This article is about the mineral or gemstone, for other uses see: Topaz (disambiguation).Topaz 4 Carat Oval Shape Topaz Gemstone Ring Enhanced with Azotic(r)Treatment Heart Cut Sky Blue Topaz Ring
The mineral topaz is a silicate of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic system and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces, the basal pinacoid often being present. It has an easy and perfect basal cleavage and so gemstones or other fine specimens should be handled with care to avoid developing cleavage flaws. The fracture is conchoidal to uneven. Topaz has a hardness of 8, a specific gravity of 3.4-3.6, and a vitreous lustre. Pure topaz is transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine or straw-yellow. They may also be white, gray, green, blue, or reddish-yellow and transparent or translucent. When heated, yellow topaz often becomes reddish-pink. It can also be irradiated, turning the stone a light and distinctive shade of blue. A recent trend in jewelry is the manufacture of topaz specimens that display iridescent colors, by applying a thin layer of titanium oxide via physical vapor deposition.
Topaz is found associated with the more acid rocks of the granite and rhyolite type and may be found with fluorite and cassiterite. It can be found in the Ural and Ilmen mountains, Czech Republic, Saxony, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States.
Etymology and historical/mythical usage
The name "topaz" is derived from the Greek topazos, "to seek," which was the name of an island in the Red Sea that was difficult to find and from which a yellow stone (now believed to be a yellowish olivine) was mined in ancient times. In the Middle Ages the name topaz was used to refer to any yellow gemstone, but now the name is only properly applied to the silicate described above.
According to Rebbenu Bachya, the word "Leshem" in the verse Exodus 28:19 means "Topaz" and was the stone on the Ephod representing the tribe of Dan.
Topaz is also the birthstone of November.Example of Heat Treated Topaz-Pink Topaz Pear Cut Ring
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Topaz is also the birthstone of November. Similarly, many American high schools maintain extensive sports programs, and in some areas of the country, high school football and basketball competitions are major local events. According to Rebbenu Bachya, the word "Leshem" in the verse Exodus 28:19 means "Topaz" and was the stone on the Ephod representing the tribe of Dan. American colleges often support wide-ranging sports programs, including track and field and more eclectic sports such as water polo. In the Middle Ages the name topaz was used to refer to any yellow gemstone, but now the name is only properly applied to the silicate described above. American college sports are nearly as popular as professional sports, particularly college football and college basketball. The name "topaz" is derived from the Greek topazos, "to seek," which was the name of an island in the Red Sea that was difficult to find and from which a yellow stone (now believed to be a yellowish olivine) was mined in ancient times. During times of extreme popularity certain teams have been (unofficially) crowned "America's team." The New York Yankees, the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Cowboys are examples of teams that have reached this status.
It can be found in the Ural and Ilmen mountains, Czech Republic, Saxony, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. For details see United States at the Olympics. Topaz is found associated with the more acid rocks of the granite and rhyolite type and may be found with fluorite and cassiterite. topped the medals table with a record 103 medals (35 gold, 39 silver and 29 bronze). A recent trend in jewelry is the manufacture of topaz specimens that display iridescent colors, by applying a thin layer of titanium oxide via physical vapor deposition. The United States generally fares fairly well in the Olympics especially the Summer Olympics: in 2004, the U.S. It can also be irradiated, turning the stone a light and distinctive shade of blue. Eight Olympic Games have been hosted in the U.S., more than in any other nation.
When heated, yellow topaz often becomes reddish-pink. Snowboarding is the only one of the three to become an Olympic event, beginning with the Winter Olympics in 1998. They may also be white, gray, green, blue, or reddish-yellow and transparent or translucent. Skateboarding and snowboarding are completely modern American inventions, and all three have given rise to national competitions and a large dedicated subculture. Pure topaz is transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine or straw-yellow. While first practiced by native Hawaiians, Americans were almost solely responsible for creating surfboarding's worldwide popularity. Topaz has a hardness of 8, a specific gravity of 3.4-3.6, and a vitreous lustre. The three popular board-based recreational sports - surfboarding, skateboarding and snowboarding were created in The United States.
The fracture is conchoidal to uneven. The United States also developed a unique shooting sport in the 1980s called cowboy action shooting. It has an easy and perfect basal cleavage and so gemstones or other fine specimens should be handled with care to avoid developing cleavage flaws. Several organizations (such as the National Rifle Association) maintain national leagues or participate in international leagues such as the ISSF. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic system and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces, the basal pinacoid often being present. Competitions on marksmanship and other firearm related skills are a regular feature at many shooting ranges. The mineral topaz is a silicate of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. The number of gun owners in America has given widespread popularity to shooting sports as an amateur pastime.
