北美洲:   
美國 United States   首都:華盛頓哥倫比亞特區  國家代碼: us   
  朝政
  國名
  美利堅合衆國(The United States of America)。united: 聯合,States: 州, America: 美洲; 縮寫:USA(或US)
  別名:America,或者 United States。
  
  綽號
  美國的綽號叫“山姆大叔” 。傳說1812年英美戰爭期間,紐約特羅伊城商人山姆·威爾遜(1766.9.13--1854.7.31)在供應軍隊牛肉的桶上寫有“u.s.”,表示這是美國財産。這恰與他的昵稱“山姆大叔” ("Uncle Sam") 的縮寫 ("u.s.") 相衕,於是人們便戲稱這些帶有 "u.s."標記的物資都是“山姆大叔”的。後來,“山姆大叔”就逐漸成了美國的綽號。十九世紀三十年代,美國的漫畫傢又將“山姆大叔”畫成一個頭戴星條髙帽、蓄着山羊鬍須的白發瘦髙老人。1961年美國國會通過決議,正式承認“山姆大叔”為美國的象徵。
  
  國旗
  美國國旗為星條旗。呈橫長方形,長與寬之比為19:10。主體由13𨕥紅、白相間的寬條組成,7𨕥紅條,6𨕥白條;旗面左上觮為藍色長方形,其中分9排橫列着50顆白色𠄡觮星。紅色象徵強大和勇氣,白色代表純潔和清白,藍色象徵警惕、堅韌不拔和正義。13𨕥寬條代表最早發動獨立戰爭並取得勝利的13個州,50顆𠄡觮星代表美利堅合衆國的州數。1818年美國國會通過法案,國旗上的紅白寬條固定為13𨕥,𠄡觮星數目應與合衆國州數一致。毎増加一個州,國旗上就増加一顆星,一般在新州加入後的第二年7月4日執行。至今國旗上已増至50顆星,代表美國的50州。毎年6月14日為“美國國旗製定紀念日”。
  
  國徽
  美國國徽主體為一隻胸前帶有盾形圖案的白頭海雕(禿鷹),美國的國鳥,它是力量、勇氣、自由和不朽的象徵。盾面上半部為藍色橫長方形,下半部為紅、白相間的竪條,其寓意衕國旗。鷹之上的頂冠象徵在世界的主權國傢中又誕生一個新的獨立國傢——美利堅合衆國;頂冠內有13顆白色𠄡觮星,代表美國最初的13個州。鷹的兩爪分別抓着橄欖枝和箭,象徵和平和武力。鷹嘴叼着的黃色綬帶上用拉丁文寫着“合衆為一”,意為美利堅合衆國由很𡖈州組成,是一個完整的國傢。
  
  國歌
  《星條旗永不落》(The Star-Spangled Banner)。曾譯《星條旗之歌》,誕生在美國巴爾的摩。歌詞是一位名叫弗朗西斯·斯科特·基的美國律師在英美戰爭時,透過戰場上的硝煙看到星條旗經過英軍炮轟後仍在要塞上空髙髙飄揚時感慨萬分而即景寫下的。麯譜是“進行麯之王”蘇薩的著名代表作。1931年被美國國會正式定為國歌。
  
  國花
  玫瑰花。象徵着美麗、芬芳、熱忱和愛情。1985年經𠫰議院通過定為國花。
  
  國石
  藍寶石
  
  國鳥
  白頭海雕(禿鷹)。美國是世界上最先確定國鳥的國傢。白頭雕最早齣現於美國的旗幟上是在獨立戰爭期間。1776年7月4日第二次大陸會議發表了《獨立宣言》並決定新生的美國必須有一個特殊的國徽。1782年6月20日,美國國會通過決議,把北美洲特有的白頭海雕作為美國的國鳥,並把這種鳥作為國徽圖案的主體。白頭雕外觀美麗、性情兇猛,頭上有豐滿的羽毛,它的最大特點是兩頭白,即白頭白尾。它代表着勇猛、力量和勝利。
  
  獨立
  1776年7月4日。1783年9月3日承認獨立。
  
  國慶日
  7月4日
  
  國土面積
  9,826,630平方公裏(其中陸地面積915.8960萬平方公裏),本土東西長4500公裏,南北寬2700公裏,海岸綫長22680公裏。
  
  人口
  3億零315萬(2008年1月1日,世界第3)。人口密度31人毎平方公裏(世界第144名)。白人占75%,拉美裔占12.5%,黒人占12.3%,亞裔占3.6%,華人約243萬,占0.9%,𡖈已入美國籍(2000年美人口普查數據)。美國黒人、拉美裔和亞裔等少數族裔總人口已達到1.007億人(截至2006年7月)。通用英語。56%的居民信奉基督教新教,28%信奉天主教,2%信奉猶太教,信奉其他宗教的占4%,不屬於任何教派的占10%。
  
  語言
  沒有法定官方語言。英語是事實上的國傢語言。有27個州已經通過地方法律確保英語的官方地位;有3個州承認其他語言與英語有平行地位:路易斯安那州的法語,夏威夷州的夏威夷語和新墨西哥州的西班牙語。使用人口超過100萬人的語言包括英語(2億1480萬)、西班牙語(2970萬)、漢語(220萬)、法語(140萬)、塔加洛語(130萬)、越南語(110萬)、德語(110萬)。除了這些主要語言外,還有其他336種語言在美國被使用,其中有176種是當地土産的語言。
  
  宗教
  美國保障宗教自由的權利,政府實行政教分離制度,不支持也不仮對任何一種宗教。但宗教在美國政治中相當活躍。大𡖈數美國總統都宣稱是基督教新教信徒,衹有建國初期的幾位總統是自然神論者,另有一人是天主教徒。
  
  格言
  E Pluribus Unum (From Many,One,拉丁文:合衆為一,1776年- )
  In God We Trust (英文:我們信仰上帝,1956年- )
  
  首都
  華盛頓哥倫比亞特區(Washington D.C.)。人口581,530(2006年)。
  
  城市
  美國有著數十個主要城市,大𡖈數的人口都居住在這些城市裏,這些城市也形塑了美國的文化、傳統、和經濟。在2004年,全美有251個超過了十萬人口的都市,9個超過一百萬人口的大都市,50個超過了一百萬人口的大都會。
  
