United States

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Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. Since the end of World War II, the economy has achieved relatively steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.



North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico

Geographic coordinates

38.00° N, 97.00° W

Area 3/257

total: 9,833,517 sq km

land: 9,147,593 sq km

water: 685,924 sq km

note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia, no overseas territories (2010)

Area - comparative

about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; more than twice the size of the European Union

Land boundaries

total: 12,048 km

border countries (2): Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,155 km

note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba; the base boundary is 28.5 km


19,924 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: not specified


mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains


vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Death Valley -86 m

highest point: Denali (Mount McKinley) 6,190 m (highest point in North America)

note: the peak of Mauna Kea (4,205 m above sea level) on the island of Hawaii rises about 10,200 m above the Pacific Ocean floor; by this measurement, it is the world's tallest mountain - higher than Mount Everest (8,850 m), which is recognized as the tallest mountain above sea level

Natural resources

coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, rare earth elements, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber, arable land

note: the US has the world's largest coal reserves with 491 billion short tons accounting for 27% of the world's total

Land use

agricultural land: 44.5%

arable land 16.8%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 27.4%

forest: 33.3%

other: 22.2% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

266,440 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources

3,069 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 478.4 cu km/yr (14%/46%/40%)

per capita: 1,583 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

tsunamis; volcanoes; earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development

volcanism: volcanic activity in the Hawaiian Islands, Western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and in the Northern Mariana Islands; both Mauna Loa (elev. 4,170 m) in Hawaii and Mount Rainier (elev. 4,392 m) in Washington have been deemed Decade Volcanoes by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Pavlof (elev. 2,519 m) is the most active volcano in Alaska's Aleutian Arc and poses a significant threat to air travel since the area constitutes a major flight path between North America and East Asia; St. Helens (elev. 2,549 m), famous for the devastating 1980 eruption, remains active today; numerous other historically active volcanoes exist, mostly concentrated in the Aleutian arc and Hawaii; they include: in Alaska: Aniakchak, Augustine, Chiginagak, Fourpeaked, Iliamna, Katmai, Kupreanof, Martin, Novarupta, Redoubt, Spurr, Wrangell; in Hawaii: Trident, Ugashik-Peulik, Ukinrek Maars, Veniaminof; in the Northern Mariana Islands: Anatahan; and in the Pacific Northwest: Mount Baker, Mount Hood

Environment - current issues

large emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the US and Canada; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural freshwater resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes

Geography - note

world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent

People and Society


noun: American(s)

adjective: American

Ethnic groups

white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)

note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic


English 79.2%, Spanish 12.9%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 3.3%, other 0.9% (2011 est.)

note: data represents the language spoken at home; the US has no official national language, but English has acquired official status in 31 of the 50 states; Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii


Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)

Population 4/238

321,368,864 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 18.99% (male 31,171,623/female 29,845,713)

15-24 years: 13.64% (male 22,473,687/female 21,358,609)

25-54 years: 39.76% (male 63,838,086/female 63,947,036)

55-64 years: 12.73% (male 19,731,664/female 21,172,201)

65 years and over: 14.88% (male 21,129,978/female 26,700,267) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50.9%

youth dependency ratio: 28.6%

elderly dependency ratio: 22.3%

potential support ratio: 4.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 37.8 years

male: 36.5 years

female: 39.2 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 141/233

0.78% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 158/224

12.49 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 93/225

8.15 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 34/222

3.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 81.6% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.02% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

New York-Newark 18.593 million; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 12.31 million; Chicago 8.745 million; Miami 5.817 million; Dallas-Fort Worth 5.703 million; WASHINGTON, D.C. (capital) 4.955 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: NA

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

25.6 (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 136/184

14 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 167/224

total: 5.87 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.37 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 43/224

total population: 79.68 years

male: 77.32 years

female: 81.97 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 142/224

1.87 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate


note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2006/10)

Health expenditures 1/191

17.1% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

2.45 physicians/1,000 population (2011)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source


urban: 99.4% of population

rural: 98.2% of population

total: 99.2% of population


urban: 0.6% of population

rural: 1.8% of population

total: 0.8% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population


urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate 18/191

35% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 136/138

0.5% (2012)

Education expenditures 63/173

5.2% of GDP (2011)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 16 years

female: 17 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 68/134

total: 13.4%

male: 14.5%

female: 12.2% (2014 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: United States of America

conventional short form: United States

abbreviation: US or USA

etymology: the name America is derived from that of Amerigo VESPUCCI (1454-1512), Italian explorer, navigator, and cartographer

