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The United States of America (USA), also known as the United States (US), is a country in North America. In north it has boundaries with Canada, in south wit Mexico. In East, there is the Atlantic Ocean, in east the Pacific Ocean. The name America is the female counterpart for of the name of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

It has been inhabited by Native Americans some 15 000 (or even more) years ago. The continent was discovered by mistake by Columbus in 1492. In 15th century colonization from Europe started and the first settlement was Jamestown, founded in 1607. There was a growing tension between American colonies and British and it lead into a revolution in which American colonies gained their independence in 1776. This victory is celebrated to these days as Independence Day – on 4th July. The history of the United States is very rich for events, although it is not as long as with other countries. The last, world-wide significant event was an attack on New York Manhattan on 11th September 2001.

As far as the political arrangement is concerned the United States is the longest-surviving constitutional republic with the oldest written constitution in the world. Its government operates as a representative democracy through a congressional system under a set of powers specified by its Constitution. There are two major political parties: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The power is divided into three levels of government: federal, state and local.

The federation consists of 50 states. All of them but Alaska and Hawaii are continental. The United States also holds several other territories, districts, and possessions, notably the federal district of the District of Columbia – which contains the nation's capital city, Washington—and several overseas insular areas.

The U.S. has an extremely varied geography as well as climate. In northern Alaska, tundra and arctic conditions predominate, and the temperature has fallen as low as minus −62 °C. On the other hand, Death Valley, California once reached 56.7 °C; the second-highest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

The economic system of the United States can be described as a capitalist-mixed economy, in which corporations and other private firms make the majority of microeconomic decisions and governments prefer to take a smaller role in the domestic economy. Economic activity varies greatly across the country.

The population was estimated to 298,967,801 people in June 2006. About 79% of the population lives in urban areas, and the country has 31 ethnic groups with at least one million members each, with numerous others represented in smaller amounts. The majority of Americans, approximately 67% are the relatively unmixed direct descendants of white European immigrants. African Americans, or Blacks, largely descend from Africans who arrived as slaves during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. They make nearly 13% of population. The most significant demographic trend of these days is the immigration of Hispanics from Latin America. As far religion is concerned, most Americans identify themselves as Christian, with Protestant denominations making up the majority (52%), followed by Roman Catholicism (24%), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1%), Judaism (1%), Islam (1%), other (10%), and none (variously estimated at 10% to 15%).

Although the United States has no official language, English is the de facto national language. Besides English, there are others quite spread languages – Spanish or Spanish Creole, Chinese (mostly Mandarin), French (including Patois and Cajun), Tagalog, Vietnamese and German.

Because US are created mostly of immigrants from all over the world its culture is often referred to as a melting pot in which immigrants eventually assimilate into American culture bringing contributions from their culture but ultimately adopting a unified American culture. A more recently proposed model – pluralistic model, is that of the salad bowl in which immigrant cultures retain at least some of the unique characteristics of their culture without merging into the overall American culture. A key component of American culture is the American Dream, a faith that, through hard work, courage, and self-determination, regardless of social class, a person can gain a better life.

External References:
The White House Official Site The US Government's Official Web Portal
U. S. Department of State Home Page
United States House of Representatives
Wikipedia article on United States
United States of America Travel Guide
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