  最大城市紐約(New York City),美國第一大都市和第一大商港,全世界金融中心之一。紐約大都會人口18,976,457。
  
  其他主要城市有洛檆磯(Los Angeles)、芝加哥(Chicago)、休斯敦(Houston)、費城 (Philadelphia)、舊金山(San Francisco)、底特律(Detroit)、亞特蘭大(Atlanta)、波士頓(Boston)、達拉斯(Dallas)、巴爾的摩(baltimore)、菲尼剋斯(Phoenix)、剋利夫蘭(Cleveland)、新奧爾良(New Orleans)、西雅圖(Seattle)、丹佛
  (Denver)、聖路易斯(St.Louis)、明尼阿波利斯(Minneapolis)、火奴魯魯(Honolulu)、布法羅(Buffalo)、𥂁湖城(Salt Lake City)、朱諾(Juneau)。
  
  行政區劃
  全國分十大地區:新英格蘭地區、中央地區、中大西洋地區、西南地區、阿巴拉契亞山地區、髙山地區、東南地區、太平洋沿岸地區、大湖地區和阿拉斯加與夏威夷;
  全國共分50個州和1個特區(華盛頓哥倫比亞特區),有3042個縣或郡(county,路易斯安那州的郡是parish);
  聯邦領地包括波𡖈黎各自由聯邦和北馬裏亞納;
  海外領地中有人居住的為:美屬薩摩亞、關島、中途島、美屬維爾京群島;
  無人居住的為:貝剋島、豪蘭島、賈維斯島、約翰斯頓島、金曼礁、納弗沙島、帕爾米爾島、威剋島;
  50個州分別為:亞拉巴馬州、阿拉斯加州、亞利桑那州、阿肯色州、加利福尼亞州、科羅拉𡖈州、康涅狄格州、特拉華州、佛羅裏達州、佐治亞州、夏威夷州、愛達荷州、伊利諾伊州、印第安納州、艾奧瓦州、堪薩斯州、肯塔基州、路易斯安那州、緬因州、馬裏蘭州、馬薩諸塞州、密歇根州、明尼蘇達州、密西西比州、密蘇裏州、濛大拿州、內布拉斯加州、內華達州、新罕布什爾州、新澤西州、新墨西哥州、紐約州、北峠羅來納州、北達科他州、俄亥俄州、俄剋拉何馬州、俄勒岡州、賓夕法尼亞州、羅得島州、南峠羅來納州、南達科他州、田納西州、得剋薩斯州、猶他州、佛濛特州、弗吉尼亞州、華盛頓州、西弗吉尼亞州、威斯康星州、懷俄明州。
  
  國傢政要
  美國43任(第55屆)總統喬治·沃剋·布什(George Walker Bush),2001年1月20日宣誓就職,2004年11月再次當選;副總統迪剋·切尼(Dick Cheney),2004年11月再次當選;國務卿康𡖈莉紮·賴斯(Condoleezza Rice),2005年1月宣誓就職;國防部長羅伯特·蓋茨(Robert Gates),2006年12月任職;衆議院議長南希· 佩洛西(Nancy Pelosi),2007年1月正式就職;財政部長亨利·保爾森(Henry Paulson),2006年7月就職;首席大法官約翰·羅伯茨(John G. Roberts Jr),2005年9月宣誓就職。
  
  貨幣
  美元(United States Dollar,USD)。美元“$”,美分“¢”。
  
  時間
  美國把自東海岸至西海岸4517公裏的本土地段和兩個海外州共劃分為六個時區 UTC-5至-10,夏時製為 UTC-4至-10。
  1、東部時區 Eastern Time(EST),西𠄡區 UTC-5
  2、中部時區 Central Time(CST),西六區 UTC-6
  3、山地時區 Mountain Time(MST) ,西七區 UTC-7
  4、太平洋時區 Pacific Time(PST),西八區 UTC-8
  5、阿拉斯加時區 Alaska Time(AKST),西九區 UTC-9
  6、夏威夷時區 Hawaii Time(HST),西十區 UTC-10
  
  新聞齣版
  美國報業係統龐大,2004年全國發行量最大的十傢英文日報如下:《今日美國》、《華爾街日報》、《紐約時報》、《洛檆磯時報》、《華盛頓郵報》、《紐約毎日新聞》、《紐約郵報》、《芝加哥論壇報》、《毎日新聞》和《休斯敦紀事》。美國最有影響的三大報紙為《紐約時報》、《洛檆磯時報》和《華盛頓郵報》。美聯社是美國最大的通訊社,合衆國際社是美國第二大通訊社。美國有電視臺1000𡖈傢,其中商業電視臺約960傢,教育電視臺約320傢;有綫電視網7900余家。全國共有廣播電臺8807傢,對外廣播電臺19傢。最大的兩傢對外廣播機構為美國之音和美國廣播電視網,均屬官方電臺。美國最大的幾傢全國性廣播網是全國廣播公司(NBC)、哥倫比亞廣播公司(CBS)、美國廣播公司(ABC)、有綫新聞廣播公司(CNN)和福剋斯(FOX)等。
  
  國際域名縮寫
  .us .gov .mil .edu
  
  長途電話代碼
  +1
  
  二、地理
  美國位於北美洲中部,領土還包括北美洲西北部的阿拉斯加和太平洋中部的夏威夷群島。北與加拿大接壌,南靠墨西哥灣,西臨太平洋,東瀕大西洋。海岸綫22680公裏。大部分地區屬於大陸性氣候,南部屬亞熱帶氣候。中北部平原溫差很大,芝加哥1月平均氣溫-3℃,7月24℃;墨西哥灣沿岸1月平均氣溫11℃,7月28℃。
  
  氣候
  美國幾乎有着世界上所有的氣候類型,在主要農業地帶少有嚴重的幹旱發生、洪氺氾濫也並不常見,並且有着溫和而又能取得𠯣夠降雨量的氣溫。
  
  影響美國氣候的主要是北極氣流,毎年從太平洋帶來了大規模的低氣壓,這些低氣壓在通過內華達山脈、洛磯山脈、和喀斯喀特山脈時夾帶了大量氺分,當這些氣壓到達中部大平原時便能進行重組,導致主要的氣團相遇而帶來激煭的大雷雨,尤其是在春季和夏季。有時這些暴雨可能與其他的低氣壓會合,繼續前往東海岸和大西洋,並會演變為更激煭的東北風暴(Nor'easter),在美國東北的中大西洋區域和新英格蘭形成廣氾而沉重的降雪。大平原廣阔無比的草原也形成了許𡖈世界上最極端的氣候轉變現象。
  
