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Autor: Kathrin Schneider
The United States of America
area: 9,37 Mill. square kilometers inhabitants: 255,16 Mill.
capital: Washington D.C. working language: English currency: US-Dollar
The area of the USA is after that one of Russia, Canada and China the biggest in the world. The flag of the USA, the "Stars and Stripes", symbolizes two different things. The 50 stars stand for the 50 states of America and the 13 red and white stripes stand for the 13 colonies which founded the United States of America.
Under American government are Hawaii and Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Guam and a lot of little islands.
The USA consists of
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Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New England, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In the east of the USA there determine wooded middle-high mountains. Vast, by big rivers passed, plains characterize the middle of the country and high mountains with plateaus and basins within sign the west.
As long extended middle-high mountains reach the Appalachia 2037m (Mount Michel). At the west large cut Appalachia-plateaus pass into vast interior plains which ascend across the Mississippi, as the Great Plains, to the Rocky Mountains (Mount Elbert 4399m). To the west plateaus and basins adjacent to them. At the south of them is the Death Valley, at the southeast the Colorado river and the Grand Canyon.
Wood take one third of the area of the USA. Westerly the Mississippi and in Illinois there was prairie, which is now used by farming.
The USA are on the third rank with their inhabitant figure, but the power of their economy surpasses every country.
The agriculture uses 46% of the area (20% arable land, 25,8% meadows and pasture (28,3% wooded, 25,7% built on and unproductive)). Typical for the USA is the permanent retrogression of farms and agricultural workers at the same time with an ascent of economy area. This is a development, which is possible because of the proceeding mechanizing. About the half of the arable land is used for grain cultivation (corn (cattle feed), wheat (export-procession), oats, barley, rice and rye.
The USA deliver one fifth of the worlds crop of cotton (thereof one third comes from Texas, another one third from Arizona and California) and one eleventh of the worlds crop of tobacco, which is to 39% cultivated in North Carolina and to 25% in Kentucky, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. The cultivation of oranges, lemons, fruits and wine is important too, especially in California and Florida. The worth of production of stock-farming (neat, pigs and sheep) exceeds that one of agriculture. The USA are on the forth rank in fishing.
At mining oil (Texas, California, the Appalachia, the area in the south of the Big Lakes and Louisiana) holds the lead with its worth before coal (at the Appalachia between Pennsylvania and Alabama, between the Mississippi and below Ohio, between Texas and Iowa and in the Rocky Mountains), iron- (at the Upper Sea and in Alabama) and copper-ore (Utah). Also are exploited: gold, silver, lead, zinc, mercury, uranium, sulfur, phosphorus and potash-salts.
The most important branches of industry are car, foodstuff, machine, chemical, iron, steel, metallurgical, textile and electric industry. The biggest share of export have got chemical products, machines and cars, metals and hardware, foodstuffs and semiluxuries, grain, tobacco and fruits, cotton and textiles, flesh, electronic productions and mineral combustibles. Canada, Japan, Germany, Great Britain and the countries of the Benelux are the most important partners of commerce. One important branch of economy is the tourism.
The USA have got the highest per-head-consumption of energy in the world. The most important fountains of energy are gas and oil. Above one fifth of the produced energy comes out of the coal power stations, another fifth out of the water power stations. The nuclear power is participated at the production of energy with 17%.
The population increased from 3,9 million (1790) to 249,2 million (1990). Most populated are the states of New England and the states between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, least populated are the dry areas at the Rocky Mountains and the areas between Nevada and Arizona and between North and South Dakota.
83,2% of the population are white, 11,7% black, 0,6% Indians, 0,4% Chinese, 0,3% Filipinos, 0,3% Japans and 0,3% others. 53% of the Blacks, whose share amount to 19,3% in 1790, live in the 17 states in the south of the USA. (In 1850 there lived 97% of the Blacks.)
6.4% of all Americans are Hispanics. Most of them come from Mexico, Puerto Rico or Cuba. 56% of the population of Miami, Florida, are Hispanics.
90% of the Americans speak English at home. Of the rest
11,5 mill. speak Spanish, 1,6 mill. German, 1,6 mill. Italian, 1,5 mill. French, 826.000 Polish and 649.000 Chinese at home.
