United States of America
In God We Trust"
 Anthem: "
The Star-Spangled Banner"
38°53′N 77°1′W / 38.883°N 77.017°W Largest city
New York City
40°43′N 74°0′W / 40.717°N 74.000°W Official languages None at the
) de facto
John Roberts Legislature
House of Representatives July 4, 1776 March 1, 1781 September 3, 1783 June 21, 1788 May 5, 1992
• Total area
3,796,742 sq mi (9,833,520 km 2)
• Water (%)
• Land area
3,531,905 sq mi (9,147,590 km 2) (3rd)
• 2022 estimate
• 2020 census
87/sq mi (33.6/km 2) (
PPP) 2023 estimate
• Per capita
GDP (nominal) 2023 estimate
• Per capita
Gini (2020) 39.4
HDI (2021) 0.921
very high 21st Currency
U.S. dollar ($) (
USD) Time zone
UTC−4 to −12, +10, +11
UTC−4 to −10
[f] Date format mm/dd/yyyy
Driving side right
[h] Calling code
ISO 3166 code
United States of America ( U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States ( U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in
North America and consisting of 50
federal district, five major
unincorporated territories, and nine
Minor Outlying Islands.
It includes 326
[i] Indian reservations. It is the world's
third-largest country by both land and total area.
It shares land borders
[c] with Canada to its north and
with Mexico to its south and has maritime borders with
With a population of over 333 million, [j]
it is the
[k] most populous country in the
Americas and the
third-most populous in the world. The national capital of the United States is
Washington, D.C., and its
most populous city and principal
financial center is
New York City.
Indigenous peoples have inhabited the Americas for thousands of years. Beginning in 1607,
British colonization led to the establishment of the
Thirteen Colonies in what is now the
Eastern United States. They clashed with the
British Crown over taxation and
political representation which led to the
American Revolution and the ensuing
Revolutionary War. The United States
declared independence on July 4, 1776, becoming the first
nation-state founded on
Enlightenment principles of
unalienable natural rights,
consent of the governed, and
liberal democracy. The country began
expanding across North America, spanning the continent by 1848. Sectional division over
slavery led to the secession of the
Confederate States of America, which fought the remaining states of the
Union during the
American Civil War (1861–1865). With the Union's victory and preservation, slavery was
abolished nationally. By 1890, the United States had established itself as a
great power, becoming the world's largest economy. After
attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered
World War II on the
side of the Allies. The
aftermath of the war left the United States and the
Soviet Union as the world's two
superpowers and led to the
Cold War. During the Cold War, both countries engaged in a struggle for ideological dominance but avoided direct military conflict. They also competed in the
Space Race, which culminated in the 1969 landing of
Apollo 11, making the U.S. the only nation to land humans on the
Moon. With the
Soviet Union's collapse and the
subsequent end of the Cold War in 1991, the United States emerged as the world's sole superpower.
United States government is a
federal republic and a
representative democracy with
three separate branches of government:
judicial. It has a
bicameral national legislature composed of the
House of Representatives, a
lower house based on population; and the
upper house based on equal representation for each
state. Many policy issues are
decentralized at a state or local level, with
widely differing laws by jurisdiction. The U.S.
ranks very highly in international measures of
quality of life,
education; it has low levels of
perceived corruption. It has higher levels of
inequality than most other liberal democracies, and is the only liberal democracy without
universal healthcare. As a
melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, the U.S. has been drastically shaped by the world's largest
The United States is a
developed country that has the
highest disposable income per capita in the world.
Its economy accounts for approximately a quarter of global
GDP and is the world's
largest by GDP at market exchange rates. It is the world's
largest importer and
second-largest exporter, and possesses the
largest amount of wealth of any country. The United States is a founding member of the
International Monetary Fund,
Organization of American States,
World Health Organization, and is a
permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council. It wields considerable global influence as the world's foremost
The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" dates back to a letter from January 2, 1776, written by
Stephen Moylan, a
Continental Army aide to General
George Washington, to
Joseph Reed, Washington's
aide-de-camp. Moylan expressed his desire to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the
Revolutionary War effort.
The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in 
The Virginia Gazette Williamsburg, on April 6, 1776.
By June 1776, the name "United States of America" appeared in drafts of the
Articles of Confederation and
Perpetual Union, authored by
John Dickinson, a
Founding Father from the
Province of Pennsylvania, and in the
Declaration of Independence, written primarily by
Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the
Second Continental Congress in
Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776.
Beginnings (before 1630)
Cliff Palace, located in present-day
Colorado, was built by
first inhabitants of North America migrated from
Siberia, crossing the
Bering land bridge and arriving in the present-day United States at least 12,000 years ago; some evidence suggests an even earlier date of arrival.
 Clovis culture, which appeared around 11,000, is believed to represent the first wave of human settlement in the
BC Americas. This was likely the first of three major waves of migration into
North America; later waves brought the ancestors of present-day
Over time, indigenous cultures in North America grew increasingly sophisticated, and some, such as the pre-Columbian
Mississippian culture in the
southeast, developed advanced
architecture, and complex societies. The city-state of
Cahokia was the largest, most complex pre-Columbian
archaeological site in present-day United States. In the
Four Corners region in present-day
Southwestern United States, the culture of
Ancestral Puebloans developed over centuries of agricultural experimentation. The
Algonquian, consisting of peoples who speak
Algonquian languages, were one of the most populous and widespread North American
These people were historically prominent along the
 Atlantic Coast and in the
Saint Lawrence River and
Great Lakes regions. Before European immigrants made contact, most of the Algonquian relied on hunting and fishing, and many supplemented their diet by cultivating
squash, known as the "
Three Sisters". By European contact in the 17th century, they practiced
slash and burn agriculture, using controlled fire to extend farmlands' productivity and manage land.
 Ojibwe cultivated
 Iroquois confederation Haudenosaunee, located in the southern Great Lakes region, was established between the 12th and 15th centuries.
Estimating the native population of North America following the arrival of European immigrants is difficult.
Douglas H. Ubelaker of the
Smithsonian Institution estimated a population of 93,000 in the
South Atlantic states and a population of 473,000 in the Gulf states, but most academics regard this figure as too low. Anthropologist
Henry F. Dobyns believed the populations were much higher, suggesting that approximately 1.1 million resided on the shores of the
Gulf of Mexico, 2.2 million people living between
Massachusetts, 5.2 million in the
Mississippi Valley and tributaries, and around 700,000 in the
The Italian explorer
Giovanni da Verrazzano, sent by
France to the
New World in 1525, encountered
Native American inhabitants in the present-day
New York Bay region.
 Spanish Empire set up their first settlements in
New Mexico, including in
Saint Augustine (1565), which is often considered the nation's oldest city,
 Santa Fe (1598). The French
established their own settlements along the
Mississippi River and
Gulf of Mexico, including in
New Orleans (1718) and
Colonization, settlement, and communities (1630–1763)
Territorial changes following the French and Indian War; land held by the
British before 1763 is shown in red; land gained by
Britain in 1763 is shown in pink.
British colonization of the
east coast of
North America began with the
Virginia Colony in 1607, where
Pilgrims settled in
Jamestown and later established
Plymouth Colony in 1620.
 English settlers were
dissenting Christians who fled England seeking
The continent's first elected legislative assembly, the
House of Burgesses in Virginia, was founded in 1619. In 1636,
Harvard College in
Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded as the first institution of higher education. The
Mayflower Compact and the
Fundamental Orders of Connecticut established precedents for representative
constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.
 native population of America declined after European arrival,
primarily as a result of
 infectious diseases such as
By the mid-1670s, the British defeated and seized the territory of
 Dutch settlers in
New Netherland, in the
During the 17th century
European colonization many European settlers experienced food shortages, disease, and conflicts with Native Americans, particularly in
King Philip's War. In addition to fighting European settlers, Native Americans also often fought neighboring tribes. But in many cases, the natives and settlers came to develop a mutual dependency. Settlers
traded for food and animal pelts, and Native Americans traded for guns, tools, and other European goods.
