国度
北美洲中部国家
No. 3
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目录
  国名
  美利坚合众国(The United States of America)。united: 联合,States: 州, America: 美洲; 缩写:USA(或US)
  别名:America,或者 United States。
  
  绰号
  美国的绰号叫“山姆大叔” 。传说1812年英美战争期间,纽约特罗伊城商人山姆·威尔逊(1766.9.13--1854.7.31)在供应军队牛肉的桶上写有“u.s.”,表示这是美国财产。这恰与他的昵称“山姆大叔” ("Uncle Sam") 的缩写 ("u.s.") 相同,于是人们便戏称这些带有 "u.s."标记的物资都是“山姆大叔”的。后来,“山姆大叔”就逐渐成了美国的绰号。十九世纪三十年代,美国的漫画家又将“山姆大叔”画成一个头戴星条高帽、蓄着山羊胡须的白发瘦高老人。1961年美国国会通过决议,正式承认“山姆大叔”为美国的象征。
  
  国旗
  美国国旗为星条旗。呈横长方形,长与宽之比为19:10。主体由13道红、白相间的宽条组成,7道红条,6道白条;旗面左上角为蓝色长方形,其中分9排横列着50颗白色五角星。红色象征强大和勇气,白色代表纯洁和清白,蓝色象征警惕、坚韧不拔和正义。13道宽条代表最早发动独立战争并取得胜利的13个州,50颗五角星代表美利坚合众国的州数。1818年美国国会通过法案,国旗上的红白宽条固定为13道,五角星数目应与合众国州数一致。每增加一个州,国旗上就增加一颗星,一般在新州加入后的第二年7月4日执行。至今国旗上已增至50颗星,代表美国的50州。每年6月14日为“美国国旗制定纪念日”。
  
  国徽
  美国国徽主体为一只胸前带有盾形图案的白头海雕(秃鹰),美国的国鸟,它是力量、勇气、自由和不朽的象征。盾面上半部为蓝色横长方形,下半部为红、白相间的竖条,其寓意同国旗。鹰之上的顶冠象征在世界的主权国家中又诞生一个新的独立国家——美利坚合众国;顶冠内有13颗白色五角星,代表美国最初的13个州。鹰的两爪分别抓着橄榄枝和箭,象征和平和武力。鹰嘴叼着的黄色绶带上用拉丁文写着“合众为一”,意为美利坚合众国由很多州组成,是一个完整的国家。
  
  国歌
  《星条旗永不落》(The Star-Spangled Banner)。曾译《星条旗之歌》,诞生在美国巴尔的摩。歌词是一位名叫弗朗西斯·斯科特·基的美国律师在英美战争时,透过战场上的硝烟看到星条旗经过英军炮轰后仍在要塞上空高高飘扬时感慨万分而即景写下的。曲谱是“进行曲之王”苏萨的著名代表作。1931年被美国国会正式定为国歌。
  
  国花
  玫瑰花。象征着美丽、芬芳、热忱和爱情。1985年经参议院通过定为国花。
  
  国石
  蓝宝石
  
  国鸟
  白头海雕(秃鹰)。美国是世界上最先确定国鸟的国家。白头雕最早出现于美国的旗帜上是在独立战争期间。1776年7月4日第二次大陆会议发表了《独立宣言》并决定新生的美国必须有一个特殊的国徽。1782年6月20日,美国国会通过决议,把北美洲特有的白头海雕作为美国的国鸟,并把这种鸟作为国徽图案的主体。白头雕外观美丽、性情凶猛,头上有丰满的羽毛,它的最大特点是两头白,即白头白尾。它代表着勇猛、力量和胜利。
  
  独立
  1776年7月4日。1783年9月3日承认独立。
  
  国庆日
  7月4日
  
  国土面积
  9,826,630平方公里(其中陆地面积915.8960万平方公里),本土东西长4500公里,南北宽2700公里,海岸线长22680公里。
  
  人口
  3亿零315万(2008年1月1日,世界第3)。人口密度31人每平方公里(世界第144名)。白人占75%,拉美裔占12.5%,黑人占12.3%,亚裔占3.6%,华人约243万,占0.9%,多已入美国籍(2000年美人口普查数据)。美国黑人、拉美裔和亚裔等少数族裔总人口已达到1.007亿人(截至2006年7月)。通用英语。56%的居民信奉基督教新教,28%信奉天主教,2%信奉犹太教,信奉其他宗教的占4%,不属于任何教派的占10%。
  
  语言
  没有法定官方语言。英语是事实上的国家语言。有27个州已经通过地方法律确保英语的官方地位;有3个州承认其他语言与英语有平行地位:路易斯安那州的法语,夏威夷州的夏威夷语和新墨西哥州的西班牙语。使用人口超过100万人的语言包括英语(2亿1480万)、西班牙语(2970万)、汉语(220万)、法语(140万)、塔加洛语(130万)、越南语(110万)、德语(110万)。除了这些主要语言外,还有其他336种语言在美国被使用,其中有176种是当地土产的语言。
  
  宗教
  美国保障宗教自由的权利,政府实行政教分离制度,不支持也不反对任何一种宗教。但宗教在美国政治中相当活跃。大多数美国总统都宣称是基督教新教信徒,只有建国初期的几位总统是自然神论者,另有一人是天主教徒。
  
  格言
  E Pluribus Unum (From Many,One,拉丁文:合众为一,1776年- )
  In God We Trust (英文:我们信仰上帝,1956年- )
  
  首都
  华盛顿哥伦比亚特区(Washington D.C.)。人口581,530(2006年)。
  
  城市
  美国有著数十个主要城市,大多数的人口都居住在这些城市里,这些城市也形塑了美国的文化、传统、和经济。在2004年,全美有251个超过了十万人口的都市,9个超过一百万人口的大都市,50个超过了一百万人口的大都会。
  
  最大城市纽约(New York City),美国第一大都市和第一大商港,全世界金融中心之一。纽约大都会人口18,976,457。
  
  其他主要城市有洛杉矶(Los Angeles)、芝加哥(Chicago)、休斯敦(Houston)、费城 (Philadelphia)、旧金山(San Francisco)、底特律(Detroit)、亚特兰大(Atlanta)、波士顿(Boston)、达拉斯(Dallas)、巴尔的摩(baltimore)、菲尼克斯(Phoenix)、克利夫兰(Cleveland)、新奥尔良(New Orleans)、西雅图(Seattle)、丹佛
  (Denver)、圣路易斯(St.Louis)、明尼阿波利斯(Minneapolis)、火奴鲁鲁(Honolulu)、布法罗(Buffalo)、盐湖城(Salt Lake City)、朱诺(Juneau)。
  
  行政区划
  全国分十大地区:新英格兰地区、中央地区、中大西洋地区、西南地区、阿巴拉契亚山地区、高山地区、东南地区、太平洋沿岸地区、大湖地区和阿拉斯加与夏威夷;
  全国共分50个州和1个特区(华盛顿哥伦比亚特区),有3042个县或郡(county,路易斯安那州的郡是parish);
  联邦领地包括波多黎各自由联邦和北马里亚纳;
  海外领地中有人居住的为:美属萨摩亚、关岛、中途岛、美属维尔京群岛;
  无人居住的为:贝克岛、豪兰岛、贾维斯岛、约翰斯顿岛、金曼礁、纳弗沙岛、帕尔米尔岛、威克岛;
  50个州分别为:亚拉巴马州、阿拉斯加州、亚利桑那州、阿肯色州、加利福尼亚州、科罗拉多州、康涅狄格州、特拉华州、佛罗里达州、佐治亚州、夏威夷州、爱达荷州、伊利诺伊州、印第安纳州、艾奥瓦州、堪萨斯州、肯塔基州、路易斯安那州、缅因州、马里兰州、马萨诸塞州、密歇根州、明尼苏达州、密西西比州、密苏里州、蒙大拿州、内布拉斯加州、内华达州、新罕布什尔州、新泽西州、新墨西哥州、纽约州、北卡罗来纳州、北达科他州、俄亥俄州、俄克拉何马州、俄勒冈州、宾夕法尼亚州、罗得岛州、南卡罗来纳州、南达科他州、田纳西州、得克萨斯州、犹他州、佛蒙特州、弗吉尼亚州、华盛顿州、西弗吉尼亚州、威斯康星州、怀俄明州。
  
  国家政要
  美国43任(第55届)总统乔治·沃克·布什(George Walker Bush),2001年1月20日宣誓就职,2004年11月再次当选;副总统迪克·切尼(Dick Cheney),2004年11月再次当选;国务卿康多莉扎·赖斯(Condoleezza Rice),2005年1月宣誓就职;国防部长罗伯特·盖茨(Robert Gates),2006年12月任职;众议院议长南希· 佩洛西(Nancy Pelosi),2007年1月正式就职;财政部长亨利·保尔森(Henry Paulson),2006年7月就职;首席大法官约翰·罗伯茨(John G. Roberts Jr),2005年9月宣誓就职。
  
  货币
  美元(United States Dollar,USD)。美元“$”,美分“¢”。
  
  时间
  美国把自东海岸至西海岸4517公里的本土地段和两个海外州共划分为六个时区 UTC-5至-10,夏时制为 UTC-4至-10。
  1、东部时区 Eastern Time(EST),西五区 UTC-5
  2、中部时区 Central Time(CST),西六区 UTC-6
  3、山地时区 Mountain Time(MST) ,西七区 UTC-7
  4、太平洋时区 Pacific Time(PST),西八区 UTC-8
  5、阿拉斯加时区 Alaska Time(AKST),西九区 UTC-9
  6、夏威夷时区 Hawaii Time(HST),西十区 UTC-10
  
  新闻出版
  美国报业系统庞大,2004年全国发行量最大的十家英文日报如下:《今日美国》、《华尔街日报》、《纽约时报》、《洛杉矶时报》、《华盛顿邮报》、《纽约每日新闻》、《纽约邮报》、《芝加哥论坛报》、《每日新闻》和《休斯敦纪事》。美国最有影响的三大报纸为《纽约时报》、《洛杉矶时报》和《华盛顿邮报》。美联社是美国最大的通讯社,合众国际社是美国第二大通讯社。美国有电视台1000多家,其中商业电视台约960家,教育电视台约320家;有线电视网7900余家。全国共有广播电台8807家,对外广播电台19家。最大的两家对外广播机构为美国之音和美国广播电视网,均属官方电台。美国最大的几家全国性广播网是全国广播公司(NBC)、哥伦比亚广播公司(CBS)、美国广播公司(ABC)、有线新闻广播公司(CNN)和福克斯(FOX)等。
  
  国际域名缩写
  .us .gov .mil .edu
  
  长途电话代码
  +1
  
  二、地理
  美国位于北美洲中部,领土还包括北美洲西北部的阿拉斯加和太平洋中部的夏威夷群岛。北与加拿大接壤,南靠墨西哥湾,西临太平洋,东濒大西洋。海岸线22680公里。大部分地区属于大陆性气候,南部属亚热带气候。中北部平原温差很大,芝加哥1月平均气温-3℃,7月24℃;墨西哥湾沿岸1月平均气温11℃,7月28℃。
  
  气候
  美国几乎有着世界上所有的气候类型,在主要农业地带少有严重的干旱发生、洪水泛滥也并不常见,并且有着温和而又能取得足够降雨量的气温。
  
  影响美国气候的主要是北极气流,每年从太平洋带来了大规模的低气压,这些低气压在通过内华达山脉、洛矶山脉、和喀斯喀特山脉时夹带了大量水分,当这些气压到达中部大平原时便能进行重组,导致主要的气团相遇而带来激烈的大雷雨,尤其是在春季和夏季。有时这些暴雨可能与其他的低气压会合,继续前往东海岸和大西洋,并会演变为更激烈的东北风暴(Nor'easter),在美国东北的中大西洋区域和新英格兰形成广泛而沉重的降雪。大平原广阔无比的草原也形成了许多世界上最极端的气候转变现象。
  
  大脸盆地区和哥伦比亚河高原则是干旱而极少降雨的地区,最干旱时平均降雨量少于15英寸(38厘米)。美国西南部是干旱的沙漠,夏季时最热的数个礼拜温度超过华氏100度(摄氏38度)。西南部和大脸盆地区也会受到来自加利福尼亚湾的季风影响,偶尔会带来少见的大雨。加利福尼亚州大多数区域都属于地中海式气候,有时会在每年的10月至隔年的4月引发强烈暴雨,而其他月份几乎全无降雨。濒临太平洋的西北方地区则终年豪雨不断,但在冬季和春季降雨量最大。西部山脉吸收了充足的湿气,降雨量和降雪都相当沉重。喀斯喀特山脉是世界上降雪量最多的地方之一,但海拔较低的沿海地区降雪不多。
  
