Have you been wondering about the 13 most important facts about the USA? Well, we have a great list of interesting facts about one of the more interesting countries in the world.
Our facts include everything from history and politics to geography and demographics to important people and events that shaped the USA into one of the most interesting countries in the world.
The United States of America or simply the USA is located in North America. The country is sandwiched between Mexico to the south and Canada to the north. The USA is the second-largest country on the continent behind Canada.
The USA consists of 50 states with 48 states located together. Other states like Alaska are located north of the mainland bordered by Canada and Russia. Hawaii is located in the South Pacific Ocean west of the mainland.
Located in North America, the USA is more than just 50 states. The USA also 14 territories spread out throughout the world mainly in the Caribbean Sea and the South Pacific Ocean. There is also the District of Columbia also known as Washington D.C. which is considered a federal district.
Most of the territories are not occupied by people. Only Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico have people. Of these five occupied territories, Puerto Rico is the largest with the most people of any of the 14 territories.
The first state admitted after the original 13 colonies was Delaware in December 1787. The last state admitted was Hawaii in August 1959. Of the inhabited territories, Puerto Rico and Guam were admitted after the conclusion of the 1898 Spanish-America War.
The first uninhabited territories claimed by the USA were Jarvis and Baker Island. The U.S. Virgin Islands were the last territory claimed in 1917.
The national flag of the USA is based on a design by Betsy Ross in 1777. The flag has thirteen horizontal stripes that includes seven red and six white stripes.
The 13 stripes represent the 13 British colonies that banded together to fight the Revolutionary War against England in 1776. The upper right-hand corner contains 50 white stars surrounded by a blue border.
Each state and territory is recognized by its own unique flag. Each flag includes important symbols for each state. For instance, California includes a grizzly bear which is the state’s animal.
Wyoming’s flag also includes their state animal, the American Bison which once roamed the grasslands freely.
The USA is a Constitutional Republic with three distinct branches which include the Legislative/Congress (House of Representatives and the Senate), Judicial (Supreme Court), and Executive (President and Cabinet).
The system was designed with checks and balances. Legislative branch makes laws that are carried out by the Executive branch and routinely evaluated by the Judicial branch.
Elections for Legislators (House of Representatives and Senate) are held locally in a democratic fashion, whereas the person with the most votes wins: a House of Representative serves a two-year term, Senators serve a four-year term.
The Executive branch or president is elected by securing the most Electoral College votes and not by popular vote. The president is elected to a four-year term. Judges are nominated by the Executive branch and given power after a Senate confirmation vote. Judges can serve until death or retirement.
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the country. Laws are added and subtracted over time.
The Bill of Rights outlines specific human rights such as freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, the right to vote, the right to bear arms, and the right to a fair and speedy trial.
Besides the USA flag there are several other important symbols related to the country. The symbols include the following:
The USA’s national motto is known as “In God We Trust” because the country was founded on freedom of religion.
The USA also has a national anthem called the Star-Spangled Banner. The anthem’s lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 and were originally known as The Defense of Fort McHenry.
The music for the anthem was originally an English drinking song named To Anacreon in Heaven. The song was adopted in full by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 and made the official national anthem by the U.S. Congress in 1931.
Other important symbols of the USA include the following:
National Flower is a rose.
National Tree is an oak tree.
National Animal is the American Bison.
National Bird is the Bald Eagle.
National Currency is known as the Greenback.
Independence Day is celebrated on July 4th of each year to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and the start of the American Revolutionary War.
Other national holidays unique to the USA include Memorial Day (May), Labor Day (September), Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January), President’s Day (February), and Columbus Day (October).
There are at least 330 million residents in the USA which makes the USA the third most populated country in the world behind China and India. More than 80% of the population lives in an urban area. Up to 40% of residents live along the East Coast and 16% of residents live along the West Coast.
Important cities in the USA include the capital city named Washington D.C. (District of Columbia). The capital city has more than 7.5 million residents. Other important cities include New York City which is the most populous city in the USA with 8.4 million residents, Los Angeles with almost 4 million residents, Houston with 2.4 million residents, and Chicago with almost 3 million residents.
California is the most populated state with 40 million residents and Wyoming has the least amount of residents at 580,000.
The geography of the USA is quite diverse. You will find numerous different natural biomes throughout the states and territories. The USA is the third biggest country in the world behind Russia and Canada. The country is bigger than China if you include all land area and coastal waters associated with the 14 territories.
The USA is sandwiched between Canada and Mexico. The Canadian border is 8,891km (5,525 miles) in length making it the longest international border in the world. The border with Mexico is 3,145 km (1,954 miles) in length.
The USA has two coastal borders. The East Coast runs along the Atlantic Ocean and the West Coast runs along the Pacific Ocean.
Alaska has the largest land mass of any state in the USA. The state encompasses land area similar to combining Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Alaska is twice as larger than Texas and four times as large as California. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the USA at 1.5 times the size of the country of Luxembourg.
