United States

Coordinates: 40°N 100°W / 40°N 100°W / 40; -100 (United States of America)
Extended-protected article
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

United States of America
Motto: "In God We Trust"[1]
Other traditional mottos:[2]
  • "

    "Out of many, one"
  • "

    "Providence favors our undertakings"
  • "

    "New order of the ages"
Anthem: "
Ethnic groups
By race:
By origin:
  • 29%
Federal presidential constitutional republic
• President
Joe Biden
Kamala Harris
Kevin McCarthy
John Roberts
March 1, 1781 (1781-03-01)
September 3, 1783 (1783-09-03)
June 21, 1788 (1788-06-21)
May 5, 1992 (1992-05-05)
• 2022 estimate
Neutral increase 333,287,557[11]
• 2020 census
331,449,281[d][12] (3rd)
• Density
87/sq mi (33.6/km2) (185th)
GDP (PPP)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $26.855 trillion[13] (2nd)
• Per capita
Increase $80,035[13] (8th)
GDP (nominal)2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $26.855 trillion[13] (1st)
• Per capita
Increase $80,035[13] (7th)
Gini (2020)Negative increase 39.4[e][14]
HDI (2021)Increase 0.921[15]
very high · 21st
CurrencyU.S. dollar ($) (USD)
Time zoneUTC−4 to −12, +10, +11
• Summer (DST)
UTC−4 to −10[f]
Date formatmm/dd/yyyy[g]
Driving sideright[h]
Calling code+1
ISO 3166 codeUS
Internet TLD.us[16]

The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in

unincorporated territories, nine Minor Outlying Islands,[i] and 326 Indian reservations. It is the world's third-largest country by both land and total area.[c] It shares land borders with Canada to its north and with Mexico to its south and has maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other nations.[j] With a population of over 333 million,[k] it is the most populous country in the Americas and the third-most populous in the world. The national capital of the United States is Washington, D.C., and its most populous city and principal financial center is New York City

Indigenous peoples have inhabited the Americas for thousands of years. Beginning in 1607, British colonization led to the establishment of the Thirteen Colonies in what is now the Eastern United States. They clashed with the British Crown over taxation and political representation which led to the American Revolution and the ensuing Revolutionary War. The United States declared independence on July 4, 1776, becoming the first nation-state founded on Enlightenment principles of unalienable natural rights, consent of the governed, and liberal democracy. The country began expanding across North America, spanning the continent by 1848. Sectional division over slavery led to the secession of the Confederate States of America, which fought the remaining states of the Union during the American Civil War (1861–1865). With the Union's victory and preservation, slavery was abolished nationally. By 1890, the United States had established itself as a great power, becoming the world's largest economy. After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered World War II on the side of the Allies. The aftermath of the war left the United States and the Soviet Union as the world's two superpowers and led to the Cold War. During the Cold War, both countries engaged in a struggle for ideological dominance but avoided direct military conflict. They also competed in the Space Race, which culminated in the 1969 landing of Apollo 11, making the U.S. the only nation to land humans on the Moon. With the Soviet Union's collapse and the subsequent end of the Cold War in 1991, the United States emerged as the world's sole superpower.


universal healthcare. As a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, the U.S. has been drastically shaped by the world's largest immigrant population

The United States is a developed country that has the highest disposable income per capita in the world. Its economy accounts for approximately a quarter of global GDP and is the world's largest by GDP at market exchange rates. It is the world's largest importer and second-largest exporter, and possesses the largest amount of wealth of any country. The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, NATO, World Health Organization, and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It wields considerable global influence as one of the world's foremost political, cultural, economic, military, and scientific powers.


The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" dates back to a letter from January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, a Continental Army aide to General George Washington, to Joseph Reed, Washington's aide-de-camp. Moylan expressed his desire to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the Revolutionary War effort.[26][27][28] The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, on April 6, 1776.[29]

By June 1776, the name "United States of America" appeared in drafts of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, authored by John Dickinson, a Founding Father from the Province of Pennsylvania,[30][31] and in the Declaration of Independence, written primarily by Thomas Jefferson and adopted by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, on July 4, 1776.[30]


Beginnings (before 1630)

Cliff Palace, located in present-day Colorado, was built by Ancestral Puebloans.