Native Americans taught many settlers to cultivate corn, beans, and other foodstuffs. European missionaries and others felt it was important
 to "civilize" the Native Americans and urged them to adopt European agricultural practices and lifestyles.
With the increased European colonization of North America, however, Native Americans were often displaced or killed during conflicts.
European settlers also began
trafficking African slaves into the colonial United States via the
transatlantic slave trade.
By the turn of the 18th century, slavery supplanted
 indentured servitude as the main source of agricultural labor for the
cash crops in the
Colonial society was divided over the religious and moral implications of slavery, and several colonies passed acts for or against it as well as
 laws designed to keep Blacks subservient.
In what was then considered
British America, the
were administered as overseas dependencies by the British. [l]
 All colonies had local governments with elections open to white male property owners except
Jews and, in some areas,
With very high birth rates, low death rates, and steadily growing settlements, the colonial population grew rapidly, eclipsing Native American populations. 
 Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s, known as the
Great Awakening, fueled colonial interest in both religion and
Excluding the Native American population, the Thirteen Colonies had a population of over 2.1 million in 1770, representing a population that was then roughly a third the size of
 Great Britain. By the 1770s, despite continuing new immigrant arrivals from Britain and other European regions, the natural increase of the population was such that only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas.
The colonies' distance from Britain had allowed for the development of self-governance in the colonies, but it encountered periodic efforts by
 British monarchs to reassert royal authority.
Revolution and the new nation (1763–1789)
British North America in 1775 with the
13 colonies shown in red
, a portrait by
Declaration of Independence John Trumbull depicting the
Committee of Five presenting the draft of the
Declaration to the
Continental Congress on June 28, 1776, in
After the British victory in the
French and Indian War that was won largely through the support in men and materiel from the colonies, the British began to assert greater control in local colonial affairs, fomenting
colonial political resistance. In 1774, to demonstrate colonial dissatisfaction with the
lack of representation in the British government that extracted taxes from them, the
First Continental Congress met in
Philadelphia and passed the
Continental Association, which mandated a colonies-wide boycott of British goods. The British attempted to disarm the Americans, resulting in the
Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, igniting the
American Revolutionary War. The then
United Colonies responded by again convening in Philadelphia as the
Second Continental Congress where, in June 1775, they appointed
George Washington as
commander-in-chief of the
Continental Army, which was initially composed of various
American patriot militias resisting the
British Army. In June 1776, the Second Continental Congress
charged acommittee with writing a
Declaration of Independence, largely drafted by
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress with alterations unanimously adopted and issued the Declaration of Independence, which famously stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The adoption of the Declaration of Independence is celebrated annually on July 4 in the United States as
In 1777, the American victory at the
 Battle of Saratoga resulted in the capture of a British army, and led to
France and their ally
Spain joining in the war against them. After the surrender of a second British Army at the
siege of Yorktown in 1781, Britain signed a
peace treaty. American sovereignty gained international recognition, and the new nation took possession of substantial territory east of the
Mississippi River, from what is present-day
Canada in the north and
Florida in the south.
 Tensions with Britain remained, leading to the
War of 1812, which was fought to a draw.
In 1781, the
Articles of Confederation and
Perpetual Union established a decentralized government that operated until 1789.
Considered one of the most important legislative acts of the
 Confederation Congress,
 Northwest Ordinance (1787) established the precedent by which the national government would be sovereign and expand westward with the
admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles. The prohibition of slavery in the territory had the practical effect of establishing the
Ohio River as the geographic divide between
slave states and free states from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River, an extension of the
Mason–Dixon line. It also helped set the stage for later federal political conflicts over slavery during the 19th century until the
American Civil War.
As it became increasingly apparent that the Confederation was insufficient to govern the new country,
nationalists advocated for and led the
Philadelphia Convention of 1787, where the
United States Constitution was authored and then
ratified in state conventions in 1788. The U.S. Constitution is the oldest and longest-standing written and codified national constitution in force today.
Going into effect in 1789, it reorganized the government into a
 federation administered by
three branches (executive, judicial, and legislative), on the principle of creating salutary
checks and balances. George Washington, who led the
Continental Army to victory in the Revolutionary War and then willingly relinquished power, was elected the new nation's first
President under the new constitution. The
Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, originally forbidding only federal restriction of
personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections,
portions of the Bill of Rights are
 now applied to state and local governments by virtue of both state and federal court decisions.
The Old Plantation c. 1790 painting of a
plantation by a
South Carolina slaveholder
British Colonial era slavery, a longstanding institution in world history, was
legal in the American colonies and "challenges to its moral legitimacy were rare". However, during the Revolution many in the new nation began to question the practice. Regional divisions over slavery grew in the ensuing decades. In
the North, prominent
Founding Fathers such as
John Jay, and
Benjamin Franklin advocated for the
abolition of slavery, and by the 1810s every state in the region had, those emancipations being the first in the
Atlantic World. Although the national government
outlawed American participation in the
Atlantic slave trade in 1807, the invention of the
cotton gin spurred entrenchment of slavery in
the South, with
regional elites increasingly viewing
the institution as a positive good instead of a “
 Missouri Compromise (1820) admitted
Missouri as a slave state and
Maine as a free state, and instituted a policy of prohibiting slavery in the remaining Louisiana Purchase lands north of the
36°30′ parallel. The outcome de facto sectionalized the country into two factions: free states, which forbade slavery; and slave states, which protected the institution; it was controversial and widely seen as dividing the country along
Animated map of the territorial evolution of the United States (
click to view full size image)
In the late 18th century, American
settlers began to
expand further westward, some of them with a sense of
 The Louisiana Purchase (1803) nearly doubled the acreage of the United States, effectively ending French colonial interest in North America and their opposition to American westward expansion.
 Spain ceded Florida and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819,
 Second Great Awakening, especially in the period 1800–1840, converted millions to
evangelical Protestantism. In the North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including
in the South,
 Methodists and
Baptists proselytized among slave populations.
As Americans expanded further into land inhabited by
 Native Americans, the federal government often applied
Indian removal or
The displacement prompted a long series of
 American Indian Wars west of the
 conflict with Mexico. Most of these conflicts ended with the cession of Native American territory and their confinement to
Republic of Texas was
annexed in 1845 during a period of expansionism,
and the 1846
 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day
Victory in the
 Mexican–American War resulted in the 1848
Mexican Cession of
California and much of the present-day
American Southwest, with the U.S. now spanning the continent.
Civil War and Reconstruction (1860–1876)
Division of the states in the
American Civil War (1861–1865):
Sectional conflict regarding
 primary cause of the American Civil War.
 1860 election of Republican
Abraham Lincoln, conventions in eleven slave states, all in the
Southern United States, declared
secession and formed the
Confederate States of America, while the remaining states, known as the
Union, maintained that
secession was unconstitutional and illegitimate.
On April 12, 1861, the Confederacy initiated military conflict by
 bombarding Fort Sumter, a federal garrison in
Charleston harbor in South Carolina. The
American Civil War ensued, the deadliest military conflict in American history, and was fought between 1861 and 1865. The war resulted in the deaths of approximately 620 soldiers from both sides and upwards of 000 50 civilians, most of them in the South. 000
In early July 1863, the Civil War
 began to turn in the Union's favor following the
Union Army under General
Ulysses S. Grant successfully
splitting the Confederacy in two by
capturing Vicksburg in the west, denying it any further movement along or across the
Mississippi River and
preventing supplies from Texas and
Arkansas that might sustain the war effort from passing east, almost simultaneous with victory in the
Battle of Gettysburg, where Union Army general
George Meade halted
Confederate Army general
Robert E. Lee's invasion of
the North. In April 1865, following the Union Army's victory at the
Battle of Appomattox Court House, the Confederacy surrendered and soon collapsed.
