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The United States of America ( USA), commonly referred to as the United States ( U.S.) or America, is a ξ3 ξ4 composed of 50 , a , five major and various . The and , are in central between and . The state of is in the northwestern part of North America and the state of is an in the mid-. The are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the . At 3.8 million square miles (9.842 million km2)" State and other areas", U.S. Census Bureau, MAF/TIGER database as of August 2010, excluding the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands. viewed October 22, 2014. and with over 320 million people, the country is the world's and the . It is one of the world's most and nations, the product of large-scale .Adams, J.Q.; Strother-Adams, Pearlie (2001). Dealing with Diversity. Chicago: Kendall/Hunt. ISBN 0-7872-8145-X. The and are also extremely diverse, and the country is home to a wide variety of wildlife.

to what is now the U.S. mainland at least 15,000 years ago, with beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from along the . Disputes between and the colonies led to the . On July 4, 1776, as the colonies were fighting Great Britain in the , delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously adopted the . The war ended in 1783 with by the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European .Greene, Jack P.; Pole, J.R., eds. (2008). A Companion to the American Revolution. pp. 352–361.
The country's was adopted on September 17, 1787, and ratified by the states in 1788. The first ten amendments, collectively named the , were ratified in 1791 and designed to guarantee many .

Driven by the doctrine of , the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century. This involved , , and gradually , until by 1848 the nation spanned the continent. ξ6 During the second half of the 19th century, the ended legal . ξ7 By the end of that century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean, ξ8 and its economy, driven in large part by the , began to soar. The and confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The United States emerged from as a global , the , the only country to in war, and a of the . The end of the and the in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. ξ9

The United States is a and has the world's largest national , benefiting from an abundance of and high worker productivity. While the is considered , the country continues to be one of the world's largest manufacturers. Accounting for 34% of and 23% of world GDP, it is the world's foremost and economic power, a prominent political and force, and a leader in .

In 1507, the produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere after the Italian explorer and cartographer (: Americus Vespucius). The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by , Esq., 's and Muster-Master General of the . Addressed to , Moylan expressed his wish to carry the "full and ample powers of the United States of America" to Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort.DeLear, Byron (July 4, 2013) Who coined 'United States of America'? Mystery might have intriguing answer. "Historians have long tried to pinpoint exactly when the name 'United States of America' was first used and by whom. A new find suggests the man might have been George Washington himself." Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA).

The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the .DeLear, Byron (August 16, 2012). "Who coined the name 'United States of America'? Mystery gets new twist." Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA). In the final version of the Declaration, the title was changed to read, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America". In 1777 the announced, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America. ξ15 The of the states "...establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms are the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names are the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 1700s, derives its origin from ; it appears in the name "". ξ16 In non-English languages, the name is frequently the translation of either the "United States" or "United States of America", and colloquially as "America". In addition, an abbreviation (e.g. USA) is sometimes used.For example, the U.S. embassy in Spain calls itself the embassy of the "Estados Unidos", literally the words "states" and "united", and also uses the initials "EE.UU.", the doubled letters implying plural use in Spanish [5] Elsewhere on the site "Estados Unidos de América" is used [6]

The phrase "United States" was originally plural, a description of a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the , ratified in 1865. The singular form—e.g., "the United States is"— became popular after the end of the American Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States". The difference is more significant than usage; it is a difference between a collection of states and a unit.G. H. Emerson, The Universalist Quarterly and General Review, Vol. 28 (Jan. 1891), p. 49, quoted in Zimmer paper above.

A citizen of the United States is an "". "United States", "American" and "U.S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). "" rarely refers to subjects not connected with the United States.Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 27–28. ISBN 0-231-06989-8.


Indigenous and European contact
The migrated from by way of the and arrived at least 15,000 years ago, though increasing evidence suggests an even earlier arrival.

Some, such as the , developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. After the Spanish made the first contacts, the for various reasons, primarily diseases such as and . Violence was not a significant factor in the overall decline, though it impacted specific tribes and colonial settlements." The Cambridge encyclopedia of human paleopathology". Arthur C. Aufderheide, Conrado Rodríguez-Martín, Odin Langsjoen (1998). . p. 205. ISBN 0-521-55203-6 pp. 225–232 p. 47 pp. 142–143 In the the earliest indigenous inhabitants arrived around 1 AD from . arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 ξ17 with American contact made in 1790 with the first ship to dock arriving in Oahu. ξ18

In the early days of colonization many European settlers were subject to food shortages, disease, and attacks from Native Americans. Native Americans were also often at war with neighboring tribes and allied with Europeans in their colonial wars., p. 69 At the same time, however, many natives and settlers came to depend on each other. Settlers traded for food and animal pelts, natives for guns, ammunition and other European wares. p. 6 Natives taught many settlers where, when and how to cultivate corn, beans and squash. European missionaries and others felt it was important to "civilize" the Indians and urged them to adopt European agricultural techniques and lifestyles. p. 5, p. 55

After ' to the in 1492, other explorers followed with settlement into the Floridas and the American Southwest., pp. 33–34, pp. 72, 74 There were also some to colonize the east coast, and later more successful settlements along the . Successful on the eastern coast of North America began with the Virginia Colony in 1607 at and the in 1620. Early experiments in communal living failed until the introduction of private farm holdings., pp. 29–31 Many settlers were who came seeking . The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's created in 1619, and the , signed by the Pilgrims before disembarking, established precedents for the pattern of representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies., pp. 2–3, pp. 26–30

Most settlers in every colony were small farmers, but other industries developed within a few decades as varied as the settlements. included tobacco, rice and wheat. Extraction industries grew up in furs, fishing and lumber. Manufacturers produced rum and ships, and by the late colonial period Americans were producing one-seventh of the world's iron supply., chapter 3 Cities eventually dotted the coast to support local economies and serve as trade hubs. English colonists were supplemented by waves of and other groups. As coastal land grew more expensive freed pushed further west.

Slave cultivation of cash crops began with the Spanish in the 1500s, and was adopted by the English, but life expectancy was much higher in North America because of less disease and better food and treatment, leading to a rapid increase in the numbers of slaves.Clingan, 2000, p. 13, p. 1534, p. 484 Colonial society was largely divided over the religious and moral implications of slavery and colonies passed acts for and against the practice., p. 522, p. 7 But by the turn of the 18th century, African slaves were replacing indentured servants for cash crop labor, especially in southern regions., p. 195

With the British colonization of in 1732, the that would become the United States of America were established. ξ19 All had local governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient and a sense of self-government stimulating support for republicanism. ξ20 With extremely high birth rates, low death rates, and steady settlement, the colonial population grew rapidly. Relatively small Native American populations were eclipsed., pp. 38–39 The movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty.Foner, Eric. of American freedom&hl=en&sa=X&ei=iJ6ZVNDOGMjeggStroKQDA&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=story of American freedom&f=false The Story of American Freedom, 1998 ISBN 0-393-04665-6 p.4-5.

In the , British forces seized Canada from the French, but the population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. Excluding the , who were being conquered and displaced, those 13 colonies had a population of over 2.1 million in 1770, about one-third that of Britain. Despite continuing new arrivals, the rate of natural increase was such that by the 1770s only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas., p. 35 The colonies' distance from Britain had allowed the development of self-government, but their success motivated monarchs to periodically seek to reassert royal authority.

