USA Overview

In both size and population, the US is the third largest country in the world. Despite recent disasters, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the bungled adventure in Iraq, the United States’ economy is still relatively strong. However, the massive credit woes of the country have started a major economic landslide.

With a gross domestic product of $13.21 trillion, the country has the world’s largest economy. Given the nation’s level of wealth, newcomers may be disappointed to discover that American streets are rarely paved with gold. The widening gulf between rich and poor has left the country distinctly separated. Those with money have access to the world’s best healthcare, infrastructure and education. Those without are increasingly left uninsured and poorly schooled by a crumbling public education system. According to the United Nations, 17% of the US population lived below the poverty line between 1999 and 2002. The United States is host to some 15 million illegal immigrants (these numbers vary enormously depending upon sources), most of whom are from Mexico and Central American countries. These illegal immigrants contribute enormously to the US economy, providing cheap labour and, subsequently, inexpensive produce and high profit margins. The question of what to do about illegal immigration is being asked more and more often, with a variety of answers. Ultra-conservatives want the borders closed and illegals sent home, while the president of Mexico is arguing for an open border between Mexico and the United States.

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