Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Here you can talk about Stratovarius and related bands. Language used is English.
Post Reply
Empathica1928
Sr. Member
Posts: 426
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:43 pm

Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Empathica1928 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:19 pm

Last time they were here was in 2009 for the Polaris tour - I'm not sure about the other cities but the Chicago turnout was low, and in a very poor venue...

But Stratovarius is my favorite metal band and I would love to see them at least one more time, no matter who the next drummer is going to be. I want to meet them again, they're very cool guys. And they put on a fucking ridiculously good show.

I know it's usually up to the label or whoever and it's really out of the band's control but... these guys are fucking legends and should absolutely hit the US once more. I'm not sure how many times they toured the US before the Polaris tour, but they definitely need to come back.

And I want to get Timo to sign my copy of Cain's Offering ;)

User avatar
robocop656
Sr. Member
Posts: 2312
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: pæniš
Contact:

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by robocop656 » Mon Oct 17, 2011 3:41 pm

Would YOU travel half way across the earth to play in empty venues??

Image

eternity_strato
Sr. Member
Posts: 1019
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2002 5:02 pm

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by eternity_strato » Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:20 pm

No.

Next question.

Plisken
Sr. Member
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:45 pm

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Plisken » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:45 pm

when they played at the key club in hollywood it was PACKED. when I say packed i mean not any room to walk packed. I meet the guys afterwards. They were all awesome people!

User avatar
robocop656
Sr. Member
Posts: 2312
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: pæniš
Contact:

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by robocop656 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:52 am

True. I remember a video of them in BB Kings in NYC. The audience was singing Forever.

User avatar
HinatAArcticA
Sr. Member
Posts: 1552
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:21 am
Location: South Pole

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by HinatAArcticA » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:14 am

Tomi Kotipeltolqui

<a target='_blank' title='ImageShack - Image And Video Hosting' href='http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/37 ... jpg/'><img src='http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/452/sasukesnq.jpg' border='0'></a>
No need to feel so afraid, colors last a lifetime and fade to gray...
Tony Kakko

Empathica1928
Sr. Member
Posts: 426
Joined: Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:43 pm

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Empathica1928 » Tue Oct 18, 2011 6:41 pm

I'm glad they were packed elsewhere. Chicago was horrible. At least, it looked that way to me. They played the tiniest stage I've ever seen a band play and the audience was tiny too.
robocop656 wrote:True. I remember a video of them in BB Kings in NYC. The audience was singing Forever.
I wish we had gotten Forever! But we did get Father Time.....

Plisken
Sr. Member
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:45 pm

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Plisken » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:23 pm

Empathica1928 wrote:I'm glad they were packed elsewhere. Chicago was horrible. At least, it looked that way to me. They played the tiniest stage I've ever seen a band play and the audience was tiny too.
robocop656 wrote:True. I remember a video of them in BB Kings in NYC. The audience was singing Forever.
I wish we had gotten Forever! But we did get Father Time.....
They did both in when I saw them :o

hiro23
Sr. Member
Posts: 3206
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:45 am
Location: saint george, utah

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by hiro23 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 6:24 am

I'm sure they will play the states again, more and more people over here are starting to learn of the band and listen to them.

I'm sure there will be bigger venues to play next time around.
metal feeds the beast

User avatar
Gilles
Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:56 pm
Location: Rimouski (Quebec)

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Gilles » Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:04 am

I was wondering the same...
They played their 1st North American tour in 2005 and they played again in 2006.
Saw them 2 times in 2009.
In Quebec city the venue was packed (900 people) and Montreal was half full sureley cause Metallica was playing the same night in Montreal.

For the polaris tour only 8 show in the US and 9 show in Canada..

eternity_strato
Sr. Member
Posts: 1019
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2002 5:02 pm

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by eternity_strato » Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:07 am

The United States of America (also called the United States, the U.S., the USA, America, and the States) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean.
At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 312 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largest by both land area and population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries.[6] The U.S. economy is the world's largest national economy, with an estimated 2010 GDP of $14.53 trillion (23% of nominal global GDP and over 19% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity).[3][7]
Indigenous peoples descended from forebears who migrated from Asia have inhabited what is now the mainland United States for many thousands of years. This Native American population was greatly reduced by disease and warfare after European contact. The United States was founded by thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. On July 4, 1776, they issued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their right to self-determination and their establishment of a cooperative union. The rebellious states defeated the British Empire in the American Revolution, the first successful colonial war of independence.[8] The current United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with a strong central government. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments guaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.
Through the 19th century, the United States displaced native tribes, acquired the Louisiana territory from France, Florida from Spain, part of the Oregon Country from the United Kingdom, Alta California and New Mexico from Mexico, and Alaska from Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over the expansion of the institution of slavery and states' rights provoked the Civil War of the 1860s. The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States. By the 1870s, its national economy was the world's largest.[9] The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a military power. It emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower. The country accounts for 41% of global military spending,[10] and it is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world.[11]

Etymology

See also: Names for United States citizens
In 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America" after Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.[12] The former British colonies first used the country's modern name in the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the "unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America".[13] On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which states, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'." The Franco-American treaties of 1778 used "United States of North America", but from July 11, 1778, "United States of America" was used on the country's bills of exchange, and it has been the official name ever since.[14]
The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms include the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names include the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia", a once popular name for the United States, derives from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".
The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is as an "American". Although "United States" is the official appositional term, "American" and "U.S." are more commonly used to refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). "American" is rarely used in English to refer to people not connected to the United States.[15]
The phrase "United States" was originally treated as plural—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. It became common to treat it as singular—e.g., "the United States is"—after the end of the Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States".[16]
Geography and environment

Main articles: Geography of the United States, Climate of the United States, and Environment of the United States
The land area of the contiguous United States is approximately 1,900 million acres (7,700,000 km2). Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 365 million acres (1,480,000 km2). Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, has just over 4 million acres (16,000 km2).[17] 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 km2)[18] to 3,717,813 square miles (9,629,091 km2)[19] to 3,794,101 square miles (9,826,676 km2).[1] Including only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada.[20]


Satellite image showing topography of the contiguous United States
The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie 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 Mojave. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast. At 20,320 feet (6,194 m), Alaska's Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.[21]


The bald eagle, national bird of the United States since 1782
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 southern tip of Florida is tropical, as is Hawaii. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains are alpine. 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. 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 the Midwest's Tornado Alley.[22]
The U.S. ecology is considered "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.[23] The United States is home to more than 400 mammal, 750 bird, and 500 reptile and amphibian species.[24] About 91,000 insect species have been described.[25] The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. There are fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas.[26] Altogether, the government owns 28.8% of the country's land area.[27] Most of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching; 2.4% is used for military purposes.[27]
Political divisions
Main article: U.S. state
Further information: Territorial evolution of the United States and United States territorial acquisitions
The United States is a federal union of fifty states. The original thirteen states were the successors of the thirteen colonies that rebelled against British rule. Early in the country's history, three new states were organized on territory separated from the claims of the existing states: Kentucky from Virginia; Tennessee from North Carolina; and Maine from Massachusetts. Most of the other states have been carved from territories obtained through war or purchase by the U.S. government. One set of exceptions comprises Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii: each was an independent republic before joining the union. During the American Civil War, West Virginia broke away from Virginia. The most recent state—Hawaii—achieved statehood on August 21, 1959. The states do not have the right to secede from the union.
The states compose the vast bulk of the U.S. land mass; the two other areas considered integral parts of the country are the District of Columbia, the federal district where the capital, Washington, is located; and Palmyra Atoll, an uninhabited but incorporated territory in the Pacific Ocean. The United States also possesses five major overseas territories: Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands in the Caribbean; and American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific.[28] Those born in the major territories (except for American Samoa) possess U.S. citizenship.[29] American citizens residing in the territories have many of the same rights and responsibilities as citizens residing in the states; however, they are generally exempt from federal income tax, may not vote for president, and have only nonvoting representation in the U.S. Congress.[30]


History

Main article: History of the United States
Native American and European settlement
The indigenous peoples of the U.S. mainland, including Alaska Natives, are believed to have migrated from Asia, beginning between 12,000 and 40,000 years ago.[31] Some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. After Europeans began settling the Americas, many millions of indigenous Americans died from epidemics of imported diseases such as smallpox.[32]


The Mayflower transported Pilgrims to the New World in 1620, as depicted in William Halsall's The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, 1882
In 1492, Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus, under contract to the Spanish crown, reached several Caribbean islands, making first contact with the indigenous people. On April 2, 1513, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León landed on what he called "La Florida"—the first documented European arrival on what would become the U.S. mainland. Spanish settlements in the region were followed by ones in the present-day southwestern United States that drew thousands through Mexico. French fur traders established outposts of New France around the Great Lakes; France eventually claimed much of the North American interior, down to the Gulf of Mexico. The first successful English settlements were the Virginia Colony in Jamestown in 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. The 1628 chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resulted in a wave of migration; by 1634, New England had been settled by some 10,000 Puritans. Between the late 1610s and the American Revolution, about 50,000 convicts were shipped to Britain's American colonies.[33] Beginning in 1614, the Dutch settled along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island.
In 1674, the Dutch ceded their American territory to England; the province of New Netherland was renamed New York. Many new immigrants, especially to the South, were indentured servants—some two-thirds of all Virginia immigrants between 1630 and 1680.[34] By the turn of the 18th century, African slaves were becoming the primary source of bonded labor. With the 1729 division of the Carolinas and the 1732 colonization of Georgia, the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America were established. All had local governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self-government stimulating support for republicanism. All legalized the African slave trade. With high birth rates, low death rates, and steady immigration, the colonial population grew rapidly. The Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty. In the French and Indian War, British forces seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. Excluding the Native Americans (popularly known as "American Indians"), who were being displaced, those thirteen colonies had a population of 2.6 million in 1770, about one-third that of Britain; nearly one in five Americans were black slaves.[35] Though subject to British taxation, the American colonials had no representation in the Parliament of Great Britain.
Independence and expansion


Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull, 1817–18
Tensions between American colonials and the British during the revolutionary period of the 1760s and early 1770s led to the American Revolutionary War, fought from 1775 to 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Proclaiming that "all men are created equal" and endowed with "certain unalienable Rights", the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, on July 4, 1776. That date is now celebrated annually as America's Independence Day. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation established a weak confederal government that operated until 1789.
After the British defeat by American forces assisted by the French and Spanish, Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States and the states' sovereignty over American territory west to the Mississippi River. Those wishing to establish a strong national government with powers of taxation organized a constitutional convention in 1787. The United States Constitution was ratified in 1788, and the new republic's first Senate, House of Representatives, and president—George Washington—took office in 1789. The Bill of Rights, forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791.
Attitudes toward slavery were shifting; a clause in the Constitution protected the transatlantic slave trade only until 1808. The Northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the slave states of the South as defenders of the "peculiar institution". The Second Great Awakening, beginning about 1800, made evangelicalism a force behind various social reform movements, including abolitionism.


Territorial acquisitions by date
Americans' eagerness to expand westward prompted a long series of Indian Wars. The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 almost doubled the nation's size.[36] The War of 1812, declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a draw, strengthened U.S. nationalism. A series of U.S. military incursions into Florida led Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819. The Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian removal policy that stripped the native peoples of their land. The United States annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845, amid a period when the concept of Manifest Destiny was becoming popular.[37] The 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest. The U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War resulted in the 1848 cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest. The California Gold Rush of 1848–49 further spurred western migration. New railways made relocation easier for settlers and increased conflicts with Native Americans. Over a half-century, up to 40 million American bison, or buffalo, were slaughtered for skins and meat and to ease the railways' spread. The loss of the buffalo, a primary resource for the plains Indians, was an existential blow to many native cultures.
Civil War and industrialization


Battle of Gettysburg, lithograph by Currier & Ives, ca. 1863
Tensions between slave and free states mounted with arguments over the relationship between the state and federal governments, as well as violent conflicts over the spread of slavery into new states. Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the largely antislavery Republican Party, was elected president in 1860. Before he took office, seven slave states declared their secession—which the federal government maintained was illegal—and formed the Confederate States of America. With the Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, the Civil War began and four more slave states joined the Confederacy. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 declared slaves in the Confederacy to be free. Following the Union victory in 1865, three amendments to the U.S. Constitution ensured freedom for the nearly four million African Americans who had been slaves,[38] made them citizens, and gave them voting rights. The war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in federal power.[39] The war remains the deadliest conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers.[40]


Immigrants at Ellis Island, New York Harbor, 1902
After the war, the assassination of Lincoln radicalized Republican Reconstruction policies aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. The resolution of the disputed 1876 presidential election by the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction; Jim Crow laws soon disenfranchised many African Americans. In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants from Southern Southern and Eastern Europe hastened the country's industrialization. The wave of immigration, lasting until 1929, provided labor and transformed American culture. National infrastructure development spurred economic growth. The 1867 Alaska Purchase from Russia completed the country's mainland expansion. The Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 was the last major armed conflict of the Indian Wars. In 1893, the indigenous monarchy of the Pacific Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup led by American residents; the United States annexed the archipelago in 1898. Victory in the Spanish–American War the same year demonstrated that the United States was a world power and led to the annexation of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.[41] The Philippines gained independence a half-century later; Puerto Rico and Guam remain U.S. territories.
World War I, Great Depression, and World War II


An abandoned farm in South Dakota during the Dust Bowl, 1936
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the United States remained neutral. Most Americans sympathized with the British and French, although many opposed intervention.[42] In 1917, the United States joined the Allies, and the American Expeditionary Forces helped to turn the tide against the Central Powers. After the war, the Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations. The country pursued a policy of unilateralism, verging on isolationism.[43] In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a constitutional amendment granting women's suffrage. The prosperity of the Roaring Twenties ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that triggered the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, a range of policies increasing government intervention in the economy, including the establishment of the Social Security system.[44] The Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration.


Soldiers of the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division landing in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944
The United States, effectively neutral during World War II's early stages after Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in September 1939, began supplying materiel to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to join the Allies against the Axis powers as well as the internment of Japanese Americans by the thousands.[45] Participation in the war spurred capital investment and industrial capacity. Among the major combatants, the United States was the only nation to become richer—indeed, far richer—instead of poorer because of the war.[46] Allied conferences at Bretton Woods and Yalta outlined a new system of international organizations that placed the United States and Soviet Union at the center of world affairs. As victory was won in Europe, a 1945 international conference held in San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war.[47] The United States, having developed the first nuclear weapons, used them on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Japan surrendered on September 2, ending the war.[48]
Cold War and protest politics


Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech, 1963
The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for power after World War II during the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through NATO and the Warsaw Pact, respectively. While they engaged in proxy wars and developed powerful nuclear arsenals, the two countries avoided direct military conflict. Resisting leftist land and income redistribution projects around the world, the United States often supported authoritarian governments. American troops fought Communist Chinese forces in the Korean War of 1950–53. The House Un-American Activities Committee pursued a series of investigations into suspected leftist subversion, while Senator Joseph McCarthy became the figurehead of anticommunist sentiment.
The 1961 Soviet launch of the first manned spaceflight prompted President John F. Kennedy's call for the United States to be first to land "a man on the moon", achieved in 1969. Kennedy also faced a tense nuclear showdown with Soviet forces in Cuba. Meanwhile, the United States experienced sustained economic expansion. A growing civil rights movement, symbolized and led by African Americans such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Bevel, used nonviolence to confront segregation and discrimination. Following Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He also signed into law the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, expanded a proxy war in Southeast Asia into the unsuccessful Vietnam War. A widespread countercultural movement grew, fueled by opposition to the war, black nationalism, and the sexual revolution. Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and others led a new wave of feminism that sought political, social, and economic equality for women.
As a result of the Watergate scandal, in 1974 Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign, to avoid being impeached on charges including obstruction of justice and abuse of power. The Jimmy Carter administration of the late 1970s was marked by stagflation and the Iran hostage crisis. The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 heralded a rightward shift in American politics, reflected in major changes in taxation and spending priorities. His second term in office brought both the Iran-Contra scandal and significant diplomatic progress with the Soviet Union. The subsequent Soviet collapse ended the Cold War.
Contemporary era


The World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001
Under President George H. W. Bush, the United States took a lead role in the UN–sanctioned Gulf War. The longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history—from March 1991 to March 2001—encompassed the Bill Clinton administration and the dot-com bubble.[49] A civil lawsuit and sex scandal led to Clinton's impeachment in 1998, but he remained in office. The 2000 presidential election, one of the closest in American history, was resolved by a U.S. Supreme Court decision—George W. Bush, son of George H. W. Bush, became president.
On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City and The Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly three thousand people. In response, the Bush administration launched the global War on Terror, invading Afghanistan and removing the Taliban government and al-Qaeda training camps. Taliban insurgents continue to fight a guerrilla war. In 2002, the Bush administration began to press for regime change in Iraq on controversial grounds.[50][51] Forces of a so-called Coalition of the Willing invaded Iraq in 2003, ousting Saddam Hussein. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused severe destruction along much of the Gulf Coast, devastating New Orleans. In 2008, amid a global economic recession, the first African American president, Barack Obama, was elected. In 2010, major health care and financial system reforms were enacted.

