"America", "US", "USA", and "United States of America" redirect here.
For the landmass comprising North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean, see Americas.
|United States of America|
|Official languages||None at federal level|
|Ethnic groups (2019)||By race:
|Religion||See Religion in the United States|
|Government||Federal presidential constitutional republic|
|President||Donald Trump (R)|
|Vice President||Mike Pence (R)|
|House Speaker||Nancy Pelosi (D)|
|Chief Justice||John Roberts|
|Lower house||House of Representatives|
|Independence from Great Britain|
|Declaration||July 4, 1776|
|Confederation||March 1, 1781|
|Treaty of Paris||September 3, 1783|
|Constitution||June 21, 1788|
|Bill of Rights||September 25, 1789|
|Last state admitted||August 21, 1959|
|Last amendment||May 5, 1992|
|Total area||3,796,742 sq mi (9,833,520 km) (3rd/4th)|
|Water (%)||4.66 (as of 2015)|
|Total land area||3,531,905 sq mi (9,147,590 km)|
|2019 estimate||328,239,523 (3rd)|
|2010 census||308,745,538 (3rd)|
|Density||87/sq mi (33.6/km) (146th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2020 estimate|
|Total||$20.807 trillion (2nd)|
|Per capita||$63,051 (7th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
|Total||$20.807 trillion (1st)|
|Per capita||$63,051 (5th)|
very high · 15th
|Currency||United States dollar ($) (USD)|
|Time zone||UTC−4 to −12, +10, +11|
|Summer (DST)||UTC−4 to −10|
|Mains electricity||120 V–60 Hz|
|ISO 3166 code||US|
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America, consisting of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million square kilometers), it is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area.
With a population of over 328 million, it is the third most populous country in the world.
In the late 18th century, the U.S. began vigorously expanding across North America, gradually acquiring new territories, often times conquering and displacing Native Americans, and admitting new states; by 1848, the United States spanned the continent.
Its population has been profoundly shaped by centuries of immigration.
Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, it holds 29.4% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share held by any country.
The Italian explorer was the first to postulate that the West Indies did not represent Asia's eastern limit but were part of a previously unknown landmass.
Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort.
The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776.
The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed no later than June 17, 1776, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the 'United States of America'."
The final version of the Articles, sent to the states for ratification in late 1777, stated that "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'."
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".
The term "America" was seldom used in the United States before the 1890s, and rarely used by presidents before Theodore Roosevelt.
It does not appear in patriotic songs composed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including "The Star Spangled Banner", "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", although it is common in 20th-century songs like "God Bless America".
Colloquial names are the "U.S. of A."
and, internationally, the "States".
Many landmarks and institutions in the Western Hemisphere bear his name, including the country of Colombia.
The phrase "United States" was originally plural in American usage.
It described a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—and the plural form was used in documents as recent as the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865.
The singular form became popular after the end of the Civil War and is now standard usage in the U.S.; the plural is retained only in traditional, idiomatic expressions such as "these United States".
The difference is more significant than usage; it is a difference between a collection of states and a unit.
"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 directly connected with the United States.
Indigenous peoples and pre-Columbian history
It has been generally accepted that the first inhabitants of North America migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 12,000 years ago; however, some evidence suggests an even earlier date of arrival.
The Clovis culture, which appeared around 11,000 BC, is believed to represent the first wave of human settlement of the Americas.
This was likely the first of three major waves of migration into North America; later waves brought the ancestors of present-day Athabaskans, Aleuts, and Eskimos.
Over time, indigenous cultures in North America grew increasingly complex, and some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture in the southeast, developed advanced agriculture, architecture, and complex societies.
Most prominent along the Atlantic coast were the Algonquian tribes, who practiced hunting and trapping, along with limited cultivation.
Estimating the native population of North America at the time of European contact is difficult.
Douglas H. Ubelaker of the Smithsonian Institution estimated that there was a population of 92,916 in the south Atlantic states and a population of 473,616 in the Gulf states, but most academics regard this figure as too low.
Anthropologist Henry F. Dobyns believed the populations were much higher, suggesting around 1.1 million along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, 2.2 million people living between Florida and Massachusetts, 5.2 million in the Mississippi Valley and tributaries, and around 700,000 people in the Florida peninsula.
