimed to address some of these disparities but debates surrounding healthcare reform persist.

Efforts to reform the healthcare system in the United States have been ongoing for decades, with debates focusing on issues such as universal coverage, cost containment, and patient outcomes. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was a significant milestone in healthcare reform, aiming to increase access to insurance coverage, regulate insurance practices, and improve the quality of care. While the ACA expanded coverage to millions of Americans, it also faced criticism and challenges, leading to ongoing discussions about the best approach to healthcare in the United States. As the country continues to grapple with healthcare issues, policymakers, healthcare providers, and communities strive to find solutions that ensure accessible, affordable, and high-quality care for all.

 
 
 
 

Education System

In the United States, K-12 education is overseen by state and local governments, with regulations enforced by the Department of Education at the federal level, mainly through restrictions on federal grants. Typically, children begin schooling around the age of five or six, attending kindergarten or first grade, and continue until they reach the age of 18, completing twelfth grade, which marks the end of high school. Some states allow students to leave school at 16 or 17 years old. The U.S. allocates more funds per student for education than any other country, averaging $12,794 per year for public elementary and secondary school students in the 2016–2017 academic year. The literacy rate in the country is nearly universal, and a significant percentage of the population has completed high school, attended college, or earned advanced degrees.

The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, is one of many public colleges and universities in the United States.
The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, is one of many public colleges and universities in the United States.

Tertiary education in the United States is primarily provided through state universities, although about 20% of students attend private universities and colleges. Federal financial aid, in the form of grants and loans, plays a significant role in supporting students pursuing higher education. Institutions directly funded by the federal government are generally restricted to military personnel and government employees, including service academies and military staff colleges. The U.S. boasts many of the world’s top-ranked universities, with 19 out of the top 25 institutions located within its borders. Additionally, community colleges offer more accessible admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition fees.

Despite substantial investments in higher education, student loan debt has become a growing concern in the United States. While some loan forgiveness programs exist, the overall student loan debt has skyrocketed by 102% over the past decade, surpassing 1.7 trillion dollars as of 2022.

Culture and Society

Americans are known for their adherence to a unifying political ideology known as the “American creed,” which prioritizes concepts like liberty, equality under the law, democracy, social equality, property rights, and a preference for limited government. Culturally, the nation values individualism, personal autonomy, a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and voluntary altruism toward others. This is reflected in Americans’ high levels of charitable giving, with a 2016 study by the Charities Aid Foundation showing that Americans donated 1.44% of total GDP to charity, the highest rate in the world.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) on Liberty Island in New York Harbor was an 1866 gift from France that has become an iconic symbol of the American Dream.[394]
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) on Liberty Island in New York Harbor was an 1866 gift from France that has become an iconic symbol of the American Dream.

The United States is a melting pot of ethnic groups, traditions, and values, shaped by centuries of immigration from Europe, Africa, and Asia. While mainstream American culture is largely derived from European traditions, influences from other sources, such as African slave traditions, have also left their mark. Recent immigration from Asia and Latin America has further enriched the cultural landscape, contributing to the perception of the “American Dream” – the belief in high social mobility and opportunity for success. However, scholars note significant differences between social classes in the U.S., despite the mainstream belief in a classless society.

The United States is renowned for its strong protections of free speech, enshrined in the First Amendment. Americans are known for their support of free expression, including controversial forms such as flag desecration, hate speech, and blasphemy. The country is socially progressive, particularly regarding issues of human sexuality, and LGBT rights are considered advanced by global standards. This commitment to freedom and progressiveness underscores the values that have come to define the United States on the world stage.

Literature

Colonial American writers drew inspiration from John Locke and other Enlightenment thinkers, shaping their works to reflect the ideals of the time. As tensions with Britain escalated before and after the Revolutionary War, newspapers emerged as a prominent platform for expressing anti-British sentiments and fostering a sense of national identity. Figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller spearheaded the transcendentalist movement in New England, offering a unique American perspective on philosophy and spirituality.

