Coordinates: 40°N 100°W / 40°N 100°W / 40; -100
United States of America
God We Trust"[fn 1]
Other traditional mottos
"E pluribus unum" (Latin) (de facto)
"Out of many, one"
"Annuit cœptis" (Latin)
"He has favored our undertakings"
"Novus ordo seclorum" (Latin)
"New order of the ages"
"The Star-Spangled Banner"
"The Stars and Stripes Forever"
United States plus
Alaska and Hawaii
United States including its territories
38°53′N 77°01′W / 38.883°N 77.017°W / 38.883; -77.017
New York City
40°43′N 74°00′W / 40.717°N 74.000°W / 40.717; -74.000
None at federal level[fn 2]
Ethnic groups (2016)
0.2% Pacific Islander
17.6% Hispanic or Latino
82.4% non-Hispanic or Latino
Federal presidential constitutional republic
• Vice President
• Speaker of the House
• Chief Justice
• Upper house
• Lower house
House of Representatives
Independence from Great Britain
July 4, 1776
March 1, 1781
• Treaty of Paris
September 3, 1783
June 21, 1788
• Last polity admitted
March 24, 1976
• Total area
3,796,742 sq mi (9,833,520 km2) (3rd/4th)
• Water (%)
• Total land area
3,531,905 sq mi (9,147,590 km2)
• 2017 estimate
• 2010 census
85/sq mi (32.8/km2) (179th)
$20.199 trillion (2nd)
• Per capita
$20.199 trillion (1st)
• Per capita
very high · 10th
United States dollar
United States dollar ($) (USD)
(UTC−4 to −12, +10, +11)
• Summer (DST)
(UTC−4 to −10[fn 4])
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United
States (U.S.) or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states,
a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various
possessions.[fn 6] At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million
km2) and with over 325 million people, the
United States is the
world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area[fn 7] and the
third-most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the
largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and
the capital's federal district are contiguous and located in North
Canada and Mexico. The state of
Alaska is in the
northwest corner of North America, bordered by
Canada to the east and
Bering Strait from
Russia to the west. The state of Hawaii
is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are
scattered about the
Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching
across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography,
climate, and wildlife of the
United States make it one of the world's
17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from
Siberia to the North American mainland at
least 15,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th
United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies
established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great
Britain and the colonies following the
French and Indian War
French and Indian War led to
the American Revolution, which began in 1775, and the subsequent
Declaration of Independence in 1776. The war ended in 1783 with the
United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a
European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with
the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being
ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties. The
United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America
throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing
Native American tribes, and gradually admitting new states until it
spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th
century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery. By the
end of the century, the
United States had extended into the Pacific
Ocean, and its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial
Revolution, began to soar. The
Spanish–American War and World
War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The
United States emerged from
World War II
World War II as a global superpower, the
first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them
in warfare, and a permanent member of the
United Nations Security
Council. During the Cold War, the
United States and the Soviet Union
competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 moon landing.
The end of the
Cold War and the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991
United States as the world's sole superpower.
United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World
Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States
(OAS), and other international organizations. The
United States is a
highly developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal
GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for approximately a
quarter of global GDP. The U.S. economy is largely
post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and
knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains
the second-largest in the world. Though its population is only
4.3% of the world total, the U.S. holds 33.4% of the total wealth
in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a
single country. The
United States ranks among the highest nations
in several measures of socioeconomic performance, including average
wage, human development, per capita GDP, and productivity per
person. The U.S. is the foremost military power in the world,
making up a third of global military spending, and is a leading
political, cultural, and scientific force internationally.
2.1 Indigenous peoples and pre-Columbian history
2.2 European settlements
2.2.1 Effects on and interaction with native populations
2.3 Independence and expansion (1776–1865)
2.4 Civil War and Reconstruction Era
2.5 Further immigration, expansion, and industrialization
2.6 World War I, Great Depression, and World War II
Cold War and civil rights era
2.8 Contemporary history
3 Geography, climate, and environment
4.4 Family structure
5 Government and politics
5.1 Political divisions
5.2 Parties and elections
5.3 Foreign relations
5.4 Government finance
6 Law enforcement and crime
7.1 Income, poverty and wealth
8.3 Water supply and sanitation
10.2 Literature, philosophy, and visual art
10.6 Mass media
11 Science and technology
13 See also
17 External links
See also: Naming of the Americas, Names for
United States citizens,
and American (word)
The American continents are named after Italian explorer Amerigo
In 1507, the German cartographer
Martin Waldseemüller produced a
world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere
America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo
Vespucci (Latin: Americus Vespucius). The first documentary
evidence of the phrase "
United States of America" is from a letter
dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq., George
Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental
Army. Addressed to Lt. Col. Joseph Reed, Moylan expressed his wish to
carry the "full and ample powers of the
United States of America" to
Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort. The first
known publication of the phrase "
United States of America" was in an
anonymous essay in
The Virginia Gazette
The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg,
Virginia, on April 6, 1776.
The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John
Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, 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 contains the sentence "The Stile of this
Confederacy shall be 'The
United States of America'". In June
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. This draft of the
document did not surface until June 21, 1776, 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 names are the
"U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia", a name
popular in poetry and songs of the late 18th century, derives its
origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of
The phrase "United States" was originally plural, a description of a
collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States
are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution, ratified in 1865. The singular form—e.g., "the
United States is"—became popular after the end of the American Civil
War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in
the idiom "these United States". The difference is more significant
than usage; it is a difference between a collection of states and a
A citizen of the
United States is an "American". "United States",
"American" and "U.S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American
values", "U.S. forces"). In English, the word "American" rarely
refers to topics or subjects not connected with the United States.
Main articles: History of the United States, Timeline of United States
history, American business history, Economic history of the United
States, and Labor history of the United States
Indigenous peoples and pre-Columbian history
Further information: History of Native
Americans in the United States
Monks Mound in Cahokia, a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site and the largest
and most influential settlement in Mississippian culture. The concrete
staircase follows the approximate course of ancient wooden stairs.
The first inhabitants of
North America migrated from
Siberia by way of
the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 15,000 years ago, though
increasing evidence suggests an even earlier arrival. After
crossing the land bridge, the first
Americans moved southward, either
along the Pacific coast or through an interior ice-free
corridor between the Cordilleran and Laurentide ice sheets. The
Clovis culture appeared around 11,000 BC, and it is considered to be
an ancestor of most of the later indigenous cultures of the
Americas. While the
Clovis culture was thought, throughout the
late 20th century, to represent the first human settlement of the
Americas, in recent years consensus has changed in recognition of
Over time, indigenous cultures in
North America grew increasingly
complex, and some, such as the pre-Columbian
Mississippian culture in
the southeast, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and
state-level societies. From approximately 800 to 1600 AD the
Mississippian culture flourished, and its largest city
considered the largest, most complex pre-Columbian archaeological site
in the modern-day United States. While in the
Four Corners region,
Ancestral Puebloans culture developed. Three
UNESCO World Heritage
Sites located in the
United States are credited to the Pueblos: Mesa
Verde National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Taos
Pueblo. The earthworks constructed by Native
Americans of the Poverty
Point culture in northeastern
Louisiana have also been designated a
UNESCO World Heritage site. In the southern
Great Lakes region,
Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee) was established at some point
between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, lasting until the
end of the Revolutionary War.
The date of the first settlements of the
Hawaiian Islands is a topic
of continuing debate. Archaeological evidence seems to indicate a
settlement as early as 124 AD. During his third and final voyage,
Captain James Cook
Captain James Cook became the first European to begin formal contact
with Hawaii. After his initial landfall in January 1778 at Waimea
harbor, Kauai, Cook named the archipelago the "Sandwich Islands" after
the fourth Earl of Sandwich—the acting First Lord of the Admiralty
of the British Royal Navy.
Further information: Colonial history of the United States, European
colonization of the Americas, and Thirteen Colonies
Saint Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied
European-established settlement in the continental United States
The Mayflower Compact, 1620 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Spain sent Columbus on his first voyage to the
New World in
1492, other explorers followed. The first Europeans to arrive in the
territory of the modern
United States were Spanish conquistadors such
as Juan Ponce de León, who made his first visit to
Florida in 1513;
however, if unincorporated territories are accounted for, then credit
would go to
Christopher Columbus who landed in
Puerto Rico on his 1493
voyage. Spanish set up the first settlements in
Florida and New Mexico
such as Saint Augustine and Santa Fe. The French established their
own as well along the
Mississippi River. Successful English settlement
on the eastern coast of
North America began with the
in 1607 at Jamestown and the Pilgrims'
Plymouth Colony in 1620. Many
settlers were dissenting Christian groups who came seeking religious
freedom. The continent's first elected legislative assembly,
House of Burgesses
House of Burgesses created in 1619, the Mayflower Compact,
signed by the Pilgrims before disembarking, and the Fundamental Orders
of Connecticut, established precedents for the pattern of
representative self-government and constitutionalism that would
develop throughout the American colonies.
Most settlers in every colony were small farmers, but other industries
developed within a few decades as varied as the settlements. Cash
crops included tobacco, rice, and wheat. Extraction industries grew up
in furs, fishing and lumber. Manufacturers produced rum and ships, and
by the late colonial period,
Americans were producing one-seventh of
the world's iron supply. Cities eventually dotted the coast to
support local economies and serve as trade hubs. English colonists
were supplemented by waves of Scotch-Irish and other groups. As
coastal land grew more expensive, freed indentured servants pushed
A large-scale slave trade with English privateers was begun. The
life expectancy of slaves was much higher in
North America than
further south, because of less disease and better food and treatment,
leading to a rapid increase in the numbers of slaves. Colonial
society was largely divided over the religious and moral implications
of slavery, and colonies passed acts for and against the
practice. But by the turn of the 18th century, African slaves
were replacing indentured servants for cash crop labor, especially in
With the British colonization of Georgia in 1732, the 13 colonies that
would become the
United States of America were established. All
had local governments with elections open to most free men, with a
growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of
self-government stimulating support for republicanism. With
extremely high birth rates, low death rates, and steady settlement,
the colonial population grew rapidly. Relatively small Native American
populations were eclipsed. The Christian revivalist movement of
the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in
both religion and religious liberty.
Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War (in the United States, known as the French
and Indian War), British forces seized
Canada from the French, but the
francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern
colonies. Excluding the Native Americans, who were being conquered and
displaced, the 13 British colonies had a population of over 2.1
million in 1770, about one-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 success motivated monarchs to periodically
seek to reassert royal authority.
