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The United States of America (U.S.A.

), commonly referred to as the United

States (U.S.), America, and sometimes the States, is a federal republic

consisting of
50 states and a federal district. The 4 contiguous states and !ashington, ".#. are in central $orth
%merica bet&een #anada and 'e(ico. The state of %las)a is the north&estern part of $orth %merica
and the state of *a&aii is an archipelago in the mid+,acific. The country also has fi-e populated and
nine unpopulated territories in the ,acific and the #aribbean. %t ../0 million s1uare miles
(0.. million )m
) in total and &ith around .1 million people, the 3nited 4tates is the third or fourth+
largest country by total area and third largest by population. 5t is one of the &orld6s most ethnically
di-erse and multicultural nations, the product of large+scale immigration from many countries.
The geography and climate of the 3nited 4tates is also e(tremely di-erse, and it is home to a
&ide -ariety of &ildlife.
,aleo+5ndians migrated from %sia to &hat is no& the 3.4. mainland around 15,000 years ago,
&ith 7uropean coloni8ation beginning in the 19th century. The 3nited 4tates emerged from 1.
:ritish colonies located along the %tlantic seaboard. "isputes bet&een ;reat :ritain and these
colonies led to the %merican <e-olution. =n >uly 4, 1//9, as the colonies &ere fighting ;reat :ritain
in the %merican <e-olutionary !ar, delegates from the 1. colonies unanimously issued
the "eclaration of 5ndependence. The &ar ended in 1/. &ith the recognition of independence of
the 3nited 4tates from the ?ingdom of ;reat :ritain, and &as the first successful &ar of
independence against a 7uropean colonial empire.
The current #onstitution &as adopted on
4eptember 1/, 1//. The first ten amendments, collecti-ely named the :ill of <ights, &ere ratified in
1/01 and guarantee many fundamental ci-il rights and freedoms.
"ri-en by the doctrine of manifest destiny, the 3nited 4tates embar)ed on a -igorous e(pansion
across $orth %merica throughout the 10th century.
This in-ol-eddisplacing nati-e tribes, ac1uiring
ne& territories, and gradually admitting ne& states.
The %merican #i-il !ar ended legal sla-ery in
the country.
:y the end of the 10th century, the 3nited 4tates e(tended into the ,acific =cean,
and its economy &as the &orld6s largest.
The 4panish@%merican !ar and !orld !ar
5 confirmed the country6s status as a global military po&er. The 3nited 4tates emerged from !orld
!ar 55 as a global superpo&er, the first country &ith nuclear &eapons, and apermanent member of
the 3nited $ations 4ecurity #ouncil. The end of the #old !ar and the dissolution of the 4o-iet
3nion left the 3nited 4tates as the sole superpo&er.
The 3nited 4tates is a de-eloped country and has the &orld6s largest national economy, &ith an
estimated ;", in 201. of A19. trillionB2.C of global nominal ;", and 10C at purchasing+po&er
The economy is fueled by an abundance of natural resources and high &or)er
&ith per capita ;", being the &orld6s si(th+highest in 2010.
!hile the 3.4.
economy is considered post+industrial, it continues to be one of the &orld6s largest manufacturers.
The 3.4. has the highest mean and fourth+highest median household income in the =7#" as &ell
as the highest a-erage &age,
though it has the fourth most une1ual income
distribution among =7#" nations.
The country accounts for .9.9C of global military spending,
being the &orld6s foremost economic and military po&er, a prominent political and cultural force,
and a leader in scientific research and technological inno-ation.
1 7tymology
2 *istory
o 2.1 $ati-e %merican and 7uropean contact
o 2.2 4ettlements
o 2.. 5ndependence and e(pansion
o 2.4 #i-il !ar and <econstruction 7ra
o 2.5 5ndustriali8ation
o 2.9 !orld !ar 5, ;reat "epression, and !orld !ar 55
o 2./ #old !ar and #i-il <ights era
o 2. #ontemporary history
. ;eography, climate, and en-ironment
4 "emographics
o 4.1 ,opulation
o 4.2 Danguage
o 4.. <eligion
o 4.4 Eamily structure
5 ;o-ernment and politics
o 5.1 ,olitical di-isions
o 5.2 ,arties and elections
o 5.. Eoreign relations
o 5.4 ;o-ernment finance
5.4.1 ,ublic debt
9 'ilitary
/ #rime and la& enforcement
o .1 5ncome, po-erty and &ealth
0 5nfrastructure
o 0.1 Transportation
o 0.2 7nergy
10 4cience and technology
11 7ducation
12 *ealth
1. #ulture
o 1..1 ,opular media
o 1..2 Diterature, philosophy, and the arts
o 1... Eood
o 1..4 4ports
14 4ee also
15 <eferences
19 :ibliography
o 19.1 !ebsite sources
1/ 7(ternal lin)s
See also: Names for United States citizens
5n 150/, the ;erman cartographer 'artin !aldseemFller produced a &orld map on &hich he named
the lands of the !estern *emisphere G%mericaG after the 5talian e(plorer and cartographer %merigo
Hespucci (DatinI Americus Vespucius).
The first documentary e-idence of the phrase G3nited
4tates of %mericaG is from a letter dated >anuary 2, 1//9, &ritten by 4tephen 'oylan, 7s1., ;eorge
!ashington6s aide+de+camp and 'uster+'aster ;eneral of the #ontinental %rmy. %ddressed to Dt.
#ol. >oseph <eed, 'oylan e(pressed his &ish to carry the Gfull and ample po&ers of the 3nited
4tates of %mericaG to 4pain to assist in the re-olutionary &ar effort.
The first publicly published e-idence of the phrase G3nited 4tates of %mericaG &as in an
anonymously &ritten essay in The Virginia Gazette ne&spaper in !illiamsburg, Hirginia, on %pril 9,
5n >une 1//9, Thomas >efferson included the phrase G3$5T7" 4T%T74 =E %'7<5#%G in
all capitali8ed letters in the headline of his Goriginal <ough draughtG of the "eclaration of
5n the final Eourth of >uly -ersion of the "eclaration, the pertinent section of the
title &as changed to read, GThe unanimous "eclaration of the thirteen united 4tates of %mericaG.
1/// the %rticles of #onfederation announced, GThe 4tile of this #onfederacy shall be 6The 3nited
4tates of %merica6G.
The short form G3nited 4tatesG is also standard. =ther common forms include the G3.4.G, the
G3.4.%.G, and G%mericaG. #ollo1uial names include the G3.4. of %.G and, internationally, the G4tatesG.
G#olumbiaG, a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 1/00s,
deri-es its origin
from #hristopher #olumbusJ it appears in the name G"istrict of #olumbiaG. 5n non+7nglish languages,
the name is fre1uently translated as the translation of either the G3nited 4tatesG or G3nited 4tates of
%mericaG, and collo1uially as G%mericaG. 5n addition, an abbre-iation (e.g. 34%) is sometimes used.
The phrase G3nited 4tatesG &as originally treated as plural, a description of a collection of
independent statesBe.g., Gthe 3nited 4tates areGBincluding in the Thirteenth %mendment to the
3nited 4tates #onstitution, ratified in 195. 5t became common to treat it as singular, a single unitB
e.g., Gthe 3nited 4tates isGBafter the end of the #i-il !ar. The singular form is no& standardJ the
plural form is retained in the idiom Gthese 3nited 4tatesG.
The difference has been described as
more significant than one of usage, but reflecting the difference bet&een a collection of states and a
The standard &ay to refer to a citi8en of the 3nited 4tates is as an G%mericanG. G3nited 4tatesG,
G%mericanG and G3.4.G are used to refer to the country adKecti-ally (G%merican -aluesG, G3.4. forcesG).
G%mericanG is rarely used in 7nglish to refer to subKects not connected &ith the 3nited 4tates.
Main articles: History of the United States and Timeline of United States history
Native American and European contact
Further information: re!"olum#ian era and "olonial history of the United States
'eeting of $ati-e %mericans and 7uropeans, 1/94
The first $orth %merican settlers migrated from 4iberia by &ay of the :ering land
bridge appro(imately 15,000 or more years ago.
4ome, such as the pre+
#olumbian 'ississippian culture , de-eloped ad-anced agriculture, grand architecture, and state+le-el
societies. %fter 7uropean e(plorers and traders made the first contacts, the nati-e population
declined due to -arious reasons, including diseases such as smallpo( and measles,
and -iolence.
5n the early days of coloni8ation many settlers &ere subKect to shortages of food, disease and
attac)s from $ati-e %mericans. $ati-e %mericans &ere also often at &ar &ith neighboring tribes and
allied &ith 7uropeans in their colonial &ars.
%t the same time ho&e-er many nati-es and settlers
came to depend on each other. 4ettlers traded for food and animal pelts, nati-es for guns,
ammunition and other 7uropean &ares.
$ati-es taught many settlers &here, &hen and ho& to
culti-ate corn, beans and s1uash in the frontier. 7uropean missionaries and others felt it &as
important to Gci-ili8eG the 5ndians and urged them to concentrate on farming and ranching &ithout
depending on hunting and gathering.
Further information: $uropean colonization of the Americas and %& colonies
%fter #olumbus6 first -oyage to the $e& !orld in 1402 other e(plorers and settlement follo&ed into
the Eloridas and the %merican 4outh&est.
There &ere also some Erench attempts to coloni8e
the east coast, and later more successful settlements along the 'ississippi <i-er. 4uccessful
7nglish settlement on the eastern coast of $orth %merica began &ith the Hirginia #olony in 190/
at >amesto&n and the ,ilgrims6 ,lymouth #olony in 1920. 7arly e(periments in communal li-ing
failed until the introduction of pri-ate farm holdings.
The continent6s first elected legislati-e
assembly, Hirginia6s *ouse of :urgesses created in 1910, and the'ayflo&er #ompact, signed by the
,ilgrims before disembar)ing, established precedents for the pattern of representati-e self+
go-ernment and constitutionalism that &ould de-elop throughout the %merican colonies.
The signing of the 'ayflo&er #ompact, 1920
'ost settlers in e-ery colony &ere small farmers, but other industries de-eloped. #ash crops
included tobacco, rice and &heat. 7(traction industries gre& up in furs, fishing and lumber.
'anufacturers produced rum and ships and by the late colonial period %mericans &ere producing
one+se-enth of the &orld6s iron supply.
#ities e-entually dotted the coast to support local
economies and ser-e as trade hubs. 7nglish colonists &ere supplemented by &a-es of 4cotch+
5rish and other groups. %s coastal land gre& more e(pensi-e freed indentured ser-ants pushed
further &est.
4la-e culti-ation of cash crops began &ith the 4panish in the 1500s, and &as
adopted by the 7nglish, but life e(pectancy &as much higher in $orth %merica because of less
disease and better food and treatment, so the numbers of sla-es gre& rapidly.
society &as largely di-ided o-er the religious and moral implications of sla-ery and colonies passed
acts for and against the practice.
:ut by the turn of the 1th century, %frican sla-es &ere
replacing indentured ser-ants for cash crop labor, especially in southern regions.
!ith the 1/.2 coloni8ation of ;eorgia, the 1. colonies that &ould become the 3nited 4tates of
%merica &ere established.
%ll had local go-ernments &ith elections open to most free men, &ith a
gro&ing de-otion to the ancient rights of 7nglishmen and a sense of self+go-ernment stimulating
support for republicanism.
!ith e(tremely high birth rates, lo& death rates, and steady settlement,
the colonial population gre& rapidly. <elati-ely small $ati-e %merican populations &ere eclipsed.
The #hristian re-i-alistmo-ement of the 1/.0s and 1/40s )no&n as the ;reat %&a)ening fueled
interest in both religion and religious liberty.
