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The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 Indian reservations, and some
minor possessions
minor possessions
. At , it is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area. With a population of more than 328 million people, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is
New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2019 population of 8,336,817 distributed over about , New York City is also the L ...

New York City
. Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago, and European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Disputes over
taxation A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) by a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State ...
and No taxation without representation, political representation with Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain led to the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which established independence. In the late 18th century, the U.S. began Manifest destiny, vigorously expanding across North America, gradually Territorial evolution of the United States, acquiring new territories, frequently American Indian Wars, displacing Native Americans, and List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union, admitting new states; by 1848, the United States spanned the continent. Slavery in the United States, Slavery was legal in the Slave states and free states, southern United States until the second half of the 19th century when the American Civil War led to Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, its abolition. The Spanish–American War and established the U.S. as a world power, a status confirmed by the outcome of . During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in various proxy wars but avoided direct military conflict. They also competed in the Space Race, culminating in the Apollo 11, 1969 spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. The dissolution of the Soviet Union, Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991 ended the Cold War, leaving the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is a federal republic and a representative democracy with Separation of powers under the United States Constitution, three separate branches of government, including a Bicameralism, bicameral legislature. It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, NATO, and other international organizations. It is a Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Considered a melting pot of Culture of the United States, cultures and Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnicities, its population has been profoundly shaped by History of immigration to the United States, centuries of immigration. The U.S. International rankings of the United States, ranks high in international measures of List of countries by economic freedom, economic freedom, reduced levels of Corruption Perceptions Index, perceived corruption, World Happiness Report, quality of life, Education Index, quality of higher education, and Human rights in the United States, human rights. However, the country has received criticism in regard to Inequality in the United States (disambiguation), inequality related to Racial inequality in the United States, race, Wealth inequality in the United States, wealth and Income inequality in the United States, income, the use of Capital punishment in the United States, capital punishment, high Incarceration in the United States, incarceration rates, and lack of Health care in the United States, universal health care. The United States is a highly developed country, and continuously ranks high in measures of socioeconomic performance. It accounts for approximately a quarter of global gross domestic product, GDP and is the world's List of countries by GDP (nominal), largest economy by GDP at market exchange rates. By value, the United States is the world's List of countries by imports, largest importer and the List of countries by exports, second-largest exporter of goods. Although its population is only 4.2% of the world total, it holds List of countries by total wealth, 29.4% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share held by any country. Making up more than a third of List of countries by military expenditures, global military spending, it is the foremost military power in the world and is a leading Politics of the United States, political, Culture of the United States, cultural, and Science and technology in the United States, scientific force internationally.


Etymology

The first known use of the name "Americas, America" dates back to 1507, when it appeared on a world map created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller. On Waldseemüller map, his map, the name is shown in large letters on what would now be considered South America, in honor of Amerigo Vespucci. The Italian explorer was the first to postulate that the West Indies did not represent Asia's eastern limit but were part of a previously unknown landmass. In 1538, the Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator used the name "America" on his own world map, applying it to the entire Western Hemisphere. The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" dates from a letter written by Stephen Moylan to George Washington's aide-de-camp Joseph Reed (politician), Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the American Revolutionary War, revolutionary war effort. The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in ''The Virginia Gazette'' newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on . The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed no later than , declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the 'United States of America'." The final version of the Articles, sent to the states for ratification in late 1777, stated that "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'." In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the United States Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence. This draft of the document did not surface until , and it is unclear whether it was written before or after Dickinson used the term in his June 17 draft of the Articles of Confederation. The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms are the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". The term "America" was seldom used in the United States before the 1890s and rarely used by presidents before Theodore Roosevelt. It does not appear in patriotic songs composed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including "The Star Spangled Banner", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", although it is common in 20th-century songs like "God Bless America". Colloquial names are the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia (name), Columbia", a name popular in American poetry and songs of the late 18th century, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "Washington, D.C., District of Columbia". Many landmarks and institutions in the Western Hemisphere bear his name, including the country of Colombia. The phrase "United States" was originally plural in American usage. It described a collection of states—e.g., "the United States are." The singular form became popular after the end of the American Civil War, Civil War and is now standard usage in the U.S. A Citizenship of the United States, citizen of the United States is an "Americans, American". "United States", "American" and "U.S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). In English, the word "American (word), American" rarely refers to topics or subjects not directly connected with the United States.


History


Indigenous peoples and pre-Columbian history

It has been generally accepted that the Settlement of the Americas, first inhabitants of North America migrated from Siberia by way of the Beringia, Bering land bridge and arrived at least 12,000 years ago; however, some evidence suggests an even earlier date of arrival. The Clovis culture, which appeared around 11,000 BC, is believed to represent the first wave of human settlement of the Americas. This was likely the first of three major waves of migration into North America; later waves brought the ancestors of present-day Athabaskans, Aleuts, and Eskimos. Over time, indigenous cultures in North America grew increasingly complex, and some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture in the southeast, developed advanced agriculture, architecture, and complex societies. The city-state of Cahokia is the largest, most complex pre-Columbian Archaeology, archaeological site in the modern-day United States. In the Four Corners region, Ancestral Puebloan culture developed from centuries of agricultural experimentation. The Iroquois, Haudenosaunee, located in the southern Great Lakes region, was established at some point between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. Most prominent along the Atlantic coast were the Algonquian peoples, Algonquian tribes, who practiced hunting and trapping, along with limited cultivation. Estimating the native population of North America at the time of European contact is difficult. Douglas H. Ubelaker of the Smithsonian Institution estimated that there was a population of 92,916 in the south Atlantic states and a population of 473,616 in the Gulf states, but most academics regard this figure as too low. Anthropologist Henry F. Dobyns believed the populations were much higher, suggesting around 1.1 million along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, 2.2 million people living between Florida and Massachusetts, 5.2 million in the Mississippi Valley and tributaries, and around 700,000 people in the Florida peninsula.


