The United States of America, also known as the United States, the U.S., the U.S.A., and America, is a country in North America that shares land borders with Canada and Mexico, and a sea border with Russia. Extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the United States is a federal republic, with its capital in Washington, D.C.
The present-day continental United States has been inhabited for at least 15,000 years by indigenous tribes. After European exploration and settlement in the 16th century, the English established their own colonies—and gained control of others that had been begun by other European nations—in the eastern portion of the continent in the 17th and early 18th centuries. On 4 July 1776, at war with Britain over fair governance, thirteen of these colonies declared their independence. In 1783, the war ended in British acceptance of the new nation. Since then, the country has more than quadrupled in size: it now consists of 50 states and one federal district; it also has numerous overseas territories.
At over 3.7 million square miles (over 9.5 million km), the U.S. is the third or fourth largest country by total area, depending on whether the disputed areas of China are included. It is the world's third most populous nation, with nearly 300 million people.
The United States has maintained a liberal democratic political system since it adopted its Articles of Confederation on 1 March 1781 and the Constitution, the Articles' replacement, on 17 September 1787. American military, economic, cultural, and political influence increased throughout the 20th century; with the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, the nation emerged as the world's sole remaining superpower. Today, it plays a major role in world affairs.
This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. The writer O’Henry called it the one day that is purely American. Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday. But it has ritual meaning. Some Americans attend religious services on the day before Thanksgiving or on Thanksgiving morning. Others travel long distances to be with their families. They have a large dinner which is the main part of the celebration. For many Americans, Thanksgiving is the only time when all members of the family gather. The holiday is a time of family reunion. Thanksgiving week is generally one of the busiest travel times of the year. However, experts say this year probably will be different. On September 11th, thousands of people died when terrorists hijacked airplanes that struck buildings in Washington D.C. and New York City. Many people now say they are worried about flying on a plane. Travel experts say almost 6 percent fewer people will make long trips this Thanksgiving compared with last year. Many Americans who usually visit family and friends by plane are driving shorter distances instead this week. Some mental health experts say the attacks have frightened people. They say people feel safer and happier close to home. More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and home. Many people say that this year they are especially thankful for their families and friends and the good things in their lives. On Thanksgiving, people enjoy a long day of cooking, eating and talking. The traditional meal almost always includes the turkey with a bread mixture cooked inside. Other traditional Thanksgiving food served with turkey are sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Stores are said to sell more food at Thanksgiving than at any other time of the year, and many people eat more food at Thanksgiving than at any other time of the year. Over the years, Americans have added new traditions to their Thanksgiving celebration. For example, a number off professional and university football games are played on Thanksgiving Day. Some of the games are broadcast on national television.