January 29, 2017 by
What we can call Hindu GOD names in IT world.   Brahma: “System installer”   Vishnu: “System operator”   Shiva: “System programmer”   Narada: “Data Transmitter”   Yama: “Deleter”   Apsara & Rambha: “Virus”   Ganapati: “Anti virus”   Hanuman: “E-Mail”   Chitragupta: “Hard Disc”   Saraswati: “Google"   Parvati: “Mother Board”   Lakshmi: “ATM” 😊😝😝

January 29, 2017 by
22 Reasons To Believe ancient Bharat Is Based On Science                ಮರಗಳು People are advised to worship Neem and Banyan tree in the morning. Inhaling the air near these trees, is good for health.           ಯೋಗಾಭ್ಯಾಸ If you are trying to look ways for stress management, there can’t be anything other than Hindu Yoga aasan Pranayama (inhaling and exhaling air slowly using one of the nostrils).              ಪ್ರತಿಷ್ಟಾಪನೆ Hindu temples are built scientifically. The place where an idol is placed in the temple is called ‘Moolasthanam’. This ‘Moolasthanam’ is where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be maximum, thus benefitting the worshipper.              ತುಳಸೀಪೂಜೆ  Every Hindu household has a Tulsi plant. Tulsi or Basil leaves when consumed, keeps our immune system strong to help prevent the H1N1 disease.              ಮಂತ್ರಪಠಣೆ The rhythm of Vedic mantras, an ancient Hindu practice, when pronounced and heard are believed to cure so many disorders of the body like blood pressure.            ಭಸ್ಮ Hindus keep the holy ash or gopi nama in their forehead after taking a bath, this removes excess water from your head.              ಕುಂಕುಮ Women keep kumkum bindi on their forehead that protects from being hypnotised.            ಕೈಯಿಂದ ಊಟ  Eating with hands might be looked down upon in the west but it connects the body, mind and soul, when it comes to food.         ಬಾಳೆಯೆಲೆ ಊಟ Hindu customs requires one to eat on a leaf plate. This is the most eco-friendly way as it does not require any chemical soap to clean it and it can be discarded without harming the environment.banana; palash leaves        ಕಿವಿ ಚುಚ್ಚಿಸೋ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ Piercing of baby’s ears is actually part of acupuncture treatment. The point where the ear is pierced helps in curing Asthma.              ಅರಿಶಿನ Sprinkling turmeric mixed water around the house before prayers and after. Its known that turmeric has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities.               ಗೋಮಯ The old practice of pasting cow dung on walls and outside their house prevents various diseases/viruses as this cow dung is anti-biotic and rich in minerals.             ಗೋಮೂತ್ರ Hindus consider drinking cow urine to cure various illnesses. Apparently, it does balance bile, mucous and airs and a remover of heart diseases and effect of poison.              ಶಿಕ್ಷೆ  The age-old punishment of doing sit-ups while holding the ears actually makes the mind sharper and is helpful for those with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, learning difficulties and behavioural problems.               ದೀಪ  Lighting ‘diyas’ or oil or ghee lamps in temples and house fills the surroundings with positivity and recharges your senses.             ಯಜ್ಞೋಪವೀತ  Janeu, or the string on a Brahmin’s body, is also a part of Acupressure ‘Janeu' and keeps the wearer safe from several diseases.         ಮಾವಿನ ತೋರಣ  Decorating the main door with ‘Toran’- a string of mangoes leaves;neem leaves;ashoka leaves actually purifies the atmosphere.             ಚರಣಸ್ಪರ್ಶ Touching your elder’s feet keeps your backbone in good shape.                  ॐ Chanting the mantra ‘Om’ leads to significant reduction in heart rate which leads to a deep form of relaxation with increased alertness.      ಹನುಮಾನ್ ಚಾಲೀಸಾ ಪಠಣೆ Hanuman Chalisa, according to NASA, has the exact calculation of the distance between Sun and the Earth.             ಶಂಖನಾದ The ‘Shankh Dhwani’ creates the sound waves by which many harmful germs, insects are destroyed. The mosquito breeding is also affected by Shankh blowing and decreases the spread of malaria.                 ಚಿತೆ Cremation or burning the dead, is one of the cleanest form of deposing off the dead body.   must share it.. Very meaning full  ߑ̰ߑ ͂logic behind 0ߑ ̂doing things 0ߑ

January 31, 2017 by
