United States [ note 2 ] (in English , United States , whose abbreviation in English is US and in Spanish is EE. UU. ), [ Note 3 ] officially the United States of America (in English , The United States of America , whose official acronym in English is USA and its counterpart in Spanish is USA ), [ 11 ] is a sovereign country constituted in a constitutional federal republic made up of fifty states and a federal district. Most of the country is located in the middle of North America - where its 48 contiguous states and Washington DC , the federal district are located -, between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans , bordering Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, bordered by Canada to the east, separated from Russia to the west by the Bering Strait . The state of Hawaii is a Polynesian archipelagoin the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and it is the only one of its states that is not in America . The country has several unincorporated territories in the Caribbean Sea and in the Pacific .
With 9.83 million km², [ 4 ] and with more than 331 million inhabitants, the country is in third or fourth place by total area, in fifth by contiguous area and in third place by population . It is one of the nations with the most diversity of ethnicities and cultures, a product of large-scale immigration . [ 12 ]
It is the world's largest national economy in nominal terms, with an estimated GDP of $ 22.6 trillion (a quarter of nominal global GDP ) and a fifth of global GDP at purchasing power parity . [ 7 ] The country is the main capitalist force on the planet, in addition to being a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the 19th century and, since the beginning of the 20th century , the main industrial country. In PPP GDP , the US is the second largest economy, behind China . [ 13]
The continental United States was inhabited by various indigenous groups for thousands of years. This aboriginal population was reduced by disease and war after first contact with Europeans . The United States was founded by thirteen British colonies , along the Atlantic coast . On July 4, 1776, they issued the Declaration of Independence , which proclaimed their right to self- determination and the establishment of a cooperative union. The rogue states defeated the British Empire in the war of independence, the first successful colonial war conflict of an independence character. [ 14 ] The Constitution of the United States 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 , which comprises ten constitutional amendments that guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms, was ratified in 1791.
In the 19th century , the United States acquired territories from France , Spain , the United Kingdom , Mexico , Russia, and Japan , in addition to annexing the republics of Florida , Texas , California, and Hawaii . In the 1860s, disputes between the agrarian and conservative south and the industrial and progressive north over the rights of the states and the abolition of slavery sparked the Civil War.. The northern victory prevented a permanent division of the country and led to the end of legal slavery . By the 1890s, the national economy was the largest in the world [ 15 ] and the Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed its status as a military power. After World War II , it emerged as the first nuclear-armed country and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council .
During the Cold War , the United States fought in the Korean War and the Vietnam War , but avoided direct military conflict with the Soviet Union . The two superpowers competed in the Space Race , culminating in the 1969 space flight that brought humans to the Moon for the first time. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left it as the only international superpower . In the 21st century, the 9/11 attacks gave rise to the so-called war against terrorism., and the rise of China and the return of Russia lead a New Cold War , while events such as the economic crisis of 2008 , the election of Trump as president or the protests over the death of George Floyd caused internal social tensions.
In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller drew up a planisphere in which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America," in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Americo Vespucci . [ 18 ] The former British colonies first used the name of the modern country in the Declaration of Independence , the "unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America" adopted by the "representatives of the United States of America", 4 July 1776. [ 19 ] The current name was determined on November 15, 1777, when the Second Continental Congressapproved the Articles of Confederation , which stipulate, "The name of this Confederation shall be" The United States of America. " " Columbia, " a once popular name for the United States, is derived from the name Christopher Columbus and still remains in the name of the District of Columbia . Occasionally it is called, incorrectly, "United States of America", resulting in a confusion in its name.
The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is the terms American (or American in Honduras and Mexico). [ 11 ] Gringo and Yanqui are also used , which may or may not have a derogatory nuance, depending on the use, the context, and the tone of the voice. [ 20 ] "North American" is sometimes used as a synonym for "American", but it should be borne in mind that the North American region is made up of Canada, the United States, and most of Mexico, up to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.. The gentilicio "American" should be avoided to refer exclusively to the natives of the United States [ 11 ] because this word includes all the inhabitants of the American continent . For this reason, the recommended name is the word "American." To write abbreviated the name of this country, the abbreviation «EE. USA » (United States), [ 21 ] or the acronym "USA" (United States of America). Although frequent, in Spanish it is incorrect to use the English acronym "USA". [ 11 ]
Native Americans and early European settlements
It is commonly thought that the indigenous peoples of the continental United States, including Alaska Natives , migrated from Asia between 12,000 and 40,000 years ago. [ 22 ] Some, such as the Mississippian culture , developed advanced agriculture, great architectural works, and hierarchical societies. After Europeans began to settle in America, millions of Native Americans died due to epidemics of diseases brought from Europe, such as smallpox . [ 23 ]
In 1492, the explorer Christopher Columbus , sponsored by the Spanish Crown , arrived from Europe to various islands in the Caribbean , making the first contact with the indigenous peoples. On April 2, 1513, the Spanish conqueror Juan Ponce de León landed in what he called La Florida , the first documented European arrival in the United States. Spanish settlements in the region were followed by others in today's southwestern United States . The fur traders French settled in New France , around the area of the Great Lakes; eventually France would claim much of the interior of the United States, up to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico . The first successful English settlements were the Virginia Colony at Jamestown in 1607 and the Pilgrim- founded Colony of Plymouth in 1620. In 1628, the establishment of the province of Massachusetts Bay led to a new wave of immigration: by 1634, New England was inhabited by about 10,000 Puritans . Between the 1610s and the war of independence, about 50,000 convicts were sent from the Old Continent to the colonies. [ 24 ]From 1614, the Dutch settled along the lower Hudson River , founding New Amsterdam on the island of Manhattan .
In 1674, the Netherlands ceded its territory to England and the province of the New Netherlands was renamed New York , making it the most important city in the United States since the mid-19th century. Many newcomers, especially in the South, were hired as servants, such that about two-thirds of all immigrants who came to Virginia between 1630 and 1680 worked as servants. [ 25 ] By the end of that century, African slaves became the main source of bonded labor. With the division of the Carolinas in 1729 and the colonization of GeorgiaIn 1732, the Thirteen British Colonies were established , which would eventually become the United States of America. All had an elected local government, attached to republicanism , in addition to the fact that the slave trade was legalized . With high birth rates , low death rates, and constant immigration, the colonial population grew rapidly. The revivalist Christian movement of the 1730s and 1740s, known as "the Great Awakening," fueled interest in topics such as religion and freedom of worship. In the Franco-Indian War , British forces seized Canada from himto France, but the French-speaking population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. Excluding the Native Americans (popularly known as 'Indians') who were eventually displaced against their will, in 1770 the Thirteen Colonies had a population of 2.6 million, about a third of that of the United Kingdom, although nearly one in five Americans was a black slave. [ 26 ] However, the American colonists had no representation in the UK Parliament .
