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Introduction United States
Britain's American colonies broke with mother country in 1776 and were recognized as new nation of United States of America following Treaty of Paris in 1783. During 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to original 13 as nation expanded across North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. two most traumatic experiences in nation's history were Civil War (1861-65) and Great Depression of 1930s. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and end of Cold War in 1991, US remains world's most powerful nation-state. economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.
Geography United States
North America, bordering both North Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico
Geographic coordinates:
38 00 N, 97 00 W
Map references:
North America
total: 9,629,091 sq km
land: 9,158,960 sq km
water: 470,131 sq km
note: includes only 50 states and District of Columbia
Area - comparative:
about half size of Russia; about three-tenths size of Africa; about half size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; about two and a half times size of Western Europe
Land boundaries:
total: 12,034 km
border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km
note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by US and thus remains part of Cuba; base boundary is 29 km
19,924 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
continental shelf: not specified
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in great plains west of Mississippi River, and arid in Great Basin of southwest; low winter temperatures in northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains
vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Death Valley -86 m
highest point: Mount McKinley 6,194 m
Natural resources:
coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber
Land use:
arable land: 19.32%
other: 80.46% (1998 est.)
permanent crops: 0.22%
Irrigated land:
214,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in midwest and southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development
Environment - current issues:
air pollution resulting in acid rain in both US and Canada; US is largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; very limited natural fresh water resources in much of western part of country require careful management; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes
Geography - note:
world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley lowest point on continent
People United States
Total Population:
290,342,554 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.9% (male 31,098,473; female 29,675,712)
15-64 years: 66.7% (male 96,628,469; female 97,061,559)
65 years and over: 12.4% (male 14,888,185; female 20,990,156) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 35.8 years
male: 34.5 years
female: 37.1 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
0.92% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
14.14 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
8.44 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
3.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
Population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.75 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.46 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
Life Expectancy:
Population: 77.14 years
female: 80.05 years (2003 est.)
male: 74.37 years
Total fertility rate:
2.07 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.6% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
900,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
15,000 (2001 est.)
noun: American(s)
adjective: American
Ethnic groups:
white 77.1%, black 12.9%, Asian 4.2%, Amerindian and Alaska native 1.5%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.3%, other 4% (2000)
note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Latin American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) living in US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.)
Protestant 56%, Roman Catholic 28%, Jewish 2%, other 4%, none 10% (1989)
English, Spanish (spoken by a sizable minority)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
female: 97% (1979 est.)
Population: 97%
male: 97%
People - note:
data for US are based on projections that do not take into consideration results of 2000 census
Government United States
Country name:
conventional long form: United States of America
conventional short form: United States
abbreviation: US or USA
Government type:
Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Washington, DC
Administrative divisions:
50 states and 1 district*; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Dependent areas:
American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island
note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, US administered Trust Territory of Pacific Islands, but recently entered into a new political relationship with all four political units: Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with US (effective 1 October 1994); Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with US (effective 3 November 1986); Republic of Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with US (effective 21 October 1986)
4 July 1776 (from Great Britain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
17 September 1787, effective 4 March 1789
Legal system:
based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President George W. BUSH (since 20 January 2001) and Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001); note - president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President George W. BUSH (since 20 January 2001) and Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001); note - president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by president with Senate approval
elections: president and vice president elected on same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms; election last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004)
election results: George W. BUSH elected president; percent of popular vote - George W. BUSH (Republican Party) 48%, Albert A. GORE, Jr. (Democratic Party) 48%, Ralph NADER (Green Party) 3%, other 1%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Congress consists of Senate (100 seats, one-third are renewed every two years; two members are elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and House of Representatives (435 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Republican Party 51, Democratic Party 48, independent 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Republican Party 226, Democratic Party 204, independent 1, undecided 4
elections: Senate - last held 5 November 2002 (next to be held NA November 2004); House of Representatives - last held 5 November 2002 (next to be held NA November 2004)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (its nine justices are appointed for life by president with confirmation by Senate); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party [Terence McAULIFFE]; Green Party [leader NA]; Libertarian Party [Steve DASBACH]; Republican Party [Governor Marc RACICOT]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Flag description:
thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 limited , white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; 50 stars represent 50 states, 13 stripes represent 13 original colonies; known as Old Glory; design and colors have been basis for a number of other flags, includes Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico
Economy United States
Economy - overview:
US has largest and most technologically powerful economy in world, with a per capita GDP of $37,600. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of decisions, and federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in private marketplace. US business firms enjoy considerably greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, lay off surplus workers, and develop new products. At same time, they face higher barriers to entry in their rivals' home markets than barriers to entry of foreign firms in US markets. US firms are at or near forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment, although their advantage has narrowed since end of World War II. onrush of technology largely explains gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at bottom lack education and professional/technical skills of those at top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all gains in household income have gone to top 20% of households. years 1994-2000 witnessed solid increases in real output, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%. year 2001 saw end of boom psychology and performance, with output increasing only 0.3% and unemployment and business failures rising substantially. response to terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed remarkable resilience of economy. Moderate recovery took place in 2002, with GDP growth rate rising to 2.45%. A major short-term problem in first half 2002 previously a sharp decline in stock market, fueled in part by exposure of dubious accounting practices in some major corporations. war in March/April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq shifted resources to military industries and introduced uncertainties about investment and employment in other sectors of economy. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in lower economic groups.
