GENERAL INFORMATION Geographical position
The United States of America (the USA, US) lies in the central part of the North American continent with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific to the west, Canada to the north and Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. The USA is one of the biggest countries in the world. «The size of its territory places it fourth in the world (after Russia, Canada and China). The population numbers more than 237 mln. people.
The present territory of the USA consists of three separate parts. Two of them, the USA proper and Alaska are situated in the North America. The Hawaiian Islands, situated in the central part of the Pacific Ocean are the third part.
The popular name of the United States flag is "Stars and Stripes”. It contains 13 red and white stripes, one for each colony that started the War of Independence against Britain in 1775. 50 white stars on a deep blue background represent the number of states.
The states differ a great deal in size, population and in the character and level of economic development. Thus for example the area of Texas, the largest state, is 220 times larger than that of Rhode Island, which is the smallest and most thickly populated state. The world's attention to Texas was drawn to in, 1963, when on November 22 President J.F.Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas.
The largest population is in California, one imagines sun-bronzed people, luxurious swimming-pools, Rolls-Royces and Cadillacs in front of palaces and villas that overlook the deep-blue Pacific Ocean. All those dreams of success and good life have for decades attracted people to California. The influence of Spanish colonists who settled in the area can be found in the names of such cities as Santa Barbara, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. All of them are of Spanish origin. California borders upon not less popular state Nevada. It is famous for its gambling activity. Nevada is the only state where all forms of gambling are legal. In its largest city Las Vegas, there are many casinos and night clubs, attracting rich people all year round.
Massachusetts is a state famous for its universities and colleges. It is a centre of science. It is here that the cultural history of America has developed side by side with the history of Harvard University. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest university of the country. It is named after John Harvard, an English clergyman, who emigrated to America. Many outstanding people studied here, among them F.D.Roosevelt and J.F.Kermedy. It is around Harvard University that the golden semi-circle is sited - about 70 research laboratories in electronics, cybernetics and atom research institutions, and among them the world famous Massachusetts Technological College - all of them making the brain power of the country.
Florida is completely different from any other state. It has been developed as a resort area. The state's leading activity is "tourism. Such cities and towns as Miami, St.Petersburg, Orlando, Panama City, Palm Beach are well known. Not far from Orlando there is amusement park-Disney World. Opened in 1971 it drew some 12,000,000 visitors in 1972, more people than live in the State of Florida and twice as many as the number of foreigners who came to the US that year.
Americans talk with pride of their government and institutions. Let's have a clear idea what they are.The USA is a federal republic. The Government shares the power with the 50 states. Each state has its own government andits own capital city.
The Constitution adopted about 200 years ago in 1787 after the War of Independence is the foundation of the government of the country, The Constitution divides power among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the government. Each branch is almost independent. The head of legislative branch is the Congress. The head of the executive branch is the President and his Cabinet. The head of the judicial branch is the Supreme Court.
The function of the US Congress is to make laws and finance work of the government through gathering taxes. The US Congress consists of two Houses - the Senate and the House of Representatives. The senate has 100 senators, two from each state, and they are elected for six years. One third of the Senate is elected every two years. There is no limit to the number of times a senator may be re-elected. The Head of the Senate is Vice-President. He is elected every four years together with the President.
The House of Representatives consists of 437 members elected every second year. The number of each state's representatives depends on the number of people in this particular state. The Head of the House of Representatives is the Speaker.
Congress sessions take place once a year and last for several months. Members of the Congress are called Congressmen.President and his Cabinet
The executive branch is responsible for administering and executing the laws. The President is the head of the federal republic and the government. He forms the government. The President is elected for 4 years and may be re-elected and serve two terms altogether, but no longer than that. He cannot be younger than 35 and he must have lived in the USA for at least 14 years.
Presidential elections are an important event in the political life of the country. There are two major political parties fighting for power: Democratic and Republican. The Democratic Party is the older of the two tracing its history back to 1820. The Republican Party was organized later, as an antislavery party.
Elections are held every leap-year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. They are held in two stages. First the voters choose electors and then the latter elect the President.
