The United States of America ( English United States of America ; abbreviated USA ), briefly called United States (English United States , abbreviated US , US ) and often colloquially shortened to America (English America ), is a federal republic . It consists of 50 states , a federal district (the capital city of Washington, DC ), five major directly union-dependent territories , and nine island territories . The 48 contiguous United States (often called the Lower 48 ) and Alaska are in North America and together form the Continental United States , while the state of Hawaii and smaller outlying areas lie in the Pacific and Caribbean Seas respectively. The country has a very high geographical and climatic diversity with a large variety of animal and plant species.
The United States of America is the third largest country in the world in terms of area of 9.83 million square kilometers (after Russia and Canada ) and in terms of population of about 331.4 million people (after China and India ). The largest city by population is New York City , major metro areas are Los Angeles , Chicago , Dallas , Houston , Philadelphia , Washington , Miami , Atlanta , Boston and San Francisco , each with over 5 million residents. The degree of urbanization is 82.46 percent (as of 2019) .
Popular national myths of the United States hold that the US is one of the most ethnically multicultural countries; However, empirical studies show that the United States performs only average in a global comparison of national ethnic and cultural diversity. Unlike 32 states, there is no official language at the federal level, but English is the de facto official language. In the southwest and in Miami , the Spanish language is also widespread. In total, more than 350 languages were in domestic use in 2015, 150 of which were indigenous. Among these were the largest in use by the Yupik of Alaska, the Dakota of the Sioux language family , and the various Apache languages , then Keres , the language of the Pueblo Indians , and Cherokee .
Paleo -Indians migrated from Asia to mainland North America, what is now the United States ( Buttermilk Creek Complex ), more than 13,000 years ago, having settled what is now Alaska, which is now part of the United States, several millennia earlier. European colonization began around 1600, mainly from England , albeit in a protracted dispute with France . The United States emerged from the 13 colonies on the Atlantic coast. Disputes between Britain and the American colonies led to the American Revolution . On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies passed the United States Declaration of Independence , thereby founding the United States of America. The American Revolutionary War , which ended with the recognition of independence , was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial power . The current constitution was passed on September 17, 1787. So far, 27 additional articles have been added. The first ten amendments, collectively referred to as the Bill of Rights , were ratified in 1791 and guarantee a variety of inalienable rights .
Driven by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny , the United States began an expansion across North America that spanned the 19th century. This included the forcible expulsion of indigenous Indian tribes, the acquisition of new territories, etc. in the Mexican-American War and the founding of new states . The American Civil War ended legal slavery in the United States in 1865 . By the late 19th century, the state had expanded as far as the Pacific , and its economy became the largest in the world. The Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed the United States' role as a global military power. Emerging from World War II as a superpower and the first country with nuclear weapons , the United States became one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council . After the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union , the United States is the only remaining superpower. You are a founding member of the United Nations , the Organization of American States (OAS) and many other international organizations. Their political and cultural influence is great worldwide.
The United States is an industrialized country and the largest economy with a gross domestic product of US$22.4 trillion in 2019, which represented 25% of nominal and 17% of global economic output adjusted for purchasing power. The country had the 8th highest per capita income in 2019 . According to the World Bank , income distribution in the United States is one of the most unequal among the OECD countries . The country's economic performance benefits from the wealth of natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure and high average productivity. Although the economic structure is commonly considered to be post-industrial , the country remains one of the world's largest producers of goods. The US was responsible for 36% of global military spending in 2016, ranking first, followed by China with 13% and Russia with 4.1%. The state of emergency declared as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 has been in force since 2001.
In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a map of the world in which he named the western hemisphere landmass “America”, after the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci . This term originally included the twin continents of America , which became known to Europeans as the New World . Since the founding of the United States of America , usage of the term America has focused on the United States for various historical reasons and to varying degrees depending on the language area .
The first documented reference to the United States of America designation is an anonymously written essay published on April 6, 1776 in The Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg . In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson added the uppercase designation "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" to the title of his original draft of the Declaration of Independence . In the final version, the title was changed to The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America .
The Articles of Confederation , published in 1777, proclaims: The Styles of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America' .
The short form United States is commonly used. Other frequently used forms are " US " or " US ", " USA " or " USA " and " America ". Other slang names include "US of A." and - internationally - "the States " . " Columbia ", a popular name in late 17th-century poetry and song, derives from the name of Christopher Columbus . It is part of the District of Columbia designation .
The official German term for citizens of the United States is "Citizens of the United States (of America)" or "American". "American" and "US-American" are used in German for the adjectival designation ("American values"), the prefix "US-" ("US-Armed Forces") is also common. "American" is the recommended form in the guides to official usage in Germany , Austria and Switzerland . In the German guide, this is preceded by the alternative designation "of the United States (of America)". Only for the USA there is no clear designation in the German guide. The proofreading of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung advises against using the new form “US-American”, which was first recorded in the Duden in 1951 , as it is both unnecessary and artificial, and recommends replacing it with “American”.
In the English-speaking world , the pendant "American" is rarely used to refer to subjects that have no direct connection with the United States. The term ' United States ' was also originally treated as a plural in the English-speaking world, a description for a collection of independent states, for example the United States are in the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution , ratified in 1865. It became after the end of their Civil War in the United States it was normal to treat the designation as singular, for example the United States is . The singular form is common today. However, the plural form is still used in speech and literature, for example these United States ("these United States"). More importance is attached to the difference than just freedom of choice of words, since it reflects the difference between a collection of states and a single entity.
Outside of the English language, the name is commonly translated as a literal translation of either ' United States ' or ' United States of America '. Proper designations have emerged in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian, which do distinguish the United States as part of the continent of America, for example as in the term US Americans mentioned above or in the French étatsunien . However, these forms are not used as frequently as the polyseme America or American . The US Embassy in Spain refers to itself as the Embassy of the "Estados Unidos" and also uses the initials "EE.UU." Double letters indicate plural use in Spanish . Elsewhere on the official website, "Estados Unidos de América" is used.
limits and extent
The United States shares a border with Canada that totals 5,550 miles (with approximately 1,500 miles extending between Alaska and Canada) and one with Mexico that is 2,000 miles long. The total length of US land borders is 12,221 kilometers. The coastline on the Atlantic , Pacific and Gulf of Mexico totals 19,924 kilometers.
The north-south extension between the Canadian and the Mexican border is about 2,500 kilometers, the extension between the Atlantic and the Pacific is about 4,500 kilometers. The main part of the country lies between approximately 24° and 49° north latitude and between 68° and 125° west longitude and is divided into four time zones (see Time zones in the United States ).
geology and landscape structure
The area has a clear structure. Mountain ranges such as the volcanic Cascade Range , the fold mountains of the Rocky Mountains , and the Appalachian Mountains stretch from north to south. While there are extensive forests on their weather side, huge dry areas with desert or grass landscapes ( prairies ) extend in their lee . The river systems of the United States, such as the Mississippi and Missouri , provided for dense settlement early on, while the surrounding arid regions remain sparsely populated to this day.
The highest mountain in the United States is Denali in Alaska at , and the lowest point is Badwater Depression in Death Valley at . Denali and Badwater are also the highest and lowest points on the North American continent.
The most important factor influencing the climate is the polar jet stream (polar front jet stream), which brings extensive low-pressure areas from the North Pacific. When the lows combine with those from the Atlantic coast, they bring heavy snowfalls in the winter as Nor'easters . With no mountain range running west-east, winter storms often bring large amounts of snow far south, while summer heat stretches far north to Canada.
The areas between the mountain ranges have correspondingly high temperature extremes, as well as a more or less severe drought that increases towards the south and west. The Pacific coast, on the other hand, is a very rainy, often foggy area in the north. The area around the Gulf of Mexico is already subtropical with high temperatures in summer and often high humidity. In addition, the area is often hit by tropical cyclones .
Flora and fauna
The areas on the east coast up to the Great Lakes were heavily forested until the 19th century , while the west coast in the temperate rainforest area was covered with extremely tall trees, some of which grew to over 100 metres. Only a few of these areas remain, such as the redwoods or the Hoh rainforest . Large areas were converted to arable land or built on, the majority of them are now commercial forests. The biodiversity of the drier grasslands has also been greatly reduced in the course of agricultural use. However, protected areas and measures meant that many of the more than 17,000 vascular plant species could be saved. Hawaii alone has 1,800 flowering plants (flowering plants ) , many of which are endemic .
Around 400 species of mammals , 750 birds and 500 species of reptiles and amphibians as well as well over 90,000 species of insects make up part of the fauna , with a separate law protecting endangered species since 1973. 58 national parks in the still large remaining wilderness regions and several hundred other protected areas mostly have a large variety of species, which is in clear contrast to the widespread monocultures . Mainly due to the large number of endemic species, genera and families , the great variety of species or biodiversity and the diverse ecosystems , the USA is one of the megadiverse countries on earth. Only the Mediterranean sclerophyllous vegetation of the floral province of California is internationally listed as a biodiversity hotspot due to the great threat to nature .
nature and environmental protection
Historically, some important developments in nature conservation come from the history of the United States: The idea of national parks and with it Yellowstone National Park , the world's first large protected area of this kind, originated in the United States. As the national agency, the Senate established the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to oversee all national protected areas. On the one hand, US NGOs such as Conservation International are leading the way in nature and resource conservation. On the other hand, the United States has not signed the most important international agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity , as one of the few countries to date.
82.26 percent of Americans lived in urban areas in 2018. In 2016, 307 places had more than 100,000 inhabitants and there were 54 metropolitan areas with more than one million inhabitants (with only ten cities). The largest metro areas in 2016 were New York City (20.1 million), Los Angeles (13.3 million), Chicago (9.5 million), Dallas (7.2 million), Houston (6.7 million), Washington, DC (6.1 million) and Philadelphia (6 million). The main metropolitan areas are between New York and the Great Lakes, in California and Arizona, and in Texas and, to a lesser extent, Florida. With 33 inhabitants per square kilometer, the USA is a rather sparsely populated country. The east of the country is much more densely populated than the west.
|1||NYC||8,537,673||1||New York City - Newark - Jersey City||20.153.634|
|2||Los Angeles||3,976,322||2||Los Angeles - Long Beach - Anaheim||13.310.447|
|3||Chicago||2,704,958||3||Chicago - Naperville - Elgin||9,512,999|
|4||Houston||2,303,482||4||Dallas - Fort Worth - Arlington||7,233,323|
|5||Phoenix||1.615.017||5||Houston - The Woodlands - Sugar Land||6,772,470|
|6||Philadelphia||1,567,872||6||Washington, D.C. - Arlington - Alexandria||6,131,977|
|7||San Antonio||1,492,510||7||Philly - Camden - Wilmington||6,070,500|
|8th||San Diego||1,406,630||8th||Miami - Fort Lauderdale - Palm Beach||6,066,387|
|9||Dallas||1,317,929||9||Atlanta - Sandy Springs - Roswell||5,789,700|
|10||San Jose||1,025,350||10||Boston - Cambridge - Newton||4,794,447|
ethnic and immigrant groups
|(According to Census estimate of July 2019)|
|Hispanics and Latinos||18.3%|
|North American Indians and Alaskan Natives||1.3%|
|Native Hawaiians and Oceanian Americans||0.2%|
The original inhabitants of the country, the Indians (“Native Americans” or “American Indians”), now only make up around one percent of the population. Only in Alaska do they reach a two-digit percentage of the population. Other focal points are Oklahoma , California , Arizona , New Mexico and South Dakota . They do not form a unit; Culture, language and religion differ from people to people. There are 562 recognized tribes in total , plus 245 groups that are not currently recognized as a tribe.
The first colonial immigrants to the continent populated by Native Americans were Europeans, initially primarily of Spanish , French , and English origin. Slaves came with them from the 17th century , mostly from West Africa . From the mid-18th century and increasingly towards the mid-19th century, Europeans of German-speaking and Irish origin followed . Later came immigrants from other regions of Europe, primarily Italians , Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans , including Eastern European Jews . In the second half of the 19th century there was immigration from East Asia and the Near East . In addition to economic motives, religious or political persecution also played a role for many.
Americans with European ancestry make up 72 percent of the total population today. African Americans make up just over 13 percent. They live mainly in the south and in the large industrial cities of the north. Asian immigrants, largely from China , Japan , Korea , India and the Philippines , make up around five percent. During the last census, more than 50 million people indicated German origin. This makes German -Americans the largest population group in the United States.
Especially in the southwest of the United States and in Florida there is a high proportion of the population with Latin American origins, who are generally referred to as "Hispanics" or "Latinos". Many of them hold strongly to their culture and language . Their share in the USA has grown steadily in recent decades (to 17 percent by 2013) as many Latin Americans are fleeing economic hardship to the north. They often come as illegal immigrants.
There are large differences in social structure between white and black populations . On average, blacks have lower incomes , shorter life expectancies and poorer education . They are both more likely to be victims and perpetrators of homicide, and are more likely to be sentenced to death . The reasons for this and possible ways of solving the problem are controversial. It is not only in the southern states that residential areas and non-public institutions - such as churches or private organizations - are often de facto separated according to ethnic groups , even if the formal separation is now illegal and frowned upon.
