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Проектная работа "Взгляд на США"

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«Проектная работа "Взгляд на США"»

МУ ЗАТО Северск «Средняя общеобразовательная школа № 83»










Проектная работа



A Glance at the USA”


«Взгляд на США»







Учитель: Колегаева С. А.






Contents


Introduction 2

  1. The Land 3

The Geographical Position 3

Weather and Climate 5

Natural Resources 6

Rivers and Great Lakes 7

  1. The USA – ‘a Melting Pot’ 9

Population 9 Language and Nationalities 11

III. American Cities 12

Washington 12

New York 14

IV. Historical Background 16

The First President 16

Struggle for Independence 19

The US Constitution 21

V. The USA – an Independent State 21

American Symbols 24

The White House 25

The Legislative Branch 27

Local Administration 29

VI. Traditions and Entertainments 31

American Holidays 31

Conclusion 38

Bibliography List 39



Introduction

There is no man in the world who has never heard about America. The USA is a highly developed industrial country. It is the world’s leading producer of copper and oil and the world’s second producer of iron ore and coal. Among the most important manufacturing industries are air-crafts, cars, textiles, radio and TV sets and etc. The USA is the fourth largest country in the world after Russia, Canada and China, and has many natural resources, animal types, beautiful and interesting places, which are nowhere in the world.

People travel to America to find a good work, to study in colleges, to look Hollywood stars and see interesting places like a Jefferson Memorial, Supreme Court, Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty, museums and many others. To tell the truth I am not interested in American sights, but I found this information and included in this work.

There lived outstanding people who had played an important role in shaping American life and culture. For example, writers and artists, such as Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and Norman Rockwell, Jack London and Emily Dickinson, architects, especially Frank Lloyd Wright.

I’ve chosen this theme of my report, because I’m very interested in America and American life. I heard many interesting facts and read a lot of texts about this country, but I had never been there. Maybe I’ll go there in the future. So, I found information about the United States and decided to fit it into this report.

  1. The Land

The Geographical Position

The United States of America has an area of 9,4 mln square kilometers almost all of which is on the American continent. Its overseas possessions are mainly small Pacific Islands (Guam, Samoa) plus Puerto Rico.

There are 50 states and one Federal District, created as a site for the Federal Capital, Washington, and known as the District of Columbia.

The USA is considered to be the fourth largest country in the world. From New York in the East to San Francisco or Los Angeles in the West, i.e. from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast, you have to travel more than 4,500 km and leave behind four time zones.

Thanks to these geographical extremes, different parts of the country range from moist rain forest areas to arid desert regions and bald mountain peaks. Mount McKinley in Alaska of 6,194 meters above sea level is the highest point in the USA, while part of Death Valley in California is 89 meters below sea level.

The west is an extensive mountain area occupying approximately one-third of the US and is a region of tremendous variety, which can be subdivided into various other areas. It consists of high ranges of the Cordillera parallel to the Pacific Coast culminating on its eastern border in the Rocky Mountains, which, in their turn, stretch from mountainous Alaska down to Mexico. These mountains are rich in resources such as gold, lead and uranium.

Among high mountains at the western edge of the Cordillera – the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades and the Coastal Ranges – there are broad, fertile valleys and large plateau regions with canyons, cliffs and basins that contain many important metals, oil and natural gas.

The heart of the US is a vast plain, which extends from Central Canada southwards to Mexico and from the Cordillera eastwards to the Appalachian Mountains. These interior plains, which rise gradually like a saucer to higher land on all sides, are divided into two major parts: the eastern portion is called the Central Plains and the western portion – the Great Plains, both of which have good soil.

Hawaii is a chain of twenty islands, only seven of which are inhabited. The mountainous islands were formed by volcanic activity and there are still a number of active volcanoes.

Weather and Climate

Virtually every type of climate can be found somewhere in the United States – from arctic in Alaska to subtropical in Florida. The climate is not generally temperate, despite the latitude, because the tremendous size of the North American land mass heightens the extreme variations in temperature and precipitation, especially in the central regions (in Dakota temperatures have reached a maximum of 49 °C and a minimum of -60 °C).

