Mount Rushmore, South Dakotahttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mount_rushmore.jpg
The United States of America
is a federal constitutional republic. it comprises fifty states and a federal district. Of these, forty-eight are contiguous states bordered by Canada to the north, Mexico to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
, the 49th state, is located on the northwest part of North America, bordered by Canada
to the east and Russia
across the Bering Strait to the west. Hawaii
, the 50th and most recent state to be admitted to the Union, is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.
States in the Union
The following are the states that I have documented:
- Washington DC (capital)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
U.S. Unincorporated Organized Territories
- American Samoa
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- US Virgin islands
10 Biggest Cities (by population) in the United States
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- San Antonio
- San Diego
- San Jose
Categories of Sights in the United States
Delicate Arch, Utah, at sunsethttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Delicate_arch_sunset.jpg
- National Parks
- National Monuments
- National Memorials
- National Scenic Byways
The capital, Washington, D.C.
, is located within the capital district, or District of Columbia, is located between Maryland, which borders it on three sides, and the Potomac River, across from Virginia.
In addition to the aforementioned states and federal district, the territories of the United States include several islands of varying sizes in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The biggest of these are Puerto Rico and Guam.
The United States covers an area of 3,794,101 sq miles (9,826,675 sq km), inclusive of its territorial waters. This makes it the third or fourth biggest country in the world, behind or ahead of the People's Republic of China
, depending on definition. It has a population 309.9 million people, making it the third most populous country on earth behind China and India
. New York City
, with a population of 8.4 million people, is the biggest city in the United States, while Los Angeles
Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive, New York Cityhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Franklin_D._Roosevelt_East_River_Drive.jpg
The name America was derived from the name of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. At the time of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July, 1776, the term mentioned was the "united States of America". However, by 11 July, 1778, during the Franco-American treaties, the name "United States of America" was mentioned, and has been the official name of the country ever since.
In general, much of the country experiences temperate climate. Having said that, specific states such as Hawaii and South Florida are distinctly tropical, the Great Plains (comprising states of North & South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma) are dry and grassy, the states of Nevada and Arizona are arid deserts, California on the west coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate, while Alaska experiences Arctic tundra.
Regional terms such as Midwest and Great Lakes states may overlap. Midwest includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. States surrounding the Great Lakes include Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. The Old South refers to the original Southern colonies of Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, while the Deep Soouth refer to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia ande South Carolina. These are still general terms; as you travel though America, you will encounter more specific ones such as The Gulf South, the Upper South, etc.
McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park, Montanahttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:McDonald_Lake_along_Going-to-the-Sun_Road.jpg
Travel to America
Since the attack on America on September 11, 2001 which claimed the lives of thousands, getting into the United States has become exceptionally complicated for the nationals of most countries of the world.
Visitors from 36 countries enjoy visa waiver. However, they must apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which is approved online. The 36 countries are Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Nationals from the rest of the world need a visa. The application fee (with no guarantee of approval) is between $140 and $150. You must also sit through a face-to-face interview with a US Immigration officer to convince the person that you are not a potential immigrant, by showing proof of sufficient ties to your home country to not want to settle in the United States. Nationals of some countries may also be required to pay a Reciprocity Fee, which may range between $7 to $200, if your home country also charges a fee for visiting US nationals.
Autumn in Door County, Wisconsinhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Door_County,_Wisconsin.jpg
Leif and Evonne
Getting into the United States
Having cleared the visa hurdle, on your journey towards the U.S., you will have to complete the white I-94 form, if you are entering the U.S. with a visa, or the green I-94W card, if you enjoy visa waiver. On arrival, you will have to go through a brief interview where the Immigration Officer will once again determine that your visit is genuine, particularly that you have sufficient funds to support yourself through the duration of your stay, without the need to seek employment. You also need to show proof of onward travel, ie. your departure ticket out of U.S.
Once you are cleared that hurdle, you are fingerprinted and have a digital photograph of yourself shot. Make sure to have with you the street address of where you will be staying - simply the name of your hotel of hostel is not enough. If you are visiting a friend or family member, be sure to be able to provide their phone number should the officer wish to contact them. Be serious throughout the process unless you wish to earn yourself a lengthy interrogation.
Getting out of the United States
You must return the I-94 or I-94W card upon leaving. This has to be passed to the staff of the airline, as the U.S. does not employ a formal passport control checkpoint staff to do this. Make sure you get this done, otherwise you will have problem visiting the U.S. in the future. If by chance the card is still stapled to your passport on arriving home, contact U.S. officials on how to return it and have your departure records updated.
Yellow prairie in Badlands National Park, South Dakotahttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cumulus_Clouds_over_Yellow_Prairie2.jpg
Arriving in America
There are international airports with entry points on the East, West and South of the country. The main ones on the East Coast are in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Those on the West Coast are in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii. From the South, the entry points are at Miami, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte.
Travel within America
It's a big place. Most people only visit a select number of destination on one trip. If you are going to travel from one destination to another, the fastest way is to take a domestic flight. You can fly from coast to coast in the contiguous United States within 6 hours east to west, and 5 hours west to east.
I don't really recommend taking the train. The national train service, Amtrak, does provide connections to many cities. It is a great way to sightsee the country if you have the time and are inclined to surface travel than flight.
The best way to explore America is by car. This gives you the freedom to smell the wildflowers, stop anywhere you wish. Most airports have desks from several big rental car companies.
If you are visiting New York City, San Francisco or Chicago, then driving is not the convenient way to explore. For these cities, it's better that you take their rapid transit, in the form of subway trains or buses.
Ycca plat at White Sands National Monument, New Mexicohttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:White_Sands_yucca_on_top_of_dune_at_dusk.jpg
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