In 1774, the
Spanish Navy ship Santiago, under Juan Pérez, entered
and anchored in an inlet of Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, in
present-day British Columbia. Although the Spanish did not land,
natives paddled to the ship to trade furs for abalone shells from
California. At the time, the Spanish were able to monopolize the
Asia and North America, granting limited licenses to the
Portuguese. When the
Russians began establishing a growing fur trading
system in Alaska, the Spanish began to challenge the Russians, with
Pérez's voyage being the first of many to the Pacific
After having arrived in the Hawaiian islands in 1778, Captain Cook
sailed north and then northeast to explore the west coast of North
America north of the Spanish settlements in Alta California. He made
landfall on the
Oregon coast at approximately 44°30′ north
latitude, naming his landing point Cape Foulweather. Bad weather
forced his ships south to about 43° north before they could begin
their exploration of the coast northward. In March 1778, Cook
landed on Bligh Island and named the inlet "King George's Sound". He
recorded that the native name was Nutka or Nootka, apparently
misunderstanding his conversations at Friendly Cove/Yuquot; his
informant may have been explaining that he was on an island (itchme
nutka, a place you can "go around"). There may also have been
confusion with Nuu-chah-nulth, the natives' autonym (a name for
themselves). It may also have simply been based on Cook's
mispronunciation of Yuquot, the native name of the place.
Effects on and interaction with native populations
Further information: American Indian Wars, Population history of
indigenous peoples of the Americas, and James Cook
Death of Captain Cook by
Johann Zoffany (1795)
With the progress of European colonization in the territories of the
contemporary United States, the Native
Americans were often conquered
and displaced. The native population of America declined after
Europeans arrived, and for various reasons, primarily diseases such as
smallpox and measles. Violence was not a significant factor in the
overall decline among Native Americans, though conflict among
themselves and with Europeans affected specific tribes and various
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 allied
with Europeans in their colonial wars. At the same time, however, many
natives and settlers came to depend on each other. Settlers traded for
food and animal pelts, natives for guns, ammunition and other European
wares. Natives taught many settlers where, when and how to
cultivate corn, beans, and squash. European missionaries and others
felt it was important to "civilize" the Native
Americans and urged
them to adopt European agricultural techniques and lifestyles.
Captain James Cook's last voyage included sailing along the coast of
North America and
Alaska searching for a
Northwest Passage for
approximately nine months. He returned to
Hawaii to resupply,
initially exploring the coasts of
Maui and the big island, trading
with locals and then making anchor at
Kealakekua Bay in January 1779.
When his ships and company left the islands, a ship's mast broke in
bad weather, forcing them to return in mid-February. Cook would be
killed days later. [fn 9][fn 10]
Independence and expansion (1776–1865)
Further information: American Revolutionary War, United States
Declaration of Independence, American Revolution, and Territorial
evolution of the United States
Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull
American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War was the first successful colonial war
of independence against a European power.
Americans had developed an
ideology of "republicanism" 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". The British insisted on administering the empire
through Parliament, and the conflict escalated into war.
Following the passage of the Lee Resolution, on July 2, 1776, which
was the actual vote for independence, the Second Continental Congress
adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, which proclaimed,
in a long preamble, that humanity is created equal in their
unalienable rights and that those rights were not being protected by
Great Britain, and declared, in the words of the resolution, that the
Thirteen Colonies were independent states and had no allegiance to the
British crown in the United States. The fourth day of July is
celebrated annually as Independence Day. The Second Continental
Congress declared on September 9 "where, heretofore, the words 'United
Colonies' have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the
'United States' ". In 1777, the Articles of Confederation
established a weak government that operated until 1789.
Britain recognized the independence of the
United States following
their defeat at Yorktown in 1781. In the peace treaty of 1783,
American sovereignty was recognized from the Atlantic coast west to
Mississippi River. Nationalists led the
Philadelphia Convention of
1787 in writing the
United States Constitution, ratified in state
conventions in 1788. The federal government was reorganized into three
branches, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances,
in 1789. George Washington, who had led the revolutionary army to
victory, was the first president elected under the new constitution.
The Bill of Rights, forbidding federal restriction of personal
freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in
Although the federal government criminalized the international slave
trade in 1808, after 1820, cultivation of the highly profitable cotton
crop exploded in the Deep South, and along with it, the slave
population. The Second Great Awakening, especially
1800–1840, converted millions to evangelical Protestantism. In the
North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including
abolitionism; in the South,
among slave populations.
Americans' eagerness to expand westward prompted a long series of
American Indian Wars. The
Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed
territory in 1803 almost doubled the nation's area. The War of
1812, declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a
draw, strengthened U.S. nationalism. A series of military
Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast
territory in 1819. The expansion was aided by steam power, when
steamboats began traveling along America's large water systems, which
were connected by new canals, such as the Erie and the I&M; then,
even faster railroads began their stretch across the nation's
From 1820 to 1850,
Jacksonian democracy began a set of reforms which
included wider white male suffrage; it led to the rise of the Second
Party System of Democrats and Whigs as the dominant parties from 1828
to 1854. The
Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian
removal policy that resettled Indians into the west on Indian
reservations. The U.S. annexed the
Texas in 1845 during a
period of expansionist Manifest destiny. The 1846
with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American
Northwest. Victory in the
Mexican–American War resulted in the
Mexican Cession of
California and much of the present-day
California Gold Rush of 1848–49 spurred western migration and
the creation of additional western states. After the American
Civil War, new transcontinental railways made relocation easier for
settlers, expanded internal trade and increased conflicts with Native
Americans. Over a half-century, the loss of the American bison
(sometimes called "buffalo") was an existential blow to many Plains
Indians cultures. In 1869, a new Peace Policy sought to protect
Americans from abuses, avoid further war, and secure their
eventual U.S. citizenship, although conflicts, including several of
the largest Indian Wars, continued throughout the West into the
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty in New York City, dedicated in 1886, is a symbol
United States as well as its ideals of freedom, democracy, and
Civil War and Reconstruction Era
American Civil War
American Civil War and Reconstruction Era
Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg by Thure de Thulstrup
Differences of opinion regarding the slavery of
Africans and African
Americans ultimately led to the American Civil War. Initially,
states entering the Union had alternated between slave and free
states, keeping a sectional balance in the Senate, while free states
outstripped slave states in population and in the House of
Representatives. But with additional western territory and more
free-soil states, tensions between slave and free states mounted with
arguments over federalism and disposition of the territories, whether
and how to expand or restrict slavery. This led to Missouri's
controversial denouncement of the issue, as well as the formation of
many short-lived territories such as the State of Scott, a county that
Tennessee to stay anti-slavery.
With the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, the first president from
the largely anti-slavery Republican Party, conventions in thirteen
slave states ultimately declared secession and formed the Confederate
States of America (the "South"), while the federal government (the
"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 South fought for the freedom to own slaves, while
the Union at first simply fought to maintain the country as one united
whole. 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, which prohibited slavery.
Three amendments were added to the U.S. Constitution in the years
after the war: the aforementioned Thirteenth as well as the Fourteenth
Amendment providing citizenship to the nearly four million African
Americans who had been slaves, and the Fifteenth Amendment
ensuring in theory that
African Americans had the right to vote. The
war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in federal
power aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the South while
guaranteeing the rights of the newly freed slaves.
Reconstruction began in earnest following the war. While President
Lincoln attempted to foster friendship and forgiveness between the
Union and the former Confederacy, an assassin's bullet on April 14,
1865, 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
Compromise of 1877
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 presidential election of 1876.
Southern white Democrats, calling themselves "Redeemers", took control
of the South after the end of Reconstruction. From 1890 to 1910,
Jim Crow laws
Jim Crow laws disenfranchised most blacks and some poor
whites throughout the region. Blacks faced racial segregation,
especially in the South. They also occasionally experienced
vigilante violence, including lynching.
Further immigration, expansion, and industrialization
Economic history of the United States
Economic history of the United States and Technological
and industrial history of the United States
Ellis Island, in New York City, was a major gateway for European
In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants
from Southern and
Eastern Europe supplied a surplus of labor for the
country's industrialization and transformed its culture. National
infrastructure including telegraph and transcontinental railroads
spurred economic growth and greater settlement and development of the
American Old West. The later invention of electric light and the
telephone would also affect communication and urban life.
United States and its territories at their greatest extent from 1898
The end of the Indian Wars further expanded acreage under mechanical
cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets.
Mainland expansion was completed by the purchase of
Alaska from Russia
in 1867. In 1893, pro-American elements in
Hawaii overthrew the
monarchy and formed the
Republic of Hawaii, which the U.S. annexed in
1898. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the
Philippines were ceded by
the same year, following the Spanish–American War. American
Samoa was acquired by the
United States in 1900 after the end of the
Second Samoan Civil War. The
United States purchased the U.S.
Virgin Islands from
Denmark in 1917.
Rapid economic development during the late 19th and early 20th
centuries fostered the rise of many prominent industrialists. Tycoons
like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie
led the nation's progress in railroad, petroleum, and steel
industries. Banking became a major part of the economy, with J. P.
Morgan playing a notable role. Edison and Tesla undertook the
widespread distribution of electricity to industry, homes, and for
Henry Ford revolutionized the automotive industry.
The American economy boomed, becoming the world's largest, and the
United States achieved great power status. These dramatic changes
were accompanied by social unrest and the rise of populist, socialist,
and anarchist movements. This period eventually ended with the
advent of the Progressive Era, which saw significant reforms in many
societal areas, including women's suffrage, alcohol prohibition,
regulation of consumer goods, greater antitrust measures to ensure
competition and attention to worker conditions.
World War I, Great Depression, and World War II
Further information: World War I, Great Depression, and World War II
Crowd gathering on
Wall Street after the 1929 crash
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 formal 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 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.
In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a constitutional
amendment granting 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. After
his election as president in 1932,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt responded
with the New Deal, which included the establishment of the Social
Security system. The Great Migration of millions of African
Americans out of the American South began before
World War I
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
World War II
World War II while Germany
conquered much of continental Europe, the
United States began
supplying material to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease
program. On December 7, 1941, the
Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan launched a surprise
attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the
United States to join the Allies
against the Axis powers. During the war, the
United States was
referred as one of the "Four Policemen" of Allies power who met
to plan the postwar world, along with Britain, the
Soviet Union and
China. Though the nation lost more than 400,000
soldiers, it emerged relatively undamaged from the war with even
greater economic and military influence.
United States played a leading role in the Bretton Woods and Yalta
conferences with the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and other
Allies, which signed agreements on new international financial
institutions and Europe's postwar reorganization. As an Allied victory
was won in Europe, a 1945 international conference held in San
Francisco produced the
United Nations Charter, which became active
after the war. The
United States developed the first nuclear
weapons and used them on
Japan in the cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki; causing the Japanese to surrender on September 2, ending
World War II. Parades and celebrations followed in what is
known as Victory Day, or V-J Day.
