The United States of America, United States, or America for short, (abbreviated as USA or US), is a country comprising 50 states. Most of the country is located in the center of North America, where 48 states and the capital Washington are located between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Canada borders America to the north while Mexico is located to the south of the country.
Northwest of the continent, above Canada, is Alaska, which is only separated from Russia to the west by the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii, which is an archipelago, is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The country also includes islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean.
The United States comes in third place in terms of area (9.83 million km²), and it ranks third in terms of population (329 million people). The United States is distinguished as one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of race and culture, and this came as a result of the great immigration from different countries. The US economy is the largest national economy in the world.
America’s Name Origin
In 1507, a German cartographer mapped the world and he named the areas of land located in the Western Hemisphere as “America”, inspired by the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci. The former British colonies were the first to use the modern name in the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The current name was finalized in 1777, as «United States of America»”. The short form was also adopted by the United States. Citizens of the United States are referred to as Americans. Though the word America refares to the whole continent, the term American is almost restricted to the citizens of the United States.
The Flag of the United States of America is a symbol of freedom and liberty to which Americans pledge their allegiance. Standing at attention and facing the flag with their right hand over the heart to salute their nation, country, and flag.
The flag consists of 13 alternating red and white stripes representing the 13 original colonies. Its 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states. The colours on the flag represent:
Red: valour and bravery,
White: purity and innocence,
Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
The country was founded by thirteen British colonies along the Atlantic coast, the first of which was the English colony of Virginia, after the Virgin Queen Elizabeth. The pace of English settlement on the east coast increased after the emergence of companies aimed at encouraging the settlement movement in overseas lands.
In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired lands from France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Russia, as well as the Republic of Texas and Hawaii. Disputes between the agricultural South and the industrial North over state rights and the expansion of the slave trade led to the American Civil War in the 1860s. The victory of the Northern Territory prevented a split in the country, which led to the end of legal slavery in the United States.
The American national economy became the largest in the world by 1870. The Spanish American War and World War I emphasized the country’s military might. In 1945, the United States emerged from World War II as the first country to possess nuclear weapons, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The United States also became the world’s sole superpower after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The United States spends about 50% of global military spending on American forces.
The tension between the American and British colonists during the revolutionary period of the 1860s and early 1770s led to the American War of Independence, which took place from 1775-1781. After Britain was defeated by American forces with the help of France and Spain, Britain recognized the independence and sovereignty of the United States over American lands west of the Mississippi River.
The United States’ first Senate, House of Representatives, and President (George Washington) took office in 1789. The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, which forbids the restriction of personal liberties and ensures legal protections. The public view of slavery changed. The slave trade was protected by law until 1808. The northern states banned the slave trade between 1780 and 1804, while slavery in the southern states lasted longer.
Tensions between slave and free states led to a growing debate about the relationship between the state and federal governments, as well as the violent conflicts caused by the spread of slavery to new states. Abraham Lincoln was elected as the anti-slavery Republican Party candidate for president in 1860. The American Civil War broke out and four pro-slavery states joined the Confederacy. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in all states. After the Union victory in 1865, there were three constitutional amendments guaranteeing freedom to about 4 million African Americans who were slaves, who became citizens and had the right to vote. The war greatly increased federal power. The civil war remains the deadliest conflict in the country’s history, with some 620,000 soldiers killed.
Women’s Rights Movement
In 1920, the women’s rights movement won a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.
The boom of the 1920s ended with the collapse of Wall Street in the Great Capitalist World Crisis of 1929, which resulted in the Great Depression. After being elected president, Franklin Roosevelt put a set of policies that increased government interference in the economy.
The United States and the Soviet Union vied for power after World War II during the Cold War. The United States promoted liberal democracy and capitalism, while the Soviet Union supported communism and a centralized planned economy. Both supported dictatorships and the two powers engaged in proxy wars.
The failure of the Soviet Union in 1969 to launch the first manned spacecraft to President John F. Kennedy‘s call for the United States to be the first to send a man to the moon.
Kennedy also had a decisive nuclear confrontation with Soviet forces in Cuba, over the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles on Cuba, known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Meanwhile, civil rights movements increased, led by African Americans such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King who fought segregation and discrimination by peaceful means.
Government of the United States of America
The United States is the oldest living federal government in the world. It is a constitutional republic and a liberal democracy, thus ruled by the majority and while the rights of minorities are protected by law. In the US federal system, citizens are subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local government.
The federal government consists of three branches:
Legislative authority: Congress consists of two chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, whose tasks are to make federal law, declare wars, ratify treaties, and have the power of prosecution.
Executive authority: The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and has the right to reject bills and appoint the Cabinet and other officers.
Judicial authority: The Supreme Court and other federal courts. Judges are appointed by the president and with the approval of the Senate.
Geography of America
The area of the United States of America is approximately 1.9 billion acres. The state of Alaska, separated by Canada from the United States, is the largest state in the area. The United States of America is the third or fourth country in terms of area after Russia and Canada and ahead or after China. The order varies because of the difference that occurs when calculating the area of the two disputed areas between China and India.
America’s Climate Diversity
Because of its large area and geographical diversity, the United States has the most types of climate. The climate varies in the north, where it is humid continental east of the 100th meridian and humid subtropical in the south. The southern tip of Florida has a tropical climate. Most of the western mountains have an alpine climate. In addition, the climate in the Great Basin Desert in the southwest is arid, while it is considered to have Mediterranean weather in coastal California and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is polar. The country is also exposed to some natural disasters, especially the states that overlook the Gulf of Mexico.
