The United States of America (commonly called the United States, the U.S., the USA, America, and the States) 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 314 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.
Paleoindians migrated from Asia to what is now the United States mainland around 15,000 years ago. The descendent and isolated Native American population was greatly reduced by European contact, primarily by disease broght by explorers and traders. European colonization occurred, beginning about 1600, chiefly from England. The United States emerged from thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard, which developed their own economies and democratic political systems. Patriots protested at British intrusions into taxation policies that Americans considered their rights, leading to war in 1775. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 states to the Continental Congress unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence, which established the United States of America. The new nation, in alliance with France, defeated Britain in the American Revolution It was the first successful war of independence against a European empire. The current United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with a stronger central government. The Bill of Rights, consisting of ten constitutional amendments guaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.
The War of 1812, declared against the British Empire for various grievances, put an end to attempts to create an independent Native American nation in the midwest, allowing the United States to embark on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century. It displaced native tribes, acquiring the Louisiana territory from France and Florida from Spain; annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845, leading to war in which it conquered a large area of Mexico; and purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. During the early territorial expansion, significant disputes between the agrarian slave-holding South and industrial North led to the American Civil War. The North's victory reestablished the Union, leading to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and ending legalized slavery in the United States. The Plains Indian Wars relocated remaining tribes onto confined reservations, a Congressional Resolution annexed the Republic of Hawaii, then the treaty ending the Spanish-American War ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, as well as the Philippines (which later became independent). 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 U.S. economy is 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 country accounts for 41% of global military spending, and is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world.
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Famous quotes containing the words united states, states and/or united:
“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth. A Galileo could no more be elected President of the United States than he could be elected Pope of Rome. Both posts are reserved for men favored by God with an extraordinary genius for swathing the bitter facts of life in bandages of soft illusion.”
—H.L. (Henry Lewis)
“The moment a mere numerical superiority by either states or voters in this country proceeds to ignore the needs and desires of the minority, and for their own selfish purpose or advancement, hamper or oppress that minority, or debar them in any way from equal privileges and equal rightsthat moment will mark the failure of our constitutional system.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945)
“In no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States, and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned.”
—Alexis de Tocqueville (18051859)