5n the Erench and 5ndian !ar, :ritish forces sei8ed #anada from the Erench, but
the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. 7(cluding
the $ati-e %mericans, &ho &ere being con1uered and displaced, those 1. colonies had a population
of o-er 2.1 million in 1//0, about one+third that of :ritain. "espite continuing ne& arri-als, the rate of
natural increase &as such that by the 1//0s only a small minority of %mericans had been born
The colonies6 distance from :ritain had allo&ed the de-elopment of self+go-ernment,
but their success moti-ated monarchs to periodically see) to reassert <oyal authority.
Independence and expansion
The 'eclaration of (ndependenceI the #ommittee of Ei-e presenting their draft to the 4econd #ontinental #ongress in
Further information: American )e*olutionary +ar, United States 'eclaration of
(ndependence and American )e*olution
The %merican <e-olutionary !ar &as the first successful colonial &ar of independence against a
7uropean po&er. %mericans had de-eloped an ideology of GrepublicanismGthat held go-ernment
rested on the &ill of the people as e(pressed in their local legislatures. They demanded their rights
as 7nglishmen, Lno ta(ation &ithout representationM. The :ritish insisted on administering the empire
through ,arliament, and the conflict escalated into &ar.
The #ongress adopted the "eclaration of
5ndependence, on >uly 4, 1//9, proclaiming that humanity is created e1ual in their inalienable rights.
That date is no& celebrated annually as %merica6s 5ndependence "ay. 5n 1///, the %rticles of
#onfederation established a &ea) go-ernment that operated until 1/0.
:ritain recogni8ed the independence of the 3nited 4tates follo&ing their defeat at Nor)to&n.
the peace treaty of 1/., %merican so-ereignty &as recogni8ed from the %tlantic coast &est to the
'ississippi <i-er. $ationalists led the ,hiladelphia #on-ention of 1// in &riting the 3nited 4tates
#onstitution, and it &as ratified in state con-entions in 1/. The federal go-ernment &as
reorgani8ed into three branches for their chec)s and balances in 1/0. ;eorge !ashington, &ho
had led the re-olutionary army to -ictory, &as the first president elected under the ne& constitution.
The :ill of <ights, forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of
legal protections, &as adopted in 1/01.
%lthough the federal go-ernment criminali8ed the international sla-e trade in 10, after 120
culti-ation of the highly profitable cotton crop e(ploded in the "eep 4outh, and along &ith it the sla-e
The 4econd ;reat %&a)ening, beginning about 100, con-erted millions
to e-angelical ,rotestantism. 5n the $orth it energi8ed multiple social reform mo-ements,
including abolitionism,
in the 4outh, 'ethodists and :aptists proselyti8ed among sla-e
%mericans6 eagerness to e(pand &est&ard prompted a long series of 5ndian !ars.
The Douisiana
,urchase of Erench+claimed territory in 10. almost doubled the nation6s si8e.
The !ar of 112,
declared against :ritain o-er -arious grie-ances and fought to a dra&, strengthened 3.4.
% series of 3.4. military incursions into Elorida led 4pain to cede it and other ;ulf
#oast territory in 110.
7(pansion &as aided by steam po&er, &hen steamboats began tra-eling
along %merica6s large &ater systems, &hich &ere connected by ne& canals, such as the 7rie and
the 5O'J then, e-en faster railroads began their stretch across the nation6s land.
3.4. territorial ac1uisitions@portions of each territory &ere granted statehood o-er time.
Erom 120 to 150, >ac)sonian democracy began a set of reforms &hich included &ider male
suffrage, and it led to the rise of the 4econd ,arty 4ystem of "emocrats and !higs as the dominant
parties from 12 to 154. The Trail of Tears in the 1.0s e(emplified the 5ndian remo-al policy that
mo-ed 5ndians into the &est to their o&n reser-ations. The 3.4. anne(ed the <epublic of Te(as in
145 during a period of e(pansionist 'anifest "estiny.
The 149 =regon Treaty &ith :ritain led to
3.4. control of the present+day %merican $orth&est.
Hictory in the 'e(ican+%merican
!ar resulted in the 14 'e(ican #ession of #alifornia and much of the present+day %merican
The #alifornia ;old <ush of 14@40 spurred &estern migration and the creation of additional
&estern states.
%fter the %merican #i-il !ar, ne& transcontinental rail&aysmade relocation easier
for settlers, e(panded internal trade and increased conflicts &ith $ati-e %mericans.
=-er a half+
century, the loss of the buffalo &as an e(istential blo& to many ,lains 5ndians cultures.
5n 190, a
ne& ,eace ,olicy sought to protect $ati-e+%mericans from abuses, a-oid further &arfare, and
secure their e-entual 3.4. citi8enship.
Civil War and Reconstruction Era
Further information: American "i*il +ar and )econstruction $ra
:attle of ;ettysburg, ,ennsyl-aniaduring the #i-il !ar
Erom the beginning of the 3nited 4tates, inherent di-isions o-er sla-ery bet&een the $orth and the
4outh in %merican society ultimately led to the %merican #i-il !ar.
5nitially states entering the
3nion alternated sla-e and free, )eeping a sectional balance in the 4enate, &hile free states
outstripped sla-e states in population and in the *ouse of <epresentati-es. :ut &ith additional
&estern territory and more free+soil states, tensions bet&een sla-e and free states mounted &ith
arguments o-er federalism and disposition of the territories, &hether and ho& to e(pand or restrict
Eollo&ing the 190 election of %braham Dincoln, the first president from the largely anti+
sla-ery <epublican ,arty, con-entions in thirteen states ultimately declared secession and formed
the #onfederate 4tates of %merica, &hile the 3.4. federal go-ernment maintained secession &as
The ensuing &ar &as at first for 3nion, then after 19. as casualties mounted and Dincoln
deli-ered his 7mancipation ,roclamation, a second &ar aim became abolition of sla-ery. The &ar
remains the deadliest military conflict in %merican history, resulting in the deaths of appro(imately
91,000 soldiers as &ell as many ci-ilians.
Eollo&ing the 3nion -ictory in 195, three amendments to the 3.4. #onstitution prohibited sla-ery,
made the nearly four million %frican %mericans &ho had been sla-es
3.4. citi8ens, and promised
them -oting rights. The &ar and its resolution led to a substantial increase in federal po&er
at reintegrating and rebuilding the 4outhern states &hile ensuring the rights of the ne&ly freed
:ut follo&ing the <econstruction 7ra, throughout the 4outh >im #ro& la&s soon
effecti-ely disenfranchised most blac)s and some poor &hites. =-er the subse1uent decades, in
both the north and south blac)s and some &hites faced systemic discrimination, including racial
segregation and occasional -igilante -iolence, spar)ing national mo-ements against these abuses.
Further information: -a#or history of the United States
7llis 5sland, in $e& Nor) #ity, &as a maKor gate&ay for the massi-e influ( of immigration during the beginning of
5n the $orth, urbani8ation and an unprecedented influ( of immigrants from 4outhern and 7astern
7urope supplied a surplus of labor for the country6s industriali8ation and transformed its culture.
$ational infrastructure including telegraph and transcontinental railroads spurred economic
gro&th and greater settlement and de-elopment of the%merican =ld !est. The later in-ention
of electric lights and telephones &ould also impact communication and urban life.
The end of
the 5ndian !ars further e(panded acreage under mechanical culti-ation, increasing surpluses for
international mar)ets. 'ainland e(pansion &as completed by the %las)a ,urchase from <ussia in
19/. 5n 10 the 3.4. entered the &orld stage &ith important sugar production and strategic
facilities ac1uired in *a&aii. ,uerto <ico, ;uam, and the ,hilippines &ere ceded by 4pain in the
same year, follo&ing the 4panish %merican !ar.
<apid economic de-elopment at the end of the 10th century produced many prominent industrialists,
and the 3.4. economy became the &orld6s largest. "ramatic changes &ere accompanied by social
unrest and the rise of populist, socialist, and anarchist mo-ements.
This period e-entually ended
&ith the beginning of the ,rogressi-e 7ra, &hich sa& significant reforms in many societal areas,
including &omen6s suffrage, alcohol prohibition, regulation of consumer goods, greater antitrust
measures to ensure competition and attention to &or)er conditions.
World War I, reat !epression, and World War II
Further information: +orld +ar (, Great 'epression and +orld +ar ((
3.4. troops approaching =maha :each during !orld !ar 55
The 3nited 4tates remained neutral at the outbrea) of !orld !ar 5 in 1014, though by 101/, it Koined
the %llies, helping to turn the tide against the #entral ,o&ers. ,resident!oodro& !ilson too) a
leading diplomatic role at the ,aris ,eace #onference of 1010 and ad-ocated strongly for the 3.4. to
Koin the Deague of $ations. *o&e-er, the 4enate refused to appro-e this, and did not ratify
the Treaty of Hersailles that established the Deague of $ations.
5n 1020, the &omen6s rights mo-ement &on passage of a constitutional
amendment granting &omen6s suffrage.
The 1020s and 10.0s sa& the rise of radio for mass
communication and the in-ention of early tele-ision.
The prosperity of the <oaring
T&enties ended &ith the !all 4treet #rash of 1020 and the onset of the ;reat "epression. %fter his
election as president in 10.2, Eran)lin ". <oose-elt responded &ith the $e& "eal, &hich included
the establishment of the 4ocial 4ecurity system.
The "ust :o&l of the mid+10.0s impo-erished
many farming communities and spurred a ne& &a-e of &estern migration.
The 3nited 4tates &as at first effecti-ely neutral during !orld !ar 556s early stages but began
supplying material to the %llies in 'arch 1041 through the Dend+Dease program. =n "ecember /,
1041, the 7mpire of >apan launched a surprise attac) on ,earl *arbor, prompting the 3nited 4tates
to Koin the %llies against the %(is po&ers.
Though the nation lost more than 400,000 soldiers,
emerged relati-ely undamaged from the &ar &ith e-en greater economic and military influence.
%llied conferences at :retton !oods and Nalta outlined a ne& system of international
organi8ations that placed the 3nited 4tates and 4o-iet 3nion at the center of &orld affairs. %s
an %llied -ictory &as &on in 7urope, a 1045 international conference held in 4an
Erancisco produced the 3nited $ations #harter, &hich became acti-e after the &ar.
The 3nited
4tates de-eloped the first nuclear &eapons and used them on >apanJ the >apanesesurrendered on
4eptember 2, ending !orld !ar 55.
Cold War and Civil Ri"hts era
Main articles: History of the United States .%/012304, History of the United States .%/302
564 and History of the United States .%/562/%4
34 ,resident <onald <eagan (left) and 4o-iet ;eneral 4ecretary 'i)hail ;orbache-, meeting in ;ene-a in 105
%fter !orld !ar 55 the 3nited 4tates and the 4o-iet 3nion Koc)eyed for po&er during &hat is )no&n
as the #old !ar, dri-en by an ideological di-ide bet&een capitalism andcommunism. They
dominated the military affairs of 7urope, &ith the 3.4. and its $%T= allies on one side and the
344< and its !arsa& ,act allies on the other. The 3.4. de-eloped a policy of GcontainmentG to&ard
4o-iet bloc e(pansion. !hile they engaged in pro(y &ars and de-eloped po&erful nuclear arsenals,
the t&o countries a-oided direct military conflict. The 3.4. often opposed Third !orld left+&ing
mo-ements that it -ie&ed as 4o-iet+sponsored. %merican troops
fought #ommunist #hinese and $orth ?oreanforces in the ?orean !ar of 1050@5.. The 4o-iet
3nion6s 105/ launch of the first artificial satellite and its 1091 launch of the first manned
spaceflight initiated a G4pace <aceG in &hich the 3nited 4tates became the first to land a man on the
moon in 1090.