The high population could be explained with the immigration. Until 1790 only British and Irish immigrated to America, from 1790 to 1880 they came together with immigrants form the middles of Europe and Scandinavia and since 1900 mainly Europeans from the east and the south arrived in America. Now the immigrants come from Mexico, Korea and the Philippines.
Approximately two third of the Americans are religious: 79,1 mill. are Protestant, 52,7 mill. Catholic, 4 mill Orthodox, 5,8 mill Jewish and 100 000 are Buddhists.
Nearly 40 cities have got suburbs with over one million inhabitants. In America there are 230 universities.
On 12. October 1492 Christopher Columbus arrived at America. He thought that he was in India, so he called the people he met there "Indians". At this time about 25.000.000 Indians lived there. They mainly lived in Central and South America. Most of the European settlers thought the Indians were weak and that it would be easy to break their will so that they do what the settlers want.
Of all Indian tribes that fought to defend their land and their way of life, none held out longer than the Sioux. As the whites pushed their "frontier" further west, they wiped out the buffalo herds that the Sioux hunted. Under Chief Sitting Bull they joined with the Cheyenne and won a great victory over General Custer and his men at Little Big Horn in 1876. For the whites it was a massacre and they revenged it 14 years later. The killed 300 Sioux men, women and children as they prepared to surrender at Wounded Knee in December 1890. In 1973 a group of heavily injured armed Indians declared the area at Wounded Knee an independent Sioux state. Three month later they were surrendered by the police.
The time of the colonies
In the 17. century five charter-colonies had been found: in 1607 Virginia, 1620 Plymouth, 1630 Massachusetts, 1635 Connecticut and in 1636 Rhode Island. Moreover the kings of England awarded proprietor-colonies to influential persons: Maryland, Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia. The crown gained colonies through taking back of charters and conquest. In the south of the New England-Colonies (Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire) originated the New Netherlands and New Sweden. The Dutch subjected the Swedish territory in 1655, but they lost their expanded colony in two naval battles to the Britons. The Britons called it New York and separated New Jersey and Delaware from it. These 13 colonies were the core of the later USA.
The emigrants mainly came from the British Islands. Also Germans, Swiss, Huguenots, Dutch and Jews from Spain and Portugal came across. The colonies were protracted in struggles for power between England, France, Spain and the Netherlands. As the French opened up Canada, the Mississippi-valley and Louisiana and allied with Spain (Florida), a clasp treated to the British. During the Sven-Year-War (1756-1763) France lost all his American continent possessions. England got Canada and Louisiana (to the Mississippi) and Spain got the rest.
1773- The Boston Tea Party:
The British government placed taxes on goods like sugar, tea or newspapers. The colonists stopped buying British goods. The British East India Company sent three ships of tax reduced tea to Boston. The people of Boston decided to sent the ships back, but before they could do that, a group of men dressed as Mohawk Indians went on board the ships and threw the tea into the water. The British Government said that no ship could leave or enter Boston harbor before the tea had been paid.
The War of Independence
The self-confidence and resistance of the inhabitant of the colonies grew because of this victory. The colonists, in 1775 there were 2,5 million, demanded equal rights and wanted to be represented at the London parliament. ("No taxation without representation!") The employment of British forces in Lexington, Massachusetts, during the night of 18. April 1775 led to the Independent War from 1775 to 1783. The ties between the colonies and England were cut by the declaration of independence (4.July 1776) by the congress (Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others). The British maintained Canada and occupied all coastal cities. But the interfere of France and Spain brought the decision in favor of the Americans. With the Peace of Versailles in 1783 the former colonies gained their complete independence and got the area to the Mississippi.
At first they created a loose union. On 17. September 1787 they created the constitution of the USA, which is in force until today.
With the first president George Washington the expansion to the west reached its first extent: the Indians were expelled from Northwest Territory by campaigns, in 1792 Kentucky and in 1796 Tennessee joined the Union. When in 1801 the federalists with John Adams lost their leadership and Thomas Jefferson as a republican became president, this development went on. In 1803 the USA acquired Louisiana and Ohio. In 1821 the USA bought Florida from Spain and settlers settled in Texas.
The expansion was the reason of interior changes. From the southern states planter with their slaves settled over to the west to plant cotton. From the northern states farmers settled over to the northwest borderland. So two different areas arose: one settled area with slaves and one without them. Soon the west gained influence. Whereas the former presidents came from cultivated social classes the new president Andrew Jackson (president from 1829 to 1837) moved into the White House as a typical borderland-politician. Political reforms started: in the separate states the franchise was expanded.
