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The U.S.A.

The United States of America
The United States is a land of great variety with an unusual blending of all sorts of customs and cultures from all over the world. It is the 4th largest country in the world, with an area 9.83 million square kilometers and a population of approximately 310,000,000 people. The US comprises of 50 states and the national capital – Washington D.C. The national bird of the US is the bald eagle.

Geography

The Atlantic Coastal Plain gives way further inland to deciduous forests and rolling hills of the Piedmont – a plateau region located in the eastern United States . The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest. The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs from north to south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairies of the Great Plains stretch to the west, interrupted by a highland region in the southeast. The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, reaching altitudes higher than 4,300 m in Colorado. Further west are the Great Basin and deserts such as the Mojave. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast. At 6,194 m, Alaska's Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in the country and in North America. Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Aleutian Islands and Hawaii. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.

Climate

With its large size and geographic variety, the US includes most climate types. In the east, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south. The southern tip of Florida is tropical, as is Hawaii. The Great Plains to the west are semi-arid. Much of the western mountains are alpine. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, hot and dry in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon, Washington, and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. The states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in the Midwest's Tornado Alley.

Government

The US is a republic with 3 major branches of power. The Executive Branch includes the president as the head of state who is elected to a maximum of 2 of four-year terms. The Legislative Branch is made up Congress. Congress is divided into the Senate with 100 members (2 from each state elected for six-year terms), and the House of Representatives with 435 members elected for two-year terms from each state depending on the population. The Judicial Branch is made up of the Supreme Court and other courts of law. The two main political parties are the Democrats, with a blue donkey as their symbol, and the Republicans, with their symbol of a red elephant. Each state has quite a lot of power to make its own laws, therefore laws tend to vary from state to state.
There is no typical lifestyle for the entire United States. Throughout the states, it is as varied as can possibly be. The life of a New Yorker is different than the life of a rancher in Wyoming while the life of someone living in the mountains is different from the life of someone living in the desert. The US contains many small towns each having their own character and history. These towns differ greatly from large cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
New England New England's landscape varies from farmlands to mountains to coastline, and the entire region is famous for its marvelous display of color in the autumn. The area was named by the the English explorer, John Smith, when he declared the area the perfect place for a new colony in 1614. Famous historical events such as the Boston Tea Party or the first revolutionary battle at Bunker Hill took place in New England. Boston is the area's most major city containing the famous universities of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rhode Island is the smallest state with miles of shoreline, beaches, and woodlands, making it a popular nature retreat. Rhode Island's capital, Providence, is home to the famous Brown University. The state is famous for its magnificent mansions where wealthy New Yorkers spend their summers. Connecticut is another small state with miles of coastline and beaches. It is home to the famous Yale University in New Haven. The capital, Hartford, is famous for once being the home of the author Mark Twain. Massachusetts is famous for its culture and for its capital, the aforementioned Boston. Other famous sites are the city of Salem, the location of the 1692 witch trials, Plymouth, the location of the first permanent European settlement, and Cape Cod, an area of cute villages and beautiful beaches. Vermont is dominated by the Green Mountains, making it a popular skiing and hiking destination. It is famous for its maple syrup and cranberry plantations. New Hampshire is famous for its forests and it is also a popular hiking destination. Maine is known for its lobster, fishing, and colonial villages. Maine is home to Acadia National Park, with beautiful views, hiking trails, beaches, and lighthouses.
The Lower Northeast The Lower Northeast is made up of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. New York, most famous for its city of the same name, is the location of the National Baseball Hall of fame in Cooperstown, and many beautiful places such as the Adirondack Mountains or Niagara Falls. New Jersey, nicknamed the Garden State, is a state of rolling hills, small towns, and farms. It is one of the nation's biggest producers of blueberries and cranberries. The gambling paradise of Atlantic City offers the residents of New Jersey a famous pastime. Pennsylvania is famous for Philadelphia, the city where the original 13 British colonies signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It also served as the nation's capital for a few years. In Philadelphia we can admire Independence Hall, the location of the signing of the Declaration and the US Constitution, and the US Mint, the place where most of the country's coins are made. Hershey is another popular town in Pennsylvania because it is home to the Hershey chocolate factory. Hershey's is something similar along the lines of the Czech Orion. Pennsylvania is also home to a large Amish population, a religious group farming the land and rejecting modern conveniences. Maryland is famous for its crab fishing and yachting. The largest city, Baltimore, is known for its Science Center and National Aquarium. Delaware is the nation's second smallest state. It was the first of the 13 colonies to sign the Declaration, and so it is nicknamed the First State. West Virgina lies entirely in the Appalachian Mountain range. It is the location of many national parks, forests, and rivers. The New River Gorge is where some of the nation's best white-water rafting can be done. The state is also known for its old-fashioned woodwork, quilting, and other crafts. Washington D.C. Was established as the nation's capital in 1790. All federal government institutions, including Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House, are housed here, as well as a number of memorials commemorating former presidents. In this city, tourists can explore a number of museums such as the Smithsonian Institute, the National Gallery of Art, or the National Air and Space Museum.

