the united states

The United States of America (USA), commonly called the United States (US or U.S.) and America, is a federal constitutional republic consisting of fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where...

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The United States of America (USA), commonly called the United States (US or U.S.) and America, is a federal constitutional republic consisting of fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 315 million people, the United States is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area, and the third-largest by both land area and population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse and is home to a variety of species.

Paleoindians migrated from Asia to what is now the United States mainland around 15,000 years ago. After 1500, Old World diseases introduced by Europeans greatly reduced their populations. European colonization began around 1600 and came mostly from England. The United States emerged from thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard, which developed their own economies and democratic political systems. Disputes between Great Britain and the American colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence, which established the United States of America. The new country with French aid defeated Britain in the Revolutionary War, which became the first successful war of independence against a European empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787; several Amendments were later added to the Constitution, modifying its effects but not changing the original text. The first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, which guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, were ratified in 1791.

The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, displacing native tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states. The American Civil War ended legalized slavery in the United States. By the end of the nineteenth century, the American national economy was the world's largest. 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 the first country with nuclear weapons and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower.

The United States is a post-industrial developed country and has the world's largest national economy, with an estimated 2011 GDP of $15.1 trillion (22% of nominal global GDP and over 19% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity). Per capita income is the world's sixth-highest. The economy is fueled by an abundance of natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity; and while its economy is considered post-industrial it continues to be one of the world's largest manufacturers. The country accounts for 41% of global military spending, and is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world, as well as a leader in scientific research and technological innovation.