The in 1836 new arose state Texas was taken up to the Union in 1845. The sequence was the war with Mexico from 1846 to 1848, during which the Union conquered the later states of the Union New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.
The American Civil War (1861-1865)
The difference between the north and the south was aggravated by these fast development and expansion. Whereas the north became an industrial state, in the south big plantations, which were tilled by black slaves, spread. The owners of the plantations hold on to the slavery, although it began to be unprofitable. When the opponent of slavery Abraham Lincoln became president, South Carolina decelerated its leaving of the Union in the end of 1860. Until the middle of 1861 ten further states of the south followed. They educated the Confederated States of America and declared Jefferson Davis as their president. Lincoln denied them the acknowledgement. In 1861 inflamed the war about Fort Sumter (near by Charleston, north Carolina), which was occupied by Union forces. At first the war brought big successes to the southern forces with their general Robert Edward Lee. But the Union forces achieved decisive victories. On 9. April 1865 general Lee capitulated near by Appomattox Courthouse.
Lincoln couldn't put through his conciliatory intention, because he was shot by a southern man in April 1865. With president Andrew Johnson radical majorities gained influence. Roundabout laws, justice of revenge, corruption and cheats of voting delayed the reconstruction of the Union. The Blacks got the franchise and reactionary whites resorted to terror (Ku-Klux-Clan).
The great power
The civil war had brought large impetus to the economic powers and it had originated new centers of industry. The increasing immigration, growing settlement, technical inventions and perfect ways of business hastened this development. In 1867 the USA bought Alaska from Russia. At the same time president Johnson caused the occupation of the Midway-Islands. At the war against Spain in 1898 the USA conquered Cuba, Puerto Rica and the Philippines. By the way they annexed Guam, Wake and Hawaii. The following Philippines-War (1899- 1902) hampered the USA in a large intervention to the Chinese War (1899-1901). In 1903 president Theodore Roosevelt was able to separate Panama from Columbia. In 1904/05 the USA mediated the Freedom of Portsmouth between Russia and Japan.
The Way from the great power to the world-power
After outbreak of the First World War the USA remained neutral but American banks granted big loans to the west allies. The decision of helping the allies with military help followed after the Russian Revolution in 1917 after which the position of the Germans appearanced better. An American force under John Joseph Pershing fought with the allies in northern France.
The time between the World Wars
In 1921 the USA concluded peace with Germany. With the republic presidents Warren Gamaliel Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Clark Hoover the USA undertook international obligations only occasional. They saw a steep economic boom which was stopped by the worldwide economic crisis in 1929. In 1933 Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president and tried to master the problems with his New Deal.
The Second World War
After outbreak of the war in 1939 the USA remained away of the fights at first but they helped England and China. The culmination of these unexplained war was the Lend-Lease (1941), whose deliveries got the Russian to two third. With the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor (7.12.1941) and the following declaration of war of Germany and Japan the USA were shared in the war.
Europe was the main emphasis of warfare of Roosevelt and his military adviser George Catlett Marshall. The decision was brought by strategic air raids and operations of landing. At the same time all conquered areas were snatched away from Japan. The capitulation of Germany and the drop of two atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war. Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on 12. April 1945 and Harry S. Truman became his successor.
Although the Blacks got the franchise in 1863, they were suppressed by the whites. Martin Luther King fought for the rights of black persons until he were shot by a white man. The 35. president of the USA, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, fought for equal rights for everyone, too. He died after an assassination in Dallas on 22. November 1963.
The 37. president, Richard M. Nixon, was the first president of the USA who had to resign. He had to do this because of the affair of Watergate.
On 20.July 1969 the USA won the race to the moon before the Russian. The first man on moon, Neil Armstrong, was an American. His words, when he left the "Eagle" are history: "It's one small step for a man, but it's a big one for the human race."
The Presidents of the USA
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Summary of the history of the USA
1607 Virginia became the first English colony.
1619 The first Africans were brought to Jamestown.
1620 The Mayflower arrived. The "Mayflower Compact" was the beginning of American democracy. by 1680 About 60.000 slaves were imported every year. by 1690 Slaves are bought in all of the English colonies. 1776 The Declaration of Independence on 4. July.
