The United States of America is a constitutional federal republic, situated primarily in North America. It comprises 50 states and one federal district, and has several territories with differing degrees of affiliation. It is also referred to, with varying formality, as the United States, the US, the USA, the US of A, America, the States, or Columbia.
Mickey Mouse, Miami Vice, Sleepless in Seattle thanks to cinema and TV we all have impressions of the United States of America. Yet nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of Manhattans unforgettable skyline, your first ride in a yellow cab, the ubiquitous hamburger joints, the vast expanses of prairie, the sweet strains of New Orleans jazz or the neon lit excesses of Las Vegas.
The USA is a huge country to explore, with 50 states to choose from, flanked by two oceans and covering an incredibly varied terrain. For five centuries, since the New World discoveries of Christopher Columbus, people from every corner of the globe have come here in search of the American Dream. Between them, they have created the richest, most powerful country on earth, and a fascinating melting pot of cultures and traditions.
Vast plains, mountain ranges, deserts, soaring skyscrapers, stunning coastlines, impressive national parks and a thriving cultural scene; the USA has it all, plus some.
Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in North America in 1492, the continent was inhabited by peoples thought to have been descended from nomadic Mongolian tribes who had travelled across the Barents Sea. The first wave of European settlers, mainly English, French and Dutch, crossed the Atlantic in the 17th century and colonised the Eastern Seaboard. The restrictions on political rights and the punitive taxation which the British government imposed on the American colonists led to the American War of Independence, with the Declaration of Independence being signed in 1776. The outcome was a humiliating defeat for the English King, George III. The American Constitution born of this victory has been imitated by many other countries.
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, which claimed over 3,000 lives, made for a defining moment in American history. The impact on the American people and its body politic was immense. The country demanded action, and President George W Bush immediately launched a war on terror.
The climate is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.