The population has grown steadily since 1610. Forecasts assume a further increase until 2050: according to a forecast by the United Nations, the population will increase to 358 million inhabitants by 2025, and in 2050 over 408 million people will live in the country.
Since 1790, the Constitution has provided for a ten-year census , known as the United States Census . Immigrants accounted for a significant proportion of the population growth. Since the Immigration and Naturalization Services Act of 1965 , the number of foreign-born people has increased fivefold, from 9.6 million in 1970 to around 49.8 million in 2017. In the 1990s, the number of immigrants increased a million a year. In 2000, foreign-born people accounted for 11.1 percent of the total population. By 2017, it had increased to 15.3%. At the same time, almost 3 million Americans were living abroad. Most of them in Mexico (900,000), Canada (310,000), the United Kingdom (190,000), Germany (140,000) and Australia (120,000).
The birth rate per woman was 1.87 children in 2016. The birth rate of Hispanics and Latinos is higher than that of the rest of the population. In 2016, there were 12.5 births and 8.2 deaths per 1000 inhabitants. In the same year, the median age was 37.9 years. In 2016, the population grew by 0.81%, or about 3 million. Of the countries in the industrialized world, the US has one of the youngest and fastest growing populations.
|Languages spoken at home in the United States with at least 1 million speakers by number of speakers (2013)|
|English ( only )||231.1 million|
|Spanish or Spanish- based creole languages||37.4 million|
|Tagalog ( Philippines )||1.6 million|
|French , incl. Cajun||1.3 million|
The most widely spoken language in the United States is American English . In addition, many Native American and Hawaiian languages and the languages of immigrants are spoken. Overall, the last census found 382 languages, 169 of which are Amerindian. However, the latter only have about 400,000 speakers, about half of whom are Navajo . In Apache County in Arizona alone there were 37,000, in McKinley County in New Mexico 33,000. 227 million inhabitants speak only English, all other languages together make up more than 60 million speakers. The proportion of Spanish speakers is particularly high , with many immigrants only speaking their native Spanish language and some living in their own neighborhoods in cities (e.g. East Los Angeles or Union City ). In California they make up around 30%, but many, especially the younger ones, are bilingual. About 30 to 40 million live in the United States, quite a few illegal under immigration law . While there were many newspapers in German in the 19th century, Spanish is the language in which newspapers are published second most today.
In addition to German (→ German -American ), French , Chinese , Korean , Vietnamese and Tagalog are also common. Especially in cases where mixing with the rest of the population is low, the language they brought with them is retained in the following generations (for example by the Amish in Pennsylvania , Ohio , Indiana and Illinois ).
Despite certain advantages of a common language, the United States has not established a single official language . However, all official documents are written in English. English is the official language in thirty-two states; individual states and territories define themselves as bilingual, trilingual or multilingual, such as Hawaii , Alaska , Guam or Puerto Rico . Increasingly, documents and signage are being translated into Spanish, but this phenomenon remains mostly regional. Nearly 18% of Americans did not speak English at home in 2006, and 10% reported Spanish as their first language in the 2000 census .
In 1847 a law permitted French instruction in Louisiana , in 1849 the California constitution recognized Spanish . With the Civil War , the rights of the Francophones disappeared, in 1868 it was recommended that the Indians be taught in English, and in 1896 this should also apply to Hawaii. From 1879, California laws were only published in English, and during World War I the use of German was restricted. Individual states, such as Virginia in 1981 and California in 1986, declared English as the official language.
On May 8, 2007, a resolution was submitted to the Senate to make English the “ national language ”. This project was rejected.
|(According to Pew Research Center , 2019)|
The government does not keep a register of the religious status of residents. The United States Census Bureau is not allowed to ask questions about religious affiliation, but it does publish the results of other polls. In a 2014 Pew Research Center poll , approximately 25.4% of the population identified as Evangelical Protestant , 20.8% as Roman Catholic , 14.7% as Mainline Protestant , 6.5% belonging to traditional black Protestant churches on. Among the smaller Christian churches 1.6% are Mormon and 0.8% are Jehovah's Witnesses , 0.5% were members of an Orthodox church . The non-Christian religious communities include 1.9% Jews , 0.9% Muslims and 0.7% Buddhists . 22.8% of those questioned stated no religious beliefs, of which 3.1% were explicitly atheists and 4.0% agnostics .
In summary, around 70.6% Christians and 5.9% followers of non-Christian religions lived in the USA in 2014. In a 2008 survey, 82% of Americans identified religion as important or very important (55% very important) in their lives. 65% of women said religion was very important to their lives, compared to 44% of men. According to this survey, 54% of the US population prays at least once a day, a figure that rises to 10% in France , 19% in Germany , 32% in Poland , 42% in Turkey and 69% in Brazil .
According to a study by the Gallup Institute in 2016, around 73% of the population were Christians (48.9% Protestants of various denominations, 23% Catholics and 1.8% Mormons). Judaism remains the largest non-Christian religion in the United States, accounting for 2.1% of the population. 0.8% of the population are Muslims, 2.5% belong to other religions. 18.2% of those questioned belonged to the group of non-denominational/atheists/agnostics.
The regional distribution of denominations varies; while the majority of people living in New England are Catholic , the southern states are evangelical. The center of Mormonism is in Utah and the surrounding states ( Nevada , Idaho ); Especially in the south of the USA on the border with Mexico and due to Cuban emigration in the greater Miami area, predominantly Catholic Latinos live. The centers of the Jewish population are metropolises such as New York and the surrounding area, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and south-east Florida.
According to sociologists such as Hamilton College 's Dennis Gilbert , society in 1998 consisted of six social classes . Source? with a determinable proportion of the total population: an upper class (about 1%), made up of the most prominent, wealthy and powerful citizens; an upper middle class (about 15%) made up of highly qualified professionals such as doctors, professors, lawyers; a lower-middle class (about 32%) made up of well-educated professionals such as schoolteachers and artisans; a working class (about 32%), made up of industrial and wage workers ( blue-collars ) and ordinary employees, and finally an underclass (about 20%), which is divided into two groups. Their upper group consists of the " working poor " who work in low-paying jobs without insurance or only part-time . The lower group does not work and is dependent on the public welfare – which is very small in the United States ( unemployed poor ).
It is striking that members of these lower classes mostly live in certain districts of the big cities, while the middle class in the 1960s to 1980s moved to the suburbs , which are beyond the borders of the big cities but still within the metropolitan regions. The proportion of poor people among Blacks and Hispanics is disproportionately high (about 30%).
Between 1977 and 1999, the income of the richest 100% of the population increased by 115% after taxes. Real wages for 60% of workers have fallen by 20% in that time. The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.7 million in 2002 to a total of 34.6 million. The number of people living in extreme poverty (less than half the official poverty line ) rose from 13.4 million in 2001 to 14.1 million in 2002. Poverty and child poverty rates vary greatly between ethnic groups. In 2009, 7.1 million (18.7 percent) of people over the age of 65 were affected by the NAS definition of poverty. In 2013, 47 million people in 23 million households in the US received government food stamps, accounting for 20% of US households. 90% of Americans earn $30,000 ? , which corresponds to the level of 1965. An evaluation of the census data from 2010 also showed that around 1.5 million households have to live practically without any money. They have an income of less than $2 per person per day, but some receive food vouchers or donations in kind and some live in publicly funded housing. However, a significant proportion is completely cut off from the money economy.
Even households with incomes well above the federal poverty line can often be treated as working poor due to the high cost of living in their region if and to the extent that they are not in a position to build up reserves or savings. About 25% of middle-income households between the ages of 40 and 55 had net worth of less than $17,500 at the end of 2014 (excluding any owner-occupied homes and pension entitlements).
Overall, it can be stated that the gap between the poorest and the top of society has widened dramatically in recent years: According to estimates by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College (USA) in 2009, the upper class, i.e. the upper 1% of the population, owned 37.1% of total wealth in the United States, a 3.7% increase from 2001. The bottom 80% of the population, on the other hand, owns only 12.3% of total wealth, down 3.3% over the same period .
In 2017, according to Forbes , there were 585 billionaires in the United States (27% of all billionaires in the world), making the United States the country with the most billionaires in the world. 7 of the 10 richest people in the world in 2018 were Americans. The richest man in America and the world was Jeff Bezos , whose fortune of $112 billion was more than Kenya's economic output as of February 2018. The richest 1 percent of the American population had an income of $524 billion in 2005, 37 percent more than the poorest 20 percent of the population ($383 billion). The average wealth of all US families was $692,000; the more meaningful median wealth was $97,300.
|rank||country||number of migrants|
|2||People's Republic of China||2,103,551|
From 1951 to 1960, 2.5 million people immigrated annually, between 1971 and 1980 a total of 4.5 million and in the 1990s a total of over 10 million. In 2003, 463,204 people received US citizenship , the 1997 to 2003 average was about 634,000. In 2015, there were 46,627,102 foreign-born residents, accounting for 14.5% of the population, making the US the world's largest number of migrants. A large proportion of the foreign-born residents were of Hispanic origin, primarily from Mexico and Central America. In recent years, migration from Asian countries such as China, India, Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines has increased.
As early as 1790, the United States regulated immigration with the Naturalization Act , a law that was intended to encourage immigration from Europe but excluded blacks and "serviles" and required "good moral character". In 1882, the Chinese were explicitly excluded with the Chinese Exclusion Act , a regulation that was repeated in 1943 with slight modifications. In 1891, an immigration commission was established, which set country quotas annually.
In 1921, the Emergency Quota Act first regulated immigration in a way that gave preference to northern and western Europeans by freezing their share of the population according to the census - a trend that was reinforced by the Immigration Act of 1924 . Immigration policies were particularly restrictive toward Asians in the early 20th century.
It was not until 1965 that the time of application and the world region were taken into account; there were also cases of family reunification. Since 1978 there has been a uniform quota for immigration to the United States. In 1970, 62% of foreign-born Americans were European , but by 2000 that proportion had fallen to 15%.
Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States. There were 35.2 million Hispanics in the United States in 2000, up from 54 million in 2013, a percentage increase of 54 percent. Of the 54 million, 34.5 million were of Mexican origin. Estimates of the number of illegal immigrants vary between 7 and 20 million, with most putting their number at around 12 million. Hundreds of thousands cross the southern border illegally every year , including tens of thousands of minors, some of whom are unaccompanied. The State Commission on Human Rights in Mexico stated that in 2007 alone, 500 illegal immigrants died trying to cross the border – often from dying of thirst. Between 1995 and 2007 there were 4,700 Mexicans.
To combat illegal immigration from Mexico, President Bush signed the Secure Fence Act in October 2006 , which provided for the construction of a 1,100-kilometer border fortification. In addition, supporting illegal immigrants became a criminal offence.
As early as 1954, the government had attempted to deport 1.2 million Hispanics with Operation Wetback — the swear word “wetback” deriving from the Mexicans who swam the Rio Grande. Mexican immigration was restricted in 1965, and illegal immigrants were legalized for the first time with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986.
In 2015, approximately 627,000 German-born people lived in the United States.
crime and justice
According to FBI Uniform Crime Reporting, crime rates in the United States have been declining since the early 1990s . Violent crime peaked in 1991 with 758 cases per 100,000 people. There were 507 cases in 2000, 405 in 2010 and 381 cases in 2018.
The homicide rate is used as an index for comparisons of propensity to violence over long periods of time and over large geographical distances. The United States had 5.3 cases per 100,000 people in 2017. A peak was in 1991 with 9.7 cases. Today's rate of 5.3 is far higher than Germany's, which is one. The average in Europe is 3 cases per 100,000 population, the global average at 6.1. East Asian countries average 0.6, with Singapore just 0.2 cases per 100,000 people.
The United States has the largest prison population in the world, both in absolute terms and relative to population. In 2008, over 2.4% of the United States population was either in prison (2.3 million) or on parole (4.3 million) or parole (0.828 million). By 2011, the number of prisoners rose to over 2.4 million. This puts the United States, by far, at the top of the world in terms of prison population per population. The crime rate, on the other hand, initially remained constant and later even decreased.
During the 1960s, the prison population had declined by about 1 percent annually, reaching its lowest point in 1975 at 380,000. Since about 1980 the number has increased significantly, so that in 1985 there were already 740,000 and by the end of 1998 there were even two million. Two thirds of the prisoners come from households that had less than half the income defined as the poverty threshold .
In 2000, 133,610 persons under the age of 18 were held in correctional facilities and juvenile detention centers in the United States. Criminal responsibility begins much earlier in the United States than in Germany. In many states , as young as 7 can be held responsible for violating a criminal law, in most other states, this is the case from the age of 11. In 2005, 1,403,555 under-18s were arrested. In 2003, 33 states allowed mentally ill children and young people to be held in custody even if they had not violated the criminal law.
African Americans make up about 13 percent of the total population, but make up 38 percent of prison inmates. Half of all murders in the United States and about a third of all rapes are committed by African Americans. A disproportionate number of blacks and Latinos can be seen in the number of armed attackers. For example, between January and June 2008, 98 percent of all gunmen in New York City were either black or Hispanic. As of March 2015, 16 percent of inmates in US prisons were Mexican nationals, and another 7.5 percent of inmates had citizenship other than US or Mexican.