In the 1790s The demand for cotton rose in England and the Northern States 1808 The Congress stopped importation of more slaves into the country.
1850 in 15 of the 30 states of the Union slavery is permitted. 1860 Abraham Lincoln became President.
1861-1865 The American Civil War
1865 The 13th Amendment was added to the Bill of Rights: The slavery is forbidden. 1867 The USA bought Alaska from Russia.
1868 The 14th Amendment was added to the Bill of Rights: Blacks became citizen of the USA.
1869 The Transcontinental Railroad was finished.
1896 Blacks have got equal rights but the segregation went on and was pushed by the
Supreme Court, which permitted segregation of schools.
1898 The USA took over Hawaii ant the Philippines. 1917 The USA entered the First World War 1920 The US Senate rejected the Versailles Treaty. 1941 The USA entered the Second World War. 1945 The United Nations were born. 1954 The segregation became illegal.
1963 Martin Luther King led the "March on Washington" and fought on this way peacefully for Civil Rights.
1965-1973 War in Vietnam.
1969 Americans landed on the moon.
- Washington D.C. is the capital of the USA and the seat of the American Federal Government. It is in the District of Columbia, an area which is 67 square miles large and has 626.000 inhabitants. It's the capitol of the USA since 1800. The White House is the home of the American President and he meets with the leaders of other countries there.
- New York is the biggest city of the USA. It has about 8 million inhabitants, from whom 1.5 million live in Manhattan, the island which is the most famous part of New York. The Statue of Liberty, which was a present by the French in 1886, stands in New York harbor. 27 million immigrants have passed it and many of them never left New York.
- Chicago is a city of superlatives. It has got the biggest airport in the world (O'Hare Airport: 130.000 passengers daily), the largest morgue (in average, the bodies of 15 unidentified persons are brought in each day), the highest skyscraper in the world (Sears Tower: completed 1974, 443 meters high, 110 floors, 17.000 people who works in the offices inside) and it's the world's greatest inland port!
Carolina has every kind of landscape and climate. There are snow-covered mountains, endless deserts and very good agricultural land. There also are vast National Parks and huge cities. In areas like Los Angeles a million cars make the blue sky gray in the middle of the summer.
The highest mountain of the USA is in California (Mount Whitney, 4418 meters) and the lowest point (Death Valley, 86 meters below sea level) , too. It also has got the oldest trees on earth, some of which are 4.600 years old.
California is a very wealthy state, famous for its oil, its high technology, its computers (Silicon Valley) and its film industry (Hollywood). But it's a dry country. So it has got the largest water system in the world: 9.000.000.000 liters are carried from rivers near San Francisco to Southern California every day.
The Great Lakes
When the last glaciers had gone, they left the Great Lakes. They are connected, forming a "river of lakes" along the US-Canadian border and run finally into the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. The Great Lakes are Lake Superior (the biggest of them), Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario (the smallest). The shoreline of the Great Lakes and their islands are a total of over 11.000 miles long, but cities and towns only lie on a very small proportion of this.
In America students are not divided up into different types of school. 88% of them go to public high schools. At first they go to Elementary Schools, after which they can go to Intermediate Schools, which are followed by High Schools, Secondary Schools or Junior High Schools, which are followed by Senior High Schools. They graduate with 18 years. (There are differences between the states.) After that they can go to College, University or professional school.
In the USA are the powers separated:
1. The President:
He is the Head of State and is elected for four years. He can be elected again only for a second time. At first he has got representative functions. But he also leads the country, so he is a policy and taking part in the law-making process. He is one of the most powerful men in the world.
The Congress consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Each state sends two Senators and one more Representatives to the Congress. The Congress works together with the president and make the laws.
3. The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, the highest court in the USA, decides if a law or a decision of a lower court in unconstitutional.
Each of the fifty states also has a state government (governor, state legislature and state courts). There are some areas which are not touched by federal law. For example:
- school leaving age is 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 years in different states
- driving age is between 15 and 21 years in different states
- the lotteries are forbidden in some states
But a lot of things are regulated by federal law.
The constitution, which was decided on 17. September 1787, is valid since 21. June 1788. In 1789 the Bill of Rights were added to it. Until now, 26 amendments were added to it, too.
- Quote paper
- Kathrin Schneider (Author), 2000, The United States of America, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/103092