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Official name

The United States of America


approximately 280 million

Total area

9,629,091 sq km


Washington, D.C.

Form of government

Federal parliamentary state

Head of state and government

The President

Official languages


Date of independence

July 4th, 1776

Monetary unit

American dollar

National anthem

The Star-spangled Banner



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The USA is situated in southern part of North America and occupies more than one third of this continent, being the fourth largest country of the world after Russia, Canada and China. Its neighbors are Canada in the north, Mexico in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the east, the Pacific Ocean in the west and Russia in Alaska. It covers the area of 9,5 million square km. Part of the USA is Alaska in the north of the American continent and the Hawaiian Islands 3,200 km south-west of California.

The country can be divided into five main areas. The Appalachian Highlands  - geologically the oldest area – are in the east. Further to the west there is the Mississippi Basin called the Interior Plains. It comprises the Mississippi Lowlands, Central Plains and Great Plains.

About one half of the continental USA is occupied by the Cordilleras in the west. They are divided into several ranges: the Rocky Mountains reach over 4,000 m, to the west of them there is the Great Basin full of ranges and valleys (the deepest valley is Death Valley lying 85m below sea level). The Colorado Plateau with the Grand Canyon is also to the west of the Rocky Mountains. The Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada and the Coastal Range, surround the Great Californian Valley. The highest peak of the USA, however, is in Alaska - it is Mt. McKinley (6,194 m).

The USA has many rivers. The biggest river system is that of the Mississippi ("great water" in Indian origin) and the Missouri. It is the third longest river system in the world after the Amazon and the Nile. The most important river in the east is the Hudson, connected with the Great Lakes. In the west we should mention the Colorado, the Columbia, and the Rio Grande on the Mexican border. The biggest river in Alaska is the Yukon.

The border with Canada is in its central part made by the Great Lakes Region. The USA shares Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario with Canada. Lake Superior is the second largest lake in the world (after the Caspian Sea). There is also another large lake in this region - Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes Region is the biggest reservoir of fresh water in the world. The Niagara River - part of the St. Lawrence River - connects Lake Eire and Lake Ontario forming the world-famous Niagara Falls 51 m high, 900 m wide on the Canadian side and 320 m wide on the US side.


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Temperatures change from the arctic cold in northern Alaska to subtropical warmth of Hawaii and the Gulf Coast States but the temperate climate prevails. On western coast temperature changes very little between summer and winter, the north central states have different climate in summer and winter.

We can see enormous parks and forests, lakes and seashores, mountains and valleys, deserts and wilderness areas in the USA. The Pacific Coast has pleasantly warm summers and mild winters, except in the south, where summers are hot and dry. The Atlantic Coast is relatively cold, occasionally with heavy snowfalls in winter, but summers may be hot and very humid; the weather in the north often differs from that on the south. The Middle West winters are cold and long. Death Valley in California is about the hottest place on earth in summer. California, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida belong among the so-called Sun Belt States.

There are many national parks in the USA with beautiful and preserved nature e.g. Glacier NP (Mon.), Yellowstone NP (Wyo.), Yosemite (Cal.), Rocky Mountains NP (Col.), Grand Canyon NP (Ariz.), Mount Mc Kinley (Alas.).



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The USA population is more than 267 million people. The density is about 26 people per one square km. Around 80 per cent of inhabitants live in urban areas.

The site of the United States was originally inhabited by peoples from Asia (between 35,000 and 20,000 years ago). To the first colonists they were known as American Indians. The first European settlements in North America were established in the 16th century by the Spaniards. The first African blacks were transported to the New World in the early 17th century as slaves and they formed a large minority.

In the 19th century the largest numbers of European immigrants were from England, Ireland, and Germany. After the American Civil War, immigrants from Italy, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the Balkans, and Austria began to arrive. Due to immigration, Roman Catholics and also a Jewish minority increased in number. Legislative restrictions slowed the coming of immigrants in the 1920s, but the number of them increased in the years after World War II. By the late 20th century the character of the immigrants had changed: more recent newcomers have been Hispanics from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, East Asians (Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos) and South Asians (Indians and Pakistanis).

There are 106 ethnic groups in the USA today. America is sometimes called the "melting pot" or the "salad bowl" or the "Pizza" because people living here are of all possible origins and all the races can mix here together. Now there are about 80 percent white people, 12 per cent black people, 3% Asian and Pacific islanders and 1% American Indians and Eskimos and Aleuts.

The Americans are often called "a nation of immigrants". Most of them went through the process of assimilation ("Americanization") quite easily. They are now proud to be Americans, but they are also proud of their ethnic backgrounds. All nationalities and ethnic groups have made their contribution to American culture, education and science. They have all contributed to the development of their special character.



Originally the Native Americans came from Asia. Over twenty thousand years ago they traveled along land between Siberia and Alaska. Before the Europeans came to America there were over 300 different groups or tribes. Same tribes lived in small earth houses and grew their own food. Some ate only the grasses, nuts, and fruit they could find. Other tribes were fishermen and lived in wooden houses. Most Native American tribes were very peaceful. They wanted to Iive happily with nature and each other. They thought spirits lived in natural things such as rocks, trees, or water. They believed these spirits could bring success in hunting, farming, fighting, or marriage. They held special ceremonies with dancing and music for these events.

Native American songs and poetry are an important part of their tradition. Because most tribes hadn't a written language or history, it was a way of keeping their stories and culture alive. Another tradition among some Native Americans was the peace pipe. When they smoked this pipe with a stranger in meant friendship and peace.

Once there were Native American tribes in all parts of the U.S.A., and Native Americans hunted and fished wherever they chose. Now most Native Americans live in the empty Iands west of the Mississippi River. Many Iive on "reservations": Iand that the government recognizes is theirs. Because they don't want their old traditions to die, Native Americans hold festivals called "pow-wows" in different parts of the U.S.A. They perform their dances and show their art and music. They also use these ceremonies to help their children understand their culture and history. Two very large festivals are the Bald Eagle Gathering in National Glacier Park, Montana, in late October, and the United Tribes Pow Wow, which takes place each September in North Dakota.




