The United States of America, whose name is often shortened to the USA, occupies most of the southern part of North America. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean in the west across to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and down to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The USA is bordered by only two other countries, Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south. It has a sea-border with Russia.

The United States of America is the fourth largest country in the world (after Russia, Canada and China). The total area of the country is about nine and a half million square kilometres. As its name indicates, the USA is made up of 50 states. The USA includes Alaska, the largest state, in the north and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.

The continental part of the USA consists of highlands and lowlands. The highland regions are the Appalachian Mountains in the east and the Cordillera in the west. Between the Cordillera and the Appalachian Mountains are the central lowlands, called the prairie, and the eastern lowlands, called the Mississippi valley. The highest mountains are the Rocky Mountains, the Cordillera and the Sierra Nevada. The highest peak is Mount McKinley which is located in Alaska.

The northern part of the USA embraces the region of the five Great Lakes (Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) on the border with Canada are the largest and deepest in the USA. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes form an important commercial waterway. There is the most famous to the whole world fall called Niagara Fall.

Many rivers cross the country. The most important are the Mississippi, with its tributary Missouri is one of the world's great continental rivers, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico and it has been called the "father of waters", the Colorado and the Columbia, which flow into the Pacific Ocean, the Saint Lawrence River and the Hudson River, which flow into the Atlantic Ocean, the Sacramento, the Rio Grande is the foremost river of the Southwest. The Yukon is the largest river in Alaska.

The USA has several different climatic zones. The coldest regions are in the north and northeast where much snow falls in winter. The south has subtropical climate. Hot winds blowing from the Culf of Mexico often bring typhoons. The climate along the Pacific coast is much warmer than of the Atlantic coast. The region around the Great Lakes is known for its changeable weather.

The population of the USA is more than 300 million people. The capital of the country is Washington, D.C. (District of Colombia). It was named in honour of the first President whose name was George Washington. The official language of the United States is English.

The people of the USA are normally referred to as Americans. They are as varied as their land. The Native Americans were mainly nomadic peoples. Since the Europeans started colonizing the country in the 16th and 17th centuries, many other immigrants have arrived. Nowadays, in New York many different foreign language newspapers are sold. Though mainly European and African in origin, Americans are made up from nearly all races and nations, including Chinese and Native Americans.

There are many big cities in the country. They are Washington (the capital of the country), New York (the city of contrasts, financial and business centre of the USA), Boston (there are many colleges and universities in it), Chicago (one of the biggest industrial cities in the USA), San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit (one of the biggest centres of the automobile industry).

The USA is the world’s wealthiest country. The value of the goods its factories produce, the crops its farms grow and the services it provides are larger than those from Russia, Japan and Germany combined. It also has a great wealth of natural recourses, with many valuable minerals found below its ground.

The country is rich in coal, oil, iron ore, copper, gold, silver, natural gas, iron and other minerals which form a solid base for the development of American industry.

The USA is a highly developed industrial country and leading agricultural nations in the world. The USA is the world leader in many branches, for instance, biochemical and genetic engineering, aerospace research and development, communications, computer and information services, and similar high-technology fields. Mining, metallurgy, electronics and space engineering, chemicals, textiles, leather and footwear, radio and television sets, armaments, furniture and paper, aircraft and cars are well developed.

As regards agriculture, both animal husbandry and arable farming are prominent in the economy of the United States.

The flag of the USA is called "Stars and Stripes", it is also called "Old Glory". It represents the growth of the nation. There are 3 colours on the flag of the USA. They are red, white and blue. As there are 50 states in the USA, there are 50 white stars on a blue background of the flag: one star for each state. The flag has 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes. There is one stripe for each of the first 13 colonies which in 1776 became independent of England. The USA has an official song. It is called The Star Spangled Banner.

The eagle became the official national symbol of the country in 1782. It holds an olive branch (a symbol of peace) and arrows (symbols of strength) in its paws.

The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of American democracy. It stands on Liberty Island in New York. It is one of the first things people see when they arrive in New York by sea. This National Monument was a present from France to the USA. France gave the statue to America in 1886 as a symbol of friendship. Liberty carries the torch of freedom – in her right hand. In her left hand she is holding a tablet with the inscription "July 4, 1776" – American Independence Day.

The USA is one of the most powerful and highly developed countries in the world. It is the leader of the western world.

Most visitors to the USA are struck by four things about the country. These are its huge size, its great wealth, its contrasting landscapes and climates, and its variety of people.

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