An October 24th, 1874
Harper's Magazine editorial cartoon by
Thomas Nast denouncing
Ku Klux Klan and
White League murders of innocent Blacks
Reconstruction began in earnest following the defeat of the Confederates. While President Lincoln attempted to foster reconciliation between the Union and former Confederacy,
his assassination on April 14, 1865 drove a wedge between North and South again. "
Radical Republicans" in the federal government made it their goal to oversee the rebuilding of the South and to
ensure the rights of African Americans, and the so-called
Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution guaranteed the
abolishment of slavery,
full citizenship to Americans of African descent, and
suffrage for adult Black men. They persisted until the
Compromise of 1877.
To encourage additional westward settlement the
Homestead Acts were several laws in the United States by which an applicant could acquire ownership of
government land or the
public domain, typically called a
"homestead". In all, more than 160 million acres (650 thousand km 2; 250 thousand sq mi) of public land, or nearly 10 percent of the total area of the United States, was given away free to 1.6 million homesteaders; most of the homesteads were west of the
Mississippi River. The
Southern Homestead Act of 1866 was enacted specifically to break a cycle of debt during Reconstruction. Prior to this act,
impoverished whites alike were having trouble buying land or did not have the means to travel west.
tenant farming had become ways of life. This act attempted to solve this by selling land at low prices so marginalized Southerners could buy it. Many, however, could still not participate because the low prices were still out of reach.
Development of the modern United States (1876–1914)
Influential Southern Whites, calling themselves "
took local control of the South after the end of Reconstruction, leading to the
 nadir of American race relations. From 1890 to 1910, the Redeemers established so-called
Jim Crow laws,
disenfranchising almost all Blacks and some impoverished Whites throughout the region. Blacks faced
racial segregation nationwide and
codified discrimination, especially in the South,
and lived under the threat of
 lynching and other vigilante violence.
Chinese railroad workers on the
Central Pacific Railroad, 1870
National infrastructure, including
transcontinental railroads, spurred economic growth and greater settlement and development of the
American Old West. After the end of the
American Civil War in 1865, new transcontinental
railways made relocation easier for settlers, expanded internal trade, and increased conflicts with Native Americans.
Mainland expansion also included the
 purchase of Alaska from
Russia in 1867.
In 1893, pro-American elements in Hawaii
 overthrew the
Hawaiian monarchy and formed the
Republic of Hawaii, which the U.S.
annexed in 1898.
Guam, and the
Philippines were ceded by Spain in the same year, by the
Treaty of Paris (1898) following the
Puerto Ricans did not gain citizenship either through the
 Foraker Act (1900) or the
Insular Cases (1901), but through the
Jones–Shafroth Act in 1917,
 allowing for the conscription of 20,000 Puerto Ricans, which began two months later. : 60–63
 American Samoa was acquired by the United States in 1900 after the end of the
Second Samoan Civil War.
 U.S. Virgin Islands were purchased from
Denmark in 1917.
Edison Studios film showing immigrants arriving at
Ellis Island in
New York Harbor, a major point of entry for European
immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
From 1865 through 1918 an unprecedented and diverse stream of immigrants arrived in the United States, 27.5 million in total. In all, 24.4 million (89%) came from Europe, including from
Russia and other parts of
Central and Eastern Europe. Another 1.7 million came from
Most came through the
 port of New York City, and from 1892, through the immigration station on
Ellis Island, but various ethnic groups settled in different locations. New York and other large cities of the
East Coast became home to large
Italian populations, while many
Central Europeans moved to the
Midwest, obtaining jobs in industry and mining. At the same time, about one million
French Canadians migrated from
 Great Migration, which began around 1910, resulted in millions of African Americans
leaving the rural South for urban areas in the North.
Rapid economic development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries fostered the rise of
many prominent industrialists, largely by their formation of
monoplies to prevent competition.
 Tycoons like
John D. Rockefeller, and
Andrew Carnegie led the nation's expansion in the
steel industries. Banking became a major part of the economy, with
J. P. Morgan playing a notable role. The United States also emerged as a pioneer of the
automotive industry in the early 20th century.
These changes were accompanied by significant increases in
 economic inequality,
social unrest, which prompted the rise of
This period eventually ended with the advent of the
 Progressive Era, which was characterized by significant reforms, including
health and safety regulation of consumer goods, the
rise of labor unions, greater
antitrust measures to ensure competition among businesses, and improvements in worker conditions.
World Wars period (1914–1945)
Trinity nuclear test in the
Jornada del Muerto desert on July 16, 1945, part of the
Manhattan Project and the first detonation of a
The United States remained neutral from the outbreak of
World War I in 1914 until 1917 when
it joined the war as an "associated power" alongside the
Allies of World War I, helping to turn the tide against the
Central Powers. In 1919, President
Woodrow Wilson took a leading diplomatic role at the
Paris Peace Conference and advocated strongly for the U.S. to join the
League of Nations, however the
U.S. Senate refused to support this and did not ratify the
Treaty of Versailles under which the League of Nations was established.
In 1920, a
constitutional amendment granted nationwide
During the 1920s and 1930s,
 radio for
mass communication and ultimately the invention of early
television transformed communications in the United States. The prosperity of the
Roaring Twenties ended with the
Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the onset of the
Great Depression. After his
election as president in 1932,
Franklin D. Roosevelt, between 1933 and 1939, introduced his
New Deal social and economic policies, which included
public works projects, financial reforms, and regulations which represented a shift to a new current of
modern liberalism in the United States".
 Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration.
, an iconic February 1945 photo of
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima U.S. Marines raising the
U.S. flag atop
Mount Suribachi during the
Battle of Iwo Jima in
World War II
neutral during World War II, the United States began
supplying war materiel to the
Allies in March 1941.
On December 7, 1941, the
 Empire of Japan launched a surprise
attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to militarily join the Allies against the
Axis powers, and in the following year, to
intern about 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans.
The U.S. pursued a "
 Europe first" defense policy,
with the Philippines being
 invaded and
occupied by Japan until the country's
liberation by the U.S.-led forces in 1944–1945. During the war, the United States was one of the "
who met to plan the postwar world, along with the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and China. The United States emerged
 relatively unscathed from the war, and with even greater economic and military influence.
The United States played a leading role in the
Bretton Woods and
Yalta conferences, during which agreements were signed on new international financial institutions and Europe's postwar reorganization. As an
Allied 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 U.S. developed the
 first nuclear weapons and used them
against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945; the subsequent
surrender of Japan on September 2 ended
World War II.
Post-War Era (1945–1999)
After World War II, the United States launched the
Marshall Plan to aid war-torn Europe, providing $13 billion ($115 billion in 2021) for reconstruction.
This period also marked the beginning of the
 Cold War, with geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and the
Soviet Union driven by ideological differences.
The two countries led military affairs of Europe, with the U.S. and its
 NATO allies on one side and the Soviet Union and its
Warsaw Pact satellite states on the other. The U.S. engaged in
regime change operations against governments perceived to be aligned with the Soviet Union, conflicts like the
Vietnam Wars and led the
Space Race, eventually
landing people on the Moon in 1969.
Domestically, the United States experienced
 economic growth,
rapid population growth following World War II. The construction of an
Interstate Highway System transformed the nation's transportation infrastructure,
 Alaska and
Hawaii were admitted as states, expanding the country's borders.
Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "
I Have a Dream" speech at the
Lincoln Memorial during the
March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
civil rights movement emerged, with
Martin Luther King Jr. becoming a prominent leader in the early 1960s.
 Lyndon B. Johnson initiated the "
Great Society", introducing sweeping legislation and policies to address poverty and racial inequalities.
 counterculture movement in the U.S. brought significant social changes, including the liberalization of attitudes towards what substances are acceptable for
recreational drug use, sexuality
and the beginning of the modern
 gay rights movement as well as
open defiance of the military draft and
opposition to intervention in Vietnam.