In contrast to almost all other countries in the western world, the death penalty is carried out in numerous states of the United States , which has been controversial for years, including in the United States itself. A total of 23 states have abolished the death penalty, most recently Virginia in March 2021. In the Other states continue to carry out death sentences, even for people with intellectual disabilities and those who were minors at the time of the crime. There are more than 3,200 men and women on death row, almost 42% are African American.
In Alaska , the oldest confirmed human traces date back 12,000 to 14,000 years. The Clovis culture was long thought to be the oldest culture , but the finds in the Paisley Caves , which predate the Clovis finds by around a millennium, show that North America was inhabited even earlier. The oldest human remains are believed to be the relics of the Buhl woman from Idaho , over 10,500 years old . This early phase was followed by the Archaic period .
Between 4000 and 1000 BC The use of pottery, agriculture and various forms of graduated sedentarism developed. Hunting techniques were greatly improved by atlatl and later by bow and arrow . Population concentrations occurred in North America around the Great Lakes, on the Pacific coast around Vancouver Island (Canada), on the Mississippi and in many parts of the Atlantic coast and in the Southwest.
Complex communities emerged in the catchment area of the Adena and Mississippi cultures , but these disappeared shortly before the arrival of the first Europeans. They radiated far to the north and west. In the southwest, mud building settlements with up to 500 rooms were built. This Pueblo culture dates back to the Basketmakers , who were already growing corn . Large fortified villages and permanent confederations developed around the Great Lakes. Similar to those in the West, these groups cultivated corn and pumpkins and engaged in extensive long-distance trade - such as copper and certain types of rock important for hunting weapons and jewelry - which began in British Columbia (Canada) from 8000 BC. can be proven.
Effects of colonization on the native people
Introduced diseases decimated the population to an extent that is difficult to measure. Many groups disappeared through imported diseases without a European having even seen them. According to the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber , the population north of the Rio Grande was estimated at just one million people. These estimates were readily embraced as they perpetuated the myth that the whites had conquered a largely deserted continent. The Smithsonian Institute , known for being rather cautious , has tripled its estimate for North America to three million people. The thesis that the huge herds of buffalo were grazing animals of the Indians shows how much the discussion got moving, so that the size of the herds did not represent a natural balance , but was based on over-breeding after the sharp decline in the human population.
Despite the impact of the epidemics that should not be overestimated - Hernando de Soto brought devastating diseases to the area between Mississippi and Florida, and in 1775 a smallpox epidemic devastated the Pacific coast - the effects of the wars should not be underestimated. The most costly wars in the East are probably the Tarrantine War (1607-1615), the two Powhatan Wars (1608-1614 and 1644-1646), the Pequot War (1637), the King Philip War (1675-1676), the French - and Indian Wars (1689-1697, 1702-1713, 1744-1748, 1754-1763) and the three Seminole Wars (1817-1818, 1835-1842 and 1855-1858). Added to this were the tribal uprisings led by chiefs Pontiac (1763–1766) and des Tecumseh (ca. 1810–1813). The French were in the Beaver Wars from about 1640 to 1701 , then in four wars with the Natchez (1716–1729), the Dutch in the Wappinger War and in the Esopus Wars (1659–1660 and 1663–1664), the Spanish in 1680 against the Pueblos in the southwest and in numerous other fights. In the western United States, it was above all the battles under Cochise (1861-1874), the Sioux (1862) and the Lakota wars (1866-1867), or the Apache wars under Geronimo (until 1886) that became known. Individual battles, such as that at the Little Bighorn or the massacre at Wounded Knee (1890), were just as well known.
The fur trade triggered completely different long-distance changes . On the one hand, this trade had an effect on the tribes, who acted as hunters and suppliers, but also on their near and distant neighbors, whether through the acquisition of weapons and the associated shifts in power, or through the development of trade monopolies in the vicinity of the trading bases ( Forts) encamped tribes, be it by triggering extensive migrations, as by the Iroquois . The position of the leading groups also became dependent on the fur trade.
From the first phase of colonization to independence
The first European settlement on what is now US territory was founded by the Spaniards in 1565 in St. Augustine , Florida . The first permanent English colony was Jamestown , Virginia , which came into being in 1607, shortly after the French established a first colony in what later became Canada . The arrival of the emigrant ship " Mayflower " in Plymouth Colony (later merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony to form Massachusetts ) in 1620 is considered an important symbolic date. Swedish colonies on the Delaware and Dutch settlements around New York ( Nieuw Amsterdam ) were taken over by England.
Aside from the British, only the French and Spanish were able to achieve lasting political importance. For Spain, its colony of Florida had only a secondary function compared to its large possessions in Central and South America . France, on the other hand, limited its settlement to its colonial core area on the Saint Lawrence River ( New France ), while retaining a strong economic interest in its remaining territories between the Mississippi and the thirteen British colonies. To cover the fur trade routes, these otherwise unoccupied areas were protected by a system of forts and alliances. The British colonies, on the other hand, were under high immigration pressure , which led to a constant westward shift in the settlement frontier. This happened partly according to a state plan (through a single colony) and partly through wild colonization against British and Indian resistance.
In the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763, opposing interests clashed. The war was a sideshow in the global dispute between Britain and France, the Seven Years' War . Most Indian tribes fought on the side of the French.
In the peace treaty of 1763, the British side fell to all of the French territories east of the Mississippi (except for New Orleans ) and the French-populated areas around Québec and Montreal . During the course of the war, Spain had sided with its French relatives. After the war, Florida had to be ceded to the British and received what had previously been French territory west of the Mississippi as compensation.
The government in London demanded that the colonists bear a higher share of the costs of the post-war order. At the same time they tried to prevent the wild settlement to the west in order to avoid conflicts. The colonies opposed the taxation, arguing that it violated English law, which stipulated that there should be "no taxation without representation". In doing so, the settlers effectively declared that the British Parliament was not authorized to issue directives (but not the Crown). In addition, although the mother country demanded higher taxes, it blocked the issue of its own currency, which would have been necessary to strengthen the colonies financially. Parliament did so because it did not want to encourage American state-building, but it created a contradiction. Several taxes that were perceived as unfair, such as the Stamp Act (on postage stamps), the Sugar Act (on sugar) and a tea tax, annoyed the colonists. Boycotts and resistance actions, such as the Boston Tea Party , culminated in the Boston massacre . London eventually stationed more soldiers, further fueling secessionist tendencies in the thirteen colonies .
In 1775, British soldiers triggered the Revolutionary War when they excavated a colonial arms cache. A Continental Congress convened, which gave George Washington supreme military command . On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies proclaimed the Declaration of Independence . France secretly supported the insurgents with arms .
The territory of the now independent colonies included the following 16 of the 50 states of the United States today: New Hampshire , Massachusetts , Maine , Rhode Island , Connecticut , New York , Vermont , New Jersey , Pennsylvania , Delaware , Maryland , Virginia , West Virginia , North Carolina , South Carolina and Georgia .
From independence to civil war
The Articles of Confederation , adopted in 1777 and ratified in 1781, had proved insufficient to ensure the survival of the young confederation. Therefore, in 1787, the second United States Constitution was signed in Philadelphia . It is the second oldest republican state constitution still in force - only the constitution of the Republic of San Marino from 1600 is older. George Washington , General of the Revolutionary War, was unanimously elected the first President of the United States in 1789 .
The development of the new state was essentially determined by two factors in the first decades: on the one hand, by rapid territorial growth and further land grabs at the expense of the Indians, on the other hand, by the dispute over slavery , which later led to the struggle for the civil rights of the descendants of the former slaves determined. At the time of the Revolutionary War, about two million whites and 500,000 enslaved blacks lived in the thirteen colonies.
During the European Napoleonic Wars , the Louisiana Territory (not to be confused with the modern-day state of Louisiana ) had fallen back to France from Spain. For financial reasons, however, Napoleon refrained from reestablishing the French overseas empire. Instead, in 1803, he sold the entire area between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains for $15 million to the United States, which doubled their national territory in one fell swoop. In the same year, the first states from the Northwest Territory , located between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes , joined the Union, followed by parts of the Louisiana area from 1813.
The United States initially pursued a course of neutrality towards France and Great Britain. In 1812, however, the British-American War broke out over what was still British Canada. The conflict ended in a compromise, so that the border between the United States and Canada in the east was completed from then on. Early American foreign policy was otherwise shaped by President James Monroe 's 1823 promulgated Monroe Doctrine . This stated that the European powers should stay away from the Americas while the United States not interfering in the affairs of other states.
Indian policy became more aggressive from 1820: With the Indian Removal Act and the subsequent Trail of Tears , decades of violent land grabs and settlements began, which led to renewed fighting. The Indians were deported to reservations . One of the few victories for the Indians was the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, which remained politically irrelevant. The Indian Wars ended in 1890 with the Wounded Knee massacre . In 1900, there were fewer than a quarter million Native Americans, due not only to war but also to epidemics. Only in 1924 did the Indians receive full civil rights.
The second central issue in American politics up to 1865 was the slave question. The import of further slaves from overseas was forbidden by law in 1808. However, due to the extensive circumvention of this prohibition by the slave traders and natural population growth, the number of slaves had increased to about four million by 1860. The slave issue increasingly divided the Southern from the Northern states as the Northern states industrialized and the number of slaves slowly dwindled, while the owners of the vast rice and cotton plantations in the Southern states continued to engage in slavery on a growing scale. New states from the acquired territories were only admitted in pairs so as not to endanger the unstable balance. Slavery conflicted with the Declaration of Independence, according to which "all men are created equal." As a result, movements such as abolitionism , which called for the abolition of slavery, gained strong support in the north . The war against Mexico (1846-1848) brought the United States another area gain that makes up what is now the Southwest. But it also increased internal political tensions, as the northern states saw it in part as a land grab in favor of the spread of slave states.
After Abraham Lincoln was elected US President for the newly founded Republican Party in 1860, eleven southern states withdrew from the Union. This marked the beginning of the Civil War (1861-1865). Initially, the focus was on the constitutional question of whether the federal government even had the right to decide on elementary factual issues in the federal states. The Northern States emerged victorious from the Civil War and slavery was abolished by law. Blacks were formally granted full civil rights with the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment of 1868.
From the Civil War to the Great Depression
In 1890 the frontier was declared closed. This ended the era of the " Wild West ". Immigration continued, taking in a total of 18 million people between 1880 and 1910. Industrialization since the Civil War led to the formation of large trusts that were able to influence politics through their economic power. Therefore, the Antitrust Act was passed in 1890 , as a result of which several large corporations such as Standard Oil and the American Tobacco Company were broken up from 1911.
As a result of the Spanish–American War of 1898, the United States expanded its sphere of influence into the Philippines , Puerto Rico , Hawaii , and Cuba . President Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909), who claimed hegemonic power over the Latin American states ( Big Stick ) , pursued an interventionist policy . In 1903, for example, the United States separated Panama from Colombia in order to have the newly formed state cede sovereignty over the Panama Canal .
During World War I , the United States remained formally neutral until 1917, but supported the Entente primarily through supplies. On February 1, 1917, Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare as a countermeasure , after which the United States declared war on Germany on April 6 and introduced conscription on June 5 . After its victory over Russia , the German Reich sent the liberated troops to the western front and organized a last, unsuccessful offensive in the spring of 1918. The American troops arriving in France finally shifted the balance of power in favor of the Allies. After the military victory, President Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921) tried to establish a stable post-war order in Europe by making the right of peoples to self-determination and the formation of a League of Nations his maxim based on his 14-point program . This plan failed: on the one hand, the English and French refused to implement Wilson's plan in favor of a victory peace against the German Reich, on the other hand, the US Senate refused to join the League of Nations, so that what was now the world's largest political power was absent from this body and returned to isolationism.
The costly war and subsequent reconstruction left Europeans indebted to the United States. The outstanding economic role of the United States was particularly evident when the stock market crash in October 1929 ( Black Thursday with price losses on the Dow Jones of up to 12.8% in one day) was followed by the global economic crisis . In the United States, this led to a long-lasting internal crisis ( Great Depression ) with around 15 million unemployed out of around 125 million inhabitants in 1932. Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt , far- reaching economic and social reforms were implemented with the New Deal . Among other things, the financial markets were regulated ( Glass-Steagall Act ) and the Social Security Act of 1935 laid the foundations for an American welfare state. In addition, numerous public construction projects such as roads, bridges, airports and dams were realized.
From World War II to the end of the "Cold War"
At the outbreak of World War II , the United States initially remained neutral, but under the terms of the lend-lease law , it provided massive capital and arms supplies to Great Britain and the Soviet Union . Following the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, they declared war on Japan and shortly thereafter received declarations of war from Germany and Italy . As in World War I, the industrial potential of the United States was crucial to the Allied victory. The surrender of the German Reich in May and the surrender of Japan in August 1945 ended World War II.
During World War II, the United States had made large profits with few casualties. Their total losses were 300,000 killed and 670,000 wounded, less than 0.5% of the population. The country emerged from the war as the only one economically stronger and at the end of the war it was the only country with a nuclear weapon of mass destruction . The US had risen to become a superpower with a global presence.