Independence and expansion (1776–1865)
The American Revolutionary War was the first successful colonial war of independence against a European power. Americans had developed an ideology of "" asserting that government rested on the will of the people as expressed in their local legislatures. They demanded their , "no taxation without representation". The British insisted on administering the empire through Parliament, and escalated into war. ξ21

Following the passage of the , on July 2, 1776, which was the actual vote for independence, the Congress adopted the , on July 4, which proclaimed, in a long preamble, that humanity is created equal in their unalienable rights and that those rights were not being protected by Great Britain, and finally declared, in the words of the resolution, that the were independent states and had no allegiance to the British crown in the United States. The fourth day of July is celebrated annually as . In 1777, the established a weak government that operated until 1789. ξ22

Britain recognized the independence of the United States following their .Greene and Pole, A Companion to the American Revolution p 357. Jonathan R. Dull, A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (1987) p. 161. Lawrence S. Kaplan, "The Treaty of Paris, 1783: A Historiographical Challenge", International History Review, Sept 1983, Vol. 5 Issue 3, pp 431–442 In the , American sovereignty was recognized from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River. Nationalists led the of 1787 in writing the , in state conventions in 1788. The federal government was reorganized into three branches, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances, in 1789. George Washington, who had led the revolutionary army to victory, was the first elected under the new constitution. The , forbidding federal restriction of and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791., pp. 192–193

Although the federal government criminalized the international slave trade in 1808, after 1820 cultivation of the highly profitable cotton crop exploded in the , and along with it the slave population. ξ23 , p. 43, pp. 27,29 The , beginning about 1800, converted millions to Protestantism. In the North it energized multiple social reform movements, including ; ξ24 in the South, Methodists and Baptists proselytized among slave populations.Heinemann, Ronald L., et al., Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: a history of Virginia 1607–2007, 2007 ISBN 978-0-8139-2609-4, p.197

Americans' eagerness to prompted a long series of . ξ25 The of French-claimed territory in 1803 almost doubled the nation's size. The , declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a draw, strengthened U.S. nationalism. ξ26 A series of U.S. military incursions into Florida led it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819. ξ27 Expansion was aided by , when began traveling along America's large water systems, which were connected by new , such as the and the ; then, even faster railroads began their stretch across the nation's land.Winchester, pp. 198, 216, 251, 253

From 1820 to 1850, began a set of reforms which included wider male suffrage; it led to the rise of the of Democrats and Whigs as the dominant parties from 1828 to 1854. The in the 1830s exemplified the Indian removal policy that moved Indians into the west to their own reservations. The U.S. annexed the in 1845 during a period of expansionist . ξ28 The 1846 with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day . ξ29 Victory in the resulted in the 1848 of California and much of the present-day American Southwest. ξ30

The of 1848–49 spurred western migration and the creation of additional western states. ξ31 After the , new transcontinental made relocation easier for settlers, expanded internal trade and increased conflicts with Native Americans. ξ32 Over a half-century, the loss of the (called, buffalo) was an existential blow to many cultures. ξ33 In 1869, a new sought to protect Native-Americans from abuses, avoid further war, and secure their eventual U.S. citizenship, although conflicts, including several of the largest Indian Wars, continued throughout the West into the 1900s.Smith (2001), Grant, pp. 523–526

Civil War and Reconstruction Era
between northern and southern states in early United States society, particularly regarding , ultimately led the U.S. into the American Civil War. ξ34
Initially, states entering the Union alternated between , keeping a sectional balance in the Senate, while free states outstripped slave states in population and in the House of Representatives. But with additional western territory and more free-soil states, tensions between slave and free states mounted with arguments over federalism and disposition of the territories, whether and how to expand or restrict slavery. ξ36

With the 1860 election of , the first president from the largely anti-slavery , conventions in thirteen states ultimately declared secession and formed the , while the U.S. federal government maintained that secession was illegal. The ensuing war was at first for Union, then after 1863 as casualties mounted and Lincoln delivered his , a second war aim became abolition of slavery. The war remains the deadliest military conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of approximately 618,000 soldiers as well as many civilians. ξ37

Following the victory in 1865, to the U.S. Constitution brought about the , gave to the nearly four million who had been slaves, Page 7 lists a total slave population of 3,953,760. and . The war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in De Rosa, Marshall L. (1997). The Politics of Dissolution: The Quest for a National Identity and the American Civil War. Edison, NJ: Transaction. p. 266. ISBN 1-56000-349-9. aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. ξ38 Following the , throughout the South soon effectively most blacks and some poor whites. Over the subsequent decades, in both the North and the South blacks and some whites faced systemic discrimination, including and occasional , sparking against these abuses.

In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented from Southern and Eastern Europe supplied a surplus of labor for the country's industrialization and transformed its culture. ξ39 National infrastructure including and spurred economic growth and greater settlement and development of the . The later invention of and the would also impact communication and urban life.Winchester, pp. 351, 385

The end of the further expanded acreage under mechanical cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets. Mainland expansion was completed by the from in 1867. In 1893, pro-American elements in Hawaii the and formed the , which the U.S. in 1898. , , and the were ceded by Spain in the same year, following the .

at the end of the 19th century produced many prominent industrialists, and the U.S. economy became the world's largest. Dramatic changes were accompanied by social unrest and the rise of , , and movements. This period eventually ended with the advent of the , which saw significant reforms in many societal areas, including , , regulation of consumer goods, greater to ensure competition and attention to worker conditions.

World War I, Great Depression, and World War II
The United States remained neutral from the outbreak of , in 1914, until 1917 when it joined the war as an "associated power", alongside the formal , helping to turn the tide against the . In 1919, President took a leading diplomatic role at the and advocated strongly for the U.S. to join the . However, the Senate refused to approve this, and did not ratify the that established the League of Nations.McDuffie, Jerome; Piggrem, Gary Wayne; Woodworth, Steven E. (2005). U.S. History Super Review. Piscataway, NJ: Research & Education Association. p. 418. ISBN 0-7386-0070-9.

In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a granting . ξ40 The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of for and the invention of early .Winchester pp. 410–411 The prosperity of the ended with the and the onset of the . After his election as president in 1932, responded with the , which included the establishment of the system. ξ41 The of millions of African Americans out of the American South began around WWI and extended through the 1960s; ξ42 whereas the of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration. ξ43


The United States was at first effectively neutral during 's early stages but began supplying material to the in March 1941 through the program. On December 7, 1941, the launched a surprise , prompting the United States to join the Allies against the . During the war, the United States was referred as one of the "" of Allies power who met to plan the post-war world, along with Britain, the Soviet Union and China. Though the nation lost more than 400,000 soldiers, p. 2. it emerged from the war with even greater economic and military influence.Kennedy, Paul (1989). The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York: Vintage. p. 358. ISBN 0-679-72019-7. Indeed, World War II ushered in the zenith of U.S. power in what came to be called the , as , indicates: "Truman presided over the greatest military and economic power the world had ever known. War production had lifted the United States out of the Great Depression and had inaugurated an era of unimagined prosperity. Gross national product increased by 60 percent during the war, total earnings by 50 percent. Despite social unrest, labor agitation, racial conflict, and teenage vandalism, Americans had more discretionary income than ever before. Simultaneously, the U.S. government had built up the greatest war machine in human history. By the end of 1942, the United States was producing more arms than all the Axis states combined, and, in 1943, it made almost three times more armaments than did the Soviet Union. In 1945, the United States had two-thirds of the world's gold reserves, three-fourths of its invested capital, half of its shipping vessels, and half of its manufacturing capacity. Its GNP was three times that of the Soviet Union and more than five times that of Britain. It was also nearing completion of the atomic bomb, a technological and production feat of huge costs and proportions."

Allied conferences at and outlined a new system of international organizations that placed the and at the center of world affairs. As an , a 1945 held in produced the , which became active after the war. The United States developed the and used them on Japan; the Japanese on September 2, ending World War II.Pacific War Research Society (2006). Japan's Longest Day. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 4-7700-2887-3.

