Frequently Asked Questions about the U.S.
Q: What is the national anthem of the U.S.?
Q: How many stars and stripes are on the U.S. flag?
Q: Where can I find an image and a description of the Great Seal of the United States?
Q: What is the official symbol of the United States?
Q: When are public holidays in the United States?
Q: What is the current population of the United States?
Q: How can I find a brief summary of facts about the United States?
Q: How often does the U.S. take a census?
[Travel & Geography]
Q: How many states are there in the United States?
Q: What are U.S. Commonwealths and U.S. Territories and where are they located?
Q: What is the land area of the U.S.?
Q: Where can I obtain tourist information?
Q: Where can I find a map of the USA?
Q: Where can I find information about the National Parks in the U.S.?
Q: What’s the weather like where I’m going?
Q: Who is the President of the United States?
Q: How many Presidents have there been so far?
Q: How often is a President elected?
Q: What are the three branches of the US government?
Q: How many members of Congress are there, and how long are their terms of office?
Q: What is the Constitution of the U.S.?
Q: How does a Congressional bill become Federal law?
Q: What is the highest court in the U.S.?
Q: When does the Daylight Saving Time begin and end in the United States?
Q: How can I find a telephone number in the United States?
Q: What are the Postal Abbreviations for the U.S. states and territories?
Q: Where can I retrieve the ZIP Code for a certain address?
Q: What time is it in the United States?
"The Star Spangled Banner", was ordered played at military and naval occasions by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, but was not designated the national anthem by an Act of Congress until 1931. The words were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, who had been inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry after a night of heavy British bombardment. The text was immediately set to a popular melody of the time, To Anacreon in Heaven. The National Anthem consists of four verses. On almost every occasion only the first verse is sung.
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 thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave'
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Click to hear MP3 version of the National Anthem
USAF Heritage Band
There are 50 stars representing the 50 states and there are 13 stripes representing the 13 original states. A full picture of the flag is here. For more information on its history, please visit U.S. Flag Facts.
Please visit the Great Seal page of the U.S. Department of State.
The bald eagle first appeared as an American symbol on a Massachusetts copper cent coined in 1776, but Congress did not choose it as the national emblem until 1789. It was seen as a symbol of strength, courage, freedom, and immortality; and, unlike other eagles, the bald eagle was indigenous only to North America.
Technically, the U.S. does not observe any national holidays as each state has jurisdiction over its own holidays that are designated by legislative enactment or executive proclamation. In practice, however, most states observe the federal legal public holidays, even though the President and the U.S. Congress can legally designate holidays only for the District of Columbia and for federal employees.
Federal legal public holidays are New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When a holiday falls on a Sunday or a Saturday, it is usually observed on the following Monday or the preceding Friday. Government and business closing practices vary. In most states, the office of the secretary of state can provide details for holiday closings.
The following are legal or public holidays in most states:
• New Year’s Day - January 1
• Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Third Monday in January
• Washington’s Birthday or President’s Day - Third Monday in February
• Memorial Day or Decoration Day - Last Monday in May
• Independence Day - July 4
• Labor Day - First Monday in September
• Columbus Day - Second Monday in October
• Veterans Day - November 11
• Thanksgiving - Fourth Thursday in November
• Christmas Day - December 25
As of April 2010, the estimated population is nearly 309,000,000 people.
The World Factbook is an annual publication by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, with basic almanac-style information about the various countries of the world. The factbook gives two-to three-page summaries of the demographics, location, telecommunications capacity, government, industry, military capability, etc. of all U.S.-recognized countries and territories in the world. For the U.S., please click here.
Every 10 years. The next census will take place in 2010. The last census was in 2000.
• Census 2010
[Travel & Geography]
There are 50 states, 1 district (District of Columbia - Washington), and several dependent areas in the U.S.
• 50 states and 1 district*: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
• Dependent areas: American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island
note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)
American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands are all territories of the United States. Washington, D.C. and the Northern Mariana Islands are commonwealths. Puerto Rico was once a territory, but is now a commonwealth.
Territories and commonwealths are partially self-governing areas that have not been granted statehood. The indigenous peoples of these areas are citizens of the United States.
These areas may have one non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives
• Commonwealths and Territories of the USA
3,537,422 square miles. The United States has a total area of 3,537,422 square miles, making it the third largest country in the world after Russia and Canada.
• Profile of the people & land of the U.S.
All of the states now have their own homepages with a wide range of interesting and useful information for tourists.
• District of Columbia
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• North Carolina
• North Dakota
• Rhode Island
• South Carolina
• South Dakota
• West Virginia
• Reference and Outline Maps of Individual States
AL | AK | AR | AZ | CA | CO | CT |DE | FL | GA | HI | IA | ID | IL | IN | KS | KY | LA | MA | MD | ME | MI | MN | MO | MS | MT | NC | ND | NE | NH | NJ | NM | NV | NY | OH | OK | OR | PA | PR | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VA | VI | VT | WA | WI | WV | WY
• Infoplease U.S.