The formal act of installing the President in office is called "inauguration". Inauguration Day on January 20 is usually the occasion for extensive ceremonies in Washington, the central point of which is the taking of an oath to be true to the Constitution and making inaugural speech. In the evening of that day there is a ball in the White House. The US President is assisted by a Cabinet of 10-12 members. The Cabinet takes care of such national business as defence, postal service, foreign relations, money and others. Positions held by members of the Cabinet are: Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defence, Secretary of Transportation etc. The Cabinet is appointed by the President and serves during his term.
The judicial branch of the federal government consists of the Supreme Court and the system of federal courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. Its function is to interprete the Constitution, to judge the constitutionality of acts of laws, and not to alter or modify it.
The Supreme Court has one chief justice and eight associate justices. The President appoints these men for life, but his choice must be approved by the Senate.
The capital of the USA is the city of Washington, which indeed is like no other city in the USA. The city of Washington is not in any of 50 states of the USA. It belongs to all of them.
Washington is situated on the Potomac River in the District of Columbia. The District of Columbia was named in honour of Christopher Columbus who discovered America in 1492. It is a piece of ten square miles land and it is not a part of any state. The first President of the USA was George Washington. He was the first to lay the corner-stone of the Capitol Building where the Congress has its seat now. Standing on the Capitol Hill in the very center of the city, it dominates the city. Inaugurations of Presidents and Vice-Presidents take place in front of the Capitol. There is a law against building structures more than 90 feet high in this city, so it presents a different appearance from New York with it's sky-scrapers. Not far from the Capitol there is the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world. It contains books, manuscripts, photographs, rolls of microfilms, magnetic tapes, sheets of music. It was founded in 1800 for the use of Congressmen. Now it is opened to anyone over 16. Its main reading hall accomodates 1,000 readers at a time.Pennsylvania Avenue connects the Capitol with the White House, home of the President. lt is open to the public, anybody can go inside and see some halls of the first floor, used for receptions. It was designed by James Hoban on a site chosen by George Washington. Around the White House there are broad lawns, fountains, trees and gardens.
Other places of interest in Washington include Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithonian Institute, National Gallerv of Arts and many other museums and theatres.
Washington D.C. the seat of the government I unique. With its grand architecture, large monuments, arid atmosphere ofpower and politics, Washington is a city to admire rather than to love .New York
With a population over 8 million New York is the largest city in the United States. New York, the city of sky-scrapers, is a financial centre of the country, the headquarters of the clothing industry and the publishing business.
It is a large seaport. The Statue of Liberty meets those who come to New York by sea. The Statue is made of bronze and it ''has a torch of freedom in one hand and the book of American Declararion in the other. In 1886 The Statue was brought to the USA as a present from France. It is about 46 metres high and stands on the platform.
New York comprises of five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Richmond.
Manhattan is the central borough. It is an island 12,5 miles (20km) long and 2,5 (4km) wide. On the west Manhattan is bounded by the Hudson River and on the east by the East River. Manhattan is linked to all the other boroughs by bridges and tunnels. The part of New York that lies on the Manhattan Island is called "New York City".
Manhattan is crossed from north to south by avenues and from east to west by streets. The best known of New York streets is Broadway. It is also the longest street in the world. Its length is 29 km. In the centre of Broadway is Times Square. Broadway is the centre of US theatrical world.
Another famous New York street is Wall Street. Economic and financial power of the US is concentrated in its skyscrapers, in the world's greatest Stock Exchange, in the banks, among them the oldest in the city the Bank of New York, founded in 1784.
New York is the greatest cultural centre of the world with its finest museums, art galleries, concert halls and libraries.
The Metropolitan Museum of Arts, founded in 187O,is the most famous of all. it presents magnificent collection from prehistoric period to the present day and includes hundreds of world famous masterpieces. It has a veritable encyclopedia of arts of 5000 years. Primitive, Ancient, Near and Far Eastern, European, American arts are represented here. Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art, founded in 1937, is housed in a unique building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It contains an impressive collection of modern foreign and American artists ranging from impressionists to abstractionists.