Being male is a matter of birth. Being a man is a matter of age. But being a gentleman is a matter of choice. Never let your emotions overpower your intelligence Givers have to learn to set limits because takers don’t have any. Dream big and dare to fail. At least mosquitoes are attracted to me. Do you know what would look good on you? Me! Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. Either you run the day, or the day runs you. The most common cause of stress nowadays is dealing with idiots. I don’t hold grudges, I remember facts. People come and go…the best will stay. I Never dreamed about success I worked for it. Childhood is like being drunk. Everyone remembers what you did, except you… Kidnapping? I prefer the term “surprise adoption” People don’t care for you when you are alone, they just care for you when they are alone. You can do anything, but not everything. God made us Best Friends, Because he knew our Mom couldn’t handle us as Brothers. However good or bad a situation is, it will change I fell in love with you. Not for how you look, just for who you are. (Although you look pretty great too) To be trusted, you must be honest. You only live once, so do everything twice. One “BAD” meal won’t make you fat. Just like…. one “GOOD” meal won’t make you skinny. I’m not lazy, I’m just highly motivated not to do anything. I really need a day in between Saturday and Sunday. I learned to GIVE not because I have much but because I know exactly how it feels to have NOTHING I cannot change yesterday, but I can change today I am not lucky. I am blessed. Service is the rent we pay to live Every burden is a blessing for me. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard. A man is great by Deeds, not by birth If you want to impress someone, put him on your Black list. Share your Intentions not your Identity. Smart. Fun. Funny. Fearless. Dream more while you are awake. I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself. Idiots are of two kinds: those who try to be smart and those who think they are smart. My ambition is handicapped by LAZINESS. Seek respect, not attention. It lasts longer. The better person you become the better person you ATTRACT! Don’t trust everything you see. Even salt looks like sugar. Being challenged in life is inevitable, Being defeated is optional. Choose a lazy person to do a difficult job… Because he will find an easy way to do it. Experiencing life at the rate of 15 WTF’s every hours. Girl are like moving car! Can change the road anytime whenever they find a better road. Some people just need a High-Five, on the face. Silence is better than lies. source: http://www.statuswhatsapp.co.in/best/whatsapp-status/

February 4, 2017 by
Don't know who wrote this.. Hats off to him  Man O Man!  When without money,  eats vegetables at home;  When has money,  eats the same vegetables in a fine restaurant.    When without money, rides bicycle;  When has money rides the same ‘exercise machine’.   When without money walks to earn food  When has money, walks to burn fat;  Man O Man! Never fails to deceive thyself!    When without money,  wishes to get married;  When has money,  wishes to get divorced.    When without money,  wife becomes secretary;  When has money,  secretary becomes wife.    When without money, acts like a rich man;  When has money acts like a poor man.  Man O Man! Never can tell the simple truth!   Says share market is bad,  but keeps speculating;  Says money is evil,  but keeps accumulating.    Says high Positions are lonely,  but keeps wanting them.  Says gambling & drinking is bad,  but keeps indulging;  Man O Man! Never means what he says and never says what he means.. Life is not about what  you couldn't do so far,  it's about what you can  still do.  Wait n dont ever give up.. Miracles happen every  day....                                Rs.20 seems too much  to give a beggar but it seems okay when its  given as tip at a fancy restaurant. After a whole day of  work, Hours at the gym seem alright but helping your Mother out at home  seems like a burden. Praying to god for 3 min takes too much time but watching a movie for 3 hours doesn't. Wait a whole year for Valentine's day but we always forget Mother's  day. Two poor starving kids sitting on the pavement weren't given even a slice  of Bread but a painting of them sold for lakhs of Rupees. We don't think twice  About forwarding jokes  But we will rethink about sending this message on. Think about It.. Make a change. Coz u can .... Six Easy ways to earn, even after death. 1) Give a smile or gift to someone. Each time u gift or smile, it will make someone's day.....u gain. 2) Donate a wheelchair to a hospital. Each time sick person uses it, u gain. 3) Participate in building an orphanage, hospital, school or college. Anybody uses it, u gain. 4) Place a water cooler in a public place. Anybody drinks water, u gain. 5) Plant a tree. Whenever a person, animal sits in its shade or eats from it, u gain. 6) And the easiest of all is to Share this message with people. Even if 1 applies any of the  above, u gain.

