United states of America

 

Motto:

In God We Trust

History

 

Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.

                      Geography  

Location:

North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico
Geographic coordinates: 38 00 N, 97 00 W
Map references: North America
Area: total: 9,826,675 sq km
country comparison to the world: 3
land: 9,161,966 sq km
water: 664,709 sq km
note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia
comparative:
about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; more than twice the size of the European Union
Coastline: 19,924 km

Land boundaries:
total: 12,034 km
border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km
note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba; the base boundary is 28 km

Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
Terrain: vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii
Elevation Extremes lowest point: Death Valley -86 m
highest point: Mount McKinley 6,198 m
Natural Resources: coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber
note: the US has the world's largest coal reserves with 491 billion short tons accounting for 27% of the world's total
Land use: arable land: 18.01%
permanent crops: 0.21%
other: 81.78% (2005)
Natural hazards: tsunamis; volcanoes; earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development
Environment - current issues: air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the US and Canada; the US is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural fresh water resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification

Geography Note:

world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent

                             People

Population:

A307,212,123 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
Age structure: 0-14 years: 20.2% (male 31,639,127/female 30,305,704)
15-64 years: 67% (male 102,665,043/female 103,129,321)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 16,901,232/female 22,571,696) (2009 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.977% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
 
Birth rate: 13.83 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
Death rate: 8.38 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
Net migration rate: 4.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Nationality: noun: American(s)
adjective: American
Ethnic groups: white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)
note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic
Religions: Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)
Languages: English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
note: Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii

                  Government

Country name: conventional long form: United States of America
conventional short form: United States
abbreviation: US or USA
Government Type: Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
 
Administrative Divisions: 50 states and 1 district*; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
 
Dependent Areas: American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island
note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)
 
Capital: name: Washington, DC
geographic coordinates: 38 53 N, 77 02 W
time difference: UTC-5 (during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November
note: the 50 United States cover six time zones
Independence: 4 July (1776) (from Great Britain)
National holiday: Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
Constitution: 17 September 1787, effective 4 March 1789
Legal system: federal court system based on English common law; each state has its own unique legal system, of which all but one (Louisiana, which is still influenced by the Napoleonic Code) is based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive branch: chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approval
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held on 6 November 2012)
election results: Barack H. OBAMA elected president; percent of popular vote - Barack H. OBAMA 52.4%, John MCCAIN 46.3%, other 1.3%;
Legislative branch: bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, 2 members are elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third are elected every two years) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held November 2010); House of Representatives - last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 57, Republican Party 41, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 257, Republican Party 178
Judicial branch: Supreme Court (nine justices; nominated by the president and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate; appointed to serve for life); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts
Political parties and leaders: Democratic Party [Timothy KAINE]; Green Party; Libertarian Party [William (Bill) REDPATH]; Republican Party [Michael STEELE]
International organization participation: ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), ANZUS, APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SECI (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description: 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; the 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies; known as Old Glory
note: the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags, including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico

                        Economy

Overview: The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $46,900. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The war in March-April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military. Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage in the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, but had a small impact on overall GDP growth for the year. Soaring oil prices between 2005 and the first half of 2008 threatened inflation and unemployment, as higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets. Imported oil accounts for about two-thirds of US consumption. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. The merchandise trade deficit reached a record $840 billion in 2008 before shrinking to $450 billion in 2009. The global economic downturn, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, investment bank failures, falling home prices, and tight credit pushed the United States into a recession by mid-2008. GDP contracted till the third quarter of 2009, making this the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. To help stabilize financial markets, the US Congress established a $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in October 2008. The government used some of these funds to purchase equity in US banks and other industrial corporations. In January 2009 the US Congress passed and President Barack OBAMA signed a bill providing an additional $787 billion fiscal stimulus to be used over 10 years - two-thirds on additional spending and one-third on tax cuts - to create jobs and to help the economy recover. Approximately two-thirds of these funds will have been injected into the economy by the end of 2010. In March 2010, President OBAMA signed a health insurance reform bill into law that will extend coverage to an additional 32 million American citizens by 2016, through private health insurance for the general population and Medicaid for the impoverished.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $14.26 trillion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$14.61 trillion (2008 est.)
$14.56 trillion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
 
