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United States

In the 19th century, the United States acquired land from France, Spain, The United Kingdom, Mexico and Russia then annexed the Republic of Texas and the Republic of Hawaii. Disputes between the agrarian South and industrial North over states' rights and the expansion of the institution of slavery provoked the American Civil War of the 1860's. The North's victory prevented a permanent split of the country and led to the end of legal slavery in the United States. By the 1870's the national economy was the world's largest. The Spanish-American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a military power. It emerged from World War Two as the first country with nuclear weapons and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the United States as the sole superpower. The country accounts for two-fifths of global military spending and is a leading economic, political and cultural force in the world.

The land area of the contiguous United States is approximately 1.9 billion acres or 770 million hectares. Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 365 million acres or 150 million hectares. Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, has just over 4 million acres or 1.6 million hectares right after Russia and Canada the United States is the world's third or fourth largest nation by total area, ranking just above or below China. The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted and how the total size of the United States is calculated.

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States since the year 1782. The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south. The southern tip of Florida is tropical, as is Hawaii. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains are alpine. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. In the United States extreme weather is not uncommon, the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in the Midwest's Tornado Alley.

The U.S. ecology is considered "mega diverse" there is about 17,000 species of vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and over 1,800 species of flowering plants are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland. The United States is home to more than 400 mammal, 750 bird, and 500 reptile and amphibian species and there is about 91,000 insect species have been described. The Endangered Species Act of 1973 protects threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. There are fifty-eight national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas. Altogether, the government owns 28.8% of the country's land area. Most of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging or cattle ranching; 2.4% is used for military purposes.

Posted materials are for information only and are not the product of Generation Point nor were they provided by the host government.

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