Government, elections, and politics

Main articles: Federal government of the United States, state governments of the United States, and elections in the United States


The west front of the United States Capitol, which houses the United States Congress
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".[52] 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. In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government, federal, state, and local; the local government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is very rare at lower levels.


The south façade of the White House, home and workplace of the U.S. president
The federal government is composed of three branches:
Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional.


The west front of the United States Supreme Court Building
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. As of the 2000 census, seven states have the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, has fifty-three. The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice. The president is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.
The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion; Nebraska uniquely has a unicameral legislature. The governor (chief executive) of each state is directly elected. Some state judges and cabinet officers are appointed by the governors of the respective states, while others are elected by popular vote.
The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus, and Article Three guarantees the right to a jury trial in all criminal cases. Amendments to the Constitution require the approval of three-fourths of the states. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review and any law ruled in violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was declared by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803).
Parties and ideology
Main articles: Politics of the United States and Political ideologies in the United States


Barack Obama taking the presidential oath of office from U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, January 20, 2009
The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote.
Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered center-right or conservative and the Democratic Party is considered center-left or liberal. The states of the Northeast and West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "blue states", are relatively liberal. The "red states" of the South and parts of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative.
The winner of the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama, is the 44th U.S. president. The 2010 midterm elections saw the Republican Party take control of the House and make gains in the Senate, where the Democrats retain the majority. In the 112th United States Congress, the Senate comprises 51 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats, and 47 Republicans; the House comprises 240 Republicans and 192 Democrats—three seats are vacant. There are 29 Republican and 20 Democratic state governors, as well as one independent.
Foreign relations and military

Main articles: Foreign policy of the United States and United States Armed Forces


British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, May 2010
The United States exercises global economic, political, and military influence. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and New York City hosts the United Nations Headquarters. It is a member of the G8, G20, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States.
The United States has a "special relationship" with the United Kingdom[53] and strong ties with Canada,[54] Australia,[55] New Zealand,[56] the Philippines,[57] Japan,[58] South Korea,[59] Israel,[60] and several European countries. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In 2008, the United States spent a net $25.4 billion on official development assistance, the most in the world. As a share of America's large gross national income (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of 0.18% ranked last among twenty-two donor states. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous.[61]


The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier
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 the Department of the Navy in time 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.[62]
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 eleven 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,[63] and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.[64] The extent of this global military presence has prompted some scholars to describe the United States as maintaining an "empire of bases".[65]
Total U.S. military spending in 2008, more than $600 billion, was over 41% of global military spending and greater than the next fourteen largest national military expenditures combined. The per capita spending of $1,967 was about nine times the world average; at 4% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top fifteen military spenders, after Saudi Arabia.[66] The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion, is a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion is proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.[67] As of September 2010, the United States is scheduled to have 96,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan, and 50,000 to Iraq.[68] As of July 25, 2011, the United States had suffered 4,474 military fatalities during the Iraq War,[69] and 1,680 during the War in Afghanistan.[70]
Economy

Main article: Economy of the United States
Economic indicators
Unemployment 9.1% (September 2011) [71]
GDP growth 1.3% (2Q 2011), 2.9% (2010) [72]
CPI inflation 3.8% (August 2010 – August 2011) [73]
Poverty 15.1% (2010) [74]
Public debt $14.70 trillion (September 15, 2011) [75]
Household net worth $58.1 trillion (1Q 2011) [76]
The United States has a capitalist mixed economy, which is fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity.[77] According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $15 trillion constitutes 23% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 20% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity (PPP).[3] Though larger than any other nation's, its national GDP is about 5% smaller than the GDP of the European Union at PPP in 2008. The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and sixth in GDP per capita at PPP.[3] The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency.
The United States is the largest importer of goods and third largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total U.S. trade deficit was $634.9 billion.[78] Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners.[79] In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country's largest export.[78] China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt.[80]


Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest bourse by dollar volume[81]
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%.[82] 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.[83] The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing.[84] Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field.[85] The United States is the third largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its largest importer.[86] It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. While agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP,[83] the United States is the world's top producer of corn[87] and soybeans.[88] Coca-Cola and McDonald's are the two most recognized brands in the world.[89]
In August 2010, the American labor force comprised 154.1 million people. With 21.2 million people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About 12% of workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe.[90] The World Bank ranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers.[91] In 2009, the United States had the third highest labor productivity per person in the world, behind Luxembourg and Norway. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the Netherlands.[92] Compared to Europe, U.S. property and corporate income tax rates are generally higher, while labor and, particularly, consumption tax rates are lower.[93]
Income and human development


A middle-class single-family home.
Main article: Income in the United States
See also: Income inequality in the United States, Poverty in the United States, and Affluence in the United States
According to the United States Census Bureau, the pretax median household income in 2010 was $49,445. The median ranged from $64,308 among Asian American households to $32,068 among African American households.[74] Using purchasing power parity exchange rates, the overall median is similar to the most affluent cluster of developed nations. After declining sharply during the middle of the 20th century, poverty rates have plateaued since the early 1970s, with 11–15% of Americans below the poverty line every year, and 58.5% spending at least one year in poverty between the ages of 25 and 75.[94][95] In 2010, 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty, a figure that rose for the fourth year in a row.[74]
The U.S. welfare state is one of the least extensive in the developed world, reducing both relative poverty and absolute poverty by considerably less than the mean for rich nations,[96][97] though combined private and public social expenditures per capita are relatively high.[98] While the American welfare state effectively reduces poverty among the elderly,[99] it provides relatively little assistance to the young.[100] A 2007 UNICEF study of children's well-being in twenty-one industrialized nations ranked the United States next to last.[101]
Between 1947 and 1979, real median income rose by over 80% for all classes, with the incomes of poor Americans rising faster than those of the rich.[102] However, income gains since then have been slower, less widely shared, and accompanied by increased economic insecurity.[102][103] Median household income has increased for all classes since 1980,[104] largely owing to more dual-earner households, the closing of the gender gap, and longer work hours, but the growth has been strongly tilted toward the very top.[96][102][105] Consequently, the share of income of the top 1%—21.8% of total reported income in 2005—has more than doubled since 1980,[106] leaving the United States with the greatest income inequality among developed nations.[96][107] The top 1% pays 27.6% of all federal taxes, while the top 10% pays 54.7%.[108] Wealth, like income, is highly concentrated: The richest 10% of the adult population possesses 69.8% of the country's household wealth, the second-highest share among developed nations.[109] The top 1% possesses 33.4% of net wealth.[110] In 2010 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 12th among 139 countries on its inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI), eight places lower than in the standard HDI.[111]
Infrastructure

Science and technology


A photograph from Apollo 11 of Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon
Main article: Science and technology in the United States
See also: Technological and industrial history of the United States
The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late 19th century. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone. Thomas Edison's laboratory developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light bulb, and the first viable movie camera. Nikola Tesla pioneered alternating current, the AC motor, and radio. In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers, in 1903, made the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.[112]
The rise of Nazism in the 1930s led many European scientists, including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi, to immigrate to the United States. During World War II, the Manhattan Project developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the Atomic Age. The Space Race produced rapid advances in rocketry, materials science, and computers. IBM, Apple Computer, and Microsoft refined and popularized the personal computer. The United States largely developed the ARPANET and its successor, the Internet. Today, 64% of research and development funding comes from the private sector.[113] The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and impact factor.[114] Americans possess high levels of technological consumer goods,[115] and almost half of U.S. households have broadband Internet access.[116] The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food, representing half of the world's biotech crops.[117]
Transportation


The Interstate Highway System, which extends 46,876 miles (75,440 km)[118]
Main article: Transportation in the United States
Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 13 million roads,[119] including the world's longest highway system.[120] The world's second largest automobile market,[121] the United States has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans.[122] About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks.[123] The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and nondrivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km).[124]
Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips,[125] ranking last in a survey of 17 countries.[126] While transport of goods by rail is extensive, relatively few people use rail to travel.[127] Light rail development has increased in recent years but, like high speed rail, is below European levels.[128] Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal.[129]
The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since 1978, while most major airports are publicly owned. The four largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are American; Southwest Airlines is number one.[130] Of the world's thirty busiest passenger airports, sixteen are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.[131]
Energy
See also: Energy policy of the United States
The United States energy market is 29,000 terawatt hours per year. Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons of oil equivalent per year, the 10th highest rate in the world. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources.[132] The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum.[133] For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part due to public perception in the wake of a 1979 accident. In 2007, several applications for new nuclear plants were filed.[134] The United States has 27% of global coal reserves.[135]
Education


Some 80% of U.S. college students attend public universities such as the University of Virginia, a World Heritage Site founded by Thomas Jefferson.[136]
Main article: Education in the United States
See also: Educational attainment in the United States and Higher education in the United States
American public education is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. Children are required in most states to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first grade) until they turn eighteen (generally bringing them through twelfth grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to leave school at sixteen or seventeen.[137] About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial or nonsectarian private schools. Just over 2% of children are homeschooled.[138]
The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. According to prominent international rankings, 13 or 15 American colleges and universities are ranked among the top 20 in the world.[139][140] There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. Of Americans twenty-five and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees.[141] The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%.[1][142] The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world.[143]
Health
See also: Health care in the United States, Health care reform in the United States, and Health insurance in the United States
The United States life expectancy of 78.3 years at birth is ranked 36th among 194 United Nations member states; while above the world average, it falls short of the overall figure in Western Europe.[144] Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 1987 to 2007, from 11th to 42nd in the world.[145] The infant mortality rate of 6.37 per thousand places the United States 42nd out of 221 countries, above average but behind all of Western Europe.[146] Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight;[147] the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century.[148] Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals.[149]


The Texas Medical Center in Houston, the world's largest medical center[150]
The U.S. health care system far outspends any other nation's, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP.[151] The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. health care system in 2000 as first in responsiveness, but 37th in overall performance.
Health care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts, and is not universal as in all other developed countries. In 2004, private insurance paid for 36% of personal health expenditures, private out-of-pocket payments covered 15%, and federal, state, and local governments paid for 44%.[152] In 2005, 46.6 million Americans, 15.9% of the population, were uninsured, 5.4 million more than in 2001. The main cause of this rise is the drop in the number of Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance.[153] The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue.[154] A 2009 study estimated that lack of insurance is associated with nearly 45,000 deaths a year.[155] In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate universal health insurance.[156] Federal legislation passed in early 2010 will create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014.
Crime and law enforcement

Main articles: Law enforcement in the United States and Crime in the United States
See also: Law of the United States, Incarceration in the United States, and Capital punishment in the United States
Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing broader services. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties. At the federal level and in almost every state, jurisprudence operates on a common law system. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state systems. Federal law prohibits a variety of drugs, although states sometimes pass laws in conflict with federal regulations. The smoking age is generally 18, and the drinking age is generally 21.
Among developed nations, the United States has above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence and homicide.[157] There were 5.0 murders per 100,000 persons in 2009, 10.4% fewer than in 2000.[158] Gun ownership rights are the subject of contentious political debate.
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate[159] and total prison population[160] in the world. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults.[161] The current rate is about seven times the 1980 figure,[162] and over three times the figure in Poland, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country with the next highest rate.[163] African American males are jailed at about six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males.[159] The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to sentencing and drug policies.[159][164]
Though it has been abolished in most Western nations, capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and in thirty-four states. Since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after a four-year moratorium, there have been more than 1,000 executions.[165] In 2010, the country had the fifth highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen.[166] In 2007, New Jersey became the first state to legislatively abolish the death penalty since the 1976 Supreme Court decision, followed by New Mexico in 2009 and Illinois in 2011.[167]
Demographics

Main articles: Demographics of the United States and Americans


Largest ancestry groups by county, 2000
Race/Ethnicity (2010)[168]
White 72.4%
Black/African American 12.6%
Asian 4.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.9%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander 0.2%
Other 6.2%
Two or more races 2.9%
Hispanic/Latino (of any race) 16.3%
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the country's population now to be 312,474,000,[2] including an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants.[169] The U.S. population almost quadrupled during the 20th century, from about 76 million in 1900.[170] The third most populous nation in the world, after China and India, the United States is the only industrialized nation in which large population increases are projected.[171] Even with a birth rate of 13.82 per 1,000, 30% below the world average, its population growth rate is positive at 1%, significantly higher than those of many developed nations.[172] In fiscal year 2010, over 1 million immigrants (most of whom entered through family reunification) were granted legal residence.[173] Mexico has been the leading source of new residents for over two decades; since 1998, China, India, and the Philippines have been in the top four sending countries every year.[174]
The United States has a very diverse population—thirty-one ancestry groups have more than one million members.[175] White Americans are the largest racial group; German Americans, Irish Americans, and English Americans constitute three of the country's four largest ancestry groups.[175] African Americans are the nation's largest racial minority and third largest ancestry group.[175] Asian Americans are the country's second largest racial minority; the two largest Asian American ethnic groups are Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.[175] In 2010, the U.S. population included an estimated 5.2 million people with some American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry (2.9 million exclusively of such ancestry) and 1.2 million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific island ancestry (0.5 million exclusively).[176] The census counted more than 19 million people of "Some Other Race" who were "unable to identify with any" of its five official race categories in 2010.[176]
The population growth of Hispanic and Latino Americans (the terms are officially interchangeable) is a major demographic trend. The 50.5 million Americans of Hispanic descent[176] are identified as sharing a distinct "ethnicity" by the Census Bureau; 64% of Hispanic Americans are of Mexican descent.[177] Between 2000 and 2010, the country's Hispanic population increased 43% while the non-Hispanic population rose just 4.9%.[168] Much of this growth is from immigration; as of 2007, 12.6% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, with 54% of that figure born in Latin America.[178] Fertility is also a factor; the average Hispanic woman gives birth to 3.0 children in her lifetime, compared to 2.2 for non-Hispanic black women and 1.8 for non-Hispanic white women (below the replacement rate of 2.1).[171] Minorities (as defined by the Census Bureau as all those beside non-Hispanic, non-multiracial whites) constitute 36.3% of the population in 2010,[179] and nearly 50% of children under age 1,[180] and are projected to constitute the majority by 2042.[181]
About 82% of Americans live in urban areas (including suburbs);[1] about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000.[182] In 2008, 273 incorporated places had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than 1 million residents, and four global cities had over 2 million (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston).[183] There are fifty-two metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million.[184] Of the fifty fastest-growing metro areas, forty-seven are in the West or South.[185] The metro areas of Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix all grew by more than a million people between 2000 and 2008.[184]
Leading population centers view · talk · edit
Rank Core City Metro area pop.[186] Metropolitan Statistical Area Region[187]

New York


Los Angeles
1 New York 18,897,109 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA Northeast
2 Los Angeles 12,828,837 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA West
3 Chicago 9,461,105 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI MSA Midwest
4 Dallas 6,371,773 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA South
5 Philadelphia 5,965,343 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA Northeast
6 Houston 5,946,800 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA South
7 Washington, D.C. 5,582,170 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA South
8 Miami 5,564,635 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA South
9 Atlanta 5,268,860 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA South
10 Boston 4,552,402 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA Northeast
based on the 2010 U.S. Census

Language
Main article: Languages of the United States
See also: Language Spoken at Home (U.S. Census)
Languages (2007)[188]
English (only) 225.5 million
Spanish, incl. Creole 34.5 million
Chinese 2.5 million
French, incl. Creole 2.0 million
Tagalog 1.5 million
Vietnamese 1.2 million
German 1.1 million
Korean 1.1 million
English is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2007, about 226 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.[188][189] Some Americans advocate making English the country's official language, as it is in at least twenty-eight states.[5] Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii by state law.[190]
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.[191] Other states, such as California, mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms.[192] 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; Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico.
Religion