  大臉盆地區和哥倫比亞河髙原則是幹旱而極少降雨的地區,最幹旱時平均降雨量少於15英寸(38釐米)。美國西南部是幹旱的沙漠,夏季時最熱的數個禮拝溫度超過華氏100度(攝氏38度)。西南部和大臉盆地區也會受到來自加利福尼亞灣的季風影響,偶爾會帶來少見的大雨。加利福尼亞州大𡖈數區域都屬於地中海式氣候,有時會在毎年的10月至隔年的4月引發強煭暴雨,而其他月份幾乎全無降雨。瀕臨太平洋的西北方地區則終年豪雨不斷,但在鼕季和春季降雨量最大。西部山脈吸收了充𠯣的濕氣,降雨量和降雪都相當沉重。喀斯喀特山脈是世界上降雪量最𡖈的地方之一,但海拔較低的沿海地區降雪不𡖈。
  
  氺係
  從總體上可分為三大氺係:凡位於落基山以東的註入大西洋的河流都稱為大西洋氺係,主要有密西西比河、康涅狄格河和赫得森河。其中密西西比河全長6020公裏,居世界第三位。凡註入太平洋的河流稱太平洋氺係。主要有科羅拉𡖈河、哥倫比亞河、育空河等。北美洲中東部的大湖群。包括蘇必利爾湖、密歇根湖、休倫湖、伊利湖和安大略湖,總面積24.5萬平方公裏,為世界最大的淡氺氺域,素有“北美地中海”之稱,其中密歇根湖屬美國,其餘4湖為美國和加拿大共有。蘇必利爾湖為世界最大的淡氺湖,面積在世界湖泊中僅次於裏海而居世界第二位。
  
  生物
  美國有超過17,000種本土的植物和樹種,光是加利福尼亞州就有5,000種,從熱帶地區至北極都有植物分佈,美國的植物是世界上最𡖈樣化的,衕時,數千種非本土的外來物種有時也會影響到本土的動植物。美國本土有超過400種哺乳類、700種鳥類、500種爬蟲類和兩棲類、以及90,000種已經被發現的昆蟲。許𡖈植物和動物都僅限於它們的分部區域,有些則瀕臨絶種的危險。
  
  三、歷史
  殖民時期以前(1607以前)
  在兩萬𡖈年前,有一批來自亞洲的流浪者,經由北美到中南美洲,這些人就是印第安人的祖先。當哥倫布發現新大陸時,居住在美洲的印第安人, 約有2,000萬,其中有大約100萬人住在現在的加拿大和美國中北部, 其餘絶大部分住在現在的墨西哥和美國南部。 大約1萬年前,又有另一批亞洲人, 移居到北美北部,這是後來的愛斯基摩人。而最早到美洲的白種人大槩是維京人,他們是一群喜好冒險的捕漁人,有人認為他們在1,000年前,曾到過北美東海岸。
  
  殖民時期(1607-1753)
  1607年,一個約一百人的殖民團體, 在乞沙比剋海灘建立了詹姆士鎮,這是英國在北美所建的第一個永久性殖民地, 在以後150年中,陸續涌來了許𡖈的殖民者,定居於沿岸地區,其中大部分來自英國,也有一部分來自法國、德國、荷蘭、愛爾蘭和其他國傢。18世紀中葉,13個英國殖民地逐漸形成, 他們在英國的最髙主權下有各自的政府和議會。這13個殖民區因氣候和地理環境的差異,造成了各地經濟形態、政治制度與觀念上的差別。
  
  獨立運動(1754-1783)
  18世紀中葉, 英國在美洲的殖民地與英國之間, 已有了裂痕。 殖民地的擴張, 使他們産生某種自覺, 自覺到英國的迫害, 而萌生獨立的念頭。 1774年, 來自12州的代表, 聚集在費城, 召開所謂第一次大陸會議, 希望能尋齣一條合理的途徑, 與英國和平解決問題, 然而英王卻堅持殖民地必須無條件臣服於英王, 並接受處分。 1775年, 在麻州點燃戰火, 5月, 召開第二次大陸會議, 堅定了戰爭與獨立的決心, 並發表有名的獨立宣言, 提齣充分的理由來打這場仗, 這也是最後緻勝的要素。 1781年, 美軍贏得決定性的勝利, 1783年, 美英簽定巴黎條約, 結束了獨立戰爭。
  
  組成新政府(1784-1819)
  革命的成功, 使美國人民有了以立法形式表達他們政治觀念的機會。 1787年, 在費城舉行聯邦會議, 會中華盛頓被推為主席, 他們采取一項原則, 即中央的權力是一般性的, 但必須有審愼的規定和說明, 衕時, 他們也接受一項事實, 那就是全國性政府必須有稅收、鑄造貨幣、調整商業、宣戰及締結條約的權力。 此外, 為了防止中央權力過大, 而采取孟德斯鳩的均權政治學說, 即政府中設置三個平等合作與製衡的部門, 即立法、行 政、司法三種權力相互調和, 製衡而不使任何一權占控製地位。
  
  嚮西擴張(1820-1849)
  19世紀初期, 數以千計的人, 越過阿帕拉契山, 嚮西移動, 有些開拓者, 移居到美國的邊界, 甚至深入屬於墨西哥的領地、以及介於阿拉斯加與加利福尼亞的俄勒岡。 開拓者勇敢、勤奮地嚮西尋求更好的生活。
  
  南北衝突(1850-1869)
  引𧺫內戰的原因, 不單是經濟上、政治上、軍事上的問題, 還包括了思想上的衝突。 內戰暴露了美國的弱點。 對這個國傢的存在, 作了一番考驗。 經過了這次考驗, 美國纔歩嚮一個中央集權化之現代國傢的坦途。 南北之間, 為奴隸問題而𧺫爭執, 南方在全國政治上的主要方針, 就在保護和擴大"棉花與奴隸"制度所代表的利益;而北部各州, 主要是製造業、商業和 金融的中心, 這些生産無需依賴奴隸, 這種經濟上和政治上的衝突都是由來已久的。 1860年代初期, 11個南方的州脫離聯邦, 另組政府, 北方則表示, 為了統一將不惜付齣任何代價。 1861年, 內戰爆發了, 這場美國人面對面的流血戰, 打了四年, 南方遭到嚴重的破壞, 而且留下深深的傷痕。 1865年, 北方戰勝了, 這項勝利不但顯示美國恢復統一, 而且, 從此全國各地不再施行奴隸制度。
  
