Before you begin your travels to the one of the TALK English Schools in the USA, make an effort to inform yourself a little about the country you are visiting. There are many interesting USA facts about this country, that if you are aware of, will make your stay more interesting, familiar and altogether more enjoyable. Here’s a snippet of some good-to-know facts about the United States of America.
Known as the world’s 4th largest country in area and the 3rd largest country in population, the United States consists of 50 states with the federal capital located in Washington DC. Since its founding over 200 years ago, the USA has achieved remarkable and outstanding development in a great many areas. This country features some of the most advanced and knowledgeable minds in the fields of science, economics, medicine, information technology, entertainment, and politics. Because the country is so advanced, economically, socially, and culturally, it holds an attraction to millions to visit the USA, to study there and to compete with the finest minds and most advanced systems that make the USA one of the primary destinations for students studying abroad from right around the world.
The USA also offers the benefits of very good education and educational institutions that do not discriminate on the grounds of race, nationality, religion or creed. What matters is the accessibility for all to an excellent education. Because of this openness, the US was one of the first countries that actively pursued and encouraged international students to come to the USA and attend its universities and high schools. After WWII, the USA opened its heart, its borders and its schools and universities to students who were escaping the war-ravaged areas of Europe. After this, students from Asia and the Middle East quickly followed. Over 500,000 international students currently attend schools and universities in the USA.
The USA features a vast geographic land area which is around 25 times larger than Japan or the United Kingdom. The United States climate greatly varies where the 100th meridian divides the humid east to the arid west. The temperature variation in the south and the north is also great. In winter you can swim in the ocean at Florida, while up north near the Canadian border and the Great Lakes area, temperatures often fall 10° below zero. In general terms late spring and early autumn is a warm and comfortable time in most states. Late autumn to early spring brings the colder weather to 2/3s of the northern part of the country.
There is little difference in the temperature down the landmass from Washington to California which is the West Coast throughout the year. The seasons are divided instead between a rainy spring and winter and a dry autumn and summer.
There are some extreme climate and temperature zones in this vast continent. Summers in the Western USA can be sweltering – 56.7C was the highest temperature recorded in the USA in Death Valley, California. Much further north, above Canada but a part of the USA, is Alaska, where temperatures can plummet to as much as -62.2C. This, recorded in Prospect Creek, Alaska in 1971, is the lowest recorded temperature in the USA.
Since history started being written in and about the USA, historians and scholars have traced America’s discovery to Columbus’ voyages on behalf the Spanish monarchy. More recent scholarship suggests that in fact Europeans arrived on America’s eastern shores as early as around 1000 AD. In the 16th century colonization started with the establishment of the port and military fort of Saint Augustine, at the very north east of the Florida peninsula. The Southern regions inland from Saint Augustine fell under Spanish control followed soon after, while the French developed strongholds in the northern lands around the St. Lawrence River and the Eastern Great Lakes. The English colonizers focused their efforts on the land area known as New England, located along the Atlantic Seaboard. The first permanent English settlement took place in Jamestown, Virginia.
Religion was a very powerful player in the minds and ambitions of the early settlers, who rejected the constraints on the religious beliefs that existed in Europe. These settlers, known as the Pilgrims, established the Plymouth Colony, which is now known as Massachusetts. The settlements along the Atlantic were subjected to extortionate taxes and unfair trading regulations and practices by the English. For a hundred years this ruthlessly enforced taxation system fed the resentment of the colonizers and become a lightning rod for their resentment of England. In 1760s, war broke out between the American colonizers and the English monarchy. The USA declared its independence from England in the year of 1776.
During the 1st half of the 19th century, the US successfully expanded its territory until it finally reached the Pacific Coast, and it then annexed California in 1846. During the 2nd half of the 19th century the wave of immigration to America increased with the arrival of Germans, Scotch-Irish, and Scandinavians, and many other Europeans. They added to the melting pot that already existed in America – the indigenous Indians, former slaves from Africa, the early European, especially the British settlers. Others came later, in the early 20th Century when America was experiencing huge economic growth and industry. These immigrants were mainly from Asia and Europe.
The USA became a premier global economic and military power over the 20th century. Although it did not act immediately in the 2 world wars, the US might and intervention did hasten the end of the wars and determine their outcome. The latter half of the 20th century showed a delicate balance that parlayed the ambitions of two great powers, and in the West was dominated by the fears that the Soviet Union would prevail against the United States and other democratic countries of Europe. This was called the Cold War. Prevailing in the last decade of this millennium, the US enters the 21st century facing new challenges of a global scale.
An urban based society, the USA boasts more than 75% of the population who live in the larger city areas. 50% of the total population live in the suburbs of America’s many towns and cities. The minority of the population is the African Americans at 13% of the entire population. Hispanics make up 12%, and Asians make up 4% of the population. The 19th century frontier spirit, and the wide open spaces in the west enabled the migration of large populations of people seeking land, minerals and a place to live in freedom. This history has created a mindset unique to Americans, with their strong and open personalities and fierce sense of independence and individual rights.
Many of the students studying abroad like American’s honesty and frankness. Although welcoming and friendly, however, Americans value private time and family time, and are not always open to extended periods of socializing. They believe “Time Is Money” and try to be efficient as possible with their time. Many international students are surprised at how hard Americans work and how little time they take for the vacation. Individual rights and freedom are respected and very important to Americans. Visitors are treated equally as citizens.