The Bretton Woods system , founded in 1944, established the dollar as the international lead and reserve currency with a gold standard . It corresponded to the American ideas of free world trade and open markets.
The United States was instrumental in the founding of the United Nations on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco , which took place in agreement with the Soviet Union. However, a confrontation with the former war ally Stalin soon became apparent, which culminated in the Cold War . President Harry S. Truman pursued an anti-Communist containment policy , which found expression in the Truman Doctrine . In a departure from the isolationist Monroe Doctrine , this granted all countries military and economic aid to maintain their independence. The United States backed Greece and Turkey and launched the Marshall Plan , designed to stabilize Western Europe economically. The Cold War reached its first peak with the Berlin Blockade of 1948/49, to which the United States responded with the Berlin Airlift . In 1949, NATO was formed as a military alliance between the United States, Canada and Western Europe.
The nuclear arms race that now began between NATO and the Warsaw Pact , which gave both sides multiple " overkill capacity" from the 1960s and which was also seen as a race between social systems, led to confrontations and proxy wars, such as the Korean War ( 1950–1953), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), in which the world narrowly escaped a Third World War , or the Vietnam War . With the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and the SALT negotiations (1968 and 1969), attempts were made to defuse the dangerous situation.
The Cold War, which was only fought openly in the industrialized countries, led many Americans to view Communism as an enemy. Domestically, this led to a climate of suspicion and scrutiny known as the “ McCarthy era ”. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy made a name for himself on the Senate Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) by suspecting filmmakers, politicians and the military in particular of being communists and expecting denunciations. Anyone who refused to testify faced a professional ban . The hearings were often televised . When McCarthy finally suspected President Eisenhower , he was ousted by the Senate in 1954.
The Vietnam War , which the United States intervened in after the Tonkin Incident in 1964 , having previously dispatched military advisers, turned into a military and moral fiasco that ended with the withdrawal of US troops in 1973. The credibility as a propagator of democratic values suffered here and also in other trouble spots with the support of numerous military dictators or the support of military coups, such as that of Mobutu in Congo , then called "Zaire", or the military coups against the democratically elected governments of Guatemala (1954), Brazil (1964 ) and Chile's (1973)
In addition to social and political movements, three assassination attempts in particular shook the nation and with it the world in the 1960s: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1963), the assassination of the preacher and civil rights activist Martin Luther King , who was the figurehead of non-violent struggle for Black Rights (1968) - and in the same year the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy , a younger brother of the assassinated President.
Although the blacks had been formally freed from slavery in 1865 , the southern states had enacted laws that restricted their civil rights again ( Jim Crow laws ) during the course of the reconstruction ( Reconstruction ) of the South, which had been destroyed in the war . Although they emphasized equal rights, they also provided for racial segregation . Only the Civil Rights Movement was able to eliminate the last formal unequal treatment. A very important step was the Supreme Court 's desegregation of public institutions in 1954. However, black schooling had to be enforced in part with the help of the National Guard , since Southern governors (most notably George Wallace of Alabama ) until the late 1960s For years they insisted on their state rights , which included segregation .
In 1964, under President Lyndon B. Johnson , who succeeded Kennedy after his assassination in 1963, was himself elected in 1964 and served until 1969, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, outlawing racial segregation in the United States . In 1965, Johnson enacted another piece of legislation, the Voting Rights Act , which had outlawed any discrimination against African Americans in elections. Eventually, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 , which statutorily outlawed discrimination of any kind. Even if President Johnson experienced a decline in his approval ratings as a result of the war in Vietnam, he was able to initiate other important reforms within the framework of his Great Society program , which concerned in particular the fight against poverty, the intensification of the education system and consumer protection. Indeed, the number of US citizens living in poverty fell by around half. In addition, a new immigration law was passed in 1965, which significantly relaxed the restrictions introduced in 1924 and led to increased immigration from Latin America and Asia, which ushered in a significant long-term demographic change.
In addition to the movement against the Vietnam War , those that were directed against discrimination within society were also very influential. First it was the women's rights movement , then the gay movement , which, however, was confronted with the legislation of the respective states. So-called "sodomy laws" that had banned the practice of male homosexuality and "deviant sexual practices" by heterosexual couples in many states until 1962 were partially repealed. When the Supreme Court upheld these laws in 1987, they still existed in the majority of states and were not repealed until the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas on June 26, 2003.
The Watergate affair , involving a break-in and wiretapping of Democratic Party offices in the Watergate complex , which President Richard Nixon likely knew about and attempted to thwart the FBI investigation , grew into the biggest scandal in American post-war history. To avoid impeachment , Nixon resigned in 1974.
The oil crisis in 1974 and the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 as well as the aftermath of the Vietnam War caused a lack of orientation in foreign policy. An economic crisis particularly hit the heavy industry areas in the states of Pennsylvania , Ohio , West Virginia , Indiana and Michigan , the so-called Rust Belt . This led to ethnically motivated unrest in the southern states, which favored the electoral success of Republican Ronald Reagan .
The inauguration of the Reagan administration marked a paradigm shift in American politics, both domestically and in foreign policy. Society became economically polarized. His eight years of government until 1989 were characterized by liberal economic policies ( Reaganomics ), the reduction of state subsidies and social benefits, savings in public administration and tax cuts in the upper income groups. Christian faith and strict anti-communism made him a role model for conservative circles. His opponents saw him as a lobbyist for the corporations and armaments companies.
The contradictory domestic and foreign policy towards states that did not respect human rights, the lack of understanding for other cultures and the resulting misjudgments were reflected in foreign policy up until the Iraq war . After the outbreak of the first Gulf War between Iran and Iraq (1980-1988) the dictator Saddam Hussein had been supported out of fear of fundamentalist circles in Tehran , but mistakes such as the Iran-Contra affair , in which the United States In 1986, mediated by National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and Colonel Oliver North , Iran supplied arms to Iran in order to use the proceeds to support opponents of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua . The money and arms deliveries to the mujahideen in Afghanistan also proved to be double-edged: the Soviet Union had to withdraw its troops after ten years, but at the same time radical Islamic groups were strengthened.
Reagan repeatedly referred to the Soviet Union as the " evil empire ", using religious terminology . Armament spending was increased and a so-called “Star Wars program” ( SDI project, “Star Wars”) was launched. At the Geneva summit conference (1985) and in 1986 he met with his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev for disarmament negotiations called START ( Strategic Arms Reduction Talks ). The Cold War ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union .
After the end of the Cold War
Under the Democratic President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) there was a long-lasting economic boom. The end of the Cold War and the “ New Economy ”, which had its roots in the USA, favored economic consolidation. The neglect of the cities was stopped - crime-prone districts in the metropolises such as New York, Miami and Los Angeles recovered.
In 1996, however, the receipt of social assistance was reduced to two consecutive years and a total of five years, which reduced the number of recipients.
The unsuccessful engagement in Somalia under George Bush Sr. started, aimed at the disempowerment of the "War Lords" , especially Mohammed Aidids . After the devastating Battle of Mogadishu , the Special Operations Forces withdrew from the country. The 1994 invasion of Haiti , while bringing the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to power and deposing the military dictator Raoul Cédras , did not solve the state's social problems.
After the European states failed to pacify the region after the collapse of Yugoslavia, US troops intervened in 1995 ( Operation Deliberate Force ) and 1999 ( Operation Allied Force ) as part of NATO in the Bosnian and Kosovo wars against Serbian units of the autocrat Slobodan Milošević . Attempts to reach peace between Israel and Palestine in the Near East suffered a severe setback with the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin .
Clinton responded to provocations by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with sporadic airstrikes, as well as in Sudan and Afghanistan following terrorist attacks on the US embassy in Nairobi and a US warship in Yemen . These attacks have already been blamed on Osama bin Laden 's al-Qaeda network .
Since the turn of the millennium
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, President George W. Bush announced a global war on terrorism , which initially met with approval from large sections of the population. Like Reagan, Bush identified an “ axis of evil ” to which he assigned so- called rogue states . Among these he counted Iran , Iraq , Cuba and North Korea .
In October 2001, a campaign in Afghanistan overthrew the radical Islamic Taliban regime that had housed Osama bin Laden . Also in the name of the war on terrorism , the Third Gulf War against Iraq began in March 2003 with the aim of overthrowing dictator Saddam Hussein . Using the pretext that he possessed weapons of mass destruction and had contacts with Bin Laden, the United States attacked without a UN mandate.
Despite a quick victory, Iraq could not be pacified. Some states of the “ coalition of the willing ” withdrew their comparatively small contingents as early as spring 2004. In June 2004, power was handed over to an interim Iraqi government.
George W. Bush's turn to a strategic concept of preemption was seen as a departure from the previously pursued American foreign and security policy, which was based on deterrence, containment and the effect of "soft power" (Eng. "gentle or soft strength") , which means the attractiveness of economic and cultural over military influence.
From 2007 onwards, a financial crisis loomed, mainly based on a credit and real estate bubble , which created the biggest economic problems since the Great Depression . Barack Obama , a Democratic Senator from Illinois and the first African-American and multiracial president, was elected during the November 2008 crisis and ordered policies and reforms to stimulate the economy and mitigate the negative effects of the crisis. Among other things, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted, which includes tax cuts as well as investments and expenses. for healthcare, infrastructure or unemployment insurance. The number of unemployed fell again after the peak of the crisis. The Dodd-Frank Act , the largest financial market reform in recent decades, was also passed. A greater focus was also placed on environmental policy during Obama's tenure . Although Obama intended to keep the increase in debt below the level of the previous administration, national debt continued to increase significantly in the following years.
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) was passed to reform the healthcare system. The number of citizens without health insurance dropped significantly in the years that followed; the reform remained controversial in terms of effectiveness and affordability.
At the end of 2011, the US troop withdrawal from Iraq was completed and the occupation of Iraq officially ended. On December 31, 2014, the combat mission of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan under NATO leadership ended and the US troops were withdrawn, except for a small unit that will remain in the follow-up mission Resolute Support . In late 2014, Obama surprisingly announced the restoration of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba . In 2015, the Obama administration participated in a nuclear deal with Iran .
The United States has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic . By the end of May 2020, over 1,000,000 Americans had been infected and more than 100,000 had died, and as of February 2021, over 500,000 people had died with the virus. More than 30 million Americans lost their jobs as a result of the economic consequences of measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
After the death of the African American George Floyd during a police operation on May 25, 2020, demonstrations against racism and police violence took place under the motto " Black Lives Matter " . Riots broke out in numerous cities in the USA – night curfews were imposed in more than 40 cities. In many cities, the National Guard was also deployed to support the police.
After Trump's election defeat in 2020, which he himself did not acknowledge, he fueled the chaotic situation in the USA even further. After many protests, some of them violent, the Capitol was stormed, killing 5 people. There was a second impeachment trial against him , which was dismissed.
violence at the federal level
The United States has had its second constitution under the Articles of Confederation since its inception . It envisages a presidential, federal and republican political system that separates the legislature, executive and judiciary horizontally and the federal level from the states relatively strictly horizontally .
According to the constitution, the strongest state organ at the federal level is the Congress , which exercises the legislative power. It is made up of elected representatives from all 50 states. The bicameral Congress has budgetary authority and the right to initiate legislation. Congress has a significant influence on American politics, among other things as a result of the budget right it is entitled to. Congress alone has the power to enact federal laws and declare war. Treaties with foreign countries are signed by the President but require ratification by the second chamber of Congress, the Senate . For important appointments (for example, to cabinet posts or federal judgeships, particularly on the Supreme Court), the Senate, after hearing the nominees, has the power to confirm or reject the President's nomination.
Members of the House of Representatives , the first chamber of Congress, are elected for two-year terms. Each representative represents a constituency in their state. The number of constituencies is determined by a census conducted every ten years . Senators are elected for six-year terms. Their election is staggered , which means that a third of the Senate is re-elected every two years. The Constitution provides that the Vice President presides over the Senate. He has no voting rights , except in the case of a tie.
Before a bill becomes federal law , it must pass through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The bill is first presented in one of the two chambers, examined by one or more committees, amended, rejected or accepted in the committee and then discussed in one of the two chambers. As soon as it is accepted in this chamber, it is passed on to the other chamber. Only when both chambers have approved the same version of the bill will it be submitted to the President for approval. The President then has the option to postpone the entry into force of the law. Congress can pass a new bill after such a veto , or outright overrule the President with a two-thirds vote.
The head of state and government is the president , who heads the executive branch . He is also Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces and, together with the Secretary of Defense , forms the National Command Authority (NCA), which alone has the power to make decisions about a United States nuclear attack . To do this, both people must independently agree to the nuclear strike . 46. Incumbent since January 20, 2021 is Democrat Joe Biden , elected November 3, 2020 . The President is represented by the Vice President elected with him . If the President leaves office prematurely, this person takes his place until the end of the term of office, and he also chairs the Senate. The current Vice President is Democrat Kamala Harris .
In the event that the Vice President is unable to attend or is absent, the Senate appoints a “ pro-tempore chairman ”, a temporary chairman. Members of the first chamber, the House of Representatives, elect their own leader, the " Speaker of the House of Representatives (Speaker) ". Speaker and Pro-Tempore chairman are members of the strongest party in their chamber. Speaker has been Democrat Nancy Pelosi since 2019, and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has held the office of Pro-Tempore Chairman since 2019 .
