USA - all about

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USA - all about


 a federation of 50 states (48 states are continental)
 area: 9,372,614 sq. km
 population: about 270 mio.
 capital city: Washington, DC
 called: ‘Melting pot’, ‘Salad Bowl’, ‘Pizza’, 'Uncle Sam'

The USA is situated in southern part of North America. It neighbours with Canada to the north, with Mexico to the south and to the Confederation of Independent States in Alaska, lying between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. It is nearly as large as Europe and half the size of Russia. The main land mass is in central north America. Alaska and Hawaii are separated from continental USA.
Diversity is very high. There are many kinds of land, of climate, of different people. The geography determined 25 thousands years ago.
The highest point is Mount McKinley in Alaska (6,198 m above the sea level). The lowest point is in Dead Valley (86 m below the sea level).
Alaska is the largest state and Rhode Island is the smallest state of the U.S.A.

The relief consists of an eastern highland, interior planes and western highland:
The Appalachian Mountains - whole eastern region from north-east to Georgia, the Appalachians roughly parallel to the Atlantic coast.
Interior planes spread into the half the USA (from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountains). It includes:
 Central Lowland - the country of the Appalachians (Great Lake Section)
 the Great Plains - area between Central Lowland and the Rocky Mountains (from the Gulf of Mexico to Canadian border)
It covers a third of the country. The highest peak of the continental U.S. is Mt. Whitney (4,418 m). There are three main parts:
 the Rocky Mountain in the East
 the Pacific Mountain System in the West - the highest peak is Sierra Nevada in the south
 the Intermontane Plateaux the central part - between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Mountain System

 rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean
Between St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico are short and of little value to navigation (the Hudson, the Delaware, the Potomac,...). The only navigable river of these is the Hudson, whose mouth forms the Harbour of New York City.
 rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico
The main river entering the Gulf of Mexico is the Mississippi (the ‘Old Man river’). It's the biggest river in the USA (app.

5,900 km). Its mouth forms the port of New Orleans, the chief port on the south. The Mississippi and its branches afford 1,000 of kilometres of navigable water. Its most important tributaries are: the Missouri, the Ohio (the most navigated river of the USA), the Red river, Arkansas. Together with its principal tributary - the Missouri, the Mississippi is over 6,000 kms long. The Mississippi system forms one of the largest navigation systems in the world (It's the third longest river system in the world). Another river that flows into the Gulf of Mexico is the Rio Grande, which forms the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico.
 rivers flowing into the Pacific Ocean
There is the Columbia on the north and the Colorado on the south. They provide navigation, hydroelectric power. A smaller river entering the Pacific Ocean is the Sacramento.

The Great Lakes Region contains of 5 lakes: Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior. All of them are navigable and Lake Superior is the second largest lake in the world (after the Caspian Sea). The deepest lake is Oregon, a craterlake with a depth of 580 m).
The river Niagara, flowing from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is famous for the Niagara Falls, a major tourist attraction. The American part of the falls is almost 55 m high and 320 m wide. The Canadian part, the Horseshoe Fall, is 900 m wide. The two parts are separated by Goat Island.

 cropland 25,8%
 forestland 26,6%
 pastureland 8,5%
 mountainland 12,2%
 mostly spread urban areas
 coastline 19,900,000 km (Alaska & Hawaii)

The country is rich for natural resources in petroleum, copper, lead, zinc and aluminium, coal and iron ore as well as in gold, silver and platinum,...

PETROLEUM - extracted near the Gulf of Mexico (in Texas), Louisiana, Oklahoma, California.

COAL - two principal coal-mining areas:
1) on the north - Appalachians, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio (60% of U.S. production)
2) on the south - Lake Michigan, Illinois, Indiana (20% of U.S. production)

IRON ORE - Lake Superior, Appalachians and Cordilleras

NON-FERROUS and precious METALS: copper, aluminium, zinc, lead, nickel, silver, gold, platinum are mined in the western Rocky Mountains.

NATURAL GAS as petroleum, sulphur is extracted in Texas, Louisiana and phosphates in Florida.

