The United States of America or the USA, is a country inhabiting nearly the entire continent of North America. Its official language is English, with regional languages of German, French and a little Spanish in the Old Southwest. The US covers an area of 20,883,665.56 sq km (8,062242.33 sq mi).


Main Article: History of the United States

Political Situation

The United States is a federal republic, with a small federal government that has no central welfare state like some other countries, having been ruled unconstitutional in the 1930's and 1940's after President Franklin Roosevelt's aborted run for a third term. The current President, George Allen, and the Vice President, Michelle Bachmann, of the Republican and Constitution Parties, respectively, were elected in 2008 after succeeding the former President, Jean Pierre Miquelon and Laura Wallace, both of whom who served one term.

The federal government has limited power to regulate interstate commerce, mostly confined to general product safety, food safety and standard interfaces for the country, through the FDA and FCC. Unique tax regulations in the US allow tax-free retirement accounts rather than a general 'social security' tax that all pay into, as well as a 'Health Savings Account' with similar tax-free investment to use for medical expenses, rather than a nationalized health care as in Communist China, Russia, and in British East Africa. Germany recently abandoned its nationalized health care system for a model more in line with the American system.


Administrative Divisions


There are 74 States in the United States of America, along with 12 organized territories.

The 74 United States of America
Official State Name Common IPA USPS Flag Date 2008 Pop Capital Most Populous City
State of Alabama Alabama /ˌæləˈbæmə/ AL Flag of Alabama 01819-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1819 4,661,900 Montgomery Birmingham
State of Alaska Alaska /əˈlæskə/ AK Flag of Alaska 01959-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 3, 1959 686,293 Juneau Anchorage
State of Arizona Arizona /ˌærɪˈzoʊnə/ AZ Flag of Arizona 01912-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr February 14, 1912 6,500,180 Phoenix Phoenix
State of Arkansas Arkansas /ˈɑrkənsɑː/ AR Flag of Arkansas 01836-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 15, 1836 2,855,390 Little Rock Little Rock
State of California California /ˌkælɪˈfɔrnjə/ CA Flag of California 01850-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr September 9, 1850 36,756,666 Sacramento Los Angeles
State of Colorado Colorado /ˌkɒləˈrædoʊ/ CO Flag of Colorado 01876-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr August 1, 1876 4,939,456 Denver Denver
State of Connecticut Connecticut /kəˈnɛtɪkət/ CT Flag of Connecticut 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 9, 1788 3,501,252 Hartford Bridgeport


State of Cuba Cuba /ˈkjuːbə/ CU Flag of Cuba state 01876-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr August 1, 1876 4,939,456 Havana Havana
State of Delaware Delaware /ˈdɛləwɛər/ DE Flag of Delaware 01787-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 7, 1787 873,092 Dover Wilmington
State of Durango Durango /duˈɾaŋɡo/ DR 48px 01787-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 7, 1787 873,092 Durango City Madison
State of Florida Florida /ˈflɔrɪdə/ FL Flag of Florida 01845-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 3, 1845 18,328,340 Tallahassee Jacksonville


