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The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. The country is situated mostly in central North America, where its forty-eight contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district, lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south. The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to its east and Russia to the west across the Bering Strait, and the state of Hawaii is in the mid-Pacific. The United States also possesses several territories, or insular areas, that are scattered around the Caribbean and Pacific.

At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km²) and with over 300 million people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by total area, and third largest by land area and by population. The United States is one of the world's most ethnically diverse nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries.[1] The U.S. economy is the largest national economy in the world, with a nominal 2006 gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$13 trillion (over 19% of the world total).

The nation was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the Atlantic seaboard. Proclaiming themselves "states," they issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The rebellious states defeated Britain in the American Revolutionary War, the first successful colonial war of independence.[2] A federal convention adopted the current United States Constitution on September 17, 1787; its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic. The United States Bill of Rights, comprising ten constitutional amendments, was ratified in 1791.

In the nineteenth century, the United States acquired land from France, Spain, Mexico, and Russia, and annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over states' rights and the institution of slavery provoked the American Civil War of the 1860s. The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of slavery in the United States. The Spanish-American War and World War I (WWI)confirmed the nation's status as a military power. In 1945, the United States emerged from World War II as the first country with nuclear weapons, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and a founding member of NATO. The United States is the only military superpower in the post–Cold War era and the dominant economic, political, and cultural force in the world.[3]

History Edit

Native Americans and European settlers Edit

The indigenous peoples of the U.S. mainland, including Alaska, migrated from Asia. They began arriving at least 12,000 and as many as 40,000 years ago.[4] Several indigenous communities in the pre-Columbian era developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies. European explorer Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493, making first contact with the Native Americans. In the years that followed, the majority of the Native American population was killed by epidemics of Eurasian diseases.[5]


The Mayflower transported Pilgrims to the New World in 1620, as depicted in William Halsall's The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, 1882

Spaniards established the earliest European colonies on the mainland, in the area they named Florida; of these, only St. Augustine, Florida|St. Augustine, founded in 1565, remains. Later Spanish settlements in the present-day southwestern United States drew thousands through Mexico. French fur traders established outposts of New France around the Great Lakes; France eventually claimed much of the North American interior as far south as the Gulf of Mexico. The first successful British settlements were Jamestown in 1607 and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620. The 1628 chartering of the Massachusetts Bay Colony resulted in a wave of migration; by 1634, New England had been settled by some 10,000 Puritans. Between the late 1610s and the revolution, the British shipped an estimated 50,000 convicts to its American colonies.[6] Beginning in 1614, the Dutch established settlements along the lower Hudson River, including New Amsterdam on Manhattan|Manhattan Island. The small settlement of New Sweden, founded along the Delaware River in 1638, was taken over by the Dutch in 1655.

In the French and Indian War, the colonial extension of the Seven Years' War, Britain seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. By 1674, the British had won the former Dutch colonies in the Anglo-Dutch Wars; the province of New Netherland was renamed New York. With the 1729 division of the Carolinas and the 1732 colonization of Georgia, the thirteen British colonies that would become the United States of America were established. All had active local and colonial governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self government that stimulated support for republicanism. All had legalized the African slave trade. With high birth rates, low death rates, and steady immigration, the colonies doubled in population every twenty-five years. The revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty. By 1770, the colonies had an increasingly Anglicisation|Anglicized population of three million, approximately half that of Britain itself. Though subject to British taxation, they were given no representation in the Parliament of Great Britain.