% pro(y &ar &as e(panded in 4outheast %sia &ith the Hietnam !ar.
%t home, the 3.4. e(perienced sustained economic e(pansion and a rapid gro&th of its
population and middle class. #onstruction of an interstate high&ay system transformed the nationPs
infrastructure o-er the follo&ing decades. 'illions mo-ed from farms and inner cities to
large suburban housing de-elopments.
% gro&ing #i-il <ights mo-ement used non-iolence to
confront segregation and discrimination, &ith 'artin Duther ?ing >r. becoming a prominent leader
and figurehead. % combination of court decisions and legislation, culminating in the #i-il <ights %ct
of 1094, sought to end racial discrimination.
'ean&hile, a counterculture mo-ement gre&
&hich &as fueled by opposition to the Hietnam &ar, blac) nationalism, and the se(ual re-olution.
The launch of a G!ar on ,o-ertyG e(panded entitlement and &elfare spending.
The 10/0s and early 100s sa& the onset of stagflation. %fter his election in 100, ,resident <onald
<eagan responded to economic stagnation &ith free+mar)et oriented reforms. Eollo&ing the collapse
of dQtente, he abandoned GcontainmentG and initiated the more aggressi-e Grollbac)G strategy
to&ards the 344<.
%fter a surge in female labor participation o-er the pre-ious
decade, by 105 a maKority of &omen age 19 and o-er &ere employed.
The late 100s brought a
Gtha&G in relations &ith the 344<, and its collapse in 1001 finally ended the #old !ar.
Contemporar# histor#
The former !orld Trade #enter inDo&er 'anhattan on 0R11
=ne !orld Trade #enter, built in its place
Main article: History of the United States .%//%2present4
%fter the #old !ar, the 1000s sa& the longest economic e(pansion in modern 3.4. history, ending
in 2001.
=riginating in 3.4. defense net&or)s, the 5nternetspread to international academic
net&or)s, and then to the public in the 1000s, greatly impacting the global economy, society, and
=n 4eptember 11, 2001, al+Saeda terrorists struc) the !orld Trade #enter in $e& Nor)
#ity and the ,entagon near !ashington, ".#., )illing nearly .,000 people.
5n response the 3nited
4tates launched the !ar on Terror, &hich includes the ongoing &ar in %fghanistan and the 200.@
11 5ra1 !ar.
5n 200, amid the ;reat <ecession, :arac) =bama &as elected president,
becoming the first %frican+%merican to ta)e the office.
Geography, climate, and environment
Main articles: Geography of the United States, "limate of the United States and $n*ironment of the
United States
% composite satellite image of the contiguous 3nited 4tates and surrounding areas
The land area of the contiguous 3nited 4tates is 2,050,094 s1uare miles (/,99.,041 )m
). %las)a,
separated from the contiguous 3nited 4tates by #anada, is the largest state at 99.,29 s1uare miles
(1,/1/,59 )m
). *a&aii, occupying an archipelago in the central ,acific, south&est of $orth
%merica, is 10,0.1 s1uare miles (2,.11 )m
) in area.
The 3nited 4tates is the &orld6s third or fourth largest nation by total area (land and &ater), ran)ing
behind <ussia and #anada and Kust abo-e or belo& #hina. The ran)ing -aries depending on ho&
t&o territories disputed by #hina and 5ndia are counted and ho& the total si8e of the 3nited 4tates is
measuredI calculations range from .,9/9,49 s1uare miles (0,522,055 )m
to .,/1/,1. s1uare
miles (0,920,001 )m
to .,/04,101 s1uare miles (0,29,9/9 )m
'easured by only land area,
the 3nited 4tates is third in si8e behind <ussia and #hina, Kust ahead of #anada.
The coastal plain of the %tlantic seaboard gi-es &ay further inland to deciduous forests and the
rolling hills of the ,iedmont. The %ppalachian 'ountains di-ide the eastern seaboard from the ;reat
Da)es and the grasslands of the 'id&est. The 'ississippi@'issouri <i-er, the &orld6s fourth longest
ri-er system, runs mainly north@south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of
the ;reat ,lains stretches to the &est, interrupted by a highland region in the southeast.
The <oc)y 'ountains, at the &estern edge of the ;reat ,lains, e(tend north to south across the
country, reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,.00 m) in #olorado. Earther &est are the
roc)y ;reat :asin and deserts such as the #hihuahua and 'oKa-e. The 4ierra
$e-ada and #ascade mountain ranges run close to the ,acific coast, both ranges reaching altitudes
higher than 14,000 feet (4,.00 m). The lo&est and highest points in the continental 3nited 4tates are
in the state of #alifornia, and only about 0 miles (1.0 )m) apart. %t 20,.20 feet (9,104 m),
%las)a6s 'ount 'c?inley is the tallest pea) in the country and in $orth %merica.
%cti-e -olcanoes are common throughout %las)a6s %le(ander and %leutian 5slands, and *a&aii
consists of -olcanic islands. The super-olcano underlying Nello&stone $ational ,ar) in the <oc)ies
is the continent6s largest -olcanic feature.
The 3nited 4tates, &ith its large si8e and geographic -ariety, includes most climate types. To the
east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid
subtropical in the south. The southern tip of Elorida is tropical, as is *a&aii. The ;reat ,lains &est of
the 100th meridian are semi+arid. 'uch of the !estern mountains are alpine. The climate is arid in
the ;reat :asin, desert in the 4outh&est, 'editerranean in coastal #alifornia, and oceanic in
coastal =regon and !ashington and southern %las)a. 'ost of %las)a is subarctic or polar. 7(treme
&eather is not uncommonBthe states bordering the;ulf of 'e(ico are prone to hurricanes, and
most of the &orld6s tornadoes occur &ithin the country, mainly in the 'id&est6s Tornado %lley.
The bald eagle has been the national bird of the 3nited 4tates since 1/2.
The 3.4. ecology is considered Gmegadi-erseGI about 1/,000 species of -ascular plants occur in the
contiguous 3nited 4tates and %las)a, and o-er 1,00 species of flo&ering plantsare found in *a&aii,
fe& of &hich occur on the mainland.
The 3nited 4tates is home to more than 400 mammal, /50
bird, and 500 reptile and amphibian species.
%bout 01,000 insect species ha-e been described.
The bald eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the 3nited 4tates, and is an
enduring symbol of the country itself.
There are 5 national par)s and hundreds of other federally managed par)s, forests,
and &ilderness areas.
%ltogether, the go-ernment o&ns 2.C of the country6s land area.
of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranchingJ
2.4C is used for military purposes.
7n-ironmental issues ha-e been on the national agenda since 10/0. 7n-ironmental contro-ersies
include debates on oil and nuclear energy, dealing &ith air and &ater pollution, the economic costs
of protecting &ildlife, logging and deforestation,
and international responses to global &arming.
'any federal and state agencies are in-ol-ed. The most prominent is the 7n-ironmental
,rotection %gency (7,%), created by presidential order in 10/0.
The idea of &ilderness has
shaped the management of public lands since 1094, &ith the !ilderness %ct.
The 7ndangered
4pecies %ct of 10/. is intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats,
&hich are monitored by the3nited 4tates Eish and !ildlife 4er-ice.
Main articles: 'emographics of the United States, Americans and -ist of United States cities #y
Dargest ancestry groups by county, 2000
(as gi-en by the 2012 #ensus 7stimate)
&# race'
!hite //.0C
%frican %merican 1..1C
%sian 5.1C
%merican 5ndian and %las)a
$ati-e *a&aiian and ,acific 0.2C
'ultiracial (2 or more) 2.4C
&# ethnicit#'
*ispanicRDatino (of any race) 19.0C
$on+*ispanicRDatino (of any
The 3.4. #ensus :ureau estimates the country6s population no& to be .1,144,000,
including an
appro(imate 11.2 million illegal immigrants.
The 3.4. population almost 1uadrupled during the
20th century, from about /9 million in 1000.
The third most populous nation in the &orld, after
#hina and 5ndia, the 3nited 4tates is the only maKor industriali8ed nation in &hich large population
increases are proKected.
!ith a birth rate of 1. per 1,000, .5C belo& the &orld a-erage, its population gro&th rate is positi-e
at 0.0C, significantly higher than those of many de-eloped nations.
5n fiscal year 2012, o-er one
million immigrants (most of &hom entered through family reunification) &ere grantedlegal residence.
'e(ico has been the leading source of ne& residents since the 1095 5mmigration
%ct. #hina, 5ndia, and the ,hilippines ha-e been in the top four sending countries e-ery year.
$ine million %mericans identify themsel-es as homose(ual, bise(ual, or transgender.
% 2010
sur-ey found that se-en percent of men and eight percent of &omen identified themsel-es as gay,
lesbian, or bise(ual.
The 3nited 4tates has a -ery di-erse populationB.1 ancestry groups ha-e more than one million
!hite %mericans are the largestracial groupJ ;erman %mericans, 5rish %mericans,
and 7nglish %mericans constitute three of the country6s four largest ancestry groups.
%mericans are the nation6s largest racial minority and third largest ancestry group.
%mericans are the country6s second largest racial minorityJ the three largest %sian %merican ethnic
groups are #hinese %mericans, Eilipino %mericans, and 5ndian %mericans.
5n 2010, the 3.4. population included an estimated 5.2 million people &ith some %merican
5ndian or %las)a $ati-e ancestry (2.0 million e(clusi-ely of such ancestry) and 1.2 million &ith
some nati-e *a&aiian or ,acific island ancestry (0.5 million e(clusi-ely).
The census counted
more than 10 million people of G4ome =ther <aceG &ho &ere Gunable to identify &ith anyG of its fi-e
official race categories in 2010.
The population gro&th of *ispanic and Datino %mericans (the terms are officially interchangeable) is
a maKor demographic trend. The 50.5 million %mericans of *ispanic descent
are identified as
sharing a distinct GethnicityG by the #ensus :ureauJ 94C of *ispanic %mericans are of 'e(ican
:et&een 2000 and 2010, the country6s *ispanic population increased 4.C &hile the
non+*ispanic population rose Kust 4.0C.
'uch of this gro&th is from immigrationJ in 200/, 12.9C
of the 3.4. population &as foreign+born, &ith 54C of that figure born in Datin %merica.
Eertility is also a factorJ in 2010 the a-erage *ispanic (of any race) &oman ga-e birth to 2..5
children in her lifetime, compared to 1.0/ for non+*ispanic blac) &omen and 1./0 for non+*ispanic
&hite &omen (both belo& the replacement rate of 2.1).
'inorities (as defined by the #ensus
:ureau as all those beside non+*ispanic, non+multiracial &hites) constituted .9..C of the population
in 2010,
and o-er 50C of children under age one,
and are proKected to constitute the maKority
by 2042.
This contradicts the report by the $ational Hital 4tatistics <eports, based on the 3.4.
census data, &hich concludes that 54C (2,192,409 out of .,000,.9 in 2010) of births &ere non+
*ispanic &hite.
%bout 2C of %mericans li-e in urban areas (including suburbs)J
about half of those reside in cities
&ith populations o-er 50,000.
5n 200, 2/. incorporated places had populations o-er 100,000,
nine cities had more than one million residents, and four global cities had o-er t&o million ($e& Nor)
#ity, Dos %ngeles, #hicago, and *ouston).
There are 52 metropolitan areas &ith populations
greater than one million.
=f the 50 fastest+gro&ing metro areas, 4/ are in the !est or 4outh.
The metro areas of"allas, *ouston, %tlanta, and ,hoeni( all gre& by more than a million people
bet&een 2000 and 200.
