The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U. C., and the largest city by population is New York City.S.) or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous and located in North America between Canada and Mexico.The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties.The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.Although the Spanish did not land, natives paddled to the ship to trade furs for abalone shells from California.At the time, the Spanish were able to monopolize the trade between Asia and North America, granting limited licenses to the Portuguese.The state of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones.The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries. The United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast.
Over time, indigenous cultures in North America grew increasingly complex, and some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture in the southeast, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies.Successful English settlement on the eastern coast of North America began with the Virginia Colony in 1607 at Jamestown and the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony in 1620.Many settlers were dissenting Christian groups who came seeking religious freedom.Spanish set up the first settlements in Florida and New Mexico such as Saint Augustine and Santa Fe.The French established their own as well along the Mississippi River.