United States of America
Motto
"In God we trust"
Anthem"The Star-Spangled Banner"
The contiguous United States plus Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
CapitalWashington, D.C.
Largest city New York City
Official languages None at federal level
Ethnic groups (2019) By race:
76.3% White
13.4% Black
5.9% Asian
2.8% Other/Multiracial
1.3% Native American
0.2% Pacific Islander
Ethnicity:
18.5% Hispanic or Latino
81.5% Non-Hispanic or Latino
Religion (2019) Protestantism (43%)
Catholicism (20%)
Mormonism (2%)
Unaffiliated (26%)
Judaism (2%)
Islam (1%)
Buddhism (1%)
Hinduism (1%)
Unanswered or other religions
(5%)
Demonym American
Government Federal presidential constitutional republic
 •  President Barack Obama
 •  Vice President Tim Kaine
 •  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
 •  Chief Justice John Roberts
Legislature Congress
 •  Upper House Senate
 •  Lower House House of Representatives
Independence from Great Britain
 •  Declaration 4 July 1776 
 •  Confederation 1 March 1781 
 •  Treaty of Paris 3 September 1783 
 •  Constitution 21 June 1788 
 •  Bill of Rights 25 September 1789 
 •  Last amendment 5 May 1992 
 •  Last state admitted 12 June 2003 
Area
 •  Total 9,842,621 km2 (3rd/4th)
3,800,257 sq mi 
 •  Water (%) 6.99 (as of 2019)
 •  Total land area 9,156,747 km² (3,535,439 sq mi)
Population
 •  2019 estimate 331,433,217 (3rd)
 •  2010 census 311,939,232 
 •  Density 33.67/km2 (145th)
87.2/sq mi
Currency United States Dollars ($) (USD)
Time zone (UTC−4 to −12, +10, +11)
 •  Summer (DST)  (UTC−4 to −10)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .us   .gov   .mil   .edu
Calling code +1

The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (U.S.) or America, is a federal republic composed of 51 states, a federal district, four major self-governing territories, and various possessions. The 48 contiguous states and federal district are in central North America between Canada and Mexico, with the state of Alaska in the northwestern part of North America, the state of Hawaii comprising an archipelago in the mid-Pacific, and the state of Puerto Rico comprising an archipelago in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Nine time zones are covered. The geography, climate and wildlife of the country are extremely diverse.

At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km²) and with over 331 million people, the United States is the world's third-largest country by total area (and fourth-largest by land area) and the third-most populous. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Urbanization climbed to over 80% in 2010 and leads to growing megaregions. The country's capital is Washington, D.C. and its largest city is New York City; other major metropolitan areas include Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami.

Paleo-Indians migrated from Asia to the North American mainland at least 15,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775. On July 4, 1776, as the colonies were fighting Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. The war ended in 1783 with recognition of the independence of the United States by Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, after the Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, were felt to have provided inadequate federal powers. The first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and designed to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties.

The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, displacing American Indian tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the American Civil War led to the end of legal slavery in the country. By the end of that century, the United States 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 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. It is a founding member of the Organization of American States (UAS) and various other Pan-American and international organisations. It is currently one of the world's two superpowers, the other being the Soviet Union.

The United States is a highly developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP. It ranks highly in several measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, and productivity per person. While the U.S. economy is considered post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge economy, the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. Though its population is only 4.4% of the world total, the United States accounts for nearly a quarter of world GDP and almost a third of global military spending, making it the world's foremost military and economic power. The United States is a prominent political and cultural force internationally, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovations.

Government and politics

Capitol WDC.jpg
The United States Capitol,
where Congress meets:
the Senate, left; the House of Representatives, right.
White House in Washington.jpg
The White House, residence and workplace of the U.S. President.

The United States is a federal republic of 51 states, a federal district, four territories and several uninhabited island possessions. It is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a federal republic and a representative democracy "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law." The U.S. ranked 25th on the Democracy Index in 2018. On Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, its public sector position deteriorated from a score of 76 in 2015 to 69 in 2019.

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.

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. Article One protects the right to the 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 (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 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 102 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 four 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.

Political divisions

The 51 states are the principal administrative 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). Territories of the United States such as Guam do not have presidential electors, and so people in those territories cannot vote for the president.

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.

