United States, officially United States of America, abbreviated U.S. or U.S.A is a federal republic of 50 states. Besides the 48 states that occupy the mainland of the continent, it also includes the state of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii, in the Pacific Ocean. The national capital is Washington.
The Statue Of Liberty, New York.
The major characteristic of the United States is its great variety. Its physical environment ranges from the Arctic to the subtropical, from the moist rain forest to the arid desert, from the rugged mountain peak to the flat prairie.
Although the total population is large by world standards, its overall population density is relatively low. The country embraces some of the world’s largest urban concentrations as well as some of the most extensive areas that are almost devoid of habitation.
The country contains a highly diverse population. Unlike a country such as China that largely incorporated indigenous peoples, it has a diversity that to a great degree has come from an immense and sustained global immigration. Probably no other country has a wider range of racial, ethnic, and cultural types than the USA.
In addition to the presence of surviving Native Americans (including American Indians, Aleuts, and Eskimos) and the descendants of Africans taken as slaves to the New World, the national character has been enriched, tested, and constantly redefined by the tens of millions of immigrants who by and large have come to America hoping for greater social, political, and economic opportunities than they had in the places they left.
The United States is the world’s greatest economic power, measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). The nation’s wealth is partly a reflection of its rich natural resources and its enormous agricultural output, but it owes more to the country’s highly developed industry.
Despite its relative economic self-sufficiency in many areas, the States is the most important single factor in world trade by virtue of the sheer size of its economy. Its exports and imports represent major proportions of the world total.
The United States also impinges on the global economy as a source of and as a destination for investment capital. The country continues to sustain an economic life that is more diversified than any other on Earth, providing the majority of its people with one of the world’s highest standards of living.
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.
The United States is relatively young by world standards, being less than 250 years old; it achieved its current size only in the mid-20th century. America was the first of the European colonies to separate successfully from its motherland, and it was the first nation to be established on the premise that sovereignty rests with its citizens and not with the government.
In its first century and a half, the country was mainly preoccupied with its own territorial expansion and economic growth and with social debates that ultimately led to civil war and a healing period that is still not complete.
In the 20th century the United States emerged as a world power, and since World War II it has been one of the preeminent powers. It has not accepted this mantle easily nor always carried it willingly; the principles and ideals of its founders have been tested by the pressures and exigencies of its dominant status.
The US still offers its residents opportunities for unparalleled personal advancement and wealth. However, the depletion of its resources, the contamination of its environment, and the continuing social and economic inequality that perpetuates areas of poverty and blight all threaten the fabric of the country.