A Presbyterian church; most Americans identify as Christian.
Main article: Religion in the United States
See also: History of religion in the United States, Freedom of religion in the United States, Separation of church and state in the United States, and List of religious movements that began in the United States
The United States is officially a secular nation; the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids the establishment of any religious governance. In a 2002 study, 59% of Americans said that religion played a "very important role in their lives", a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation.[193] According to a 2007 survey, 78.4% of adults identified themselves as Christian,[194] down from 86.4% in 1990.[195] Protestant denominations accounted for 51.3%, while Roman Catholicism, at 23.9%, was the largest individual denomination. The study categorizes white evangelicals, 26.3% of the population, as the country's largest religious cohort;[194] another study estimates evangelicals of all races at 30–35%.[196] The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2007 was 4.7%, up from 3.3% in 1990.[195] The leading non-Christian faiths were Judaism (1.7%), Buddhism (0.7%), Islam (0.6%), Hinduism (0.4%), and Unitarian Universalism (0.3%).[194] The survey also reported that 16.1% of Americans described themselves as agnostic, atheist, or simply having no religion, up from 8.2% in 1990.[194][195]
Family structure
In 2007, 58% of Americans age 18 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married.[197] Women now mostly work outside the home and receive a majority of bachelor's degrees.[198]
Same-sex marriage is a contentious issue. Some states permit civil unions or domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage. Since 2003, several states have legalized gay marriage as the result of judicial or legislative action. Meanwhile, the federal government and a majority of states define marriage as between a man and a woman and/or explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. Public opinion on the issue has shifted from general opposition in the 1990s to a statistical deadlock as of 2011.[199]
The U.S. teenage pregnancy rate, 79.8 per 1,000 women, is the highest among OECD nations.[200] Abortion policy was left to the states until the Supreme Court legalized the practice in 1972. The issue remains highly controversial, with public opinion closely divided for many years. Many states ban public funding of the procedure and restrict late-term abortions, require parental notification for minors, and mandate a waiting period. While the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than those of most Western nations.[201]

User avatar
HinatAArcticA
Sr. Member
Posts: 1552
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:21 am
Location: South Pole

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by HinatAArcticA » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:52 pm

Estados Unidos

Para otros usos de este término, véase Estados Unidos (desambiguación).
Para otras acepciones de U. S., USA o EUA, véase Us (desambiguación), USA (desambiguación) y EUA (desambiguación).
United States of America
Estados Unidos de América

Bandera Escudo
Lema:
In God We Trust (inglés: «En Dios confiamos»; Oficial)
E Pluribus Unum (latín: «De muchos, uno»; Tradicional)
Himno nacional: The Star-Spangled Banner




Capital Washington D. C.
38°53' N 77°02' O
Ciudad más poblada Nueva York
Idiomas oficiales Ninguno a nivel federal1
Forma de gobierno República federal presidencialista
Presidente
Vicepresidente Barack Obama
Joe Biden
Independencia
• Declarada
• Reconocida de Gran Bretaña
4 de julio de 1776
3 de septiembre de 1783
Superficie
• Total
• % agua
Fronteras Puesto 3º
9.826.675 km²
2,198%
12.219 km
Población total
• Total
• Densidad Puesto 3º
308.745.538 (2010)1
33.722 hab/km²
PIB (PPA)
• Total (2008)
• PIB per cápita Puesto 1º
USD 14.204.322 millones3
USD 46.7153
PIB (nominal)
• Total (2008)
• PIB per cápita Puesto 1º
USD 14.204.322 millones3
USD46.7153
IDH (2010) 0,9024 (4º) – Muy alto5
Moneda Dólar estadounidense ($, USD)
Gentilicio Estadounidense6
Huso horario
• en verano (UTC-5 a UTC-10)
(UTC-4 a UTC-10)
Dominio Internet .us .mil .gov
Prefijo telefónico +1
Prefijo radiofónico WAA-WZZ
Siglas país para aviones N
Siglas país para automóviles USA
Código ISO 840 / USA / US2
Miembro de: OEA, ONU, OTAN, APEC, OCDE, OSCE, TLCAN, G-8, G-20
&#8593; El inglés es el idioma oficial en 28 estados, pero no se reconoce un idioma oficial a nivel federal. El español, francés y el hawaiano son reconocidos oficialmente por varios Estados. Más en Idiomas en los Estados Unidos.
&#8593; Así como AS, GU, MP, PR, UM y VI para sus dependencias.
Estados Unidos de América (en inglés: United States of America o USA), de manera abreviada Estados Unidos, EUA o EE. UU.,6 es una república federal constitucional compuesta por cincuenta estados y un distrito federal. La mayor parte del país se ubica en el centro de América del Norte, donde se encuentran sus cuarenta y ocho estados contiguos y Washington D. C., el distrito de la capital, entre los océanos Pacífico y el Atlántico, limita con Canadá al norte y con México al sur. El estado de Alaska está en el noroeste del continente, limitando con Canadá al este y separado de Rusia al oeste por el estrecho de Bering. El estado de Hawái es un archipiélago polinesio en medio del océano Pacífico, y es el único estado estadounidense que no se encuentra en América. El país también posee varios territorios en el mar Caribe y en el Pacífico.
Con 9,83 millones de km² y con más de 308 millones de habitantes, es el tercer o cuarto país más grande por área total y el tercero más grande tanto por la superficie terrestre como por población. Es una de las naciones del mundo étnicamente más diversas y multiculturales, producto de la inmigración a gran escala.7 Es, por otro lado, la economía nacional más grande del mundo, con un PIB estimado en 14,3 billones de dólares (una cuarta parte del PIB global nominal) y una quinta parte del PIB global en paridad de poder adquisitivo.3 8 Además, se considera el país más desarrollado del mundo, y un ejemplo económico a nivel mundial.
Los pueblos indígenas de origen asiático han habitado lo que hoy es el territorio continental de los Estados Unidos por miles de años. Esta población amerindia fue reducida por las enfermedades y la guerra después del primer contacto con los europeos. Estados Unidos fue fundado por trece colonias británicas, situadas a lo largo de la costa atlántica. El 4 de julio de 1776, emitieron la Declaración de Independencia, que proclamó su derecho a la libre autodeterminación y el establecimiento de una unión cooperativa. Los estados rebeldes derrotaron al Imperio británico en la guerra de independencia, la primera guerra colonial de independencia exitosa.9 La actual Constitución de los Estados Unidos fue adoptada el 17 de septiembre de 1787; su ratificación al año siguiente hizo a los estados parte de una sola república con un gobierno central fuerte. La Carta de Derechos, que comprende diez enmiendas constitucionales que garantizan muchos derechos civiles fundamentales y las libertades, fue ratificada en 1791.
En el siglo XIX, los Estados Unidos adquirieron territorios de Francia, España, Reino Unido, México y Rusia, además de anexarse la República de Texas y la República de Hawái. En la década de 1860, las disputas entre el sur agrario y el norte industrial sobre los derechos de los estados y la abolición de la esclavitud provocaron la Guerra de Secesión. La victoria del norte evitó una división permanente del país y condujo al final de la esclavitud legal. Para la década de 1870, la economía nacional era la más grande del mundo10 y la guerra hispano-estadounidense y la Primera Guerra Mundial confirmaron el estatus del país como una potencia militar. Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, surgió como el primer país con armas nucleares y un miembro permanente del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas. El final de la Guerra Fría y la disolución de la Unión Soviética dejaron a los Estados Unidos como la única superpotencia. El país representa dos quintas partes del gasto militar mundial y es una fuerza económica, política y cultural, líder en el mundo.11 12
Contenido [ocultar]
1 Nombre
2 Historia
2.1 Nativos americanos y primeros asentamientos europeos
2.2 Independencia y expansión
2.3 Guerra civil e industrialización
2.4 Primera Guerra Mundial, Gran Depresión y Segunda Guerra Mundial
2.5 Guerra Fría y protestas políticas
2.6 Época contemporánea
3 Gobierno y política
4 Relaciones exteriores y fuerzas armadas
5 Derechos humanos
6 Organización territorial
7 Geografía
7.1 Clima
7.2 Flora y fauna
8 Economía
9 Infraestructura
9.1 Transportes
9.2 Energía
10 Educación, ciencia y tecnología
11 Demografía
11.1 Idioma
11.2 Religión
11.3 Salud
11.4 Principales ciudades
12 Cultura
12.1 Arte
12.2 Cine, entretenimiento y música
12.3 Literatura y filosofía
12.4 Gastronomía
12.5 Fiestas
12.6 Deportes
13 Véase también
14 Referencias
15 Bibliografía
16 Enlaces externos
[editar]Nombre

En 1507, el cartógrafo alemán Martin Waldseemüller elaboró un planisferio en el que llamó a las tierras del Hemisferio occidental «América», en honor al explorador y cartógrafo italiano Américo Vespucio.13 Las antiguas colonias británicas utilizaron por primera vez el nombre del país moderno en la Declaración de Independencia, la "unánime declaración de los trece Estados Unidos de la América" adoptada por los "representantes de los Estados Unidos de América", 4 de julio de 1776.14 El nombre actual se determinó el 15 de noviembre de 1777, cuando el Segundo Congreso Continental aprobó los Artículos de la Confederación, que estipulan, «El nombre de esta Confederación será "Los Estados Unidos de América"». La forma corta, «Estados Unidos», también es estándar. Otras formas comunes incluyen EUA y EE.UU. «Columbia», un nombre una vez popular para los Estados Unidos, se deriva del nombre de Cristóbal Colón y aún permanece en el nombre del distrito de Columbia. Ocasionalmente se le llama, de forma incorrecta, «Estados Unidos de Norteamérica», derivando en una confusión en su gentilicio.
La forma estándar para referirse a un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos son los términos estadounidense y estadunidense.6 También se utiliza el adjetivo «yanqui», aunque generalmente con un matiz despectivo.15 En español resulta aceptable, pero no exclusivo, el uso de «norteamericano» como sinónimo de «estadounidense». De modo análogo, debe evitarse el empleo de «americano» para referirse exclusivamente a los habitantes de los Estados Unidos.6 Al escribir, suele emplearse la abreviatura «EE. UU.» y la sigla «EUA». En español es totalmente inadecuado, aunque frecuente, el uso de la sigla inglesa USA.6
[editar]Historia

Artículo principal: Historia de Estados Unidos
[editar]Nativos americanos y primeros asentamientos europeos
Véanse también: Nativos americanos, Colonización de los Estados Unidos y Trece Colonias
Comúnmente se piensa que los pueblos indígenas de los Estados Unidos continentales, incluyendo a los nativos de Alaska, emigraron desde Asia entre 12.000 y 40.000 años atrás.16 Algunos, tales como la cultura misisipiana, desarrollaron una agricultura avanzada, grandes obras arquitectónicas y sociedades con un orden jerárquico. Después de que los europeos comenzaron a asentarse en América, millones de indígenas americanos murieron debido a las epidemias de enfermedades traídas desde Europa, como la viruela.17


El Mayflower transportó a los peregrinos al Nuevo Mundo en 1620, como se representa en esta pintura de William Halsall El Mayflower en el Puerto Plymouth, de 1882.
En 1492, el explorador genovés Cristóbal Colón, patrocinado por la Corona Española, llegó a varias islas del Caribe, realizando el primer contacto con los pueblos indígenas. El 2 de abril de 1513, el conquistador español Juan Ponce de León desembarcó en lo que llamó La Florida, la primera llegada europea documentada en el territorio estadounidense. Los asentamientos españoles en la región fueron seguidos por otros en el actual suroeste de Estados Unidos. Los comerciantes de pieles franceses se establecieron en Nueva Francia, alrededor de la zona de los Grandes Lagos; eventualmente Francia reclamaría gran parte del interior de Estados Unidos, hasta la costa del golfo de México. Los primeros asentamientos ingleses exitosos fueron la colonia de Virginia en Jamestown en 1607 y la colonia de Plymouth fundada por peregrinos en 1620. En 1628, el establecimiento de la provincia de la bahía de Massachusetts dio lugar a una nueva ola de inmigración: para 1634, Nueva Inglaterra estaba habitada por cerca de 10.000 puritanos. Entre la década de 1610 y la guerra de independencia, cerca de 50.000 convictos fueron enviados desde el Viejo Continente hacia las colonias.18 Desde 1614, los neerlandeses se establecieron a lo largo del río Hudson inferior, fundando Nueva Ámsterdam en la isla de Manhattan.
En 1674, los Países Bajos cedieron su territorio a Inglaterra y la provincia de los Nuevos Países Bajos fue renombrada como Nueva York. Muchos inmigrantes recién llegados, especialmente en el sur, fueron contratados como criados, de tal modo que cerca de dos tercios de todos los inmigrantes que llegaron a Virginia entre 1630 y 1680 trabajaban como sirvientes.19 Para finales de ese siglo, los esclavos africanos se convirtieron en la principal fuente de mano de obra en condiciones de servidumbre. Con la división de las Carolinas en 1729 y la colonización de Georgia en 1732, se establecieron las Trece Colonias británicas, que eventualmente se convertirían en los Estados Unidos de América. Todas contaban con un gobierno local electo, apegado al republicanismo, además de que se legalizó el comercio de esclavos. Con altas tasas de nacimiento, bajas tasas de mortalidad y la constante inmigración, la población colonial creció rápidamente. El movimiento cristiano revivalista de las décadas de 1730 y 1740, conocido como «el Gran Despertar», alimentó el interés en temas como la religión y la libertad de culto. En la guerra Franco-india, las fuerzas británicas le arrebataron Canadá a Francia, pero la población de habla francesa permaneció políticamente aislada de las colonias del sur. Sin contar a los nativos americanos (popularmente conocidos como «indios») que eventualmente fueron desplazados, en 1770 las Trece colonias tenían una población de 2,6 millones de habitantes, alrededor de una tercera parte de la del Reino Unido, aunque casi uno de cada cinco estadounidenses era un esclavo negro.20 Sin embargo, los colonos estadounidenses no tenían ninguna representación en el Parlamento del Reino Unido.
[editar]Independencia y expansión
Véanse también: Guerra de Independencia de los Estados Unidos y Destino Manifiesto


Declaración de independencia, por John Trumbull, 1817–1818.
Las tensiones entre los colonos y los británicos durante las décadas de 1760 y 1770 condujeron a la Guerra de Independencia, que se extendió desde 1775 hasta 1781. El 14 de junio de 1775, el Congreso Continental, reunido en Filadelfia, estableció un Ejército Continental bajo el mando de George Washington. Proclamando que «todos los hombres nacen iguales» y dotados de «ciertos derechos inalienables», el Congreso aprobó la Declaración de Independencia, redactada en gran parte por Thomas Jefferson, el 4 de julio de 1776.21 Anualmente, en esta fecha se celebra el Día de la Independencia de los Estados Unidos. En 1777, los artículos de la Confederación establecieron un débil gobierno confederal, que operó hasta 1789.
Después de la derrota británica por las fuerzas estadounidenses, asistidas por los franceses, el Reino Unido reconoció su independencia y soberanía sobre el territorio al este del río Misisipi. Una convención constitucional fue organizada en 1787 por aquellos que deseaban establecer un gobierno nacional fuerte. La Constitución de los Estados Unidos fue ratificada en 1788 y un año más tarde, George Washington se convirtió en el primer presidente. La Carta de Derechos, que prohibía la restricción federal de los derechos humanos y garantizaba una serie de medidas para su protección jurídica, fue adoptada en 1791.22
Con la nueva autonomía, las actitudes hacia la esclavitud fueron cambiando; una cláusula en la Constitución protegió el comercio de esclavos hasta 1808. Los estados del norte abolieron la esclavitud entre 1780 y 1804, dejando a los estados esclavistas del sur como defensores de la "institución peculiar". El "Segundo Gran Despertar", que comenzó alrededor de 1800, convirtió a las Iglesias evangélicas en una de las principales fuerzas detrás de varios de los movimientos reformistas de la época, incluyendo el abolicionismo.23


