United States

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 293.5
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 80%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 0.9%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km˛) : 9,629,090


Population origin

white 81.7%, black 12.9%, Asian 4.2%, Amerindian and Alaska native 1%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.2%



Main Cities Population
New York 17 799 861
Los Angeles 11 789 487
Chicago 8 307 904
Philadelphia 5 149 079
Miami 4 919 036
Dallas 4 145 659



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia (GMT-5 in winter, GMT-4 in summer).
It is  %T:%M %A  in Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas (GMT-6 in winter, GMT-5 in summer).
It is  %T:%M %A  in Los Angeles, San Diego (GMT-8 in winter, GMT-7 in summer).
Summer time from April to October



Languages
Official language: English (82.1% of the population)
Spanish (10.7%) widely spoken in certain US states of the country such as California and Florida.

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Religion
Religious practises : Protestant 52%, Roman Catholic 24%, Mormon 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim 1%, other 10%, none 10%


Political context

United States is a federal republic state based on parliamentary democracy having presidential form of government. United States (official name: United States of America) has 51 states which are largely self governing and are legally considered as sovereign entities, enjoying a high degree of decentralisation.
President is both the chief of the state and the head of the government. President is elected by a college of representatives (who are elected directly from each state) to serve a four-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and enjoys immense executive powers which include implementation of the law in the country and running the day-to-day affairs. But most of these powers are subject to or checked by parliament. Cabinet is appointed by the President subject to approval by the upper house of parliament.
The legislature is bicameral in United States. The parliament called Congress consists of: Senate (the upper house) having 100 seats with 2 members elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms and the House of Representatives (lower house) having 435 seats with its members directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms. Senate is more powerful unlike other parliamentary democracies. The Senate has the power to confirm or reject presidential appointments (including the cabinet) and to ratify treaties; the House of Representatives has the sole right to initiate revenue bills, although they may be amended or rejected by the Senate. President has the power to veto the legislation passed by the Congress, and in turn a supermajority (two-third) of legislators may act to override the veto. The people of United States have considerable political rights.
Judiciary is independent in United States. The main source of the law is the constitution of 1787. The country’s legal system is based on federal court system influenced by English common law and judicial reviews of various legislative acts. Each state has its own unique legal system with its own supreme court. A case may be appealed from a state supreme court to the federal Supreme Court only if it is related to federal issues like U.S. Constitution or laws/treaties of the United States. English is the judicial language used in the country.
The country is ruled by law. Foreign nationals can expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. United States is not completely free of corruption. It does exist in corporate sector and at highest levels in the state governments. But there is also a high degree of transparency in the country and immediate action is taken to curb such acts when disclosed.


Major political parties

In practice, the United States has a two-party system since the mid 1800s, with occasional inlets made by third parties. The two dominant parties are:
- Democratic Party – the oldest political party in the world (established in 1820s) with a liberal, pro-working class Philosophy;
- Republican Party – established in 1854, socially conservative but economically more liberal, favours free-market economy and capitalism.
The two important ‘third parties’ are:
- Libertarian Party – established in 1971, favours strong civil liberties and free-market economy;
- Green Party – established in 1984, advocates environmentalism, decentralization and local autonomy.


Major political leaders

President: George W. BUSH (since January 2001, re-elected in 2004) – Republican Party


Next political election dates

Presidential: November 2008
Senate: November 2006




Climate

 

 

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in United States 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 46,077 49,206 51,063 4
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
The most visited places are
- The national parks : Blue Ridge Parkway (17.1 million visitors in 1996), Golden Gate National Recreation Area ( 14 million), George Washington Memorial National Park ( 9.2 million), Big Canyon National Park ( 4.5 milllion).
- New York ( Big Apple)
- The beaches of Florida
- San Francisco

For more information about tourism in United States , check out the following web site(s) :
Informations portal on tourism in the United States



Food


Traditional dishes
Starters:
Crab Cakes: a traditional appetizer of the South-East. It is an expensive recipe since it requires real carefully crushed up crab in order to make these small butter-fried starters .
Rockefeller Oysters: The Rockefeller Oysters is an American standard. The recipe is often adjusted depending on the chefs tastes or the regions. Though, the main ingredient always remains oysters, covered up with spinach and bread-crumbs. Some add Tabasco to spice up the whole thing.
Vegetables:
Fried fingers of egg plant
Crab Soup: a traditional dish of the South East. It is a crab soup, with dry sheri.
Main dishes :
Chili Con Carne: This worldwide famous dish, is not Mexican, contrary to the popular belief, but from the South of the United States, in the pure Texan tradition.
Chicken Gumbo and andouille - Cajun
Gumbo with shrimps and okra
Jambalaya: it is a classic of the Creole and Louisiana's cuisine. Jambalaya is tomato-based, with meat and chicken stock. However, if you take out the tomatoes, replace the chicken stock with beef stock and add to the Tabasco a pinch of Cayenne pepper, you will have a true cajun dish.
Virginia Ham: the Virginia Ham or Country Ham is traditionally on the table at breakfast.
Cocktails:
Egg Nog: rum-based drink, with brandy in which an egg and a light cream are blended together. In the whole country, the traditional rich beverage is prepared in a big glass mug and is offered in small glass cups as a welcome sign to all the guests at Christmas time. According to traditions, a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg can be sprinkled on top.
Southern Mint Julep (South East): bourbon and mint based cocktail.
Bakery and Confectionery:
Corn bread
Peanut brittle
Desserts:
President's cake : brandy-based cake, with sugared cherries and orange peel. This is a traditional cake dating back to Abraham Lincoln's era.
Pecan of New Orleans: it is a classic Creole dish and takes its origins in New Orleans.


Last modified on December 2006

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