Independence and expansion
Tensions between the colonists and the British during the 1760s and 1770s led to the War of Independence , which lasted from 1775 to 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Continental Congress , meeting in Philadelphia , established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington . Proclaiming that "all men are born equal" and endowed with "certain inalienable rights," Congress passed the Declaration of Independence , drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson , on July 4, 1776 . [ 27 ] Annually, on this date theIndependence Day of the United States . Thus, the United States became the first American nation to declare its independence. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation established a weak confederal government , which operated until 1789.
After the British defeat by American forces, assisted by the French and Spanish, the United Kingdom recognized its independence and sovereignty over the territory east of the Mississippi River . A constitutional convention was organized in 1787 by those who wanted to establish a strong national government. The Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1788 and a year later, George Washington became the first president . The Bill of Rights , which prohibited the federal restriction of human rights and guaranteed a series of measures for their legal protection, was adopted in 1791. 
With the new autonomy, attitudes towards slavery were changing; a clause in the Constitution protected the slave trade until 1808. The northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the southern slave states as defenders of the "peculiar institution." The "Second Great Awakening", which began around 1800, made the Evangelical Churches one of the main forces behind several of the reform movements of the time, including abolitionism . [ 29 ]
In 1803, the purchase of Louisiana from France under President Thomas Jefferson nearly doubled the size of the nation, [ 30 ] at the same time that the Anglo-American War of 1812 further strengthened nationalism among the population. Defeated by the United Kingdom and after his second and final abdication to the French throne in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte tried to escape to the United States, then a rival of the United Kingdom, but was captured by British forces and deported to Saint Helena. In 1819, a series of military incursions into Florida forced Spain to relinquishEast and other Gulf Coast territories. [ 30 ] The Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplifies the Indian Removal policy that stripped several indigenous peoples of their lands. The United States annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845, during which time the concept of Manifest Destiny became popular. [ 31 ] In 1846, the signing of the Oregon Treaty with the United Kingdom, granted the country the current Northwest Territories . [ 30 ] Two years later, the victory in the war against Mexicoresulted in the cession of California and most of the present-day Southwest . [ 30 ] The gold rush of 1848 and 1849 further stimulated westward migration, and the new railroads facilitated the relocation of settlers and increased conflict with Native Americans. For half a century, up to 40 million American bison were slaughtered for their skins and meat to facilitate the spread of the railroads. The loss of the buffalo, a major food source for the plains Indians, was a fatal blow to many native cultures. [ 32 ]
Civil war and industrialization
Tensions between pro-slavery and abolitionist states, together with increasing disagreements in the relationship between the federal and state governments, led to violent conflicts due to the expansion of slavery into the new territories. Abraham Lincoln , candidate of the Republican Party and a great abolitionist, was elected president in 1860. Before he took office, the seven slave states declared their secession from the Union, forming the Confederate States of America . The federal government declared that secession was illegal and soon the secessionists attacked Fort Sumter , thus initiating the American civil war.on April 12, 1861. [ 33 ]
Following the Union victory on April 9, 1865, three amendments were added to the constitution to guarantee the freedom of the nearly four million African Americans who had been slaves, making them citizens and giving them the right to vote . [ 34 ] The war and its resolution resulted in a substantial increase in the powers of the federal government. [ 35 ]
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln , the time known as Reconstruction took place , in which policies aimed at the reintegration and reconstruction of the southern states were developed while guaranteeing the rights of the newly freed slaves. The controversial presidential elections of 1876 were resolved by the Compromise of 1877 , by which the Southern Democrats recognized Rutherford B. Hayes as president in exchange for him withdrawing the troops that were still deployed in Louisiana , South Carolina and Florida.. From 1876 begin to apply the so - called laws of Jim Crow , a policy of apartheid which lasted until 1965. [ 36 ]
In the north, unprecedented urbanization and an influx of immigrants accelerated the industrialization of the country. The wave of immigration, which lasted until 1929, provided manpower for businesses, in turn transformed the culture. High tariff protection, the creation of national infrastructures, and new banking regulations encouraged industrial growth. In 1867 , Alaska was purchased from Russia, completing the country's continental expansion. [ 30 ] The Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 was the last major armed conflict against Native American Indians. In 1893, the indigenous monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaiiit was overthrown in a coup led by US citizens; the archipelago was annexed to the country in 1898. [ 30 ] Victory in the Spanish-American War that same year proved that the United States was a world power and led to the annexation of Puerto Rico and the Philippines . [ 37 ] The Philippines acceded to independence in 1946, while Puerto Rico continues to be a free associated state .
World War I, Great Depression and World War II
When the First World War broke out in Europe in 1914, the United States declared itself neutral. Subsequently, the Americans sympathized with the British and French, despite the fact that many citizens, especially those from Ireland and Germany , opposed the intervention. [ 38 ] In 1917 they joined the Allies , contributing to the defeat of the Central Powers . Reluctant to participate in European affairs, the Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles (1919) , which established the League of Nations , pursuing a policy of unilateralism, which bordered on theisolationism . [ 39 ] In 1920, the women's rights movement won the approval of a constitutional amendment to grant women suffrage . [ 28 ]
For most of the 1920s, the country enjoyed a period of prosperity, reducing the balance of payments imbalance while factory farm profits grew. This period, known as the Roaring Twenties , culminated in the 1929 crisis that triggered the Great Depression . After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal , a series of policies that increased government intervention in the economy. [ 40 ] From 1920 to 1933 a dry law known as The Prohibition was established. [ 41 ] The Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s left several farming communities impoverished and spurred a new wave of migration to the west coast. [ 42 ]
The United States, officially neutral during the early stages of World War II , began supplying supplies to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease Program . On December 7, 1941, the country joined the Allied struggle against the Axis Powers , after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor . World War II boosted the economy by providing investment capital and jobs, driving many women into the job market. Of the leading combatants, the United States was the only nation that became rich from the war. [ 43 ] The conferences inBretton Woods and Yalta created a new system of international organization that placed the country and the Soviet Union at the center of world affairs. In 1945, when the end of World War II in Europe , an international conference in San Francisco drafted the Charter of the United Nations , which came into force after the war. [ 44 ] After having developed the first nuclear weapon , the government decided to use it in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of that same year. Japansurrendered on September 2, ending the war. [ 45 ]
Cold War and political protests
In the Cold War , the United States and the Soviet Union competed after World War II, dominating Europe's military affairs through NATO and the Warsaw Pact . The former promoted liberal democracy and capitalism , while the latter extended communism and a government- planned economy . Both supported various dictatorships and participated in subsidiary wars . Between 1950 and 1953, American troops fought Chinese Communist forces in the Korean War . [ 46] Since the break with the USSR and the start of the Cold War and until 1957,McCarthyismdeveloped within the United States, also called Second Red Fear, in which the State unleashed a wave of political repression and a campaign of fear against thosecommunistsor simplysuspectedof being, which some authors point out as typical of atotalitarian state. Hundreds of people were arrested, including dozens of celebrities, and between 10,000 and 12,000 people lost their jobs. [ 47 ] The persecution ended when the courts declared it unconstitutional. [ 48 ]
In 1961, the Soviet launch of the first manned spacecraft prompted President John F. Kennedy to propose that the country be the first to send " a man to the moon ", a feat achieved in 1969. [ 49 ] Kennedy also faced a tense nuclear conflict with Soviet forces in Cuba , while the economy grew and expanded steadily. A growing civil rights movement , represented and led by African Americans such as Rosa Parks , Martin Luther King and James Bevel , used thenon-violence to address segregation and discrimination . [ 50 ] After Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed during the term of President Lyndon B. Johnson . Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon , led a subsidiary civil war in Southeast Asia to the unsuccessful Vietnam War . [ 46 ] A widespread countercultural movement grew, fueled by theopposition to war , black nationalism and the sexual revolution . A new wave of feminist movements also emerged , led by Betty Friedan , Gloria Steinem, and other women seeking political, social, and economic equity.