At the head of the judiciary , which is also federally organized, is the Supreme Court . The constitution, which came into force in 1787 and whose provisions are enforceable, is of great importance in the political system of the United States. It is a testament to the success and stability of this constitution that it has only undergone 27 amendments to date .
parties and elections
In the United States , a two- party system has developed, favored by relative majority voting . These parties have been the Democrats and the Republicans since the mid-19th century . The Democrats are currently the largest party with 72 million registered supporters (42.6%), followed by the Republicans with 55 million supporters (32.5%) and 42 million voters registered without party preference (24.9%). Both parties, which have not been assigned a constitutional role, can only be subjected to a rudimentary schematization, since they already represent inner-party coalitions of different tendencies.
Issue-specific political currents and interest groups try to influence the MPs and other leaders of both major parties rather than founding independent parties. Examples include the American Civil Liberties Union , the fundamental Christian Moral Majority , and the Tea Party movement .
Smaller parties such as the Greens , the Libertarian Party or the Communist Party of the USA are insignificant, even if in presidential elections the votes cast for the Green Party candidate can sometimes be perceived as a – possibly decisive – disadvantage for the Democratic candidate. A key exponent of the United States Green Party for a time in the 1990s was Ralph Nader , who campaigned as the party's candidate in the 1996 presidential campaign and is well known at home and abroad as a "consumer advocate."
At the state level, women's suffrage was achieved at different times. In New Jersey , wealthy women had the right to vote since 1776 and began voting in 1787. When universal male suffrage was introduced there, women lost the right to vote. At the bottom in 1918 were Oklahoma , Michigan , South Dakota , and Texas (women's suffrage in primary elections). In some states, restrictions such as literacy tests and ballot taxes were still used after the 1920s to bar blacks from voting. At the federal level, the constitution of September 13, 1788 did not provide for any gender restrictions on the right to stand for election in either chamber. However, it was not until 1920 when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution came into force that all restrictions on voting rights based on gender were explicitly prohibited in the USA, giving women full voting rights at all levels. The American presidential election of 1920 was the first to use women's suffrage .
|Index name||index value||World Rank||interpretation aid||year|
|Fragile States Index||38.3 out of 120||149 of 178||Country stability: very stable
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
|democracy index||7.92 out of 10||25 of 167||Incomplete democracy
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
|Freedom in the World Index||86 out of 100||—||Freedom status: free
0 = not free / 100 = free
|Press Freedom Index||23.93 out of 100||44 out of 180||Satisfactory situation for press freedom
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
|Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)||67 out of 100||25 out of 180||0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean||2020|
The United States consists of 50 states .
The heartland includes 48 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia ( federal district with capital Washington DC ) that lie within a common border ( so-called "Lower 48" ), while Alaska and Hawaii are outside the heartland ( Continental United States ).
When the United States was founded, there were thirteen states, which were gradually joined by further territories in the course of westward expansion to the Mississippi. After Texas, the connecting wave jumped over the sparsely populated mountain ranges and continued mainly with California and Oregon after the mid-19th century. This development was only completed during the First World War. In 1959, the Pacific archipelago of Hawaii and northwestern Alaska, which borders Russia across the 100 km wide Bering Strait , became states of the United States.
In 2002, according to the Census and Census Bureau, there were 87,900 local government units in the United States, including townships, counties, settlements, school districts, and other counties. More than three-fourths of United States citizens live in large cities or their suburbs ( List of Cities in United States ).
A county is a subdivision of most states and is roughly comparable to a county. In Louisiana they are called "Parish"; in Alaska these administrative units do not exist, only statistical subdivisions. In Virginia and Missouri there are also cities that are not assigned to any county. In large cities (Philadelphia, for example) it is possible for city and county boundaries to be the same; the city of New York even occupies five counties, each of which is referred to as a "borough". It is not uncommon for towns and even villages to cross a county line. County government forms and their powers vary widely from state to state, sometimes even within a state where the state legislature has specified different forms to choose from. Almost everyone takes out loans and collects taxes. They have employees, very often oversee elections, and build and maintain roads and bridges (sometimes on federal or state contracts). Social welfare programs are run partly by them and partly by the townships , which, particularly in the Midwest, are not congruent with the communes defined as covering 36 square miles in the 18th-century national survey.
A particular aspect of some smaller towns, rare and prevalent in the New England states, is the town meeting. Once a year—more often if necessary—all of a city's registered voters come to a public meeting and elect officials, discuss local politics, and legislate for the functioning of the government. As a group, they decide on road construction and repairs, the construction of public buildings and facilities, taxes, and the city budget. The "town meeting", which has existed for two centuries, is often the purest form of democracy in which governmental power is not delegated but exercised directly and regularly by all citizens. However, the vast majority of citizens are only familiar with representative democracy .
In addition to the states and the District of Columbia (territory of the capital Washington, D.C. ), there are outer areas with differently regulated autonomy . The largest outer territories are Puerto Rico in the Caribbean and Guam in the Pacific.
Moral and ethical issues such as the limits of freedom of expression , the right to abortion , the justification for the death penalty , the political recognition of homosexuality , the rights of minorities, and the question of what role religious values play in the public sphere play an important role in American domestic politics should play life.
Most states have gun laws that are extremely liberal by international standards. The right to bear arms has traditionally been valued in the United States because it is protected by the Second Amendment ("[...] right to bear arms [...]"). Private individuals can therefore acquire firearms and ammunition and carry the weapons openly without major difficulties. In all, there are more than 200 million privately owned pistols and rifles in the United States.
The existing legal situation is controversial in the United States. Their critics see this as a reason for the high number of 350,000 armed crimes and 11,000 murder victims per year and, in particular, the numerous killing sprees, primarily in schools and universities, since criminals could arm themselves more easily. Proponents of liberal gun laws such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) dispute this connection and point to low murder rates in countries such as Switzerland, Canada and New Zealand, where a disproportionately large number of guns are also privately owned. Furthermore, they argue that criminals would mostly gain possession of weapons illegally, which is why private individuals should at least be given the opportunity to defend themselves.
|Period||life expectancy in
|Period||life expectancy in
The health care system in the United States is – especially in research – in some cases world class, but in other areas – above all in general patient and insurance care – it is in a desolate state. About $1.8 trillion is spent on healthcare annually. This is about 17 percent of total US economic output. That is almost twice as much per capita compared to Germany. Around 47 million Americans, about 16% of the total population, do not have health insurance. − but not exclusively for reasons of income (around a third of the uninsured have a household income of $50,000 or more) or because of old age and the associated risk of illness (around 40 percent of the uninsured are between 18 and 35 years old ). In addition, there is a high number of unreported illegal immigrants who also have no health insurance. Many of those who are insured have to pay for all medical services, others who are in a health insurance ( HMO ) have to endure bureaucratic paperwork and long waiting times when the choice of doctor is restricted. In 1993, President Clinton failed in his attempt to introduce uniform compulsory health insurance . In 2010, President Obama passed legislation designed to gradually reform the healthcare system by 2018. The new President Donald Trump, who was elected at the end of 2016, announced that he would completely or partially abolish and replace the health care reform.
The high level of obesity has taken on the character of a national health crisis in the 21st century. According to data from the World Health Organization , in 2014 67.8 percent of adult Americans were overweight and 33.7 percent of the more than 300 million population were seriously overweight. This is one of the highest rates in the world and costs hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
Life expectancy in the United States was 79.8 years in 2016, ranking 43rd in the world. This is down 20 places from 1984 and is one of the worst figures in the developed world. A lack of health insurance and obesity are given as reasons. The life expectancy of the black population is 73.3 years. Added to this are the risks of poverty. In December 2009, 38.97 million people were dependent on food stamps. In 2013, there were 47 million people in 23 million households, or 20% of all US households.
The United States is a welfare state, in which transfer payments are often jointly funded and organized by the federal and state governments. State laws can have a significant impact on social policies. The public pension insurance system Social Security provides basic social security in old age at the federal level .
energy and environmental policy
In the Climate Protection Index 2020 (as of December 2019), the USA was in 61st place and thus in last place of all the countries examined. They performed very poorly in all categories evaluated. In particular, the lack of a national climate protection strategy and the withdrawal from the international climate protection agreement under President Trump were criticized.
In the United States, the share of renewable energy is increasing slightly. In 2017, they accounted for 11 percent of energy consumption and 17 percent of energy production.
In 2002, the government published a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the US economy by 18 percent (by 2012). This should lead to a reduction in CO 2 emissions of 160 million tons. Internationally, the measures are criticized as completely inadequate. Towards the end of his term of office, Bill Clinton had the Kyoto Protocol signed, which is not binding due to the lack of ratification by Congress . The emerging countries were not obliged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the treaty, and a strong sense of sovereignty , especially in the Senate, plays an important role.
Environmental disasters and actions by environmentalists, including former presidential candidate Al Gore , have initiated a change in attitude. Barack Obama initiated a change of course in climate policy. In December 2012 he declared the fight against climate change to be one of the three most important issues for the new term of office. In his inauguration speech in January 2013, he highlighted the fight against climate change and the expansion of renewable energy as priorities for the coming years and announced a focus on renewable energy, in which the US should lead, rather than ignoring global developments .
In the United States, climate change and dependence on oil imports are discussed above all from the perspective of international security.
So far, climate protection policy has primarily relied on voluntary measures and research funding. Some states (California in particular) enforced stricter rules. The main federal environmental agency is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which environmentalists have criticized for its lack of activity.
Foreign and Security Policy
Underlying US foreign policy is an attitude that is very much in line with political realism . This contrasts with an unbroken and unusually strong idealism that has been unbroken since the independence movement, the origin of which lies in the anti-European sentiments of the revolution and, in some foreign policy schools of thought, justifies the belief in a historically unique mandate from the United States ( American Exceptionalism , in English "American uniqueness"). Despite frequent tensions between claim and practice, this bipolarity in American foreign policy persists because of many similarities. For example, the ideal of the greatest possible freedom of contract in a liberal society and world order converges with the economic dependence of the United States on overseas trade in the advocacy of free trade .
The real political interests that the official foreign policy of the United States advocates include, in addition to guaranteeing worldwide security for its citizens and their families, securing the United States against attacks from outside and the constant availability of resources that are of central importance to the country's economy meaning are. The non-material interests that are supposed to guide and justify the long-term actions of the United States consist in standing up for human rights , in the democratic-plebiscitary political shaping of sovereign states by their state peoples and a global market economy system.
In its concrete implementation, foreign policy has increasingly developed from a passive to a formative role. Isolationism , i.e. the conscious neglect of foreign policy in favor of internal development and cultivation, prevailed from its foundation until the Second World War . While this attitude was most strongly expressed during the country's consolidation phase through the Monroe Doctrine , it increasingly relaxed in the age of imperialism up to the First World War, only to be completely discredited by the attack on Pearl Harbor. American-style internationalism immediately gained in importance as a result of the confrontation with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This was supported by an institutional practice, i.e. the establishment of transnational bodies for long-term cooperation with states. This happened either in association with states that represented similar interests in order to strengthen them, or to bridge political differences with states that had conflicting interests. The United States is therefore the initiator and co-founder of numerous multinational bodies and organizations, such as the United Nations , the World Trade Organization (formerly GATT ), the World Bank and NATO or the CSCE . At the same time, the policy of the United States has always guarded against a possible curtailment of its own sovereignty through international agreements. For example, the United States refuses to sign international climate protection agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol , support the International Criminal Court and the Ottawa Convention against the proliferation of anti-personnel mines. Despite their universal claim, bilateral trade and defense agreements therefore play a much greater role than, for example, in most members of the European Union .
Depending on the domestic global focus, the United States prioritizes individual foreign policy efforts and sums them up into morally reinforced terms. These include the War on Terrorism , the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty .
Due to the outstanding political, economic and military position of the United States and its increasingly offensive influence on the politics and economy of the entire international community, the country's foreign policy polarizes like no other. Above all, the numerous military interventions abroad , the worldwide social upheavals caused by globalization and human rights violations in dealing with suspected terrorists and prisoners of war are criticized .
Allies of the United States include NATO. In addition, they maintain close diplomatic and strategic ties with non-NATO nations (see Major non-NATO ally ). Some of these are democratic and market-oriented countries that see their existence threatened by neighboring political actors, such as Israel , South Korea or Taiwan , some are closely allied through historical events such as Japan , the Philippines and Australia and some are from before especially strategically important partners such as Pakistan , Jordan and Kuwait . By far the United States' strongest relationship is with the United Kingdom , the only country with which it cooperates even in areas as sensitive as nuclear technology. According to the United States, it operates 766 military bases of various sizes in 40 countries worldwide (including 293 in Germany, 111 in Japan and 105 in South Korea; as of 2006).
The United States Armed Forces are the most costly military in the world and the second largest in numbers after the People's Liberation Army of China . You are positioned globally; Current army doctrine stipulates that the United States must be able to win two regional wars simultaneously around the world. The armed forces are increasingly exposed to asymmetric warfare . This development has occurred in its history , especially since the Vietnam War .