Government type

constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition


name: Washington, DC

geographic coordinates: 38.53° N, 77.02° W

time difference: UTC-5 (during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November

note: the 50 United States cover six time zones

Administrative divisions

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 entities: 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)


4 July 1776 (declared); 3 September 1783 (recognized by Great Britain)

National holiday

Independence Day, 4 July (1776)


previous 1781 (Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union); latest drafted July - September 1787, submitted to the Congress of the Confederation 20 September 1787, submitted for states' ratification 28 September 1787, ratification completed by nine states 21 June 1788, effective 4 March 1789; amended many times, last in 1992 (2015)

Legal system

common law system based on English common law at the federal level; state legal systems based on common law except Louisiana, which is based on Napoleonic civil code; judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation

withdrew acceptance of compulsory ICJ jurisdiction in 2005; withdrew acceptance of ICCt jurisdiction in 2002


citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no, but the US government acknowledges such situtations exist; US citizens are not encouraged to seek dual citizenship since it limits protection by the US

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president, approved by the Senate

elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by the Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state; president and vice president serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)

election results: Barack H. OBAMA reelected president; electoral vote count - Barack H. OBAMA (Democratic Party) 332, Mitt ROMNEY 206 (Republican Party); percent of direct popular vote - Barack H. OBAMA 50.6%, Mitt ROMNEY 47.9%, other 1.5%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats; 2 members directly elected in each of the 50 state constituencies by simple majority vote except in Georgia and Louisiana which require an absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 6-year terms with one-third of membership renewed every 2 years) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote except in Georgia which requires an absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 2-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on 8 November 2016); House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 44, Republican Party 54, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 188, Republican Party 247

note: in addition to the regular members of the House of Representatives there are 6 non-voting delegates elected from the District of Columbia and the US territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands; these are single seat constituencies directly elected by simple majority vote to serve a 2-year term; the delegate can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the Committee of the Whole House, but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote; election of delegates last held on 4 November 2014 (next to be held on 1 November 2016)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): US Supreme Court (consists of 9 justices - the chief justice and 8 associate justices)

judge selection and term of office: president nominates and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints Supreme Court justices; justices appointed for life

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal (includes the US Court of Appeal for the Federal District and 12 regional appeals courts); 94 federal district courts in 50 states and territories

note: the US court system consists of the federal court system and the state court systems; although each court system is responsible for hearing certain types of cases, neither is completely independent of the other, and the systems often interact

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party [Debbie Wasserman SCHULTZ]

Green Party [collective leadership]

Libertarian Party [Nicholas SARWARK]

Republican Party [Reince PRIEBUS]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: environmentalists; business groups; labor unions; churches; ethnic groups; political action committees or PACs; health groups; education groups; civic groups; youth groups; transportation groups; agricultural groups; veterans groups; women's groups; reform lobbies

International organization participation

ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), ANZUS, APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CD, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAPC, EAS, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SELEC (observer), SICA (observer), SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Flag description

13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; the 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies; the blue stands for loyalty, devotion, truth, justice, and friendship; red symbolizes courage, zeal, and fervency, while white denotes purity and rectitude of conduct; commonly referred to by its nickname of Old Glory

note: the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags, including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico

National symbol(s)

bald eagle; national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "The Star-Spangled Banner"

lyrics/music: Francis Scott KEY/John Stafford SMITH

note: adopted 1931; during the War of 1812, after witnessing the successful American defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore following British naval bombardment, Francis Scott KEY wrote the lyrics to what would become the national anthem; the lyrics were set to the tune of "The Anacreontic Song"; only the first verse is sung


Economy - overview

The US has the most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $54,800. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers, pharmaceuticals, and medical, aerospace, and military equipment; however, their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. Based on a comparison of GDP measured at Purchasing Power Parity conversion rates, the US economy in 2014, having stood as the largest in the world for more than a century, slipped into second place behind China, which has more than tripled the US growth rate for each year of the past four decades.

In the US, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets.

Long-term problems for the US include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.

The onrush of technology has been a driving factor in the gradual development of a "two-tier" labor market in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. But the globalization of trade, and especially the rise of low-wage producers such as China, has put additional downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the return to capital. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income.

Imported oil accounts for nearly 55% of US consumption and oil has a major impact on the overall health of the economy. Crude oil prices doubled between 2001 and 2006, the year home prices peaked; higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets and many individuals fell behind in their mortgage payments. Oil prices climbed another 50% between 2006 and 2008, and bank foreclosures more than doubled in the same period. Besides dampening the housing market, soaring oil prices caused a drop in the value of the dollar and a deterioration in the US merchandise trade deficit, which peaked at $840 billion in 2008.