Leading population centers (see complete list)
Rank Core city (cities) Metro area population Metropolitan Statistical Area
1 New York City 19,949,502 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA
2 Los Angeles 13,131,431 Los Angees!Long "ea#$!Santa Ana, CA MSA
3 Chicago 9,53%,2&9 C$i#ago!Joiet!Na'er(ie, )L!)N!*) MSA
4 Dallas!ort "orth +,&10,913 ,aas!-ort *ort$!Arington, ./ MSA
5 #ouston +,313,15& 0o1ston!.$e *oo2an2s-S1gar Lan2 MSA
+ $hiladelphia +,034,+%& P$ia2e'$ia!Ca32en!*i3ington, PA!NJ!,4!M, MSA
% "ashington% D&C& 5,949,&59 *as$ington, ,C!5A!M,!*5 MSA
& Miami 5,&2&,191 Mia3i!-ort La12er2ae!Po3'ano "ea#$, -L MSA
9 Atlanta 5,522,942 Atanta!San2y S'rings!Marietta, 6A MSA
10 'oston 4,+&4,299 "oston!Ca37ri2ge!81in#y, MA!N0 MSA
11 San !rancisco 4,51+,2%+ San -ran#is#o!9akan2!-re3ont, CA MSA
12 $hoeni( 4,39&,%+2 P$oeni:!Mesa!6en2ae, A; MSA
13 San 'ernardino)Ri*erside 4,3&0,&%& San "ernan2ino!<i(ersi2e!9ntario, CA MSA
14 Detroit 4,294,9&3 ,etroit!*arren!Li(onia, M) MSA
15 Seattle 3,+10,105 Seatte!.a#o3a!"ee(1e, *A MSA
1+ MinneapolisSt& $aul 3,459,14+ Minnea'ois!St= Pa1!"oo3ington, MN!*) MSA
1% San Diego 3,211,252 San ,iego!Cars7a2!San Mar#os, CA MSA
1& +ampaSt& $eters,urg 2,&%0,5+9 .a3'a!St= Peters71rg!Cearwater, -L MSA
19 St& Louis 2,&10,05+ St= Lo1is!St= C$ares!-ar3ington, M9!)L MSA
20 'altimore 2,%%0,%3& "ati3ore!.owson, M, MSA
7ase2 1'on 2013 'o'1ation esti3ates >ro3 t$e
(an"ua"es spo)en *# more than +,,,,,,,, in the U.S.
as of -,+,
$ercent of
Num*er of
7nglish 0C 2..,/0,..
"om#ined total of all languages 768 19,605,3%9
(an"ua"es spo)en *# more than +,,,,,,,, in the U.S.
as of -,+,
$ercent of
Num*er of
other than $nglish
(e(cluding ,uerto <ico and 4panish #reole)
12C .5,4./,05
(including #antonese and 'andarin)
0.0C 2,59/,//0
Tagalog 0.5C 1,542,11
Hietnamese 0.4C 1,202,44
Erench 0.4C 1,2,..
?orean 0.4C 1,10,40
;erman 0.4C 1,10/,90
Main article: -anguages of the United States
See also: -anguage Spo:en at Home and -ist of endangered languages in the United States
7nglish (%merican 7nglish) is the de facto national language. %lthough there is no official
language at the federal le-el, some la&sBsuch as 3.4. naturali8ation re1uirementsBstandardi8e
7nglish. 5n 2010, about 2.0 million, or 0C of the population aged fi-e years and older, spo)e only
7nglish at home. 4panish, spo)en by 12C of the population at home, is the second most common
language and the most &idely taught second language.
4ome %mericans ad-ocate ma)ing
7nglish the country6s official language, as it is in at least 2 states.
:oth *a&aiian and 7nglish are official languages in *a&aii, by state la&.
!hile neither has an
official language, $e& 'e(ico has la&s pro-iding for the use of both 7nglish and 4panish,
as Douisiana does for 7nglish and Erench.
=ther states, such as #alifornia, mandate the
publication of 4panish -ersions of certain go-ernment documents including court forms.
Kurisdictions &ith large numbers of non+7nglish spea)ers produce go-ernment materials, especially
-oting information, in the most commonly spo)en languages in those Kurisdictions.
4e-eral insular territories grant official recognition to their nati-e languages, along &ith
7nglishI 4amoan and #hamorro are recogni8ed by %merican 4amoa and ;uam, respecti-elyJ
#arolinian and #hamorro are recogni8ed by the $orthern 'ariana 5slandsJ
[citation needed]
4panish is
an official language of ,uerto <ico and is more &idely spo)en than 7nglish there.
Main article: )eligion in the United States
See also: History of religion in the United States, Freedom of religion in the United
States, Separation of church and state in the United States and -ist of religious mo*ements that
#egan in the United States
Reli"ious affiliation in the U.S. .-,+-/
Affiliation 0 of U.S. population
#hristian 12
,rotestant 34
#atholic --
'ormon -
7astern =rthodo( +
Reli"ious affiliation in the U.S. .-,+-/
Affiliation 0 of U.S. population
=ther Eaith 5
3naffiliated +6.5
"on6t )no&Rrefused ans&er -
7otal +,,
The Eirst %mendment of the 3.4. #onstitution guarantees the free e(ercise of religion and forbids
#ongress from passing la&s respecting itsestablishment. #hristianity is by far the most common
religion practiced in the 3.4., but other religions are follo&ed, too. 5n a 201. sur-ey, 59C of
%mericans said that religion played a G-ery important role in their li-esG, a far higher figure than that
of any other &ealthy nation.
5n a 2000 ;allup poll 42C of %mericans said that they attended
church &ee)ly or almost &ee)lyJ the figures ranged from a lo& of 2.C in Hermont to a high of 9.C
in 'ississippi.
%s &ith other !estern countries, the 3.4. is becoming less religious. 5rreligion is
gro&ing rapidly among %mericans under .0.
,olls sho& that o-erall %merican confidence in
organi8ed religion is declining,
and that younger %mericans in particular are becoming
increasingly irreligious.
%ccording to a 2012 sur-ey, /.C of adults identified themsel-es as #hristian,
do&n from 9.4C
in 1000.
,rotestant denominations accounted for 4C, &hile <oman #atholicism, at 22C, &as the
largest indi-idual denomination.
The total reporting non+#hristian religions in 2012 &as 9C, up
from 4C in 200/.
=ther religions
include >udaism (1./C), :uddhism (0./C), 5slam (0.9C), *induism (0.4C), and 3nitarian
3ni-ersalism (0..C).
The sur-ey also reported that 10.9C of %mericans described themsel-es
as agnostic, atheist or simply ha-ing no religion, up from .2C in 1000.
There are
also :aha6i, 4i)h, >ain, 4hinto, #onfucian, Taoist, "ruid, $ati-e
%merican, !iccan, humanist anddeist communities.
,rotestantism is the largest group of religions in the 3nited 4tates, &ith :aptists being the largest
,rotestant sect, and the 4outhern :aptist #on-ention being the largest ,rotestant denomination in
the 3.4. %bout 10 percent of ,rotestants are 7-angelical, &hile 15 percent are mainline and
percent belong to a traditionally :lac) church. <oman #atholicism in the 3.4. has its origin in
the 4panish and Erench coloni8ation of the %mericas, and later gre& due to 5rish, 5talian, ,olish,
;erman and *ispanic immigration. <hode 5sland is the only state &here the maKority of the
population is #atholic. Dutheranism in the 3.4. has its origin in immigration from $orthern
7urope. $orth and 4outh "a)ota are the only states in &hich a plurality of the population is
Dutheran. 3tah is the only state &here 'ormonism is the religion of the maKority of the
population. 'ormonism is also relati-ely common in parts of 5daho, $e-ada and !yoming.
The :ible :elt is an informal term for a region in the 4outhern 3nited 4tates in &hich socially
conser-ati-e e-angelical ,rotestantism is a significant part of the culture and #hristian church
attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation6s a-erage. :y contrast,
religion plays the least important role in $e& 7ngland and in the !estern 3nited 4tates.
8amil# structure
Main article: Family structure in the United States
5n 200/, 5C of %mericans age 1 and o-er &ere married, 9C &ere &ido&ed, 10C &ere di-orced,
and 25C had ne-er been married.
!omen no& &or) mostly outside the home and recei-e a
maKority ofbachelor6s degrees.
The 3.4. teenage pregnancy rate, /0. per 1,000 &omen, is the highest among =7#" nations.
:et&een 200/ and 2010, the highest teenage birth rate &as in 'ississippi, and the lo&est in $e&
%bortion is legal throughout the 3.4., o&ing to )oe *; +ade, a 10/. landmar)
decision by the 3nited 4tates 4upreme #ourt. !hile the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of
241 per 1,000 li-e births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 &omen aged 15@44 remain higher than
those of most !estern nations.
5n 2011, the a-erage age at first birth &as 25.9 and 40./C of
births &ere to unmarried &omen.
The total fertility rate (TE<) &as estimated for 201. at 2.09
births per &oman.
%doption in the 3nited 4tates is common and relati-ely easy from a legal point
of -ie& (compared to other !estern countries).
5n 2001, &ith o-er 12/,000 adoptions, the 3.4.
accounted for nearly half of the total number of adoptions &orld&ide.
4ame+se( marriage is legally permitted in 1 3.4. states, $ati-e %merican Tribal >urisdictions,
the "istrict of #olumbia, select counties in 5llinois, and &ill be permitted in 5llinois state&ide effecti-e
>une 1, 2014. Dimited recognition has been granted to out+of+state same+se( marriages
in %las)a, #olorado,
'issouri, 3tah, and =hio.
,olygamy is illegal throughout the 3.4.
Government and politics
Main articles: Federal go*ernment of the United States, state go*ernments of the United
States and elections in the United States
3.4. #apitol, &here #ongress sitsI
the 4enate, leftJ the *ouse, right
The !hite *ouse, home of the 3.4. ,resident
4upreme #ourt :uilding, &here thenation6s highest court sits
The 3nited 4tates is the &orld6s oldest sur-i-ing federation. 5t is a constitutional
republic and representati-e democracy, Gin &hich maKority rule is tempered by minority
rights protected by la&G.
The go-ernment is regulated by a system of chec)s and
balances defined by the 3.4. #onstitution, &hich ser-es as the country6s supreme legal document.
Eor 2012, the 3.4. ran)ed 21st on the "emocracy 5nde(
and 10th on the #orruption
,erceptions 5nde(.
5n the %merican federalist system, citi8ens are usually subKect to three le-els of go-ernmentI federal,
state, and local. The local go-ernment6s duties are commonly split bet&een county and municipal
go-ernments. 5n almost all cases, e(ecuti-e and legislati-e officials are elected by aplurality -ote of
citi8ens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal le-el, and it is -ery rare at
lo&er le-els.
,olitical system of the 3nited 4tates
The federal go-ernment is composed of three branchesI
Degislati-e I The bicameral #ongress, made up of the 4enate and the *ouse of
<epresentati-es, ma)es federal la&, declares &ar, appro-es treaties, has the po&er of the
and has the po&er of impeachment, by &hich it can remo-e sitting members of the
7(ecuti-e I The president is the commander+in+chief of the military, can -eto legislati-e
bills before they become la& (subKect to #ongressional o-erride), and appoints the members of
the #abinet (subKect to 4enate appro-al) and other officers, &ho administer and enforce federal
la&s and policies.
>udicial I The 4upreme #ourt and lo&er federal courts, &hose Kudges are appointed by the
president &ith 4enate appro-al, interpret la&s and o-erturn those they find unconstitutional.
The *ouse of <epresentati-es has 4.5 -oting members, each representing a congressional
district for a t&o+year term. *ouse seats are apportionedamong the states by population e-ery tenth
year. %t the 2010 census, se-en states had the minimum of one representati-e, &hile #alifornia, the
most populous state, had 5..