In the United States, the President is the commander-in-chief of the national armed forces and appoints their chair, the Secretary of Defense , and the Joint Chiefs of Staff . The Ministry of Defense administers the armed forces, which are subdivided into the army ( Army ; about 561,000 soldiers), the Air Force ( Air Force ; about 336,000 soldiers), the Navy ( Navy ; about 330,000 soldiers) and the Marines ( Marine Corps ; about 202,000 soldiers). approx. 1,430,000 soldiers as of April 30, 2011.
The Coast Guard ( Coast Guard ; around 44,000 men) is a civilian agency that reports to the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and may report to the United States Department of the Navy in the event of war . It has relatively limited military capabilities. In addition, each state maintains National Guard ( National Guard ) units. These are militia organizations that normally report to the state governor but may be deployed abroad as part of the army at the direction of the president. Military service is voluntary, although conscription in time of war may be through the Selective Service System .
Furthermore, the states are authorized to set up their own military units, the so-called state guards , referred to as state guard , state military , state defense force , state militia or state military reserve , depending on the state . These differ from the National Guards in that they cannot be placed under federal command and states are under no obligation to establish them. As such, only 22 states and the territory of Puerto Rico currently maintain such military units.
The United States was the world's first nuclear power and, with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki , is the only country to date to have used nuclear weapons in a war . American armaments companies are world leaders, especially in aviation. With regard to army weapons, the US armaments companies are becoming less important. United States military spending was approximately $596 billion in 2015. This made the United States the world's highest military spending country in 2015. The United States' military spending is nearly three times that of China, which ranks second in the world.
Military developments, especially those of a technological nature, are groundbreaking, especially for the United States' allies in NATO. The anti-state tendency that led to the United States military's historically small size up to the United States' entry into World War II was increasingly overshadowed by many Americans' fears of Communism during the Cold War . As a result, the original idea that the military, as the ultimate instrument of state violence, poses a threat to citizens is on the wane.
Since the Second World War , supporting friendly nations through major arms shipments has proven to be a tried and tested means of passive support in times of crisis for the United States. During World War II, the Lend-Lease Act allowed heavy equipment to be supplied first to Great Britain and the Commonwealth , and later also to the Soviet Union , which tipped the military balance heavily against the Axis powers . After the Second World War, for example, Persia was helped to become supreme in the Middle East by supplying modern aircraft, tanks and missiles . When friendship with the United States turned into hostility as a result of the overthrow of the Shah regime , the United States went on to supply Iraq in the 1980s under Saddam Hussein , who offered himself to the West as an opponent of Iran and waged the First Gulf War against Iran .
The United States has assumed certain obligations with the ratification of various conventions, including the review of the human rights situation in the United States by the UN Human Rights Council. Nevertheless, criticism of the human rights situation in the United States is frequently voiced, particularly by private non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch : Human Rights Watch, for example, particularly criticizes the death penalty , which is still practiced today, and abuse by the police, judiciary or military , the overcrowded prisons and sometimes inhumane prison conditions. Some of these violate the UN Convention against Torture and other international standards of humane treatment. For example, prisoners are often held in solitary confinement for 23 hours, with lights on 24 hours a day and physical exercise limited to four hours a week in a small cell.
Aspects of the criticism of racial discrimination as a violation of human rights also come into play at this point: With a population share of 13 percent, a quota of 43 percent African Americans among those finally convicted is very high. In some states of the United States, one in ten African Americans is incarcerated. The prison population in the United States is generally high: in 2001, 2.1 million Americans were in prison, one in every 146 adults. By 2011, that number rose further to 2.4 million. In addition, at least 47 people died in police attacks in 2009 through the use of stun guns (cf. Amnesty International Report 2010, USA).
Arrests and police or secret service actions in connection with September 11, 2001 have also attracted international attention. After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 1,200 foreigners were arrested in the United States and held in detention for a long time on various grounds. The Ministry of Justice has not released information about the identity of those arrested, where they are being held and whether they have received legal help. The principle of the presumption of innocence was not applied in these cases. This was made possible by the USA PATRIOT Act of October 25, 2001, which entailed greater restrictions on American civil rights . Not only does the law allow the police to wiretap and monitor people without judicial authority, it also allows for house searches, deportations and the collection of private information without evidence of a crime. The most far-reaching change, however, is the authority of the CIA , the foreign intelligence service , to be allowed to operate domestically from now on - this was previously strictly separated and was previously only permitted to the Federal Police FBI . The Military Commissions Act also makes it possible to designate hostile persons as so-called " unlawful enemy combatants ", which allows such persons to be tried by military courts (including on the basis of confessions obtained under torture) without being given the opportunity to rely on the criminal justice system combatants to appeal against the applicable Geneva Conventions or to complain about their treatment.
The situation of the prisoners in the American prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba has also been sharply criticized from many quarters. Over 600 people from 42 nations are being held there, mostly unlawfully , including a number of children under the age of 16. Their status remains unclear, they are neither prisoners of war nor criminals and they are in what the United States considers to be a legal vacuum, which means that the laws in force in the United States are not applicable there. However, this is not recognized internationally and is considered to be contrary to international law. However, this enabled the military to carry out illegal measures such as torture or court hearings without a right of defense. There has been no legal investigation of the torture practices systematically carried out under the former Bush administration in secret CIA detention centers ( black sites ), such as simulated drowning (“ waterboarding ”) on people who were in some cases illegally abducted from other countries . The detention conditions in such military prison camps are often inhumane: There are reports of physical abuse, use of violence and torture (e.g. dislocating limbs, beating on the testicles, or total sleep and food deprivation), as well as humiliations of dignity and religion of the prisoners (e.g. by smearing the person with excrement, or desecrating the Koran).
The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions expressed concern that between 2003 and May 2009 "there were far more deaths among migrants in the custody of immigration and customs authorities than the officially reported 74".
During the Iraq war, American soldiers committed a series of massacres of civilians. Well-known examples include the Haditha massacre , the Maqarr adh-Dhib massacre , the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrikes , the Mahmudiyya massacre and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal . Since 2001 there have also been repeated massacres of civilians by members of the US armed forces in Afghanistan (including the Kill Team killings in Afghanistan ). In its war on terror, the United States is increasingly relying on the use of combat drones in other countries (e.g. Yemen, Pakistan), thereby violating international law and the human right to integrity. Between 2004 and 2009, the Bureau for Investigative Journalism registered 52 drone attacks. Since President Obama took office there have been 264. According to research by the "Bureau for Investigative Journalism" there have been between 2440 and 3113 deaths since the attacks began up to May 2012. The number of civilians among them is given as 479 to 821, including 174 children. There are also around 1,200 injured.
|Nominal GDP||$22.048 trillion (Q1 2021)|
|Real GDP growth||6.4% (Q1 2021)|
|CPI inflation||2.6% (March 2021)|
|employment rate||57.8% (March 2021)|
|unemployment rate||6.0% (March 2021)|
|labor force potential||61.5% (March 2021)|
|poverty rate||11.4% (2020)|
|national debt||$27.747 trillion (Q4 2020)|
|wealth of private households||$130.4 trillion (Q4 2020)|
The United States had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $21.4 trillion in 2020, making it the largest economy in the world. At $57,324, they have the world's eighth highest GDP per capita. The service sector generated around 77.6% of real GDP in 2012, around a third of which came from banking , insurance and real estate . Manufacturing contributed around 20.8% and agriculture 1.6%. The structure of the economy is heavily geared towards consumption and services. In 2015, almost a third of global consumer spending was made in the USA. The focus on consumption leads to a low savings rate in public budgets.
The economy grew by 2.3% in 2017, the inflation rate was 2.1%. The unemployment rate averaged around 5.3% in 2015, falling further to 4.1% in October 2017. The “hidden unemployment rate”, which includes workers who have given up looking for a job or are underemployed, was 8 in June 2017, 6%, at the height of the financial crisis it was up to 17%.
Since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, government intervention in economic processes has been drastically reduced (see Reaganomics ). Some sectors of the economy are subject to oversight by a regulatory authority ; for example, the states oversee electricity supply through a Public Utility Commission .
Control by the Federal Reserve System (“Fed”), which has existed since 1913 and took over the functions of a state central bank , has increased significantly since the financial crisis that began in 2007 . Until then, it had only intervened in economic activity by controlling the money supply or the level of key interest rates; since then it has also acted as a guarantor and lender outside the banking system. It bought $55 billion in government securities a month in 2014 and owns 32.5% of all 10-year US Treasuries. The long-time chairman of the Fed from 1987 was Alan Greenspan , followed by Ben Bernanke in 2006 , Janet Yellen in 2014 and Jerome Powell on February 5, 2018 .
In 2016, the USA was the world's largest sales market for imported goods and the world's second largest export nation after China . The US trade balance showed a deficit of 505 billion US dollars in 2014: the export volume for goods and services amounted to 2,345.4 billion US dollars in 2014, while goods and services were imported in the same period to the amount of 2,850.5 billion US dollars -Dollar. Both the export and the import volume grew compared to the previous year. The main buyer countries for US goods in 2014 were Canada , Mexico , China, Japan , Great Britain and Germany .
The median gross annual income for American households was $43,389; about 16% of all households had a gross income of more than 100,000 US dollars. The top 20 percent of all households earned more than 88,030 US dollars gross per year, the bottom fifth less than 18,500.
Education and ethnicity had a strong impact on income. While the 2006 median gross household income for Asian households was US$57,518, it was US$30,134 for black households. The same median was $25,900 for a high school graduate and $81,400 for a college graduate.
The poverty line in 2006 was set at an annual income of US$20,614 (€15,860) for a family of four and US$10,294 (€7920) for a single person. 36.46 million (≈ 15% of the population) lived below this limit in 2005.
The minimum wage was $7.25 an hour until 2014, with numerous state variances. By executive order effective January 1, 2015, President Obama raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 for employees whose employers work for the government on a contract basis.
Total household wealth (ownership less debt) was $93.6 trillion in 2017, according to a study by Credit Suisse . American households own almost a third of the world's wealth. Overall, 6.4% of adult Americans were wealthy millionaires. In the first quarter of 2018, household wealth exceeded $100 trillion for the first time.
In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, the United States ranks second out of a total of 137 places (as of 2017–2018). The country ranked 17th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Economic Freedom Index .
|% change yoy||2.9||1.9||−0.1||−2.5||2.6||1.6||2.3||1.8||2.5||2.9||1.6||2.2||2.9||2.2||−3.5|
|absolute (in billion USD)||per inhabitant (in thousand USD)|
|GDP in billion $||18,219||18,707||19,485||20,494||GDP per capita (in thousand $)||56.4||57.6||59.5||62.6|
|in billions of US dollars and its percentage change from the previous year|
|billion USD||% yoy||billion USD||% yoy||billion USD||% yoy|
|Export (in percent) to||Import (percentage) from|
|Canada||18.0||People's Republic of China||21.2|
|People's Republic of China||7.2||Canada||12.5|
|South Korea||3.4||United Kingdom||2.4|
|other countries||43.5||other countries||36.8|
In 2016, the national budget included expenditures of 3.89 trillion US dollars compared to revenues of 3.36 trillion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 2.8% of GDP . The deficit was $530 billion. The USA has thus been able to make significant progress in budget consolidation in recent years. An annual deficit of around 2.9 percent of GDP is expected for 2017 to 2019. In 2020, the deficit was $3.1 trillion, setting a new record.
The United States' national debt as of January 2015 was $18.08 trillion, or 104% of GDP. According to the US Debt Clock in January 2015, the local debts amount to 1.87 trillion US dollars, the total debt of the 50 states is around 1.19 trillion US dollars. In August 2014, 34.4% of government debt was allocated to foreign creditors and 65.6% to domestic creditors. According to the US Treasury Department, China owns $1.27 trillion in US Treasury bonds at the end of 2013, making it the United States' largest foreign creditor , followed by Japan at $1.18 trillion and Belgium at $256 billion.
The United States was ranked 14th out of 160 countries in the 2018 Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of infrastructure. The United States thus has an efficient and highly modern infrastructure. In some areas, however, there is now a considerable need for investment.
Electricity consumption in the United States was approximately 3,913 terawatt hours per year in 2014. With 12,950 kWh per year, the USA has the tenth highest consumption per capita in the world. In 2015, 36% of energy consumption was generated from petroleum , 16% from coal and 29% from natural gas , 10% from renewable energy sources and 9% from nuclear energy . In 2019, it was 35% from natural gas, 31% from oil, 14% from coal, 12% from renewable sources and 8% from nuclear. The United States has been and remains by far the world's largest consumer of oil for decades. In 2015, 91% of the energy requirement was covered by our own production.
For many decades, oil, natural gas, and coal were the primary sources of energy in the United States. Coal production peaked in 2008. Since then she has lost weight again; In 2015, it was at the same level as in 1981. In 2015, natural gas production peaked, primarily due to the development of new production areas and the use of fracking . Oil production has steadily decreased since the 1970s. From 2009, this process was reversed parallel to natural gas production, with new areas such as in Texas or North Dakota being opened up and new production methods being used. In 2015, oil production was almost back to where it was in 1972. The USA is the world's largest producer of natural gas and, along with Russia and Saudi Arabia, is one of the world's largest oil producers. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) was exported from the US mainland for the first time in 2016 with the opening of the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana. The legal export ban on crude oil was lifted at the end of 2015.
