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The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
. It consists of 50
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
, a
federal district A federal district is a type of administrative division of a federation, usually under the direct control of a federal government and organized sometimes with a single municipal body. Federal districts often include Capital districts and territori ...
, five major unincorporated territories, 326
Indian reservations An Indian reservation is an area of land tenure In common law systems, land tenure is the legal regime in which land is owned by an individual, who is said to "hold" the land. It determines who can use land, for how long and under what ...

Indian reservations
, and some
minor possessions
minor possessions
. At , it is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by geographic area. The United States shares significant land borders with
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of . Its extend from the to the and northward into the , covering , making it the world's . Its southern and western , stretching , is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital ...

Canada
to the north and
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to ...

Mexico
to the south as well as limited maritime borders with the
Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the Lucayan Archipelago The Lucayan Archipelago (named for the original native Lucayan people The Lucayan () people were the original reside ...

Bahamas
,
Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country comprising the island of Cuba, as well as Isla de la Juventud Isla de la Juventud (; en, Isle of Youth) is the second-largest Cuban islan ...

Cuba
, and
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly becau ...

Russia
. With a population of more than 331 million people, it is the third most populous country in the world. The
national capital A capital or capital city is the municipality holding primary status in a Department (country subdivision), department, country, Constituent state, state, province, or other administrative region, usually as its seat of the government. A capital ...
is
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
, and the
most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city proper, cities proper, the extent of their urban area, or the ...
is
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
.
Paleo-Indians Paleo-Indians, Paleoindians or Paleo-Americans, were the first peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic groups who are native to a ...
migrated from Siberia Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum len ...
to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago, and
European colonization The historical phenomenon of colonization is one that stretches around the globe and across time. Ancient and medieval colonialism was practiced by the Phoenicians, the Greeks The Greeks or Hellenes (; el, Έλληνες, ''Éllines'' ...
began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from the
thirteen British colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries which ...
established along the
East Coast East Coast may refer to: Entertainment * East Coast hip hop, a subgenre of hip hop * East Coast (ASAP Ferg song), "East Coast" (ASAP Ferg song), 2017 * East Coast (Saves the Day song), "East Coast" (Saves the Day song), 2004 * East Coast FM, a rad ...
. Disputes with
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island, and the List of i ...

Great Britain
over
taxation A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or Legal person, legal entity) by a governmental organization in order to fund government spending and various public expenditures (regional, ...
and
political representation Political representation is the activity of making citizens Citizenship is the Status (law), status of a person recognized under the law of a country (and/or local jurisdiction) of belonging to thereof. In international law it is membership to ...
led to the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colonia ...
(1775–1783), which established the nation's
independence upright=1.0, Pedro surrounded by a crowd in Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822.">Independence of Brazil">Brazil's independence on September 7, 1822. Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state State may ref ...

independence
. In the late 18th century, the U.S. began expanding across North America, gradually obtaining new territories, sometimes
through war
through war
, frequently displacing Native Americans, and
admitting new states Admission may refer to: Arts and media *Admissions (CSI: NY), "Admissions" (''CSI: NY''), an episode of ''CSI: NY'' *Admissions (film), ''Admissions'' (film), a 2011 short film starring James Cromwell *Admission (film), ''Admission'' (film), a 2013 ...
; by 1848, the United States spanned the continent.
Slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved per ...
was legal in the
southern United States The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally ...
until the second half of the 19th century, when the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and sout ...
led to its abolition. The
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, So ...
and established the U.S. as a world power, a status confirmed by the outcome of . During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span ...
, the United States fought the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

Korean War
and the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
but avoided direct military conflict with the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
. The two superpowers competed in the
Space Race The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, whi ...
, culminating in the
1969 spaceflight
1969 spaceflight
that first landed humans on
the Moon The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. At about one-quarter the diameter of Earth (comparable to the width of Australia (continent), Australia), it is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its plane ...

the Moon
. The
Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991 The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a Federalism, federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a Political union, union of multiple national Republics of t ...
ended the Cold War, leaving the United States as the world's sole
superpower A superpower is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Co ...

superpower
. The United States is a
federal Federal or foederal (archaic) may refer to: Politics General *Federal monarchy, a federation of monarchies *Federation, or ''Federal state'' (federal system), a type of government characterized by both a central (federal) government and states or ...
presidential President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
-
constitutional A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be ...

constitutional
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
with three separate branches of government, including a
bicameral legislature Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, ...
. It is a founding member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
,
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution An international financial institution (IFI) is a financial institution that has been established (or chartered) by more than one country, and hence is subject to international law. Its o ...
,
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monu ...

International Monetary Fund
,
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...

Organization of American States
,
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 27 European ...
, and other international organizations. It is a
permanent member Permanent may refer to: Art and entertainment *Permanent (film), ''Permanent'' (film), a 2017 American film *Permanent (Joy Division album), ''Permanent'' (Joy Division album) *Permanent (song), "Permanent" (song), by David Cook Other uses *Perma ...
of the
United Nations Security Council The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the Organs of the United Nations, six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), charged with ensuring international security, international peace and security, recommending the admission ...

