+1 is the dialing code for United States.
Loved and hated – probably no other country evokes such strong feelings as the United States, the world’s only superpower after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The United States is admired throughout the world as a champion of democracy and human rights, but is disliked by at least as many for its self-assumed role as world police and the tendency to intervene in other countries’ affairs, both politically and militarily. Regardless of opinions, no one can deny that US dominance in the economy, research and entertainment industry is affecting the world.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of United States, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
The United States occupies a large part of North America and is one of the world’s largest countries, in terms of both surface and population. From coast to coast, the United States measures approximately 400 miles, while the distance from Canada in the north to Mexico in the south is around 250 miles. The terrain in the continental United States can be divided into four main areas counted from the west: high mountain ranges, an extensive lowland area, a lower mountain range and the coastal plain at the far east.
For the most part, the US is in the temperate zone, but the climate varies greatly. Most of the country has a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters. Arctic cold prevails in northern Alaska, while the climate is partly tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida. It can rain a lot on the west coast as well as in the eastern and southeastern United States, while the great plains in the central part of the country are often affected by drought. The east coast, especially the southern part, is regularly hit by hurricanes.
The system of mountain ranges in the western United States is part of the Cordillarians, mountain ranges that extend in a north-south direction along the entire American continents, from Alaska to southern Chile (and include the Andes in South America). In the US part of the Cordillarians are, for example, the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, inland, and the Rocky Mountains in the far east. Between the mountain ranges lie both fertile valleys and desert areas, partly entirely in the rain shadow.
|Cultivated land||44.5 %|
|Land area||9833517 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||0.78 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||81.6 %|
|Death rate||8.15 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||81.97 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||77.32 years|
|Birth rate||12.49 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||5.87 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||4048000 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per resident||6908.9 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||728200 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||567 million tons|
|Internet users||86.8 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||100 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||797 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||5.2% of the workforce|
|GDP||55800 per resident|
|Primary occupations||0.7 %|
|Secondary profession||20.3 %|
|Tertiary professions||79.0 %|
The Continental Basin, the lowland area of the central United States, measures 250 miles at its widest point. The vast area includes one of the world’s largest river systems that includes the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers.
The Appalachian east of the lowlands is a relatively low mountain range that runs virtually unbroken from Canada down to Alabama in the southern United States. The mountains are largely covered with forest. In the valleys there are significant coal resources.
The Atlantic coastal plain is a broad lowland area that rises from the sea towards the land. It covers the entire Atlantic coast and coast along the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to the topographic division (which describes the terrain), regional divisions are also made in different contexts. The regions can describe geography but also reflect cultural, political, economic and historical characteristics. For example, the United States can be divided into seven main areas:
Although the US economic and population center of gravity has shifted to the south and west, there are still many major cities along the north east coast and into the Great Lakes at the border with Canada. Foreign trade, which started in the major port cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, is of great importance while traditional, heavy industry has been replaced by a more modern service sector. It was in these cities that the term “crucible” was coined to describe how different nationalities and ethnic groups were mixed. New York’s skyscrapers, Detroit’s car factories and Pittsburgh’s steel mills became early symbols of a United States that attracted millions of immigrants from Europe.
Central lowland is a fertile agricultural area that extends from the Great Lakes south and west across the prairie down to Texas. Here are the world’s most productive farms, which are often run on very large farms.
The major cities located in or adjacent to the region – such as Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee – have been built around slaughterhouses, mills, dairies or other industries related to agriculture.
After the independence of the United States in the late 18th century, the southern states also lived long in a colonial economy, built around cotton production and other commodities exported both to the northern states and to Europe in exchange for finished goods. Slavery and the devastating civil war from 1861 to 1865 (see Older history) hampered the development in the south and contributed to an extensive emigration north.
After the Second World War, however, the economy of the southern states was rapidly modernized. Industries have grown around new raw materials such as forest and oil. Today, there are both a number of high-tech companies and a growing service sector. In recent decades, significant immigration has taken place from the rest of the United States, not least from the northeastern states.
Cities such as Atlanta in Georgia, Charlotte in North Carolina and Houston in Texas, with their dazzling skyscrapers, have become symbols of the new South. But despite all the progress, the average standard of living in the more undeveloped parts of the south is still lower than in the northern United States.