Independence and expansion Edit

Declaration independence

Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull, 1817–18

Tensions between Thirteen Colonies|American colonials and the British during the American Revolution|revolutionary period of the 1760s and early 1770s led to the American Revolutionary War, fought from 1775 through 1781. On June 14, 1775, the Second Continental Congress|Continental Congress, convening in Philadelphia, established a Continental Army under the command of George Washington. Proclaiming that "all men are created equal" and endowed with "certain inalienable rights|unalienable Rights," the Congress adopted the United States Declaration of Independence|Declaration of Independence, drafted largely by Thomas Jefferson, on July 4, 1776. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted, uniting the states under a weak federal government that operated until 1788. Some 70,000–80,000 Loyalist (American Revolution)|loyalists to the British Crown fled the rebellious states, many to Nova Scotia and the new Canada under British Imperial control (1764-1867)|British holdings in Canada.[7] Native Americans, with divided allegiances, fought on both sides of Western theater of the American Revolutionary War|the war's western front. Image:US states by date of statehood3.gif|thumb|left|U.S. growth by date of statehood and ratification of the United States Constitution|Constitution After the Siege of Yorktown|defeat of the British army by American forces, who were France in the American Revolutionary War|assisted by the French, Great Britain Treaty of Paris (1783)|recognized the sovereignty of the thirteen states in 1783. A Philadelphia Convention|constitutional convention was organized in 1787 by those who wished to establish a strong national government with power over the states. By June 1788, nine states had ratified the United States Constitution, sufficient to establish the new government; the republic's 1st United States Congress|first Senate, House of Representatives, and President of the United States|president, George Washington, took office in 1789. New York City was the federal capital for a year, before the government relocated to Philadelphia. In 1791, the states ratified the United States Bill of Rights|Bill of Rights, ten amendments to the Constitution forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections. Attitudes toward Slavery in the United States|slavery were shifting; a Article One of the United States Constitution#Section 9: Limits on Congress|clause in the Constitution protected the African slave trade only until 1808. The Northern states abolished slavery between 1780 and 1804, leaving the Slave state|slave states of the South as defenders of the "peculiar institution." In 1800, the federal government moved to the newly founded History of Washington, D.C.|Washington, D.C. The Second Great Awakening made evangelicalism a force behind various social reform movements. Image:U.S. Territorial Acquisitions.png|right|thumb|Territorial acquisitions by date Americans' eagerness to Territorial acquisitions of the United States|expand westward began a cycle of Indian Wars that stretched to the end of the nineteenth century, as Native Americans were stripped of their land. The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 virtually doubled the nation's size. The War of 1812, declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a draw, strengthened American nationalism. A series of U.S. military incursions into Florida led Spanish Cession|Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819. The country annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845. The concept of Manifest Destiny was popularized during this time.[8] The 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day Northwestern United States|American Northwest. The U.S. victory in the Mexican-American War resulted in the 1848 Mexican Cession|cession of California and much of the present-day Southwestern United States|American Southwest. The California Gold Rush of 1848–1849 further spurred western migration. Rail transport in the United States#History|New railways made relocation much less arduous for settlers and increased conflicts with Native Americans. Over a half-century, up to 40 million American Bison|American bison, commonly called buffalo, were slaughtered for skins and meat and to ease the railways' spread. The loss of the bison, a primary economic resource for the plains Indians, was an existential blow to many native cultures.

Civil War and industrialization Edit

Main article: American Civil War

Image:Battle of Gettysburg, by Currier and Ives.png|thumb|left|Battle of Gettysburg, lithograph by Currier and Ives|Currier & Ives, ca. 1863 Origins of the American Civil War|Tensions between slave and Free state (United States)|free states mounted with increasing disagreements over the relationship between the states' rights|state and federal governments and Bleeding Kansas|violent conflicts over the expansion of slavery into new states. Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the largely antislavery Republican Party (United States)|Republican Party, was elected president in 1860. Before he took office, seven slave states declared their secession from the United States, forming the Confederate States of America. The federal government maintained secession was illegal, and with the Confederate Battle of Fort Sumter|attack upon Fort Sumter, the American Civil War began and four more slave states joined the Confederacy. The Union (American Civil War)|Union Emancipation Proclamation|freed Confederate slaves as its Union Army|army advanced through the South. Following the Union victory in 1865, three amendments to the U.S. Constitution Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution|ensured freedom for the nearly four million African Americans who had been slaves,[9] Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution|made them citizens, and Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution|gave them voting rights. The war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in Federalism|federal power.[10]