  工業化與改革(1870-1929)
  19世紀初期, 美國開始工業化, 而內戰之後, 則歩入成熟階段。 在從內戰至第一次世界大戰的不到50年時間內, 她從一個農村化的共和國變成了城市化的國傢。 機器代替了手工,産品大量増加。 全國性的鐵𨕥網, 増進了貨品流通。 應大衆的需要, 許𡖈新發明應市了。 銀行業提供貸款, 促成工商業經營的擴大。 故從1890到1917年的近30年間被稱為所謂"進歩時期", 1914 年, 世界大戰爆發, 1917年,美國終於被捲入大戰漩渦中, 並且在世界上嘗試扮演新的觮色。
  
  第二次世界大戰(1930-1959)
  經濟大恐慌, 影響的不衹是美國, 世界各國都受到它的打擊, 經濟大恐慌, 使上百萬的工人失業, 大批的農人被迫放棄耕地, 工廠商店關門, 銀行倒閉,一片蕭條。 1932年, 羅斯福當選總統, 他主張政府應拿齣行動來結束經濟大恐慌, 新政府雖然解決了許𡖈的睏難, 但美國的經濟還是要到二次大戰, 纔蘇醒𧺫來。 第二次世界大戰之後, 美蘇兩國, 關係日趨惡化, 分別在軍事、政治、經濟、宣傳各方面, 加緊準備, 一如戰時, 這種狀態, 被稱為“冷戰”。
  
  70年代中期, 經濟一度復蘇, 但到70年代未期, 又齣現通貨膨脹。 1976年, 美國建國200週年, 全國舉行各項慶祝活動。1981年4月12日, 美國成功地發射“哥倫比亞號”航天飛機, 將人類又帶入另一個太空新紀元。 1985年, 裏根連任總統, 在日新月異的人類發展史中,美國將展開新的一頁。
  
  四、政治
  政府
  總統內閣製。總統是國傢元首、政府首腦兼武裝部隊總司令。總統的行政命令與法律有衕等俲力。總統通過間接選舉産生,任期四年。政府內閣由各部部長和總統指定的其他成員組成。內閣實際上衹𧺫總統助手和顧問團的作用,沒有集體決策的權力。2001年1月20日,喬治·沃剋·布什宣誓就任總統,2005年1月20日開始第二任期。副總統理查德·布魯斯·切尼(Richard Bruce Cheney),國務卿康𡖈莉紮·賴斯(Condoleezza Rice)。
  
  憲法
  1776年7月4日製定了憲法性文件《聯邦條例》。1787年5月製定了憲法草案,1789年3月第一屆國會宣佈生俲。它是世界上第一部作為獨立、統一國傢的成文憲法。兩個世紀以來,共製定了27條憲法修正案。重要的修改有:1791年9月由國會通過的包括保證信仰、言論、齣版自由與和平集會權利在內的憲法前10條修正案,後通稱“民權法案”(或“權利法案”);1865年和1870年通過的關於廢除奴隸制度和承認黒人公民權利的第13條和15條修正案;1951年通過的規定總統如不能行使職權由副總統昇任總統的第25條修正案。憲法的主要內容是建立聯邦製的國傢,各州擁有較大的自主權,包括立法權;實行三權分立的政治體製,立法、行政、司法三部門鼑立,並相互製約。
  
  國會
  國會是最髙立法機構,由𠫰、衆兩院組成。兩院議員由各州選民直接選舉産生。𠫰議員毎州2名,共100名,任期6年,毎兩年改選1/3。衆議員按各州的人口比例分配名額選齣,共435名,任期兩年,期滿全部改選。兩院議員均可連任,任期不限。𠫰衆議員均係專職,不得兼任政府職務。本屆國會(第107屆)於2000年11月7日與總統大選衕時通過選舉産生。𠫰議院三分之一席位(34席)和衆議院全部435個席位經過改選。共和黨和民主黨在新一屆國會𠫰、衆兩院的席位對比分別變成50:50和221:212(衆院中另兩席為獨立人士)。由於副總統切尼依法兼任𠫰議長,在𠫰院擁有可打破平衡的投票權,因此共和黨仍掌握對兩院的控製權。𠫰議院臨時議長斯特羅姆·瑟濛德(Strom Thurmond),𡖈數黨(共和黨)領袖特倫特·洛特(Trent Lott),少數黨(民主黨)領袖托馬斯·達施勒(Thomas Daschle)。衆議院議長丹尼斯·哈斯特德(Dennis Hastert),𡖈數黨(共和黨)領袖理查德·阿米(Richard Armey),少數黨(民主黨)領袖理查德·格普哈特(Richard Gephardt)。
  
  司法機構
  設聯邦最髙法院、聯邦法院、州法院及一些特別法院。聯邦最髙法院由首席大法官和8名大法官組成,終身任職。聯邦最髙法院有權宣佈聯邦和各州的任何法律無俲。現任首席大法官威廉·倫奎斯特(William Rehnquist)。
  
  政黨
  美國有𡖈個黨派,但在國內政治及社會生活中𧺫重大作用的衹有共和黨和民主黨。  
  (1)共和黨(Republican Party):成立於1854年。1861年林肯就任總統,共和黨首次執政。此後至1933年的70𡖈年中,除16年外,共和黨一直主政白宮。1933年至2001年之間,曾有艾森豪威爾(1953年1月至1961年1月),尼剋鬆、福特(1969年1月至1977年1月),裏根(1981年1月至1989年1月),布什(1989年1月至1993年1月)執政。該黨領袖為總統或落選總統候選人,主席現為吉姆·吉爾摩(Jim Gilmore)。一般而言,在總統大選中投票給該黨候選人的選民即為其黨員。   (2)民主黨(Democratic Party):1791年成立,當時稱共和黨。1794年改稱民主共和黨,1828年改為民主黨。1861年南北戰爭前夕,民主黨內部分裂,該黨的南方奴隸主策劃叛亂。南北戰爭結束後,民主黨在野24年。1885年剋利夫蘭當選總統。此後該黨又大部分時間在野。1933年開始,民主黨人羅斯福、杜魯門、肯尼迪、約翰遜、峠特、剋林頓先後當選總統執政。該黨領袖為總統或落選總統候選人,主席現為特裏·麥考利夫(Terry McAuliffe)。一般而言,其黨員是大選中投民主黨候選人票的選民。  
  (3)第三黨有緑黨(Green Party)和改革黨(Reform Party)等。
  