Most of the country has a humid continental climate with hot summers and cold winters, while the lack of natural barriers either to the north of south allows cold, dry air to flow south from Canada and warm, humid air north from the Gulf of Mexico, giving rise o spectacular weather of every possible type in the Great Plains and Midwest. Summers are hot and very humid in this region and rainfall decreases to the west as a result of the rain shadow created by the West Pacific Range and the Sierra Nevada. The southwest portion of the Great Plains is the hottest and most arid region of the United States, with precipitation, mostly in the form of summer showers, averaging less than 250 mm a year.

The Pacific coast is almost rainless in the summer, although there is often fog. In winter there is frequent drizzle, but the climate remains generally warm and dry, especially in California.

The eastern part of the country is moderately rainy, with the precipitation fairly well distributed throughout the year. Summers tend to be extremely humid, especially along the coast of Texas and Florida.

Natural Resources

The nation's natural advantages and resources are probably greater than those of any other area of equal size.

The land is as varied as it huge. There are plains and mountains, grasslands and forests, sandy soil, clay and rich, dark loams. The mineral resources vary from precious gold and rare uranium to common lead and zinc. Coal, oil, iron, copper and other minerals are abundant. They form basis of modern industry.

The United States possesses vast non-fuel natural resources. The major resource is iron, three quarters of which comes from the Lake Superior region of the Great Lakes. Other basic metals and minerals mined on a large scale are zinc, copper, silver and phosphate rock (used for fertilizers). This wealth is distributed throughout most of the country, but Texas and the West (especially California) are the most important mineral-producing areas.

The United States produces one quarter of the world's coal and one seventh of its petroleum, with sufficient coal reserves to last for hundreds of years. About half of the nation's electric power comes from coal-fired power stations, while natural and manufactured gas supply more than 33 % of the nation's power. The main gas fields are found near the main oil fields in Texas, Louisiana and Alaska. Nuclear power is also used in many places, using uranium mined in New Mexico and Wyoming, and produces over 10 % of the nation's energy output.

Rivers and Great Lakes

Many rivers cross the country. The most important are the Mississippi, Missouri, Colorado and Sacramento. The USA has several immensely long rivers. There are a large numbers of rivers in the eastern part of the country, the longest of which is the Missouri (4,740 km), a tributary of the Mississippi (3,950 km). The Mississippi-Missouri system extends for over 6,000 km before entering the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. Two other tributaries of the Mississippi – the Ohio and Tennessee are more than 1,500 km long.

In the West the Rio Grande, which forms part of the United States-Mexico border, flows for 3,016 km and only the Colorado (2,320 km), Columbia (2,240 km) and the San Joaquin-Sacramento river systems reach the Pacific.

The main lakes in the USA are the Great Lakes in the north.

Part of the boundary between the United States of America and Canada is formed by four of the five Great Lakes. The largest of them is Lake Superior, which, as its name implies, is the highest above the sea. South of it is Lake Michigan, entirely in the United States territory; to the east is Lake Huron, from the southern end of which the St. Clair River leads into Lake Erie. From Lake Erie the Niagara River rashes over the famous Niagara Falls into Lake Ontario, out of which flows the St. Lawrence River.

All the Lakes are connected by canals or navigable channels to form not only the largest body of fresh wa­ter in the world, but also the most important unit of inland waterway. The Lakes take a very important place in the economic life of both the United States of America and of Canada. From Chicago at the southwest end of Lake Michigan, railway lines radiate in all directions – across the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, southwards fol­lowing the line of the Mississippi to New Orleans – and the city's prosperity has been much increased by its po­sition as a lake port.

Another lake port is Buffalo, at the northern end of Lake Erie. It's the fourth largest port and the seventh industrial city in the United States of America. The Lakes can be used only between the months of April and De­cember, as they freeze in winter. The importance of the Lakes is not only commercial: along their shores are vast stretches of forest, meadowland, and grassland, as well as towns, camps, and small country towns.

The Great Salt Lake is in the northwest of the state of Utah, close to Salt Lake City, the capital. It is so salty that the human body cannot sink in it. Its present area is much smaller than the ancient lake of which it is a remnant.

Three large rivers flow into the Great Salt Lake from the mountains to the east and southeast — the Jordan, the river upon which Salt Lake City stands, the Weber, and the Bear. But it has no outlet. There are many islands. The largest is Antelope Island.