The sub-prime mortgage crisis, falling home prices, investment bank failures, tight credit, and the global economic downturn pushed the United States into a recession by mid-2008. GDP contracted until the third quarter of 2009, making this the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. To help stabilize financial markets, the US Congress established a $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in October 2008. The government used some of these funds to purchase equity in US banks and industrial corporations, much of which had been returned to the government by early 2011. In January 2009 the US Congress passed and President Barack OBAMA signed a bill providing an additional $787 billion fiscal stimulus to be used over 10 years - two-thirds on additional spending and one-third on tax cuts - to create jobs and to help the economy recover. In 2010 and 2011, the federal budget deficit reached nearly 9% of GDP. In 2012, the federal government reduced the growth of spending and the deficit shrank to 7.6% of GDP. US revenues from taxes and other sources are lower, as a percentage of GDP, than those of most other countries.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through 2014, the direct costs of the wars totaled more than $1.5 trillion, according to US Government figures.

In March 2010, President OBAMA signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health insurance reform that was designed to extend coverage to an additional 32 million American citizens by 2016, through private health insurance for the general population and Medicaid for the impoverished. Total spending on health care - public plus private - rose from 9.0% of GDP in 1980 to 17.9% in 2010.

In July 2010, the president signed the DODD-FRANK Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a law designed to promote financial stability by protecting consumers from financial abuses, ending taxpayer bailouts of financial firms, dealing with troubled banks that are "too big to fail," and improving accountability and transparency in the financial system - in particular, by requiring certain financial derivatives to be traded in markets that are subject to government regulation and oversight.

In December 2012, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced plans to purchase $85 billion per month of mortgage-backed and Treasury securities in an effort to hold down long-term interest rates, and to keep short term rates near zero until unemployment dropped below 6.5% or inflation rose above 2.5%. In late 2013, the Fed announced that it would begin scaling back long-term bond purchases to $75 billion per month in January 2014 and reduce them further as conditions warranted; the Fed ended the purchases during the summer of 2014. In 2014, the unemployment rate dropped to 6.2%, and continued to fall to 5.5% by mid-2015, the lowest rate of joblessness since before the global recession began; inflation stood at 1.7%, and public debt as a share of GDP continued to decline, following several years of increase.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 3/230

$17.97 trillion (2015 est.)

$17.52 trillion (2014 est.)

$17.1 trillion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$17.97 trillion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 114/225

2.6% (2015 est.)

2.4% (2014 est.)

1.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 19/230

$56,300 (2015 est.)

$54,900 (2014 est.)

$53,600 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 96/179

18.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

18.8% of GDP (2014 est.)

18.2% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 68.8%

government consumption: 17.6%

investment in fixed capital: 16.3%

investment in inventories: 0.6%

exports of goods and services: 12.7%

imports of goods and services: -16%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.6%

industry: 20.8%

services: 77.6%

(2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish; forest products


highly diversified, world leading, high-technology innovator, second-largest industrial output in the world; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining

Industrial production growth rate 84/202

3% (2015 est.)

Labor force 4/233

156.4 million

note: includes unemployed (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

farming, forestry, and fishing: 0.7%

manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts: 20.3%

managerial, professional, and technical: 37.3%

sales and office: 24.2%

other services: 17.6%

note: figures exclude the unemployed


Unemployment rate 56/207

5.2% (2015 est.)

6.2% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

15.1% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2%

highest 10%: 30% (2007 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 43/144

45 (2007)

40.8 (1997)


revenues: $3.251 trillion

expenditures: $3.677 trillion

note: for the US, revenues exclude social contributions of approximately $1.0 trillion; expenditures exclude social benefits of approximately $2.3 trillion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 173/219

18.1% of GDP

note: excludes contributions for social security and other programs; if social contributions were added, taxes and other revenues would amount to approximately 22% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 86/220

-2.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 39/176

73.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

74.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

note: data cover only what the United States Treasury denotes as "Debt Held by the Public," which includes all debt instruments issued by the Treasury that are owned by non-US Government entities; the data include Treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data exclude debt issued by individual US states, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of Treasury borrowings from surpluses in the trusts for Federal Social Security, Federal Employees, Hospital Insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), Disability and Unemployment, and several other smaller trusts; if data for intra-government debt were added, "Gross Debt" would increase by about one-third of GDP

Fiscal year

1 October - 30 September

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 43/226

0.2% (2015 est.)

