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United States of America: modernity and nature

The United States of America (United States of America; USA) is a presidential republic, made up of a confederation of 50 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Including two non-contiguous states: Alaska and Hawaii) and a federal district (District of Columbia, the city of Washington, the state capital and seat of the federal government).

The country is bordered to the north by Canada, to the south by Mexico, the coasts are washed to the east from the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south from the Pacific Ocean, to the south from the Gulf of Mexico. The island of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean is a state associated with the United States. The United States also possesses dependencies in the Caribbean: the U.S. Virgin Islands, the island of Navassa (between Haiti and Jamaica) and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. While are United States dependencies in the Pacific Ocean: American Samoa, Guam Island, Midway Islands, Northern Mariana Islands and the islands Wake, Palmyra, Baker, Howland, Jarvis, Johnston, Kingman Reef, Serranilla Bank, Petrel. The main towns are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimora, Seattle, Miami, and Washington.

The territory of the United States, extending from just north of the Tropic of Cancer to almost 50° north latitude, it has a wide variety of natural landscapes and environments, starting from the east to the west we found: the coast along the Atlantic Ocean, the Appalachian Mountains, the great Central Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the plateau and along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade-Sierra Mountains. The coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, from Cape Hatteras to the border with Canada are high and jagged, with numerous coves, while south of Cape Hatteras are low and edged by sand dunes and lagoons, the conformation of the coast continues in Florida and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where sometimes the cost is also swampy. Inside the eastern United States, extending from south-west to north-east for 2500 km beyond the border with Canada, are the Appalachian Mountains, characterized by peaks not very high, reaching the highest height with the Mount Mitchell (2,037 metres), in Blue Ridge Mountains.

To the west of the Appalachians extend the immense Interior Plains, characterized by the courses of the major American rivers the Mississippi and Missouri; north is the Great Lakes region of which only Lake Michigan (58,016 sq km) belongs exclusively to the United States, the other four big lakes are divided between Canada and the United States, are these the Lake Superior (84,131 square kilometres, the second largest lake in the world after Caspian Sea), Lake Huron (61,797, fourth lake of the world), Lake Erie (25,612 sq km) and Lake Ontario (18,941 sq km). Around the Great Lakes extends the Central Lowland, thento the south lies the alluvial plain of the Mississippi, and to the west the Missouri river is the region of the Great Plains formed by plateau 700-1200 metres high, here are extensive cultivation of cereals, huge areas used for breed cattle, but also the Bad Lands (South Dakota), a semi-arid landscape of gullies.

To the west of the Great Plains stands for more than 3,000 km, from south-east to north-west, the chain of the Rocky Mountains, the southern part of the chain traverses the states of New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming and presents, the highest peaks of the mountainous range, exceeding 4,000 metres in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (Blanca Peak 4,372 meters) in the Front Range (Grays Peak 4,350 meters), the San Juan Mountains (Uncompahgre Peak 4,361 meters ), in the Mosquito Range (Mount Lincoln 4,354 metres), and in the Sawatch Range, Colorado, where is the highest mountain, Mount Elbert (4,401 metres).

The central and northern part of the chain passes through the states of Utah, Wyoming, and Montana has mountains exceeding 4,000 meters as in the Uinta Mountains in Utah (Kings Peak 4,123 meters), in the Bighorn Mountains (Cloud Peak 4,013 meters) in the Wind River Range (Gannett Peak 4,207 meters) and Grand Teton (4,197 meters) in Wyoming.

To the west of Rocky Mountain are the plateau furrowed by Colorado and Columbia rivers, the Columbia Plateau, is entirely covered by lava layers, while Colorado Plateau, which is located at an average of 2,000 -3,000 meters it comprises of successive layers of limestone and sandstone, excavated dramatically from the erosive action of the Colorado River, which formed the famous Grand Canyon. To the west of Colorado Plateau is an extremely arid area, the Great Basin, there are high mountains as the Wheeler Peak (3,982 m) and deep depressions like Death Valley, California which is located – 86 metres below sea level, the lowest point of the entire American continent.

Before reaching the coast of the Pacific Ocean, rise the coastal mountainous of Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range. In the Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain in the United States (excluding Alaska), Mount Whitney (4,421 metres). In Cascade Range are significant volcanoes as the Mount Rainer (4,392 m), Mount Adams (3,742 meters), Mount Baker (3,285 meters) in the state of Washington, Mount Hood (3,429 meters) in Oregon and Mount Shasta (4,322 meters) in California.

The coast of the Pacific Ocean is mostly high and rocky. Regarding the rivers the United States have their main water basin area in the system of Mississippi and Missouri rivers, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico with a broad delta, this is the third river basin by extension in the world (3,328,000 sq km) and the fourth in the world for length (5,970 km). Other major rivers are the Columbia, Colorado, Rio Grande, Hudson, Delaware, Potomac, Savannah and the left tributaries of the Mississippi as Ohio, Tennessee and Illinois.

From an economic point of view the United States of America are the most important and developed economy of the world. Agriculture is highly mechanized, enormous is the production of cereals such as maize, wheat, rye, oats, barley, rice. Also very important are the cultivation of cotton, soybeans, tobacco, sugar beet, fruits (apples, peaches, pears), tomatoes, beans, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons), grapes.

The United States is the leading producer of timber in the world. Very important is livestock, mainly cattle and pigs, and fishing. Huge are mineral resources, including energy sources such as oil, natural gas, coal, between minerals are extracted mainly iron, copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, radio, uranium, vanadium and mercury. As for the industry, those important are steel, mechanical, textile, information technology, chemical and petrochemical. Noteworthy is the tourist flow.

  • Area: 9,372,614 sqkm. (Arable 19,1%, Pastures 24,4%, Forests and Woodlands 31,6%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 24,9%)
  • Population: 303,000,000 (agg. 2007) (Europeans 74.7%; Africans 12.1%; Asian 4.3%; American Indians 0.8%; data 2005).
  • State Capital: Washington.
  • Language: The official language is English. The Spanish is spoken by 10% of the population (29,600,000), followed by the Chinese (2,200,000), the French (1,800,000) (data 2003).
  • Religion: Christian 79,8% (Protestant 53% (Baptist 17,2%, Methodist 7,2%, Lutheran 4,9%, Presbyterian 2,8%), Roman Catholic 25,9%), Jewish 1,4%, Muslim 0,6%, Buddhist 0,5%, Hindu 0,4%.
  • Currency: American Dollar (USD)
  • Time: UTC -5 to -10 hours (Summer (DST) UTC -4 to -10 hours).

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