This article is about the mineral or gemstone, for other uses see: Topaz (disambiguation).. Other combat sports based on Asian martial arts, such as karate competitions, maintain large national leagues and hold frequent competitions. Mineral galleries. The United States has produced many champion boxers who have become public figures in their own right. Mindat with location data. In the 20th century, the United States became the center of the two most popular Western combat sports—boxing, which is popular as both a spectator sport and a gambling event, and professional wrestling, which is more scripted entertainment than a true sport. Webmineral. Grand Prix and the Indy 500 currently take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
However, the visually similar Indy 500 is the nation's most famous racing event, and both the U.S. is the United States Grand Prix. The only Formula One event currently in the U.S. market.
Formula One, while dominant in the rest of the world, has only made limited inroads into the U.S. The most popular form of auto racing is NASCAR. Open). The United States hosts some of the premier events in other sports such as golf (including three of the four majors), and tennis (the U.S.
Other European sports such as polo and cricket, while not popular, do attract players and have established leagues. Rugby Union has also established itself as a popular sport with a loyal following. Horse racing is popular as a gambling event and the United States hosts several world renowned horse racing events, including the Kentucky Derby. The United States also hosts large followings of traditional European sporting events.
The majority of the world's highest paid athletes play team sports in America . Professional sports in America is very big business and its athletes are very well compensated. did host the World Cup in 1994. Nevertheless, the U.S.
in contrast to its extreme popularity in most other countries. Although it is currently one of the most played sports amongst American youth, soccer does not have a particularly large following in the U.S. Ice hockey is also popular in the U.S., especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. American football, baseball (often called "The National Pastime"), auto racing (especially NASCAR), and basketball, are the top four main sports in America.
The major team sports in America are home-grown. Others include Duluth, Minnesota, Houston, Texas; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; Miami, Florida; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Seattle, Washington; plus, outside the contiguous forty-eight states, Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
In terms of passengers, seventeen of the world's thirty busiest airports in 2004 were in the U.S., including the world's busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Air travel is the preferred means of travel for long distances. The regional rail and bus networks that extend into Long Island, New Jersey, Upstate New York, and Connecticut are among the most heavily used in the world. The largest of them, New York City, operates one of the world's most heavily used subway systems.
Some cities still provide usable mass-transit systems. Passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak, which serves forty-six of the lower forty-eight states. There is also a transcontinental rail system, which is used for moving freight across the lower forty-eight states. Eisenhower and modeled after the German Autobahn.
These highways were commissioned in the 1950s by President Dwight D. To link its vast territory, the United States built a network of high-capacity, high-speed highways, of which the most important element is the Interstate Highway system. cities through a subsidiary called National City Lines. The automobile industry was quick to attain influence in government and media alike, and was also the force behind the dismantling of the electric rail transport systems or trolleys in over 40 U.S.
urban areas has taken place around the concept of creating cities and residential areas to suit the needs of road vehicles. Because the automobile industry took off very early in United States (when compared to other Western nations) much of the development of U.S.
It does however, provide financial aid in the form of grants and loans to eligible students for university education. It should be noted that the United States is one of the few industrialized countries to not provide a free university education to its citizenry. American colleges and universities range from highly competitive schools, both private (such as Harvard University and Princeton University) and public (such as the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Virginia), to hundreds of high-quality local community colleges with open admission policies. It is not uncommon for students to join the workforce or the military before attending college; both the military and many private employers may subsidize post-secondary education.
Tuition at private universities tends to be much higher than at public universities. Public universities receive funding from the federal and state government but students still pay tuition, which can vary depending on the university, state, and whether the student is a resident of the state or not. After high school, students may choose to continue their schooling at a public/state university or a private university. Public schools are highly decentralized with funding and curriculum decisions taking place mostly at the local level through school boards.
Parents may educate their own children at home (with varying degrees of state oversight), send their children to a public school, which is funded with tax money, or to a private school, where parents must pay tuition. In most states, all students must attend mandatory schooling starting with kindergarten, which children normally enter at age 5, and following through 12th grade, which is normally completed at age 18 (although in some states, students are permitted to drop out upon the age of 16 with the permission of their parents/guardians). However, the federal government, through the Department of Education, is involved with funding of some programs and exerts some influence through its ability to control funding. In the United States, education is a state, not federal, responsibility, and the laws and standards vary considerably.
A different ranking is evident when considering U.S. The figures expressed below are for populations within city limits. The United States has dozens of major cities, including 11 of the 55 global cities of all types — with three "alpha" global cities: New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. territory.
As of 2004, the United States was the home of approximately 336 languages (spoken or signed), of which 176 are indigenous to U.S. The primary signed language is American Sign Language (ASL). Spanish is the first language of Puerto Rico. German is the primary spoken language in some areas of the Amish.
Spanish and German follows English as the second-most spoken languages primarily due to the influence of Latin American, German, Austrian and Swiss immigrants. Twenty-seven individual states have adopted English as their official language, and three of those—Hawaii, Louisiana, and New Mexico—have also adopted a second official language (Hawaiian, French and Spanish, respectively). English is the language generally used for official pronouncements, though there is legislation that assists non-English speakers, such as the Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992, which prohibits covered States and political subdivisions from providing English-only voting materials. The United States does not have an official language at the federal level.