The United States supported
Israel during the
Yom Kippur War, leading to the
1973 oil crisis. The presidency of
Richard Nixon saw the
American withdrawal from Vietnam but also the
Watergate scandal, which led to
his resignation and a decline in public trust of government that expanded for decades.
After a surge in female labor participation around the 1970s, by 1985, the majority of women aged 16 and over were employed. 
The 1970s and early 1980s saw economic
 stagflation and President
Ronald Reagan responded with
neoliberal reforms and a
rollback strategy towards the Soviet Union.
The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the
 collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the
dissolution of the Soviet Union, which marked the end of the Cold War and solidified the U.S. as the world's sole superpower.
Contemporary United States (2000–present)
World Trade Center in
New York City, during the
September 11 attacks in 2001
In the first decades of the 21st century, the U.S. faced challenges from
terrorism, with the
September 11 attacks in 2001 leading to the
war on terror and military interventions
in Afghanistan and
 U.S. housing bubble in 2006 culminated in the
2007–2008 financial crisis and the
Great Recession, the largest economic contraction since the Great Depression.
Amid the financial crisis
 Barack Obama, the first
multiracial president, was elected in the
2008 presidential election.
 Political polarization increased as sociopolitical debates on cultural issues dominated political discussion.
 COVID-19 pandemic resulted in over 100 million confirmed cases and 1 million deaths,
making it the most deadly pandemic in U.S. history. 
 attack on the United States Capitol of January 6, 2021 attempting to prevent the
peaceful transition of power to president-elect
 Supreme Court's ruling on abortion rights in 2022
fueled protests and political divisions.
topographic map of the United States
48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia occupy a combined area of 3,119,885 square miles (8,080,470 km 2). Of this area, 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,940 km 2) is contiguous land, composing 83.65% of total U.S. land area.
About 15% is occupied by
 Alaska, a state in northwestern North America, with the remainder in
Hawaii, a state and
archipelago in the central
Pacific, and the five populated but
unincorporated insular territories of
Northern Mariana Islands, and the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, and just ahead of Canada. 
The United States is the world's
 third-largest nation by land and total area behind
coastal plain of the
Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to
deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the
 Appalachian Mountains and the
Adirondack massif divide the eastern seaboard from the
Great Lakes and the grasslands of the
Missouri River, the world's
fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile
prairie of the
Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by
a highland region in the southeast.
Rocky Mountains, west of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, peaking at over 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in
Farther west are the rocky
 Great Basin and deserts such as the
 Sierra Nevada and
Cascade mountain ranges run close to the
Pacific coast, both ranges also reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The
lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States are in the state of California,
and only about 84 miles (135 km) apart. 
At an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190.5 m), Alaska's
 Denali is the highest peak in the country and in North America.
 volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's
Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The
Yellowstone National Park in the
Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.
Köppen climate types of the United States
With its large size and geographic variety, the United States includes most climate types. To the east of the
100th meridian, the climate ranges from
humid continental in the north to
humid subtropical in the south.
The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are
semi-arid. Many mountainous areas of the American West have an
alpine climate. The climate is
arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest,
coastal California, and
oceanic in coastal
Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is
polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of
tropical, as well as its territories in the
Caribbean and the Pacific.
States bordering the
Gulf of Mexico are prone to
hurricanes, and most of the world's
tornadoes occur in the country, mainly in
Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South.
Overall, the United States receives more high-impact extreme weather incidents than any other country in the world. 
Extreme weather became more frequent in the U.S. in the 21st century, with three times the number of reported
heat waves as in the 1960s. Of the ten warmest years ever recorded in the 48 contiguous states, eight occurred after 1998. In the
American Southwest, droughts became more persistent and more severe.
Biodiversity and conservation
bald eagle, the
national bird of the United States since 1782
The U.S. is one of 17
megadiverse countries containing large numbers of
endemic species: about 17 species of
000 vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and more than 1800 species of
flowering plants are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland.
The United States is home to 428
 mammal species, 784
reptiles, and 295
and  91
000 insect species.
There are 63
national parks, which are managed by the
National Park Service, and
hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and
wilderness areas, managed by the National Park Service and other agencies.
Altogether, about 28% of the country's land area is publicly owned and federally managed, 
primarily located in the
 western states.
Most of this land is
 protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching, and less than one percent of it is used for military purposes.
Environmental issues in the United States include debates on
non-renewable resources and
air and water pollution,
biological diversity, logging and
 climate change.
 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970, is the federal agency charged with enforcing and
addressing most environmental-related issues.
 idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with the
 Endangered Species Act of 1973 is intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the
United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
As of 2020, the U.S. ranked 24th among 180 nations in the
Environmental Performance Index.
The country joined the
 Paris Agreement on climate change in 2016, and has many other environmental commitments.
 It withdrew from the Paris Agreement in 2020
but rejoined it in 2021. 
Government and politics
The Capitol and its two legislative chambers, the
Senate (left) and the
House of Representatives (right)
White House, the residence and workplace of the
U.S. President and the offices of the
Supreme Court Building, which houses the
nation's highest court
The United States was founded on the principles of the
American Enlightenment. It is a
federal republic of 50
five territories and several uninhabited
It is the world's oldest surviving
 federation, and, according to the
World Economic Forum, the oldest
democracy as well.
It is a
representative democracy "in which
majority rule is tempered by
minority rights protected by
The federal government comprises three branches, which are headquartered in Washington, D.C. and regulated by a system of
checks and balances defined by the Constitution.
U.S. Congress, a
bicameral legislature, made up of the
Senate and the
House of Representatives, makes
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 federal government.
The U.S. President is the
commander-in-chief of the military, can veto
legislative bills before they become law (subject to congressional override), and appoints the
members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies through their respective
The President serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office
 no more than twice.
The U.S. Supreme Court and lower
federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the President with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find
The Supreme Court is led by the
 chief justice of the United States. It has nine members who serve for life. The members are appointed by the sitting president when a vacancy becomes available.
U.S. Constitution serves as the country's supreme legal document, establishing the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. The Constitution has been amended 27 times.
In the American
federal system, sovereignty is shared between
two levels of government: federal and state. Each of the 50 states has territory where it shares
sovereignty with the federal government. States are subdivided into
counties or county equivalents, and further divided into
municipalities. The District of Columbia is a
federal district that contains the capital of the United States, the
city of Washington.
People in the states are also governed by local governments, which are administrative divisions of the states. The territories and the District of Columbia are administrative divisions of the federal government. Governance on many issues is
United Nations headquarters has been situated along the
East River in
Midtown Manhattan since 1952; in 1945, the United States was a founding member of the UN.
The United States has an established structure of foreign relations, and it had the world's second-largest diplomatic corps in 2019.
It is a
 permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council,
and home to the
 United Nations headquarters.
The United States is also a member of the
 OECD intergovernmental organizations.
Almost all countries have
 embassies and many have
consulates (official representatives) in the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host formal
diplomatic missions with the United States, except
 North Korea,
 Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations with the U.S., it maintains close, if unofficial, relations.
The United States also regularly supplies Taiwan with
 military equipment to deter potential Chinese aggression.
The United States has a "
Special Relationship" with the
and strong ties
 with Canada,
 New Zealand,
 South Korea,
 European Union countries (
The U.S. works closely with its
 NATO allies on military and
national security issues, and with nations in the Americas through the
Organization of American States and the
United States–Mexico–Canada Free Trade Agreement. In
Colombia is traditionally considered to be the closest ally of the United States.
The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for
 Micronesia, the
Marshall Islands, and
Palau through the
Compact of Free Association.
It has increasingly conducted strategic cooperation
 with India,
 ties with China have steadily deteriorated.
The U.S. has become a key ally of
 Ukraine since Russia
annexed Crimea in 2014 and began an
invasion of Ukraine in 2022, significantly deteriorating relations with Russia in the process.
