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The United States (U.S.) is a geographically large country located in North America. It is divided into fifty states, and five additional territories.
The U.S. currently has a population of about 327 Million citizens. It's largest city is New York City, which has about 8.6 Million people.
Quick Facts about the United States
- It was the first country to have a Constitution, which was ratified in 1788.
- Each year on July 4, the country celebrates Independence Day, a holiday that celebrates their declaration of freedom from England in 1776.
- The United States is the largest producer of corn in the world, with an annual production of nearly 367 tons.
- In 1969, the United States launched the first astronauts to land on the moon.
- The country also has the highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the world, at approximately $19 Trillion.
- Orville and Wilbur Wright, flew the first plane in North Carolina, a state in the United States.
- Many other inventors, such as Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and Henry Ford also lived in this country.
- The United States is composed of fifty states. The largest state is Alaska, and the smallest is Rhode Island.
The country has five distinct borders, which are the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Canada to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, Mexico to the southwest, and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.
The U.S. is the fourth largest country by area in the world. Its area is approximately 3.8 Million square miles, or 9.8 Million square kilometers.
Fun fact - At this size it is just about ninety-thousand square miles bigger than China, the fifth largest nation in the world by area.
The official language of the United States is English. The majority of the population speaks English, but as the country is one of the most diverse in the world, many people speak second or third languages too.
Spanish has become widely spoken over the past few decades, and many additional languages are represented here as well.
Due to the vastness of the country, the United States has what is called a Continental Climate. This is a combination of climates that change from region to region.
Because the country is so large and lies where it does between the equator and the north pole, it experiences weather and weather extremes unlike any other country on Earth.
The west and southwest are often scorched by heat waves in the summer, with temperatures commonly reaching 115 degrees or even higher.
In early to mid-Autumn, hurricanes and tropical depressions from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic often strike states and territories in the southeastern part of the country. Places like Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Puerto Rico have all been severely impacted by these storms in recent years.
Blizzards and hurricane-like cold air storms called Nor'easters visit the northern part of the country in winter. In addition, many areas east of the Great Lakes routinely receive several feet of snow. The name of this phenomenon is called 'lake effect snow'.
The United States is a Democratic Republic which is based on the U.S. Constitution, an important document that was ratified in June of 1788.
The government is comprised of three branches - a legislative branch, an executive branch, and a judicial branch.
In the legislative branch, citizens of each of the fifty states vote for representatives to a governing body called Congress. Each state will send a different number of representatives to a part of Congress called the House, based on the population of that state. In addition, the citizens of each state will also vote for two senators that will be sent to a part of Congress called the Senate. The legislative branch is responsible for creating bills for the President to sign into law.
For the executive branch, the citizens vote for a President and Vice President using a system called the electoral college. During a presidential election, each state is awarded a certain number of points based on its population. Whichever candidate receives the highest point total at the end of a presidential election becomes President. The President has many powers, including veto power over bills passed in the House and Senate, and ability to activate the military for defense and sometimes war.
Finally, the judicial branch consists of the judges and courts of the nation. The highest court is called the Supreme Court, which has nine justices that are nominated by the current President each time a vacancy opens. Each Supreme Court nominee then has to be approved by a majority of the Senate.
- New York City - New York City (N.Y.C.) is the largest city in the United States, and is sometimes referred to as "The Big Apple", the city's nickname. N.Y.C. has an incredible number of sites and attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, Broadway and more. It is also famous for its divine selection of pizza and bagel shops.
- Los Angeles - Los Angeles is home to over 4 Million people, and the metropolitan area has close to 18 Million people. L.A., as it is commonly referred to, is known worldwide for its film industry which dates back to the early 1900's. Famous attractions here include Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and the Chinese Theater.
- Chicago - Chicago is the nation's third largest city. In the 1800's, it became the major train hub of the nation. With its central geographic location, it was able to easily pass goods from east to west. There are many amazing attractions here today, including the Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Wilson Tower and the Art Institute of Chicago.
