The USA

  1. Area and borders
  2. National symbols
  3. Geography – landscape, mountains, rivers
  4. Climate
  5. Population, language
  6. Economy, natural resources
  7. Government, political system
  8. Capital and other famous cities and sites

 

  1. The USA consists of 50 states and Washington D.C. which is not a part of any US state. 48 of them are contiguous (continental), except Alaska and Hawaii.

The area covers over 9 million square kilometres, it is the fourth-largest country. The largest US state is Alaska, the smallest is Rhode Island.

The USA borders with Canada to the north and with Mexico to the south, to the east there is the Atlantic  Ocean, to the west the Pacific Ocean.

  1. The national symbols of the USA are the flag and the Great Seal. The flag consists of 13 red and white stripes and a blue rectangle with 50 white stars. The stripes represent the 13 original colonies which declared independence from Great Britain, 50 stars represent 50 US states. Its nickname is the Stars and Stripes or the Star Spangled Banner.

On the Great Seal we can see a bald eagle holding an olive branch and 13 arrows, which represents US desire for peace but readiness for war if necessary.

The national anthem is called The Star-Spangled Banner.

  1. The landscape of the USA is very diverse, from central plains to high mountains. The mountain ranges include e.g. the Appalachian Mountains [æpəˈleɪʃɨn], the Rocky Mountains, the Cascade [kæsˈkeɪd] Range, Sierra Nevada or the Coast Range.

Between Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains we can find the Great Basin, an area with numerous lakes.

The highest peak is Mount Mc Kinley in Alaska, it is 6168 metres high. The lowest point is Death Valley in California, 86 metres below sea level.

The biggest river system is the Mississippi-Missouri river, which drains into the Gulf of Mexico, other rivers, e.g. the Hudson river, the Ohio, the Rio Grande /ˈriːoʊ ˈɡrɑːndeɪ/, the Colorado etc.

On the borders with Canada you can find the Great Lakes, it is the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth. The Lakes consist of Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

On the Niagara /naɪˈæɡrə/ River, which connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, you can find the famous Niagara Falls.

 

  1. The climate is varied – from subarctic in Alaska to subtropical in Florida or Hawaii.
  2. The USA has approximately 320 million inhabitants, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national language is English, the second most spoken language is Spanish.

 

  1. The USA is enormously rich in raw materials – natural gas, phosphates, salt, coal, minerals (copper, lead, zinc). Regarding agriculture, the USA is one of the top producers of peanuts, wheat, cotton and dairy products.

It is  a leading country in the production of chemicals, cars, machinery or computers.

  1. The American political system is laid out in its Constitution. The government is divided into three branches: the executive, legislative and judicial. The head of the state is the president, his seat is in the White House. The president is elected for a four-year term.

The legislative branch is represented by the Congress, which is made up by the Senate and the House of Representatives. Its seat is in the United States Capitol. The Senate has 100 members (two for each state), the House of Representatives has 435 members. The major parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

 

  1. Places of interest:
  • Cities: Washington, D.C. (capital)

The city is located on the Potomac river, it has a population of approx. 650 000 inhabitants.

It is named after George Washington, the first president of the USA. He chose the site for the capital himself.

The city is divided into four quadrants with the Capitol building as the centre. The Capitol is the seat of the US government, the White House is the residence of the US president.

Washington Monument is a white marble obelisk built to commemorate George Washington.

Jefferson Memorial commemorates the third US president and the main writer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. It is dominated by a bronze statue of T. Jefferson holding the Declaration of Independence (1776).

Lincoln Memorial commemorates the 16th president of the USA, Abraham Lincoln. The memorial is in the form of a Greek temple, with a marble statue of Lincoln sitting.

Arlington National Cemetery contains over 400 000 graves of those who have died in armed conflicts since the |Civil War (1861-1865).

New York

The original Dutch settlement called New Amsterdam was conquered by the British in 1664, and  renamed New York.

New York is the most populous city in the USA, with over 8 million inhabitants. It is one of the most important financial, commercial and cultural centres in the world.

It has five parts (boroughs): Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Manhattan is the most densely populated borough, the Bronx has a negative reputation for being the most dangerous borough.

Statue of Liberty – was erected on Liberty Island in 1886. The statue is holding a torch and a book with the inscription 4th July 1776, the date of  Declaration of Independence.

Manhattan – is famous for its skyline, a large number of skyscrapers including:

– One World Trade Center or Freedom Tower, replacing the original World Trade Center, which was destroyed in a terrorist attack in 2001.

– the Chrysler Building

– the Empire State Building

Wall Street – the centre of the US financial world

Times Square – famous for its bright billboards and advertisements, people come here every year to welcome the New Year

5th avenue – one of the most expensive and busiest shopping streets in the world

Broadway – a theatre district

Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Madison Square Garden etc.

 

Los Angeles – with its most famous district Hollywood (the centre of film industry)

San Francisco – became a major city during the Gold Rush (1849), known for the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world

Las Vegas (Nevada) – centre of gambling

Philadelphia (PA), the first seat of the Congress, and place where the Declaration of Independence was signed

Chicago (IL) – with the famous Sears Tower (Willis Tower), the second tallest building in the USA

 

           National parks:

The USA has 59 national parks, the best-known are Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon  or Death Valley NP.

The oldest one is Yellowstone NP, famous for its geysers (Old Faithful) and hot springs (Morning Glory Pool)

 

Mt Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota) is a sculpture carved into a mountain, the sculpture represents 4 US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt /ˈroʊzəvɛlt/ and Abraham Lincoln.

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