March 6, 2017 by
  The one time to be within trails is during serious downpours becoming lake is meant to have all the run off in the neighborhoods north of it flow  McCoy Gerald Jersey  in it.  The geese form a column of twos in the water, a  wholesale jerseys  good ancient armada sailing soybeans and  Martin Doug Jersey  their benefits seas. Needless to say they lost the super  Bowl to Baltimore Colts   Martin Doug Jersey When deciding which type of sports event to moment friend or family member to, you have to think about the person and which kind of sport would certainly enjoy reviewing. Regardless of what you are a fan of, you'll be able discover something. Once at the top of this hill the hiker is greeted by  a wonderful vista for the lake. Helmets, originally white, are are likewise metallic silver blue, with a white vertical stripe, outlined in light blue.             The way I see it; I choose to treat myself for you to some nice bottle of wine, and I'm prepared with regard to  cheap St. Louis Rams jerseys  the tax on that luxury. Here though are three things you couldn't know about the Philadelphia Phillies. Sunday's game  https://www.jerseysstlouisrams.com  is the first of the occasions, as a Titans will be in jerseys modeled after 1960 club that captured the initially two consecutive AFL championships. April 16, 2009, is day time that marks end of an time period. In Conclusion: Had a cheap mlb jerseys few breaks gone Nashville's way, they perhaps have easily been in the playoffs this year or so.     cheap jerseys Of course, Legwand was hardly impressive as he did play (42 points in 73 games). Nonetheless, if you're  David Lavonte Jersey  just lounging around around town, you might look sound. The Sun Dome usually cheap jerseys hosts the USF basketball team, but over the weekend before a Super Bowl this venue wholesale nfl jerseys is turned into a concert hall and breakfast bar.   The inside window socks, made of stretch fabric, have been very popular in South africa during the football World cup 2010. Since no rookie has lead  France Dan Jersey  the Steelers in rushing  cheap nfl jerseys  since Tim Worley (1989), the Steelers need Bell's ability inside your openings and be a bruising workhorse gone.       At any rate, some nuances, with no. Let me say we completely match that impression of Cam Newton. All of the sports packages are available and on Sunday each TV is labeled with nfl game that in order to on. Coach Tom Thibodeau has reminded his players never to settle for the perimeter game, to work wholesale mlb jerseys their offense inside-out, to keep aggressive along with match Indiana's more obvious physical play.     https://www.jerseysstlouisrams.com NHL fan uniforms can be available at very reasonable price. The game's postponement to Tuesday which allows NBC to broadcast the game nationally without conflicting with ESPN's Monday night game between the Orleans Saints and  Benjamin Kelvin Jersey  the Atlanta Falcons features the potential in order to more problematic for the Eagles this Vikings  that Are able to make spectacular catches while diving for that ball  Kendricks Lance Jersey  in shallow water and not get injury.     http://bizoufm.com/forum/topic/902 Retro Nfl Jerseys Make Awesome Gifts How Construct The Best Sports Theme For Your School Locker Reasons To Buy College Dog Jerseys https://bootstrapfashion.com/blogs/9071/58/nhl-hockey-jerseys-in-order-to-and-your-hockey-loving-friends    

March 21, 2017 by
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May 2, 2017 by
Thailand From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Siam" redirects here. For other uses, see Siam (disambiguation). Thailand (/ˈtaɪlænd/ ty-land or /ˈtaɪlənd/ ty-lənd;[13] Thai: ประเทศไทย, rtgs: Prathet Thai, pronounced [pra.tʰêːt tʰaj] (listen)), officially the Kingdom of Thailand (Thai: ราชอาณาจักรไทย, rtgs: Ratcha-anachak Thai  [râːt.t͡ɕʰa.ʔaː.naː.t͡ɕàk tʰaj] ( listen)), formerly known as Siam (Thai: สยาม, rtgs: Sayam  [sa.jǎːm]), is a country at the centre of the Indochinese peninsula in Southeast Asia. With a total area of approximately 513,000 km2(198,000 sq mi), Thailand is the world's 50th-largest country. It is the 20th-most-populous country in the world, with around 66 million people. The capital and largest city is Bangkok. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy and has switched between parliamentary democracy and military junta for decades, the latest coup being in May 2014 by the National Council for Peace and Order. Its capital and most populous city is Bangkok. It is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern extremity of Myanmar. Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India on the Andaman Sea to the southwest. The Thai economy is the world's 20th largest by GDP at PPP and the 27th largest by nominal GDP. It became a newly industrialised country and a major exporter in the 1990s. Manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism are leading sectors of the economy.[14][15] It is considered a middle power in the region and around the world.[16] Etymology Etymology of "Siam" The country has always been called Mueang Thai by its citizens. By outsiders prior to 1949, it was usually known by the exonym Siam (Thai: สยาม rtgs: Sayam, pronounced [sajǎːm], also spelled Siem, Syâm, or Syâma).[citation needed]The word Siam has been identified[by whom?] with the Sanskrit Śyāma (श्याम, meaning "dark" or "brown"). The names Shan and A-hom seem to be variants of the same word. The word Śyâma is possibly not its origin, but a learned and artificial distortion.