The United States of America (also known as the United States or the USA) is a presidential federal republic, composed of 50 States and the District of Columbia (DC) with the federal capital Washington. The official language is English, but much Spanish is spoken in the Southern states. The United States is 9,809,431 sq km in area, and it has a population of some 300 million.
The USA is a founding member of the United Nations, a member of NATO (since 1949), of the OECD (since 1960) and of countless other international organisations.
62% of the population are members of one of 238 distinct religious bodies, 26% being Roman Catholic, 27.5% Protestant (Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians), 2.6% Jewish, 2% Mormons, while less than 2% are Muslim and 10% are of no religion.
The United States has been a member of G8 since the first meeting in 1975. It has held the presidency four times: 1983 (Williamsburg), 1990 (Houston), 1997 (Denver) and 2004 (Sea Island). The next meeting in the U.S.A. will take place in 2012.
>> Chair's summary, Sea Island
The United States is a presidential republic. The President is the head of the Executive branch. George Bush has since 2000 been the 43rd President of the United States.
The legislature is the Congress, consisting of two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Elections for the House of Representatives are held every two years. The number of representatives from a State is related to its population. Senators serve for six-year terms that are staggered so elections are held for approximately one-third of the seats every second year.
Each State has two senators, regardless of its size. All treaties made with other countries must be ratified by the Senate, even when signed by the President.
Only Congress has authority to decide the budget and initiate legislation.
The USA has a two-party system, opposing Democrats and Republicans.
The Supreme Court oversees compliance with the Constitution.
The United States is the world's greatest economic power, being responsible for 1/5 of global GDP. Its most important trading partners are Canada, Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, China and Germany.
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2005: 12,290 bn USD
- GDP growth in 2005: approx. 3.5%
- Unemployment in 2005: 5.1%
- GDP per capita in 2005: 42,101 bn USD
- Inflation rate in 2005: 3.4%
The trade deficit in 2005 was 829 bn USD, exports being 904 bn USD and imports 1,733 bn USD.
White House, State Department, US Embassy in Berlin, German Embassy in the U.S.A., information on bilateral relations between Germany and other countries provided by the Federal Foreign Office