The historical Southeast Stretching south from the US capital to Florida's tip, this region contains Virgina, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida. This is the region where the colony Jamestown was founded in 1607 in Virgina. Colonies in this area prospered because of tobacco, indigo, and rice plantations, which were tended to by slaves. In 19th century, these states formed the Confederacy that fought against the abolition of slavery by the Union in the Civil War. The South also known for its lengthy dialect known as the drawl, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The South gave the world blues, country music, and number of literary works dealing with the history of slavery. Virgina is a place for history lovers. Williamsburg offers visitors a taste of colonial times with blacksmiths, horse-drawn carriages, and bakers. North Carolina is where we can find the so called “research triangle” of the University of North Carolina, Duke University, and technology businesses in the area. The town of Kill Devil Hills, the location where the Wright Brothers launched their first airplane in 1903, can also be found in North Carolina. South Carolina is the location of Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. Myrtle beach on the Atlantic Coast is a popular destination for students during spring break. In Charleston, some former plantation homes and their large gardens are open to public. Georgia is famous for its large city of Atlanta. Boasting one of the nation's largest airports, the city is also home to the World of Coca-Cola, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, and a large population of African Americans. Tennessee is the location of the twin music cities of Nashville and Memphis. Nashville is the capital of country music with the Country Music hall of Fame. Memphis is home to many music museums and venues, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the location of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968. The state is dominated by the Great Smoky Mountains. Kentucky takes its pride from its equestrian tradition, horse racing, and horse breeding. The annual Kentucky Derby horse race is run in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. Florida is a very popular state for many reasons. Walt Disney World is located in Orlando, The Kennedy Space center is the location of the launching of many space shuttles, Miami is a popular tourist destination due to its beaches as well as its Cuban culture, and the Everglades National Park is an attraction full of swamps, alligators, and many different bird species.
The Great Lakes Region In this region, all of the states, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois, border the Great Lakes. It is the home to many Czech immigrants. The entire region is an industrial powerhouse. Ohio is a state which industrially combines tire production and agriculture. The major city of Cleveland became significant through steel production and is home to German and Irish immigrants, while Cincinnati made its fortune through slaughterhouses. In southern Ohio, we can find archaeological remains of the first American civilizations. The Mound-builder culture left many piles of earth in various shapes that were once probably used for ceremonial or burial purposes. Indiana is a rural area due to its many rivers. Corn is grown in half of the state, making it the origin of a lot of American popcorn. The largest city, Indianapolis, hosts the Indy 500 car race annually on the Indianapolis speedway. Illinois is home to Chicago, the third largest US city. Chicago is well known for its modern architecture and its Sears Tower is one of the world's tallest buildings. The metropolis has a large Czech population. In fact, by the turn of the 19th century, Chicago was the 3rd largest Czech city in the world after Prague and Vienna. The rest of Illinois is mainly rural. Abraham Lincoln, the 12th US president, was born in the Springfield, the state's capital and perhaps home of the Simpsons. Michigan is divided into 2 halves by Lake Michigan. The Upper Peninsula is a popular tourist attraction due to natural attractions and old lumber, mining, and fishing towns. The Lower Peninsula is the location of Detroit, the city where Ford and General Motors have their headquarters. Wisconsin is the nation's main cheese and beer producer. Milwaukee, the largest city, contains many breweries, which were contributed to by German immigrants. The state also has many cow farms, contributing to its nickname of “America's Dairyland.” Minnesota is a center of aquatic sports. The state contains thousands of lakes, making it popular for swimming, fishing, and boating.
The Great Plains Flat landscapes and farmlands characterize this region with the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. The history of these states is closely tied to Native Americans. The most popular career here is farming. Many acres of land are devoted to corn, wheat, cattle, and pigs. Some of the nation's worst weather is also found in this area, consisting mainly of tornadoes, floods, thunderstorms, scorching summer heat, and harsh winter blizzards. North Dakota is a major grain producer, and grows more sunflowers than any other state. The official state beverage is milk. South Dakota is known for Mt. Rushmore. It is a mountain carving in the Black Hills of the faces of former US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and George Washington. Badlands National Park, a huge area with sharply eroded buttes and spires carved out of stone, is also located in South Dakota. Nebraska has more rivers than any other state, and is dominated by farmland. A large portion of the Oregon Trail, the main wagon route from Missouri to Oregon, passes through Nebraska. The state's capital, Omaha, is the location of the Lied Jungle, the world's largest indoor rain forest. Iowa is the nation's largest agricultural producer. It is also a popular destination for Czech immigrants. Cedar Rapids is home to the National Czech and Slovak Museum, and a Czech Village which sells Czech sweets. Missouri is known for it's Gateway Arch in the state's capital of St. Louis. It's the tallest monument in the US and it symbolizes the gateway between the eastern and western United States. St. Louis is also the home of the largest beer brewery in the nation. During the World's Fair of 1904 hosted in St. Louis, iced tea and the ice cream cone were invented. In Kansas City, we can find more boulevards than Paris and more fountains that any city except Rome. Kansas is associated with wheat production, and buffalo hunts. It also played an important role in history as an Indian resettlement territory.