Mapa de la expansión territorial del país.
El afán por expandir el territorio nacional hacia el oeste trajo consigo una larga serie de guerras. En 1803, la compra de la Luisiana a Francia durante el mandato del presidente Thomas Jefferson, casi duplicó el tamaño de la nación,24 al mismo tiempo que la guerra anglo-estadounidense de 1812 fortaleció aún más el nacionalismo entre la población. En 1819, una serie de incursiones militares en Florida obligó a España a ceder este y otros territorios de la costa del golfo.24 El sendero de lágrimas en la década de 1830 ejemplifica la política de Remoción India que despojó a varios pueblos indígenas de sus tierras. Estados Unidos se anexó la República de Texas en 1845, época durante la cual el concepto del Destino Manifiesto se popularizó.25 En 1846, la firma del Tratado de Oregón con el Reino Unido, le otorgó al país los actuales territorios del noroeste.24 Dos años más tarde, la victoria en la guerra contra México dio lugar a la cesión de California y la mayor parte del suroeste actual.24 La fiebre del oro de 1848 y 1849 estimuló aún más la migración hacia el oeste y los nuevos ferrocarriles facilitaron la reubicación de los colonos y el aumento de los conflictos con los nativos americanos. Durante medio siglo, hasta 40 millones de bisontes americanos fueron sacrificados por sus pieles y carne para facilitar la propagación de los ferrocarriles. La pérdida de los búfalos, una fuente principal de alimento para los indígenas de las llanuras, fue un golpe mortal para muchas culturas nativas.26
[editar]Guerra civil e industrialización
Véanse también: Guerra de Secesión, Reconstrucción (Estados Unidos) y Guerra hispano-estadounidense


Batalla de Gettysburg, litografía de Currier & Ives, 1863
Las tensiones entre estados pro-esclavistas y los abolicionistas, junto al aumento de los desacuerdos en la relación entre el gobierno federal y estatal, provocaron conflictos violentos por causa de la expansión de la esclavitud hacia los nuevos territorios. Abraham Lincoln, candidato del Partido Republicano y un gran abolicionista, fue elegido presidente en 1860. Antes de que tomase posesión de su cargo, los siete estados esclavistas declararon su secesión de la Unión, formando los Estados Confederados de América. El gobierno federal declaró que la secesión era ilegal y pronto se produjo el ataque por parte de los secesionistas a Fort Sumter, iniciándose así la guerra civil estadounidense.27
Tras la victoria de la Unión en 1865, se añadieron tres enmiendas a la constitución para garantizar la libertad de los casi cuatro millones de afroamericanos que habían sido esclavos, convirtiéndolos en ciudadanos y dándoles el derecho de voto.28 La guerra y su resolución dio lugar a un aumento sustancial de las competencias del gobierno federal.29


Inmigrantes en la Isla Ellis, puerto de Nueva York, 1902.
Después del asesinato de Abraham Lincoln, tuvo lugar la época conocida como la Reconstrucción, en la cual se desarrollaron políticas encaminadas a la reintegración y la reconstrucción de los estados sureños garantizando al mismo tiempo los derechos de los nuevos esclavos liberados. Las controvertidas elecciones presidenciales de 1876 se resolvieron mediante el Compromiso de 1877, por el cual los demócratas sureños reconocieron como presidente a Rutherford B. Hayes a cambio de que éste retirara las tropas que aún permanecían desplegadas en Luisiana, Carolina del Sur y Florida. A partir de 1876 empiezan a aplicarse las llamadas leyes de Jim Crow, una política de apartheid que perduraría hasta 1965.30
En el norte, la urbanización sin precedentes y una afluencia de inmigrantes aceleró la industrialización del país. La ola de la inmigración, que duró hasta 1929, proporcionó mano de obra para los negocios, transformado a su vez la cultura. La alta protección arancelaria, la creación de infraestructuras nacionales y los nuevos reglamentos bancarios alentaron el crecimiento industrial. En 1867 se produce la compra de Alaska a Rusia, completando la expansión continental del país.24 La Masacre de Wounded Knee en 1890 fue el último gran conflicto armado contra los nativos indios americanos. En 1893, la monarquía indígena del Reino de Hawái fue derrocada en un golpe de estado liderado por ciudadanos estadounidenses; el archipiélago fue anexado al país en 1898.24 La victoria en la Guerra hispano-estadounidense ese mismo año, demostró que Estados Unidos era una potencia mundial y dio lugar a la anexión de Puerto Rico y las Filipinas.31 Filipinas accedió a la independencia en 1946, mientras que Puerto Rico continúa siendo un Estado libre asociado.
[editar]Primera Guerra Mundial, Gran Depresión y Segunda Guerra Mundial


Una granja abandonada en Dakota del Sur durante la Dust Bowl, en 1936.
Al estallar la Primera Guerra Mundial en 1914, Estados Unidos se declaró neutral. Posteriormente, los estadounidenses se solidarizaron con los británicos y franceses, a pesar de que muchos ciudadanos, sobre todo los originarios de Irlanda y Alemania, se opusieron a la intervención.32 En 1917 se sumaron a los Aliados, contribuyendo a la derrota de las Potencias Centrales. Reacio a participar en asuntos europeos, el Senado no ratificó el Tratado de Versalles (1919), que estableció la Sociedad de Naciones, aplicando una política de unilateralismo, que rayaba en el aislacionismo.33 En 1920, el movimiento de los derechos de la mujer ganó la aprobación de una enmienda constitucional para otorgar a las mujeres el sufragio.22
Durante la mayor parte de la década de 1920, el país gozó de un período de prosperidad, disminuyendo el desequilibrio de la balanza de pagos mientras crecían las ganancias de las granjas industriales. Este período, conocido como los felices años veinte, culminó en la crisis de 1929 que desencadenó la Gran Depresión. Después de su elección como presidente en 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt respondió con el New Deal (nuevo trato), una serie de políticas que aumentaron la intervención del gobierno en la economía.34 De 1920 a 1933 se estableció una ley seca conocida como La prohibición.35 La Dust Bowl (cuenca de polvo) de mediados de la década de 1930 dejó varias comunidades de agricultores empobrecidos y estimuló una nueva ola de migración hacia la costa occidental.36


Soldados del Ejército de los Estados Unidos durante la batalla de Normandía, el 6 de junio de 1944.
Estados Unidos, oficialmente neutral durante las primeras etapas de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, inició el suministro de provisiones a los Aliados en marzo de 1941, a través del Programa de Préstamo y Arriendo. El 7 de diciembre de 1941, el país se unió a la lucha de los Aliados contra las Potencias del Eje, después del ataque japonés a Pearl Harbor. La Segunda Guerra Mundial impulsó la economía mediante el suministro de capital de inversión y puestos de trabajo, haciendo que muchas mujeres entraran en el mercado laboral. De los principales combatientes, Estados Unidos fue la única nación que se enriqueció a causa de la guerra.37 Las conferencias en Bretton Woods y Yalta crearon un nuevo sistema de organización internacional que colocó al país y a la Unión Soviética en el centro de los asuntos mundiales. En 1945, cuando llegó el fin de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Europa, una conferencia internacional celebrada en San Francisco redactó la Carta de las Naciones Unidas, que entró en vigor después de la guerra.38 Después de haber desarrollado la primera arma nuclear, el gobierno decidió utilizarla en las ciudades japonesas de Hiroshima y Nagasaki en agosto de ese mismo año. Japón se rindió el 2 de septiembre, poniendo fin a la guerra.39
[editar]Guerra Fría y protestas políticas
Véanse también: Guerra Fría, Movimiento por los derechos civiles en Estados Unidos y Guerra de Vietnam


Martin Luther King, Jr. pronunciando el discurso "Yo tengo un sueño", en 1963
Durante la llamada "Guerra Fría", Estados Unidos y la Unión Soviética lucharon por el poder tras el fin de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, dominando los asuntos militares de Europa a través de la OTAN y del Pacto de Varsovia. El primero promovió la democracia liberal y el capitalismo, mientras que el segundo extendía el comunismo y una economía planificada por el gobierno. Ambos apoyaron varias dictaduras y participaron en guerras subsidiarias. Entre 1950 y 1953, las tropas estadounidenses combatieron a las fuerzas comunistas chinas en la guerra de Corea.40
El 1961 lanzamiento soviético de la primera nave espacial tripulada provocó que el presidente John F. Kennedy propusiera al país ser los primeros en enviar "un hombre a la Luna", hecho logrado en 1969.41 Kennedy también enfrentó un tenso conflicto nuclear con las fuerzas soviéticas en Cuba, al tiempo que la economía crecía y se expandía de manera constante. Un creciente movimiento por los derechos civiles, representado y liderado por afroamericanos como Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King y James Bevel, utilizó la no violencia para hacer frente a la segregación y la discriminación.42 Después del asesinato de Kennedy en 1963, la Ley de Derechos Civiles de 1964 y la Ley de Derechos Electorales de 1965 se aprobaron durante el mandato del presidente Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson y su sucesor, Richard Nixon, llevaron una guerra civil subsidiaria en el sudeste asiático a la infructuosa guerra de Vietnam.40 Un movimiento contracultural generalizado creció, impulsado por la oposición a la guerra, el nacionalismo negro y la revolución sexual. También surgió una nueva ola de movimientos feministas, liderados por Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem y otras mujeres que buscaban la equidad política, social y económica.
En 1974, como resultado del escándalo Watergate, Nixon se convirtió en el primer presidente en renunciar, para evitar ser destituido por cargos como obstrucción a la justicia y abuso de poder; fue sucedido por el Vicepresidente Gerald Ford.43 La administración de Jimmy Carter en la década de 1970 estuvo marcada por la estanflación y la crisis de los rehenes en Irán. La elección de Ronald Reagan como presidente en 1980 anunció un cambio en la política estadounidense, que se reflejó en reformas importantes en los impuestos y gastos fiscales. Su segundo mandato trajo consigo el escándalo Irán-Contra y el significativo progreso diplomático con la Unión Soviética. El posterior colapso soviético terminó la Guerra Fría.40
[editar]Época contemporánea
Véanse también: Atentados del 11 de septiembre, Guerra de Iraq y Crisis económica de 2008-2010


El World Trade Center en la mañana del 11 de septiembre del 2001.
Bajo el mandato del presidente George H. W. Bush, el país tomó un papel de liderazgo en la controvertida guerra del Golfo. La expansión económica más larga en la historia moderna de Estados Unidos, desde marzo de 1991 hasta marzo de 2001, abarcó la administración de Bill Clinton y la burbuja punto com.44 Una demanda civil y un escándalo sexual llevó al impeachment de Clinton en 1998, aunque logró terminar su periodo. Las elecciones presidenciales de 2000, una de los más competidas en la historia estadounidense, fueron resueltas por una decisión de la Corte Suprema: George W. Bush, hijo de George H. W. Bush, se convirtió en el nuevo presidente.45
El 11 de septiembre de 2001, los terroristas del grupo Al-Qaeda atacaron el World Trade Center de la ciudad de Nueva York y El Pentágono cerca de Washington D. C., en una serie de atentados que acabó con la vida de casi tres mil personas. En respuesta, la administración de Bush lanzó una "guerra contra el terrorismo". A finales de 2001, las fuerzas estadounidenses invadieron Afganistán, derrocaron al gobierno talibán y destruyeron los campos de entrenamiento de Al-Qaeda. Los insurgentes talibanes continúan luchando una guerra de guerrillas. En 2002, en medio de una polémica, la administración de Bush comenzó a presionar para que se llevara a cabo un cambio de régimen en Irak.46 47 Con la falta de apoyo de la OTAN y sin un mandato explícito de la ONU para una intervención militar, Bush organizó la coalición de la voluntad; las fuerzas de la coalición rápidamente invadieron Irak en 2003 y derrocaron al dictador Saddam Hussein. En 2005, el huracán Katrina, que terminaría siendo el desastre natural más caro en la historia nacional, causó una destrucción severa a lo largo de la costa del Golfo: la ciudad de Nueva Orleans quedó devastada.48 El 4 de noviembre de 2008, en medio de una recesión económica mundial, Barack Obama fue elegido presidente, el primer afroamericano en ocupar el cargo.
[editar]Gobierno y política

Artículos principales: Gobierno federal de los Estados Unidos, Política de los Estados Unidos y Elecciones en Estados Unidos


Capitolio de los Estados Unidos, donde se reúne el Congreso.
Estados Unidos es la federación más antigua del mundo. Es una república constitucional, democrática y representativa, "en la que el mandato de la mayoría es regulado por los derechos de las minorías, protegidos por la ley".49 El gobierno está regulado por un sistema de controles y equilibrios, definidos por la Constitución, que sirve como el documento legal supremo del país.50 En el sistema federalista estadounidense, los ciudadanos están generalmente sujetos a tres niveles de gobierno: federal, estatal y local; los deberes del gobierno local comúnmente se dividen entre los gobiernos de los condados y municipios. En casi todos los casos, los funcionarios del poder ejecutivo y legislativo son elegidos por sufragio directo de los ciudadanos del distrito.


Fachada sur de la Casa Blanca, residencia y lugar de trabajo del presidente de los Estados Unidos.
El gobierno federal se divide en tres ramas:50
Poder legislativo: El Congreso bicameral, compuesto por el Senado y la Cámara de Representantes. Su función es crear las leyes federales, hacer declaraciones de guerra, aprobar los tratados, administran los fondos públicos y tiene el poder del impeachment, por medio del cual pueden destituir a funcionarios del gobierno.
Poder ejecutivo: El presidente es el comandante en jefe de las fuerzas armadas, puede vetar los proyectos de ley antes de que se conviertan en leyes oficiales y nombra a los miembros del gabinete (sujeto a la aprobación del Senado) y otros oficiales, que administran y hacer cumplir las leyes federales y políticas.
Poder judicial: La Corte Suprema y los tribunales federales inferiores, cuyos jueces son nombrados por el presidente con la aprobación del Senado, interpretan las leyes y suprimen las que se consideren anticonstitucionales.
La Cámara de Representantes tiene 435 miembros electos, cada uno representando un distrito del Congreso para un mandato de dos años.50 Los lugares dentro de la cámara se distribuyen entre los estados según su población cada diez años. Según el censo de 2000, siete estados tienen el mínimo de un representante, mientras que California, el estado más poblado, tiene cincuenta y tres. El Senado tiene 100 miembros, ya que cada estado cuenta con dos senadores, elegidos para un término de seis años; un tercio de los escaños en el Senado son electos cada dos años.50 La Corte Suprema, liderada por el jefe de justicia, tiene nueve miembros, que sirven de manera permanente.50


Edificio de la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos, visto desde el oeste.
El presidente sirve por un término de cuatro años y podrá ser reelegido al cargo no más de dos veces. El presidente no es elegido por sufragio directo, sino por un sistema indirecto de colegios electorales, en el que los votos determinantes son prorrateados por estado.50 Un estado sólo puede brindar determinada cantidad de votos según el número de congresistas que tenga dentro del poder legislativo: senadores (dos por cada estado) y representantes (que varía según la población de cada estado); dando un total de 538 miembros. El sistema bipartidista del país permite que un candidato a la presidencia, ya sea republicano o demócrata, sólo necesite 270 votos para asegurar la victoria.51
Los gobiernos estatales están estructurados de manera más o menos similar; Nebraska es el único que tiene una legislatura unicameral.52 El gobernador (jefe ejecutivo) de cada estado es elegido por sufragio directo. Algunos jueces de estado y funcionarios de gabinete son designados por los gobernadores de los respectivos estados, mientras que otros son elegidos por voto popular.
Todas las leyes y los procedimientos gubernamentales están sujetas a revisión judicial, y se anula cualquier ley que esté en contra de la Constitución. El texto original de la Constitución establece la estructura y responsabilidades del gobierno federal y su relación con los gobiernos estados.50 El Artículo I protege el derecho al "gran recurso" de habeas corpus22 y el Artículo III garantiza el derecho a un juicio con jurado en todos los casos penales.22 Las enmiendas a la Constitución requieren la aprobación de tres cuartas partes de los estados. La Constitución ha sido enmendada veintisiete veces; las primeras diez enmiendas, que componen la Carta de Derechos y la decimocuarta enmienda forman la base central de las garantías individuales.22
[editar]Relaciones exteriores y fuerzas armadas

Artículos principales: Política exterior de los Estados Unidos y Fuerzas Armadas de los Estados Unidos