State of Franklin Franklin /ˈflɔrɪdə/ FR 48px 01789-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 3, 1789 13,150,000 Franklin City Toronto
State of Georgia Georgia /ˈdʒɔrdʒə/ GA Flag of Georgia (U.S. state) 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 2, 1788 9,685,744 Atlanta Atlanta
State of Guyana Guyana /ˈdʒɔrdʒə/ GU Flag of Guyana 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 2, 1788 9,685,744 Georgetown Cayenne
State of Hamilton Hamilton /ˈdʒɔrdʒə/ HA Flag of Guyana 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 2, 1788 9,685,744 Vallarta City Alexandria
State of Hawaii Hawaii /həˈwaɪ.iː/, Hw: [mokuˈʔaːinɐ oː hɐˈvɛiʔi] HI Flag of Hawaii 01959-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr August 21, 1959 1,288,198 Honolulu Honolulu
State of Idaho Idaho /ˈaɪdəhoʊ/ ID Flag of Idaho 01890-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr July 3, 1890 1,523,816 Boise Boise
State of Illinois Illinois /ɪlɪˈnɔɪ/ IL Flag of Illinois 01818-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 3, 1818 12,901,563 Springfield Chicago
State of Indiana Indiana /ˌɪndiˈænə/ IN Flag of Indiana 01816-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 11, 1816 6,376,792 Indianapolis Indianapolis
State of Iowa Iowa /ˈaɪ.ɵwə/ IA Flag of Iowa 01846-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 28, 1846 3,002,555 Des Moines Des Moines
State of Jefferson Jefferson /ˈaɪ.ɵwə/ JF 46px 01846-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 28, 1846 3,002,555 Laredo Charleston
State of Kansas Kansas /ˈkænzəs/ KS Flag of Kansas 01861-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 29, 1861 2,802,134 Topeka Wichita
Commonwealth of Kentucky Kentucky /kənˈtʌki/ KY Flag of Kentucky 01792-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 1, 1792 4,269,245 Frankfort Louisville
State of Lincoln Lincoln /nəˈvædə/ NA Flag of New Caledonia 01864-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr October 31, 1864 2,600,167 New Glasgow Winnipeg
State of Louisiana Louisiana /luˌiziˈænə/, Fr: [lwizjan] LA Flag of Louisiana 01812-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr April 30, 1812 4,410,796 Baton Rouge New Orleans
State of Madison Madison /ˈaɪ.ɵwə/ MA 46px 01846-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 28, 1846 3,002,555 Calgary Saskatoon
State of Maine Maine /ˈmeɪn/, Fr: [mɛn] ME Flag of Maine 01820-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 15, 1820 1,316,456 Augusta Portland
State of Maryland Maryland /ˈmɛrələnd/ MD Flag of Maryland 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr April 28, 1788 5,633,597 Annapolis Baltimore


Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts /ˌmæsəˈtʃuːsɪts/ MU Flag of Massachusetts 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr February 6, 1788 6,497,967 Boston Boston
State of Mexico Mexico /ˈmɛksɪkoʊ/ MX Flag of Massachusetts 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr February 6, 1788 6,497,967 Toluca South York
State of Michigan Michigan /ˈmɪʃɪɡən/ MI Flag of Michigan 01837-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 26, 1837 10,003,422 Lansing Detroit
State of Minnesota Minnesota /ˌmɪnɪˈsoʊtə/ MN Flag of Minnesota 01858-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr May 11, 1858 5,220,393 Saint Paul Minneapolis
State of Mississippi Mississippi /ˌmɪsɪˈsɪpi/ MS Flag of Mississippi 01817-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 10, 1817 2,938,618 Jackson Jackson
State of Missouri Missouri /mɪˈzʊəri, mɪˈzʊərə/ MO Flag of Missouri 01821-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr August 10, 1821 5,911,605 Jefferson City Kansas City


State of Montana Montana /mɒnˈtænə/ MT Flag of Montana 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 8, 1889 967,440 Helena Billings
State of Nebraska Nebraska /nəˈbræskə/ NE Flag of Nebraska 01867-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 1, 1867 1,783,432 Lincoln Omaha
State of Nevada Nevada /nəˈvædə/ NV Flag of Nevada 01864-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr October 31, 1864 2,600,167 Carson City Las Vegas
State of New Hampshire New Hampshire /nuː ˈhæmpʃər/ NH Flag of New Hampshire 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 21, 1788 1,315,809 Concord Manchester


State of New Jersey New Jersey /nuː ˈdʒɜrzi/ NJ Flag of New Jersey 01787-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 18, 1787 8,682,661 Trenton Newark


State of New Mexico New Mexico /nuː ˈmɛksɪkoʊ/, Sp: [ˈnweβo ˈmexiko] NM Flag of New Mexico 01912-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 6, 1912 1,984,356 Santa Fe Albuquerque
State of New York New York /nuː ˈjɔrk/ NY Flag of New York 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr July 26, 1788 19,490,297 Albany New York