  水系
  从总体上可分为三大水系:凡位于落基山以东的注入大西洋的河流都称为大西洋水系,主要有密西西比河、康涅狄格河和赫得森河。其中密西西比河全长6020公里,居世界第三位。凡注入太平洋的河流称太平洋水系。主要有科罗拉多河、哥伦比亚河、育空河等。北美洲中东部的大湖群。包括苏必利尔湖、密歇根湖、休伦湖、伊利湖和安大略湖,总面积24.5万平方公里,为世界最大的淡水水域,素有“北美地中海”之称,其中密歇根湖属美国,其余4湖为美国和加拿大共有。苏必利尔湖为世界最大的淡水湖,面积在世界湖泊中仅次于里海而居世界第二位。
  
  生物
  美国有超过17,000种本土的植物和树种,光是加利福尼亚州就有5,000种,从热带地区至北极都有植物分布,美国的植物是世界上最多样化的,同时,数千种非本土的外来物种有时也会影响到本土的动植物。美国本土有超过400种哺乳类、700种鸟类、500种爬虫类和两栖类、以及90,000种已经被发现的昆虫。许多植物和动物都仅限于它们的分部区域,有些则濒临绝种的危险。
  
  三、历史
  殖民时期以前(1607以前)
  在两万多年前,有一批来自亚洲的流浪者,经由北美到中南美洲,这些人就是印第安人的祖先。当哥伦布发现新大陆时,居住在美洲的印第安人, 约有2,000万,其中有大约100万人住在现在的加拿大和美国中北部, 其余绝大部分住在现在的墨西哥和美国南部。 大约1万年前,又有另一批亚洲人, 移居到北美北部,这是后来的爱斯基摩人。而最早到美洲的白种人大概是维京人,他们是一群喜好冒险的捕渔人,有人认为他们在1,000年前,曾到过北美东海岸。
  
  殖民时期(1607-1753)
  1607年,一个约一百人的殖民团体, 在乞沙比克海滩建立了詹姆士镇,这是英国在北美所建的第一个永久性殖民地, 在以后150年中,陆续涌来了许多的殖民者,定居于沿岸地区,其中大部分来自英国,也有一部分来自法国、德国、荷兰、爱尔兰和其他国家。18世纪中叶,13个英国殖民地逐渐形成, 他们在英国的最高主权下有各自的政府和议会。这13个殖民区因气候和地理环境的差异,造成了各地经济形态、政治制度与观念上的差别。
  
  独立运动(1754-1783)
  18世纪中叶, 英国在美洲的殖民地与英国之间, 已有了裂痕。 殖民地的扩张, 使他们产生某种自觉, 自觉到英国的迫害, 而萌生独立的念头。 1774年, 来自12州的代表, 聚集在费城, 召开所谓第一次大陆会议, 希望能寻出一条合理的途径, 与英国和平解决问题, 然而英王却坚持殖民地必须无条件臣服于英王, 并接受处分。 1775年, 在麻州点燃战火, 5月, 召开第二次大陆会议, 坚定了战争与独立的决心, 并发表有名的独立宣言, 提出充分的理由来打这场仗, 这也是最后致胜的要素。 1781年, 美军赢得决定性的胜利, 1783年, 美英签定巴黎条约, 结束了独立战争。
  
  组成新政府(1784-1819)
  革命的成功, 使美国人民有了以立法形式表达他们政治观念的机会。 1787年, 在费城举行联邦会议, 会中华盛顿被推为主席, 他们采取一项原则, 即中央的权力是一般性的, 但必须有审慎的规定和说明, 同时, 他们也接受一项事实, 那就是全国性政府必须有税收、铸造货币、调整商业、宣战及缔结条约的权力。 此外, 为了防止中央权力过大, 而采取孟德斯鸠的均权政治学说, 即政府中设置三个平等合作与制衡的部门, 即立法、行 政、司法三种权力相互调和, 制衡而不使任何一权占控制地位。
  
  向西扩张(1820-1849)
  19世纪初期, 数以千计的人, 越过阿帕拉契山, 向西移动, 有些开拓者, 移居到美国的边界, 甚至深入属于墨西哥的领地、以及介于阿拉斯加与加利福尼亚的俄勒冈。 开拓者勇敢、勤奋地向西寻求更好的生活。
  
  南北冲突(1850-1869)
  引起内战的原因, 不单是经济上、政治上、军事上的问题, 还包括了思想上的冲突。 内战暴露了美国的弱点。 对这个国家的存在, 作了一番考验。 经过了这次考验, 美国才步向一个中央集权化之现代国家的坦途。 南北之间, 为奴隶问题而起争执, 南方在全国政治上的主要方针, 就在保护和扩大"棉花与奴隶"制度所代表的利益;而北部各州, 主要是制造业、商业和 金融的中心, 这些生产无需依赖奴隶, 这种经济上和政治上的冲突都是由来已久的。 1860年代初期, 11个南方的州脱离联邦, 另组政府, 北方则表示, 为了统一将不惜付出任何代价。 1861年, 内战爆发了, 这场美国人面对面的流血战, 打了四年, 南方遭到严重的破坏, 而且留下深深的伤痕。 1865年, 北方战胜了, 这项胜利不但显示美国恢复统一, 而且, 从此全国各地不再施行奴隶制度。
  
  工业化与改革(1870-1929)
  19世纪初期, 美国开始工业化, 而内战之后, 则步入成熟阶段。 在从内战至第一次世界大战的不到50年时间内, 她从一个农村化的共和国变成了城市化的国家。 机器代替了手工,产品大量增加。 全国性的铁道网, 增进了货品流通。 应大众的需要, 许多新发明应市了。 银行业提供贷款, 促成工商业经营的扩大。 故从1890到1917年的近30年间被称为所谓"进步时期", 1914 年, 世界大战爆发, 1917年,美国终于被卷入大战漩涡中, 并且在世界上尝试扮演新的角色。
  
  第二次世界大战(1930-1959)
  经济大恐慌, 影响的不只是美国, 世界各国都受到它的打击, 经济大恐慌, 使上百万的工人失业, 大批的农人被迫放弃耕地, 工厂商店关门, 银行倒闭,一片萧条。 1932年, 罗斯福当选总统, 他主张政府应拿出行动来结束经济大恐慌, 新政府虽然解决了许多的困难, 但美国的经济还是要到二次大战, 才苏醒起来。 第二次世界大战之后, 美苏两国, 关系日趋恶化, 分别在军事、政治、经济、宣传各方面, 加紧准备, 一如战时, 这种状态, 被称为“冷战”。
  
  70年代中期, 经济一度复苏, 但到70年代未期, 又出现通货膨胀。 1976年, 美国建国200周年, 全国举行各项庆祝活动。1981年4月12日, 美国成功地发射“哥伦比亚号”航天飞机, 将人类又带入另一个太空新纪元。 1985年, 里根连任总统, 在日新月异的人类发展史中,美国将展开新的一页。
  
  四、政治
  政府
  总统内阁制。总统是国家元首、政府首脑兼武装部队总司令。总统的行政命令与法律有同等效力。总统通过间接选举产生,任期四年。政府内阁由各部部长和总统指定的其他成员组成。内阁实际上只起总统助手和顾问团的作用,没有集体决策的权力。2001年1月20日,乔治·沃克·布什宣誓就任总统,2005年1月20日开始第二任期。副总统理查德·布鲁斯·切尼(Richard Bruce Cheney),国务卿康多莉扎·赖斯(Condoleezza Rice)。
  
  宪法
  1776年7月4日制定了宪法性文件《联邦条例》。1787年5月制定了宪法草案,1789年3月第一届国会宣布生效。它是世界上第一部作为独立、统一国家的成文宪法。两个世纪以来,共制定了27条宪法修正案。重要的修改有:1791年9月由国会通过的包括保证信仰、言论、出版自由与和平集会权利在内的宪法前10条修正案,后通称“民权法案”(或“权利法案”);1865年和1870年通过的关于废除奴隶制度和承认黑人公民权利的第13条和15条修正案;1951年通过的规定总统如不能行使职权由副总统升任总统的第25条修正案。宪法的主要内容是建立联邦制的国家,各州拥有较大的自主权,包括立法权;实行三权分立的政治体制,立法、行政、司法三部门鼎立,并相互制约。
  
  国会
  国会是最高立法机构,由参、众两院组成。两院议员由各州选民直接选举产生。参议员每州2名,共100名,任期6年,每两年改选1/3。众议员按各州的人口比例分配名额选出,共435名,任期两年,期满全部改选。两院议员均可连任,任期不限。参众议员均系专职,不得兼任政府职务。本届国会(第107届)于2000年11月7日与总统大选同时通过选举产生。参议院三分之一席位(34席)和众议院全部435个席位经过改选。共和党和民主党在新一届国会参、众两院的席位对比分别变成50:50和221:212(众院中另两席为独立人士)。由于副总统切尼依法兼任参议长,在参院拥有可打破平衡的投票权,因此共和党仍掌握对两院的控制权。参议院临时议长斯特罗姆·瑟蒙德(Strom Thurmond),多数党(共和党)领袖特伦特·洛特(Trent Lott),少数党(民主党)领袖托马斯·达施勒(Thomas Daschle)。众议院议长丹尼斯·哈斯特德(Dennis Hastert),多数党(共和党)领袖理查德·阿米(Richard Armey),少数党(民主党)领袖理查德·格普哈特(Richard Gephardt)。
  
  司法机构
  设联邦最高法院、联邦法院、州法院及一些特别法院。联邦最高法院由首席大法官和8名大法官组成,终身任职。联邦最高法院有权宣布联邦和各州的任何法律无效。现任首席大法官威廉·伦奎斯特(William Rehnquist)。
  
  政党
  美国有多个党派,但在国内政治及社会生活中起重大作用的只有共和党和民主党。  
  (1)共和党(Republican Party):成立于1854年。1861年林肯就任总统,共和党首次执政。此后至1933年的70多年中,除16年外,共和党一直主政白宫。1933年至2001年之间,曾有艾森豪威尔(1953年1月至1961年1月),尼克松、福特(1969年1月至1977年1月),里根(1981年1月至1989年1月),布什(1989年1月至1993年1月)执政。该党领袖为总统或落选总统候选人,主席现为吉姆·吉尔摩(Jim Gilmore)。一般而言,在总统大选中投票给该党候选人的选民即为其党员。   (2)民主党(Democratic Party):1791年成立,当时称共和党。1794年改称民主共和党,1828年改为民主党。1861年南北战争前夕,民主党内部分裂,该党的南方奴隶主策划叛乱。南北战争结束后,民主党在野24年。1885年克利夫兰当选总统。此后该党又大部分时间在野。1933年开始,民主党人罗斯福、杜鲁门、肯尼迪、约翰逊、卡特、克林顿先后当选总统执政。该党领袖为总统或落选总统候选人,主席现为特里·麦考利夫(Terry McAuliffe)。一般而言,其党员是大选中投民主党候选人票的选民。  
  (3)第三党有绿党(Green Party)和改革党(Reform Party)等。
  
  五、军事
  总统兼任武装部队总司令,掌握最高指挥权。进攻性战略武器和核武器的使用权集中控制在总统手中。国家军事指挥系统由国家安全委员会、国防部及参谋长联席会议组成。国家安全委员会是最高决策机构,由总统领导,成员有副总统、国务卿、财政部长、国防部长和总统国家安全事务助理,参联会主席作为军事顾问、中情局长作为情报顾问列席。国防部是总统指挥全军的办事机构。参联会既是总统、国防部长和国家安全委员会的军事咨询机构,又是向各联合司令部发布总统和国防部长命令的军事指挥机关。参联会和三军参谋部负责拟定作战计划并具体实施作战指挥。2001年“9·11”事件后,美国进一步调整军事战略,加快建立由核与非核进攻性打击系统、导弹防御系统和能迅速应付恐怖威胁的国防基础设施构成的“新三位一体”战略力量组合。美军曾在南北战争、两次世界大战以及1948年至1973年期间实行过义务兵役制。1973年,时任总统尼克松废除义务兵役制后,美军一直实行志愿兵役制至今。
  
  美国是世界第一军事大国,美军现役部队人数约140万人,其中陆军50万人,海军和空军各35万人,海军陆战队18万人。陆军分为10个战斗师和4个独立旅及装甲骑兵团;海军编制为5个舰队,共12个航母战斗群、12个两栖戒备大队、57艘攻击潜艇、116艘战舰和10个舰载机联队;空军编制为20个飞行联队(每个联队约72架战机);海军陆战队编制为3个师和3个勤务支援大队,装备3个飞行联队(约21个中队)。美国在世界数十个国家和地区设有数百处军事基地,海外驻军约为28.78万人。美国的海外的军事基地大致划分为欧洲、亚太与印度洋、中东与北非以及美洲四大战略区。2004年8月,布什总统宣布,美国将在未来的10年内把驻欧洲和亚洲的军队削减6万至7万人 。2007年1月,美国国防部长罗伯特·盖茨说,为了“反恐战争”的需要,他计划在未来5年内将美军现役部队的人数增加9.2万人 。美军在全球设有五大战区司令部,分别是北方司令部、太平洋司令部、中央司令部、欧洲司令部和南方司令部,分别负责全球几大区域的事务。2007年2月,布什总统批准军方关于组建一个专门负责非洲事务的司令部的计划。
  
