Overview of the United States

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Overview of the United States

Home to half of the world’s top universities, the United States of America (US) is one of the most popular study destinations for international students. Over a million students from around the world study in the US every year, drawn to the high quality of education, highly accredited professors, and the high standard of living.

Location and Geography

The United States of America is the world’s third largest country in size and nearly the third largest in terms of population. Located in North America, the US is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east side and the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the country. It shares its northern border with Canada and its southern border with Mexico. Due to the large size of the US, its geography is extremely diverse including forests, deserts, beaches, mountains, and large bodies of water in and around the country.

States and Territories

The US consists of 50 states, a federal district (Washington, D.C.), five major territories, and various minor islands.

Washington, D.C., formally known as the District of Columbia, is the capital of the United States. Each state and territory also have their own capital cities, listed in Table 1.

More than 10 US cities are listed amongst the top 100 QS Best Student Cities (2019). The top student cities (and the state they are in) in America are: Boston (MA), New York (NY), Los Angeles (CA), San Francisco (CA); Chicago (IL), Atlanta (GA), Philadelphia (PA), Washington (DC), Pittsburg (PA), San Diego (CA), Baltimore (MD), Houston (TX), and Miami (FL).

Climate and Weather

Due to the large size of the US, it has a wide variety of weather conditions across the country at any given time. In general, the US has a continental climate, with cold winters (often frigid) and hot summers (sometimes very hot), with a different season duration depending on a region’s proximity from the equator and from the sea. However, there are some exceptions. The weather on the west coast, bordered by the Pacific Ocean, and in its southmost regions, have mediterranean and tropical climates respectively. The mountainous areas, on the other hand are cold in winter and remain cool in summer, whereas its desserts are mild in winter and extremely hot in the summer. The deserts are mostly found in the southwestern regions of the US.

You can find out more about the climate of cities in the U.S. by visiting the U.S. Climate Data website

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Demographics and Culture

According to the US Census Bureau’s Population Clock, there are nearly 330 million people living in the US. This makes the US the third most populated country in the world, following China and India respectively.

California is the most populous state with 39.5 million citizens, followed by Texas with a population of 28.7 million. Their most populous city is New York City with a population of 8.4 million. To put it in perspective, if California were a country, it would be the 36th most populous country in the world, slightly larger than Iraq and Poland.

Cultural Diversity

Stated in the US Census Bureau, 39 million of the population has immigrated to the US since 1965. Immigrants are primarily from Asia and Latin American. It’s estimated that immigration will increase to 19% of the population by 2060. According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 25% (~7 million) of the American population identify themselves as a racial minority. The largest racial minorities are Latin Americans, followed by African Americans.

Languages

English is the primary language spoken in the US. Spanish, Chinese, and Native American are among the top other languages spoken throughout the US.

Religions

Although the US is a predominantly Christian and Catholic country, there are many mosques, temples, and synagogues across the country. The freedom to practice one's religion is among the most important rights in the United States.