  1. The USA – “a Melting Pot”

Population

With more than 245,000,000 inhabitants, the United States is the fourth country in the world in terms of population. About 75 % of the population live in urban areas and there are 170 cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants, 24 of which have populations of over 500,000. Most of these urban centers lie along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. The most populous area is the relatively small Northeast, which accounts for nearly one fourth of the nation's population.

In 1990 the US Bureau of the Census conducted a new census of the American people. The Census counted 245,837,683 people in the USA. But the figures might be incorrect.

America's population remains richly diverse. Statistics tell part of the story. 87.5 per cent are classified as white by the US Bureau of the Census. The vast majority of the population was WASP until about 1860. Between 1860 and 1920 almost 30 million immigrants arrived from central and southeastern Europe in particular. These mainly Italian, Russian, Polish and Hungarian immigrants quickly formed their own culturally homogeneous neighborhoods ("Little Italy", for example) and became a second economic class behind the WASPs. So now the majority, fully 65 per cent, are other than "Anglo-Saxon".

Almost 12 per cent of population that are black are bottom of the economic and educational table, with far higher unemployment than whites, especially as a result of racial dis­crimination.

The most rapidly growing ethnic group is the Hispanics (almost 7 % of the Americans), who still continue to use Spanish in their homes even though the vast majority were born in the United States. Like the blacks, they have a generally lower economic and educational level than the rest of the population and are also isolated in ghetto areas.

There are almost 2 million generally prosperous Oriental Americans (predominantly from Japan, China and the Philippines), who are concentrated mainly in California.

The 1.5 million Native Americans live mainly in reserves in the southwestern states in usually deep poverty and there has been little or no integration into American society.



Language and Nationalities

It is not uncommon to walk down the streets of an American city today and hear Spanish spoken. In 1950 fewer than 4 million U.S. residents were from Spanish-speaking countries. Today that number is about 35 million. About 50 percent of Hispanics in the United States have origins in Mexico. The other 50 percent come from a variety of countries, including El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. Thirty-two percent of the Hispanics in the United States live in California. Several other states have large Hispanic populations, including Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida, where hundreds of thousands of Cubans fleeing the Castro regime have settled. There are so many Cuban Americans in Miami that the Miami Herald, the city's largest newspaper, publishes separate editions in English and Spanish.

The widespread use of Spanish in American cities has generated a public debate over language. Some English speakers point to Canada, where the existence of two languages (English and French) has been accompanied by a secessionist movement. To head off such a development in the United States, some citizens are calling for a law declaring English the official American language.

Others consider such a law unnecessary and likely to cause harm. They point to differences between America and Canada, and cite Switzerland as a place where the existence of multiple languages does not undermine national unity.

III. American Cities

Washington

Washington, the capital of the United States of America, is situated on the Potomac River in the District of Columbia. The district is a piece of land ten miles square and it does not belong to any separate state but to all the states. The district is named in honour of Columbus, the discoverer of America.

The capital owes much to the first President of the USA — George Washington. It was G. Washington, who chose the place for the District and laid in 1790 the corner-stone of the Capitol, where Congress sits.

Washington is not the largest city in the USA. It has a population of 900 000 people. Washington is a one-industry town. That industry is government. It does not produce anything except very much scrap paper. Every day 25 railway cars leave Washington loaded with scrap paper. Washington has many historical places. The largest and tallest among the buildings is the Capitol with its great House of Representatives and the Senate chamber. There are no sky­scrapers in Washington because no other building must be taller than the Capitol.


The White House is the President's residence. All American presidents except George Washington (the White House was not yet built in his time), have lived in the White House. It was built in 1799. It is a two-storied, white building.

Not far from the Capitol is the Washington Monument, which looks like a very big pencil. It rises 160 metres and is hollow inside. A special lift brings visitors to the top in 70 seconds from where they can enjoy a wonderful view of the whole city.

The Jefferson Memorial was built in memory of the third president of the USA, Thomas Jefferson, who was also the author of the Declaration of Independence. The memorial is surrounded by cherry-trees.

The Lincoln Memorial is devoted to the memory of the 16th President of the US, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave freedom to Negro slaves in America. On the other bank of the Potomac lies the Arlington National Cemetery where President Kennedy was buried. American soldiers and officers, who died in World Wars I and II are buried there too.

New York

New York is the largest city in the USA and the biggest seaport. It is the business centre of the United States.