In the USA there are big variations of climate.

There are favourable climatic conditions in block of 48 states. Most of it is in the temperate tone, only the extreme South is in the subtropical zone (tropical Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska).
In July, in average hottest month, the temperature varies from 20°C to 30,6°C and
in January, in the coldest month, from 5,6°C to -2,8°C. THE ATLANTIC COAST, owing to the influence of the Labrador Stream, is relatively cold with occasional heavy snowfalls in winter. Summers are hot, very humid, the heaviest rainfall being in the coastal plains.

THE MIDWEST - greater contrast in temperatures, winters are colder and longer with snowfalls, while summers are hot and dry. Typical for this area are so sadly famous tornadoes.

THE GULF COAST has a mild climate with good rainfall. The area of Florida suffers from hurricanes.

THE WESTERN MOUNTAIN SYSTEM has a harsh, continental type of climate, cold winters with snowfalls and hot, dry summers.

THE PACIFIC COAST has a milder climate than the Atlantic coast.

A 1990 census: the population was 250 mio., in 1992 the population was 270 mio:
 male 48,8%
 female 51,2%
The density is 27,2 people per sq. km. It's largely an urban nation:
in urban areas 80%
in rural country 20%
 Growth Rate (annual) 1,0%
 Number of households 97 mio.
 persons per 1 household 2,67
 persons per family 3,26
 life expectancy (1995): white male 73,7
white female 80,3
non-white male 68,2
non-white female 76,8
 birth rate 15,7 per 1,000 people
 death rate 8,8 per 1,000 people
 population by race (1995): white 82,9%
black 12,6% Asian, Pacific Islanders 3,7%
American Indians, Eskimos 0,8%
Hispanic origin 10,1%
 the average American changes his/her residence 11,7 times a lifetime
 one in six Americans moves each year
 largest metropolitan areas (1994): New York 19,67 mio.
Los Angeles 15,3 mio. Chicago 8,5 mio.
Philadelphia 5,9 mio.

The USA holds a leading position in the world's industrial and agricultural production as well as in international trade. It was the first country in the world whose productive system became highly mechanised. The productivity of labour is higher than in any other country. WW2 strengthened the U.S. economy.

The USA was a creditor country. Since WW2 the most important factor determining the economic development has been the scientific and technological revolution. Automation has completely changed conventional production methods. It eliminated smaller and financially weaker competitors. Every big firm has its own research centre.

Industry plays the leading role in the national economy. The most important industrial groups are: transportation equipment, food products, chemicals, mechanical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, textile and leather, metal manufacturing, iron and steel, construction materials.

The primary sources of energy are petroleum (oil), natural gas and coal. Although industrial production is now widely dispersed all over the U.S. and since WW2 many industries have moved south, the greatest concentration of industries is still to be found in 3 main areas: the North-east, the Lower Lakes Region in the Middle West, and the Pacific states in the West. The main industrial area in the South is Texas. The mountain Region of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona is known for the mining industry. In each branch of industry there is a number of big corporations concentrating most of the production, e.g.:
 in the automobile industry - General Motors, Ford, Chrysler
 in petroleum industry - Exxon, Texaco, Mobil Oil, Gulf Oil, Standard Oil of California
 in electrical and electronic engineering industry: General Electric, International Business Machines (IBM), ITT/-Bell
 in chemicals - Du Pont de Nemours, Union Carbide, Kodak, Polaroid
 some other well known corporations - U.S. Steel, Coca Cola, Burlington Industries (textiles), Avon Products (cosmetics), Xerox, Gillette, J.C. Penny, etc.

All these are controlled by one of the monopoly groups, of which there are about 20. The biggest of are the Morgans, the Rockefellers and the du Pont Group.

THE MORGANS control through their banks about a quarter of the biggest corporations, including U.S. Steel, General Electric, IBM, Kodak, ITT and others.
THE ROCKEFELLERS control the oil corporations.
Another family group is THE MELLON family.

Powerful independent financial groups have been formed around the biggest banks: the First National City bank of New York and the Bank of America (in San Francisco).