Mark Twain, who William Faulkner called the father of American literature
Mark Twain, who William Faulkner called the father of American literature

The nineteenth-century American Renaissance witnessed the emergence of iconic writers like Walt Whitman and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who left an indelible mark on the nation’s literary landscape. As literacy rates increased, periodicals began featuring stories that shed light on the experiences of industrial workers, women, and the rural poor. Literary movements such as naturalism, regionalism, and realism, epitomized by the works of Mark Twain, captured the essence of American life during this period.

In the modernist era, American authors embraced a more localized approach, infusing their works with the nuances of specific regions, cultures, and communities. The Harlem Renaissance saw African-American and black West Indian writers forging a distinct literary tradition that celebrated black culture and challenged systemic inequality. Subsequent movements, such as the Beat Generation, rebelled against societal norms, prioritizing the raw power of spoken word and exploring taboo topics like drug use and sexuality. Today, American literature continues to evolve, characterized by a diverse range of voices and a penchant for linguistic experimentation.

Mass Media

The media landscape in the United States is characterized by broad freedom of expression, with the First Amendment serving as a cornerstone of protection, as reaffirmed in landmark cases like New York Times Co. v. United States. The country boasts four major broadcasters – NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX – all of which are commercial entities. Additionally, cable television provides a plethora of channels catering to diverse interests and preferences. Broadcast radio remains a popular medium, with approximately 83% of Americans over the age of 12 tuning in, while podcasts have seen a surge in popularity, reaching about 40% of the population.

American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood is one of the most famous American paintings and is widely parodied.
American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood is one of the most famous American paintings and is widely parodied.

The United States is home to globally recognized newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. Spanish-language publications also thrive, numbering around 800 in total. Newspaper ownership is primarily in the hands of large chains like Gannett and McClatchy, although smaller chains and independent owners still exist. Major cities often feature alternative newspapers to complement mainstream dailies. In the digital realm, American companies dominate, with Google, YouTube, Amazon, Yahoo, and Facebook ranking as the top five most visited websites in the U.S.

In terms of entertainment, the video game market in the United States reigns supreme as the largest in the world by revenue. California, in particular, stands out as a hub for gaming, boasting 444 publishers, developers, and hardware companies as of 2022. With a rich and diverse media landscape spanning traditional print, broadcast, and digital platforms, the United States continues to serve as a global leader in media and entertainment.

Theater

The United States boasts a vibrant theater and cinema scene, deeply rooted in European traditions and heavily influenced by British theater. Throughout history, America has forged its own distinct forms of drama, from the Tom Shows to the showboat theater and the minstrel show, which emerged in the mid-19th century. Manhattan serves as the epicenter of American theater, with its renowned Broadway district, alongside off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway productions.

New York City, particularly, has served as a launchpad for many aspiring actors, with numerous stars gaining recognition through their work in local productions. Beyond the Big Apple, cities across the country host professional regional theater companies, each producing their own unique seasons of performances. Musicals reign supreme in the world of U.S. theater, commanding the largest budgets and drawing audiences from far and wide.

The Tony Awards, held annually in Manhattan, celebrate excellence in live Broadway theater, recognizing outstanding productions and performances. In addition to competitive awards for Broadway shows, special accolades are also bestowed, including the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre and the Isabelle Stevenson Award, highlighting contributions to the theatrical community.

Visual Arts

During the mid-19th century, the Hudson River School emerged as a prominent movement in the visual arts, following the European naturalism tradition. However, the U.S. art scene underwent a significant transformation with the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, an exhibition that showcased European modernist art and shocked the public.

American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood is one of the most famous American paintings and is widely parodied.
American Gothic (1930) by Grant Wood is one of the most famous American paintings and is widely parodied.

American modernism saw the rise of artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Marsden Hartley, who explored new and individualistic styles. This period laid the foundation for major artistic movements such as abstract expressionism, led by artists like Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, as well as pop art, popularized by figures like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Moreover, American photography flourished with notable photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, and Ansel Adams, among others.