United Nations Security Council
. Considered a
melting pot The melting pot is a monocultural metaphor for a heterogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences and statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, int ...

melting pot
of
cultures Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling differ ...
and
ethnicities An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousne ...
, its population has been profoundly shaped by centuries of immigration. The United States ranks high in international measures of
economic freedom Economic freedom, or economic liberty, is the ability of people of a society to take economic actions. This is a term used in economic and policy debate Policy debate is a form of debate competition in which teams of two advocate for and against ...
,
quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United N ...
,
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...
, and
human rights Human rights are Morality, moral principles or Norm (social), normsJames Nickel, with assistance from Thomas Pogge, M.B.E. Smith, and Leif Wenar, 13 December 2013, Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyHuman Rights Retrieved 14 August 2014 for ...
; it has low levels of perceived corruption. However, it has been criticized for
inequality Inequality may refer to: Economics * Attention inequality Attention inequality is a term used to target the inequality of distribution of attention across users on social networks, people in general, and for scientific papers. Yun Family Foundat ...
related to race,
wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), bank deposits, bond (finance), bonds, and participations in companies' sh ...
, and
income In microeconomics, income is the Consumption (economics), consumption and saving opportunity gained by an entity within a specified timeframe, which is generally expressed in monetary terms.Smith's financial dictionary. Smith, Howard Irving. 190 ...
; use of
capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned killing of a person as punishment for a crime. The sentence (law), sentence ordering that someone is punished with the death penalty is called a de ...
; high
incarceration rates
incarceration rates
; and lack of
universal health care Universal healthcare (also called universal health coverage, universal coverage, or universal care) is a health care system in which all residents of a particular country or region are assured access to health care. It is generally organized aroun ...
. The United States is a highly
developed country A developed country (or industrialized country, high-income country, more economically developed country (MEDC), advanced country) is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized governm ...
, accounts for approximately a quarter of global
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the left corner">174x174px Money is any ...
, and is the world's largest economy by GDP at market exchange rates. By value, the United States is the world's largest importer and second-largest exporter of goods. Although its population is only 4.2% of the world's total, it holds 29.4% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share held by any country. Making up more than a third of global military spending, it is the foremost military power in the world and internationally a leading
political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive process resulting in the selection ...
,
cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member affects the other. This is due to an int ...
, and
scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fac ...
force.


Etymology

The first known use of the name "
America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and a ...

America
" dates back to 1507, when it appeared on a world map produced by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in the
French
French
city of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges. On his map, the name is shown in large letters on what would now be considered
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
, in honor of
Amerigo Vespucci Amerigo Vespucci (; ; 9 March 1451 – 22 February 1512) was an Italian-born merchant, explorer, and navigator from the Republic of Florence, from whose name the term " America" is derived. He became a Castillian citizen in 1505. Between 1 ...

Amerigo Vespucci
. The Italian explorer was the first to postulate that the
West Indies The West Indies are a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, in ...
did not represent Asia's eastern limit but were part of a previously unknown landmass. In 1538, the Flemish cartographer
Gerardus Mercator Gerardus Mercator (; 5 March 1512 – 2 December 1594) was a 16th-century geographer A geographer is a physical scientist, social scientist or humanist whose area of study is geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', lite ...

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 Stephen Moylan (1737 – April 11, 1811) was an Irish-American Irish Americans ( ga, Gael-Mheiriceánaigh) are Americans who have full or partial ancestry from Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an isl ...
to
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
's
aide-de-camp An ''aide-de-camp'' (, ; French expression meaning literally ''helper in the ilitarycamp'') is a personal assistant A personal assistant, also referred to as personal aide (PA) or personal secretary (PS), is a job title describing a per ...

aide-de-camp
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
revolutionary warRevolutionary War(s) may refer to: * American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the armed conflict between Great Britain and 13 of its North American colonies, which had declared themselves the independent United States of America * French Revolution ...
effort. The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in ''
The Virginia Gazette ''The Virginia Gazette'' is the local newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is often typed in black ink with a white or gray background. Newspap ...
'' newspaper in Williamsburg, on . The second draft of the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
, prepared by
John Dickinson John Dickinson (November 13 Julian_calendar">/nowiki> Julian_calendar">/nowiki>Julian_calendar_November_2">Julian_calendar.html"_;"title="/nowiki>Julian_calendar">/nowiki>Julian_calendar_November_2_1732_–_February_14,_1808),_a_Founding_Fathe ...
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 Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and who served as the third from 1801 to 1809. He had previously served as the second under and as the first under ...

Thomas Jefferson
wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

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".
Colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in conversation and other informal conte ...
names are the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "
Columbia Columbia may refer to: * Columbia (personification), the historical female national personification of the United States, and a poetic name for the Americas Places North America Natural features * Columbia Plateau, a geologic and geographic regio ...
", a name popular in
American poetry 's poems, 1678 American poetry refers to the poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthe ...
and songs of the late 18th century, derives its origin from
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian ...