In 1974, as a result of the Watergate scandal , Nixon became the first president to resign, to avoid being removed from office on charges such as obstruction of justice and abuse of power; he was succeeded by Vice President Gerald Ford . [ 51 ] Jimmy Carter's administration in the 1970s was marked by stagflation and the hostage crisis in Iran . The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 heralded a shift in American policy , which was reflected in major reforms in taxes and fiscal spending.. His second term brought with it the Iran-Contra scandal and significant diplomatic progress with the Soviet Union. The subsequent Soviet collapse ended the Cold War.
Under President George HW Bush , the country took on a global hegemonic leadership role, as in the Gulf War (1991). The longest economic expansion in modern American history, from March 1991 to March 2001, encompassed the Bill Clinton administration and the dot-com bubble . [ 52 ] A civil lawsuit and a sex scandal led to Clinton's impeachment in 1998, although she managed to finish her term. The 2000 presidential election , one of the most competitive in American history, was resolved by a Supreme Court decision.: George W. Bush , son of George HW Bush, became president, although it obtained fewer votes than his rival A Gore . [ 53 ] . Which has only happened 3 times in history, and this is because of the American ( collegiate ) voting system .
On September 11, 2001, terrorists from the Al-Qaeda group attacked the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City (which were destroyed) and the Pentagon near Washington DC, in a series of attacks that ended the life of almost three thousand people. In response, the Bush administration launched the " war on terror ." In late 2001, US forces invaded Afghanistan , overthrew the Taliban government, and destroyed Al-Qaeda training grounds. Taliban insurgents continue to fight a guerrilla war. In 2002 Bush began pushing for regime change in Iraq . [ 54 ] [ 55 ] With the lack of support from NATO without an explicit UN mandate for military intervention, Bush organized the coalition of the willing ; Coalition forces quickly invaded Iraq in 2003 and toppled dictator Saddam Hussein . The following year, Bush was reelected as the most voted president in an election .
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina , which would end up being the deadliest natural disaster in national history, caused severe destruction along the Gulf Coast: the city of New Orleans was devastated, [ 56 ] with 1,833 deaths.
On November 4, 2008, in the midst of a global economic recession , Barack Obama was elected president, having been the first African-American to hold office. In May 2011, US special forces managed to kill Osama bin Laden , hiding in Pakistan. The following year, Barack Obama was reelected. Under his second term, he led the war against the Islamic State and diplomatic relations with Cuba were reestablished.
On November 8, 2016, tycoon Donald Trump for the Republican Party he defeated the former first lady Hillary Clinton for the presidency in an unusual election [ 57 ] and whose plans have been described by political analysts as a populist, protectionist and nationalist, sworn in on January 20, 2017.
On November 7, 2020, Joe Biden wins the presidential election, defeating Donald Trump who did not win presidential re-election. It is the second time that an American president has not reached re-election after George HW Bush. Biden was sworn to office on January 20, 2021. On January 6, 2021, supporters of outgoing President Trump broke into the United States Capitol in an unsuccessful effort to stop the vote count of the College Presidential Election [ 59 ] .
government and politics
The United States is the oldest federation in the world. It is a constitutional , democratic and representative republic , "in which the mandate of the majority is regulated by the rights of minorities, protected by law." [ 60 ] The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances , defined by the Constitution , which serves as the country's supreme legal document. [ 61 ] In the US federalist system, citizens are generally subject to three levels of government.: federal, state and local; local government duties are commonly divided between county and municipal governments . In almost all cases, officials of the executive and legislative branches are elected by direct vote of the citizens of the district.
The federal government is divided into three branches of power: [ 61 ]
- Legislative power : The bicameral Congress , made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives . Their function is to create federal laws, make declarations of war, approve treaties, administer public funds and has the power of impeachment , through which they can remove government officials.
- Executive Branch : The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, can veto bills before they become official laws, and appoints cabinet members (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
- Judiciary : The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate, interpret laws and suppress those deemed unconstitutional.
The House of Representatives has 435 elected members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. [ 61 ] The places within the chamber are distributed among the states according to their population every ten years. According to 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, as each state has two senators, elected for a six-year term; one third of the seats in the Senate are elected every two years. [ 61 ] The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice, has nine members, who serve permanently. [ 61]
The president serves a term of four years and may be reelected to the position no more than once. The president is not elected by direct suffrage , but by an indirect system of polling stations , in which the determining votes are prorated by state. [ 61 ] A state can only provide a certain number of votes according to the number of congressmen it has within the legislative branch: senators (two for each state) and representatives (which varies according to the population of each state); giving a total of 538 members. The country's two- party system allows a candidate for the presidency, either a Republican or a Democrat, I only need 270 votes to ensure victory. [ 62 ]
The governments of the fifty states are structured more or less similarly, although Nebraska is the only one with a unicameral legislature . [ 63 ] The governor (chief executive) of each state is elected by direct suffrage. Some state judges and cabinet officials are appointed by the governors of the respective states, while others are elected by popular vote.
All laws and government procedures are subject to judicial review, and any laws that are against the Constitution are annulled. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the state governments. [ 61 ] The Article I protects the right to the "great resource" of habeas corpus [ 28 ] and Article III guarantees the right to trial by jury in all criminal cases. [ 28 ] The amendments to the Constitutionthey require the approval of three-quarters 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 for individual guarantees. [ 28 ]
The United States exercises global economic, political, and military influence. He is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council , in addition to the fact that the United Nations Headquarters is located in New York City. He is also a member of the G8 , the G-20 and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development . The vast majority of countries have an embassy or a consulate in Washington DC or another major city in the country. In turn, almost every country in the world has a US diplomatic mission . [ 64 ]However, North Korea , Bhutan , Sudan, and the ROC (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the nation.
