United States of America
), commonly known as theÂ
, is aÂ constitutional Â federal republic composed of 50Â states, aÂ federal district, five majorÂ self-governing territories, andÂ various possessions.
Forty-eight of the fifty states and the federal district
Â are contiguous and located inÂ North AmericaÂ betweenÂ CanadaÂ andÂ Mexico. TheÂ state of AlaskaÂ is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across theÂ Bering StraitÂ fromÂ RussiaÂ to the west. TheÂ state of HawaiiÂ is anÂ archipelagoÂ in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S.Â territoriesÂ are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and theÂ Caribbean Sea. NineÂ time zonesÂ are covered. TheÂ geography,Â climateÂ andÂ wildlifeÂ of the country are extremely diverse.Slide3
In 1507, theÂ GermanÂ
Â produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western HemisphereÂ "America"Â after the Italian explorer and cartographerÂ
).Â The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written byÂ Stephen Moylan, Esq.,Â George Washington'sÂ aide-de-campÂ and Muster-Master General of theÂ Continental Army. Addressed toÂ Lt. Col. Joseph Reed, Moylan expressed his wish to carry the "full and ample powers of the United States of America" to Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort.Slide4
Indigenous and European contact
TheÂ first inhabitants of North AmericaÂ migrated fromÂ SiberiaÂ by way of theÂ Bering land bridgeÂ and arrived at least 15,000 years ago, though increasing evidence suggests an even earlier arrival.Â Some, such as theÂ pre-ColumbianÂ Mississippian culture, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies.Â After the SpanishÂ conquistadorsÂ made the first contacts, theÂ native population declinedÂ for various reasons, primarily from diseases such asÂ smallpoxÂ andÂ measles. Violence was not a significant factor in the overall decline amongÂ Native Americans, though conflict among themselves and with Europeans affected specific tribes and various colonial settlements.Â In theÂ Hawaiian Islands, the earliest indigenous inhabitants arrived around 1 AD fromÂ Polynesia. Europeans under the British explorerÂ Captain James CookÂ arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778.Slide5
After Spain sentÂ ColumbusÂ on his first voyageÂ to theÂ New WorldÂ in 1492, other explorers followed. The Spanish set up small settlements in New Mexico and Florida. France had several small settlements along theÂ Mississippi River. SuccessfulÂ English settlementÂ on the eastern coast of North America began with the Virginia Colony in 1607 atÂ JamestownÂ and theÂ Pilgrims'Â Plymouth ColonyÂ in 1620. Early experiments in communal living failed until the introduction of private farm holdings.Â Many settlers wereÂ dissenting Christian groupsÂ who came seekingÂ religious freedom. The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia'sÂ House of BurgessesÂ created in 1619, and the Mayflower Compact, signed by the Pilgrims before disembarking, established precedents for the pattern of representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.Slide6
INDEPENDENCE AND EXPANSION
The American Revolutionary War was the first successful colonial war of independence against a European power. Americans had developed an ideology of "republicanism" asserting that government rested on the will of the people as expressed in their local legislatures. They demanded theirÂ rights as EnglishmenÂ and "no taxation without representation". The British insisted on administering the empire through Parliament, andÂ the conflictÂ escalated into war.
Following the passage of theÂ Lee Resolution, on July 2, 1776, which was the actual vote for independence, theÂ Second Continental CongressÂ adopted theÂ Declaration of IndependenceÂ on July 4, which proclaimed, in a long preamble, that humanity is created equal in their unalienable rights and that those rights were not being protected by Great Britain, and declared, in the words of the resolution, that the Thirteen Colonies Â were independent states and had no allegiance to the British crown in the United States. The fourth day of July is celebrated annually asÂ Independence Day. In 1777, theÂ Articles of ConfederationÂ established a weak government that operated until 1789.