The United States of America is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, a federal district five major territories, and various minor islands. The 48 contiguous . The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five. The United States of America is the world's third largest country in size and nearly the third largest in terms of population. Located in North America, the country.
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List of cities and towns in the United States Written By: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. You can learn more about this topic in the related articles below.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles: United States , country in North America, a federal republic of 50 states. Besides the 48 conterminous states that occupy the middle latitudes of the continent, the United States includes the state of Alaska, at the northwestern extreme of North…. City , relatively permanent and highly organized centre of population, of greater size or importance than a town or village. The name city is given to certain urban communities by virtue of some legal or conventional distinction that can vary between regions or nations.
In most cases, however, the concept of…. Urban planning , design and regulation of the uses of space that focus on the physical form, economic functions, and social impacts of the urban environment and on the location of different activities within it.
Because urban planning draws upon engineering, architectural, and social and political concerns, it is variously a…. Alabama , constituent state of the United States of America, admitted to the union in as the 22nd state. Alabama forms a roughly rectangular shape on the map, elongated in a north-south direction. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, and Mississippi to the west.
Alexander City , city, Tallapoosa county, east-central Alabama, U. Early settlement began in , and gold was discovered in the area in the early s. Baptists collectively form the largest branch of Protestantism at Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics, with 40 percent of the total population. Finally, a number of other Christian groups are active across the country, including the Oneness Pentecostals , Jehovah's Witnesses , Restorationists , Churches of Christ , Christian Scientists , Unitarians and many others.
The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the Southern United States 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 New England and in the Western United States. Wade , a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. While the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of per 1, live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1, women aged 15—44 remain higher than those of most Western nations.
The total fertility rate TFR in was 1. Hodges , and it is legal for same-sex couples to adopt. Polygamy is illegal throughout the U. The United States had a life expectancy of The recent decline is largely due to sharp increases in the drug overdose and suicide rates. Life expectancy was highest among Asians and Hispanics and lowest among blacks. Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 11th in the world in , to 42nd in In , coronary artery disease , lung cancer , stroke , chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases , and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.
Low back pain , depression , musculoskeletal disorders , neck pain , and anxiety caused the most years lost to disability. The most deleterious risk factors were poor diet, tobacco smoking , obesity, high blood pressure , high blood sugar , physical inactivity , and alcohol use.
Alzheimer's disease , drug abuse, kidney disease , cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted per-capita rates. America solely developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most important medical innovations since as ranked by a poll of physicians, while the European Union and Switzerland together contributed to five.
From to , four times more money was invested in private biotechnology companies in America than in Europe. Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not universal. American public education is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants.
In most states, children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven generally, kindergarten or first grade until they turn 18 generally bringing them through twelfth grade , the end of high school ; some states allow students to leave school at 16 or The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education.
The majority of the world's top universities listed by different ranking organizations are in the U. Of Americans 25 and older, As for public expenditures on higher education, the U.
It is a representative democracy , "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law ". Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document.
In the American federalist system , citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: 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 rare at lower levels. The House of Representatives has voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population every tenth year.
At the census , seven states had the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, had The Senate has members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one-third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. The District of Columbia and the five major U. The President is not elected by direct vote , but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia.
The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion; Nebraska uniquely has a unicameral legislature. 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.
Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus. The Constitution has been amended 27 times;  the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights , and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights.
All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review 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 Marbury v.
Madison  in a decision handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall. The United States is a federal republic of 50 states , a federal district , five territories and several uninhabited island possessions. These are divided into subdivisions of counties and independent cities.
Each state has presidential electors equal to the number of their Representatives and Senators in Congress; the District of Columbia has three because of the 23rd Amendment. 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 voting Representatives is There are also 6 non-voting representatives who represent the District of Columbia and the five major U.
The United States also observes tribal sovereignty of the American Indian nations to a limited degree, as it does with the states' sovereignty. American Indians are U. Congress and the federal courts. Like the states they have a great deal of autonomy, but also like the states, tribes are not allowed to make war, engage in their own foreign relations, or print and issue currency.
Citizenship is granted at birth in all states, the District of Columbia, and all major U. The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. Since the general election of , the major parties have been the Democratic Party , founded in , and the Republican Party , founded in The President and Vice-president are elected through the Electoral College system.
