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United States of America's name derives from the states that united together
in the Americas to fight British rule in the 1770s. This name first appears at this
time and was mentioned in the United States' Declaration of Independence of
Although in many countries the current culture and way of life is the result of
a long history and small alterations to the people, the United States' culture
is based on a couple major events that forever altered the people, the culture,
and the way of life. Of course, its relatively short history also contributes as
do the American Indians, who have distinct cultures from the past and today.
Despite the American Indians' historic way of life, which revolved around their
local crops, animals, and landscape, these people and their culture were nearly
destroyed with the arrival of the Europeans in the 1400s and 1500s. The arrival
of the Europeans destroyed the local people through disease and later through war
and westward expansion. These native people believed the land could not be owned,
but rather that people only used it temporarily. The European immigrants believed
land was to be owned and conquered as they pushed westward, destroying the culture,
mentality, and way of life of these people. Today these original inhabitants maintain
some elements of their historic culture, but this is severely limited geographically.
Even among these people the culture has changed significantly over time, particularly
due to changes in technology.
The red, white, and blue
of the American flag are taken from the Union Jack flag of the United Kingdom, but
today are said to represent loyalty, devotion, truth, justice, and friendship (blue),
courage, zeal, and fervency (red), and purity and rectitude of conduct (white).
The thirteen strips represent the thirteen original colonies and each star represents
a state, so today there are fifty stars on the flag.
Name: United States of America
Independence: July 4, 1776
Capital: Washington D.C.
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Population: 316,668,567 (2013 estimate)
Ethnicity: European, African, & others
Language: English, Spanish, & Others
Religion: Christian & others
As the Europeans arrived so too did their attitude, culture, and way of life as
settlement dominated and a desire to gain financial power and religious or political
freedom became the ideals that the country was soon based on. Perhaps the only country
in the world based on an idea, not an ethnicity, the United States soon recognized
the widening differences between themselves and their European forefathers, leading
to a war of independence in the late 1700s.
Since independence, the United States has continued to grow and thrive on the idea
of freedom as opposed to any unified ethnicity, language, or religion. The definition
of being an American is defined with a passport, little else and this has led to
great immigration and diversity. While most of this immigration was voluntary, much
was also forced as slavery brought in Africans, whose descendants today form a large
percentage of Americans.
Despite the earlier rift from the United Kingdom, through the 1800s until today
relations between the two countries have improved and form perhaps the United States'
greatest ally. This has led to great technologic changes as the Industrial Revolution
quickly arrived to the United States from Britain and trans-Atlantic trade became
an important and integral aspect of the country's economic markets.
With the economic improvements, came poor working conditions and a widening gap
between rich and poor. This altered the culture and way of life as people moved
from farms to cities for jobs as people began to turn to politics to seek changes
they desired, most notably in form of working conditions and workers' rights.
This shift in the way of life also spread disease and increased the rate of immigration
as laborers were needed in the 1800s. Varying people arrived to varying regions
as Germans tended to become farmers in the Midwest, the Irish and Poles settled
in cities, and the Scandinavians pushed further west. Later immigrants from Asia
settled the west coast, but there was no rule to immigration and people of all ethnicities
can be found in every corner of the country today.
It wasn't until World War II when the United States was truly unified as one
people, no matter their ethnicity or language. During this time each individual
became an "American" as the country became a "melting pot."
This war forced the people to unify as one nation, not just as individuals seeking
greater opportunities. This time also proved the country's power as their weapon
production, military prowess, and scientific advances proved enough to win the war
and become a world power. It also symbolized the breakup of ethnic neighborhoods
(to a degree) as foreign languages were abandoned in favor of learning English and
marrying a person with a different ethnic background became more common.
What didn't change over time was the fact that the country was created on an
idea, one of opportunity. The immigrants arrived for many reasons, perhaps to escape
poverty or disease; perhaps just to try to gain a better life for themselves or
their children. Some came to escape religious or political suppression, others only
to make more money. Although this is what the country's culture is based on,
many people have forgotten this and take the opportunities present for granted.
Despite this change in attitude, the country is still based on capitalism and the
freedom to move up or down economically, socially, and politically. Due to this
past, respect is based on what you have accomplished, not what family you were born
into or your age. For some parents, the greatest dream is to see one's children
become more successful than they themselves are.
American culture today is difficult to define as the only unifying trait is nationality;
diverse and unique, the people today have few unifying links other than a passport.
Some people seem obsessed with entertainment and pop culture while others only desire
economic or social success; still for others', their priority is to feed their
families domestically or abroad. For some, their lives revolve around their friends,
while for others, family is all that matters. The differences between the people
are greatly dependent on where they are from, from a regional perspective, a rural-urban
perspective, and a perspective of upbringing and parenting.
The people in the United States today create and use technology to an incredible
degree as most adults own cars, computers, and large flat screen TVs. The people
quickly adopt new technologies, but still find time to socialize at restaurants,
bars, or a friend's house.
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