U.S. Air Force's
B-2 Spirit, a stealth heavy
The Pentagon, based in
Arlington County, Virginia near Washington, D.C., is home to the
U.S. Department of Defense. With roughly 6.5 million square feet (150 acres; 60 ha) of
floor space, the Pentagon is far and away the
world's largest building.
The President is the
commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces and appoints its leaders, the
secretary of defense and the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. The
Department of Defense, which is headquartered at
the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., administers five of the six service branches, which are made up of the
Air Force, and
Space Force. The
Coast Guard is administered by the
Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and can be transferred to the
Department of the Navy in wartime.
The United States spent $877 billion on its military in 2022, which is by far the
 largest amount of any country, making up 39% of global military spending and accounting for 3.5% of the country's GDP.
The U.S. has
 more than 40% of the world's nuclear weapons, the second-largest amount after Russia.
The United States has the third-largest combined armed forces in the world, behind the
 Chinese People's Liberation Army and
Indian Armed Forces.
Today, American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of
transport aircraft, the Navy's 11 active
aircraft carriers, and
Marine expeditionary units at sea with the Navy, and Army's
XVIII Airborne Corps and
75th Ranger Regiment deployed by Air Force transport aircraft. The Air Force can strike targets across the globe through its fleet of
strategic bombers, maintains the
air defense across the United States, and provides
close air support to Army and Marine Corps ground forces.
Law enforcement and crime
J. Edgar Hoover Building, the headquarters of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
There are about
18 U.S. police agencies from local to federal level in the United States. 000
Law in the United States is mainly
 enforced by local police departments and
sheriff departments in their municipal or county jurisdictions. The
state police departments
have authority in their respective state, and
federal agencies such as the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the
U.S. Marshals Service have national jurisdiction and specialized duties, such as protecting
national security and enforcing
U.S. federal courts' rulings and federal laws.
 State courts conduct most civil and criminal trials,
and federal courts handle designated crimes and
 appeals of state court decisions.
As of 2020
intentional homicide rate of 7 per 100 people. 000
A cross-sectional analysis of the
 World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2010 showed that United States homicide rates "were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher."
, the United States has an
As of January 2023, the United States has the
sixth highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world, at 531 people per 100; and the largest
000 prison and jail population in the world at 1. 767 200
In 2019, the total prison population for those sentenced to more than a year was  1, corresponding to a ratio of 419 per 430 000 100 residents and the lowest since 1995. 000
 think tanks place that number higher, such as
Prison Policy Initiative's estimate of 1.9 million.
Various states have attempted to
 reduce their prison populations via government policies and grassroots initiatives.
U.S. dollar is the currency most used in
international transactions and is the world's foremost
New York Stock Exchange on
Wall Street, the
world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization
According to the
International Monetary Fund, the U.S.
gross domestic product (GDP) is $25.5 trillion, the largest of any country in the world, constituting over 25% of the
gross world product at market exchange rates and over 15% of the gross world product at
purchasing power parity (PPP).
From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the
 Group of Seven.
The country ranks first in the world by
 disposable income per capita,
 nominal GDP,
 GDP (PPP),
 nominal GDP per capita,
and eighth by
 GDP (PPP) per capita.
The U.S. has been the world's
largest economy since at least 1900.
 Wall Street in
Manhattan, the U.S. is the world's leading
Many of the world's
 largest companies, such as
Walmart, were founded and are headquartered in the United States.
Of the world's
 500 largest companies, 136 are headquartered in the U.S.
 U.S. dollar is the currency most used in
international transactions and is the world's foremost
reserve currency, backed by the country's dominant economy,
its military, the
petrodollar system, and its linked
eurodollar and large
U.S. treasuries market.
 use it as their official currency and in others it is the
. de facto currency
 free trade agreements with
several countries, including the
The U.S. ranked second in the
 Global Competitiveness Report in 2019, after
New York City is the world's principal financial center, with the
largest economic output, and the epicenter of the principal American metropolitan economy.
 New York Stock Exchange and
Nasdaq, both located in New York City, are the world's two
largest stock exchanges by
market capitalization and
The United States is at or near the forefront of
 technological advancement and
in many economic fields, especially in
 artificial intelligence;
The nation's economy is fueled by abundant
 natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and
It has the second-highest total-estimated value of natural resources. The
 largest U.S. trading partners are the
South Korea, the
The United States is the world's
 largest importer and the
second-largest exporter after China.
It is by far the world's
 largest exporter of
Apple Park, in
Cupertino, California, within
Silicon Valley, is the headquarters of
Apple Inc., the
world's biggest company by market capitalization.
While its economy has reached a
post-industrial level of development, the United States
remains an industrial power.
As of 2018, the U.S. is the
 second-largest manufacturing nation after China.
In 2021, the U.S. was both the world's
 largest exporter and importer of
Despite the fact that the U.S. only accounted for 4.24% of the
 global population, residents of the U.S. collectively
possessed 31.5% of the world's total wealth as of 2021, the largest percentage of any country.
The U.S. also ranks first in the number of dollar
 billionaires and
millionaires, with 724 billionaires
and nearly 22 million millionaires (as of 2021). 
Americans have the highest average
employee income among
OECD member states,
and the fourth-highest
 median household income,
up from sixth-highest in 2013. 
 Wealth in the United States is
highly concentrated; the richest 10% of the adult population own 72% of the country's household wealth, while the bottom 50% own just 2%.
 Income inequality in the U.S. remains at record highs,
with the top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all income 
and giving the U.S. one of the widest income distributions among
 OECD members.
There were about 582,500 sheltered and unsheltered
 homeless persons in the U.S. in 2022, with 60% staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.
In 2018 six million children experience food insecurity. 
 Feeding America estimates that around one in seven, or approximately 11 million,
children experience hunger and do not know where they will get their next meal or when.
As of June 2018, 40 million people, roughly 12.7% of the U.S. population, were living
 in poverty, including 13.3 million children.
The United States has a smaller
welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than most other
It is the only
 advanced economy that does not
guarantee its workers paid vacation nationally
and is one of a few countries in the world without federal
 paid family leave as a legal right.
The United States also has a higher percentage of low-income workers than almost any other developed nation, largely because of a weak
 collective bargaining system and lack of government support for at-risk workers.
Science, technology, and energy
Buzz Aldrin saluting the
flag on the
Moon during the 1969
Apollo 11 mission. The United States is the only country that has sent
crewed missions to the lunar surface.
The United States has been a leader in technological
innovation since the late 19th century and scientific research since the mid-20th century. Methods for producing
interchangeable parts and the establishment of a
machine tool industry enabled the
U.S. to have large-scale manufacturing of sewing machines, bicycles, and other items in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, factory
electrification, the introduction of the
assembly line, and other labor-saving techniques created the system of
In the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of research and development funding comes from the private sector. 
In 2022, the United States was the country with the
 second-highest number of published scientific papers.
As of 2021, the U.S. ranked second by the number of
 patent applications, and third by trademark and industrial design applications.
The U.S. had 2,944 active
 satellites in space in December 2021, the highest number of any country.
In 2022, the United States ranked 2nd in the
 Global Innovation Index.
As of 2021
In 2021, the largest source of the country's energy came from
 petroleum (36.1%), followed by
natural gas (32.2%),
renewable sources (12.5%), and
nuclear power (8.4%).
The United States constitutes less than 5% of the
 world's population, but consumes 17% of the world's energy.
It accounts for about 20% of both the world's annual
 petroleum consumption and petroleum supply.
The U.S. ranks as
 second-highest emitter of greenhouse gases, exceeded only by China.
, the United States receives approximately 79.1% of its energy from fossil fuels.
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, serving the
Atlanta metropolitan area, is the world's busiest airport by
passenger traffic with over 93 million passengers annually in 2022.
The United States's
rail network, nearly all
standard gauge, is the
longest in the world, and exceeds 293,564 km (182,400 mi).