Cold War and civil rights era
After World War II the United States and the jockeyed for power during what is known as the , driven by an ideological divide between and ξ45 and, according to the school of , a divide between the maritime Atlantic and the continental Eurasian camps. They dominated the military affairs of , with the U.S. and its allies on one side and the USSR and its allies on the other. The U.S. towards the expansion of communist influence. While the U.S. and Soviet Union engaged in and developed powerful nuclear arsenals, the two countries avoided direct military conflict.

The U.S. often opposed movements that it viewed as Soviet-sponsored. American troops fought communist and forces in the of 1950–53. The Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the and its 1961 launch of the initiated a "" in which the United States became the first nation to in 1969. A proxy war in Southeast Asia eventually evolved into full American participation, as the .

At home, the U.S. experienced and a and middle class. Construction of an transformed the nation's infrastructure over the following decades. Millions moved from farms and to large housing developments.Winchester, pp. 305–308 In 1959 became the 50th and last state added to the US. ξ49 A growing used to confront segregation and discrimination, with becoming a prominent leader and figurehead. A combination of court decisions and legislation, culminating in the , sought to end racial discrimination. ξ50 Meanwhile, a grew which was fueled by , , and the . The launch of a "" expanded entitlement and welfare spending.

The 1970s and early 1980s saw the onset of . After his election in 1980, President responded to economic stagnation with . Following the collapse of , he abandoned "containment" and initiated the more aggressive "" strategy towards the USSR., p. 277, pp. 43–53, pp. 325–331 ξ51 After a surge in female labor participation over the previous decade, by 1985 the majority of women aged 16 and over were employed.

The late 1980s brought a "" in relations with the USSR, and in 1991 finally ended the Cold War. ξ52 ξ53
This brought about , "The Unipolar Moment," Foreign Affairs, 70/1, (Winter 1990/1), 23-33. with the U.S. unchallenged as the world's dominant superpower. The concept of , which had appeared in the post-World War II period, gained wide popularity as a term for the post-Cold War

Contemporary history
After the Cold War, the 1990s saw the in modern U.S. history, ending in 2001.
, the spread to international academic networks, and then to the public in the 1990s, greatly impacting the global economy, society, and culture.Winchester, pp. 420–423 On , terrorists struck the in New York City and near Washington, D.C., killing nearly 3,000 people.

In response, the United States launched the , which includes the ongoing and the 2003–11 .


Beginning in 1994, the U.S. entered into the (NAFTA), linking 450 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services. The goal of the agreement was to eliminate trade and investment barriers among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by January 1, 2008; trade among the partners has soared since the agreement went into force. "North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)" Office of the United States Trade Representative. Retrieved January 11, 2015.

, the first ,
president, was elected in 2008 amid the ,

which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions, NBER, accessed January 11, 2015.

Geography, climate, and environment
The land area of the is . Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at . , occupying an archipelago in the central , southwest of North America, is in area. The populated territories of , ,, Northern , and US together cover

The United States is the world's third or fourth (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and just above or below . The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and are counted and how the total size of the United States is measured: calculations range from (area given in square miles) to (area given in square kilometers) to (area given in square kilometers) to 3,805,927 square miles (9.9 Mm2). Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada.

The coastal plain of the seaboard gives way further inland to forests and the rolling hills of the . The divide the eastern seaboard from the and the grasslands of the . The , the world's , runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile of the stretches to the west, interrupted by in the southeast.

The , at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, reaching altitudes higher than in . Farther west are the rocky and deserts such as the and . The and mountain ranges run close to the , both ranges reaching altitudes higher than . The in the United States are in the state of , and only about apart. At an elevation of , Alaska's (Mount McKinley) is the highest peak in the country and North America. Active are common throughout Alaska's and , and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The underlying in the is the continent's largest volcanic feature.

The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the , the climate ranges from in the north to in the south. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an . The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, in , and in coastal and and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of are tropical, as are the populated territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the are prone to , and most of the world's occur within the country, mainly in areas in the Midwest and South.

The U.S. ecology is : about 17,000 species of occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and over 1,800 species of are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland. The United States is home to 428 mammal species, 784 bird species, 311 reptile species, and 295 amphibian species. About 91,000 insect species have been described. The is both the and of the United States, and is an enduring symbol of the country itself.

There are 58 and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and areas. Altogether, the government owns about 28% of the country's land area. Most of this is , though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching; about .86% is used for military purposes.

have been on the national agenda since 1970. Environmental controversies include debates on oil and , dealing with air and water pollution, the economic costs of protecting wildlife, logging and , and international responses to global warming., pp. 3, 72, 74–76, 78Hays, Samuel P. (2000). A History of Environmental Politics since 1945. Many federal and state agencies are involved. The most prominent is the (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970. ξ65 The idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with the Wilderness Act.Turner, James Morton (2012). The Promise of Wilderness The of 1973 is intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the . ξ66


The currently estimates the country's population to be . The U.S. population almost quadrupled during the 20th century, from about 76 million in 1900. The third most populous nation in the world, after China and , the United States is the only major industrialized nation in which large population increases are projected. In the 1800s the average woman had 7.04 children, by the 1900s this number had decreased to 3.56. Since the early 1970s the birth rate has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 with 1.86 children per woman in 2014. Foreign born immigration has caused the US population to continue its rapid increase with the foreign born population doubling from almost 20 million in 1990 to over 40 million in 2010, representing one third of the population increase. The foreign born population reached 45 million in 2015.

The United States has a very diverse population; 37 have more than one million members. are the largest ethnic group (more than 50 million) – followed by (circa 37 million), (circa 31 million) and (circa 28 million).

are the largest ; are the nation's largest (note that in the U.S. Census, are counted as an ethnic group, not a racial group), and third largest ancestry group. are the country's second largest racial minority; the three largest Asian American ethnic groups are , , and .

The United States has a birth rate of 13 per 1,000, which is 5 births below the world average. Its rate is positive at 0.7%, . In fiscal year 2012, over one million (most of whom entered through ) were granted . "U.S. Legal Permanent Residents: 2012". Annual Flow Report. has been the leading source of new residents since the . China, India, and the have been in the top four sending countries every year since the 1990s. , approximately 11.4 million residents are . As of 2015, 47% of all immigrants are Hispanic, 26% are Asian, 18% are white and 8% are black. The percentage of immigrants who are Asian is increasing while the percentage who are Hispanic is decreasing.

According to a survey conducted by the Williams Institute, nine million Americans, or roughly 3.4% of the adult population identify themselves as , , or . A 2012 Gallup poll also concluded that 3.5% of adult Americans identified as . The highest percentage came from the District of Columbia (10%), while the lowest state was North Dakota at 1.7%. In a 2013 survey, the found that 96.6% of Americans identify as straight, while 1.6% identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% identify as being bisexual.

In 2010, the U.S. population included an estimated 5.2 million people with some or ancestry (2.9 million exclusively of such ancestry) and 1.2 million with some or ancestry (0.5 million exclusively). The census counted more than 19 million people of "Some Other Race" who were "unable to identify with any" of its five official race categories in 2010.

The population growth of (the terms are officially interchangeable) is a major . The 50.5 million Americans of Hispanic descent are identified as sharing a distinct "" by the Census Bureau; 64% of Hispanic Americans are of . Between 2000 and 2010, the country's Hispanic population increased 43% while the non-Hispanic population rose just 4.9%. Much of this growth is from immigration; in 2007, 12.6% of the U.S. population was , with 54% of that figure born in .

is also a factor; in 2010 the average Hispanic woman gave birth to 2.35 children in her lifetime, compared to 1.97 for non-Hispanic black women and 1.79 for non-Hispanic white women (both below the of 2.1). (as defined by the Census Bureau as all those beside non-Hispanic, non-multiracial whites) constituted 36.3% of the population in 2010 (this is nearly 40% in 2015), U.S. Census Bureau: "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Final State 2010 Census Population Totals for Legislative Redistricting" see custom table, 2nd worksheet and over 50% of children under age one, and are projected to constitute the majority by 2042. This contradicts the report by the National Vital Statistics Reports, based on the U.S. census data, which concludes that 54% (2,162,406 out of 3,999,386 in 2010) of births were non-Hispanic white. The Hispanic birth rate plummeted 25% between 2006 and 2013 while the rate for non-Hispanics decreased just 5%.

