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By Entry Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for United States
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Map of United States
IntroductionTop
Background: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 a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s. 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. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.
GeographyTop
Location:North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico
Geographic coordinates:38 00 N, 97 00 W
Map references:North America
Area:total: 9,631,418 sq km
land: 9,161,923 sq km
water: 469,495 sq km
note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia

Area - comparative:about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; almost two and a half times the size of the European Union
Land boundaries:total: 12,034 km
border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km
note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba; the base boundary is 29 km

Coastline:19,924 km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified

Climate: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 January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
Terrain:vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Death Valley -86 m
highest point: Mount McKinley 6,194 m

Natural resources:coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber
Land use:arable land: 19.13%
permanent crops: 0.22%
other: 80.65% (2001)

Irrigated land:214,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquake activity around 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
Environment - current issues:air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the US and Canada; the US is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural fresh water resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification
Environment - international agreements:party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes

Geography - note:world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent
PeopleTop
Population:295,734,134 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 20.6% (male 31,095,725/female 29,703,997)
15-64 years: 67% (male 98,914,382/female 99,324,126)
65 years and over: 12.4% (male 15,298,676/female 21,397,228) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 36.27 years
male: 34.94 years
female: 37.6 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:0.92% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:14.14 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:8.25 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:3.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 6.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 7.17 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 77.71 years
male: 74.89 years
female: 80.67 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:2.08 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.6% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:950,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:14,000 (2003 est.)
Nationality:noun: American(s)
adjective: American

Ethnic groups:white 81.7%, black 12.9%, Asian 4.2%, Amerindian and Alaska native 1%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.2% (2003 est.)
note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Latin American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.)

Religions:Protestant 52%, Roman Catholic 24%, Mormon 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 1%, other 10%, none 10% (2002 est.)
Languages:English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 97% (1999 est.)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: United States of America
conventional short form: United States
abbreviation: US or USA

Government type:Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Capital:Washington, DC
Administrative divisions:50 states and 1 district*; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Dependent areas:American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island
note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)

Independence:4 July 1776 (from Great Britain)
National holiday:Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
Constitution:17 September 1787, effective 4 March 1789
Legal system:federal court system based on English common law; each state has its own unique legal system, of which all but one (Louisiana's) is based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President George W. BUSH (since 20 January 2001); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President George W. BUSH (since 20 January 2001); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approval
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms; election last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: George W. BUSH reelected president; percent of popular vote - George W. BUSH (Republican Party) 50.9%, John KERRY (Democratic Party) 48.1%, other 1.0%

Legislative branch:bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, one-third are renewed every two years; two members are elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2006); House of Representatives - last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Republican Party 55, Democratic Party 44, independent 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - Republican Party 231, Democratic Party 200, undecided 4

Judicial branch:Supreme Court (its nine justices are appointed for life on condition of good behavior by the president with confirmation by the Senate); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts
Political parties and leaders:Democratic Party [Howard DEAN]; Green Party [leader NA]; Libertarian Party [Steve DAMERELL]; Republican Party [Ken MEHLMAN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:AfDB, ANZUS, APEC, ARF, AsDB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, G-5, G-7, G- 8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM (guest), NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, UN, UN Security Council, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIK, UNMIL, UNMOVIC, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description:13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; the 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies; known as Old Glory; the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags, including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $40,100. In this market-oriented economy, 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 considerably greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to entry in their rivals' home markets than the barriers to entry of foreign firms in US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains 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. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. The war in March/April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq, and the subsequent occupation of Iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military. The rise in GDP in 2004 was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity. The economy suffered from a sharp increase in energy prices in the second half of 2004. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $11.75 trillion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:4.4% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $40,100 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 0.9%
industry: 19.7%
services: 79.4% (2004 est.)

Labor force:147.4 million (includes unemployed) (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:farming, forestry, and fishing 0.7%, manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts 22.7%, managerial, professional, and technical 34.9%, sales and office 25.5%, other services 16.3%
note: figures exclude the unemployed (2004)

Unemployment rate:5.5% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:12% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 30.5% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:45 (2004)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):2.5% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):15.7% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $1.862 trillion
expenditures: $2.338 trillion, including capital expenditures of NA (2004 est.)

