The United States of America, also known as the United States, the U.S., the U.S.A., the U.S. of A, the States, and America, is a country in North America. A federal republic, the United States shares land borders with Canada and Mexico, and extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Its capital is Washington, D.C.
The present-day continental United States has been inhabited for at least 15,000 years by Native Americans. After 16th-century European exploration and settlement, the English established new colonies, and gained control of others, in the eastern portion of the continent in the 17th and early 18th centuries. On 4 July 1776, at war with Britain over fair governance, thirteen of these colonies declared their independence; in 1783, the war ended in British acceptance of the new nation. Since then, the country has more than quadrupled in size: it now consists of 50 states, one federal district, and a number of overseas territories.
At over 3.7 million square miles (over 9.1 million km²), the U.S. is the third or fourth largest country by area, depending on the reckoning of the disputed areas of China. It is also the world’s third most populous nation, with nearly 300 million people.
The United States has maintained a liberal democratic political system since it adopted its constitution on September 17, 1787. American military and economic stature increased throughout the 20th century; with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, the nation emerged as the world’s sole superpower.
The earliest known use of the name America is from 1507, when a globe and a large map created by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller in Saint-Die-des-Vosges described the combined continents of North and South America. Although the origin of the name is uncertain, the most widely held belief is that expressed in an accompanying book, Cosmographiae Introductio, which explains it as a feminized version of the Latin name of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci (Americus Vespucius); in Latin, the other continents’ names were all feminine.
The Americas, including the region encompassing the thirteen colonies, were originally known as Columbia, prompting the name District of Columbia for the land set aside for the nation’s capital. Columbia remained a popular name for the United States until the early twentieth century, when it fell into relative disuse; but it is still used poetically and appears in various names and titles. A female personification of the country is also called Columbia; she is similar to Britannia. ,,,,
The term “united States of America” was first used officially in the Declaration of Independence, adopted on 4 July 1776. On 15 November 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, the first of which stated “The Stile of this Confederacy shall be ‘The United States of America.'”
The adjectival and demonymic forms for the United States are American, a point of controversy among some.
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