About 82% of Americans live in (including suburbs); about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000. The US has numerous clusters of cities known as megaregions, the largest being the followed by the and . In 2008, 273 had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four had over two million (, , , and ). There are 52 with populations greater than one million. Of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas, 47 are in the West or South. The metro areas of , , Houston, , and all grew by more than a million people between 2000 and 2008.

Languages spoken at home by more than 1,000,000 persons in the U.S.
as of 2010

() is the de facto . Although there is no at the federal level, some laws—such as —standardize English. In 2010, about 230 million, or 80% of the population aged five years and older, spoke only English at home. , spoken by 12% of the population at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught second language."Language Spoken at Home by the U.S. Population, 2010", American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, in World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012, p. 615. Some Americans advocate making English the country's official language, as it is in 28 states.

Both and English are official languages in Hawaii, by state law. Alaska recognizes . Alaska OKs Bill Making Native Languages Official April 21, 2014; Bill Chappell; While neither has an official language, has laws providing for the use of both English and Spanish, as does for English and . ξ67 Other states, such as , mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms. Many jurisdictions with large numbers of non-English speakers produce government materials, especially voting information, in the most commonly spoken languages in those jurisdictions.

Several insular territories grant official recognition to their native languages, along with English:
and ξ70
are recognized by and , respectively; and Chamorro are recognized by the ; ξ73 is officially recognized by the within the Cherokee tribal jurisdiction area in eastern Oklahoma; ξ74 Spanish is an official language of and is more widely spoken than English there.

According to the , and ('s national language) are the fastest growing foreign languages spoken at American households. According to the survey, more than 63.2 million US residents speak a language other than English at home. In recent years, Arabic speaking residents increased by 29%, Urdu by 23% and by 9%.

The at all levels in the United States (in terms of enrollment numbers) are: Spanish (around 7.2 million students), French (1.5 million), and German (500,000). Other commonly taught languages (with 100,000 to 250,000 learners) include , , , , and . 18% of all Americans claim to speak at least one language in addition to English.

Religious affiliation in the U.S. (2014)
Other Christian
Non-Christian faiths
Other Non-Christian faiths
Nothing in particular
Don't know/refused answer

The of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting its . is by far the most common religion practiced in the U.S., but other religions are followed, too. In a 2013 survey, 56% of Americans said that religion played a "very important role in their lives", a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation. In a 2009 Gallup poll 42% of Americans said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly; the figures ranged from a low of 23% in Vermont to a high of 63% in Mississippi.

As with other Western countries, the U.S. is becoming less religious. is growing rapidly among Americans under 30. Polls show that overall American confidence in organized religion is declining, and that younger Americans in particular are becoming increasingly irreligious. According to a 2012 study, Protestant share of U.S. population dropped to 48%, thus ending its status as religious category of the majority for the first time. "Nones" on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation Americans with no religion have 1.7 children compared to 2.2 among Christians. The unaffiliated are less likely to get married with 37% marrying compared to 52% of Christians.

According to a 2014 survey, 70.6% of adults identified themselves as , denominations accounted for 46.5%, while , at 20.8%, was the largest individual denomination. The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2014 was 5.9%. Other religions include (1.9%), (0.9%), (0.7%), (0.7%). The survey also reported that 22.8% of Americans described themselves as , or simply having , up from 8.2% in 1990. There are also , , , , , , , , , , and communities.Media, Minorities, and Meaning: A Critical Introduction — Page 88, Debra L. Merskin – 2010

is the largest Christian religious grouping in the United States. Baptists collectively form the largest branch of Protestantism, and the is the largest individual Protestant denomination. About 26% of Americans identify as , while 15% are Mainline and 7% belong to a traditionally Black church. in the United States has its origin in the and colonization of the Americas, and later grew because of Irish, Italian, Polish, German and Hispanic immigration. Rhode Island is the only state where a majority of the population is Catholic. in the U.S. has its origin in immigration from and . and are the only states in which a plurality of the population is Lutheran. was introduced in North America by and immigrants. Although it has spread across the United States, it is heavily concentrated on the East Coast. congregations were founded first in (New York City) before spreading westward. is the only state where is the religion of the majority of the population. The also extends to parts of , and . ξ75

The is an informal term for a region in the in which socially conservative Evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average. By contrast, religion plays the least important role in and in the .

Family structure
, 58% of Americans age 18 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married. Women now work mostly outside the home and receive a majority of .

The U.S. rate is 26.5 per 1,000 women. The rate has declined by 57% since 1991. In 2013, the highest teenage birth rate was in , and the lowest in . is legal throughout the U.S., owing to , a 1973 by the . While the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than those of most Western nations. In 2013, the average age at first birth was 26 and 40.6% of births were to unmarried women.

The (TFR) was estimated for 2013 at 1.86 births per woman. is common and relatively easy from a legal point of view (compared to other Western countries). In 2001, with over 127,000 adoptions, the U.S. accounted for nearly half of the total number of adoptions worldwide. It is legal for same-sex is illegal throughout the U.S.

Government and politics
The United States is the world's oldest surviving . It is a and , "in which is tempered by protected by ".Scheb, John M.; Scheb, John M. II (2002). An Introduction to the American Legal System. Florence, KY: Delmar, p. 6. ISBN 0-7668-2759-3. The government is regulated by a system of defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. For 2014, the U.S. ranked 19th on the and 17th on the .

In the , citizens are usually subject to : federal, state, and local. The 's duties are commonly split between and . In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a of citizens by district. There is no at the federal level, and it is rare at lower levels. ξ76

The federal government is composed of three branches:

The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a for a two-year term. House seats are among the states by population every tenth year. At the , seven states had the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, had 53.

The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. The President serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office . The President is , but by an indirect system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the . The Supreme Court, led by the , has nine members, who serve for life.

The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion; uniquely has a legislature. The (chief executive) of each state is directly elected. Some state judges and cabinet officers are appointed by the governors of the respective states, while others are elected by popular vote.

The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. protects the right to the "great writ" of . The Constitution has been amended 27 times;, p. 9 the first ten amendments, which make up the , and the form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to and any law ruled by the courts to be in violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in (1803), pp. 164, 453, 503 in a decision handed down by ., p. 38

Political divisions
The United States is a federal republic of 50 states, a federal district, five territories and eleven uninhabited island possessions.US State Department, Common Core Document of the United States of America "Constitutional, political and legal structure" report by the US State Department to the UN (22). December 30, 2011. viewed July 10, 2015. The states and territories are the principal administrative districts in the country. These are divided into subdivisions of counties and independent cities. The District of Columbia is a federal district which contains the capital of the United States, Washington DC.See (a)(36) and (a)(38) U.S. Federal Code, Immigration and Nationality Act. The states and the District of Columbia choose the President of the United States. Each state has presidential electors equal to the number of their Representatives and Senators in Congress, the District of Columbia has three.House of Representatives. History, Art & Archives. Electoral College Fast Facts, viewed August 21, 2015.

Congressional Districts are reapportioned among the states following each decennial Census of Population. Each state then draws single member districts to conform with the census apportionment. The total number of Representatives is 435, and delegate Members of Congress represent the District of Columbia and the five major US territories.House of Representatives. History, Art & Archives, Determining Apportionment and Reapportioning. viewed August 21, 2015.

The United States also observes of the Native American nations. Though reservations are within state borders, the reservation is a sovereign entity. While the United States recognizes this sovereignty, other countries may not.

