World ? North America ? USA

USA: Introduction

It is not at all surprising that a nation founded by explorers, malcontents, protest(ants) and warriors is today a nation of individualists. E Pluribus Unum is the fitting motto of the United States: "From Many One." As wave after wave of immigrant arrived in America, the assimilation of so many peoples, both free and slave, has been uneven and incomplete. No other nation in the world has had to contend with such a mixed population, a crucible not only of cultures, but of ideas and ideals. With the recent election of its first African American president, the United States of America demonstrated the actuality inherent in its potential, that a nation of equals can arise out of the rich and complex blend of peoples that have found their way to its shores.

But any visitor to the United States is struck by its diversity more than its unity. North and South, East and West, rural and urban cultures in the United States are enormously divergent. For five centuries immigrants have brought their respective cultures to the United States, often settling together in regions of the country. The communities they built, the schools they founded, the newspapers they published and read, the churches they attended all gave character to their distinct geographical area. The stereotypes of these regions hold an interesting mixture of exaggeration and truth, from the "Deep South" to "New England" to the "West Coast". The rich fabric of the United States tapestry of culture has given rise to both creative and destructive energies, the likes of which the world has never seen. No longer fixed by an isolated geography, United States culture permeates every corner of the globe for both better and worse.

Travelers to the United States will be immediately faced with the fact that European style train systems for travel between cities is nearly non-existent or lacking. Transportation within the larger cities tends to be sufficient, but the nation's reliance on its automobile culture is evident. The most typical method of transportation long distance are rental vehicle and rather expensive air travel. The effort is worth the trouble, however, as few destinations offer as great a variety of natural wonders and man-made structures. From the redwood forests of California, to the Grand Canyon, the spires of Bryce Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Smokey Mountains or the coasts of Maine and Florida, there is nearly no end to the natural beauty of the United States.

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