The U.S. has a leading position in the world's agricultural production, both in output and in productivity. Livestock production includes beef cattle, daily cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. Crop production includes corn, wheat, soybeans, potatoes, cottons, tobacco, other crops grown in the U.S., are e.g. beans, sugar cane, sugar beet, rice, barley, vegetables.

The principal agricultural areas in the U.S. are:

1) THE CORN BELT covering mainly the states of Iowa, Indiana, Illinois in the Midwest
2) THE WHEAT BELT, which is subdivided into:
the spring wheat region - North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and
the winter wheat region - Kansas, neighbouring states
3) THE GREAT PLAINS REGION, which specialises in beef cattle raising
4) THE HAY AND DAIRY BELT, where dairy farming prevails - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York State, New England
5) THE COTTON BELT on the south stretching from North Carolina to Texas
6) THE TOBACCO BELT - Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia
7) THE INTERMONTANE PLATEAU between the Rocky Mountain and the Sierra Nevada, which is the main sheep farming area
8) CALIFORNIA, which is the main fruit-growing area (citrus as well as others fruits)
9) THE GULF COAST REGION (Louisiana), where rice and sugar cane are grown. Pigs are kept mainly in the Corn Belt, while poultry farming is concentrated, in New England, New York State, Delaware, California.

Although there are still many small and medium-sized farms operated mainly by the farmer and his family, the big farms play the decisive role in supplying the market with agricultural products. The biggest farms (of more than 400 ha each) account for about 80% of agricultural production.

 2,275,000 farms in the U.S.
 181 ha per farm
 27% raising and pasture
 19% cultivated
 32% forest
 22% urban areas

The U.S. is generally divided into 4 regions: the North-East, the Midwest, the South and the West.

1) THE NORTH-EAST can historically be characterised as the oldest part of the U.S. Economically, it's the most important part of the U.S., the most highly industrialised. We often speak of the ‘industrialised North-East’. It has the largest percentage of urban population. The chain of cities extending from Boston to Washington has been called the ‘Atlantic Metropolitan Belt’.

The North-East is subdivided into 2 regions: New England and the Midatlantic Region.

a) NEW ENGLAND - comprises 6 states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Havana.
Massachusetts is the oldest and economically the most important of these states. BOSTON, Mass., the leading U.S. fisheries port, specialises in finance, machine tools, electrical equipment and shoes. PROVIDENCE, R.I., specialises in jewellery, metalware and plastics.

b) THE MIDATLANTIC REGION - made up of these states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (U.S. business, coal, good farmland)
NEW YORK CITY is the greatest port and manufacturing centre, the leader in finance and banking (Wall Street), called 'Big Apple', it's made up of 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Richmond. PHILADELPHIA, Pa. is the second largest city of this region. It's known as the first U.S. capital (before the city of Washington was built).
PITTSBURGH, Pa. is known for its steel industry.

2) THE MIDDLE WEST frequently called the Midwest, is usually defined to include 12 states of the North Central region: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota.
The region exhibits great diversity in climate, soil and resources. It possesses a vast extent of rich farmland, an excellent river and lake system, extensive forest lands and deposits of minerals, iron ore, limestone and coal. It's an extremely important region. The Midwest is divided into 4 principal regions: the Lower Lake Region, the Upper Lake Region, the Corn Belt, the Wheat Belt.

a) THE LOWER LAKE REGION lies north of the Corn Belt and comprises the states of Michigan, Ohio, parts of Indiana, Illinois. It's the industrial area of the Midwest. The Great Lakes are connected with the Hudson and the Mississippi - the Ohio system by means of a number of canals. CHICAGO is a great manufacturing centre. It's especially known as the greatest meat processing and meat packing centre with huge slaughter houses and the greatest transportation centre.
DETROIT is famous for its automobile industry (Ford).
CLEVELAND is known as financial centre.

b) THE UPPER LAKE REGION includes the northern half of the Great Lake area (the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota). These are ideal dairying areas.

c) THE CORN BELT covers the following states: the whole of Iowa, most of Indiana and Illinois, parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota. Corn is usually grown on about half of the land.

d) THE WHEAT BELT extends to the west and north-west of the Corn Belt, stretching from the north. Oklahoma in the south to Canada in the north.

