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The United States of America is a large country in North America, often referred to as the “USA,” the “U.S.,” the “United States,” “America,” or simply “the States”. It has a land area of about 9.6 million sq km (about half the size of Russia and about the same size as China). It also boasts the world’s third largest population, with over 310 million people. It includes both densely-populated cities with sprawling suburbs, and vast, uninhabited and naturally beautiful areas. With its history of mass immigration dating from the 17th century, it is a “melting pot” of cultures from around the world.

The United States is large and diverse, with distinct regional identities. The overall climate is temperate, with notable exceptions. Alaska has Arctic tundra, while Hawaii and South Florida are tropical. The Great Plains are dry, flat and grassy, turning into arid desert in the far West and Mediterranean along the California coast.

The United States has a number of holidays — official and/or cultural — of which the traveler should be aware. Note that holidays observed on Mondays or Fridays are usually treated as weekend-long events.

The United States is made up of many diverse ethnic groups and the culture varies greatly across the vast area of the country and even within cities – a city like New York will have dozens, if not hundreds, of different ethnicities represented within a neighborhood.

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