The United States of America (USA or U.S.A.), commonly referred to as the United States (US or U.S.), America, and sometimes the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50states and a federal district. The 48 contiguous states andWashington, D.C., are in central North America between Canadaand Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulatedterritories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. At 3.71 million square miles (9.62 million km2) and with around 318 million people, the United States is the world’s third or fourth-largest country by total area and third-largest by population. It is one of the world’s mostethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography andclimate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Eurasia to what is now the U.S. mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonizationbeginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, as the colonies were fighting Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
Driven by the doctrine of manifest destiny, the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century. This involved displacing native tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states. The American Civil War ended legal slavery in the country. By the end of the 19th century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean, and its economy was the world’s largest. The Spanish–American War and World War Iconfirmed the country’s status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country with nuclear weapons, and a permanent memberof the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold Warand the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower.
The United States is a developed country and has the world’slargest national economy, with an estimated GDP in 2013 of $16.8 trillion—23% of global nominal GDP and 19% at purchasing-power parity. The economy is fueled by an abundance of natural resources and high worker productivity, with per capita GDP being the world’s sixth-highest in 2010. While the U.S. economy is considered post-industrial, it continues to be one of the world’s largest manufacturers. The U.S. has the highest mean and fourth highest median household income in the OECD as well as the highest gross average wage, though it has the fourth most unequal income distribution, with roughly 15% of the population living in poverty as defined by the U.S. Census. The country accounts for 36.6% of global military spending, being the world’s foremost economic and military power, a prominent political and cultural force, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovation.