Facts

Population: 325.185,984 For more visit Worldmeters

Area: 9.834 million km²

The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (U.S.) or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.[fn 1] Forty-eight of the fifty states and the federal district are contiguous and located in North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is in the far northwestern corner of North America, with a land border to the east with Canada and separated by the Bering Strait from Russia. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Nine time zones are covered. The geography, climate and wildlife of the country are extremely diverse. At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km2) and with over 324 million people, the United States is the world’s fourth-largest country by total area (and fourth-largest by land area)[fn 2] and the third-most populous. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, and is home to the world’s largest immigration population. Urbanization climbed to over 80% in 2010 and leads to growing megaregions. The country’s capital is Washington, D.C.and its largest city is New York City; the other major metropolitan areas, all with around five million or more inhabitants, are Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Miami, and Atlanta. Paleo-Indians migrated from Asia to the North American mainland at least 15,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775. On July 4, 1776, as the colonies were fighting Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. The war ended in 1783 with recognition of the independence of the United States by Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, after the Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, were felt to have provided inadequate federal powers. The first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and designed to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties. The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, displacing American Indian tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the American Civil Warled to the end of legal slavery in the country. By the end of that century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean, and its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country’s status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is a founding member of the Organization of American States (UAS) and various other Pan-American and international organisations. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world’s sole superpower. The United States is a highly developed country, with the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP. It ranks highly in several measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capital GDP, and productivity per person. While the U.S. economy is considered post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge economy, the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. Though its population is only 4.4% of the world total, the United States accounts for nearly a quarter of world GDP and almost a third of global military spending. making it the world’s foremost military and economic power. The United States is a prominent political and cultural force internationally, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovations.

In March 1959, the U.S. government approved statehood for Hawaii, and in June the Hawaiian people voted by a wide majority to accept admittance into the United States. Two months later, Hawaii officially became the 50th state.

Currency: Dollor

 

 Culture

The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Aside from the Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Native Alaskan populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors settled or immigrated 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 both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics. Core American culture was established by Protestant British colonists and shaped by the frontier settlement process, with the traits derived passed down to descendants and transmitted to immigrants through assimilation. Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism as well as a unifying belief in an “American creed” emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government. Americans are extremely charitable by global standards. According to a 2006 British study, Americans gave 1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied, more than twice the second place British figure of 0.73%, and around twelve times the French figure of 0.14%. The American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants. Whether this perception is realistic 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’ self-images, social viewpoints, and cultural expectations are associated with their occupations to an unusually close degree. While Americans tend greatly to value socioeconomic achievement, being ordinary or average is generally seen as a positive attribute.

 

Economy

The United States has a capitalist mixed economy which is fueled by abundant natural resources and high productivity. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $16.8 trillion constitutes 24% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 19% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity (PPP). The US’s nominal GDP is estimated to be $17.528 trillion as of 2014 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 G7. The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and sixth in GDP per capital at PPP. The U.S. dollar is the world’s primary reserve currency. The United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total U.S. trade deficit was $635 billion. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country’s largest export. Japan is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt. The largest holder of the U.S. debt are American entities, including federal government accounts and the Federal Reserve, who hold the majority of the debt. In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy, with federal government activity accounting for 4.3% and state and local government activity (including federal transfers) the remaining 9.3%. The number of employees at all levels of government outnumber those in manufacturing by 1.7 to 1. While its economy has reached a postindustrial level of development and its service sector constitutes 67.8% of GDP, the United States remains an industrial power. The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing. In the franchising business model, McDonald’s and Subway are the two most recognized brands in the world. Coca-Cola is the most recognized soft drink company in the world. Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The United States is the largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its second-largest importer. It is the world’s number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. The National Mining Association provides data pertaining to coal and minerals that include beryllium, copper, lead, magnesium, zinc, titanium and others.