  六、经济
  GDP:132216.85亿美元 (列世界第一位)
  人均GDP: 43995美元 (2007年统计值)
  
  美国有高度发达的现代市场经济,其国内生产总值和对外贸易额均居世界首位。20世纪90年代,以信息、生物技术产业为代表的新经济蓬勃发展,受此推动,美经济经历了长达十年的增长期。2001年美经济陷入短暂衰退,之后逐步复苏。2004年美国经济复苏步伐加快,GDP全年增长4.4%。2004财年美国联邦财政赤字继续扩大,达4123亿美元。2004年外贸逆差为6171亿美元,创历史最高。
  
  美国的经济体系兼有资本主义和混合经济的特征。在这个体系内,企业和私营机构做主要的微观经济决策,政府在国内经济生活中的角色较为次要;然而,各级政府的总和却占GDP的36%;在发达国家中,美国的社会福利网相对较小,政府对商业的管制也低于其他发达国家。
  
  在全国各地区,经济活动重心不一。例如:纽约市是金融、出版、广播和广告等行业的中心;洛杉矶是电影和电视节目制作中心;旧金山湾区和太平洋沿岸西北地区是技术开发中心;中西部是制造业和重工业中心,底特律是著名的汽车城,芝加哥是该地区的金融和商业中心;东南部以医药研究、旅游业和建材业为主要产业,并且由于其薪资成本低于其他地区,因此持续的吸引制造业的投资。
  
  美国的服务业占最大比重,全国四分之三的劳力从事服务业。美国拥有丰富的矿产资源,包括了黄金、石油和铀,然而许多能源的供应都依赖于外国进口。美国是全球最大的农业出口国之一,主要农产品包括了玉米、小麦、糖和烟草,中西部大平原地区惊人的农业产量使其被誉为“世界粮仓”。美国工业产品主要包括了汽车、飞机和电子产品。美国也有发达的旅游业,排名世界第三。美国也是飞机、钢铁、军火和电子器材的主要输出国。
  
  美国最大的贸易伙伴是毗邻的加拿大(19%),中国(12%)、墨西哥(11%)和日本(8%)紧随其后,每天大约有价值高达11亿美元的产品流经美加的国界。美国经济被认为是世界上最大也是最重要的经济体。美国经济高度发达,全球多个国家的货币与美元挂钩,而美国的证券市场被认为是世界经济的晴雨表。
  
  自从1980年代隆纳·里根的总统任期以来,美国增加了对新自由主义经济政策的运用,减少政府对经济的干预、并减少福利制度的规模,抛弃了自经济大恐慌以来长期实行的、偏向干涉主义的凯恩斯派经济政策。也因此,美国政府在社会福利方面提供的服务比其他工业化国家都要少,降低国内的税赋,并更依赖于自由市场和私营的慈善机构上。
  
  资源
  自然资源丰富。煤、石油、天然气、铁矿石、钾盐、磷酸盐、硫磺等矿物储量均居世界前列。其他矿物有铜、铅、钼、铀、铝矾土、金、汞、镍、碳酸钾、银、钨、锌、铝、铋等。战略矿物资源钛、锰、钴、铬等主要靠进口。探明煤储量35,966亿吨。探明原油储量270亿桶。探明天然气储量56,034亿立方米。森林面积约44亿亩,覆盖率达33%。
    
  交通运输
  美国拥有完整而便捷的交通运输网络,运输工具和手段多种多样。2000至2003年产值分别为3137亿、3061亿、3104亿及3178亿美元。与运输业相关的产品和服务约占美经济总量的3%,吸纳了1/8的就业。
  
  由于汽车产业在美国的发展相当早(比较起其他西方国家),美国许多城市的发展都提前顾虑到了将城市和住宅区搭配道路网络的设计。为了连结广阔的国土,美国设计并建造了高通行量、高速度的高速公路,美国的国家交通系统主要便是依赖这些高速公路网。当中最重要的是州际高速公路系统的建设。这些高速公路在1950年代经由当时的总统德怀特·艾森豪威尔授权建造。根据2004年的数据,美国的公路总长为6,407,637公里,名列世界第一。
  
  大城市里也有建设公共交通的系统,纽约市的地铁网络是当中最大的,也是世界上载客量最为沉重的捷运网络之一。而区域铁路和公共汽车网络则延伸至长岛、纽约上州、新泽西州、和康乃狄克州,都成为了世界上载客量最大的交通网之一。但是普遍而言,美国城市的公共交通相对其他发达国家较为薄弱,人们出行更多的使用私人汽车。
  
  美国建造了横贯大陆的铁路网络,用以在48个州之间运载货物。美国铁路公司(Amtrak)所建造的铁路网也横贯了48个州中的46个,专门用于客运用途。美国的铁路货运系统是世界最繁忙和先进的,且美国的铁路总长度位居世界第一。然而美国铁路的客运并不如西欧和日本那般发达,部分原因是出自美国国土的辽阔;若要到达数千英里以外的大城市,搭乘飞机会比搭乘铁路还要省时。美国政府的分析便认为空中客运是导致客运铁路公司在1970年代接连倒闭的主因。
  
  空中运输是长途旅行的更好选择。以乘客量而言,在2004年全世界前30个最繁忙的机场中就有17个位于美国,包括了排名第一的亚特兰大哈兹菲尔德-杰克逊国际机场。以运货量而言,在同一年里,全世界前30个最繁忙的货运机场就有12个在美国,包括了排名第一的孟菲斯国际机场(MEM)。
  
  许多世界上主要的港口也位于美国;最繁忙的是加利福尼亚州的洛杉矶港和长堤港,以及纽约港,它们全都是世界上最繁忙的港口。五大湖也有许多船运交通,每大湖都与密西西比河的河网络广泛连接,河的最下游直通大西洋。而第一个连接五大湖与大西洋的伊利运河(Erie Canal)则促成了美国中西部的快速农业和工业发展,并使得纽约市成为美国的经济中心。
   
  财政金融
  20世纪60至70年代,美国政府奉行“凯恩斯主义”的赤字财政政策,大幅增加社会福利和军事支出。80年代,里根政府一方面减免税收,另一方面扩大政府支出特别是军费开支,导致美国联邦财政赤字急剧扩张。1992年,美联邦财政赤字达到2904亿美元的历史最高峰,占当年美国国内生产总值比重高达4.9%。1993年克林顿政府上台后将“减赤”作为施政重点之一。90年代美经济持续增长使税收收入大幅增加,同时克林顿政府加强了税收征管,美联邦财政于1998年财年转亏为盈,出现692亿美元的盈余。布什政府2001年1月上台后,面对经济颓势,力主通过减税刺激经济复苏,加之反恐及军费开支大幅增加,2002财年美联邦财政重现赤字,达1578亿美元。2004财年美财政赤字达4123亿美元,创历史新高。2004年底,美国公债总额为75962亿美元,公众持有额为44084亿美元。(数据来源:美国财政部)
  
  银行
  近年来,美国政府逐步放宽对金融业的管制,金融业兼并重组加剧,商业银行总数已从1985年14000多家减少到2002年的7887家。1999年11月,美国国会通过《金融服务现代法》法案,进一步取消了证券、保险及商业银行混业经营的限制。美主要商业银行有:
  花旗集团(Citigroup)
  1955年纽约花旗银行与纽约第一银行合并,改名为纽约第一花旗银行,1962年改为第一花旗银行,1967年改为花旗公司。总部设在纽约。1998年与旅行者集团合并组建花旗集团,成为世界上最大的金融服务公司。
  摩根大通公司(J. P. Morgan Chase & Co)
  2000年12月由J.P.摩根公司和大通-曼哈顿公司合并而成,总部设在纽约。
  贝尔斯登公司
  成立于1923年,总部位于纽约,是美国华尔街第六大投资银行,系全球500强企业之一
  美洲银行公司(Bank of America Corp)
  美洲银行于1904年成立,总部在旧金山。1998年与国民银行合并为美洲银行公司,成为横跨东西两岸的全国性银行。
  第一银行公司(Bank One Corporation)
  1957年成立。1998年与芝加哥第一国民银行合并。总部在芝加哥。
  此外主要商业银行还有:第一联合银行、美林银行、威尔斯·法格银行、美国银行、美国国民城市银行、美怡银行等。
  
  对外投资和外国资本
  2004年美国对外直接投资为2258亿美元,高于2003年的1518亿美元。截至2004年底,美国对外直接投资总额约为23674亿美元(以2004年价格计算)。2004年外国对美国直接投资为1049亿美元,远高于上年的298亿美元。截至2004年底,外国对美国直接投资总额约为17088亿美元(以2004年价格计算)。
  
  对外援助
  美国会2005财年批准用于发展援助的资金(包括伊拉克减债和重建计划)共计约170亿美元,其中“千年挑战帐户”(MCA)占15亿美元;“关键发展援助”(Core Development,含发展援助基金、“转型计划”以及儿童和健康项目等)占30多亿美元。
  
  以色列和埃及仍为美最大受援国,2005财年美对以、埃援助额分别为25.6亿美元和18亿美元。此外,2005财年美对阿富汗援助额为26.8亿美元(含由国防部支配的17.24亿美元的紧急拨款),对巴勒斯坦援助额为2.7亿美元。(数据来源:2004年美国会研究服务部(Congressional Research Service))
  
  人民生活
  2004年个人收入总额为94185亿美元,个人收入主要构成:工资和薪金收入51086亿美元,其他劳务收入11034亿美元,资产收益8541亿美元,租金收入1686亿美元,股息收入4321亿美元,利息收入9687亿美元,转移支付净额(老人、儿童、残疾人、失业、卫生保健等社会福利减去个人社会保险额)13845亿美元。个人可支配收入达83276亿美元。美个人储蓄率(个人储蓄额/可支配收入)近年呈不断下降趋势,1997年和1998年分别为4.2%、4.7%,2002年降至2.3%,2004年为2.0%。
    
  美国贫富差距进一步加大,20%最高收入家庭占全国收入比重从1980年的41.1%上升到2002年的50%。2002年贫困率连续第二年上升,由上年的11.7%升至12.1%,贫困人口增加1663万,达3457万。
    
  美国的社会福利分为社会保险和非社会保险两种。属于社会保险福利项目的有:老残保险、失业保险和其他就业保险;属于非社会保险福利项目的有:对抚养儿童困难家庭的补助、社会保障收入、食品券、医疗补助、住房补助和能源补助。
    
  2002年美人均寿命77.4岁,其中男性74.5岁,女性80.2岁。2004年美出生率为14‰,死亡率为8.2‰。
  
  
  
  七、文化
  音乐
  美国音乐的历史可以追溯至早期美国原住民的传统宗教音乐,随著大量欧洲国家移民的到来,替美国音乐增添了基督教合唱、音乐乐谱的的色彩。之后的每波移民潮都带来了不同地区、不同文化和特色的音乐。大量的非裔美国人也带来了具有非洲特色的传统音乐,19世纪后期开始浮现的美国流行音乐很大一部分都是源自这些非裔美国人的布鲁斯,以及1920年代开始发展的福音音乐。非裔美国人音乐成为了美国流行音乐的根基,混合了欧洲与土著的音乐成分。美国也有大量的民间音乐以及来自乌克兰、爱尔兰、苏格兰、波兰、墨西哥和犹太人等移民的音乐。许多美国城市和乡镇也都发展出独立的地区音乐。底特律、纽约、芝加哥、洛杉矶等大城市以及数不尽的小城市都发展出自己的音乐风格。
  
  文学
  在最早的殖民时期,美国文学主要的题材是赞扬新大陆替殖民者和欧洲母国所带来的利益。宗教信仰上的争议也是题材之一。随著革命战争的爆发和美国的独立,本杰明·富兰克林和托马斯·潘恩等人写下的政治著作在文学和政治上都有极大影响,也催生了新国家的独立意识。写下了独立宣言并在后来成为美国总统的托玛斯·杰弗逊也被认为是美国早期最具天份的作家之一。随着1812年战争和对于独立文学特色的渴望,更多新的、具有美国特色的作家如爱伦·坡等人逐渐崭露头角。奴隶制度的冲突和接踵而来的内战也对美国文学有深刻影响,到了19世纪末,由于工业化的进展和国土开拓时期的结束,美国文学脱离了原先的边境文学,马克·吐温成为第一个不在东海岸出生的主要作家,开启美国本土文学之先河。英国作家毛姆认为赫尔曼·梅尔维尔的《白鲸记》是世界十大文学名著之一,地位更在马克吐温等人之上。
  
  进入了20世纪,工业化带来的社会转变使美国文学发展的更为多元和复杂。海明威反映了人们对第一次世界大战的厌恶情绪。1925年费滋杰罗出版《大亨小传》代表着20年代经济大恐慌前美国人的迷梦。黑人文学、南部文学、以及现代文学也在同时期兴起。在第二次世界大战后,新的世代、和新的种族、地区、社会特征都与之前的世代大不相同,大量的移民文学和新兴的女性主义文学也成为美国文学的一部分了。
  
