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Discovering the United States of America


The United States of America is a country with immense geographic, ecological, and cultural diversity. Within its borders, expats can find world-famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Golden Gate Bridge, among many others. Expats moving to the U.S. should research their individual locations, as weather and lifestyle vary greatly from one side of the country to the other.


Stretching over more than 9.8 million km², the United States is the fourth largest country in the world. Located in North America, it shares its northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico. Its eastern and western borders are respectively framed by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The U.S. is made up of fifty states, some of the most popular ones being California, New York, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska. The capital is Washington DC.

Given its size, the continental U.S. is grouped into five major regions: the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West. The country spans four time zones with two additional ones for Hawaii and Alaska. Climate varies from humid and tropical to arid and harsh.

It is important to note that individual states can experience extreme weather conditions. The Midwest and south see tornados from March through June. Hurricanes and flooding are common in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Every two to seven years, the El Niño phenomenon causes intense precipitation and winter storms, which impact most parts of the continental U.S. Even so, the majority of storms and weather phenomena are not usually of catastrophic proportion.


The U.S. economy is considered capitalist, and its currency is the U.S. dollar. According to the most recent data from the World Bank, the U.S. GDP is the largest in the world, followed by the European Union and China. The main industries in the U.S. are petroleum, technology and telecommunications, food processing and agriculture products, consumer goods, and lumber.

From 2008 to late 2009 the U.S. experienced its biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. The subprime mortgage bubble and risky lending practices required bailouts and new fiscal policies to prevent further impact on the U.S. and global economies. Although the economy has mostly recovered from this crisis and remains stable, the budget deficit, increasing military spending, and inadequate investment in infrastructure remain long-term concerns.


American culture is a Western culture that has been strongly influenced by its multicultural roots. Even so, there are some commonly held values in the United States. The U.S. is a highly individualistic country. Many people believe that they are in charge of their fate and can become successful through hard work and dedication. Compared to other cultures, Americans can seem very informal — it is not uncommon for bosses to be addressed by their first name or for people to share details about their personal lives rather quickly after meeting someone new. Also, people from the U.S. tend to be very direct, with a tendency to prefer to attend to the task at hand immediately rather than engaging in pleasantries beforehand.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current population of the U.S. amounts to over 325 million people, making it the third most populous country. It is highly urbanised with more than 80% of Americans living in cities. Although there is no official language in the United States, English is spoken by 79% of the population and is the principal language in government and schools. Spanish is also quite common. Both Hawaii and Alaska officially retain their indigenous languages.

American society enjoys a great ethnic and cultural diversity. Each year roughly one million people are granted permanent residency (green cards) in the United States. This immigration rate is much higher than in most other countries. Many people who choose to study in the U.S. also choose to stay to work permanently or temporarily. Most expats in the United States come from Mexico, China, and India, and the most popular states for expats are California, New York, Florida, Texas, and New Jersey.


The United States of America is a constitutional federal republic, meaning that the Constitution defines the relative power of the people, state governments, and the federal government. As a federal republic, citizens exercise their power by electing state and federal representatives. It is a misconception that the U.S. is a democracy because citizens do not directly control legislation.

On the federal level, the government is made up of three distinct branches. Power is shared between executive (the presidency), legislative, and judicial branches of the government so that no single group can gain too much power. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch (Congress) to write the laws, the president to implement them, and the judicial branch to interpret and strike down any laws which are not constitutional.

 Useful Links:

USA fact sheet
List of foreign embassies in the USA

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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Would you like to live in the USA?

Find useful information in our expatriate guide.