Many holidays recognize events or people of importance to the nation's history; as such, they represent significant cultural observance. American holidays are variously national and local. This development is a result of both contributions by private philanthropists and government funding. plays host to the gamut of human intellectual and artistic endeavor in nearly every major city, offering classical and popular music; historical, scientific and art research centers and museums; dance performances, musicals and plays; outdoor art projects and internationally significant architecture.
Nearing the mid-point of its third century of nationhood, the U.S. This is in stark contrast to the early days of the republic, when the country was viewed by Europeans as an agricultural backwater with little to offer the culturally advanced world centers of Asia and Europe. movies (primarily embodied in Hollywood) and television shows can be seen almost anywhere except the most totalitarian places. U.S.
New York, Seattle, and San Francisco are worldwide leaders in graphic design and New York and Los Angeles compete with major European cities in the fashion industry. Another export of the last 20 years is hip hop music, which began in New York and is growing in influence as it branches into the fashion, food and drink, and movie industries. Nashville is the center of the country music industry. New York City is a hub for international operatic and instrumental music as well as the world-famed Broadway plays and musicals.
Many famous Western classical musicians and ensembles find their home in the U.S. music is heard all over the world, and it is the sire of such forms as blues and jazz and had a primary hand in the shaping of modern rock and roll and popular music culture. U.S. popular culture has a significant influence on the rest of the world, especially the Western world.
U.S. Medical bills are the most common reason for personal bankruptcy in the United States, and it is estimated that roughly 45 Million Americans have no health coverage. It should also be noted that providing emergency care if needed is required by law of any licensed emergency care facility regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Health insurance in the United States is traditionally a benefit of employment, and in many cases this is mandated by law.
Even so, government spending on health care is the highest of any country in the world with major programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Unlike in most western countries, the government does not provide universal health insurance for all citizens. The United States has several public health problems: widespread obesity, unhealthy diets, progressing HIV-AIDS epidemic and cigarette smoking among over quarter of the population. The largest Sikh populations in the United States are in California, New York, New Mexico and Oregon.
Sikhs first arrived in 1896 and today there are about 600,000 to 1 million in United States. This reflects a growing diversification of religious belief in the United States over the last few decades. According to census figures and related polls, neo-paganism is the fastest growing organized religion in the United States though its numbers of adherents are rated below 800,000 in the United States as of 2000. The rest of the country for the most part has a complex mixture of various Christian groups.
In the Southern states, Baptists are the largest group, followed by Methodists; Roman Catholics are dominant in the Northeast and in large parts of the Midwest due to their being settled by descendants of Catholic immigrants from Europe (such as Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Poland) or other parts of North America (mainly Quebec and Puerto Rico). However, this rate is not uniform across the country; attendance is more common in the Bible Belt—composed largely of Southern and Midwestern states—than in the Northeast and West Coast. According to a 2004 Gallup poll, about 44% of Americans attend a religious service at least once a week. The United States is noteworthy among developed nations for its relatively high level of religiosity.
The largest single sect of Christianity in the United States is Roman Catholicism (about 26%), followed by the Baptist Christian faith (about 18%). The other 18 % is comprised of people of no religion and other religions, such as Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism. About 2 % of Americans follow Judaism. While Christianity is growing in America, it is not growing as fast as the general population resulting in a 10 % decline from 90 % as recently as 1990.
There is no official Religion in the United States, but polls estimate that 80 % of Americans are Christians of various denominations. For example, a dual ancestry person was counted in the Italian and the Irish ancestry group or a biracial person was counted in the White and Black groups. For the first time ever, American citizens were able to list all of the racial, ethnic, or ancestry groups which they felt was appropriate for them. About 35% live on Indian reservations.
Indigenous peoples in the United States, such as American Indians and Inuit, make up 1% of the population (2000 census). The largest groups are immigrants or descendants of emigrants from the Philippines, China, India, Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan. Most Asian Americans are concentrated on the West Coast and Hawaii. Asian Americans, including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, are a third significant minority (4% of the population in 2000).
African Americans are spread throughout the country, but their proportional population is largest in the South. Approximately 12.9% (2000 census) of the American people designated themselves as Black alone or in combination with some other race(African American). People of Mexican descent made up 7.3% of the population in the 2000 census, and this proportion is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. Hispanics comprise 13% of the population (2000 census).
Hispanics from Mexico and South and Central America are second only to the German-American population. Other significant immigrant populations came from eastern and southern Europe and French Canada. Many immigrants also hail from Slavic countries such as Poland and Russia. The most frequently stated European ancestries are German (15.2%), Irish (10.8%), English (8.7%), Italian (5.6%) and Scandinavian (3.7%).
This majority--69% in 2000--decreases each year, and is expected to become a plurality within a few decades. The majority of Americans descend from white European immigrants who arrived after the establishment of the first colonies (most after Reconstruction). According to the 2000 census, it has 31 ethnic groups with at least one million members each, and numerous others represented in smaller amounts. The United States is a very racially diverse country.