1.6% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 128/156

0.5% (31 December 2010)

0.5% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 166/184

3.3% (31 December 2015 est.)

3.25% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 4/192

$3.121 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.807 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 3/193

$11.79 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$10.69 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 2/191

$19.47 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$18.56 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 1/121

$18.67 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)

$15.64 trillion (31 December 2011)

$17.14 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Current account balance 197/197

-$460.6 billion (2015 est.)

-$389.5 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 3/224

$1.598 trillion (2015 est.)

$1.633 trillion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0% (2008 est.)

Exports - partners

Canada 19.2%, Mexico 14.8%, China 7.6%, Japan 4.1% (2014)

Imports 1/223

$2.347 trillion (2015 est.)

$2.374 trillion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys) (2008 est.)

Imports - partners

China 19.9%, Canada 14.8%, Mexico 12.5%, Japan 5.7%, Germany 5.3% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 19/170

$130.1 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$144.6 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external 1/206

$17.26 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

$16.49 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)

note: approximately 4/5ths of US external debt is denominated in US dollars; foreign lenders have been willing to hold US dollar denominated debt instruments because they view the dollar as the world's reserve currency

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 2/120

$3.116 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.901 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 2/105

$5.191 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)

$4.921 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)

Exchange rates

British pounds per US dollar: 0.6528 (2015 est.), 0.607 (2014 est), 0.6391 (2013 est.), 0.6324 (2012 est.), 0.624 (2011 est.)

Canadian dollars per US dollar: 1 (2015 est.), 1.275 (2015 est.), 1.1047 (2014 est.), 1.0298 (2013 est.), 0.9992 (2012 est.), 0.9895 (2011 est)

Chinese yuan per US dollar: 1 (2014 est.), 6.243 (2015 est.), 6.1434 (2014 est.), 6.1958 (2013 est.), 6.3123 (2012 est.), 6.4615 (2011 est.)

euros per US dollar: (2012 est.), 0.885 (2015 est.), 0.7525 (2014 est.), 0.7634 (2013 est.), 0.7752 (2012 est.), 0.7185 (2011 est.)

Japanese yen per US dollar: 122.10 (2015 est.), 105.86 (2014 est.), 97.44 (2013 est.), 79.79 (2012 est.), 79.81 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 2/220

4.048 trillion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 2/219

3.832 trillion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 18/218

11.28 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 2/219

63.61 billion kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 2/214

1.063 billion kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 101/214

73.5% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 20/214

9.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 122/214

7.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 51/212

7.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 3/214

8.653 million bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 20/214

629,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports 1/214

9.08 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 11/215

36.52 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 1/214

19.11 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 1/212

19.03 million bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 2/214

2.992 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 8/213

778,800 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production 1/216

728.2 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 1/215

759.4 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports 9/215

42.73 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports 4/214

76.32 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 4/212

8.734 trillion cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 2/212

5.27 billion Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 3/219

total subscriptions: 129.4 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 41 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 5/217

total: 317.4 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 100 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: a large, technologically advanced, multipurpose communications system

domestic: a large system of fiber-optic cable, microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and domestic satellites carries every form of telephone traffic; a rapidly growing cellular system carries mobile telephone traffic throughout the country

international: country code - 1; multiple ocean cable systems provide international connectivity; satellite earth stations - 61 Intelsat (45 Atlantic Ocean and 16 Pacific Ocean), 5 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 4 Inmarsat (Pacific and Atlantic Ocean regions) (2011)

Broadcast media

4 major terrestrial TV networks with affiliate stations throughout the country, plus cable and satellite networks, independent stations, and a limited public broadcasting sector that is largely supported by private grants; overall, thousands of TV stations broadcasting; multiple national radio networks with many affiliate stations; while most stations are commercial, National Public Radio (NPR) has a network of some 600 member stations; satellite radio available; overall, nearly 15,000 radio stations operating (2008)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 4,789, FM 8,961, shortwave 19 (2006)

Television broadcast stations

2,218 (2006)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 1/232

505 million (2012); note - the US Internet total host count includes the following top-level domain host addresses: .us, .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, and .org

Internet users 3/217

total: 276.6 million

percent of population: 86.8% (2014 est.)