[clarification needed][17] Another theory is the name derives from Chinese: "Ayutthaya emerged as a dominant centre in the late fourteenth century. The Chinese called this region Xian, which the Portuguese converted into Siam." (Baker and Phongpaichit, A History of Thailand, 8) SPPM Mongkut Rex Siamensium, King Mongkut's signature The signature of King Mongkut (r. 1851 – 1868) reads SPPM (Somdet Phra Poramenthra Maha) Mongkut King of the Siamese, giving the name "Siam" official status until 24 June 1939 when it was changed to Thailand.[18] Thailand was renamed Siam from 1945 to 11 May 1949, after which it again reverted to Thailand. Etymology of "Thailand" According to George Cœdès, the word Thai (ไทย) means "free man" in the Thai language, "differentiating the Thai from the natives encompassed in Thai society as serfs."[19] A famous Thai scholar argued that Thai (ไท) simply means "people" or "human being", since his investigation shows that in some rural areas the word "Thai" was used instead of the usual Thai word "khon" (คน) for people.[20] While Thai people will often refer to their country using the polite form prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย), they most commonly use the more colloquial term mueang Thai (Thai: เมืองไทย) or simply Thai, the word mueang, archaically a city-state, commonly used to refer to a city or town as the centre of a region. Ratcha Anachak Thai (Thai: ราชอาณาจักรไทย) means "kingdom of Thailand" or "kingdom of Thai". Etymologically, its components are: ratcha (Sanskrit raja "king, royal, realm") ; -ana- (Pali āṇā "authority, command, power", itself from an Old Indo-Aryan form ājñā of the same meaning) -chak (from Sanskrit चक्र cakra- "wheel", a symbol of power and rule). The Thai National Anthem (Thai: เพลงชาติ), written by Luang Saranupraphan during the extremely patriotic 1930s, refers to the Thai nation as: prathet Thai (Thai: ประเทศไทย). The first line of the national anthem is: prathet thai ruam lueat nuea chat chuea thai (Thai: ประเทศไทยรวมเลือดเนื้อชาติเชื้อไทย), "Thailand is the unity of Thai flesh and blood." History Main article: History of Thailand There is evidence of human habitation in Thailand that has been dated at 40,000 years before the present, with stone artifacts dated to this period at Tham Lod Rockshelter in Mae Hong Son. Similar to other regions in Southeast Asia, Thailand was heavily influenced by the culture and religions of India, starting with the Kingdom of Funan around the 1st century CE to the Khmer Empire.[21] Thailand in its earliest days was under the rule of the Khmer Empire, which had strong Hindu roots, and the influence among Thais remains even today. The ruins of Wat Chaiwatthanaram at Ayutthaya Indian influence on Thai culture was partly the result of direct contact with Indian settlers, but mainly it was brought about indirectly via the Indianized kingdoms of Dvaravati, Srivijaya, and Cambodia.[22] E.A. Voretzsch believes that Buddhism must have been flowing into Siam from India in the time of the Indian Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire and far on into the first millennium after Christ.[22] Later Thailand was influenced by the south Indian Pallava dynasty and north Indian Gupta Empire.[22] According to George Cœdès, "The Thai first enter history of Farther India in the eleventh century with the mention of Syam slaves or prisoners of war in" Champa epigraphy, and "in the twelfth century, the bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat" where "a group of warriors" are described as Syam. Additionally, "the Mongols, after the seizure of Ta-li on January 7, 1253 and the pacification of Yunnan in 1257, did not look with disfavor on the creation of a series of Thai principalities at the expense of the old Indianized kingdoms." The Menam Basin was originally populated by the Mons, and the location of Dvaravati in the 7th century, followed by the Khmer Empire in the 11th. The History of the Yuan mentions an embassy from the kingdom of Sukhothai in 1282. In 1287, three Thai chiefs, Mangrai, Ngam Muang, and Ram Khamhaeng formed a "strong pact of friendship".[23] After the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 13th century, various states thrived there, established by the various Tai peoples, Mons, Khmers, Chams and Ethnic Malays, as seen through the numerous archaeological sites and artefacts that are scattered throughout the Siamese landscape. Prior to the 12th century however, the first Thai or Siamese state is traditionally considered to be the Buddhist Sukhothai Kingdom, which was founded in 1238. Following the decline and fall of the Khmer empire in the 13th–15th century, the Buddhist Tai kingdoms of Sukhothai, Lanna, and Lan Xang (now Laos) were on the rise. However, a century later, the power of Sukhothai was overshadowed by the new Kingdom of Ayutthaya, established in the mid-14th century in the lower Chao Phraya River or Menam area. Siamese envoys presenting letter to Pope Innocent XI, 1688 Ayutthaya's expansion centred along the Menam while in the northern valleys the Lanna Kingdom and other small Tai city-states ruled the area. In 1431, the Khmer abandoned Angkor after Ayutthaya forces invaded the city.[24] Thailand retained a tradition of trade with its neighbouring states, from China to India, Persia, and Arab lands. Ayutthaya became one of the most vibrant trading centres in Asia. European traders arrived in the early 16th century, beginning with the envoy of Portuguese duke Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511, followed by the French, Dutch, and English. The Burmese–Siamese War (1765–1767) left Ayutthaya burned and sacked by King Hsinbyushin Konbaung. After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to the Burmese, Taksin moved the capital to Thonburi for approximately 15 years. The current Rattanakosin era of Thai history began in 1782 following the establishment of Bangkok as capital of the Chakri dynasty under King Rama I the Great. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "A quarter to a third of the population of some areas of Thailand and Burma were slaves in the 17th through the 19th centuries."[25][26] 20th century Territorial losses to western powers by year Despite European pressure, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation to never have been colonized.[27] This has been ascribed to the long succession of able rulers in the past four centuries who exploited the rivalry and tension between the French and British Empire. In 1896, Britain and France guaranteed of the Chao Phraya valley as their buffer state (not the whole of Siam),[28] while the remaining parts of Southeast Asia were colonized by the western powers. Western influence nevertheless led to many reforms in the 19th century and major concessions, most notably the loss of a large territory on the east side of the Mekong to the French and the step-by-step absorption by Britain of the Shan and Karen people areas and Malay Peninsula. As part of the concessions which the Chakri dynasty offered to the British Empire in return for their support, Siam ceded four predominantly ethnic-Malay southern provinces to the British Empire in the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. These four provinces (Kelantan,Terengganu, Kedah, and Perlis) would later became Malaysia's four northern states. In 1917, Siam joined the Allies of World War I and is counted as one of the victors of World War I. The bloodless revolution took place in 1932 carried out by the Khana Ratsadon group of military and civilian officials resulted in a transition of power, when King Prajadhipok was forced to grant the people of Siam their first constitution, thereby ending centuries of absolute monarchy. In 1939, the name of the kingdom, "Siam", was changed to "Thailand". World War II Main article: Thailand in World War II During World War II, the Empire of Japan demanded the right to move troops across Thailand to the Malayan frontier. The Japanese invasion on 8 December 1941 occurred in co-ordination with attacks throughout Asia and engaged the Royal Thai Army for six to eight hours before Plaek Phibunsongkhram ordered an armistice. Shortly thereafter, Japan was granted free passage, and on 21 December 1941, Thailand and Japan signed a military alliance with a secret protocol, wherein Tokyo agreed to help Thailand regain territories lost to the British and French.[29] Subsequently, Thailand declared war on the United States and the United Kingdom on 25 January 1942, and undertook to "assist" Japan in its war against the Allies, while at the same time maintaining an active anti-Japanese Free Thai Movement. Approximately 200,000 Asian labourers (mainly romusha) and 60,000 Allied prisoners of war (POWs) worked on the Burma Railway, which is commonly known as the "Death Railway".[29] After Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, Thai cabinet resigned the office on 31 August and formed new pro-American government. United States contended that Thailand is the only nation in the region that never colonized by western powers and regarded Thailand as the invaded territory.[30] United States declined Thai declaration of war to them and guaranteed Thai sovereignty over disputes with Great Britain. United States policy to Thailand was represented as model policies to the region which should be ordered following the Atlantic Charter.[30] Historical gallery Pottery discovered near Ban Chiang in Udon Thani Province, the earliest dating to 2100 BCE   Phimai, Prasat Phimai is the largest temple in the country from the Khmer Empire.   The immense 19-metre-high (62-foot) gilded statue of a seated Buddha in Wat Phanan Choeng, the latter from 1324, pre-dates the founding of the city of Ayutthaya   A 15 metres (49 feet) Buddha image in Sukhothai, Phra Achana, built in the 13th century   Painting of Ayutthaya C 1665, by Johannes Vingboons, ordered by the Dutch East India Company   Kosa Pan presents King Narai's letter to Louis XIV at Versailles, 1 September 1686.   Napoleon III receiving Siamese envoys, 1864 Politics and government Main articles: Politics of Thailand, Constitutions of Thailand, Law of Thailand, and Government of Thailand The politics of Thailand is currently conducted within the framework of a constitutional monarchy, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government and a hereditary monarch is head of state. The judiciary is supposed to be independent of the executive and the legislative branches, although judicial rulings are suspected of being based on political considerations rather than on existing law.[31] Constitutional history Bangkok's Democracy Monument: a representation of the 1932 Constitution sits on top of two golden offering bowls above a turret. Since the political reform of the absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has had 19 constitutions and charters.[32][33]Throughout this time, the form of government has ranged from military dictatorship to electoral democracy, but all governments have acknowledged a hereditary monarch as the head of state.