European settlements

The first Europeans to arrive in the continental United States were Spanish conquistadors such as Juan Ponce de León, who made his first expedition to Spanish Florida, Florida in 1513. Even earlier, Christopher Columbus had landed in Puerto Rico on his Columbus's second voyage, 1493 voyage, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, San Juan was settled by the Spanish a decade later. The Spanish set up the first settlements in Florida and New Mexico, such as St. Augustine, Florida, Saint Augustine, often considered the nation's oldest city, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, Santa Fe. The French established their own settlements along the Mississippi River, notably New Orleans. Successful British colonization of the Americas, English settlement of the eastern coast of North America began with the Colony of Virginia, Virginia Colony in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia, Jamestown and with the Pilgrims (Plymouth Colony), Pilgrims Plymouth Colony, colony at Plymouth in 1620. The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's House of Burgesses, was founded in 1619. Documents such as the Mayflower Compact and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut established precedents for representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies. Many settlers were English Dissenters, dissenting Christians who came seeking Freedom of religion, religious freedom. In 1784, the Russians were the first Europeans to establish a Russian colonization of the Americas, settlement in Alaska, at Three Saints Bay. Russian America once spanned much of the present-day state of Alaska. In the early days of colonization, many European settlers were subject to food shortages, disease, and attacks from Native Americans. Native Americans were also often at war with neighboring tribes and European settlers. In many cases, however, the natives and settlers came to depend on one another. Settlers Columbian exchange, traded for food and animal pelts; natives for guns, tools and other European goods. Natives taught many settlers to cultivate corn, beans, and other foodstuffs. European missionaries and others felt it was important to "civilize" the Native Americans and urged them to adopt European agricultural practices and lifestyles. However, with the increased European settler colonialism, colonization of North America, the Native Americans in the United States, Native Americans were American Indian Wars, displaced and often killed. The Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, native population of America declined after European arrival for various reasons, primarily diseases such as smallpox and measles. European settlers also began human trafficking, trafficking of Slavery in the colonial United States, African slaves into Colonial America via the Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade. Because of a lower prevalence of tropical diseases and better Treatment of the enslaved in the United States, treatment, slaves had a much higher life expectancy in North America than in South America, leading to a rapid increase in their numbers. Colonial society was largely divided over the religious and moral implications of slavery, and several colonies passed acts both against and in favor of the practice.#Lien, Lien, 1913, p. 522#Davis96, Davis, 1996, p. 7 However, by the turn of the 18th century, African slaves had supplanted European Indentured servitude, indentured servants as cash crop labor, especially in the American South.#Quirk, Quirk, 2011, p. 195 The Thirteen Colonies (Province of New Hampshire, New Hampshire, Province of Massachusetts Bay, Massachusetts, Connecticut Colony, Connecticut, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Rhode Island, Province of New York, New York, Province of New Jersey, New Jersey, Province of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Delaware Colony, Delaware, Province of Maryland, Maryland, Colony of Virginia, Virginia, Province of North Carolina, North Carolina, Province of South Carolina, South Carolina, and Province of Georgia, Georgia) that would become the United States of America were administered by the British as overseas dependencies. All nonetheless had local governments with elections open to most free men. With extremely high birth rates, low death rates, and steady settlement, the colonial population grew rapidly, eclipsing Native American populations. The Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the First Great Awakening, Great Awakening fueled interest both in religion and in religious liberty. During the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), known in the U.S. as the French and Indian War, British forces captured Canada from the French. With the creation of the Province of Quebec (1763–1791), Province of Quebec, Canada's French language, francophone population would remain isolated from the English-speaking colonial dependencies of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland Colony, Newfoundland and the . Excluding the Native Americans in the United States, Native Americans who lived there, the Thirteen Colonies had a population of over in 1770, about a third that of Britain. Despite continuing new arrivals, the rate of natural increase was such that by the 1770s only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas. The colonies' distance from Britain had allowed the development of self-government, but their unprecedented success motivated British monarchs to periodically seek to reassert royal authority.


Independence and expansion

The American Revolutionary War fought by the Thirteen Colonies against the British Empire was the first successful war of independence by a non-European entity against a European power. Americans had developed an ideology of "Republicanism in the United States, republicanism", asserting that government rested on the will of the people as expressed in their local legislatures. They demanded their "Rights of Englishmen, rights as Englishmen" and "no taxation without representation". The British insisted on administering the empire through Parliament, and the conflict escalated into war. The Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the United States Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence on ; this day is celebrated annually as Independence Day (United States), Independence Day. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation established a decentralized government that operated until 1789. After its defeat at the Siege of Yorktown (1781), Siege of Yorktown in 1781, Britain signed a Treaty of Paris (1783), peace treaty. American sovereignty became internationally recognized, and the country was granted all lands east of the Mississippi River. Tensions with Britain remained, however, leading to the War of 1812, which was fought to a draw. Nationalists led the Constitutional Convention (United States), Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in writing the United States Constitution, Ratification of the United States Constitution, ratified in state conventions in 1788. The federal government was reorganized into three branches in 1789, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances. George Washington, who had led the Continental Army to victory, was the first President of the United States, president elected under the new constitution. The United States Bill of Rights, Bill of Rights, forbidding federal restriction of Natural and legal rights, personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791.#Boyer, Boyer, 2007, pp. 192–193 Although the federal government Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, outlawed American participation in the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, after 1820, cultivation of the highly profitable cotton crop exploded in the Deep South, and along with it, the slave population. The Second Great Awakening, especially in the period 1800–1840, converted millions to Evangelicalism in the United States, evangelical Protestantism. In the North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionism; in the South, Methodists and Baptists proselytized among slave populations. Beginning in the late 18th century, American settlers began to Territorial evolution of the United States, expand westward, prompting a long series of American Indian Wars. The 1803 Louisiana Purchase almost doubled the nation's area, Adams–Onís Treaty, Spain ceded Florida and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819, the Republic of Texas was Texas annexation, annexed in 1845 during a period of expansionism, and the 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day Northwestern United States, American Northwest. Victory in the Mexican–American War resulted in the 1848 Mexican Cession of California and much of the present-day Southwestern United States, American Southwest, making the U.S. span the continent. The California Gold Rush of 1848–49 spurred migration to the Pacific coast, which led to the California Genocide and the creation of additional western states. The giving away of vast quantities of land to white European settlers as part of the Homestead Acts, nearly 10% of the total area of the United States, and to private railroad companies and colleges as part of land grants spurred economic development. After the Civil War, new transcontinental Rail transportation in the United States#History, railways made relocation easier for settlers, expanded internal trade, and increased conflicts with Native Americans. In 1869, a new Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant#Indian affairs and Peace Policy, Peace Policy nominally promised to protect Native Americans from abuses, avoid further war, and secure their eventual U.S. citizenship. Nonetheless, large-scale conflicts continued throughout the West into the 1900s.


Civil War and Reconstruction era

Irreconcilable sectional conflict regarding Slavery in the United States, the enslavement of Africans and African Americans ultimately led to the Origins of the American Civil War, American Civil War. With the 1860 United States presidential election, 1860 election of Republican Party (United States), Republican Abraham Lincoln, conventions in thirteen slave states declared secession and formed the Confederate States of America (the "South" or the "Confederacy"), while the federal government (the "Union (American Civil War), Union") maintained that secession was illegal. In order to bring about this secession, military action was initiated by the secessionists, and the Union responded in kind. The ensuing war would become the deadliest military conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of approximately 618,000 soldiers as well as many civilians. The Union initially simply fought to keep the country united. Nevertheless, as casualties mounted after 1863 and Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation, the main purpose of the war from the Union's viewpoint became the abolition of slavery. Indeed, when the Union ultimately won the war in April 1865, each of the states in the defeated South was required to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibited slavery except as Penal labor in the United States, penal labor. Two other amendments were also ratified, ensuring citizenship for blacks and, at least in theory, voting rights for them as well. Reconstruction (United States), Reconstruction began in earnest following the war. While President Lincoln attempted to foster friendship and forgiveness between the Union and the former Confederacy, Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, his assassination on drove a wedge between North and South again. Republicans in the federal government made it their goal to oversee the rebuilding of the South and to ensure the rights of African Americans. They persisted until the Compromise of 1877 when the Republicans agreed to cease protecting the rights of African Americans in the South in order for Democrats to concede the 1876 United States presidential election, presidential election of 1876. Southern white Democrats, calling themselves "Redeemers", took control of the South after the end of Reconstruction, beginning the nadir of American race relations. From 1890 to 1910, the Redeemers established so-called Jim Crow laws, Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction Era, disenfranchising most blacks and some poor whites throughout the region. Blacks faced Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, especially in the South. They also occasionally experienced vigilante violence, including Lynching in the United States, lynching.


