United States

"United States of America", "America", "US", "U.S.", "USA", and "U.S.A." redirect here. For the landmass encompassing North and South America, see Americas. For other uses, see America (disambiguation), US (disambiguation), USA (disambiguation), and United States (disambiguation).

United States of America
Flag of the United States
Great Seal of the United States
Flag Great Seal
Projection of North America with the United States in green
The United States and its territories
The United States and its territories
Capital Washington, D.C.
38°53′N 77°01′W / 38.883°N 77.017°W / 38°53′N 77°01′W / 38.883; -77.017
Largest city New York City
40°43′N 74°00′W / 40.717°N 74.000°W / 40°43′N 74°00′W / 40.717; -74.000
Official languages None at federal level [a]
National language English [b]
Ethnic groups Race: [4]
73.1% White
12.7% Black
7.9% Other/multiracial
5.4% Asian
0.8% Native
0.2% Pacific Islander [5] [c]
17.6% Hispanic or Latino
82.4% non-Hispanic or Latino
Religion 70.6% Christian
22.8% Irreligious
1.9% Jewish
0.9% Muslim
0.7% Hindu
0.7% Buddhist
1.8% other faiths [6]
Demonym American
Government Federal presidential constitutional republic
•  President
Donald Trump
Mike Pence
Paul Ryan
John Roberts
Legislature Congress
House of Representatives
July 4, 1776
March 1, 1781
September 3, 1783
June 21, 1788
March 24, 1976
• Total area
9,833,517 km2 (3,796,742 sq mi) [7] [d] ( 3rd/4th)
• Water (%)
• Total land area
9,147,593 km2
3,531,905 sq mi
• 2016 estimate
324,720,797 [8] ( 3rd)
• 2010 census
309,349,689 [9] ( 3rd)
• Density
35/km2 (90.6/sq mi) ( 180th)
GDP ( PPP) 2016 estimate
• Total
$18.558 trillion [10] ( 2nd)
• Per capita
$57,220 [10] ( 10th)
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
• Total
$18.558 trillion [10] ( 1st)
• Per capita
$57,220 [10] ( 6th)
Gini (2013) 40.8 [11] [12] [13]
HDI (2014) Increase 0.915 [14]
very high ·  8th
Currency United States dollar ($) ( USD)
Time zone ( UTC−4 to −12, +10, +11)
• Summer ( DST)
 ( UTC−4 to −10 [e])
Date format MM/DD/YYYY
Drives on the right [f]
Calling code +1
ISO 3166 code US
Internet TLD .us    .gov    .mil    .edu
  1. ^ English is the official language of 32 states; English and Hawaiian are both official languages in Hawaii, and English and 20 Native American languages are official in Alaska. Algonquian, Cherokee, and Sioux are among many other official languages in Native-controlled lands throughout the country. French is a de facto, but unofficial, language in Maine and Louisiana, while New Mexico law grants Spanish a special status. [15] [16] [17] [18]
  2. ^ In five territories, English as well as one or more indigenous languages are official: Spanish in Puerto Rico, Samoan in American Samoa, Chamorro in both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Carolinian is also an official language in the Northern Mariana Islands.
  3. ^ Not including Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, see Race and ethnicity in the United States for more information.
  4. ^ Whether the United States or China is larger has been disputed. The figure given is from the U.S. Census and United Nations. [19]
  5. ^ See Time in the United States for details about laws governing time zones in the United States.
  6. ^ Except American Samoa and the Virgin Islands.

The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (U.S.) or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. [fn 1] Forty-eight of the fifty states and the federal district are contiguous and located in North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid- Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Nine time zones are covered. The geography, climate and wildlife of the country are extremely diverse. [21]

At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km2) [19] and with over 324 million people, the United States is the world's fourth-largest country by total area (and fourth-largest by land area) [fn 2] and the third-most populous. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, and is home to the world's largest immigrant population. [26] Urbanization climbed to over 80% in 2010 and leads to growing megaregions. The country's capital is Washington, D.C. and its largest city is New York City; the other major metropolitan areas, all with around five million or more inhabitants, are Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Miami, and Atlanta.

Paleo-Indians migrated from Asia to the North American mainland at least 15,000 years ago. [27] European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies in the aftermath of the Seven Years' War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775. On July 4, 1776, as the colonies were fighting Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. The war ended in 1783 with recognition of the independence of the United States by Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. [28] The current constitution was adopted in 1788, after the Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, were felt to have provided inadequate federal powers. The first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and designed to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties.

The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, [29] displacing American Indian tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. [29] During the second half of the 19th century, the American Civil War led to the end of legal slavery in the country. [30] [31] By the end of that century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean, [32] and its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. [33] The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It is a founding member of the Organization of American States (OAS) and various other Pan-American and international organizations. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. [34]

The United States is a highly developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP. It ranks highly in several measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, [35] human development, per capita GDP, and productivity per person. [36] While the U.S. economy is considered post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge economy, the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. [37] Though its population is only 4.4% of the world total, [38] the United States accounts for nearly a quarter of world GDP [39] and almost a third of global military spending, [40] making it the world's foremost economic and military power. The United States is a prominent political and cultural force internationally, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovations. [41]


In 1507 the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America" after the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci ( Latin: Americus Vespucius). [42] The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq., George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army. Addressed to Lt. Col. Joseph Reed, Moylan expressed his wish to carry the "full and ample powers of the United States of America" to Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort. [43] [44] [45]

The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. [46] [47] The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the 'United States of America.'" [48] The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'". [49] In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence. [50] [51] This draft of the document did not surface until June 21, 1776, and it is unclear whether it was written before or after Dickinson used the term in his June 17 draft of the Articles of Confederation. [48] In the final Fourth of July version of the Declaration, the title was changed to read, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America". [52] The preamble of the Constitution states "...establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms are the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names are the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". " Columbia", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 18th century, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name " District of Columbia". [53] In non-English languages, the name is frequently the translation of either the "United States" or "United States of America", and colloquially as "America". In addition, an abbreviation (e.g. USA) is sometimes used. [54]

The phrase "United States" was originally plural, a description of a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. The singular form—e.g., "the United States is"—became popular after the end of the American Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States". [55] The difference is more significant than usage; it is a difference between a collection of states and a unit. [56]

A citizen of the United States is an " American". "United States", "American" and "U.S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). " American" rarely refers to subjects not connected with the United States. [57]