[34][35] 28 June 1932 Prior to 1932, the Kingdom of Siam did not possess a legislature, as all legislative powers were vested in the person of the monarch. This had been the case since the foundation of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 12th century as the king was seen as a "Dharmaraja" or "king who rules in accordance with Dharma", (the Buddhist law of righteousness). However, on 24 June 1932 a group of civilians and military officers, calling themselves the Khana Ratsadon (or People's Party) carried out a bloodless revolution in which the 150 years of absolute rule of the Chakri Dynasty ended. In its stead the group advocated a constitutional form of monarchy with an elected legislature. The "Draft Constitution" of 1932 signed by King Prajadhipok created Thailand's first legislature, a People's Assembly with 70 appointed members. The assembly met for the first time on 28 June 1932, in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. The Khana Ratsadon decided that the people were not yet ready for an elected assembly. They later changed their minds. By the time the "permanent" constitution came into force in December of that year, elections were scheduled for 15 November 1933. The new constitution changed the composition of the assembly to 78 directly elected and 78 appointed (by the Khana Ratsadon), together totalling 156 members. 1932 to 1973 This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2013) See also: History of Thailand (1932–1973) and History of Thailand since 1973 The history of Thailand from 1932 to 1973 was dominated by military dictatorships which were in power for much of the period. The main personalities of the period were the dictator Luang Phibunsongkhram (better known as Phibun), who allied the country with Japan during the Second World War, and the civilian politician Pridi Phanomyong, who founded Thammasat University and was briefly the prime minister after the war. Japan invaded Thailand on 8 December 1941. For events subsequent to the abdication of the king, including the name change of 1939, up to the coup d'état of 1957, see Plaek Pibulsonggram. A succession of military dictators followed Pridi's ousting — Phibun again, Sarit Dhanarajata and Thanom Kittikachorn — under whom traditional, authoritarian rule was combined with increasing modernisation and westernisation under the influence of the US. The end of the period was marked by Thanom's resignation, following a massacre of pro-democracy protesters led by Thammasat students. Thanom misread the situation as a coup d'état, and fled, leaving the country leaderless. HM appointed Thammasat University chancellor Sanya Dharmasakti PM by royal command. Thailand helped the USA and South Vietnam in the Vietnam War between 1965–1971. The USAF based F-4 Phantom fighters at Udon and Ubon Air Base, and stationed B-52s at U-Tapao. Thai forces also saw heavy action in the covert war in Laos that occurred from 1964 to 1972. 1973 to 1997 This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2013) See also: History of Thailand since 1973 In 1973, there was a popular uprising which resulted in the end of the ruling military dictatorship of anti-communist Thanom Kittikachorn and altered the Thai political system. Notably, it highlighted the growing influence of Thai university students in politics. The National Student Center of Thailand (NSCT) led by Thirayuth Boonmee had begun a campaign to boycott Japanese goods in 1972. When this succeeded, the NSCT organised an all-night sit-in at Thammasat University and a march from there to Chulalongkorn University, in December 1972, to protest against the government's National Executive Council Decree No. 299. A protest rally was also held at Chiang Mai University. Finally, in June 1973, several university students from Ramkhamhaeng University were expelled for publishing a satire on the ruling government. The NSCT reacted by organising rallies to call for the reinstatement of the students. Subsequently, the government decided to close the universities which caused the rallies to grow in size, reaching 50,000. Eventually, the government relented and reinstated the students, and the rector of the university was forced to resign. In October 1973, Thirayuth Boonmee and ten other political activists were arrested for distributing leaflets in crowded places in Bangkok and one other person accused of being a member of a group advocating early promulgation of the permanent constitution was arrested. More than 2,000 students from Thammasat University demonstrated at an anti-government rally. Violence broke out and continued on 15 October around the police headquarters, with students demanding that Thanom be removed as head of the armed forces. Only when it was announced that Thanom, Praphas, and Thanom's son, Colonel Narong Kittikachorn, who was married to Praphas' daughter, had fled the country did calm return to Bangkok. The end had come as quickly and unexpectedly as the violence had begun. The leaders of the junta were forced to step down; they took refuge in the United States or Taiwan. However, the January 1975 elections failed to produce a stable party majority, and fresh elections in April 1976 produced the same result. By late 1976 moderate middle class opinion had turned away from the activism of the students, who had moved increasingly to the left. The army and the right-wing parties began a propaganda war against student liberalism by accusing student activists of being 'communists' and through formal paramilitary organizations such the Village Scouts and the Red Gaurs many of those students were killed. Matters came to a head in October when Thanom returned to Thailand to enter a royal monastery, Wat Bovorn. In 1976, students protesters occupied the Thammasat University campus and held protests over the violent deaths of the workers and staged a mock hanging of the victims, one of whom allegedly bore a resemblance to the Crown Prince. Some newspapers the following day, including the Bangkok Post, published an altered version of a photo of the event, which suggested the protestors had committed lese majeste. Rightist and ultra-conservative icons such as Samak Sundaravej blasted the protestors, instigating violent means to suppress them, culminating in the 6 October 1976 Massacre. The army unleashed the paramilitaries and mob violence followed, in which many were killed. 