Further immigration, expansion, and industrialization

In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented History of immigration to the United States, influx of immigrants from Southern Europe, Southern and Eastern Europe supplied a surplus of labor for the country's industrialization and transformed its culture. National infrastructure, including First Transcontinental Telegraph, telegraph and First Transcontinental Railroad, transcontinental railroads, spurred economic growth and greater settlement and development of the American frontier, American Old West. The later invention of Incandescent light bulb, electric light and the telephone would also affect communication and urban life. The United States fought American Indian Wars, Indian Wars west of the Mississippi River from 1810 to at least 1890. Most of these conflicts ended with the cession of Native American territory and their confinement to Indian reservations. Additionally, the Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian Removal Act, Indian removal policy that forcibly resettled Indians. This further expanded acreage under mechanical cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets. Mainland expansion also included the Alaska Purchase, purchase of Alaska from Russian Empire, Russia in 1867. In 1893, pro-American elements in Hawaii Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii, Hawaiian monarchy and formed the Republic of Hawaii, which the U.S. Newlands Resolution, annexed in 1898. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded by Spain in the same year, following the Spanish–American War. American Samoa was acquired by the United States in 1900 after the end of the Second Samoan Civil War. The United States Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917. Gilded Age, Rapid economic development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries fostered the rise of many prominent industrialists. Business magnate, Tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie led the nation's progress in the Railways, railroad, Petroleum industry, petroleum, and History of the steel industry (1850–1970), steel industries. Banking became a major part of the economy, with J. P. Morgan playing a notable role. The American economy boomed, becoming the world's largest. These dramatic changes were accompanied by social unrest and the rise of People's Party (United States), populist, History of the socialist movement in the United States, socialist, and Anarchism in the United States, anarchist movements. This period eventually ended with the advent of the Progressive Era, which saw significant reforms including women's suffrage, Prohibition in the United States, alcohol prohibition, regulation of consumer goods, and greater United States antitrust law, antitrust measures to ensure competition and attention to worker conditions.


World War I, Great Depression, and World War II

The United States remained neutral from the outbreak of World War I in 1914 until 1917 when it joined the war as an "associated power" alongside the Allies of World War I, helping to turn the tide against the Central Powers. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson took a leading diplomatic role at the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, Paris Peace Conference and advocated strongly for the U.S. to join the League of Nations. However, the Senate refused to approve this and did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles that established the League of Nations.McDuffie, Jerome; Piggrem, Gary Wayne; Woodworth, Steven E. (2005). ''U.S. History Super Review''. Piscataway, NJ: Research & Education Association. p. 418. . In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, constitutional amendment granting Women's suffrage in the United States, women's suffrage. The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of radio for mass communication and the invention of early television. The prosperity of the Roaring Twenties ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression in the United States, Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal. The Great Migration (African American), Great Migration of millions of African Americans out of the American South began before World War I and extended through the 1960s; whereas the Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration. At first effectively neutral during Military history of the United States during World War II, World War II, the United States began supplying materiel to the Allies of World War II, Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program. On , the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to join the Allies against the Axis powers, and in the following year, to Internment of Japanese Americans, intern about 120,000 U.S. residents (including American citizens) of Japanese descent. Although Japan attacked the United States first, the U.S. nonetheless pursued a "Europe first" defense policy. The United States thus left its vast Asian colony, the Philippines, isolated and fighting a losing struggle against Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Japanese invasion and occupation. During the war, the United States was one of the "Four Policemen, Four Powers" who met to plan the postwar world, along with Britain, the Soviet Union, and China. Although the nation lost around 400,000 military personnel, it emerged World War II casualties#Human losses by country, relatively undamaged from the war with even greater economic and military influence. The United States played a leading role in the Bretton Woods Conference, Bretton Woods and Yalta Conference, Yalta conferences, which signed agreements on new international financial institutions and Europe's postwar reorganization. As an Victory in Europe Day, Allied victory was won in Europe, a 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization, international conference held in San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war. The United States and Japan then fought each other in the largest naval battle in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The United States eventually developed the Manhattan Project, first nuclear weapons and used them on Japan Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945; the Japanese Surrender of Japan, surrendered on September 2, ending World War II.


Cold War and civil rights era

File:President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev at the first Summit in Geneva, Switzerland.jpg, upU.S. president Ronald Reagan (left) and General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev Geneva Summit (1985), in Geneva, 1985 After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union competed for power, influence, and prestige during what became known as the Cold War, driven by an ideological divide between capitalism and communism. They dominated the military affairs of Europe, with the U.S. and its NATO allies on one side and the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies on the other. The U.S. developed a policy of containment towards the expansion of communist influence. While the U.S. and Soviet Union engaged in proxy wars and developed powerful nuclear arsenals, the two countries avoided direct military conflict. The United States often opposed Third World movements that it viewed as Soviet-sponsored and occasionally pursued direct action for United States involvement in regime change, regime change against left-wing governments, even occasionally supporting authoritarian right-wing regimes. American troops fought communist People's Liberation Army, Chinese and North Korean forces in the Korean War of 1950–1953. The Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the Sputnik 1, first artificial satellite and its 1961 launch of the Vostok 1, first crewed spaceflight initiated a "Space Race" in which the United States became the first nation to Apollo 11, land a man on the Moon in 1969. A proxy war in Southeast Asia eventually evolved into the Vietnam War (1955–1975), with full American participation. At home, the U.S. had experienced Post–World War II economic expansion, sustained economic expansion and a Post–World War II baby boom, rapid growth of its population and American middle class, middle class following World War II. After a surge in female labor participation, especially in the 1970s, by 1985, the majority of women aged 16 and over were employed. Construction of an Interstate Highway System transformed the nation's infrastructure over the following decades. Millions moved from farms and inner city, inner cities to large suburban housing developments. In 1959, the United States formally expanded beyond the contiguous United States when the territories of Alaska and Hawaii became, respectively, the 49th and 50th states admitted into the Union. The growing Civil Rights Movement used nonviolence to confront segregation and discrimination, with Martin Luther King Jr. becoming a prominent leader and figurehead. A combination of court decisions and legislation, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, sought to end racial discrimination. Meanwhile, a counterculture of the 1960s, counterculture movement grew, which was fueled by Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, opposition to the Vietnam war, the Black Power movement, and the sexual revolution. The launch of a "War on Poverty" expanded entitlements and welfare spending, including the creation of Medicare (United States), Medicare and Medicaid, two programs that provide health coverage to the elderly and poor, respectively, and the means-tested Food Stamp Program and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The 1970s and early 1980s saw the onset of stagflation. After his election in 1980, President Ronald Reagan responded to economic stagnation with Reaganomics, free-market oriented reforms. Following the collapse of détente, he abandoned "containment" and initiated the more aggressive "rollback" strategy towards the Soviet Union. The late 1980s brought a "Cold War (1985–91), thaw" in relations with the Soviet Union, and Dissolution of the Soviet Union, its collapse in 1991 finally ended the Cold War. This brought about unipolarity with the U.S. unchallenged as the world's dominant superpower.


Contemporary history

After the Cold War, the conflict in the Middle East triggered a crisis in 1990, when Ba'athist Iraq, Iraq Invasion of Kuwait, invaded and annexed Kuwait, an ally of the United States. Fearing the spread of instability, in August, President George H. W. Bush launched and led the Gulf War against Iraq; waged until January 1991 by Coalition of the Gulf War, coalition forces from 34 nations, it ended in the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and restoration of the monarchy. Originating within ARPANET, U.S. military defense networks, the Internet spread to international academic platforms and then to the public in the 1990s, greatly affecting the global economy, society, and culture. Due to the dot-com bubble, dot-com boom, stable monetary policy, and Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, reduced social welfare spending, the 1990s saw the 1990s United States boom, longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history. Beginning in 1994, the U.S. signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), causing trade among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to soar. On September 11 attacks, , Al-Qaeda terrorist hijackers flew passenger planes into the World Trade Center (1973–2001), World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly 3,000 people. In response, President George W. Bush launched the War on Terror, which included a War in Afghanistan (2001–present), war in Afghanistan and the 2003–2011 Iraq War. A 2011 military operation in Pakistan led to the death of Osama bin Laden, death of the leader of Al-Qaeda. Government policy designed to promote affordable housing, widespread failures in corporate and regulatory governance, and historically low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve led to the United States housing bubble, mid-2000s housing bubble, which culminated with the 2008 financial crisis, the nation's largest economic contraction since the Great Depression. During the crisis, assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value. Barack Obama, the first African-American and Multiracial American, multiracial president, 2008 United States presidential election, was elected in 2008 amid the crisis, and subsequently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, stimulus measures and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Dodd–Frank Act in an attempt to mitigate its negative effects and ensure there would not be a repeat of the crisis. In 2010, President Obama led efforts to pass the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping reform to the Health care in the United States, nation's healthcare system in nearly five decades. In the 2016 United States presidential election, presidential election of 2016, Republican Donald Trump was elected as the List of Presidents of the United States, 45th president of the United States, a result viewed as one of the biggest political upsets since 1948 United States presidential election, the 1948 election. In the 2020 United States presidential election, presidential election of 2020, Democrat Joe Biden was elected as the 46th president. On January 6, 2021, supporters of outgoing President Trump 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, stormed the United States Capitol in an unsuccessful effort to disrupt the presidential Electoral College vote count. On , the first case of COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed. By April 5, 2021, the United States had seen more than COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, COVID-19 cases and more than 550,000 deaths. The United States is by far the country with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 since .


