Resources > Section 17 > Orientation > American life & customs
#17-140USA Quick FactsPDFReturnURL
Living in a new environment is always a daunting prospect. To help you make the transition successfully, we have created this guide. It contains general information about the United States and its people.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (or US), is by far the most famous country in the world. It’s famous for its attractions, tech innovation, sports, movies, films, monuments, and more. Let’s start with some basic information about the United States of America.
The United States is home to the world’s oldest federal government; the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP; and the world’s second largest economy by PPP. For immigrants, America is portrayed as the land of opportunity. The country is often referred to as a “melting pot” in which a variety of peoples, cultures, or individuals with distinct “flavors” assimilating into a cohesive whole.

• Official name: United States of America
• Other names: “the States,” “the USA,” “the US,” and “America”
• Capital: Washington, DC
• 50 states and 14 territories (only 5 of the 14 territories have permanent residents)
• Area: 3,794,083 square miles (9,826,630 square kilometers)
• Population: 332,785,000+ For more, click HERE

America has a federal system of government that consists of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The country advocates for democracy in which people can freely express their ideas, religious beliefs, and opinions. Although English is the most commonly used language, the United States doesn’t have an official language at the federal level.

• Form of government: Constitution-based federal republic
• Three branches (legislative, executive, and judicial)
• Three levels (federal, state, and local)
• Currency: US dollar
• Religion: Officially secular, but more than half of Americans are Christian, followed by Judaism (1.6%), Islam (0.5%), etc.
• No official language at the federal level (“most common” is English followed by Spanish and Chinese)

The United States is made up of 50 states and Washington, DC. Of the 50 states, 48 of them are contiguous. The remaining two are Alaska, located Northwest of Canada, and Hawaii, located in the Pacific Ocean. America also has inhabited territories, including Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the commonwealths of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. These territories are partially self-governing under US authority. While they are not states, they have representation in Congress.

• Alaska is the largest state with the longest coastline
• Rhode Island and Delaware are the two smallest states in geographic size
• Puerto Rico is the most populous inhabited territory
• California is the most populous state with over 39 million residents
• Wyoming is the least populated state with only 577,000 residents
• The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation which is considered a sovereign Native American nation with its own government