Bering land bridge and arriving in the present-day United States at least 12,000 years ago; some evidence suggests an even earlier date of arrival.[32][33][34] The Clovis culture, which appeared around 11,000BC, is believed to represent the first wave of human settlement in the Americas.[35][36] This was likely the first of three major waves of migration into North America; later waves brought the ancestors of present-day Athabaskans, Aleuts, and Eskimos.[37]

Over time, indigenous cultures in North America grew increasingly sophisticated, and some, such as the pre-Columbian

slash and burn agriculture, using controlled fire to extend farmlands' productivity and manage land.[42][43][44][45][46][47] The Ojibwe cultivated wild rice.[48] The Iroquois confederation Haudenosaunee, located in the southern Great Lakes region, was established between the 12th and 15th centuries.[49]

The Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, sent by France to the New World in 1525, encountered Native American inhabitants in the present-day New York Bay region.[53] The Spanish Empire set up their first settlements in Florida and New Mexico, including in Saint Augustine (1565), which is often considered the nation's oldest city,[54] and Santa Fe (1598). The French established their own settlements along the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, including in New Orleans (1718) and Mobile (1702).[55]

Colonization, settlement, and communities (1630–1763)

Territorial changes following the French and Indian War; land held by the British before 1763 is shown in red; land gained by Britain in 1763 is shown in pink.

British colonization of the east coast of North America began with the Virginia Colony in 1607, where Pilgrims settled in Jamestown and later established Plymouth Colony in 1620.[56][57] Many English settlers were dissenting Christians who fled England seeking religious freedom.

The continent's first elected legislative assembly, the

native population of America declined after European arrival,[60][61][62] primarily as a result of infectious diseases such as smallpox and measles.[63][64] By the mid-1670s, the British defeated and seized the territory of Dutch settlers in New Netherland, in the mid-Atlantic region.[citation needed

During the 17th century European colonization many European settlers experienced food shortages, disease, and conflicts with Native Americans, particularly in King Philip's War. In addition to fighting European settlers, Native Americans also often fought neighboring tribes. But in many cases, the natives and settlers came to develop a mutual dependency. Settlers traded for food and animal pelts, and Native Americans traded for guns, tools, and other European goods.[65] Native Americans taught many settlers to cultivate corn, beans, and other foodstuffs. European missionaries and others felt it was important to "civilize" the Native Americans and urged them to adopt European agricultural practices and lifestyles.[66][67] With the increased European colonization of North America, however, Native Americans were often displaced or killed during conflicts.[68]

European settlers also began

trafficking African slaves into the colonial United States via the transatlantic slave trade.[69] By the turn of the 18th century, slavery supplanted indentured servitude as the main source of agricultural labor for the cash crops in the Southern Colonies.[70] Colonial society was divided over the religious and moral implications of slavery, and several colonies passed acts for or against it as well as laws designed to keep Blacks subservient.[71][72]

In what was then considered British America, the Thirteen Colonies[l] were administered as overseas dependencies by the British.[73] All colonies had local governments with elections open to white male property owners except Jews and, in some areas, Catholics.[74][75] With very high birth rates, low death rates, and steadily growing settlements, the colonial population grew rapidly, eclipsing Native American populations.[76] The Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s, known as the Great Awakening, fueled colonial interest in both religion and religious liberty.[77] Excluding the Native American population, the Thirteen Colonies had a population of over 2.1 million in 1770, representing a population that was then roughly a third the size of Great Britain. By the 1770s, despite continuing new immigrant arrivals from Britain and other European regions, the natural increase of the population was such that only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas.[78] The colonies' distance from Britain had allowed for the development of self-governance in the colonies, but it encountered periodic efforts by British monarchs to reassert royal authority.[79]

Revolution and the new nation (1763–1789)

Declaration of Independence, a portrait by John Trumbull depicting the Committee of Five presenting the draft of the Declaration to the Continental Congress on June 28, 1776, in Philadelphia

After the British victory in the

lack of representation in the British government that extracted taxes from them, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and passed the Continental Association, which mandated a colonies-wide boycott of British goods. The British attempted to disarm the Americans, resulting in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, igniting the American Revolutionary War. The then United Colonies responded by again convening in Philadelphia as the Second Continental Congress where, in June 1775, they appointed George Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, which was initially comprised of various American patriot militias resisting the British Army. In June 1776, the Second Continental Congress charged acommittee with writing a Declaration of Independence, largely drafted by Thomas Jefferson.[citation needed

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress with alterations unanimously adopted and issued the Declaration of Independence, which famously stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that

siege of Yorktown in 1781, Britain signed a peace treaty. American sovereignty gained international recognition, and the new nation took possession of substantial territory east of the Mississippi River, from what is present-day Canada in the north and Florida in the south.[81] Tensions with Britain remained, leading to the War of 1812, which was fought to a draw.[82]