  影视与戏剧
  并非所有的美国文化都是源自其他国家,电影的诞生和发展便都是源自美国的。英国出生的美国摄影师Eadweard Muybridge拍下了人类史上第一部电影奔跑的马匹。自从那时开始,美国的电影产业便开始高速发展,加利福尼亚州的好莱坞成为人类电影发展的重镇,绝大多数电影技术的创新和发展都是源于好莱坞,好莱坞电影也成为美国文化的主要代表之一。在1920年代,美国每年平均产出高达800部正规电影,查理·卓别林的喜剧、依据小说飘改编的乱世佳人、和超人等电影流传至几乎每个大陆和国家,成为家喻户晓的美国象征。这些电影的出口也使美国获取了巨大的经济利润。除了电影之外,由迪士尼开创的卡通技术也是源自美国
  
  美国也是世界上电视技术发展和普及最早的国家之一。在今天,美国有著数千家电视台,电视是美国人文化和生活的一部分,喜爱看电视也是大多数美国人的少数共同特征之一。美国民众透过电视得知国内外的新闻时事,观看电影、比赛、卡通和肥皂剧。99%的美国家庭至少有一部电视机,绝大多数家庭还拥有两部。
  
  运动
  运动是美国全国性的休闲活动,其受欢迎的程度是其他休闲活动都无法相比的。职业运动在美国是商机极大的领域,选择成为职业运动员的人也获得极高的报酬。世界上收入最高的运动团队和运动员绝大多数都是在美国。被称为“四巨头”的运动领域包括了棒球、美式足球、冰上曲棍球、和篮球。其他受欢迎的运动还包括赛车和长曲棍球—那是源自于美洲原住民的运动,也是美国最古老的运动。虽然足球也是相当受欢迎的运动,但相较其他国家而言,足球在美国的普及度并不高。
  
  美国也有许多源自欧洲、并在美国广泛发展的运动,例如赛马。英式橄榄球也相当受到欢迎。其他的欧洲运动如马上曲棍球和板球虽然并不普及,但也有不少死忠的观众。美国也是发展高尔夫球和网球等运动的主要国家。美国也是西方国家里拳击和职业摔角的发展中心,比赛往往吸引大量群众观战,同时也吸引各种运动赌博的活动,美国也产出了许多世界知名的拳击冠军。其他的格斗运动,例如源自日本的空手道,在美国也相当受欢迎,并且经常进行比赛。
  
  大学体育运动在美国也相当普及,而且几乎与职业领域不相上下,尤其是在足球和篮球领域。许多大学和学院都培养了运动团队,定期举行校际间的竞赛。大学和学院所培养的运动类型相当广泛,从田径运动到水球都包含在内。同样的,美国的高中也有各式各样的体育活动,有时候这些校际间的比赛还会成为当地的头条新闻,显示了美国人民对于运动的喜爱和重视。
  
  美国
  所谓的美国梦(American Dream),是一种相信只要在美国经过努力不懈的奋斗便能获致更好生活的理想,亦即人们必须透过自己的工作勤奋、勇气、创意、和决心迈向繁荣,而非依赖于特定的社会阶级和他人的援助。通常这代表了人们在经济上的成功或是企业家的精神。许多欧洲移民都是抱持著美国梦的理想前往美国的。尽管有些人批评美国梦过度强调了物质财富在衡量胜利和快乐上扮演的角色,但许多美国人的确认为,这种获致成功的机会在世界上其他国家是找不到也并不存在的。因为与其他大多数国家不同的是,在美国拥有的经济自由相当多,政府扮演的角色相当有限,这使得美国的社会流动性极大,任何人都有可能透过自己的努力迈向巅峰。从美国独立直至19世纪末期,广大的土地都无人居住和拥有,任何有心人都可以加以占据并投资和开垦。而到了工业革命时期,美国庞大的自然资源和先进的工业技术则使得快速的社会流动变的可能,而且这种趋势仍在一天一天的增加中。
  
  八、教育
  中小学教育主要是由各州教育委员会和地方政府管理。学校分公立、私立两类。多数州实行十年义务教育。各州学制不一,大部分为小学六年、初中三年、高中三年。高等教育有两年制的初级学院和技术学院,四年制的大学本科和二至四年的研究生院。2002财年教育预算为565亿美元,主要用于布什政府提出的“提高学生成绩和不让一个孩子落后”等计划。国会还通过了教育改革议案,重点为加强公立学校、提高教育质量等。
   
  高等学府
  哈佛大学、麻省理工学院、哥伦比亚大学、加利福尼亚大学伯克利分校、斯坦福大学、芝加哥大学、乔治·华盛顿大学、耶鲁大学、加州理工学院、约翰·霍普金斯大学、普林斯顿大学和杜克大学等。
  
  九、外交
  美国具有全球性的经济、政治和军事影响力,其外交政策走向一直是世界关注和讨论的焦点。美国的外交关系规模是全世界最为庞大的。几乎所有的国家在华盛顿特区都设有大使馆和派驻大使。以色列、英国、加拿大、和日本被视为是美国最亲密的盟友。只有少数国家没有与美国建立正式的外交关系,包括古巴、伊朗、北朝鲜、索马里和苏丹。
  
  美国革命期间,美国与一些欧洲国家建立了外交关系,说服了法国、西班牙、和荷兰协助对抗英国。在接下来的开垦年代里,美国一直在亲法或亲英两个选择间摇摆不定。当时美国对欧洲事务不愿插手,专注于北美的疆土开拓。后来以门罗主义削弱欧洲在拉丁美洲的影响力,以确保在美洲地区事务的支配权。美国的扩张政策陆续引发了与墨西哥和西班牙的战争,两战均以美国的胜利告终。在南北战争中,美国指责英国和法国支援南部分裂的美利坚联盟国、并试图占领墨西哥,但在内战结束后,美国在北美洲的主导地位就再未受过挑战。
  
  随著国力渐增,美国开始将注意力转向海外,尤其是对外贸易的开拓。为此,美国占领了太平洋的许多领土,包括夏威夷和菲律宾,迫使日本开放贸易,并与欧洲列强竞争在中国的影响力。第二次世界大战后,美国在联合国的创建上扮演了重要角色,并且成为安全理事会的五名永久会员之一。
  
  冷战期间,美国最初试图限制苏联于世界各地的影响力。为了遏制苏联,美国、加拿大和10个西欧国家共同建立了北大西洋公约组织,以联合盟国对抗任何向北美和欧洲的军事入侵,后来又有14个欧洲国家陆续加入了这一共同防御联盟,包括土耳其和一些前华沙条约成员国以及部分苏联加盟共和国。出于政治上的现实考量,美国也与对抗苏联的共产主义国家结盟,例如中苏分裂后的中华人民共和国。近年来,美国专注于自身的边界安全,防止非法移民和非法贩毒进入国内—尤其是针对墨西哥和加勒比海国家。美国也致力于对抗恐怖主义和避免大规模杀伤性武器的扩散,但其主要目标仍为保护在国内外的国家利益以及公民安全。
  
  2004年,美对外政策继续以反恐和防扩散为核心,但受国内大选政治影响,重在求稳防乱。布什政府下力气推动伊拉克战后重建,稳定伊安全局势,主导组建伊临时政府并向其交权,推动国际社会为伊重建出钱出力,减免伊债务。以八国集团名义推出“大中东改革计划”,试图“民主改造大中东”。坚持通过多边机制解决朝核问题,参加第二、第三轮北京六方会谈。通过国际原子能机构和法、德、英等国压伊朗放弃核计划。宣布实施自朝鲜战争以来最广泛的全球军力部署调整,推进“防扩散安全倡议”。较前重视大国合作,强调跨大西洋联盟的重要性,保持与俄罗斯关系总体稳定。加大对亚太地区的投入,深化与日、澳等传统盟国的关系,巩固美韩同盟,赋予泰国、巴基斯坦“非北约主要盟国”地位,与印度发展战略伙伴关系。
  如果您认为本词条还有待完善,需要补充新内容或修改错误内容,请 编辑词条
  参考资料:
   1.美国国务院国际信息局中文版 http://usinfo.state.gov/mgck/
   2.美国政府官方网站 www.usa.gov
   3.美国商务部 www.commerce.gov
   4.商务部国际贸易局 www.ita.doc.gov
   5.美国联邦贸易委员会 www.ftc.gov
   6.美国贸易发展局 www.tda.gov
   7.美国人口普查局 www.census.gov
   8.美国小企业管理局 www.sba.gov
   9.美国商业顾问 www.business.gov
   10.美国国税局 www.irs.gov
   11.美国环保署 www.epa.gov
   12.美国烟酒管理局 www.atf.treas.gov
   13.美国农业部 www.usda.gov
   14.美国交通部 www.dot.gov
   15.美国消费安全委员会 www.cpsc.gov
   16.美国食品药物管理局 www.fda.gov
   17.美中贸易委员会 www.uschina.org
   18.美国海关 www.customs.gov
   19.美国驻华使馆
   20.搜狐网


  The United States of America is a constitutional federal republic comprising 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 its east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait, and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The United States also possesses several territories, or insular areas, scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.
  
  At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km²) and with more than 300 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and third largest by land area and by population. The United States is one of the world's most ethnically diverse nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The U.S. economy is the largest national economy in the world, with a nominal 2006 gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$13 trillion (over 19% of the world total based on purchasing power parity).
  
  The nation was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the Atlantic seaboard. Proclaiming themselves "states," they issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The rebellious states defeated Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, the first successful colonial war of independence. A federal convention adopted the current United States Constitution on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments, was ratified in 1791.
  
  In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired land from France, Spain, Great Britain, Mexico, and Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over states' rights and the expansion of the institution of slavery provoked the American Civil War of the 1860s. The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of slavery in the United States. The Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed the nation's status as a military power. In 1945, the United States emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a founding member of NATO. In the post–Cold War era, the United States is the only remaining superpower—accounting for approximately 50% of global military spending—and a dominant economic, political, and cultural force in the world.
  
  Etymology
  The term America, for the lands of the western hemisphere, was coined in the early sixteenth century after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer and cartographer. The full name of the country was first used officially in the Declaration of Independence, which was the "unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America" adopted by the "Representatives of the united States of America" on July 4, 1776. The current name was finalized on November 15, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first of which states, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America.'" Common short forms and abbreviations of the United States of America include the United States, the U.S., the U.S.A., and America. Colloquial names for the country include the U.S. of A. and the States. Columbia, a once popular name for the Americas and the United States, was derived from Christopher Columbus. It appears in the name "District of Columbia". A female personification of Columbia appears on some official documents, including certain prints of U.S. currency.
  
  The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is as an American. Though United States is the formal adjective, American and U.S. are the most common adjectives used to refer to the country ("American values," "U.S. forces"). American is rarely used in English to refer to people not connected to the United States.
  
  The phrase "the United States" was originally treated as plural—e.g, "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1865. However, it became increasingly common to treat the name as singular—e.g., "the United States is"—after the end of the Civil War. The singular form is now standard, while the plural form is retained in the set idiom "these United States."
  
  Geography
  
  Topographic map of the contiguous United States
  Climate zones of the contiguous United StatesThe United States is situated almost entirely in the western hemisphere: the contiguous United States stretches from the Pacific on the west to the Atlantic on the east, with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, and bordered by Canada on the north and Mexico on the south. Alaska is the largest state in area; separated from the contiguous U.S. by Canada, it touches the Pacific on the south and Arctic Ocean on the north. Hawaii occupies an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America. The United States is the world's third or fourth largest nation by total area, before or after China. The ranking varies depending on (a) how two territories disputed by China and India are counted and (b) how the total size of the United States is calculated: the CIA World Factbook gives 9,826,630 km², the United Nations Statistics Division gives 9,629,091 km², and the Encyclopedia Britannica gives 9,522,055 km². Including only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada. The United States also possesses several insular territories scattered around the West Indies (e.g., the commonwealth of Puerto Rico) and the Pacific (e.g., Guam).
  
  The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi-Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north-south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie land of the Great Plains stretches to the west. The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the continental United States, reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado. The area to the west of the Rocky Mountains is dominated by the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Mojave. The Sierra Nevada range runs parallel to the Rockies, relatively close to the Pacific coast. At 20,320 feet (6,194 m), Alaska's Mount McKinley is the country's tallest peak. Active volcanoes are common throughout the Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and the entire state of Hawaii is built upon tropical volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.
  
  Because of the United States' large size and wide range of geographic features, nearly every type of climate is represented. The climate is temperate in most areas, tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida, polar in Alaska, semi-arid in the Great Plains west of the 100th meridian, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in Coastal California, and arid in the Great Basin. Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the continental United States, primarily in the Midwest.
  
