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The United States of America is a federal republic of 50 states and a capital district, mostly in central North America. The U.S. has three land borders, two with Canada and one with Mexico, and is otherwise bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Of the 50 states, only Alaska and Hawaii are not contiguous with any other state. The U.S. also has a collection of districts, territories, and possessions around the world. Each state has a high level of local autonomy according to the system of federalism. The United States traces its national origin to the declaration by 13 British colonies in 1776 that they were free and independent states. They were recognized as such by the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Since then, the nation has grown to become a global superpower and exerts a high level of economic, political, military, and cultural influence.
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Zabriskie Point
Credit: Jlkramer
Zabriskie Point is a section of Death Valley National Park noted for its erosional landscape.

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A hot windstorm at Manzanar brings dust from the surrounding desert July 3, 1942.
Manzanar is most widely known as the site of one of ten concentration camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada in California's Owens Valley between the towns of Lone Pine to the south and Independence to the north, it is approximately 230 miles (370.1 km) northeast of Los Angeles. Manzanar (which means “apple orchard” in Spanish) was identified by the United States National Park Service as the best-preserved of the former camp sites, and it is now the Manzanar National Historic Site.

Long before the first prisoners arrived in March 1942, Manzanar was home to Native Americans, who mostly lived in villages near several creeks in the area, and then to the ranchers and miners who established the town of Manzanar in 1910, but had abandoned the town by 1929 after the City of Los Angeles purchased the water rights to virtually the entire area. As different as these groups might seem, they are tied together by the common thread of forced relocation.

Selected culture biography

Reese Witherspoon
Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon (born March 22, 1976) is an American actress who has established herself as one of the highest-paid Hollywood actresses in recent years.

Witherspoon landed her first feature role as the female lead in the movie The Man in the Moon in 1991; later that year she made her television acting debut, in the cable movie Wildflower. In 1996, Witherspoon's performance in Freeway established her as a rising star and led to roles in three major 1998 movies: Overnight Delivery, Pleasantville, and Twilight. The following year, Witherspoon appeared in the critically acclaimed Election, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. 2001 marked her career's turning point with the breakout role as Elle Woods in the box office hit Legally Blonde, and in 2002 she starred in Sweet Home Alabama, which became her biggest commercial film success to date. 2003 saw her return as lead actress and executive producer of Legally Blonde 2. In 2005, Witherspoon received worldwide attention and praise for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in Walk the Line, which earned her an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress.

Witherspoon married actor and Cruel Intentions co-star Ryan Phillippe in 1999; they have two children, Ava and Deacon. The couple separated at the end of 2006 and divorced in October 2007. Witherspoon owns a production company named Type A Films. She is actively involved in children's and women's advocacy organizations. She serves on the board of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), and was named Global Ambassador of Avon Products in 2007, serving as honorary chairman of the charitable Avon Foundation.

Selected picture

Antietam, Md. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand
Credit: Alexander Gardner

Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, and Major General John A. McClernand not long after the Civil War’s first battle on northern soil in Antietam, Maryland on October 3, 1862.

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Selected society biography

Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

Born to a Kenyan father and an American mother, he spent most of his childhood in Honolulu, Hawaii. From ages six to ten, he lived in Jakarta with his mother and Indonesian stepfather. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer, university lecturer, and civil rights lawyer before running for public office and serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. After an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2003.

The following year, while still an Illinois state legislator, Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote. As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he co-sponsored bipartisan legislation for controlling conventional weapons and for promoting greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. In the current 110th Congress, he has sponsored legislation on lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel.

Selected location

Skyline of Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is the seventh largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan, with a population of 114,024 as of the 2000 census, of which 36,892 (32%) are college or graduate students.

The city's economy is currently dominated by education, high tech, and biotechnology. Average home prices and property taxes are well above the state and national medians. The city is also known for its political liberalism and its large number of restaurants and performance venues.

Ann Arbor was founded in January 1824 by John Allen and Elisha Rumsey, both of whom were land speculators. There are various accounts concerning the origin of the settlement's name; one states that Allen and Rumsey decided to name it "Annarbour" for their spouses, both named Ann, and for the stands of burr oak in the 640 acres (260 ha) of land they had purchased for $800 from the federal government. The regional Native Americans named the settlement Kaw-goosh-kaw-nick, after the sound of Allen's saw mill.

The Ann Arbor Land Company, a group of speculators, set aside 40 acres (16 ha) of undeveloped land and offered it to the State of Michigan as the site of the state capital, but lost the bid to Lansing. In 1837, the property was accepted instead as the site of the University of Michigan, forever linking Ann Arbor and its history with the university.

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Pewee Valley Confederate Cemetery

Selected quote

Francis Scott Key
O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?


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Featured article star.png Featured articles: 2005 United States Grand PrixAfrican American literatureAlaska Mental Health Enabling ActBattle of MidwayEhime Maru and USS Greeneville collisionErie, PennsylvaniaFederalist No. 10ManzanarMinnesotaMusic of the United StatesOklahomaPlymouth ColonyReport of 1800Tulsa, OklahomaUnited States Bill of RightsUnited States ConstitutionUnited States Marine CorpsUnited States Secretary of Energy

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Issues Affirmative actionAmerican exceptionalismAnti-AmericanismCapital punishmentDrug policy & ProhibitionEnvironmentalismHuman rightsImmigrationUnited States–Mexico barrierObesityPornographyRacial profilingSame-sex marriageAbortionAdolescent sexuality

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See also:

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  • Wikipedia:U.S. Wikipedians' notice board/to do
  • Wikipedia:U.S. Northern Wikipedians' notice board
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American football • Baseball • Soccer in the US • Government of the United States • NATO • US Coast Guard
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