Parties and elections
The United States has operated under a for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered choose the major party for subsequent . Since the , the major parties have been the , , and the , . Since the Civil War, only one presidential candidate—former president , running as a in —has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. The third-largest political party is the . The President and Vice-president are elected through the system. ξ82

Within American , the Republican Party is considered "" and the Democratic Party is considered "". ξ83 The states of the and and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "", are relatively liberal. The "" of the and parts of the and are relatively conservative.

The winner of the and , Democrat , is the 44th, and current, . Current leadership in the Senate includes Democratic Vice President , Republican President Pro Tempore (Pro Tem) , , and Minority Leader .US Senate, Senate Organization Chart for the 114th Congress, viewed August 25, 2015. Leadership in the House includes Speaker of the House , , and Minority Leader .US House of Representatives, Leadership, viewed August 25, 2015.

In the , both the and the are controlled by the Republican Party. The Senate currently consists of 54 Republicans, and 44 Democrats with two who caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats, with one vacancy. In state governorships, there are 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent.MultiState Associates Incorporated. 2015 Governors and Legislatures. Viewed January 14, 2015. Among the DC mayor and the 5 territorial governors, there are 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats (one is also in the ), and 2 Independents.National Governor's Association. Current Governors, viewed January 14, 2015; DeBonis, Mike. " Bowser is elected D.C. Mayor", Washington Post November 5, 2014, viewed January 14, 2015.

Foreign relations
The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. It is a permanent member of the , and New York City is home to the . It is a member of the , , and . Almost all countries have in Washington, D.C., and many have around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host . However, , , , and the (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States (although the U.S. still maintains relations with Taiwan and supplies it with ).

The United States has a "" with the ξ84 and strong ties with , , , , , , , and several countries, including , , , and . It works closely with fellow members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the and such as the trilateral with Canada and . In 2008, the United States spent a net $25.4 billion on , the most in the world. As a share of America's large (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of 0.18% ranked last among 22 donor states. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous.

The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for three sovereign nations through with , the and , all of which are Pacific island nations which were part of the U.S.-administered beginning after , and gained independence in subsequent years. ξ81

Government finance
at the federal, state and local government level. These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of . During FY2012, the federal government collected approximately $2.45 trillion in tax revenue, up $147 billion or 6% versus FY2011 revenues of $2.30 trillion. Primary receipt categories included individual income taxes ($1,132B or 47%), Social Security/Social Insurance taxes ($845B or 35%), and corporate taxes ($242B or 10%). Based on CBO Estimates, under 2013 tax law the top 1% will be paying the highest average tax rates since 1979, while other income groups will remain at historic lows.

U.S. taxation is generally , especially the federal income taxes, and is among the most progressive in the developed world.Taxation in the US:

  • The highest 10% of income earners pay a majority of federal taxes,

    and about half of all taxes. Payroll taxes for Social Security are a flat , with no tax charged on income above $118,500 (for 2015 and 2016) and no tax at all paid on from things such as stocks and capital gains. The historic reasoning for the regressive nature of the payroll tax is that entitlement programs have not been viewed as welfare transfers. However, according to the the net effect of Social Security is that the benefit to tax ratio ranges from roughly 70% for the top earnings quintile to about 170% for the lowest earning quintile, making the system progressive. Is Social SecurityProgressove? CBO

The top 10% paid 51.8% of total federal taxes in 2009, and the top 1%, with 13.4% of pre-tax national income, paid 22.3% of federal taxes. In 2013 the Tax Policy Center projected total federal effective tax rates of 35.5% for the top 1%, 27.2% for the top quintile, 13.8% for the middle quintile, and −2.7% for the bottom quintile. The of has been a matter of considerable ongoing controversy for decades.Tax incidence of corporate tax in the United States:

  • State and local taxes vary widely, but are generally less progressive than federal taxes as they rely heavily on broadly borne sales and property taxes that yield less volatile revenue streams, though their consideration does not eliminate the progressive nature of overall taxation.

During FY 2012, the federal government spent $3.54 trillion on a budget or cash basis, down $60 billion or 1.7% vs. FY 2011 spending of $3.60 trillion. Major categories of FY 2012 spending included: Medicare & Medicaid ($802B or 23% of spending), Social Security ($768B or 22%), Defense Department ($670B or 19%), non-defense discretionary ($615B or 17%), other mandatory ($461B or 13%) and interest ($223B or 6%).

National debt
The total in the United States was $18.527 trillion (106% of the GDP), according to an estimate for 2014 by the . In January 2015, U.S. federal government debt held by the public was approximately $13 trillion, or about 72% of U.S. GDP. Intra-governmental holdings stood at $5 trillion, giving a combined total debt of $18.080 trillion. By 2012, total federal debt had surpassed 100% of U.S. GDP. The U.S. has a of AA from , AAA from , and AAA from .

Historically, the U.S. public debt as a share of GDP increased during wars and recessions, and subsequently declined. For example, debt held by the public as a share of GDP peaked just after World War II (113% of GDP in 1945), but then fell over the following 30 years. In recent decades, large budget deficits and the resulting increases in debt have led to concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies. However, these concerns are not universally shared.

The President holds the title of of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the and the . The administers the armed forces, including the , , , and . The is run by the in peacetime and by the during times of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel on active duty. The and brought the total number of troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including contractors.

Military service is voluntary, though may occur in wartime through the . American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy's 10 active , and at sea with the Navy's . The military operates 865 bases and facilities abroad, and maintains in 25 foreign countries.

The in 2011 was more than $700 billion, 41% of global military spending and equal to the next 14 largest national military expenditures combined. At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after . U.S. defense spending as a percentage of GDP ranked 23rd globally in 2012 according to the CIA. Defense's share of U.S. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal outlays in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal outlays in 2011.

The proposed base for 2012, $553 billion, was a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion was proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last American troops serving in Iraq departed in December 2011; 4,484 service members were killed during the . Approximately 90,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan in April 2012; by November 8, 2013 2,285 had been killed during the .

Law enforcement and crime
Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and 's departments, with providing broader services. The (NYPD) is the largest in the country. Federal agencies such as the (FBI) and the have specialized duties, including protecting , and enforcing ' rulings and federal laws. At the federal level and in almost every state, a legal system operates on a . State courts conduct most criminal trials; handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by rather than .

In 2012 there were 4.7 murders per 100,000 persons in the United States, a 54% decline from the modern peak of 10.2 in 1980.

In 2001–2, the United States had above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of compared to other developed nations. A cross-sectional analysis of the Mortality Database from 2003 showed that United States "homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher." continue to be the subject of .

From 1980 through 2008 males represented 77% of homicide victims and 90% of offenders. Blacks committed 52.5% of all homicides during that span, at a rate almost eight times that of whites ("whites" includes most Hispanics), and were victimized at a rate six times that of whites. Most homicides were intraracial, with 93% of black victims killed by blacks and 84% of white victims killed by whites. In 2012, Louisiana had the highest rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in the U.S., and New Hampshire the lowest. The FBI's estimates that there were 3,246 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, for a total of over 9 million total crimes.

is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and used in 31 states. No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In 1976, that Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. Since the decision there have been more than 1,300 executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and . Meanwhile, have either abolished or struck down death penalty laws. In 2014, the country had the fifth highest number of executions in the world, following China, , , and .

The United States has the and in the world. ξ86
For the latest data, see
. The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. Washington, DC: , 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
Nation Behind Bars: A Human Rights Solution. , May 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults. ξ87 At year end 2012, the combined U.S. adult correctional systems supervised about 6,937,600 offenders. About 1 in every 35 adult residents in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2012, the lowest rate observed since 1997. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980. ξ88 However, the imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478 per 100,000 in 2013 and the rate for pre-trial/remand prisoners is 153 per 100,000 residents in 2012. The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in and . ξ89 According to the , the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses. The and prison services which began in the 1980s has been a subject of debate.