Cold War and civil rights era
History of the United States
History of the United States (1945–64), History of
United States (1964–80), and History of the United States
Further information: Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, War on Poverty,
Space Race, and Reaganomics
Ronald Reagan at his "Tear down this wall!" speech in
Germany on June 12, 1987.
World War II
World War II the
United States and the
Soviet Union jockeyed for
power during what became known as the Cold War, driven by an
ideological divide between capitalism and communism and,
according to the school of geopolitics, a divide between the maritime
Atlantic and the continental Eurasian camps. They dominated the
military affairs of Europe, with the U.S. and its
NATO allies on one
side and the USSR 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
United States often opposed
Third World movements that it viewed
as Soviet-sponsored. American troops fought communist Chinese and
North Korean forces in the
Korean War of 1950–53. The Soviet
Union's 1957 launch of the first artificial satellite and its 1961
launch of the first manned spaceflight initiated a "Space Race" in
United States became the first nation to land a man on the
moon in 1969. A proxy war in Southeast
Asia eventually evolved
into full American participation, as the
At home, the U.S. experienced sustained economic expansion and a rapid
growth of its population and middle class. Construction of an
Interstate Highway System
Interstate Highway System transformed the nation's infrastructure over
the following decades. Millions moved from farms and inner cities to
large suburban housing developments. In 1959
the 50th and last
U.S. state added to the country. The growing
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights Movement used nonviolence to confront segregation and
Martin Luther King Jr.
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
movement grew which was fueled by opposition to the
Vietnam war, black
nationalism, and the sexual revolution.
The launch of a "War on Poverty" expanded entitlements and welfare
spending, including the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, two
programs that provide health coverage to the elderly and poor,
respectively, and the means-tested
Food Stamp Program
Food Stamp Program and Aid to
Families with Dependent Children.
The 1970s and early 1980s saw the onset of stagflation. After his
election in 1980, President
Ronald Reagan responded to economic
stagnation with free-market oriented reforms. Following the collapse
of détente, he abandoned "containment" and initiated the more
aggressive "rollback" strategy towards the
USSR. After a surge in female labor
participation over the previous decade, by 1985 the majority of women
aged 16 and over were employed.
The late 1980s brought a "thaw" in relations with the USSR, and its
collapse in 1991 finally ended the Cold War. This
brought about unipolarity with the U.S. unchallenged as the
world's dominant superpower. The concept of Pax Americana, which had
appeared in the post-
World War II
World War II period, gained wide popularity as a
term for the post-
Cold War new world order.
History of the United States
History of the United States (1991–2008) and History
United States (2008–present)
Further information: Gulf War, September 11 attacks, War on Terror,
2008 financial crisis, and Affordable Care Act
The World Trade Center in
Lower Manhattan during the September 11
terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group
Al-Qaeda in 2001
One World Trade Center, newly built in its place
After the Cold War, the conflict in the Middle East triggered a crisis
in 1990, when Iraq under
Sadaam Hussein invaded and attempted to annex
Kuwait, an ally of the United States. Fearing that the instability
would spread to other regions, President
George H.W. Bush
George H.W. Bush launched
Operation Desert Shield, a defensive force buildup in Saudi Arabia,
and Operation Desert Storm, in a staging titled the Gulf War; waged by
coalition forces from 34 nations, led by the
United States against
Iraq ending in the successful expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait,
restoring the former monarchy.
Originating in U.S. defense networks, the
Internet spread to
international academic networks, and then to the public in the 1990s,
greatly affecting the global economy, society, and culture.
Due to the dot-com boom, stable monetary policy under Alan Greenspan,
and reduced social welfare spending, the 1990s saw the longest
economic expansion in modern U.S. history, ending in 2001.
Beginning in 1994, the U.S. entered into the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA), linking 450 million people producing $17 trillion
worth of goods and services. The goal of the agreement was to
eliminate trade and investment barriers among the U.S., Canada, and
Mexico by January 1, 2008. Trade among the three partners has soared
since NAFTA went into force.
On September 11, 2001,
Al-Qaeda terrorists struck the World Trade
New York City
New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C.,
killing nearly 3,000 people. In response, the United States
launched the War on Terror, which included war in Afghanistan and the
2003–11 Iraq War. In 2007, the Bush administration ordered
a major troop surge in the Iraq War, which successfully reduced
violence and led to greater stability in the region.
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 mid-2000s housing bubble, which culminated with the 2008 financial
crisis, the largest economic contraction in the nation's history since
the Great Depression. Barack Obama, the first African
American and multiracial president, was elected in 2008 amid
the crisis, and subsequently passed stimulus measures and the
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. The stimulus facilitated infrastructure
improvements and a relative decline in unemployment.
Dodd-Frank improved financial stability and consumer protection,
although there has been debate about its effects on the economy.
In 2010, the Obama administration passed the Affordable Care Act,
which made the most sweeping reforms to the nation's healthcare system
in nearly five decades, including mandates, subsidies and insurance
exchanges. The law caused a significant reduction in the number and
percentage of people without health insurance, with 24 million covered
during 2016, but remains controversial due to its impact on
healthcare costs, insurance premiums, and economic performance.
Although the recession reached its trough in June 2009, voters
remained frustrated with the slow pace of the economic recovery. The
Republicans, who stood in opposition to Obama's policies, won control
of the House of Representatives with a landslide in 2010 and control
of the Senate in 2014.
American forces in Iraq were withdrawn in large numbers in 2009 and
2010, and the war in the region was declared formally over in December
2011. The withdrawal caused an escalation of sectarian
insurgency, leading to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant, the successor of al-Qaeda in the region. In 2014,
Obama announced a restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba
for the first time since 1961.[needs update] The next year, the
United States as a member of the
P5+1 countries signed the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement aimed to slow the
development of Iran's nuclear program.
Geography, climate, and environment
Main articles: Geography of the United States, Climate of the United
States, and Environment of the United States
A composite satellite image of the contiguous
United States and
Köppen climate classifications
The land area of the entire
United States is approximately 3,800,000
square miles (9,841,955 km2), with the contiguous United
States making up 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,940.6 km2) of
that. Alaska, separated from the contiguous
United States by Canada,
is the largest state at 663,268 square miles (1,717,856.2 km2).
Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of
North America, is 10,931 square miles (28,311 km2) in area. The
populated territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern
Mariana Islands, and
U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands together cover 9,185 square
miles (23,789 km2). Measured by only land area, the United
States is third in size behind
Russia and China, just ahead of
United States is the world's third- or fourth-largest nation by
total area (land and water), ranking behind
Canada and just
above or below China. The ranking varies depending on how two
territories disputed by
India are counted, and how the total
size of the
United States is measured.[fn 7] The Encyclopædia
Britannica, for instance, lists the size of the
United States as
3,677,649 square miles (9,525,067 km2), as they do not count the
country's coastal or territorial waters. The World Factbook,
which includes those waters, gives 3,796,742 square miles
The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to
deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The
Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes
and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi–Missouri
River, the world's 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 a
highland region in the southeast.
The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend
north to south across the country, reaching altitudes higher than
14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado. Farther west are the
Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahua and Mojave.
Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific
coast, both ranges reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet
(4,300 m). The lowest and highest points in the contiguous United
States are in the state of California, and only about 84 miles
(135 km) apart. At an elevation of 20,310 feet
(6,190.5 m), Alaska's
Denali (Mount McKinley) is the highest peak
in the country and North America. Active volcanoes are common
throughout Alaska's 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
United States has the most ecoregions out of any
country in the world.
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety,
includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian, the
climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid
subtropical in the south. The
Great Plains west of the 100th
meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine
climate. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the
Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal
Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of
Alaska is subarctic
Hawaii and the southern tip of
Florida are tropical, as are
the populated territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of
Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes
occur within the country, mainly in
Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest
Fauna of the United States
Fauna of the United States and Flora of the United
See also: Category:Biota of the United States
The bald eagle has been the national bird of the
United States since
The U.S. ecology is megadiverse: about 17,000 species of vascular
plants occur in the contiguous
United States and Alaska, and over
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. About 91,000 insect species have been described.
The bald eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the
United States, and is an enduring symbol of the country itself.
There are 59 national parks and hundreds of other federally managed
parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Altogether, the government
owns about 28% of the country's land area. Most of this is
protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining,
logging, or cattle ranching; about .86% is used for military
Environmental issues have been on the national agenda since 1970.
Environmental controversies include debates on oil and nuclear energy,
dealing with air and water pollution, the economic costs of protecting
wildlife, logging and deforestation, and international
responses to global warming. Many federal and state agencies
are involved. The most prominent is the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970. The idea of
wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with
Wilderness Act. The
Endangered Species Act
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
Main articles: Demography of the United States, Americans, and Race
and ethnicity in the United States
List of U.S. states by population
List of U.S. states by population and List of United States
cities by population
1610–1780 population data.
Note that the census numbers do
not include Native
Americans until 1860.
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau estimated the country's population to be
325,719,178 as of July 1, 2017, and to be adding 1 person (net gain)
every 13 seconds, or about 6,646 people per day. The U.S.
population almost quadrupled during the 20th century, from about 76
million in 1900. The third most populous nation in the world,
China and India, the
United States is the only major
industrialized nation in which large population increases are
projected. In the 1800s the average woman had 7.04 children, by
the 1900s this number had decreased to 3.56. Since the early
1970s the birth rate has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 with
1.86 children per woman in 2014. Foreign-born immigration has caused
the US population to continue its rapid increase with the foreign-born
population doubling from almost 20 million in 1990 to over 40 million
in 2010, representing one-third of the population increase. The
foreign-born population reached 45 million in 2015. The United
States has a very diverse population; 37 ancestry groups have more
than one million members. German
Americans are the largest ethnic
group (more than 50 million) – followed by Irish
Americans (circa 37
Americans (circa 31 million) and English Americans
(circa 28 million).
The dominant ancestry in each US state
White Americans (mostly European ancestry group) are the largest
racial group; black
Americans are the nation's largest racial minority
(note that in the U.S. Census,
Hispanic and Latino Americans
Hispanic and Latino Americans are
counted as an ethnic group, not a "racial" group), and third-largest
Asian Americans are the country's second-largest
racial minority; the three largest
Asian American ethnic groups are
Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, and Indian Americans.
According to a 2015 survey, the largest American community with
European ancestry is German Americans, which consists of more than 14%
of total population. In 2010, the U.S. population included an
estimated 5.2 million people with some American Indian or Alaska
Native ancestry (2.9 million exclusively of such ancestry) and 1.2
million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific island ancestry (0.5
million exclusively). The census counted more than 19 million
people of "Some Other Race" who were "unable to identify with any" of
its five official race categories in 2010, over 18.5 million (97%) of
whom are of Hispanic ethnicity.