Image:Ellis island 1902.jpg|thumb|Immigrants landing at Ellis Island, New York City|New York, 1902 After the war, the Abraham Lincoln assassination|assassination of President Lincoln Radical Republican (USA)|radicalized Republican Reconstruction policies aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. The resolution of the disputed United States presidential election, 1876|1876 presidential election by the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction; Jim Crow laws soon Disfranchisement after the Civil War|disenfranchised many African Americans. In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented Immigration to the United States#Immigration 1850 to 1930|influx of immigrants hastened the United States technological and industrial history#Technological systems and infrastructure|country's industrialization. The wave of immigration, which lasted until 1929, provided labor for U.S. businesses and transformed American culture. High tariff protections, national infrastructure building, and new banking regulations encouraged industrial growth. The 1867 Alaska purchase from Russia completed the country's mainland expansion. The Wounded Knee Massacre|Wounded Knee massacre in 1890 was the last major armed conflict of the Indian Wars. In 1893, the Ancient Hawaii|indigenous monarchy of the Pacific Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in a coup led by American residents; the archipelago was annexed by the United States in 1898. Victory in the Spanish-American War that same year demonstrated that the United States was a Great power|major world power and resulted in the annexation of Puerto Rico and the Philippines.[11] The Philippines gained independence a half-century later; Puerto Rico remains a Commonwealth (United States insular area)|commonwealth of the United States.

World War I, Great Depression, and World War II Edit

Main article: American Expeditionary Force

Image:Dust Bowl - Dallas, South Dakota 1936.jpg|thumb|left|An abandoned farm in South Dakota during the Dust Bowl, 1936

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the United States remained neutral. Americans sympathized with the British and French, although many citizens, mostly Irish and German, opposed intervention.[12] In 1917, the United States joined the Allies of World War I|Allies, turning the tide against the Central Powers. Reluctant to be involved in European affairs, the Senate did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations. The country pursued a policy of unilateralism, verging on isolationism.[13] In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution|constitutional amendment granting History of women's suffrage in the United States|women's suffrage. In part due to the service of many in the war, Native Americans gained United States nationality law|U.S. citizenship in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.

During Roaring Twenties|most of the 1920s, the United States enjoyed a period of unbalanced prosperity as farm profits fell while industrial profits grew. A rise in debt and an inflated stock market culminated in the Wall Street Crash of 1929|1929 crash that triggered the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, a range of policies increasing government intervention in the economy. The Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration. The nation would not fully recover from the economic depression until the industrial mobilization spurred by its entrance into World War II. The United States, effectively neutral during the war's early stages after the Invasion of Poland (1939)|Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939, began supplying materiel to the Allies of World War II|Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program.

On December 7, 1941, the United States joined the Allies against the Axis powers after a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan. World War II cost far more money than any other war in American history,[14] but it boosted the economy by providing capital investment and jobs, while bringing many women into the labor market. Among the major combatants, the United States was the only nation to become richer—indeed, far richer—instead of poorer due to the war.[15] Allied conferences at United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference|Bretton Woods and Yalta Conference|Yalta outlined a new system of international organizations that placed the United States and the United Nations|United States and Soviet Union and the United Nations|Soviet Union at the center of world affairs. As Victory in Europe Day|victory was achieved in Europe, a 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization|international conference held in San Francisco, California|San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war.[16] The United States, having Manhattan Project|developed the first nuclear weapons, used them on the Japanese cities of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki|Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. surrender of Japan|Japan surrendered on September 2, ending the war.[17]

Superpower Edit

Main article: Cold War

Image:Martin Luther King - March on Washington.jpg|thumb|right|upright|Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech, 1963

The United States and Soviet Union jockeyed for power after World War II during the Cold War, dominating the military affairs of Europe through NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The United States promoted liberal democracy and capitalism, while the Soviet Union promoted communism and a centrally planned economy. The Soviet Union supported dictatorships, as did the United States, and both engaged in proxy wars. United States troops fought People's Republic of China|Communist Chinese forces in the Korean War of 1950–53. The House Un-American Activities Committee pursued a series of investigations into suspected leftist subversion, while Senator Joseph McCarthy became the figurehead of anticommunist sentiment.

