United States

From ArticleWorld

The United States of America is a federal republic comprised of 50 states located on the North American continent. It is also known by its abbreviations: USA, U.S. and also by The United States, America, or simply, the states.

The United States’ northern border is Canada, its southern border is Mexico, its eastern border is the Atlantic Ocean, and its western border is the Pacific Ocean. The United States is comprised of 48 continental or contiguous states that are located between Canada and Mexico and two noncontiguous states, Alaska and Hawaii. The United States also owns many territories located overseas. The capital of the United States is a federal district, the District of Columbia, and is known as Washington DC.

The United States was founded on July 4, 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The governmental structure was changed in 1788 when the United States adopted the United States Constitution. During the last century the United States has developed into the dominant global influence in cultural, economic, technological, political, and military affairs.

Pre-20th Century History

American history first began approximately 12,000 years ago with the migration of people from Asia. There were an estimated ten million of these people, known as Native Americans, living in the territory before the European migration.

In 1607, the English founded their first successful settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Over the next twenty years this was followed by a vast expansion of British settlements along the east coast into what is now known as the original 13 colonies. Great Britain began imposing outrageous taxes on the colonies; the colonists saw this taxation unfair because they did not have representation in the British Parliament. Relations between the colonists and Britain got worse and resulted in the Revolutionary War. In 1776, the 13 colonies split from Great Britain to form the United States. They created the worlds very first constitutional and democratic federal republic with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Slavery began in early colonial times due to a shortage of labor; in the mid-19th century, the United States was divided with the northern states being opposed to slavery whereas the southern states saw it as an essential part of their continued agricultural success. The dispute reached a climax in 1861, when southern states began seceding from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. This secession led to the American Civil War. During the war, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, demanding the freedom of all slaves. This did not happen until the Civil War was over in 1865, the Confederacy was dissolved, and the Thirteenth Amendment went into effect.

The 19th century encouraged westward expansion and saw many new states added to the original thirteen. As immigration caused steady population growth in the Eastern states, settlers rapidly began moving westward across North America. The United States took the first steps to becoming a world and industrial power and soon became a center for innovation and technological development.

20th Century History

The 20th century saw the United States go through both hardship and triumph. Wilbur and Orville Wright took the first air flight in 1903. America entered World War I in 1917, then in 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women to vote. The stock market crashed causing the Great Depression (1929-1941), which took a huge toll on the nation's economy and led to Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the New Deal.

In 1941, the United States entered World War II on the Allied side after the Japanese attacked the U.S. Naval Base, Pearl Harbor. The United States also played a large role in the Korean War and Vietnam War and was considered one of the world’s "superpowers" (along with the Soviet Union). After the collapse of the Soviet Union the US took its place as the world’s leading economic and military power.

During the 1950’s-60’s, the United States was home to one of the greatest civil rights movements in history. The goal was to end racial segregation and discrimination against African-Americans. The movement was basically nonviolent, consisting of many boycotts and sit-ins.

The United States made numerous technological advances during the late 1900's including either inventing or improving on personal computers, cellular telephones, and making progress in space exploration. In 1969, America sent the first man to the moon: Neil Armstrong.

The 1990's saw the United States involved in peacekeeping activities in Somalia, Liberia, Haiti, and Kosovo. They also took part in driving Iraq out of Kuwait during the Gulf War.

After the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked on September 11, 2001, the United States found itself in the "War on Terrorism", including wars in Afghanistan and the much debated war in Iraq.