The USA - geography, places of interest

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Autor: kaprik
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Dátum: 06.07.2009
Jazyk: Angličtina
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It covers an area of 9 372 614 sq km (nearly the same as the area of Europe) and the population is 263 814 032 inhabitants. The capital city is Washington D.C. (3 920 000); there are 106 ethnic groups in the USA today but the major are: white (80,3 %), black (12,1 %), American Indians, Hispanic and Eskimo.
The USA currency is One American Dollar (1 USD), which is 100 cents.

Geography
The USA is the fourth largest country in the world. The continental USA - 48 states - lie in the North American continent, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is boarded by Canada on the north and by Mexico on the south-west. Alaska occupies the north-western end of the North American continent and is separated from the USA by Canada.

Hawaiian Islands is situated in the Mid-Pacific (about 3 800 km south-west from San Francisco), approximately half-way between American and the Asian continent. The USA has also many dependencies, especially in the Pacific (e.g. Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands etc.). Eastern highlands are the Appalachian Mountains (the Appalachians). Half the area of the continental USA lies in the Interior (Central) Plains. The western highland - Rocky Mountains, the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada - are the parts of the Cordilleras and covers a third of this country. The highest peak on this continent is Mt. McKinley (6 149 m, in Alaska Range).

There are many rivers in the USA. The rivers entering the Atlantic ocean between the St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico are short and of little value to navigation 1 - e.g. the Hudson, the Potomac, the Delaware. The main river entering the Gulf of Mexico is the Mississippi (with its 6 000 km it is the third longest in the world), the biggest river in the USA. Its most important tributaries 2 are the Missouri, the Ohio, the Red River and the Arkansas. Another one flowing 3 into the Gulf is the Rio Grande, which makes the boundary 4 between the USA and Mexico. There are three big rivers entering the west coast - the Snake and the Columbia on the north and the Colorado on the south. This rivers are important for making the electric power.
There are five big lakes on the north, which make the border 5 between the USA and Canada. This five Great Lakes are: Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake  Superior 6 (second largest in the world after the Caspian Sea) - all of them are good navigable. The Atlantic coast is more indented 7 than the Pacific coast, so here are the largest cities and ports: New York (it’s the USA biggest city with over 12 million people), Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The important cities in the Grand Lakes Region are Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee. The largest ports on the Gulf of Mexico are New Orleans (it is a river city on the Mississippi 160 km from the Gulf!) and Houston. The most important centres on the west coast are Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

Climate
The United State as a whole has favourable climatic conditions 8. But the climate is quite various - from the arctic cold in northern Alaska to subtropical warmth in Hawaii and the Gulf Coast States. On western coast are only a little differences between summers and winters, but the north states have changeable weather in summer and winter.

Places of interest
Besides the US capitol and New York there are many interesting places in the USA. Worth seeing 9 are the American national parks with beautiful and preserved nature: Yellowstone NP - established in 1872 is the oldest and largest in the USA, there are about 3 000 geysers and hot springs; Yosemite NP - includes the highest waterfall in the USA (Yosemite George, 739 m) and many giant sequoias; the Grand Canyon is 350 km long, 6 to 29 wide and up to 1,7 km deep. The River Niagara, flowing from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, is famous for the Niagara Falls - one of the major American tourist attraction. These falls is almost 60 meters high and 1 200 m wide; in the Monument Valley there are many red stone spires, columns and chimneys on a plateau which is often called ‘Desert Gothic’; Mt.Rushmore is 1 890 m high mountain with colossal portrait heads of the US presidents - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

Also large urban areas are quite spectacular. In Los Angeles we can find the famous film centre - Hollywood - and luxurious quarters such as Beverly Hills. There is also the biggest ZOO in the world. San Francisco is famous for its Golden Gate Bridge, Las Vegas for the rodeo festivals and casino gambling, New Orleans is the cradle of jazz, Miami is the recreation centre. New Haven is a seat of Yale University, Cambridge is the seat of Harvard University. Cape Canaveral in Florida is famous for The Kennedy Space Centre’s Spaceport - space shuttles are lunched 10 here.

Economy
The United States is the leading capitalist power so it holds a leading position in the world’s industrial and agricultural production as well as in international trade. Because of this it is practically self-sufficient 11 country. There are many industrial areas, big industrial centres (such as Detroit, Chicago, N.Y. City etc.) and every types of industry (especially car and plane industry, electronics and computers etc.). In the USA resident the biggest world’s corporations such as General Motors, Coca Cola Company, IBM, Texaco etc.
There are also large agricultural areas - the biggest are the Corn Belt and the Wheat Belt 12 and about 2 million farms. which produced tabacco, cotton, sugar or fruits and vegetables - they are especially on the south. Important are also the fishery and forestry.
The USA is rich in petroleum and natural gas (near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and also in California), coal (north part of Appalachians) and iron ore (near the Great Lakes), as well as  copper, zinc, gold and silver (in the Rocky Mountains) etc.