some cities

el paso, tx, huntington, wv, huntsville, al, joplin, mo, norwalk, ct, killeen, tx, oelwein, ia, las cruces, nm, las vegas, nv, laurel, ms, lawrence, ks, lawrenceville, ga, new orleans, la, plano, tx, price, ut, princeton, nj, redding, ca, reno, nv, richmond, ky, ridgecrest, ca, riverside, ca, san bernardino, ca, san jose, ca, albany, ny, brookhaven, ny, albany, or, bakersfield, ca, albert lea, mn, albuquerque, nm, lexington, ky, cottonwood, az, dennison, oh, alexandria, va, oakland, ca, east providence, ri, allentown, pa, batavia, il, fremont, ca, anaheim, ca, anchorage, ak, annapolis, md, ann arbor, mi, appleton, wi, arlington, va, boston, ma, asheville, nc, ashland, ma, ashland, oh, topeka, ks, bradenton, fl, philadelphia, pa, akron, oh, amherst, va, atlanta, ga, baltimore, md, belen, nm, biloxi, ms, lancaster, pa, hattiesburg, ms, hilton head island, sc, hope mills, nc, johnstown, pa, little rock, ar, lubbock, tx, mount pleasant, mi, naples, fl, neillsville, wi, osceola, wi, paso robles, ca, peoria, az, portland, or, prescott, az, reading, pa, richmond, va, rockville, md, rutherford, nj, san angelo, tx, san antonio, tx, athens, ga, austin, tx, augusta, me, aurora, il, bath, ny, charleston, sc, chico, ca, baytown, tx, bloomington, in, bolingbrook, il, bellingham, wa, crestline, ca, birmingham, al, bergen county, nj, de witt, ne, boise, id, bowling green, ky, bremerton, wa, buffalo, ny, buford, ga, colorado springs, co, burlington, vt, columbus, oh, denver, co, carbondale, il, pittsburgh, pa, challis, id, charlotte, nc, chattanooga, tn, chesapeake, va, cincinnati, oh, clayton, ga, cleveland, oh, college station, tx, columbia, sc, columbus, ga, concord, nh, corpus christi, tx, crystal lake, il, cumming, ga, dallas, tx, danville, ca, davenport, ia, dayton, oh, decatur, il, deerfield beach, fl, des moines, ia, detroit, mi, los angeles, ca, duluth, mn, durham, nc, east orange, nj, east rutherford, nj, eldon, mo, erie, pa, evansville, in, fairmont, wv, fairborn, oh, fairfax, va, fargo, nd, farmington, mo, fontana, ca, fort collins, co, fort lauderdale, fl, fort myers, fl, fort wayne, in, fort worth, tx, fresno, ca, gadsden, al, gainesville, ga, gardnerville, nv, garland, tx, germantown, md, glendale, ca, goose creek, sc, grand forks, nd, grand rapids, mi, greensboro, nc, greenville, sc, hanover, nh, harrisburg, pa, high point, nc, hartford, ct, havana, il, hazard, ky, helena, mt, hempstead, ny, walla walla, wa, hermosa beach, ca, herndon, va, watseka, il, honolulu, hi, hope, ar, houston, tx, huntington beach, ca, idaho falls, id, indianapolis, in, indio, ca, irvine, ca, jacksonville, fl, jackson, ms, jersey city, nj, streamwood, il, kalamazoo, mi, marietta, ga, thorne bay, ak, iowa city, ia, kansas city, mo, mchenry, il, modesto, ca, towanda, pa, kenosha, wi, middlesex, nj, kerrville, tx, versailles, mo, melbourne, ar, knoxville, tn, texarkana, ar, tiffin, oh, lafayette, in, vancouver, wa, libertyville, il, morenci, az, lewiston, me, lexington park, md, lincoln, ne, madison, wi, long branch, nj, long beach, ca, longview, tx, stanfield, nc, louisville, ky, stevens point, wi, monroe, mi, macon, ga, manassas, va, manchester, nh, marquette, mi, marshfield, wi, martinsburg, wv, mcallen, tx, medford, or, melbourne, fl, memphis, tn, mesa, az, miami, fl, minneapolis, mn, mobile, al, monterey, ca, montgomery, al, morristown, tn, paola, ks, olympia, wa, myrtle beach, sc, milwaukee, wi, oxnard, ca, neenah, wi, nashville, tn, natick, ma, newark, nj, new paltz, ny, new bedford, ma, springfield, il, springfield, ma, springfield, mo, new haven, ct, summersville, wv, newport news, va, newport, ri, pocatello, id, norfolk, va, normal, il, northampton, ma, paris, tx, odessa, tx, oklahoma city, ok, orlando, fl, parsippany-troy hills, nj, palm coast, fl, palmdale, ca, pensacola, fl, portageville, mo, portland, me, shepherdstown, wv, phoenix, az, plattsburgh, ny, plymouth, mi, providence, ri, raleigh, nc, rapid city, sd, roanoke, va, rochester, mn, rochester, ny, saint johns, mi, roy, ut, sacramento, ca, saint george, ut, saint louis, mo, saint paul, mn, saint petersburg, fl, salt lake city, ut, santa ana, ca, santa barbara, ca, santa clarita, ca, santa cruz, ca, santa fe, nm, toledo, oh, santa rosa, ca, savannah, ga, scottsdale, az, scranton, pa, santa monica, ca, san francisco, ca, san diego, ca, sheboygan, wi, shreveport, la, urbana, il, spokane, wa, springfield, va, stamford, ct, state college, pa, stockton, ca, syracuse, ny, tacoma, wa, sioux falls, sd, tallahassee, fl, tampa, fl, tega cay, sc, tempe, az, thousand oaks, ca, tucson, az, tulsa, ok, tupelo, ms, tuscaloosa, al, utica, ny, van buren, ar, venice, fl, ventura, ca, virginia beach, va, waco, tx, wallingford, ct, watertown, ny, watertown, sd, wausau, wi, west caldwell, nj, west chester, pa, westhampton beach, ny, west frankfort, il, westminster, ca, west palm beach, fl, west plains, mo, washington, dc, winder, ga, wheeling, wv, wichita, ks, wilkes-barre, pa, wilmington, nc, woodstock, ga, winston-salem, nc, wisconsin dells, wi, woodbridge, nj, woodbridge, va, yonkers, ny, yorktown, va, ypsilanti, mi, zanesville, oh, allegan, mi, barnegat, nj, baton rouge, la, new york city, ny, gilbert, az, brownsville, tx, moreno valley, ca, laredo, tx, chula vista, ca, honolulu, hi, berkeley, ca, amarillo, tx, sunnyvale, ca, south bend, in, pasadena, tx, grand prairie, tx, fayetteville, nc, hialeah, fl, chandler, az, cedar rapids, ia, henderson, nv, augusta, ga, pomona, ca, overland park, ks, fargo, nd, worcester, ma, salem, or, olathe, ks, rockford, il, lansing, mi, eugene, or, seattle, wa, chicago, il, omaha, ne

experiences (6)

have you spent time in the united states? share your experiences


the united states - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/24/13.

How much time have you spent in the US?

3 years.

How old were you when you came to the US? Where were you before?

26, was in UK and NZ before.