Selman, Donna and Paul Leighton (2010). Punishment for Sale: Private Prisons, Big Business, and the Incarceration Binge. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. xi. ISBN 1-4422-0173-8.

Gottschalk, Marie (2014). Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics. Princeton University Press. p. 70 ISBN 0-691-16405-3.
Peter Kerwin (June 10, 2015). Study finds private prisons keep inmates longer, without reducing future crime. University of Wisconsin–Madison News. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
In 2008, Louisiana , and Maine the lowest. ξ91


3.6% (Q2 2015, annualized)
The United States has a which is fueled by abundant and high productivity.Wright, Gavin; Czelusta, Jesse (2007). "Resource-Based Growth Past and Present", in Natural Resources: Neither Curse Nor Destiny, ed. Daniel Lederman and William Maloney. World Bank. p. 185. ISBN 0-8213-6545-2. According to the , the U.S. GDP of $16.8 trillion constitutes 24% of the at market exchange rates and over 19% of the gross world product at (PPP).

The US's nominal GDP is estimated to be $17.528 trillion From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the . The country ranks ninth in the world in and sixth in . The is the world's primary .

The United States is the of goods and , though are relatively low. In 2010, the total was $635 billion. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country's largest export. Japan is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt. The largest holder of the U.S. debt are American entities, including federal government accounts and the , who hold the majority of the debt.

The , SIPRI, found that the United States' was the world's biggest exporter of major weapons from 2005–2009, and remained the largest exporter of major weapons during a period between 2010–2014, followed by Russia, China (PRC), and Germany.

In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy, with federal government activity accounting for 4.3% and state and local government activity (including federal transfers) the remaining 9.3%. The number of employees at all levels of government outnumber those in manufacturing by 1.7 to 1. While its economy has reached a level of development and its constitutes 67.8% of GDP, the United States remains an industrial power. The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing. In the business model, and are the two most recognized brands in the world. is the most recognized company in the world.

Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The United States is the largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its second largest importer. It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as , , phosphates, and . The provides data pertaining to and that include , , , , , and others.

accounts for just under 1% of GDP, yet the United States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans. The maintains agricultural statistics for products that include , , , , , , , , , , and . In addition, the (USDA) provides livestock statistics regarding , , , and . The country is the primary developer and grower of , representing half of the world's biotech crops.

comprises 68% of the U.S. economy in 2015. "Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE)/Gross Domestic Product (GDP)" FRED Graph, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of 154.1 million people. With 21.2 million people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About 12% of workers are , compared to 30% in . The World Bank ranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers. The United States is ranked among the top three in the as well. It has a smaller and redistributes less income through government action than European nations tend to.

The United States is the only advanced economy that does not Ray, Rebecca; Sanes, Milla; Schmitt, John (May 2013). No-Vacation Nation Revisited. . Retrieved September 8, 2013. and is one of just a few countries in the world without as a legal right, with the others being , and .Bernard. Tara Siegel (February 22, 2013). "In Paid Family Leave, U.S. Trails Most of the Globe". . Retrieved August 27, 2013. However, 74% of full-time American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same benefits. While federal law currently does not require sick leave, it's a common benefit for government workers and full-time employees at corporations. In 2009, the United States had the third highest per person in the world, behind and . It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the .

The had a significant impact on the United States, with output still below potential according to the . It brought high (which has been decreasing but remains above pre-recession levels), along with low , the , an escalating federal debt crisis, , and . There remains a record proportion of , continued decreasing , and tax and .

Income, poverty and wealth
Americans have the highest average and income among OECD nations, and in 2007 had the second highest . According to the Census Bureau real median household income was $50,502 in 2011, down from $51,144 in 2010. "Household Income for States: 2010 and 2011" United States Census, American Community Survey Briefs, September 2012, Appendix Table 1, p. 5 The ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013. Americans on average have over twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as residents, and more than every EU nation. For 2013 the ranked the United States 5th among 187 countries in its and 28th in its (IHDI).

There has been a widening gap between productivity and median incomes since the 1970s.Mishel, Lawrence (April 26, 2012). The wedges between productivity and median compensation growth. . Retrieved October 18, 2013. However, the gap between total compensation and productivity is not as wide because of increased employee benefits such as health insurance. While -adjusted ("real") had been increasing almost every year from 1947 to 1999, it has since been flat on balance and has even decreased recently.

According to , during this same period, increased, while the lower 90% of tax filers incomes became stagnant, and eventually decreasing since 2000. The rise in the share of total annual income received by the top 1 percent, which has more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011, has had a significant impact on ,Alvaredo, Facundo; ; ; (2013). "The Top 1 Percent in International and Historical Perspective". Journal of Economic Perspectives. Retrieved August 16, 2013. leaving the United States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD nations.

Focus on Top Incomes and Taxation in OECD Countries: Was the crisis a game changer? , May 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
The post-recession income gains have been very uneven, with the top 1 percent capturing 95 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2012. (September 3, 2013). "Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States". . Retrieved September 11, 2013. The extent and relevance of income inequality is a matter of debate.

, like income and taxes, is ; the richest 10% of the adult population possess 72% of the country's household wealth, while the bottom half claim only 2%. (2014). . . ISBN 0-674-43000-X p. 257 Between June 2007 and November 2008 the led to falling asset prices around the world. Assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value. Since peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth was down $14 trillion, but has since increased $14 trillion over 2006 levels." Americans' wealth drops $1.3 trillion". CNN Money. June 11, 2009. At the end of 2014, household debt amounted to $11.8 trillion, down from $13.8 trillion at the end of 2008.

There were about 578,424 sheltered and unsheltered in January 2014, with almost two-thirds staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. In 2011 , about 35% more than 2007 levels, though only 1.1% of U.S. children, or 845,000, saw reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during the year, and most cases were not chronic. According to a 2014 report by the Census Bureau, one in five young adults lives in today, up from one in seven in 1980. New Census Bureau Statistics Show How Young Adults Today Compare With Previous Generations in Neighborhoods Nationwide. , December 4, 2014.

American is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the through restrictions on federal grants. In most states, children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, or ) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through , the end of ); some states allow students to leave school at 16 or 17.

About 12% of children are enrolled in or . Just over 2% of children are . The U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the world, spending more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student. Some 80% of U.S. college students attend .

The United States has many competitive private and public . The majority of world's top universities listed by different ranking organizations are in the US. There are also local with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. Of Americans 25 and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a , and 9.6% earned graduate degrees. The basic rate is approximately 99%.For more detail on U.S. literacy, see A First Look at the Literacy of America's Adults in the 21st century, U.S. Department of Education (2003). The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world.

As for public expenditures on higher education, the U.S. trails some other nations but spends more per student than the OECD average, and more than all nations in combined public and private spending. , exceeded one trillion dollars, more than Americans owe on credit cards. Student Loan Debt Exceeds One Trillion Dollars. , April 4, 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2013.

The United States is home to and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values.Thompson, William; Hickey, Joseph (2005). Society in Focus. Boston: Pearson. ISBN 0-205-41365-X. Aside from the , , and populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors settled or immigrated within the past five centuries.Fiorina, Morris P.; Peterson, Paul E. (2000). The New American Democracy. London: Longman, p. 97. ISBN 0-321-07058-5. Mainstream American culture is a largely derived from the with influences from many other sources, such as .Holloway, Joseph E. (2005). Africanisms in American Culture, 2d ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 18–38. ISBN 0-253-34479-4. Johnson, Fern L. (1999). Speaking Culturally: Language Diversity in the United States. Thousand Oaks, Calif., London, and New Delhi: Sage, p. 116. ISBN 0-8039-5912-5. More recent immigration from and especially has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing , and a heterogeneous in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics.