The Soviet Union launched the first manned spacecraft in 1961, prompting U.S. efforts to raise proficiency in mathematics and science and President John F. Kennedy's call for the country to be first to land "a man on the moon," achieved in 1969.[18] Kennedy also faced a Cuban Missile Crisis|tense nuclear showdown with Soviet forces in Cuba. Meanwhile, America experienced sustained economic expansion. A growing African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)|civil rights movement headed by prominent African Americans, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., fought segregation and discrimination, leading to the abolition of Jim Crow laws. Following John F. Kennedy assassination|Kennedy's assassination in 1963, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, expanded a proxy war in Southeast Asia into the unsuccessful Vietnam War.

Image:ReaganBerlinWall.jpg|thumb|left|President Ronald Reagan (1981–89) challenges Soviet general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to Tear down this wall|tear down the Berlin Wall, 1987

As a result of the Watergate scandal, in 1974 Nixon became the first U.S. president to resignation|resign, rather than be impeachment|impeached on charges including obstruction of justice and political power|abuse of power; he was United States presidential line of succession|succeeded by Gerald Ford. During the Jimmy Carter administration in the late 1970s, the U.S. economy experienced stagflation. The election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 marked a significant Conservatism in the United States#Nixon, Reagan, and Bush|rightward shift in American politics, reflected in major changes in Reaganomics|taxation and spending priorities.[19] In the late 1980s and 1990s, the History of the Soviet Union (1985–1991)|Soviet Union's power diminished, leading to its collapse. The leadership role taken by the United States and its allies in the United Nations–sanctioned Gulf War, under President George H. W. Bush, and later the Yugoslav wars helped to preserve its position as the world's last remaining superpower. The longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history—from March 1991 to March 2001—encompassed the administration of President Bill Clinton.[20] In 1998, Clinton was Impeachment of Bill Clinton|impeached by the House on charges relating to a Paula Jones|civil lawsuit and a Lewinsky scandal|sexual scandal, but was acquitted by the Senate and remained in office.

The controversial United States presidential election, 2000|presidential election of 2000 was resolved by a Bush v. Gore|Supreme Court decision that effectively awarded the presidency to Texas Governor#United States|governor George W. Bush, son of George H. W. Bush. September 11, 2001 attacks|On September 11, 2001, terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City and The Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly three thousand people. In the aftermath, President Bush launched the War on Terrorism under a military philosophy stressing preemptive war now known as the Bush Doctrine. In late 2001, U.S. forces led a NATO War in Afghanistan (2001–present)|invasion of Afghanistan, removing the Taliban government and al-Qaeda terrorist training camps. Taliban insurgents continue to fight a guerrilla war against the NATO-led force. In 2002, the Bush administration began to press for regime change in Iraq on Rationale for the Iraq War|controversial grounds. Lacking the support of NATO, Bush formed a Coalition of the willing|Coalition of the Willing and the U.S. 2003 invasion of Iraq|invaded Iraq in 2003, removing President Saddam Hussein from power. Although facing both external[21] and internal[22] pressure to withdraw, the United States maintains its Post-invasion Iraq, 2003–2006|military presence in Iraq. The United States has been criticized for its alleged use of torture and other violations of human rights in its pursuit of the War on Terrorism.[23]

Government and politics Edit

Main article: Federal government of the United States

Image:USCapitol.jpg|thumb|right|The west front of the United States Capitol, which houses the United States Congress

The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by Law of the United States|law."[24] It is fundamentally structured as a representative democracy, though U.S. citizens residing in the territories are excluded from voting for federal officials.[25] The government is regulated by a system of separation of powers|checks and balances defined by the United States Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document and as a social contract for the people of the United States. In the Federalism#United States|American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to Political divisions of the United States|three levels of government, federal, state, and local; the Local government in the United States|local government's duties are commonly split between County (United States)|county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality voting system|plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is very rare at lower levels. Federal and state judicial and cabinet officials are typically nominated by the executive branch and approved by the legislature, although some state judges and officials are elected by popular vote.

