Careers, Jobs and Education Resources for: United States

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Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. The economy is marked by steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology. (from the CIA)


Economic Overview

The us has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita gdp of $46,000. in this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. us business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in western europe and japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. at the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering us markets. us firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of world war ii. the onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. the response to the terrorist attacks of 11 september 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. the war in march-april 2003 between a us-led coalition and iraq, and the subsequent occupation of iraq, required major shifts in national resources to the military. the rise in gdp in 2004-07 was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity. hurricane katrina caused extensive damage in the gulf coast region in august 2005, but had a small impact on overall gdp growth for the year. soaring oil prices in 2005-2007 threatened inflation and unemployment, yet the economy continued to grow through year-end 2007. imported oil accounts for about two-thirds of us consumption. long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. the merchandise trade deficit reached a record $847 billion in 2007. together, these problems caused a marked reduction in the value and status of the dollar worldwide in 2007.

Environmental Issues

Air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the us and canada; the us is the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural fresh water resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification

Government Type

Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition


303,824,640 (july 2008 est.)


North america, bordering both the north atlantic ocean and the north pacific ocean, between canada and mexico


Total: 9,826,630 sq km land: 9,161,923 sq km water: 664,707 sq km note: includes only the 50 states and district of columbia

About half the size of russia; about three-tenths the size of africa; about half the size of south america (or slightly larger than brazil); slightly larger than china; more than twice the size of the european union

Country Aliases

Conventional long form: united states of america conventional short form: united states abbreviation: us or usa


Name: washington, dc geographic coordinates: 38 53 n, 77 02 w time difference: utc-5 (during standard time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second sunday in march; ends first sunday in november note: the 50 united states cover six time zones

Military Service

18 years of age; 17 years of age with written parental consent (2006)

International Disputes

The u.s. has intensified domestic security measures and is collaborating closely with its neighbors, canada and mexico, to monitor and control legal and illegal personnel, transport, and commodities across the international borders; abundant rainfall in recent years along much of the mexico-us border region has ameliorated periodically strained water-sharing arrangements; 1990 maritime boundary agreement in the bering sea still awaits russian duma ratification; managed maritime boundary disputes with canada at dixon entrance, beaufort sea, strait of juan de fuca, and around the disputed machias seal island and north rock; the bahamas and us have not been able to agree on a maritime boundary; us naval base at guantanamo bay is leased from cuba and only mutual agreement or us abandonment of the area can terminate the lease; haiti claims us-administered navassa island; us has made no territorial claim in antarctica (but has reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any other states; marshall islands claims wake island; tokelau included american samoa's swains island among the islands listed in its 2006 draft constitution

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

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