The West Coast is now home to approximately half of all American citizens of Asian ancestry (5 of the 10 million; increasing 52.4% in number during the 1990s). The West Coast has been the residence of choice for immigrating Asians, particularly from China. Major demographic trends include the mass immigration of Hispanics from Latin America into the Southwest, which is home to 60 % (21 of the 35 million) of the nation's Hispanics (their numbers increased 57.9% nationally in the 1990s). Between 1990 and 2000, 19 of the 20 fastest-growing states were in these two regions..
Growth in some parts of the nation have been particularly extreme such as the fastest growing metropolitan area, Las Vegas, Nevada, which went from 273,288 people in 1970 to about 1,650,671 in 2004. The fastest growing region is the West, followed by the South. population continues to drift farther west and south. The mean center of the U.S.
But you can't get around the fact that this is the most extraordinarily successful economy in history.". It always has. The former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan remarked that the U.S.’s growing income inequality since the 1970s is, "not the type of thing which a democratic society - a capitalist democratic society - can really accept without addressing." However, Greenspan also noted, "...you can look at the system and say it's got a lot of problems to it, and sure it does. Regionally, the southern states have the lowest median incomes while the West Coast and New England have the highest.
Among racial groups; American Indians and Alaska Natives have the lowest median income while Asians have the highest. Approximately one out of every five children in the United States grows up below the official poverty line. America's poverty line, defined for a family of four as an income of less than $19,157, is at 12.7% of the general population. (See List of countries by income equality.).
The richest 10% make 15.9 times as much as the poorest 10%, and the richest 20% make 8.4 times as much as the poorest 20%. The United Nations Development Programme Report 2005 ranks income the United States as the 74th most equal out of 124 countries, as measured by the Gini coefficient. Twenty-six states are the same as the federal level; two — Ohio and Kansas — are below; and six do not have state laws. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than the national level ($5.15 per-hour), including the highest, Washington State at $7.35.
As a result, the United States provides fewer government-delivered social welfare services than most industrialized nations, choosing instead to keep its tax burden lower and relying more heavily on the free market and private charities. has increased the use of neoliberal economic policies that reduce government intervention and reduce the size of the welfare state, backing away from the more interventionist Keynesian economic policies that had been in favor since the Great Depression. Since the 1980s, the U.S. It is the largest debtor nation in the world, with total gross foreign liabilities of over $12,000,000 million as of 2004; and it absorbs more than 50% of global savings annually.
The United States' imports exceed exports by 80%, leading to an annual trade deficit of $700,000 million or 6% of gross domestic product. There have been few strikes in recent years. However union membership has grown rapidly in the public sector, especially among teachers, nurses, police, postal workers, and municipal clerks. Since 1970 they have shrunk in the private sector and now cover fewer than 8% of the workers.
See Labor history of the United States. Labor unions have existed since the 19th century, and grew large and powerful from the 1930s to the 1950s. In 2003, the United States was ranked as the third most visited tourist destination in the world; its 40,400,000 visitors ranked behind France's 75,000,000 and Spain's 52,500,000. More than 50% of total trade is with these four countries.
The largest trading partner of the United States is Canada (19%), followed by China (12%), Mexico (11%), and Japan (8%). The dollar is also the predominant reserve currency in the world, and more than half of global reserves are in dollars. Many markets are also quoted in dollars, such as those of oil and gold. Several countries continue to link their currency to the dollar or even use it as a currency (such as Ecuador), although this practice has subsided since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system.
The Great Plains are known as the "breadbasket" of America for their tremendous agricultural output; the intermountain region serves as a mining hub and natural gas resource; the Pacific Northwest for fish and timber, while Texas is largely associated with the oil industry; and the Southeast is a major hub for both medical research and the textiles industry. The Midwest is known for its reliance on manufacturing and heavy industry, with Detroit, Michigan, serving as the center of the American automotive industry. Silicon Valley is the country's largest high technology hub, while Los Angeles is the most important center for film production. For example, New York City is the center of the American financial, publishing, broadcasting, and advertising industries.
Economic activity varies greatly from one part of the country to another, with many industries being concentrated in certain cities or regions. The manufacturing sector produces goods such as cars, airplanes, steel, and electronics, among many others. In agriculture, it is a top producer of, among other crops, corn, soy beans, rice and wheat; the United States is a net exporter of food. The United States has many natural resources, including oil and gas, metals, and such minerals as gold, soda ash, and zinc.
economy is now service, which employs roughly three quarters of the work force. The largest sector of the U.S. (Borrowings as of November 2005 are 8.1 trillion.). The cap as of 2004 stands at 8.2 trillion.
Federal borrowings are subject to borrowing caps to theoretically prevent fiscal irresponsibilty. This is financed via taxes and borrowings in the money and capital markets. As in all market-oriented economies, private individuals and business firms in the US make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. The United States has the largest single-country economy in the world, with a per-capita annual gross domestic product of $41,747 (as of Q2 2005 ).