The main language spoken here is English but various ethnic minorities speak their original languages (Chinese, Spanish etc.) American English differs from British English in vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling.



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The history of the United States of America is referred to the period of more than 500 years that have passed since Christopher Columbus reached the coast of the Bahama Islands. But before him, other people had come to the American continent. The Native Americans, whom Columbus named Indians, crossed a now-submerged stretch of land that joined Asia and North America at the site of the Bering Strait about 35 000 years ago. They spread through the continent and settled also on the territory of today's United States. Native Americans were living mostly from agriculture, hunting and gathering, and fishing.



From October 12, 1492, to July 4, 1776, North America served exclusively as a colonial land to many Western European countries. The ships that first sailed to the New World were looking for the natural wealth of the region. Although they did not find gold as they had expected, they profited from the fur trade and also brought home new plants such as corn, beans, potatoes, and tobacco. Soon the explorers decided to establish settlements right on the continent. Among the first were the Spanish (Florida 1565, later Texas, Mexico, California etc.), French (the Louisiana territory in the middle of the land), but also the Dutch (New Amsterdam), and Swedish (Fort Christina). The most important among these nations were the English. They founded Jamestown in the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia (1607). Many members of the Church of England, known as Puritans because they wanted to purify the Church of England from the remains of Catholicism, decided to move to America as they were persecuted at home. In 1620, after a conflict with King James I, a community of English Puritans (called Pilgrims) decided to emigrate to Holland, where there was a greater measure of religious tolerance. Later half of them sailed in the Mayflower for America. They wanted to land in Virginia, but were blown north to the tip of Cape Cod. Then they established Plymouth. Many of them died during the first winter from starvation and serious diseases. The settlers who survived celebrated their survival with the feast of Thanksgiving Day.

 A typical Puritan colony was established in 1620 and was named Massachusetts Bay colony. Its center, Boston, soon became the largest town in the North-Eastern British territory, called New England. While Virginia settlers grew tobacco, New Englanders concentrated on trade. As more and more colonies were being established in the 1st half of the 17th century, southern plantations hadn’t enough English workers and so they decided to introduce slavery to America. Because the slave trade provided plenty of workers, after 1700 most Southern plantations relied on the slave labor.

In the 2nd half of the 17th century, a new system known as triangular trade ensured the exchange of goods between England and Spain, the American colonies, and the West African coast. While Europe supplied manufactured products, American merchants provided fish, furs, rum (as the product of sugar cane), lumber, grain, and tobacco, and Africa ensured a stable flow of slaves.



By the middle of the eighteenth century the American colonies felt a need for their own identity, they did not want to be only a casual group of settlers. Through the Stamp Act (1765) which put a tax on American legal documents and newspapers, and the Townsend Acts (1767), which placed imperial duties on tea and other articles imported to America (later restricted only to tea), England aroused the growing resentment of the colonists. Britain increased its military presence and The Boston Tea Party started the struggle for Independence of the thirteen colonies (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire).

The first battle of the War for Independence, however, wasn't fought until April of 1775. The redcoats (the British) were greater in number but weak in tactics. The patriots (American militiamen) were led by George Washington. Finally, after the battles of New York and Saratoga, and with the help of allied France, the patriots forced their enemy to surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed. Written by Thomas Jefferson, it declared all men created equal, an ideal principle on which the American society was supposed to be based. The Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783, granted the Americans unconditional independence and in addition included concession of all British land east of the Mississippi. From May to September 1787 the Constitutional Convention was held under the leadership of Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and other delegates. During 1788, the needed majority of states ratified the new Constitution, although many opposed it because of the absence of the bill of rights (that was ratified much later, in 1791).



On April 30, 1803, the vast territory of Louisiana was purchased from the French for only 15 million dollars. The Louisiana Purchase presented a major step in the westward expansion across the continent and doubled the size of the nation. In 1819, by a treaty with Spain, Florida was gained and so the United States became larger once again.

Politically, an important event occurred that formed the foremost rule in the future development of the USA. In 1823, President James Monroe announced the Monroe Doctrine which called for non-colonization of the Western Hemisphere by European nations, non-intervention by Europe in the affairs of independent New World nations and also non-interference by the United States in European affairs.

The existence of slavery, which was tolerated by the Constitution, became questionable when new territories were to be admitted as states to the Union. Because in 1820 the slave and non-slave states were equal in number, a potential admission of a state of one kind or the other would destroy the balance. Therefore a new law, the Missouri Compromise, was designed in which a line was drawn along the 36°30' parallel, north of which all states had to be free; whereas in the South slavery wasn't prohibited.

In the period of the 1st half of the 19th century, Southern and Northern states differed much in economy. The North was becoming an industrial area with factories, growing cities and railroads. Even the farmers in the West could rely on the North's supplies of manufactured products. On the other hand, in the South, farms and plantations spread across the landscape as the prevailing slave labor brought money to the wealthy slave owners. The new product which stimulated expansion was cotton. The English textile needed more and more cotton and so gave birth to the Cotton Boom, large-scale production with territorial expansion and huge profit.

The western frontier continued to recede throughout the 19th century. Texas, originally a part of Mexico, was gradually being settled by American slaveholders. They helped Texas win independence in 1836 and gain admittance to the Union as the 28th state in 1845. Furthermore, the Oregon territory (including all of present-day Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and parts of Wyoming and Montana), until this time jointly occupied by the British and Americans, became by the Oregon Treaty (1846) a part of the United States. In the same year, a war with Mexico broke out, the main issue still being Texas. It didn't last long and turned out to be more successful than the Americans had expected. In the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848), the United States gained California and New Mexico (including present-day Nevada, Utah and Arizona) and recognition of the Rio Grande as the southern boundary of Texas.