Airports 1/236

13,513 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 5,054

over 3,047 m: 189

2,438 to 3,047 m: 235

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1,478

914 to 1,523 m: 2,249

under 914 m: 903 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 8,459

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 6

1,524 to 2,437 m: 140

914 to 1,523 m: 1,552

under 914 m: 6,760 (2013)


5,287 (2013)


natural gas 1,984,321 km; petroleum products 240,711 km (2013)

Railways 1/136

total: 293,564.2 km

standard gauge: 293,564.2 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 1/223

total: 6,586,610 km

paved: 4,304,715 km (includes 76,334 km of expressways)

unpaved: 2,281,895 km (2012)

Waterways 5/107

41,009 km (19,312 km used for commerce; Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3,769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3,058 km, is shared with Canada) (2012)

Merchant marine 26/156

total: 393

by type: barge carrier 6, bulk carrier 55, cargo 51, carrier 2, chemical tanker 30, container 84, passenger 18, passenger/cargo 56, petroleum tanker 35, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 27, vehicle carrier 26

foreign-owned: 85 (Australia 1, Bermuda 5, Denmark 31, France 4, Germany 5, Malaysia 2, Norway 17, Singapore 16, UK 4)

registered in other countries: 794 (Antigua and Barbuda 7, Australia 2, Bahamas 109, Belgium 1, Bermuda 26, Canada 10, Cayman Islands 57, Comoros 2, Cyprus 5, Georgia 1, Greece 8, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 44, Indonesia 2, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 1, Italy 23, Liberia 53, Malta 34, Marshall Islands 200, Netherlands 16, Norway 10, Panama 90, Portugal 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18, Singapore 36, South Korea 8, Togo 1, UK 14, Vanuatu 2, unknown 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals

cargo ports (tonnage): Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, Hampton Roads, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Plaquemines, Tampa, Texas City

container port(s) (TEUs): Hampton Roads (1,918,029), Houston (1,866,450), Long Beach (6,061,091), Los Angeles (7,940,511), New York/New Jersey (5,503,485), Oakland (2,342,504), Savannah (2,944,678), Seattle (2,033,535)(2011)

cruise departure ports (passengers): Miami (2,032,000), Port Everglades (1,277,000), Port Canaveral (1,189,000), Seattle (430,000), Long Beach (415,000) (2009)

oil terminals: LOOP terminal, Haymark terminal

LNG terminal(s) (import): Cove Point (MD), Elba Island (GA), Everett (MA), Freeport (TX), Golden Pass (TX), Hackberry (LA), Lake Charles (LA), Neptune (offshore), Northeast Gateway (offshore), Pascagoula (MS), Sabine Pass (TX)

LNG terminal(s) (export): Kenai (AK)

Military and Security

Military branches

United States Armed Forces: US Army, US Navy (includes Marine Corps), US Air Force, US Coast Guard; note - Coast Guard administered in peacetime by the Department of Homeland Security, but in wartime reports to the Department of the Navy (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age (17 years of age with parental consent) for male and female voluntary service; no conscription; maximum enlistment age 42 (Army), 27 (Air Force), 34 (Navy), 28 (Marines); service obligation 8 years, including 2-5 years active duty (Army), 2 years active (Navy), 4 years active (Air Force, Marines); DoD is eliminating prohibitions restricting women from assignments in units smaller than brigades or near combat units (2013)

Military expenditures 9/132

4.35% of GDP (2012)

4.75% of GDP (2011)

4.35% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

the US has intensified domestic security measures and is collaborating closely with its neighbors, Canada and Mexico, to monitor and control legal and illegal personnel, transport, and commodities across the international borders; abundant rainfall in recent years along much of the Mexico-US border region has ameliorated periodically strained water-sharing arrangements; 1990 Maritime Boundary Agreement in the Bering Sea still awaits Russian Duma ratification; Canada and the United States dispute how to divide the Beaufort Sea and the status of the Northwest Passage but continue to work cooperatively to survey the Arctic continental shelf; The Bahamas and US have not been able to agree on a maritime boundary; US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased from Cuba and only mutual agreement or US abandonment of the area can terminate the lease; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa Island; US has made no territorial claim in Antarctica (but has reserved the right to do so) and does not recognize the claims of any other states; Marshall Islands claims Wake Island; Tokelau included American Samoa's Swains Island among the islands listed in its 2006 draft constitution

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): the US admitted 69,987 refugees during FY2014 including: 19,769 (Iraq); 14,598 (Burma); 9,000 (Somalia); 8,434 (Bhutan); 4,540 (Democratic Republic of the Congo); 4,062 (Cuba); 2,846 (Iran)

Illicit drugs

world's largest consumer of cocaine (shipped from Colombia through Mexico and the Caribbean), Colombian heroin, and Mexican heroin and marijuana; major consumer of ecstasy and Mexican methamphetamine; minor consumer of high-quality Southeast Asian heroin; illicit producer of cannabis, marijuana, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine; money-laundering center