State of Newfoundland Newfoundland /nuː ˈhæmpʃər/ NB Newfoundland Tricolour 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 21, 1788 508,925 St. John's St. John's
State of North Carolina North Carolina /ˌnɔrθ kɛrɵˈlaɪnə/ NC Flag of North Carolina 01789-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 21, 1789 9,222,414 Raleigh Charlotte
State of North Columbia North Columbia /ˌnɔrθ kəˈlʌmbiə/ NU 48px 01789-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 21, 1789 9,222,414 Vancouver Vancouver
State of North Dakota North Dakota /ˌnɔrθ dəˈkoʊtə/ ND Flag of North Dakota 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 641,481 Bismarck Fargo
State of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia /ˌnɔrθ dəˈkoʊtə/ NS Flag of Nova Scotia 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 641,481 Halifax Halifax
State of Ohio Ohio /ɵˈhaɪ.oʊ/ OH Flag of Ohio 01803-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 1, 1803 11,485,910 Columbus Columbus


State of Oklahoma Oklahoma /ˌoʊkləˈhoʊmə/ OK Flag of Oklahoma 01907-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 16, 1907 3,642,361 Oklahoma City Oklahoma City
State of Oregon Oregon /ˈɔərɪɡən/ OR Flag of Oregon 01859-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr February 14, 1859 3,790,060 Salem Portland
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania /ˌpɛnsɪlˈveɪnjə/ PA Flag of Pennsylvania 01787-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 12, 1787 12,448,279 Harrisburg Philadelphia
State of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico /ˌnɔrθ dəˈkoʊtə/ PR Flag of Puerto Rico 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 3,994,259 San Juan San Juan
State of Quebec Quebec /kəˈbɛk/ QU Flag of Quebec state 01790-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr May 29, 1790 1,050,788 Quebec City Quebec City
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Rhode Island /rɵˈdaɪlənd/ RI Flag of Rhode Island 01790-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr May 29, 1790 1,050,788 Providence Providence
State of Saint Dominic's Island Saint Dominic's Island /ˌsaʊθ dəˈkoʊtə/ SA Flag of Saint Dominic's 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 6,804,194 Santo Domingo Santo Domingo
State of Sonora Sonora /ˌsaʊθ dəˈkoʊtə/ SR Flag of Sonora 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 6,804,194 Jacksonville Jacksonville
State of South California South California /ˌsaʊθ ˌkælɪˈfɔrnjə/ SL 48px 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 6,804,194 San Diego Tijuana
State of South Carolina South Carolina /ˌsaʊθ kɛrɵˈlaɪnə/ SC Flag of South Carolina 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr May 23, 1788 4,479,800 Columbia Columbia


State of South Columbia South Columbia /ˌsaʊθ kəˈlʌmbiə/ SU 48px 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 6,804,194 Olympia Seattle
State of South Dakota South Dakota /ˌsaʊθ dəˈkoʊtə/ SD Flag of South Dakota 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 2, 1889 804,194 Pierre Sioux Falls
State of Tennessee Tennessee /ˌtɛnɪˈsiː/ TN Flag of Tennessee 01796-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 1, 1796 6,214,888 Nashville Memphis


State of Texas Texas /ˈtɛksəs/ TX Flag of Texas 01845-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 29, 1845 24,326,974 Austin Houston


State of Utah Utah /ˈjuːtɔː/ UT Flag of Utah 01896-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 4, 1896 2,736,424 Salt Lake City Salt Lake City
State of Veracruz Veracruz /ˌver-ə-ˈkrüz/ VZ 48px 01791-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 4, 1791 621,270 Boca del Rio Burlington
State of Vermont Vermont /vərˈmɒnt/ VT Flag of Vermont 01791-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 4, 1791 621,270 Montpelier Burlington
State of Victoria Victoria /viktɔɹiːə/ VI 48px 01791-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr March 4, 1791 621,270 Victoria City Victoria City
Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia /vərˈdʒɪnjə/ VA Flag of Virginia 01788-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 25, 1788 7,769,089 Richmond Virginia Beach


State of Washington Washington /ˈwɒʃɪŋtən/ WA Flag of Washington 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 11, 1889 6,549,224 Olympia Seattle
State of West Virginia West Virginia /ˌwɛst vərˈdʒɪnjə/ WV Flag of West Virginia 01863-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr June 20, 1863 1,814,468 Charleston Charleston
State of Wisconsin Wisconsin /wɪsˈkɒnsɪn/ WI Flag of Madison, Wisconsin 01848-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr May 29, 1848 5,627,967 Madison Milwaukee
State of Wyoming Wyoming /waɪˈoʊmɪŋ/ WY Flag of Wyoming 01890-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr July 10, 1890 532,668 Cheyenne Cheyenne
State of Yucatan Yucatan /ˌjü-kə-ˈtan/ YC Flag of the Republic of Yucatan 01890-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr July 10, 1890 532,668 Merida Jackson City
State of Yukon Yukon /ˈjuːkɒn/ YK Flag of Yukon (New World) 01890-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr July 10, 1890 532,668 Washington City Washington City