Within American political culture , the center-right Republican Party is considered " conservative " and the center-left Democratic Party is considered " liberal ".
The " red states " of the South and parts of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative. Republican Donald Trump , the winner of the presidential election , is serving as the 45th President of the United States. The Senate consists of 53 Republicans, and 45 Democrats with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of Democrats and Republicans.
The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous. These are Pacific island nations, once part of the U. Taxes in the United States are levied at the federal, state, and local government levels.
These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. Taxation in the United States is based on citizenship, not residency. It is the only country in the world, other than Eritrea , to do so.
In taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to Major categories of FY spending included: The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In , the armed forces had 1. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 2. The Department of Defense also employed about , civilians, not including contractors.
Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. The military operates bases and facilities abroad,  and maintains deployments greater than active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.
Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police departments and sheriff 's offices, with state police providing broader services.
Marshals Service have specialized duties, including protecting civil rights , national security and enforcing U. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. Plea bargaining is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than jury trial. In , there were 15, murders which was 1, more than in , a In , the US murder rate of 5.
In , there were 17, murders and the murder rate was 5. Of those arrested for serious violent crimes in , Non-gun murders reached a peak in of 8, and declined in most years until the early s with 4, in Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and also at the state level in 30 states. Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In , that Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed.
Since the decision there have been more than 1, executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma. In , the country had the fifth-highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran , Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and largest prison population in the world. About 1 in every 35 adult residents in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision in December , the lowest rate observed since Virgin Islands per , people and the lowest was in Puerto Rico per , people. The United States has a capitalist mixed economy [ citation needed ] which is fueled by abundant natural resources and high productivity.
The nominal GDP of the U. The United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest exporter , though exports per capita are relatively low.
In , the total U. In , the private sector was estimated to constitute Coca-Cola is the most recognized soft drink company in the world. Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The National Mining Association provides data pertaining to coal and minerals that include beryllium , copper , lead , magnesium , zinc , titanium and others. The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food , representing half of the world's biotech crops.
The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with It has a smaller welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than European nations tend to. The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation  and is one of just a few countries in the world without paid family leave as a legal right, with the others being Papua New Guinea , Suriname and Liberia.
It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the Netherlands. The — global recession significantly affected the United States, with output still below potential according to the Congressional Budget Office. The United States has been a leader in technological innovation since the late 19th century and scientific research since the midth century.
Methods for producing interchangeable parts were developed by the U. War Department by the Federal Armories during the first half of the 19th century. This technology, along with the establishment of a machine tool industry, enabled the U. Factory electrification in the early 20th century and introduction of the assembly line and other labor-saving techniques created the system called mass production.
In , Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U. Thomas Edison 's research laboratory , one of the first of its kind, developed the phonograph , the first long-lasting light bulb , and the first viable movie camera. In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers , in , made the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.
The invention of the transistor in the s, a key active component in practically all modern electronics , led to many technological developments and a significant expansion of the U.
These advancements then lead to greater personalization of technology for individual use. In the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of research and development funding comes from the private sector. After years of stagnant growth, in , according to the Census, median household income reached a record high after two consecutive years of record growth, although income inequality remains at record highs with top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income.
This is largely because at-risk workers get almost no government support and are further set back by a very weak collective bargaining system. Assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value. There were about , sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the U. In , the region with the lowest poverty rate was New Hampshire 7. The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since , while most major airports are publicly owned.
The United States energy market is about 29, terawatt hours per year. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources. For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part because of public perception in the wake of a accident. In , several applications for new nuclear plants were filed. Issues that affect water supply in the United States include droughts in the West, water scarcity , pollution , 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 climate change is expected to produce both more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious consequences for water supply and for pollution from combined sewer overflows. The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values. Core American culture was established by Protestant British colonists and shaped by the frontier settlement process, with the traits derived passed down to descendants and transmitted to immigrants through assimilation.
Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic , competitiveness, and individualism,  as well as a unifying belief in an "American creed " emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government.
According to a British study, Americans gave 1. The American Dream , or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility , plays a key role in attracting immigrants. Mainstream American cuisine is similar to that in other Western countries. Wheat 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 Native Americans and early European settlers.