The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's House of Burgesses, was founded in 1619.
Documents such as the Mayflower Compact and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut established precedents for representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.
In the early days of colonization, many European settlers were subject to food shortages, disease, and attacks from Native Americans.
Native Americans were also often at war with neighboring tribes and European settlers.
In many cases, however, the natives and settlers came to depend on one another.
Settlers traded for food and animal pelts; natives for guns, tools and other European goods.
Natives taught many settlers to cultivate corn, beans, and other foodstuffs.
European missionaries and others felt it was important to "civilize" the Native Americans and urged them to adopt European agricultural practices and lifestyles.
Because of a lower prevalence of tropical diseases and better treatment, slaves had a much higher life expectancy in North America than in South America, leading to a rapid increase in their numbers.
Colonial society was largely divided over the religious and moral implications of slavery, and several colonies passed acts both against and in favor of the practice.
The Thirteen Colonies (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) that would become the United States of America were administered by the British as overseas dependencies.
All nonetheless had local governments with elections open to most free men.
With extremely high birth rates, low death rates, and steady settlement, the colonial population grew rapidly, eclipsing Native American populations.
With the creation of the Province of Quebec, Canada's francophone population would remain isolated from the English-speaking colonial dependencies of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and the Thirteen Colonies.
Excluding the Native Americans who lived there, the Thirteen Colonies had a population of over 2.1 million in 1770, about a third that of Britain.
Despite continuing new arrivals, the rate of natural increase was such that by the 1770s only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas.
The colonies' distance from Britain had allowed the development of self-government, but their unprecedented success motivated British monarchs to periodically seek to reassert royal authority.
Independence and expansion
Americans had developed an ideology of "republicanism", asserting that government rested on the will of the people as expressed in their local legislatures.
The British insisted on administering the empire through Parliament, and the conflict escalated into war.
In 1777, the Articles of Confederation established a decentralized government that operated until 1789.
American sovereignty became internationally recognized, and the country was granted all lands east of the Mississippi River.
Tensions with Britain remained, however, leading to the War of 1812, which was fought to a draw.
The federal government was reorganized into three branches in 1789, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances.
Although the federal government outlawed American participation in the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, after 1820, cultivation of the highly profitable cotton crop exploded in the Deep South, and along with it, the slave population.
In the North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including abolitionism; in the South, Methodists and Baptists proselytized among slave populations.
The 1803 Louisiana Purchase almost doubled the nation's area, Spain ceded Florida and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819, the Republic of Texas was annexed in 1845 during a period of expansionism, and the 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest.
After the Civil War, new transcontinental railways made relocation easier for settlers, expanded internal trade, and increased conflicts with Native Americans.
In 1869, a new Peace Policy nominally promised to protect Native Americans from abuses, avoid further war, and secure their eventual U.S. citizenship.
Nonetheless, large-scale conflicts continued throughout the West into the 1900s.
Civil War and Reconstruction era
Further information: Origins of the American Civil War
With the 1860 election of Republican Abraham Lincoln, conventions in thirteen slave states declared secession and formed the Confederate States of America (the "South" or the "Confederacy"), while the federal government (the "Union") maintained that secession was illegal.
In order to bring about this secession, military action was initiated by the secessionists, and the Union responded in kind.
The ensuing war would become the deadliest military conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of approximately 618,000 soldiers as well as many civilians.
The Union initially simply fought to keep the country united.
Nevertheless, as casualties mounted after 1863 and Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation, the main purpose of the war from the Union's viewpoint became the abolition of slavery.
Indeed, when the Union ultimately won the war in April 1865, each of the states in the defeated South was required to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibited slavery.
Two other amendments were also ratified, ensuring citizenship for blacks and, at least in theory, voting rights for them as well.
Reconstruction began in earnest following the war.
While President Lincoln attempted to foster friendship and forgiveness between the Union and the former Confederacy, his assassination 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 until the Compromise of 1877 when the Republicans agreed to cease protecting the rights of African Americans in the South in order for Democrats to concede the presidential election of 1876.
