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Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired several overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation-state. Since the end of World War II, the economy has achieved relatively steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.

North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico

total: 9,833,517 sq km land: 9,147,593 sq km water: 685,924 sq km

mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in Janu

337,341,954 (2022 est.)

The US has the most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $59,500. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers, pharmaceuticals, medical, aerospace, and military equipment; however, their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. Based on a comparison of GDP measured at purchasing power parity conversion rates, the US economy in 2014, having stood as the largest in the world for more than a century, slipped into second place behind China, which has more than tripled the US growth rate for each year of the past four decades. In the US, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plants, lay off surplus workers, and develop new products. At the same time, businesses face higher barriers to entering their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits. The onrush of technology has been a driving factor in the gradual development of a "two-tier" labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income. Imported oil accounts for more than 50% of US consumption and oil has a major impact on the overall health of the economy. Crude oil prices doubled between 2001 and 2006, the year home prices peaked; higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets and many individuals fell behind in their mortgage payments. Oil prices climbed another 50


White 61.6%, Black or African American 12.4%, Asian 6%, Amerindian and Alaska native 1.1%, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.2%, other 8.4%, two or more races 10.2% (2020 est.)

English only 78.2%, Spanish 13.4%, Chinese 1.1%, other 7.3% (2017 est.)

Protestant 46.5%, Roman Catholic 20.8%, Jewish 1.9%, Church of Jesus Christ 1.6%, other Christian 0.9%, Muslim 0.9%, Jehovah's Witness 0.8%, Buddhist 0.7%, Hindu 0.7%, other 1.8%, unaffiliated 22.8%, don't know/refused 0.6% (2014 est.)

0-14 years: 18.46% (male 31,374,555/female 30,034,371) 15-24 years: 12.91% (male 21,931,368/female 21,006,463) 25-54 years: 38.92% (male 64,893,670/female 64,564,565) 55-64 years: 12.86% (male 20,690,736/female 22,091,808) 65 years and over: 16.85% (2020 est.) (male 25,014,147/female 31,037,419)

tsunamis; volcanoes; earthquake activity around the Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development

$19,846,720,000,000 (2020 est.) $20,563,590,000,000 (2019 est.) $20,128,580,000,000 (2018 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars country comparison to the world: 2

2.16% (2019 est.) 3% (2018 est.) 2.33% (2017 est.) country comparison to the world: 129

$60,200 (2020 est.) $62,600 (2019 est.) $61,600 (2018 est.) note: data are in 2017 dollars country comparison to the world: 17

$21,433,228,000,000 (2019 est.)

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