The Wheat Belt includes the whole of North Dakota, most of South Dakota and Kansas, the central Nebraska, Missouri and the north of Oklahoma (dark soils).

3) THE SOUTH extends to the south of the North-East and the Midwest and comprises 16 states: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas. Characteristic features:
 the south lagged behind the North in industrial development
 the typical crops of the south are cotton and tobacco
 the south has a large black population
 the south is a supplier of raw material
 the standard of living is lower in South

It is divided into 3 groups: the South Atlantic Region, the East-South Central Region, the West-South Central Region.

a) THE SOUTH ATLANTIC REGION comprises of Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida. Maryland and Delaware are highly industrialised. Delaware has chemical industries (du Pont). Florida is a place known for space research, pine forests, orange plantations and beaches. This part of the country suffers from hurricanes which may cause severe damage. Inland agriculture is more diversified. Besides cotton and tobacco, soya beans, peanuts and fruit are grown locally. RICHMOND, Va. and ATLANTA, Ga., is a bulk of manufacturing industries. BALTIMORE, Md. is famous shipbuilding centre.

b) THE EAST-SOUTH CENTRAL REGION is made up of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi that are plantation states. Cotton is the main crop in Alabama and Mississippi, tobacco in Kentucky.
KNOXVILLE, NASHVILLE, MEMPHIS are important commercial industrial centres in Tennessee.

c) THE WEST-SOUTH CENTRAL REGION embraces the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Texas has the most rapid economic development in the post-WW2 period. Dallas is a financial capital of the entire south-west. There is livestock raising and general farming spread out there. Oklahoma is famous for wheat fields and other cotton fields.

4) THE WEST comprises of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California.
It's historically the youngest part of the USA. The development is not so high as in the East. Most of the western states are mountainous states. The Yellowstone National Park is the largest natural reservation (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming). Another attraction is in Arizona - the Grand Canyon National Park. The West has the lowest density of population, densely populated part of the West is the Pacific coast esp. on the south of California. The West is mainly agricultural, with emphasis on pastoral farming. Only California and Oregon are industrial. It's an important supplier of raw materials, non-ferrous metals (Rocky Mountain), petroleum (California).

It is divided into 3 regions: the Great Plains, the High West and the Pacific Coast.

a) GREAT PLAINS made up of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas. It is a cattle country of the Old Wild West, whose legend (with its cowboys, prairies, sheriffs and outlaws) became part of the American culture. It is a pastureland (cattle, sheep).
DENVER, Col. is the largest city on the plains, manufactures mining machinery, leading sheep market in the U.S..

b) THE HIGH WEST is a mass of plateaux, mountains, canyons, deserts, salt lakes, forests, prairies and irrigated valleys (1/3 of the country). Cascade - Sierra Nevada. There are 2 huge plateaux there: the Columbia plateau (N) and the Colorado Plateau (S), with the vast Great Basin between them. There is fertile soil suitable for wheat farming, some arid areas and prosperous orchards. The most famous cities are: SALT LAKE CITY, Ut. and PHONEIX, Ariz.

c) THE PACIFIC COAST is the most important part of America. The industry and agriculture are equally developed. There is a mild climate (states: Oregon, Washington), green lands of fir forest, pastures, gain fields, orchards. Oregon is a lumber state (furniture industry). They plant horticultural crops, vegetables, fruit (grapes, subtropical fruits). The Pacific coast area is known for its shipbuilding, aircraft production and the food industry. California is a state of dynamic growth, the highest mountains, sandy beaches, the world's biggest trees (red woods), warm winters, sunshine, oranges, grapes, fertile land, petroleum, the electronic industry, aircraft factories.
LOS ANGELES is an industrial, commercial and recreational centre.
HOLLYWOOD is famous for the film industry.
SAN FRANCISCO is the ‘Gateway to the East’.

Ancestors of present day - Native Americans came from Asia. During the earth's last ice age a bridge connected Siberia to Alaska.