A flat, dry area – called the Great Plains – starts at the rain limit that runs from north to south almost in the middle of the US and then spreads out to the mountains to the west. The lack of water in combination with an unpredictable and windy climate that alternates between extreme cold and extreme heat has caused great hardship for farmers in the region. For a long time, the plains were mostly an inhospitable wasteland that was passed on the way to the dream of better conditions further west.
It was only after the railways reached the area in the 1860s that immigrants began to search there on a larger scale. The indigenous people were displaced when farmers and herdsmen settled on the great plains. Livestock carriers provided the big cities in the east with leather and meat. A cowboy culture, partly built around livestock management, took over.
Attempts in the early 1900s to encourage settlers to cultivate the dry land resulted in many tragedies. Incorrect cultivation methods helped the thin soil layer more or less blew away.
The mountain and desert areas
Compared to the Appalachians in the east, the Rocky Mountains are a young mountain range whose high mountain peaks are sharp and rough. Even far south they can be snow-covered. Until the middle of the 19th century, the mountain range was considered to be almost impervious. However, when the big gold rush broke out in California, many fortune seekers managed to cross the mountains on trails discovered by hunters.
Today, a number of railways and highways cross the mountains. At the same time, dams and irrigation projects have given life to parts of the region’s desert areas. In recent years, immigration has risen sharply to states such as Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. However, there are still desolate areas and the region is more sparsely populated than any other part of the United States.
The West Coast
The western coastal strip has symbolized the dream of a new country offering freedom and opportunity to wealth. However, due to the Cordillarians, the west coast was long isolated from the rest of the United States.
Immigration from the east began in earnest in the 1840s and then the population increased rapidly. Today, California is the United States’ most populous state with 40 million residents.
The region is – partly with the help of irrigation – a leading producer of fruits, vegetables and wine. Forestry and fishing are important industries in the northern parts. But the West Coast economy now consists of a large number of sectors, many of which are at the forefront of global development. The IT companies in Silicon Valley south of San Francisco represent an important concentration of high-tech industry. The entertainment industry in Los Angeles plays a major role in the US economy, not least through the export of movies, TV shows and music.
The new states
Two of the 50 states are located outside the continent and became part of the United States only in 1959: Alaska and Hawaii.
Alaska, separated from the rest of the United States by Canada, is on the surface the largest state but has no more than 735,000 residents (2019). Oil recovery has changed Alaska’s economy somewhat, but forestry, fishing and mining still play a dominant role.
Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean, about a third of the California-Japan bird trail. The archipelago is a tourist paradise and tourism is the state’s most important source of income. Cultivation of sugar cane as well as pineapple and other fruits are also important sources of income for the population of 1.4 million residents.
In the Pacific and the Caribbean, there are several more or less autonomous territories that belong to the United States. Five of them are populated: Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean as well as the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa in the Pacific. The approximately 4 million residents there are US citizens (of which about 3.5 million are in Puerto Rico).
FACTS – GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
9 372 614 km2 (2018)
Swedish –6 to –9 hours 1
Adjacent country (s)
Capital with number of residents
Washington DC 700,000
Other major cities
New York 8.4 million, Los Angeles 4.0 million, Chicago 2.7 million, Houston 2.3 million, Phoenix 1.7 million, Philadelphia 1.6 million, San Antonio 1.5 million, San Diego 1.4 million, Dallas 1.3 million (2018)
Mount McKinley (Alaska, 6 198 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Washington DC 70mm (Feb), 107mm (May) 2
Average / day
New York 0 °C (Jan), 25 °C (July) 3
- Eastern Coast (Eastern Standard Time) –6, Midwest (Central Time) –7 hours, Rocky Mountain (Mountain Time) –8 hours, West Coast (Pacific Time) –9 hours
2. Phoenix 27 mm (March), 2 mm (June)
3. Los Angeles 14 °C (Jan), 21 °C (July)Sources
Wikileaks delivers sensitive data
The Internet site Wikileaks publishes sensitive documents from US embassies and consulates around the world, with, among other things, less flattering statements about leaders in different countries. The publication is a blow to American diplomacy and is expected to damage future negotiations with other countries. Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton says the revelations are “an attack on the entire world community”. A criminal investigation is started which will find out who is behind the leaks and answer the guilty.