Southern white Democrats, calling themselves "Redeemers", took control of the South after the end of Reconstruction.
Blacks faced racial segregation, especially in the South.
They also occasionally experienced vigilante violence, including lynching.
Further immigration, expansion, and industrialization
The United States fought Indian Wars west of the Mississippi River from 1810 to at least 1890.
Most of these conflicts ended with the cession of Native American territory and their confinement to Indian reservations.
This further expanded acreage under mechanical cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets.
Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1917.
Rapid economic development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries fostered the rise of many prominent industrialists.
Banking became a major part of the economy, with J.
P. Morgan playing a notable role.
The American economy boomed, becoming the world's largest.
This period eventually ended with the advent of the Progressive Era, which saw significant reforms 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
The United States remained neutral from the outbreak of World War I in 1914 until 1917 when it joined the war as an "associated power" alongside the Allies of World War I, helping to turn the tide against the Central Powers.
However, the Senate refused to approve this and did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles that established the League of Nations.
The Great Migration of millions of African Americans out of the American South began before World War I and extended through the 1960s; whereas the Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration.
On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to join the Allies against the Axis powers and, the following year, to intern about 120,000 U.S. residents (including American citizens) of Japanese descent.
Although Japan attacked the United States first, the U.S. nonetheless pursued a "Europe first" defense policy.
During the war, the United States was one of the "Four Powers" who met to plan the postwar world, along with Britain, the Soviet Union, and China.
Although the nation lost around 400,000 military personnel, it emerged relatively undamaged from the war with even greater economic and military influence.
The United States and Japan then fought each other in the largest naval battle in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The United States eventually developed the first nuclear weapons and used them on Japan in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945; the Japanese surrendered on September 2, ending World War II.
Cold War and civil rights era
After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union competed for power, influence, and prestige during what became known as the Cold War, driven by an ideological divide between capitalism and communism.
The U.S. developed a policy of containment towards the expansion of communist influence.
While the U.S. and Soviet Union engaged in proxy wars and developed powerful nuclear arsenals, the two countries avoided direct military conflict.
The United States often opposed Third World movements that it viewed as Soviet-sponsored and occasionally pursued direct action for regime change against left-wing governments, even occasionally supporting authoritarian right-wing regimes.
The Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the first artificial satellite and its 1961 launch of the first crewed spaceflight initiated a "Space Race" in which the United States became the first nation to land a man on the Moon in 1969.
A proxy war in Southeast Asia eventually evolved into the Vietnam War (1955–1975), with full American participation.
After a surge in female labor participation, especially in the 1970s, by 1985, the majority of women aged 16 and over were employed.
Construction of an Interstate Highway System transformed the nation's infrastructure over the following decades.
In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th and last U.S. state added to the country.
A combination of court decisions and legislation, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, sought to end racial discrimination.
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 and Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
The 1970s and early 1980s saw the onset of stagflation.
This brought about unipolarity with the U.S. unchallenged as the world's dominant superpower.
Fearing the spread of instability, in August, President George H. W. Bush launched and led the Gulf War against Iraq; waged until January 1991 by coalition forces from 34 nations, it ended in the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and restoration of the monarchy.
Originating within U.S.
Beginning in 1994, the U.S. signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), causing trade among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to soar.
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 nation's largest economic contraction since the Great Depression.
During the crisis, assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value.
Barack Obama, the first African-American and multiracial president, was elected in 2008 amid the crisis, and subsequently passed stimulus measures and the Dodd–Frank Act in an attempt to mitigate its negative effects and ensure there would not be a repeat of the crisis.
On January 20, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed.
As of 5 November 2020, the United States has over 9.4 million COVID-19 cases and over 233,000 deaths.
The United States is by far the country with the most cases of COVID-19 since April 11, 2020.
Geography, climate, and environment
The 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia occupy a combined area of 3,119,885 square miles (8,080,470 km).
Of this area, 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,940 km) is contiguous land, composing 83.65% of total U.S. land area.
Virgin Islands together cover 9,185 square miles (23,789 km).
Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada.
The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted, and how the total size of the United States is measured.
At an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190.5 m), Alaska's Denali is the highest peak in the country and in North America.