Christopher Columbus
; both "Columbus" and "Columbia" appear frequently in U.S. place-names, including
Columbus, Ohio Columbus is the List of US state capitals, state capital and the List of cities in Ohio, most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 905,748 for the 2020 United States census, 2020 census, it is the List of United States c ...
;
Columbia, South Carolina Columbia is the List of capitals in the United States, capital of the U.S. state of South Carolina. With a population of 136,632 as of the 2020 U.S. Census, it is List of municipalities in South Carolina, the second-largest city in South Caroli ...
; and the
District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscape ...
. Places and institutions throughout the Western Hemisphere bear the two names, including
Colón, Panama Colón () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...
, the country of
Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning South America and an Insular region of Colombia, insular region in North America. It is bordered by the Carib ...

Colombia
, the
Columbia River The Columbia River (Upper Chinook language, Upper Chinook: ' or '; Sahaptin language, Sahaptin: ''Nch’i-Wàna'' or ''Nchi wana''; Sinixt dialect'' '') is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river headwater, ...

Columbia River
, and
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a in . Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of in , Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in and ...

Columbia University
. 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
Civil War A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
and is now standard usage. A
citizen of the United States Citizenship of the United States is a citizenship, legal status that entails Americans with specific rights, duties, and benefits in the United States. It serves as a foundation of fundamental rights derived from and protected by the United S ...
is an "
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
". "United States", "American", and "U.S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). In English, the word "
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...
" 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 first inhabitants of North America migrated from
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Northern Asia. Siberia has been Russian conquest of Siberia, part of modern Russia since the latter half of th ...

Siberia
by way of the
Bering land bridge Beringia is defined today as the land and maritime area bounded on the west by the Lena River The Lena (russian: link=no, Ле́на, ; evn, Елюенэ, ''Eljune''; sah, Өлүөнэ, ''Ölüöne''; bua, Зүлхэ, ''Zülkhe''; mn, З ...
and arrived at least 12,000 years ago; however, some evidence suggests an even earlier date of arrival. The
Clovis culture The Clovis culture is a prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...
, 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 The Mississippian culture was a Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United Stat ...
in the southeast, developed advanced agriculture, architecture, and complex societies. The city-state of
Cahokia The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site ( 11 MS 2) is the site of a pre-Columbian Native American city (which existed 1050–1350 CE) directly across the Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the List of longest rivers of the Uni ...
is the largest, most complex pre-Columbian
archaeological site An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also kn ...
in the modern-day United States. In the
Four Corners boy on horseback in Monument Valley Monument Valley ( nv, Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, , meaning ''valley of the rocks'') is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching above the va ...

Four Corners
region,
Ancestral Puebloan The Ancestral Puebloans were an ancient Native American culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah Utah ( , ) is a state in the Mountain West region of the United State ...
culture developed from centuries of agricultural experimentation. The
Haudenosaunee The Iroquois ( or ) or Haudenosaunee (; "People of the Longhouse") are an Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous Confederation#Indigenous confederations in North America, confederacy in northeast North America. They were known during t ...

Haudenosaunee
, located in the southern
Great Lakes The Great Lakes also called the Great Lakes of North America or the Laurentian Great Lakes, is a series of large interconnected freshwater lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land ...

Great Lakes
region, was established at some point between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. Most prominent along the Atlantic coast were the
Algonquian Algonquin or Algonquian—and the variation Algonki(a)n—may refer to: Indigenous peoples *Algonquian languages, a large subfamily of Native American languages in a wide swath of eastern North America from Canada to Virginia **Algonquin languag ...
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 The Smithsonian Institution ( ), or simply, the Smithsonian, is a group of museums and education and research centers, the largest such complex in the world, created by the U.S. government "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge". Founded ...

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.
AnthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology and philosophical anthropology study the norm ...

Anthropologist
Henry F. Dobyns believed the populations were much higher, suggesting around 1.1 million along the shores of the
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an ocean basin 400px, Diagrammatic cross-section of an ocean basin, showing the various geographic features In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek: wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning ...

Gulf of Mexico
, 2.2 million people living between
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
and
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * T ...

Massachusetts
, 5.2 million in the
Mississippi Valley The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes ...
and tributaries, and around 700,000 people in the Florida peninsula.


European settlements

Claims of very early colonization of coastal New England by the
Norse Norse is demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may also refer to: Culture and religion * Norse m ...
are disputed and controversial. The first documented arrival of Europeans in the continental United States is that of Spanish
conquistador Conquistadors (, ) or conquistadores (, ; meaning 'conquerors') were the invaders, knights, soldiers, and explorers of the Spanish Empire, Spanish and the Portuguese Empires. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to t ...

conquistador
s such as
Juan Ponce de León Juan Ponce de León (, , , ; 1474 – July 1521) was a Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = E ...

Juan Ponce de León
, who made his first expedition to
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...
in 1513. Even earlier,
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian ...