What brought you to the US? What made you choose the US over any other place you could've gone?

Wife's family lived there (wife is American, I'm English. We were married and lived in England for 2 years before traveling)

Describe the city you lived in in the US and your impressions of it.

Billings, MT - remote, desolate, hard-edged, hard-drinking but contains some of the warmest and kindest people I've ever met. It's a town surrounded by nothing, the next biggest city is 10 hours drive away so it's rather insular. With only 100,000 residents it's the biggest city in the state but not on the same scale as places I'm used to.

What are the people of the US like? In what ways are they different than people in other places you've lived?

It is a city (and by extension a nation) of contrasts: liberals and racists, gays and homophobes, neo-nazis and human rights activists. My time there was enjoyable, people there are generally just getting by and doing their own thing. As an Englishman I was treated very kindly.

I live in...

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the united states - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 10/28/13.

I've now been living in the US for almost 8 years. I had visited for a few weeks previously, which partially influenced my decision to move here. I was 25 when I moved here, and previously lived in the UK.

I came to the US largely for work. I work in the games industry and this is where the best studios are based. I specifically was offered a job at my dream company in Seattle, so there was no question if I should move or not.

At first I moved to Seattle, which wasn't quite what I was expecting. It was cold and raining, and for some reason I had this view of the US which is always sunny and beaches. The people were good though, and there was a good music scene and nearby hiking or skiing. After 5 years I moved to California, where my American dream came true.

I now live in Santa Monica, which is in perpetual sunshine. It has a "small town" vibe despite being really big, and right next to LA. We are right on the beach which is fun, and we have a lot of pedestrian shopping areas. There are great hikes nearby, all the nightlife of LA and the surrounding area, you can go surfing and skiing in the same day. It's great here!

People here are a lot more "politically correct" and...

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the united states - anonymous' reflections after spending decades there

posted by anonymous on 10/24/13.

I came over in 1995. I believe it was April. I was 5 years old when I moved to America. I lived in Chisinau Moldova. It's one of, it not the poorest country in Europe. But we got by. I was too young to really know or care. I played soccer with my relatives and friends all day every day. I didn't need much else to entertain myself.

My grandfather was the head of the household. What he said goes. He worked at the railroad doing what I don't know. But something that let him talk to the customers a lot. He got to know all the important people that way and made friends. We knew he wanted to move the family somewhere, anywhere... Eventually, he was friendly enough with immigration that he could get my mom/dad/me and my uncle/aunt and their 2 sons to America through whatever means, legal or not (I was never told but probably illegal). We had family there (my other, older aunt/uncle moved there in the 80's) so they could help us out when we got there. We could have gone to Germany, Israel, Australia, or America. Obviously if you have a chance to go to the land of the free, AND you have family there, you take it.

When we came to America, we moved into an apartment complex in northeast...

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omaha, ne, united states - anonymous' reflections after years there in their 20s

posted by anonymous on 01/11/14.

What brought you to omaha, ne?

I moved to Omaha from Minneapolis, MN to go to College at Dana in Blair, NE. Once I graduated from Dana College I decided to stay in Omaha.

Describe the part of the city you live in.

I have lived in West and East Omaha (Elkhorn, Old Market). Both places have their own set of pros and cons. Living out West in Elkhorn is nice because there are a wide variety of neighborhoods to live in. The Elkhorn school district is ideal to enroll your children in opposed to Omaha Public Schools. Elkhorn is minutes from an outdoor strip mall that offers both shopping and restaurants. Living in East Omaha, Old Market, is great for young adults 21-35 years old. There are a wide variety of shops, bars, and restaurants all within walking distance of one another. The Old Market streets are brick roads giving a quaint/homelike atmosphere. The Old Market also offers various entertainment venues from the Holland Center (Performing Arts Center) to the Children's museum. Overall assessment of my time in Omaha is it is a great place to live as a young adult and as life goes on raise a family. Living in Omaha you get the perks of the city with a small town feel.


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pittsburgh, pa, united states - sumo-python-bear's (f/26/united states) thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by sumo-python-bear on 03/27/14.

What brought you to pittsburgh, pa?

Summer research program in computational neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon/University of Pittsburgh.

Describe the part of the city you live in.

I lived on Carnegie Mellon's campus, which is right next to UPitt--the surrounding area is called Oakland. Both campuses are nice but UPitt is especially pretty. Lots of college-type (cheap) restaurants and bars.