New York is situated in the mouth of the Hudson River. In comparison with such ancient historical cities as, say, Rome, London, Moscow or Paris, New York is quite young. It was founded in 1613 by Dutch settlers.

There are five districts in the city: Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Richmond. Manhattan is the central and the oldest part of the city. It is the district of business and finance. It is here in Wall Street that many business offices, banks and the world famous New York stock exchange are situated. The New York stock exchange dominates business life of many countries.

The total area of New York is 365 square miles or, 900 square kilometres. Its population together with the population of its suburbs amounts to 16 million people. Among the inhabitants of New York one can meet people of almost all nationalities.

A traveler who visits New York for the first time wonders at the modern architecture. The Statue of Liberty, which is on Liberty Island, was a present from France in 1876 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of American independence. This statue and a few 18th and 19th century churches, hospitals, newspaper offices and other buildings are the only examples of "old" architecture in New York. Wherever your eyes travel, everywhere you can see sky-scrapers.

New York, one of the USA leading manufacturing cities, is the home of great firms and banks. The most important branches of industry are those producing vehicles, glass, chemicals and all kinds of machinery. The city has very busy traffic. Its streets and highways are full of cars and buses.

The mouth of the Hudson River makes an excellent harbour for numerous passengers and cargo ships from all over the world.

Speaking about New York one can't but mention the outstanding role, the city plays, in the cultural life of the country. New York has many museums and art galleries which have collected works of art of many peoples and of all times. Many of them are on constant display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art. Most of the theatres and cinemas are in or near Broadway, the longest street and the biggest shopping district in New York. The Metropolitan and Modern Arts Museums attract many visitors.

IV. Historical Background

The First American President

On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. "As the first of every thing, in our situation will serve to establish a Precedent," he wrote James Madison, "it is devoutly wished on my part, that these precedents may be fixed on true principles."

Born in 1732 into a Virginia planter family, he learned the morals, manners, and body of knowledge requisite for an 18th century Virginia gentleman.

He pursued two intertwined interests: military arts and western expansion. At 16 he helped survey Shenandoah lands for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War. The next year, as an aide to Gen. Edward Braddock, he escaped injury although four bullets ripped his coat and two horses were shot from under him.

From 1759 to the outbreak of the American Revolution, Washington managed his lands around Mount Vernon and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Married to a widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, he devoted himself to a busy and happy life. But like his fellow planters, Washington felt himself exploited by British merchants and hampered by British regulations. As the quarrel with the mother country grew acute, he moderately but firmly voiced his resistance to the restrictions.

When the Second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia in May 1775, Washington, one of the Virginia delegates, was elected Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. On July 3, 1775, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he took command of his ill-trained troops and embarked upon a war that was to last six grueling years.

He realized early that the best strategy was to harass the British. He reported to Congress, "we should on all Occasions avoid a general Action, or put anything to the Risque, unless compelled by a necessity, into which we ought never to be drawn." Ensuing battles saw him fall back slowly, then strike unexpectedly. Finally in 1781 with the aid of French allies--he forced the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

Washington longed to retire to his fields at Mount Vernon. But he soon realized that the Nation under its Articles of Confederation was not functioning well, so he became a prime mover in the steps leading to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington President

He did not infringe upon the policy making powers that he felt the Constitution gave Congress. But the determination of foreign policy became preponderantly a Presidential concern. When the French Revolution led to a major war between France and England, Washington refused to accept entirely the recommendations of either his Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was pro-French, or his Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who was pro-British. Rather, he insisted upon a neutral course until the United States could grow stronger.

To his disappointment, two parties were developing by the end of his first term. Wearied of politics, feeling old, he retired at the end of his second. In his Farewell Address, he urged his countrymen to forswear excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions. In foreign affairs, he warned against long-term alliances.

Washington enjoyed less than three years of retirement at Mount Vernon, for he died of a throat infection December 14, 1799. For months the Nation mourned him.

Struggle for Independence

After the elimination of France in Northern Ame­rica, the British wanted to reorganize their empire and establish a suitable defense against the return of French armies or the attacks of Indian tribes.

Besides they considered colonial commerce as the property of the mother-country and thought it could be taxed or restricted without taking advice of the colonial legislatures.

The British government took a series of measures that set the States astir (1764 Revenue Act increasing taxes on sugar imported into America; 1765 Stamp Act obliging the colonies to buy from the British govern­ment stamps to be placed on legal documents and news­papers).

