USA stands for the United States of America. There are 50 states and that is why the American flag has 50 stars. The 13 stripes represent the 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. You can find 49 of the states on the North American continent and one, Hawaii, is located in the South Pacific Ocean.
Washington D.C. is the capital city and the place where the president lives. D.C. stands for District of Columbia. Washington D.C. is on the east coast and can easily get mixed up with the state Washington which is on the west coast.
USA borders with Canada in the north and Mexico in the south. The Atlantic Ocean is in the east and the Pacific Ocean is in the west. The population is about 330 million. It is the third largest country in the world when it comes to both size (after Russia and Canada) and population (after China and India).
People have lived in America for at least 15 000 years. In many places the landscape was different from today and there were animals like mammoths. Most of Canada was covered with ice. People arrived in groups at different times from different places. The Native Americans were grouped into hundreds of tribes with different cultures and languages.
The first Europeans were Norwegian vikings who explored the northeast coast of Canada in year 1001. Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in 1492 but he never reached what is now the United States. In the 1500’s, America was called the ”New World” and attracted people from Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain and other European countries.
Great Britain had 13 colonies along the East Coast when the Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776. The thirteen states became independent and no longer under British rule. The same year it was declared that the name of the new country would be the United States of America.
Some national symbols of the USA are:
- the Bald Eagle
- the American Bison
- the Oak tree
- the Rose
- the flag ”The Stars and Stripes”
- the national anthem ”The Star-Spangled Banner”
- the national motto ”In God We Trust”
The sculptures have been criticized for many reasons. Before it became Mount Rushmore this was sacred land for the Native people. When gold was found in the late 1800’s, the US government took over the land. Now it is not only a tourist attraction but also a site for protest on how the Native Americans have been treated since the Europeans arrived in America.
Riddle: What rock group has four men that don’t sing? Mount Rushmore
In the state of South Dakota you find these 18 meter high sculptures of four American presidents. They were carved out of the granite mountain with dynamite. Only the details were carved by hand with tools. The big project was finished in 1941 and attracts many tourists every year.
The four presidents depicted are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
(1732-1799) First president of the United States 1789-1797. He became a hero when he helped the colonies gain independence from Great Britain in 1781. At first the new country had no national leader but in 1787 Washington was elected. The capital at that time was New York City. The city named in his honor became capital after his presidency. He is the only president who hasn’t lived in the White House.
(1743-1826) The third president of the United States 1801-1809. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, written in 1776. The document explains why the colonies should be free from British rule. In 1801 France controlled most of the land west of the Mississippi River. Jefferson made a deal with the French and bought it all which doubled the size of the United States.
(1809-1865) When Lincoln became president in 1861 the southern states and the northern states were close to war. The southern leaders didn’t like his plans to stop slavery and wanted to leave the nation. The Civil War started in April 1861 and ended in 1865. Lincoln tried to hold the country together but at first it seemed like the South would win the war. The North finally won the war and the enslavement of people ended. Lincoln’s life ended shortly after when he was shot at a theater.
(1858-1919) This adventurous president made many positive changes for both people and animals. He broke up monopolies and established national forests and national parks. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending a war between Russia and Japan.
(1946-) Democratic president of the United States 1993-2001. Clinton was born in the state of Arkansa where he, at the age of 32, became the youngest governor in the United States at that time. Before his years as politician he went to Georgetown University, Oxford University (England) and Yale Law School. He is married to Hillary Clinton who ran for presidency in 2016 but lost the election to Donald Trump. Bill Clinton was the 42nd president and lead the country during years of peace and prosperity.
George W. Bush
(1946-) Republican president of the United States 2001-2009. He grew up in the state of Texas where he later on was governor 1995-2000. His father was former president George H. W. Bush who served as the 41st president 1989-1993. The September 11 attacks occurred the same year he became president and he declared war against terrorism. He ordered an invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 and of Iraq in 2003. During his second term as president he had to deal with the hurricane Katrina and the recession in 2008.
(1961-) Democratic president of the United States 2009-2017. He was born in the state of Hawaii and was the first African American president. Obama went to Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard University. When he became president the country struggled with the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. With the help of the Congress he managed to improve the situation but a lot of people continued to live in poverty. Obama introduced a health care reform which was sometimes called ”Obamacare”. The law was intended to help all citizens to afford health care since a lot of poor people couldn’t afford to go to the doctor.
(1946-) The current Republic president of the United States since 2017. He was born in New York City and the son of a builder and real estate developer. He was sent to the New York Military Academy when he was thirteen because his parents hoped he would learn some discipline there. After high school he went to Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania. Soon he became a successful businessman and real estate developer. He was famous long before he became president and even starred in a reality TV show ”The Apprentice”. When Trump announced in 2015 that he would run for president, some people didn’t think it was serious. With his slogan ”Make America Great Again” and emphasizing that he wasn’t a politician, he managed to win the election in 2016.