The population growth of
Hispanic and Latino Americans
Hispanic and Latino Americans (the terms are
officially interchangeable) is a major demographic trend. The 50.5
Americans of Hispanic descent are identified as sharing a
distinct "ethnicity" by the Census Bureau; 64% of Hispanic Americans
are of Mexican descent. Between 2000 and 2010, the country's
Hispanic population increased 43% while the non-Hispanic population
rose just 4.9%. Much of this growth is from immigration; in 2007,
12.6% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, with 54% of that figure
Latin America.[fn 11]
Minorities (as defined by the Census Bureau as all those beside
non-Hispanic, non-multiracial whites) constituted 37.2% of the
population in 2012 and over 50% of children under age
one, and are projected to constitute the majority by
United States has a birth rate of 13 per 1,000, which is 5 births
below the world average. Its population growth rate is positive
at 0.7%, higher than that of many developed nations. In fiscal
year 2015, over one million immigrants (most of whom entered through
family reunification) were granted legal residence.
been the leading source of new residents since the 1965 Immigration
Act. China, India, and the
Philippines have been in the top four
sending countries every year since the 1990s. As of 2012[update],
approximately 11.4 million residents are illegal immigrants. As
of 2015[update], 47% of all immigrants are Hispanic, 26% are Asian,
18% are white and 8% are black. The percentage of immigrants who are
Asian is increasing while the percentage who are Hispanic is
According to a survey conducted by the Williams Institute, nine
million Americans, or roughly 3.4% of the adult population identify
themselves as homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. A 2016
Gallup poll also concluded that 4.1% of adult
Americans identified as
LGBT. The highest percentage came from the
District of Columbia
District of Columbia (10%),
while the lowest state was
North Dakota at 1.7%. In a 2013
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that
Americans identify as straight, while 1.6% identify as gay or
lesbian, and 0.7% identify as being bisexual.
About 82% of
Americans live in urban areas (including suburbs);
about half of those reside in cities with populations over
50,000. The US has numerous clusters of cities known as
megaregions, the largest being the
Great Lakes Megalopolis followed by
Northeast Megalopolis and Southern California. In 2008, 273
incorporated municipalities had populations over 100,000, nine cities
had more than one million residents, and four global cities had over
two million (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston). There
are 52 metropolitan areas with populations greater than one
million. Of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas, 47 are in the
West or South. The metro areas of San Bernardino, Dallas,
Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix all grew by more than a million people
between 2000 and 2008.
Leading population centers (see complete list)
Core city (cities)
Metro area population
Metropolitan Statistical Area
New York City
New York–Newark–Jersey City, NY–NJ–PA MSA
Los Angeles–Long Beach–Anaheim, CA MSA
Chicago–Joliet–Naperville, IL–IN–WI MSA
Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, TX MSA
Houston–The Woodlands-Sugar Land MSA
Washington, DC–VA–MD–WV MSA
Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington, PA–NJ–DE–MD MSA
Miami–Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach, FL MSA
Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Roswell, GA MSA
Boston–Cambridge–Quincy, MA–NH MSA
San Francisco–Oakland–Fremont, CA MSA
Phoenix–Mesa–Chandler, AZ MSA
Riverside–San Bernardino–Ontario, CA MSA
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI MSA
Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue, WA MSA
Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, MN–WI MSA
San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos, CA MSA
Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater, FL MSA
Denver–Aurora–Lakewood, CO MSA
St. Louis MO–IL MSA
Based on 2016 MSA population estimates from the U.S. Census
Main article: Languages of the United States
See also: Language Spoken at Home in the
United States of America,
List of endangered languages in the United States, and Language
education in the United States
English (American English) is the de facto national language. Although
there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such
as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2010,
about 230 million, or 80% of the population aged five years and older,
spoke only English at home. Spanish, spoken by 12% of the population
at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught
second language. Some
Americans advocate making English the
country's official language, as it is in 32 states.
Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii, by state
Alaska recognizes twenty Native languages as well as
English. While neither has an official language, New
laws providing for the use of both English and Spanish, as Louisiana
does for English and French. Other states, such as California,
mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government
documents including court forms.
Several insular territories grant official recognition to their native
languages, along with English: Samoan is officially recognized by
American Samoa. Chamorro is an official language of Guam. Both
Carolinian and Chamorro have official recognition in the Northern
Mariana Islands. Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico
and is more widely spoken than English there.
The most widely taught foreign languages in the United States, in
terms of enrollment numbers from kindergarten through university
undergraduate studies, are: Spanish (around 7.2 million students),
French (1.5 million), and German (500,000). Other commonly taught
languages (with 100,000 to 250,000 learners) include Latin, Japanese,
ASL, Italian, and Chinese. 18% of all
Americans claim to
speak at least one language in addition to English.
Languages spoken at home by more than 1 million persons in the U.S.
(including Spanish Creole but excluding Puerto Rico)
(all varieties, including Mandarin and Cantonese)
(including Patois and Cajun)
Main article: Religion in the United States
Religious affiliation in the U.S. (2014)
% of U.S. population
Nothing in particular
Don't know or refused answer
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free
exercise of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting
In a 2013 survey, 56% of
Americans said that religion played a "very
important role in their lives", a far higher figure than that of any
other wealthy nation. In a 2009 Gallup poll, 42% of Americans
said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly; the figures
ranged from a low of 23% in
Vermont to a high of 63% in
As with other Western countries, the U.S. is becoming less religious.
Irreligion is growing rapidly among
Americans under 30. Polls
show that overall American confidence in organized religion has been
declining since the mid to late 1980s, and that younger
Americans, in particular, are becoming increasingly
irreligious. According to a 2012 study, the Protestant share
of the U.S. population had dropped to 48%, thus ending its status as
religious category of the majority for the first time.
Americans with no religion have 1.7 children compared to 2.2 among
Christians. The unaffiliated are less likely to get married with 37%
marrying compared to 52% of Christians.
According to a 2014 survey, 70.6% of adults in the United States
identified themselves as Christians; Protestants accounted for
46.5%, while Roman Catholics, at 20.8%, formed the largest single
denomination. In 2014, 5.9% of the U.S. adult population claimed
a non-Christian religion. These include Judaism (1.9%), Islam
(0.9%), Buddhism (0.7%), and Hinduism (0.7%). The survey also
reported that 22.8% of
Americans described themselves as agnostic,
atheist or simply having no religion—up from 8.2% in
1990. There are also Unitarian Universalist,
Scientologist, Baha'i, Sikh, Jain, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, Druid,
Native American, Wiccan, humanist and deist communities.
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%,
Southern Baptist Convention
Southern Baptist Convention is the largest individual
Protestant denomination at 5.3% of the U.S. population. Apart
from Baptists, other Protestant categories include nondenominational
Protestants, Methodists, Pentecostals, unspecified Protestants,
Lutherans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, other Reformed,
Episcopalians/Anglicans, Quakers, Adventists, Holiness, Christian
fundamentalists, Anabaptists, Pietists, and multiple others.
Two-thirds of American Protestants consider themselves to be born
again. Roman Catholicism in the
United States has its origin
primarily in the Spanish and French colonization of the Americas, as
well as in the English colony of Maryland. It later grew because
of Irish, Italian, Polish, German and Hispanic immigration. Rhode
Island has the highest percentage of Catholics, with 40 percent of the
Utah is the only state where
Mormonism is the
religion of the majority of the population. The
also extends to parts of Idaho,
Nevada and Wyoming. Eastern
Orthodoxy is claimed by 5% of people in Alaska, a former Russian
colony, and maintains a presence on the U.S. mainland due to recent
immigration from Eastern Europe. Finally, a number of other Christian
groups are active across the country, including the Oneness
Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Restorationists, Churches of
Christ, Christian Scientists, Unitarians and many others.
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.
Main article: Family structure in the United States
As of 2007[update], 58% of
Americans age 18 and over were married, 6%
were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married.
Women now work mostly outside the home and receive a majority of
The U.S. teenage pregnancy rate is 26.5 per 1,000 women. The rate has
declined by 57% since 1991. In 2013, the highest teenage birth
rate was in Alabama, and the lowest in Wyoming. Abortion is
legal throughout the U.S., owing to Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark
decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. While the abortion
rate is falling, the abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and
abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than
those of most Western nations. In 2013, the average age at first
birth was 26 and 40.6% of births were to unmarried women.
The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated for 2013 at 1.86 births
Adoption in the United States
Adoption in the United States is common and relatively
easy from a legal point of view (compared to other Western
countries). In 2001, with over 127,000 adoptions, the U.S.
accounted for nearly half of the total number of adoptions
worldwide. Same-sex marriage is legal nationwide and it is legal
for same-sex couples to adopt.
Polygamy is illegal throughout the
Government and politics
Main articles: Federal government of the United States, State
governments of the United States, Local government in the United
States, and Elections in the United States
United States Capitol,
where Congress meets:
the Senate, left; the House, right
The White House, home and workplace of the U.S. President
Supreme Court Building, where the nation's highest court sits
United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a
representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by
minority rights protected by law". The government is regulated by
a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution,
which serves as the country's supreme legal document. For 2016,
the U.S. ranked 21st on the Democracy Index (tied with Italy) and
18th on the Corruption Perceptions Index.
In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to
three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The local
government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal
governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials
are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no
proportional representation at the federal level, and it is rare at
The federal government is composed of three branches:
Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the
House of Representatives, makes federal law, 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
Executive: The President is the commander-in-chief of the military,
can veto legislative bills before they become law (subject to
Congressional override), and appoints the members of the Cabinet
(subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and
enforce federal laws and policies.
Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are
appointed by the President with Senate approval, interpret laws and
overturn those they find unconstitutional.
The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing
a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are
apportioned among the states by population every tenth year. At the
2010 census, seven states had the minimum of one representative, while
California, the most populous state, had 53. The District of
Columbia and the five major U.S. territories each have 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 other year. The
District of Columbia
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 no more than twice.
The President is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect
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, has nine
members, who serve for life.
The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion;
Nebraska uniquely has a unicameral legislature. The governor
(chief executive) of each state is directly elected. Some state judges
and cabinet officers are appointed by the governors of the respective
states, while others are elected by popular vote.
The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and
responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with
the individual states. Article One protects the right to the "great
writ" of habeas corpus. The Constitution has been amended 27
times; the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of
Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of
Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are
subject to judicial review and any law ruled by the courts to be in
violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial
review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established
by the Supreme Court in
Marbury v. Madison
Marbury v. Madison (1803) in a decision
handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall.
Main articles: Political divisions of the United States, U.S. state,
Territories of the United States, List of states and territories of
the United States, and Indian reservation
Territorial evolution of the United States
Territorial evolution of the United States and
United States territorial acquisitions
Map of U.S. Economic Exclusion Zone, highlighting states,
territories and possessions
United States is a federal republic of 50 states, a federal
district, five territories and several uninhabited island
possessions. The states and territories are the
principal administrative districts in the country. These are divided
into subdivisions of counties and independent cities. The District of
Columbia is a federal district that contains the capital of the United
States, Washington DC. 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
District of Columbia
District of Columbia has three (because of the 23rd
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.