Christopher Columbus
had landed in
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
on his 1493 voyage, and
San JuanSan Juan , Spanish for Saint John (disambiguation), Saint John, may refer to: Places Argentina * San Juan Province, Argentina * San Juan, Argentina, the capital of that province * San Juan (Iruya), a small village in the Iruya Department of the ...
was settled by the Spanish a decade later. The Spanish set up the first settlements in Florida and New Mexico, such as
Saint Augustine In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being ...
, often considered the nation's oldest city, and
Santa Fe
Santa Fe
. The French established their own settlements along the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
, notably
New Orleans New Orleans (,New Orleans
Merriam-Webster.
; french: La Nouvelle-Orléans ) is a Consolidat ...

New Orleans
. Successful
English settlement ''English Settlement'' is the fifth studio album and first double album by the English rock music, rock band XTC, released 12 February 1982 on Virgin Records. It marked a turn towards the more pastoral pop songs that would dominate later XTC rel ...
of the eastern coast of North America began with the
Virginia Colony , legislature = House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the State legislature (United States), legislative body of the Virginia ...
in 1607 at Jamestown and with the Pilgrims' colony at Plymouth in 1620. The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's
House of Burgesses The House of Burgesses was the elected representative element of the Virginia General Assembly The Virginia General Assembly is the State legislature (United States), legislative body of the Virginia, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the oldest con ...
, was founded in 1619. Documents such as the
Mayflower Compact The Mayflower Compact, originally titled Agreement Between the Settlers of New Plymouth, was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony Plymouth Colony (sometimes Plimouth) was an British America, English colonial venture in America from ...
and the
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut The Fundamental Orders were adopted by the Connecticut Colony council on January 14, 1639 O.S. (January 24, 1639 N.S.). The fundamental orders describe the government set up by the Connecticut River towns, setting its structure and powers. They ...
established precedents for representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies. Many English settlers were dissenting Christians who came seeking
religious freedom Freedom of religion or religious liberty is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom ...
. In 1784, the Russians were the first Europeans to establish a settlement in Alaska, at Three Saints Bay.
Russian America Russian America (russian: Русская Америка, ''Russkaya Amyerika'') was the name of the Russian colonial possessions in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within ...
once spanned much of the present-day state of
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

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 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
colonization Colonization, or colonisation refers to large-scale population movements where the migrants maintain strong links with their—or their ancestors'—former country, gaining significant privileges over other inhabitants of the territory by such l ...
of North America, the
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
were displaced and often killed. The native population of America declined after European arrival for various reasons, primarily diseases such as
smallpox Smallpox was an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious ...

smallpox
and
measles Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to ...
. European settlers also began
trafficking Smuggling is the illegal transportation of objects, substances, information or people, such as out of a house or buildings, into a prison A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British, Australian, and to a lesser extent Canadian ...
of
African slaves Slavery has historically been widespread in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), conventio ...
into Colonial America via the
transatlantic slave trade The Atlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, or Euro-American slave trade involved the transportation by slave traders of various enslaved African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** ...
. Because of a lower prevalence of tropical diseases and better
treatment Treatment may refer to: * Treatment (song), "Treatment" (song), a 2012 song by * Film treatment, a prose telling of a story intended to be turned into a screenplay * Medical treatment or therapy * Sewage treatment * Surface treatment or surface fi ...
, 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, 1913, p. 522 Davis, 1996, p. 7 However, by the turn of the 18th century, African slaves had supplanted European
indentured servants Indentured servitude is a form of forced labor in which a person (an indenture) is forced to work without salary for a specific number of years for eventual compensation or debt repayment. Historically, it has been used to punish and relocate cap ...
as cash crop labor, especially in the American South. Quirk, 2011, p. 195 The
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
(
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * T ...
,
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
,
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as t ...
,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
,
New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York (state), New York; on the ea ...
,
Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basi ...
,
Delaware Delaware ( ) is a state in the Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east. The state takes i ...
,
Maryland Maryland ( ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...
,
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...
,
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily news ...
,
South Carolina South Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the coastal Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered to the north by North Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southwest by Georgia ...
, and
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), one of the states of the United States of America Georgia may also refer to: Historical states and entities * Democratic Republ ...
) 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 revival Christian revivalism is increased spiritual interest or Renewal (religion), renewal in the life of a local church, church congregation or society, with a local, national or global effect. This should be distinguished from the use of the term "re ...
ist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest both in religion and in religious liberty. During the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
(1756–1763), known in the U.S. as the
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Great Britain ...

French and Indian War
, British forces captured Canada from the French. With the creation of the
Province of Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...
, Canada's
francophone This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from ...

francophone
population would remain isolated from the English-speaking colonial dependencies of
Nova Scotia ) , image_map = Nova Scotia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English (''de facto'') , RegionalLang = French, Scots Gaelic , capital ...