America’s Geographical Diversity
The United States is known for its astonishing nature, not only because of its vast area and climate diversity, but also because of the natural variation. America occupies a vast space of the North America Continent. As a result, America is famous for its wide range of geographical features and phenomena. On the coastal plain of the Atlantic, there are the tremendous forests and hills of Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains separate the east coast from the Great Lakes region and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi-Missouri River, the fourth-longest river in the world, runs from north to south in the middle of the country.
The Rocky Mountains are located at the western end of the Great Plains and extend north to south along the country. The Great Rocky Basin and other deserts are situated far to the west. The Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Mountains also extend near the Pacific coast. Mount McKinley in Alaska is the highest peak in the country and in North America. Alaska is known for its active volcanoes, in addition, Hawaii is made up of volcanic islands. The volcano under Yellowstone National Park in the Rocky Mountains is the continent’s largest volcano.
The population of the United States in 2022 is 332,403,650 people. The United States is the third most populous country in the world after China and India, and the United States is the only industrialized country whose population is expected to increase in large numbers. The birth rate is 13.82 per 1,000, which is 30% percent lower than the world average, while population growth rates are 0.98%, which is much higher than those of Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea. Mexico has been the main source of new residents for more than two decades, and since 1998, along with China, India, and the Philippines, has become the top four countries exporting immigrants to the United States each year.
The United States has a very diverse population, with 31 ethnic groups numbering over one million people. White Americans are the largest of these groups; Americans of German, Irish, and English roots make up three of the country’s four major races. African Americans make up the country’s largest minority and the third largest ethnic group. While Asian Americans are the second-largest minority, Chinese Americans are the third-largest Asian American ethnic group, in addition to Filipino Americans, and Indian Americans.
English is the national language. Surprisingly enough there is no official language at the federal level; however, some laws, such as US naturalization requirements, require proficiency in English. Around 80% of the population over the age of five, spoke only English at home. Spanish is used by 12% of the population at home, making it the second most common language and the second most taught language. Some Americans advocate making English the official language in the country as it is in at least 28 states.
Although New Mexico does not have an official language, there are laws that mandate the use of both English and Spanish, as is the case in Louisiana for English and French. Both Hawaiian and English are the official languages of Hawaii according to the state constitution. Several island territories give official recognition to their indigenous languages besides English. While Spanish is the official language in Puerto Rico.
The US dollar is the official currency of the United States of America, symbol $, code USD to distinguish it from other dollar currencies used by other countries and is usually referred to as the US dollar. Like most countries, the United States issues paper and coins money for monetary dealings. The US dollar is divided into 100 cents. Cents coins come in the forms of 1₵, 5₵, 10₵, 25₵, and 50₵. As for paper money, they come in seven denominations as $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. The paper money is green-coloured and usually referred to as (greenback) in slag American and dollars are usually referred to as (bucks).
The United States maintains its own units, which are largely traced back to British Imperial units such as the mile, yard, and Fahrenheit. As for the American special units, they include the American gallon and the American pint. The United States is one of only three countries that have not adopted the International System of Units. However, the metric system is increasingly being used in science, medicine, and many industrial fields.
The United States is a melting pot of many nations and cultures, due to the constant immigration process, it is enriched with a variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Regardless of the indigenous peoples of the United States, including the Native Hawaiians, nearly all of the people or their ancestors have migrated within the past five centuries. Western culture is the primary culture among Americans, which mainly draws from the customs of European immigrants, influenced by many other sources such as the traditions of Africans. Increased immigration from Asia and Latin America has added to the cultural diversity, yet these different groups maintain their distinct cultural roots.
Although the prevailing culture in the United States does not recognize classes, scholars have identified differences between the social classes in the country, which affect social relations, language, and values. The United States was pioneering in calling for individualism. The American middle and professional class initiated many contemporary social trends such as modern feminism, environmentalism, and multiculturalism in order to realize the American Dream.
The American Dream
The American Dream is a patriotic spirit of the United States, and a set of ideals (democracy, rights, freedom, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, as well as the social mobility of families and children. The meaning of the “American Dream” has evolved across history, it includes both personal concepts, such as owning a house and becoming rich, and a Cosmo vision.
The American Dream is embedded in the Declaration of Independence, as it states that “all men are created equal” and have the rights of “life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.”
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature borrowed much from Europe. Writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctly American literary voice by the mid-19th century. Emily Dickinson, unknown during her lifetime, became a major poet in America. Mark Twain and Walt Whitman were also leading figures in the second half of the century. Some works have quoted essential aspects and characteristics of the national experience.
Eleven Americans have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the last of them being Toni Morrison in 1993. William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway are among the most important writers of the 20th century. A new generation of literary writers opened a new approach paving the way for postmodern literature.
Cinema and Theater
Since the first 20th century, the US movie industry has greatly developed to become the world’s leader in the filmmaking industry based in Hollywood. Hollywood is a target for the leaders of motion picture production in the world, although within the 21st century it is more and more decentralized, and film companies have been seeking new places all over the globe.
The producer Walt Disney was a pioneer in both animated film and movie merchandising. credit goes to him in making Disney Productions and Disneyland spread around the world. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the Golden Age of Hollywood till the 1960s. In more recent times, filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and James Cameron have gained renown for their blockbuster movies, often characterized by high production costs and earnings.
Theatre in the United States is affected by the old European theatrical art and has been deeply influenced by British theatre. The central hub for theatres, performers, actors, and producers/directors is Broadway, where the community of theatre culture used to get together.