It handles mostly
 freight, with intercity passenger service primarily provided by
Amtrak, a government-managed company that took over services previously run by private companies, to all but four states.
Personal transportation in the United States is
dominated by automobiles,
which operate on a network of 4 million miles (6.4 million kilometers) of public roads, making it the
 longest network in the world.
 Oldsmobile Curved Dash and the
Ford Model T, both American cars, are considered the first mass-produced
and mass-affordable 
cars, respectively. As of 2022, the United States is the
 second-largest manufacturer of motor vehicles
and is home to
 Tesla, the world's most valuable car company.
American automotive company
 General Motors held the title of the world's best-selling automaker from 1931 to 2008.
 American automotive industry is the world's second-largest automobile market by sales,
and the U.S. has the
 highest vehicle ownership per capita in the world, with 816.4 vehicles per 1000 Americans (2014).
In 2017, there were 255 million non-two wheel motor vehicles, or about 910 vehicles per 1000 people. 
American civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely
deregulated since 1978, while
most major airports are publicly owned.
The three largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are U.S.-based;
 American Airlines is number one after its 2013 acquisition by
 world's 50 busiest passenger airports, 16 are in the United States, including the top five and the busiest,
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
As of 2020 , there are 19,919 airports in the United States, of which 5,217 are designated as "public use", including for
 general aviation and other activities.
fifty busiest container ports, four are located in the United States, of which the busiest is the
Port of Los Angeles.
 inland waterways are the world's
fifth-longest, and total 41,009 km (25,482 mi).
population density map based on
Census 2010 data
U.S. Census Bureau reported 331,449,281 residents as of April 1, 2020,
making the United States the
 third-most populous nation in the world, after China and India.
According to the Bureau's
 U.S. Population Clock, on January 28, 2021, the U.S. population had a net gain of one person every 100 seconds, or about 864 people per day.
In 2018, 52% of Americans age 15 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 32% had never been married. 
In 2021, the
 total fertility rate for the U.S. stood at 1.7 children per woman,
and it had the world's highest rate of children (23%) living in
 single-parent households in 2019.
The United States has a diverse population; 37
ancestry groups have more than one million members.
 White Americans with ancestry from Europe, the Middle East or North Africa, form the largest
ethnic group at 57.8% of the United States population.
 Hispanic and Latino Americans form the second-largest group and are 18.7% of the United States population.
African Americans constitute the nation's third-largest ancestry group and are 12.1% of the total United States population.
 Asian Americans are the country's fourth-largest group, composing 5.9% of the United States population, while the country's 3.7 million
Native Americans account for about 1%.
In 2020, the
 median age of the United States population was 38.5 years.
Map of U.S. official language status by state: No official language specified
While many languages are spoken in the United States, English is the most common.
Although there is no
 official language at the federal level, some laws—such as
U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English, and most states have declared English as the official language.
Three states and four U.S. territories have recognized local or indigenous languages in addition to English, including Hawaii (
 twenty Native languages),
South Dakota (
American Samoa (
 Samoan), Puerto Rico (
Spanish), Guam (
Chamorro), and the Northern Mariana Islands (
Carolinian and Chamorro). In Puerto Rico, Spanish is more widely spoken than English.
According to the
American Community Survey, in 2010 some 229 million people (out of the total U.S. population of 308 million) spoke only English at home. More than 37 million spoke
Spanish at home, making it the second most commonly used language. Other languages spoken at home by one million people or more include
Chinese (2.8 million),
Tagalog (1.6 million),
Vietnamese (1.4 million),
French (1.3 million),
Korean (1.1 million), and
German (1 million).
The United States has by far the highest
number of immigrant population in the world, with 50,661,149 people.
In 2022, there were 87.7 million immigrants and
 U.S.-born children of immigrants in the United States, accounting for nearly 27% of the overall U.S. population.
In 2017, out of the U.S. foreign-born population, some 45% (20.7 million) were naturalized citizens, 27% (12.3 million) were lawful permanent residents, 6% (2.2 million) were temporary lawful residents, and 23% (10.5 million) were unauthorized immigrants. 
In 2019, the top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (24% of immigrants), India (6%), China (5%), the Philippines (4.5%), and El Salvador (3%). 
The United States has led the world in
 refugee resettlement for decades, admitting more refugees than the rest of the world combined.
First Amendment guarantees the
free exercise of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting
Religious practice is widespread, among
 the most diverse in the world,
and vibrant, with the country being far more
 religious than other wealthy Western nations.
An overwhelming majority of Americans believe in a
 higher power,
 spiritual practices such as
and consider themselves
The country has the
 largest Christian population in the world.
Christians in the country are overwhelmingly
Gallup poll found that 31% reported "attending a church, synagogue, mosque or temple weekly or nearly weekly".
Religious practice varies significantly by region. 
In the "
 Bible Belt", located within the
Southern United States, evangelical Protestantism plays a significant role culturally.
New England and the
Western United States tend
to be less religious,
Restorationist Christian movement started in New York in the 19th century—is the predominant religious affiliation in Utah.
Around 6% of Americans claim a non-Christian faith. 
the largest of which are
The United States has the largest
 Jewish population outside of
 Ceremonial deism" is common in American culture.
A growing number of Americans have described themselves as
organized religion for unclear reasons.
A substantial majority continue to believe in a higher power. 
 Atheists and
Agnostics constitute a small and stable percentage of the population.
Sociologists debate whether religiosity is rising, staying at similar levels, or declining. 
About 82% of Americans live in
urban areas, including suburbs;
about half of those reside in cities with populations over  50. 000
In 2008, 273
 incorporated municipalities had populations over 100, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four cities (
000 New York City,
Houston) had populations exceeding two million.
Many U.S. metropolitan populations are growing rapidly, particularly in the South and West. 
Largest metropolitan areas in the United States
public education is operated by state and local governments and regulated by the
United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. In most states, children are required to attend school from the age of five or six (beginning with
first grade) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through
twelfth grade, the end of
high school); some states allow students to leave school at 16 or 17.
Of Americans 25 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.
 literacy rate is near-universal.
The country has the most
 Nobel Prize winners in history, with 403 (having won 406 awards).
University of Virginia, founded by
Thomas Jefferson in 1819, is one of many public colleges and universities in the United States.
The United States has many private and public
institutions of higher education including many of the world's top universities, as listed by various ranking organizations, are in the United States, including 19 of the top 25.
There are local
 community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition.
The U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the world, 
spending an average of $12,794 per year on public elementary and secondary school students in the 2016–2017 school year. 
public expenditures on higher education, the U.S. spends more per student than the
OECD average, and more than all nations in combined public and private spending.
Despite some student
 loan forgiveness programs in place,
 student loan debt has increased by 102% in the last decade,
and exceeded 1.7 trillion dollars as of 2022. 
Texas Medical Center in
Houston is the largest medical complex in the world, employing 106 people and treating 10 million patients annually as of 2016. 000
In a preliminary report, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that U.S.
life expectancy at birth had dropped to 76.4 years in 2021 (73.2 years for men and 79.1 years for women), down 0.9 years from 2020. The chief causes listed were the
COVID-19 pandemic, accidents, drug overdoses, heart and liver disease, and suicides.
Life expectancy was highest among Asians and Hispanics and lowest among Blacks and American Indian–Alaskan Native (
 AIAN) peoples.
Starting in 1998, the life expectancy in the U.S. fell behind that of
 other wealthy industrialized countries, and Americans' "health disadvantage" gap has been increasing ever since.
The U.S. also has one of the highest
 suicide rates among
Approximately one-third of the U.S. adult population is obese and another third is overweight. 
 Poverty is the 4th leading risk factor for premature death in the United States annually.
The U.S. healthcare system far
outspends that of any other nation, measured both in per capita spending and as a percentage of GDP but attains worse healthcare outcomes when compared to peer nations.
The United States is the only developed nation
 without a system of universal healthcare, and a
significant proportion of the population that does not carry health insurance.