Congressional Districts are reapportioned among the states following
each decennial Census of Population. Each state then draws
single-member districts to conform with the census apportionment. The
total number of voting Representatives is 435. There are also 6
non-voting representatives who represent the
District of Columbia
District of Columbia and
the five major U.S. territories.
United States also observes tribal sovereignty of the American
Indian nations to a limited degree, as it does with the states'
sovereignty. American Indians are U.S. citizens and tribal lands are
subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress and the federal
courts. Like the states they have a great deal of autonomy, but also
like the states, tribes are not allowed to make war, engage in their
own foreign relations, or print and issue currency.
Citizenship is granted at birth in all states, the District of
Columbia, and all major U.S. territories except American
State flags and statehood dates
Alabama: Dec. 14, 1819
Alaska: Jan. 3, 1959
Arizona: Feb. 14, 1912
Arkansas: Jun. 15, 1836
California: Sep. 9, 1850
Colorado: Aug. 1, 1876
Connecticut: Jan. 9, 1788
Delaware: Dec. 7, 1787
Florida: Mar. 3, 1845
Georgia: Jan. 2, 1788
Hawaii: Aug. 21, 1959
Idaho: Jul. 3, 1890
Illinois: Dec. 3, 1818
Indiana: Dec. 11, 1816
Iowa: Dec. 28, 1846
Kansas: Jan. 29, 1861
Kentucky: Jun. 1, 1792
Louisiana: Apr. 30, 1812
Maine: Mar. 15, 1820
Maryland: Apr. 28, 1788
Massachusetts: Feb. 6, 1788
Michigan: Jan. 26, 1837
Minnesota: May 11, 1858
Mississippi: Dec. 10, 1817
Missouri: Aug. 10, 1821
Montana: Nov. 8, 1889
Nebraska: Mar. 1, 1867
Nevada: Oct. 31, 1864
New Hampshire: Jun. 21, 1788
New Jersey: Dec. 18, 1787
New Mexico: Jan. 6, 1912
New York: Jul. 26, 1788
North Carolina: Nov. 21, 1789
North Dakota: Nov. 2, 1889
Ohio: Mar. 1, 1803
Oklahoma: Nov. 16, 1907
Oregon: Feb. 14, 1859
Pennsylvania: Dec. 12, 1787
Rhode Island: May 29, 1790
South Carolina: May 23, 1788
South Dakota: Nov. 2, 1889
Tennessee: Jun. 1, 1796
Texas: Dec. 29, 1845
Utah: Jan. 4, 1896
Vermont: Mar. 4, 1791
Virginia: Jun. 25, 1788
Washington: Nov. 11, 1889
West Virginia: Jun. 20, 1863
Wisconsin: May 29, 1848
Wyoming: Jul. 10, 1890
Dec. 7, 1787: Delaware
Dec. 12, 1787: Pennsylvania
Dec. 18, 1787: New Jersey
Jan. 2, 1788: Georgia
Jan. 9, 1788: Connecticut
Feb. 6, 1788: Massachusetts
Apr. 28, 1788: Maryland
May 23, 1788: South Carolina
Jun. 21, 1788: New Hampshire
Jun. 25, 1788: Virginia
Jul. 26, 1788: New York
Nov. 21, 1789: North Carolina
May 29, 1790: Rhode Island
Mar. 4, 1791: Vermont
Jun. 1, 1792: Kentucky
Jun. 1, 1796: Tennessee
Mar. 1, 1803: Ohio
Apr. 30, 1812: Louisiana
Dec. 11, 1816: Indiana
Dec. 10, 1817: Mississippi
Dec. 3, 1818: Illinois
Dec. 14, 1819: Alabama
Mar. 15, 1820: Maine
Aug. 10, 1821: Missouri
Jun. 15, 1836: Arkansas
Jan. 26, 1837: Michigan
Mar. 3, 1845: Florida
Dec. 29, 1845: Texas
Dec. 28, 1846: Iowa
May 29, 1848: Wisconsin
Sep. 9, 1850: California
May 11, 1858: Minnesota
Feb. 14, 1859: Oregon
Jan. 29, 1861: Kansas
Jun. 20, 1863: West Virginia
Oct. 31, 1864: Nevada
Mar. 1, 1867: Nebraska
Aug. 1, 1876: Colorado
Nov. 2, 1889: North Dakota
Nov. 2, 1889: South Dakota
Nov. 8, 1889: Montana
Nov. 11, 1889: Washington
Jul. 3, 1890: Idaho
Jul. 10, 1890: Wyoming
Jan. 4, 1896: Utah
Nov. 16, 1907: Oklahoma
Jan. 6, 1912 : New Mexico
Feb. 14, 1912 : Arizona
Jan. 3, 1959: Alaska
Aug. 21, 1959: Hawaii
Statehood date is the date of ratifying the Constitution (for the
first 13) or being admitted to the Union (for subsequent states)
Territory and district flags and dates
American Samoa: Apr. 17, 1900
District of Columbia: Jul. 16, 1790
Guam: Apr. 11, 1899
Northern Mariana Islands: Nov. 3, 1986
Puerto Rico: Apr. 11, 1899
US Virgin Islands: Mar. 31, 1917
Jul. 16, 1790: District of Columbia
Apr. 11, 1899: Guam
Apr. 11, 1899: Puerto Rico
Apr. 17, 1900: American Samoa
Mar. 31, 1917: US Virgin Islands
Nov. 3, 1986: Northern Mariana Islands
Territory date is the date the territory was acquired by the United
States, except for the District of Columbia, which was founded
Parties and elections
Politics of the United States
Politics of the United States and Political ideologies
in the United States
Congressional leadership meeting with then-President Obama in
since January 20, 2017
48th Vice President
since January 20, 2017
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 nominees
for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856,
the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and
the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one
third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore
Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20%
of the popular vote. The President and Vice-president are elected
through the Electoral College system.
Within American political culture, the center-right Republican Party
is considered "conservative" and the center-left Democratic Party is
considered "liberal". The states of the Northeast and West
Coast and some of the
Great Lakes states, known as "blue states", are
relatively liberal. The "red states" of the South and parts of the
Great Plains and
Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative.
Republican Donald Trump, the winner of the 2016 presidential election,
is serving as the 45th President of the United States. Leadership
in the Senate includes Republican Vice President Mike Pence,
Republican President Pro Tempore Orrin Hatch, Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Leadership in the
House includes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin
McCarthy, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In the 115th
United States Congress, both the House of Representatives
and the Senate are controlled by the Republican Party. The Senate
consists of 51 Republicans, and 47 Democrats with 2 Independents who
caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of 241 Republicans and
194 Democrats. In state governorships, there are 33 Republicans,
16 Democrats, and 1 Independent. Among the DC mayor and the 5
territorial governors, there are 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat, 1 New
Progressive, and 2 Independents.
Foreign relations of the United States
Foreign relations of the United States and Foreign
policy of the United States
United Nations Headquarters was built in
Midtown Manhattan in
United States has an established structure of foreign relations.
It is a permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council, and
New York City
New York City is home to the
United Nations Headquarters. It is a
member of the G7, G20, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington,
D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly
all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Iran, North
Korea, Bhutan, and the
China (Taiwan) do not have formal
diplomatic relations with the
United States (although the U.S. still
maintains relations with Taiwan and supplies it with military
United States has a "
Special Relationship" with the United
Kingdom and strong ties with Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea,
Israel, and several
European Union countries, including France,
Italy, Germany, and Spain. It works closely with fellow
on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the
Organization of American States
Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the
North American Free Trade Agreement
North American Free Trade Agreement with
Canada and Mexico.
In 2008, the
United States spent a net $25.4 billion on official
development assistance, the most in the world. As a share of America's
large gross national income (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of
0.18% ranked last among 22 donor states. By contrast, private overseas
Americans is relatively generous.
The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and
responsibility for three sovereign nations through Compact of Free
Association with Micronesia, the
Marshall Islands and Palau. These are
Pacific island nations, once part of the U.S.-administered Trust
Territory of the Pacific Islands after World War II, which gained
independence in subsequent years.
On October 25, 2017, Vice President
Mike Pence announced at a In
Defense of Christians annual dinner meeting in Washington that the
United States would stop funding
United Nations relief efforts, cases
tackling the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, but
insisted that the U.S. would instead help and aid Christians directly
through the U.S. Agency for International Development. Pence said
that he will be visiting the Middle East in December and will meet
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss peace agreements.
Taxation in the United States
Taxation in the United States and
United States federal
US federal debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP, from 1790
Taxes in the
United States are levied at the federal, state, and local
government levels. These include taxes on income, payroll, property,
sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. In 2010
taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted
to 24.8% of GDP. During FY2012, the federal government collected
approximately $2.45 trillion in tax revenue, up $147 billion or 6%
versus FY2011 revenues of $2.30 trillion. Primary receipt categories
included individual income taxes ($1,132B or 47%), Social
Security/Social Insurance taxes ($845B or 35%), and corporate taxes
($242B or 10%). Based on CBO estimates, under 2013 tax law
the top 1% will be paying the highest average tax rates since 1979,
while other income groups will remain at historic lows.
U.S. taxation has historically been generally progressive, especially
the federal income taxes, though by most measures it became noticeably
less progressive after 1980. It has sometimes been described
as among the most progressive in the developed world, but this
characterization is controversial. The
highest 10% of income earners pay a majority of federal taxes,
and about half of all taxes. Payroll taxes for Social Security
are a flat regressive tax, with no tax charged on income above
$118,500 (for 2015 and 2016) and no tax at all paid on unearned income
from things such as stocks and capital gains. The historic
reasoning for the regressive nature of the payroll tax is that
entitlement programs have not been viewed as welfare
transfers. However, according to the Congressional Budget
Office the net effect of Social Security is that the benefit to tax
ratio ranges from roughly 70% for the top earnings quintile to about
170% for the lowest earning quintile, making the system
The top 10% paid 51.8% of total federal taxes in 2009, and the top 1%,
with 13.4% of pre-tax national income, paid 22.3% of federal
taxes. In 2013 the Tax Policy Center projected total federal
effective tax rates of 35.5% for the top 1%, 27.2% for the top
quintile, 13.8% for the middle quintile, and −2.7% for the bottom
quintile. The incidence of corporate income tax has been a
matter of considerable ongoing controversy for decades.
State and local taxes vary widely, but are generally less progressive
than federal taxes as they rely heavily on broadly borne regressive
sales and property taxes that yield less volatile revenue streams,
though their consideration does not eliminate the progressive nature
of overall taxation.