• Maps & geography of the U.S.
• Maps on us
• Rand McNally
• State maps
• U.S. Gazetteer
• How far is it from? (maps.com)
The National Park Guide site provides general information on visiting parks, park maps, fees and reservations, and links to all of the National Parks web pages, which contain documents specific to that park.
Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States. He won the presidential election of 2008 and became the first African American president of the United States. As president, he is the head of the executive branch. As commander in chief, he is also in charge of the military. Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. He graduated from Columbia University in New York. Obama also studied law and graduated from Harvard University in Massachusetts. He served as a U.S. senator for the state of Illinois before being elected president. President Obama’s wife, called “the First Lady,” is Michelle Obama.
• Biography of President Obama
Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States
English | Korean
Barack Obama, elected the 44th President of the United States, has lived a truly American life, and has opened a new chapter in American politics. This publication tells the story of Obama’s life, describes how he captured the presidency, and portrays his vision for the future. It also introduces readers to the Obama family and to the new Vice President, Joseph Biden.
Obama in His Own Words
English | Korean
These pages share President Obama’s words with our global readership. This book includes the complete text of the 44th President’s Inaugural Address. Also featured are extended excerpts from eight other significant campaign and pre-presidential speeches. It is our hope that while the book itself is small, readers will discover that the vision captured in its pages is large.
44, including President Obama.
According to the Constitution of the U.S., a President must be elected every four years. Amendment 22 to the Constitution states: "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once."
Executive, Judicial, and Legislative
The Constitution divides the government’s power among three branches. These branches operate under a system of checks and balances. This means that each branch can block, or threaten to block, the action of another branch. This way, no one branch can grow too powerful and harm the liberties of citizens. For example, the Senate can block a treaty signed by the President, or the U.S. Supreme Court can reject a law passed by Congress. In the first example, the legislative branch is “checking” the executive, and in the second, the judicial branch is “checking” the legislative.
Federal Government Links:
The Executive Branch
Department of Defense
Department of State
Department of the Treasury
The U.S. Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
Library of Congress
Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. Federal Court System
The U.S. Congress is bicameral, composed of two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate (http://www.senate.gov) has 100 members: two senators for each of the fifty states. Senators are elected for six years. One third of the Senate is elected every two years. The House of Representatives (http://www.house.gov) comprises 435 Representatives. The number representing each state is determined by the population, but every state is entitled to one representative. Representatives are elected every two years. A Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico, and Delegates from American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam and the Virgin Islands complete the composition of Congress. The Resident Commissioner and Delegates have no vote in the full House but they do vote in the committees to which they were assigned.
The Constitution is the governing document of the U.S. It was written in 1787 and ratified on June 21, 1788.
This complicated process is explained in the House of Representatives document How Our Laws are Made (http://thomas.loc.gov/home/lawsmade.toc.html). Broadly speaking, a proposed law, whether initially introduced in the House or the Senate, and some bills are introduced in both houses simultaneously, must be passed by both the House and the Senate, in exactly the same form, and then approved by the President, before becoming law.
The Supreme Court is the highest court of the United States and the only one specifically created by the Constitution. A decision of the Supreme Court cannot be appealed by any other court. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in only two kinds of cases: those involving foreign dignitaries and those in which a state is a party. All other cases reach the Court on appeal from a lower court. Most of the cases involve interpretation of the law or of the intent of Congress in passing a piece of legislation. A significant amount of the work of the Supreme Court, however, consists of determining whether legislative or executive acts conform to the Constitution.
The Supreme Court of the United States consists of nine justices appointed for life by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. One justice is appointed as the Chief Justice and has additional administrative duties related both to the Supreme Court and to the entire federal court system. The Supreme Court meets on the first Monday of October each year and usually continues in session through June. The Supreme Court receives and disposes of about 5,000 cases each year, most by a brief decision that the subject matter is either not proper or not of sufficient importance to warrant review by the full court. Cases are heard en banc, which means by all the justices sitting together in open court.
Biographies of the current members of the court are available on the court's website.
The Supreme Court
Chief Justice of the United States
John Paul Stevens
Anthony M. Kennedy
David H. Souter
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Stephen G. Breyer
Samuel Alito Jr.
For most of the United States, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November.
Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and by most of Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona).
The United States Postal Service offers Official USPS Abbreviations on which you can find postal abbreviations for the states and possessions.
Please visit the U.S. Postal Service's ZIP Code Lookup page.
The continental United States is divided into four times zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Alaska and Hawaii are each in their own time zone. The continental states observe daylight savings time during the summer months.