It also has strong ties to the United Kingdom , Canada , Australia , New Zealand , Japan , South Korea, and Israel . He works closely with his colleagues at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on military and security issues, and with his neighbors through the Organization of American States and international treaties such as the American Free Trade Agreement trilateral agreement. North with Canada and Mexico . In 2012, the United States spent a net $ 30.44 billion onOfficial development aid , the highest amount in the world, although in terms of percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), its contribution of 0.19% ranked last among the twenty-three donor nations. In contrast, US private companies are relatively more generous. [ 65 ] [ 66 ]
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 Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the Army , Navy , Marine Corps, and Air Force . The Coast Guard is administered by the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and by the Department of the Navyin time of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million active members. The reserves and the National Guard bring the total number of troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employs approximately 700,000 civilians, not including contractors . [ 67 ]
The military service is voluntary, but in wartime the state can impose recruiting through a selective service system, called "Selective Service System." [ 68 ] As the world's great military power, the United States armed forces possess the most advanced machines of war. It has thousands of airplanes, hundreds of boats, battle tanks, intercontinental missiles ( ICBM ), thousands of nuclear warheads and has ten active aircraft carriers in the Navy; In addition, it has permanent naval air forces on the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean - Fleet Forces Command , Pacific - Pacific Fleet- and the Persian Gulf - Fifth Fleet .
The progressive installation of the American armed forces on a large scale began with the division and occupation of Germany in 1945, expanded with the cold war in its countries of influence, and continues in force.
The army operates around 870 bases and facilities abroad [ 69 ] and maintains garrisons of more than 100 active military personnel in 28 different countries. [ 70 ] The scope of this global military presence has led some authors to describe the country as maintaining a "base empire." [ 71 ] [ 72 ]
Military expenditures in 2020 were $ 740.5 billion, [ 73 ] approximately 37.5% of world military spending [ 74 ] and higher than the combined expenditures of the next fourteen countries with the largest armies . Per capita spending was $ 1967, about nine times the world average; occupying 4.4% of GDP [ 75 ] and 18% of the federal budget. [ 76 ]The Defense Department's base budget for 2010 - set at $ 533.8 billion - increased 4% in 2009 and 80% more than in 2001; An additional $ 130 billion will be earmarked for military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan . [ 77 ] As of May 2010, there were 94,000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan and 92,000 in Iraq. [ 78 ] As of June 2010, the US military had suffered 4,400 casualties during the war in Iraq [ 79 ] and 1,087 during the war in Afghanistan. [ 80 ]
According to available information, the United States has the largest intelligence services in the world, which are grouped and coordinated around the so-called Intelligence Community - United States Intelligence Community (IC). Seventeen federal intelligence agencies make up this community; These agencies are generally subordinate to the Department of Defense or the Department of Justice , while others are considered an independent federal agency , therefore they are only accountable to the National Director of Intelligence and the President of the United States.. Community agencies —both military and civilian— are engaged in intelligence activities related to foreign affairs and national security and have hundreds of thousands of employees —107,035 as of mid-2013, the latest known figure— [ 81 ] and confidential budgets that in 2013 alone totaled $ 52.6 billion. [ 81 ] One of the agencies that compose it is the famous Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). [ 82 ]
In 2010, according to information from The Washington Post , 1,271 government organizations, 1,931 private companies, and 854,000 people with access to top-secret information and spaces were engaged in counterterrorism , intelligence, and national security work in the United States . [ 83 ]
Regarding human rights , regarding membership in the seven bodies of the International Bill of Human Rights , which include the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the United States of America has signed or ratified:
United States of America
|CESCR||CCPR [ 86 ]||CERD [ 87 ]||CED||CEDAW [ 89 ]||CAT||CRC||MWC||EARL [ 93 ]|
|Signed and ratified, signed, but not ratified, neither signed nor ratified, No information, has agreed to sign and ratify the body in question, but also recognizes the competence to receive and process individual communications from the competent bodies.|
The United States is a federal union of fifty states. The original thirteen states were the successors to the Thirteen colonies that rebelled against the British Empire . Shortly after independence, three new states were created from existing ones: Kentucky from Virginia ; Tennessee from North Carolina and Maine from Massachusetts . Most of the other states were created from territories obtained through war or government purchase. Vermont , Texas and Hawaiithey are the exception: each of them was an independent republic before joining the Union. During the Civil War , West Virginia was separated from Virginia. The most recent state is Hawaii, which achieved state recognition on August 21, 1959. The states do not have the right to secede from the Union.
States make up much of the US territory; The other two areas that are considered an integral part of the country are the District of Columbia , the federal district where the capital Washington DC is located , and Palmyra Atoll , an uninhabited but incorporated territory, located in the Pacific Ocean. The United States also has 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. Those who were born in those territories (except American Samoa) have US citizenship. US citizens residing in the territories have many of the rights and responsibilities of citizens residing in the states; however, they are generally exempt from paying federal taxes, cannot vote in presidential elections, and are only represented as observers in Congress. [ 94 ]
The area of the continental United States is approximately 7,700,000 km². Alaska , which is separated from the continental United States by Canada , is the largest state in the country, at 1,500,000 km². Hawaii occupies an archipelago located in the central Pacific , southwest of North America , which covers just over 16,000 km². [ 95 ] After Russia and Canada , it is the third or fourth largest country in the world by total area (land and water), ranked just above or below China.. The list varies depending on whether you consider the disputed territories between China and India and how the total size of the United States is calculated: The World Factbook of the CIA considers 9,833,517 km², [ 4 ] Statistics Division The United Nations estimates 9,629,091 km², [ 96 ] and the Encyclopedia Britannica stipulates 9,522,055 km². [ 97 ] Including only the land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and Canada, just ahead of China. [ 98 ]
The national territory has multiple landforms and geographical features. As you move inland, the coastal plain of the Atlantic coast gives way to deciduous forest and the Piedmont Plateau . The Appalachians separate the eastern shoreline of the Great Lakes from the prairies of the Midwest . The Mississippi River - Missouri , the fourth longest river system in the world, runs north-south through the center of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of the Great Plainsit extends to the west, until it is interrupted by a highland region in the southeast. The Rocky Mountains , on the western edge of the Great Plains, span the entire country from north to south, reaching altitudes above 4,300 meters in Colorado . Further west are the Great Basin and deserts, such as the Mojave , Sonoran, and Chihuahua deserts . The Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Cascade Range lie near the Pacific coast. At 6,194 meters above sea level, Mount McKinley in Alaska is the highest point in the country. the volcanoesAssets are common throughout Alaska and the Aleutian Islands , plus Hawaii consists of only volcanic islands . The supervolcano located below Yellowstone National Park in the Rocky Mountains is the largest volcanic form on the continent. [ 99 ]
