The United States - Introduction
1. Geographic and Administrative Divisions
The United States of America (“the USA”), also known as the United States (“the US”), consists of 50 states, Washington D.C. and some overseas territories. Lying in the central part of North America, with its north boundary adjacent to Canada and its south boundary adjacent to Mexico, the US has an area of about 9,629,000 square kilometers. The US has a population of 315 million, the third most in the world, and is a country with multi-cultures and multi-races, mainly white people and a large number of immigrants from all over the world.
2. Political and Legal Systems
The US is a federal constitutional republic country. Within the federal system, states are sovereign entities without rights to secede the federation and without any diplomatic rights. The federal powers come from three streams: the legislative, administrative and judicial organization which mutually supervises and balances each other. The laws of the United States have inherited the traditions of the case laws of England whereby the constitution is the most important source of laws and any other laws shall not be in conflict with the constitution. States have their own state constitutions and can enact any laws, however, such constitutions and laws shall not be in conflict with the federal constitution, the federal laws, and international treaties as approved by the Federal Senate.
3. Economy and Diplomacy
The US has global influences on economies, politics and military affairs. Since the World War II, the US has played an important role in the creation of the United Nations, and has become one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the US is the only superpower in the world, and its service industry, especially finance, shipping, insurance and business services, accounts for the largest proportion of GDP and is in the leading position of the world. The US is rich in mineral resources, including gold, oil and uranium, and is one of the world's largest exporters of agricultures. US industries are highly developed. It is a major export country of aircrafts, automobiles, iron and steel, munitions and electronic equipment.
4. Culture and Transportation
The US is a country of immigrants with multi-cultures. Immigrants brought their own cultures which have amalgamated with the original US cultures. US films TV-series, music, literature and sports have great and extensive influences in the world. Traffics in the US are quite convenient, with efficient highways, railways, aviation networks connecting the U.S with the rest of the world.
Education in the US is the most developed around the world, and more than half of the world's top 10 universities are in the US. US citizens and green card holders enjoy more benefits in the choosing majors, applying for scholarships, student loans and tuition fees than international students. The US education system is divided into primary education, secondary education and higher education. In the US laws, people aged between 6 and 18 years old are compulsory to receive education, whereby those aged between 6 and 11 years old shall receive primary school education (grades 1-5); those aged between 12 and 14 years old shall receive junior high school education (grades 6-8); and those between 15 and 18 years old shall receive high school education (Grades 9-12). Generally, people aged above 18 years can receive higher education of which the community college education usually lasts for two years and consists of two streams – one provides technical training for the purpose job seeking students and the other for students planning for receiving higher education in universities. In the US, it will normally take 4 years to complete a bachelor degree.
US green card holders who cumulatively paid US tax for 10 years (monthly paid tax of at least $50), can receive a life-long pension at a rate of about US$1,000 to US$1,200 per month from the US government after retirement at the age of 65. If the green card holders do not have the records of paying US tax for more than 10 years, they can receive, even they are not personally present in the US, a living allowance of about US$600 per month from the US government after retirement at the age of 65 once they become US citizens.
At the same time, green card holders can also buy commercial endowment insurance as a supplement, and such insurance is comparatively safe in terms of value protection due to government supervisions.
US citizens together with conditional and permanent green card holders have the obligations to pay tax at progressive rates (range from 10% to 39.6%) to the US government for their worldwide income including employment income, interest income, dividend income, business income (sole proprietor and partnership), capital gains, pensions and annuities, gift and heritage, and so on.