Fast Facts About United States
OFFICIAL NAME: United States of America
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitution-based federal republic
CAPITAL: Washington, D.C.
LANGUAGES: English, Spanish (no official national language)
MONEY: U.S. dollar
AREA: 3,794,083 square miles (9,826,630 square kilometers)
MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGES: Rocky Mountains, Appalachian Mountains
MAJOR RIVERS: Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado
The United States of America is the world’s third largest country in size and nearly the third largest in terms of population. Located in North America, the country is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Along the northern border is Canada and the southern border is Mexico. There are 50 states and the District of Columbia.
More than twice the size of the European Union, the United States has high mountains in the West and a vast central plain. The lowest point in the country is in Death Valley which is at -282 feet (-86 meters) and the highest peak is Denali (Mt. McKinley) at 20,320 feet (6,198 meters).
People and Culture
Throughout its history, the United States has been a nation of immigrants. The population is diverse with people from all over the world seeking refuge and a better way of life.
The country is divided into six regions: New England, the mid-Atlantic, the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and the West. European settlers came to New England in search of religious freedom. These states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
The mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the city of Washington, D.C. These industrial areas attracted millions of European immigrants and gave rise to some of the East Coast’s largest cities: New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.
The South includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, all of which struggled after the Civil War, which lasted from 1860-1865.
The Midwest is home to the country’s agricultural base and is called the “nation’s breadbasket.” The region comprises the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The Southwest is a beautiful stark landscape of prairie and desert. The states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas are considered the Southwest and are home to some of the world’s great natural marvels, including the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns.
The American West, home of rolling plains and the cowboy, is a symbol of the pioneering spirit of the United States. The West is diverse, ranging from endless wilderness to barren desert, coral reefs to Arctic tundra, Hollywood to Yellowstone. The states of the West include Alaska, Colorado, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
The landscape varies across the large country from tropical beaches in Florida to peaks in the Rocky Mountains, from rolling prairie lands and barren deserts in the West to dense wilderness areas in the Northeast and Northwest. Interspersed throughout are the Great Lakes, the Grand Canyon, the majestic Yosemite Valley, and the mighty Mississippi River.
The wildlife is as diverse as the landscape. Mammals such as bison once roamed freely across the plains, but now live only in preserves. Black bears, grizzlies, and polar bears are the largest carnivores. There are over 20,000 flower species and most came from Europe. There are more than 400 areas which are protected and maintained by the National Park Service, and many other parks in each state.
The bald eagle is the national bird and symbol of the United States and is a protected species.
Government and Economy
Citizens over the age of 18 years old vote to elect the President and Vice President of United States every four years. The president lives in the White House in the capital city of Washington, D.C.
There are two houses of Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are 100 senators, two from each of the 50 states and each serves a six-year term. There are 435 representatives who must be elected every two years.
The Supreme Court is made up of nine justices who are picked by the president and must be approved by Congress.
For the first time in the nation’s history an African American, Barack Obama, was elected President of the United States in 2008. He was reelected for a second term in 2012.
Advances in the past hundred years have established America as a world leader economically, militarily, and technologically. America has the largest coal reserves in the world.
For centuries native peoples lived across the vast expanse that would become the United States. In the early 17th century, settlers moved from Europe to the New World, established colonies, and displaced the native peoples.
The settlers fought for their independence from Britain in the late 18th century and formed a union of states based on a new constitution. The nation continued to expand westward and although the country is a relatively young nation, it has become a global power since declaring independence from Britain on July 4, 1776.