The Deep South This region is known as the birthplace of jazz, Cajun food, and the civil rights movement, and comprises of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas. Louisiana is well known thanks to its largest city: New Orleans. It is a place for good music, tasty food, and great parties such as its Mardi Gras festival. The original inhabitants of the state, French Canadian immigrants, brought with them Cajun food and culture. Creole food is also popular in Louisiana. A popular dish originating from Louisiana is gumbo, a stew combining French, African, and Spanish cuisine. Arkansas is a state of mountains, valleys, forests, and plains. It was the first state in which black students were sent to high school in 1957, making integration possible. Mississippi is the birthplace of blues, Elvis Presley, and Oprah Winfrey. Alabama is where much of the struggle for civil rights took place. Shops, schools, restaurants, and even buses where segregated. Martin Luther King Jr. was from Alabama. Oklahoma has the largest Native American population of any state. The state's rural history includes oil wells and cowboys. A significant part of the historical Route 66 runs through Oklahoma. Texas is the 2nd largest state. It was originally a part of Mexico, and was taken over by Americans during the Battle of the Alamo in 1835. Linked to the state's fortunes are cattle and cowboys. Houston is the city where the Space Center, functioning as mission control for all US space flights, is located.
The Rockies The Rocky states are named after the Rocky mountain range running trough them and are Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. These states have small populations but also a lot of natural beauty and outdoor activities. The landscape ranges from flat plains and prairies to towering and majestic mountains. Idaho is famous for producing potatoes. It is home to the deepest river gorge in North America, carved by the Snake River in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, a place much loved by kayakers and whitewater rafters. The 1st ski lift in the world was built in Sun Valley in 1936. Montana has the most species of mammals of any state, including buffalo, moose, elk, antelope, deer, and grizzly bears. Montana's population is very sparse and spread out. It is nicknamed the Big Sky State due to the sense of freedom a glimpse at the sky gives you. Two famous national parks, Yellowstone, the world's 1st national park, and Glacier, are located in Montana. Wyoming is classic cowboy country. It has the smallest population, but it was the 1st state to give women the right to vote. The southern part of Yellowstone National Park is located in Wyoming. Colorado is known as the best place to ski in the US. It is home to the famous ski resort called Aspen. The capital city, Denver, is known for its museums including the Denver Art Museum and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Denver also claims the invention of the cheeseburger. Colorado Springs is the location of the US Air Force Academy. Mesa Verde National Park is the location of a four-story city carved into rock by the Peublo people over 1000 years ago.
The Southwest The Southwest states are New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. They are characterized by beautiful desert landscapes, deep canyons, and high mesas. The population is a mix of Native Americans, Hispanics, and whites. The place where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet is called 4 corners, and it is the only place in the US where you can be in 4 states at once. New Mexico annually hosts the world's largest hot air balloon festival in Albuqerque. The capital city, Santa Fe, is a city filled with interesting Native American architecture and adobe buildings. We can admire the remains of Native American cultures in Chaco Canyon and Bandelier National Monument. Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, carved by the Colorado River. Though the south of Arizona is mostly desert, rattlesnakes, and cacti, the North is forested and mountainous. In Flagstaff, we can visit the Lowell Observatory where Pluto was first discovered. The famous Monument Valley is located in Arizona. As for weather, Arizona is famous for its thunderstorms. Utah is a state filled with natural wonders and national parks such as Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, and Bryce Canyon. The state's capital, Salt Lake City, is where the 2002 Winter Olympics were held. Next to the city is the largest slat lake in North America: Great Salt Lake. Nevada is famous for its city of Las Vegas. It is a city of many casinos, neon lights, massive hotels, making it a gambler's paradise. Hoover Dam, one of the highest concrete dams in the world, is located in Nevada.
The Pacific States The States in the west coast of the US are Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California, and we mustn't forget the only island state of Hawaii. California is a famous, 1,300 km long state. A large immigrant population gives it a ethnic mix. Hordes of people were led to move to the area during the Gold Rush in 1849. California is define by the north and the south, giving the impression that it is 2 separate states. The south is dominated by Los Angeles, movie stars, and beaches. LA is home to Hollywood, California's fortune maker. Hollywood's glamorous look can be seen in the luxury restaurants, hotels, and clubs along the famous street Sunset Strip. The Walk of Fame has more than 2,000 polished marble stars with names of celebrities. LA has many theme parks such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, Six Flags, and Knott's Berry Farm. In San Diego, California's city on the border with Mexico, we can find the famous theme park called Sea World. The most prominent city in the north is the open minded city of San Francisco. It is famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, street cars, and Alcatraz. It has a famous waterfront area with museums, shops, and seafood restaurants called Fisherman's wharf. There a lot of outdoor activities to do in California as well. Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain are famous for their ski resorts, Yosemite National Park for its canyons, gigantic trees, and waterfalls, and Death Valley for being the hottest place on Earth (once having recorded a temperature of 57° Celsius in the shade.) Other attractions include Mono Lake, Sequoia National Forest, Redwood National Park, the views along the Pacific Coast Highway, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and America's only castle: Hearst Castle. Oregon and Washington are characterized by mountains, rivers, and forests. In Oregon you can visit Mount Hood in the Cascade Mountains, where you can ski year-round. Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the USA created by the collapse of a volcano after its eruption. Portland, Oregon, is the birthplace of Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons. Washington is traditionally a logging and fishing state. It's known for its high-tech companies such as Boeing, Microsoft, and Intel. The state receives a lot of rain and is home to the nation's only continental rainforest. Washington also produces more apples than any other US state. The active volcano, Mt. St. Helen's, is located in Washington. Alaska was bought from Russia in 1867 and became the 49th state in 1959. It is the largest state and home to icy natural beauty and the highest US mountain: Mt. McKinley, located in Denali National Park. The state, located partially above the Arctic Circle, is an important source of oil. Dog mushing is the official state sport. The capital, Juneau, is only accessible by boat or plane. Hawaii, the 50th state, is an archipelago in the Pacific. The largest 5 islands are: Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai. Since the islands are volcanic, eruptions are common. The most famous volcanoes is Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Hawaii is a very popular tourist destination due to its beaches, and water sports such as surfing and snorkeling. Hawaii has a rich Polynesian culture, stemming from its original inhabitants.

