The United States of America is a federal republic of 50 states. USA has an area of 3,615,122 square miles. It’s making USA the 4th largest country in the world. The largest state is Alaska, the second largest state is Texas. The smallest state is Rhode Island. With more than 245 million inhabitants the USA is the 4th country in the world in the terms of population.
Mount Mc. Kinley (6,194m) is the highest peak in the USA, while part of Dead Valley in California is 86m below sea level. It is the lowest point in the USA.
There are two great mountains ranges. The Appalachian Mountains on the east coast and the Rocky Mountains in the west, both running from north to south. The area between the Appalachians and the Rockies is drained by the Mississippi and its eight branches. This Mississippi valley is one of the greatest fertile regions on earth. There are The Great Lakes too.
The USA has several long rivers. The longest river is the Mississippi(6,400km long) Other rivers are the Missouri, the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Rio Grande, the Colorado, the Columbia.
The USA is one of the oldest democratic republic in the world. The Constitution divides the powers of the government between the federal government and the 50 states.
The federal government has three separate branches: legislative (Congress), executive (the President), judicial (the Courts). The powers of each branch are limited by system of checks and balances. This system means that each branch of government has certain authority over the others, so the powers cannot be abused.
The congress of the USA consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. To become a law, a bill must be passed by both houses.
The Senate has 100 members as two senators are elected from each state. They are elected for a term of 6 years but one-third of the seats is vacated every 2 years. The Senate is presided by the Vice-President of the USA.
The House of Representatives has 435 members, who are elected every 2 years. The number of representatives of each states is based on population. The House of Representatives is presided by the Speaker, who is usually the leader of the majority party.
The head of the executive branch is the President, who is elected for a 4-year term and can only be re-elected for one more term. The President nominates the heads of executive departments, who form a body called the Cabinet.
Two separate judicial systems exists because of the decision of powers between the federal government and the states. State courts handle cases arising under the Constitution of the US and the laws of Congress.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation. Its decisions are final. All federal judges are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.
The state governments:
The state governments also have three branches: legislative, executive (the Governor) and judicial branches. No state law is valid if it conflicts with the Constitution.
The American political scene is dominated by the two major political parties: Democrats and Republicans. The Democratic Party has existed in one form or another since the beginning of 1800s. The Republican Party was founded in 1854 and was originally the anti-slavery party.
Both parties select their candidates for general election in the primary elections. The primary election is held before the general election.
The President and the Vice-President are not elected by direct vote of the people. They are elected by so-called electors, who is chosen on Presidential Election Day, first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every fourth year. The voting age is 18.
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