Government-funded healthcare coverage for the poor (
Medicaid) and for those age 65 and older (
Medicare) is available to Americans who meet the programs' income or age qualifications. In 2010, former President Obama passed the
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or ACA,
with the law roughly halving the uninsured share of the population according to the CDC. 
 remains controversial.
Culture and society
Statue of Liberty ( Liberty Enlightening the World) on
Liberty Island in
New York Harbor was an 1866 gift from
France that has become an iconic symbol of the
Americans have traditionally
been characterized by a unifying political belief in an "
American creed" emphasizing liberty,
equality under the law, democracy,
property rights, and a preference for
Culturally, the country has been described as having the values of
 individualism and
having a strong
 work ethic,
 altruism towards others.
According to a 2016 study by the
 Charities Aid Foundation, Americans donated 1.44% of total GDP to charity, the
highest in the world by a large margin.
Part of both the
 Anglosphere and
Western World, the United States is also home to a
wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values,
and exerts major cultural influence on a global scale, 
with the phenomenon being termed 
As such, the U.S. is considered a
 cultural superpower.
Nearly all present Americans or their ancestors came from
Old World") within the past five centuries.
 Mainstream American culture is a
Western culture largely derived from the
traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as
traditions brought by slaves from Africa.
More recent immigration from
 Asia and especially
Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as a homogenizing
melting pot, and a heterogeneous
salad bowl, with immigrants contributing to, and often
assimilating into, mainstream American culture.
 American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high
social mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants.
Whether this perception is accurate has been a topic of debate. 
While mainstream culture holds that the United States is a
 classless society,
scholars identify significant differences between
 the country's social classes, affecting
socialization, language, and values.
Americans tend to greatly value
 socioeconomic achievement, but being
ordinary or average is promoted by some as a noble condition as well.
The United States is considered to have the
strongest protections of free speech of any country under the
 flag desecration,
lese-majesty as forms of protected expression.
 Pew Research Center poll found that Americans were the most supportive of free expression of any polity measured.
They are also the "most supportive of
 freedom of the press and the
right to use the Internet without government censorship."
It is a
 socially progressive country
 permissive attitudes surrounding
 LGBT rights in the United States are among the most advanced in the world.
Comcast Center in
Philadelphia, headquarters of
Comcast, the world's largest telecommunications and media conglomerate
The four major broadcasters in the U.S. are the
National Broadcasting Company (NBC),
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS),
American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and
Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX). The four major broadcast
television networks are all commercial entities.
Cable television offers hundreds of channels catering to a variety of niches.
As of 2021 , about 83% of Americans over age 12 listen to
 broadcast radio, while about 41% listen to
As of September 30, 2014 , there are 15,433 licensed full-power radio stations in the U.S. according to the U.S.
 Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Much of the public radio broadcasting is supplied by
 NPR, incorporated in February 1970 under the
Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
Globally-recognized newspapers in the United States include
, The Wall Street Journal
, The New York Times
, and The Washington Post
. USA Today
More than 800 publications are produced in Spanish, the second most commonly used language in the United States behind English. 
With very few exceptions, all the newspapers in the U.S. are privately owned, either by large chains such as
 Gannett or
McClatchy, which own dozens or even hundreds of newspapers; by small chains that own a handful of papers; or, in a situation that is increasingly rare, by individuals or families. Major cities often have
alternative newspapers to complement the mainstream daily papers, such as
in New York City and The Village Voice
LA Weekly Los Angeles. The five most popular websites used in the U.S. are
Facebook, with all of them being American companies.
The video game market of the United States is the world's
second-largest by revenue.
Major video game publishers and developers headquartered in the United States are
 Sony Interactive Entertainment,
Xbox Game Studios,
Riot Games, and others.
There are 444 publishers, developers, and hardware companies in
 California alone.
Literature and visual arts
American author and humorist
Mark Twain, who
William Faulkner called "the father of
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of their cues from Europe. Writers such as
Edgar Allan Poe, and
Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th 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 an essential American poet.
In the 1920s, the
New Negro Movement coalesced in
Harlem, where many writers had migrated from the
West Indies. Its pan-African perspective was a significant cultural export during the
Jazz Age in Paris and as such was a key early influence on the
Since its first use in the 19th century, the term "
Great American Novel" has been applied to many books, including
Moby-Dick Harriet Beecher Stowe's
(1852), Twain's Uncle Tom's Cabin
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn F. Scott Fitzgerald's
The Great Gatsby John Steinbeck's
The Grapes of Wrath Harper Lee's
To Kill a Mockingbird Toni Morrison's
Beloved David Foster Wallace's
(1996). Infinite Jest
Thirteen U.S. citizens have won the
Nobel Prize in Literature, most recently
Bob Dylan, and Toni Morrison.
 William Faulkner,
Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck have also been recognized as influential 20th century writers.
In the visual arts, the
Hudson River School was a mid-19th-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, individualistic styles, which would become known as
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 developed largely in the United States. Major photographers include
James Van Der Zee,
Ansel Adams, and
The uniquely American "Chicago School" refers to two architectural styles derived from the
architecture of Chicago. In the
history of architecture, the first Chicago School was a
architects active in
Chicago in the late 19th, and at the turn of the 20th century. They were among the first to promote the new technologies of steel-frame construction in commercial buildings, and developed a spatial aesthetic which co-evolved with, and then came to influence, parallel developments in European
modernism. Much of its early work is also known as "Commercial Style".
A "Second Chicago School" with a modernist aesthetic emerged in the 1940s through 1970s, which pioneered new building technologies and
 structural systems, such as the
The tide of modernism and then
 postmodernism has brought global fame to American architects such as
Frank Lloyd Wright,
Philip Johnson, and
Other Americans who have had dramatic influences on national and international architecture include
 Maya Lin,
Frederick Law Olmstead,
I.M. Pei, and
Cinema and theater
The United States is well known for its cinema and theater. Its movie industry has a worldwide influence and following.
Hollywood, a district in northern
Los Angeles, the nation's second-most populous city, is the leader in motion picture production and the most recognizable movie industry in the world.
 major film studios of the United States are the primary source of the
most commercially successful and most ticket-selling movies in the world.
Hollywood Sign, in the
Hollywood Hills, often regarded as the symbol of the
American film industry
Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, although in the 21st century an increasing number of films are not made there, and film companies have been subject to the forces of globalization.
 Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have been held annually by the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1929,
 Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since January 1944.
D. W. Griffith's film
The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan was the first American blockbuster, earning the equivalent of $1.8 billion in current dollars. The technical achievements of the film revolutionized
film grammar, while its subject matter caused both strident protest and a revitalization of the
Producer and entrepreneur
 Walt Disney was a leader in both
animated film and movie
Directors such as
 John Ford redefined the image of the American Old West, and, like others such as
John Huston, broadened the possibilities of cinema with location shooting. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the "
Golden Age of Hollywood", from the early sound period until the early 1960s,
with screen actors such as
 John Wayne and
Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures.
In the 1970s, "
 New Hollywood" or the "Hollywood Renaissance"
was defined by grittier films influenced by French and Italian realist pictures of the
 post-war period.
The 21st century has been marked by the rise of American streaming platforms, such as
Apple TV+, which came to rival traditional cinema.
Mainstream theater in the United States derives from the old European theatrical tradition and has been heavily influenced by the
The central hub of the American theater scene has been
 Manhattan, with its divisions of
Many movie and television
 stars have gotten their big break working in New York productions. Outside New York City, many cities have professional
regional or resident theater companies that produce their own seasons. The biggest-budget theatrical productions are
musicals. U.S. theater also has an active
community theater culture.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in
American folk music encompasses numerous music genres, variously known as traditional music, traditional
folk music, contemporary folk music, or roots music. Many traditional songs have been sung within the same family or folk group for generations, and sometimes trace back to such origins as the
Mainland Europe, or
The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African-American music have significantly influenced American music at large. The
Smithsonian Institution states, "African-American influences are so fundamental to American music that there would be no American music without them."