The USA - an urban nation
- it means that majority of people live in bigger or smaller cities or towns. In the American countryside there are typical farms - but no ‘villages’ like in Europe or in the Czech Republic.
On the north-east cost of the USA there is a big urban area - ‘the Atlantic Metropolitan Belt [1]’. It is the biggest urban area in the world - we can find there the chain of big cities extending [2] from Boston, through New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore as far as Washington (this area is often called ‘Bos-Wash’ Belt). There are so high density of population, industry, shops, cars etc. that it seems there are no borders between each cities (but in fact they are there).
The main and centre point of this belt is New York City.

Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. is situated on the north-west coast of the USA on the Potomac River about 90 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. It is the seat of the federal government of the United States, has the 10th large population in the country (metropolitan area 3 920 000 ) and covers an area of 180 sq km.
The District of Columbia was established by Act of Congress in 1790. The site [3] for the capital was chosen by president Washington himself because he knew this area very well - he was originally a Virginia planter and his plantation Mount Vernon was 16 miles down the Potomac.
The city was designed by the French architect Pierre L’Enfant in the late 18th century and it was the first city in the world planned and built as the capital and the centre of the government. Streets and avenues were laid out on a grid scheme [4], were named after the states of the Union and the city was divided into four quadrants with the Capitol as the centre. Till 1910 no structures could exceed 15 floors so we cannot see any skyscrapers here.
About 360 000 people are employed by the Federal Government; all of them work in the federally owned buildings which occupy 40 per cent of the city’s land.

Along the Potomac River there are situated the most important buildings in the city as well as in the USA. The Capitol on Capitol Hill is a seat of the US Congress since 1800. White House, the president’s residence, stands south side of the Pennsylvania Avenue. Its official rooms are on the first floor, the second and third floor is reserved for the Presidential family. The Pentagon (the Department of Defence) is the largest single building in the world and there work about 23 000 employees. Other interesting building is the Library of Congress which contains over 90 million items and we can find there the Declaration of Independence. In the middle of the Mall (one of the central Washington avenues) rises Washington Monument (1885), the white marble obelisk which is about 555 ft high. Jefferson Memorial (1934) is the 20th century adaptation of the ancient Roman Pantheon. The open-air interior dominate a 19 ft bronze statue of Thomas Jefferson, the third US President. Lincoln Memorial (1922), with the famous 20 ft marble statue of seated Abraham Lincoln, the 16th US President, was inspired by Greek architecture. Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982) is a simple black granite wall engraved with the names [5] of those 58 000 killed or missing in the Vietnam War. The Arlington National Cemetery (1883) is the most revered burial ground [6] in this country.It contains the graves of over 200 000 military persons but there are also buried two US Presidents - W.H.Taft († 1930) and John F. Kennedy († 1963) - and e.g. US Senator Robert F. Kennedy († 1968).

There is a lot of museums, galleries and theatres of course. The National Air and Space Museum (1976) commemorates [7] human aeronautical and astronomical achievements [8] . The National Gallery of Art includes artefacts from Middle Ages to the present, and especially the Italian Works (Rafael, Tizian or da Vinci) can be find there. The most prestige university in Washington is Georgetown University (1789). Because the Potomac River is too shallow to allow large ships to enter the city Washington never belongs to a major ports but there are three airports. There are no industry and factories in Washington and that is why the city seems so clean and nice. The most attractive parks are the Constitution Gardens and the West and East Potomac Parks.

New York City
The Americans called New York as the ‘Big Apple’. This nickname express how big, beautiful and busy is this city. They also say that it is impossible to live in New York because it is a dangerous, chaotic and hectic place to live there. On the other hand they say, that holidays are to short to see every in this city. New York City is also a place of big contrasts - wealthy and poverty, steel-and-glass skyscrapers, modern houses and expensive residences in contrast with a cardboard slums for the homeless. Sometimes, New York is also called as the ‘Melting Pot’ [9] because more than 80 languages are spoken there and people living here have over 100 religious denominations.

New York is the biggest city in the USA. It is located in the northern part of the USA on the Hudson River at the Atlantic Ocean. The whole metropolitan area has about 18 million people so it belongs to the largest in the world. The density is also high - about 10 000 people per 1 sq km and it covers an area of 780 sq km. New York has five major parts: Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn. N.Y. City is one of the most important financial, commercial and cultural centres in the world as well as port.