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types.
The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid.
Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate.
Overall, the United States receives more high-impact extreme weather incidents than any other country in the world.
Wildlife and conservation
See also: :Category:Biota of the United States
The U.S. ecology is megadiverse: about 17,000 species of vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and more than 1,800 species of flowering plants are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland.
The United States is home to 428 mammal species, 784 bird species, 311 reptile species, and 295 amphibian species, as well as about 91,000 insect species.
Altogether, the government owns about 28% of the country's land area, mostly in the western states.
Most of this land is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching, and about .86% is used for military purposes.
Environmental issues 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.
The most prominent environmental agency 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 the Wilderness Act.
The United States is ranked 24th among nations in the Environmental Performance Index.
The country joined the Paris Agreement in 2016 and has many other environmental commitments.
It left the Paris Agreement in 2020.
Census Bureau officially estimated the country's population to be 328,239,523 as of July 1, 2019.
According to the Bureau's U.S.
Population Clock, on May 23, 2020, the U.S. population had a net gain of one person every 19 seconds, or about 4,547 people per day.
In 2018 the median age of the United States population was 38.1 years.
In 2018, there were almost 90 million immigrants and U.S.-born children of immigrants in the United States, accounting for 28% of the overall U.S. population.
The United States has a very diverse population; 37 ancestry groups have more than one million members.
White Americans of European ancestry, mostly German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish and French, including white Hispanics and Latinos from Latin America, form the largest racial group, at 73.1% of the population.
In 2017, out of the U.S. foreign-born population, some 45% (20.7 million) were naturalized citizens, 27% (12.3 million) were lawful permanent residents, 6% (2.2 million) were temporary lawful residents, and 23% (10.5 million) were unauthorized immigrants.
Among current living immigrants to the U.S., the top five countries of birth are Mexico, China, India, the Philippines and El Salvador.
Until 2017, the United States led the world in refugee resettlement for decades, admitting more refugees than the rest of the world combined.
About 82% of Americans live in urban areas, including suburbs; about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000.
In 2008, 273 incorporated municipalities had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four cities had over two million (namely New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston).
Many U.S. metropolitan populations are growing rapidly, particularly in the South and West.
As of 2018, 52% of Americans age 15 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 32% had never been married.
The total fertility rate was 1820.5 births per 1000 women in 2016.
In 2013, the average age at first birth was 26, and 41% of births were to unmarried women.
In 2019, the U.S. had the world's highest rate of children living in single-parent households.
Main article: Languages of the United States
naturalization requirements—standardize English, and most states have declared English as the official language.
Three states and four U.S. territories have recognized local or indigenous languages in addition to English, including Hawaii (Hawaiian), Alaska (twenty Native languages), South Dakota (Sioux), American Samoa (Samoan), Puerto Rico (Spanish), Guam (Chamorro), and the Northern Mariana Islands (Carolinian and Chamorro).
In Puerto Rico, Spanish is more widely spoken than English.
According to the American Community Survey, in 2010 some 229 million people (out of the total U.S. population of 308 million) spoke only English at home.
More than 37 million spoke Spanish at home, making it the second most commonly used language in the United States.
Other languages spoken at home by one million people or more include Chinese (2.8 million), Tagalog (1.6 million), Vietnamese (1.4 million), French (1.3 million), Korean (1.1 million), and German (1 million).
The most widely taught foreign languages in the United States, in terms of enrollment numbers from kindergarten through university undergraduate education, are Spanish (around 7.2 million students), French (1.5 million), and German (500,000).
18% of all Americans claim to speak both English and another language.
Main article: Religion in the United States
The United States has the world's largest Christian population.
In 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 Christian group.
In 2014, 5.9% of the U.S. adult population claimed a non-Christian religion.
Protestantism is the largest Christian religious grouping in the United States, accounting for almost half of all Americans.
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.
The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average.
The United States had a life expectancy of 78.6 years at birth in 2017, which was the third year of declines in life expectancy following decades of continuous increase.
The recent decline, primarily among the age group 25 to 64, is largely due to record highs in the drug overdose and suicide rates; the country has one of the highest suicide rates among wealthy countries.