buying power parity - $10.45 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.4% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
buying power parity - $36,300 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 18%
services: 80% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
12.7% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 30.5% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
40.8 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.6% (2002)
Labor force:
141.8 million (includes unemployed) (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
managerial and professional 31%, technical, sales and administrative support 28.9%, services 13.6%, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and crafts 24.1%, farming, forestry, and fishing 2.4%
note: figures exclude unemployed (2001)
Unemployment rate:
5.8% (2002)
revenues: $1.946 trillion
expenditures: $2.052 trillion, includes capital expenditures of NA (2002 est.)
leading industrial power in world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
Industrial production growth rate:
-0.4% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
3.719 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 5.6%
other: 2.3% (2001)
nuclear: 20.7%
Electricity - consumption:
3.602 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
18.17 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
38.48 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
8.054 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
19.65 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
22.45 billion bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
548.1 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
640.9 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
11.16 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
114.1 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
5.195 trillion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; forest products; fish
$687 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
capital goods, automobiles, industrial supplies and raw materials, consumer goods, agricultural products
Exports - partners:
Canada 23.2%, Mexico 14.1%, Japan 7.4%, UK 4.8% (2002)
$1.165 trillion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
crude oil and refined petroleum products, machinery, automobiles, consumer goods, industrial raw materials, food and beverages
Imports - partners:
Canada 17.8%, Mexico 11.3%, China 11.1%, Japan 10.4%, Germany 5.3% (2002)
Debt - external:
$862 billion (1995 est.)
Economic aid - donor:
ODA, $6.9 billion (1997)
US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
British pounds per US dollar - 0.6661 (2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), Canadian dollars per US dollar - 1.5693 (2002), 1.5488 (2001), 1.4851 (2000), 1.4857 (1999), 1.4835 (1998), Japanese yen per US dollar - 125.39 (2002), 121.53 (2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), euros per US dollar - 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.08540 (2000), 0.93863 (1999)
note: financial institutions in France, Italy, and Germany and eight other European countries started using euro on 1 January 1999 with euro replacing local currency in consenting countries for all transactions in 2002
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications United States
Telephones - main lines in use:
194 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
69.209 million (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: a very large, technologically advanced, multipurpose communications system
domestic: a large system of fiber-optic cable, microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and domestic satellites carries every form of telephone traffic; a rapidly growing cellular system carries mobile telephone traffic throughout country
international: 24 ocean cable systems in use; satellite earth stations - 61 Intelsat (45 Atlantic Ocean and 16 Pacific Ocean), 5 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 4 Inmarsat (Pacific and Atlantic Ocean regions) (2000)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 4,762, FM 5,542, shortwave 18 (1998)
575 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
more than 1,500 (including nearly 1,000 stations affiliated with five major networks - NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and PBS; in addition, there are about 9,000 cable TV systems) (1997)
219 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
7,000 (2002 est.)
Internet users:
165.75 million (2002)
Transportation United States
total: 194,731 km mainline routes
standard gauge: 194,731 km 1.435-m gauge
note: represents aggregate length of roadway of all line-haul railroads includes an estimate for class II and III railroads; excludes 135,185 km of yard tracks, sidings, and parallel lines (2000)
total: 6,334,859 km
paved: 3,737,567 km (including 89,426 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,597,292 km (2000)
41,009 km
note: navigable inland channels, exclusive of Great Lakes
petroleum products 244,620 km; natural gas 548,665 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Duluth, Hampton Roads, Honolulu, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Port Canaveral, Portland (Oregon), Prudhoe Bay, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, Tampa, Toledo
Merchant marine:
total: 348 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 9,414,676 GRT/12,207,346 DWT
ships by type: barge carrier 2, bulk 71, cargo 26, chemical tanker 13, combination bulk 2, combination ore/oil 1, container 79, freighter 15, heavy lift carrier 3, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 73, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 46, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 2, vehicle carrier 9
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Australia 1, Canada 4, Denmark 15, France 1, Germany 1, Netherlands 3, Norway 7, Puerto Rico 4, Singapore 11, Sweden 1, United Kingdom 3; also, US owns 549 additional ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 29,616,347 DWT that operate under registries of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Finland, Gibraltar, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Isle of Man, Italy, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, Norway, Norway (NIS), Panama, Peru, Philippines, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Singapore, Tonga, UK, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna (2002 est.)
14,801 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 5,131
over 3,047 m: 185
2,438 to 3,047 m: 222
914 to 1,523 m: 2,390
under 914 m: 969 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1,365
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 9,670
under 914 m: 7,802 (2002)
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 1,702
1,524 to 2,437 m: 158
149 (2002)
Military United States
Military branches:
Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard (Coast Guard administered in peacetime by Department of Homeland Security but in wartime reports to Department of Navy)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 73,597,731 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 2,116,002 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$276.7 billion (FY99 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.2% (FY99 est.)
Military - note:
note: 2002 estimates for military manpower are based on projections that do not take into consideration results of 2000 census
Transnational Issues United States
Disputes - international:
prolonged drought in Mexico border region has strained water-sharing arrangements; 1990 Maritime Boundary Agreement in Bering Sea awaits Russian Duma ratification; maritime boundary disputes with Canada at Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and around disputed Machias Seal Island and North Rock; Bahamas have not been able to agree on a maritime boundary; US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased from Cuba and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of area can terminate lease; Haiti claims Navassa Island; US has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has reserved right to do so) and does not recognize claims of any other state; Marshall Islands claims Wake Island
Illicit drugs:
consumer of cocaine shipped from Colombia through Mexico and Caribbean; consumer of heroin, marijuana, and increasingly methamphetamine from Mexico; consumer of high-quality Southeast Asian heroin; illicit producer of cannabis, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine; money-laundering center