All these measures were followed by riots, boy­cotting of English goods and cancelling of British orders.

In 1770 there was a clash between the British troops and Boston inhabitants (Boston Massacre), as a result of it the "redcoats" (as British soldiers were nick-named) were withdrawn out of Boston. A period of calm was to last three years.

In 1773 a Tea Act giving the East India Compa­ny a privileged position in the American market was passed. The answer was the famous Tea Party when Boston merchants disguised in Indians and led by Sa­muel Adams threw the tea cargo of the East India ships into the sea. The British government closed the port of Boston and took other measures to punish Massachusetts.

In order to support Boston and Massachusetts a Continental Congress convened at Philadelphia in 1774. The representatives denied the British Parliament (where colonies were not represented) the right of levying taxes. Everywhere militia was organized and weapons col­lected. In 1775 British troops and colonial militia clashed at Lexington and the first shots were exchanged. It was the beginning of the war. A second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. It appointed George Washington Commander-in-Chief of the Continental army and voted Independence.

The Declaration of Independence (1776) was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. The war lasted from 1775.










The US Constitution

The American Revolution, the American War of Independence — with George Washington as Commander-in-Chief — lasted for about six years. American troops, most of them undermanned, ill-trained, and poorly equipped, harassed and stung British forces that were often overwhelmingly I superior in numbers and weapons. Occasionally the Americans advanced, but more often they retreated; and often their cause seemed hopeless. It was a rare historical event. Unlike other successful uprisings it was not nationalistic: thirteen quarrelsome Colonies were united by their common history, language and customs; by their common sense of betrayal as British subjects; and by their common suspicion of remote and centralized power. The hard-fought conflict brought them together as Americans, but once peace was won, the new States swiftly reverted to their old and independent ways. The Nation of almost 4 million was threatening to break apart even before it emerged from infancy.

George Washington wondered if the Revolution he had led had been worth all the blood and effort. "We are either a united people under one head, for Federal purposes", he wrote, "or we are thirteen independent sovereignties, eternally counteracting each other".

When the Thirteen Colonies began their revolution in 1775, the leaders of the Nation had only the vaguest notion of what kind of a united government would emerge once victory was won. Because of the history of uneasy relations with England's monarch, most Americans believed that the broad form should be that of a republic. But they were wary of granting great power to a central government, even one of their own making.

It took 5 years of debate for all the States to approve the Articles of Confederation, America's short-lived first constitution, which went into effect on March 1, 1781. The Articles established a Congress which could make war, negotiate peace, conduct foreign relations, control the currency, borrow money, settle boundaries, and oversee relations with the Indian tribes. But Congress lacked the power to tax, to regulate commerce, or to enforce its own measures. There was no national judiciary and no chief executive. By 1787 the States themselves saw the need for greater Federal strength, and a few influential men already envisioned an entirely new constitution.

So in 1787 the States sent 55 delegates to Philadelphia to the Constitutional Convention. Among those people were George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. Thomas Jefferson hailed the 55 delegates as an assembly of demigods. Certainly they were an extraordinary group of citizens-statesmen. They were remarkably young – average age 43. For 16 weeks (May 25 – September 17, 1787) they debated the Nation's future behind closed doors.

What emerged from the Philadelphia Convention was a document – now the world's oldest written constitution — that kept the new Nation from splitting into as many as a dozen tiny ones; safeguarded its independence and republicanism against attack from both within and without; and struck a shrewd balance between State and Federal power.

There were many opponents to the Constitution, and even some supporters had their doubts. "I consent to this Constitution", wrote Benjamin Franklin, "because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best".

And yet, the Constitution turned out to be an extraordinary document by which America still abides more than two centuries later. One of the secrets of the Constitution's longevity lies in the flexible ambiguity its authors built into it. The Founding Fathers wisely avoided the temptation to solve every foreseeable problem on paper. Instead, they arranged that this document should be adaptable to inevitable changes. It was, indeed, a work of collective genius that still commands the Nation's utmost respect.

Article V allowed for amendments to be made to the Constitution (once passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and then ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states). The Constitution, finally ratified by all thirteen states in 1791, already contained ten amendments, collectively known as the Bill of Rights (the freedoms of religion, speech and the press, etc.), to protect the citizen against possible tyranny by the federal government. So far only twenty six amendments have been made to the Constitution.