From 1999 to 2019, more than 770,000 Americans died from drug overdoses.
Life expectancy was highest among Asians and Hispanics and lowest among blacks.
Increasing obesity in the United States and improvements in health and longevity outside the U.S. contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 11th in the world in 1987 to 42nd in 2007.
In 2017, the United States had the lowest life expectancy among Japan, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and seven nations in western Europe.
Obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years and are the highest in the industrialized world.
Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight.
Obesity-related 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.
U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations, especially among blacks and Hispanics.
Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not universal.
In 2017, 12.2% of the population did not carry health insurance.
The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue.
The Affordable Care Act, passed in early 2010, roughly halved the uninsured share of the population, though the bill and its ultimate effect are issues of controversy.
The U.S. health-care system far outspends any other nation, measured both in per capita spending and as percentage of GDP.
However, the U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation.
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.
Just over 2% of children are homeschooled.
The U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the world, spending an average of $12,794 per year on public elementary and secondary school students in the 2016–2017 school year.
Some 80% of U.S. college students attend public universities.
Of Americans 25 and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees.
The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%.
The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world.
The United States has many private and public institutions of higher education.
The majority of the world's top universities, as listed by various ranking organizations, are in the U.S.
There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition.
In 2018, U21, a network of research-intensive universities, ranked the United States first in the world for breadth and quality of higher education, and 15th when GDP was a factor.
As for public expenditures on higher education, the U.S. trails some other OECD (Organization for Cooperation and Development) nations but spends more per student than the OECD average, and more than all nations in combined public and private spending.
As of 2018, student loan debt exceeded 1.5 trillion dollars.
Government and politics
It is the world's oldest surviving federation.
The U.S. ranked 25th on the Democracy Index in 2018.
In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district.
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.
The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states.
All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review and any law ruled by the courts to be in violation of the Constitution is voided.
The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803) in a decision handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall.
The federal government comprises 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 government.
- 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.
Each state then draws single-member districts to conform with the census apportionment.
The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one-third of Senate seats are up for election every two years.
The District of Columbia and the five major U.S. territories do not have senators.
The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice.
The Supreme Court, led by the chief justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.
Further information: Territorial evolution of the United States
The 50 states are the principal political divisions in the country.
These are subdivided into counties or county equivalents and further divided into municipalities.
The District of Columbia is a federal district that contains the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C.
The states and the District of Columbia choose the president of the United States.
Each state has presidential electors equal to the number of their representatives and senators in Congress; the District of Columbia has three because of the 23rd Amendment.
The 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 Samoa.
Parties and elections
The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history.
The president and vice president are elected by the Electoral College.
Of state governors, there are 26 Republicans and 24 Democrats.
Among the D.C. mayor and the five territorial governors, there are four Democrats, one Republican, and one New Progressive.
The United States has an established structure of foreign relations.
It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
New York City is home to the United Nations Headquarters.
Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions.
However, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States (although the U.S. still maintains unofficial relations with Bhutan and Taiwan).
The United States has a "Special Relationship" with the United Kingdom and strong ties with India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and several European Union countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland.
It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
This includes taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates, and gifts, as well as various fees.
Taxation in the United States is based on citizenship, not residency.
Both non-resident citizens and Green Card holders living abroad are taxed on their income irrespective of where they live or where their income is earned.
The United States is one of the only countries in the world to do so.
In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of GDP.
Based on CBO estimates, under 2013 tax law the top 1% will be paying the highest average tax rates since 1979, while other income groups will remain at historic lows.
For 2018, the effective tax rate for the wealthiest 400 households was 23%, compared to 24.2% for the bottom half of U.S. households.
During fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent $3.54 trillion on a budget or cash basis.
Major categories of fiscal year 2012 spending included: Medicare & Medicaid (23%), Social Security (22%), Defense Department (19%), non-defense discretionary (17%), other mandatory (13%) and interest (6%).
The total national debt of the United States was $23.201 trillion, or 107% of GDP, in the fourth quarter of 2019.
By 2012, total federal debt had surpassed 100% of U.S. GDP.