The first european explorers of America were the Vikings. The first European contact with the ‘New World’ began in 1492. Columbus' four voyages to the New World were important in establing the Spanish presence in America. It was a navigation error to the Caribbean Sea instead to Asia. There were about 1,500,000 American Indians at that time in the territory known today as U.S.A.
John Cabot's voyage to New Foundland in 1497 marked England’s first contact with America.
Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement. Captain John Smith became the first leader of the colony.
The early 17th century was marked by a flood of immigration from Europe.

In 1620 a group of about 100 separatists, also known as Pilgrims, aboard the Mayflower arrived west of Cape Cod at Plymouth. In 1630 a new group of immigrants began a settlement called Boston. They came to be known as Puritans. The leader was John Winthrop. Catholics were not free to practise their faith in England. Sir George Calvert started a colony where he and other Catholics could freely worship their religion. Calvert called the colony Maryland. The original 13 colonies fell into 3 groups:
1) the New England colonies: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire
2) the middle colonies: Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
3) the southern colonies: Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.
The first Africans arrived in 1619. The main rival of the English were French who had 2 colonies:
1) New France (Canada)
2) Louisiana.
In the 18th century there were continual wars between the English and French. France's powerful position threatened the British Empire in America and led to the Seven Years' War (known to Americans as the French and Indian War in 1754). France has defeated and when the Seven Years' War ended in 1763 with the Peace of Paris, the English kept the territories they had conquered in America.

Many of the British colonies were self-governed and prospered economically and culturally. The trade and wealth of the colonies was utilised for the exclusive benefit of the British ruling class.
After the French and Indian War, in 1763, the 13 colonies were demanding more independence from Britain. The British government imposed duties on tea, paper, glass and other articles of general consumption. The anti-English feeling gave rise to a popular organisation called the ‘Sons of Liberty’, who raised the slogan: ‘No taxation without representation’. It caused the boycott of English goods.

THE BOSTON TEA-PARTY, dec. 16th 1773
The revolutionary war began in Lexington, Mass. on the night of April 18th 1775. In June 1775, the 2nd Continental Congress, acting as the National Government met in Philadelphia and appointed G. Washington Commander in Chief of the Colonial Army. Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was approved by continental Congress on July 4th 1776. In 1778 Benjamin Franklin persuaded the French government to sign a Treaty of Alliance. French ships and troops played the main role in a war.
The King George III. refused to unknowledge for another 2 years. The Peace Treaty was finally signed in 1783. Britain recognized the independence of the U.S.

- the former 13 colonies now became states. The constitution was adopted in 1789. It was the first time the most democratic constitution in the world.

This period in American history can be characterised as the period of territorial expansion.
The U.S. expanded westwards and the colonisation of the whole American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific was completed.
Louisiana, the vast territory stretching from the Middle West to the Gulf of Mexico, was bought by the U.S. from the French under Napoleon for about 15 mio. dollars. This transaction was called the ‘LOUISIANA PURCHASE’ in 1803.
Florida was bought from Spain, it was the purchase by force of arms in 1819. Texas was annexed by the U.S. in 1845. In 1846 the Americans in this war entered Oregon Territory and the whole Pacific coast to the north of California was joined to the U.S..
In the Mexican War (1846-48) the Americans conquered over a half of Mexico's territory (the present states of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico).

THE CIVIL WAR, 1861-1865
The Civil War was caused by the face that there existed two antagonistic economic and the social systems in the U.S.: the capitalistic system in the North and the slave system in the South.
For capitalism to develop freely and to expand rapidly it was necessary to abolish slavery and break the political power of the southern planters.
Disputes between the North and the South arose with the territorial expansion of the U.S. westwards the northerners wanted all the new territories to be free, while the southerners wanted to introduce slavery into them.
In 1854 the northern capitalists founded a new political party, the Republican Party.
The Republicans won the presidential election in 1860 and Lincoln became President. But before he took the office, 11 southern states secluded from the Union and formed the confederate states of America. Jefferson Davis was elected President of the southern Confederacy.
The North was stronger in population and industrial resources. 23 states had 23 mio. Inhabitants. 11 states in the South had 9 mio. people, including 4 mio. slaves. The South enjoyed the support of the British ruling class because American cotton was needed in the U.S..
Lincoln Abolished Slavery On Jan. 1st 1863. (The Emancipation Proclamation)
It meant freedom to all slaves. End of the Civil War was on April 9th 1865 - 215,000 people died.

On April 14th Lincoln was assassinated by an agent of the South.

In the next period there was a big economic growth, which led U.S. to be the most powerful nation in the world. 12 years after the Civil War were followed by the period of Reconstruction. Urbanization was the major trend, especially in the north. Then the South was occupied by northern troops, the democracy grew. The blacks were given the right to vote and many were elected to the Congress.
In 1866 the defeated southern planers found the Ku-klux-klan against black people. In 1867 U.S. bought Alaska from Russia. Between 1870 and 1910 there were 20 mio. immigrants in the U.S. Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1894.

to study:
Forming A National Government
The Bill Of Rights
War With Mexico
Technology And Transformation - in the period which followed, the war damage in the South was slowly repaired and industrialization began. The West was open for mining, cattle ranching and grain production. The building of railways across the continent started, and new settlements were established. The prosperity of the country rapidly increased. There were new immigrants from European countries coming to the U.S.A. (A Nation Of Immigrants)
The first American military mobilization on foreign soil was not until 1917 when the U.S. entered World War I. against Germany and helped France and England. U.S. president Woodrow Wilson helped negotiate a peace treaty in 1918.
The ‘Roaring Twenties’ brought large economic growth until The Great Depression started after the stock market crash in 1929. In the next decade unemployment was high and poverty widespread. The Depression lasted till the beginning of the World War II. The U.S.A. remained neutral and did not enter the War till the Japanese attacked on Pearl Harbour. The war was declared against Japan in 1941 and president Harry Truman ordered the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Cold War period after WWII saw increasing mistrust between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. There were several war conflicts e.g. Korean War. The post war period was a time of economic expansion. The U.S. continued as a world leader in scientific, medical and technological achievements. The Soviet Union was the first to put a man in space, the U.S. had the first man to walk on the Moon (Neil Armstrong, 1969)
The 60s saw tremendous social change and unrest. American blacks demanded an end to racial discrimination through The Civil Rights Movement - civil rights leader Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. The assassinations of president John F.

Kennedy in 1963 and Robert Kennedy in 1968 shocked the world. The Vietnam War brought further internal unrest. This continued till the 70s with the political corruption - the Watergate Scandal and the resulting resignation of president Richard Nixon (he was the first U.S. president who was forced to resign). U.S. troops were finally withdrawn from Vietnam in 1975.
Economic issues dominated the 80s which began with high unemployment, high inflation and slow economic growth. By the middle of this decade this recession had ended and the U.S. continues to have one of the highest standards of living in the world.

 official name: United States of America (U.S.A.)
 national anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner
 national flag: 50 white stars on a blue field, 13 horizontal stripes (7red and 6 white) symbolizing the original 13 states which used to be the British colonies
 monetary unit currency: American dollar ($)
 legal system: based on the English Common Law
 military: over 18 non-compulsory

The Constitution has the historical background. U.S. system of government is based on the constitution adopted in 1789. There are two political groupings in the U.S.A.

Federal government exercises control over matters concerning the country as a whole:
defence, foreign affairs, finance, commerce, postal services, etc.

All the states of the U.S. are bound to accept the decisions of the Supreme Court as final. There are some important amendments (the first amendments, adopted in 1791, are known as ‘the bill of rights’).

The federal government has 3 branches of department:
1) the executive (the President)
2) the legislative (the U.S. Congress - 2 houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives)
3) the Judiciary or the judicial department (the U.S. Supreme Court)

The President is an effective head of the executive as well as the head of the state. The cabinet and the Vice-president belong to the President.

 at least 35-years old
 be natural-born citizen
 have lived in the U.S. for 14 years
 can be elected max.

 chosen by political parties several months before the presidential elections every 4 years on the first Tuesday in November
 he must receive 270 votes
 is the most powerful person in the world
 is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed force, appoints many government leaders
 has authority to sign or veto legislation
 is elected by the House of Representatives
 must rely on group of advisors
 they are expected to resign when President leaves office (they are not elected officially).

The Constitution grants all legislative power to Congress (composed of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives).

CONGRESS has the power to create laws:
1) the executive branch - represented by the President and his advisors or has the power to enforce laws
2) the judicial branch - represented by the Supreme Court and the other federal courts or has the power to dismiss or reverse laws that it determines as ‘unconstitutional’.

the President can veto laws passed by Congress.
Congress can pass laws over the President’s veto by a 2/3 majority.
the President appoints federal judges.
the Court can declare presidential act unconstitutional.
the Senate must confirm the President’s judicial appointments.
the Court can declare laws unconstitutional.

CONGRESS consists of 2 chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

 comprised of 100 members, 2 members from each state (elected every 6 years, can be reelected several times)
 U.S. senators must be at least 30-years old, they must be citizens
 for at least 9 years, residents of the states from which they are elected
 elected directly by popular vote (by the people)
 the Vice-president presides over the Senate

 each state has members proportionate to its population
 has 435 members
 elected every 2 years (can be reelected for many times)
 at least over 25
 must be citizens for 7 years and residents of the states (where they were sent from)

 9 judges (a Chief Justice and 8 associate Justices, they hold their offices for life)

 2 major political parties in the U.S.: the Republican Party
the Democratic Party

 Presidential elections
 elections for Congress

In the U.S. the education is under the control of the state government of municipal government or private bodies. Each of the 50 states has its own laws regulating education. The majority of school are public schools.

Private schools are quite expensive, there are high tuition fees.

PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION through nursery schools

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION through Elementary school (1st - 6th grade)

SECONDARY EDUCATION through Junior High school (7th - 9th grade)
Senior High school (10th - 12th grade)

HIGHER EDUCATION through College or University

1) Junior College – provide continuing general education
2) University and College – either publicly controlled or by a state, municipality or district, or they are controlled by private organisation
HARVARD – founded in 1636
YALE – founded in 1701
PRINCETON – founded in the half of 18th century

1) state
2) municipal
3) land-grant
4) endowed
5) privately controlled

 full-time faculty consists of professors, associate professors, assistant professors and instructors
 part-time faculty consists of students' admission, administration and organization, studies and degrees, graduate students (have already finished studies), undergraduate students (still students):
Freshmen – 1st grade,
Sophomores – 2nd grade,
Juniors – 3rd grade,
Seniors – 4th grade.

 enrolment: 65 mio.: nursery and kindergartens 11%
elementary 47%
secondary 21%
colleges and universities 21%

 schools: public 56 mio.
private 8 mio.
 number of foreign students finished in U.S. schools (Africa, Latino America, Europe): 500,000
 average annual college cost for students: public schools 8,500 $
private schools 17,800 $

The U.S. don't have a national system of education. There is a federal department of education. They gather information, give advice, help financially. Education is of a national concern, it's a state responsibility:
50% of funds come from state resources for elementary and secondary schools
43% from local funds
6% from federal government

Colleges and universities own individual standard, graduation requirements, admission, etc., they are free to determine. Local schools are free to choose teaching materials and text books (local and state taxes support), but there are differences in quality of education. It aims for equal opportunity in education regardless of social class, national origin, sex, racial and ethnic group.
Students get marks: A,B,C,D,E (A - D passed, E - didn´t pass).

A diploma is not a ticket to automatic enter. Standardised exams play a decisive role at almost every level of education. There is admission to colleges or universities.
 2 widely used, nationally administered tests for high students:
SAT – Scholastic Aptitude Test (measures verbal and mathematical fields, which are necessary for college work)
ACT – American College Testing Programme (measures skills in English, Maths, social and natural sciences)

Both tests are given specific dates and location throughout U.S., by non-profit, non-governmental organisations. Each year SAT 2 is taken by mio. students that provide national norms. They publish the average scores achieved on tests by the students they admit. Similar testing programmes exist at higher levels as well. Someone who has already finished 4 years and wants to go to higher education for Law or Medical School can take these tests. These tests have been agreed by various law and medical schools and are administered nation-wide at scheduled time. They pay for one test approximately 1,000 – 10,000 $.