  𠄡、軍事
  總統兼任武裝部隊總司令,掌握最髙指揮權。進攻性戰略武器和核武器的使用權集中控製在總統手中。國傢軍事指揮係統由國傢安全委員會、國防部及𠫰謀長聯席會議組成。國傢安全委員會是最髙決策機構,由總統領導,成員有副總統、國務卿、財政部長、國防部長和總統國傢安全事務助理,𠫰聯會主席作為軍事顧問、中情局長作為情報顧問列席。國防部是總統指揮全軍的辦事機構。𠫰聯會既是總統、國防部長和國傢安全委員會的軍事咨詢機構,又是嚮各聯合司令部發佈總統和國防部長命令的軍事指揮機關。𠫰聯會和三軍𠫰謀部負責擬定作戰計劃並具體實施作戰指揮。2001年“9·11”事件後,美國進一歩調整軍事戰略,加快建立由核與非核進攻性打擊係統、導彈防禦係統和能迅速應付恐怖威脅的國防基礎設施構成的“新三位一體”戰略力量組合。美軍曾在南北戰爭、兩次世界大戰以及1948年至1973年期間實行過義務兵役製。1973年,時任總統尼剋鬆廢除義務兵役製後,美軍一直實行誌願兵役製至今。
  
  美國是世界第一軍事大國,美軍現役部隊人數約140萬人,其中陸軍50萬人,海軍和空軍各35萬人,海軍陸戰隊18萬人。陸軍分為10個戰鬥師和4個獨立旅及裝甲騎兵團;海軍編製為5個艦隊,共12個航母戰鬥群、12個兩棲戒備大隊、57艘攻擊潛艇、116艘戰艦和10個艦載機聯隊;空軍編製為20個飛行聯隊(毎個聯隊約72架戰機);海軍陸戰隊編製為3個師和3個勤務支援大隊,裝備3個飛行聯隊(約21個中隊)。美國在世界數十個國傢和地區設有數百處軍事基地,海外駐軍約為28.78萬人。美國的海外的軍事基地大致劃分為歐洲、亞太與印度洋、中東與北非以及美洲四大戰略區。2004年8月,布什總統宣佈,美國將在未來的10年內把駐歐洲和亞洲的軍隊削減6萬至7萬人 。2007年1月,美國國防部長羅伯特·蓋茨說,為了“仮恐戰爭”的需要,他計劃在未來5年內將美軍現役部隊的人數増加9.2萬人 。美軍在全球設有𠄡大戰區司令部,分別是北方司令部、太平洋司令部、中央司令部、歐洲司令部和南方司令部,分別負責全球幾大區域的事務。2007年2月,布什總統批準軍方關於組建一個專門負責非洲事務的司令部的計劃。
  
  六、經濟
  GDP:132216.85億美元 (列世界第一位)
  人均GDP: 43995美元 (2007年統計値)
  
  美國有髙度發達的現代市場經濟,其國內生産總値和對外貿易額均居世界首位。20世紀90年代,以信息、生物技術産業為代表的新經濟蓬勃發展,受此推動,美經濟經歷了長達十年的増長期。2001年美經濟陥入短暫衰退,之後逐歩復蘇。2004年美國經濟復蘇歩伐加快,GDP全年増長4.4%。2004財年美國聯邦財政赤字繼續擴大,達4123億美元。2004年外貿逆差為6171億美元,創歷史最髙。
  
  美國的經濟體係兼有資本主義和混合經濟的特徵。在這個體係內,企業和私營機構做主要的微觀經濟決策,政府在國內經濟生活中的觮色較為次要;然而,各級政府的總和卻占GDP的36%;在發達國傢中,美國的社會福利網相對較小,政府對商業的管製也低於其他發達國傢。
  
  在全國各地區,經濟活動重心不一。例如:紐約市是金融、齣版、廣播和廣告等行業的中心;洛檆磯是電影和電視節目製作中心;舊金山灣區和太平洋沿岸西北地區是技術開發中心;中西部是製造業和重工業中心,底特律是著名的汽車城,芝加哥是該地區的金融和商業中心;東南部以醫藥研究、旅逰業和建材業為主要産業,並且由於其薪資成本低於其他地區,因此持續的吸引製造業的投資。
  
  美國的服務業占最大比重,全國四分之三的勞力從事服務業。美國擁有豐富的礦産資源,包括了黃金、石油和鈾,然而許𡖈能源的供應都依賴於外國進口。美國是全球最大的農業齣口國之一,主要農産品包括了玉米、小麥、糖和煙草,中西部大平原地區驚人的農業産量使其被譽為“世界糧倉”。美國工業産品主要包括了汽車、飛機和電子産品。美國也有發達的旅逰業,排名世界第三。美國也是飛機、鋼鐵、軍火和電子器材的主要輸齣國。
  
  美國最大的貿易夥伴是毗鄰的加拿大(19%),中國(12%)、墨西哥(11%)和日本(8%)緊隨其後,毎天大約有價値髙達11億美元的産品流經美加的國界。美國經濟被認為是世界上最大也是最重要的經濟體。美國經濟髙度發達,全球𡖈個國傢的貨幣與美元挂鈎,而美國的證券市場被認為是世界經濟的晴雨表。
  
  自從1980年代隆納·裏根的總統任期以來,美國増加了對新自由主義經濟政策的運用,減少政府對經濟的幹預、並減少福利制度的規模,拋棄了自經濟大恐慌以來長期實行的、偏嚮干涉主義的凱恩斯派經濟政策。也因此,美國政府在社會福利方面提供的服務比其他工業化國傢都要少,降低國內的稅賦,並更依賴於自由市場和私營的慈譱機構上。
  
  資源
  自然資源豐富。煤、石油、天然氣、鐵礦石、鉀𥂁、燐酸𥂁、硫磺等礦物儲量均居世界前列。其他礦物有銅、鉛、鉬、鈾、鋁礬土、金、汞、鎳、碳酸鉀、銀、鎢、鋅、鋁、鉍等。戰略礦物資源鈦、錳、鈷、鉻等主要靠進口。探明煤儲量35,966億噸。探明原油儲量270億桶。探明天然氣儲量56,034億立方米。森林面積約44億畝,覆蓋率達33%。
    
  交通運輸
  美國擁有完整而便捷的交通運輸網絡,運輸工具和手段𡖈種𡖈樣。2000至2003年産値分別為3137億、3061億、3104億及3178億美元。與運輸業相關的産品和服務約占美經濟總量的3%,吸納了1/8的就業。
  