It is not known when the site of New York was first populated but the original inhabitants were Indians of course. First Europeans entered New York Bay in 1524 and in 1609 Henry Hudson sailed the river which bear [10] his name. Manhattan Island was bought from Indians by the Dutch in 1625 for good worth 25 US dollars and its original name was New Amsterdam. In 1644 the British captured the city and renamed it New York. Because of its favourable position it soon became an important trading port. After the war in 1783 New York was the capitol of the USA for two years, and its population was about 25 000 in that time. During the 18th century the city grew to such an extent that it was necessary to plan its further development. [11] The centre of the city - Manhattan - was built on a modern plan of street and avenues which were laid out on a grid scheme. Streets run east-west and avenues north-south but only the oldest of them have their original names (e.g. Wall Street or Broadway) - the majority of them are numbered (5th Avenue, 42nd Street). Extent the Hudson River Manhattan is also washed by East River, but in fact it isn’t a river but only long and thin sea bay). New York is a city of immigrations and they formed self-sufficient communities there. In southern Manhattan we can find the Little Italy and Chinatown, on the north there is Harlem, the quarter known as an African American neighbourhood. East Village is a multi-cultural area with many ethnic restaurants, boutiques and clubs. Greenwich Village is the home of artists, writers and university students. Lower East Side was traditionally Jewish but there are also the Chinese, Blacks and Hispanics today. The city is notorious for its crime. There are drug battles, gang and Mafia wars and many homeless people live in the streets.
Central Park, the largest of all New York’s parks was created in 1858 but it is dangerous to go there after dark. Other parks are e.g. Battery Park, East River Park or Brooklyn Highs.

New York is famous for its Manhattan skyline [12] - a large number of skyscrapers on quite a small area. The first of them were built in 1903. In skyscrapers are mainly offices but e.g. in Trump Tower there are also very expensive living units (700 000 USD). Two towers - ‘The Twins’ - are buildings of The World Trade Centre, the New York’s highest skyscrapers built in 1973. They are 417 m high, has 110 stories and more than 10 000 people come and go there every day. The Empire State Building (1931, 381 m) is probably the most famous building in New York. Also the Chrysler Building (1930, 306 m), and the PanAm Building are very famous. The most important institution here is a complex of The United Nations Headquarters built in 1950. Times Square as well as Washington Square in Greenwich Village were in turn of the 20th century the main artistic and intellectual places with bohemian and avant-garde atmosphere. Popular tradition is to go to Times Square to welcome the New Year. St. Patrick’s Cathedral was inspired by the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe and built in 1888. Near Broadway there stands St. Paul’s Chapel, the oldest church in New York, built in 1766. The Statue of Liberty (a copy of the small statue designed by F.A.Bartholdi and given by the people of France to the people of the USA for their friendship in 1884) on the Liberty Island is a symbol of hope and freedom and welcomed immigrants as they entered the N.Y. harbour. The Brooklyn Bridge (built in 1883) which joined Brooklyn and Manhattan, is another typical monument in N.Y. City.

Broadway with many theatres and cinemas is the centre of cultural life, Wall Street with the New York Stock Exchange [13] (founded in 1792), the most important stock market in the world, is the centre of financial life. The 5th A venue is a shopping centre with many largest departments and fashion shops (e.g. Tiffany’s Jewellery). There are four big airports in New York (the biggest is John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica Bay) and it has the largest subway system in the world - it started in 1904, has about 710 km and 469 stations. Typically for N.Y. City are ‘yellow cups’ - the yellow taxis. There are also 29 universities and collages (e.g. Columbia University or New York University), many cultural institutions, theatres and galleries (The Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, The American Craft Museum, The Metropolitan Museum etc.). New York is also home for 15 TV stations (e.g. ABC, CBS or NBS), 39 radio stations and over 100 hospitals. Radio City Music Hall, opened in 1932 is one of the largest world’s hall and there Grammy Awards take place annually. Lincoln Center was built in the 1960s and it consist of e.g. New York State Theatre, Metropolitan Opera House etc. Madison Square Garden is the most popular sport center in N.Y. City built in 1968 for cultural and sporting events. Flashing Meadow Park on Long Island is world known for its tennis championship.

Perlička závěrem:

One of the most known New Yorkers is writer, actor, screenwriter, film director and producer Woody Allen (Allen Stewart Königsberg, *1935). He is really a body and soul New Yorker - he was born here in 1953, he studied here and was sent down [14] from the New York University as well as from the City College. Almost all of his stories take place here (e.g. New York Stories, Manhattan Murder Mystery etc.). He, and also his ex-wife Mia Farrow, are really bohemian artists and are very extravagant. They adopted 7 (?) children - black, white, Asian and Indian - and they divorced because of the Woody’s love story with her adopted Asian daughter! She is now about the age of 25 and Allan is 62 and in December 1997 they really married!
 