Education

Most children attend public schools which are free of charge, but paid private schools are also an option. Grading is based on an A-F system which excludes the letter E. A is the best grade, while F means fail.

Pre-elementary

Little children start with kindergarten between the ages of 5 and 6. Some children attend pre-school, which has to be pain for, from as early as 3 or 4 years. Elementary school, covering 5 or 6 years, formally starts compulsory education. Particular school districts determine the curriculum, but mainly essential subjects, such as math, English, and science, are taught. The daily schedule includes a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before class each morning. From 6th grade to 8th grade, children attend Junior High, also called Middle School. The last form of compulsory education, High School, consists of 4 years, each with a different name. In order, they are freshman yeah, sophomore year, junior year, and senior year. In some states, only the 1st two years are compulsory and students can leave school after completing their sophomore year. High schools offer academic courses as well as vocational courses such as mechanics and computers. Testing takes place in the form of quizzes, essays, and other projects. As juniors, students take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the SAT. This four hour test determines the students' levels of language, writing, math, and critical thinking skills. Scores from these tests determine if students are capable of getting into the universities of their choice. Graduation is celebrated with a ceremony in which students dress in long gowns of their school colors, receive diplomas, and toss flat hats in the air. At the end of senior year, students attend a graduation dance called prom. Higher Education In the US, there are over 2,000 universities and colleges ranging from Ivy League Schools such as Yale or Harvard, to state universities or community colleges. A Bachelor's or undergraduate degree usually takes 4 years, and an additional 2 years of education earn you a Master's or graduate degree. It is possible to continue to earn a PhD or doctorate degree.

