United States of America
The United States of America (USA), with its 9,826,630 square kilometres, is home to about 316 million people. As well as the Americans of European descent, the population includes about 39 million African Americans, around 50.5 million Americans of Latin American descent, some 14.7 million Americans of Asian descent and about 3 million Americans of Indian descent.
The country is divided into 50 federal states, the District of Columbia, with the capital Washington D.C. and overseas territories, with varying legal status: Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.
The official language is English although Spanish is also used in some parts of the country.
The United States of America is a federal presidential republic. The head of state and head of government is the Democrat Barack H. Obama, who is the 44th President. The president is elected indirectly by the people for a four-year term of office. Presidents may be re-elected for a second term of office. This Barack Obama’s second term of office.
His deputy is Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who is also President of the Senate.
Congress, the parliament of the USA, consists of the 100-seat Senate and the House of Representatives with its 435 seats. Every state sends two senators to the Senate, irrespective of the size of the state. Senators are elected for a period of six years. Every two years (legislative period), one third of the senators and all 435 members of the House of Representatives are elected. The current composition of Congress is as follows:
Senate: 53 Democrats, 2 independents (who generally vote with the Democrats) and 45 Republicans;
House of Representatives: 233 Republicans, 199 Democrats, 3 open mandates. A first past the post system is used to elect senators and representatives.
N.B. The distribution of seats shifted following the elections on 4 November 2014. Runoffs are still to be held for some seats, so the final result is not yet known. It is, however, certain that the Republicans will have a majority in both houses. The new Congress will meet for the first time in January 2015.
Every bill must be approved by both houses before it can become law.
Administrative structure: the states are broken down into counties and districts with their own administration.
The USA is a member of numerous international organisations, including NATO and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The USA’s status as the world’s strongest economy, which generates around one fifth of annual global income, is based on its large, resource-rich and well developed territory. In 2013, the USA’s gross domestic product (GDP) was about 16.72 trillion US dollars. The per capita GDP was 53,100 US dollars. The services sector generated about 77 per cent of GDP, while manufacturing accounted for some 22 per cent and agriculture for only 1 per cent. The USA’s balance of trade closed 2013 with a deficit of 471.6 billion US dollars.
The United States of America has been part of the Group since its first summit meeting in 1975. The country has hosted six summits to date: the Puerto Rico summit in 1976, the Williamsburg summit in 1983, the Houston summit in 1990, the Denver summit in 1997, the Sea Island summit in 2004 and the Camp David summit in 2012.