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The United States of America is a country in North America that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and shares land borders with Canada and Mexico. The United States is a federal constitutional republic, with its capital in Washington, D.C.
At over 3.7 million square miles (over 9.6 million km˛), the U.S. (including its non-contiguous and overseas states and territories) is the third largest country by total area. It is the world's third most populous nation, with more than 300 million
American military, economic, cultural, and political influence increased through the 19th and 20th centuries. With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, the nation emerged as the world's sole remaining superpower or
hyperpower, and today, the United States plays a major role in world affairs.
On October 17, 2006 at 7:46 a.m. EST, the United States' population stood at an estimated 300,000,000, with an annual growth rate of about
0.59%. This figure excludes persons living in the U.S. without legal permission to do so, estimated at 12 million, as well as U.S. citizens living abroad, estimated at 3 million to 7 million. Thus any population estimate needs to be seen as a somewhat rough figure, according to the US Department of
Commerce. According to the 2000 census, about 79% of the population lived in urban
About 17.2% of households have annual incomes of at least $100,000, and the top 10% of households had annual gross incomes exceeding $118,200 in
2006. Among individuals, 5.63% had six figure incomes with the top 10% earning more than $75,000 a
year. More than three quarters, 76.3%, of households in the top 20% had two income earners; thus the difference between the percentage of households and individuals with incomes of over $100,000 remains quite
considerable. Overall, the top quintile, those households earning more than $91,705 a year, earned 49.8% of all income in
In the 2000 census, the country had 31 ethnic groups with at least one million members each, with numerous others represented in smaller
amounts. By the federal government's categorization of race, most Americans (80.4% in
2004) are white. These white Americans are mostly European Americans—the descendants of European immigrants to the United States—along with some non-Europeans counted as white in government nomenclature (those with origins in the original peoples of the Middle East and North Africa).
To the exclusion of Hispanic-origin European Americans, non-Hispanic whites constituted 67.4% of the population. The non-Hispanic white population is proportionally declining, because of both immigration by, and a higher birth rate among, ethnic and racial
minorities. If immigration trends continue, the number of non-Hispanic whites is expected to be reduced to a plurality by 2040-2050. The largest ethnic group of European ancestry is German at 15.2%, followed by Irish (10.8%), English (8.7%), Italian (5.6%) and Scandinavian (3.7%). Many immigrants also hail from French Canada, as well as from such Slavic countries as Poland and
Russia. African Americans, or Blacks, largely descend from Africans who arrived as slaves during the 17th through 19th centuries, and number about 35 million or 12.9% of the population. At about 1.5% of the total population, Native Americans and Alaska Natives number about 4.4
million, approximately 35% of whom were living on reservations in 2005.
Crime in the United States is characterized by relatively high levels of gun violence and homicide, compared to other developed
countries. Levels of property crime and other types of crime in the United States are comparable to other developed
Due to its large size and wide range of geographic features, the United States contains examples of nearly every global climate. The climate is temperate in most areas, tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida, polar in Alaska, semiarid in the Great Plains west of the 100th meridian, Mediterranean in coastal California and arid in the Great Basin. Its comparatively generous climate contributed (in part) to the country's rise as a world power, with infrequent severe drought in the major agricultural regions, a general lack of widespread flooding, and a mainly temperate climate that receives adequate precipitation.
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