 Americas share 3 national holidays:
Easter Sunday (various dates)
Christmas Day (Decem. 25th )
New Year's Day (Jan.1st)
 8 other American holidays:
Thanksgiving Day (Novem.

4th Thursday)
Independence Day (July 4th) – day of picnics
Martin Luther's King Day (Jan. 3rd Monday) – assassinated (1968), to win civil rights
President's Day (Feb. 22nd) – George Washington, first President of the U.S. Memorial Day (May 4th Monday) - American honour the dead of all wars
Labour Day (Sept. 1st Monday) - for the nation’s working people
Columbus' Day (Oct. 12th)
Veterans' Day (Nov. 11th) - in memory of those who had served in WWI.
 modern holidays: Valentine's Day, Halloween

 banking: 10,800 banks (1995)
 export 749,4 billion (1995)
import 575,9 billion
 GDP: 6,7 trillion
 Rate of Increase: 2,3 (1993)
3,5 (1994)
2,0 (1995)
approx. 5 (Clinton)
 labour force: 1,23 mio.
 farming, forestry, fishing: 2,9%
 per capita income (annually): 21,809 $
 U.S. farms: 2,07 mio.
 average ha per farm: 187,6
 agriculture: import 30,000 mio.
export 5,800 mio.

 exported commodities: rice, cotton, wheat, soybeans, tobacco, tractors, textile machinery, printing machinery, vehicles, chemicals, textiles.
 imported commodities: natural rubber, tin, industrial diamonds, coffee, cocoa, tea, nickel, cobalt, chromium, asbestos, manganese.
 U.S. trade turnover is the highest in the world
 agricultural products are 25% of export
 trading partners: Canada, Latino America, Western Europe, Japan

 shipping, railways, road transport, civil aviation

The first amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from making any law that interferes with the freedom of the press and this freedom has been vigorously guaranteed.

 there are operating two American news services world-wide
1) the Associated Press (AP)
2) United Press International (VPI)
 magazines: US Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Time (circulation world-wide, more than 6 billion copies)

 over 98% of American homes have TV sets
 more than 900 commercial TV stations
 big private national TV networks: ABC, NBC, CBS , CNN
 prime time is from 7,30 p.m.

till 11 p.m.
 there is no national radio station, but many independent stations
 all large American cities has at least one radio
 Hollywood cinema from the 1910s through today

Capt. John Smith – Description of New England (1616)

 patriotic feeling, sentiment
Benjamin Franklin – at 42 commercial printer, politician, scientist, inventor, diplomat, expert, musician, famous for yearly book (Poor Richard's Almanac)
Samuel Adams – the most effective radical leader, in Dec. 1773 Adams organized a group of colonists in a late night raid against British tea ships in Boston Harbour as Mohawk Indians, they threw cargoes over-board in protest of a tea tax (Boston Tea Party)

Edgar Alan Poe – short stories and poetry, modern detective story, human psychology (the best poem: Raven, The Golden Bug, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Murders in the Rue Morgue)
Walt Whitman – poetry, freedom of form (collection: Leaves of Grass, poem: Song of Myself)
- celebration of democracy and individualism

Mark Twain – travel books based on his own experience along the Mississippi (novels: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi), he makes fun of the old world, Europe and culture
Jack London – famous outstanding self-made man, social essays (The Call of the Wild)
Theodore Dreiser – 'American Balzac' for the power of details of urban life (Sister Carrie – his own Life, An American Tragedy – experiences)

Ernest Hemingway - was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1945 (The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tools - during the Spanish Civil War, The Sun also Rises, Farewell to Arms - love story about American and English nurse in the WWI.)
Jerome David Salinger - expressed the feelings of the post-war generation (The Catcher in the Rye)
Joseph Heller (Catch-22), John Steinbeck, Saul Bellow, John Updike, Jack Kerouac, etc.

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