| Mar de Bering |
( Russia )
|Pacific Ocean||Atlantic Ocean|
|Mexico||Mexico||Gulf of mexico|
Due to its large size and geographic variety, the country has most types of climate . 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 and the Hawaiian Islands have a tropical climate . The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid , while much of the western mountains have an alpine climate . The climate is arid in the Great Basin and the deserts of the southwest, it is Mediterranean on the California coast and oceanicon the south coast of Alaska, Oregon and Washington . Most of the Alaskan territory has a subarctic or polar climate . Extreme weather events are not uncommon — the coastal states of the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes develop within the country, primarily in the Tornado Alley area of the Midwest. [ 100 ]
Flora and fauna
The United States is considered a megadiverse country : Some 17,000 species of vascular plants live in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and more than 1,800 species of flowering plants can be found in Hawaii alone, few of which grow on the continent. [ 101 ] The country is home to more than 400 species of mammals , 750 species of birds, and 500 species of reptiles and amphibians . [ 102 ] More than 91,000 different kinds of insects have also been discovered here . [ 103 ]
The Endangered Species Act passed in 1973 protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats , which are overseen by the US Fish and Wildlife Service . In total, the federal government owns 28.8% of the total surface of the country. [ 104 ] Most of this percentage is made up of the fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other protected natural areas managed by federal and state authorities. [ 105 ] Of the rest of the government lands, some are rented for the extraction ofoil and natural gas , for mining , agriculture or livestock ; only 2.4% is used for military purposes. [ 104 ]
The United States economy is a mixed capitalist economy , characterized by abundant natural resources , developed infrastructure, and high productivity. [ 106 ] According to the International Monetary Fund , its GDP of 15.7 trillion USD constitutes 24% of the Gross World Product and about 21% of it in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). [ 7 ] This is the largest GDP in the world, although in 2008 it was 5% less than the GDP (PPP) of the European Union . The country has the eleventh nominal GDP per capitaand the sixth highest GDP (PPP) per capita in the world. [ 7 ] The country is second in the Global Competitiveness Index 2010. [ 107 ]
The United States is the largest importer of goods internationally and the third in terms of exports, although per capita exports are relatively low for a developed country. In 2008, the total US trade balance was $ 696 billion. [ 108 ] In 2009, automobiles were the main exported and imported products. [ 109 ] Canada , China , Mexico , Germany and Japan are its main trading partners. [ 110 ]The latter is the one with the highest public debt with the United States, since at the beginning of 2010 it exceeded China's debt with 34.2 billion dollars. [ 111 ]
|Exports [ 112 ]||Imports [ 113 ]|
|Canada||16.7 %||China||18 %|
|Mexico||15.6 %||Mexico||15.1 %|
|China||6.82 %||Canada||13.2 %|
|Japan||4.64 %||Japan||5.64 %|
|Germany||3.96 %||Germany||5.49 %|
In 2010, the private sector made up an estimated 55.3% of the US economy , federal government activities accounted for 24.1%, and state and local government activity accounted for the remaining 20.6%. [ 114 ] Although the US economy is post-industrial , with the service sector contributing 67.8% of GDP, the nation continues to be an industrial powerhouse. [ 115 ] In the field of business, the leading activity by their income is the trade to the wholesale and retail to the; by net income is the industry , [ 116] Being thechemical industrythe most important. [ 117 ] The United States is the third largestoilproducerin the world, as well as the largest importer of this product. [ 118 ] [ 119 ] [ 120 ] It is also the number one producer ofelectrical energyandnuclear energy, as well asliquefied natural gas,sulfur,phosphatesandsalt. Whileagriculturerepresents less than 1% of GDP,[ 115 ] the country is the largest producer ofcorn [ 121 ] andsoybeans. [ 122 ] All this production contributes to theNew York Stock Exchangebeing the largest in the world. [ 123 ] In turn, the US companiesCoca-Cola,McDonaldsandMicrosoftare the most recognized brands in the world. [ 124 ]
In the third quarter of 2009, the American workforce was 154.4 million people. Of these employees, 81% had a job in the service sector. With 22.4 million people, the government is the main field of employment. [ 125 ] About 12% of workers are unionized , compared to 30% in Western Europe . [ 126 ] The World Bank ranks the United States first for ease of hiring and liquidating workers. [ 127 ] Between 1973 and 2003, the average American's work year grew by 199 hours.[ 128 ] Partly as a consequence, the country sustains the highest labor productivity in the world. In 2008, it alsotopped the listin hourly productivity, surpassingNorway,France,BelgiumandLuxembourg, which had outperformed the United States for most of the previous decade. [ 129 ] Compared to Europe, corporate and property taxes are higher, while consumer taxes are lower. [ 130 ]
Being a developed country, the United States has an advanced transportation infrastructure: 6,465,799 km of highways , 226,427 km of railways , 15,095 airports, and 41,009 km of waterways. [ 132 ] Most of its inhabitants use the car as their main means of transportation. In 2003 there were 759 cars for every 1000 people, compared to 472 for every 1000 inhabitants in the European Union . [ 133 ] More than 40% of personal vehicles are vans , SUVs, or light trucks. [ 134] The average American adult (including drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes in a car each day, traveling a distance of 47 km. [ 135 ]
The civil airline industry is privately owned, while most airports are publicly owned. The three largest airlines in the world are American capital: Southwest Airlines , American Airlines and Delta Air Lines . [ 136 ] Of the thirty airports with the highest passenger traffic in the world, sixteen are in the country, the busiest of all being the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta . [ 137 ] While the transport of goods by railIt is very important, relatively few people use this means of transport to travel, within or between urban areas. [ 138 ] Only 9% of people use public transport to go to work, a very low level compared to 38.8% in Europe. [ 139 ] Bicycle use is also minimal, well below European levels. [ 140 ]
The country's total energy consumption is 3,873 billion kWh per year, which is equivalent to a per capita consumption of 7.8 tons of oil per year. [ 132 ] In 2005, 40% of this energy came from oil , 23% from coal and 22% from natural gas ; the rest came from nuclear power plants and renewable energy sources . [ 141 ] The United States is the largest consumer of oil and natural gas: it uses 19.5 million barrels of oil and 627.2 billion m³ of natural gas annually . [ 142 ] [ 143] On the other hand, the country contains 27% of the world's coal reserves. [ 144 ] For decades,nuclear powerhas played a limited role in energy production compared to most developed countries, due in part to public reaction after theThree Mile Island accident. However, in 2007 the government received multiple requests for the construction of new nuclear power plants, which could mean a considerable decrease in the consumption of fossil fuels [ 145 ] and a change inenergy policy.
