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29 - THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA The USA is situated in southern part of North America – the world’s third largest continent. The USA lies between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, bordering on Mexico in the South and on Canada in the North. The USA is made up of 50 states joined in a federal republic. The largest state is Alaska, which became the 49th state in 1959. Alaska occupies the north-western end of the North American continent. Hawaii, the 50th state, lies in the Pacific Ocean between America and Asia. Each state is independent, has its own government constitution and capital. The capital of the USA is Washington, DC. With an area of more than 9 million square kilometres, the US is the third largest country in the world, and the geography is very varied. There are mountains (highlands) in the West – Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, and in the East – Appalachian Mountains. The highest peak in the USA is Mount McKinley in Alaska Range which is 6.194m high. The middle part of the USA is mostly lowlands (prairies, plans). The land is used for farming, especially around the Mississippi River. There are deserts in the South-West. The landscape of the USA can be separated into six regions: Northeast – industrial, highly populated, the oldest part, Southeast – farms (agricultural), Central Basin – Mississippi River, farms, Great Plains, Mountains and Deserts, Coast Valley. The rivers that run form the middle to the Atlantic Ocean are short (e.g. the Hudson). The most important river is Mississippi which rises in Minnesota and flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Other rivers are the Rio Grande, the Yukon, the Colorado. The climate varies from tropical in Hawaii to arctic in Alaska; however, most states have either mild or continental weather. History The indigenous people of America were Indians (Native Americans), who lived alone until 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered America for Europe. The first English colony was founded in Virginia in 1607 by an English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1602, a small group of English Puritans, who had left England to avoid persecution after their conflict with King James I and his Church, came to Massachusetts. They are known as Pilgrim Fathers. Half of them died of starvation or epidemics. Those who survived celebrated their first harvest with a feast of thanksgiving. In the 18th century, there were 13 colonies along the Atlantic coast, which were under British rule. In 1773, North Americans, dressed as Indians, emptied chests of British tea into the waters of Boston Harbour. This “Boston Tea Party” marked the beginning of the War of Independence (1775-1783). On July 4, 1776, the representatives of the original 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, which established the United States of America. Britain recognized the USA in 1783. In 1788, the American Constitution was adopted and the following year George Washington was elected the first President of the USA. Disagreement on the slavery question led to the Civil War between the agricultural South and the industrial North, which started in 1861 and finished in 1965, and resulted the victory of the North. In 1863, the 16th President Abraham Lincoln gave the slaves freedom by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. He was shot in the Ford Theatre in 1865. US were neutral in WWI but in 1917 declared war on Germany and funded the Allied victory. After a prosperous decade in the 1920s, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 marked the onset of the Word-wide Great Depression – this lasted for ten years. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, the United States entered World War II alongside the Allies and helped defeat Nazi Germany in Europe. The Atomic Age began in 1945 when the US dropped A-bombs on Japan. This ended WWII, but afterwards the US and USSR began a contest to dominate the world. The Cold War lasted over forty years and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The most important events of this war were the birth of NATO in 1949, testing new nuclear weapons, the space race, the Korean War (1950-1953), the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the Vietnam War (1965-1973). As the 21st century began, international conflict centred on the Middle East and heightened significantly following the September 11 attacks and the controversial War on Terrorism that was subsequently declared. People The population is about 315 million people. There are many major ethnic groups in the U.S. today. America is sometimes called the “melting pot” or the “salad bowl” or the “Pizza” because people living here are of all possible origins and all the races can mix here together. Most people speak American English. There are also minority languages (e.g. Chinese, Spanish). American English is different from British English. ¾ of all population in America live in the cities. The most populated area is so called “industrial belt” (cities – New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago….) The American flag consists of two parts – one smaller blue oblong with 50 white stars symbolizing 50 American states and one larger oblong consists of 13 white and red stripes, which symbolizes the original 13 states – British colonies. Political system The political heart of the U.S. is in the Washington D.C. the capital of the USA. The legislative power is made up of Congress. Its seat is in the Washington, DC. The Congress consists of two parts: House of Representative – number of representatives depends on population of each state, and Senate – has 100 senators – 2 from each state. Executive power is represented by president and his government. The seat of the president is in White House. The Pentagon is the seat of the Department of defence. Cities Washington, D.C. is one of America’s most visited cities. It is not just the seat of the federal government, Supreme Court and the President of the United States; there are also memorials to important figures and events in American his

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