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 Italian sources are widely consumed. American eating habits owe a great deal to that of their British culinary roots with some variations.
Although American lands could grow newer vegetables that Britain could not, most colonists would not eat these new foods until accepted by Europeans. Hess stated in The American fast food industry, the world's largest,  pioneered the drive-through format in the s.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson , virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet.
William Faulkner , Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck are often named among the most influential writers of the 20th century. The transcendentalists , led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson , established the first major American philosophical movement. In the 20th century, the work of W. Quine and Richard Rorty , and later Noam Chomsky , brought analytic philosophy to the fore of American philosophical academia.
John Rawls and Robert Nozick led a revival of political philosophy , and Martha Nussbaum is its most important figure today. Cornel West and Judith Butler have led a continental tradition in American philosophical academia.
Chicago school economists like Milton Friedman , James M. Buchanan , and Thomas Sowell have affected various fields in social and political philosophy. In the visual arts, the Hudson River School was a midth-century movement in the tradition of European naturalism. The realist paintings of Thomas Eakins are now widely celebrated. Major artistic movements such as the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein developed largely in the United States.
One of the first major promoters of American theater was impresario P. Barnum , who began operating a lower Manhattan entertainment complex in The team of Harrigan and Hart produced a series of popular musical comedies in New York starting in the late s. In the 20th century, the modern musical form emerged on Broadway ; the songs of musical theater composers such as Irving Berlin , Cole Porter , and Stephen Sondheim have become pop standards.
Choreographers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham helped create modern dance , while George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were leaders in 20th-century ballet. Although little known at the time, Charles Ives 's work of the s established him as the first major U.
Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a new synthesis of popular and classical music. The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African-American music have deeply influenced American music at large, distinguishing it from European and African traditions.
Elements from folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular genres with global audiences. Jazz was developed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the 20th century. Country music developed in the s, and rhythm and blues in the s. Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were among the mids pioneers of rock and roll.
Rock bands such as Metallica , the Eagles , and Aerosmith are among the highest grossing in worldwide sales. More recent American creations include hip hop and house music. Hollywood , a northern district of Los Angeles , California, is one of the leaders in motion picture production. Since the early 20th century, the U. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the " Golden Age of Hollywood ", from the early sound period until the early s,  with screen actors such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures.
American football is by several measures the most popular spectator sport;  the National Football League NFL has the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world, and the Super Bowl is watched by millions globally. Baseball has been regarded as the U.
These four major sports, when played professionally, each occupy a season at different but overlapping, times of the year. College football and basketball attract large audiences. As of [update] , the United States has won 2, medals at the Summer Olympic Games , more than any other country, and in the Winter Olympic Games , the second most behind Norway.
Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact. The four major broadcasters in the U. The four major broadcast television networks are all commercial entities. Cable television offers hundreds of channels catering to a variety of niches. In , the number of U. In addition, there are 1, 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.
With very few exceptions, all the newspapers in the U. 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 comic strip and the American comic book began appearing in the 19th century. More than publications are produced in Spanish, the second most commonly used language in the United States behind English.
The CIA World Factbook lists the United States as the third-largest country after Russia and Canada with total area of 9,, sq km,  and China as fourth-largest at 9,, sq km. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Projection of North America with the United States in green. The United States, including its territories. Native Americans in the United States. The Cliff Palace , built by the Ancestral Puebloans. American Civil War and Reconstruction era.
One World Trade Center , newly built in its place. Biota of the United States. Leading population centers see complete list view talk edit. Languages of the United States.
Religion in the United States. Family structure in the United States. Education in the United States. The United States Capitol , where Congress meets: The White House , home and workplace of the U. Supreme Court Building , where the nation's highest court sits. Political divisions of the United States , U.
Territorial evolution of the United States and United States territorial acquisitions. State flags and statehood dates. Maryland May 23,
List of cities and towns in the United States
This is a list of selected cities, towns, and other populated places in the United States, ordered alphabetically by state. (See also city and urban planning.). A political map of United States and a satellite image from Landsat. Connoisseurs of '60s psychedelia have long prized the United States of America's debut album; Dorothy Moskowitz's icy vocals were the perfect foil for Joseph.