The tallest mountain in the USA is Mount Denali also known as Mount McKinley. The mountain is located in Alaska and stands 6,190 meters (20,310 feet) above sea level.
The lowest place in elevation in the USA is the Badwater Basin located in Death Valley National Park. The basin rests at 86 meters (282 feet) below sea level in California. Badwater Basin is also known as the hottest place in the USA too.
The geographical center of the lower 48 states is located near Lebanon, Kansas. The official geographical center of all 50 states is located near Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
The longest river in the USA is the Missouri River at 3,767 km (2,341 miles). The Missouri River flows from north to south through seven states that include Montana, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. The Missouri River is part of the Mississippi River Drainage System. The merger of both rivers is located in St. Louis, Missouri.
The highest waterfall within all 50 states is named Oloupena Falls located in Hawaii. The waterfall tumbles down 900 meters (2,952 feet). The highest waterfall within the lower 48 states is called Colonial Creek Falls in the state of Washington. The waterfall drops some 783 meters (2,568 feet).
The largest natural lake in the USA is Lake Superior and its northern border is shared with Canada. The largest manmade lake in the USA is Lake Mead located on the Colorado River within Nevada and Arizona. Lake Mead is the largest manmade lake in the Western Hemisphere at 640 square kilometers (247 square miles) and has a length of 180 kilometers (120 miles).
Numerous Native American Indian tribes occupied the land of the current USA some 15,000 years ago. There were over 6,000 tribes throughout the USA.
The first European to step foot in North America was Leif Eriksson sometime around 1,000 C.E. Christopher Columbus reached the island of Hispaniola, present-day Haiti and the Dominica Republic, in 1492 C.E. marking the beginning of European colonization of the New World.
In 1607 the British formed the first place of settlement in present-day USA at Jamestown within the Virginia Colony. Another set of people from Britain known as the Pilgrims arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower settling at Plymouth within the colony of Massachusetts.
In 1626 a group of Dutch settlers created New Amsterdam or present-day Manhattan. They continued to make other settlements along the Hudson River in an area known as New Netherland.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, settlers from Britain had created 13 distinct colonies in the New World along the eastern coastline.
Original settlers included thousands of indentured servants, some criminals forced out of Europe, and thousands of slaves from primarily Africa and the Caribbean Islands.
In 1775 the American Revolutionary War began between England and the 13 colonies. On July 4, 1776 members from the 13 colonies, known as the Founding Fathers, signed the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolutionary War lasted until England surrendered in 1783.
George Washington who led the American army in the war was elected the first president in 1789 and held office until 1792. He chose not to run for a second-term of the presidency.
There are hundreds of important moments in the history of the USA. Here is a quick rundown on some of the more important moments of U.S. history:
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made a huge land purchase known as The Louisiana Purchase from France. The large parcel of land was then explored by the Corps of Discovery led by William Clark and Meriwether Lewis.
In 1812 the USA went to war against Britain again. The War of 1812 ended in 1815 with the defeat of the British army.
During the 1830s the USA removed thousands of Native Americans from their native lands. The move is known as the Trail of Tears where thousands of Indians died during their journey from the east coast to present-day Oklahoma.
The Second Great Awakening in the 1830s reshaped religion in the USA for decades in the future.
There were two other important movements that formed during the 1830s which were known as the Women’s Suffrage Movement that concentrated on the rights of women and the Abolition Movement to free slaves in the USA.
The Mexican-American War started in 1846 and ended in 1848 with Mexico seceding lands in Texas, California, and the American Southwest to the USA.
Manifest Destiny took hold of the country after the discovery of gold in California in 1848.
The Civil War began in 1861 when seven southern slave-holding states formed the Confederate States of America and seceded from the USA. The war lasted until 1865 when the Confederate Army was defeated and disbanded. Eventually the slaves were declared free people and given rights under the 14th and 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As Manifest Destiny took settlers west into the country, more conflict with Native American tribes took place. There were a series of wars fought like the Dakota War, Sioux War of 1865, Sand Creek Massacre, and the Battle of Little Big Horn. The wars would last until 1924 with the Apache Wars in Arizona.
The Spanish-American War took place during 1898 where the USA defeated Spain in a series of battles. Spain would relinquish several islands to the USA including Guam and Puerto Rico.
American industrial expansion resumed in the 1880s providing the necessary goods like steel, textiles, and farming equipment for further expansion.
In 1920 the Women’s Suffrage Movement was instrumental in gaining the right to vote for women with the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
During the 1930s the USA and the world experienced the Great Depression which forced thousands of workers to become unemployed. The Great Depression would last until World War II when the USA entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
There was a great period of industrial expansion in the USA from World War II through the 1960s. The USA’s involvement in the Vietnam War put an end to economic expansion until the 1980s.
The Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s further expanded the rights of black citizens in the USA that had suffered from segregation and black code laws since the Civil War.
In July 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first human being to step foot on the moon after arriving on Apollo 11 space mission.
In November 1989 the Berlin Wall was demolished bringing an end to the Cold War period between the USA and Communist countries which began 1945 with the end of World War II.
On September 11, 2001 the USA experienced a horrible terrorist act with the destruction of the World Trade Center when several buildings were destroyed leaving almost 3,000 dead.
In 2008, Barrack Obama was elected to be the first African-American president of the USA. He served two-terms lasting until 2016.
More than 73% of all people in the USA worship some type of Christianity. About 2% of the population in the USA worships Judaism. Other religions practiced in the USA with less than 1% of the population include Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
There are 430 different languages spoken in the USA including more than 170 which are indigenous to the country. The English language is spoken by 78% of the residents. Spanish speaking residents account for 13% of residents. Other common languages spoken in the USA include Chinese, Vietnamese, and French/French Creole/Cajun.
English is the official language of all 50 states but there is no official national language for the country.
The USA is a country of immigrants. There are hundreds of diverse race and ethnic groups that live within the USA. The population of the USA includes 63% White Americans, 19% Hispanic and Latino-Americans, 14% African-American, 6% Asian-American, and Native Americans account for 1% of the country’s population.
Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park created in the world in 1872. The park encompasses 3,500 square miles of land within Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Yellowstone National Park includes more than half of the world’s geysers and hydrothermal features.
Today, the National Park System in the USA includes more than 84 million acres of land across all 50 states and the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa.
Devil’s Tower in Wyoming was the first National Monument created in 1906.
Arizona and California contain the most National Parks and National Monuments with 18 protected places.
The largest National Park in the USA is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve with 13.2 million acres of protected land in Alaska. The smallest is 0.02 acres named Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania.
The most visited National Park in the USA is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park followed by the Grand Canyon National Park. The least visited National Park is the Gates of the Artic in Alaska.
Other important natural and manmade landmarks in the USA include the following:
There are hundreds if not thousands of important historical people of the USA. Here is a quick list of some of the more important figures in the history of the USA:
George Washington (1732-1799) was the first president of the USA and the commander of the Colonial Army during the American Revolutionary War.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the third president of the USA and was the architect of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Tecumseh (1768-1813) was a Shawnee warrior chief who tried to unify Native American Tribes against the spread of white settlers.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was an early supporter for women’s rights and their right to vote. She organized the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was one the founder of Transcendentalism in the USA during the 1850s. He is also an early environmentalist, famous writer and philosopher.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was a former slave turned abolitionist after he received his freedom. He was also instrumental in suffrage movements for women and freed slaves.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th president of the USA during the Civil War. He signed an Executive Order named Emancipation Proclamation in 1683 designed to free slaves in 1863. He was assassinated while in office.
Sitting Bull (1830-1890) was the leader of the Sioux tribes against white settlers and was an instrumental leader during the Battle of Little Big Horn against General George Custer and 7th U.S. Cavalry.
John Muir (1838-1914) was a leader in preserving the environment and wilderness areas. He also was a champion for National Parks.
Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (1858-1919) was the 26th president of the USA. He was instrumental in developing progressive laws to protect the environment and average citizens during a time of large corrupt corporations in the USA. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his bravery in battle during the Battle of San Juan Hill in 1898.
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
Henry Ford (1863-1947) was an American business owner and founder of Ford Motor Company. He invented early techniques to provide for mass production along an assembly line.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) was the 32nd president of the USA. He led the USA out of the Great Depression and during World War II. His New Deal created social security and other safety nets for the elderly and poor in the USA.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) was the 34th president of the USA. He was in charge of the Allied Forces during World War II. He presided over an incredible economic expansion during the 1950s in the USA.
Walt Disney (1901-1966) was an artist who founded the Disney Corporation. He produced animated films and opened theme parks under the Disney name.
Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was a singer and actor that promoted a new form of music known as rock-n-roll. He is known as the King of Rock-n-Roll.
Ella Fitzgerald (1918-1996) was an African-American jazz singer and musician.
B.B. King (1925-2015) was an early guitarist, songwriter, and musician. He was famous for playing a style of music known as Rhythm and Blues.
Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) was an astronaut on the space mission Apollo 11. He was the first human being to walk on the moon.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was the leader of the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans during the 1960s.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) was an artist famous for his abstract art and painting of Campbell Soup Cans.
Sally Ride (1951-2012) was the first American woman in space. She flew into space on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.
Ice Cube (1969-present) is an early influential African-American rapper. He also is an actor, music producer, and filmmaker.
Steven Spielberg (1946-present) is a filmmaker, producer, and screenwriter. He is considered a founding member of the New Hollywood with movies such as Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Jaws, and more.
Barrack Obama (1961-present) was the first African-American president of the USA. He was the 44th president and served for two-terms from 2009-2017.