Important events in American history, political system
 
Important events in history
 
·  The discovering of the New World
The American continent was discovered first around the year 1000 by Icelandic Vikings sailing under Lief Ericson. Till 1492 Indians (and Eskimos) were the only inhabitants (they crossed 85 km wide Bering Strait between Alaska and Chukotka).
Five hundreds year later after Vikings Christopher Columbus (an Italian mariner under Spanish monarchs) reached the Caribbean Sea and the Bahama Islands on October 12th, 1492. Some years after him the Spanish moved north from Mexico into south-west of nowadays USA.

·  The Colonial Period (1607-1775)
In 1584 the English established the first colony called Virginia (in honour of the ‘virgin-queen’  Elizabeth I). The first settlement 1 in Virginia was established in 1607 under King James I, after who it is called Jamestown.
In 1620 a group of Puritan refugees from England reached the coast of North America. They landed with their ship called Mayflower on the Massachusetts coast and founded a settlement - Plymouth - there, in memory of the English port of the same name from they sail. Puritans were members of a religious sect which wanted to reform the Church of England. They called themselves the Pilgrim Fathers and wanted to build up a colony based on their own religious ideals. The winter 1620 was very cold and about half of them died. In spring 1621 they planted corn and other plants and in October they celebrated good harvest and God and held a feast with much food - they called this day their day of Thanksgiving. Their first colonies on the north were called New England. During the 17th century many colonists - French, German, Dutch, Irish but mainly British - settled in the country. These settlements became the 13 colonies under British rule. The main British rival in America were France. During the 18th century there were continual wars between them and after 1763 British kept all territory east of the Mississippi besides New Orleans which was French, and Florida, which was Spanish.
 
·  The American Revolution (the War of Independence 1775-83)
The British Parliament, protecting the interests of the British manufacturers, passed a number of laws designed to paralyse the rising industry in colonies and changed the taxes on sugar, coffee etc. The Boston Tea Party in December 1773 was the first open act of violence against British rule.  American begun boycotting of British trade. On July 4th, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted and proclaimed the Declaration of Independence. Its author was mainly Thomas Jefferson American Army under George Washington and with the help of allied France, which brought them men, money and supplies, kept the great victories at Saratoga and Yorktown. The finally peace was signed in 1783 (The Treaty of Paris). Britain recognised the former 13 colonies and the independence of the United States of America. Its first president was George Washington (between 1789-97).
 
·  Expansion, the Civil War (1861-65) and the 2nd part of 19th century
The period between the War of Independence and the Civil War was the period of territorial expansion - the colonisation of the whole American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific was completed. In 1803 Jefferson made a ‘Louisiana Purchase’ 2 which meant that he bought for only  15 million dollars all central part of the present France area.
Till 1808 about half a million Africans were brought into America as slaves.
 
The cause of the Civil war was that there exist two antagonistic economic and social systems in the USA: the capitalist system on the north and the slave system on the south. In 1854 the Northern capitalists founded a new Republican Party. They won the elections and Abraham Lincoln became president in 1860. Than eleven Southern states left from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. In 1863 Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves in the USA shall be forever free. The North was far stronger in industrial resources and in population. In 1863 the Union (Northern) General U.Grant defeated Southern General R.Lee in the battle of Gettysburg and two years later, in April 1865, Grant captured the Confederacy capital Richmond and Lee surrendered. It was the end of the Civil War, the worst episode in American history (635 000 died there). Four days after Southern capitulation president A.Lincoln was assassinated 3 in theatre by a Southern fanatic.
 
Second half of the 19th century was the period of reconstruction and the industrial growth 4 . In 1867 the USA purchased Alaska from Russia for a sum of 7,2 million dollars and in 1893 they annexation Hawaii. By 1890s the United States were becoming the leading world power.
 