During FY 2012, the federal government spent $3.54 trillion on a
budget or cash basis, down $60 billion or 1.7% vs. FY 2011 spending of
$3.60 trillion. Major categories of FY 2012 spending included:
Medicaid ($802B or 23% of spending), Social Security
($768B or 22%), Defense Department ($670B or 19%), non-defense
discretionary ($615B or 17%), other mandatory ($461B or 13%) and
interest ($223B or 6%).
The total national debt of the
United States in the
United States was
$18.527 trillion (106% of the GDP) in 2014.[fn 13]
United States Armed Forces
The carrier strike groups of the Kitty Hawk, Ronald Reagan, and
Abraham Lincoln with aircraft from the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air
The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's
armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The
United States Department of Defense
administers the armed forces, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy,
and Air Force. The Coast Guard is run by the Department of Homeland
Security in peacetime and by the Department of the Navy during times
of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel on active
duty. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of
troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employed about
700,000 civilians, not including contractors.
Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in
wartime through the Selective Service System. 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's Atlantic and Pacific
fleets. The military operates 865 bases and facilities abroad,
and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25
The military budget of the
United States in 2011 was more than $700
billion, 41% of global military spending and equal to the next 14
largest national military expenditures combined. At 4.7% of GDP, the
rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after
Saudi Arabia. U.S. defense spending as a percentage of GDP ranked
23rd globally in 2012 according to the CIA. Defense's share of
U.S. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from Cold War
peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal outlays in 1954 to
4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal outlays in 2011.
US global military presence.
The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion,
was a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion was proposed
for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last
American troops serving in Iraq departed in December 2011; 4,484
service members were killed during the Iraq War. Approximately
90,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan in April 2012; by
November 8, 2013 2,285 had been killed during the War in
Law enforcement and crime
Law enforcement in the United States
Law enforcement in the United States and Crime in the
See also: Law of the United States, Second Amendment to the United
Human rights in the United States
Human rights in the United States § Justice
system, Incarceration in the United States, and
Capital punishment in
the United States
Law enforcement in the U.S. is maintained primarily by local police
Law enforcement in the United States
Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility
of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing
broader services. The
New York City
New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the
largest in the country. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized
duties, including protecting civil rights, national security and
enforcing U.S. federal courts' rulings and federal laws. At the
federal level and in almost every state, a legal system operates on a
common law. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts
handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the
state criminal courts.
Plea bargaining in the United States is very
common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled
by plea bargain rather than jury trial.
In 2015, there were 15,696 murders which was 1,532 more than in 2014,
a 10.8% increase, the largest since 1971. The murder rate in 2015
was 4.9 per 100,000 people. In 2016 the murder rate increased by
8.6%, with 17,250 murders that year. The national clearance rate
for homicides in 2015 was 64.1%, compared to 90% in 1965. In 2012
there were 4.7 murders per 100,000 persons in the United States, a 54%
decline from the modern peak of 10.2 in 1980. In 2001–2, the
United States had above-average levels of violent crime and
particularly high levels of gun violence compared to other developed
nations. 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." Gun ownership rights continue to be the subject of
contentious political debate.
From 1980 through 2008 males represented 77% of homicide victims and
90% of offenders. Blacks committed 52.5% of all homicides during that
span, at a rate almost eight times that of whites ("whites" includes
most Hispanics), and were victimized at a rate six times that of
whites. Most homicides were intraracial, with 93% of black victims
killed by blacks and 84% of white victims killed by whites. In
Louisiana had the highest rate of murder and non-negligent
manslaughter in the U.S., and
New Hampshire the lowest. The FBI's
Uniform Crime Reports
Uniform Crime Reports estimates that there were 3,246 violent and
property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, for a total of over 9
million total crimes.
Capital punishment is sanctioned in the
United States for certain
federal and military crimes, and used in 31 states. No
executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a U.S.
Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death
penalty. In 1976, that Court ruled that, under appropriate
circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed.
Since the decision there have been more than 1,300 executions, a
majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and
Oklahoma. Meanwhile, several states have either abolished or
struck down death penalty laws. In 2015, the country had the
fifth-highest number of executions in the world, following China,
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and
total prison population in the world. At the start of 2008, more
than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100
adults. In December 2012, the combined U.S. adult correctional
systems supervised about 6,937,600 offenders. About 1 in every 35
adult residents in the
United States was under some form of
correctional supervision in December 2012, the lowest rate observed
since 1997. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980,
and state and local spending on prisons and jails has grown three
times as much as that spent on public education during the same
period. However, the imprisonment rate for all prisoners
sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478
per 100,000 in 2013 and the rate for pre-trial/remand prisoners
is 153 per 100,000 residents in 2012. The country's high rate of
incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing guidelines and
drug policies. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the
majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug
offenses. The privatization of prisons and prison services which
began in the 1980s has been a subject of debate. In 2013,
Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate (1,082 per 100,000
Maine the lowest (285 per 100,000
people). Among the U.S. territories, the highest
incarceration rate was in the
U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Virgin Islands (542 per 100,000
people) and the lowest was in
Puerto Rico (313 per 100,000
Main article: Economy of the United States
See also: Economic history of the United States
$18.45 trillion (Q2 2016)
Real GDP growth
3.0% (Q3 2017)
2.2% (September 2017)
60.2% (October 2017)
4.1% (October 2017)
Labor force participation rate
62.7% (November 2017)
Total public debt
$19.808 trillion (October 25, 2016)
Household net worth
$96.196 trillion (Q2 2017)
United States export treemap (2011): The U.S. is the world's
United States has a capitalist mixed economy which is fueled
by abundant natural resources and high productivity. According to
the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $16.8 trillion
constitutes 24% of the gross world product at market exchange rates
and over 19% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity
The nominal GDP of the U.S. is estimated to be $17.528 trillion as of
2014[update] From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP
growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of
the G7. The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per
capita (first in the Americas) and sixth in GDP per
capita at PPP. The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve
currency. The U.S. economy is also the fastest growing in the
United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest
exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the
total U.S. trade deficit was $635 billion. Canada, China, Mexico,
Germany are its top trading partners. In 2010, oil was
the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the
country's largest export.
Japan is the largest foreign holder of
U.S. public debt. The largest holder of the U.S. debt are
American entities, including federal government accounts and the
Federal Reserve, who hold the majority of the
In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the
economy, with federal government activity accounting for 4.3% and
state and local government activity (including federal transfers) the
remaining 9.3%. The number of employees at all levels of
government outnumber those in manufacturing by 1.7 to 1. While
its economy has reached a postindustrial level of development and its
service sector constitutes 67.8% of GDP, the
United States remains an
industrial power. The leading business field by gross business
receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is
manufacturing. In the franchising business model,
Subway are the two most recognized brands in the world.
the most recognized soft drink company in the world.
Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The United
States is the largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its
second-largest importer. It is the world's number one producer of
electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur,
phosphates, and salt. The
National Mining Association
National Mining Association provides data
pertaining to coal and minerals that include beryllium, copper, lead,
magnesium, zinc, titanium and others.
Agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP, yet the United
States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans. The
National Agricultural Statistics Service
National Agricultural Statistics Service maintains agricultural
statistics for products that include peanuts, oats, rye, wheat, rice,
cotton, corn, barley, hay, sunflowers, and oilseeds. In addition, the
United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides livestock
statistics regarding beef, poultry, pork, and dairy products. The
country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified
food, representing half of the world's biotech crops.
Consumer spending comprises 68% of the U.S. economy in 2015. In
August 2010, the American labor force consisted of 154.1 million
people. With 21.2 million people, government is the leading field of
employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and
social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About 12% of workers are
unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe. The World Bank
United States first in the ease of hiring and firing
United States is ranked among the top three in the
Global Competitiveness Report as well. It has a smaller welfare state
and redistributes less income through government action than European
nations tend to.
United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee
its workers paid vacation and is one of just a few countries in
the world without paid family leave as a legal right, with the others
being Papua New Guinea,
Suriname and Liberia. While federal law
does not require sick leave, it is a common benefit for government
workers and full-time employees at corporations. 74% of full-time
American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same
benefits. In 2009, the
United States had the third-highest
workforce productivity per person in the world, behind
Norway. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two
countries and the Netherlands.
The 2008–2012 global recession significantly affected the United
States, with output still below potential according to the
Congressional Budget Office. It brought high unemployment (which
has been decreasing but remains above pre-recession levels), along
with low consumer confidence, the continuing decline in home values
and increase in foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, an escalating
federal debt crisis, inflation, and rising petroleum and food prices.
Income, poverty and wealth
A tract housing development in San Jose, California
Further information: Income in the United States, Poverty in the
United States, Affluence in the United States,
United States counties
by per capita income, and Income inequality in the United States
Americans have the highest average household and employee income among
OECD nations, and in 2007 had the second-highest median household
income. According to the Census Bureau, median
household income was $59,039 in 2016. Accounting for 4.4% of the
Americans collectively possess 41.6% of the world's
total wealth, and
Americans make up roughly half of the world's
population of millionaires. The
Global Food Security Index ranked
the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security
in March 2013.
Americans on average have over twice as much
living space per dwelling and per person as
European Union residents,
and more than every EU nation. For 2013 the United Nations
Development Programme ranked the
United States 5th among 187 countries
Human Development Index
Human Development Index and 28th in its inequality-adjusted HDI
After years of stagnant growth, in 2016, according to the Census,
median household income reached a record high after two consecutive
years of record growth, although income inequality remains at record
highs with top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all
overall income. There has been a widening gap between
productivity and median incomes since the 1970s. However, the gap
between total compensation and productivity is not as wide because of
increased employee benefits such as health insurance. The rise in
the share of total annual income received by the top 1 percent, which
has more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011,
has significantly affected income inequality, leaving the United
States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD
nations. The top 1 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.[disputed
United States' families median net worth
source: Fed Survey of Consumer Finances
in 2013 dollars
Bottom 20% of incomes
2nd lowest 20% of incomes
Middle 20% of incomes
Wealth, like income and taxes, is highly concentrated; the richest 10%
of the adult population possess 72% of the country's household wealth,
while the bottom half claim only 2%. According to a September
2017 report by the Federal Reserve, the top 1% controlled 38.6% of the
country's wealth in 2016. Between June 2007 and November 2008 the
global recession led to falling asset prices around the world. Assets
Americans lost about a quarter of their value. Since
peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth was down
$14 trillion, but has since increased $14 trillion over 2006
levels. At the end of 2014, household debt amounted to
$11.8 trillion, down from $13.8 trillion at the end of
There were about 578,424 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in
the U.S. in January 2014, with almost two-thirds staying in an
emergency shelter or transitional housing program. In 2011 16.7
million children lived in food-insecure households, about 35% more
than 2007 levels, though only 1.1% of U.S. children, or 845,000, saw
reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during
the year, and most cases were not chronic. According to a 2014
report by the Census Bureau, one in five young adults lives in
poverty, up from one in seven in 1980. As of September 2017, 40
million people, roughly 12.7% of the U.S. population, were living in
poverty, with 18.5 million of those living in deep poverty (a family
income below one-half of the poverty threshold). In 2016, 13.3 million
children were living in poverty, which made up 32.6% of the
In 2017, the region with the lowest poverty rate was New Hampshire
(7.3%), and the region with the highest poverty rate was American
Samoa (65%). Among the states, the highest poverty rate
Main article: Transportation in the United States
The Interstate Highway System, which extends 46,876 miles
Passenger trains in
North America (interactive map)
Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on
a network of 4 million miles (6.4 million km) of public roads,
including one of the world's longest highway systems at 57,000 miles
(91700 km). The world's second-largest automobile
United States has the highest rate of per-capita
vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000
Americans. About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or
light trucks. The average American adult (accounting for all
drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day,
traveling 29 miles (47 km).