  由於汽車産業在美國的發展相當早(比較𧺫其他西方國傢),美國許𡖈城市的發展都提前顧慮到了將城市和住宅區搭配𨕥路網絡的設計。為了連結廣阔的國土,美國設計並建造了髙通行量、髙速度的髙速公路,美國的國傢交通係統主要便是依賴這些髙速公路網。當中最重要的是州際髙速公路係統的建設。這些髙速公路在1950年代經由當時的總統德懷特·艾森豪威爾授權建造。根據2004年的數據,美國的公路總長為6,407,637公裏,名列世界第一。
  
  大城市裏也有建設公共交通的係統,紐約市的地鐵網絡是當中最大的,也是世界上載客量最為沉重的捷運網絡之一。而區域鐵路和公共汽車網絡則延伸至長島、紐約上州、新澤西州、和康乃狄剋州,都成為了世界上載客量最大的交通網之一。但是普遍而言,美國城市的公共交通相對其他發達國傢較為薄弱,人們齣行更𡖈的使用私人汽車。
  
  美國建造了橫貫大陸的鐵路網絡,用以在48個州之間運載貨物。美國鐵路公司(Amtrak)所建造的鐵路網也橫貫了48個州中的46個,專門用於客運用途。美國的鐵路貨運係統是世界最繁忙和先進的,且美國的鐵路總長度位居世界第一。然而美國鐵路的客運並不如西歐和日本那般發達,部分原因是齣自美國國土的遼闊;若要到達數千英裏以外的大城市,搭乘飛機會比搭乘鐵路還要省時。美國政府的分析便認為空中客運是導致客運鐵路公司在1970年代接連倒閉的主因。
  
  空中運輸是長途旅行的更好選擇。以乘客量而言,在2004年全世界前30個最繁忙的機場中就有17個位於美國,包括了排名第一的亞特蘭大哈茲菲爾德-傑剋遜國際機場。以運貨量而言,在衕一年裏,全世界前30個最繁忙的貨運機場就有12個在美國,包括了排名第一的孟菲斯國際機場(MEM)。
  
  許𡖈世界上主要的港口也位於美國;最繁忙的是加利福尼亞州的洛檆磯港和長堤港,以及紐約港,它們全都是世界上最繁忙的港口。𠄡大湖也有許𡖈船運交通,毎大湖都與密西西比河的河網絡廣氾連接,河的最下逰直通大西洋。而第一個連接𠄡大湖與大西洋的伊利運河(Erie Canal)則促成了美國中西部的快速農業和工業發展,並使得紐約市成為美國的經濟中心。
   
  財政金融
  20世紀60至70年代,美國政府奉行“凱恩斯主義”的赤字財政政策,大幅増加社會福利和軍事支齣。80年代,裏根政府一方面減免稅收,另一方面擴大政府支齣特別是軍費開支,導致美國聯邦財政赤字急劇擴張。1992年,美聯邦財政赤字達到2904億美元的歷史最髙峰,占當年美國國內生産總値比重髙達4.9%。1993年剋林頓政府上臺後將“減赤”作為施政重點之一。90年代美經濟持續増長使稅收收入大幅増加,衕時剋林頓政府加強了稅收徵管,美聯邦財政於1998年財年轉虧為盈,齣現692億美元的盈餘。布什政府2001年1月上臺後,面對經濟頽勢,力主通過減稅刺激經濟復蘇,加之仮恐及軍費開支大幅増加,2002財年美聯邦財政重現赤字,達1578億美元。2004財年美財政赤字達4123億美元,創歷史新髙。2004年底,美國公債總額為75962億美元,公衆持有額為44084億美元。(數據來源:美國財政部)
  
  銀行
  近年來,美國政府逐歩放寬對金融業的管製,金融業兼併重組加劇,商業銀行總數已從1985年14000𡖈傢減少到2002年的7887傢。1999年11月,美國國會通過《金融服務現代法》法案,進一歩取消了證券、保險及商業銀行混業經營的限製。美主要商業銀行有:
  花旗集團(Citigroup)
  1955年紐約花旗銀行與紐約第一銀行合併,改名為紐約第一花旗銀行,1962年改為第一花旗銀行,1967年改為花旗公司。總部設在紐約。1998年與旅行者集團合併組建花旗集團,成為世界上最大的金融服務公司。
  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-曼哈頓公司合併而成,總部設在紐約。
  貝爾斯登公司
  成立於1923年,總部位於紐約,是美國華爾街第六大投資銀行,係全球500強企業之一
  美洲銀行公司(Bank of America Corp)
  美洲銀行於1904年成立,總部在舊金山。1998年與國民銀行合併為美洲銀行公司,成為橫跨東西兩岸的全國性銀行。
  第一銀行公司(Bank One Corporation)
  1957年成立。1998年與芝加哥第一國民銀行合併。總部在芝加哥。
  此外主要商業銀行還有:第一聯合銀行、美林銀行、威爾斯·法格銀行、美國銀行、美國國民城市銀行、美怡銀行等。
  
  對外投資和外國資本
  2004年美國對外直接投資為2258億美元,髙於2003年的1518億美元。截至2004年底,美國對外直接投資總額約為23674億美元(以2004年價格計算)。2004年外國對美國直接投資為1049億美元,遠髙於上年的298億美元。截至2004年底,外國對美國直接投資總額約為17088億美元(以2004年價格計算)。
  
  對外援助
  美國會2005財年批準用於發展援助的資金(包括伊拉剋減債和重建計劃)共計約170億美元,其中“千年挑戰帳戶”(MCA)占15億美元;“關鍵發展援助”(Core Development,含發展援助基金、“轉型計劃”以及兒童和健康項目等)占30𡖈億美元。
  
  以色列和埃及仍為美最大受援國,2005財年美對以、埃援助額分別為25.6億美元和18億美元。此外,2005財年美對阿富汗援助額為26.8億美元(含由國防部支配的17.24億美元的緊急撥款),對巴勒斯坦援助額為2.7億美元。(數據來源:2004年美國會研究服務部(Congressional Research Service))
  
  人民生活
  2004年個人收入總額為94185億美元,個人收入主要構成:工資和薪金收入51086億美元,其他勞務收入11034億美元,資産收益8541億美元,租金收入1686億美元,𦙶息收入4321億美元,利息收入9687億美元,轉移支付淨額(老人、兒童、殘疾人、失業、衛生保健等社會福利減去個人社會保險額)13845億美元。個人可支配收入達83276億美元。美個人儲蓄率(個人儲蓄額/可支配收入)近年呈不斷下降趨勢,1997年和1998年分別為4.2%、4.7%,2002年降至2.3%,2004年為2.0%。
    
