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USA
Overview

Background
Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation-state. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.
Natural resources
coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber
Land use
arable land: 19.32%
other: 80.46% (1998 est.)
permanent crops: 0.22%
Population
290,342,554 (July 2003 est.)
Ethnic groups
white 77.1%, black 12.9%, Asian 4.2%, Amerindian and Alaska native 1.5%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.3%, other 4% (2000)
note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean a person of Latin American descent (including persons of Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican origin) living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.)
Religions
Protestant 56%, Roman Catholic 28%, Jewish 2%, other 4%, none 10% (1989)
Languages
English, Spanish (spoken by a sizable minority)
Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
female: 97% (1979 est.)
total population: 97%
male: 97%
Capital
Washington, DC
Government type
Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Independence
4 July 1776 (from Great Britain)
National holiday
Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
 

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