  Environment
  
  The bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States since 1782Main article: Environment of the United States
  U.S. plant life is very diverse; the country has more than 17,000 identified native species of flora. More than 400 mammal, 700 bird, 500 reptile and amphibian, and 90,000 insect species have been documented. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  
  The U.S. has fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Altogether, the U.S. government regulates 28.8% of the country's total land area. Most such public land comprises protected parks and forestland, though some federal land is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, or cattle ranching.
  
  The energy policy of the United States is widely debated; many call on the country to take a leading role in fighting global warming. The United States is currently the second largest emitter, after the People's Republic of China, of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
  
  History
  
  Native Americans and European settlers
  Main articles: Native Americans in the United States, European colonization of the Americas, and Thirteen Colonies
  The indigenous peoples of the U.S. mainland, including Alaska Natives, are thought to have migrated from Asia. They began arriving at least 12,000 and as many as 40,000 years ago. Several indigenous communities in the pre-Columbian era developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. In 1492, Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus, under contract to the Spanish crown, reached several Caribbean islands, making first contact with the indigenous population. In the years that followed, the majority of the indigenous American peoples were killed by epidemics of Eurasian diseases.
  
  The Mayflower transported Pilgrims to the New World in 1620, as depicted in William Halsall's The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, 1882On April 2, 1513, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León landed on what he called "La Florida"—the first documented European arrival on what would become the U.S. mainland. Of the colonies Spain established in the region, only St. Augustine, founded in 1565, remains. Later Spanish settlements in the present-day southwestern United States drew thousands through Mexico. French fur traders established outposts of New France around the Great Lakes; France eventually claimed much of the North American interior as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. The first successful English settlements were the Virginia Colony in Jamestown in 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. The 1628 chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resulted in a wave of migration; by 1634, New England had been settled by some 10,000 Puritans. Between the late 1610s and the American Revolution, an estimated 50,000 convicts were shipped to England's, and later Great Britain's, American colonies. Beginning in 1614, the Dutch established settlements along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island. The small settlement of New Sweden, founded along the Delaware River in 1638, was taken over by the Dutch in 1655.
  
  By 1674, English forces had won the former Dutch colonies in the Anglo-Dutch Wars; the province of New Netherland was renamed New York. Many new immigrants, especially to the South, were indentured servants—some two-thirds of all Virginia immigrants between 1630 and 1680. By the turn of the century, African slaves were becoming the primary source of bonded labor. With the 1729 division of the Carolinas and the 1732 colonization of Georgia, the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America were established. All had active local and colonial governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self government that stimulated support for republicanism. All had legalized the African slave trade. With high birth rates, low death rates, and steady immigration, the colonies doubled in population every twenty-five years. The Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty. In the French and Indian War, British forces seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. By 1770, those thirteen colonies had an increasingly Anglicized population of three million, approximately half that of Britain. Though subject to British taxation, they were given no representation in the Parliament of Great Britain.
  
  Independence and expansion
  
  Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull, 1817–18Tensions between American colonials and the British during the revolutionary period of the 1760s and early 1770s led to the American Revolutionary War, fought from 1775 through 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Proclaiming that "all men are created equal" and endowed with "certain unalienable Rights," the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The Declaration, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, pronounced the colonies sovereign "states." In 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted, uniting the states under a weak federal government that operated until 1788. Some 70,000–80,000 loyalists to the British Crown fled the rebellious states, many to Nova Scotia and the new British holdings in Canada. Native Americans, with divided allegiances, fought on both sides of the war's western front.
  
  After the defeat of the British army by American forces who were assisted by the French, Great Britain recognized the sovereignty of the thirteen states in 1783. A constitutional convention was organized in 1787 by those who wished to establish a strong national government with power over the states. By June 1788, nine states had ratified the United States Constitution, sufficient to establish the new government; the republic's first Senate, House of Representatives, and president—George Washington—took office in 1789. New York City was the federal capital for a year, before the government relocated to Philadelphia. In 1791, the states ratified the Bill of Rights, ten amendments to the Constitution forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections. Attitudes toward slavery were shifting; a clause in the Constitution protected the African slave trade only until 1808. The Northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the slave states of the South as defenders of the "peculiar institution." In 1800, the federal government moved to the newly founded Washington, D.C. The Second Great Awakening made evangelicalism a force behind various social reform movements.
  
  Territorial acquisitions by dateAmericans' eagerness to expand westward began a cycle of Indian Wars that stretched to the end of the nineteenth century, as Native Americans were stripped of their land. The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 virtually doubled the nation's size. The War of 1812, declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a draw, strengthened American nationalism. A series of U.S. military incursions into Florida led Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819. The country annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845. The concept of Manifest Destiny was popularized during this time. The 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest. The U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War resulted in the 1848 cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest. The California Gold Rush of 1848–49 further spurred western migration. New railways made relocation much less arduous for settlers and increased conflicts with Native Americans. Over a half-century, up to 40 million American bison, commonly called buffalo, were slaughtered for skins and meat and to ease the railways' spread. The loss of the bison, a primary economic resource for the plains Indians, was an existential blow to many native cultures.
  
  Civil War and industrialization
  
  Battle of Gettysburg, lithograph by Currier & Ives, ca. 1863Tensions between slave and free states mounted with increasing disagreements over the relationship between the state and federal governments and violent conflicts over the expansion of slavery into new states. Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the largely antislavery Republican Party, was elected president in 1860. Before he took office, seven slave states declared their secession from the United States, forming the Confederate States of America. The federal government maintained secession was illegal, and with the Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, the American Civil War began and four more slave states joined the Confederacy. The Union freed Confederate slaves as its army advanced through the South. Following the Union victory in 1865, three amendments to the U.S. Constitution ensured freedom for the nearly four million African Americans who had been slaves, made them citizens, and gave them voting rights. The war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in federal power.
  
  Immigrants landing at Ellis Island, New York, 1902After the war, the assassination of President Lincoln radicalized Republican Reconstruction policies aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. The resolution of the disputed 1876 presidential election by the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction; Jim Crow laws soon disenfranchised many African Americans. In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants hastened the country's industrialization. The wave of immigration, which lasted until 1929, provided labor for U.S. businesses and transformed American culture. High tariff protections, national infrastructure building, and new banking regulations encouraged industrial growth. The 1867 Alaska purchase from Russia completed the country's mainland expansion. The Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 was the last major armed conflict of the Indian Wars. In 1893, the indigenous monarchy of the Pacific Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup led by American residents; the archipelago was annexed by the United States in 1898. Victory in the Spanish-American War that same year demonstrated that the United States was a major world power and resulted in the annexation of Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The Philippines gained independence a half-century later; Puerto Rico remains a commonwealth of the United States.
  
  World War I, Great Depression, and World War II
  
  An abandoned farm in South Dakota during the Dust Bowl, 1936At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the United States remained neutral. Americans sympathized with the British and French, although many citizens, mostly Irish and German, opposed intervention. In 1917, the United States joined the Allies, turning the tide against the Central Powers. Reluctant to be involved in European affairs, the Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations. The country pursued a policy of unilateralism, verging on isolationism. In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a constitutional amendment granting women's suffrage. Partly because of the service of many in the war, Native Americans gained U.S. citizenship in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
  
  During most of the 1920s, the United States enjoyed a period of unbalanced prosperity as farm profits fell while industrial profits grew. A rise in debt and an inflated stock market culminated in the 1929 crash that triggered the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, a range of policies increasing government intervention in the economy. The Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration. The nation would not fully recover from the economic depression until the industrial mobilization spurred by its entrance into World War II. The United States, effectively neutral during the war's early stages after the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939, began supplying materiel to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program.
  
  On December 7, 1941, the United States joined the Allies against the Axis powers after a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan. World War II cost far more money than any other war in American history, but it boosted the economy by providing capital investment and jobs, while bringing many women into the labor market. Among the major combatants, the United States was the only nation to become richer—indeed, far richer—instead of poorer because of the war. Allied conferences at Bretton Woods and Yalta outlined a new system of international organizations that placed the United States and Soviet Union at the center of world affairs. As victory was achieved in Europe, a 1945 international conference held in San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war. The United States, having developed the first nuclear weapons, used them on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Japan surrendered on September 2, ending the war.
  
  Superpower
  
  Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech, 1963The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for power after World War II during the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The United States promoted liberal democracy and capitalism, while the Soviet Union promoted communism and a centrally planned economy. Both the United States and the Soviet Union supported dictatorships, and both engaged in proxy wars. United States troops fought Communist Chinese forces in the Korean War of 1950–53. The House Un-American Activities Committee pursued a series of investigations into suspected leftist subversion, while Senator Joseph McCarthy became the figurehead of anticommunist sentiment.
  
  The Soviet Union launched the first manned spacecraft in 1961, prompting U.S. efforts to raise proficiency in mathematics and science and President John F. Kennedy's call for the country to be first to land "a man on the moon," achieved in 1969. Kennedy also faced a tense nuclear showdown with Soviet forces in Cuba. Meanwhile, America experienced sustained economic expansion. A growing civil rights movement headed by prominent African Americans, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., fought segregation and discrimination, leading to the abolition of Jim Crow laws. Following Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, expanded a proxy war in Southeast Asia into the unsuccessful Vietnam War.
  
  President Ronald Reagan (1981–89) challenges Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, 1987As a result of the Watergate scandal, in 1974 Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign, rather than be impeached on charges including obstruction of justice and abuse of power; he was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford. During the Jimmy Carter administration in the late 1970s, the U.S. economy experienced stagflation. The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 marked a significant rightward shift in American politics, reflected in major changes in taxation and spending priorities. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Soviet Union's power diminished, leading to its collapse. The leadership role taken by the United States and its allies in the United Nations–sanctioned Gulf War, under President George H. W. Bush, and later the Yugoslav wars helped to preserve its position as the world's last remaining superpower. The longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history—from March 1991 to March 2001—encompassed the administration of President Bill Clinton. In 1998, Clinton was impeached by the House on charges relating to a civil lawsuit and a sexual scandal, but he was acquitted by the Senate and remained in office.
  
  The controversial presidential election of 2000 was resolved by a Supreme Court decision that effectively awarded the presidency to Texas governor George W. Bush, son of George H. W. Bush. On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City and The Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly three thousand people. In the aftermath, President Bush launched the War on Terrorism under a military philosophy stressing preemptive war now known as the Bush Doctrine. In late 2001, U.S. forces led a NATO invasion of Afghanistan, removing the Taliban government and al-Qaeda training camps. Taliban insurgents continue to fight a guerrilla war against the NATO-led force. In 2002, the Bush administration began to press for regime change in Iraq on controversial grounds. Lacking the support of NATO or an explicit United Nations mandate for military intervention, Bush formed a Coalition of the Willing, and the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, removing President Saddam Hussein from power. Although facing both external and internal pressure to withdraw, the United States maintains its military presence in Iraq. The United States has been criticized for human rights violations in its pursuit of the War on Terrorism, including holding so-called enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp for years without trial and for its alleged use of torture.
  
  Government and politics
  
  The west front of the United States Capitol, which houses the United States CongressThe United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law." It is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy, though U.S. citizens residing in the territories are excluded from voting for federal officials. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the United States Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document and as a social contract for the people of the United States. In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government, federal, state, and local; the local government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is very rare at lower levels. Federal and state judicial and cabinet officials are typically nominated by the executive branch and approved by the legislature, although some state judges and officials are elected by popular vote.
  
  The north side of the White House, home and work place of the U.S. presidentThe federal government is composed of three branches:
  
  Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
  Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
  Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem unconstitutional.
  The House of Representatives has 435 members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the fifty states by population every tenth year. As of the 2000 census, seven states have the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, has fifty-three. Each state has two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every second year. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice. The president is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned by state. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.
  
  The front of the United States Supreme Court buildingAll laws and procedures of both state and federal governments are subject to review, and any law ruled in violation of the Constitution by the judicial branch is overturned. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government, the relationship between it and the individual states, and essential matters of military and economic authority. Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus, and Article Three guarantees the right to a jury trial in all criminal cases. Amendments to the Constitution require the approval of three-fourths of the states. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of individual rights in the United States.
  
  Parties and elections
  
  Politics in the United States have operated under a two-party system for virtually all of the country's history. For elective offices at all levels, state-administered primary elections are held to choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the two dominant parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824 (though its roots trace back to 1792), and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote.
  
  The incumbent president, Republican George W. Bush, is the 43rd president in the country's history. All U.S. presidents to date have been white men. If the Democrats win the next presidential election in, November 2008, either an African-American, Barack Obama, or a woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will become president. Following the 2006 midterm elections, the Democratic Party controls both the House and the Senate. Every member of the U.S. Congress is a Democrat or a Republican except two independent members of the Senate—one a former Democratic incumbent, the other a self-described socialist. An overwhelming majority of state and local officials are also either Democrats or Republicans.
  
  Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered "center-right" or conservative and the Democratic Party is considered "center-left" or liberal, but members of both parties have a wide range of views. In a January 2008 poll, 39% of Americans described themselves as "conservative," 33% as "moderate," and 20% as "liberal." On the other hand, a plurality of adults, 35.9%, identify as Democrats, 32.9% as independents, and 31.3% as Republicans. The states of the Northeast and West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states are relatively liberal-leaning—they are known in political parlance as "blue states." The "red states" of the South and the Rocky Mountains lean conservative.
  
  States
  
  The United States is a federal union of fifty states. The original thirteen states were the successors of the thirteen colonies that rebelled against British rule. Most of the rest have been carved from territory obtained through war or purchase by the U.S. government. The exceptions are Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii; each was an independent republic before joining the union. Early in the country's history, three states were created out of the territory of existing ones: Kentucky from Virginia; Tennessee from North Carolina; and Maine from Massachusetts. West Virginia broke away from Virginia during the American Civil War. The most recent state—Hawaii—achieved statehood on August 21, 1959. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the states do not have the right to secede from the union.
  
  The states compose the vast bulk of the U.S. land mass; the only other areas considered integral parts of the country are the District of Columbia, the federal district where the capital, Washington, is located; and Palmyra Atoll, an uninhabited but incorporated territory in the Pacific Ocean. The United States possesses five major territories with indigenous populations: Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands in the Caribbean; and American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. Those born in the territories (except for American Samoa) possess U.S. citizenship.
  
  Foreign relations and military
  
  President George W. Bush (right) with UK prime minister Gordon BrownThe United States has vast economic, political, and military influence on a global scale, which makes its foreign policy a subject of great interest around the world. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D.C., and many host consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, Sudan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States.
  
  American isolationists have often been at odds with internationalists, as anti-imperialists have been with promoters of Manifest Destiny and American Empire. American imperialism in the Philippines drew sharp rebukes from Mark Twain, philosopher William James, and many others. Later, President Woodrow Wilson played a key role in creating the League of Nations, but the Senate prohibited American membership in it. Isolationism became a thing of the past when the United States took a lead role in founding the United Nations, becoming a permanent member of the Security Council and host to the United Nations Headquarters. The United States enjoys a special relationship with the United Kingdom and strong ties with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and fellow NATO members. It also works closely with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In 2005, the United States spent $27.3 billion on official development assistance, the most in the world; however, as a share of gross national income (GNI), the U.S. contribution of 0.22% ranked twentieth of twenty-two donor states. On the other hand, nongovernmental sources such as private foundations, corporations, and educational and religious institutions donated $95.5 billion. The total of $122.8 billion is again the most in the world and seventh in terms of GNI percentage.
  
  The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrierThe president holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force. The Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and the Department of the Navy in times of war. In 2005, the military had 1.38 million personnel on active duty, along with several hundred thousand each in the Reserves and the National Guard for a total of 2.3 million troops. The Department of Defense also employs approximately 700,000 civilians, disregarding contractors. Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the _Select_ive Service System. The rapid deployment of American forces is facilitated by the Air Force's large fleet of transportation aircraft and aerial refueling tankers, the Navy's fleet of eleven active aircraft carriers, and Marine Expeditionary Units at sea in the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets. Outside of the American homeland, the U.S. military is deployed to 770 bases and facilities, on every continent except Antarctica. Because of the extent of its global military presence, scholars describe the United States as maintaining an "empire of bases."
  
  Total U.S. military spending in 2006, over $528 billion, was 46% of the entire military spending in the world and greater than the next fourteen largest national military expenditures combined. (In purchasing power parity terms, it was larger than the next six such expenditures combined.) The per capita spending of $1,756 was approximately ten times the world average. At 4.06% of GDP, U.S. military spending is ranked 27th out of 172 nations. The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2009, $515.4 billion, is a 7% increase over 2008 and a nearly 74% increase over 2001. The estimated total cost of the Iraq War to the United States through 2016 is $2.267 trillion. As of March 25, 2008, the United States had suffered 4,001 military fatalities during the war and over 29,300 wounded.
  
  Economy
  
  National economic indicators
  Unemployment 5.0% April 2008
  GDP growth 2.9% 2005–2006
  CPI inflation 4.0% March 2007–March 2008
  National debt $9.365 trillion May 8, 2008
  Poverty 12.3% or 13.3% 2006
  The United States has a capitalist mixed economy, which is fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity. According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States GDP of more than $13 trillion constitutes over 25.5% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 19% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity (PPP). The largest national GDP in the world, it was slightly less than the combined GDP of the European Union at PPP in 2006. The country ranks eighth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and fourth in GDP per capita at PPP. The United States is the largest importer of goods and third largest exporter. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. The leading export commodity is electrical machinery, while vehicles constitute the leading import. The national debt is the world's largest; in 2005, it was 23% of the global total. As a percentage of GDP, U.S. debt ranked thirtieth out of 120 countries for which data is available.
  
  The private sector constitutes the bulk of the economy, with government activity accounting for 12.4% of GDP. The economy is postindustrial, with the service sector contributing 67.8% of GDP. The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is finance and insurance. The United States remains an industrial power, with chemical products the leading manufacturing field. The United States is the third largest producer of oil in the world, and its largest consumer. It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, aluminum, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. While agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP, the United States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans. The country's leading cash crop is marijuana, despite federal laws making its cultivation and sale illegal. Coca-Cola and McDonald's are the two most recognized brands in the world.
  
  Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)Three quarters of U.S. business firms have no payroll, but they account for only a small fraction of business receipts. Firms with payrolls of 500 or more employ 49.1% of all paid workers; in 2002, they accounted for 59.1% of business receipts. The United States ranks third in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index. Compared to Europe, U.S. property and corporate income taxes are generally higher, while labor and, particularly, consumption taxes are lower. The New York Stock Exchange is the world's largest by dollar volume; the exchange's parent company, NYSE Euronext, represents over $29 trillion in total market capitalization of listed securities.
  
  In 2005, 155 million persons were employed with earnings, of whom 80% worked in full-time jobs. The majority, 79%, were employed in the service sector. With approximately 15.5 million people, health care and social assistance is the leading field of employment. About 12% of American workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe. The U.S. ranks number one in the ease of hiring and firing workers, according to the World Bank. Americans tend to work considerably more hours annually than workers in other developed nations, taking fewer and shorter vacations. Between 1973 and 2003, a year's work for the average American grew by 199 hours. Partly as a result, the United States maintains the highest labor productivity in the world. However, it no longer leads the world in productivity per hour as it did from the 1950s through the early 1990s; workers in Norway, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg are now more productive per hour. Spending on the social safety net is relatively low: the United States redistributes between 8 and 9% of GDP through social protection programs, slightly under the Japanese rate and less than half the estimated 19% of the European Union.
  
  Income, human development, and social class
  
  According to the Census Bureau, the pretax median household income in 2006 was $48,201. The two-year average ranged from $66,752 in New Jersey to $34,343 in Mississippi. Using purchasing power parity exchange rates, these income levels are similar to those found in other postindustrial nations. Depending on the method of analysis, 12.3% or 13.3% of Americans were below the federally designated poverty line. The number of poor Americans, at least 36.5 million, was actually 3.5 million more than in 2001, the bottom year of the most recent U.S. recession. The United States was ranked twelfth in the world in the UNDP's 2008 Human Development Report. A 2007 UNICEF study of children's well-being in twenty-one industrialized nations, covering a broad range of factors, ranked the U.S. next to last.
  
  Between 1967 and 2006, median household income rose 30.8% in constant dollars, largely because of the growing number of dual-earner households. Though the standard of living has improved for nearly all classes since the late 1970s, income inequality has grown substantially. The share of income received by the top 1% has risen considerably while the share of income of the bottom 90% has fallen, with the gap between the two groups being roughly as large in 2005 as in 1928. According to the standard Gini index, income inequality in the United States is higher than in any European nation. Some economists, such as Alan Greenspan, see rising income inequality as a cause for concern.
  
  While American social classes lack defined boundaries, sociologists point to social class as a crucial societal variable. Occupation, educational attainment, and income are used as the main indicators of socioeconomic status. Dennis Gilbert of Hamilton College has proposed a system, adapted by other sociologists, with six social classes: an upper, or capitalist, class consisting of the wealthy and powerful (1%), an upper middle class consisting of highly educated professionals (15%), a middle class consisting of semiprofessionals and craftsmen (33%), a working class consisting of clerical and blue-collar workers who conduct highly routinized tasks (33%), and two lower classes—the working poor (13%) and a largely unemployed underclass (12%). Where it was once common for middle-class households to employ domestic servants, many domestic tasks are now outsourced to the service industry. Wealth is highly concentrated: The richest 10% of the adult population possesses 69.8% of the country's household wealth, the second-highest share of any democratic developed nation. The top 1% possesses 33.4% of net wealth, including more than half of the total value in publicly traded stocks. Though the American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility, played a key role in attracting immigrants to the United States, particularly in the late 1800s, some analysts find that the United States has relatively low social mobility compared to Western Europe and Canada.
  
  Science and technology
  
  Astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the first human landing on the Moon, 1969The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late nineteenth century. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone. The laboratory of Thomas Edison developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light bulb, and the first viable movie camera. In the early twentieth century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford pioneered assembly line manufacturing. The Wright brothers, in 1903, made what is recognized as the "first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight." The rise of Nazism in the 1930s led many important European scientists, including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi, to immigrate to the United States. During World War II, the U.S.-based Manhattan Project developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the Atomic Age. The Space Race produced rapid advances in rocketry, materials science, computers, and many other areas. The United States largely developed the ARPANET and its successor, the Internet. Today, the bulk of research and development funding, 64%, comes from the private sector. The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and impact factor. Americans enjoy high levels of access to technological consumer goods. Almost half of U.S. households have broadband Internet service. The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food; more than half of the world's land planted with biotech crops is in the United States.
  
  Transportation
  
  Interstate 80, the second-longest U.S. Interstate highway, runs from California to New JerseyAs of 2003, there were 759 automobiles per 1,000 Americans, compared to 472 per 1,000 inhabitants of the European Union the following year. Approximately 39% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks. The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and nondrivers) spends 55 minutes behind the wheel every day, driving 29 miles (47 km). The U.S. intercity passenger rail system is relatively weak. Only 9% of total U.S. work trips employ mass transit, compared to 38.8% in Europe. Bicycle usage is minimal, well below European levels. The civil airline industry is entirely privatized, while most major airports are publicly owned. The five largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are all American; American Airlines is number one. Of the world's thirty busiest passenger airports, sixteen are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).
  
  Demographics
  
  Largest ancestry groups by county, 2000On October 17, 2006, the United States population was estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be 300,000,000. The U.S. population included an estimated 12 million unauthorized migrants, of whom an estimated 1 million were uncounted by the Census Bureau. The overall growth rate is 0.89%, compared to 0.16% in the European Union. The birth rate of 14.16 per 1,000 is 30% below the world average, while higher than any European country except for Albania and Ireland. In 2006, 1.27 million immigrants were granted legal residence. Mexico has been the leading source of new U.S. residents for over two decades; since 1998, China, India, and the Philippines have been in the top four sending countries every year. The United States is the only industrialized nation in which large population increases are projected.
  
  The United States has a very diverse population—thirty-one ancestry groups have more than a million members. Whites are the largest racial group, with German Americans, Irish Americans, and English Americans constituting three of the country's four largest ancestry groups. African Americans, mostly descendants of former slaves, constitute the nation's largest racial minority and third largest ancestry group. Asian Americans are the country's second largest racial minority; the two largest Asian American ancestry groups are Chinese and Filipino. In 2005, the U.S. population included an estimated 4.5 million people with some American Indian or Alaskan native ancestry (2.4 million exclusively of such ancestry) and nearly 1 million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific island ancestry (0.4 million exclusively).
  
  Race/Ethnicity (2005)
  White 73.9%
  African American 12.4%
  Asian 4.4%
  Native American and Alaskan Native 0.8%
  Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander 0.1%
  Other/multiracial 8.3%
  Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 14.8%
  Hispanic American population growth is a major demographic trend. The approximately 44 million Americans of Hispanic descent constitute the largest ethnic minority in the country. About 64% of Hispanic Americans are of Mexican descent. Between 2000 and 2004, the country's Hispanic population increased 14% while the non-Hispanic population rose just 2%.[dead link – history] Much of this growth is from immigration; as of 2004, 12% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, over half that number from Latin America. Fertility is also a factor; the average Hispanic woman gives birth to three children in her lifetime. The comparable fertility rate is 2.2 for non-Hispanic black women and 1.8 for non-Hispanic white women (below the replacement rate of 2.1). Hispanics accounted for nearly half of the national population growth of 2.9 million between July 2005 and July 2006. It is estimated on the basis of current trends that by 2050 whites of non-Hispanic origin will be 50.1% of the U.S. population, compared to 69.4% in 2000. They are currently less than half the population in four "minority-majority states"—California, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Texas—as well as the District of Columbia.
  