  1. The USA – an Independent State

American Symbols

The American flag is often called "The Stars and Stripes", it is also called "Old Glory". It represents the growth of the nation. It has 13 horizontal stripes, 7 red and 6 white which stand for the original 13 states. In the top left hand corner there are 50 white stars on a blue background: one star for each state. The national anthem of the United States is "The Star Spangled Banner". Every state has its own flag, its own emblem and its own anthem too.

The eagle became the national emblem of the country in 1782. It has an olive branch (a symbol of peace) and arrows (a symbol of strength).

The Statue of Liberty is the symbol of American democracy. It stands on Liberty Island in New York. It is one of the first things people see when they arrive in New York by sea. This National Monument was a present from France to the USA. France gave the statue to America in 1884 as a symbol of friendship. Liberty carries the torch of freedom — in her right hand. In her left hand she is holding a tablet with the inscription "July 4, 1776" — American Independence Day.

The White House

The residence of the Administration is the White House. The President (any natural-born citizen over 34) is elected for a term of four years and can only be reelected for one more term (according to the Twenty Second Amendment, adopted after Franklin D. Roosevelt's four successive terms).

The President was originally intended to be little more than a ceremonial Head of State, as well as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, but the Federal Government's increasing involvement in the Nation's economic life and its prominent role in international affairs, where secrecy and speed are often essential, has increased the importance of the Presidency over Congress.

The President now proposes a full legislative program to Congress, although the President, the Cabinet and staff are not, and cannot be, members of Congress. This means that the various bills must be introduced into the House of Representatives or Senate by their members. The President is consequently completely powerless when faced by an uncooperative Congress. Given also the difficulties in ensuring that the laws passed are effectively implemented by the federal bureaucracy, it has been said that the President's only real power is the power to persuade.

The President is assisted by the members of the Cabinet who administer 11 major departments: State, Defense, Justice, Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Health, Education and Welfare, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Agriculture and Transportation. Though they rank as the President's chief advisers, in recent decades members of President's administration have generally more influence on him.

The role of the Vice President is not very well defined by the Constitution, which gives him or her no other task than presiding over the debates in the Senate, where he may only vote in the case of a tie. Yet the Vice President takes over from the President in case of death, resignation, or sickness, which has already happened on eight occasions. To try and attract able men to this otherwise unimportant, mainly ceremonial post, Vice Presidents have recently been given more important tasks, especially in foreign affairs.






The Legislative Branch

The symbol of government is the white marble dome of the Capitol which dominates the city of Washington, D. C. The building has grown with the country: although George Washington laid the cornerstone in 1793, the dome was not finished until 1863, and many changes have since been made. Home to Both House and Senate, the Capitol was once hailed as "the center and heart of America".

The Senate

The Senate is the conservative counterweight to the more populist House of Representatives. Each State has two senators who, since 1913 (the Seventeenth Amendment) have been chosen directly by the electorate in the way decided by the state legislature in each state. Senators are elected every six years, but the elections are staggered so that one-third of the Senate is elected every two years. New vacancy caused by death or resignation is filled until the next congressional elections by the nomination of the State Governor. There are currently 100 senators. The Senate has the special privilege of unlimited debate to safeguard the rights of minorities, but this can enable a small group of Senators to prevent the passage of a bill (filibustering).

Congress

The legislative branch of national government, Congress, consists of two houses — the Senate and the House of Representatives, each with a different role, different powers and a different electoral procedure.

The two branches of Congress are responsible for enacting the nation's laws. Though these days most major bills originate in the White House, all must be approved, disapproved, or amended by both Houses, and no measure becomes law until it has been passed by a majority in each House. The President may then sign or veto the bill, but a two-thirds vote in each House can override a veto.

Although Congress can legislate, its permanent specialist staff helps Congress to consider and change the budget presented each year by the President.

The House of Representatives

The House of Representatives is the dynamic institution of the federal government. The States are represented on a population basis and are divided into congressional districts. There are currently 435 members, who are elected every two years. All States must by law adopt the system of single-member constituencies with a simple majority vote. Vacancies arising from death, resignation, etc., are filled by by-elections. The chairman of the House of Representatives, the Speaker, is elected by the House and has important responsibilities, giving him considerable influence over the President.