Geography

The Contiguous United States, 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia occupy a combined area of . Of this area, is contiguous land, composing 83.65% of total U.S. land area. Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, Pacific, southwest of North America, is in area. The populated territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and United States Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands together cover . Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada. The United States is the world's List of countries and dependencies by area, third- or fourth-largest nation by total area (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and nearly equal to China. The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted, and how the total size of the United States is measured. The Atlantic coastal plain, coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont (United States), Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwestern United States, Midwest. The Mississippi River, Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's List of rivers by length, fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by U.S. Interior Highlands, a highland region in the southeast. The Rocky Mountains, west of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, peaking around in Colorado. Farther west are the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahuan Desert, Chihuahua and Mojave Desert, Mojave. The Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range, Cascade mountain ranges run close to the West Coast of the United States, Pacific coast, both ranges reaching altitudes higher than . The Extreme points of the United States, lowest and highest points in the Contiguous United States, contiguous United States are in the state of California, and only about apart. At an elevation of , Alaska's Denali is the highest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander Archipelago, Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature. The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian west, 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental climate, humid continental in the north to humid subtropical climate, humid subtropical in the south. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are Semi-arid climate, semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate. The climate is Desert climate, arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean climate, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic climate, oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington (state), Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is Subarctic climate, subarctic or Polar climate, polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of Florida are Tropical climate, tropical, as well as its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. States bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to Tropical cyclone, hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur in the country, mainly in Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South. Overall, the United States receives more high-impact extreme weather incidents than any other country in the world.


Wildlife and conservation

The U.S. is one of 17 megadiverse countries containing a large amount of List of endangered species in North America, endemic species: about 17,000 species of vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and more than 1,800 species of flowering plants are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland. The United States is home to 428 mammal species, 784 bird species, 311 reptile species, and 295 amphibian species, as well as about 91,000 insect species. There are 62 List of areas in the United States National Park System, national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Altogether, the government owns about 28% of the country's land area, mostly in the Western United States, western states. Most of this land is protected area, protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching, and about .86% is used for military purposes. Environmental issues in the United States, Environmental issues include debates on oil and nuclear binding energy, nuclear energy, dealing with air and water pollution, the economic costs of protecting wildlife, logging and deforestation, and Climate change in the United States, climate change. The most prominent environmental agency is the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970. The idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with the Wilderness Act. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The United States is ranked 24th among nations in the Environmental Performance Index. The country joined the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2016 and has many other environmental commitments. It left the Paris Agreement in 2020, and rejoined it in 2021.


Demographics


Population

The United States Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau officially estimated the country's population to be 328,239,523 in 2019, with an unofficial statistical adjustment to 332.6 million as of April 1, 2020. This figure, like most official data for the United States as a whole, excludes the five self-governing territories and minor island possessions. Statistics from the formal 2020 U.S. Census will be reported to the president during early 2021. According to the Bureau's U.S. and World Population Clock, U.S. Population Clock, on , the U.S. population had a net gain of one person every 100 seconds, or about 864 people per day. The United States is the third most populous nation in the world, after China and India. In 2020 the median age of the United States population was 38.5 years. In 2018, there were almost immigrants and Second-generation immigrants in the United States, U.S.-born children of immigrants in the United States, accounting for 28% of the overall U.S. population. The United States has a diverse population; 37 American ancestries, ancestry groups have more than one million members. White Americans of European ancestry, mostly German Americans, German, Irish Americans, Irish, English Americans, English, Italian Americans, Italian, Polish Americans, Polish and French Americans, French, including White Hispanic and Latino Americans from Latin America, form the largest race (human classification), racial group, at 73.1% of the population. African Americans constitute the nation's largest minority group, racial minority and third-largest ancestry group, and are around 13% of the total U.S. population. Asian Americans are the country's second-largest racial minority (the three largest Asian ethnic groups are Chinese Americans, Chinese, Filipino Americans, Filipino, and Indian Americans, Indian). In 2017, out of the U.S. foreign-born population, some were naturalized citizens, were lawful permanent residents, were temporary lawful residents, and were unauthorized immigrants. Among current living immigrants to the U.S., the top five countries of birth are Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and El Salvador. Until 2017, the United States led the world in refugee resettlement for decades, admitting more refugees than the rest of the world combined. About 82% of Americans live in United States urban area, urban areas, including suburbs; about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000. In 2008, 273 List of United States cities by population, incorporated municipalities had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four cities had over two million (namely New York City, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston). Many U.S. metropolitan populations are growing rapidly, particularly in the South and West. , 52% of Americans age 15 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 32% had never been married. The total fertility rate was 1820.5 births per 1000 women in 2016. In 2013, the average age at first birth was 26, and 41% of births were to unmarried women. In 2019, the U.S. had the world's highest rate of children living in Single parents in the United States, single-parent households.


Language

English language, English (specifically, American English) is the de facto national language of the United States. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as Naturalized citizen of the United States, U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English, and most states have declared English as the official language. Three states and four U.S. territories have recognized local or indigenous languages in addition to English, including Hawaii (Hawaiian language, Hawaiian), Alaska (Alaska Native languages, twenty Native languages), South Dakota (Sioux language, Sioux), American Samoa (Samoan language, Samoan), Puerto Rico (Spanish language, Spanish), Guam (Chamorro language, Chamorro), and the Northern Mariana Islands (Carolinian language, Carolinian and Chamorro). In Puerto Rico, Spanish is more widely spoken than English. According to the American Community Survey, in 2010 some 229 million people (out of the total U.S. population of 308 million) spoke only English at home. More than 37 million spoke Spanish language in the United States, Spanish at home, making it the second most commonly used language in the United States. Other languages spoken at home by one million people or more include Chinese language, Chinese (2.8 million), Tagalog language, Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese language, Vietnamese (1.4 million), French language, French (1.3 million), Korean language, Korean (1.1 million), and German language, German (1 million). The List of most commonly learned foreign languages in the United States, most widely taught foreign languages in the United States, in terms of enrollment numbers from kindergarten through university undergraduate education, are Spanish (around students), French , and German language in the United States, German (500,000). Other commonly taught languages include Latin, Japanese language education in the United States, Japanese, American Sign Language, Italian language in the United States, Italian, and Chinese language in the United States, Chinese. 18% of all Americans claim to speak both English and another language.