The United States has the largest external debt in the world and the 34th largest government debt as a percentage of GDP in the world as of 2017; however, more recent estimates vary.
Main article: United States Armed Forces
In 2019, all six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces reported 1.4 million personnel on active duty.
The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including contractors.
From 1940 until 1973, conscription was mandatory even during peacetime.
Today, American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy's 11 active aircraft carriers, and Marine expeditionary units at sea with the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets.
The military operates about 800 bases and facilities abroad, and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.
The United States spent $649 billion on its military in 2019, 36% of global military spending.
At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after Saudi Arabia.
Defense spending plays a major role in science and technology investment, with roughly half of U.S. federal research and development funded by the Department of Defense.
Defense's share of the overall U.S. economy has generally declined in recent decades, from early Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal spending in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal spending in 2011.
The United States possesses the second-largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world.
More than 40% of the world's 14,000 nuclear weapons are held by the United States.
Law enforcement and crime
federal courts' rulings and federal laws.
State courts conduct most criminal trials while federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts.
A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2010 showed that United States homicide rates "were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher."
In 2016, the U.S. murder rate was 5.4 per 100,000.
As of 2020, the Prison Policy Initiative reported that there were some 2.3 million people incarcerated.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses.
The imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478 per 100,000 in 2013.
About 9% of prisoners are held in privatized prisons, a practice beginning in the 1980s and a subject of contention.
Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and at the state level in 28 states, though three states have moratoriums on carrying out the penalty imposed by their governors.
No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a U.S. striking down the practice. Supreme Court ruling
Since the decision, however, there have been more than 1,500 executions.
In recent years the number of executions and presence of capital punishment statute on whole has trended down nationally, with several states recently abolishing the penalty.
See also: Capital punishment in the United States
Main article: Economy of the United States
|Nominal GDP||$20.66 trillion (Q3 2018)|
|Real GDP growth||3.5% (Q3 2018)|
|CPI inflation||2.2% (November 2018)|
|Employment-to-population ratio||60.6% (November 2018)|
|Unemployment||3.7% (November 2018)|
|Labor force participation rate||62.9% (November 2018)|
|Total public debt||$21.85 trillion (November 2018)|
|Household net worth||$109.0 trillion (Q3 2018)|
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.
In 2010, the total U.S. was $635 billion. trade deficit
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.
In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy.
While its economy has reached a postindustrial level of development, the United States remains an industrial power.
In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of 154.1 million people (50%).
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.
It has a smaller welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than most European nations.
74% of full-time American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same benefits.
Science and technology
The United States has been a leader in technological innovation since the late 19th century and scientific research since the mid-20th century.
Methods for producing interchangeable parts were developed by the U.S. War Department by the Federal Armories during the first half of the 19th century.
This technology, along with the establishment of a machine tool industry, enabled the U.S. to have large-scale manufacturing of sewing machines, bicycles, and other items in the late 19th century and became known as the American system of manufacturing.
In the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of research and development funding comes from the private sector.
The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and impact factor.
The latter led to emergence of the worldwide entertainment industry.
The Wright brothers, in 1903, made the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.
The invention of the transistor in the 1950s, a key active component in practically all modern electronics, led to many technological developments and a significant expansion of the U.S. technology industry.
This, in turn, led to the establishment of many new technology companies and regions around the country such as Silicon Valley in California.
Advancements by American microprocessor companies such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel, along with both computer software and hardware companies such as Adobe Systems, Apple Inc., IBM, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, created and popularized the personal computer.
Income, poverty and wealth
Accounting for 4.24% of the global population, Americans collectively possess 29.4% of the world's total wealth, the largest percentage of any country.
Americans also make up roughly half of the world's population of millionaires.
The Global Food Security Index ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013.
Americans on average have more than twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as EU residents.
For 2017 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 13th among 189 countries in its Human Development Index (HDI) and 25th among 151 countries in its inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI).
According to the Federal Reserve, the top 1% controlled 38.6% of the country's wealth in 2016.
According to a 2018 study by the OECD, the United States has a larger percentage of low-income workers than almost any other developed nation, largely because of a weak collective bargaining system and lack of government support for at-risk workers.