The 12 Territories of the United States of America
Official Territory Name Common IPA USPS Flag Date 2008 Pop Capital Most Populous City
Territory of American Samoa American Samoa /əˈmɛrɪkən səˈmoʊə/ SM Flag of American Samoa 01898-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 19, 1898 67,375 Fagatogo Fagatogo
Territory of Canary Islands Canary Islands /kəˈnæriː ˈaɪləndz/ CY 48px 01898-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 19, 1898 2,145,375 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Territory of Cape Verde Cape Verde /ˌkeɪp ˈvɜ:rd/ CV Flag of Cape Verde 01919-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1919 621,900 Mindelo Mindelo
Territory of Guam Guam /ˌkeɪp ˈvɜ:rd/ GU Flag of Guam 01898-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1898 178,900 Hagåtña Hagåtña
Territory of Hudson Hudson /ˌæləˈbæmə/ KW 48px 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1889 71,432 Fort Rupert Fort Rupert
Territory of Keewatin Keewatin /ˌæləˈbæmə/ KW 48px 01893-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1893 51,600 Port Nelson Port Nelson
Territory of Labrador Labrador /əˈlæskə/ LN Flag of Labrador 01889-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr January 3, 1889 256,743 Red Bay Red Bay
Territory of Manitoba Manitoba /ˌmænɨˈtoʊbə/ MB Flag of Manitoba 01819-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1819 4,661,900 Montgomery Birmingham
Territory of North Pacific Islands North Pacific Islands /kəˈnæriː ˈaɪləndz/ NP 48px 01898-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 19, 1898 745,375 Saipan Saipan
Territory of São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe /ˌsaʊ toʊˈmeɪ ən ˈprɪnsɨpə/ SP 48px 01919-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr December 14, 1919 164,900 São Tomé São Tomé
Territory of South Pacific Islands South Pacific Islands /kəˈnæriː ˈaɪləndz/ SP Flag of South Pacific Islands 01898-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr November 19, 1898 562,375 South Tarawa South Tarawa
Territory of U.S. Virgin Islands U.S. Virgin Islands /ˈjuːkɒn/ VI 48px 01916-Template:MONTH-Template:0expr July 17, 1916 109,455 Charlotte Amelie Charlotte Amelie




The United States is a remarkably diverse nation, with European, African, Asian, Hispanic, and Middle-Eastern immigrants coming in each year through the quota system that was set up in 1882, amended in 1924, which provides that those who are educated and have skills necessary for the nation as a whole, and who can speak English will be allowed in.

  • Ethnic breakdown of US:
  • 85% European-origin (mostly UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries)
  • 8% African-origin
  • 4% Hispanic-origin (Central, South America)
  • 3% Asian-origin


The United States has a diverse range of languages, ranging from Native American, to European, to Asian. The majority language is English, being the first language of 75% of the population, and German and French the first language of 20% of the population.

  • Language Spoken at Home (2005)
    • English-only 80.4% (387.6 million)
    • French 9.4% (45.3 million)
    • German 7.2% (34.7 million)
    • Dutch 1.1% (5.3 million)
    • Spanish 1.0% (4.8 million)

Several states have official languages, some only English, while others are bilingual or trilingual.

  • Bilingual states (English/French)
    • East Hudson
    • East Quebec
    • Louisiana
    • Maine
    • Quebec
    • West Hudson
  • Bilingual states (English/German)
    • Franklin
    • Kentucky
    • North Dakota
    • Ohio
    • Pennsylvania
    • South Dakota
    • Texas
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin
  • Bilingual states (English/Dutch)
    • New York



The United States has a diverse power generation system, comprising mostly nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, wind, and solar. About 69% of the energy of the United States comes from nuclear power, 20% from coal, 5% from natural gas, and the remaining 6% from wind, solar and hydroelectric combined.

