The long form name of the US is the United States of America, and short forms are the United States, USA or US. The name America is the namesake of Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer, navigator, and cartographer who lived from 1454 to 1523.
Historical Highlights of the US
The following items are some of the historical highlights of the birth and growth of the US.
- BC 12,000 – Native American cultures flourish in North America.
- AD 1000 – The Viking, Leif Ericsson, lands in Newfoundland.
- 1492 – Christopher Columbus lands in the Bahamas.
- 1513 – Juan Ponce de Leon lands on the east coast of Florida.
- 1565 – The Spanish settle in St Augustine, Florida, the first permanent European Colony.
- 1607 – Jamestown, Virginia becomes the first English settlement.
- 1776 – The Declaration of Independence
- 1861–1865 – The American Civil War
- 1965 – Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states of the union.
The total area of the US is 9.8 million square kilometers, of which 9.1 km2 is land, and 0.7 km2 is water. This area does not include any of the US’s overseas territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands). The US is the third-largest country by size after Russia and Canada.
Land use categories are agriculture (44.5%), forest (33.3%), and other (22.2%). The highest point in the US is Mount McKinley at 6,190 m, and the lowest is Death Valley at 86 m below sea level. The country is rich in natural resources, such as: arable land, bauxite, coal, copper, gold, iron, lead, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, nickel, petroleum, phosphates, potash, rare earth elements, silver, timber, tungsten, uranium, and zinc. The US has 27% of the world’s coal reserves.
People and Society
The population of the US is 327 million according to 2017 estimates, and the following ethnic groups make up the population.
- White, 72.4%
- Hispanic, 17%
- Black, 12.6%
- Asian, 4.8%
- Native American Ancestry, 1.1%
- Other, 6.2%
- Two or more races, 2.9%
The religious makeup of the US population, according to 2014 estimates, is as follows: Protestant (46.5%), Roman Catholic (20.8%), Jewish (1.9%), Mormon (1.6%), other Christian (0.9%), Muslim (0.9%), Jehovah’s Witness (0.8%), Buddhist (0.7%), Hindu (0.7%), other (1.8%), unaffiliated (22.8%), do not know or refused (0.6%).
The US is a constitutional federal republic. Its capital is Washington, District of Columbia also known as Washington, DC. The administrative divisions are 50 states and the District of Columbia. Dependent areas are 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, and Wake Island.
The legal system at the federal level is common law based on English common law. Common law is also the basis for the legal systems of the states except for Louisiana; the Napoleonic civil code is the basis for Louisiana’s legal system. Citizenship of the US is granted by birth, descent, and naturalization.
There are three branches of the government. President Donald Trump heads the executive branch; he is both chief of state and head of government. The legislative branch consists of two bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators with 6-year terms. The House of Representatives has 435 members. Each representative has a 2-year term, and the population of each state determines the number of state representatives. The highest court of the judicial branch is the Supreme Court, which has a Chief Justice and eight Justices.
The US has a powerful economy, and US firms are noted for technological advances in aerospace, computers, medical, military equipment, and pharmaceuticals. In 2016, the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $18.62 trillion or $57,600 per capita. The GDP economy sectors were agriculture (0.9%), industry (18.9%), and services (80.2%).
In 2016, unemployment was 4.9%. Exports were $1,456 trillion, and major export partners were Canada (18.5%), Mexico (15.9%), China (8%), and Japan (4.4%). Imports were $2,208 trillion, and major import partners were China (21.1%), Mexico (13.4%), Canada (12.7%), Japan (6%), and Germany (5.2%). The national debt was $17.91 trillion.
Energy, Communications, and Transportation
In 2016, 100% of the US population was electrified. In 2015, electricity production was 4.088 million kWh, and electricity consumption was 3.911 trillion kWh. At the beginning of 2017, crude oil reserves were 36.52 billion barrels. In 2016, crude oil production was 8.853 million barrels/day, and crude oil imports were 7.85 million barrels/day. In 2015, natural gas production was 766.2 billion cubic meters while consumption was 773.2 billion cubic meters.
The US has 122 million fixed telephone line subscriptions, 217 million mobile cellular phones, and 247 million internet users.
There are 92 registered air carriers operating 6,817 registered aircraft in the US. They carried 798 million passengers and annual freight traffic of 37 billion mt-km in 2015. There are 13,513 airports in the country, 5,054 that have paved runways. There are also 5,287 heliports. The US has 293,564 km of rails and 6.6 million km of roadways. The US also has cargo ports, container ports, cruise ports, oil terminals and liquid natural gas terminals.