Edificio de la Embajada de México ante Estados Unidos en la capital del país.
Estados Unidos ejerce una influencia global económica, política y militar. Es un miembro permanente del Consejo de Seguridad de Naciones Unidas, además de que la Sede de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas se encuentra en la ciudad de Nueva York. También es miembro del G8, el G-20 y la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico. La inmensa mayoría de los países tienen una embajada o un consulado en Washington D. C. u otra ciudad importante del país. A su vez, casi todos los países del mundo cuentan con una misión diplomática estadounidense.53 Sin embargo, Cuba, Irán, Corea del Norte, Bután, Sudán y la República de China (Taiwán) no tienen relaciones diplomáticas formales con la nación.
También goza de fuertes lazos con el Reino Unido, Canadá, Australia, Nueva Zelanda, Japón, Corea del Sur e Israel. Trabaja en estrecha colaboración con sus colegas de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte sobre cuestiones militares y de seguridad, y con sus vecinos a través de la Organización de los Estados Americanos y de tratados internacionales como el acuerdo trilateral del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte con Canadá y México. En 2009, Estados Unidos gastó un neto de 28 665 millones de dólares en ayuda oficial al desarrollo, la mayor cantidad en el mundo, aunque en términos de porcentaje del Producto Interno Bruto (PIB), su contribución de 0,20% ocupó uno de los últimos lugares entre las veintitrés naciones donantes. En contraste, las empresas privadas estadounidenses son relativamente más generosas.54 55


Soldados del Ejército de los Estados Unidos en la Estación de Seguridad de Ur, a las afueras de Bagdad.
El presidente ostenta el título de comandante en jefe de las fuerzas armadas de la nación y nombra a sus líderes: el Secretario de Defensa y la Junta de Jefes de Estado Mayor. El Departamento de Defensa administra las fuerzas armadas, incluyendo el Ejército, la Armada, el Cuerpo de Marines y la Fuerza Aérea. La Guardia Costera es administrada por el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional en tiempos de paz y por el Departamento de la Armada en tiempo de guerra. En 2008, las fuerzas armadas contaban con 1,4 millones de miembros activos. Las reservas y la Guardia Nacional elevan el número total de tropas a 2,3 millones. El Departamento de Defensa también emplea a aproximadamente 700.000 civiles, sin incluir a los contratistas.56
La instalación progresiva de las fuerzas armadas estadounidenses a gran escala empezó con la división y ocupación de Alemania en 1945, se amplió con la guerra fría en sus países de influencia, y continúa vigente. El servicio militar es voluntario, aunque el servicio militar obligatorio puede aplicarse en tiempos de guerra a través de un sistema de servicio selectivo. El ejército opera 865 bases e instalaciones en el extranjero57 y mantiene guarniciones de más de 100 militares activos en 28 países distintos.58 El alcance de esta presencia militar global ha llevado a algunos autores a describir al país como si mantuviera un "imperio de bases".59 60
Los gastos militares en 2008, de 600.000 millones de dólares, fueron más del 41% de los gastos militares mundiales y más altos que los gastos juntos de los siguientes catorce países con los ejércitos más grandes. El gasto per cápita fue de US$ 1.967, alrededor de nueve veces el promedio mundial; ocupando el 4% del PIB.61 El presupuesto base del Departamento de Defensa para el año 2010 —fijado en 533,8 mil millones de dólares— aumentó un 4% en 2009 y un 80% más que en 2001; se destinarán 130.000 millones de dólares adicionales para las campañas militares en Irak y Afganistán.62 En mayo de 2010 había 94.000 soldados estadounidenses desplegados en Afganistán y 92.000 en Irak.63 Para junio de 2010, el ejército estadounidense había sufrido 4.400 bajas durante la guerra en Irak64 y 1.087 durante la guerra en Afganistán.65
[editar]Derechos humanos

Véase también: Carta de Derechos de los Estados Unidos


Edificio Sede de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas en Nueva York.
En materia de derechos humanos, respecto a la pertenencia en los siete organismos de la Carta Internacional de Derechos Humanos, que incluyen al Comité de Derechos Humanos (HRC), Estados Unidos de América ha firmado o ratificado:
Estatus de los principales instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos.66
Estados Unidos de América Tratados internacionales
CESCR67 CCPR68 CERD69 CED70 CEDAW71 CAT72 CRC73 MWC74 CRPD75
CESCR CESCR-OP CCPR CCPR-OP1 CCPR-OP2-DP CEDAW CEDAW-OP CAT CAT-OP CRC CRC-OP-AC CRC-OP-SC CRPD CRPD-OP
Pertenencia
Firmado y ratificado, firmado pero no ratificado, ni firmado ni ratificado, sin información, ha accedido a firmar y ratificar el órgano en cuestión, pero también reconoce la competencia de recibir y procesar comunicaciones individuales por parte de los órganos competentes.
[editar]Organización territorial



Mapa de las dependencias de Estados Unidos:
* Puerto Rico
* Islas Marianas del Norte
* Islas Vírgenes Estadounidenses
* Guam
* Samoa Americana
* Atolón Midway
* Atolón Johnston
* Isla Wake
* Arrecife Kingman
* Isla Jarvis
* Isla Baker
* Isla Howland
* Isla Navaza
* Atolón Palmyra
Artículo principal: Organización territorial de los Estados Unidos
Véase también: Evolución territorial de los Estados Unidos
Estados Unidos es una unión federal de cincuenta estados. Los trece estados originales fueron los sucesores de las Trece colonias que se rebelaron contra el Imperio británico. Poco después de la independencia, se crearon tres nuevos estados a partir de otros ya existentes: Kentucky de Virginia; Tennessee de Carolina del Norte y Maine de Massachusetts. La mayoría de los otros estados fueron creados a partir de territorios obtenidos a través de la guerra o la compra por parte del gobierno. Vermont, Texas y Hawái son la excepción: cada uno de ellos fue una república independiente antes de integrarse a la Unión. Durante la guerra de Secesión, Virginia Occidental se separó de Virginia. El estado más reciente es Hawái, que logró el reconocimiento como estado el 21 de agosto de 1959. Los estados no tienen el derecho de separarse de la Unión.
Los estados componen gran parte del territorio estadounidense; las otras dos áreas que se consideran parte integrante del país es el distrito de Columbia, el distrito federal donde se encuentra la capital Washington D. C., y el Atolón Palmyra, un territorio deshabitado pero incorporado, ubicado en el océano Pacífico. Estados Unidos también posee cinco grandes territorios de ultramar: Puerto Rico y las Islas Vírgenes de los Estados Unidos en el Caribe y Samoa Americana, Guam y las Islas Marianas del Norte en el Pacífico. Aquellos que nacieron en esos territorios (excepto para Samoa Americana) poseen la ciudadanía estadounidense. Los ciudadanos estadounidenses que residen en los territorios tienen muchos de los derechos y responsabilidades de los ciudadanos que residen en los estados; sin embargo, generalmente están exentos del pago de impuestos federales, no pueden votar en las elecciones presidenciales y sólo tienen representación en calidad de observadores en el Congreso.76




[editar]Geografía

Artículo principal: Geografía de Estados Unidos


Mapa topográfico del país.


El Gran Cañón, un accidente geográfico esculpido por el río Colorado.
La superficie de los Estados Unidos continentales es de aproximadamente 7 700 000 km². Alaska, que está separada de los Estados Unidos continentales por Canadá, es el estado más grande del país, con 1 500 000 km². Hawái, ocupa un archipiélago ubicado en el Pacífico central, al suroeste de América del Norte, que abarca poco más de 16 000 km².77 Después de Rusia y Canadá, es el tercer o cuarto país más grande del mundo por área total (tierra y agua), clasificado justo por encima o por debajo de China. La lista varía dependiendo de si se consideran los territorios en disputa entre China y la India y de cómo se calcula el tamaño total de los Estados Unidos: The World Factbook de la CIA considera 9 826 675 km²,78 la División de Estadísticas de las Naciones Unidas calcula 9 629 091 km²,79 y la Enciclopedia Británica estipula 9 522 055 km².80 Incluyendo sólo la superficie de la tierra, Estados Unidos es tercero en tamaño detrás de Rusia y China, justo por delante de Canadá.81
El territorio nacional cuenta con múltiples formas de relieve y accidentes geográficos. A medida que se avanza tierra adentro, la llanura costera del litoral Atlántico da lugar al bosque caducifolio y a la meseta del Piedmont. Los Apalaches separan la costa oriental de los Grandes Lagos de las praderas del Medio Oeste. El río Misisipi–Misuri, el cuarto sistema fluvial más largo del mundo, corre de norte a sur a través del centro del país. La pradera llana y fértil de las Grandes Llanuras se extiende hacia el oeste, hasta que es interrumpida por una región de tierras altas en el sureste. Las montañas Rocosas, en el borde occidental de las Grandes Llanuras, atraviesan de norte a sur todo el país, llegando a altitudes superiores a los 4300 msnm en Colorado. Más hacia el oeste se encuentra la Gran Cuenca y los desiertos, tales como el desierto de Mojave, de Sonora y de Chihuahua. Las montañas de la Sierra Nevada y la cordillera de las Cascadas se encuentran cerca de la costa del Pacífico. Con sus 6194 msnm, el monte McKinley en Alaska es el punto más alto del país y de todo el continente. Los volcanes activos son comunes a lo largo de Alaska y las Islas Aleutianas, además de que Hawái consta de sólo islas volcánicas. El supervolcán ubicado debajo del Parque Nacional Yellowstone en las montañas Rocosas, es la forma volcánica más grande del continente.82
[editar]Clima


Huracán Katrina impactando en la costa sur de los Estados Unidos.
Por su gran tamaño y variedad geográfica, el país cuenta con la mayoría de los tipos de clima. Al este del meridiano 100, el clima varía de continental húmedo en el norte a húmedo subtropical en el sur. El extremo sur de la Florida y las islas de Hawái tienen un clima tropical. Las Grandes Llanuras al oeste del meridiano 100 son semiáridas, mientras que gran parte de las montañas occidentales poseen un clima alpino. El clima es árido en la Gran Cuenca y en los desiertos del suroeste, es mediterráneo en la costa de California y oceánico en la costa sur de Alaska, Oregón y Washington. La mayor parte del territorio alaskeño tiene un clima subártico o polar. Los fenómenos meteorológicos extremos no son raros —los estados ribereños del golfo de México son propensos a huracanes y la mayoría de los tornados del mundo se desarrollan dentro del país, principalmente en la zona de Tornado Alley, en el Medio Oeste—.83
[editar]Flora y fauna


El águila calva, ave nacional de Estados Unidos desde 1782.
Estados Unidos es considerado un país megadiverso: unas 17.000 especies de plantas vasculares viven en los Estados Unidos contiguos y Alaska y más de 1.800 especies de plantas con flores se pueden encontrar tan sólo en Hawái, pocas de la cuales crecen en el continente.84 El país es hogar de más de 400 especies de mamíferos, 750 especies de aves y 500 especies de reptiles y anfibios.85 Aquí también se han descubierto más de 91.000 diferentes clases de insectos.86
La Ley de Especies en Peligro de 1973 protege a las especies amenazadas y en peligro de extinción y sus hábitats, que son supervisados por el Servicio de Pesca y Vida Silvestre de los Estados Unidos. En total, el gobierno federal posee el 28,8% de la superficie total del país.87 La mayor parte de este porcentaje está conformado por los cincuenta y ocho parques nacionales y cientos de otras áreas naturales protegidas administradas por las autoridades federales y estatales.88 Del resto de las tierras del gobierno, algunas son alquiladas para la extracción de petróleo y gas natural, para la minería, agricultura o ganadería; sólo el 2,4% se utiliza para fines militares.87
[editar]Economía

Artículo principal: Economía de los Estados Unidos


Edificio de la Bolsa de Nueva York, en Wall Street.


Billetes de un dólar estadounidense. El dólar ha sido la moneda oficial del país desde 1792.
La economía de los Estados Unidos es una economía mixta capitalista, que se caracteriza por los abundantes recursos naturales, una infraestructura desarrollada y una alta productividad.89 De acuerdo al Fondo Monetario Internacional, su PIB de US$14,4 billones constituye el 24% del Producto Mundial Bruto y cerca del 21% del mismo en términos de paridad de poder adquisitivo (PPA).3 Este es el PIB más grande en el mundo, aunque en 2008 era un 5% menor que el PIB (PPA) de la Unión Europea. El país tiene el decimoséptimo PIB per cápita nominal y el sexto PIB (PPA) per cápita más altos del mundo.3 Además, el país está en segundo lugar del Índice de Competitividad Global.90
Estados Unidos es el importador de bienes más grande a nivel internacional y el tercero en términos de exportaciones, aunque las exportaciones per cápita son relativamente bajas para un país desarrollado. En 2008, el total de la balanza comercial estadounidense era de 696 mil millones de dólares.91 En 2009, los automóviles constituyeron los principales productos exportados e importados.92 Canadá, China, México, Alemania y Japón son sus principales socios comerciales.93 Ese último es el que tiene la mayor deuda pública con Estados Unidos, ya que a principios de 2010 superó la deuda de China con 34.200 millones de dólares.94
En 2010, el sector privado constituía un estimado del 55,3% de la economía, las actividades del gobierno federal sumaban el 24,1% y la actividad de los gobiernos estatales y locales ocupaban el restante 20,6%.95 Pese a que la economía estadounidense es posindustrial, ya que el sector servicios contribuye con el 67,8% del PIB, la nación continúa siendo una potencia industrial.96 En el campo de negocios, la actividad líder por sus ingresos es el comercio al por mayor y al por menor; por ingresos netos es la industria,97 siendo la industria química la más importante.98 Estados Unidos es el tercer productor de petróleo más importante en el mundo, así como el mayor importador de este producto.99 100 101 También es el productor número uno de energía eléctrica y de energía nuclear, así como gas natural licuado, azufre, fosfatos y sal. Mientras que la agricultura representa menos del 1% del PIB,96 el país es el mayor productor de maíz102 y soya.103 Toda esta producción contribuye a que la bolsa de Nueva York sea la más grande del mundo.104 A su vez, las empresas estadounidenses de Coca-Cola, McDonalds y Microsoft son las marcas más reconocidas en el mundo.105
En el tercer trimestre de 2009, la fuerza de trabajo estadounidense era de 154,4 millones de personas. De estos empleados, 81% poseen un empleo en el sector servicios. Con 22,4 millones de personas, el gobierno es el principal campo de empleo.106 Aproximadamente el 12% de los trabajadores están sindicalizados, en comparación con el 30% de Europa occidental.107 El Banco Mundial clasifica a los Estados Unidos en primer lugar en la facilidad de contratación y liquidación de los trabajadores.108 Entre 1973 y 2003, el año laboral para un estadounidense promedio creció 199 horas.109 En parte como consecuencia, el país sostiene la máxima productividad de mano de obra en el mundo. En 2008, también llegó al primer puesto en productividad por hora, superando a Noruega, Francia, Bélgica y Luxemburgo, que habían superado a los Estados Unidos la mayor parte de la década anterior.110 Comparado con Europa, los impuestos corporativos y de propiedad son más altos, mientras que los impuestos al consumidor son más bajos.111
[editar]Infraestructura

[editar]Transportes


Mapa del Sistema Interestatal de Autopistas, que se extiende por 75.376 km.112
Al ser un país desarrollado, Estados Unidos cuenta con una infraestructura de transportes avanzada: 6.465.799 km de autopistas, 226.427 km de vías férreas, 15.095 aeropuertos y 41.009 km de vías fluviales.78 La mayor parte de sus habitantes utilizan el automóvil como su principal medio de transporte. En 2003 había 759 automóviles por cada 1.000 personas, en comparación con los 472 por cada 1.000 habitantes de la Unión Europea.113 Más del 40% de los vehículos personales son camionetas, todoterrenos o camiones ligeros.114 El promedio de adulto estadounidense (incluyendo a conductores y no conductores) pasa 55 minutos en un automóvil, viajando una distancia de 47 km diariamente.115
Toda la industria aérea civil es propiedad privada, mientras que la mayoría de los aeropuertos principales son de propiedad pública. Las tres aerolíneas más grandes en el mundo son de capital estadounidense: Southwest Airlines, American Airlines y Delta Air Lines.116 De los treinta aeropuertos con mayor tránsito de pasajeros en el mundo, dieciséis están en el país, siendo el más concurrido de todos el Aeropuerto Internacional Hartsfield-Jackson en Atlanta.117 Mientras que el transporte de mercancías por ferrocarril es muy importante, relativamente pocas personas utilizan este medio de transporte para viajar, dentro o entre las zonas urbanas.118 Sólo el 9% de las personas utilizan el transporte público para acudir al trabajo, un nivel muy bajo comparado con el 38,8% de Europa.119 También el uso de la bicicleta es mínimo, muy por debajo de los niveles europeos.120
[editar]Energía