Amtrak rail speeds in the United States.
Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips.
Transport of goods by rail is extensive, though relatively low numbers
of passengers (approximately 31 million annually) use intercity rail
to travel, partly because of the low population density throughout
much of the U.S. interior. However, ridership on Amtrak, the
national intercity passenger rail system, grew by almost 37% between
2000 and 2010. Also, light rail development has increased in
recent years. Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal.
The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been
largely deregulated since 1978, while 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 world's 50 busiest passenger
airports, 16 are in the United States, including the busiest,
Atlanta International Airport, and the
O'Hare International Airport
O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. In the
aftermath of the 9/11 attacks of 2001, the Transportation Security
Administration was created to police airports and commercial
Further information: Energy policy of the United States
The U.S. power transmission grid consists of about 300,000 km
(190,000 mi) of lines operated by approximately 500 companies.
North American Electric Reliability Corporation
North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) oversees
all of them.
United States energy market is about 29,000 terawatt hours per
year. Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons
(7076 kg) of oil equivalent per year, the 10th-highest rate in
the world. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from
coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear
power and renewable energy sources. The
United States is the
world's largest consumer of petroleum. The
United States has 27%
of global coal reserves. It is the world's largest producer of
natural gas and crude oil.
For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many
other developed countries, in part because of public perception in the
wake of a 1979 accident. In 2007, several applications for new nuclear
plants were filed.
Water supply and sanitation
Main article: Drinking water supply and sanitation in the United
Issues that affect water supply in the
United States include droughts
in the West, water scarcity, pollution, a backlog of investment,
concerns about the affordability of water for the poorest, and a
rapidly retiring workforce. Increased variability and intensity of
rainfall as a result of climate change is expected to produce both
more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious
consequences for water supply and for pollution from combined sewer
Main article: Education in the United States
The University of Virginia, founded by
Thomas Jefferson in 1819, is
one of the many public universities in the United States. Universal
government-funded education exists in the United States, while there
are also many privately funded institutions.
American public education is operated by state and local governments,
regulated by the
United States Department of Education
United States Department of Education through
restrictions on federal grants. In most states, children are required
to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten
or first grade) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through
twelfth grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to
leave school at 16 or 17.
About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial or nonsectarian
private schools. Just over 2% of children are homeschooled. The
U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the
world, spending more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and
more than $12,000 per high school student. Some 80% of U.S.
college students attend public universities.
United States has many competitive private and public institutions
of higher education. The majority of the world's top universities
listed by different 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. 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
As for public expenditures on higher education, the U.S. trails some
other OECD nations but spends more per student than the OECD average,
and more than all nations in combined public and private
spending. As of 2012[update], student loan debt exceeded one
trillion dollars, more than
Americans owe on credit cards.
Main article: Culture of the United States
United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of
ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Aside from the Native
American, Native Hawaiian, and Native Alaskan populations, nearly all
Americans or their ancestors settled or immigrated within the past
five centuries. Mainstream American culture is a Western culture
largely derived from the traditions of European immigrants with
influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by
slaves from Africa. More recent immigration from
Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been
described as both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous
salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain
distinctive cultural characteristics.
Core American culture was established by Protestant British colonists
and shaped by the frontier settlement process, with the traits derived
passed down to descendants and transmitted to immigrants through
Americans have traditionally been characterized by a
strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism, as well as
a unifying belief in an "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,
1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied, more than
twice the second place British figure of 0.73%, and around twelve
times the French figure of 0.14%.
The American Dream, or the perception that
Americans enjoy high social
mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants. Whether this
perception is realistic has been a topic of
debate. While mainstream culture holds
United States is a classless society, scholars identify
significant differences between the country's social classes,
affecting socialization, language, and values. Americans'
self-images, social viewpoints, and cultural expectations are
associated with their occupations to an unusually close degree.
Americans tend greatly to value socioeconomic achievement, being
ordinary or average is generally seen as a positive attribute.
Main article: Cuisine of the United States
Apple pie is a food commonly associated with American cuisine.
Mainstream American cuisine is similar to that in other Western
Wheat is the primary cereal grain with about three-quarters
of grain products made of wheat flour and many dishes use
indigenous ingredients, such as turkey, venison, potatoes, sweet
potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup which were consumed by Native
Americans and early European settlers. These homegrown foods are
part of a shared national menu on one of America's most popular
holidays; Thanksgiving, when some
Americans make traditional foods to
celebrate the occasion.
Roasted turkey is a traditional menu item of an American Thanksgiving
Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza,
hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various
immigrants. French fries, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos,
and pasta dishes freely adapted from Italian sources are widely
Americans drink three times as much coffee as tea.
Marketing by U.S. industries is largely responsible for making orange
juice and milk ubiquitous breakfast beverages.
American eating habits owe a great deal to that of their British
culinary roots with some variations. Although American lands could
grow newer vegetables that Britain could not, most colonists would not
eat these new foods until accepted by Europeans. Over time
American foods changed to a point that food critic, John L. Hess
stated in 1972: "Our founding fathers were as far superior to our
present political leaders in the quality of their food as they were in
the quality of their prose and intelligence".
The American fast food industry, the world's largest, pioneered
the drive-through format in the 1940s.
Fast food consumption has
sparked health concerns. During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans'
caloric intake rose 24%; frequent dining at fast food outlets is
associated with what public health officials call the American
"obesity epidemic". Highly sweetened soft drinks are widely
popular, and sugared beverages account for nine percent of American
Literature, philosophy, and visual art
Main articles: American literature, American philosophy, Architecture
of the United States, and Visual art of the United States
Mark Twain, American author and humorist.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took
most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Edgar Allan Poe, and
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive
American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. Mark Twain
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 The
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great
Gatsby (1925) and Harper Lee's
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—may be
dubbed the "Great American Novel".
Twelve U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, most
Bob Dylan in 2016. 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 and
hardboiled crime fiction developed in the United States. The Beat
Generation writers opened up new literary approaches, as have
postmodernist authors such as John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, and Don
The transcendentalists, led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson,
established the first major American philosophical movement. After the
Charles Sanders Peirce
Charles Sanders Peirce and then
William James and John
Dewey were leaders in the development of pragmatism. In the 20th
century, the work of W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty, and later Noam
Chomsky, brought analytic philosophy to the fore of American
John Rawls and
Robert Nozick led a revival of
Cornel West and
Judith Butler have led a
continental tradition in American philosophical academia. Chicago
school economists like Milton Friedman, James M. Buchanan, and Thomas
Sowell have affected various fields in social and political
In the visual arts, the
Hudson River School
Hudson River School was a mid-19th-century
movement in the tradition of European naturalism. The realist
Thomas Eakins are now widely celebrated. The 1913 Armory
Show in New York City, an exhibition of European 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
Jackson Pollock and
Willem de Kooning
Willem de Kooning and the pop art
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
Americans have long been important in the modern
artistic medium of photography, with major photographers including
Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Ansel Adams.
Times Square in New York City, the hub of the Broadway theater
One of the first major promoters of American theater was impresario P.
T. Barnum, who began operating a lower
Manhattan entertainment complex
in 1841. The team of Harrigan and Hart produced a series of popular
musical comedies in New York starting in the late 1870s. In the 20th
century, the modern musical form emerged on Broadway; the songs of
musical theater composers such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and
Stephen Sondheim have become pop standards. Playwright Eugene O'Neill
won the Nobel literature prize in 1936; other acclaimed U.S.
dramatists include multiple Pulitzer Prize winners
Edward Albee, and August Wilson.
Isadora Duncan and
Martha Graham helped create modern
George Balanchine and
Jerome Robbins were leaders in
Music of the United States
Music of the United States and American classical music
Grammy Award is awarded to leading music artists.
Though little known at the time, Charles Ives's work of the 1910s
established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical
tradition, while experimentalists such as
Henry Cowell and John Cage
created a distinctive American approach to classical composition.
Aaron Copland and
George Gershwin developed a new synthesis of popular
and classical music.
The rhythmic and lyrical styles of
African-American music have deeply
influenced American music at large, distinguishing it from European
and African traditions. Elements from folk idioms such as the blues
and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed
into popular genres with global audiences.
Jazz was developed by
innovators such as
Louis Armstrong and
Duke Ellington early in the
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, and Aerosmith
are among the highest grossing in worldwide sales. In
Bob Dylan emerged from the 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 and house music.
American pop stars such as Prince, Michael Jackson, and Madonna have
become global celebrities, as have contemporary musical artists
such as Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Jay-Z,
Eminem and Kanye West.
Main article: Cinema of the United States
Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, California
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
New York City in
1894, using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope. The next year saw the
first commercial screening of a projected film, also in New York, and
United States was in the forefront of sound film's development in
the following decades. 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, the top American filmmaker during the silent
film period, was central to the development of film grammar, and
Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film
and movie merchandising. Directors such as
John Ford redefined
the image of the American Old West and history, and, like others such
as John Huston, broadened the possibilities of cinema with location
shooting, with great influence on subsequent directors. The industry
enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the
"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, film directors such
as Martin Scorsese,
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola and
Robert Altman were a
vital component in what became known as "New Hollywood" or the
Hollywood Renaissance", grittier films influenced by French and
Italian realist pictures of the post-war period. Since, directors
such as Steven Spielberg,
George Lucas and
James Cameron have gained
renown for their blockbuster films, often characterized by high
production costs, and in return, high earnings at the box office, with
Cameron's Avatar (2009) earning more than $2 billion.