The American nation grew not only in size but also in population. More than any other source, immigrants influenced this growth, counting for over 5 million in the years 1820-1860. Seeking cheap land and a chance to make money, the Irish and German people were the most numerous. With increasing area of the land which was under control of the slaveowners, the Northerners were afraid that slave power could become dominant in the whole nation. Therefore they formed a new Republican party concentrating the abolitionists, i.e. those who asked for the abolition of slavery.

Soon the United States split into two large parts, one of them being the North represented by Republicans, and the other the South with the slave-oligarchy-supported Democrats.

The winner of the 1860 election, Republican Abraham Lincoln, took a strong anti-slavery stand. This caused South Carolina on December 20, 1860, and in the spring 1861 another 10 states to secede from the Union. Those states were: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. They formed a new government in Montgomery, Alabama, and called themselves the Confederate States of America. They chose Jefferson Davis as their president and acted independently from the Union. The armed conflict with which the Civil War began was the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina (the fort was still under the control of the Union). Despite the initial victories of the South, federal troops managed to succeed in two major battles in 1863 (Vicksburg and Gettysburg). On April 9, 1865, Southern General Lee surrendered his forces to the Union General and future President Ulysses S. Grant.

In the middle of the war, at the end of 1862, President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in which he announced that by January 1st, 1863, he would emancipate the slaves in states whose "people shall then be in rebellion against the United States". Although the blacks were declared free by the 13-15th amendments to the Constitution and were given the right to vote, they continued to be completely segregated (restricted in public facilities such as hotels, parks, theaters etc.).



In the period 1865-1877 the reconstruction of the South was carried out. It included industrialization and improvements in the transportation system. In the following era, the flourishing industrial corporations, pools and trusts, generally known as big businesses, helped the United States gain economic power. The problems of most presidents consisted of regulating these monopolies (the most famous of them are Henry Ford's car factories, J. P. Morgan's U.S. Steel Corporation and J. D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company) which were trying to control politics too. The first strong president after many years was Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909). He strove to achieve cooperation between big businesses and government and emphasized principles of the preservation of the environment. After him, Woodrow Wilson increased regulation of finances.



The number of European immigrants reached 13,000,000 between 1900 and 1914. Internationally, the United States were becoming a world power. To name just a few areas that were goals of American expansionism: 1867 Alaska was purchased from Russia, 1893 annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, US troops in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, purchase of the land for the Panama Canal (completed 1914) and financial control in Mexico and Guatemala. Finally the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War in 1898 was fought because the American government wanted Cuba to be independent from Spain and the local revolution against the Spanish reign could not succeed for a long time. The most remarkable


victory for the United States was the destruction of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in the Philippines. Spanish resistance both in Cuba and the Philippines collapsed and the same year in the Treaty of Paris Spain ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States and granted Cuba independence.



In the times of World War I, Woodrow Wilson sought to protect American interests as a neutral trader and tried to make the fighting countries respect international law. For almost 3 years, he kept the United States out of the war. But after Germany sank several American ships, it was no longer possible just to profit from selling goods to the fighting countries. On April 2, 1917, Congress declared war on the Central Powers. American soldiers in France helped the Allies win the war and so America took part as a victorious country in the negotiations in Versailles.

President Wilson was the one to design the Fourteen Points which guided the conference in Paris. They included principles of public-checked diplomacy, freedom of the seas, reductions in armaments and decolonization of empires. Other points concern self-determination of the European nations, and also a suggestion to found a League of Nations. In Paris all of the points were accepted, however in the United States, the Senate rejected the treaty (mainly due to the aversion to membership in the League of Nations) on the grounds of traditional American unilateralism, which already started with George Washington.



In the 20's, the American economy was prospering more than at any previous time. The gross national product rose by 40 percent between 1919 and 1929 and for example a car was easily affordable for an ordinary factory worker. The flow of immigrants had to be halted by issuing the Immigration Quotas (1921 and 1924). In 1919, the 18th Amendment prohibited the production, sale and transport of alcoholic beverages and so the whole period became known as Prohibition. However, on Black Thursday (October 24, 1929), the stock market crash in New York destroyed the dreams of a rich society. Overproduction and underconsumption caused widespread unemployment. As many as one quarter of all workers (about 13 million) were without jobs. When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt moved into the White House in 1933, he began to issue a radical reform legislation. During the period of the First Hundred Days (or the First New Deal) from March 9 to June 16, 1933, several acts were passed that helped banks and farmers and ensured social support for citizens. Perhaps the most important of the laws was the National Industrial Recovery Act that provided money to hire the unemployed to build government-owned roads, water systems, public buildings, and dams (e.g. Tennessee Valley project). The Second Hundred Days (or the Second New Deal) in the summer of 1935 included laws allowing workers to unionize, the Social Security Act (insurance for illness, old age and unemployment) and many other measures.



The role of the United States in the world now became the one of the biggest exporter and it functioned as the world's financial capital. At the dawn of the Second World War, President Roosevelt wanted once again to remain loyal to the isolationist theory which Americans had invented for themselves. But after the Japanese launched an air raid on December 7, 1941, which targeted the naval base of Pearl Harbor, the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies. American troops contributed significantly to the invasion of France (operation OVERLORD - General Dwight D. Eisenhower) but were also engaged in the Pacific. The USA developed an atomic bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Japanese city Hiroshima was bombed and three days later another atomic attack flattened Nagasaki. Throughout the war, Roosevelt and later Truman were negotiating with the Soviets (led by Stalin) and the British about how the war should be fought (Teheran), about founding the United Nations Organization and about structuring the post-war world (Yalta, Potsdam).