La presa Hoover proporciona energía hidroeléctrica y agua potable al suroeste del país.
Véase también: Política energética de los Estados Unidos
El consumo energético total del país es de 3,873 billones kWh anuales, lo que equivale a un consumo per cápita de 7,8 toneladas de petróleo al año.78 En 2005, un 40% de esta energía provenía del petróleo, 23% del carbón y 22% del gas natural; el resto provenía de centrales nucleares y fuentes de energía renovable.121 Estados Unidos es el mayor consumidor de petróleo y de gas natural: anualmente utiliza 19,5 millones de barriles de petróleo al año y 627.200 millones de m³ de gas natural.122 123 Por otro lado, en el país se encuentran el 27% de las reservas mundiales de carbón.124 Por décadas, la energía nuclear ha jugado un papel limitado en la producción de energía, en comparación con la mayoría de los países desarrollados, debido en parte a la reacción pública después del accidente de Three Mile Island. Sin embargo, en 2007 el gobierno recibió múltiples peticiones para la construcción de nuevas centrales nucleares, lo que podría significar una disminución considerable en el consumo de combustibles fósiles125 y un cambio en la política energética.
[editar]Educación, ciencia y tecnología

Artículo principal: Educación en los Estados Unidos


Cerca del 80% de los universitarios asisten a colegios públicos como la Universidad de Virginia, un sitio Patrimonio de la Humanidad, fundada por Thomas Jefferson.126
La educación pública estadounidense es operada por los gobiernos estatales y locales, regulados por el Departamento de Educación de los Estados Unidos. Es obligatorio que los niños asistan a la escuela desde los seis o siete años (por lo general, al jardín de niños o al primer grado de educación primaria) hasta que cumplen los dieciocho años (generalmente hasta cursar el duodécimo grado, el final de la escuela secundaria); algunos estados permiten a los estudiantes abandonar la escuela a los dieciséis o diecisiete años.127 Aproximadamente el 12% de los niños están inscritos en escuelas privadas, mientras que el 2% recibe educación en el hogar.128 Existen múltiples instituciones privadas y públicas de educación superior, así como de colegios comunitarios con las políticas de admisión abierta. De las personas mayores de veinticinco años, el 84,6% se graduó de la escuela secundaria, un 52,6% asistió a algún colegio, el 27,2% obtuvo una licenciatura y el 9,6% obtuvo un título de posgrado.129 La tasa de alfabetización es de aproximadamente un 99%.78 La ONU le asigna al país un índice de educación de 0,97, el 12° más alto en el mundo.130 De acuerdo a la Unesco, Estados Unidos es el segundo país con más instituciones de educación superior en el mundo, con un total de 5.758 y un promedio de más de 15 por cada estado.131 El país también cuenta con el mayor número de estudiantes universitarios en el mundo, ascendiendo a 14.261.778, es decir, casi el 4,75% de la población total.132 Finalmente, aquí se encuentran algunas de las universidades más prestigiosas y de mayor fama en todo el mundo. Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford y el Instituto Tecnológico de Massachusetts son consideradas como las mejores universidades por varias publicaciones.133 134 135


El astronauta Buzz Aldrin durante el primer alunizaje del hombre en 1969.
Estados Unidos es líder en la investigación científica e innovación tecnológica desde el siglo XIX. En 1876, Alexander Graham Bell recibió la primera patente para un estadounidense por el teléfono. El laboratorio de Thomas Edison desarrolló el fonógrafo, la primera lámpara incandescente y el primer proyector de películas. Nikola Tesla fue pionero en experimentar con la corriente alterna, el motor de corriente alterna y la radio. En el siglo XX, las compañías de automóviles de Ransom Eli Olds y Henry Ford promovieron la producción en cadena. En 1903, los hermanos Wright realizaron el primer vuelo propulsado en su aeronave Wright Flyer.136
El ascenso del nazismo en la década de 1930 llevó a muchos científicos europeos, incluyendo a Albert Einstein y Enrico Fermi, a emigrar al país. Durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el proyecto Manhattan ya había desarrollado las primeras armas nucleares, anunciando el inicio de la era nuclear. La carrera espacial también produjo avances rápidos en la construcción y desarrollo de cohetes, la ciencia de materiales y la computación. El país fue el responsable del desarrollo de la ARPANET y su sucesor, Internet. Hoy en día, la mayor parte de los ingresos para la investigación y desarrollo, un 64%, provienen del sector privado.137 El país es líder mundial en publicaciones de investigación científica y en el factor de impacto.138 Los estadounidenses poseen bienes de consumo tecnológicamente avanzados139 140 141 y casi la mitad de los hogares tienen acceso a Internet de banda ancha.142 También es el principal desarrollador y cultivador de organismos genéticamente modificados; más de la mitad de las tierras con cultivos biotecnológicos del mundo se encuentran en Estados Unidos.143
[editar]Demografía

Artículo principal: Demografía de los Estados Unidos
Véase también: Inmigración en los Estados Unidos


Evolución de la población (1790-2000).
Según estimaciones de la Oficina Nacional del Censo, a finales de abril de 2011 la población de Estados Unidos ascendía a 311.259.187 habitantes,144 incluyendo un estimado de 11,2 millones de inmigrantes ilegales.145 Esto la convierte en la tercera nación más poblada en el mundo, después de China y la India. Además, Estados Unidos es la única nación industrializada donde se prevé un aumento significativo en la población.146 Con una tasa de natalidad de 13,82 bebés por cada 1.000 habitantes (30% por debajo de la media mundial), su tasa de crecimiento demográfico es de 0,98%, significativamente más alto que los de Europa occidental, Japón y Corea del Sur.147 En el año fiscal de 2009, 1,1 millones de inmigrantes obtuvieron la residencia legal.148 México ha sido el principal país de origen de los nuevos residentes durante más de dos décadas; desde 1998, China, India y Filipinas también se han destacado en este sentido cada año.149


Mapa de los principales grupos étnicos del país.
Estados Unidos tiene una población muy diversa: treinta y un diferentes grupos étnicos cuentan con más de un millón de representantes.150 Los blancos estadounidenses son el grupo étnico más grande; los germano-estadounidenses, los irlandés estadounidenses y los angloamericanos constituyen tres de los cuatro grupos étnicos más numerosos del país.150 Los afroamericanos son la "minoría" racial más importante y el tercer grupo étnico más grande.150 151 Los asiáticos son la segunda "minoría" racial con mayor presencia; dentro de este grupo destacan los grupos de origen chino y filipino.150 En 2008, la población incluía un estimado de 6 millones de personas con ascendencia indígena, ya sea de un pueblo amerindio (1,8 millones), alaskeño (3,1 millones), hawaiano (0,5 millones) o de una isla del Pacífico (0,6 millones).151


El chinatown en la ciudad de San Francisco alberga a una de las comunidades chinas más grandes del país.
El crecimiento de la población de origen latinoamericano es una importante tendencia demográfica. De acuerdo a la Oficina Nacional del Censo, los 46,9 millones de descendientes de latinos o hispanos151 son un grupo heterogéneo que comparten una distinta "etnicidad", así 64% de los hispanos son de ascendencia mexicana.152 Entre 2000 y 2008, la población hispana aumentó 32%, mientras que la población no hispana aumentó sólo un 4,3%.151 Gran parte de este crecimiento es debido a la inmigración, por ejemplo, en 2007 el 12,6% de la población estadounidense había nacido en el extranjero, de los cuales, el 54% nacieron en América Latina.153 La tasa de fecundidad también es un factor: la mujer hispana promedio da a luz a tres niños, mientras que las mujeres negras tienen 2,2 y las mujeres blancas 1,8.146 Las minorías (definidas por la Oficina del Censo como todos aquellos que no son hispanos o blancos) constituyen el 34% de la población y se prevé que constituirán la mayoría para el 2042.154
Alrededor del 82% de los estadounidenses viven en zonas urbanas (tal como las define la Oficina del Censo, estas áreas incluyen los suburbios);78 cerca de la mitad residen en ciudades con una población superior a 50.000 habitantes.155 En 2008, 273 localidades contaban con más de 100.000 personas, nueve ciudades tenían más de un millón de residentes y cuatro ciudades globales tenían más de dos millones de residentes (Nueva York, Los Ángeles, Chicago y Houston).156 Existen cincuenta y dos áreas metropolitanas con más de un millón de habitantes.157 De las cincuenta áreas metropolitanas de más rápido crecimiento demográfico, cuarenta y siete se encuentran en el oeste y en el sur.158 Las áreas metropolitanas de Dallas, Houston, Atlanta y Phoenix aumentaron su población en más de un millón de personas entre 2000 y 2008.157
[editar]Idioma


Idioma oficial de estados y territorios.
Inglés es oficial.
Dos o más oficiales.
Inglés de facto.
Múltiples idiomas de facto.
Artículo principal: Idiomas en los Estados Unidos
Véanse también: Inglés estadounidense e Idioma español en los Estados Unidos
El inglés es el idioma nacional de facto. Aunque no existe ningún idioma oficial a nivel federal, algunas leyes —como los Requisitos para la Naturalización— colocan al inglés como idioma obligatorio. En 2006, cerca de 224 millones, o sea, el 80% de la población mayor de cinco años, hablaba únicamente el inglés en casa. El español, hablado por el 12% de la población, es el segundo idioma más hablado, y el que más comúnmente se aprende como segunda lengua.159 160 Algunas personas se encuentran a favor de convertir el inglés en el idioma oficial, como lo es en al menos veintiocho estados.161 El hawaiano y el inglés son los idiomas oficiales de Hawái.162 Aunque carecen de un idioma oficial, Nuevo México tiene leyes que alientan el uso del inglés y el español, de la misma forma que Luisiana lo hace con el inglés y el francés.163 En otros estados, como en California, la publicación de ciertos documentos oficiales en español es obligatoria.164 165 Los territorios insulares garantizan el reconocimiento oficial de los idiomas nativos, junto con el inglés: el samoano y el chamorro son reconocidos por Samoa Americana y Guam, respectivamente; el carolinio y el chamorro son reconocidos por las Islas Marianas del Norte y el español es un idioma oficial de Puerto Rico.
[editar]Religión
Artículo principal: Religión en los Estados Unidos


Catedral Nacional de Washington D. C., perteneciente a la Iglesia episcopal, aunque con distintos servicios diarios de otras congregaciones.
Estados Unidos es oficialmente un estado laico; la Primera Enmienda garantiza el libre ejercicio de la religión y prohíbe el establecimiento de cualquier gobierno religioso.22 En un estudio de 2002, 59% de los estadounidenses aseguró que la religión desempeñaba un "papel muy importante en sus vidas," una cifra más elevada que la de cualquier otra nación desarrollada.166 De acuerdo con una encuesta de 2007, 78,4% de los adultos se identificaron como cristianos,167 registrándose una disminución desde 1990, cuando eran el 86,4%.168 Las denominaciones protestantes representaban el 51,3%, mientras que la Iglesia católica con el 23,9%, era la corriente religiosa más grande. El estudio clasifica a los evangélicos blancos, 26,3% de la población, como la cohorte religiosa más grande del país;167 otro estudio estima que los evangélicos de todas las razas conforman entre el 30 y 35% de la población.169 En 1990, el total de adeptos a religiones no cristianas eran el 3,3%, para 2007 había crecido hasta un 4,7%.168 Las principales religiones no cristianas eran el judaísmo (1,7%), el budismo (0,7%), el Islam (0,6%), el hinduismo (0,4%) y el unitarismo universalista (0,3%).167 La encuesta también informó que el 16,1% de los estadounidenses se describían a sí mismos como agnósticos, ateos o simplemente sin ninguna religión.168 167
[editar]Salud
En 2006, la esperanza de vida era de 77,8 años,170 siendo un año más corta que el promedio de Europa occidental, y mucho más corta que la de países como Noruega, Suiza y Canadá.171 Durante las últimas dos décadas, el nivel de esperanza de vida cayó del 11° lugar mundial, hasta el 42°.172 La mortalidad infantil es de 6,37 fallecimientos por cada 1.000 nacidos vivos.173 Aproximadamente un tercio de la población adulta es obesa y otro tercio tiene sobrepeso;174 el índice de obesidad, uno de los más altos del mundo, se ha duplicado en los últimos veinticinco años.175 La alta incidencia de diabetes tipo 2 relacionada con la obesidad se considera una epidemia por algunos profesionales de la salud.176 El índice de embarazos en la adolescencia asciende a 79,8 por cada 1.000 mujeres, cuatro veces el índice de Francia y cinco veces el de Alemania.177 El aborto, legal en algunos casos, es un tema muy controvertido: muchos estados prohibieron la financiación pública del procedimiento, restringieron el aborto cuando el feto ya está desarrollado, requieren notificación parental para las menores y un período de espera. La tasa de aborto está disminuyendo, ya que existen 241 por cada 1.000 nacimientos, aunque sigue siendo superior al de la mayoría de las naciones occidentales.178


El Texas Medical Center en Houston, es el centro médico más grande del mundo.179
El gasto en el sistema de atención a la salud sobrepasa al de cualquier otra nación, tanto en términos de gasto per cápita como en porcentaje del PIB.180 En 2000, la Organización Mundial de la Salud colocó el sistema de salud estadounidense en primer lugar en la capacidad de respuesta, pero 37º en rendimiento global. Estados Unidos es líder en innovación médica. En 2004, este sector invirtió tres veces más que cualquier país de Europa en la investigación biomédica.181
Estados Unidos es sede de muchos de los mejores centros médicos del mundo. Gran parte de las instalaciones médicas son de propiedad privada que cuentan con algunos subsidios del gobierno local. A pesar de ser asociaciones sin fines de lucro, muchos de los hospitales más importantes del país están afiliados a grandes corporaciones o escuelas de medicina, que han hecho posible que anualmente estos centros alberguen a cerca del 70% de todos los pacientes médicos del país.182 El Hospital Johns Hopkins, la Clínica Mayo, el Hospital General de Massachusetts y la Clínica Cleveland se encuentran entre los mejores hospitales del país y del mundo.183
A diferencia de otros países desarrollados, la cobertura del sistema de salud no es universal. En 2004, los seguros médicos pagaron el 36% de los gastos en materia de salud y los gobiernos federales y estatales otorgaron el 44%.184 En 2005, 46,6 millones de estadounidenses, 15,9% de la población, no estaban asegurados, 5,4 millones más que en 2001. La principal causa de este aumento es la caída en el número de empleos donde se garantiza el seguro médico.185 El tema de los estadounidenses no asegurados es una cuestión política importante.186 187 Un estudio de 2009 estimó que la falta de seguros está asociada con casi 45.000 muertes al año.188 En 2006, Massachusetts se convirtió en el primer estado en implementar la asistencia sanitaria universal.189 La ley federal aprobada a principios de 2010 creará un sistema de salud casi universal para todo el país en 2014.
[editar]Principales ciudades
Artículo principal: Anexo:Ciudades de Estados Unidos por población
Principales ciudades de Estados Unidos


Nueva York

Los Ángeles

Chicago
Ciudad Estado Población Ciudad Estado Población

Houston

Phoenix

Filadelfia
1 Nueva York Nueva York 8.459.026 11 Detroit Míchigan 901.160
2 Los Ángeles California 3.878.715 12 Jacksonville Florida 822.401
3 Chicago Illinois 2.878.948 13 San Francisco California 817.411
4 Houston Texas 2.307.883 14 Indianápolis Indiana 803.930
5 Phoenix Arizona 1.635.783 15 Austin Texas 792.778
6 Filadelfia Pensilvania 1.445.993 16 Columbus Ohio 768.662
7 San Antonio Texas 1.402.013 17 Fort Worth Texas 751.149
8 San Diego California 1.309.749 18 Charlotte Carolina del Norte 723.514
9 Dallas Texas 1.304.930 19 Memphis Tennessee 662.989
10 San José California 977.893 20 Baltimore Maryland 632.410
Estimación para 2010190
[editar]Cultura

