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United States of America

A map of the United States of AmericaA map of the United States of America The fourth largest country in the world, the United States of America (USA), often simply known as "America" or "the States", stretches from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans. It is made up of 50 states, including Alaska, separated from the rest of the country by Canada, and Hawaii, a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Each state has its own elected government and passes its own laws. The federal government is based in the capital, Washington, D.C. The USA is the world's most important trading nation and has its most powerful military forces.

A map of the United States of AmericaA map of the United States of America

General Sherman, a giant sequoia General Sherman, a giant sequoia


Running down the northeastern side of the USA are the densely forested Appalachian Mountains. To their northwest lie the Great Lakes, while to the east lie the coastal lowlands, where Europeans first settled the country and where great cities, such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, have grown up.

The basin of the Mississippi River and its tributaries forms the central part of the USA, called the Midwest—a vast, flat area of farmland. West of the Mississippi, the land gradually rises. The prairie grasslands of the Great Plains eventually meet the high Rocky Mountains. Between the Rockies and the mountains of the Pacific coast, the climate is drier, and the landscape more rugged. Wide areas of hot desert or scrub stretch across the southwest.

The Pacific coast is a land of forested mountains and fertile valleys with a warm, wet climate that makes it ideal for farming. This region has grown to become one of the richest and most densely populated parts of the United States. 

The USA has the highest rate of vehicle ownership in the world. There are 765 vehicles per 1000 Americans.

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