The United States often faces criticism from Western governments and NGOs concerning its use of the death penalty, lengthy detention without trial, alleged forced confessions, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners as well as some restrictions on freedoms of speech and the press, as being violations of human rights. The American military, in terms of physical resources, is actually smaller now than it was twenty years ago, despite being larger than it was five years ago, for example. It should be noted that the United States' focus on military expenditures has ranged very broadly, due to regularly changing ideologies inherent in its political system. defense expenditure is estimated to be greater than the next twelve largest national military budgets combined.
U.S. The 2006 defense budget will amount to nearly $440 billion, the highest ever. The 2005 defense budget amounted to $401.7 billion, an increase of 4% over 2004 and 35% since 2001, with over 50% being spent in research & development. It is considered dominant on water, land, air, and space.
The American armed forces are considered to be the most powerful military (of any sort) in the world, and their force projection capabilities are unrivalled. Military conscription ended in 1973. The combined United States armed forces comprise 1.4 million active duty personnel, along with several hundred thousand each in the Reserves and the National Guard. The Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime, but is placed under the Department of Defense in times of war.
Three of the nation's four military branches are administered by the Department of Defense: the Army, the Navy (including the Marine Corps), and the Air Force. Canada, Germany, and other nations, are participating in the Afghanistan theater but not in Iraq. The United States currently enjoys a positive relationship with the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Poland, among several others, in that these nations are participating as active military allies with, or logistical supporters of, the United States in all theaters. It has also embarked upon a War on Terrorism.
The United States is currently involved in a war in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan, and an intervention in Haiti. The United States presently occupies 702 military bases worldwide in 132 different countries. The military force of the United States has been decisive in several major foreign wars, most notably World War II and, to a lesser degree, World War I. Traditionally, the greatest military ally of the United States has been the United Kingdom, though the earliest alliance the nation formed was with France (see Franco-American relations).
Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States of America (1777). In 1812, Venezuela, fighting for its independence from Spain, suffered a severe and damaging earthquake, prompting Congress to appropriate $50,000 to help the victims. The first nation to receive foreign aid from the United States was Venezuela. The same range of opinions is also found within the United States, with many Americans either supporting or strongly criticizing United States foreign policy.
Reactions towards American foreign policy by other nationalities are often strong, ranging from admiration to fierce criticism. The immense military and economic strength of the United States has made its foreign relations an especially important topic in international politics. The United States argues this point moot because Cuba apparently ratified the lease post-revolution, and with full sovereignty, when it cashed one rent check in accordance with the disputed treaty. The present Cuban government of Fidel Castro disputes this arrangement, claiming Cuba was not truly sovereign at the time of the signing.
The United States government possesses a lease to this land, which only mutual agreement or United States abandonment of the area can terminate. The United States Navy has held a base at a portion of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 1898. Seen like this, the Supreme Court in 1901 would have decided in favor of George III of the United Kingdom. This had been the precisely the quarrel between American colonies and Great Britain that resulted in the founding of the United States.
Islands gained by the United States in the war against Spain at the turn of the 20th century were no longer to be considered foreign territory; on the other hand, the United States Supreme Court declared that they were not automatically covered by the Constitution and that it was up to Congress to decide what portions of the Constitution, if any, applied to them. The Palmyra Atoll is the United States' only incorporated territory; it is unorganized and uninhabited. The United States also holds several other territories, districts, and possessions, notably the federal district of the District of Columbia, which is the nation's capital, and several overseas insular areas, the most significant of which are American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. is divided into three distinct sections:.
The U.S. The United States–Canadian border is the longest undefended political boundary in the world. The states are generally divided into smaller administrative regions, including counties, cities and townships. In subsequent years, the number of states grew steadily due to western expansion, the purchase of lands by the national government from other nation states, and the subdivision of existing states, resulting in the current total of 50.
Since the Union victory in 1865, the independent status of the individual states has not been broached again by any state, and the status of each state within the union has been deemed by mainstream officials and academics to be settled as being subordinate to the union as a whole. Under this new union, the continued status of the individual states as sovereign nation states fell into dispute in 1861, as several states attempted to secede from the union; in response, then-President Abraham Lincoln claimed that such secession was illegal, and the result was the American Civil War. But the national government proved too ineffective, so the administrative structure of the government was vastly reorganized with the United States Constitution of 1789. Although considered as sovereigns initially, under the Articles of Confederation of 1781 they entered into a "Perpetual Union" and created a fully sovereign federal state, delegating certain powers to the national Congress, including the right to engage in diplomatic relations and to levy war, while each retaining their individual sovereignty, freedom and independence.
With the Declaration of Independence, the thirteen colonies proclaimed themselves to be polities modeled after the European states of the time. In other areas, county governments have more power, such as to collect taxes and maintain law enforcement agencies. In New England, towns operate in a direct democratic fashion, and in some states, such as Rhode Island and Connecticut, counties have little or no power, existing only as geographic distinctions. The highest elected official of a town or city is usually the mayor.
