Aviva Directory » Local & Global » North America » United States

The United States of America is frequently known as America, the United States, USA, or the US. it is a constitutional federal republic made up of 50 states, 5 major territories which are self-governing, a federal district which is its capital, Washington, D.C., and several possessions. There are more than 324 million people in the United States.

Although erroneous, it is often referred to as a democracy. Perhaps this is due to the similarities between a republic and a democracy. Both have a representational form of government, but a republic is governed by the rule of law. That is, a republic has a constitution or charter of rights which cannot be abridged or removed by the government, even if a majority of voters elect to do so. On the other hand, in a democracy, the government has unlimited power if the majority votes for that to happen. In a democracy, the power and sovereignty resides in the whole population as a group while in a republic, it is in the people as individuals.

The first people to live in the land that would become the United States traveled from Siberia to Alaska over the Bering land bridge. They moved south throughout the North American continent. When explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in what he thought was India, he called those people Indians, and the term is now common usage.

By the time the European settlers arrived, the Indians lived all over the continent. In 1565, St. Augustine, Florida was settled by explorers from Spain, and it is now the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States. Santa Fe, New Mexico was settled in 1610 by Spanish colonists, much to the chagrin of the Pueblo Indians, called Tanoan, who had lived there for thousands of years.

In 1620, the first English colonists arrived on the east coast at what is now the state of Virginia. They founded the Virginia Colony at Jamestown. They arrived in the midst of a drought and too late to plant crops in any event. Many of the settlers were unused to farming, and all of these things combined to create a deadly lifestyle. Within a few months, more than 80% of them were dead.

In 1620, a group of oppressed Christians who were called Puritan separatists, fled England to the Dutch Republic where they lived for a few years before boarding a ship named the Mayflower. They arrived, along with others, landed at Plymouth Rock in what would become Plymouth, Massachusetts. Although they had set sail for Virginia, they had been blown off course and ended up being forced to anchor here. This place had been surveyed by Captain John Smith, who also named it.

Forty-one male settlers created and signed the Mayflower Compact, the first governing document of Plymouth Colony. It was essentially a social contract which indicated that the men would vote on issues and that all travelers swore allegiance to the king.

Aside from farming, the colonists dealt in fur, lumber, and rum. They also built ships and mined iron ore. The British were entrenched in the French and Indian War, also called the Seven Years' War, from 1754 until 1763, and it took a toll on them, financially. Their national debt had more than doubled. Their territorial holdings had just expanded with the acquisition of Florida from the Spanish and Canada from the French during the peace conference in 1763 and, of course, it cost more than twice what it used to in order to protect their colonies and territories.

In order help offset these costs, they implemented the Sugar Act which put a tax on rum, sugar, and molasses, and then decided to create a new tax, called the Stamp Act. This was not the first time England had been considered at least three other times in the past, but this was, the Crown thought, a perfect time. This law required that printed material in the Colonies, be created on paper which was printed in London and which had affixed to it an embossed revenue stamp. Playing cards, legal documents, and even magazines would now have this extra tax for the Colonists.

The money generated by the tax was reserved specifically for the support of British soldiers who protected the Colonies. When they learned about this, the Colonists were almost unanimously outraged. English manufacturers and merchants who exported their goods to the Colonies were also very upset, because they knew they were likely facing boycotts. The cry of "taxation without representation" resurfaced, having first been popularized in the Colonies by Benjamin Franklin.

In the summer of 1764, more than fifty merchants in Boston and New York decided to stop buying luxury imports from England while at the same time, began to encourage more colonial manufacturing. By the end of 1765, eleven of the thirteen Colonies had voted two send one form of protest or another. And the seeds of the American Revolution were hence sown.


Education & Instruction

Getting From Here to There


Health & Public Safety

Largest Cities

News & Media Outlets

People & Society

Places to Eat

Places to Shop

Places to Stay

Property Sales & Rentals

Services & Industries


Things to Do & Places to Go