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United States:
Government

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Other pages in this profile of the United States:
Geography, People, Economy, Communications & Transportation, Military & Transnational Issues.
Country name
Definition
conventional long form: United States of America
conventional short form: United States
abbreviation: US or USA
Government type
Definition
Constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition
Capital
Definition
name: Washington, DC
geographic coordinates: 38 53 N, 77 02 W
time difference: UTC-5 (during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November
note: the 50 United States cover six time zones
Administrative divisions
Definition
50 states and 1 district*; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Dependent areas
Definition
American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island
note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)
Independence
Definition
4 July 1776 (from Great Britain)
National holiday
Definition
Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
Constitution
Definition
17 September 1787, effective 4 March 1789
Legal system
Definition
federal court system based on English common law; each state has its own unique legal system, of which all but one (Louisiana, which is still influenced by the Napoleonic Code) is based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage
Definition
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
Definition
chief of state: President George W. BUSH (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President George W. BUSH (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approval
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held on 4 November 2008)
election results: George W. BUSH reelected president; percent of popular vote - George W. BUSH 50.9%, John KERRY 48.1%, other 1.0%
Legislative branch
Definition
bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, 2 members are elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third are elected every two years) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008); House of Representatives - last held 7 November 2006 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 49, Republican Party 49, independent 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 233, Republican Party 202
Judicial branch
Definition
Supreme Court (nine justices; nominated by the president and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate; appointed to serve for life); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts
Political parties and leaders
Definition
Democratic Party [Howard DEAN]; Green Party; Libertarian Party [William (Bill) REDPATH]; Republican Party [Robert M. (Mike) DUNCAN]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Definition
NA
International organization participation
Definition
ADB (nonregional members), AfDB (nonregional members), ANZUS, APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CE (observer), CERN (observer), CP, EAPC, EBRD, FAO, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SECI (observer), SPC, UN, UN Security Council, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNMEE, UNMIL, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Flag description
Definition
13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; the 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies; known as Old Glory; the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags, including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico


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