The top one percent of income-earners accounted for 52 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2015, where income is defined as market income excluding government transfers.
After years of stagnation, median household income reached a record high in 2016 following two consecutive years of record growth.
Income inequality remains at record highs however, with the top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income.
The rise in the share of total annual income received by the top one percent, which has more than doubled from nine percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011, has significantly affected income inequality, leaving the United States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD nations.
The extent and relevance of income inequality is a matter of debate.
There were about 567,715 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the U.S. in January 2019, 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 845,000 U.S. children (1.1%) saw reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during the year, and most cases were not chronic.
As of June 2018, 40 million people, roughly 12.7% of the U.S. population, were living in poverty, including 13.3 million children.
Of those impoverished, 18.5 million live in deep poverty (family income below one-half of the poverty threshold) and over five million live "in 'Third World' conditions".
The economic impact and mass unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has raised fears of a mass eviction crisis, with an analysis by the Aspen Institute indicating that between 30 and 40 million people are at risk for eviction by the end of 2020.
Main article: Transportation in the United States
Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 4 million miles (6.4 million kilometers) of public roads.
The United States has the world's second-largest automobile market, and has the highest vehicle ownership per capita in the world, with 816.4 vehicles per 1,000 Americans (2014).
In 2017, there were 255,009,283 non-two wheel motor vehicles, or about 910 vehicles per 1,000 people.
The United States has historically been the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, and greenhouse gas emissions per capita remain high.
Further information: Energy policy of the United States
In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas.
The remainder was supplied by nuclear and renewable energy sources.
Main article: Culture of the United States
The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values.
More recent immigration from Asia and especially 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.
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, Americans gave 1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied.
Whether this perception is accurate has been a topic of debate.
While mainstream culture holds that the United States is a classless society, scholars identify significant differences between the country's social classes, affecting socialization, language, and values.
Americans tend to greatly value socioeconomic achievement, but being ordinary or average is also generally seen as a positive attribute.
Literature, philosophy, and visual art
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe.
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 (1885), F. 's Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby (1925) and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel."
Thirteen U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Main article: Cuisine of the United States
Early settlers were introduced by Native Americans to such indigenous, non-European foods as turkey, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup.
They and later immigrants combined these with foods they had known, such as wheat flour, beef, and milk to create a distinctive American cuisine.
Homegrown foods are part of a shared national menu on one of America's most popular holidays, Thanksgiving, when some Americans make traditional foods to celebrate the occasion.
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.
One of America's early composers was a man named William Billings who, born in Boston, composed patriotic hymns in the 1770s.
From the 1800s John Philip Sousa is regarded as one of America's greatest composers.
Although little known at the time, Charles Ives's work of the 1910s established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical tradition, while experimentalists such as Henry Cowell and John Cage created a distinctive American approach to classical composition.
American pop stars such as Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna have become global celebrities, as have contemporary musical artists such as Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Eminem, and Kanye West.
Main article: Cinema of the United States
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. , the top American W. Griffithfilmmaker during the silent film period, was central to the development of film grammar, and producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising.
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.
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 Waterfront (1954), Schindler's List (1993), Singin' in the Rain (1952), 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 since 1929, and the Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since January 1944.
Main article: Sports in the United States
American football is by several measures the most popular spectator sport; the National Football League (NFL) has the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world, and the Super Bowl is watched by tens of millions globally.
In soccer (a sport that has gained a footing in the United States since the mid-1990s), the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the men's national soccer team qualified for ten World Cups and the women's team has won the FIFA Women's World Cup four times; Major League Soccer is the sport's highest league in the United States (featuring 23 American and three Canadian teams).
The market for professional sports in the United States is roughly $69 billion, roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined.
Eight Olympic Games have taken place in the United States.
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.
Further information: Media of the United States
See also: Newspapers in the United States, Television in the United States, Internet in the United States, Radio in the United States, List of United States magazines, and Video games in the United States
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.
As of September 30, 2014, there are 15,433 licensed full-power radio stations in the U.S. according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
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 may also support a local business journal, trade papers relating to local industries, and papers for local ethnic and social groups.
More than 800 publications are produced in Spanish, the second most commonly used language in the United States behind English.
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United States.