The 4enate has 100 members &ith each state ha-ing t&o senators, elected at+large to si(+year
termsJ one third of 4enate seats are up for election e-ery other year. The president ser-es a four+
year term and may be elected to the office no more than t&ice. The president is not elected by direct
-ote, but by an indirect electoral college system in &hich the determining -otes are apportioned to
the states and the "istrict of #olumbia.
The 4upreme #ourt, led by the #hief >ustice of the 3nited
4tates, has nine members, &ho ser-e for life.
The state go-ernments are structured in roughly similar fashionJ $ebras)a uni1uely has
a unicameral legislature.
The go-ernor (chief e(ecuti-e) of each state is directly elected. 4ome
state Kudges and cabinet officers are appointed by the go-ernors of the respecti-e states, &hile
others are elected by popular -ote.
The original te(t of the #onstitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal
go-ernment and its relationship &ith the indi-idual states. %rticle =ne protects the right to the Ggreat
&ritG of habeas corpus, The #onstitution has been amended 2/ timesJ
the first ten amendments,
&hich ma)e up the :ill of <ights, and the Eourteenth %mendment form the central basis of
%mericans6 indi-idual rights. %ll la&s and go-ernmental procedures are subKect to Kudicial re-ie& and
any la& ruled by the courts to be in -iolation of the #onstitution is -oided. The principle of Kudicial
re-ie&, not e(plicitly mentioned in the #onstitution, &as established by the 4upreme #ourt
in Mar#ury *; Madison (10.)
in a decision handed do&n by #hief >ustice >ohn 'arshall.
$olitical divisions
Main articles: olitical di*isions of the United States, U;S; state, Territories of the United
States and -ist of states and territories of the United States
Further information: Territorial e*olution of the United States and United States territorial ac<uisitions
The 3nited 4tates is a federal union of 50 states. The original 1. states &ere the successors of
the 1. colonies that rebelled against :ritish rule. 7arly in the country6s history, three ne& states &ere
organi8ed on territory separated from the claims of the e(isting
statesI ?entuc)y from HirginiaJ Tennessee from $orth #arolinaJ and 'aine from 'assachusetts.
'ost of the other states ha-e been car-ed from territories obtained through &ar or purchase by the
3.4. go-ernment. =ne set of e(ceptions includes Hermont, Te(as, and *a&aiiI each &as an
independent republic before Koining the union. "uring the %merican #i-il !ar, !est Hirginiabro)e
a&ay from Hirginia. The most recent stateB*a&aiiBachie-ed statehood on %ugust 21, 1050.
The states do not ha-e the right to unilaterally secede from the union.
The states compose the -ast bul) of the 3.4. land mass. The "istrict of #olumbia is a federal
district &hich contains the capital of the 3nited 4tates, !ashington ".#. The 3nited 4tates also
possesses fi-e maKor o-erseas territoriesI ,uerto <ico and the 3nited 4tates Hirgin 5slands in the
#aribbeanJ and %merican 4amoa, ;uam, and the $orthern 'ariana 5slands in the ,acific.
born in the maKor territories arebirthright 3.4. citi8ens e(cept 4amoans. 4amoans born in %merican
4amoa are born 3.4. nationals, and may become naturali8ed citi8ens.
%merican citi8ens residing
in the territories ha-e fundamental constitutional protections and electi-e self+go-ernment, &ith a
territorial 'ember of #ongress, but they do not -ote for president as states. Territories ha-e
personal and business ta( regimes different from that of states.
The 3nited 4tates also obser-es tribal so-ereignty of the $ati-e $ations. Though reser-ations are
&ithin state borders, the reser-ation is a so-ereign entity. !hile the 3nited 4tates recogni8es this
so-ereignty, other countries may not.
$arties and elections
Main articles: olitics of the United States and olitical ideologies in the United States
(from left to right) *ouse 'aKority Deader 7ric #antor, *ouse 'inority Deader $ancy ,elosi, *ouse 4pea)er >ohn
:oehner, ,resident :arac) =bama, 4enate 'aKority Deader *arry <eid, 4enate 'inority Deader 'itch 'c#onnell at
the !hite *ouse in 2011
The 3nited 4tates has operated under a t&o+party system for most of its history.
Eor electi-e
offices at most le-els, state+administered primary elections choose the maKor party nominees for
subse1uent general elections. 4ince the general election of 159, the maKor parties ha-e been
the "emocratic ,arty, founded in 124, and the <epublican ,arty, founded in 154. 4ince the #i-il
!ar, only one third+party presidential candidateBformer president Theodore <oose-elt, running as
a ,rogressi-e in 1012Bhas &on as much as 20C of the popular -ote. The third+largest political
party is the Dibertarian ,arty.
!ithin %merican political culture, the <epublican ,arty is considered center+right or conser-ati-e and
the "emocratic ,arty is considered center+left or liberal.
The states of the $ortheast and !est
#oast and some of the ;reat Da)es states, )no&n as Gblue statesG, are relati-ely liberal. The Gred
statesG of the 4outh and parts of the ;reat ,lains and<oc)y 'ountains are relati-ely conser-ati-e.
The &inner of the 200 and 2012 presidential elections, "emocrat :arac) =bama, is the 44th 3.4.
5n the 3nited 4tates #ongress, the *ouse of <epresentati-es is controlled by the <epublican
,arty, &hile the "emocratic ,arty has control of the 4enate. The 4enate currently consists of 52
"emocrats, t&o independents &ho caucus &ith the "emocrats, and 49 <epublicansJ the *ouse
consists of 2.4 <epublicans and 201 "emocrats.
There are .0 <epublican and 20
"emocratic state go-ernors.
4ince the founding of the 3nited 4tates until the 2000s, the country6s go-ernance has been primarily
dominated by !hite %nglo+4a(on ,rotestants (!%4,s). *o&e-er, the situation has changed
recently and of the top 1/ positions (four national candidates of the t&o maKor party in the 2012 3.4.
presidential election, four leaders in 112th 3nited 4tates #ongress, and nine 4upreme #ourt
>ustices) there is only one !%4,.
The 3nited $ations *ead1uartershas been situated in 'idto&n 'anhattan since 1052.
8orei"n relations
Main articles: Foreign relations of the United States and Foreign policy of the United States
See also: "o*ert United States foreign regime change actions
The 3nited 4tates has an established structure of foreign relations. 5t is a permanent member of
the 3nited $ations 4ecurity #ouncil, and $e& Nor) #ity is home to the 3nited $ations
*ead1uarters. 5t is a member of the ;,
;20, and =rganisation for 7conomic #o+operation and
"e-elopment. %lmost all countries ha-e embassies in !ashington, ".#., and many
ha-e consulates around the country. Di)e&ise, nearly all nations host %merican diplomatic missions.
*o&e-er, #uba, 5ran, $orth ?orea, :hutan, and the<epublic of #hina (Tai&an) do not ha-e formal
diplomatic relations &ith the 3nited 4tates (although the 3.4. still supplies Tai&an &ith military
The 3nited 4tates has a Gspecial relationshipG &ith the 3nited ?ingdom
and strong ties
&ith #anada,
$e& Tealand,
the ,hilippines,
4outh ?orea ,
and se-eral 7uropean countries, including Erance and ;ermany. 5t &or)s closely &ith
fello& $%T= members on military and security issues and &ith its neighbors through
the =rgani8ation of %merican 4tates and free trade agreements such as the trilateral $orth
%merican Eree Trade %greement &ith #anada and'e(ico. 5n 200, the 3nited 4tates spent a net
A25.4 billion on official de-elopment assistance, the most in the &orld. %s a share of %merica6s
large gross national income (;$5), ho&e-er, the 3.4. contribution of 0.1C ran)ed last among 22
donor states. :y contrast, pri-ate o-erseas gi-ing by %mericans is relati-ely generous.
The 3.4. e(ercises full international defense authority and responsibility for three so-ereign nations
through #ompact of Eree %ssociation &ith 'icronesia, the 'arshall 5slandsand ,alau, all of &hich
are ,acific island nations &hich &ere part of the 3.4.+administered Trust Territory of the ,acific
5slands beginning after !orld !ar 55, and gained independence in subse1uent years.
overnment finance
See also: Ta=ation in the United States and United States federal #udget
Ta(es are le-ied in the 3nited 4tates at the federal, state and local go-ernment le-el. These include
ta(es on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as &ell as -arious fees. 5n 2010
ta(es collected by federal, state and municipal go-ernments amounted to 24.C of ;",.
EN2012, the federal go-ernment collected appro(imately A2.45 trillion in ta( re-enue, up A14/ billion
or 9C -ersus EN2011 re-enues of A2..0 trillion. ,rimary receipt categories included indi-idual
income ta(es (A1,1.2: or 4/C), 4ocial 4ecurityR4ocial 5nsurance ta(es (A45: or .5C), and
corporate ta(es (A242: or 10C).
3.4. ta(ation is generally progressi-e, especially the federal income ta(es, and is among the most
progressi-e in the de-eloped &orld,
but the incidence of corporate income ta( has
been a matter of considerable ongoing contro-ersy for decades.
5n 2000 the top 10C of
earners, &ith .9C of the nation6s income, paid /.2C of the federal personal income ta( burden,
&hile the bottom 40C had a negati-e liability.
*o&e-er, payroll ta(es for 4ocial 4ecurity are a
flat regressi-e ta(, &ith no ta( charged on income abo-e A11.,/00 and no ta( at all paid
on unearned income from things such as stoc)s and capital gains.
The historic reasoning for
the regressi-e nature of the payroll ta( is that entitlement programs ha-e not been -ie&ed as &elfare
The top 10C paid 51.C of total federal ta(es in 2000, and the top 1C, &ith 1..4C
of pre+ta( national income, paid 22..C of federal ta(es.
5n 201. the Ta( ,olicy #enter proKected
total federal effecti-e ta( rates of .5.5C for the top 1C, 2/.2C for the top 1uintile, 1..C for the
middle 1uintile, and U2./C for the bottom 1uintile.
4tate and local ta(es -ary &idely, but are
generally less progressi-e than federal ta(es as they rely hea-ily on broadly borneregressi-e sales
and property ta(es that yield less -olatile re-enue streams, though their consideration does not
eliminate the progressi-e nature of o-erall ta(ation.
"uring EN 2012, the federal go-ernment spent A..54 trillion on a budget or cash basis, do&n A90
billion or 1./C -s. EN 2011 spending of A..90 trillion. 'aKor categories of EN 2012 spending
includedI 'edicare O 'edicaid (A02: or 2.C of spending), 4ocial 4ecurity (A/9: or 22C),
"efense "epartment (A9/0: or 10C), non+defense discretionary (A915: or 1/C), other mandatory
(A491: or 1.C) and interest (A22.: or 9C).
$u*lic de*t
Main article: National de#t of the United States
34 federal debt held by the public as a percentage of ;",, from 1/00 to 201.
5n 'ay 2014, 3.4. federal go-ernment debt held by the public &as appro(imately A12.405 trillion, or
about /5C of 3.4. ;",. 5ntra+go-ernmental holdings stood at A5 trillion, gi-ing a combined total
debt of A1/.404 trillion.
:y 2012, total federal debt had surpassed 100C of 3.4. ;",.
3.4. has a credit rating of %%V from 4tandard O ,oor6s, %%% from Eitch, and %aa from 'oody6s.
*istorically, the 3.4. public debt as a share of ;", increased during &ars and recessions, and
subse1uently declined. Eor e(ample, debt held by the public as a share of ;", pea)ed Kust after
!orld !ar 55 (11.C of ;", in 1045), but then fell o-er the follo&ing .0 years. 5n recent decades,
large budget deficits and the resulting increases in debt ha-e led to concern about the long+term
sustainability of the federal go-ernment6s fiscal policies.
*o&e-er, these concerns are not
uni-ersally shared.
