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The United States of America is a federal republic located on the Eastern coast of the North American continent. The country is more usually referred to as the "United States" or simply "The U.S.". The United States has been a leading world power for the past century, though it is not what is usually referred to as a "superpower". Traditionally, since the turn of the 20th century, America has very much been tied politically and culturally to Europe, though it is an independent nation. The capital city is Washington, in the District of Columbia (Washington, DC).
The area now called the United States was first settled in the 1500s by English settlers, who colonised Virginia. The colonies grew in size under Elizabeth I and Queen Arbella; her successor William III was an active proponent of greater colonisation of the Americas. By 1750 the colonies has swelled to such a size that they began to demand greater representation in the English governmental structure. The English government refused, and in 1776 the American colonies rebelled against English rule. The American revolution of 1776-1780 resulted in the creation of the United States, with the 14 colonies forming a common government. The general in charge of the rebel armies, George Washington, became the first President of the new republic.
U.S. territory continued to expand through the acquisition of additional territory from England and France during the 19th century. During the Napoleonic wars, the U.S. sided with Napoleon initially, but after French domination in the Caribbean and their annexation of Mexico became a threat to American economic interests, the U.S. declared war on France and annexed parts of the French Louisiana territory. They gained further territory in another Franco-American war in 1848, which granted American sovereignty over French Canada.
The 1860s saw the beginning of a bloody civil war in the United States, sparked by Southern slave owners not wishing to conform to abolitionist economic domination from the slave-free North. The Civil War lasted from 1861 until 1864, when the Treaty of New Orleans established an abolitionist North and a slave-holding South, the "Confederacy", which lasted until 1934.
During the 20th century, America's role as a world power was overshadowed by England, Germany and France, and later in the Pacific by the Japanese. American foreign policy became more closely tied to England's, and by the outbreak of the Colonial rebellion in the Far East in 1958, American interests dictated their involvement on the European side against the rebels. When the Treaty of Bangkok ended that war in 1960, American foreign policy had become tied to Europe to such an extent that, much later, American entry into a European customs union was considered.
America was a leading participant in the exploration of space until 1971, when an American attempt at a moon landing ended in the loss of three astronauts. The American space program was indefinitely suspended.
As European relations with the Great Caliphate) soured in the 1980s, sparked in part by Islamic extremists conducting terrorist attacks against France, Germany and England, American involvement in Arab affairs increased. In 1990, when Saddam Hussein's attempt to increase his territory by annexing Kuwait led to the Caliphate Civil War, Anglo-American involvement was limited to aid and equipment to Saddam Hussein. However, following the Islamic terrorist attacks against the Tower of London and Wembley Stadium on June 12, 2001, the English government conducted a global 'war on terrorism', which the American government willingly backed. When Anglo-American forces invaded the Baghdad and Iraqi regions of the Eastern Caliphate, turning on their former ally Saddam and alienating Muslims, it caused the downfall of the U.S. government. Following claims that the English government, in league with Washington, had manufactured evidence against Saddam in an attempt to gain access to Iraqi oil reserves, the American president, Dick Cheney, was defeated in the 2004 presidential election by Virginia governor Warren Beatty, who pledged a more independent foreign policy and less participation in Europe, choosing instead to focus on American relations in the Pacific and North America.
The U.S. has a federal system of government. Executive power rests with an elected President, while legislative authority rests with the Congress - the 260-member House of Representatives and 64-member Senate, all directly elected. There is a strong democratic tradition in the United States. The U.S. consists of 32 states, each of which has considerably internal autonomy and a wide range of domestic powers.