The good ol’ US of A. It’s a country that doesn’t really need an introduction. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, how old you are or how intelligent you are. You’re bound to know the USA, know about the impact it has on the world, it’s President, American sports like American Football and Basketball, American TV and movies, and much much more.
This is the second post in our series about the most interesting countries in the world. We previously wrote about Pakistan.
1- It’s an Immigrant Country
The USA is an immigrant country. That’s because nearly all of its citizens originally come from another country.
The United States was discovered by the Europeans. Soon, the United States started to attract many immigrants from Europe as a place to settle, far away from Europe, and with opportunity to own cheap land, and as a general country of opportunity. And during that period, the United States was very welcoming to the immigrants, because it needed people to grow the country and economy.
Nowadays the country has similar immigration rules as other Western countries, so technically it’s questionable that we can still call the United States an immigrant country.
Not all Americans are immigrants. The native indian people of America originally come from America and were there way before the Europeans got there.
The statue of liberty, which is pictured above, was the first thing that most immigrants from Europe saw. Now it’s a symbol of America, and everything that it stands for, such as freedom and liberty.
Immigration is currently a hot topic in the United States! Because of it’s economic success, it attracts lots of immigrants from poorer countries, such as from South America. There are people who think that the United States should remain welcoming and let in immigrants, and there are those that want to limit immigration.
In fact, the border between the United States and Mexico is heavily guarded against immigrants and the human traffickers that transport the immigrants. The picture above shows the border between the United States and Mexico, at the beach.
2- The Red, White and Blue
The red, white and blue, which refers to the United States of America national flag, has many other nick names including the stars and stripes, old glory and the star spangled banner.
It’s instantly recognisable, and compared with lots of other national flags, it’s very unique and symbolic of the country:
- The 13 stripes represent the 13 colonies that declared independence from Britain.
- The 50 starts represent the 50 states that make up the United States of America.
The flag has changed a lot, due to the changes to the country itself. In fact, it’s changed 26 times since it’s original design. The changes reflect the addition of extra states that make up the country. The latest state to join was Hawaii.
The latest version, the one with 50 stars on it, was designed by a 17 year old high school student called Robert G. Heft, as part of a school assignment. He initially got a ‘B-‘ for the assignment, this was later upgraded to an ‘A’ when it was officially adopted as the national flag. Sounds like he had a tough teacher!
3- The United States has Many Presidents
The United States can only have one ‘active’ or ‘current’ President. But once a President has been President, they’re still called President by the media and in the popular tongue. This title is an honorific one, and not an official title. Officially, they’re called former President. So former President Bush, is called President Bush.
That way, the United States has many Presidents, namely the old Presidents that are still alive, and the current ‘active’ President.
4- Home to some of the most Innovative Companies
You probably have an iPhone, or an Android smart phone.
You probably have a Windows computer, or an Apple Mac computer.
You probably use Google to search the web.
There’s a good chance you have Nike sneakers.
You probably want a Tesla electric car.
All those companies are from the United States. They’re all innovative in their own ways and pushing the boundaries of technology.
This is true for the entire American economy; it’s not a coincidence that the United States has the largest economy in the world (although the Chinese are catching up quickly), being innovative adds value to the economy.
The latest commercial companies involved in going to space, which is a very innovative field, are also from the United States.
5- Americans are Resource Hungry
The United States consumes far more of the worlds resources than other countries. Some examples:
As of 2009, the US consumed over 20% of the worlds oil consumption, compare that with Germany at roughly 3%, Britain at roughly 2%, Russian Federation at roughly 3% and China at roughly 10% (which is likely to go up quickly).
So it consumes roughly 20% of the worlds oil, but it’s population is only about 5% of the world’s population.
If you take all fossil fuels (so coal, gas and oil), the US consumes 25% of it!
6- First to Land on the Moon
During the cold war there was a real space race going on. The Soviets were the first to get a man into space and back again safely. This is when the United States realised that they were behind in the race.
After a lot of catch up, and a massive investment in NASA’s space program, the Americans managed to be the first to get to the moon and back again. Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the moon, and made his famous statement:
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Interesting little fact about his statement: Neil Armstrong insists that he didn’t say “That’s one small step for man….”, but rather he said “That’s one small step for a man….”. Scientific analysis of the recordings have both supported and rejected his claims. I think it will have to remain a mystery.
Ever since the space race with the Soviets, the United States has effectively dominated space.
7- As the Name Implies it has Many States
As we mentioned in our item on the Red, White and Blue (American flag), the United States is made up of 50 states. It didn’t always have 50 states, because it started off with 13 original states, all on the East side of the United States. As time went by, and the population grew and moved Westwards, the state count increased, either through gaining land, or war with other nations such as Mexico.
Each state is unique and can have different way of doing things, and laws at a state level. Each state has a governor as its ‘leader’.
8- There’s No Official Language
The most spoken language in the United States is English, although Spanish is more and more common due to recent immigration.
But there’s no official language, even though all official business and government work is carried out in English.
Sentiment to use English as the national language has always been strong in the United States, this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt confirms it:
“We have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house.”
So why hasn’t English been chosen as the official language? Because that would ‘tell’ the Americans what to do, and that goes against being free. In fact, it might even violate the First Amendment, which guarantees citizens of the United States freedom of expression (amongst other thing).
9- Largest Economy in the World
The United States has the largest economy in the world, if measured by GDP ‘nominally’. According to the IMF, the dollar size of the United States economy is 17,348,075 million. Whereas the next biggest economies, in dollar value are:
2) China at 10,356,508 million dollars
3) Japan at 4,602,367 million dollars
4) Germany at 3,874,437 million dollars
5) United Kingdom at 2,950,039 million dollars
But not everyone measures economy size in dollar value. Some economists measure economy size using so called Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). This takes into account that prices of products are services vary per country, for example, a McDonalds Big Mac costs more in the United States than it does in China.
If we measure economy sizes in PPP:
1) China at 18,088,054 million international dollars
2) United States at 17,348,075 million international dollars
3) India at 7,411,093 million international dollars
4) Japan at 4,767,157 million international dollars
5) Germany at 3,748,094 million international dollars
10- Largest Military in the World
The United States has the largest military in the world. Again, just as with the economy, it depends how you measure the size of a military. Well in this case we measure it according to spending. That’s because the effectiveness of a modern military is dependent on the amount of money spent on it, rather than say the number of soldiers.
If we look at military spending we can see that spending is huge compared with other nations:
- United States at 581.0 billion dollars
- China at 129.4 billion dollars
- Saudi Arabia at 80.8 billion dollars
- Russian Federation at 70.0 billion dollars
- United Kingdom at 61.8 billion dollars
As you can see, spending by the United States is higher than that of the other nations combined.