Nova Scotia
,
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (, ) is the easternmost provinces and territories of Canada, province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic Canada, Atlantic region. It is composed of the island of Newfoundland (island), Newfoundland and the continental ...
and the . Excluding the
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
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 The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colonia ...
fought by the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
against the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
was the first successful
war of independence Conflicts called war of independence or independence war include: * Algerian War of Independence The Algerian War, also known as the Algerian Revolution or the Algerian War of Independence,( ar, الثورة الجزائرية '; '' ber, Tagra ...
by a non-European entity against a European power in
modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of 's past. It is understood through , , , and , and since the , from and s. Humanity's written history was preceded by its , beginning with the ("Old Stone Age"), followed by the ("New ...
. Americans had developed an ideology of "
republicanism Republicanism is a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use ...
", asserting that government rested on the will of the people as expressed in their local legislatures. They demanded their " rights as Englishmen" and "
no taxation without representation "No taxation without representation" is a political slogan that originated in the American Revolution, and which expressed one of the primary grievances of the Thirteen Colonies, American colonists against Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain. ...
". The British insisted on administering the empire through Parliament, and the conflict escalated into war. The
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
unanimously adopted the
Declaration of Independence#REDIRECT Declaration of independence {{Redirect category shell, {{R from other capitalisation ...

Declaration of Independence
on ; this day is celebrated annually as
Independence Day An independence day is an annual event commemorating the anniversary An anniversary is the date on which an event took place or an institution was founded in a previous year, and may also refer to the commemoration or celebration of that ...
. In 1777, the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
established a decentralized government that operated until 1789. After its defeat at the
Siege of Yorktown The siege of Yorktown, also known as the Battle of Yorktown, the surrender at Yorktown, or the German battle, ending on October 19, 1781, at Yorktown, Virginia, was a decisive victory by a combined force of the American Continental Army troops l ...
in 1781, Britain signed a
peace treaty A peace treaty is an agreementAgreement may refer to: Agreements between people and organizations * Gentlemen's agreement A gentlemen's agreement, or gentleman's agreement, is an informal and legally non-binding wikt:agreement, agreement betwe ...
. American sovereignty became internationally recognized, and the country was granted all lands east of the
Mississippi River The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and b ...

Mississippi River
. Tensions with Britain remained, however, leading to the
War of 1812 The War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 17 February 1815) was a conflict fought by the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It ...
, which was fought to a draw. Nationalists led the
Philadelphia Convention The Constitutional Convention (contemporarily known as the Federal Convention, the Philadelphia Convention, or the Grand Convention at Philadelphia) took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in the old Pennsylvania State House (now known as ...
of 1787 in writing the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the Supremacy Clause, supreme law of the United States, United States of America. This founding document, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first ...

United States Constitution
,
ratified Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent that lacked the authority to bind the principal legally. Ratification defines the international act in which a state indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty if the parties intend ...
in state conventions in 1788. Going into force in 1789, this constitution reorganized the federal government into three branches, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances.
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
, who had led the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
to victory, was the first
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
elected under the new constitution. The
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights Rights are legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental ...

Bill of Rights
, forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791. Boyer, 2007, pp. 192–193 Although the federal government outlawed American participation in the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, after 1820, cultivation of the highly profitable cotton crop exploded in the
Deep South The Deep South is a cultural and geographic subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the la ...
, and along with it, the slave population. The
Second Great Awakening The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Cath ...
, especially in the period 1800–1840, converted millions to
evangelical Evangelicalism (), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salv ...
Protestantism. In the North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including
abolitionism Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, was the movement to end . In Western Europe and the Americas, abolitionism was a historic movement that sought to end the and liberate the enslaved people. The British abolitionist movement star ...
; in the South, Methodists and Baptists proselytized among slave populations. Beginning in the late 18th century, American settlers began to expand westward, prompting a long series of
American Indian Wars The American Indian Wars, also known as the American Frontier Wars, the First Nations Wars in Canada (french: Guerres des Premières Nations) and the Indian Wars were fought by European governments and colonists, and later by the United States an ...
. The 1803
Louisiana Purchase The Louisiana Purchase (french: Vente de la Louisiane, translation=Sale of Louisiana) was the acquisition of the Louisiana (New France), territory of Louisiana by the United States from French First Republic, Napoleonic France in 1803. In retur ...

Louisiana Purchase
almost doubled the nation's area, Spain ceded Florida and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819, the
Republic of Texas The Republic of Texas ( es, República de Tejas) was a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovere ...

Republic of Texas
was
annexed upCivilians and coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the reversal of the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq (28 February 1991). Annexation (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging t ...
in 1845 during a period of expansionism, and the 1846
Oregon Treaty The Oregon Treaty is a treaty between the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym f ...
with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day
American Northwest The northwestern United States, also known as the American Northwest or simply the Northwest, is an informal geographic region of the United States. The region consistently includes the states of Oregon, Washington (state), Washington, Idaho, M ...
. Victory in the
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. ...

Mexican–American War
resulted in the 1848
Mexican Cession The Mexican Cession ( es, Cesión mexicana) is the region in the modern-day southwestern United States that Mexico ceded to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. This region had not been part of the ...