These laws concern issues such as traffic, the sale of alcohol, and keeping animals. The institutions that are responsible for local government are typically town, city, or county boards, making laws that affect their particular area. Tribal citizenship (and voting rights) is generally restricted to individuals of Native descent, but tribes are free to set whatever membership requirements they wish. Tribes are empowered to form their own governments, with power resting in elected tribal councils, elected tribal chairpersons, or religiously appointed leaders (as is the case with pueblos).
Tribal capacity to operate robust governments varies, from a simple council used to manage all aspects of tribal affairs, to large and complex bureaucracies with several branches of government. Hundreds of laws, executive orders, and court cases have modified the governmental status of tribes vis-à-vis states, but have kept the two officially distinct. Georgia, Indian tribes are considered "domestic dependent nations" that operate as sovereign governments subject to Federal authority but, generally, outside of the influence from state governments. As a result of the Supreme Court case Worcester v.
See state court for more information. In some states, supreme and lower court justices are elected by the people; in others, they are appointed, as they are in the federal system. Each state maintains its own judiciary, with the lowest level typically being county courts, the highest being the state supreme court, though sometimes named differently. Of note is the New Hampshire legislature, which is the third-largest legislative body in the English-speaking world, and has one representative for every 3,000 people.
Each state also has an elected legislature (bicameral in every state except Nebraska), whose members represent the voters of the state. The highest elected official of each state is the Governor. There are sometimes great differences in law and procedure between individual states, concerning issues such as property, crime, health, and education. Each state has its own written constitution, government, and code of laws.
The state governments have the greatest influence over most Americans' daily lives. A case may be appealed from a state court to a federal court only if there is a federal question (an issue arising under the US Constitution, or laws/treaties of the United States); the supreme court of each state is the final authority on the interpretation of that state's laws and constitution. Separate from, but not entirely independent of, this federal court system are the individual court systems of each state, each dealing with its own laws and having its own judicial rules and procedures. Below the Supreme Court are the courts of appeals, and below them in turn are the district courts, which are the general trial courts for federal law.
The court deals with matters pertaining to the Federal Government and interpretation of the United States Constitution, and can declare legislation or executive action made at any level of the government as unconstitutional, nullifying the law and creating precedent for future law and decisions. The highest court is the Supreme Court, which currently consists of nine justices. Bush is the 43rd President, currently serving his second term. George W.
These departments and department heads have considerable regulatory and political power, and it is they who are responsible for executing federal laws and regulations. The members of the President's Cabinet are responsible for administering the various departments of state, including the Department of Defense, the Justice Department, and the State Department. The Vice President is first in the line of succession, and is the President of the Senate ex officio, with the ability to cast a tie-breaking vote. (The Constitution does not specify that the State of the Union address be delivered in person; it can be in the form of a letter, as was the practice during most of the 19th century.) Although the President's constitutional role may appear to be constrained, in practice, the office carries enormous prestige that typically eclipses the power of Congress: the Presidency has justifiably been referred to as 'the most powerful office in the world'.
The President makes around 2,000 executive appointments, including members of the Cabinet and ambassadors, which must be approved by the Senate; the President can also issue executive orders and pardons, and has other Constitutional duties, among them the requirement to give a State of the Union address to Congress from time to time (usually once a year). The threat of using this power has had major political ramifications in the cases of Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. The ultimate power of Congress over the President is that of impeachment or removal of the elected President through a House vote, a Senate trial, and a Senate vote (by two-thirds majority in favour). Congress can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority vote fromboth houses.
After identical copies of a particular bill have been approved by a majority of both Houses of Congress, the President's signature is required to make these bills law; in this respect, the President has the power—only occasionally used—to veto congressional legislation. While the President can directly propose legislation (for instance, the Federal Budjet), he must rely on supporters in Congress to promote and support his or her legislative agenda. Congress can legislate to constrain the President's executive power, even with respect to his or her command of the armed forces; however, this power is used only very rarely—a notable example was the constraint placed on President Richard Nixon's strategy of bombing Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The relationship between the President and the Congress reflects that between the English monarchy and parliament at the time of the framing of the United States Constitution.
The President and Vice President are elected as 'running mates' for four-year terms by the Electoral College, for which each state, as well as the District of Columbia, is allocated a number of seats based on its representation (or ostensible representation, in the case of D.C.) in both houses of Congress. All executive power in the federal government is vested in the President of the United States, although power is often delegated to his/her Cabinet members and other officials. The Constitution also includes the necessary-and-proper clause, which grants Congress the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.". The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people.
However, the consent of both Houses is required to make any law. Each House has particular exclusive powers - the Senate must give "advice and consent" to many important Presidential appointments, and the House must introduce any bills for the purpose of raising revenue. There are a total of 100 senators (as there are currently 50 states), who serve six-year terms (one third of the Senate stands for election every two years). House seats are apportioned among the states by population; in contrast, each state has two Senators, regardless of population.