In the last decennial census of the country (2020), the figure rises to 331,449,281 inhabitants in April 2020 according to the National Census Office . [ 146 ] This figure includes an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants , [ 147 ] but excludes the population of five unincorporated territories ( Puerto Rico , US Virgin Islands , Guam , American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands ) . This makes it the third most populous nation in the world, after China and India.. Furthermore, the United States is the only industrialized nation where a significant increase in population is expected. [ 148 ] With a birth rate of 13.82 babies per 1,000 inhabitants (30% below the world average), its population growth rate is 0.98%, significantly higher than those of Western Europe, Japan and Korea. South. [ 149 ] In fiscal year 2009, 1.1 million immigrants obtained legal residency. [ 150 ] Mexico has been the main country of origin for new residents for more than two decades; since 1998, China, India and the Philippinesthey have also excelled in this regard every year. [ 151 ]
The United States has a very diverse population : thirty-one different ethnic groups have more than a million representatives. [ 152 ] The American targets are the largest ethnic group; the German-American , the hiberno-Americans and Anglo - Americans constitute three of the four largest ethnic groups in the country. [ 152 ] The African Americans are the " minority most important racial" and the third largest ethnic group. [ 152 ] [ 153 ]The Asians are the second "minority" racial more presence; Within this group, groups of Chinese and Filipino origin stand out . [ 152 ] In 2008, the population included an estimated 6 million people of indigenous descent, either from an Amerindian (1.8 million), Alaskan (3.1 million), Hawaiian (0.5 million), or a Pacific island ( 0.6 million). [ 153 ]
The growth of the population of Latin American origin is an important demographic trend. According to the National Census Bureau, the 46.9 million descendants of Latinos or Hispanics [ 153 ] are a heterogeneous group who share a different " ethnicity ", thus 64% of Hispanics are of Mexican descent . [ 154 ] Between 2000 and 2008, the Hispanic population increased 32%, while the non-Hispanic population increased only 4.3%. [ 153 ]Much of this growth is due to immigration, for example, in 2007 12.6% of the US population was born abroad, of which 54% were born in Latin America . [ 155 ] The fertility rate is also a factor: the average Hispanic woman gives birth to three children, while black women have 2.2 and white women 1.8. [ 148 ] The minority (defined by the Bureau of the Census as those non - Hispanic whites or) constitute 34% of the population and is expected to be the majority to 2042. [ 156 ]
About 82% of Americans live in urban areas (as defined by the Census Bureau, these areas include the suburbs ); [ 132 ] about half reside in cities with a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants. [ 157 ] In 2008, 273 localities had more than 100,000 people, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four global cities had more than two million residents ( New York , Los Angeles , Chicago, and Houston ). [ 158 ]There are fifty-two metropolitan areas with more than one million inhabitants. [ 159 ] Of the fifty fastest growing metropolitan areas, forty-seven are in the west and south. [ 160 ] The metropolitan areas of Dallas , Houston , Atlanta and Phoenix increased their population by more than one million people between 2000 and 2008. [ 159 ]
The public education US is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education . Children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven (usually kindergarten or first grade of primary education ) until they turn eighteen (generally through twelfth grade, the end of the high school ); some states allow students to drop out of school at the age of sixteen or seventeen. [ 162 ] About 12% of children are enrolled in private schools, while 2% receivehomeschooling . [ 163 ] There are multiple private and public institutions of higher education , as well as community colleges with open admission policies. Of those over the age of 25, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended college , 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned a graduate degree . [ 164 ] The literacy rate is approximately 99%. [ 132 ]The UN assigns the country an education index of 0.97, the 12th highest in the world. [ 165 ] According to UNESCO , the United States is the second country with the most higher education institutions in the world, with a total of 5,758 and an average of more than 15 for each state. [ 166 ] The country also has the largest number of university students in the world, amounting to 14,261,778, that is, almost 4.75% of the total population. [ 167 ] Finally, here are some of the most prestigious and famous universities in the world. Harvard , Yale ,Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are ranked as the best universities by various publications. [ 168 ] [ 169 ] [ 170 ]
The English is the national language de facto . Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws - such as the Requirements for Naturalization - make English a mandatory language. In 2006, about 224 million, or 80% of the population over the age of five, spoke only English at home. The Spanish , spoken by 12% of the population, is the second most spoken language, and most commonly learned as a second language. [ 171 ] [ 172 ] Some people advocate making English the official language, as it is at the least twenty - eight states. [ 173 ]The Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii. [ 174 ] Although they do not have an official language, New Mexico has laws that encourage the use of English and Spanish, in the same way that Louisiana does with English and Cajun French . [ 175 ] In other states, such as California , the publication of certain official documents in Spanish is mandatory. [ 176 ] [ 177 ] The island territoriesguarantee official recognition of native languages, along with English: Samoan and Chamorro are recognized by American Samoa and Guam, respectively; the Carolinian and Chamorro are recognized by the Northern Mariana Islands, and Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico.
In addition to the aforementioned languages, a large number of native languages are still spoken in numerous reservations throughout the country and in small towns. Each of these languages has a few thousand speakers, and the most important demographically is Navajo , with almost 200,000 native speakers.
The United States is officially a secular state ; the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion and prohibits the establishment of any religious government. [ 28 ] In a 2002 study, 59% of Americans said that religion played a "very important role in their lives," a higher number than any other developed nation. [ 178 ] According to a 2007 survey, 78.4% of adults identified themselves as Christian , [ 179 ] registering a decrease since 1990, when they were 86.4%. [ 180] Protestantdenominationsrepresented 51.3%, while theCatholic Churchwith 23.9%, was the largest religious current. The study classifieswhite evangelicals, 26.3% of the population, as the largest religious cohort in the country; [ 179 ] Another study estimates that evangelicals of all races make up between 30% and 35% of the population. [ 181 ] In 1990, the total number of adherents to non-Christian religions was 3.3%, by 2007 it had grown to 4.7%. [ 180 ] The main non-Christian religions wereJudaism(1.7%), theBuddhism (0.7%), Islam (0.6%), Hinduism (0.4%), and Unitarian Universalism (0.3%). [ 179 ] The survey also reported that 16.1% of Americans described themselves as agnostic , atheist, or simply without any religion. [ 179 ] [ 180 ]
In 2006, life expectancy was 77.8 years, [ 182 ] being one year shorter than the Western European average, and much shorter than that of countries such as Norway, Switzerland, and Canada. [ 183 ] Over the past two decades, the level of life expectancy fell from 11th in the world to 42nd. [ 184 ] The infant mortality rate is 6.37 deaths per 1000 live births. [ 185 ] About a third of the adult population is obese and another third is overweight ; [ 186 ]The obesity rate, one of the highest in the world, has doubled in the last 25 years. [ 187 ] The high incidence of type 2 diabetes related to obesity is considered an epidemic by some health professionals. [ 188 ] The teenage pregnancy rate is 79.8 per 1,000 women, four times the rate in France and five times that of Germany. [ 189 ] The abortion , legal in some cases, is a very controversial issue: many states have banned public funding of the procedure, restricted the abortion when the fetusalready developed, require parental notification for minors and a waiting period. The abortion rate is declining with 241 per 1,000 births, although it is still higher than in most Western nations. [ 190 ]