 

 Geography, climate, and environment

A composite satellite image of the contiguous United States and surrounding areas

Köppen climate types of the US. The land area of the contiguous United States is 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,940.6 km2). Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 663,268 square miles (1,717,856.2 km2). Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, is 10,931 square miles (28,311 km2) in area. The populated territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands together cover 9,185 square miles (23,789 km2). The United States is the world’s third- or fourth-largest nation by total area (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and just above or below China. The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted and how the total size of the United States is measured: calculations range from 3,676,486 square miles (9,522,055.0 km2) to 3,717,813 square miles (9,629,091.5 km2) to 3,796,742 square miles (9,833,516.6 km2) to 3,805,927 square miles (9.9 Mm2). Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada. The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest.[168] The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world’s fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by a highland region in the southeast. The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado. Farther west are the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahua and Mojave. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast, both ranges 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 (Mount McKinley) is the highest peak in the country and North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska’s Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The super volcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent’s largest volcanic feature. The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, 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. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of Florida are tropical, as are the populated territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world’s tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South.

Government and politics

The United States is the world’s oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, “in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law”. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country’s supreme legal document. For 2014, the U.S. ranked 19th on the Democracy Index and 17th on the Corruption Perceptions Index. In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The local government’s duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is rare at lower levels. The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population every tenth year. At the 2010 census, seven states had the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, had 53.

 

Health

 The United States has a life expectancy of 79.8 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990. Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country’s rank in life expectancy from 1987, when it was 11th in the world. Obesity rates in the United States are among’st the highest in the world. Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight; the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century. Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals. The infant mortality rate of 6.17 per thousand places the United States 169th-highest out of 224 countries, with the 224th country having the lowest mortality rate. In 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety caused the most years lost to disability. The most deleterious risk factors were poor diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Alzheimer’s disease, drug abuse, kidney disease and cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capital rates.U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations, especially among blacks and Hispanics. U.S. underage drinking among teenagers is among the lowest in industrialized nations. The U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation. America solely developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most important medical innovations since 1975 as ranked by a 2001 poll of physicians, while the EU and Switzerland together contributed to five. Since 1966, more Americans have received the Nobel Prize in Medicine than the rest of the world combined. From 1989 to 2002, four times more money was invested in private biotechnology companies in America than in Europe. The U.S. health-care system far outspends any other nation, measured in both per capital spending and percentage of GDP. Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not universal. In 2014, 13.4% of the population did not carry health insurance. The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue. In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate universal health insurance. Federal legislation passed in early 2010 would ostensibly create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate effect are issues of controversy.

 

Language

English (American English) is the de factonational language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2010, about 230 million, or 80% of the population aged five years and older, spoke only English at home. Spanish, spoken by 12% of the population at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught second language. Some Americans advocate making English the country’s official language, as it is in 32 states. Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii, by state law. Alaska recognizes twenty Native languages. While neither has an official language, New Mexico has laws providing for the use of both English and Spanish, as Louisiana does for English and French. Other states, such as California, mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms. Many jurisdictions with large numbers of non-English speakers produce government materials, especially voting information, in the most commonly spoken languages in those jurisdictions. Several insular territories grant official recognition to their native languages, along with English: Samoan and Chamorro are recognized by American Samoa and Guam, respectively; Carolinian and Chamorro are recognized by the Northern Mariana Islands; Cherokee is officially recognized by the Cherokee Nation within the Cherokee tribal jurisdiction area in eastern Oklahoma; Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico and is more widely spoken than English there. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Arabic and Urdu are the fastest-growing foreign languages spoken in American households. In recent years, Arabic-speaking residents increased by 29%, Urdu by 23% and Persian by 9%. The most widely taught foreign languages at all levels in the United States (in terms of enrollment numbers) are: Spanish (around 7.2 million students), French (1.5 million), and German (500,000). Other commonly taught languages (with 100,000 to 250,000 learners) include Latin, Japanese, American Sign Language, Italian, and Chinese. 18% of all Americans claim to speak at least one language in addition to English.