There are over 350 nuclear plants within the United States, from Yucatan and Guiana in the south, to Columbia and Labrador in the north. Since 1961, the United States has standardized its nuclear plant program under the Atomic Energy Commission, yielding three main classes of reactor: 900 Mw, 1200 Mw, and 1500 Mw. The high degree of standardization has allowed the United States to develop the most advanced nuclear power industry in the world.


File:Motherhood and apple pie.jpg

The United States is a multicultural nation, home to a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Aside from the now small Native American and Native Hawaiian populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors immigrated within the past five centuries. The culture held in common by most Americans — mainstream American culture — is a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by slaves from Africa. More recent immigration from Asia and to a much lesser degree Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing melting pot and a heterogeneous salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics. The majority of immigrants into the United States arrive from northern Europe.

According to Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions analysis, the United States has the highest individualism score of any country studied. While the mainstream culture holds that the United States is a classless society, scholars identify significant differences between the country's social classes, affecting socialization, language, and values. The American middle and professional class has initiated many contemporary social trends such as modern feminism, environmentalism, and founderism. While Americans tend greatly to value socioeconomic achievement, being ordinary or average is generally seen as a positive attribute. The American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants, though some analysts find that the United States has less social mobility in certain areas of the country than Western Europe.

Women now mostly work outside the home and receive a majority of bachelor's degrees. In 2007, 67% of Americans age 18 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 17% had never been married. A disturbing trend appeared with rising divorce rates in the late 60's and early 70's, when Fascist-inspired feminists took over the feminist movement and inspired an 'us vs. them' mentality amongst a number of women, which died out with the counter-feminist movement of the late 70's and early 80's. Black separatism arose in the inner cities due to habitual neglect by the perpetually elected Democrat governments of these large cities, which has not penetrated into the now Republican South or into the Southwest or Midwest, as in those regions, black Americans are majority middle class.

Popular media


The world's first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City in 1894, using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope. The next year saw the first commercial screening of a projected film, also in New York, and the United States was in the forefront of sound film's development in the following decades. Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, California. Director D. W. Griffith was central to the development of film grammar and Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) is frequently cited as the greatest film of all time. American screen actors like John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe have become iconic figures, while producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising. The major film studios of Hollywood have produced the most commercially successful movies in history, such as Star Trek (1979) and Titanic (1999), and the products of Hollywood today dominate the global film industry.

Americans are the heaviest television viewers in the world, and the average viewing time continues to rise, reaching five hours a day in 2006. The four major broadcast networks are all commercial entities. Americans listen to radio programming, also largely commercialized, on average just over two-and-a-half hours a day. Aside from web portals and search engines, the most popular websites are Facebook, NetTube, Wikipedia, Blogger, eBay, and Craigslist.

The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African American music have deeply influenced American music at large, distinguishing it from European traditions. Elements from folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular genres with global audiences. Jazz was developed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the 20th century. Country music developed in the 1920s, and rhythm and blues in the 1940s. Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were among the mid-1950s pioneers of rock and roll. In the 1960s, Bob Dylan emerged from the folk revival to become one of America's most celebrated songwriters and James Brown led the development of funk. More recent American creations include hip hop and house music. American pop stars such as Presley, Michael Jackson, and Madonna have become global celebrities.

Literature, philosophy, and the arts

File:Kerouac by Palumbo.jpg

In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet. A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel."

Fourteen U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, most recently Pierre Thibodeaux in 1993. Ernest Hemingway, the 1954 Nobel laureate, is often named as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Popular literary genres such as the Western and hardboiled crime fiction developed in the United States. The Beat Generation writers opened up new literary approaches, as have postmodernist authors such as John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo.

The transcendentalists, led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, established the first major American philosophical movement. After the Civil War, Charles Sanders Peirce and then William James and John Dewey were leaders in the development of pragmatism. In the 20th century, the work of W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty, built upon by Noam Chomsky, brought analytic philosophy to the fore of U.S. academics. John Rawls and Robert Nozick led a revival of political philosophy.

In the visual arts, the Hudson River School was a mid-19th-century movement in the tradition of European naturalism. The 1913 Armory Show in New York City, an exhibition of European modernist art, shocked the public and transformed the U.S. art scene. Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and others experimented with new styles, displaying a highly individualistic sensibility. Major artistic 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. The tide of modernism and then postmodernism has brought fame to American architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Frank Gehry.