After World War Il, the Cold War against the Soviet Union began. The Marshall Plan which provided loans to European countries to help them recover their economies and the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to protect the plan were initiated by American activity. United States soldiers represented a major portion of the UNO forces that fought in the Korean War (1950-1953) on the side of South Korea against the North Korean and Chinese troops. The chief commander of assistant corps was General McArthur. While Eisenhower's policy (1953-1961) concentrated predominantly on the Middle East, John Fitzgerald Kennedy had to confront the Soviet Union in Berlin where he was asked to end the Western occupation but refused to withdraw and thus forced the Soviets to build the Berlin Wall (August 1961). The Cuban crisis in 1962 was a reaction to the installation of Soviet nuclear weapons on the island. Kennedy thought this too dangerous. Later Khrushchev agreed to ship the weapons back to the Soviet Union in exchange for an American promise never to attack Cuba and respect the revolutionary government led by Castro. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas. During his administration, the civil rights movement headed by Martin Luther King, Jr., achieved many improvements for the African Americans.



The American involvement in the Vietnam War (1961-1973) was later regarded as an unsuccessful military effort to resist the South-Vietnamese Vietcong troops (who received help from the Northern Ho Chi Minh's regime). Both Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson (president 1963-1969) hoped for victory and escalated the war but all these attempts failed. On January 27, 1973, the cease-fire agreement was signed and on April 29, 1975, Vietnam was united. The war was massively opposed at home and seen as purposeless.



In 1974, the investigation of the break-in into the offices of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate building proved that President Richard Nixon was involved in bribing witnesses and was withholding evidence regarding the break-in. On these grounds, he had to resign from office as the first president to do so. After the Watergate scandal, Gerald R. Ford replaced his predecessor and had to deal with serious economic recession. He was succeeded by Jimmy Carter, who having learned a lesson from Vietnam and Watergate, promised the people never to lie again. But in November 1979 revolutionaries in Iran stormed into the American embassy in Teheran and took the personnel as hostages. While the 444 days long Iranian hostage crisis troubled Carter, Soviet troops marched into Afghanistan. The next American president was Ronald Reagan. In his two-term presidency he cut down taxes (Tax Reform Act - 1986), lowered inflation but also worked out the Strategic Defense Initiative (known as "Star Wars") in 1983 and experienced the crisis in Lebanon where 240 American marine servicemen were killed during their peacekeeping mission. Throughout this time, many meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev (Reykjavik 1986, Washington 1987 and Moscow 1988) set the course of reducing strategic weapons. Moreover, in 1988 Gorbachev began to withdraw Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Reagan's successor, George Bush, had to handle the crisis in the Persian Gulf in the Gulf War (operation Desert Storm - January 15 to February 28, 1991), UNO troops, which were comprised mostly of US soldiers, defeated the Iraqi army led by Saddam Hussein (who had invaded Kuwait), with the casualties being 137 Americans and an estimated 100 000 Iraqi. In the elections of 1992 Democrat Bill Clinton, the youngest president in office since John F. Kennedy, received the most votes.



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The USA is the federation of 50 states with 48 on the continent, Alaska in the North and Hawaii in the Mid-Pacific some 3,200 km south-west of San Francisco. There is also one district, D.C. - District of Columbia - it means the land of Columbus. This territory is not a state; the state capital is situated here. The largest state is Alaska; the smallest one is Rhode Island. The capital is Washington, D.C.

The model of Federal Government is also to the governments of the individual states. On the state level, the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary deal with the state laws distinct from the federal ones. The states and their capitals are:




** - original thirteen states









Cotton State








Grand Canyon State



Little Rock

Land of opportunity




Golden State




Centennial State

Connecticut **



Nutmeg State

Delaware **



First of Diamond State




Sunshine State

Georgia **



Peach State




Aloha State




Gem State




Prairie State




Housier State



Des Moines

Hawkeye State




Sunflower State




Blue Grass State



Baton Rouge

Pelican State




Pine Tree State

Maryland **



Old Line, Free State

Massachusetts **



Old Colony, Bay State




Wolverine State



St. Paul

North Star State




Magnolia State



Jefferson City

Show Me State




Treasure State




Beef State



Carson City

Silver State

New Hampshire **



Granite State

New Jersey **



Garden State

New Mexico


Santa Fe

Land of Enchantment

New York **



Empire State

North Carolina **



Old North State

North Dakota



Sioux State




Buckeye State



Oklahoma City

Sooner State




Beaver State

Pennsylvania **



Keystone State

Rhode Island **



Green Mountain State

South Carolina **



Palmetto State

South Dakota



Coyote State




Volunteer State




Lone Star State



Salt Lake City

Beetrieve State




Green Mountain State

Virginia **



Old Dominion




Evergreen State

West Virginia



Mountain State




Badger State




Equality State




The system of Federal Government of the United States was established by the Constitution which was ratified in 1788 and which consists of the Preamble, Articles I-VII, and 26 Amendments to the Constitution. No law can be passed which would be unconstitutional. The political system created by the Constitution is basically the same today as it was in 1790. This document guarantees freedom of religion, free speech, free press, the right of citizens to bear arms, the right to a fair trial and protection against cruel an unusual punishment. It gives the USA the principle of a balance power divided into three branches - legislative (both houses of Congress), executive (the President and the Executive office) and judicial (the Supreme Court and all other Federal courts).



"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed (obdarovaní) by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit (snaha) of Happiness. Those to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving (čerpající) their just powers from consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

These are the ringing words of a document that was adopted by Thirteen American Colonies in 1776. The document was written almost entirely by Thomas Jefferson and named the Declaration of Independence. The document provided a theory which justified political revolution. It listed the reasons why the Colonists were driven to revolution and justified the Americans in breaking away from British rule.

The Declaration of Independence was actually signed by assembled delegates of the Continental Congress on August 2, 1776, but Americans celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence that occurred on July 4, 1776 when a draft version (návrh) of the document was signed only by Congress secretary, Charles Johnson and Congress president, John Hancock.

Americans do not talk much about the historical events that led to creating such a document. They rather celebrate the principles upon which the philosophy of their lives is based:

1.       All men are created equal.

2.       They are endowed by God with certain rights, among which are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

3.       To secure these rights governments are established deriving their powers from people.

4.       When a government departs from this purpose, it is the right of people to rebel.

Americans love their "independence" that became a necessary component of the American life-style.