Mexican Cession
of California and much of the present-day
American Southwest The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the Southwest, is a geographic and cultural region of the United States that generally includes Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣona ...
, making the U.S. span the continent. The
California Gold Rush The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a that began on January 24, 1848, when was found by at in . The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to from the rest of the United States and abroad. The sudden influx of gold into ...
of 1848–1849 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 The Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of government land or the public domain The public domain consists of all the to which no intellectual property rights apply. Th ...
, nearly 10% of the total area of the United States, and to private railroad companies and colleges as part of
land grants A land grant is a gift of real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resource , Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitution ...
spurred
economic development In the economic An economy (; ) is an area of the Production (economics), production, Distribution (economics), distribution and trade, as well as Consumption (economics), consumption of Goods (economics), goods and Service (economics), servi ...
. After the Civil War, new transcontinental
railways Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicle A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine that transports people or cargo. Vehicles include wagons, bicycles, motor veh ...

railways
made relocation easier for settlers, expanded internal trade, and increased conflicts with Native Americans. In 1869, a new 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 African people, 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 would face Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation nationwide, 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 Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded by Spain in the same year, following the
Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War (April 21 – August 13, 1898, es, Guerra hispano-estadounidense or ; fil, Digmaang Espanyol-Amerikano) was an armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, So ...
. 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 growing inequality and social unrest, which prompted the rise of Labor history of the United States, organized labor along with 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 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.


Peak Cold War years and civil rights

After World War II, the United States and the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
competed for power, influence, and prestige during what became known as the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span ...
, driven by an ideological divide between capitalism and communism. They dominated the military affairs of Europe, with the U.S. and its
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 27 European ...
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, occasionally supporting authoritarian right-wing regimes. American troops fought communist People's Liberation Army, Chinese and North Korean forces in the
Korean War The Korean War (see § Names) was a war fought between North Korea and South Korea from 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following clashes along the border and rebellions in So ...

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 The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, whi ...
" in which the United States became the first nation to Apollo 11, land a man on the Moon in 1969. The United States became increasingly involved in the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
(1955–1975), introducing combat forces in 1965. 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 Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

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.


Late 20th century

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. The United States supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War; in response, the country faced an oil embargo from OPEC nations, sparking the 1973 oil crisis. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter brokered Egypt–Israel peace treaty, a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, marking the first time an Arab nation recognized Israeli existence. After his election, 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. After the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span ...
, 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 February 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.


21st century

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. Hundreds more died later from illnesses related to the attacks, and perhaps thousands of first responders, cleanup workers, and survivors suffer from long-term effects. In response, President George W. Bush launched the War on Terror, which included a nearly 20-year War in Afghanistan (2001–present), war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021 and the 2003–2011 Iraq War. A 2011 military operation in Pakistan led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. 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 in 2006, which culminated with the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the Great Recession, 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 Multiracial American, multiracial president, with African-American ancestry 2008 United States presidential election, was elected in 2008 amid the crisis, and subsequently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 economic stimulus and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in an attempt to mitigate its negative effects and ensure there would not be a repeat of the crisis. Republican Donald Trump was elected as the List of Presidents of the United States, 45th president in 2016 United States presidential election, 2016, a result viewed as one of the biggest political upsets in American history. Trump led the country through Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which as of December 2021 is estimated to have killed over 900,000 Americans. In 2020 United States presidential election, 2020, in what was seen as a repudiation of Trump's divisive leadership, Democrat Joe Biden was elected as the 46th president. On January 6, 2021, supporters of outgoing President Trump 2021 United States Capitol attack, stormed the United States Capitol in an unsuccessful effort to disrupt the presidential Electoral College vote count.


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 five populated but unincorporated territories of
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

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 The Great Lakes also called the Great Lakes of North America or the Laurentian Great Lakes, is a series of large interconnected freshwater lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land ...

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 Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
are Tropical climate, tropical, as well as its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. States bordering the
Gulf of Mexico The Gulf of Mexico ( es, Golfo de México) is an ocean basin 400px, Diagrammatic cross-section of an ocean basin, showing the various geographic features In hydrology Hydrology (from Greek: wikt:ὕδωρ, ὕδωρ, "hýdōr" meaning ...

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.


Biodiversity

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 63 List of areas in the United States National Park System, national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas, which are managed by the National Park Service. 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 United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, left the Paris Agreement in 2020, and rejoined it in 2021.


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. . Since 2015, the U.S. has ranked 25th on the Democracy Index, and is described as a "flawed democracy". On Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, its public sector position deteriorated from a score of 76 in 2015 to 69 in 2019. In the 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 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
Bill of Rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights Rights are legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through social or governmental ...

