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From Coast to Coast

The United States of America is bounded to the north by Canada, and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico and the United Mexican States. Its east coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the west coast by the Pacific Ocean.
Besides Alaska and the central part of North America, it comprises several islands and islets (the Aleutian Islands, Hawaii, the Florida Keys, etcetera).

The east of the country has flat lowlands and plains, interrupted only by the Appalachian Mountains. Mountains and highlands rise to the west and reach heights surpassing 3,000 metres above sea level. In Alaska the Rockies are also prominent, Mount McKinley being their tallest peak.

Its most important rivers are the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers which have basins of 3,206,000 km2 and 1,370,000 km2 respectively. Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes.

The climate on the northeast coast is rainy and the temperature is temperate. In California, to the west, it is dry and the rest of the continental area has humid summers and snowy winters. The southern region of Alaska is temperate and the north is sub arctic. Hawaii is tropical and the south of Florida is subtropical. 

Political Organisation

The United States is governed by the Constitution approved on the 17th of September 1787. Executive power is held by the President of the Republic, who is elected every four years, as is the Vice President. As of 1951 the President may only be re-elected once. He is advised by a cabinet of twelve ministers named secretaries.

Legislative power is exercised by the Senate (two senators for each state) and the House of Representatives (435 members) and the maximum judicial authority is the Supreme Court.

The country is divided into 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Laws made by states are valid so long as they do not conflict with the United States Constitution. Every state has a governor, a Congress and its own judicial system.

A Multiracial Country

In spite of its enormous population, the United States is not a densely populated country, with a density of only 30.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, although 80% of its inhabitants live in urban areas. The main metropolitan areas are found in the northeast, above all in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and in central states like Illinois and Michigan.  Put together, these states contain more than 25% of the total population.

One of the main characteristics of the citizens of the United States is their large racial diversity (see graphic).

Economic Power

The economy of the United States is driven by agricultural, forestry and industrial production, was well as by its dynamic imports and exports. The great variety of climates, the size of its territory, and the advanced technology in use allow for a great diversity in crops and livestock. Maize, soy and wheat are the most important crops in cultivation, and pigs and cattle are the main types of livestock raised.

Furthermore, this country is the sixth most important fishing power in the world. Its industrial power is based on the mining of numerous minerals, such as iron and copper. It is also one of the world’s main producers of petrol, natural gas, and coal, as well as steel. In 2005, the exportation of industrial materials by the United States reached 231.8 billion dollars.

The United States financial sector, which has a significant impact in both the domestic and the world economy, has also contributed to America’s strong economic position.

New York

New York, the most cosmopolitan and emblematic city of the United States, was founded by the Dutch in 1626, who called it New Amsterdam, until 1674, when under English control, it was renamed New York. It is said that a person presently living in this city may eat out every day for an entire year and never go to the same restaurant twice.

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