1997 to 2001 See also: 1997 Constitution of Thailand Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, the old meeting place of the National Assembly; now only the State Opening is held there Parliament House, the meeting place of the two chambers of the National Assembly of Thailand The 1997 Constitution was the first constitution to be drafted by popularly elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly, and was popularly called the "people's constitution".[36] The 1997 Constitution created a bicameral legislature consisting of a 500-seat House of Representatives (สภาผู้แทนราษฎร, sapha phu thaen ratsadon) and a 200-seat Senate (วุฒิสภา, wutthisapha). For the first time in Thai history, both houses were directly elected. Many human rights were explicitly acknowledged, and measures were established to increase the stability of elected governments. The House was elected by the first past the post system, where only one candidate with a simple majority could be elected in one constituency. The Senate was elected based on the provincial system, where one province could return more than one senator depending on its population size. The two houses of the National Assembly have two different terms. In accordance with the constitution the Senate is elected to a six-year term, while the House is elected to a four-year term. Overall the term of the National Assembly is based on that of the House. The National Assembly each year will sit in two sessions: an "ordinary session" and a "legislative session". The first session of the National Assembly must take place within thirty days after the general election of the House of Representatives. The first session must be opened by the king in person by reading a Speech from the Throne; this ceremony is held in the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. He may also appoint the crown prince or a representative to carry out this duty. It is also the duty of the king to prorogue sessions through a royal decree when the House term expires. The king also has the prerogative to call extraordinary sessions and prolong sessions upon advice of the House of Representatives. The National Assembly may host a "joint-sitting" of both Houses under several circumstances. These include: The appointment of a regent, any alteration to the 1924 Palace Law of Succession, the opening of the first session, the announcement of policies by the Cabinet of Thailand, the approval of the declaration of war, the hearing of explanations and approval of a treaty and the amendment of the Constitution. Members of the House of Representatives served four-year terms, while senators served six-year terms. The 1997 People's Constitution also promoted human rights more than any other constitution. The court system (ศาล, san) included a constitutional court with jurisdiction over the constitutionality of parliamentary acts, royal decrees, and political matters. 2001 to 2008 The January 2001 general election, the first election under the 1997 Constitution, was called the most open, corruption-free election in Thai history.[37] Thai Rak Thai Party, led by Thaksin Shinawatra won the election. The Thaksin government was the first in Thai history to complete a four-year term. The 2005 election had the highest voter turnout in Thai history,[38][39] and Thai Rak Thai Party won an absolute majority. However, despite efforts to clean up the system, vote buying and electoral violence remained electoral problems in 2005.[40] The PollWatch Foundation, Thailand's most prominent election watchdog, declared that vote buying in this election, specifically in the north and the northeast, was more serious than in the 2001 election. The organisation also accused the government of violating the election law by abusing state power in presenting new projects in a bid to seek votes. 2006 coup d'état See also: 2006 Thai coup d'état Without meeting much resistance, a military junta overthrew the interim government of Thaksin Shinawatra on 19 September 2006. The junta abrogated the constitution, dissolved Parliament and the Constitutional Court, detained and later removed several members of the government, declared martial law, and appointed one of the king's Privy Counselors, General Surayud Chulanont, as the Prime Minister. The junta later wrote a highly abbreviated interim constitution and appointed a panel to draft a new permanent constitution. The junta also appointed a 250-member legislature, called by some critics a "chamber of generals" while others claimed that it lacks representatives from the poor majority.[41][42] In this interim constitution draft, the head of the junta was allowed to remove the prime minister at any time. The legislature was not allowed to hold a vote of confidence against the cabinet and the public was not allowed to file comments on bills.[43] This interim constitution was later surpassed by the permanent constitution on 24 August 2007. Martial law was partially revoked in January 2007. The ban on political activities was lifted in July 2007,[44] following the 30 May dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai party. The new constitution was approved by referendum on 19 August, which led to a return to a democratic general election on 23 December 2007. 