Core American culture was established by British colonists and shaped by the settlement process, with the traits derived passed down to descendants and transmitted to immigrants through assimilation. Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong , competitiveness, and individualism, as well as a unifying belief in an "American " emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government. ξ92 : also see , written by and adopted by Congress in 1918. Americans are extremely charitable by global standards. According to a 2006 British study, Americans gave 1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied, more than twice the second place British figure of 0.73%, and around twelve times the French figure of 0.14%.

The , or the perception that Americans enjoy high , plays a key role in attracting immigrants. Whether this perception is realistic has been a topic of debate. Gould, Elise (October 10, 2012). "U.S. lags behind peer countries in mobility." . Retrieved July 15, 2013.CAP: Understanding Mobility in America. April 26, 2006 While mainstream culture holds that the United States is a , ξ93 scholars identify significant differences between the country's social classes, affecting , language, and values. ξ94 Americans' self-images, social viewpoints, and cultural expectations are associated with their occupations to an unusually close degree. ξ95 While Americans tend greatly to value socioeconomic achievement, being is generally seen as a positive attribute. ξ96

Mainstream American cuisine is similar to that in other Western countries. is the primary cereal grain with about three-quarters of grain products made of wheat flour and many dishes use indigenous ingredients, such as turkey, venison, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup which were consumed by and early European settlers. These home grown foods are part of a shared national menu on one of America's most popular holidays; , when some Americans make traditional foods to celebrate the occasion. ξ97

Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos, and pasta dishes freely adapted from sources are widely consumed. Americans drink three times as much coffee as tea. Marketing by U.S. industries is largely responsible for making orange juice and milk ubiquitous beverages., pp. 131–132, pp. 154–55

American eating habits owe a great deal to that of their roots with some variations. Although American lands could grow newer vegetables England could not, most colonists would not eat these new foods until accepted by Europeans. ξ99 Over time American foods changed to a point that food critic, stated in 1972: "Our founding fathers were as far superior to our present political leaders in the quality of their food as they were in the quality of their prose and intelligence". ξ100

The American industry, the world's largest, pioneered the format in the 1940s. Fast food consumption has sparked health concerns. During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans' caloric intake rose 24%; frequent dining at fast food outlets is associated with what public health officials call the American "".Boslaugh, Sarah (2010). "Obesity Epidemic", in Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, ed. Roger Chapman. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, pp. 413–14. ISBN 978-0-7656-1761-3. Highly sweetened soft drinks are widely popular, and sugared beverages account for nine percent of American caloric intake.

Literature, philosophy, and the arts
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as , , and established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. and poet were major figures in the century's second half; , virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet.. 1999. Emily Dickinson. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House. p. 9. ISBN 0-7910-5106-4. A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as 's (1851), Twain's (1885), 's (1925) and 's (1960)— may be dubbed the "".

Eleven U.S. citizens have won the , most recently in 1993. , and are often named among the most influential writers of the 20th century.Quinn, Edward (2006). A Dictionary of Literary and Thematic Terms. Infobase, p. 361. ISBN 0-8160-6243-9. Seed, David (2009). A Companion to Twentieth-Century United States Fiction. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons, p. 76. ISBN 1-4051-4691-5. Meyers, Jeffrey (1999). Hemingway: A Biography. New York: Da Capo, p. 139. ISBN 0-306-80890-0. Popular literary genres such as the and crime fiction developed in the United States. The writers opened up new literary approaches, as have authors such as , , and . ξ101

The , led by Thoreau and , established the first major . After the Civil War, and then and were leaders in the development of . In the 20th century, the work of and , and later , brought to the fore of American philosophical academia. and led a revival of . and have led a continental tradition in American philosophical academia. like , , and have impacted various fields in social and political philosophy.

In the visual arts, the was a mid-19th-century movement in the tradition of European . The realist paintings of are now widely celebrated. The 1913 in New York City, an exhibition of European , shocked the public and transformed the U.S. art scene.Brown, Milton W. (1988 1963). The Story of the Armory Show. New York: Abbeville. ISBN 0-89659-795-4. , , and others experimented with new, individualistic styles. Major artistic movements such as the of and and the of and developed largely in the United States. The tide of modernism and then has brought fame to American architects such as , , and . ξ102

One of the first major promoters of was impresario , who began operating a lower entertainment complex in 1841. The team of produced a series of popular comedies in New York starting in the late 1870s. In the 20th century, the modern musical form emerged on ; the songs of musical theater composers such as , , and have become . Playwright won the Nobel literature prize in 1936; other acclaimed U.S. dramatists include multiple winners , , and . ξ104

Though little known at the time, 's work of the 1910s established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical tradition, while experimentalists such as and created a distinctive American approach to classical composition. and developed a new synthesis of popular and classical music. and helped create , while and were leaders in 20th-century ballet. Americans have long been important in the modern artistic medium of , with major photographers including , , and . ξ105

The rhythmic and lyrical styles of have deeply influenced at large, distinguishing it from European traditions. Elements from idioms such as the and what is now known as were adopted and transformed into with global audiences. was developed by innovators such as and early in the 20th century. developed in the 1920s, and in the 1940s.Biddle, Julian (2001). What Was Hot!: Five Decades of Pop Culture in America. New York: Citadel, p. ix. ISBN 0-8065-2311-5.

and were among the mid-1950s pioneers of . In the 1960s, emerged from the to become one of America's most celebrated songwriters and led the development of . More recent American creations include and . American pop stars such as Presley, , and have become global celebrities, as have contemporary musical artists such as , , , and as well as hip hop artists , and .

, a northern district of , California, is one of the leaders in motion picture production. The world's first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City in 1894, using 's . 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 's development in the following decades. Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, although in the 21st century an increasing number of films are not made there, and film companies have been subject to the forces of globalization.

Director , American's top filmmaker during the silent film period, was central to the development of , and producer/entrepreneur was a leader in both and movie . ξ106 Directors such as redefined the image of the American Old West and history, and, like others such as , broadened the possibilities of cinema with location shooting, with great influence on subsequent directors. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the "", from the early sound period until the early 1960s, with screen actors such as and becoming iconic figures. In the 1970s, film directors such as , and were a vital component in what became known as "" or the "Hollywood Renaissance", ξ107 grittier films influenced by French and Italian realist pictures of the post-war period. ξ108 Since, directors such as , and have gained renown for their blockbuster films, often characterized by high production costs, and in return, high earnings at the box office, with Cameron's (2009) earning more than $2 billion. ξ109

Notable films topping the 's list include 's (1941), which is frequently cited as the greatest film of all time, Village Voice: 100 Best Films of the 20th century (2001). Filmsite. (1942), (1972), (1939), (1962), (1939), (1967), (1954), (1993), (1952), (1946) and (1950). The , popularly known as the Oscars, have been held annually by the since 1929, ξ110 and the have been held annually since January 1944. ξ111

While most major U.S. sports have evolved out of European practices, , , , and are American inventions, some of which have become popular in other countries. and arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact.Liss, Howard. Lacrosse (Funk & Wagnalls, 1970) pg 13. The field their own separate national team, the , in recognition of the confederacy's creation of lacrosse. Eight have The United States has won 2,400 medals at the , more than any other country, and 281 in the , the second most behind .

The market for professional sports in the United States is roughly $69 billion, roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined. Global sports market to hit $141 billion in 2012. Reuters. Retrieved on July 24, 2013. has been regarded as the since the late 19th century, with (MLB) being the top league, while is now by several measures the most popular spectator sport, MacCambridge, Michael (2004). America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50454-0. with the (NFL) having the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world and a watched by millions globally. and are the country's next two , with the top leagues being the (NBA) and the (NHL). These four major sports, when played professionally, each occupy a season at different, but overlapping, times of the year. and attract large audiences.

and were once the most watched , but they have been eclipsed by and , particularly . In the 21st century, televised has also gained a strong following of regular viewers. While is less popular in the United States compared to many other nations, the country hosted the , the has been to the past six World Cups. The won the women's world cup three times, highest in the world. is the professional league in the United States.


Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 4 million miles of public roads, including one of the world's at 57,000 miles. The world's second largest automobile market, the United States has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans. About 40% of are vans, , or light trucks. The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling .

. is extensive, though relatively low numbers of passengers (approximately 31 million annually) use intercity rail to travel, partly because of the low population density throughout much of the U.S. interior. However, ridership on , the national intercity passenger rail system, grew by almost 37% between 2000 and 2010. Also, has increased in recent years. Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal.

The is entirely privately owned and has been largely , while [[List of airports in the United States| most major airports]] are publicly owned. The three largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are U.S.-based; is number one after its 2013 acquisition by . Of the world's 30 busiest passenger airports, 12 are in the United States, including the busiest, .

The market is about 29,000 per year.IEA Key World Energy Statistics Statistics 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2006 October, crude oil p.11, coal p. 13 gas p. 15 is 7.8 tons of oil equivalent per year, the 10th highest rate in the world. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and sources. The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum.

For decades, has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part because of public perception in the wake of a . In 2007, several applications for new nuclear plants were filed. The United States has 27% of global coal reserves. It is the world's largest producer of natural gas and crude oil.

Water supply and sanitation
Issues that affect water supply and sanitation in the United States include , , a backlog of investment, concerns about the affordability of water for the poorest, and a rapidly retiring workforce. Increased variability and intensity of rainfall as a result of is expected to produce both more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious consequences for water supply and for pollution from . Droughts are likely to particularly affect the 66 percent of Americans whose communities depend on surface water., p. 11 As for drinking water quality, there are concerns about disinfection by-products, , and pharmaceutical substances, but generally is good.

Cities, utilities, state governments and the federal government have addressed the above issues in various ways. To keep pace with demand from an increasing population, utilities traditionally have augmented supplies. However, faced with increasing costs and droughts, is beginning to receive more attention and is being supported through the federal program. The for non-potable uses is also becoming increasingly common. Pollution through wastewater discharges, a major issue in the 1960s, has been brought largely under control.

Most Americans are served by publicly owned water and sewer utilities. Eleven percent of Americans receive water from private (so-called "investor-owned") utilities. In rural areas, cooperatives often provide drinking water. Finally, up to 15 percent of Americans are served by their own wells. Water supply and wastewater systems are regulated by state governments and the federal government. At the state level, health and environmental regulation is entrusted to the corresponding state-level departments. or Public Service Commissions regulate tariffs charged by private utilities. In some states they also regulate tariffs by public utilities. At the federal level, drinking water quality and wastewater discharges are regulated by the , which also provides funding to utilities through .

Water consumption in the United States is more than double that in Central Europe, with large variations among the states. In 2002 the average American family spent $474 on water and sewerage charges,, p. 11; quoting: which is about the same level as in Europe. The median household spent about 1.1 percent of its income on water and sewerage.Calculated based on a median household income of $42,409 in 2002, as quoted by

Science and technology
The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late 19th century. Methods for producing were developed by the U.S. War Department by the Federal Armories during the first half of the 19th century. This technology, along with the establishment of a industry, enabled the U.S. to have large scale manufacturing of sewing machines, bicycles and other items in the late 19th century and became known as the . Factory in the early 20th century and introduction of the and other labor saving techniques created the system called .

In 1876, was awarded the first U.S. . 's , one of the first of its kind, developed the , the first , and the first viable . The latter lead to emergence of the worldwide . In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of and popularized the . The , in 1903, made the .

The rise of in the 1930s led many European scientists, including , , and , to immigrate to the United States. ξ114 During World War II, the developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the , while the produced rapid advances in rocketry, , and .

The invention of the in the 1950s, a key active component in practically all modern , led to many technological developments and a significant expansion of the U.S. technology industry. Goodheart July 2, 2006Silicon Valley: 110 Year Renaissance, McLaughlin, Weimers, Winslow 2008. ξ115 This in turn led to the establishment of many new technology companies and regions around the county such as in California. Advancements by American companies such as (AMD), and along with both computer and companies that include , , , , , and created and popularized the . The was developed in the 1960s to meet requirements, and became the first of a into the . ξ116

These advancements then lead to greater of technology for individual use. , 83.8% of American households owned at least one , and 73.3% had high-speed Internet service. 91% of Americans also own a mobile phone . The United States ranks highly with regard to freedom of use of the internet.

In the 21st century, 64% of research and development funding comes from the private sector. The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and .

The United States has a life expectancy of 79.8 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990. Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 1987, when it was 11th in the world. are amongst the highest in the world.

Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight; the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century. ξ117 Obesity-related is considered epidemic by health care professionals. The infant mortality rate of 6.17 per thousand places the United States 169th highest out of 224 countries, with the 224th country having the lowest mortality rate.

In 2010, , , , , and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, , , neck pain, and caused the most years lost to disability. The most deleterious were poor diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, , , physical inactivity, and alcohol use. , drug abuse, kidney disease and cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capita rates. U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations, especially among blacks and Hispanics. U.S. underage drinking among teenagers is among the lowest in industrialized nations.

The U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation. America solely developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most important medical innovations since 1975 as ranked by a 2001 poll of physicians, while the EU and Switzerland together contributed to five. Since 1966, more Americans have received the than the rest of the world combined. From 1989 to 2002, four times more money was invested in private biotechnology companies in America than in Europe. The U.S. health-care system far any other nation, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP. OECD Health Data 2000: A Comparative Analysis of 29 Countries CD-ROM (OECD: Paris, 2000). See also

Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not . In 2014, 13.4% of the population did not carry . The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue. In 2006, became the first state to mandate universal health insurance. passed in early 2010 would ostensibly create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate impact are issues of controversy.

The four major broadcasters in the U.S. are the (NBC), (CBS), the (ABC) and . The four major broadcast are all commercial entities. offers hundreds of channels catering to a variety of niches. Americans listen to radio programming, also largely commercial, on average just over two-and-a-half hours a day.

In 1998, the number of U.S. commercial radio stations had grown to 4,793 AM stations and 5,662 FM stations. In addition, there are 1,460 public radio stations. Most of these stations are run by universities and public authorities for educational purposes and are financed by public or private funds, subscriptions and corporate underwriting. Much public-radio broadcasting is supplied by (formerly National Public Radio). NPR was incorporated in February 1970 under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967; its television counterpart, PBS, was also created by the same legislation. (NPR and PBS are operated separately from each other.) , there are 15,433 licensed full-power radio stations in the US according to the (FCC).

Well-known newspapers are , and . Although the cost of publishing has increased over the years, the price of newspapers has generally remained low, forcing newspapers to rely more on advertising revenue and on articles provided by a major wire service, such as the Associated Press or Reuters, for their national and world coverage. With very few exceptions, all the newspapers in the U.S. are privately owned, either by large chains such as or , which own dozens or even hundreds of newspapers; by small chains that own a handful of papers; or in a situation that is increasingly rare, by individuals or families. Major cities often have "alternative weeklies" to complement the mainstream daily papers, for example, New York City's or Los Angeles' , to name two of the best-known. Major cities may also support a local business journal, trade papers relating to local industries, and papers for local ethnic and social groups. Early versions of the American newspaper and the began appearing in the 19th century. In 1938, , the comic book of , developed into an American icon. ξ118 Aside from and , the most popular websites are , , , , , and .

In Spanish, the second most widely spoken mother tongue behind English, more than 800 publications are published.

See also


Bibliography and further reading

Website sources

External links

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