United States of America, officially United States of America, abbreviated U.S. or U.S.A., byname America, country in North America, a federal republic of 50 states. Besides the 48 conterminous states that occupy the middle latitudes of the continent, the United States includes the state of Alaska, at the northwestern extreme of North America, and the island state of Hawaii, in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The conterminous states are bounded on the north by Canada, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The United States of America is the fourth largest country in the world in area (after Russia, Canada, and China). The national capital is Washington, which is coextensive with the District of Columbia, the federal capital region created in 1790.

History

America was the first of the European colonies to separate successfully from its motherland (England), and it was the first nation to be established on the premise that sovereignty rests with its citizens and not with the government. The Constitution of the United States, written to redress the deficiencies of the country’s first constitution, the Articles of Confederation (1781–89), defines a federal system of government in which certain powers are delegated to the national government and others are reserved to the states. The national government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches designed to ensure, through separation of powers and through checks and balances, that no one branch of government is able to subordinate the other two branches. The U.S. Constitution, the world’s oldest written national constitution still in effect, was officially ratified on June 21, 1788.

The United States is relatively young by world standards, being less than 250 years old; it achieved its current size only in the mid-20th century, emerging into a world power by Russia handing over Alaska in the 1880's and the annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1898. The Spanish-American War helps America in conquering lands formerly in the hands of the declining Spanish Empire such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, and The Philippines.

U.S. President William McKinley (1843 – 1901), who is assassinated at The Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York in 1901, is mentioned and his successor President Theodore Roosevelt visits Toronto.


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