·  20th century
The position of the USA was greatly strengthened by the First World War, where the USA entered in April, 1917 under president Wodroow Wilson. His ’Fourteen Points’ helped the peace treaty in 1918. In the 1920s the American economy was prospering very good. Since 1919 there was prohibited the production, sale and transport of alcoholic drinks. The Black Thursday - October 24th, 1929 - the stock market crash in New York widespread unemployment. In 1933 US president Franklin D. Roosevelt helped the USA economy with his New Deal economic programme. The Second World War entered the USA after the Japanese attack on naval base in Pearl Harbour on Hawaii, on December 7th, 1941. Also in this war played the USA a leading role, especially during the invasion in Europe, into France (Normandy) in June 1944 and in Pacific in battles against the Japanese.  On August 1945 they attacked the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an atomic bombs. 
The most important moments at the end of 1940s was founding of the United Nations (UN), establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and Marshall Plan for recovering the Europe. The post-war-period was a ‘Cold War’ between the capitalist powers (USA) and the socialist countries (Soviet Union).

The United States in 1960s were full of social changes and unrest. One of the biggest personality of an American history was US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who created liberal and good prospect West-East policy 5 - but he was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963. Also the assassinations of his brother Robert Kennedy and the black civil rights leader Martin Luther King  in 1968 shocked the world. In July 1969 American astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man on the Moon. The 1970s under Robert Nixon continued by the Vietnam War. Nixon was the first and only US president who had to resign from his office because of the bribing 6 Watergate scandal. Many meetings between US president Ronald Regan and USSR president M.Gorbachev in 1980s set the course of the East-West policy and their relations ‘getting warmer’. In 1991 the USA under George Bush played main role in another big conflict - the War in Gulf - where they protected Kuwait against Iraq invasion. In 1996 Bill Clinton was elected the US president for the second time.

Political system
The USA system of government is based on the Constitution of the United States adopted in 1787, the Bill of Rights from 1791 and other 26 amendments 7. The federal government controls matters connecting 8 the country as a whole: defence, foreign affairs, finance, commerce etc. But each of 50 states is sovereign, having its own state government and the Governor. There is also one district - District of Columbia (D.C.) - which is not a state.

The federal government has three branches. The President (since 1996 William Jefferson Clinton) is the head of State, the Chief Executive (has the power of veto) and Commander-in-chief of the Army. His official residence is the White House in Washington. He is elected every four years - he cannot be elected more than twice, must be a natural-born US citizen 9 and must be at least 35 years old. The presidential elections is the most important event in the political life of the USA, because the President is elected by people. The Cabinet (has 14 departments) is responsible 10 to the President. The Vice-President (since 1996 Albert Gore) is the chairman of the Senate and in the absence of the President the chairman of the Cabinet meeting. He is automatically succeeds to the presidency if the President dies.

The US Congress is composed of two houses - the Senate and the House of Representatives. The building in Washington, in which the Congress seats, is the Capitol. Each state has two senators in the Senate (100 members), the House of Representatives has about 435 members (Congressmen).
The third branch is the justical department at the top made up of the US Supreme Court 11 which consist of nine judges. There are only two main political parties: The Republican Party (more conservative - for private enterprise and individual initiative) and The Democratic Party (more liberal - wants social and economics programs for those who need them). There would be a intense situation 12 where the executive and the legislature are not in harmony: there can be a Republican President and a Democratic majority Congress or vice versa 13 . Each of 50 states apply the same model like the federal government (it means that individual states have the State Senate, the State House of Representatives, the Federal District Courts etc.).
The American flag (called ‘Stars and Strips’ or ‘Old Glory’) consist of two parts - one smaller blue oblong 14 with 50 white stars symbolising 50 American states, and 6 white and 7 red stripes symbolising the original 13 states. Each state has its own flag. The American national anthem is called ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’15.

1 málo vhodné k plavbě
2 přítoky
3 proudí, teče
4 hranice
5 tvoří hraniční čáru
6 Hořejší jezero
7 členěný
8 příznivé klimatické podmínky
9 hodnotný ke shlédnutí, stojící za to, být shlédnut
10 vypouštěny
11 soběstačný
12 kukuřičný a pšeničný pás
[1] pás, pásmo
[2] táhnoucí se
[3] poloha
[4] byly položeny do souřadnicové sítě, mřížky
[5] pokrytá vyrytými jmény
[6] nejuctívanější hřbitovní půda
[7] připomíná (ve smyslu oslavuje)
[8] činy, výkony
[9] „tavící kotel“ - přeneseně směsice lidí a národů
[10] nese
[11] bylo nutné plánovat jeho další vývoj
[12] silueta
[13] burza cenných papírů
[14] vyhozen, vyloučen
1 osada
2 koupě, nákup
3 byl zavraždě
4 období obnovy a průmyslového pokroku
5 vytvářel liberální a nadějnou politiku východ-západ
6 úplatkářský
7 dodatky
8 týkající se
9 občan narozený v USA
10 odpovědný
11 Nejvyšší soud
12 napjatá situace
13 z lat. = naopak
14 obdélník
Oboduj prácu: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


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