One instrument first mass-produced in the United States was the
 banjo, which had originally been crafted from gourds covered by animal skins by African slaves.
Banjos became widely popular in the 19th century due to their use in
 minstrel shows.
 Country music developed in the 1920s, and
rhythm and blues in the 1940s. Elements from folk idioms such as the
blues and what is 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 20th century.
Elvis Presley and
Chuck Berry were among the pioneers of
rock and roll in the mid-1950s. Rock bands such as
Aerosmith are among the
highest grossing musical acts in worldwide sales.
In the 1960s,
 Bob Dylan emerged from the
folk revival to become one of the country's most celebrated songwriters.
 pop stars such as
and Elvis Presley became global celebrities, 
as have artists of the late 20th century such as
Whitney Houston, and
The musical forms of
 punk and
hip hop both originated in the United States.
American professional opera singers have reached the highest level of success in that form, including
 Renée Fleming,
Nelson Eddy, and many others.
American popular music, as part of the wider U.S. pop culture, has a worldwide influence and following.
Katy Perry, and many other contemporary artists dominate
global streaming rankings.
The United States has the world's
 largest music market with a total retail value of $4.9 billion in 2014.
Most of the world's
 major record companies are based in the U.S.; they are represented by the
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
cheeseburger served with
Early settlers were introduced by Native Americans to such indigenous, non-European foods as
maple syrup. Of the most enduring and pervasive examples are variations of the native dish called
succotash. Early settlers and later immigrants combined these with foods they had known, such as
beef, and milk to create a distinctive American cuisine. 
 New World crops, especially
potatoes, and the
native turkey as the main course are part of a shared national menu on one of America's most popular holidays,
Thanksgiving, when many Americans make or purchase traditional dishes to celebrate the occasion.
fast food industry, the world's first and largest, pioneered the
drive-through format in the 1940s
and is often viewed as being a symbol of U.S. marketing dominance. Companies such as
 Burger King,
Kentucky Fried Chicken, and
Domino's Pizza, among others, have numerous outlets around the world,
Characteristic American dishes such as
 apple pie,
macaroni and cheese,
hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrant groups.
 Mexican dishes such as
tacos preexisted the United States in areas later annexed from Mexico, and
pasta dishes freely adapted from
Italian sources are all widely consumed.
Roth Hall, the primary facility at
The Culinary Institute of America's Hyde Park campus
chefs have been influential both in the food industry and in popular culture. Some important 19th-century American chefs include
Charles Ranhofer of
Delmonico's Restaurant in
New York, and
Bob Payton, who is credited with bringing American-style pizza to the UK.
Later, chefs Charles Scotto, Louis Pacquet, John Massironi founded the
 American Culinary Federation in 1930, taking after similar organizations across Europe. In the 1940s, Chef
James Beard hosted the first nationally televised cooking show I Love to Eat. His is the namesake for the foundation and it's prestigious cooking award recognizing excellence in the American cooking community.
Since Beard, other chefs and cooking personalities have taken to television, and the success of the
 Cooking Channel and
Food Network have contributed to the popularity of American cuisine. Probably the best-known television chef was
Julia Child who taught French cuisine in her weekly show,
The French Chef.
In 1946, the
 Culinary Institute of America was founded by
Katharine Angell and
Frances Roth. This would become the United States' most prestigious culinary school, where many of the most talented American chefs would study prior to successful careers.
The United States is home to over 220
 Michelin Star rated restaurants, 70 of which are in New York City alone.
American football is the most popular sport in the United States; in this September 2022
National Football League game, the
Jacksonville Jaguars play the
Washington Commanders at
The most popular spectator sports in the U.S. are
ice hockey, according to a 2017
While most major U.S. sports such as baseball and American football have evolved out of European practices, basketball,
snowboarding are American inventions, some of which have become popular worldwide.
 Lacrosse and
surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate European contact.
The market for
 professional sports in the United States was approximately $69 billion in July 2013, roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined.
American football is by several measures the most popular spectator sport in the United States;
 National Football League (NFL) has the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world, and the
Super Bowl is watched by tens of millions globally.
Baseball has been regarded as the U.S.
 national sport since the late 19th century, with
Major League Baseball being the top league. Basketball, soccer and
ice hockey are the country's next three most popular professional team sports, with the top leagues being the
National Basketball Association and the
National Hockey League, which are also the premier leagues worldwide for these sports. The most-watched
individual sports in the U.S. are
auto racing, particularly
collegiate level, earnings for the member institutions exceed $1 billion annually,
 college football and
basketball attract large audiences, as the
NCAA Final Four is one of the most watched national sporting events.
In many respects, the intercollegiate sports level serves as a feeder system to the professional level, as the elite college athletes are chosen to compete at the next level. This system differs greatly from nearly all other countries in the world, which generally have government-funded sports organizations that serve as a feeder system for professional competition. 
Olympic Games have taken place in the United States. The
1904 Summer Olympics in
Missouri, were the first-ever Olympic Games held outside of Europe.
The Olympic Games will be held in the U.S. for a ninth time when
 Los Angeles hosts the
2028 Summer Olympics.
U.S. athletes have won a total of 2,959 medals (1,173 gold) at the
Olympic Games, by far the most of any country.
men's national soccer team qualified for
eleven World Cups, and the
women's national team has
FIFA Women's World Cup and
Olympic soccer tournament four times each.
The United States hosted the
 1994 FIFA World Cup and will co-host, along with
2026 FIFA World Cup.
^ 30 of 50 states recognize only English as an official language. The state of
Hawaii recognizes both
Hawaiian and English as official languages, the state of
Alaska officially recognizes 20
Alaska Native languages alongside English, and the state of
South Dakota recognizes
O'ceti Sakowin as an official language.
^ The historical and informal demonym
Yankee has been applied to Americans, New Englanders, or northeasterners since the 18th century.
b c At 3,531,900 sq mi (9,147,590 km
2), the United States is the third-largest country in the world by land area, behind
China. By total area (land and water), it is the third-largest behind Russia and
Canada, if its coastal and territorial water areas are included. However, if only its internal waters are included (bays, sounds, rivers, lakes, and the
Great Lakes), the U.S. is the fourth-largest, after Russia, Canada, and China.
Coastal/territorial waters included: 3,796,742 sq mi (9,833,517 km 2)
Only internal waters included: 3,696,100 sq mi (9,572,900 km 2)
Puerto Rico and the other
unincorporated islands because they are counted separately in
U.S. census statistics.
^ After adjustment for taxes and transfers
Time in the United States for details about laws governing time zones in the United States.
Date and time notation in the United States.
^ A single jurisdiction, the
U.S. Virgin Islands, uses left-hand traffic.
^ The five major territories are
Northern Mariana Islands,
Puerto Rico, and the
United States Virgin Islands. There are eleven smaller island areas without permanent populations:
Midway Atoll, and
Palmyra Atoll. U.S. sovereignty over
Bajo Nuevo Bank,
Serranilla Bank, and
Wake Island is disputed.
^ The United States has a maritime border with the
British Virgin Islands, a British territory, since the BVI borders the
U.S. Virgin Islands.
BVI is a
 British Overseas Territory but itself is not a part of the United Kingdom.
 Puerto Rico has a maritime border with the
 American Samoa has a maritime border with the
Cook Islands, maintained under the
Cook Islands–United States Maritime Boundary Treaty.
American Samoa also has maritime borders with
 independent Samoa and
U.S. Census Bureau provides a continuously updated but unofficial population clock in addition to
its decennial census and
annual population estimates:
South Carolina, and
^ This figure, like most official data for the United States as a whole, excludes the five unincorporated territories (
U.S. Virgin Islands,
American Samoa, and the
Northern Mariana Islands) and minor island possessions.
Central Alaskan Yup'ik,
^ Also known less formally as Obamacare
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