Notable films topping the American Film Institute's
AFI 100 list
include Orson Welles's
Citizen Kane (1941), which is frequently cited
as the greatest film of all time, Casablanca (1942), The
Godfather (1972), Gone with the Wind (1939), Lawrence of Arabia
(1962), The Wizard of Oz (1939),
The Graduate (1967), On the
Schindler's List (1993), Singin' in the Rain
It's a Wonderful Life
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Sunset Boulevard (1950).
The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have been held
annually by the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since
1929, and the
Golden Globe Awards
Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since
Main article: Sports in the United States
Most popular American sports are American football, baseball,
basketball and ice hockey
American football is by several measures the most popular spectator
National Football League
National Football League (NFL) has the highest average
attendance of any sports league in the world, and the
Super Bowl is
watched by millions globally.
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 leading professional team sports, with the top
leagues being the National
Basketball Association (NBA) and the
National Hockey League
National Hockey League (NHL). These four major sports, when played
professionally, each occupy a season at different but overlapping,
times of the year.
College football and basketball attract large
audiences. In soccer, the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup,
the men's national soccer team qualified for ten World Cups and the
women's team has won the
FIFA Women's World Cup
FIFA Women's World Cup three times; Major
League Soccer is the sport's highest league in the United States
(featuring 19 American and 3 Canadian teams). The market for
professional sports in the
United States is roughly $69 billion,
roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and
Olympic Games have taken place in the
United States (2028 Summer
Olympics will mark the ninth time). As of 2017, 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. The most watched individual sports are golf and
auto racing, particularly NASCAR.
Rugby union is considered
the fastest growing sport in the U.S., with registered players,
numbered at 115,000+ and a further 1.2 million participants.
Main article: Media of the United States
The corporate headquarters of the
American Broadcasting Company
American Broadcasting Company in New
The four major broadcasters in the U.S. are the National Broadcasting
Company (NBC), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), the American
Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Fox. The four major broadcast
television networks are all commercial entities. 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 (formerly National
NPR was incorporated in February 1970 under the Public
Broadcasting Act of 1967; its television counterpart, PBS, was also
created by the same legislation. (
PBS are operated separately
from each other.) As of September 30, 2014[update], there are
15,433 licensed full-power radio stations in the U.S. according to the
U.S. Federal Communications Commission
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 or 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, for example, New
The Village Voice
The Village Voice or Los Angeles' LA Weekly, to name two
of the best-known. Major cities may also support a local business
journal, trade papers relating to local industries, and papers for
local ethnic and social groups. Early versions of the American
newspaper comic strip and the
American comic book
American comic book began appearing in
the 19th century. In 1938, Superman, the comic book superhero of DC
Comics, developed into an American icon. Aside from web portals
and search engines, the most popular websites are Facebook, YouTube,
Wikipedia, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, and Twitter.
More than 800 publications are produced in Spanish, the second most
commonly used language in the
United States behind English.
Science and technology
Science and technology in the United States
Science and technology in the United States and Science
policy of the United States
James Irwin walking on the
Moon next to Apollo 15's landing
module and lunar rover in 1971. The effort to reach the
triggered by the Space Race.
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
called mass production.
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for
the telephone. Thomas Edison's research laboratory, one of the first
of its kind, developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light
bulb, and the first viable movie camera. The latter led to
emergence of the worldwide entertainment industry. In the early 20th
century, the automobile companies of
Ransom E. Olds
Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford
popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers, in 1903, made the
first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.
The rise of
Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s led many
European scientists, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and John
von Neumann, to immigrate to the United States. During World War
Manhattan Project developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the
Atomic Age, while the
Space Race produced rapid advances in rocketry,
materials science, and aeronautics.
The invention of the transistor in the 1950s, a key active component
in practically all modern electronics, led to many technological
developments and a significant expansion of the U.S. technology
industry. This, in turn, led to the establishment of
many new technology companies and regions around the country such as
Silicon Valley in California. Advancements by American microprocessor
companies such as
Advanced Micro Devices
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and
Intel along with
both computer software and hardware companies that include Adobe
Systems, Apple Inc., IBM, Microsoft, and
Sun Microsystems created and
popularized the personal computer. The
ARPANET was developed in the
1960s to meet Defense Department requirements, and became the first of
a series of networks which evolved into the Internet.
These advancements then lead to greater personalization of technology
for individual use. As of 2013[update], 83.8% of American
households owned at least one computer, and 73.3% had high-speed
Internet service. 91% of
Americans also own a mobile phone as of
May 2013[update]. The
United States ranks highly with regard
to freedom of use of the internet.
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
See also: Health care in the United States, Health care reform in the
United States, and
Health insurance in the United States
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
New York-Presbyterian Hospital in
New York City
New York City is one of the world's
busiest hospitals. Pictured is the Weill Cornell facility (white
complex at center).
United States has a life expectancy of 79.8 years at birth, up
from 75.2 years in 1990. Life expectancy ranged from a
high of 81.3 years in
Hawaii to a low of 73.4 years in American
Samoa. The infant mortality rate of 6.17 per thousand places
United States 56th-lowest out of 224 countries.
Increasing obesity in the
United States and health improvements
elsewhere contributed to lowering the country's rank in life
expectancy from 11th in the world in 1987, to 42nd in 2007.
Obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years, are the
highest in the industrialized world, and are among the highest
anywhere. Approximately one-third of the adult population is
obese and an additional third is overweight. Obesity-related type
2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals.
In 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic
obstructive pulmonary diseases, and traffic accidents caused the most
years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, depression,
musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety caused the most
years lost to disability. The most deleterious risk factors were poor
diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar,
physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse,
kidney disease, cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of
life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capita rates. U.S.
teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in
other Western nations, especially among blacks and Hispanics.
The U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation. America solely
developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most
important medical innovations since 1975 as ranked by a 2001 poll of
physicians, while the
European Union and
contributed to five. Since 1966, more
Americans have received the
Nobel Prize in Medicine than the rest of the world combined. From 1989
to 2002, four times more money was invested in private biotechnology
companies in America than in Europe. The U.S. health-care system
far outspends any other nation, measured in both per capita spending
and percentage of GDP.
Health-care coverage in the
United States is a combination of public
and private efforts and is not universal. In 2014, 13.4% of the
population did not carry health insurance. The subject of
uninsured and underinsured
Americans is a major political
issue. In 2006,
Massachusetts became the first state to
mandate universal health insurance. Federal legislation passed in
early 2010 would ostensibly create a near-universal health insurance
system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate
effect are issues of controversy.
United States portal
Book: United States
Index of United States-related articles
U.S. state topics
Outline of the United States
^ 36 U.S.C. § 302
^ English is the official language of 32 states; English and Hawaiian
are both official languages in Hawaii, and English and 20 Indigenous
languages are official in Alaska. Algonquian, Cherokee, and Sioux are
among many other official languages in Native-controlled lands
throughout the country. French is a de facto, but unofficial, language
Maine and Louisiana, while New
Mexico law grants Spanish a special
^ In five territories, English as well as one or more indigenous
languages are official: Spanish in Puerto Rico, Samoan in American
Samoa, Chamorro in both
Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Carolinian is also an official language in the Northern Mariana
Time in the United States
Time in the United States for details about laws governing time
zones in the United States.
^ Except the U.S. Virgin Islands.
^ The five major territories are American Samoa, Guam, the Northern
Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the
United States Virgin Islands.
There are eleven smaller island areas without permanent populations:
Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman
Reef, Midway Atoll, and Palmyra Atoll. U.S. sovereignty over Bajo
Nuevo Bank, Navassa Island, Serranilla Bank, and
Wake Island is
^ a b The
Encyclopædia Britannica lists
China as the world's
third-largest country (after
Russia and Canada) with a total area of
9,572,900 sq km, and the
United States as fourth-largest at
9,526,468 sq km. The figure for the
United States is less than in the
CIA World Factbook because it excludes coastal and territorial
The CIA World Factbook lists the
United States as the third-largest
Russia and Canada) with total area of 9,833,517 sq
China as fourth-largest at 9,596,960 sq km. This
figure for the
United States is greater than in the Encyclopædia
Britannica because it includes coastal and territorial waters.
Spain sent several expeditions to
Alaska to assert its long-held
claim over the Pacific Northwest, which dated back to the 16th
century. During the decade 1785–1795 British merchants, encouraged
Sir Joseph Banks
Sir Joseph Banks and supported by their government, made a
sustained attempt to develop this trade despite Spain's claims and
navigation rights. The endeavors of these merchants did not last long
in the face of Spain's opposition. The challenge was also opposed by a
Japan holding obdurately to national seclusion.
^ His previous arrival coincided with the Makahiki, a festival
celebrating the Hawaiian deity Lono. After the
HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery had left the islands, the
season for battle and war had begun under the worship and rituals for
Kūkaʻilimoku, the Hawaiian deity of war.
^ On the evening of February 13, while anchored in Kealakekua Bay
after their return, one of only two long boats was stolen. The
Hawaiians had begun to openly challenging the foreigners. In
retaliation, Cook tried to take the aliʻi nui of the island of
Kalaniʻōpuʻu as ransom for the boats. The following
morning of February 14, 1779 Cook and his men went directly to
Kalaniʻōpuʻu's enclosure where the monarch was still sleeping.
One of ruler's wives,
Kānekapōlei pleaded with them to stop.
Cook's men and the Marines were confronted on the beach by thousands
of Native Hawaiians. Cook tried to move the elderly man but he
refused. As the townspeople began to surrounding them, Cook and his
men raised their guns. Two chiefs and the monarch's wife shielded
Kalaniʻōpuʻu as Cook tried to force him to his feet. The crowd
became hostile and
Kanaʻina (one of the monarch's attendants)
approached Cook, who reacted by striking him with the broad side of
Kanaʻina instantly grabbed Cook and lifted him off his
Kanaʻina released Cook, who fell to the ground as another
attendant, Nuaa fatally stabbed Cook to death.
Fertility is also a factor; in 2010 the average Hispanic woman gave
birth to 2.35 children in her lifetime, compared to 1.97 for
non-Hispanic black women and 1.79 for non-Hispanic white women (both
below the replacement rate of 2.1). Minorities (as defined by the
Census Bureau as all those beside non-Hispanic, non-multiracial
whites) constituted 36.3% of the population in 2010 (this is nearly
40% in 2015), and over 50% of children under age one, and
are projected to constitute the majority by 2042. This
contradicts the report by the National Vital Statistics Reports, based
on the U.S. census data, which concludes that 54% (2,162,406 out of
3,999,386 in 2010) of births were non-Hispanic white. The
Hispanic birth rate plummeted 25% between 2006 and 2013 while the rate
for non-Hispanics decreased just 5%.
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well"), followed by speakers of French (93.5%), Tagalog (92.8%),
Spanish (74.1%), Korean (71.5%), Chinese (70.4%), and Vietnamese
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