United States of America

Country statistics

United States of America

Land area: 3,537,418 sq miles (9,161,923 sq km)

Total area: 3,718,711 sq miles (9,631,418 sq km)

Population (2010 est.): 310,232,863 (growth rate: 0.9%); birth rate: 13.8/1000; infant mortality rate: 6.1/1000; life expectancy: 78.2; density per sq miles: 85

Capital City: Washington, DC

Monetary unit: Dollar

Languages: English, sizable Spanish-speaking minority

Ethnicity/race: White: 211,460,626 (75.1%); Black: 34,658,190 (12.3%); Asian: 10,242,998 (3.6%); American Indian and Alaska Native: 2,475,956 (0.9%); Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 398,835 (0.1%); other race: 15,359,073 (5.5%); Hispanic origin:1 35,305,818 (12.5%)

Religions: Protestant 56%; Roman Catholic 28%; Jewish 2%; other 4%; none 10% (1989)

Country introduction

Statue of Liberty, New York

The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. It consists of 50 states and a federal district. United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) stretches across Central North America from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west, and from Canada on the north to Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico on the south. Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States, and New York is its largest city.

The terrain of the United States was formed by the great continental ice sheets that covered North America during the late Cenozoic Era (see Geological Time).

The eastern regions consist of hills and low mountains while the central interior is a vast plain (called the Great Plains region) and the west has high rugged mountain ranges (some of which are volcanic in the Pacific North-west). Alaska also features rugged mountains as well as river valleys. Hawaii's landscape varies but is dominated by volcanic topography.

The culture

Hollywood Hills

Modern American culture is predominantly influenced by the mass media. Radio, television, films, the Internet and big multi-national companies have invented, packaged and enticed the consumers to live their lifestyle in a certain way.

What religion and politics were to defining the essence of what it meant to be an American until the end of the 1800s, cinema and television are to the 20th century. For most of this century Hollywood has been searing every national dream, making movies the public subconscious. The global distribution of American movies and TV shows has shaped the world's perception of the country to such a degree that audiences worldwide find New York's underbelly and LA's palm-studded boulevards as recognizable as their own backyards.

Attractions & landmarks

Aerial view of New York

The United States has so many diverse cities and attractions that it is difficult to list them all. Below is an introduction to the best and most popular places to go.

New York
American icons, such as the Statue of Liberty and Times Square are just a few of the attractions to see in New York City. Also known as the "Big Apple," New York City is home to some of the more impressive sky-scrapers, including the Flatiron Building; King Kong's perch, the Empire State Building; and the Art Deco Chrysler Building.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles is home to Hollywood, where glitz, glamor and international celebrities can be found. Hollywood Boulevard is a world-famous tourist spot, which includes the Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars are held annually. The Sunset Strip has the city's hippest clubs, as well as some of the city's finest hotels and shopping, including the upscale Melrose Avenue Shopping District. The famous beaches of Malibu and Santa Monica and the tranquil gardens at the Getty Center will provide respite from the busy freeways. The finest and most expensive shopping can be enjoyed at Rodeo Drive while touring Beverly Hills.

Chicago has long been called the "Second City," coming in second to New York City in both size and population. A beacon in the Mid-west, Chicago is actually third in population these days but it has a skyline, restaurants, shopping, museums, and activities to rival NYC and L.A. Chicago is a living museum of high-rise development, consisting of buildings like the Manhattan Building, the Tribune and Sears towers.

Golden Gate Bridge From Baker Beach San Francisco

Washington DC
The United States' capital city, Washington, DC, has many museums and monuments related to their government and its history. Impressionist masterpieces can be examined in the National Gallery of Art, the beauty of the United States Botanical Gardens' exotic plants and flowers can be experienced, and the creatures of the African Savannah can be learn at the National Zoo.

Las Vegas
Most tourists go to Las Vegas to try their luck at its famous casinos. But Las Vegas also has blockbuster shows, world class shopping, and top notch restaurants, all of which make this city a true desert oasis and a top U.S. travel destination.

San Francisco
This legendary city on the San Francisco Bay is symbolized by the Golden Gate Bridge. The city can be explored using cable cars, which passes through the Fisherman's Wharf where Pier 39 and other major attractions are located. Just 1.5 miles from Fisherman's Wharf is the infamous island prison, Alcatraz. Also worth a visit is the vineyard estates in Napa Valley or the colossal tech campuses of Silicon Valley.

With beautiful beaches, active volcanoes and warm weather, this island paradise has become a top U.S. destination. Verdant mountain trails, enormous waves and bright yellow beaches mark Honolulu's scenic setting. Hiking adventures can be taken in lush rainforests and sportfishing and snorkelling can be enjoyed in Kona. Also, Diamond Head can be hiked, Mai Tais can be drunk at sunset and kayaking can be enjoyed at Kealakekua Bay.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon
An incredible geological wonder stretching over 200 miles, the Grand Canyon is a deep ravine carved out by the Colorado River over thousands of years. Located in the state of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a top destination to visit in the South-west United States and one of the most popular of U.S. National Parks.

Beautiful beaches, family-friendly attractions like Disneyworld, and the Latino culture and style of Miami make Florida, also known as the "Sunshine State", one of the most popular states in the U.S. for visitors.

New Orleans
New Orleans is all about festivals, French roots, and a "laissez-faire" attitude, making it a distinctly different - and popular - destination among tourists from the U.S. and abroad. From Mardi Gras, New Orleans' biggest party, to Jazz Fest, one of the world's most respected gatherings of jazz musicians, there are plenty of ways to "let the good times roll" in The Big Easy.