What things about pittsburgh, pa surprised you?

I think Pittsburgh has a bad reputation, it's sort of looked at as part of the "Rust Belt" (like Detroit, e.g.). Personally I didn't expect much from it having never been there. But really it's pretty amazing--there are so many universities, downtown is exciting, outdoor activities (the rivers are good for kayaking), tons of museums, obviously obsessed with sports if you're into that, a bunch good concerts come through. Plus, it's ridiculously cheap for how fun it is.

Another thing that surprised me was the amount of rain (this was during the summer). Most of the time it was sunny but probably once a week it would just downpour all day. Bring an umbrella.


los angeles, ca, united states - sumo-python-bear's (f/26/united states) thoughts after months there in their 20s

posted by sumo-python-bear on 03/27/14.

What brought you to los angeles, ca?

Summer research experience at UCLA (Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics).

Describe the part of the city you live in.

I lived on UCLA's campus, which is gorgeous. The surrounding area is called Westwood, and it's a pretty nice part of LA (one of the nicest if I understand correctly). Shopping, good restaurants, a premiere theatre or two, a couple museums. Beverly Hills is right next to it.

List the good, bad, and okay things about los angeles, ca.

Good: beaches (Santa Monica was a frequent visit), hiking, shopping, Japantown, museums, food, obviously the weather

Okay: Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, other super touristy things (exciting maybe once)

Bad: Public transportation. I think they are trying to improve this, but the city is sprawling and the buses only get you so far. I didn't have a car, but if I did I'm sure I would list traffic here too.

Overall, I think it was an amazing place to spend a summer--we found something fun to do just about every weekend. I could see, though, how living there for an extended period of time might be less exciting/frustrating.

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313,847,465 (July 2012 est.)

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)


English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)


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.)

age structure

0-14: 0-14 years: 20% (male 32,050,686/ female 30,719,945)

15-64: 15-64 years: 66.5% (male 104,156,828/ female 104,442,302)

65+: 65 years and over: 13.5% (male 18,424,785/ female 24,052,919) (2012 est.)


82% of total population (2010)

life expectancy

78.49 years

obesity rate

33.9% (2006)

literacy rate


average years of education

16 years


cost of living

6/10 (medium-high)

economic overview

The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $49,800. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and...

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The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $49,800. 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. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income. Imported oil accounts for nearly 55% of US consumption. Crude oil prices doubled between 2001 and 2006, the year home prices peaked; higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets and many individuals fell behind in their mortgage payments. Oil prices climbed another 50% between 2006 and 2008, and bank foreclosures more than doubled in the same period. In addition to dampening the housing market, soaring oil prices caused a drop in the value of the dollar and a deterioration in the US merchandise trade deficit, which peaked at $840 billion in 2008. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, falling home prices, investment bank failures, tight credit, and the global economic downturn pushed the United States into a recession by mid-2008. GDP contracted until the third quarter of 2009, making this the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. To help stabilize financial markets, in October 2008 the US Congress established a $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The government used some of these funds to purchase equity in US banks and industrial corporations, much of which had been returned to the government by early 2011. 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. In 2010 and 2011, the federal budget deficit reached nearly 9% of GDP. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through 2011, direct costs of the wars totaled nearly $900 billion, according to US government figures. US revenues from taxes and other sources are lower, as a percentage of GDP, than those of most other countries. In March 2010, President OBAMA signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health insurance reform 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. Total spending on health care - public plus private - rose from 9.0% of GDP in 1980 to 17.9% in 2010. In July 2010, the president signed the DODD-FRANK Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a law designed to promote financial stability by protecting consumers from financial abuses, ending taxpayer bailouts of financial firms, dealing with troubled banks that are "too big to fail," and improving accountability and transparency in the financial system - in particular, by requiring certain financial derivatives to be traded in markets that are subject to government regulation and oversight. Long-term problems include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits - including significant budget shortages for state governments.

major industries

highly diversified, world leading, high-technology innovator, second largest industrial output in world; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications,...

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highly diversified, world leading, high-technology innovator, second largest industrial output in world; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining

gdp per capita

$48,300 (2011 est.)

gdp growth rate

1.8% (2011 est.)

gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 1.2% industry: 19.2% services: 79.6% (2011 est.)

unemployment rate

9% (2011 est.)

population below poverty line

15.1% (2010 est.)

gini index

45 (2007) country comparison to the world: 42 40.8 (1997)