In 1781, the

Confederation Congress,[83] Northwest Ordinance (1787) established the precedent by which the national government would be sovereign and expand westward with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles. The prohibition of slavery in the territory had the practical effect of establishing the Ohio River as the geographic divide between slave states and free states from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River, an extension of the Mason–Dixon line. It also helped set the stage for later federal political conflicts over slavery during the 19th century until the American Civil War.[citation needed

As it became increasingly apparent that the Confederation was insufficient to govern the new country,

personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections,[85] portions of the Bill of Rights are now applied to state and local governments by virtue of both state and federal court decisions.[86]

Expansion (1789–1860)

The Old Plantation, a c. 1790 painting of a plantation by a South Carolina slaveholder

During the British Colonial era slavery, a longstanding institution in world history, was legal in the American colonies, and "challenges to its moral legitimacy were rare". However, during the Revolution many in the new nation began to question the practice.[87] Regional divisions over slavery grew in the ensuing decades. In the North, several prominent Founding Fathers such as John Adams, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin advocated for the abolition of slavery, and by the 1810s every state in the region had, those emancipations being the first in the Atlantic World.[88]

Animated map of the territorial evolution of the United States (click to view full size image)

In the late 18th century, American settlers began to expand further westward, some of them with a sense of manifest destiny.[89][90] The Louisiana Purchase (1803) nearly doubled the acreage of the United States, effectively ending French colonial interest in North America and their opposition to American westward expansion.[91] Spain ceded Florida and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819,[92] The Missouri Compromise (1820) admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state and declared a policy of prohibiting slavery in the remaining Louisiana Purchase lands north of the 36°30′ parallel. The outcome de facto sectionalized the country into two factions: free states, which forbade slavery; and slave states, which protected the institution; it was controversial, widely seen as dividing the country along sectarian lines.[93] Although the national government outlawed American participation in the Atlantic slave trade in 1807, after 1820 cultivation of the highly profitable cotton crop exploded in the Deep South, and along with it the use of slave labor.[94][95][96] The invention of the cotton gin lowering the cost of cotton production and exponentially increasing profits spurred the entrenchment of slavery on sourhtern agricultural plantations, with regional elites and intellectuals increasingly viewing the institution as a positive good instead of a necessary evil.[97] The Second Great Awakening, especially in the period 1800–1840, converted millions to evangelical Protestantism. In the North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including abolitionism;[98] in the South, Methodists and Baptists proselytized among slave populations.[99]

As Americans expanded further into land inhabited by Native Americans, the federal government often applied policies of Indian removal or assimilation.[100][101] The Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian removal policy that forcibly resettled Indians. The displacement prompted a long series of American Indian Wars west of the Mississippi River[102] and eventually conflict with Mexico.[103] Most of these conflicts ended with the cession of Native American territory and their confinement to Indian reservations.

The Republic of Texas was annexed in 1845 during a period of expansionism,[90] and the 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest.[104] Victory in the Mexican–American War resulted in the 1848 Mexican Cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest, with the U.S. now spanning the continent.[89][105] The California Gold Rush of 1848–1849 spurred migration to the Pacific coast, which led to the California genocide[106] and the creation of additional western states.[107]

Civil War and Reconstruction (1860–1876)

Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee's invasion of the North. In April 1865, following the Union Army's victory at the Battle of Appomattox Court House, the Confederacy surrendered and soon collapsed.[112]

An October 24th, 1874 Harper's Magazine editorial cartoon by Thomas Nast denouncing Ku Klux Klan and White League murders of innocent Blacks

Reconstruction began in earnest following the defeat of the Confederates. While President Lincoln attempted to foster reconciliation between the Union and former Confederacy, his assassination on April 14, 1865 drove a wedge between North and South again. "Radical Republicans" in the federal government made it their goal to oversee the rebuilding of the South and to ensure the rights of African Americans, and the so-called Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution guaranteed the abolishment of slavery, full citizenship to Americans of African descent, and suffrage for adult Black men. They persisted until the Compromise of 1877.[113]

To encourage additional westward settlement the

tenant farming had become ways of life. This act attempted to solve this by selling land at low prices so marginalized Southerners could buy it. Many, however, could still not participate because the low prices were still out of reach.[114]

Development of the modern United States (1876–1914)