Spending on the health care system surpasses that of any other nation, both in terms of per capita spending and as a percentage of GDP. [ 191 ] In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US healthcare system first in responsiveness, but 37th in overall performance. The United States is a leader in medical innovation. In 2004, this sector invested three times more than any country in Europe in biomedical research . [ 192 ]
The United States is home to many of the best medical centers in the world. Much of the medical facilities are privately owned with some subsidies from the local government. Despite being non-profit associations , many of the most important hospitals in the country are affiliated with large corporations or medical schools , which have made it possible for these centers to annually house about 70% of all medical patients in the country. [ 193 ] The Johns Hopkins Hospital , the Mayo Clinic , the Massachusetts General Hospital and Clinic ClevelandThey are among the best hospitals in the country and in the world. [ 194 ]
Unlike other developed countries, health system coverage is not universal . In 2004, health insurance paid 36% of health expenses and federal and state governments provided 44%. [ 195 ] 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 increase is the drop in the number of jobs where health insurance is guaranteed. [ 196 ] The issue of uninsured Americans is an important political issue. [ 197 ] [ 198 ]A 2009 study estimated that lack of insurance is associated with nearly 45,000 deaths a year. [ 199 ] In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to implement universal health care. [ 200 ] The federal law passed in early 2010 will create an almost universal health system for the entire country in 2014. [ citation needed ]
|Major cities in the United States|
| ||Town||Condition||Population||Town||Condition||Population|| |
|1||New York||New York||8 477 000||11||Detroit||Michigan||945 000|
|2||The Angels||California||3 888 000||12||Jacksonville||Florida||847 000|
|3||Chicago||Illinois||3 012 000||13||San Francisco||California||842 000|
|4||Houston||Texas||2 553 000||14||Indianapolis||Indiana||813 000|
|5||Phoenix||Arizona||1 722 000||15||Austin||Texas||798 000|
|6||Philadelphia||Pennsylvania||1 518 000||16||Columbus||Ohio||773 000|
|7||San antonio||Texas||1 448 000||17||Fort Worth||Texas||760 000|
|8||San Diego||California||1 355 000||18||Charlotte||North Carolina||743 000|
|9||Dallas||Texas||1 352 000||19||Memphis||Tennessee||688 000|
|10||Saint Joseph||California||1 127 000||20||Baltimore||Maryland||642 000|
|Estimate for 2010 [ 201 ]|
Crime and law enforcement
|United States (2015)|
|Crime rate per 100,000 inhabitants|
|Total violent crimes||372.6|
|Motor vehicle theft||220.2|
|Total property crimes||2487|
|Fuente: Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1996–2015 (tabla 1)|
The legal responsibility for applying and enforcing laws in the United States rests primarily with local police forces, with sheriffs - called sheriffs or marshal , depending on the state - and their departments, and with the state police. At the federal level there are several federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the United States Marshals Corps , specialized in certain functions. [ 202 ] At the federal level and in almost all states, customary law prevails.. In the country there are two types of courts, the state courts, in charge of studying and trying ordinary crimes, and the federal courts, in charge of trying certain designated crimes and resolving appeals from state court sentences. Agreements between the parties is the most common way to end trials, as in the vast majority of criminal cases an agreement is reached with the prosecutor before a jury trial is held . [ 203 ] [ 204 ]
In 2012 there were 4.7 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in the United States, representing a decrease of 54% from the peak of 10.2 reached in 1980, [ 205 ] [ 206 ] [ 207 ] However in 2015 occurred a severe spike in the number of homicides, with a rate of 4.9 per 100,000 people, which is equivalent in numbers to 15,696 homicides, 1,532 more than in 2014 (an increase of 10.8%), the largest annual increase since 1971. [ 208 ]Between 1980 and 2008, men committed 77% of homicides and 90% of crimes. The black population was involved in 52.5% of homicides, a proportion eight times greater than the white population (including the majority of Hispanics as "white") and were victims in a proportion six times greater than whites. The majority of homicides were among people of the same ethnicity, as 93% of blacks were killed by blacks and 84% of whites by whites. [ 209 ] Of the developed countries , the United States is by far the country with the highest rate of violent crime, homicide, and armed violence. [ 210 ] An analysis of theThe 2003 World Health Organization revealed that the United States “had a homicide rate 6.9 times higher than the rates in the rest of the high-income countries , a rate driven upwards because its firearm homicide rate was 19.5 times higher. " [ 211 ] The right to buy and carry a firearm, enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution , continues to be the subject of political and social debate.
The death penalty continues to be a type of sentence legally, and is still contemplated for certain federal and military crimes in 32 of the 50 states of the country . [ 212 ] No executions were carried out between 1967 and 1977, due, in part, to a ruling by the United States Supreme Court prohibiting the arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In 1976, the same court ruled that, in appropriate circumstances, the death penalty could be applied without violating constitutional legality. Since this decision, the United States has executed more than 1,300 inmates, most of them in Texas , Virginia and Oklahoma . [213 ] On the other hand, there are several states that have been abolishing by law or simply ceasing to apply the death penalty. In 2010, the United States was the fifth country in number of executions, behind only China , Iran , North Korea and Yemen . [ 214 ]
The United States is the country with the highest documented incarceration rate in the world and has the largest prison population in the world. [ 215 ] [ 216 ] In early 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one hundred adults nationwide. [ 217 ] Among prisoners and people on probation, the prison system supervised one in every 31 adults in the country in 2010, [ 218 ] a figure that by 2012 had dropped to 1 in 35 adults (the lowest rate since 1997), making a total of 6,937,600 people. [ 219 ]The prison population has quadrupled since 1980. [ 220 ] The cost of maintaining prisoners and facilities, added to the construction of new prisons due to overcrowding, amounts to more than $ 60 billion annually; This causes that some states of the country have to allocate 10% of their income to the prison system, in the case of California, the leading state in number of prisoners, in 2010 it dedicated more money to this facet than, for example, to education. [ 218 ] The most common inmates are African American males , with an incarceration rate three times that of Hispanics and six times that of white males.[ 221 ] The high prisoner rate can be explained in part by the tough laws enacted over the past decades to combat drug trafficking, possession and use. [ 222 ] In 2008,Louisianawas the state with the highest rate of incarceration andMainethe one with the lowest rate. [ 223 ]
The United States prison system is harshly criticized by both analysts and some organizations. In addition to the progressive privatization of the prison system since the 1980s, in 2014 the NGO Human Rights Watch and other organizations reported that more than 80,000 prisoners are in tiny isolation cells, which NGOs describe as torture chambers . [ 224 ] In 2012, The New York Times reported that some 60,000 undocumented persons held in detention centers are used as cheap labor by the government or private companies, with wages that can reach 13 cents an hour; in some cases they are not even paid. [225 ] Some states also employ thousands of inmates in their prisons in factories of some companies in exchange for reduced sentences or the minimum wage. This saves companies millions of dollars a year in salaries, although its legality is questioned. [ 226 ] Some of the companies involved would be, directly or through subcontracting, Microsoft , Boeing , Starbucks or Victoria's Secret , among others. [ 226 ]
The United States is a multicultural nation , home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. [ 12 ] [ 227 ] Aside from the now small populations of Native Americans and Hawaiians, nearly all Americans or their ancestors immigrated over the past five centuries. [ 228 ] The common culture for most Americans is a Western culture , which largely stems from the traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as the traditions brought by slaves from Africa. [ 12 ] [229 ] [ 230 ] Recently, immigrants from Asia and Latin America have added more elements to this cultural mix that has been described as "a melting pot homogenised and a heterogeneous salad bowl" where immigrants and their descendants retain, they share and absorb several distinctive cultural characteristics. [ 12 ]
