|For the second chapter of my 'Welcome To' series, I present you the USA. Normally, I should have published that while I was in DC, but I had some problems delivering it. So, it was placed on the back burner. I initially intended to present you these articles when I would enter the country... but after reflection, I figured it would be better if I presented it to you while in the capital... but as I'm writing you this I decided I would change my mind again and present it to you when I enter the country. Next chapter will be Mexico, in early October.|
If I was a US citizen, I'd be an
American and I'd present you America. But since I'm Canadian, I know
that the America isn't limited to the USA (United States of America).
But here's the information about this country nonetheless.
First, geographically, USA is in
North-America and with its more than 9.8 millions square kilometres,
it's almost the size of Canada, yet because of the geography has
about 10% of the coastline Canada has. Canada and USA share the
longest unprotected border of the world, more than 5 000 km.
The USA have officially only one
official language: the English. However, throughout the country,
you'll see a stronger and stronger presence of Spanish, due to
immigration (legal or illegal). It initially affected only Florida
and the states along the Mexican border, but now it has spread all
over the country. I even saw bilingual (English and Spanish) signs
The USA officially count 50 states and
many depending territories. The national capital is Washington,
which is not part of any state, but has its own district, Columbia,
which has a special status. The national anthem that is sung on the
4th of July (anniversary of the declaration of
independence in 1776) is 'The Star-spangled banner'.
82% of the roughly 315 millions people
in the USA live in cities. The largest ones being New York (about 20
millions), Los Angeles (about 13 millions), Chicago (9 millions),
Miami (almost 6 millions) and the capital Washington, DC (with a bit
more than 4 millions). Most of the population is either Protestant
(51%) or Roman catholic (24%).
On the economy front, the USA is the
first economical power in the world for now. It used to be mostly
oriented into manufacturing before that was moved to Asia, now the
economy is mostly centred around services. The current national
unemployment rate is around 8.5%.
The currency is the US dollar. Just
like the Canadian dollar, it is subdivided into 100 cents. In the
US, they have coins of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents (50 cents coins exist,
but not in common circulation). For the bank notes, they exist in 1,
2 (rare), 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. All bank notes are the same
size an same colour. There are some other higher denominations, but
not in general circulation.
In terms of cost of living, here are
some prices, from Washington DC area: $1.79 for a litre of milk,
$3.50 for a sliced loaf of multigrain bread, $1.90 for a dozen eggs
and $3.80 for a gallon of gas... so roughly $1 per litre. Lodging is
very pricey around the capital, so you can expect to pay between
$1000 and $1500 a month for a 1 bedroom apt, and be prepared to add
another $500 for a second bedroom.