GDP -real growth rate: -2.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
0.4% (2008 est.)
2.1% (2007 est.)
GDP per capita (PPP): $46,400 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
$48,100 (2008 est.)
$48,300 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.2%
industry: 21.9%
services: 76.9% (2009 est.)
Population below poverty line: 12% (2004 est.)
Labor force: 154.5 million (includes unemployed) (2009)
country comparison to the world: 4
Labor force - by occupation: farming, forestry, and fishing: 22.6%
manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts: 24.8%
managerial, professional, and technical: 37.3%
sales and office: 24.2%
other services: 17.6%
note: figures exclude the unemployed (2007)
Unemployment rate: 9.4% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
5.8% (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $1.914 trillion
expenditures: $3.615 trillion (2009 est.)
Agriculture: wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish; forest products
Industries:  leading industrial power in the world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
Exports: $994.7 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
$1.277 trillion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities: agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0%
Imports: $1.445 trillion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$2.117 trillion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities: agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys)
Debt - external: $13.45 trillion (30 June 2009)
country comparison to the world: 1
$13.75 trillion (31 December 2008)
Exchange rates: British pounds per US dollar: (2009), 0.6494 (2009), 0.5302 (2008), 0.4993 (2007), 0.5418 (2006), 0.5493 (2005)
Canadian dollars per US dollar: 1.1548 (2009), 1.0364 (2008), 1.0724 (2007), 1.1334 (2006), 1.2118 (2005)
Chinese yuan per US dollar: 6.8249 (2009), 6.9385 (2008), 7.61 (2007), 7.97 (2006), 8.1943 (2005)
euros per US dollar: 0.7338 (2009), 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005)
Japanese yen per US dollar: 94.5 (2009), 103.58 (2008), 117.99 (2007), 116.18 (2006) 110.22 (2005)

          Communications

 
Telephones - main lines in use: 150 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 2
Telephones - mobile cellular: 270 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 3
Telephone System: general assessment: a large, technologically advanced, multipurpose communications system
domestic: a large system of fiber-optic cable, microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and domestic satellites carries every form of telephone traffic; a rapidly growing cellular system carries mobile telephone traffic throughout the country
international: country code - 1; multiple ocean cable systems provide international connectivity; satellite earth stations - 61 Intelsat (45 Atlantic Ocean and 16 Pacific Ocean), 5 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 4 Inmarsat (Pacific and Atlantic Ocean regions) (2000)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 4,789, FM 8,961, shortwave 19 (2006)
Television broadcast stations: 2,218 (2006)
Internet country Code: .us
Internet hosts: 383 million (2009); note - the US Internet total host count includes the following top level domain host addresses: .us, .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, and .org
country comparison to the world: 1
Internet users: 231 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 2

           Transportation

Airports: 15,095 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 1
Airports - with paved runways: total: 5,174
over 3,047 m: 190
2,438 to 3,047 m: 229
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1,477
914 to 1,523 m: 2,309
under 914 m: 969 (2009)
 
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 9,921
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 158
914 to 1,523 m: 1,757
under 914 m: 8,000 (2009)
Heliports: 126 (2009)
Roadways: total: 6,465,799 km
country comparison to the world: 1
paved: 4,209,835 km (includes 75,040 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,255,964 km (2007)
Railways: total: 226,427 km
country comparison to the world: 1
standard gauge: 226,427 km 1.435-m gauge (2007)
Waterways: 41,009 km (19,312 km used for commerce)
country comparison to the world: 4
note: Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3,769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3,058 km, shared with Canada (2008)
Merchant Marine: total: 422
country comparison to the world: 24
by type: barge carrier 6, bulk carrier 61, cargo 69, carrier 2, chemical tanker 22, container 81, passenger 19, passenger/cargo 59, petroleum tanker 53, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 25, vehicle carrier 22
foreign-owned: 74 (Australia 1, Denmark 31, Germany 5, Japan 7, Malaysia 2, Netherlands 1, Norway 9, Singapore 12, Sweden 5, UK 1)
registered in other countries: 732 (Antigua and Barbuda 8, Australia 2, Bahamas 106, Bermuda 23, Cambodia 6, Canada 10, Cayman Islands 42, Comoros 2, Cyprus 5, Ecuador 1, Greece 8, Hong Kong 29, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 4, Italy 17, South Korea 7, Liberia 98, Luxembourg 4, Malta 23, Marshall Islands 123, Netherlands 14, Netherlands Antilles 1, Norway 8, Panama 126, Portugal 1, Puerto Rico 3, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 22, Trinidad and Tobago 1, Tuvalu 1, UK 12, Vanuatu 1, unknown 2) (2008)
Ports and Terminals: Corpus Christi, Duluth, Hampton Roads, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Tampa, Texas City

Military:

United States Armed Forces: US Army, US Navy (includes Marine Corps), US Air Force, US Coast Guard; note - Coast Guard administered in peacetime by the Department of Homeland Security, but in wartime reports to the Department of the Navy (2009)

  Main Source of Information: the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook

Items of Interest  

Anthem:

The Star Spangled Banner

Words by : Francis Scott Key
Music by: John Stafford Smith

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner!
Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out of their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave'
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:
"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
 

Government website: www.usa.gov