The House of Representatives consists of 435 members, each of whom represents a congressional district and serves for a two-year term. It is bicameral, being comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States. However, in addition to these explicitly stated powers, the federal government—with the assistance of the Supreme Court—has gradually extended their power into such areas as welfare and education, on the basis of the "necessary and proper" and "Commerce" clauses of the Constitution.
All other government powers theoretically repose in the individual states. The Constitution limits the powers of the federal government to defense, foreign affairs, the issuing and management of currency, the management of trade and relations between the states, as well as the protection of human rights. These three branches were designed to apply checks and balances on each other. The federal government is comprised of a Legislative Branch (led by Congress), an Executive Branch (led by the President), and a Judicial Branch (led by the Supreme Court).
Furthermore, the national representation of territories and the federal district of Washington, DC in Congress is limited: residents of the District of Columbia are subject to federal laws and federal taxes but their only Congressional representative is a non-voting delegate. There are some limits, however: felons are disenfranchised and in some states former felons are as well. Today, Americans enjoy almost universal suffrage from the age of 18 regardless of race, sex, or wealth, and both Houses of Congress are directly elected. Now (since 1914), members of both Houses of Congress are directly elected.
Under this original system, the Senate (the "upper house" of Congress) was chosen by a majority vote of their state's legislature. Direct elections were held only for the Federal House of Representatives (the "lower house" of a bicameral parliament, or Congress) and state legislatures, although this varied from state to state. In the early years of the United States, voting was considered a matter for state governments, and was commonly restricted to white men who owned land. Suffrage has changed significantly over time.
Almost all electoral offices are decided in "first-past-the-post" elections, where a specific candidate who earns at least a plurality of the vote is elected to office, rather than a party being elected to a seat to which it may then appoint an official. Officials of each of these levels are either elected by eligible voters via secret ballot or appointed by other elected officials. Each level enjoys certain exclusive powers and obligations, and the precise division of these powers has been a matter of considerable ongoing debate. There are three levels of government: federal, state, and local.
Specifically, the nation operates as a presidential democracy. The United States is an example of a constitutional republic, with a government composed of and operating through a set of limited powers imposed by its design and enumerated in the United States Constitution. Forests line the windward mountains of the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to Alaska. Some parts of California have a Mediterranean climate.
Arid deserts, including the Mojave, extend through the lowlands and valleys of the southwest, from westernmost Texas to California and northward throughout much of Nevada. Rainfall decreases markedly from the humid forests of the Eastern Great Plains to the semi-arid shortgrass prairies on the high plains abutting the Rocky Mountains. Most of the South experiences a subtropical humid climate with mild winters and long, hot, humid summers. Most of the North and East experience a temperate continental climate, with warm summers and cold winters.
The climate varies along with the landscape, from tropical in Hawaii and southern Florida to tundra in Alaska and atop some of the highest mountains. Alaska's tundra, and the volcanic, tropical islands of Hawaii add to the geographic diversity. The United States' landscape is one of the most varied among those of the world's nations: among its many features are temperate forestland and rolling hills, on the east coast; mangrove, in Florida; the Great Plains, in the center of the country; the Mississippi–Missouri river system; the Great Lakes, four of the five of which are shared with Canada; the Rocky Mountains, west of the Great Plains; deserts and temperate coastal zones, west of the Rocky Mountains; and temperate rain forests, in the Pacific northwest. The United States' total area is 3,718,711 square miles (9,631,418 km²), of which land makes up 3,537,438 square miles (9,161,923 km²) and water makes up 181,273 square miles (469,495 km²).
ranks third, and Canada ranks fourth. In total area (which includes inland water and land), only Russia and Canada are larger than the United States; if inland water is excluded, China ranks second, the U.S. (Virginia also donated land, but it was returned in 1847.) The United States also has overseas territories with varying levels of independence and organization. The capital city, Washington, District of Columbia is a federal district located on land donated by the state of Maryland.
The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. Alaska, which is not included in the term contiguous United States, is at the northwestern end of North America, separated from the Lower 48 by Canada. Forty-eight of the states are in the single region between Canada and Mexico; this group is referred to, with varying precision and formality, as the continental or contiguous United States, sometimes abbreviated CONUS, and as the Lower 48. It is otherwise bounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea, in the west; the Arctic Ocean, in the northernmost areas; and the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, in the eastern and southeastern areas.
The United States shares land borders with Canada (to the north) and Mexico (to the south), and territorial water boundaries with Canada, Russia, the Bahamas, and numerous smaller nations. During this period, the nation also became an industrial power and a center for innovation and technological development. was not a colonial power until it acquired territories in the Spanish-American War, the dominion exercised over land in North America the United States claimed is essentially colonial. Though some would say the U.S.
In other instances, American Indians were removed from their traditional lands by force, with mass extermination of some tribes being driven by US military policy. In some areas, American Indian populations had been reduced by foreign diseases contracted through contact with European settlers, and US settlers acquired those emptied lands. This displacement of American Indians continues to be a matter of contention in the U.S., with many tribes attempting to assert their original claims to various lands. displaced most American Indian nations.