Main article: United States Armed Forces
The president holds the title of commander+in+chief of the nation6s armed forces and appoints its
leaders, the 4ecretary of "efense and the >oint #hiefs of 4taff. The 3nited 4tates "epartment of
"efense administers the armed forces, including the %rmy, $a-y, 'arine #orps, and %ir Eorce.
The #oast ;uard is run by the "epartment of *omeland 4ecurity in peacetime and by
the "epartment of the $a-y during times of &ar. 5n 200, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel
on acti-e duty. The <eser-es and $ational ;uard brought the total number of troops to 2.. million.
The "epartment of "efense also employed about /00,000 ci-ilians, not including contractors.
The carrier stri)e groups of the >itty Ha?:, )onald )eagan, and A#raham -incoln &ith aircraft from the 'arine
#orps, $a-y, and %ir Eorce.
'ilitary ser-ice is -oluntary, though conscription may occur in &artime through the 4electi-e 4er-ice
%merican forces can be rapidly deployed by the %ir Eorce6s large fleet of transport
aircraft, the $a-y6s 10 acti-e aircraft carriers, and 'arine 7(peditionary 3nits at sea &ith the
$a-y6s %tlantic and ,acific fleets. The military operates 95 bases and facilities abroad,
maintains deployments greater than 100 acti-e duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.
The e(tent
of this global military presence has prompted some scholars to describe the 3nited 4tates as
maintaining an Gempire of basesG.
The 'ilitary budget of the 3nited 4tates in 2011, &as more than A/00 billion, 41C of global military
spending and e1ual to the ne(t 14 largest national military e(penditures combined. %t 4./C of ;",,
the rate &as the second+highest among the top 15 military spenders, after 4audi %rabia.
defense spending as a percentage of ;", ran)ed 2.rd globally in 2012 according to the #5%.
"efense6s share of 3.4. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from #old !ar
pea)s of 14.2C of ;", in 105. and 90.5C of federal outlays in 1054 to 4./C of ;", and 1.C of
federal outlays in 2011.
The proposed base "epartment of "efense budget for 2012, A55. billion, &as a 4.2C increase o-er
2011J an additional A11 billion &as proposed for the military campaigns in 5ra1 and %fghanistan.
The last %merican troops ser-ing in 5ra1 departed in "ecember 2011J
4,44 ser-icemen &ere
)illed during the 5ra1 !ar.
%ppro(imately 00,000 3.4. troops &ere ser-ing in %fghanistan in %pril
by $o-ember , 201. 2,25 had been )illed during the !ar in %fghanistan.
Crime and law enforcement
Main articles: -a? enforcement in the United States and "rime in the United States
See also: -a? of the United States, (ncarceration in the United States, "apital punishment in the
United States and Second Amendment to the United States "onstitution
Da& enforcement in the 3.4. is maintained primarily by local police departments. The $e& Nor) #ity ,olice
"epartment ($N,") is the largest in the country.
Da& enforcement in the 3nited 4tates is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff6s
departments, &ith state police pro-iding broader ser-ices. Eederal agencies such as the Eederal
:ureau of 5n-estigation (E:5) and the 3.4. 'arshals 4er-ice ha-e speciali8ed duties.
%t the
federal le-el and in almost e-ery state, Kurisprudence operates on a common la& system. 4tate
courts conduct most criminal trialsJ federal courts handle certain designated crimes as &ell as
certain appeals from the state criminal courts.,lea bargaining in the 3nited 4tates is -ery commonJ
the -ast maKority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than Kury trial.
5n 2012 there &ere 4./ murders per 100,000 persons in the 3nited 4tates, a 54C decline from the
modern pea) of 10.2 in 100.
%mong de-eloped nations, the 3nited 4tates has abo-e+
a-erage le-els of -iolent crime and particularly high le-els of gun -iolence and homicide.
% cross+
sectional analysis of the !orld *ealth =rgani8ation 'ortality "atabase from 200. sho&ed that
3nited 4tates Ghomicide rates &ere 9.0 times higher than rates in the other high+income countries,
dri-en by firearm homicide rates that &ere 10.5 times higher.G
;un o&nership rights continue to
be the subKect of contentious political debate.
#apital punishment is sanctioned in the 3nited 4tates for certain federal and military crimes, and
used in .2 states.
$o e(ecutions too) place from 109/ to 10//, o&ing in part to a 3.4. 4upreme
#ourt ruling stri)ing do&n arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. 5n 10/9, that #ourt ruled that,
under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. 4ince the
decision there ha-e been more than 1,.00 e(ecutions, a maKority of these ta)ing place in three
statesI Te(as, Hirginia, and=)lahoma.
'ean&hile, se-eral states ha-e either abolished or struc)
do&n death penalty la&s. 5n 2010, the country had the fifth highest number of e(ecutions in the
&orld, follo&ing #hina, 5ran, $orth ?orea, and Nemen.
The 3nited 4tates has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the
%t the start of 200, more than 2.. million people &ere incarcerated, more than
one in e-ery 100 adults.
The prison population has 1uadrupled since 100.
males are Kailed at about si( times the rate of &hite males and three times the rate of *ispanic
The country6s high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing
guidelines and drug policies.
5n 200, Douisiana had the highest incarceration rate, and 'aine the
5n 2012, Douisiana had the highest rate of murder and non negligent manslaughter in the
3.4., and $e& *ampshire the lo&est.
Main article: $conomy of the United States
Economic indicators
$ominal ;", A1/.10 trillion (S1
<eal ;", gro&th +1.0C (S1 2014,
1.0C (201.)
#,5 inflation 1.5C ('arch 201. @
'arch 2014)
5.0C (%pril 2014)
3nemployment 9..C (%pril 2014)
Dabor force participation
92.C (%pril 2014)
Total public debt A1/..5 trillion (S4
*ousehold net &orth A//.. trillion (S. 201.)
3nited 4tates e(port treemap (2011)I The 3.4. is the &orld6s second+largest e(porter.
The 3nited 4tates has a capitalist mi(ed economy &hich is fueled by abundant natural
resources and high producti-ity.
%ccording to the 5nternational 'onetary Eund, the 3.4. ;", of
A19. trillion constitutes 22C of the gross &orld product at mar)et e(change rates and o-er 10C of
the gross &orld product atpurchasing po&er parity (,,,).
Though larger than any other nation6s, its
national ;", &as about 5C smaller at ,,, in 2011 than the 7uropean 3nion6s, &hose population is
around 92C higher.
Erom 10. to 200, 3.4. real compounded annual ;", gro&th &as ...C,
compared to a 2..C &eighted a-erage for the rest of the ;/.
The country ran)s ninth in the &orld
in nominal ;", per capita and si(th in ;", per capita at ,,,.
The 3.4. dollar is the &orld6s
primaryreser-e currency.
The 3nited 4tates is the largest importer of goods and second largest e(porter, though e(ports per
capita are relati-ely lo&. 5n 2010, the total 3.4. trade deficit&as A9.5 billion.
#anada, #hina,
'e(ico, >apan, and ;ermany are its top trading partners.
5n 2010, oil &as the largest import
commodity, &hile transportation e1uipment &as the country6s largest e(port.
#hina is the largest
foreign holder of 3.4. public debt.
5n 2000, the pri-ate sector &as estimated to constitute 9.4C of the economy, &ith federal
go-ernment acti-ity accounting for 4..C and state and local go-ernment acti-ity (including federal
transfers) the remaining 0..C.
!hile its economy has reached a postindustrial le-el of
de-elopment and its ser-ice sector constitutes 9/.C of ;",, the 3nited 4tates remains an
industrial po&er.
The leading business field by gross business receipts is &holesale and retail
tradeJ by net income it is manufacturing.
#hemical products are the leading manufacturing field.
The 3nited 4tates is the third largest
producer of oil in the &orld, as &ell as its largest importer.
5t is the &orld6s number one producer of
electrical and nuclear energy, as &ell as li1uid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt.
!hile agriculture accounts for Kust under 1C of ;",,
the 3nited 4tates is the &orld6s top producer
of corn
and soybeans.
The $ational %gricultural 4tatistics 4er-ice maintains agricultural
statistics for products that
includeJ peanuts, =ats, <ye, !heat, <ice, #otton, corn, barley, hay, sunflo&ers, and oilseeds. 5n
addition, the 3nited 4tates "epartment of %griculture (34"%) pro-ides li-estoc)
statistics regarding beef, poultry, por), along &ith dairy products. The $ational 'ining
%ssociation pro-ides data pertaining tocoal and minerals that
includeJ beryllium, copper, lead, magnesium, 8inc, titanium and others.
the franchising business model, 'c"onald6s and 4ub&ay are the t&o most recogni8ed brands in the
&orld. #oca+#ola is the most recogni8ed soft drin) company in the &orld.
#onsumer spending comprises /1C of the 3.4. economy in 201..
5n %ugust 2010, the %merican
labor force consisted of 154.1 million people. !ith 21.2 million people, go-ernment is the leading
field of employment. The largest pri-ate employment sector is health care and social assistance,
&ith 19.4 million people. %bout 12C of &or)ers are unioni8ed, compared to .0C in !estern 7urope.
The !orld :an) ran)s the 3nited 4tates first in the ease of hiring and firing &or)ers.
3nited 4tates is the only ad-anced economy that does not guarantee its &or)ers paid
and is one of Kust a fe& countries in the &orld &ithout paid family lea-e as a legal right,
&ith the others being ,apua $e& ;uinea, 4uriname and Diberia.
5n 2000, the 3nited 4tates had
the third highest labor producti-ity per person in the &orld, behind Du(embourg and $or&ay. 5t &as
fourth in producti-ity per hour, behind those t&o countries and the $etherlands.
The 200+2012 global recession had a significant impact on the 3nited 4tates, &ith output still belo&
potential according to the #ongressional :udget =ffice.
5t brought high unemployment (&hich has
been decreasing but remains abo-e pre+recession le-els), along &ith lo& consumer confidence,
the continuing decline in home -alues and increase in foreclosures and personal ban)ruptcies, an
escalating federal debt crisis, inflation, and rising petroleum and food prices. There remains a record
proportion of long+term unemployed, continued decreasing household income, and ta( and federal
budget increases.
% 2011 poll found that more than half of all %mericans thin) the 3.4. is
still in recession or e-en depression, despite official data that sho&s a historically modest reco-ery.
5n 2011 the #ensus :ureau defined po-erty rate increased to roughly 19C of the population.
Income, povert# and 9ealth
,roducti-ity and <eal 'edian Eamily 5ncome ;ro&th 104/@2000
% tract housing de-elopment in 4an >ose, #alifornia
Further information: (ncome in the United States, o*erty in the United States and Affluence in the
United States
%mericans ha-e the highest a-erage household and employee income among =7#" nations, and in
200/ had the second highest median household income.
%ccording to the #ensus :ureau real
median household income &as A50,502 in 2011, do&n from A51,144 in 2010.
The ;lobal Eood
4ecurity 5nde( ran)ed the 3.4. number one for food affordability and o-erall food security in 'arch
%mericans on a-erage ha-e o-er t&ice as much li-ing space per d&elling and per person
as 7uropean 3nionresidents, and more than e-ery 73 nation.
!ealth, li)e income and ta(es, is highly concentratedJ the richest 10C of the adult population
possesses /2C of the country6s household &ealth, &hile the bottom half claim only 2C.
This is
the second+highest share among de-eloped nations.
5n 201. the 3nited $ations "e-elopment
,rogramme ran)ed the 3nited 4tates 19th among 1.2 countries on its ine1uality+adKusted human
de-elopment inde( (5*"5), 1. places lo&er than in the standard *"5.
There has been a &idening
gap bet&een producti-ity and median incomes since the 10/0s.