Energy production from renewable sources has increased significantly in the USA since 2001, with new highs being regularly reached. The total installed capacity of the solar power plants reached 42.3 GW in the second quarter of 2020, that of the wind power plants 109.6 GW. By the end of 2020, installed wind capacity had increased to 122.3 GW, 16% of the total capacity of wind turbines in the world.
The job balance has also shifted strongly in the direction of renewable energies . For example, in 2016 the coal industry employed approximately 53,000 people, while the US solar and wind energy industries employed approximately 475,000.
In a global comparison, the USA has a relatively well developed and safe water and drinking water system . The vast majority of American households get their drinking water from community supply systems. The water supply systems can be public or private. There are about 155,000 independent water suppliers. Although most of the water supply systems use groundwater, 68% of the population is supplied with surface water, especially in the big cities.
For several years, studies have shown that bottlenecks in the supply of drinking water could increase due to various factors, such as a changing climate and increasing population. At the same time, state and federal agencies and institutes are identifying ways to improve water supply and management. While Israel treats 86 percent of its wastewater and uses it in agriculture, the US treats only 8 percent of its wastewater.
The United States has a developed and technologically advanced communications system. In 2015 there were around 122 million private landline connections and 328 million mobile phone connections. The mobile network is constantly being expanded. The Internet , which originated in the United States, has evolved into a significant means of communication. In 2018, 88 percent of United States residents used the internet. However, as of 2021, more than 35 percent of American households living in rural areas have minimal, if any, broadband connection , according to government data .
The transport network has a polycentric structure: Roads, rail and air connections run primarily in a star pattern to the metropolitan areas of New York , Philadelphia , Atlanta , Chicago , Houston , Charlotte , Dallas , Denver , Los Angeles and Seattle . With a total length of 6,586,610 kilometers, the United States has the longest road system in the world (as of 2012).
Freight transport is mainly carried out by rail and trucks . With the exception of air traffic, which dominates long-distance traffic, passenger transport takes place almost exclusively on the road (individual traffic or intercity buses). The railway only takes over a fraction of the passenger traffic. In 2010, 87.2% (-1.7% compared to 2000) of passenger transport was by motor vehicle, 11.6% (+1.5%) of passenger kilometers were traveled by plane. Only 0.9% (+0.2%) was provided by scheduled services and 0.4% (+0.1%) by rail.
Intercity bus services are particularly important for transport within the federal states, but sometimes also for long-distance journeys .
The United States has an extensive road network. There is a network of national and interstate trunk roads for long and medium-distance traffic. However, as of April 2021, nearly 300,000 kilometers of roads and 45,000 bridges are "in poor condition," according to the White House.
The Interstate Highways are multi-lane interstate highways that connect the east and west coasts. The Interstate Highway System, built since the 1950s, is over 75,000 km long and handles one-fifth of all motorized traffic. The new construction and maintenance is mainly financed by the federal government. The United States Highways and States Highways are federal roads that also lie between the different states. However, many US highways also pass through cities and towns and usually have fewer lanes than the interstates. The United States Highways are state funded. The State Routes , also called State or Provincial Highways, are sub-major and minor roads. Each state has its own system of street numbering and designation, as well as its own signs. The condition and development of State Routes may vary by state and by section of route. In some states, tolls may apply on certain road sections of all road types, bridges or tunnels.
More fatal accidents occurred on the roads than in most other developed countries. In 2013, the United States had a total of 10.6 traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. A total of 34,000 people lost their lives on the roads. However, the high level of motorization in the country must be taken into account. In 2017, there were 910 motor vehicles per 1000 inhabitants in the USA. In Germany there were only 562 vehicles. With over 255 million units, the USA has the largest fleet of vehicles of all states.
The railway , operated by various private companies, still plays a major role in long-distance freight transport . With a total length of 293,564 kilometers in 2014, the United States has the longest railway network in the world. The market is dominated by seven major national railway companies. There are also several hundred other smaller companies. The importance of rail transport can no longer be compared with the decades since the transcontinental railroads opened up transport to the middle of the 20th century. Nevertheless, it has been rising again for a few years; Between 2000 and 2012, Amtrak nearly doubled the number of passengers it carried . Large parts of the route network are not electrified and are served by diesel locomotives. Many routes are poorly developed and in need of rehabilitation. Compared to other countries, freight transport has a significantly higher productivity, the main transported goods on the rails is coal (45% of the freight volume).
In the metropolitan areas of the East Coast, California and the Chicago area, passenger rail has retained a certain role, which it has even expanded in some cases, for example with the Acela Express between Washington DC and Boston, which has an average speed of 140 km/h achieved. The long distances between the urban agglomerations are served according to a timetable, but the main importance here is more in the tourist area - comparable to rail cruises in Europe, also due to the usually very long travel times and low speeds. Overall, rail travel accounts for a very small proportion of total passenger travel in the United States, far less than in other states. Passenger transport is mainly operated by the Amtrak company.
The US government planned to build a high-speed network on ten corridors between various major metropolitan areas, including on the west coast in California and on the east coast, distributed until 2017. This makes sense in the long term, above all because of the congested road and air traffic. In all, the project was expected to cost $53 billion, mostly funded by the United States' stimulus package. However, the Obama administration failed to get the necessary budget appropriations approved by Congress.
Air travel is an important mode of passenger transport for long, medium and short distances . The United States has the largest and most developed civil aviation system in the world. There are a total of 19,000 runways of various categories, 389 of which are larger. 88% of all passengers depart from the 62 largest airports in the country. The largest American airlines are American Airlines , Delta Air Lines , Southwest Airlines and United Airlines . Among the ten largest airlines in the world in terms of passenger numbers, five are American. In 2017, a total of over 849 million people were transported by airlines registered in the country.
The world's busiest airport by passenger traffic is in Atlanta . Other major hubs are in Los Angeles , Chicago , Dallas-Fort Worth , New York , Denver , San Francisco , Charlotte , Las Vegas and Miami . There are small airports with scheduled operations in almost every small town.
Shipping lanes are primarily used for freight and goods transport. Inland, the network of waterways covers 40,000 kilometers, half of which is navigable for all larger ships. There are about 230 berths. A total of 41 of the 50 states are connected to each other by water. Important inland waterways include: the Mississippi , which stretches from New Orleans to Minneapolis, and the Ohio River basin. In 2014, around 600 million tons of goods were transported by inland waterways , accounting for 5% of commercial goods traffic. On the coasts, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Pacific Coast Channels are of importance. The largest cargo ports are in Boston, Chicago (via the Saint Lawrence shipping route ), New York, Houston, Los Angeles and Louisiana, among others.
Cruising is of great importance ; Half of the world's cruise passenger traffic comes from the United States, with the Caribbean being by far the most important destination.
American culture is shaped by the diversity of ethnic influences and traditions that numerous immigrant groups brought with them. It wasn't until the 1930s that a unified American popular culture emerged through the mass media . Various cultural scientists have dealt with the typical American mentality , compared self-image and images of others and formulated so-called cultural standards of behavior.
Early cultural production in the United States was primarily shaped by the English “dominant culture”, which, however, quickly gained independence due to the new, unique conditions. The African slaves were forbidden to exercise their cultural traditions and produce their own culture, so that they had to orientate themselves strongly towards European models. However, elements of their cultures of origin could be maintained in secret.
In the 20th century, American artists broke away from Old World models . The different cultural disciplines were expanded in new directions.
The contemporary arts and entertainment scene in the United States has included the rejuvenation of music, new developments in contemporary dance, the use of natively American themes in theater, filmmaking at its fullest and the globalization of the visual arts.
In the United States, similar to Germany but unlike France , there is no central culture ministry that controls nationwide cultural policy . This fact reflects the belief that there are areas of social life where government should play little or no role. The two national endowments for the arts and humanities – the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) – support individual artists and scholars as well as institutions working in the arts and humanities with grants are active. Since the "Republican Revolution" in 1994, in which the Republicans won a majority in Congress, both foundations and the public broadcasters PBS and NPR have repeatedly been threatened with funding cuts, often accompanied by the accusation that they were pursuing "left" policies in favor of one "Elite". In particular, art viewed critically by Christian fundamentalist or strongly Roman Catholic circles becomes a target of these threats.
While the NEA's budget, which totaled US$115 million in 2003, was modest compared to other countries' cultural funding, private donations have traditionally made up the bulk of cultural funding . These private donations were estimated at approximately US$12.1 billion in 2002.
The cultural forms of the approximately 350 Indian groups considered as tribes , whose members call themselves American Indians or Native Americans and live in the main part of the United States, are not uniform, the 225 recognized tribes of Alaska Natives living in Alaska also differ considerably, especially the groups in Hawaii. Within the country, between town and country, as well as between the ethnic groups, the differences are extremely large. They developed their own identities and cultural structures that can be assigned to cultural areas, the number of languages was very high, but many of them are threatened with extinction. The largest language, with around 150,000 speakers, is Navajo .
On the Pacific coast, the culture was dominated by fishing, or whaling, as with the Makah of northwest Washington . Huge totem poles are found there , the largest of which is in Washington. Inland, mounted hunting, gathering, and river fishing dominated. On the great plains, the focus was on bison hunting , on others moose. From the 17th century onwards, with the arrival of the horse, a riding nomadism developed, which set large-scale movements of peoples in motion. The east, on the other hand, was largely depopulated from 1830 ( path of tears ), so that the Indian cultural influence was less noticeable here for a long time.
Similar to literature, the Native American art scene not only pursues traditional elements, but also combines them with European-inspired elements of American culture. Other Indian artists produce detached from these traditions in their genres and with their means. Most of the literature focuses on ecological problems, poverty and violence, dehumanized technology or spirituality. The written tradition goes back to the early 19th century, but kept breaking: William Apes: The Experience of William Apes, a Native of the Forest (1831), a Pequot , George Copway , an Anishinabe and Elias Johnson, a Tuscarora are early examples. The novella Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge (1929) was not resumed until the 1960s. The Kiowa N. Scott Momaday received the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn , Vine Deloria published Custer Died For Your Sins. An Indian Manifesto . Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee from 1970 blew up the national frame .
A major contribution of the United States to world culture is the development of jazz , considered the first distinct musical form of the United States, and the blues and country , the merging of which gave rise to rock 'n' roll in the 1950s . This musical culture is unique in its fusion of African American and European folklore , and today forms a central foundation of popular culture in the western world.
Since 1959, the Recording Academy in Los Angeles has presented the Grammy Awards annually in currently 78 categories to artists such as singers , composers , musicians , production managers and sound engineers . The Grammy is considered the highest international award for artists and recording teams.
The production of literature in no way linked to the traditions of the Indians, but began with travel reports and historiography, as well as diaries and theological literature. The first printed book was the Bay Psalm Book of 1640. The main Puritan poets were Edward Taylor and Anne Bradstreet ( The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America , London 1650).
In 1704 Sarah Kemble Knight wrote the account of a journey from Boston to New York ( The Journal of Madam Knight ), with which the landscape forced a confrontation for the first time. With the captive reports of Indians, intercultural contacts and foreignness also penetrated the literature, such as in Mary Rowlandson or John Smith's report on his alleged rescue by Pocahontas . The Magnalia Christi Americana (1702) by Cotton Mather is considered the most important work of Puritan historiography .
Benjamin Franklin penned numerous political essays and satires read in both England and the United States . Patriotism shaped the literature of the founding years. Philip Freneau became the "poet of the American Revolution" and painted a benevolent picture of the Indians . Webster compiled his An American Dictionary of the English Language from 1806 to 1828 . Numerous differences between American and British English can be traced back to its spelling.
Charles Brockden Brown took up the English tradition of the Gothic Novel and is regarded as a pioneer of the psychological novel. Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper were influenced by the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott . Irving is often credited as the founder of the short story . Cooper captured the frontier experience in The Leather Stocking (1823–1841) and presented Native Americans as "noble savages".
American Romanticism , often referred to as the American Renaissance , reached its peak more than 30 years after the European. Transcendentalism came from Ralph Waldo Emerson . He invoked Immanuel Kant's Transcendental Philosophy , but combined it with Far Eastern and Indian philosophy. His 1837 The American Scholar has been called the United States' "cultural declaration of independence."
Henry David Thoreau lived in a log cabin for two years. His striving for an alternative way of life made his Walden , which reports on these two years, a cult book of the hippie movement in the 1960s . Thoreau's political essay Civil Disobedience (1849) influenced Martin Luther King , as did the environmental movement .
Walt Whitman 's free verse emphasized physicality, while Nathaniel Hawthorne was deeply skeptical . His themes were guilt, punishment and intolerance, as in the society of his Puritan ancestors. In The Blithedale Masquerade 1841 he described the failure of a utopian commune.
Herman Melville 's Moby Dick (1851) was a reflection on the questions of existence, on good and evil, the limitations of human cognitive ability. This and his later works, such as Bartleby the Scribe , were not recognized until well after his death.
Edgar Allan Poe's short stories influenced the development of fantasy and horror fiction , and he invented the detective story with Murders on the Rue Morgue . Poe succeeded in using a theory of poetry ( the philosophy of composition , the poetic principle ) to develop poetry in the area of symbolic and onomatopoetic language art.