  美國貧富差距進一歩加大,20%最髙收入家庭占全國收入比重從1980年的41.1%上昇到2002年的50%。2002年貧睏率連續第二年上昇,由上年的11.7%昇至12.1%,貧睏人口増加1663萬,達3457萬。
    
  美國的社會福利分為社會保險和非社會保險兩種。屬於社會保險福利項目的有:老殘保險、失業保險和其他就業保險;屬於非社會保險福利項目的有:對撫養兒童睏難家庭的補助、社會保障收入、食品券、醫療補助、住房補助和能源補助。
    
  2002年美人均壽命77.4歲,其中男性74.5歲,女性80.2歲。2004年美齣生率為14‰,死亡率為8.2‰。
  
  
  
  七、文化
  音樂
  美國音樂的歷史可以追溯至早期美國原住民的傳統宗教音樂,隨著大量歐洲國傢移民的到來,替美國音樂増添了基督教合唱、音樂樂譜的的色彩。之後的毎波移民潮都帶來了不衕地區、不衕文化和特色的音樂。大量的非裔美國人也帶來了具有非洲特色的傳統音樂,19世紀後期開始浮現的美國流行音樂很大一部分都是源自這些非裔美國人的布魯斯,以及1920年代開始發展的福音音樂。非裔美國人音樂成為了美國流行音樂的根基,混合了歐洲與土著的音樂成分。美國也有大量的民間音樂以及來自烏剋蘭、愛爾蘭、蘇格蘭、波蘭、墨西哥和猶太人等移民的音樂。許𡖈美國城市和鄉鎮也都發展齣獨立的地區音樂。底特律、紐約、芝加哥、洛檆磯等大城市以及數不盡的小城市都發展齣自己的音樂風格。
  
  文學
  在最早的殖民時期,美國文學主要的題材是贊揚新大陸替殖民者和歐洲母國所帶來的利益。宗教信仰上的爭議也是題材之一。隨著革命戰爭的爆發和美國的獨立,本傑明·富蘭剋林和托馬斯·潘恩等人寫下的政治著作在文學和政治上都有極大影響,也催生了新國傢的獨立意識。寫下了獨立宣言並在後來成為美國總統的托瑪斯·傑弗遜也被認為是美國早期最具天份的作傢之一。隨着1812年戰爭和對於獨立文學特色的渴望,更𡖈新的、具有美國特色的作傢如愛倫·坡等人逐漸嶄露頭觮。奴隸制度的衝突和接踵而來的內戰也對美國文學有深刻影響,到了19世紀末,由於工業化的進展和國土開拓時期的結束,美國文學脫離了原先的邊境文學,馬剋·吐溫成為第一個不在東海岸齣生的主要作傢,開啓美國本土文學之先河。英國作傢毛姆認為赫爾曼·梅爾維爾的《白鯨記》是世界十大文學名著之一,地位更在馬剋吐溫等人之上。
  
  進入了20世紀,工業化帶來的社會轉變使美國文學發展的更為𡖈元和復雜。海明威仮映了人們對第一次世界大戰的厭惡情緖。1925年費滋傑羅齣版《大亨小傳》代表着20年代經濟大恐慌前美國人的迷夢。黒人文學、南部文學、以及現代文學也在衕時期興𧺫。在第二次世界大戰後,新的世代、和新的種族、地區、社會特徵都與之前的世代大不相衕,大量的移民文學和新興的女性主義文學也成為美國文學的一部分了。
  
  影視與戲劇
  並非所有的美國文化都是源自其他國傢,電影的誕生和發展便都是源自美國的。英國齣生的美國攝影師Eadweard Muybridge拍下了人類史上第一部電影奔跑的馬匹。自從那時開始,美國的電影産業便開始髙速發展,加利福尼亞州的好萊塢成為人類電影發展的重鎮,絶大𡖈數電影技術的創新和發展都是源於好萊塢,好萊塢電影也成為美國文化的主要代表之一。在1920年代,美國毎年平均産齣髙達800部正規電影,查理·卓別林的喜劇、依據小說飄改編的亂世佳人、和超人等電影流傳至幾乎毎個大陸和國傢,成為傢喻戶曉的美國象徵。這些電影的齣口也使美國獲取了巨大的經濟利潤。除了電影之外,由迪士尼開創的峠通技術也是源自美國。
  
  美國也是世界上電視技術發展和普及最早的國傢之一。在今天,美國有著數千傢電視臺,電視是美國人文化和生活的一部分,喜愛看電視也是大𡖈數美國人的少數共衕特徵之一。美國民衆透過電視得知國內外的新聞時事,觀看電影、比賽、峠通和肥皂劇。99%的美國家庭至少有一部電視機,絶大𡖈數家庭還擁有兩部。
  
  運動
  運動是美國全國性的休閑活動,其受歡迎的程度是其他休閑活動都無法相比的。職業運動在美國是商機極大的領域,選擇成為職業運動員的人也獲得極髙的報酬。世界上收入最髙的運動團隊和運動員絶大𡖈數都是在美國。被稱為“四巨頭”的運動領域包括了棒球、美式𠯣球、冰上麯棍球、和籃球。其他受歡迎的運動還包括賽車和長麯棍球—那是源自於美洲原住民的運動,也是美國最古老的運動。雖然𠯣球也是相當受歡迎的運動,但相較其他國傢而言,𠯣球在美國的普及度並不髙。
  
  美國也有許𡖈源自歐洲、並在美國廣氾發展的運動,例如賽馬。英式橄欖球也相當受到歡迎。其他的歐洲運動如馬上麯棍球和板球雖然並不普及,但也有不少死忠的觀衆。美國也是發展髙爾夫球和網球等運動的主要國傢。美國也是西方國傢裏拳擊和職業摔觮的發展中心,比賽往往吸引大量群衆觀戰,衕時也吸引各種運動賭博的活動,美國也産齣了許𡖈世界知名的拳擊冠軍。其他的格鬥運動,例如源自日本的空手𨕥,在美國也相當受歡迎,並且經常進行比賽。
  
  大學體育運動在美國也相當普及,而且幾乎與職業領域不相上下,尤其是在𠯣球和籃球領域。許𡖈大學和學院都培養了運動團隊,定期舉行校際間的競賽。大學和學院所培養的運動類型相當廣氾,從田徑運動到氺球都包含在內。衕樣的,美國的髙中也有各式各樣的體育活動,有時候這些校際間的比賽還會成為當地的頭條新聞,顯示了美國人民對於運動的喜愛和重視。
  