In the process, the U.S. Manifest Destiny was a philosophy that encouraged westward expansion in the United States: as the population of the Eastern states grew and as a steady increase of immigrants entered the country, settlers moved steadily westward across North America. During the 19th century, many new states were added to the union as the nation expanded across the continent. The Civil War effectively ended the question of a state's right to secede, and is widely accepted as a major turning point after which the federal government became more powerful than state governments.
However, full emancipation did not take place until after the end of the war in 1865, the dissolution of the Confederacy, and the Thirteenth Amendment took effect. During the war, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, mandating the freedom of all slaves in states in rebellion. Soon after the war began, four more southern states seceded, and two states had both Union and Confederate governments. The dispute reached a crisis in 1861, when seven southern states seceded 1 from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, leading to the Civil War.
Several federal laws were passed in an attempt to settle the dispute, including the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850. The northern states had become opposed to slavery, while the southern states saw it as necessary for the continued success of southern agriculture and wanted it expanded to newer territories in the West. By the mid-19th century, a major division over the issue of states' rights and the expansion of slavery came to a head. From early colonial times, there was a shortage of labor, which encouraged unfree labor, particularly indentured servitude and slavery.
After long debate, this was supplanted in 1789 by the Constitution, which formed a more centralized federal government. The first united national political structure was a confederation proposed in 1777, and ratified in 1781 as the Articles of Confederation, making the United States the world's first constitutional federal republic. Before the ratification of a national government, the United States existed as an informal alliance of independent individual colonies with their own laws and sovereignty, while the Second Continental Congress was given the nominal authority by the colonies to make decisions regarding the formation and funding of the Continental Army but not to levy taxes or make federal law. In 1776, the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain and formed the United States.
In 1775, the American Revolutionary War against colonial rule by Britain began. Tensions between Britain and the colonists increased, and the thirteen colonies eventually rebelled against British rule. The colonists widely resented the taxes as they were denied representation in the British Parliament. A tax was imposed on the colonists as it was becoming increasingly difficult for the crown to pay for its military excursions and the defence of the American colonies from native uprisings.
The Proclamation's goal was to force colonists to negotiate with the Native Americans for the lawful purchase of the land and, therefore, to reduce the costly frontier warfare that had erupted over land conflicts. Later that year, the British government under George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763 that placed a boundary upon the westward expansion of the British North American colonies. The war resulted in France ceding Canada and the Great Lakes region to Britain, and Spain gaining Louisiana in compensation for its loss of Florida to Britain. The British colonists remained relatively undisturbed by their home country until after the French and Indian War when the Kingdom of Great Britain and its North American Colonies fought against France and its North American Colonies.
This was followed by extensive British settlement of the east coast. In 1637, Sweden established a colony at Fort Christina (in what is now Delaware), but lost the settlement to the Dutch in 1655. Within the next two decades, several Dutch settlements, including New Amsterdam (the predecessor to New York City), were established in what are now the states of New York and New Jersey. The first successful English settlement was at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.
During the 1500s and 1600s, the Spanish settled parts of the present-day Southwest and Florida. External visitors including the Norse had arrived before, but it was not until after the discovery voyages of Christopher Columbus in early 1500s that European nations began to explore the land in earnest and settle there permanently. Louis, a city with a population of 41,623 at its peak in AD 1200. Some advanced societies were the Anasazi of the southwest, who inhabited Chaco Canyon (and built sandstone buildings with up to 5 floors), and the Woodland Indians, who built Cahokia, located near present-day St.
before that population was diminished by European contact and the foreign diseases it brought (although both the number of Native Americans originally on the continent and the number who did not survive European immigration are the subject of continued research and thus are open to debate). It is estimated that 2–9 million people lived in the territory now occupied by the U.S. These Native Americans left evidence of their presence in petroglyphs, burial mounds, and other artifacts. American history began with the migration of people from Asia across the Bering land bridge some time prior to 12,000 years ago, possibly following large animals that they hunted into the Americas.
. The date on which each of the fifty states adopted the Constitution is typically regarded as the date that state "entered the Union" to become part of the United States. The structure of the government was profoundly changed in 1789, when the states replaced the Articles of Confederation with the United States Constitution. The country celebrates its founding date as July 4, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress—representing thirteen British colonies—adopted the Declaration of Independence that rejected British authority in favor of self-determination.
is considered a superpower and, particularly after the Cold War, a hyperpower by some. Because of its influence, the U.S. Since the mid-20th century, following World War II, the United States has emerged as a dominant global influence in economic, political, military, scientific, technological, and cultural affairs. of A., America, the States, or (poetically) Columbia.
It is also referred to, with varying formality, as the United States, the U.S., the U.S.A., the U.S. It comprises 50 states and one federal district, and has several territories with differing degrees of affiliation. The United States of America is a constitutional federal republic, situated primarily in North America.