Local Administration

State Government

There is very little in the Constitution about State government – the Tenth Amendment (1791) merely says that those powers not specially delegated to the federal government are reserved for States. While the fifty State constitutions differ widely, they all include the separation of powers and a system of checks and balances, and share the underlying American belief that government should be kept to a minimum.

Each State has a Governor, a Legislature and a State Judiciary. This means that each State parallels the governmental forms of the Federal system. The Governor is elected directly in a state-wide election. All the states except Nebraska have bicameral legislatures, normally called the Senate and House of Representatives.

The judicial systems of the States vary greatly in structure and procedures. Generally speaking, however, at the lowest level there are Courts, which deal with the majority of civil and criminal cases. Appeals go to the District Court of Appeals, while the State Supreme Court has the same role as the United States Supreme Court in the federal system.

All States have the right to levy taxes; and many services – such as education, health, welfare, and police — are supported either entirely or in large measure by State, rather than Federal, funds. The sovereignty of State governments has, however, been steadily eroded. Functions such as education, unemployment relief, public works, and the like – once considered entirely within State jurisdiction — are now matters of Federal concern as well.

County and City Governments

These governments are solely the creations of the States, and the powers of such jurisdictions vary greatly from one State to the next. In Connecticut, for example, there are no county governments, while next door in New York, some counties, such as Nassau, have significant powers of taxation.

The same is true for city governments, all of which derive their powers from the States. In some States the power of city governments to tax, to educate, and to operate broad-scale social services is great, while in other States the cities are virtually impotent in many areas. But, as befits American system, the balance can always be shifted.










  1. Traditions and Entertainments

American Holidays

New Year’s Day

Although in the United States the official holiday is January, 1st, the celebration really begins on December 31st. New Year’s Day is celebrated with parties which last beyond midnight so that everyone can see in the New Year and watch the Old Year out. Theatres, night clubs, restaurants are crowded. At 12:00 midnight when the ringing of bells popping of champagne bottles and fire crackers, and blowing of sirens and whistles announce the start of New Year. People throw streamers and confetti, shake hands, exchange kisses and embraces, and wish each other a “Happy New Year !” Some people gather in the street of big cities, they ring bells, shoot of guns and firecrackers. January 1st is celebrated with parades in some cities. One of the noisiest and most crowded of New Year’s Eve celebration take place in New York City at Time Square. Thousands of New Yorkers gather there, and millions of Americans across the country join them by TV.

Following a long, chaotic New Year’s Eve, Americans spend a quiet New Year Day. In most households everyone sleeps late, often enjoys meals and TV with the family and friends. Two famous New Year’s Day festivals are showed for national viewing: the Tournament of Roses and Mummer’s Parade. Both of these events have been American traditions for more than half a century.

The Mummer’s Parade, which take place in Philadelphia is a ten – hour spectacle. It was introduced in the US by Swedish immigrants. There are clowns, musicians, dancers – all led by King Momus dressed in bright satin.

The Tournament of Roses takes place in Pasadena, California. Prizes are awarded to the cities with the most unusual and attractive floral displays. After the parade, the Rose Bowl football game, a struggle between two top - ranking college football teams, is played. Those events attract thousands of tourists and millions of TV viewers.

Besides champagne, streamers and noisemakers, other symbols of the New Year celebration include a clock or hour glass, an old man symbolizing the Old year, and a new baby symbolizing the New year. This may be an allusion to the ancient Roman god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Legend has it that Janus had two faces, one looking into the past, and the other looking into the future. This certainly personifies the sentiments of many people who, on New Year’s Day think both about the past year with its achievements and shortcomings as well as looking forward with hope to a new and better year to come. Sincere and practical, many Americans even write down their “New year resolutions” to do specific things like giving up smoking, going on a diet, getting up earlier, spending less money on clothes, etc. Even though such resolutions are rarely kept, at least they make for a good laugh when the next New Year comes.

St Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th. It isn’t a national holiday. Banks and offices are open this day, but it is a happy little festival in honor of St Valentine, patron sweethearts and lovers. In this day school children typically make valentines for their teachers and classmates and put them in a large decorated mailbox. It is customary on the day to send a “Valentine”, a card with affectionate message to someone you love, or to your best friends or a little present. The greeting cards are often colored red trimmings and pictures of heart.