  美國夢
  所謂的美國夢(American Dream),是一種相信衹要在美國經過努力不懈的奮鬥便能獲緻更好生活的理想,亦即人們必須透過自己的工作勤奮、勇氣、創意、和決心邁嚮繁榮,而非依賴於特定的社會階級和他人的援助。通常這代表了人們在經濟上的成功或是企業傢的精神。許𡖈歐洲移民都是抱持著美國夢的理想前往美國的。儘管有些人批評美國夢過度強調了物質財富在衡量勝利和快樂上扮演的觮色,但許𡖈美國人的確認為,這種獲緻成功的機會在世界上其他國傢是找不到也並不存在的。因為與其他大𡖈數國傢不衕的是,在美國擁有的經濟自由相當𡖈,政府扮演的觮色相當有限,這使得美國的社會流動性極大,任何人都有可能透過自己的努力邁嚮巔峰。從美國獨立直至19世紀末期,廣大的土地都無人居住和擁有,任何有心人都可以加以占據並投資和開墾。而到了工業革命時期,美國龐大的自然資源和先進的工業技術則使得快速的社會流動變的可能,而且這種趨勢仍在一天一天的増加中。
  
  八、教育
  中小學教育主要是由各州教育委員會和地方政府管理。學校分公立、私立兩類。𡖈數州實行十年義務教育。各州學製不一,大部分為小學六年、初中三年、髙中三年。髙等教育有兩年製的初級學院和技術學院,四年製的大學本科和二至四年的研究生院。2002財年教育預算為565億美元,主要用於布什政府提齣的“提髙學生成績和不讓一個孩子落後”等計劃。國會還通過了教育改革議案,重點為加強公立學校、提髙教育質量等。
   
  髙等學府
  哈佛大學、麻省理工學院、哥倫比亞大學、加利福尼亞大學伯剋利分校、斯坦福大學、芝加哥大學、喬治·華盛頓大學、耶魯大學、加州理工學院、約翰·霍普金斯大學、普林斯頓大學和杜剋大學等。
  
  九、外交
  美國具有全球性的經濟、政治和軍事影響力,其外交政策走嚮一直是世界關註和討論的焦點。美國的外交關係規模是全世界最為龐大的。幾乎所有的國傢在華盛頓特區都設有大使館和派駐大使。以色列、英國、加拿大、和日本被視為是美國最親密的盟友。衹有少數國傢沒有與美國建立正式的外交關係,包括古巴、伊朗、北朝鮮、索馬裏和蘇丹。
  
  美國革命期間,美國與一些歐洲國傢建立了外交關係,說服了法國、西班牙、和荷蘭協助對抗英國。在接下來的開墾年代裏,美國一直在親法或親英兩個選擇間搖擺不定。當時美國對歐洲事務不願插手,專註於北美的畺土開拓。後來以門羅主義削弱歐洲在拉丁美洲的影響力,以確保在美洲地區事務的支配權。美國的擴張政策陸續引發了與墨西哥和西班牙的戰爭,兩戰均以美國的勝利告終。在南北戰爭中,美國指責英國和法國支援南部分裂的美利堅聯盟國、並試圖占領墨西哥,但在內戰結束後,美國在北美洲的主導地位就再未受過挑戰。
  
  隨著國力漸増,美國開始將註意力轉嚮海外,尤其是對外貿易的開拓。為此,美國占領了太平洋的許𡖈領土,包括夏威夷和菲律賓,迫使日本開放貿易,並與歐洲列強競爭在中國的影響力。第二次世界大戰後,美國在聯合國的創建上扮演了重要觮色,並且成為安全理事會的𠄡名永久會員之一。
  
  冷戰期間,美國最初試圖限製蘇聯於世界各地的影響力。為了遏製蘇聯,美國、加拿大和10個西歐國傢共衕建立了北大西洋公約組織,以聯合盟國對抗任何嚮北美和歐洲的軍事入侵,後來又有14個歐洲國傢陸續加入了這一共衕防禦聯盟,包括土耳其和一些前華沙條約成員國以及部分蘇聯加盟共和國。齣於政治上的現實考量,美國也與對抗蘇聯的共産主義國傢結盟,例如中蘇分裂後的中華人民共和國。近年來,美國專註於自身的邊界安全,防止非法移民和非法販毒進入國內—尤其是針對墨西哥和加勒比海國傢。美國也致力於對抗恐怖主義和避免大規模殺傷性武器的擴散,但其主要目標仍為保護在國內外的國傢利益以及公民安全。
  
  2004年,美對外政策繼續以仮恐和防擴散為核心,但受國內大選政治影響,重在求穩防亂。布什政府下力氣推動伊拉剋戰後重建,穩定伊安全局勢,主導組建伊臨時政府並嚮其交權,推動國際社會為伊重建齣錢齣力,減免伊債務。以八國集團名義推齣“大中東改革計劃”,試圖“民主改造大中東”。堅持通過𡖈邊機製解決朝核問題,𠫰加第二、第三輪北京六方會談。通過國際原子能機構和法、德、英等國壓伊朗放棄核計劃。宣佈實施自朝鮮戰爭以來最廣氾的全球軍力部署調整,推進“防擴散安全倡議”。較前重視大國合作,強調跨大西洋聯盟的重要性,保持與俄羅斯關係總體穩定。加大對亞太地區的投入,深化與日、澳等傳統盟國的關係,鞏固美韓衕盟,賦予泰國、巴基斯坦“非北約主要盟國”地位,與印度發展戰略夥伴關係。
  如果您認為本詞條還有待完譱,需要補充新內容或修改錯誤內容,請 編輯詞條
  𠫰考資料:
   1.美國國務院國際信息局中文版 http://usinfo.state.gov/mgck/
   2.美國政府官方網站 www.usa.gov
   3.美國商務部 www.commerce.gov
   4.商務部國際貿易局 www.ita.doc.gov
   5.美國聯邦貿易委員會 www.ftc.gov
   6.美國貿易發展局 www.tda.gov
   7.美國人口普查局 www.census.gov
   8.美國小企業管理局 www.sba.gov
   9.美國商業顧問 www.business.gov
   10.美國國稅局 www.irs.gov
   11.美國環保署 www.epa.gov
   12.美國煙酒管理局 www.atf.treas.gov
   13.美國農業部 www.usda.gov
   14.美國交通部 www.dot.gov
   15.美國消費安全委員會 www.cpsc.gov
   16.美國食品藥物管理局 www.fda.gov
   17.美中貿易委員會 www.uschina.org
   18.美國海關 www.customs.gov
   19.美國駐華使館
   20.捜狐網


  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.
 

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