!hile inflation+adKusted
(GrealG) household income had been increasing almost e-ery year from 104/ to 1000, it has since
been flat and e-en decreased recently.
The rise in the share of total annual income recei-ed by the top 1 percent, &hich has more than
doubled from 0 percent in 10/9 to 20 percent in 2011, has had a significant impact on income
lea-ing the 3nited 4tates &ith one of the &idest income distributions among =7#"
The post+recession income gains ha-e been -ery une-en, &ith the top 1 percent
capturing 05 percent of the income gains from 2000 to 2012.
:et&een >une 200/ and $o-ember
200 the global recession led to falling asset prices around the &orld. %ssets o&ned by %mericans
lost about a 1uarter of their -alue.
4ince pea)ing in the second 1uarter of 200/, household &ealth
is do&n A14 trillion.
%t the end of 200, household debt amounted to A1.. trillion.
There &ere about 94.,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the 3.4. in >anuary
2000, &ith almost t&o+thirds staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. 5n
2011 19./ million children li-ed in food+insecure households, about .5C more than 200/ le-els,
though only 1.1C of 3.4. children, or 45,000, sa& reduced food inta)e or disrupted eating patterns
at some point during the year, and most cases &ere not chronic.
Main article: Transportation in the United States
The 5nterstate *igh&ay 4ystem, &hich e(tends 49,/9 miles (/5,440 )m)
,ersonal transportation is dominated by automobiles, &hich operate on a net&or) of 1. million
roads, including one of the &orld6s longest high&ay systems.
The &orld6s second largest
automobile mar)et,
the 3nited 4tates has the highest rate of per+capita -ehicle o&nership in the
&orld, &ith /95 -ehicles per 1,000 %mericans.
%bout 40C of personal -ehicles are -ans, 43Hs, or
light truc)s.
The a-erage %merican adult (accounting for all dri-ers and non+dri-ers) spends 55
minutes dri-ing e-ery day, tra-eling 20 miles (4/ )m).
'ass transit accounts for 0C of total 3.4. &or) trips.
!hile transport of goods by rail is
e(tensi-e, relati-ely fe& people use rail to tra-el,
though ridership on%mtra), the national intercity
passenger rail system, gre& by almost ./C bet&een 2000 and 2010.
%lso, light rail
de-elopment has increased in recent years.
:icycle usage for &or) commutes is minimal.
The ci-il airline industry is entirely pri-ately o&ned and has been largely deregulated since 10/,
&hile most maKor airports are publicly o&ned. The three largest airlines in the &orld by passengers
carried are 3.4.+basedJ %merican %irlines is number one after its 201. ac1uisition of 34 %ir&ays.
=f the &orld6s .0 busiest passenger airports, 12 are in the 3nited 4tates, including the
busiest, *artsfield+>ac)son %tlanta 5nternational %irport.
See also: $nergy policy of the United States
The 3nited 4tates energy mar)et is 20,000 tera&att hours per year. 7nergy consumption per
capita is /. tons of oil e1ui-alent per year, the 10th highest rate in the &orld. 5n 2005, 40C of this
energy came from petroleum, 2.C from coal, and 22C from natural gas. The remainder &as
supplied by nuclear po&er and rene&able energy sources.
The 3nited 4tates is the &orld6s
largest consumer of petroleum.
Eor decades, nuclear po&er has played a limited role relati-e to many other de-eloped countries, in
part because of public perception in the &a)e of a 10/0 accident. 5n 200/, se-eral applications for
ne& nuclear plants &ere filed.
The 3nited 4tates has 2/C of global coal reser-es.
5t is the
&orld6s largest producer of natural gas and crude oil.
Science and technology
Main article: Science and technology in the United States
See also: Technological and industrial history of the United States
%stronaut >ames 5r&in &al)ing on the 'oon ne(t to %pollo 156s landing module and lunar ro-er in 10/1. The effort to
reach the 'oon &as triggered by the 4pace <ace.
The 3nited 4tates has been a leader in scientific research and technological inno-ation since the
late 10th century. 5n 1/9, %le(ander ;raham :ell &as a&arded the first 3.4.patent for the
telephone. Thomas 7dison6s laboratory de-eloped the phonograph, the first long+lasting light bulb,
and the first -iable mo-ie camera.
5n the early 20th century, the automobile companies
of <ansom 7. =lds and *enry Eord populari8ed the assembly line. The !right brothers, in 100.,
made the first sustained and controlled hea-ier+than+air po&ered flight.
The rise of $a8ism in the 10.0s led many 7uropean scientists, including %lbert 7instein, 7nrico
Eermi, and >ohn -on $eumann, to immigrate to the 3nited 4tates.
[citation needed]
"uring !orld !ar 55,
the 'anhattan ,roKect de-eloped nuclear &eapons, ushering in the %tomic %ge. The 4pace
<ace produced rapid ad-ances in roc)etry, materials science, and computers.
%d-ancements by %merican microprocessor companies such as %d-anced 'icro
"e-ices (%'"), and 5ntel along &ith both computer soft&are andhard&are companies that
includeJ 4un 'icrosystems, 5:', ;$3+Dinu(, %pple #omputer, and 'icrosoft refined and
populari8ed the personal computer.
[citation needed]
The %<,%$7T &as de-eloped in the 1090s to meet the "efense "epartment re1uirements, and
became the first of a series of net&or)s &hich e-ol-ed into the 5nternet. Today, 94C of research and
de-elopment funding comes from the pri-ate sector.
The 3nited 4tates leads the &orld in
scientific research papers and impact factor.
%s of %pril 2010, //C of %merican households
o&ned at least one computer, and 9C had broadband 5nternet ser-ice.
5C of %mericans also
o&n a mobile phone as of 2011.
The country is the primary de-eloper and gro&er of genetically
modified food, representing half of the &orld6s biotech crops.
Main article: $ducation in the United States
See also: $ducational attainment in the United States and Higher education in the United States
The 3ni-ersity of Hirginia, founded by Thomas >efferson in 110, is one of the many public uni-ersities in the 3nited
%merican public education is operated by state and local go-ernments, regulated by the 3nited
4tates "epartment of 7ducation through restrictions on federal grants. 5n most states, children are
re1uired to attend school from the age of si( or se-en (generally, )indergarten or first grade) until
they turn 1 (generally bringing them through t&elfth grade, the end of high school)J some states
allo& students to lea-e school at 19 or 1/.
%bout 12C of children are enrolled
in parochial or nonsectarian pri-ate schools. >ust o-er 2C of children are homeschooled.
3.4. spends more on education per student than any nation in the &orld, spending more than
A11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than A12,000 per high school student.
0C of 3.4. college students attend public uni-ersities.
The 3nited 4tates has many competiti-e pri-ate and public institutions of higher education.
%ccording to prominent international ran)ings, 1. or 15 %merican colleges and uni-ersities are
ran)ed among the top 20 in the &orld.
There are also local community colleges &ith generally
more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lo&er tuition. =f %mericans 25 and
older, 4.9C graduated from high school, 52.9C attended some college, 2/.2C earned a bachelor6s
degree, and 0.9C earned graduate degrees.
The basic literacy rate is appro(imately 00C.
The 3nited $ations assigns the 3nited 4tates an 7ducation 5nde( of 0.0/, tying it for 12th in the
%s for public e(penditures on higher education, the 3.4. trails some other =7#" nations but spends
more per student than the =7#" a-erage, and more than all nations in combined public and pri-ate
%s of 2012, student loan debt e(ceeded one trillion dollars, more than %mericans
o&e on credit cards.
See also: Health care in the United States, Health care reform in the United States and Health
insurance in the United States
The Te(as 'edical #enter in *ouston is the &orld6s largest medical center.
The 3nited 4tates has life e(pectancy of /.4 years at birth, up from /5.2 years in 1000, ran)s it
50th among 221 nations, and 2/th out of the .4 industriali8ed =7#" countries, do&n from 20th in
5ncreasing obesity in the 3nited 4tates and health impro-ements else&here ha-e
contributed to lo&ering the country6s ran) in life e(pectancy from 10/, &hen it &as 11th in the
=besity rates in the 3nited 4tates are among the highest in the &orld.
%ppro(imately one+third of the adult population is obeseand an additional third is o-er&eightJ
the obesity rate, the highest in the industriali8ed &orld, has more than doubled in the last 1uarter+
=besity+related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals.
The infant mortality rate of 9.1/ per thousand places the 3nited 4tates 190th highest out of 224
5n 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stro)e, chronic obstructi-e pulmonary diseases, and
traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the 3.4. Do& bac)
pain,depression, musculos)eletal disorders, nec) pain, and an(iety caused the most years lost to
disability. The most deleterious ris) factors &ere poor diet, tobacco smo)ing, obesity, high blood
pressure, high blood sugar, physical inacti-ity, and alcohol use. %l8heimer6s disease, drug abuse,
)idney disease and cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost o-er their age+
adKusted 1000 per+capita rates.
3.4. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially
higher than in other !estern nations.
The 3.4. is a global leader in medical inno-ation. %merica solely de-eloped or contributed
significantly to 0 of the top 10 most important medical inno-ations since 10/5 as ran)ed by a 2001
poll of physicians, &hile the 73 and 4&it8erland together contributed to fi-e. 4ince 1099, %mericans
ha-e recei-ed more $obel ,ri8es in 'edicine than the rest of the &orld. Erom 100 to 2002, four
times more money &as in-ested in pri-ate biotechnology companies in %merica than in 7urope.
The 3.4. health+care system far outspends any other nation, measured in both per capita
spending and percentage of ;",.
*ealth+care co-erage in the 3nited 4tates is a combination of
public and pri-ate efforts and is not uni-ersal. 5n 2010, 40.0 million residents or 19..C of the
population did not carry health insurance. The subKect of uninsured and underinsured %mericans is a
maKor political issue.
5n 2009, 'assachusetts became the first state to mandate uni-ersal
health insurance.
Eederal legislation passed in early 2010 &ould ostensibly create a near+
uni-ersal health insurance system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate impact
are issues of contro-ersy.
Main article: "ulture of the United States
See also: Social class in the United States, u#lic holidays in the United States and Tourism in the
United States
The 4tatue of Diberty in $e& Nor) #ity is a symbol of both the 3.4. and the ideals of freedom, democracy, and
The 3nited 4tates is home to many cultures and a &ide -ariety of ethnic groups, traditions, and
%side from the relati-ely small $ati-e %merican and $ati-e *a&aiian populations,
nearly all %mericans or their ancestors settled or immigrated &ithin the past fi-e centuries.
'ainstream %merican culture is a !estern culture largely deri-ed from the traditions of 7uropean
immigrants &ith influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by sla-es from
'ore recent immigration from %sia and especially Datin %merica has added to a cultural
mi( that has been described as both a homogeni8ing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad
bo&l in &hich immigrants and their descendants retain distincti-e cultural characteristics.
#ore %merican culture &as established by ,rotestant :ritish colonists and shaped by
the frontier settlement process, &ith the traits deri-ed passed do&n to descendants and transmitted
to immigrants through assimilation. %mericans ha-e traditionally been characteri8ed by a
strong &or) ethic, competiti-eness, and indi-idualism, as &ell as a unifying belief in an
G%merican creedG emphasi8ing liberty, e1uality, pri-ate property, democracy, rule of la&, and a
preference for limited go-ernment.
%mericans are e(tremely charitable by global standards.
%ccording to a 2009 :ritish study, %mericans ga-e 1.9/C of ;", to charity, more than any other
nation studied, more than t&ice the second place :ritish figure of 0./.C, and around t&el-e times
the Erench figure of 0.14C.
The %merican "ream, or the perception that %mericans enKoy high social mobility, plays a )ey role in
attracting immigrants.
!hether this perception is realistic has been a topic of debate.