According to an analysis of cultural dimensions by Geert Hofstede , the United States has one of the highest indices of individualism of any other country studied. [ 231 ] While in popular culture the country is considered a society without social classes, [ 232 ] several scholars identify significant differences that can be considered as social classes, which affect socialization , language and values. [ 233 ] [ 234 ]The American working middle class has been the initiator of many of the contemporary social trends such as modern feminism , environmentalism and multiculturalism. [ 235 ] Unlike other cultures, most women work outside the home and have some degree . [ 236 ] In 2007, 58% of American women over the age of 18 were married, 6% were widows, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married. [ 237 ]
The same Hofstede study also revealed that Americans' social outlook, cultural expectations, and self-image are associated with their jobs and occupations to an unusually narrow degree. [ 238 ] Thus, there is also a tendency to value socioeconomic achievements more, in such a way that the fact of being an ordinary or average person is seen as a positive attribute in most cases. [ 239 ] Despite the so-called " American dream " and the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobilityplay a key role in attracting immigrants, some analysts find that the United States has less social mobility than countries in Europe and Canada. [ 240 ] [ 241 ]
Since European colonization, American art remained attached to the artistic currents of the Old Continent. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Hudson River School emerged , one of the first artistic movements developed in the country, although it was still highly influenced by the European tradition of naturalism . In 1913, the New York City Armory Show , an exhibition of modern European art , made a huge impact on audiences and transformed the American art scene. [ 242 ] Georgia O'Keeffe , Marsden Hartleyand other artists experimented with new styles, showing a sensitivity and technique unprecedented in European artists. Major art movements such as the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein developed largely in the United States. In the same way, the current of modernism and postmodernism brought several American architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright , Philip Johnson and Frank Gehry to fame .
One of the greatest promoters of theater in America was businessman PT Barnum , who entered the lower Manhattan entertainment business in 1841. In the late 1870s, the Harrigan and Hart team produced a series of musical comedies. very successful in New York. In the 20th century, the format for modern musicals emerged from Broadway ; songs composed by such characters as Irving Berlin , Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim became standards for pop music . Playwright Eugene O'Neill won theNobel Prize in Literature in 1936; other acclaimed American writers include winning a Pulitzer Prize , as Tennessee Williams , Edward Albee , and August Wilson .
Choreographers such as Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham helped develop modern dance , while George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were two of the great ballet figures of the 20th century. Americans have played an important role in the artistic medium of photography, notably Alfred Stieglitz , Edward Steichen and Ansel Adams .
Cinema, entertainment and music
The first feature film made in history took place in 1894 in the city of New York , using the Kinetoscope of Thomas Edison . The following year the first screening of a film for commercial purposes was presented, also in New York, and during the following decades the United States was at the forefront of the development of talkies . Since the early 1900s, the American film industry has largely centered around Hollywood , California productions. Director DW Griffith was instrumental in developing the basic structure of a film and Citizen Kane(1941) by Orson Welles is frequently cited as the greatest film of all time. [ 243 ] [ 244 ] Other fundamental principals of this nationality in the history of cinema: John Ford , Howard Hawks , Elia Kazan and Michael Curtiz , and among the most recent, Stanley Kubrick , Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg . American actors like Humphrey Bogart , John Wayne or Marilyn Monroehave become iconic figures, while producer and entrepreneur Walt Disney was one of the leaders in the animation and merchandising of his films. The most important film studios in Hollywood have produced the most commercially successful films in history, such as Star Wars (1977), Titanic (1997) or Avatar (2009). By the 2020s, Hollywood products will continue to dominate the film industry globally. [ 245 ]
With the comic strip , the American production has lost the leadership that it held worldwide since the beginning of the 20th century, highlighting several press strips such as Flash Gordon , The Phantom or The Valiant Prince . After World War II , comics became a minority medium that has recently experienced the phenomenon of the graphic novel , in which authors such as Charles Burns , Joe Sacco and Chris Ware stand out . However, comic strips and comicsThey are also part of the artistic legacy of the country. For example, Superman , one of the best-known superheroes in this medium, has become a national icon. [ 246 ]
The United States has the largest number of viewers in the world, [ 247 ] while the average amount of time devoted to it continues to rise, reaching five hours a day in 2006. [ 248 ] The top four television networks important are all commercial entities. Americans also listen to radio programs, largely commercialized, on average for two and a half hours a day. [ 249 ] The most popular web sites and search engines on the net are American inventiveness, including Google , Facebook , YouTube , Wikipedia , Blogger ,eBay y Yahoo!.
As for music, the work of Charles Ives of the 1910s, largely ignored during its development, led him to become the first successful American classical music composer; other pioneers such as Henry Cowell and John Cage created an American approach to classical compositions. Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a unique blend of classical music with popular music.
The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African American music have profoundly influenced American music in general, distinguishing it from European traditions. Elements of folk music such as blues and what is now known as old music were adapted and transformed into popular genres for a global audience. The jazz was developed by innovative artists such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the twentieth century. The country emerged in the 1920s and rhythm and bluesin the 1940s. By the middle of the next decade, Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were among the pioneers of rock and roll . In the 1960s, the rise of Bob Dylan's career helped revive the influence of folk music, to become one of the most celebrated composers in the country; at the same time, James Brown led the development of funk . The latest American creations include hip hop and house music . Finally, pop stars such as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson , Madonna or Mariah Careythey have become world-renowned icons. [ 251 ]
Literature and philosophy
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, American literature drew most of its influences from Europe. In the mid-19th century, writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne , Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established their own literature for the country. Mark Twain and the poet Walt Whitman were two of the great figures of the second half of the century; Emily Dickinson , virtually unknown during her life, is also considered one of the most important poets in American literature. [ 252 ]A work that captures fundamental aspects of life in the country in its characters - such as Moby-Dick (1851) by Herman Melville , The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) by Mark Twain and The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald - can be considered the "great American novel."
Eleven American citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature , the most recent being Toni Morrison in 1993. William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway , winners in 1949 and 1954, respectively, are often ranked among the most influential writers of the 20th century. [ 253 ] Several popular literary genres such as those of the old west and the crime novel developed in the country. The writers of the beat generation ( Allen Ginsberg , Jack Kerouac ,