  About 83% of the population lives in one of the country's 363 metropolitan areas. In 2006, 254 incorporated places in the United States had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than 1 million residents, and four global cities had over 2 million (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston). The United States has fifty metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million. Of the fifty fastest-growing metro areas, twenty-three are in the West and twenty-five in the South. Among the country's twenty most populous metro areas, those of Dallas (the fourth largest), Houston (sixth), and Atlanta (ninth) saw the largest numerical gains between 2000 and 2006, while that of Phoenix (thirteenth) grew the largest in percentage terms.
  
  Leading population centers
  
  New York City
  
  Los Angeles
  1 New York City New York 8,250,567 1 18,818,536 Northeast
  2 Los Angeles California 3,849,378 2 12,950,129 West
  3 Chicago Illinois 2,833,321 3 9,505,748 Midwest
  4 Houston Texas 2,169,248 6 5,539,949 South
  5 Phoenix Arizona 1,512,986 13 4,039,182 West
  6 Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1,448,394 5 5,826,742 Northeast
  7 San Antonio Texas 1,296,682 29 1,942,217 South
  8 San Diego California 1,256,951 17 2,941,454 West
  9 Dallas Texas 1,232,940 4 6,003,967 South
  10 San Jose California 929,936 30 1,787,123 West
  2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimates
  
  Language
  Languages (2003)
  English (only) 214.8 million
  Spanish, incl. Creole 29.7 million
  Chinese 2.2 million
  French, incl. Creole 1.9 million
  Tagalog 1.3 million
  Vietnamese 1.1 million
  German 1.1 million
  English is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2003, about 215 million, or 82% of the population aged five years and older, spoke only English at home. Spanish, spoken by over 10% of the population at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught foreign language. Some Americans advocate making English the country's official language, as it is in at least twenty-eight states. Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii by state law. While neither has an official language, New Mexico has laws providing for the use of both English and Spanish, as Louisiana does for English and French. Other states, such as California, mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms. Several insular territories grant official recognition to their native languages, along with English: Samoan and Chamorro are recognized by Samoa and Guam, respectively; Carolinian and Chamorro are recognized by the Northern Mariana Islands; Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico.
  
  Religion
  
  A church in the largely Protestant Bible BeltThe United States government does not audit Americans' religious beliefs. In a private survey conducted in 2001, 76.5% of American adults identified themselves as Christian, down from 86.4% in 1990. Protestant denominations accounted for 52% of adult Americans, while Roman Catholics, at 24.5%, were the largest individual denomination. A different study describes white evangelicals, 26.3% of the population, as the country's largest religious cohort; evangelicals of all races are estimated at 30–35%. The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2001 was 3.7%, up from 3.3% in 1990. The leading non-Christian faiths were Judaism (1.4%), Islam (0.5%), Buddhism (0.5%), Hinduism (0.4%), and Unitarian Universalism (0.3%). Between 1990 and 2001, the number of Muslims and Buddhists more than doubled. From 8.2% in 1990, 14.1% in 2001 described themselves as agnostic, atheist, or simply having no religion, still significantly less than in other postindustrial countries such as Britain (2005:44%) and Sweden (2001:69%, 2005:85%).
  
  
  Education
  
  The University of Virginia, designed by Thomas Jefferson, is one of 19 American UNESCO World Heritage SitesAmerican public education is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. Children are obliged in most states to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first grade) until they turn eighteen (generally bringing them through 12th grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to leave school at sixteen or seventeen. About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial or nonsectarian private schools. Just over 2% of children are homeschooled. The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education, as well as local community colleges of varying quality with open admission policies. Of Americans twenty-five and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees. The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%. The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for twelfth-best in the world.
  
  Health
  
  The American life expectancy of 77.8 years at birth is a year shorter than the overall figure in Western Europe, and three to four years lower than that of Norway and Switzerland. Over the past two decades, the country's rank in life expectancy has dropped from 11th to 42nd place in the world. The infant mortality rate of 6.37 per thousand likewise places the United States 42nd out of 221 countries, behind all of Western Europe. U.S. cancer survival rates are the highest in the world. Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight; the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century. Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by healthcare professionals. The U.S. adolescent pregnancy rate, 79.8 per 1,000 women, is nearly four times that of France and five times that of Germany. Abortion in the United States, legal on demand, is a source of great political controversy. Many states ban public funding of the procedure and have laws to restrict late-term abortions, require parental notification for minors, and mandate a waiting period prior to treatment. While the incidence of abortion is in decline, the U.S. abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than those of most Western nations.
  
  The United States healthcare system far outspends any other nation's, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP. Unlike most developed countries, the U.S. healthcare system is not universal, and relies on a higher proportion of private funding. In 2004, private insurance paid for 36% of personal health expenditure, private out-of-pocket payments covered 15%, and federal, state, and local governments paid for 44%. The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. healthcare system in 2000 as first in responsiveness, but 37th in overall performance. The United States is a leader in medical innovation. In 2004, the U.S. nonindustrial sector spent three times as much as Europe per capita on biomedical research. Medical bills are the most common reason for personal bankruptcy in the United States. In 2005, 46.6 million Americans, or 15.9% of the population, were uninsured, 5.4 million more than in 2001. The primary cause of the decline in coverage is the drop in the number of Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance, which fell from 62.6% in 2001 to 59.5% in 2005. Approximately one third of the uninsured lived in households with annual incomes greater than $50,000, with half of those having an income over $75,000. Another third were eligible but not registered for public health insurance. In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate health insurance; California is considering similar legislation.
  
  Crime and punishment
  
  Homicide rates in _select_ed countries, 2004 (2000 for Russia)Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing broader services. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties. At the federal level and in almost every state, jurisprudence operates on a common law system. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as appeals from state systems.
  
  Among developed nations, the United States has above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence and homicide.[update needed] In 2006, there were 5.7 murders per 100,000 persons, three times the rate in neighboring Canada. The U.S. homicide rate, which decreased by 42% between 1991 and 1999, has been roughly steady since. Some scholars have associated the high rate of homicide with the country's high rates of gun ownership, in turn associated with U.S. gun laws which are very permissive compared to those of other developed countries.
  
  The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world and by far the highest figures among democratic, developed nations. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were held in American prisons or jails, more than one in every 100 adults. The current rate is almost seven times the 1980 figure. African American males are jailed at over six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males. In the latest comparable data, from 2006, the U.S. incarceration rate was more than three times the figure in Poland, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country with the next highest rate. The country's extraordinary rate of incarceration is largely caused by changes in sentencing and drug policies. Though it has been abolished in most Western nations, capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and in thirty-seven states. Since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after a four-year moratorium, there have been over 1,000 executions in the United States. In 2006, the country had the sixth highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and Sudan. In December 2007, New Jersey became the first state to abolish the death penalty since the 1976 Supreme Court decision.
  
  Culture
  
  The United States is a culturally diverse nation, home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. There is no "American" ethnicity, as nearly all Americans or their ancestors immigrated within the past four centuries. The culture held in common by the majority of Americans is referred to as mainstream American culture, a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of Western European migrants, beginning with the early English and Dutch settlers. German, Irish, and Scottish cultures have also been very influential. Certain Native American traditions and many cultural characteristics of enslaved West Africans were absorbed into the American mainstream. Westward expansion integrated the Creoles and Cajuns of Louisiana and the Hispanos of the Southwest and brought close contact with the culture of Mexico. Large-scale immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from Southern and Eastern Europe introduced many new cultural elements. More recent immigration from Asia and especially Latin America has had broad impact. The resulting mix of cultures may be characterized as a homogeneous melting pot or as a pluralistic salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics.
  
  While American culture maintains that the United States is a classless society, economists and sociologists have identified cultural differences between the country's social classes, affecting socialization, language, and values. The American middle and professional class has been the source of many contemporary social trends such as feminism, environmentalism, and multiculturalism. Americans' self-images, social viewpoints, and cultural expectations are associated with their occupations to an unusually close degree. While Americans tend to greatly value socioeconomic achievement, being ordinary or average is generally seen as a positive attribute. Women, formerly limited to domestic roles, now mostly work outside the home and receive a majority of bachelor's degrees. The changing role of women has also changed the American family. In 2005, no household arrangement defined more than 30% of households; married childless couples were most common, at 28%. The extension of marital rights to homosexual persons is an issue of debate, with more liberal states permitting civil unions and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court having ruled that state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in 2003. Forty-four states still legally restrict marriage to the traditional man-and-woman model.
  
  Popular media
  
  The famous Hollywood signIn 1878, Eadweard Muybridge demonstrated the power of photography to capture motion. In 1894, the world's first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City, using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope. The next year saw the first commercial screening of a projected film, also in New York, and the United States was in the forefront of sound film's development in the following decades. Since the early twentieth century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, California. Director D. W. Griffith was central to the development of film grammar and Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) is frequently cited in critics' polls as the greatest film of all time. American screen actors like John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe have become iconic figures, while producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising. The major film studios of Hollywood are the primary source of the most commercially successful movies in the world, such as Star Wars (1977) and Titanic (1997), and the products of Hollywood today dominate the global film industry.
  
  Americans are the heaviest television viewers in the world, and the average time spent in front of the screen continues to rise, hitting five hours a day in 2006. The four major broadcast networks are all commercial entities. Americans listen to radio programming, also largely commercialized, on average just over two-and-a-half hours a day. Aside from web portals and web search engines, the most popular websites are eBay, MySpace, Amazon.com, The New York Times, and Apple. Twelve million Americans keep a blog.
  
  The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African American music have deeply influenced American music at large, distinguishing it from European traditions. Elements from folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular genres with global audiences. Jazz was developed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the twentieth century. Country music, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll emerged between the 1920s and 1950s. In the 1960s, Bob Dylan emerged from the folk revival to become one of America's greatest songwriters and James Brown led the development of funk. More recent American creations include hip hop and house music. American pop stars such as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Madonna have become global celebrities.
  
  Literature, philosophy, and the arts
  
  Mount Rushmore, a massive sculpture of four prominent American presidentsIn the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the nineteenth century. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, is recognized as America's other essential poet. Eleven U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, most recently Toni Morrison in 1993. Ernest Hemingway, the 1954 Nobel laureate, is often named as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel." Popular literary genres such as the Western and hardboiled crime fiction developed in the United States.
  
  The transcendentalists, led by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau, established the first major American philosophical movement. After the Civil War, Charles Peirce and then William James and John Dewey were leaders in the development of pragmatism. In the twentieth century, the work of W.V.O. Quine and Richard Rorty helped bring analytic philosophy to the fore in U.S. academic circles.
  
  In the visual arts, the Hudson River School was an important mid-nineteenth-century movement in the tradition of European naturalism. The 1913 Armory Show in New York City, an exhibition of European modernist art, shocked the public and transformed the U.S. art scene. Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and others experimented with new styles, displaying a highly individualistic sensibility. Major artistic movements such as the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein have developed largely in the United States. The tide of modernism and then postmodernism has also brought American architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Frank Gehry to the top of their field.
  
  One of the first notable promoters of the nascent American theater was impresario P. T. Barnum, who began operating a lower Manhattan entertainment complex in 1841. The team of Harrigan and Hart produced a series of popular musical comedies in New York starting in the late 1870s. In the twentieth century, the modern musical form emerged on Broadway; the songs of musical theater composers such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim have become pop standards. Playwright Eugene O'Neill won the Nobel literature prize in 1936; other acclaimed U.S. dramatists include multiple Pulitzer Prize winners Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and August Wilson.
  
  Though largely overlooked at the time, Charles Ives' work of the 1910s established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical tradition; other experimentalists such as Henry Cowell and John Cage created an identifiably American approach to classical composition. Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a unique American synthesis of popular and classical music. Choreographers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham were central figures in the creation of modern dance; George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were leaders in twentieth-century ballet. The United States has long been at the fore in the relatively modern artistic medium of photography, with major practitioners such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, and many others. The newspaper comic strip and the comic book are both U.S. innovations. Superman, the quintessential comic book superhero, has become an American icon.
  
  Food
  
  American cultural icons: apple pie, baseball, and the American flagMainstream American culinary arts are similar to those in other Western countries. Wheat is the primary cereal grain. Traditional American cuisine uses ingredients such as turkey, white-tailed deer venison, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup, indigenous foods employed by Native Americans and early European settlers. Slow-cooked pork and beef barbecue, crab cakes, potato chips, and chocolate chip cookies are distinctively American styles. Soul food, developed by African slaves, is popular around the South and among many African Americans elsewhere. Syncretic cuisines such as Louisiana creole, Cajun, and Tex-Mex are regionally important. Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos, and pasta dishes freely adapted from Italian sources are widely consumed. Americans generally prefer coffee to tea. Marketing by U.S. industries is largely responsible for making orange juice and milk ubiquitous breakfast beverages. During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans' caloric intake rose 24%; frequent dining at fast food outlets is associated with what health officials call the American "obesity epidemic." Highly sweetened soft drinks are widely popular; sugared beverages account for 9% of the average American's caloric intake.
  