Image:HobanNorthPortico.jpg|thumb|left|The north side of the White House, home and work place of the U.S. president

The federal government is composed of three branches:

  • legislature|Legislative: The bicameralism|bicameral United States Congress|Congress, made up of the United States Senate|Senate and the United States House of Representatives|House of Representatives makes federal law, declaration of war|declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the rarely used power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
  • Executive (government)|Executive: The President of the United States|president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto Bill (proposed law)|legislative bills before they become law, and appoints the United States Cabinet|Cabinet and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
  • Judiciary: The Supreme Court of the United States|Supreme Court and lower United States federal courts|federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and can overturn laws they deem constitutionality|unconstitutional.

The House of Representatives has 435 members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are United States congressional apportionment|apportioned among the fifty states by population every tenth year. As of the United States Census, 2000|2000 census, seven states have the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, has fifty-three. Each state has two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every second year. The president serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office Term limits in the United States|no more than twice. The president is United States presidential election|not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect United States Electoral College|electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned by state. The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.

Image:Supreme Court Front Dusk.jpg|thumb|right|The front of the United States Supreme Court building

All laws and procedures of both state and federal governments are subject to review, and any law ruled in violation of the Constitution by the judicial branch is overturned. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government, the relationship between it and the individual states, and essential matters of military and economic authority. Article One of the United States Constitution|Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of Habeas corpus in the United States|habeas corpus, and Article Three of the United States Constitution|Article Three guarantees the Jury trial#The United States|right to a jury trial in all criminal cases. Article Five of the United States Constitution|Amendments to the Constitution require the approval of three-fourths of the states. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments, which make up the United States Bill of Rights|Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution|Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of individual rights in the United States.

Politics in the United States have operated under a two-party system for virtually all of the country's history. For elective offices at all levels, state-administered primary elections are held to choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the United States presidential election, 1856|general election of 1856, the two dominant parties have been the Democratic Party (United States)|Democratic Party, History of the United States Democratic Party|founded in 1824 (though its Democratic-Republican Party|roots trace back to 1792), and the Republican Party (United States)|Republican Party, History of the United States Republican Party|founded in 1854. The current president, George W. Bush, is a Republican; following the United States general elections, 2006|2006 midterm elections, the Democratic Party controls both the House and the Senate. The Senate has two Independent (politician)|independent members—one is a former Democratic incumbent, the other is a self-described socialism|socialist; every member of the House is a Democrat or Republican. An overwhelming majority of state and local officials are also either Democrats or Republicans. Since the Civil War, only one Third party (United States)|third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive Party (United States, 1912)|Progressive in United States presidential election, 1912|1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote.

Within American political culture, the Republican Party is considered "center-right" or Conservatism in the United States|conservative and the Democratic Party is considered "center-left" or Modern liberalism in the United States|liberal, but members of both parties have a wide range of views. In a January 2008 poll, 39% of Americans described themselves as "conservative," 33% as "moderate," and 20% as "liberal."[26] On the other hand, a plurality of adults, 35.9%, identify as Democrats, 32.9% as independents, and 31.3% as Republicans.[27] The states of the Northeastern United States#Politics|Northeast, Great Lakes, and Western United States#Politics|West Coast are relatively liberal-leaning—they are known in political parlance as "Red states and blue states|blue states." The "red states" of the Politics of the Southern United States|South and the Western United States#Politics|Rocky Mountains lean conservative.