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 can be voided if the courts determine that it violates the Constitution. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in ''Marbury v. Madison'' (1803) in a decision handed down by 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, the city of Washington. 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. Reservations are usually part of a single state, though 12 reservations cross state boundaries. Indian country jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters is shared by tribes, states, and the federal government. 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, though the self-financed Reform Party of the United States of America, Reform party campaign of Ross Perot took 18.9% in 1992. 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), Democrat 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 narrowly controlled by the Democratic Party. The Senate consists of 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats with two independent politician, Independents who caucus with the Democrats, with Vice President Harris, a Democrat, able to break ties. 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 Permanent may refer to: Art and entertainment *Permanent (film), ''Permanent'' (film), a 2017 American film *Permanent (Joy Division album), ''Permanent'' (Joy Division album) *Permanent (song), "Permanent" (song), by David Cook Other uses *Perma ...
of the
United Nations Security Council The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the Organs of the United Nations, six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), charged with ensuring international security, international peace and security, recommending the admission ...

United Nations Security Council
, and New York City is home to the Headquarters of the United Nations, United Nations Headquarters. It is also a member of the G7, G-20 major economies, G20, and OECD. 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 American diplomatic missions. However, Iran–United States relations, Iran, North Korea–United States relations, North Korea, Foreign relations of Bhutan#Other countries, Bhutan, and Taiwan–United States relations, Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States (although the U.S. maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan and supplies it with Six Assurances, military equipment). The United States has a "Special Relationship" with the United Kingdom–United States relations, United Kingdom and strong ties with Canada–United States relations, Canada, India-United States relations, India, 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 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 27 European ...
members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...

Organization of American States
and United States free trade agreements, free trade agreements such as the trilateral United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement.
Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning South America and an Insular region of Colombia, insular region in North America. It is bordered by the Carib ...

Colombia
is traditionally considered by the United States as its most loyal ally in
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

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 few 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. 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 The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span ...
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 United States is one of the five Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, recognized nuclear weapons states, and one of nine countries to possess nuclear weapons. It has the world's Nuclear weapons of the United States, second-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, after that of Russia. The United States also owns more than 40% of the world's 14,000 nuclear weapons.


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. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and Charles H. Ramsey, former Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police chief, appearing on ''Meet the Press'', there are about 18,000 U.S. police agencies in the United States. That number includes city police departments, county sheriff's offices, state police/highway patrol and federal law enforcement agencies. 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. The Department of Justice said that the imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities in 2019 stood at 419 per 100,000 residents which was at its lowest point since 1995 and that the total prison population for the same year stood at 1,430,800 which represented an 11% decrease in the population size from a decade earlier. Other sources such as the Prison Policy Initiative had put the aggregate number of prisoners in 2020 at 2.3 million. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses. Efforts to reduce the prison population include government policies and grassroots initiatives that Decarceration in the United States, promote decarceration — recent examples include laws at the federal and state level such as the Fair Sentencing Act, First Step Act, Maryland's Justice Reinvestment Act and California's Money Bail Reform Act. 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. On January 26, 2021, the Biden Administration signed an executive order that halted the renewal of federal government contracts with private prisons, but it did not apply to detention centers that held undocumented immigrants. 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 the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in ''Furman v. Georgia'' that struck down the previous practice. Since the decision, however, there have been more than 1,500 executions, although 186 of those convicted and sentenced since ''Furman'' have been exonerated, as tabulated by the Death Penalty Information Center. 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 International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monu ...

International Monetary Fund
, the U.S. GDP of constitutes 24% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 16% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity. In October 2021 the United States had a national debt of $28.8 trillion. The United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest exporter, though 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 the European Union are its top trading partners. From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the G7. The country ranks fifth in the world in List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, nominal GDP per capita and seventh 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, post-industrial level of development, the United States remains an industrial power. In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of people (50%). With people, the public sector 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 other World Bank high-income economy, high-income countries. 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. Some 74% of full-time American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same benefits.


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 The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, whi ...
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. The United States ranked third in the Global Innovation Index in 2021, after Switzerland and Sweden.


Income, wealth, and poverty

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. The U.S. also ranks first in the number of billionaires and millionaires in the world, with 724 billionaires and 10.5 million millionaires as of 2020. Prior to the 2019–2021 global COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, Credit Suisse listed some 18.6 million U.S. citizens as having a net worth in excess of $1 million. In 2020, the Food Security Index ranked the United States 11th in food security, giving the country a score of 77.5/100. Americans on average have more than twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as European Union, EU residents. For 2019, the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 17th among 189 countries in its Human Development Index#2014 report, Human Development Index (HDI) and 28th 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. 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. 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 members. 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. 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 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 were at risk for eviction by the end of 2020. While the CDC and the Biden government issued a federal eviction moratorium, the Supreme Court invalidated the order, ruling they lacked the authority under federal law to do so.


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, longest rail network in the world, nearly all Standard-gauge railway, standard gauge. The network handles mostly freight, with intercity passenger service provided by the government-subsidized Amtrak to all but four states. Transportation is the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The country now ranks as the world's second-highest emitter of greenhouse gases, exceeded only by Greenhouse gas emissions by China, China. The United States had 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 United States receives approximately 80% of its energy from fossil fuels. In 2019, the largest source of the country's energy came from petroleum (36.6%), followed by natural gas (32%), coal (11.4%), renewable sources (11.4%) and nuclear power (8.4%). Americans constitute less than 5% of the world population, world's population, but consume 17% of the Energy use in the United States, world's energy They account for about 25% of the world's Oil consumption, petroleum consumption, while producing only 6% of the world's annual petroleum supply.


Demographics


Population

The United States Census Bureau, U.S. Census Bureau reported 331,449,281 residents as of April 1, 2020. This figure, like most official data for the United States as a whole, excludes the five unincorporated territories (
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands) and minor island possessions. According to the Bureau's U.S. 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. As of 2020, the total fertility rate stood at 1.64 children per woman. In 2013, the average age at first birth was 26, and 41% of births were to unmarried women. In 2019, the U.S. had the world's highest rate (23%) of children living in Single parents in the United States, single-parent households; the rates in Canada and Mexico were 15% and 7%, respectively.


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 (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
(Alaska Native languages, twenty Native languages), South Dakota (Sioux language, Sioux), American Samoa (Samoan language, Samoan),
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

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. About 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, Catholics, at 20.8%, formed the largest single Christian denomination. 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, 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 77.3 years in 2020 (74.5 years for men and 80.2 years for women), down 1.5 years from 2019. According to provisional figures, this was the lowest average U.S. life expectancy recorded by the CDC since 2003, the first overall decline since 2018, and "the largest one-year decline since World War II." Some three-quarters of the decrease was attributed to deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, with most of the rest due to accidents and drug overdoses. The country also has one of the highest Suicide in the United States, suicide rates among wealthy countries. Starting in 1998, the average life expectancy in the U.S. fell behind that of other wealthy industrialized countries, and Americans' "health disadvantage" gap has been increasing ever since. 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 collisions 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, substance use disorders, 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. The United States is the only developed nation without a system of universal health care and the reasons for this and extent to which it is a problem is Healthcare reform in the United States, a matter of debate. Similarly a significant proportion of the population does not carry health insurance and the reasons for and extent to which it is a problem is also a Health insurance coverage in the United States#Causes, matter of debate. In 2010, former President Obama passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA) which ushered in the most sweeping set of reforms to America's health care system in nearly five decades since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. The CDC said that the law roughly halved the uninsured share of the population and multiple studies have concluded that ACA had reduced the mortality of enrollees but its legacy Affordable Care Act#Criticism and opposition, remains controversial. 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 but attains worse healthcare outcomes when compared to peer nations. 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 five or six (beginning with 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. 3.4% 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. Despite some student loan forgiveness programs in place, Student debt, student loan debt has increased by 102% in the last decade, and exceeded dollars as of 2021.


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 or were imported as slaves 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 a homogenizing
melting pot The melting pot is a monocultural metaphor for a heterogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences and statistics Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, int ...

melting pot
, with immigrants contributing to, and eventually Assimilation (phonology), assimilating into, mainstream American culture 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 socioeconomics, 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, contributing to Western culture. 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 many Americans make or purchase traditional foods to celebrate the occasion. The American fast food industry, the world's largest, pioneered the drive-through format in the 1940s. Characteristic American dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, doughnuts, french fries, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. 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 standard breakfast beverages.


Music

Among America's earliest composers was a man named William Billings who, born in Boston, composed patriotic hymns in the 1770s; Billings was a part of the Yankee tunesmiths, First New England School, who dominated American music during its earliest stages. Anthony Heinrich was the most prominent composer before the Civil War. From the mid- to late 1800s, John Philip Sousa of the late Romantic music, Romantic era composed numerous military songs—List of marches composed by John Philip Sousa, particularly marches—and is regarded as one of America's greatest composers. By the late 19th century, the Second New England School (sometimes referred to specifically as the "Boston Six") became prominent representatives of the classical tradition, of whom John Knowles Paine was the leading figure. Although little known at the time, Charles Ives' 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—eventually furthered by Leonard Bernstein—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. Mid-20th-century American pop stars such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley became global celebrities, as have artists of the late 20th century such as Michael Jackson, Prince (musician), Prince, Madonna and Whitney Houston. Popular artists from the mid-1990s to late 2000s include Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé. Well-known American singers of the 2010s include Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, 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.


Theater

Theater in the United States is part of the old European theatrical tradition and has been heavily influenced by the Theatre of the United Kingdom, British theater. The central hub of the American theater scene has been Manhattan, with its divisions of Broadway theatre, Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. Many movie and television stars have gotten their big break working in New York productions. Outside New York City, many cities have professional Regional theater in the United States, regional or resident theater companies that produce their own seasons, with some works being produced regionally with hopes of eventually moving to New York. U.S. theater also has an active community theater culture, which relies mainly on local volunteers who may not be actively pursuing a theatrical career.


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 athletics, 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 Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, 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. The five most popular websites used in the U.S. are Google, YouTube, Amazon (company), Amazon, Yahoo, and Facebook. 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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