AREA: 9,809, 155 sq km (3,787,319 sq miles).
POPULATION: 265,284,000 (official estimate 1996).
POPULATION DENSITY: 27.0 per sq km.
CAPITAL: Washington, DC. Population: 567,094 (1994).
Nineteen other cities have a population larger than that of
DC. New York is the largest city, with a population of over seven million.
Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia,
Diego, Phoenix and Dallas had
estimated populations of over one million in 1994.
GEOGRAPHY: Covering a large part of the North American
continent, the United States of America shares borders with
to the north and Mexico
to the south and has coasts on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans,
the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
The State of Alaska,
in the northwest corner of the continent, is separated from the rest of
the country by Canada, and Hawaii
lies in the central Pacific Ocean.
One of the largest countries in the
world, the USA has an enormous diversity of geographical features. The
climate ranges from subtropical to Arctic, with a corresponding breadth of
flora and fauna. For a more detailed description of each region's
geographical characteristics, see the State profiles below.
LANGUAGE: English, with significant Spanish-speaking minorities.
RELIGION: Protestant with Roman Catholic, Jewish and many ethnic
minorities. In large cities people of the same ethnic background often
live within defined communities.
TIME: The USA is divided into six time zones:
Eastern Standard Time: GMT - 5
(from Apr-Oct GMT - 4)
Central Standard Time: GMT - 6
(from Apr-Oct GMT - 5)
Mountain Standard Time: GMT - 7
(from Apr-Oct GMT - 6)
Pacific Standard Time: GMT - 8
(from Apr-Oct GMT - 7)
GMT - 9 (from Apr-Oct GMT - 8)
GMT - 10.
Note: When calculating travel times, bear in mind the adoption
of Daylight Saving Time (DST) by most States in summer. From the
first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October clocks are put forward
one hour, changing at 0200 hours local time. Regions not observing
DST include most of Indiana,
all of Arizona
ELECTRICITY: 110/120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs are of the flat 2-pin
type. European electrical appliances not fitted with dual-voltage
capabilities will require a plug adaptor, which is best purchased
before arrival in the USA.
COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone: Full IDD is available. Country
code: 1. Outgoing international code:
011. For emergency police, fire or
medical services in major cities, dial 911. Fax: There are
in all main centers, and major hotels also have facilities. Fax services
are very widely available. Telex/telegram: Western Union
telex facilities are available throughout the USA. Telegrams can be sent
through all telegraph and post offices. Post: There are only a
limited number of post offices, so it is advisable to buy stamps in bulk.
There are, however, stamp machines in hotels and shops, but these have a
25% price mark-up. Airmail to Europe takes up to a week. Post office
hours: 09:00-17:00 (24 hours at main offices in larger cities). If sending
gifts valued at less than US$50 to the USA, the recipient will not have to
pay tax if the package is marked `Unsolicited Gift'. Press: The
most influential papers are The New
York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the
Wall Street Journal. Owing to
the high degree of self-government of each State, newspapers tend to be
regionalized, although recent economic pressures have resulted in
large-scale mergers. Even so, the USA publishes more newspapers than any
other country, and has perhaps the heaviest Sunday newspapers in the
world, particularly the Sunday edition of
The New York Times.