The influence of modernism and postmodernism has propelled American architects to global fame, with notable figures like Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Frank Gehry leaving their mark on the architectural landscape. Notably, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan stands as the largest art museum in the United States, showcasing a diverse array of artistic expressions from around the world.

Music

American folk music encompasses a wide range of music genres, known as traditional music, traditional folk music, contemporary folk music, or roots music. Many traditional songs have been passed down through generations within families or folk groups, with origins tracing back to the British Isles, Mainland Europe, or Africa. African-American music, in particular, has had a significant influence on American music, shaping its rhythmic and lyrical styles. The banjo, for example, was brought to America through the slave trade and became increasingly popular in the 19th century due to its incorporation into minstrel shows.

The evolution of American music has been marked by the adoption and transformation of elements from folk idioms such as the blues and old-time music into popular genres with global audiences. Jazz, for instance, emerged from blues and ragtime in the early 20th century, gaining popularity through influential composers like W.C. Handy and Jelly Roll Morton, as well as performers like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Similarly, country music, rock and roll, bluegrass, and rhythm and blues all developed from distinct American roots, contributing to the rich musical tapestry of the United States. Artists like Bob Dylan, who emerged from the folk revival of the 1960s, and later stars such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Prince, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé, have all made significant contributions to the global music scene, cementing the United States’ position as a powerhouse in the music industry.

Fashion

The United States and China are the primary drivers of global apparel demand, with American fashion known for its diverse and informal style. Reflecting the country’s cultural melting pot, staples like sneakers, jeans, T-shirts, and baseball caps are emblematic of American fashion. New York City, alongside Paris, Milan, and London, stands as one of the “big four” global fashion capitals, with Manhattan’s Garment District serving as a historic hub since the early 20th century.

Haute couture fashion models on the catwalk during New York Fashion Week
Haute couture fashion models on the catwalk during New York Fashion Week

Many renowned designer labels have their headquarters in Manhattan, catering to various markets, including pre-teens. A notable trend in U.S. fashion is the growing emphasis on sustainability in clothing production. New York Fashion Week, held biannually, is a significant event in the global fashion calendar, influencing trends and showcasing cutting-edge designs.

Cinema

The U.S. film industry holds significant sway globally, with Hollywood, situated in northern Los Angeles, serving as its epicenter. As the third-largest film industry in the world, trailing only India and Nigeria, Hollywood is synonymous with American filmmaking. The major film studios in the United States consistently produce the highest-grossing and most popular movies worldwide. While Hollywood has historically been the focal point of the industry since the early 20th century, the 21st century has seen a shift, with an increasing number of films produced elsewhere and companies facing the challenges of globalization. The prestigious Academy Awards, known as the Oscars, have been a staple of the industry since 1929, while the Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since 1944.

The iconic Hollywood Sign, in the Hollywood Hills, often regarded as the symbol of the American film industry

The heyday of the U.S. film industry, often referred to as the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” spanned from the advent of sound in films until the early 1960s. During this period, iconic figures like John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe rose to fame, solidifying their status as cultural icons. The 1970s ushered in a new era known as “New Hollywood” or the “Hollywood Renaissance,” characterized by grittier and more realistic films influenced by European cinema. However, the 21st century has brought about significant changes with the emergence of American streaming platforms, posing a challenge to traditional cinema and reshaping the landscape of the industry.

Cuisine

Early settlers in the United States were introduced to a variety of foods by Native Americans, including turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup. One enduring example is succotash, a native dish that became a staple in American cuisine. Over time, settlers and immigrants combined these ingredients with familiar foods like wheat flour, beef, and milk, creating a unique culinary tradition.

Characteristic American dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, doughnuts, french fries, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs have roots in recipes brought over by various immigrant groups. Mexican dishes like burritos and tacos were present in areas annexed from Mexico, while adaptations of Chinese and Italian cuisine are widely consumed. American chefs, including graduates of institutions like the Culinary Institute of America, have made significant contributions to culinary culture both domestically and internationally.