Artículo principal: Cultura de los Estados Unidos


Íconos de la cultura estadounidense: tarta de manzana, béisbol y la bandera nac
No need to feel so afraid, colors last a lifetime and fade to gray...
Tony Kakko

User avatar
Derrick Rose
Sr. Member
Posts: 591
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:02 am
Location: Chicago

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Derrick Rose » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:19 am

eternity_strato wrote:The United States of America (also called the United States, the U.S., the USA, America, and the States) is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean.
At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 312 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largest by both land area and population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries.[6] The U.S. economy is the world's largest national economy, with an estimated 2010 GDP of $14.53 trillion (23% of nominal global GDP and over 19% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity).[3][7]
Indigenous peoples descended from forebears who migrated from Asia have inhabited what is now the mainland United States for many thousands of years. This Native American population was greatly reduced by disease and warfare after European contact. The United States was founded by thirteen British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. On July 4, 1776, they issued the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed their right to self-determination and their establishment of a cooperative union. The rebellious states defeated the British Empire in the American Revolution, the first successful colonial war of independence.[8] The current United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic with a strong central government. The Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments guaranteeing many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.
Through the 19th century, the United States displaced native tribes, acquired the Louisiana territory from France, Florida from Spain, part of the Oregon Country from the United Kingdom, Alta California and New Mexico from Mexico, and Alaska from Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over the expansion of the institution of slavery and states' rights provoked the Civil War of the 1860s. The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States. By the 1870s, its national economy was the world's largest.[9] The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a military power. It emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower. The country accounts for 41% of global military spending,[10] and it is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world.[11]

Etymology

See also: Names for United States citizens
In 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America" after Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.[12] The former British colonies first used the country's modern name in the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the "unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America".[13] On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which states, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'." The Franco-American treaties of 1778 used "United States of North America", but from July 11, 1778, "United States of America" was used on the country's bills of exchange, and it has been the official name ever since.[14]
The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms include the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names include the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia", a once popular name for the United States, derives from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".
The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is as an "American". Although "United States" is the official appositional term, "American" and "U.S." are more commonly used to refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). "American" is rarely used in English to refer to people not connected to the United States.[15]
The phrase "United States" was originally treated as plural—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. It became common to treat it as singular—e.g., "the United States is"—after the end of the Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States".[16]
Geography and environment

Main articles: Geography of the United States, Climate of the United States, and Environment of the United States
The land area of the contiguous United States is approximately 1,900 million acres (7,700,000 km2). Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 365 million acres (1,480,000 km2). Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, has just over 4 million acres (16,000 km2).[17] 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 km2)[18] to 3,717,813 square miles (9,629,091 km2)[19] to 3,794,101 square miles (9,826,676 km2).[1] Including only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada.[20]


Satellite image showing topography of the contiguous United States
The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont. The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie 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 Mojave. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast. At 20,320 feet (6,194 m), Alaska's Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.[21]


The bald eagle, national bird of the United States since 1782
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 southern tip of Florida is tropical, as is Hawaii. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains are alpine. 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. 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 the Midwest's Tornado Alley.[22]
The U.S. ecology is considered "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.[23] The United States is home to more than 400 mammal, 750 bird, and 500 reptile and amphibian species.[24] About 91,000 insect species have been described.[25] The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. There are fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas.[26] Altogether, the government owns 28.8% of the country's land area.[27] Most of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching; 2.4% is used for military purposes.[27]
Political divisions
Main article: U.S. state
Further information: Territorial evolution of the United States and United States territorial acquisitions
The United States is a federal union of fifty states. The original thirteen states were the successors of the thirteen colonies that rebelled against British rule. Early in the country's history, three new states were organized on territory separated from the claims of the existing states: Kentucky from Virginia; Tennessee from North Carolina; and Maine from Massachusetts. Most of the other states have been carved from territories obtained through war or purchase by the U.S. government. One set of exceptions comprises Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii: each was an independent republic before joining the union. During the American Civil War, West Virginia broke away from Virginia. The most recent state—Hawaii—achieved statehood on August 21, 1959. The states do not have the right to secede from the union.
The states compose the vast bulk of the U.S. land mass; the two other areas considered integral parts of the country are the District of Columbia, the federal district where the capital, Washington, is located; and Palmyra Atoll, an uninhabited but incorporated territory in the Pacific Ocean. The United States also possesses five major overseas territories: Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands in the Caribbean; and American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific.[28] Those born in the major territories (except for American Samoa) possess U.S. citizenship.[29] American citizens residing in the territories have many of the same rights and responsibilities as citizens residing in the states; however, they are generally exempt from federal income tax, may not vote for president, and have only nonvoting representation in the U.S. Congress.[30]


History

Main article: History of the United States
Native American and European settlement
The indigenous peoples of the U.S. mainland, including Alaska Natives, are believed to have migrated from Asia, beginning between 12,000 and 40,000 years ago.[31] Some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. After Europeans began settling the Americas, many millions of indigenous Americans died from epidemics of imported diseases such as smallpox.[32]


The Mayflower transported Pilgrims to the New World in 1620, as depicted in William Halsall's The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, 1882
In 1492, Genoese explorer Christopher Columbus, under contract to the Spanish crown, reached several Caribbean islands, making first contact with the indigenous people. On April 2, 1513, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León landed on what he called "La Florida"—the first documented European arrival on what would become the U.S. mainland. Spanish settlements in the region were followed by ones in the present-day southwestern United States that drew thousands through Mexico. French fur traders established outposts of New France around the Great Lakes; France eventually claimed much of the North American interior, down to the Gulf of Mexico. The first successful English settlements were the Virginia Colony in Jamestown in 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. The 1628 chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resulted in a wave of migration; by 1634, New England had been settled by some 10,000 Puritans. Between the late 1610s and the American Revolution, about 50,000 convicts were shipped to Britain's American colonies.[33] Beginning in 1614, the Dutch settled along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island.
In 1674, the Dutch ceded their American territory to England; the province of New Netherland was renamed New York. Many new immigrants, especially to the South, were indentured servants—some two-thirds of all Virginia immigrants between 1630 and 1680.[34] By the turn of the 18th century, African slaves were becoming the primary source of bonded labor. With the 1729 division of the Carolinas and the 1732 colonization of Georgia, the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America were established. All had local governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self-government stimulating support for republicanism. All legalized the African slave trade. With high birth rates, low death rates, and steady immigration, the colonial population grew rapidly. The Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty. In the French and Indian War, British forces seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. Excluding the Native Americans (popularly known as "American Indians"), who were being displaced, those thirteen colonies had a population of 2.6 million in 1770, about one-third that of Britain; nearly one in five Americans were black slaves.[35] Though subject to British taxation, the American colonials had no representation in the Parliament of Great Britain.
Independence and expansion


Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull, 1817–18
Tensions between American colonials and the British during the revolutionary period of the 1760s and early 1770s led to the American Revolutionary War, fought from 1775 to 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Proclaiming that "all men are created equal" and endowed with "certain unalienable Rights", the Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, on July 4, 1776. That date is now celebrated annually as America's Independence Day. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation established a weak confederal government that operated until 1789.
After the British defeat by American forces assisted by the French and Spanish, Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States and the states' sovereignty over American territory west to the Mississippi River. Those wishing to establish a strong national government with powers of taxation organized a constitutional convention in 1787. The United States Constitution was ratified in 1788, and the new republic's first Senate, House of Representatives, and president—George Washington—took office in 1789. The Bill of Rights, forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791.
Attitudes toward slavery were shifting; a clause in the Constitution protected the transatlantic slave trade only until 1808. The Northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the slave states of the South as defenders of the "peculiar institution". The Second Great Awakening, beginning about 1800, made evangelicalism a force behind various social reform movements, including abolitionism.


Territorial acquisitions by date
Americans' eagerness to expand westward prompted a long series of Indian Wars. The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 almost doubled the nation's size.[36] The War of 1812, declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a draw, strengthened U.S. nationalism. A series of U.S. military incursions into Florida led Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819. The Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian removal policy that stripped the native peoples of their land. The United States annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845, amid a period when the concept of Manifest Destiny was becoming popular.[37] The 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest. The U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War resulted in the 1848 cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest. The California Gold Rush of 1848–49 further spurred western migration. New railways made relocation easier for settlers and increased conflicts with Native Americans. Over a half-century, up to 40 million American bison, or buffalo, were slaughtered for skins and meat and to ease the railways' spread. The loss of the buffalo, a primary resource for the plains Indians, was an existential blow to many native cultures.
Civil War and industrialization


Battle of Gettysburg, lithograph by Currier & Ives, ca. 1863
Tensions between slave and free states mounted with arguments over the relationship between the state and federal governments, as well as violent conflicts over the spread of slavery into new states. Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the largely antislavery Republican Party, was elected president in 1860. Before he took office, seven slave states declared their secession—which the federal government maintained was illegal—and formed the Confederate States of America. With the Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, the Civil War began and four more slave states joined the Confederacy. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 declared slaves in the Confederacy to be free. Following the Union victory in 1865, three amendments to the U.S. Constitution ensured freedom for the nearly four million African Americans who had been slaves,[38] made them citizens, and gave them voting rights. The war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in federal power.[39] The war remains the deadliest conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers.[40]


Immigrants at Ellis Island, New York Harbor, 1902
After the war, the assassination of Lincoln radicalized Republican Reconstruction policies aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. The resolution of the disputed 1876 presidential election by the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction; Jim Crow laws soon disenfranchised many African Americans. In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants from Southern Southern and Eastern Europe hastened the country's industrialization. The wave of immigration, lasting until 1929, provided labor and transformed American culture. National infrastructure development spurred economic growth. The 1867 Alaska Purchase from Russia completed the country's mainland expansion. The Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 was the last major armed conflict of the Indian Wars. In 1893, the indigenous monarchy of the Pacific Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup led by American residents; the United States annexed the archipelago in 1898. Victory in the Spanish–American War the same year demonstrated that the United States was a world power and led to the annexation of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.[41] The Philippines gained independence a half-century later; Puerto Rico and Guam remain U.S. territories.
World War I, Great Depression, and World War II


An abandoned farm in South Dakota during the Dust Bowl, 1936
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the United States remained neutral. Most Americans sympathized with the British and French, although many opposed intervention.[42] In 1917, the United States joined the Allies, and the American Expeditionary Forces helped to turn the tide against the Central Powers. After the war, the Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations. The country pursued a policy of unilateralism, verging on isolationism.[43] In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a constitutional amendment granting women's suffrage. The prosperity of the Roaring Twenties ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that triggered the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, a range of policies increasing government intervention in the economy, including the establishment of the Social Security system.[44] The Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration.


Soldiers of the U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division landing in Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944
The United States, effectively neutral during World War II's early stages after Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in September 1939, began supplying materiel to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to join the Allies against the Axis powers as well as the internment of Japanese Americans by the thousands.[45] Participation in the war spurred capital investment and industrial capacity. Among the major combatants, the United States was the only nation to become richer—indeed, far richer—instead of poorer because of the war.[46] Allied conferences at Bretton Woods and Yalta outlined a new system of international organizations that placed the United States and Soviet Union at the center of world affairs. As victory was won in Europe, a 1945 international conference held in San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war.[47] The United States, having developed the first nuclear weapons, used them on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Japan surrendered on September 2, ending the war.[48]
Cold War and protest politics


Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech, 1963
The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for power after World War II during the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through NATO and the Warsaw Pact, respectively. While they engaged in proxy wars and developed powerful nuclear arsenals, the two countries avoided direct military conflict. Resisting leftist land and income redistribution projects around the world, the United States often supported authoritarian governments. American troops fought Communist Chinese forces in the Korean War of 1950–53. The House Un-American Activities Committee pursued a series of investigations into suspected leftist subversion, while Senator Joseph McCarthy became the figurehead of anticommunist sentiment.
The 1961 Soviet launch of the first manned spaceflight prompted President John F. Kennedy's call for the United States to be first to land "a man on the moon", achieved in 1969. Kennedy also faced a tense nuclear showdown with Soviet forces in Cuba. Meanwhile, the United States experienced sustained economic expansion. A growing civil rights movement, symbolized and led by African Americans such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Bevel, used nonviolence to confront segregation and discrimination. Following Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He also signed into law the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, expanded a proxy war in Southeast Asia into the unsuccessful Vietnam War. A widespread countercultural movement grew, fueled by opposition to the war, black nationalism, and the sexual revolution. Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and others led a new wave of feminism that sought political, social, and economic equality for women.
As a result of the Watergate scandal, in 1974 Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign, to avoid being impeached on charges including obstruction of justice and abuse of power. The Jimmy Carter administration of the late 1970s was marked by stagflation and the Iran hostage crisis. The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 heralded a rightward shift in American politics, reflected in major changes in taxation and spending priorities. His second term in office brought both the Iran-Contra scandal and significant diplomatic progress with the Soviet Union. The subsequent Soviet collapse ended the Cold War.
Contemporary era


The World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001
Under President George H. W. Bush, the United States took a lead role in the UN–sanctioned Gulf War. The longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history—from March 1991 to March 2001—encompassed the Bill Clinton administration and the dot-com bubble.[49] A civil lawsuit and sex scandal led to Clinton's impeachment in 1998, but he remained in office. The 2000 presidential election, one of the closest in American history, was resolved by a U.S. Supreme Court decision—George W. Bush, son of George H. W. Bush, became president.
On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City and The Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly three thousand people. In response, the Bush administration launched the global War on Terror, invading Afghanistan and removing the Taliban government and al-Qaeda training camps. Taliban insurgents continue to fight a guerrilla war. In 2002, the Bush administration began to press for regime change in Iraq on controversial grounds.[50][51] Forces of a so-called Coalition of the Willing invaded Iraq in 2003, ousting Saddam Hussein. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused severe destruction along much of the Gulf Coast, devastating New Orleans. In 2008, amid a global economic recession, the first African American president, Barack Obama, was elected. In 2010, major health care and financial system reforms were enacted.

Government, elections, and politics

Main articles: Federal government of the United States, state governments of the United States, and elections in the United States


The west front of the United States Capitol, which houses the United States Congress
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".[52] 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. In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government, federal, state, and local; the local government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is very rare at lower levels.


The south façade of the White House, home and workplace of the U.S. president
The federal government is composed of three branches:
Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
Executive: The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional.