Foreign relations and military Edit

Main article: Foreign relations of the United States

Image:Bush Brown.jpg|thumb|President of the United States|President George W. Bush (right) with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom|UK prime minister Gordon Brown

The United States has vast economic, political, and military influence on a global scale, which makes its foreign policy a subject of great interest around the world. Almost all countries have List of Washington, D.C. embassies|embassies in Washington, D.C., and many host Consul (representative)|consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host Diplomatic missions of the United States|American diplomatic missions. However, Cuba-United States relations|Cuba, United States-Iran relations|Iran, North Korea-United States relations|North Korea, Bhutan, and Sudan do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States.[28]

American isolationism|isolationists have often been at odds with internationalists, as anti-imperialists have been with promoters of Manifest Destiny and American Empire. American Philippine-American War|imperialism in the Philippines drew sharp rebukes from Mark Twain, philosopher William James, and many others. Later, President Woodrow Wilson played a key role in creating the League of Nations, but the Senate prohibited American membership in it. Isolationism became a thing of the past when the United States took a lead role in founding the United Nations, becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council|Security Council and host to the United Nations Headquarters. The United States enjoys a special relationship with the Anglo-American relations|United Kingdom and strong ties with United States-Australia relations|Australia, New Zealand-United States relations|New Zealand, Japan-United States relations|Japan, Israel-United States relations|Israel, and fellow NATO members. It also works closely with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade area|free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada-United States relations|Canada and United States-Mexico relations|Mexico. In 2005, the United States spent $27.3 billion on official development assistance, the most in the world; however, as a share of Gross National Income|gross national income (GNI) , the U.S. contribution of 0.22% ranked twentieth of twenty-two donor states. On the other hand, nongovernmental sources such as private foundations, corporations, and educational and religious institutions donated $95.5 billion. The total of $122.8 billion is again the most in the world and seventh in terms of GNI percentage.[29]

Image:USSRONALDREAGANgoodshot.jpg|thumb|left|The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)|USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier

The president holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the United States Secretary of Defense|secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the United States Army|Army, the United States Navy|Navy, the United States Marine Corps|Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force|Air Force. The United States Coast Guard|Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Homeland Security|Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and the United States Department of the Navy|Department of the Navy in times of war. In 2005, the military had 1.38 million personnel on active duty,[30] along with several hundred thousand each in the Reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States|Reserves and the National Guard of the United States|National Guard for a total of List of countries by number of total troops|2.3 million troops. The Department of Defense also employs approximately 700,000 civilians, disregarding contractors. Military service is voluntary, though Conscription in the United States|conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. The rapid deployment of American forces is facilitated by the Air Force's large fleet of transportation aircraft and aerial refueling tankers, the Navy's fleet of eleven active aircraft carriers, and Marine Expeditionary Units at sea in the Navy's United States Fleet Forces Command|Atlantic and Commander United States Pacific Fleet|Pacific fleets. Outside of the American homeland, the U.S. military is Deployments of the United States Military|deployed to 770 bases and facilities, on every continent Military activity in the Antarctic|except Antarctica.[31] Due to the extent of its global military presence, scholars describe the United States as maintaining an "empire of bases."[32]

U.S. military spending in 2006, over $528 billion, was 46% of the entire military spending in the world and greater than the next fourteen largest national military expenditures combined. (In purchasing power parity terms, it was larger than the next six such expenditures combined.) The per capita spending of $1,756 was approximately ten times the world average.[33] At 4.06% of GDP, U.S. military spending ranked 27th out of 172 nations.[34] The official military budget of the United States|Department of Defense budget in 2006, $419.3 billion, was a 5% increase over 2005.[35] The estimated total cost to the United States of the war in Iraq through 2016 is $2.267 trillion.[36] As of February 4, 2008, the United States had suffered 3,945 military fatalities during the war and over 28,800 wounded.[37]

References Edit

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  8. Morrison, Michael A. (1999). Slavery and the American West: The Eclipse of Manifest Destiny and the Coming of the Civil War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, pp. 13–21. ISBN 0807847968.
  9. "1860 Census". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-06-10. Page 7 lists a total slave population of 3,953,760.
  10. De Rosa, Marshall L. (1997). The Politics of Dissolution: The Quest for a National Identity and the American Civil War. Edison, NJ: Transaction, p. 266. ISBN 1560003499.
  11. Spielvogel, Jackson J. (2005). Western Civilization: Volume II: Since 1500. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, p. 708. ISBN 0534646042.
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