The United States of America (USA) is certainly one of the most influential countries of the world, from various standpoints – cultural, political and economic. America is one of the most revered destinations for tourists, largely owing to the wide variety in landscapes, cities and traditions. It comprises 50 states and one federal district (Washington D.C.) and as can be imagined of a country this size, the weather varies greatly from state to state. Generally, summers are hot and humid in southern states, while in New England and the Pacific Northwest, the mornings are refreshingly cool and the evenings perfect for a good night’s sleep. In the south, winters are mild while in the north, residents brave gelid temperatures and heavy snow, year after year. In states like Washington, summers have an average temperature of 27ºC, while winters are cool at around 4ºC. In warmer states like Los Angeles, on the other hand, summer temperatures can soar to around 29ºC, though winters are mild, hovering between 20ºC and 9ºC.
The United States is famed for its rich cultural heritage; American artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein revolutionised the way we view art, while musicians such as James Brown, Prince, and Michael Jackson brought the wonder of pop and funk music to our lives. Hollywood is another of America’s biggest attractions – films by directors like Martin Scorsese, Billy Wilder and Richard Linklater have presented us with a fresh take on tried-and-tested genres. Nature lovers flock to the U.S. to view marvels such as the Grand Canyon, The Wave in Arizona, and Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii. The U.S. is also a shopper’s haven, with New York hosting one of the top four fashion weeks in the world.
Many years before Christopher Columbus chanced upon the Americas, around 10 million native Americans (also called American Indians) already lived on the North American continent. In 1493, Columbus arrived to these lands, though it was not until 1607 that the first British settlement arrived in Jamestown aboard the Mayflower. In 1770, 13 colonies won the Revolutionary war against Britain and in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, making America completely independent of Britain. Many native Americans were forcibly placed into reservations and from 1849-1865, a violent civil war saw northerners fight southerners owing to disagreement about slavery, government and economics. The Americans played an important role in World War I and World War II, facing dramatic upheavals and historic events such as the Great Depression of the 1930s and the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. The Civil Rights Movement, spearheaded by Martin Luther King, saw important changes in equality come to life. Today, the United States continues to be a major player in world politics and economics; it is sometimes referred to as ‘the greatest superpower’ in the world.
The United States is home to over 18,000 plant species and 3,000 animal species, which vary greatly from area to area, considering the dramatic differences in temperature. Some of the most beautiful plants include prickly wild roses, red clover, and Queen Anne’s lace, while common trees are the red maple, loblolly pine, sweetgum, Douglas fir, sugar maple and balsam fir. As far as fauna is concerned, America is best known for the elegant bald eagle, found in areas such as Florida, Newfoundland and Alaska. Other beautiful animals are the American beaver, brown bear, American moose, Arctic wolf and ruby-throated hummingbird.
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