The legislative branch is made up of elected representatives. The main body is called the Congress - its seat is in the Capitol. The Congress is divided into two parts - the House of Representatives and the Senate. Jointly, they are responsible for drafting and passing laws; for handling matters of national finance, such as setting and collecting taxes and coining money; for ensuring, in conjunction with the President, the defense of the nation; for regulating commerce; for admitting new states to the Union; for declaring war and dealing with foreign treaties.

The main task of the Congress is to make federal laws. A law begins as a proposal called a "bill". It is read, studied, commented on in both houses and then voted upon. A bill must pass both of them and be signed by the president before it becomes law. The president may veto a bill, but a veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

The House of Representatives consists of 435 lawmakers (often referred to as Congressmen and Congresswomen) who are elected according to the population of each state and serve for two years. The House of Representatives is chosen by direct vote. Members must be 25 years old, residents of the states from which they are elected, and previously citizens of the United States for at least seven years. Under the Constitution, the House is responsible for originating all bills relating to taxes; impeaching, that is charging a President with criminal actions; and determining the outcome of a presidential election it there is no clear electoral majority. The speaker of the House is chosen by the majority party and one of his duties is to preside over debate.

The Senate has 100 members - two members for each state, who serve six years. They must be at least 30 years old, residents of the state from which they are elected, and previously citizens of the United States for at least nine years. Every second year one third of the Senators are renewed. The Vice President is the official presiding officer of the Senate. The Senate's specific duties include approving presidential appointments, ratifying foreign treaties by a two-thirds majority, and trying a President who has been impeached by the House.



The Republican and the Democratic Parties are national parties along with other minor groups and parties. When members of a political party form a majority in the Congress, they have great power to decide what kinds of laws will be passed.

The Democratic Party is more liberal = they think that the government should provide wide social and economic programmes for those who need them (the poor, unemployed, students etc.). The Republican Party puts more emphasis on private enterprise and individual initiative.


Symbol of the

Democratic Party

Symbol of the

Republican Party




The executive branch is represented by the President and 14 executive departments. The President and Vice President are the only elected officials of the Executive branch. The President together with his Vice-President is chosen in nation-wide elections every 4 years. It takes place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. On the 20th of January of the new year the elected President and Vice-President are officially sworn into office. The President can be elected to only two terms (since 1951). The Constitution also requires a presidential candidate be at least 35 years old; be born in the USA; and have lived in the US for 14 years. In the event of the President's death, resignation, or impeachment by the Congress, the Vice President assumes the presidency.

Presidential powers are rather big – he is the head of state, he proposes bills, can veto or refuse a bill, he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (but the declaration of war must be made by Congress), makes treaties, appoints ministers, federal judges and ambassadors. He formulates foreign policy. He is also head of government.

The Executive branch comprises the President's personal staff - called the Executive Office of the President - and the employees of all 14 cabinet departments. The head of each department is appointed by the president and is responsible to him. When they meet together, they are called "the President's Cabinet". The present departments are: Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education and Veteran Affairs.

The Executive Office includes a number of independent agencies (such as the Central Intelligence Agency - CIA, the National Security Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - NASA) and various Federal regulatory agencies.



The smallest and most independent of the three branches, the Judiciary interprets the law of the land. It is composed of a three-level hierarchy: Federal district courts (94), US courts of appeal (13), and the US Supreme Court. Judges at all three levels are appointed for life by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. The Supreme Court is made up of eight associate justices and a Chief Justice. It focuses its attention on cases that call into question the constitutional nature of existing laws.



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The American flag consists of two parts - one smaller blue oblong with 50 white stars symbolizing 50 American states and one larger oblong consisting of 6 white and 7 red stripes symbolizing the original 13 states which used to be the British colonies. The flag is sometimes called "Old Glory" or "Stars and Stripes". The first US flag was created in 1776. A cartoon symbol of the USA is called "Uncle Sam".


The American national anthem is called "The Star-Spangled Banner".


Oh say, can you see by the dawn's early light,

what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight.

Over the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.

And the rocket's red glare, bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still here.

Oh say, does that Star-Spangled-Banner yet wave,

over the land of the free and the home of the brave?




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Services and manufacturing are the primary components of gross national product (GNP) in the U.S.A. The US economy is the biggest in the world. The USA is responsible for 30 per cent of the world's industrial production and about 20 per cent of the world's agricultural production. The USA is developing practically in all fields using widely the advances of science and technology. It is a member of the G-7 countries and newly of the NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The country is enormously rich in raw materials. It ranks first in the world's production of mica (49%), molybdenum (45%), natural petrol (41%), kaolin (33%), natural phosphates (28%), salt (20%) and gypsum (16%). It occupies the second place in e.g. natural gas (24%), sulphur (19%), coal (18%) and oil (14%). There are also the deposits of copper, lead, uranium, gold and mercury in the USA. Except for a few raw materials it is practically self-sufficient.

The USA is the leading country in agriculture. The arable land covers 20.7% of this vast country. The high effectiveness of the American agricultural system is shown in the fact that only 2.4% of the population work on about 2 million farms, which is sufficient not only feed the whole country but a great deal of agricultural production is exported. The principal crops grown there include corn, hay, wheat, cotton, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, sorghum, rice, sugarcane, sugar beet, and barley. Fruits include oranges, grapes, apples, grapefruits, lemons and limes. The country also produces a lot of tobacco, avocados, pineapples, strawberries, almonds, walnuts, and hops. Raw and refined sugar, wine, beer, and honey are produced in large quantities.

The principal livestock of the country are cattle, pigs, sheep, and horses. Milk, cheese, and butter production is much higher than is needed. Cattle hide and wool production supports leather and textile industries. Poultry is important. The United States is among the world's leading fishing nations, the country's fishing fleets operate in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Arctic and Caribbean seas, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The USA is also the leading industrial country. There are many goods in production of which the American industry is in the first place in the world - in chemicals, the production of lorries and cars etc.; it is a leading country in machinery, production of computers, electrical and electronic engineering etc. Food industry is also highly developed. As in other developed countries there has been a shift in employment towards the service industries. Industry developed mainly in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, because of the availability of local coal deposits, as well as iron and oil. But there are many industrial centers in the Western States and in the Middle East, where agriculture is greatly developed.

