The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean, is a dependent of the USA but retains commonwealth status. The United States Virgin Islands is a US Caribbean Territory. The US also has Territories in Oceania.
There are 50 US states and 1 district: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, 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 and the District of Columbia,
Washington DC (District of Columbia) is the capital and New York is the USA’s largest city.
The US has a very large central plain and is mountainous in the west and east. There are mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska and the islands of Hawaii are volcanic in origin.
The climate of the US is very diverse; it is tropical in the States of Florida and Hawaii with arctic weather conditions in Alaska. Various parts of the US are prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and forest fires.
The terrain of the US includes mountains, forests, grasslands, deserts, lakes, rivers and coastline. The Grand Canyon, a gorge created by the Colorado River, is one of the most spectacular sights in the US.
The varied landscape and weather conditions produce many different types of flora. Plant life, bird species and animals are conserved in the National Parks. Animals include bears, moose, deer, raccoons, chipmunks and alligators.
National Parks on the World Heritage List are Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, Olympic National Park, Redwood National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park.
There are a number of pre-Columbian sites on the World Heritage List. An early listing is the Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, which has many examples of Ancestral Pueblo buildings. The structures, dating from the sixth to the twelfth century, include cliff dwellings built of stone.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (Missouri), also on the World Heritage List, was occupied between 800 and 1400 during a period known as the Mississippian.
Early European colonists used the local abundance of timber to build homes and towns. Examples of Colonial architecture can be seen in a number of locations. The Savannah Historic Distric was the first settlement in the English colony of Georgia and has buildings of architectural merit.
America’s most famous home is the White House, the residence of the President of the United States, designed by the Irish-born architect James Hoban at the end of the eighteenth century.
Perhaps the USA’s most well known architect is Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) who designed a variety of buildings: houses (Fallingwater), municipal buildings (Guggenheim Museum) and skyscrapers (Price Tower).
The US, New York in particular, is known for its skyscrapers. However on 11 September 2001 New York’s skyline lost the World Trade Center Twin Towers in terrorist attacks.
Within eighteen months of 11 September a proposal for redevelopment of the New York site was accepted. The Polish born architect Daniel Libeskind, who became a US citizen in 1965, was chosen to reconstruct the area known as Ground Zero. Subsequently, fellow architect David Childs worked with Libeskind on the design.
Libeskind’s proposal featured a 1,776 ft. spire, symbolic for the year of American Independence. (Libeskind is famous for his design of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, opened in 2001).
The population of the USA was estimated at 303,824,640 in 2008.
English is the official language. Spanish is spoken by over ten percent the population. Hawaiian is an official language in Hawaii.
A large percentage of Americans are Christians. The United States has produced a number of evangelists such as Billy Graham.
Native American food includes various breads, soups and wild green salads. Colonists brought their own culinary traditions.
America became a melting pot for people from all over the world. Today, food in the USA reflects this cultural diversity. The Spanish influence is particularly evident in parts of the country colonized by Spain.
The American food industry is internationally known for fast-food chains such as McDonald’s. American-style cookies, muffins and bagels have also made an impact on the international snack food market.