Sports

In America, professional sport is very popular and big in business. Making millions of dollars a year are teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League. Famous baseball teams are the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Boston Red Sox. Famous football teams are the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Famous basketball teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Sacramento Kings. These first class players all come from college teams. The most popular sports are football and basketball. Top games are televised and millions of Americans watch their favorite teams. American Football The most popular American sport kicks off in September and ends in different time throughout winter. On Friday nights, people gather to watch local high school teams compete, and Saturday is for colleges and universities. The best college teams are invited to play in bowl games. The oldest bowl game is the Rose Bowl, which takes place in LA. The most famous bowl game is the Super Bowl, the championship game of the NFL. It is considered and unofficial national holiday, and it is the most-watched American television broadcasts. Even fancy commercials are specially made for this broadcast. Super Bowl Sunday is the largest day for US food consumption after Thanksgiving. People who don't even like football will get together on this day and drink and eat and watch.

Holidays

New Year's is the celebration of bringing in the New Year. A popular tradition is gathering in Times Square in New York to watch a large ball drop during the last 10 seconds of the old year. This is event is televised. Many Americans make New Year's Resolutions. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, honoring the famous man who spoke for civil rights and equality, is on the 3rd Monday of January. To honor this day we had a Hands Across Campus Rally in school to celebrate the equality of all cultures. Groundhog Day on February 2nd is the day that determines if spring is on its way or not. If the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, then spring is around the corner. No school is held on President's Day on the 3rd Monday of February, which is closely followed by Lincoln's Day on February 12th. Valentine's Day is a popular day for lovebirds. On this day, people exchange boxes of chocolates, flowers, and cards. St. Patrick's Day is the day for wearing green. Chicago even dyes it's river green. If someone is caught without something green on, they are pinched. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is mainly celebrated in New Orleans with a display of elaborate floats in parades, confetti, and masked balls. Easter, the famous Christian holiday, is celebrated in the US with Easter Egg hunts in backyards. The Easter Bunny supposedly leaves baskets of Easter treats for children to find in the morning. Mother's Day on May 10th is when a lot of mothers and daughters dine out together. The last Monday in May is Memorial Day, commemorating fallen soldiers. June 14th is Flag Day, celebrating the adoption of the 1st American flag. Today the flag has 13 stripes which represent the original 13 colonies, and 50 stars which represent the 50 states. This is a day to review proper flag etiquette. Independence Day, America's birthday, is on July 4th. It is a day of family gatherings, BBQ's, hamburgers, hot dogs, patriotic displays and parades, the colors of the flag, and fireworks. The 1st Monday in September is Labor Day, a day of many parades, which marks the end of summer and the time of going back to school. In California, school starts the Thursday after Labor Day. Columbus Day, celebrating the discovery of America, is on the 2nd Monday in October. Halloween, on October 31st, is a time o pumpkin carving, costume and pumpkin contests, parties, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating usually takes place between 5-8 PM and consists of dressing up in a costume and going around the neighborhood collecting candy. Many people decorate their houses for this occasion with gravestones, skeletons, and other spooky elements. Veteran's Day, another occasion for parades, is on November 11th. Thanksgiving is a very important US holiday. It is held on the 4th Thursday of November and celebrates the 1st bountiful harvest that the pilgrims had with the help of the Native Americans upon arriving in America. This is a time of families gathering together and enjoying a feast of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and pumpkin pie. Leftover turkey from Thanksgiving can often haunt in the form of leftovers for days. No one should be left hungry on Thanksgiving so there are many food drives for the needy. The Day after Thanksgiving is the day when stores start getting ready for Christmas so they have large sales and many people swamp in stores. This day is known as Black Friday. Christmas is a popular holiday especially for children. Unfortunately, it has become quite commercialized. In the US, families put up Christmas trees and decorate their homes with lights and blow-up Santas a few weeks before Christmas. In LA, there is a famous area called Candy Cane Lane where all of the inhabitants go all out to decorate their houses in a big style. Children hoping for small treats put up stockings on the fireplace. On Christmas Eve, a dinner similar to the one on Thanksgiving is eaten. Milk and cookies are left out for Santa Claus, and carrots for his reindeer. Santa supposedly arrives at night on his sleigh drawn by reindeer, climbs down the chimney, and leaves presents under the tree, which are unwrapped the next morning.



Přidal: kamomille 6. 6. 2010
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< Předchozí výpisek Zpět na výpis látekNásledující výpisek >Jane Sarah Langley and Michael John JamesTodays BritainAngličtina