 

 

Law enforcement and crime

 Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff’s departments, with state police providing broader services. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest in the country. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties, including protecting civil rights, national security and enforcing U.S. federal courts’ rulings and federal laws. At the federal level and in almost every state, a legal system operates on a common law. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. Plea bargaining in the United States is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than jury trial. In 2015, there were 15,696 murders which was 1,532 more than in 2014, a 10.8 per cent increase, the largest since 1971. The murder rate in 2015 was 4.9 per 100,000 people. In 2012 there were 4.7 murders per 100,000 persons in the United States, a 54% decline from the modern peak of 10.2 in 1980. In 2001–2, the United States had above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence compared to other developed nations. A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2003 showed that United States “homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher.” Gun ownership rights continue to be the subject of contentious political debate. From 1980 through 2008 males represented 77% of homicide victims and 90% of offenders. Blacks committed 52.5% of all homicides during that span, at a rate almost eight times that of whites (“whites” includes most Hispanics), and were victimized at a rate six times that of whites. Most homicides were intraracial, with 93% of black victims killed by blacks and 84% of white victims killed by whites. In 2012, Louisiana had the highest rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in the U.S., and New Hampshire the lowest. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports estimates that there were 3,246 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, for a total of over 9 million total crimes. Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and used in 31 states. No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In 1976, that Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. Since the decision there have been more than 1,300 executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma.Meanwhile, several states have either abolished or struck down death penalty laws. In 2014, the country had the fifth-highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults. At year end 2012, the combined U.S. adult correctional systems supervised about 6,937,600 offenders. About 1 in every 35 adult residents in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at year end 2012, the lowest rate observed since 1997. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980, and state and local spending on prisons and jails has grown three times as much as that spent on public education during the same period. However, the imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478 per 100,000 in 2013 and the rate for pre-trial/remand prisoners is 153 per 100,000 residents in 2012. The country’s high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing guidelines and drug policies. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses. The privatization of prisons and prison services which began in the 1980s has been a subject of debate. In 2008, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate, and Maine the lowest.

 

 

Military

The carrier strike groups of the Kitty Hawk, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln with aircraft from the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Coast Guard is run by the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and by the Department of the Navy during times of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel on active duty. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including contractors. Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force’s large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy’s 10 active aircraft carriers, and Marine expeditionary units at sea with the Navy’s Atlantic and Pacific fleets. The military operates 865 bases and facilities abroad, and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries. The military budget of the United States in 2011 was more than $700 billion, 41% of global military spending and equal to the next 14 largest national military expenditures combined. At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after Saudi Arabia. U.S. defense spending as a percentage of GDP ranked 23rd globally in 2012 according to the CIA. Defense’s share of U.S. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal outlays in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal outlays in 2011.

US global military presence

The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion, was a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion was proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last American troops serving in Iraq departed in December 2011;4,484 service members were killed during the Iraq War. Approximately 90,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan in April 2012; by November 8, 2013 2,285 had been killed during the War in Afghanistan.