Religion

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the Free Exercise Clause, free exercise of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting its Establishment Clause, establishment. The United States has the Christianity by country, world's largest Christian population. In a 2014 survey, 70.6% of adults in the United States identified themselves as Christianity in the United States, Christians; Protestantism, Protestants accounted for 46.5%, while Catholic Church in the United States, Roman Catholics, at 20.8%, formed the largest single Christian group. In 2014, 5.9% of the U.S. adult population claimed a non-Christian religion. These include American Jews, Judaism (1.9%), Islam in the United States, Islam (0.9%), Hinduism in the United States, Hinduism (0.7%), and Buddhism in the United States, Buddhism (0.7%). The survey also reported that 22.8% of Americans described themselves as agnosticism, agnostic, atheism, atheist or simply having irreligion, no religion—up from 8.2% in 1990. Membership in a house of worship fell from 70% in 1999 to 47% in 2020, much of the decline related to the number of Americans expressing no religious preference. However, membership also fell among those who identified with a specific religious group. Protestantism in the United States, Protestantism is the largest Christian religious grouping in the United States, accounting for almost half of all Americans. Baptists collectively form the largest branch of Protestantism at 15.4%, and the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest individual Protestant denomination at 5.3% of the U.S. population. Apart from Baptists, other Protestant categories include nondenominational Protestants, Methodists, Pentecostals, unspecified Protestants, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, other Reformed, Episcopalians/Anglicans, Quakers, Adventists, Holiness movement, Holiness, Christian fundamentalists, Anabaptists, Pietists, and List of Protestant churches, multiple others. The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average. By contrast, religion plays the least important role in New England and in the Western United States.


Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the United States had an average life expectancy at birth of 78.8 years in 2019 (76.3 years for men and 81.4 years for women), up 0.1 year from 2018. This was the second year that overall U.S. life expectancy rose slightly after three years of overall declines that followed decades of continuous improvement. The recent decline, primarily among the age group 25 to 64, was largely due to record highs in the drug overdose and Suicide in the United States, suicide rates; the country still has one of the highest suicide rates among wealthy countries. From 1999 to 2019, more than 770,000 Americans United States drug overdose death rates and totals over time, died from drug overdoses. Life expectancy was highest among Asians and Hispanics and lowest among blacks. Increasing obesity in the United States and improvements in health and longevity outside the U.S. contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 11th in the world in 1987 to 42nd in 2007. In 2017, the United States had the lowest life expectancy among Japan, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and seven nations in western Europe. Obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years and are the highest in the industrialized world. Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight. Obesity-related diabetes mellitus type 2, type2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals. In 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, major depressive disorder, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety caused the most years lost to disability. The most harmful risk factors were poor diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, Hypertension, high blood pressure, Hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse, kidney disease, cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capita rates. U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations, especially among blacks and Hispanics. Government-funded health care coverage for the poor (Medicaid, established in 1965) and for those age 65 and older (Medicare (United States), Medicare, begun in 1966) is available to Americans who meet the programs' income or age qualifications. Nonetheless, the United States remains the only developed nation without a system of universal health care. In 2017, 12.2% of the population did not carry health insurance. The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in early 2010 and informally known as "ObamaCare", roughly halved the uninsured share of the population. The bill and its ultimate effect are still issues of controversy in the United States. The U.S. health care system far List of countries by total health expenditure (PPP) per capita, outspends that of any other nation, measured both in per capita spending and as a percentage of GDP. However, the U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation.


Education

American state school, public education is operated by state and local governments and regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. In most states, children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first grade) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through twelfth grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to leave school at 16 or 17. About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial school, parochial or nonsectarian private schools. Just over 2% of children are Homeschooling in the United States, homeschooled. The U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the world, spending an average of $12,794 per year on public elementary and secondary school students in the 2016–2017 school year. Some 80% of U.S. college students attend public university, public universities. Of Americans 25 and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees. The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%. The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world. The United States has many private and public Lists of American institutions of higher education, institutions of higher education. The majority of the world's top universities, as listed by various ranking organizations, are in the U.S. There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. In 2018, Universitas 21, U21, a network of research-intensive universities, ranked the United States first in the world for breadth and quality of higher education, and 15th when GDP was a factor. As for public expenditures on higher education, the U.S. trails some other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD (Organization for Cooperation and Development) nations but spends more per student than the OECD average, and more than all nations in combined public and private spending. , Student debt, student loan debt exceeded dollars.


Government and politics

The United States is a federal republic of U.S. state, 50 states, a District of Columbia, federal district, Territories of the United States, five territories and several uninhabited United States Minor Outlying Islands, island possessions. It is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a federal republic and a representative democracy "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by Law of the United States, law."Scheb, John M.; Scheb, John M. II (2002). ''An Introduction to the American Legal System''. Florence, KY: Delmar, p. 6. . The U.S. ranked 25th on the Democracy Index in 2018. On Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, its public sector position deteriorated from a score of 76 in 2015 to 69 in 2019. In the Federalism#United States, American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to Political divisions of the United States, three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The Local government in the United States, local government's duties are commonly split between County (United States), county and municipal corporation, municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality voting system, plurality vote of citizens by district. The government is regulated by a system of separation of powers, checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One of the United States Constitution, Article One protects the right to the writ of Habeas corpus in the United States, habeas corpus. The Constitution has been amended 27 times; the first ten amendments, which make up the United States Bill of Rights, Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review and any law ruled by the courts to be in violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in ''Marbury v. Madison'' (1803) in a decision handed down by John Marshall, Chief Justice John Marshall. The federal government comprises three branches: * Legislature, Legislative: The bicameralism, bicameral United States Congress, Congress, made up of the United States Senate, Senate and the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives, makes federal law, declaration of war, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government. * Executive (government), Executive: President of the United States, The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto bill (law), legislative bills before they become law (subject to congressional override), and appoints the Cabinet of the United States, members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies. * Judiciary, Judicial: The Supreme Court of the United States, Supreme Court and lower Federal judiciary of the United States, federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find constitutionality, unconstitutional. The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are United States congressional apportionment, apportioned among the states by population. Each state then draws single-member districts to conform with the census apportionment. The District of Columbia and the five major Territories of the United States, U.S. territories each have Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives, one member of Congress—these members are not allowed to vote. The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one-third of Senate seats are up for election every two years. The District of Columbia and the five major U.S. territories do not have senators. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office Term limits in the United States, no more than twice. The president is United States presidential election, not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect Electoral College (United States), electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, chief justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.


Political divisions

The U.S. state, 50 states are the principal political divisions in the country. Each state holds jurisdiction over a defined geographic territory, where it shares sovereignty with the federal government. They are subdivided into counties or county-equivalents and further divided into municipalities. The District of Columbia is a federal district that contains the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. The states and the District of Columbia choose the president of the United States. Each state has presidential electors equal to the number of their representatives and senators in Congress; the District of Columbia has three because of the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, 23rd Amendment. Territories of the United States, Territories of the United States such as Puerto Rico do not have presidential electors, and so people in those territories cannot vote for the president. The United States also observes Tribal sovereignty in the United States, tribal sovereignty of the American Indian nations to a limited degree, as it does with the states' sovereignty. American Indians are U.S. citizens and tribal lands are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress and the federal courts. Like the states they have a great deal of autonomy, but also like the states, tribes are not allowed to make war, engage in their own foreign relations, or print and issue currency. Citizenship is granted at birth in all states, the District of Columbia, and all major U.S. territories except American Samoa.