The foreign trade is about 13.6% of the whole world trade. The USA exports mainly machinery, cars, airplanes, metal-made products, chemicals, agricultural products, raw materials, paper, textiles etc. It imports industrial products (42% of cars), raw materials, oil (30%), consumer goods (16%), food and tropical crops. The main trading partners are Canada and Japan.


Tourism centers are such subtropical and tropical areas as Florida, southern California, and Hawaii. Winter-sports resorts can be found in the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada, and northern New England. The large metropolitan areas are also attractions with their museums and cultural events, as are historic sites of the eastern seaboard states. The natural wonders and national parks of the western states also figure importantly among the attractions that appeal to American and foreign tourists.

The most important part of the U.S. transportation network is the 44,000-mile Interstate Highway System that is found in all 50 states, connecting 90 percent of all cities. The system makes it possible to drive from coast to coast without stopping at a traffic light. The network of roads is the densest on the Eastern Seaboard, along the Mississippi and Ohio valleys, and on the West Coast. Nearly 90 percent of all households own at least one car or truck, and many own two or more. While most trips in metropolitan areas are made by car, public transit plays an important role in the most populous cities, such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New York City.

Navigable waterways are extensive and center upon the Mississippi River system in the country's interior, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in the north, and the Gulf Coast waterways along the Gulf of Mexico. The country's largest ports are New York City, New Orleans, Valdez, and Houston.

Airplane traffic has experienced spectacular growth in the United States since the mid20th century. From 1970 to 1985, for example, passenger traffic on certified air carriers increased by 126 percent. There are nearly 500 public airports, the busiest being Chicago and Atlanta.



American scientific and technical achievements have had a strong influence on world progress. Alexander Graham Bell perfected his telephone in 1876; Thomas Alva Edison invented the electric bulb (1879), the phonograph, the film camera and projector, the storage battery, the dictating machine, and many other things. Henry Ford from Detroit, Michigan, built his first motor car in 1896 and, after introducing the assembly line which revolutionized production methods, he made the Model T Ford, in "any color you want as long as it's black", America's most popular automobile. The Wright brothers made the first successful flight in 1903. Albert Einstein, who was born in Germany and became an American citizen in 1940 at the age of 61, was the creator of the Theory of Relativity. In 1969, Apollo 11 carried the first men to the moon. Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin left a plague on the moon's surface which read: "Here men from the Planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July, 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind." Between the years 1901 and 1991, 159 Americans won Nobel Prizes in science.



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The bald eagle is the official national bird of the United State of America. It can be seen on 25-cent coins and dollar bills. The bald eagle once lived in many of the forest areas of the USA from Florida to Alaska, but it is now becoming rare. The buffalo once lived in great numbers on the central plains of America. But in the nineteenth century most of the buffalo were hunted and killed. Now there are only a few small groups of buffalo in zoos and parks.

Beavers are furry animals with large front teeth. They look rather like large rats, but have large flat tails. The smooth fur of the beaver was once very fashionable for hats. Hunters traveled all over the northern USA to catch beavers. Seals were also hunted for their beautiful fur. They live in the Pacific Ocean, from San Francisco to Alaska and Hawaii. Many kinds of whales live in the oceans, too. If you visit the Hawaiian Islands or California in December, you can take a "whale-watching boat" to see groups of whales swimming to warmer southern oceans.

Some American animals are dangerous. Wolves live in the northern mountains of the USA and Canada. Wolves kill sheep and cows, but they seldom attack people. The smaller coyote looks like a mixture of a fox and a dog. The coyote lives in the dry western deserts and plains, and it hunts small animals.  The cougar, or mountain lion, and the bobcat are large cat-like animals. They are found in the deserts and mountains of the USA. There are many kinds of bears in America, including the brown bear, the California black bear, and the grizzly. When it stands up on its back legs, a grizzly bear is much taller than a man. It will attack if it is frightened.

Alligators and crocodiles live in wet areas of the southeastern USA. The crocodile lives in coastal areas; the alligator lives in rivers and swamps. Alligator skin was used to make handbags and shoes, but now there is a law against alligator hunting in the USA.



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ATLANTA (Georgia, 400,000 inhabitants)

No other city in America shares Atlanta's unique heritage - it is the only city in the USA ever to be completely destroyed by the flames of war. During the American Civil War, Atlanta was of great strategic importance to the Confederate forces and its capture by Union forces in 1864, under the command of General Sherman, marked the last stages of the war. When the Civil War had ended, the city was gradually rebuilt.

A number of big firms, such as Coca-Cola, have their head offices in Atlanta (Coca-Cola was created by an Atlanta pharmacist in 1886). Atlanta has also become home to CNN - the world's first 24-hours news channel. Atlanta became a world famous city in 1996 when it hosted the XXVI Olympic Games.


BOSTON (Massachusetts, about 574,000 inhabitants)

Founded in 1630, the city has played an important role in American history. Many events leading up to the Revolutionary War took place here. It is proud to call itself the birthplace of America. Boston is often called the "Cradle of Liberty" and remembered for the Boston Tea Party which began the American Revolution in 1773. Many city's landmarks date back to the seventeenth century but Boston is also a completely modern city. It has the charm of a European city, a tradition rich in history, the finest academic institutions, innumerable artistic and cultural attractions, world-class shopping and great cuisine. You can find there a fascinating mix of old settlers, Irish, Spanish and Italian immigrants and there are a lot of young people there, who arrive to study there every year.


