The United States of America is composed of 50 states. Over 300 million people call the United States of America their home. Bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Atlantic, the United States (including the islands of Hawaii and the state of Alaska), is a culturally diverse country known as the “melting pot” of the world. Since the colonial era and her gaining of independence in 1776, the United States has a reputation of being a global leader in military might, economics, social advancements, and human rights.
The United States of America was founded in 1776 with the unification of the 13 original colonies declaring independence from England. After the American Revolutionary War, the newly united states adopted their Constitution and Bill of Rights guaranteeing fundamental freedoms and civil rights ratified in 1791. Following the American Revolution, the United States lived its manifest destiny, expanding her territories through the 1800s. During the War Between the States, the eradication of slavery and adoption of new laws and lifestyles formed societal expectations during the latter half of the century. Following the growth of military reputation and prowess during the First and Second World Wars, the United States today is a major influence on global politics, socio-economic growth, and a leader in freedom and human rights.
Languages and Religion
English is the main language spoken in the United States, although heavy influences of immigration populations result in additional languages that include Spanish, German, Chinese, and French. Due to its racial diversity, additional languages spoken by more than one million people throughout the country also include Vietnamese, Korean, and Tagalog. The vast majority of Americans practice Christian religions including those of Roman Catholicism, Protestant, Lutheran, and evangelical denominations. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, and non-Christian religions include Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others.
Climate patterns throughout the United States depend on region. The northwest portion of the United States experiences mild, humid, and rainy weather, while southwestern states enjoy hot and dry desert environments. The Plains states enjoy relatively temperate climates in summer while winters often bring blizzards and below-zero temperatures. The Eastern states are hot and humid in summer. The Northeast experiences frigid and snowy temperatures in winter while the southeast enjoys moderate and relatively warm temperatures with rainy periods.
Places and Cities to Visit
The United States offers numerous geographical territories, landmarks, historical sites, and attractions. A few of the most popular tourism destinations in the US include attractions in the states of California, Florida, and New York.
California offers Disneyland and Hollywood to the south and San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz prison to the north. Florida offers visitors a wide range of attractions and sites including the Everglades, Cape Canaveral, and several thousand miles of warm beaches. New York City and Washington, DC are also popular tourist destinations for domestic as well as international travelers. Washington, DC offers numerous landmarks and historical points to visit including the Smithsonian Institution museums, Arlington National Cemetery, the White House, the Washington and Lincoln monuments, and more. New York City offers Times Square, the new World One tower, replacing the twin towers destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Rockefeller Center, and the Statue of Liberty.
Millions of travelers visit Las Vegas, Nevada every year to gamble and enjoy 24-hour excitement. Arizona offers the Grand Canyon, while South Dakota offers the beautiful vistas of the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore. Driving through any region of the United States offers a variety of scenery, landmarks, geography, and attractions.
Car Hire Services
Car hire services are plentiful throughout the United States, with major car rental providers located in major as well as rural locations. Some of the most popular include Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, and National.
Compare rates and options from a few of the most popular:
- Enterprise – http://www.enterprise.com/car_rental/home.do
- Avis – http://www.avis.com/car-rental/avisHome/home.ac
- Carhireusa.org – http://www.carhireusa.org/
- National – https://www.nationalcar.com/
When driving in the United States, travelers must provide a valid driver’s license. Be aware that most car rental agencies in the US won’t rent to anyone under the age of 25. It is recommended that any foreigner wishing to drive in the United States obtain car insurance from a rental car agency, and be able to produce an international driving permit along with a domestic driver’s license. Temporary car insurance is available for one to 28 days.
Driving regulations for all 50 of the United States are fairly consistent, although some states have different speed limits, rules regarding cell phone usage, and blood-alcohol limits. The minimum age for legal driving in the United States is 16, but drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to drive during certain times of the day or night. Seatbelt use is recommended for all passengers but is not mandatory in all states.
Small children, toddlers and infants must be in approved seat carriers that are seat belted in properly. However, driving on the right side of the road is consistent throughout the United States, Alaska, and the Hawaiian Islands. Speed limits may vary depending on location. The average speed limit throughout the United States is 65 mph (110 kph):
- Open highways – 55 to 75 mph
- Within city limits – 35 to 45 mph
- Within school zones – 15 to 30 mph
Don’t drink and drive in the United States. It is prohibited everywhere, with a maximum blood alcohol content level of 0.8%. Make sure that you follow the rules of the road when driving in the United States to insure a pleasant, trouble-free, and enjoyable visit.
- Travel and Tourism Sites for the US – http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel-Tourism/State-Tourism.shtml
- Discover America – http://www.discoveramerica.com/
- Foreign Visitors Driving in the US – http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Foreign-Visitors-Driving.shtml