Parties and elections

The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nomination, nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the 1856 United States presidential election, general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, History of the United States Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, History of the United States Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one Third party (United States), third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive Party (United States, 1912), Progressive in 1912 United States presidential election, 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. The president and vice president are elected by the Electoral College (United States), Electoral College. In American political culture, the Center-right politics, center-right Republican Party is considered "Conservatism in the United States, conservative" and the Centre-left politics, center-left Democratic Party is considered "Modern liberalism in the United States, liberal". The states of the Politics of the Northeastern United States, Northeast and Politics of the Western United States, West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "Red states and blue states, blue states", are relatively liberal. The "Political party strength in U.S. states, red states" of the Politics of the Southern United States, South and parts of the Midwestern United States#Politics, Great Plains and Politics of the Western United States, Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative. Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Joe Biden, the winner of the 2020 United States presidential election, 2020 presidential election and former vice president, is serving as the 46th president of the United States. Leadership in the Senate includes vice president Kamala Harris, president pro tempore Patrick Leahy, Party leaders of the United States Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Leadership in the House includes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Party leaders of the United States House of Representatives, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California politician), Kevin McCarthy. In the 117th United States Congress, the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives and the United States Senate, Senate are controlled by the Democratic Party. The Senate consists of 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats with two independent politician, Independents who caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of 222 Democrats and 211 Republicans. Of List of United States governors, state governors, there are 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats. Among the D.C. mayor and the five territorial governors, there are three Democrats, one Republican, and one New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico, New Progressive.


Foreign relations

The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. New York City is home to the Headquarters of the United Nations, United Nations Headquarters. Almost all countries have List of diplomatic missions in the United States, embassies in Washington, D.C., and many have consul (representative), consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host List of diplomatic missions of the United States, American diplomatic missions. However, Iran–United States relations, Iran, North Korea–United States relations, North Korea, Foreign relations of Bhutan, Bhutan, and the Taiwan–United States relations, Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States (although the U.S. still maintains unofficial relations with Bhutan and Taiwan). It is a member of the Group of Seven, G7, G20, and OECD. The United States has a "Special Relationship" with the United Kingdom–United States relations, United Kingdom and strong ties with India-United States relations, India, Canada–United States relations, Canada, Australia–United States relations, Australia, New Zealand–United States relations, New Zealand, Philippines–United States relations, the Philippines, Japan–United States relations, Japan, South Korea–United States relations, South Korea, Israel–United States relations, Israel, and several European Union countries, including France–United States relations, France, Italy–United States relations, Italy, Germany–United States relations, Germany, Spain–United States relations, Spain and Poland–United States relations, Poland. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and United States free trade agreements, free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico–United States relations, Mexico. Colombia is traditionally considered by the United States as its most loyal ally in South America. The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for Federated States of Micronesia, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau through the Compact of Free Association.


Government finance

Taxation in the United States is Progressive tax, progressive, and is levied at the federal, state, and local government levels. This includes taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates, and gifts, as well as various fees. Taxation in the United States is based on citizenship, not residency. Both non-resident citizens and Permanent residence (United States), Green Card holders living abroad are taxed on their income irrespective of where they live or where their income is earned. The United States is one of the only countries in the world to do so. In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of Gross domestic product, GDP. Based on CBO estimates, under 2013 tax law the top 1% will be paying the highest average tax rates since 1979, while other income groups will remain at historic lows. For 2018, the effective tax rate for the wealthiest 400 households was 23%, compared to 24.2% for the bottom half of U.S. households. During fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent on a budget or cash basis. Major categories of fiscal year 2012 spending included: Medicare & Medicaid (23%), Social Security (22%), Defense Department (19%), non-defense discretionary (17%), other mandatory (13%) and interest (6%). In 2018, the United States had the largest external debt in the world. As a percentage of GDP, it had the 34th largest government debt in the world in 2017; however, more recent estimates vary. The total national debt of the United States was , or 107% of GDP, in the fourth quarter of 2019. By 2012, total federal debt had surpassed 100% of U.S. GDP. The U.S. has a credit rating of AA+ from Standard & Poor's, AAA from Fitch Ratings, Fitch, and AAA from Moody's Investors Service, Moody's.


Military

The president is the Powers of the president of the United States#Commander-in-chief, commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces and appoints its leaders, the United States Secretary of Defense, secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense, Department of Defense administers five of the six service branches, which are made up of the United States Army, Army, United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps, United States Navy, Navy, United States Air Force, Air Force, and United States Space Force, Space Force. The United States Coast Guard, Coast Guard, also a branch of the armed forces, is normally administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and can be transferred to the United States Department of the Navy, Department of the Navy in wartime. In 2019, all six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces reported personnel on active duty. The Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, Reserves and National Guard of the United States, National Guard brought the total number of troops to . The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including Military-industrial complex, contractors. Military service in the United States is voluntary, although Conscription in the United States, conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. From 1940 until 1973, conscription was mandatory even during peacetime. Today, American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy's 11 active aircraft carriers, and Marine expeditionary units at sea with the Navy, and Army's XVIII Airborne Corps and 75th Ranger Regiment deployed by Air Force transport aircraft. The Air Force can strike targets across the globe through its fleet of strategic bombers, maintains the air defense across the United States, and provides close air support to Army and Marine Corps ground forces.The Space Force operates the Global Positioning System, operates the Eastern Range, Eastern and Western Range (USSF), Western Ranges for all space launches, and operates the United States' United States Space Surveillance Network, Space Surveillance and United States national missile defense, Missile Warning networks. The military operates about 800 bases and facilities abroad, and maintains United States military deployments, deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries. The United States spent on its military in 2019, 36% of global military spending. At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after Saudi Arabia. Defense spending plays a major role in science and technology investment, with roughly half of U.S. federal research and development funded by the Department of Defense. Defense's share of the overall U.S. economy has generally declined in recent decades, from early Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal spending in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal spending in 2011. In total number of personnel, the United States has the third-largest combined armed forces in the world, behind the People's Liberation Army, Chinese People's Liberation Army and Indian Armed Forces. The country is one of the five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, recognized nuclear weapons states and one of nine countries to possess nuclear weapons. The United States possesses the second-largest Nuclear weapons of the United States, stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, behind the Russian Federation. More than 40% of the world's 14,000 nuclear weapons are held by the United States.


Law enforcement and crime

Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police departments and sheriff's offices, with state police providing broader services. Federal law enforcement in the United States, Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Marshals Service, U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties, including protecting civil rights, National Security of the United States, national security and enforcing U.S. federal courts' rulings and federal laws. State courts conduct most criminal trials while Federal judiciary of the United States, federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2010 showed that United States homicide rates "were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher." In 2016, the U.S. murder rate was 5.4 per 100,000. The United States has the United States incarceration rate, highest documented incarceration rate and Incarceration in the United States, largest prison population in the world. As of 2020, the Prison Policy Initiative reported that there were some people incarcerated. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses. The imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478 per 100,000 in 2013. About 9% of prisoners are held in Incarceration in the United States#Privatization, privatized prisons, a practice beginning in the 1980s and a subject of contention. Although most nations have abolished capital punishment, it is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and at the state level in 28 states, though three states have Moratorium (law), moratoriums on carrying out the penalty imposed by their governors. In 2019, the country had the sixth-highest number of executions in the world, following Capital punishment in China, China, Capital punishment in Iran, Iran, Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Capital punishment in Iraq, Iraq, and Capital punishment in Egypt, Egypt. No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a Furman v. Georgia, U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the practice. Since the decision, however, there have been more than 1,500 executions. In recent years the number of executions and presence of capital punishment statute on whole has trended down nationally, with Capital punishment in the United States#States without capital punishment, several states recently abolishing the penalty.