The conflict between northern and southern states over slavery was also carried out with literary means. In 1789, Olaudah Equianos ' autobiography , Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), became a best-seller in the North.
Faulkner 's Yoknapatawpha novels (1930s), Stephen Vincent Benét's John Brown's Body (1928) and last but not least Margaret Mitchell 's Gone with the Wind (1936) stand out. The southern states vacillated between nostalgia and harsh criticism. Poet and musician Sidney Lanier wrote somber odes, Kate Chopin about Creole-influenced Louisiana society. Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) - or Frank Norris ' local color literature exposed regional peculiarities and dialects.
The mass misery in the cities became a topic. Jack London moved to the far north ( Call of the Wild ) during the Klondike Gold Rush . Like London, Frank Norris belonged to the radical literary scene in San Francisco. His novels addressed the hard life in California, the supposed Promised Land ( Greed for Gold , 1899). Upton Sinclair exposed the abuses in Chicago's slaughterhouses in The Swamp (1906).
TS Eliot or WH Auden , Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) are considered to be modernists. Many American writers spent time in Europe; Stein created the term ("Lost Generation") for them. John Dos Passos wrote the best-known big city novel, Manhattan Transfer . When the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in 1927, vigils were held outside the prison gates by John Dos Passos, Langston Hughes and Edna St. Vincent Millay . Many writers turned to socialism. "Proletarian literature" reached its peak with works such as Dos Passos' USA trilogy (1930-1936) and John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
The twelve authors of the pamphlet I'll Take My Stand and their successors became known as the Southern Agrarians ; they opposed rationality, industrialization and urbanization. In 1922, Eliot published what is arguably the best-known poem of English-language modernism: The Wasteland .
Gertrude Stein 's poems are often more committed to sound than to meaning. Ernest Hemingway 's succinct style represents one extreme of prose, and William Faulkner 's proliferating sentences at the opposite . His work ( Nobel Prize for Literature 1950) was celebrated in France by Jean-Paul Sartre and other existentialists, in Germany by Gottfried Benn . But he probably had the greatest influence on Latin American literature, especially magical realism . Sherwood Anderson and Thomas Wolfe were role models for Faulkner. F. Scott Fitzgerald 's works observed New York society or exile bohemianism, and so he became a chronicler of the "roaring twenties". In The Great Gatsby (1925) he took up the American myth of success.
A heyday of African-American literature began with the Harlem Renaissance around 1920 , heavily influenced by Alain LeRoy Locke's anthology The New Negro (1925). Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison belonged to the generation that followed and found models in the Harlem Renaissance, but whose optimism had given way to resignation. Wright's Native Son (1940) and Ellison's The Invisible Man (1951) are considered the central works.
After World War II, Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and Gore Vidal's Williwaw , James Jones ' Doomed to Eternity and Herman Wouk's Caine Was Her Destiny appeared . Mailer processed his involvement in the anti-war movement in Heere aus der Nacht , for which he invented "faction" (reformation from fact and fiction ) as a new literary genre. Vidal caused a scandal in 1948 with Closed Circle , one of the first gay novels.
Henry Miller maintained a negative attitude: The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945) is one of his titles and at the same time his nickname for the United States. He gained a reputation as a scandalous author with Tropic of Cancer (1934) and Tropic of Capricorn (1939). His works are - like the trilogy Nexus , Plexus , Sexus (1948-1960) - but more interesting as a spiritual biography and evidence of mystical tendencies.
In the late 1940s, a new bohemian literary movement dubbed the Beat Generation formed around Allen Ginsberg , Jack Kerouac , Gregory Corso , and William S. Burroughs . The cultural influence of the beat poets can be seen in the fact that the non-conformist youth movement around 1960 was named after them as beatniks . In their free form, in their radical individualism and visionary drive, Ginsberg's poems are in the tradition of Whitman, but at the same time they are ironic and desperate comments on the state of society. In the 1960s he became a symbol of the hippies .
Jack Kerouac's best-known novel , On the Road , describes a journey of two young men escaping compulsion in search of sensual pleasure and spiritual fulfillment as an alternative to materialism and conformity. Ken Kesey also became a central figure in the hippie movement with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest .
In the 1960s and 1970s, experimental writers such as Vladimir Nabokov , Thomas Pynchon , and John Barth were labeled as “postmodern” in a more narrow sense. Today, the entire literary production from about 1960 is often included under the term postmodernism, because it is understood as a product of a postmodern society. Systems like NaNoWriMo are testing ways of collaborative literary creation .
Fine arts and architecture
The United States has always been at the forefront of the 20th century process of media permeating every aspect of daily life. The emergence of a tabloid press can already be observed in the first half of the 19th century . The mass distribution of radio, television, computers and the Internet also began here earlier than in the rest of the world. In 1998, 53% of households already had their own personal computer .
history and constitutional understanding
Newspapers quickly developed in the founding colonies. The first newspaper, Publick occurences, Both Foreign and Domestic , which the British immediately banned , appeared as early as 1690. At the beginning of the 18th century, newspapers were already being published regularly, many of them in German. The first German-language newspaper in what is now the United States was the Philadelphische Zeitung , founded in 1732 by Benjamin Franklin . In the years of the revolution, the enthusiasm for publishing increased, especially among immigrants of English and German origin. When the Declaration of Independence was passed in 1776, it first appeared in the German-language Pennsylvania Staatsbote . The statement was not published in the English-language press until later.
Freedom of the press was given a prominent place in the First Amendment of 1791. In the United States, there was an early belief that the common good was best achieved through, as Oliver W. Holmes put it in 1919, “free trade of ideas”. The Supreme Court confirmed this function of the First Amendment in 1969: “It is the right of the viewers and listeners, not the right of the broadcasters, which is paramount. It is the purpose of the First Amendment to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail, rather than to countenance monopolization of that market"
Reporters Without Borders considers the press freedom situation to be satisfactory. Since President Biden took office, the reliability and transparency of government communications have improved. According to the non-governmental organization, however, structural weaknesses persist, such as the disappearance of local media and widespread distrust of so-called "mainstream media".
Time Warner is a multi-business media company. Time Warner includes, among others, the film and television studio Warner Bros. , the pay-TV broadcaster Home Box Office (HBO) and the Time Inc. book and magazine publishers. Viacom is an American media company with interests in MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures . NBC Universal is the third largest media company in the world, after Time Warner and Viacom. NBC Universal includes the American broadcasters National Broadcasting Company (NBC), USA Network and MSNBC , as well as the film company Universal Studios . The News Corporation is a media group of the main shareholder Rupert Murdoch . News Corporation has numerous interests in film and television companies, newspaper and book publishers. Participations include the companies 20th Century Fox , Fox Broadcasting Company , New York Post and Dow Jones ( Wall Street Journal ).
From its beginnings as an independent nation, the United States has encouraged science and invention by enabling the free exchange of ideas, spreading knowledge, and welcoming creative people from around the world . The constitution reflects the desire for scientific activity. It empowers Congress to "[...] promote the advancement of science and the useful arts by granting authors and inventors exclusive rights to their respective writings and discoveries for a limited period [...]". This provision is the basis of the United States patent and trademark system.
Two of the founding fathers of the United States were notable scientists themselves. Benjamin Franklin used a series of experiments to prove that lightning is a type of electricity and invented the lightning rod . Thomas Jefferson studied agriculture and introduced new varieties of rice, olive trees and grass to the New World .
In the 19th century, the leading new ideas in science and mathematics came from Britain , France and Germany , but many of them went untapped. Because of the long distance between the United States and the birthplace of Western science and production, it has often been necessary to develop proprietary approaches. Researchers and inventors from the United States, while lagging behind in developing theories, excelled in applied science. Against this background, a large number of important inventions were made. Great American inventors include Robert Fulton (steamboat), Samuel F. B. Morse (telegraph), Eli Whitney ( cotton ginning machine), Cyrus McCormick (mower), the Wright brothers (powered airplane), and Thomas Alva Edison , the most prolific inventor with more than a thousand inventions .
In the second half of the 20th century, American scientists were increasingly recognized for their contributions to science, the formulation of concepts and theories. This change is also evident in the winners of the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry . Americans made up a small minority of the Nobel Prize winners in the first half of the century—1901 to 1950—in science. Since 1950, scientists working in the United States have received about half of the Nobel Prizes in science. From the outset, the processing of non-Anglo-Saxon research was severely limited by the fact that the only common language was English.
While in the post-war years higher education was viewed as a public good and research as a national resource, this changed in the 1980s. Education lost its intrinsic value, it was increasingly subject to the capitalist market rules, it was viewed more as a personal investment and thus a private good and a means of market success. While a higher academic degree was equated with social success well into the 1970s, the changed mentality created an oversupply of doctorates and, in view of the increasing costs, a decreasing willingness to engage in social sciences and humanities.
Traditional American cuisine uses native ingredients such as turkey , venison , potatoes , yams , corn , squash , and maple syrup that were used by Native Americans and early European settlers. Wheat is the most commonly used type of grain.
Soul food , the cuisine of former African slaves, is particularly popular in the southern United States and among African Americans. Syncretic cuisines such as Creole , Cajun , and Tex-Mex are also popular. Dishes such as apple pie , fried chicken , hamburgers , and hot dogs are derived from recipes by various immigrants. French fries , Mexican dishes like burritos and tacos , and pizza and pasta dishes borrowed from Italian cuisine are common. Americans mostly prefer coffee over tea. Orange juice and breakfast drinks containing milk are also consumed.
The fast food industry was the first to introduce drive- thru service in the 1930s . During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans' dietary energy intake increased by 24%. Frequent eating at fast-food restaurants has been linked to obesity in the United States. Sweetened soft drinks are popular and account for 9 percent of Americans' calorie intake.
The United States has a strong sports culture in the de facto national sports of American football , baseball , and basketball . Professional leagues that are played at an international level are the NFL (American football), the MLB (baseball), the NBA (basketball) and the NHL (ice hockey). American sport is caught between isolationism and internationalism .
So far, the Olympic Games have been held eight times in the United States. With a total of 2803 medals (including 1119 gold) (as of March 6, 2017), the country ranks first in the all-time medal table of the Olympic Games .
A division into competitive and popular sports does not exist as in the German understanding. Rather, a squad of certain secondary sports has developed, the importance of which is not measured by the (otherwise rather low) commercialization and processing in the national media, but by the spread in schools and the mass of regional disputes. In addition to football (American English: soccer ), these sports include the widespread lacrosse .
A high emphasis on the entertainment effect and the integrative character of sport is typical of American sports. In addition to the consistently elaborate use of show and choreographic elements (lighting, cheerleaders ) in some sports , the great demand for the entertainment value of sport is characterized by a mostly harmless staging of action and violence, for example in wrestling .
The United States are also the initiators of a further subjective classification of various types of sports, which are practiced primarily as casual leisure activities when a certain attitude towards life is consciously created. In addition to tennis and bodybuilding, this includes various trend sports .
The high hopes that society in the United States has for the integrative effect of sport is reflected in the advancement opportunities it offers. A significant part of the scholarships for the universities are awarded to sporting talents. The accusation, often voiced at home and abroad, that such scholarship holders would not be able to pass a university intellectually without their athletic abilities, is rarely true, since great value is placed on academic performance and sports practice is curtailed in the event of poor academic performance. In a mode developed over time for national sports, the so-called drafting system , the first access rights to the best talents of a year are awarded to the weakest clubs, with the addition of certain coincidences.
Unlike lacrosse, soccer leadership in the United States is trying to catch up with the much more popular sports of American football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey. The highest league, Major League Soccer , tries to bridge the differences between the North American and European understanding of sport. In the 1970s, top international players moved to American clubs. For example, New York Cosmos signed Pelé in 1975 and Franz Beckenbauer in 1977 . Los Angeles Galaxy also signed David Beckham in 2007 and Thierry Henry was signed by the New York Red Bulls in 2010 . From 2011 to 2016, Jürgen Klinsmann was the head coach of the United States national soccer team . United States women's soccer is far more successful internationally than men's soccer.
Motor sports are also very popular with the public in the United States. The most popular racing series are NASCAR and INDYCAR . The Indianapolis 500 and the Speedweek in Daytona Beach are famous . Every year, Formula 1 and the MotoGP motorcycle world championships are also guests in the United States. Dirt track races with the Grand National Championships are also very popular in motorcycling . California has had a thriving speedway scene since the early 1970s and the United States has five world champions with its speedway pros Bruce Penhall , Shawn Moran , Sam Ermolenko , Billy Hamill and Greg Hancock , who have collectively won six world individual speedway championships bestows. Shawn Moran was long track world champion in 1983.
Also with regard to public holidays , there is a different understanding in the United States than in Europe. In principle, public holidays established by the government apply only to their officials and employees, including postal workers. However, many public holidays have also become common practice in the economy because of their cultural anchoring. With the exception of Christmas and New Year's Day, public holidays in the United States are non-religious, i.e. primarily patriotic, due to the strict separation of church and state.
- Relations between Latin America and the United States
- Relations between the European Union and the United States
- American Studies , interdisciplinary field of study concerned with the history, politics, society, culture, and language of the United States
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