CHICAGO (Illinois, 2,783,000 inhabitants)

This city lies on the banks of Lake Michigan. It has been called Windy City or City of Big Shoulders, the Queen City of the Lakes. Originally the city belonged to the Indians who gave the city its name - Checagou, meaning "wild onions" or "strong, powerful". The area began settlement with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and developed rapidly. It has major grain and livestock markets. In 1920s during prohibition it became notorious for the activity of its gangsters (Al Capone). In Chicago the first skyscraper in the USA was built in 1882 - Montank Block (39.5 m). Chicago is also an important transport center - O'Hare Airport is the busiest airport in the USA. The most interesting sight in Chicago is the Sears Tower. The Tower reaches 443 meters. Twin antenna towers atop the building bring its total height to 520 meters. The construction of the Sears Tower took three years and some 1,600 people were working on the project. The building was opened in 1973.


DALLAS (Texas, 1,006,000 inhabitants)

First settled in 1841, developed as the financial and commercial center of the Southwest. It is known for its oil industry and cotton market. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated here in 1963.


DENVER (Colorado, about 1,500,000 inhabitants)

The Denver metro area is the home of more than half of the residents of Colorado. Denver, the center of finance and commerce of the Rocky Mountains region, has grown into a major metropolis without losing its small-town atmosphere and charm.


DETROIT (Michigan, 1,028,000 inhabitants)

This city was founded by the French in 1701 and it is well-known for its car manufacturing which began in 1899. Headquarters of Ford, Chrysler, Pontiac, Chevrolet and General Motors are to be found here.


HOUSTON (Texas, 1,630,000 inhabitants)

It was founded in 1836 and developed rapidly after completion of the Canal to the Gulf of Mexico in 1914. It is an important oil center and a NASA base.

LAS VEGAS (Nevada, 260,000 inhabitants, metropolitan area 750,000)

The site of Las Vegas was occupied by Mormons in 1850s. It is famous for its rodeo festivals, a great collection of neon lighting and casino gambling, which was legalized here in 1931. Las Vegas as we know it today began to really "exist" in 1946.   Many people are attracted by affordable housing, low cost of living, and year-round sunshine - 312 days of sunshine every year. There is also no state personal income tax and no inheritance tax. Because of Nevada' liberal marriage laws, 1 in 20 of the nation's weddings are performed in Las Vegas. All you need is proof of age - birth certificate or driving license - and 35 dollars filing fee. The two busiest days for Las Vegas wedding chapels are Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve.

Of course, the most important reasons why people come to Las Vegas are casinos, games, and shows. Slot machines, along with video poker and keno, are now the most popular casino games, with blackjack right behind.


LOS ANGELES (California, about 4 million inhabitants)

Los Angeles, the second largest city in the USA, popularly known as LA, is located on the southwestern coast of California. It was founded by the Spanish in 1781. Los Angeles City has about 4 million inhabitants but it is said that you have to go through 40 suburbs before you find a city! Actually, there are only banks, business companies and hotels in the city's downtown. Los Angelenos live in houses in the suburbs. And so, when getting around LA, you should have a car and be prepared for overcrowded and slow-moving highways. Lots of cars cause many traffic problems and pollution. In this area, the air is officially unhealthy 232 days per year!

Despite all these problems and the high crime rate, LA is very popular with tourists and young people. Most of them come to visit the center of the film industry and home to many famous stars - Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Some of them come to LA because they want to become famous actors. But only a few of them aren't disappointed.

The Hollywood image is more of a legend than reality. The "Golden Age" of the 1930s and 1940s is over. After the World War, most of the studios moved and since then more films have been made outside Hollywood. Nevertheless, in the 1980s and 1990s, a new energy came to Hollywood studios with some new directors such as Steven Spielberg. We are sure you know some of their most successful films - "Jurassic Park", "E.T.", "Forrest Gump" or "Titanic".

But Los Angeles isn't just the center of the film. We must remember that it is also a large manufacturing center, which is known all over the world for its production of aircraft, chemicals and electronic goods, and has become one of the world's largest ports and financial centers.

LA university is called California Technology Institute. There is an important space research center and developed car industry. The biggest ZOO in the world is here.

Driving down on the freeway 405 LAX Airport you can see Los Angeles' newest cultural attraction - The Getty Center. The project comprises J. Paul Getty Museum, 450-seat auditorium, Research Institute, Central Garden, Museum cafe and Museum store. The Museum was created for the benefit of the public by J. Paul Getty who was born in 1892 in Minnesota and spent part of his life in Los Angeles.


MIAMI (Florida, 360,000 inhabitants)

It is situated on the former site of a port. The settlement began in 1870 and it developed into a seaside resort and a recreation center popular with millions of tourists.


NEW ORLEANS (Louisiana, 500,000 inhabitants)

This largest city in Louisiana and the second largest port in the USA lies at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It is a perfect port city typical for a warm and tropical climate. It is famous for its unique architecture and its music. They have both been influenced by French, Spanish and African culture. New Orleans was founded in 1718 by a French adventurer. The first settlers found an area full of snakes, alligators and mosquitoes. But the soil was fertile and soon there were many fields and plantations which needed lots of workers. The French imported thousands of African slaves to work on their cotton and sugar cane plantations or on ships. The United States had purchased the city and surrounding territory in 1803.

As an American city, New Orleans is really very unusual now. It has its own unique culture which has joined together the cultures of different nations. While walking through the city, you can see the picturesque French Quarter, listen to the sounds of Dixieland jazz, go to lots of festivals and carnivals (e.g. "Mardi Grass" which is held once a year just before Lent) or set out on a cruise on board a paddle steamer.

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and blues. Jazz was created by black Americans. Many of them were brought from Africa as slaves. The black slaves sang and played the music of their homeland. The songs were usually about their hard work and God. The first jazz bands were formed in the early years of the 20th century and now, jazz is popular everywhere. The main attraction for visitors is the city's night life. New Orleans is dotted with fine restaurants specializing in "Creole" cooking which is generally a hot and spicy mix of French and Spanish dishes.