The United States boasts a thriving restaurant industry, projected at $899 billion in sales in 2020 and employing over 15 million people. It is the second-largest private employer in the country and home to over 220 Michelin Star rated restaurants, with California leading in wine production, making the U.S. the fourth-largest wine-producing country in the world. Additionally, American fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut have achieved global dominance, symbolizing the country’s influence on international marketing and dining trends.

Sports and Recreation

The United States boasts a vibrant sports culture with a wide array of spectator sports capturing the nation’s attention. American football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and ice hockey are among the most popular sports, drawing millions of fans both domestically and internationally. While some sports like baseball and American football have roots in European traditions, others such as basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, and snowboarding originated in the U.S. and have gained global popularity.

American football is the most popular sport in the United States; in this September 2022 National Football League game, the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Washington Commanders at FedExField.
American football is the most popular sport in the United States; in this September 2022 National Football League game, the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Washington Commanders at FedExField.

American football stands out as the most popular spectator sport in the U.S., with the National Football League (NFL) boasting the highest average attendance worldwide. The Super Bowl, the championship game of the NFL, garners massive viewership numbers globally. Baseball holds a special place in American culture, often considered the national sport, with Major League Baseball (MLB) leading the way. Basketball, soccer, and ice hockey follow closely behind, with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) commanding significant audiences both domestically and internationally.

At the collegiate level, sports play a significant role in American culture, with institutions earning over $1 billion annually. College football and basketball attract large audiences, with events like the NCAA Final Four drawing widespread attention. The intercollegiate sports system serves as a pipeline to the professional level, distinguishing the U.S. from many other countries where government-funded organizations fulfill this role. Additionally, the U.S. has hosted numerous Olympic Games, with athletes earning an impressive medal count, making the nation a powerhouse in international sports competitions.

FAQ

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

1. How many states are in the United States?

The United States comprises 50 states. These states are further organized into territories and other entities, but the core political divisions are the 50 states. Each state has its own government, laws, and regulations, with a certain degree of autonomy granted by the federal government. The addition of new states to the United States is a rare occurrence and requires specific processes outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

2. How old is the United States?

The United States is a relatively young country compared to many others around the world. It officially declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This event marked the birth of the United States as a sovereign nation. However, the country’s history predates its independence, with European exploration and colonization beginning in the 16th century. The first successful English colony, Jamestown, was established in 1607, while the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Over the centuries, the United States has grown and evolved, facing challenges such as the Civil War, expansion westward, and struggles for civil rights. Today, the United States is over 200 years old as an independent nation, but its history is much older, shaped by the diverse cultures and peoples who have inhabited its lands for thousands of years.

3. How many people are in the United States?

As of the latest available data, the population of the United States is over 330 million people. This figure includes individuals of various ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds, making the U.S. one of the most diverse countries in the world.

4. What is the economic system in the United States?

The United States operates under a mixed economic system, combining elements of both capitalism and socialism. This system is often referred to as a market economy, where the forces of supply and demand largely determine economic activity, but with some government intervention to address issues such as income inequality, unemployment, and market failures.

In the U.S., private individuals and businesses have the freedom to own and control property, make decisions about production and consumption, and engage in market transactions. This aspect of capitalism allows for innovation, competition, and the pursuit of profit, which are key drivers of economic growth.

5. Who was the first president of the United States?

The first president of the United States was George Washington. He was a true trailblazer, leading the country through its formative years with courage and wisdom. Born on February 22, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Washington grew up to become a revered military leader and statesman.

6. How many black people are in the United States?

The United States is home to a significant population of Black or African American individuals. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2020, Black or African American people made up around 13.4% of the total U.S. population, totaling approximately 44.1 million individuals.

7. How many people live in the united states ?

The United States has a population of over 331 million people. This number is constantly changing due to factors such as birth rates, immigration, and mortality rates. The U.S. is the third-most populous country in the world, behind China and India.

