History, Politics, and Culture
The United States of America is composed of 50 states with over 320 million inhabitants, stretching out on almost 10 million square kilometers across the North American continent. It comprises forty-eight continental states, Washington D.C. and Alaska in the North, as well as Hawaii and small island territories in the Pacific Ocean and the Carribean. The country is the third largest in the world and displays an enormous diversity in climate and geography.
The formation of the relatively young American nation began around 1600 with the European colonization of the Atlantic coast that was inhabited by Native American groups. Only in 1776, in the course of the American Revolution, did the USA declare their independence from the British crown. The constitution of the United States, which continues to this day, was signed in Philadelphia in 1787.
A wave of expansion in the 19th century led to mass displacement of the indigenous population and the establishment of indigenous reservations. Following their victory in the Mexican-American War, the areas of today’s South-West became American territory. The American Civil War (1861–1865) ended with the victory of the North and the official abolition of slavery. As the nation expanded its power, the first national income tax was established and the competencies of the Supreme Court were extended. Through their involvement in the First World War, the USA gained even greater military power and after the allies’ victory in the Second World War, the United States became a superpower and the first country to possess nuclear weapons. The USA is a founding member of the United Nations and one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Justifiably, the USA has been called a “country of superlatives”. Being the world’s largest national economy, it has also reached record statistics in terms of unequal distribution, carbon emissions and military expenditure.
The US American society is characterized by ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity as well as segregation, which has repeatedly given rise to conflicts. Since the 9/11 terror attacks, nationalist voices have gained influence, which most notably became apparent as Donald Trump was elected president.