  Sports
  
  The Pro Bowl (2006), American football's annual all-star gameSince the late nineteenth century, baseball has been regarded as the national sport; football, basketball, and ice hockey are the country's three other leading professional team sports. College football and basketball also attract large audiences. Football is now by several measures the most popular spectator sport in the United States. Boxing and horse racing were once the most watched individual sports, but they have been eclipsed by golf and auto racing, particularly NASCAR. Soccer, though not a leading professional sport in the country, is played widely at the youth and amateur levels. Tennis and many outdoor sports are also popular.
  
  While most major U.S. sports have evolved out of European practices, basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, and snowboarding are American inventions. Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact. Eight Olympic Games have taken place in the United States. The United States has won 2,191 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country, and 216 in the Winter Olympic Games, the second most.
  北美洲中部国家。东、西分别濒临大西洋和太平洋。领土还包括北美洲西北部的阿拉斯加和太平洋中的夏威夷群岛。面积93726万平方千米。人口263亿(1995年)。首都华盛顿,本土西部为高大的科迪勒拉山系;东部为阿巴拉契亚高地和沿海平原;中部为平原,密西西比河纵贯。大部分属温带大陆性气候,南部具亚热带特征。经济高度发达。国民生产总值和工、农业产值均居世界首位。工业部门齐全,生产规模巨大。种植业和畜牧业并重,为世界最大的粮食(小麦、玉米)出口国。


  North Central States. East and West were the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific. Territory also includes North America, Alaska and the Pacific northwest of the Hawaiian Islands. Area of 937  26 million square kilometers. Population 2  63 billion (1995). Washington, DC, native to the tall western cordillera; the east of the Appalachian highlands and coastal plains; the central plains, the Mississippi River ran through. Mostly temperate continental climate, with subtropical characteristics of the south. Highly developed economy. GDP and industrial and agricultural output value tops in the world. Complete industrial sector, large scale production. Both crop and livestock production for the world's largest grain (wheat, corn) exporters.
  美国最佳旅游时间: 美国的东西和南北跨度都非常大,因而全国的气候差别也相当大。同样在冬季,有些地区气温降至了零下几度,而有些地方却可以泡海水浴。美国的夏天非常炎热,游客要有“战高温”的准备;但如果是去美国北部旅游,最好要带上一件厚毛衣或防寒夹克,即使是在夏天,美国北部却是比较凉爽的,夜里甚至会有一些寒意。
  美国民俗节庆活动: 美国有以下国定假日,这些日子里,许多地方都不办公,请游客在节日之前办好旅游中该办的手续,然后加入狂欢的人群中吧:
  一月一日 新年
  一月第三周周一 马丁·路德金诞辰
  二月第三周周一 总统节
  五月第四周周一 阵亡将士节
  七月四日 独立日
  九月第一周周一 劳动节
  十月第二周周一 哥伦布节
  十一月最后一周周四 感恩节
  十二月二十五日 圣诞节
  美国特别提醒: 小费:机场搬运人员和宾馆服务生为旅客服务时,游客应付给一定小费,一般按每件行李一美元算。
  礼仪:不小心与人碰撞,要说“sorry”;请别人让路,要说“excuse me”;公共场所不要吸烟,在其他地方吸烟前要向周围的人征询“may i smoke?”;遵循“lady first”的西方习惯,让女士先行;与人打招呼时先说“hi”。
  安全:无论是住在高级宾馆还是经济旅店里,一定要将房门内侧的链条锁上,如有人敲门,要先问一句:“who is it?”再将门开出一条缝来看看是谁;尽量不要在夜晚去行人较少的地段。万一遇到抢劫,要打911报警电话。
  时差:美国东西海岸相距4500公里以上,全国分为东部时间、中央时间、山区时间、太平洋时间、阿拉斯加时间和夏威夷时间,依次早一个小时。请游客在旅行中和打电话时注意。
  美国美食: 美国的餐饮呈现出多元化的特点,一般大城市中都有世界各地风味的餐馆。欧洲餐厅以法国和意大利餐馆为主,这些地方环境很好,价格也较高,去这些餐馆时,最好先看一下放在店前的菜单,以免坐下后发现菜价太高想离开的尴尬;中餐馆遍布全美各地,以广东餐馆为主,多售卖海鲜类菜肴,价格适中;其他还有日本、印度、中东、拉美和东南亚餐馆。比较富有美国当地特色的则是快餐,有以麦当劳为代表的汉堡包餐厅、以肯德基为代表的炸鸡餐厅,此外还有出售披萨、三明治和热狗的快餐店。在正规餐厅里就餐后要付占总消费额15—20%的小费,而在快餐厅里就不必付小费了。
  游客在美国旅行,如果要节省开支,可以经常吃快餐;也不妨制订一个预算,早餐控制在5美金以内,午餐在10美金以内,晚餐则控制在20美金以内。 美国购物: 在美国购物,会发现美国有许多环境优雅的超大型购物中心,它们不单单是购物场所,还成为一种文化现象,早晨老人们在购物商场里散着步,孩子们放学后会来商场的游艺房玩耍,年轻的母亲们来到这里以购物的形式度过愉快的周末,此外,商场里还有餐厅、电影院,可以说,美国的购物中心更象功能齐全的休闲地。这种商业模式目前已经在全世界范围内得到推广。
  购物时不妨多逛几家店,一般的大商场里,定期总会有降价销售,店家会挂出“on sale”的牌子,在这种时候,只须花上原价格的几分之一就可以买到称心如意的东西。
  美国交通: 航空:全世界各大城市都有飞往美国各地的航班,空中交通比较便利。美国的国内航线机票可以打折,如果提前21天购票,可以享受最大的优惠,其次是14天前和7天前,买当天票是最贵的。在星期日看当地报纸的旅游专刊可以发现有减价机票出售。一些小航空公司的机票价格较低,但是飞机较为陈旧。
  铁路:美国铁路客运公司有列车通往全美各地,并有优惠的套票出售。套票在规定的期限和地区内可以无限制地使用,有全线通用、西部通用、东部通用以及西海岸通用等,对于游客来说,买这样的票在美国国内四处旅行比较合算,但须在赴美前凭护照购买。套票在旅游旺季和淡季时也有差价。
  公路:green tortoise客车公司在每年的6月至10月有自旧金山至纽约、波士顿的旅游客车,14天横穿美洲大陆,行程在5000公里以上,包食、宿、游,票价只要五百美元左右(详情可致电18008678647)。greyhound长途汽车公司对外国人发售汽车套票,在一定期限内可在全国范围内乘坐该公司的长途汽车,学生和62岁以上的老人可以享受折扣。
  美国住宿: 美国的宾馆档次不一,游客可以根据经济条件选择各类层次的旅馆投宿。
  一般高档饭店的双人房每晚收费是170美元,而中档饭店为70-140美元,经济型的旅馆则只需40-70美元,单人房相应低10至20美元,所以与同伴一起住宿会较为合算。如果想更节省些,可以住青年旅馆,那里的收费每天一般只有15美元左右,但是得睡双层床,卫生间也是公用的,不过这样可以与全球各地年轻的旅行者交上朋友。
  饭店的收费还有地方之间的差价,纽约物价较高,因而80美元只能住进三等经济饭店,而在洛杉矶花这点钱就可以找到一家中档饭店了。在有景点的地方则另当别论。此外,不同的季节宾馆的房价也是不同的,旅游旺季和淡季之间可能会有成倍的差额。游客每到一地,可以查寻当地黄页电话号簿中的旅馆项目,这样能找到较为放心的旅馆。
  美国的饭店通常不提供免费餐饮,只有少数几家会供应免费的早餐。
  美国娱乐: 美国的娱乐项目非常多,较高雅的娱乐有听音乐会、逛博物馆、看歌剧表演,美国有举世闻名的大都会艺术博物馆和大都会歌剧院。较热门的娱乐有去拉斯维加斯赌钱和观看歌舞表演,或者观看各类篮球赛、棒球赛、橄榄球赛等,尤其是高水平的nba比赛,游客如果正好赶上有比赛,一定要去现场体会一下热烈的气氛噢。至于一般的酒吧、夜总会、咖啡馆,每个城市中都会有很多,游客可以根据自己的喜好选择合适的娱乐场所。


  Best American Travel Time: America's west and the east span is very large, and thus the country's climate is also a considerable difference. Also in winter, temperatures dropped to minus some areas several times, but some places are able to soak bathing. United States, very hot summer, tourists have "Zhan Gaowen" preparations; but if it is to travel the northern United States, it is best to wear a thick sweater or jacket cold, even in the summer, the northern United States is relatively cool, even have some chilly night.
  American Folk Festivals: The U.S. has the following national holidays, these days, many areas of office, please tourists before the holiday travel in the run to complete the formalities, and then joined the carnival of the crowd it:
  January 1 New Year
  The third week Monday in January Martin Luther King's Birthday
  Section of the third week Monday in February President
  May the fourth week Monday Memorial Day
  July 4 Independence Day
  The first week of Labor Day Monday in September
  The second week of October, Columbus Day
  Last week Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day
  December 25 Christmas Day
  Reminded the United States: Tip: Airport porters and hotel services, health services for travelers, tourists due to some tips, generally considered one U.S. dollar per piece of luggage.
  Etiquette: Do not care with who collision, say "sorry"; please make way for others, say "excuse me"; not to smoke in public places, smoking in other places around the former to seek "may i smoke?"; follow the "lady first" Western habits, so that women first; and greet someone first said "hi".
  Security: Whether living in high class hotels or hotels in the economy, be sure to lock the door inside the chain, if someone knocked on the door, first ask: "who is it?" Then the door opened a crack to look out Who; try not to pedestrians at night, lots less. Event of a robbery Necessary to Play 911.
  Time difference: the United States coast to coast for more than 4,500 kilometers apart, the country is divided into Eastern Time, Central Time, Mountain Time, Pacific Time, Alaska and Hawaii time, time, followed by one hour earlier. Please take the time to travel in and call attention.
  Shopping may wish to visit several more stores, general stores, the periodic always having a sale, stores will be hung out "on sale" brand, in this time, only spend a fraction of the original price can be buy agreeable things.
  U.S. Transportation: Aviation: flying all over the world in major cities throughout the United States flights, air traffic is convenient. U.S. domestic flights discount airline tickets to, if ticket 21 days in advance, you can enjoy the most benefits, followed by 14 days before and 7 days before the vote that day to buy the most expensive. Read the local Sunday newspaper could be found in the tourism special issue price of air tickets. Some small airline ticket prices low, but the aircraft are quite outdated.
  Rail: Amtrak train leading companies throughout the United States, and a concession package available for sale. Package in the prescribed time limit and unlimited use of the area, there for all routes, Western General, East and West Coast GM, General, for tourists to buy such a ticket in the United States traveled more cost-effective, but they have to go the United States with passports before purchasing. Package in the tourist season and low season, there are differences.
  Highway: green tortoise bus company in June of each year to 10 months there have been from San Francisco to New York, Boston, tourist bus, 14 days across America, more than 5,000 km trip, including food, lodging, travel, fares as long as 500 U.S. dollars (please call 18008678647). greyhound bus company's package offer for sale to foreigners, in a certain period of time in the company's nationwide long-distance bus ride, students and people over the age of 62 can enjoy the discount.
  The United States to stay: Hotel grades vary the United States, visitors can choose according to economic conditions in various levels of hotel accommodations.
  General upscale hotel double room per night is charged 170 U.S. dollars, while the mid-range hotels as 70-140 dollars, cheap hotel, is only 40-70 dollars, the corresponding single low 10 to 20 U.S. dollars, so with companions will stay together more cost-effective. If you want to save some more, you can live in Youth Hostel, where the fee to only 15 U.S. dollars a day or so, but have to sleep in bunk beds, bathroom is also common, but so can the young travelers around the world to make friends.
  Hotel charges are the difference between local and New York prices higher, which can only be admitted to 80 U.S. dollars third-class economy hotel in Los Angeles to spend this amount of money you can find a mid-range restaurant. Spots where there is a different matter. In addition, different season hotel rates are different between the tourist season and the off-season there may be double the difference. Visitors at a new venue, you can search your local Yellow Pages telephone directory in the hotel project, it is more reassuring to find hotels.
  American restaurants typically do not provide free food, only a few will supply free breakfast.
  U.S. entertainment: American entertainment is very large, high and elegant entertainment with concerts, visiting museums, opera performances, the United States, the world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Opera. More popular entertainment has to go to Vegas to gamble and watch dance performances, or watch a variety of basketball, baseball, football competitions, in particular, high levels of nba games, just in time for tourists if there is competition, must go Experience the warm atmosphere of the scene Oh, look. As a general bars, nightclubs, cafes, each city will have many visitors can choose according to their own preferences appropriate entertainment.
  1. :  US United States,  AWA,  American Water Association
  2. n.:  America,  the United States of America,  American,  United States,  USA
  1. n.  Etats-Unis d'Amérique, USA
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