The Democrats are backing in congressional elections
The Democrats lose as expected their majority in the House of Representatives in the midterm elections. The election applies to all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and a third – or 37 – of the 100 seats in the Senate. Republicans take home 242 seats in the House of Representatives, an increase of 63 seats compared to before the election. 193 seats go to the Democrats. In the Senate, the Democrats manage to retain a tight majority, even if the party backs by 6 seats to 53. Republicans increase by 6 seats to 47.
Planned terrorist acts are averted
Two bombs in packages addressed to synagogues in the United States are discovered. The packages have been sent by airmail from Yemen and found hidden in printers following tips from, among other things, a defunct al-Qaeda member. One package is discovered in the UK and the other in Dubai. One of the bombs was set to detonate over US airspace according to bomb experts. The al-Qaeda regional terror group on the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) claims to be behind the assassination attempts.
Stricter rules for finance and banking
President Obama signs the so-called Wall Street Reform (or Dodd-Frank), the most comprehensive regulation of the financial sector since the depression in the 1930s. The purpose is to try to prevent a new serious financial crisis. The government is given the opportunity to bankrupt large-scale companies in bankruptcy without affecting the taxpayers as before, a consumer authority for financial issues, reducing banks’ risk-taking and improving capital adequacy.
Russian spies are revealed
One sign that relations with Russia have reached a warmer level is the cautious reactions on both sides when a Russian spy ring is revealed in the US. The US authorities arrest ten Russians who flew to Vienna after pleading guilty. In Vienna, the ten are exchanged for four Russians who have been imprisoned in Russia for spying on the West’s behalf. The entire deal is completed in just under two weeks and both countries choose to keep a low profile in the meantime
Nominations for congressional elections
Primary elections begin in several states to elect Democrats and Republicans candidates in the November 2010 congressional elections. In May, eye surgeon Rand Paul, a representative of the Tea Party movement, wins the Republicans nomination of a candidate for a Kentucky Senate seat. It’s a shock to the Republican establishment in Washington and is seen as a sign that more and more Americans are joining the Tea Party movement.
Environmental disaster when oil platform explodes
One of the worst environmental disasters in US history occurs when the Gulf of Mexico oil rig Deepwater Horizon explodes. Eleven people die in the explosion itself and the platform drops after two days. At the borehole on the seabed, a leak occurs and several million barrels of crude oil spurt out, resulting in enormous environmental damage. Only after almost three months is the leak sealed. Oil company BP, platform owner Transocean and exploration company Halliburton can later pay tens of billions of dollars in damages to individuals, companies, the federal government and affected states along the US south coast.
Clear sign for “Obamacare”
The House of Representatives votes by a slight margin yes to a proposal for a new health insurance law, the Affordable Care Act – which will generally be known as Obamacare. No Republican endorses the bill passed by the Senate at the end of December 2009. In a special procedure, the House of Representatives also approves a series of changes to the Health Insurance Act. These changes have been agreed in advance by the Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives in consultation with the Obama administration. The changes must then be approved as a separate bill in the Senate, where a simple majority is enough for them to pass. By this tactic, called “reconciliation” in congressional contexts, Democrats can avoid Republicans in the Senate delaying approval of the reform. A few days later, Obama signs the health insurance reform, which thus becomes applicable law. Shortly thereafter, the change package is also approved by Congress, following minor adjustments made after Republican opposition.
HD approves campaign grants without limit
In a case of great explosive power, the Supreme Court concludes that the statutory guarantees of freedom of expression mean that companies have the right to spend money to express their opinions. The court’s decision opens the door for unlimited donations from companies and organizations to political campaigns, as long as the money does not go directly to a political candidate or party. This eliminates a restriction that has existed since 1907. The construction of “independent” actors who receive money also means that it is not possible to see who donates money for political purposes. The target is known as Citizens United, following the organization that pushed it against the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The Democrats are losing Senate seats
Republicans win an election held to fill the vacancy in the Senate after Democrat Ted Kennedy, who passed away in August 2009. Kennedy represented Massachusett in the United States Senate for several decades. For President Obama and the Democrats, the loss of the Senate seat, the party’s 60th term, is a major defeat. That meant that the party no longer had enough votes to push through its Senate proposals without the hassle and delays of the Republicans.