We shouldn't forget the great Mississippi River, which is the second longest river in the USA. It flows 3,778 km to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico, where the port of New Orleans was built. The Mississippi River used to be famous for its steamboats, which Mark Twain wrote about. Nowadays, although there are many large ships on the river, everybody comes to see the traditional paddle steamers.


PHILADELPHIA (Pennsylvania, settled 1636, about 1,586,000 inhabitants)

It was the first seat of the Congress, the national capital in 1790-1800 and the place where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. Now it is a center of machinery and chemical industry.



It is the capital of the state of Utah and the biggest Mormon settlement.


SEATTLE (Washington)

The capital of the state of Washington set in the beautiful surroundings in the mountains and at the seaside.


ST. LOUIS (400,000 inhabitants)

It was founded in 1754 as a fur trading port by the French. Historically it was a gateway to the western expansion of the USA which is commemorated by the well-known Gateway Arch.


SAN FRANCISCO (California, less than 1 million inhabitants)

San Francisco is an important city on the west coast. It is one of the cleanest and most picturesque cities, but it is the victim of frequent earthquakes. The inhabitants of the city call it Frisco for short. SF is the financial and cultural center of western America. And it is a city for tourists. San Francisco and California are Spanish names. Spanish explorers looked for more land from the 16th century. They sailed north along the western coast of North America. They called the land along the coast California. Many years later, Spanish soldiers and monks went together into California. Between 1769 and 1823, monks built twenty-one missions along the coast of California. They taught their religion to American Indians at these missions. Near each mission, soldiers built a military post.

In 1848, gold was discovered in the hills near SF and the town changed completely. In 1849, men came here from all over the world. They were called "Forty-Niners" and they were looking for gold. About 80,000 men came to California in the Gold Rush. Some of these "Forty-Niners" found gold and became very rich. But most of them found nothing.

SF is a special city for several reasons. Here is one: the city has water on three sides. On the west there is the Pacific Ocean. On the east there is San Francisco Bay. On the north, between the Ocean and the Bay, there is the Golden Gate. The Golden Gate is the entrance to the Bay. At one point it is only a mile (1.6 km) wide. Here, the famous Golden Gate Bridge goes from San Francisco to Marin County on the other side. San Francisco's other bridge goes across the Bay to Oakland, a smaller city. It is called the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, or "the Bay Bridge". It is the longest steel construction in the world. It was opened in 1936 and 250,000 vehicles cross its eight-mile span each day.

San Francisco is built on many hills. There are forty! Some of the hills are very high and very steep. The streets go up and down the hills. Lombard Street is the crookedest street in the world.  SF has a special climate. It is never very hot or very cold. In December, the average temperature is 52.5°F (11.4°C). In July, it is 58.8°F (15°C). The weather can change several times during one day. Often it is foggy, especially in the morning. Then the sun shines. San Franciscans always have jackets with them. Only ten miles (16 km) outside San Francisco, the temperature can go over 100°F (36.6°C) in summer!

    San Francisco is famous for its cable cars. Its first cable car was made in 1873 by Andrew Hallidie, an engineer. The cable cars are pulled by a heavy wire rope - a cable - under the street. The cable always moves at the same speed: 9.5 miles (15.2 km) per hour. There are three cable car lines in the city. The cable cars are old-fashioned, but everyone loves them. Visitors always ride on them.

    Visitors admire the Golden Gate Bridge which has become a symbol of SF. It is instantly recognizable seven-mile long bridge with its unique blend of orange and black and two towers as high as a 48-storey building. When it was first opened in 1937, 200,000 pedestrians walked over the bridge. It is used by more than 10,000 cars each day. Unfortunately, it has become famous for suicides. Many people have jumped to their death from the bridge and many others have been rescued. There is a very good view of it from the Golden Gate Promenade.




CAMBRIDGE (Massachusetts)

This historical town is separated from Boston by the Charles River. It is the seat of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Harvard University, the country's oldest institution of higher learning was established in 1636. Its enrollment grew from 12 students to its current total of nearly 19,000 degree candidates. It is the great desire of every successful student to be given the opportunity to study there. Harvard developed as a modern university in the 19th century, as other professional schools were added to the original college.

Harvard's superior academic traditions, extensive course offerings, distinguished faculty and devotion to research have made it one of the world's leading institutions of higher learning. The university library houses a total of more than 12 million volumes, and the Fogg Art museum is a world-class university art museum. Harvard is closely associated with many renowned research facilities and engages scholars to study and resolve global problem relating to government, health, and education. Harvard university contains the undergraduate college and ten graduate schools: Divinity (theology), Law, Dental Medicine, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Public Health, Design, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. It is a member of the Ivy League, a group of prestigious East coast colleges that also includes Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth. Women were first admitted to the Harvard community in 1879.

Students live in one of 13 Harvard Houses, often lovely Georgian-style buildings that surround courtyards. Harvard is a city with 500 buildings, including more than 100 libraries, nine museums and dozens of laboratories on 380 acres of land, primarily in Cambridge. The center of this "universe" is Harvard Yard, the oldest part of the university - famous by the Widener Library, Memorial Church and University Hall.


NEW HAVEN (Connecticut), the seat of Yale University.


PRINCETON (New Jersey), the seat of Princeton University where Albert Einstein gave his lectures.





LITTLE BIGHORN BATTLEFIELD (New Mexico – in 1876 the battlefield where Sitting Bull, a Sioux Chief, defeated General Custer.

PITTSBURGH, (Pennsylvania, 370,000 inhabitants) - settled in 1758, has one of the largest inland ports, formerly known as a center of iron production.

PLYMOUTH (Massachusetts) - the place where the first pilgrims settled in 1620.

PUEBLO RUINS (New Mexico) -  Chaco Canyon from 100 AD. The area includes 19 Pueblo, 4 Navajo and 2 Apache reservations.

RICHMOND (Virginia, 203,000 inhabitants) - first settled in 1607, and it was the capital of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

WILLIAMSBURG (Virginia) - this charming town has been preserved exactly as it was in colonial times. It has an old college.



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