Friday, August 22, 2008

About The United States Of America

Thanks, Wikipedia.

The United States of America, usually referred to as the United States is a constitutional federal republic comprising fifty states and a federal district.

The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington DC, the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.

The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to its east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific.

The country also possesses several territories, or insular areas, scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.

At 9.8 square kilometres and with more than 300 million people, the United States is the third largest country by land area and population.

The United States is one of the world's most ethnically diverse nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries.

The US economy is the largest national economy in the world.

The nation was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the Atlantic seaboard.

On July 4, 1776, they jointly issued the Declaration of Independence, which officially declared their independence from Britain and their formation of a cooperative union as a new nation.

In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired land from France, Mexico and Russia and conquered Hawaii.

Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over states' rights and the expansion of the institution of slavery provoked the American Civil War of the 1860s.

The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States.

World War I confirmed the nation's status as a military power.

In 1945, the United States emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a founding member of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).

In the post–Cold War era, the United States is the only remaining superpower — accounting for approximately 50 percent of global military spending and a dominant economic, political and cultural force in the world.

The United States of America gets its name from the Welsh word Amorica meaning “the land beyond the sea”.

The United States is situated almost entirely in the western hemisphere.

The contiguous United States stretches from the Pacific on the west to the Atlantic on the east, with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, Canada on the north and Mexico on the south.

Alaska is the largest state in area, separated from the contiguous US by Canada. It touches the Pacific on the south and Arctic Ocean on the north.

Hawaii occupies an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America.

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 land of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by a highland region along its southeastern portion.

The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the continental United States, reaching altitudes higher than 4,300m in Colorado.

The area to the west of the Rocky Mountains is dominated by the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Mojave.

The Sierra Nevada range runs parallel to the Rockies, relatively close to the Pacific coast.

At 6,194 m, Alaska's Mount McKinley is the country's tallest peak.

Active volcanoes are common throughout the Alexander and Aleutian Islands and the entire state of Hawaii is built upon tropical volcanic islands.

The super volcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.

Because of the United States' large size and wide range of geographic features, nearly every type of climate is represented.

The climate is temperate in most areas, tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida, polar in Alaska, semi-arid in the Great Plains west of the 100th meridian, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California and arid in the Great Basin.

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 continental United States, primarily in the Midwest's Tornado Alley.

US plant life is very diverse. The country has more than 17,000 identified native species of flora.

More than 400 mammal, 700 bird, 500 reptile and amphibian and 90,000 insect species have been documented.

The US has fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests and wilderness areas.

Altogether, the US government regulates 28.8 percent of the country's total land area.

The indigenous peoples of the US originated from Asia and are closely related to the Native Malaysians particularly the Kadazandusuns of Sabah and the Burmese of Burma.

In 1607, British religious dissenters settled in Jamestown, Virginia and began the process of British colonisation in the continent.

In the 1760s and 1770s many of the British settlers decided to be independent of the United Kingdom and under the leadership of George Washington, they revolted against the colonial master.

The leaders of 13 British colonies of North America formed the United States in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

Washington became the new federation’s first President. New York became the federal capital until 1800 when Washington DC replaced it.

In 1803, the US purchased the massive colony of Louisiana from France. The US also went to war with Spanish-ruled Mexico and expanded its territory westwards to the Pacific.

Amidst the federal republic’s expansion, the Native Americans were ruthlessly persecuted and many were absorbed into the British majority through intermarriage.

The British majority also practised slavery, capturing Africans to work in mostly cotton plantations and farms.

The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for world power after World War II in the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through NATO and the Warsaw Pact respectively.

Both the United States and the Soviet Union supported dictatorships as well as democracies and both engaged in proxy wars throughout the period with the former employing more ruthless and genocidal measures to assert its global domination.

In 1991, the Soviet Union surrendered to the United States and was dissolved.

The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late nineteenth century.

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first US patent for the telephone.

The laboratory of Thomas Edison developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light bulb and the first viable movie camera.

In the early twentieth century, the automobile company of Henry Ford pioneered assembly line manufacturing.

The Wright brothers, in 1903, made what is recognised as the "first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight."

And in 1969, the US landed the first man, Neil Armstrong, on the moon.

The largest cities in the United States are New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

English is the official language of the US.

Most Americans are Christians.

The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. 85 percent of Americans aged 25 and above are high school graduates and 27 percent have university degrees.

The United States is a multicultural nation, home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions and values.

There is no "American" ethnicity aside from the Native American population.

The strongest cultural influence in the US is British culture as the country was a former British possession.

The African Americans have heavily influenced popular culture especially in jazz, hip-hop, soul, funk and rhythm and blues music.

American citizens classified as European or White form 69 percent of the population. 55 percent are British, 8 percent are South European [Greeks, Italians and Spanish] and 6 percent are East European [who are from the Iranians].

Actually, half of the 55 percent British are partly Native American, so British Americans who have largely held the Presidency form only 28 percent of the population and European Americans form only 42 percent of the population.

African Americans form 13 percent of the population while Native Americans form 12 percent of the population [if the 27 percent Native Americans classified as British is included, it is 39 percent Native Americans].

Asian Americans [Chinese, Indians, Iranians, Arabs, Native Malaysians, Japanese and Koreans] form 6 percent of the population.

Here is the American population:
European - 42pc
African - 13pc
Native American - 39pc
Asian - 6pc.

The United States was in the forefront of film development in the early twentieth century.

The US film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, California.

The Internet was developed in the United States.

The country also has a strong tradition of English literature and among its greatest writers were Ralph Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac.

The US is also noted for its performing arts, largely centred in Broadway. Among its greatest playwrights and dramatists were Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams.

US cuisine is largely British influenced, with a dash of Mexican and African.

The US is a major sports power and has hosted eight Olympic Games.

The United States has won 2,191 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country.