Whatever the reasons, Americans of all ages love to send and receive valentines and to hear and sing the thousands of new and traditional love songs which flood television and radio programs on that day.

Among all the red hearts, birds, love letters, candies, chocolates and kisses which comprise symbolism and regalia, Cupid or Eros is the unquestioned favorite in personifying the spirit of the day. According to Greek (later Roman) tradition. Cupid was the eternally child – like son of Venus, the goddess of love. Although he remained a baby, he could fly and was equipped with a tiny bow and countless golden arrows special power, and that is why if Cupid shot you with his arrow, you would fall in love with the first person you met.

So St Valentine’s Day is the day of love for many people.

Independence Day

July 4th is Independence Day. Another name for Independence Day is the Fourth of July. On this day in 1776 the final of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted.

Independence Day is a national holiday. Government offices, banks, and schools close. Most people don’t go to work. Families and friends get together outside for picnics and cookouts.

Traditionally the Fourth of July is celebrate with firing of guns and fireworks, parades open – air meetings and speeches praising “Americanism, democracy, free enterprise.”

Independence Day isn’t only day for cookouts, noise, and fireworks. It is also a day to think about freedom. The Declaration of Independence says everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence more than 200 years old, but its ideas are important today.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is marked on the fourth Thursday of November in memory of the first Thanksgiving Day held by the early Pilgrim settles in Massachusetts in 1621, in gratitude for the successful harvest. They experienced difficulty in those early times and survived only with the help of American Indians who taught them how to grow and harvest indigenous foods such as squash and corn. The first Thanksgiving day lasted three days and was celebrated with their Indian friends.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national day of observance by Congress in 1941 .

Thanksgiving Day is a four – day holiday for most Americans. This is a family holiday. Families come together from near and far. In some places special religious services are held in the morning. Then comes the traditional feast. Turkey with stuffing is the main dish. It is served with sweet potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Apple cider is the drink of the day.

Football is the most popular game on this day. Usually there are several football games to watch on TV. There is Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Stores, classrooms, and homes are decorated with turkeys, pilgrims, Indians, wreaths of dried flowers, and vegetables. Horns of plenty are also very popular.

Christmas

Christmas is a Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Americans celebrate Christmas on December, 25th. It is usually a one – day official holiday, but it is proceeded and followed by festive parties. By this day people decorate fir - trees with toys and candies. Children wait for Santa Claus who comes to every house and brings them presents. Before going to bed, children leave their shoes to find in them what they want most of all next morning.

Decorating the house with holly, ivy and mistletoe is a custom, which comes from England. Ivy means immortality. Holly is a bush with shiny red berries and glossy leaves with a characteristic shape and sharp pointy edges. Because it remains green throughout the year it was believed to hold a promise that the sun would return. Holly’ berries symbolize Christ’s blood. Mistletoe is an interesting green parasitic plant which grows in globe – like formations high up in the branches of oak trees. Springs of it are tied together with ribbons and hung up in doorways. By custom anyone standing under the mistletoe gets to be kissed.

Christmas is a family holiday. Schools and colleges close between Christmas and New Year’s Day. People stay at home and spend the time with their families. Everybody tries to come home for Christmas. People send cards or Christmas greetings to family and friends away from home. All the members of the family exchange gifts. It is a merry holiday.

Conclusion

In conclusion of my work, I’d like to say that the United States of America is an interesting country, where you can spend your time. If you visit every state, city and town, you will be able to find something unforgettable and amazing.

The USA has a rich history and culture, customs and traditions. Sociable and friendly, well-educated people live there.

Over the time of many years people of the United States had been building their society and social structure. The country was developing very quickly in economics. The USA is a good economical partner. It has a neatly organized system of government. So now many people of the USA live very well and some of them try to improve their society.

Bibliography List

  1. Баграмова Н. В., Воронцова Т. И. США: страна и люди. – СПб: Союз, 2016.

  2. Ощепкова В. В. География, история, образование, живопись. – М: «Лист», 2012.

  3. Песков В., Стрельников Б. Земля за океаном. – М., 2007.

  4. Doty Gladys G., Ross Janet. Language and Life in the USA. – N.Y., 2017.

  5. Lyudmila Khalilova. The USA: History and the Presents. – М.: Rolf, 2009.

  6. www.whitehouse.gov/history/.










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