Religion

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting its establishment. Christianity is by far the most common religion practiced in the U.S., but other religions are followed, too. In a 2013 survey, 56% of Americans said that religion played a “very important role in their lives”, a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation. In a 2009 Gallup poll, 42% of Americans said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly; the figures ranged from a low of 23% in Vermont to a high of 63% in Mississippi. As with other Western countries, the U.S. is becoming less religious. Irreligion is growing rapidly among Americans under 30. Polls show that overall American confidence in organized religion has been declining since the mid to late 1980s, and that younger Americans in particular are becoming increasingly irreligious. According to a 2012 study, Protestant share of U.S. population dropped to 48%, thus ending its status as religious category of the majority for the first time. Americans with no religion have 1.7 children compared to 2.2 among Christians. The unaffiliated are less likely to get married with 37% marrying compared to 52% of Christians. According to a 2014 survey, 70.6% of adults identified themselves as Christian, Protestant denominations accounted for 46.5%, while Roman Catholicism, at 20.8%, was the largest individual denomination. The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2014 was 5.9%. Other religions include Judaism (1.9%), Islam(0.9%), Buddhism (0.7%), Hinduism (0.7%). The survey also reported that 22.8% of Americans described themselves as agnostic, atheist or simply having no religion, up from 8.2% in 1990. There are also Unitarian Universalist, Baha’i, Sikh, Jain, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, Druid, Native American, Wiccan, humanist and deist communities. Protestantism is the largest Christian religious grouping in the United States. Baptists collectively form the largest branch of Protestantism, and the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest individual Protestant denomination. About 26% of Americans identify as Evangelical Protestants, while 15% are Mainline and 7% belong to a traditionally Black church. Roman Catholicism in the United States has its origin in the Spanishand French colonization of the Americas, and later grew because of Irish, Italian, Polish, German and Hispanic immigration. Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics with 40 percent of the total population. Lutheranism in the U.S. has its origin in immigration from Northern Europe and Germany. North and South Dakota are the only states in which a plurality of the population is Lutheran. Presbyterianism was introduced in North America by Scottish and Ulster Scots immigrants. Although it has spread across the United States, it is heavily concentrated on the East Coast. Dutch Reformed congregations were founded first in New Amsterdam (New York City) before spreading westward. Utah is the only state where Mormonism is the religion of the majority of the population. The Mormon Corridor also extends to parts of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming. The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative Evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation’s average. By contrast, religion plays the least important role in New England and in the Western United States.

Sports

American football is by several measures the most popular spectator sport; the National Football League (NFL) has the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world, and the Super Bowl is watched by millions globally. Baseball has been regarded as the U.S. national sport since the late 19th century, with Major League Baseball (MLB) being the top league. Basketball and ice hockey are the country’s next two leading professional team sports, with the top leagues being the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL). These four major sports, when played professionally, each occupy a season at different, but overlapping, times of the year. College football and basketball attract large audiences. In soccer, the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the men’s national soccer team qualified for ten World Cups and the women’s team has won the FIFA Women’s World Cup three times; Major League Soccer is the sport’s highest league in the United States. The market for professional sports in the United States is roughly $69 billion, roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined. Eight Olympic Games have taken place in the United States. As of 2014, the United States has won 2,400 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country, and 281 in the Winter Olympic Games, the second most behind Norway. While most major U.S. sports have evolved out of European practices, basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, and snowboarding are American inventions, some of which have become popular in other countries. Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact. The most watched individual sports are golf and auto racing, particularly NASCAR. The men’s Volleyball national team has won three gold medals at the Olympic Games, one FIVB World Championship, two FIVB Volleyball World Cup, and one FIVB World League.

Transport

Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 4 million miles (6.4 million km) of public roads, including one of the world’s longest highway systems at 57,000 miles (91700 km). The world’s second-largest automobile market,the United States has the highest rate of per-capital vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans. About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks. The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km). Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips. Transport of goods by rail is extensive, though relatively low numbers of passengers (approximately 31 million annually) use intercity rail to travel, partly because of the low population density throughout much of the U.S. interior. However, ridership on Amtrak, the national intercity passenger rail system, grew by almost 37% between 2000 and 2010. Also, light rail development has increased in recent years. Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal. The 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 US Airways. Of the world’s 50 busiest passenger airports, 16 are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the fourth-busiest, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

 

Wildlife

The bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States since 1782. The U.S. ecology is megadiverse: about 17,000 species of vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and over 1,800 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 bird species, 311 reptile species, and 295 amphibian species.About 91,000 insect species have been described. The bald eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the United States, and is an enduring symbol of the country itself. There are 58 national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Altogether, the government owns about 28% of the country’s land area. Most of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching; about .86% is used for military purposes. Environmental issues have been on the national agenda since 1970. Environmental controversies include debates on oil and nuclear energy, dealing with air and water pollution, the economic costs of protecting wildlife, logging and deforestation, and international responses to global warming.Many federal and state agencies are involved. The most prominent is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970. The idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with the Wilderness Act. 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.

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