United States


United States flagThe United States of America is the third largest country in the world in population. It is the fourth largest country in size. China and India are the only countries with more people. Only Russia, Canada, and China have more land.

The United States stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. It is bordered by Canada on the north and Mexico on the south. The United States also includes Alaska, in the northwest corner of North America, and Hawaii, a chain of islands far out in the Pacific Ocean. New York City is the largest city in the United States. Washington, D.C., is the nation’s capital.

Land

Flat coastland, gently sloping hills, and low mountains make up much of the eastern part of the country. Plains stretch across a broad area west of these hills. Good farmland covers much of the plains.

The Rocky Mountains rise west of the plains. They run from northern Alaska through Canada and the western United States to northern New Mexico in the southwestern part of the country. Thick forests cover the mountain slopes.

Dry lands and desert lie west of the Rockies. Forested mountains and hills run along the west coast. Some of the mountains are volcanoes that may erupt, or shoot out lava and gas, at any time.

The state of Hawaii is made up of 132 islands. It is famous for its deep blue seas, colorful flowers, tall palm trees, and thundering waterfalls.Alaska is a land of mountains, hills, and sheets of ice called glaciers, as well as a grassy, treeless area called the tundra. Mount McKinley rises 20,320 feet (6,194 meters) in Alaska. It is North America’s highest mountain.

People

United States cityThe United States has more than 300 million people. Most of the people live in cities and towns. Only about one-fifth of all Americans live outside cities and towns.

Until the 1500′s, what is now the United States was mostly forest and grassland. American Indians lived in various parts of the land. Inuit <<IHN yoo iht>> people lived in what is now Alaska, and Polynesians, a Pacific island people, lived in Hawaii. Through the years, large numbers of Europeans have settled in America. Many African Americans have ancestors who were African people brought to the country as slaves. People from almost every other part of the world have also settled in the country.

Resources and products

The United States is rich in natural resources. It has great stretches of some of the richest soil on Earth, plenty of fresh water, and large forests. The country also has valuable minerals, including coal, natural gas, and petroleum, or oil.

No other country produces as many goods and services as the United States does. Service industries are important U.S. businesses. Many Americans work in banks, government, hospitals, hotels, insurance companies, law firms, restaurants, stores, and other such businesses.

Factories in the United States turn out many products, including airplanes, cars, chemicals, computers, foods, machinery, paper products, and plastics. Texas and other states near the Gulf of Mexico have many oil-processing factories.

Although farmers make up a small group of workers in the United States, the United States is a world leader in growing crops and raising livestock. Beef cattle are the most valuable product of American farms.

History

United States mapAmerican Indians and Inuit lived in what is now the United States long before Europeans arrived in the 1500′s. By the 1700′s, British people lived in colonies along many parts of the eastern coast of North America. Britain ruled the American colonies, but many colonists did not like British control. In 1775, fighting broke out between British troops and the colonists. It was the start of the American Revolution(1775-1783). In 1776, the colonists declared their independence and formed the United States of America. The Americans defeated the British, and the war ended in 1783.

After the revolution, more and more people came to the United States looking for a better life. The American people spread out across North America. The pioneers who moved across the country faced great hardships and dangers, including disease and hunger. Settlers often took land that belonged to Indians. Fighting often broke out.In the 1830’s, the U.S. government moved Indians from the Southeast to land in what is now Oklahoma.

From 1861 to 1865, Americans fought against one another in the American Civil War. The war started when the U.S. government tried to keep the Southern States from starting their own country. At that time, the law in the South allowed people to own slaves, but the law in the North did not. The South wanted to keep slavery. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This document led to the end of slavery in the United States. The North won the war in 1865, and the country remained together. The war killed more Americans than any other war in U.S. history.

After the Civil War, the United States had times of great growth in trade and business. Many people came to the United States from Europe. Railroads crossed the country. Many people found work in large factories. Miners took coal, iron, and petroleum out of the ground. In the early 1900’s, millions of Americans bought automobiles.

The United States fought in World War I in 1917 and 1918. After the war, the economy grew rapidly. In 1920, women gained the right to vote. Radio brought entertainment into homes everywhere. Many people moved from farms to cities. However, like other countries around the world, the nation had hard times through the Great Depression of the 1930′s. Banks, factories, and stores closed. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and ran out of money.

United States soldiers fought in World War II from 1941 to 1945. The Cold War—a period of intense rivalry with the Soviet Union—followed World War II.American troops fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 and the Vietnam War from the mid-1960′s to 1973. The country’s economy grew quickly.Americans watched television and used new appliances. Many people moved to new homes in suburbs outside of big cities. The civil rights movement began in the 1950’s. African Americans fought for equal treatment under the law.

Many Americans did great work in the fields of science and technology. The United States put the first human being on the moon in 1969. American inventors built new machines, including personal computers. The Internet made huge amounts of information available to anyone with a computer.

American troops fought in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War of 1991. They also fought a war in Iraq from 2003 to 2011. The United States also engaged in a “war on terrorism” after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon buildings. American troops fought in Afghanistan against terrorist groups and their allies. In 2011, American soldiers killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qa`ida terrorist network that was responsible for the 2001 attacks.

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