Economy

According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of constitutes 24% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 19% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity. The United States is the List of countries by imports, largest importer of goods and List of countries by exports, second-largest exporter, though List of countries by exports per capita, exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total Foreign trade of the United States, U.S. trade deficit was . Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the G7. The country ranks ninth in the world in List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, nominal GDP per capita and sixth in List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita, GDP per capita at PPP. The United States dollar, U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency. In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy. While its economy has reached a post-industrial society, postindustrial level of development, the United States remains an industrial power. In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of people (50%). With people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with people. It has a smaller welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than most European nations. The United States is the only advanced economy that does not List of statutory minimum employment leave by country, guarantee its workers paid vacation and is one of a few countries in the world without paid family leave as a legal right. 74% of full-time American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same benefits. In 2009, the United States had the third-highest workforce productivity per person in the world, behind Luxembourg and Norway.


Science and technology

The United States has been a leader in technological innovation since the late 19th century and scientific research since the mid-20th century. Methods for producing interchangeable parts were developed by the U.S. War Department by the Federal Armories during the first half of the 19th century. This technology, along with the establishment of a machine tool industry, enabled the U.S. to have large-scale manufacturing of sewing machines, bicycles, and other items in the late 19th century and became known as the American system of manufacturing. Factory electrification in the early 20th century and introduction of the assembly line and other labor-saving techniques created the system of mass production. In the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of research and development funding comes from the private sector. The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and impact factor. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. Invention of the telephone, patent for the telephone. Thomas Edison's Research institute, research laboratory, one of the first of its kind, developed the phonograph, the first Incandescent light bulb, long-lasting light bulb, and the first viable Kinetoscope, movie camera. The latter led to emergence of the worldwide Show business, entertainment industry. In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers, in 1903, made the Wright Flyer, first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight. The rise of fascism and Nazism in the 1920s and 30s led many European scientists, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and John von Neumann, to immigrate to the United States. During World War II, the Manhattan Project developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the Atomic Age, while the Space Race produced rapid advances in rocketry, materials science, and aeronautics. The invention of the transistor in the 1950s, a key active component in practically all modern electronics, led to many technological developments and a significant expansion of the U.S. technology industry. This, in turn, led to the establishment of many new technology companies and regions around the country such as Silicon Valley in California. Advancements by American microprocessor companies such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel, along with both computer software and Computer hardware, hardware companies such as Adobe Systems, Apple Inc., IBM, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, created and popularized the personal computer. The ARPANET was developed in the 1960s to meet United States Department of Defense, Defense Department requirements, and became the first of a history of the Internet, series of networks which evolved into the Internet.


Income, poverty and wealth

Accounting for 4.24% of the World population, global population, Americans collectively possess 29.4% of the world's total wealth, the largest percentage of any country. Americans also make up roughly half of the world's population of millionaires. The Global Food Security Index ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013. Americans on average have more than twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as European Union, EU residents. For 2017 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 13th among 189 countries in its Human Development Index#2014 report, Human Development Index (HDI) and 25th among 151 countries in its Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI). Wealth in the United States, Wealth, like income and taxes, is Wealth inequality in the United States, highly concentrated; the richest 10% of the adult population possess 72% of the country's household wealth, while the bottom half possess only 2%. According to the Federal Reserve, the top 1% controlled 38.6% of the country's wealth in 2016. In 2017, Forbes found that just three individuals (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) held more money than the bottom half of the population. According to a 2018 study by the OECD, the United States has a larger percentage of low-income workers than almost any other developed nation, largely because of a weak collective bargaining system and lack of government support for at-risk workers. The Upper class, top one percent of income-earners accounted for 52 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2015, where income is defined as market income excluding government transfers. After years of stagnation, median household income reached a record high in 2016 following two consecutive years of record growth. Income inequality remains at record highs however, with the top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income. The rise in the share of total annual income received by the top one percent, which has more than doubled from nine percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011, has significantly affected Income inequality in the United States, income inequality, leaving the United States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD nations. The extent and relevance of income inequality is a matter of debate. There were about 567,715 sheltered and unsheltered Homelessness in the United States, homeless persons in the U.S. in January 2019, with almost two-thirds staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. In 2011, Hunger in the United States#Children, children lived in food-insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels, though only 845,000 U.S. children (1.1%) saw reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during the year, and most cases were not chronic. , people, roughly 12.7% of the U.S. population, were living in poverty, including children. Of those impoverished, live in deep poverty (family income below one-half of the poverty threshold) and over five million live "in 'Third World' conditions". In 2017, the U.S. states or territories with the lowest and highest List of U.S. states by poverty rate, poverty rates were New Hampshire (7.6%) and American Samoa (65%), respectively. The economic impact and Unemployment in the United States, mass unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, COVID-19 pandemic has raised fears of a mass Eviction in the United States, eviction crisis, with an analysis by the Aspen Institute indicating that between 30 and 40 million people are at risk for eviction by the end of 2020.


Infrastructure


Transportation

Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of of public roads. The United States has the world's second-largest automobile market, and has the highest vehicle ownership per capita in the world, with 816.4 vehicles per 1,000 Americans (2014). In 2017, there were 255,009,283 non-two wheel motor vehicles, or about 910 vehicles per 1,000 people. The List of airlines of the United States, civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely Airline Deregulation Act, deregulated since 1978, while List of airports in the United States, most major airports are publicly owned. The three largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are U.S.-based; American Airlines is number one after its 2013 acquisition by US Airways. Of the List of the world's busiest airports by passenger traffic, world's 50 busiest passenger airports, 16 are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The United States has the List of countries by rail transport network size, largest rail transport network size of any country in the world with a system length of 125,828 miles, nearly all Standard-gauge railway, standard gauge. Amtrak is the main publicly owned passenger railroad service in the United States, providing service in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Transport is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, which are the second highest by country, exceeded only by Greenhouse gas emissions by China, China's. The United States has historically been the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, and List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita, greenhouse gas emissions per capita remain high.


Energy

The Energy in the United States, United States energy market is about 29,000 Kilowatt hour, terawatt hours per year.IEA Key World Energy Statistics Statistic
2013
In 2018, 37% of this energy came from petroleum, 31% from natural gas, and 13% from coal. The remainder was supplied by nuclear and renewable energy sources.


Culture

The United States is home to Multiculturalism, many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Aside from the Native Americans in the United States, Native American, Native Hawaiians, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Natives, Native Alaskan populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries. Mainstream American culture is a Western culture largely derived from the European American, traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as African-American culture, traditions brought by slaves from Africa. More recent immigration from Asian American, Asia and especially Latin American culture, Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad bowl (cultural idea), salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics. Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism, as well as a unifying belief in an "American civil religion, American creed" emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government. Americans are extremely charitable by global standards: according to a 2006 British study, Americans gave 1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied. The American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high Socio-economic mobility in the United States, social mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants. Whether this perception is accurate has been a topic of debate.* * * * While mainstream culture holds that the United States is a classless society, scholars identify significant differences between the country's social classes, affecting socialization, language, and values. Americans tend to greatly value socioeconomic achievement, but being Average Joe, ordinary or average is also generally seen as a positive attribute.


Literature, philosophy, and visual art

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet. A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's ''Moby-Dick'' (1851), Twain's ''Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'' (1885), F. Scott Fitzgerald's ''The Great Gatsby'' (1925) and Harper Lee's ''To Kill a Mockingbird'' (1960)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel." Thirteen U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck are often named among the most influential writers of the 20th century. Popular literary genres such as the Western fiction, Western and hardboiled crime fiction developed in the United States. The Beat Generation writers opened up new literary approaches, as have postmodern literature, postmodernist authors such as John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo. The transcendentalism, transcendentalists, led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, established the first major American philosophy, American philosophical movement. After the Civil War, Charles Sanders Peirce and then William James and John Dewey were leaders in the development of pragmatism. In the 20th century, the work of Willard Van Orman Quine, W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty, and later Noam Chomsky, brought analytic philosophy to the fore of American philosophical academia. John Rawls and Robert Nozick also led a revival of political philosophy. In the visual arts, the Hudson River School was a mid-19th-century movement in the tradition of European Realism (arts), naturalism. The 1913 Armory Show in New York City, an exhibition of European modern art, modernist art, shocked the public and transformed the U.S. art scene. Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and others experimented with new, individualistic styles. Major artistic movements such as the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein developed largely in the United States. The tide of modernism and then postmodernism has brought fame to American architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Frank Gehry. Americans have long been important in the modern artistic medium of photography, with major photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams.