8. How many time zones are in United States?

The United States spans multiple time zones, totaling six in all. These time zones are:

  1. Eastern Time Zone (ET)
  2. Central Time Zone (CT)
  3. Mountain Time Zone (MT)
  4. Pacific Time Zone (PT)
  5. Alaska Time Zone (AKT)
  6. Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone (HAST)

9. What is the biggest state in the United States?

The biggest state in the United States by land area is Alaska. It is located in the northwest corner of North America and is known for its vast wilderness, rugged terrain, and stunning natural beauty. Alaska covers an area of approximately 663,300 square miles (1.72 million square kilometers), making it more than twice the size of Texas, the second-largest state. Despite its massive size, Alaska has a relatively small population, with much of its land uninhabited and inaccessible. The state is home to diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and bald eagles, as well as stunning natural landmarks such as Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in North America.

10. What is the capital of the United States?

The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia). It was established as the capital in 1790 and is located on the east coast of the country, along the Potomac River. Washington, D.C. is not part of any state and was specifically created to serve as the seat of the federal government. The city is home to many iconic landmarks, including the White House (the official residence of the President), the U.S. Capitol (where Congress meets), and the Supreme Court of the United States. Additionally, Washington, D.C. is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and vibrant arts scene.

11. How do you call the United States from Mexico?

To call the United States from Mexico, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Dial the international access code: In Mexico, the international access code is “00.” This code allows you to make calls to other countries outside of Mexico.

  2. Dial the country code for the United States: The country code for the United States is “1.”

  3. Dial the area code: After entering the country code, you will need to dial the appropriate area code for the specific region in the United States that you are calling. Area codes in the United States typically consist of three digits.

  4. Dial the phone number: Finally, after entering the international access code, country code, and area code, you can dial the specific phone number you wish to reach in the United States. Phone numbers in the United States usually consist of seven digits, though they may vary depending on the area.

For example, if you are calling a phone number with the area code “212” in New York City, you would dial 00 (international access code) + 1 (country code for the United States) + 212 (area code for New York City) + [phone number].

12. What is one responsibility only for united states citizens?

One responsibility unique to United States citizens is the duty to serve on a jury when called upon. This civic duty is enshrined in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and is a cornerstone of the American legal system. Jury duty ensures that individuals have the right to a fair trial by their peers, as guaranteed by the Constitution. When summoned, citizens are required to appear in court and participate in the jury selection process. Serving on a jury is considered both a privilege and a responsibility, as it allows citizens to actively participate in the administration of justice and uphold the principles of democracy. Failure to fulfill this duty can result in legal penalties, emphasizing the importance of civic engagement and participation in the American judicial process.

13. How many cities are in the United States of America?

The United States of America is home to thousands of cities, ranging from small towns to sprawling metropolises. As of my last update, there were over 19,000 incorporated cities, towns, and villages in the country. These cities vary greatly in size, population, and significance, with some like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago being major global cities, while others are small rural communities with just a few hundred residents. Each city contributes to the diverse tapestry of American culture and plays a unique role in shaping the identity of the nation.

14. Who was the first black president of the United States?

The first black president of the United States was Barack Obama. He made history by being elected as the 44th president of the United States and serving two terms from 2009 to 2017. Born on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama was the son of a Kenyan father and an American mother. He rose to prominence as a U.S. Senator from Illinois before running for president in 2008 as the Democratic nominee. Obama’s presidency was marked by significant accomplishments, including the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the legalization of same-sex marriage, and the killing of Osama bin Laden. His election and re-election were seen as milestones in American history, symbolizing progress in race relations and breaking barriers for people of color in politics.

15. How many gas stations in united states ?

Oh, the number of gas stations dotting the landscapes of the United States is quite a sight! Picture this: thousands upon thousands of refueling spots, from the bustling cities to the quiet, dusty roads of the countryside. As of the latest count, there are roughly 145,000 gas stations across the nation. That’s a lot, right? Each one serves as a little oasis for travelers and commuters alike, offering a chance to fill up, grab a snack, or just stretch the legs before hitting the road again. It’s fascinating to see how these stations are not just about fuel; they’re part of the American road trip culture, standing as landmarks of convenience in the vast expanse of the country.

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