The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west, across the Bering Strait. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 312 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largest by both land area and population. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The U.S. economy is the world’s largest national economy, with an estimated 2011 GDP of $15.1 trillion (22% of nominal global GDP and over 19% of global GDP at purchasing-power parity). Per capita income is the world’s seventh-highest. In 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere “America” after Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci. The former British colonies first used the country’s modern name in the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”. On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which states, “The Stile of this Confederacy shall be ‘The United States of America’.” The Franco-American treaties of 1778 used “United States of North America”, but from July 11, 1778, “United States of America” was used in the country’s bills of exchange, and it has been the official name ever since. The short form “United States” is also standard. Other common forms include the “U.S.”, the “USA”, and “America”. Colloquial names include the “U.S. of A.” and, internationally, the “States”. “Columbia“, a once popular name for the United States, derives from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name “District of Columbia“. The land area of the contiguous United States is approximately 1,900 million acres (7,700,000 km2). Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 365 million acres (1,480,000 km2). Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, has just over 4 million acres (16,000 km2). The United States is the world’s third or fourth largest nation by total area (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and just above or below China. The indigenous peoples of the U.S. mainland, including Alaska Natives, are believed to have migrated from Asia, beginning between 12,000 and 40,000 years ago. Some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. After Europeans began settling the Americas, many millions of indigenous Americans died from epidemics of imported diseases such as smallpox. The United States is the world’s oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, “in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law“. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country’s supreme legal document. In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government, federal, state, and local; the local government‘s duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is very rare at lower levels. The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. The United States exercises global economic, political, and military influence. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and New York City hosts the United Nations Headquarters. It is a member of the G8, G20, and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States. The United States has a “special relationship” with the United Kingdom and strong ties with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Israel, and several European countries. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The United States has been a leader in scientific research and technological innovation since the late 19th century. The United States energy market is 29,000 terawatt hours per year. Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons of oil equivalent per year, the 10th highest rate in the world. The United States life expectancy of 78.4 years at birth ranks it 50th among 221 nations. 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. Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff‘s departments, with state police providing broader services. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties. At the federal level and in almost every state, jurisprudence operates on a common law system. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state systems. Federal law prohibits a variety of drugs, although states sometimes pass laws in conflict with federal regulations. The smoking age is generally 18, and the drinking age is generally 21. The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world. African American males are jailed at about six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males. The country’s high rate of incarceration is largely due to sentencing and drug policies. In a 2002 study, 59% of Americans said that religion played a “very important role in their lives”, a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation. Mainstream American culture is a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by slaves from Africa More recent immigration from Asia and especially Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics.
America is based on lies