File:Times Square 1-2.JPG

One of the first major promoters of American theater was impresario P. T. Barnum, who began operating a lower Manhattan entertainment complex in 1841. The team of Harrigan and Hart produced a series of popular musical comedies in New York starting in the late 1870s. In the 20th century, the modern musical form emerged on Broadway; the songs of musical theater composers such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim have become pop standards. Playwright Eugene O'Neill won the Nobel literature prize in 1936; other acclaimed U.S. dramatists include multiple Pulitzer Prize winners Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and August Wilson.

Though largely overlooked at the time, Charles Ives's work of the 1910s established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical tradition; other experimentalists such as Henry Cowell and John Cage created an American approach to classical composition. Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a unique synthesis of popular and classical music. Choreographers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham helped create modern dance, while George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were leaders in 20th century ballet. Americans have long been important in the modern artistic medium of photography, with major photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Ansel Adams. The newspaper comic strip and the comic book are both U.S. innovations. Superman, the quintessential comic book superhero, has become an American icon, along with Ultra-Man, Spider-Man, and Batman.


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Mainstream American culinary arts are similar to those in other Western countries. Wheat is the primary cereal grain. Traditional American cuisine uses ingredients such as turkey, white-tailed deer venison, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup, indigenous foods employed by Native Americans and early European settlers. Slow-cooked pork and beef barbecue, crab cakes, potato chips, and chocolate chip cookies are distinctively American styles. Soul food, developed by African slaves, is popular around the South and among many African Americans elsewhere. Syncretic cuisines such as Louisiana creole, Cajun, and Tex-Mex are regionally important.

Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, German dishes such as wurstchens, and pasta dishes freely adapted from Italian sources are widely consumed. Americans generally prefer coffee to tea. Marketing by U.S. industries is largely responsible for making orange juice and milk ubiquitous breakfast beverages. During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans' caloric intake rose 24%; frequent dining at fast food outlets is associated with what health officials call the American "obesity epidemic." Highly sweetened soft drinks are widely popular; sugared beverages account for 9% of the average American's caloric intake. A retro-cuisine based on earlier colonial diets has taken hold and become quite popular amongst a wide range of the country, from Durango to Quebec and Yukon in response to the rise in fast-food chains, using all-natural foods without preservatives or pesticides.


File:Shea Smith-edit1.jpg

Since the late 19th century, baseball has been regarded as the national sport; American football, basketball, and ice hockey are the country's three other leading professional team sports. College football and basketball attract large audiences. Football is now by several measures the most popular spectator sport. Boxing and horse racing were once the most watched individual sports, but they have been eclipsed by golf and auto racing, particularly NASCAR. Soccer is played widely at the youth and amateur levels due to high levels of immigration from Germany and Scandinavia. Tennis and many outdoor sports are popular as well.

While most major U.S. sports have evolved out of European practices, basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, snowboarding, and cheerleading are American inventions. Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact. Eight Olympic Games have taken place in the United States. The United States has won 2,475 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country, and 293 in the Winter Olympic Games, the second most.

Measurement systems

The country retains United States customary units, constituted largely by British imperial units such as yards, miles, and degrees Fahrenheit. Distinct units include the U.S. gallon and pint volume measurements. The United States is one of several countries, along with Qatar, Israel, and Liberia, that has not officially adopted the metric system. However, metric units are increasingly used in science, medicine, and many industrial fields. Bottles of Soda and other drinks are sold in quarts, not liters as in Europe.


  1. The Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Connecticut.
  2. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Florida.
  3. Baltimore City and the 12 Maryland counties of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Maryland.
  4. The City of Saint Louis and the 8 Missouri counties of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Missouri.
  5. The five southeastern New Hampshire counties of the Boston-Worcester-Manchester Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Hampshire.
  6. The 13 northern New Jersey counties of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Jersey.
  7. New York City is the most populous city in the United States.
  8. The Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Ohio.
  9. The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in South Carolina.
  10. The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Columbia Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Tennessee.
  11. The Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Texas.
  12. The ten Virginia counties and six Virginia cities of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Virginia.

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