The west front of the United States Supreme Court Building
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. As of the 2000 census, seven states have the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, has fifty-three. The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice. The president is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.
The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion; Nebraska uniquely has a unicameral legislature. The governor (chief executive) of each state is directly elected. Some state judges and cabinet officers are appointed by the governors of the respective states, while others are elected by popular vote.
The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus, and Article Three guarantees the right to a jury trial in all criminal cases. Amendments to the Constitution require the approval of three-fourths of the states. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review and any law ruled in violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was declared by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803).
Parties and ideology
Main articles: Politics of the United States and Political ideologies in the United States


Barack Obama taking the presidential oath of office from U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, January 20, 2009
The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote.
Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered center-right or conservative and the Democratic Party is considered center-left or liberal. The states of the Northeast and West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "blue states", are relatively liberal. The "red states" of the South and parts of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative.
The winner of the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama, is the 44th U.S. president. The 2010 midterm elections saw the Republican Party take control of the House and make gains in the Senate, where the Democrats retain the majority. In the 112th United States Congress, the Senate comprises 51 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats, and 47 Republicans; the House comprises 240 Republicans and 192 Democrats—three seats are vacant. There are 29 Republican and 20 Democratic state governors, as well as one independent.
Foreign relations and military

Main articles: Foreign policy of the United States and United States Armed Forces


British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, May 2010
The United States exercises global economic, political, and military influence. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and New York City hosts the United Nations Headquarters. It is a member of the G8, G20, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States.
The United States has a "special relationship" with the United Kingdom[53] and strong ties with Canada,[54] Australia,[55] New Zealand,[56] the Philippines,[57] Japan,[58] South Korea,[59] Israel,[60] and several European countries. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In 2008, the United States spent a net $25.4 billion on official development assistance, the most in the world. As a share of America's large gross national income (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of 0.18% ranked last among twenty-two donor states. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous.[61]


The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier
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 the Department of the Navy in time 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.[62]
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 eleven 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,[63] and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.[64] The extent of this global military presence has prompted some scholars to describe the United States as maintaining an "empire of bases".[65]
Total U.S. military spending in 2008, more than $600 billion, was over 41% of global military spending and greater than the next fourteen largest national military expenditures combined. The per capita spending of $1,967 was about nine times the world average; at 4% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top fifteen military spenders, after Saudi Arabia.[66] The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion, is a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion is proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.[67] As of September 2010, the United States is scheduled to have 96,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan, and 50,000 to Iraq.[68] As of July 25, 2011, the United States had suffered 4,474 military fatalities during the Iraq War,[69] and 1,680 during the War in Afghanistan.[70]
Economy

Main article: Economy of the United States
Economic indicators
Unemployment 9.1% (September 2011) [71]
GDP growth 1.3% (2Q 2011), 2.9% (2010) [72]
CPI inflation 3.8% (August 2010 – August 2011) [73]
Poverty 15.1% (2010) [74]
Public debt $14.70 trillion (September 15, 2011) [75]
Household net worth $58.1 trillion (1Q 2011) [76]
The United States has a capitalist mixed economy, which is fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity.[77] According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $15 trillion constitutes 23% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 20% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity (PPP).[3] Though larger than any other nation's, its national GDP is about 5% smaller than the GDP of the European Union at PPP in 2008. The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and sixth in GDP per capita at PPP.[3] The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency.
The United States is the largest importer of goods and third largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total U.S. trade deficit was $634.9 billion.[78] Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners.[79] In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country's largest export.[78] China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt.[80]


Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the world's largest bourse by dollar volume[81]
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%.[82] 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.[83] The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing.[84] Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field.[85] The United States is the third largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its largest importer.[86] It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. While agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP,[83] the United States is the world's top producer of corn[87] and soybeans.[88] Coca-Cola and McDonald's are the two most recognized brands in the world.[89]
In August 2010, the American labor force comprised 154.1 million people. With 21.2 million people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About 12% of workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe.[90] The World Bank ranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers.[91] In 2009, the United States had the third highest labor productivity per person in the world, behind Luxembourg and Norway. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the Netherlands.[92] Compared to Europe, U.S. property and corporate income tax rates are generally higher, while labor and, particularly, consumption tax rates are lower.[93]
Income and human development


A middle-class single-family home.
Main article: Income in the United States
See also: Income inequality in the United States, Poverty in the United States, and Affluence in the United States
According to the United States Census Bureau, the pretax median household income in 2010 was $49,445. The median ranged from $64,308 among Asian American households to $32,068 among African American households.[74] Using purchasing power parity exchange rates, the overall median is similar to the most affluent cluster of developed nations. After declining sharply during the middle of the 20th century, poverty rates have plateaued since the early 1970s, with 11–15% of Americans below the poverty line every year, and 58.5% spending at least one year in poverty between the ages of 25 and 75.[94][95] In 2010, 46.2 million Americans lived in poverty, a figure that rose for the fourth year in a row.[74]
The U.S. welfare state is one of the least extensive in the developed world, reducing both relative poverty and absolute poverty by considerably less than the mean for rich nations,[96][97] though combined private and public social expenditures per capita are relatively high.[98] While the American welfare state effectively reduces poverty among the elderly,[99] it provides relatively little assistance to the young.[100] A 2007 UNICEF study of children's well-being in twenty-one industrialized nations ranked the United States next to last.[101]
Between 1947 and 1979, real median income rose by over 80% for all classes, with the incomes of poor Americans rising faster than those of the rich.[102] However, income gains since then have been slower, less widely shared, and accompanied by increased economic insecurity.[102][103] Median household income has increased for all classes since 1980,[104] largely owing to more dual-earner households, the closing of the gender gap, and longer work hours, but the growth has been strongly tilted toward the very top.[96][102][105] Consequently, the share of income of the top 1%—21.8% of total reported income in 2005—has more than doubled since 1980,[106] leaving the United States with the greatest income inequality among developed nations.[96][107] The top 1% pays 27.6% of all federal taxes, while the top 10% pays 54.7%.[108] Wealth, like income, is highly concentrated: The richest 10% of the adult population possesses 69.8% of the country's household wealth, the second-highest share among developed nations.[109] The top 1% possesses 33.4% of net wealth.[110] In 2010 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 12th among 139 countries on its inequality-adjusted human development index (IHDI), eight places lower than in the standard HDI.[111]
Infrastructure

Science and technology


A photograph from Apollo 11 of Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon
Main article: Science and technology in the United States
See also: Technological and industrial history of the United States
The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late 19th century. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone. Thomas Edison's laboratory developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light bulb, and the first viable movie camera. Nikola Tesla pioneered alternating current, the AC motor, and radio. In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers, in 1903, made the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.[112]
The rise of Nazism in the 1930s led many European scientists, including Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi, to immigrate to the United States. During World War II, the Manhattan Project developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the Atomic Age. The Space Race produced rapid advances in rocketry, materials science, and computers. IBM, Apple Computer, and Microsoft refined and popularized the personal computer. The United States largely developed the ARPANET and its successor, the Internet. Today, 64% of research and development funding comes from the private sector.[113] The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and impact factor.[114] Americans possess high levels of technological consumer goods,[115] and almost half of U.S. households have broadband Internet access.[116] The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food, representing half of the world's biotech crops.[117]
Transportation


The Interstate Highway System, which extends 46,876 miles (75,440 km)[118]
Main article: Transportation in the United States
Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 13 million roads,[119] including the world's longest highway system.[120] The world's second largest automobile market,[121] the United States has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans.[122] About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks.[123] The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and nondrivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km).[124]
Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips,[125] ranking last in a survey of 17 countries.[126] While transport of goods by rail is extensive, relatively few people use rail to travel.[127] Light rail development has increased in recent years but, like high speed rail, is below European levels.[128] Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal.[129]
The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since 1978, while most major airports are publicly owned. The four largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are American; Southwest Airlines is number one.[130] Of the world's thirty busiest passenger airports, sixteen are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.[131]
Energy
See also: Energy policy of the United States
The United States energy market is 29,000 terawatt hours per year. Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons of oil equivalent per year, the 10th highest rate in the world. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources.[132] The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum.[133] For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part due to public perception in the wake of a 1979 accident. In 2007, several applications for new nuclear plants were filed.[134] The United States has 27% of global coal reserves.[135]
Education


Some 80% of U.S. college students attend public universities such as the University of Virginia, a World Heritage Site founded by Thomas Jefferson.[136]
Main article: Education in the United States
See also: Educational attainment in the United States and Higher education in the United States
American public education is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. Children are required in most states to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first grade) until they turn eighteen (generally bringing them through twelfth grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to leave school at sixteen or seventeen.[137] About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial or nonsectarian private schools. Just over 2% of children are homeschooled.[138]
The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. According to prominent international rankings, 13 or 15 American colleges and universities are ranked among the top 20 in the world.[139][140] There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. Of Americans twenty-five and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees.[141] The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%.[1][142] The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world.[143]
Health
See also: Health care in the United States, Health care reform in the United States, and Health insurance in the United States
The United States life expectancy of 78.3 years at birth is ranked 36th among 194 United Nations member states; while above the world average, it falls short of the overall figure in Western Europe.[144] Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 1987 to 2007, from 11th to 42nd in the world.[145] The infant mortality rate of 6.37 per thousand places the United States 42nd out of 221 countries, above average but behind all of Western Europe.[146] Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight;[147] the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century.[148] Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals.[149]


The Texas Medical Center in Houston, the world's largest medical center[150]
The U.S. health care system far outspends any other nation's, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP.[151] The World Health Organization ranked the U.S. health care system in 2000 as first in responsiveness, but 37th in overall performance.
Health care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts, and is not universal as in all other developed countries. In 2004, private insurance paid for 36% of personal health expenditures, private out-of-pocket payments covered 15%, and federal, state, and local governments paid for 44%.[152] In 2005, 46.6 million Americans, 15.9% of the population, were uninsured, 5.4 million more than in 2001. The main cause of this rise is the drop in the number of Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance.[153] The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue.[154] A 2009 study estimated that lack of insurance is associated with nearly 45,000 deaths a year.[155] In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate universal health insurance.[156] Federal legislation passed in early 2010 will create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014.
Crime and law enforcement

Main articles: Law enforcement in the United States and Crime in the United States
See also: Law of the United States, Incarceration in the United States, and Capital punishment in the United States
Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing broader services. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties. At the federal level and in almost every state, jurisprudence operates on a common law system. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state systems. Federal law prohibits a variety of drugs, although states sometimes pass laws in conflict with federal regulations. The smoking age is generally 18, and the drinking age is generally 21.
Among developed nations, the United States has above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence and homicide.[157] There were 5.0 murders per 100,000 persons in 2009, 10.4% fewer than in 2000.[158] Gun ownership rights are the subject of contentious political debate.
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate[159] and total prison population[160] in the world. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults.[161] The current rate is about seven times the 1980 figure,[162] and over three times the figure in Poland, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country with the next highest rate.[163] African American males are jailed at about six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males.[159] The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to sentencing and drug policies.[159][164]
Though it has been abolished in most Western nations, capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and in thirty-four states. Since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty after a four-year moratorium, there have been more than 1,000 executions.[165] In 2010, the country had the fifth highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen.[166] In 2007, New Jersey became the first state to legislatively abolish the death penalty since the 1976 Supreme Court decision, followed by New Mexico in 2009 and Illinois in 2011.[167]
Demographics

Main articles: Demographics of the United States and Americans


Largest ancestry groups by county, 2000
Race/Ethnicity (2010)[168]
White 72.4%
Black/African American 12.6%
Asian 4.8%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.9%
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander 0.2%
Other 6.2%
Two or more races 2.9%
Hispanic/Latino (of any race) 16.3%
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the country's population now to be 312,474,000,[2] including an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants.[169] The U.S. population almost quadrupled during the 20th century, from about 76 million in 1900.[170] The third most populous nation in the world, after China and India, the United States is the only industrialized nation in which large population increases are projected.[171] Even with a birth rate of 13.82 per 1,000, 30% below the world average, its population growth rate is positive at 1%, significantly higher than those of many developed nations.[172] In fiscal year 2010, over 1 million immigrants (most of whom entered through family reunification) were granted legal residence.[173] Mexico has been the leading source of new residents for over two decades; since 1998, China, India, and the Philippines have been in the top four sending countries every year.[174]
The United States has a very diverse population—thirty-one ancestry groups have more than one million members.[175] White Americans are the largest racial group; German Americans, Irish Americans, and English Americans constitute three of the country's four largest ancestry groups.[175] African Americans are the nation's largest racial minority and third largest ancestry group.[175] Asian Americans are the country's second largest racial minority; the two largest Asian American ethnic groups are Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.[175] In 2010, the U.S. population included an estimated 5.2 million people with some American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry (2.9 million exclusively of such ancestry) and 1.2 million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific island ancestry (0.5 million exclusively).[176] The census counted more than 19 million people of "Some Other Race" who were "unable to identify with any" of its five official race categories in 2010.[176]
The population growth of Hispanic and Latino Americans (the terms are officially interchangeable) is a major demographic trend. The 50.5 million Americans of Hispanic descent[176] are identified as sharing a distinct "ethnicity" by the Census Bureau; 64% of Hispanic Americans are of Mexican descent.[177] Between 2000 and 2010, the country's Hispanic population increased 43% while the non-Hispanic population rose just 4.9%.[168] Much of this growth is from immigration; as of 2007, 12.6% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, with 54% of that figure born in Latin America.[178] Fertility is also a factor; the average Hispanic woman gives birth to 3.0 children in her lifetime, compared to 2.2 for non-Hispanic black women and 1.8 for non-Hispanic white women (below the replacement rate of 2.1).[171] Minorities (as defined by the Census Bureau as all those beside non-Hispanic, non-multiracial whites) constitute 36.3% of the population in 2010,[179] and nearly 50% of children under age 1,[180] and are projected to constitute the majority by 2042.[181]
About 82% of Americans live in urban areas (including suburbs);[1] about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000.[182] In 2008, 273 incorporated places had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than 1 million residents, and four global cities had over 2 million (New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston).[183] There are fifty-two metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million.[184] Of the fifty fastest-growing metro areas, forty-seven are in the West or South.[185] The metro areas of Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix all grew by more than a million people between 2000 and 2008.[184]
Leading population centers view · talk · edit
Rank Core City Metro area pop.[186] Metropolitan Statistical Area Region[187]

New York


Los Angeles
1 New York 18,897,109 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA Northeast
2 Los Angeles 12,828,837 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA West
3 Chicago 9,461,105 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI MSA Midwest
4 Dallas 6,371,773 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA South
5 Philadelphia 5,965,343 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA Northeast
6 Houston 5,946,800 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA South
7 Washington, D.C. 5,582,170 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA South
8 Miami 5,564,635 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA South
9 Atlanta 5,268,860 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA South
10 Boston 4,552,402 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA Northeast
based on the 2010 U.S. Census

Language
Main article: Languages of the United States
See also: Language Spoken at Home (U.S. Census)
Languages (2007)[188]
English (only) 225.5 million
Spanish, incl. Creole 34.5 million
Chinese 2.5 million
French, incl. Creole 2.0 million
Tagalog 1.5 million
Vietnamese 1.2 million
German 1.1 million
Korean 1.1 million
English is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2007, about 226 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.[188][189] Some Americans advocate making English the country's official language, as it is in at least twenty-eight states.[5] Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii by state law.[190]
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.[191] Other states, such as California, mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms.[192] 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; Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico.
Religion


A Presbyterian church; most Americans identify as Christian.
Main article: Religion in the United States
See also: History of religion in the United States, Freedom of religion in the United States, Separation of church and state in the United States, and List of religious movements that began in the United States
The United States is officially a secular nation; the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids the establishment of any religious governance. In a 2002 study, 59% of Americans said that religion played a "very important role in their lives", a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation.[193] According to a 2007 survey, 78.4% of adults identified themselves as Christian,[194] down from 86.4% in 1990.[195] Protestant denominations accounted for 51.3%, while Roman Catholicism, at 23.9%, was the largest individual denomination. The study categorizes white evangelicals, 26.3% of the population, as the country's largest religious cohort;[194] another study estimates evangelicals of all races at 30–35%.[196] The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2007 was 4.7%, up from 3.3% in 1990.[195] The leading non-Christian faiths were Judaism (1.7%), Buddhism (0.7%), Islam (0.6%), Hinduism (0.4%), and Unitarian Universalism (0.3%).[194] The survey also reported that 16.1% of Americans described themselves as agnostic, atheist, or simply having no religion, up from 8.2% in 1990.[194][195]
Family structure
In 2007, 58% of Americans age 18 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married.[197] Women now mostly work outside the home and receive a majority of bachelor's degrees.[198]
Same-sex marriage is a contentious issue. Some states permit civil unions or domestic partnerships in lieu of marriage. Since 2003, several states have legalized gay marriage as the result of judicial or legislative action. Meanwhile, the federal government and a majority of states define marriage as between a man and a woman and/or explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage. Public opinion on the issue has shifted from general opposition in the 1990s to a statistical deadlock as of 2011.[199]
The U.S. teenage pregnancy rate, 79.8 per 1,000 women, is the highest among OECD nations.[200] Abortion policy was left to the states until the Supreme Court legalized the practice in 1972. The issue remains highly controversial, with public opinion closely divided for many years. Many states ban public funding of the procedure and restrict late-term abortions, require parental notification for minors, and mandate a waiting period. While the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than those of most Western nations.[201]

User avatar
Gilles
Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:56 pm
Location: Rimouski (Quebec)

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Gilles » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:48 pm

since they will play a show in USA in 2012, it would be cool if they book a tour across North America...

User avatar
HinatAArcticA
Sr. Member
Posts: 1552
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:21 am
Location: South Pole

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by HinatAArcticA » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:40 pm

Gilles wrote:since they will play a show in USA in 2012, it would be cool if they book a tour across North America...
Three countries?... I find that hard.
Yes, Mexico is still North America. Guatemala is the first country of "Central America"
No need to feel so afraid, colors last a lifetime and fade to gray...
Tony Kakko

User avatar
Gilles
Member
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:56 pm
Location: Rimouski (Quebec)

Re: Will Stratovarius ever come back to the USA?

Post by Gilles » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:58 am

well, i don't thinks they will tour here cause the date should be announced we are almost in November...

Post Reply