Food

Early settlers were introduced by Native Americans to such indigenous, non-European foods as turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup. They and later immigrants combined these with foods they had known, such as wheat flour, beef, and milk to create a distinctive American cuisine. Homegrown foods are part of a shared national menu on one of America's most popular holidays, Thanksgiving (United States), Thanksgiving, when some Americans make traditional foods to celebrate the occasion. The American fast food industry, the world's largest, pioneered the drive-through format in the 1940s. Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, Mexican cuisine, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos, and pasta dishes freely adapted from Italian cuisine, Italian sources are widely consumed. Americans drink three times as much coffee as tea. Marketing by U.S. industries is largely responsible for making orange juice and milk ubiquitous breakfast beverages.


Music

One of America's early composers was a man named William Billings who, born in Boston, composed patriotic hymns in the 1770s. From the 1800s John Philip Sousa is regarded as one of America's greatest composers. Although little known at the time, Charles Ives's work of the 1910s established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical tradition, while experimentalists such as Henry Cowell and John Cage created a distinctive American approach to classical composition. Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a new synthesis of popular and classical music. The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African-American music have deeply influenced Music of the United States, American music at large, distinguishing it from European and African traditions. Elements from folk music, folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular music, popular genres with global audiences. Jazz was developed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the 20th century. Country music developed in the 1920s, and rhythm and blues in the 1940s. Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were among the mid-1950s pioneers of rock and roll. Rock bands such as Metallica, the Eagles (band), Eagles, and Aerosmith are among the List of best-selling music artists, highest grossing in worldwide sales. In the 1960s, Bob Dylan emerged from the American folk music revival, folk revival to become one of America's most celebrated songwriters and James Brown led the development of funk. More recent American creations include hip hop music, hip hop, salsa music, salsa, techno music, techno, and house music. American pop stars such as Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna have become global celebrities, as have contemporary musical artists such as Prince (musician), Prince, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande.


Cinema

Hollywood, a northern district of Los Angeles, California, is one of the leaders in motion picture production. The world's first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City in 1894, using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope. Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, although in the 21st century an increasing number of films are not made there, and film companies have been subject to the forces of globalization. Director D. W. Griffith, an American filmmaker during the silent film period, was central to the development of film grammar, and producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animation, animated film and movie merchandising. Directors such as John Ford redefined the image of the American Old West, and, like others such as John Huston, broadened the possibilities of cinema with location shooting. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the "Classical Hollywood cinema, Golden Age of Hollywood", from the early sound period until the early 1960s, with screen actors such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures. In the 1970s, "New Hollywood" or the "Hollywood Renaissance" was defined by grittier films influenced by French and Italian realist pictures of the Aftermath of World War II, post-war period. In more recent times, directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron have gained renown for their blockbuster films, often characterized by high production costs and earnings. Notable films topping the American Film Institute's AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies, AFI 100 list include Orson Welles's ''Citizen Kane'' (1941), which is frequently cited as the greatest film of all time, ''Casablanca (film), Casablanca'' (1942), ''The Godfather'' (1972), ''Gone with the Wind (film), Gone with the Wind'' (1939), ''Lawrence of Arabia (film), Lawrence of Arabia'' (1962), ''The Wizard of Oz (1939 film), The Wizard of Oz'' (1939), ''The Graduate'' (1967), ''On the Waterfront'' (1954), ''Schindler's List'' (1993), ''Singin' in the Rain'' (1952), ''It's a Wonderful Life'' (1946) and ''Sunset Boulevard (film), Sunset Boulevard'' (1950). The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have been held annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1929, and the Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since January 1944.


Sports

American football is by several measures the most popular spectator sport in the United States; the National Football League (NFL) has the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world, and the Super Bowl is watched by tens of millions globally. Even on the collegiate level, college football games receive millions of viewers per television broadcast; most notably the College Football Playoff, which averages 25 million viewers. Baseball has been regarded as the U.S. national sport since the late 19th century, with Major League Baseball (MLB) being the top league. Basketball and ice hockey are the country's next two Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, leading professional team sports, with the top leagues being the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL). College football and College basketball, basketball attract large audiences. The NCAA Final Four is one of the most watched sporting events. In Association football, soccer (a sport that has gained a footing in the United States since the mid-1990s), the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the United States men's national soccer team, men's national soccer team qualified for ten World Cups and the United States women's national soccer team, women's team has won the FIFA Women's World Cup four times; Major League Soccer is the sport's highest league in the United States (featuring 23 American and three Canadian teams). The market for professional sports in the United States is roughly , roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined. Eight Olympic Games have taken place in the United States. The 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, were the first-ever Olympic Games held outside of Europe. , the United States has won 2,522 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country, and 305 in the Winter Olympic Games, the second most behind Norway. While most major U.S. sports such as baseball and American football have evolved out of European practices, basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, and snowboarding are American inventions, some of which have become popular worldwide. Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact.Liss, Howard. ''Lacrosse'' (Funk & Wagnalls, 1970) pg 13. The most-watched individual sports are golf and auto racing, particularly NASCAR and IndyCar.


Mass media

The four major broadcasters in the U.S. are the NBC, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), CBS, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX). The four major broadcast television networks are all commercial entities. Cable television in the United States, Cable television offers hundreds of channels catering to a variety of niches. Americans listen to radio programming, also largely commercial, on average just over two-and-a-half hours a day. In 1998, the number of U.S. commercial radio stations had grown to 4,793 AM stations and 5,662 FM stations. In addition, there are 1,460 public radio stations. Most of these stations are run by universities and public authorities for educational purposes and are financed by public or private funds, subscriptions, and corporate underwriting. Much public radio broadcasting is supplied by NPR. NPR was incorporated in February 1970 under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967; its television counterpart, PBS, was created by the same legislation. , there are 15,433 licensed full-power radio stations in the U.S. according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Well-known newspapers include ''The Wall Street Journal'', ''The New York Times'', and ''USA Today''. Although the cost of publishing has increased over the years, the price of newspapers has generally remained low, forcing newspapers to rely more on advertising revenue and on articles provided by a major wire service, such as the Associated Press or Reuters, for their national and world coverage. With very few exceptions, all the newspapers in the U.S. are privately owned, either by large chains such as Gannett Company, Gannett or The McClatchy Company, McClatchy, which own dozens or even hundreds of newspapers; by small chains that own a handful of papers; or in a situation that is increasingly rare, by individuals or families. Major cities often have "alternative weeklies" to complement the mainstream daily papers, such as New York City's ''The Village Voice'' or Los Angeles' ''LA Weekly''. Major cities may also support a local business journal, trade papers relating to local industries, and papers for local ethnic and social groups. Aside from web portals and web search engine, search engines, the most popular websites are Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon (company), Amazon, and Twitter. More than 800 publications are produced in Spanish, the second most commonly used language in the United States behind English.


See also

* Index of United States-related articles * Lists of U.S. state topics * Outline of the United States


Notes


References


Further reading

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External links


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''The World Factbook''. Central Intelligence Agency.
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