- Washington, D.C. - Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States. The D.C. in Washington, D.C. stands for District of Columbia. This district is unique because it is independent and not part of any state in the nation. There are many attractions here. The Smithsonian Museums house national treasures such as the Wright Brothers first airplane, the Wright Flyer. There are also the Washington Monument and Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials (where you can take a paddle boat out on the water). If you can find it, there is a great fish market close by.
- Houston - Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, and has boomed in large part due to its function in the oil industry. There are many oil refineries near the city that refine oil from nearby oil fields in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The Galleria in Houston is a fantastic area to visit, with an enormous shopping mall and beautiful buildings and restaurants. Downtown Houston also has an underground walkway system.
- New Orleans - New Orleans is a unique destination in the Deep South. It has a heavy French influence in its culture and architecture due to the French settlers and company that founded the city. Spiritual lore is thick in the city, with stories of voodoo, vampires, ghosts and other haunts having passed from generation to generation. The food is always delightful - be sure to try some alligator on a stick or some beignets if you have the pleasure of visiting.
- San Francisco - San Francisco was once the hub of the Gold Rush in the 1840's, but has now become the major technological hub of the world. Companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple all have their main headquarters in or near the city. San Francisco is also famous for their trolleys that move people along the hills in the heart of the city.
Click here to learn more about the cities found in the United States.
- Statue of Liberty - The Statue of Liberty is quite possibly the most iconic attraction and monument in the United States, and is located in New York City's harbor. The statue was partly a gift from France to the U.S., and the statue's construction was a joint effort between the two nations, celebrating democracy, liberty and freedom. Many immigrants from Europe and around the world passed by the statue as they entered the United States for the first time.
- St. Louis Arch - The St. Louis Arch is a 630 foot tall monument located in St. Louis, a city near the center of the United States. The Arch was completed in 1965 and it symbolizes St. Louis' status as the Gateway to the West. Below the Arch is an impressive historical museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the city and construction of the monument.
- Niagara Falls - The Niagara Falls are a large waterfall complex where water from Lake Erie flows to Lake Ontario through a small channel that separates the United States and Canada. Visitors can view the falls from both the U.S. side or the Canadian side. Niagara Falls is also the name of the city where they are located, and is approximately 30 minutes north of Buffalo, New York. The city can be a little difficult to access, but the spectacular view is well worth the trouble.
- Grand Canyon - The Grand Canyon is another natural wonder found in the United States, and is located in the northwest part of Arizona. The Grand Canyon was formed as the Colorado River carved out the canyons over millions of years. Tourists can see the Grand Canyon from various viewing points, and can even hike trails from the top to the bottom of the canyon.
- Golden Gate Bridge - The Golden Gate Bridge is a famous art deco bridge that spans across the San Francisco Bay, allowing travelers to pass from San Francisco towards Sacramento and other parts of Northern California. It is one of the most photographed bridges in the world, and is well known for being inundated by fog.
- Disney World - Disney World is the second theme park Walt Disney Corporation built, and is located in Orlando, Florida. The park spans across 30,000 acres, and consists of four smaller parks and a number of hotels. Several iconic buildings are associated with the park, including Cinderella's castle and EPCOT's Spaceship Earth.
- National Mall - The National Mall is a large, long park set near the heart of Washington D.C. The Lincoln Memorial is set at one end of the park, and the U.S. Capitol Building is at the other end. The Washington Monument is set near the middle of the elongated park. Eleven of the Smithsonian Museums are situated around the edges of the Mall as well.
Click here to learn more about attractions that can be found in the United States.
- Interstate 5 - Interstate 5 is a north to south interstate that runs along the west coast of the United States. It passes through or near major population centers such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
- Interstate 95 - Interstate 95 is also a north to south interstate, but runs along the eastern coast through some of the oldest cities in the United States.
- Interstate 90 - Interstate 90 is the longest interstate in the United States. It travels along states that are close to the Canadian border. It also spans the entire country, from east to west coast.
- Interstate 10 - Interstate 10 is the southernmost east to west interstate. Along this route, travelers can see the colorful city of New Orleans, the saguaro cacti of Arizona, and the Santa Monica Pier.
Click here to learn more about the interstates found in the United States.