Public debt:65% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; forest products; fish
Industries:leading industrial power in the world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
Industrial production growth rate:4.4% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:3.839 trillion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 5.6%
nuclear: 20.7%
other: 2.3% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:3.66 trillion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:13.36 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:36.23 billion kWh (2002)
Oil - production:7.8 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:19.65 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Oil - proved reserves:22.45 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:548.1 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:640.9 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:11.16 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:114.1 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:5.195 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:$-646.5 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:$795 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0% (2003)
Exports - partners:Canada 23%, Mexico 13.6%, Japan 6.7%, UK 4.4%, China 4.3% (2004)
Imports:$1.476 trillion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys) (2003)
Imports - partners:Canada 17.1%, China 13.7%, Mexico 10.4%, Japan 8.8%, Germany 5.2% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$85.94 billion (2003)
Debt - external:$1.4 trillion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - donor:ODA, $6.9 billion (1997)
Currency (code):US dollar (USD)
Currency code:USD
Exchange rates:British pounds per US dollar - 0.5457 (2004), 0.6139 (2003), 0.6661 (2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000); Canadian dollars per US dollar - 1.3014 (2004), 1.4045 (2003), 1.5693 (2002), 1.5488 (2001), 1.4851 (2000); Japanese yen per US dollar - 108.13 (2004), 116.08 (2003), 125.39 (2002), 121.53 (2001), 107.77 (2000); euros per US dollar - 0.8048 (2004), 0.8866 (2003), 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (2001), 1.08540 (2000)
Fiscal year:1 October - 30 September
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:181,599,900 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:158.722 million (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: a large, technologically advanced, multipurpose communications system
domestic: a large system of fiber-optic cable, microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and domestic satellites carries every form of telephone traffic; a rapidly growing cellular system carries mobile telephone traffic throughout the country
international: country code - 1; 24 ocean cable systems in use; satellite earth stations - 61 Intelsat (45 Atlantic Ocean and 16 Pacific Ocean), 5 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 4 Inmarsat (Pacific and Atlantic Ocean regions) (2000)

Radio broadcast stations:AM 4,854, FM 8,950, shortwave 18 (2004)
Radios:575 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:more than 1,500 (including nearly 1,000 stations affiliated with the five major networks - NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and PBS; in addition, there are about 9,000 cable TV systems) (1997)
Televisions:219 million (1997)
Internet country code:.us
Internet hosts:115,311,958 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):7,000 (2002 est.)
Internet users:159 million (2002)
TransportationTop
Railways:total: 227,736 km
standard gauge: 227,736 km 1.435-m gauge (2003)

Highways:total: 6,393,603 km
paved: 4,180,053 km (including 74,406 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,213,550 km (2003)

Waterways:41,009 km (19,312 km used for commerce)
note: Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3,769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3,058 km, shared with Canada (2004)

Pipelines:petroleum products 244,620 km; natural gas 548,665 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:Anchorage, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Duluth, Hampton Roads, Honolulu, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Port Canaveral, Portland (Oregon), Prudhoe Bay, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, Tampa, Toledo
Merchant marine:total: 486 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 12,436,658 GRT/14,630,116 DWT
by type: barge carrier 7, bulk carrier 19, cargo 152, chemical tanker 19, container 92, passenger 17, passenger/cargo 57, petroleum tanker 79, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 28, vehicle carrier 14
foreign-owned: 49 (Australia 2, Canada 8, China 1, Denmark 20, Malaysia 2, Netherlands 1, Norway 2, Singapore 11, Sweden 1, United Kingdom 1)
registered in other countries: 680 (2005)

Airports:14,857 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 5,128
over 3,047 m: 188
2,438 to 3,047 m: 221
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1,375
914 to 1,523 m: 2,383
under 914 m: 961 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 9,729
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 160
914 to 1,523 m: 1,718
under 914 m: 7,843 (2004 est.)

Heliports:155 (2004 est.)
MilitaryTop
Military branches:Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard (Coast Guard administered in peacetime by the Department of Homeland Security, but in wartime reports to the Department of the Navy)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 67,742,879 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: NA (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 2,143,873 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$370.7 billion (FY04 est.) (March 2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:3.3% (FY03 est.) (February 2004)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:prolonged drought, population growth, and outmoded practices and infrastructure in the border region strains water-sharing arrangements with Mexico; the US has stepped up efforts to stem nationals from Mexico, Central America, and other parts of the world from crossing illegally into the United States from Mexico; illegal immigrants from the Caribbean, notably Haiti and the Dominican Republic, attempt to enter the US through Florida by sea; 1990 Maritime Boundary Agreement in the Bering Sea still awaits Russian Duma ratification; managed maritime boundary disputes with Canada at Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and around the disputed Machias Seal Island and North Rock; US and Canada seek greater cooperation in monitoring people and commodities crossing the border; The Bahamas and US have not been able to agree on a maritime boundary; US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased from Cuba and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the area can terminate the lease; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa Island; US has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any other state; Marshall Islands claims Wake Island
Illicit drugs:consumer of cocaine shipped from Colombia through Mexico and the Caribbean; consumer of heroin, marijuana, and increasingly methamphetamine from Mexico; consumer of high-quality Southeast Asian heroin; illicit producer of cannabis, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine; money-laundering center



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