!hile the mainstream culture holds that the 3nited 4tates is a classless society,
identify significant differences bet&een the country6s social classes, affecting sociali8ation, language,
and -alues.
%mericans6 self+images, social -ie&points, and cultural e(pectations are associated
&ith their occupations to an unusually close degree.
!hile %mericans tend greatly to -alue
socioeconomic achie-ement, being ordinary or a-erage is generally seen as a positi-e attribute.
$opular media
Main articles: Media of the United States, "inema of the United States, Tele*ision in the United
States and Music of the United States
The *olly&ood 4ign in Dos %ngeles, #alifornia
The &orld6s first commercial motion picture e(hibition &as gi-en in $e& Nor) #ity in 104,
using Thomas 7dison6s ?inetoscope. The ne(t year sa& the first commercial screening of a
proKected film, also in $e& Nor), and the 3nited 4tates &as in the forefront of sound film6s
de-elopment in the follo&ing decades. 4ince the early 20th century, the 3.4. film industry has largely
been based in and around *olly&ood, #alifornia.
"irector ". !. ;riffith &as central to the de-elopment of film grammar and =rson !elles6s "itizen
>ane (1041) is fre1uently cited as the greatest film of all time.
%merican screen actors li)e >ohn
!ayne and 'arilyn 'onroe ha-e become iconic figures, &hile producerRentrepreneur !alt
"isney &as a leader in both animated film and mo-ie merchandising. *olly&ood is also one of the
leaders in motion picture production.
7arly -ersions of the %merican ne&spaper comic strip and the %merican comic boo) began
appearing in the 10th century. 5n 10., 4uperman, the 1uintessential comic boo)superhero of "#
#omics, de-eloped into an %merican icon.
%dditional comic boo) publishers includeJ 'ar-el
#omics, created in 10.0, 5mage #omics, created in 1002, "ar) *orse #omics, created in 109, and
numerous small press comic boo) companies. 5n celebration of the industry6s success, annual comic
con-entions ta)e place at The 4an "iego #omic+#on 5nternational, &hich has an attendance of o-er
1.0,000 -isitors.
%mericans are the hea-iest tele-ision -ie&ers in the &orld,
and the a-erage -ie&ing time
continues to rise, reaching fi-e hours a day in 2009.
The four maKor broadcast tele-ision
net&or)s are all commercial entities. %mericans listen to radio programming, also largely
commercial, on a-erage Kust o-er t&o+and+a+half hours a day.
%side from &eb portals and search
engines, the most popular &ebsites are Eaceboo),NouTube, !i)ipedia, :logger, e:ay,
and #raigslist.
The rhythmic and lyrical styles of %frican+%merican music ha-e deeply influenced %merican music at
large, distinguishing it from 7uropean traditions. 7lements from fol) idioms such as the blues and
&hat is no& )no&n as old+time music &ere adopted and transformed into popular genres &ith global
audiences. >a88 &as de-eloped by inno-ators such as Douis %rmstrong and "u)e 7llington early in
the 20th century. #ountry music de-eloped in the 1020s, and rhythm and blues in the 1040s.
7l-is ,resley and #huc) :erry &ere among the mid+1050s pioneers of roc) and roll. 5n the
1090s, :ob "ylan emerged from the fol) re-i-al to become one of %merica6s most celebrated
song&riters and >ames :ro&nled the de-elopment of fun). 'ore recent %merican creations
include hip hop and house music. %merican pop stars such as ,resley, 'ichael >ac)son,
and 'adonna ha-e become global celebrities.
(iterature, philosoph#, and the arts
Main articles: American literature, American philosophy, Visual art of the United
States and American classical music
'ar) T&ain, %merican author and humorist
5n the 1th and early 10th centuries, %merican art and literature too) most of its cues from 7urope.
!riters such as $athaniel *a&thorne, 7dgar %llan ,oe, and *enry "a-id Thoreauestablished a
distincti-e %merican literary -oice by the middle of the 10th century. 'ar) T&ain and poet !alt
!hitman &ere maKor figures in the century6s second halfJ 7mily "ic)inson, -irtually un)no&n during
her lifetime, is no& recogni8ed as an essential %merican poet.
% &or) seen as capturing
fundamental aspects of the national e(perience and characterBsuch as *erman 'el-ille6s Mo#y!
'ic: (151), T&ain6s The Ad*entures of Huc:le#erry Finn (15), and E. 4cott Eit8gerald6s The
Great Gats#y (1025)Bmay be dubbed the G;reat %merican $o-elG.
7le-en 3.4. citi8ens ha-e &on the $obel ,ri8e in Diterature, most recently Toni 'orrison in
100.. !illiam Eaul)ner and 7rnest *eming&ay are often named among the most influential &riters
of the 20th century.
,opular literary genres such as the !estern and hardboiled crime
fiction de-eloped in the 3nited 4tates. The :eat ;eneration &riters opened up ne& literary
approaches, as ha-e postmodernist authors such as >ohn :arth, Thomas ,ynchon, and "on
The transcendentalists, led by Thoreau and <alph !aldo 7merson, established the first
maKor %merican philosophical mo-ement. %fter the #i-il !ar, #harles 4anders ,eirce and
then!illiam >ames and >ohn "e&ey &ere leaders in the de-elopment of pragmatism. 5n the 20th
century, the &or) of !. H. =. Suine and <ichard <orty, and later $oam #homs)y, broughtanalytic
philosophy to the fore of %merican philosophical academia. >ohn <a&ls and <obert $o8ic) led a
re-i-al of political philosophy. #ornel !est and >udith :utler ha-e led a continental tradition in
%merican philosophical academia. ;lobally influential #hicago school economists li)e 'ilton
Eriedman, >ames '. :uchanan, and Thomas 4o&ell ha-e transcended discipline to impact -arious
fields in social and political philosophy.
5n the -isual arts, the *udson <i-er 4chool &as a mid+10th+century mo-ement in the tradition of
7uropean naturalism. The realist paintings of Thomas 7a)ins are no& &idely celebrated. The
101. %rmory 4ho& in $e& Nor) #ity, an e(hibition of 7uropean modernist art, shoc)ed the public
and transformed the 3.4. art scene.
;eorgia =6?eeffe, 'arsden *artley, and others
e(perimented &ith ne&, indi-idualistic styles. 'aKor artistic mo-ements such as the abstract
e(pressionism of >ac)son ,olloc) and !illem de ?ooning and the pop art of %ndy !arhol and <oy
Dichtensteinde-eloped largely in the 3nited 4tates. The tide of modernism and
then postmodernism has brought fame to %merican architects such as Eran) Dloyd !right, ,hilip
>ohnson, and Eran) ;ehry.
Times 41uare in $e& Nor) #ity, the hub of the :road&ay Theater "istrict.
=ne of the first maKor promoters of %merican theater &as impresario ,. T. :arnum, &ho began
operating a lo&er 'anhattan entertainment comple( in 141. The team of*arrigan and
*art produced a series of popular musical comedies in $e& Nor) starting in the late 1/0s. 5n the
20th century, the modern musical form emerged on :road&ayJ the songs of musical theater
composers such as 5r-ing :erlin, #ole ,orter, and 4tephen 4ondheim ha-e become pop standards.
,lay&right 7ugene =6$eill &on the $obel literature pri8e in 10.9J other acclaimed 3.4. dramatists
include multiple ,ulit8er ,ri8e &inners Tennessee !illiams, 7d&ard %lbee, and %ugust !ilson.
Though little )no&n at the time, #harles 5-es6s &or) of the 1010s established him as the first maKor
3.4. composer in the classical tradition, &hile e(perimentalists such as *enry #o&ell and >ohn
#age created a distincti-e %merican approach to classical composition. %aron #opland and ;eorge
;ersh&in de-eloped a ne& synthesis of popular and classical music. #horeographers 5sadora
"uncan and 'artha ;raham helped create modern dance, &hile ;eorge :alanchine and >erome
<obbins &ere leaders in 20th+century ballet. %mericans ha-e long been important in the modern
artistic medium of photography, &ith maKor photographers including %lfred 4tieglit8, 7d&ard
4teichen, and%nsel %dams.
Main article: "uisine of the United States
%pple pie is a food synonymous &ith %merican culture.
'ainstream %merican cuisine is similar to that in other !estern countries. !heat is the primary
cereal grain. Traditional %merican cuisine uses indigenous ingredients, such as tur)ey, -enison,
potatoes, s&eet potatoes, corn, s1uash, and maple syrup, &hich &ere consumed by $ati-e
%mericans and early 7uropean settlers.
[citation needed]
4lo&+coo)ed por) and beef barbecue, crab ca)es, potato chips, and chocolate chip coo)ies are
distincti-ely %merican foods. 4oul food, de-eloped by %frican sla-es, is popular around the 4outh
and among many %frican %mericans else&here. 4yncretic cuisines such as Douisiana #reole, #aKun,
and Te(+'e( are regionally important. The confectionery industry in the 3nited 4tates includes The
*ershey #ompany, the largest chocolate manufacturer in $orth %merica. 5n addition, Erito+Day, a
subsidiary of ,epsi#o, is the largest globally distributed snac) food company in the &orld. The
3nited 4tates has a -ast :rea)fast cereal industry that includes brands such
as ?ellogg6s and ;eneral 'ills.
#haracteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chic)en, pi88a, hamburgers, and hot dogs deri-e from
the recipes of -arious immigrants. Erench fries, 'e(ican dishes such as burritos and tacos, and
pasta dishes freely adapted from 5talian sources are &idely consumed.
%mericans generally
prefer coffee to tea. 'ar)eting by 3.4. industries is largely responsible for ma)ing orange Kuice and
mil) ubi1uitous brea)fast be-erages.
The %merican fast food industry, the &orld6s largest, pioneered the dri-e+through format in the
10.0s. East food consumption has spar)ed health concerns. "uring the 100s and 1000s,
%mericans6 caloric inta)e rose 24CJ
fre1uent dining at fast food outlets is associated &ith &hat
public health officials call the %merican Gobesity epidemicG.
*ighly s&eetened soft drin)s are
&idely popular, and sugared be-erages account for nine percent of %merican caloric inta)e.
Main article: Sports in the United States
4&immer 'ichael ,helps is the most decorated =lympic athleteof all time.
The mar)et for professional sports in the 3nited 4tates is roughly A90 billion, roughly 50C larger
than that of all of 7urope, the 'iddle 7ast, and %frica combined.
:aseball has been regarded as
the national sport since the late 10th century, &hile %merican football is no& by se-eral measures
the most popular spectator sport.
:as)etball and ice hoc)ey are the country6s ne(t t&o leading
professional team sports. These four maKor sports, &hen played professionally, each occupy a
season at different, but o-erlapping, times of the year. #ollege football and bas)etball attract large
:o(ing and horse racing &ere once the most &atched indi-idual sports,
but they
ha-e been eclipsed by golf and auto racing, particularly $%4#%<.
[citation needed]
5n the 21st century,
tele-ised mi(ed martial arts has also gained a strong follo&ing of regular -ie&ers.
!hile soccer is less popular in the 3nited 4tates than in many other nations, the men6s national
soccer team has been to the past si( !orld #ups and the &omen are W1 in the &omen6s &orld
!hile most maKor 3.4. sports ha-e e-ol-ed out of 7uropean
practices, bas)etball, -olleyball, s)ateboarding, sno&boarding, and cheerleading are %merican
in-entions, some of &hich ha-e become popular in other countries. Dacrosse and surfing arose from
$ati-e %merican and $ati-e *a&aiian acti-ities that predate !estern contact.
7ight =lympic
;ames ha-e ta)en place in the 3nited 4tates. The 3nited 4tates has &on 2,400 medals at
the 4ummer =lympic ;ames, more than any other country, and 21 in the !inter =lympic ;ames,
the second most by 2014.