Quick Facts about the United States of America
- Capital: Washington, D.C.
- Population: 321,368,864 (July 2015 est.)
- Language: English
- Religion: Protestant, Roman Catholic
- Area: 9,826,675 sq km
- Currency: U.S. Dollar (USD)
- GDP (Purchasing Power Parity): $17.42 trillion (2014 est.)
- GDP per capita: $54,600 (2014 est.)
- GDP real growth rate: 2.4% (2014 est.)
- Local Time: Six times zones from -5 hour GMT to -10 hour GMT
- Dialing code: +1
- Main Export Partners: Canada 19%, Mexico 14.3%, China 7.7%, Japan 4.1% (2013)
- Main Import Partners: China 19.6%, Canada 14.6%, Mexico 12.3%, Japan 6.1%, Germany 5% (2013)
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)
About the United States of America
The United States of America is the third largest country in the world, with an area of 9,826,675 sq km. With over 300 million people in a space over twice the size of the European Union, the population is less dense and less centralized than in most of Europe. Due to its size, the U.S. encompasses a wide variety of climates, from arctic tundra in Alaska to tropical beaches in Florida. Much of the eastern U.S. consists of temperate plains, while the west is mountainous; most major metropolitan centers are located along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
Business Practices and Culture
American business culture is task-oriented and rewards timeliness and personal accomplishments. Business hierarchy is often important, with business leaders accorded respect for their success. Formal greetings typically consist of a firm handshake. Maintaining eye contact in a conversation is a sign of being open and straightforward, traits Americans value highly. Emphasis is placed on efficiency, and punctuality is important for meetings and project deadlines. Americans tend to be very warm and informal, even towards new acquaintances. First names are frequently used among coworkers and business associates. Competition is encouraged and individuals are not afraid to take pride in their achievements. Direct negotiation and frank discussion, even to voice disagreement, are commonplace. The most important factor in business is the ability to produce results. This emphasis on accomplishments means that, in order to achieve their personal goals, Americans are generally willing to work long hours and take only limited vacation time; they may expect others to do the same.
The United States is a federal republic; the federal system grants each of the 50 states the ability to form many of their own laws and regulations. Representative government dates back to the country’s founding; the U.S. Constitution, on which the government is based, has been in use since 1789. Government power is balanced between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, with the President (executive) as head of state. The current president is Barack Obama, elected in 2008 and 2012. The legislature is divided between the lower house, with representatives elected every two years, and the upper house, with senators elected to six-year terms. The major political parties are the Democrats and the Republicans.
Current Economic Challenges and Opportunities
The U.S. economy was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis; however, the country has rebounded from the worst of the downturn. Growth has returned, aided by the strong fundamentals of the economy and pro-growth policies. The market-based practices and low regulatory environment in the United States encourages flexibility and adaptation. The U.S. remains the world’s largest national economy and export market. America ranks number three on the World Economic Forum’s 2014-2015 Global Competitiveness Index. Home to many of the world’s top universities, the U.S. is at the technological forefront in virtually every field of business. The U.S. is looking to overcome the setbacks of the financial crisis and rein in public debt through innovation and opportunity-led growth.
NEI/NEXT is a continuation of President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which focused on increasing U.S. exports by reducing trade barriers and bringing American goods and services to world markets. Today’s technology makes it possible even for small businesses to join the global marketplace. NEI/NEXT thus focus on a long-term economic growth strategy to make trade and investment a more integral part of the U.S. economy and to increase U.S. exports to overseas markets.
(Source: International Trade Administration)