The U.S. is a constitution-based federal republic comprised of 50 states. The U.S. economy is the world's largest in terms of gross domestic product, and also the most technologically powerful. ... The U.S. also has the world's largest coal reserves.
Currency: US Dollar
Official language: English
The first European contact with the United States took place fairly recently in the 16th and 17th centuries. Spain, Britain, France, Holland, and Russia all held settlements across the continent, although the British colonies in the northeastern region, including those in Massachusetts and Virginia developed faster. The Virginia colony became the dominant first settlement as a result of their long-standing agricultural industry.
British rule became too much for locals during the 18th century, leading to separation from oppression. Between 1776 and 1783, the American Revolutionary War saw the ‘American army’ defeat the Royal British Army with the help of the French. In 1788, George Washington became the first President of the US, and Washington, the nation’s capital, was built at the turn of the 19th century.
During the 1800s, the US expanded heavily westward, after land was ceded by the French, Spanish and Mexicans. Growth of the railroads and gold rushes led to the creation of America’s west. The 1850s was a tumultuous time as a bloody civil war broke out following the abolition of slavery in the north. The Abraham Lincoln-led Union States fought against the separatist Confederate States to preserve freedom for all. The war ended in 1865, but it cost hundreds of thousands of lives. The Battle of Gettysburg Museum (Cumberland, Pennsylvania) and the American Civil War Museum (297 Steinwehr Avenue, Gettysburg) provide detailed information about the period.
American culture is often described as a consumer culture as a result of the economic growth following 1945, and the expansion of creations like shopping malls. However, the modern US is also shaped by its multiculturalism, which began in the late 1800’s when Irish and European migrants flocked to the country in the thousands. Today, society is respectful of a number of cuisines, languages, festivals and faiths that visitors can experience when traveling across the United States.
Despite its historical suppression, the Native American culture is still alive and thriving throughout the country. This is evident in the far-flung states of Alaska and Hawaii. In addition, the US also boasts an incredibly diverse regional culture. For instance, visitors can see a significantly different way of life from gaudy Southern California to preppy New England and the conservative Mississippi basin.
The overall climate in the United States of America (USA) is temperate, with notable exceptions. Alaska has an Arctic tundra climate, while Hawaii and South Florida have a tropical climate. The Great Plains are dry, flat and grassy, turning into arid desert in the far West.
USA Visitor Visa is a tourist visa to the United States of America. It is also known as B2 Visa. It is a non-immigrant visa issued to people entering the US temporarily for pleasure, tourism, or medical treatment. Any foreign citizen who wants to visit USA for tourism, visiting with family and friends, attending special events like family functions and ceremonies, or for medical treatment may qualify for and can apply for the Visitor Visa.
There are a million and one ways to travel around the USA – they have every mode of transport you could imagine.
The USA by bus
This is by far the cheapest and most basic form of transport available in the USA. The buses tend to go in strange directions (Chicago to Boston via Buffalo for example) so journeys can take a really long time. However, you can use this time to save money on accommodation and to sleep at the same time.There are lots of bus companies that go across some or all of the USA.
Busbud – a hugely helpful free online tool which helps you to search for routes and prices for buses across the USA and the world.
Greyhound – largest network of buses. They also do a discovery pass which allows the purchaser to use as many buses as needed in a set amount of days (15, 30 and 60).
Mega Bus– predominantly on the middle and east side of the USA they can have very cheap tickets (Boston to New York for $1.00 for example). Very good experiences on clean safe buses – would use over and above greyhound anyday!
Peter Pan– Cheap east coast bus company.
Bolt Bus– Cheap east coast bus company.
Note that in the USA everyone uses cars for short journeys and flights for long journeys. Therefore, people on buses are either travellers (limited) or very, very poor people (I jest not). Buses and their depots can be rough and often have police and security on hand. That said, keep a very close eye on your belongings and keep safe! Convicts are given a ticket when released from prison to use on a bus of their choice. There were no problems – I was just told to keep an eye out as I was clearly not a local!
One other thing is to keep your passport on you and another form of ID. Twice the bus I was on was pulled over and State Troopers got on. They ask you about your travels and want proof of residency or your passport.
The USA by plane
This is the easiest and quickest way to travel around the USA, but as usual is the most expensive form of transport and the worst for the environment. Try and book in advance as you will always save money, and only use flights in the USA when you really need to. Look at flights with Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines and Jet Blue for the best deals, or give Gap Year Travel a call on 0333 333 9923.
It’s often worth noting that in America airlines overbook flights. If you can be flexible with your seat they’ll offer you great deals for coming off an oversubscribed flight. Ask at the airport for more details.
Flights go all over the USA so you’ll be able to get from A to B easily.
The USA by car
Getting around the USA by plane is cheap if there’s more than one of you and you’re over 25 (for insurance purposes). Petrol is a lot cheaper in the USA than in the UK so you get more miles for your money too. It also gives you freedom to go where you want, when you want. There’s some incredible countryside in the USA and it really is the best way to see the real USA. Beware of one way fees and tax though, both of which are added at the time you collect the car.
The USA by train
Amtrak have special deals which you can buy to travel around the USA – a bit like interrailing in Europe. You can purchase passes which allow you to do a certain amount of days using a set amount of ‘segments’. Amtrak trains tend to be nicer but more expensive than the bus journeys. Just work out whether it’s the time or money that’s important to you.
Note, however, that even the cheapies are almost as expensive as the 60 day bus passes available from greyhound.
Before you leave on your holiday, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:
Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)
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