States of the United States of America
Flag, name and
abbreviation
Cities Ratification or
admission
Population Total area Number
of Reps.
Governor
Capital Largest mi2 km2
Alabama AL Montgomery Birmingham 14 December 1819 4,903,185 52,420 135,767 7 Kay Ivey (R)
Alaska AK Juneau Anchorage 3 January 1959 731,545 665,384 1,723,337 1 Mike Dunleavy (R)
Arizona AZ Phoenix 14 February 1912 7,278,717 113,990 295,234 9 Doug Ducey (R)
California CA Sacramento Los Angeles 9 September 1850 39,512,223 163,695 423,967 52 Gavin Newsom (D)
Florida FL Tallahassee Jacksonville 3 March 1845 21,477,737 65,758 170,312 26 Ron DeSantis (R)
Minnesota MN St. Paul Minneapolis 11 May 1858 5,639,632 86,936 225,163 7 Tim Walz (DFL)
Mississippi MS Jackson 10 December 1817 2,976,149 48,432 125,438 4 Tate Reeves (R)
Missouri MO Jefferson City Kansas City 10 August 1821 6,137,428 69,707 180,540 8 Mike Parson (R)
Montana MT Helena Billings 8 November 1889 1,068,778 147,040 380,831 1 Steve Bullock (D)
Nebraska NE Lincoln Omaha 1 March 1867 1,934,408 77,348 200,330 3 Pete Ricketts (R)
Nevada NV Carson City Las Vegas 31 October 1864 3,080,156 110,572 286,380 4 Steve Sisolak (D)
New Hampshire NH Concord Manchester 21 June 1788 1,359,711 9,349 24,214 2 Chris Sununu (R)
New Jersey NJ Trenton Newark 18 December 1787 8,882,190 8,723 22,591 12 Phil Murphy (D)
New Mexico NM Santa Fe Albuquerque 6 January 1912 2,096,829 121,590 314,917 3 Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
New York NY Albany New York City 26 July 1788 19,453,561 54,555 141,297 27 Andrew Cuomo (D)
North Carolina NC Raleigh Charlotte 21 November 1789 10,488,084 53,819 139,391 13 Roy Cooper (D)
North Dakota ND Bismarck Fargo 2 November 1889 762,062 70,698 183,108 1 Doug Burgum (R)
Ohio OH Columbus 1 March 1803 11,689,100 44,826 116,098 16 Mike DeWine (R)
Oklahoma OK Oklahoma City 16 November 1907 3,956,971 69,899 181,037 5 Kevin Stitt (R)
Oregon OR Salem Portland 14 February 1859 4,217,737 98,379 254,799 5 Kate Brown (D)
Pennsylvania PA Harrisburg Philadelphia 12 December 1787 12,801,989 46,054 119,280 18 Tom Wolf (D)
Puerto Rico PR San Juan 12 June 2003 3,193,694 5,325 13,791 5 Wanda Vázquez Garced (PNP/R)
Texas TX Austin Houston 29 December 1845 28,995,881 268,596 695,662 35 Greg Abbott (R)
Washington WA Olympia Seattle 11 November 1889 7,614,893 71,298 184,661 9 Jay Inslee (D)

Parties and elections

BarackObama.jpg
Barack Obama
43rd President
since 20 January 2017.
Tim Kaine VP.jpg
Tim Kaine
45th Vice President
since 20 January 2017.

The 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 by the Electoral College.

In 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.

Democrat Barack Obama, the winner of the 2016 presidential election, is serving as the 44th president of the United States. Leadership in the Senate includes vice president Tim Kaine, president pro tempore Chuck Grassley, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Leadership in the House includes Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

In the 116th United States Congress, the House of Representatives is controlled by the Democratic Party and the Senate is controlled by the Republican Party, giving the U.S. a split Congress. The Senate consists of 53 Republicans and 45 Democrats with two Independents who caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of 233 Democrats, 196 Republicans, and 1 Libertarian. Of state governors, there are 27 Republicans and 24 Democrats. Among the D.C. mayor and the five territorial governors, there are four Democrats and one Republican.

Foreign relations

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. 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, 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 both. It is a member of NATO, the G7, G20, and OECD.

The United States has a "Special Relationship" with the United Kingdom and strong ties with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Iran, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and several European Union countries, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Czechoslovakia 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 (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico. Colombia is traditionally considered by the United States as its most loyal ally in South America.

The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau through the Compact of Free Association.

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