2008–2010 political crisis See also: 2008–2010 Thai political crisis People's Alliance for Democracy, yellow shirts, rally on Sukhumvit Road in 2008 United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, Red Shirts, protest on Ratchaprasong intersection in 2010 The People's Power Party (Thailand), led by Samak Sundaravej, formed a government with five smaller parties. Following several court rulings against him in a variety of scandals, and surviving a vote of no confidence, and protesters blockading government buildings and airports, in September 2008, Sundaravej was found guilty of conflict of interest by the Constitutional Court of Thailand (due to being a host in a TV cooking program),[45] and thus, ended his term in office. He was replaced by PPP member Somchai Wongsawat. As of October 2008, Wongsawat was unable to gain access to his offices, which were occupied by protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy. On 2 December 2008, Thailand's Constitutional Court in a highly controversial ruling found the Peoples Power Party[46] guilty of electoral fraud, which led to the dissolution of the party according to the law. It was later alleged in media reports that at least one member of the judiciary had a telephone conversation with officials working for the Office of the Privy Council and one other. The phone call was taped and has since circulated on the Internet. In it, the callers discuss finding a way to ensure the ruling PPP party would be disbanded. Accusations of judicial interference were levelled in the media but the recorded call was dismissed as a hoax. However, in June 2010, supporters of the eventually disbanded PPP were charged with tapping a judge's phone. Immediately following what many media described as a "judicial coup", a senior member of the Armed Forces met with factions of the governing coalition to get their members to join the opposition and the Democrat Party was able to form a government, a first for the party since 2001. The leader of the Democrat party, and former leader of the opposition, Abhisit Vejjajiva, was appointed and sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister, together with the new cabinet on 17 December 2008. In April 2009, protests by the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD, or "Red Shirts") forced the cancellation of the Fourth East Asia Summit after protesters stormed the Royal Cliff hotel venue in Pattaya, smashing the glass doors of the venue to gain entry, and a blockade prevented the Chinese premier at the time, Wen Jiabao, from attending. The summit was eventually held in Thailand in October 2009.[47][48] About a year later, a set of new "Red Shirts" protests resulted in 87 deaths (mostly civilian and some military) and 1,378 injured.[49] When the army tried to disperse the protesters on 10 April 2010, it was met with automatic gunfire, grenades, and fire bombs from the opposition faction in the army, known as the "watermelon". This resulted in the army returning fire with rubber bullets and some live ammunition. During the time of the "red shirt" protests against the government, there have been numerous grenade and bomb attacks against government offices and the homes of government officials. Gas grenades were fired at "yellow-shirt" protesters, who were protesting against the "red shirts" and in favor of the government, by unknown gunmen killing one pro-government protester; the government stated that the Red Shirts were firing the weapons at civilians.[50][51][52][53] Red shirts continued to hold a position in the business district of Bangkok and it was shut down for several weeks.[54] On 3 July 2011, the oppositional Pheu Thai Party, led by Yingluck Shinawatra (the youngest sister of Thaksin Shinawatra), won the general election by a landslide (265 seats in the House of Representatives, out of 500). She had never previously been involved in politics, Pheu Thai campaigning for her with the slogan 'Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts'. Yingluck is the nation's first female prime minister and her role was officially endorsed in a ceremony presided over by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The Pheu Thai Party is a continuation of Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party.[55] 2013–2014 political crisis Main article: 2013–14 Thai political crisis Protests recommenced in late 2013, as a broad alliance of protestors, led by former opposition deputy leader Suthep Thaugsuban, demanded an end to the so-called Thaksin regime. A blanket amnesty for people involved in the 2010 protests, altered at the last minute to include all political crimes – including all convictions against Thaksin – triggered a mass show of discontent, with numbers variously estimated between 98,500 (the police) and 400,000 (an aerial photo survey done by the Bangkok Post), taking to the streets. The Senate was urged to reject the bill to quell the reaction, but the measure failed. A newly named group, the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) along with allied groups, escalated the pressure, with the opposition Democrat party resigning en masse to create a parliamentary vacuum. Protesters demands variously evolved as the movement's numbers grew, extending a number of deadlines and demands that became increasingly unreasonable or unrealistic, yet attracting a groundswell of support. They called for the establishment of an indirectly elected “people’s council”—in place of Yingluck's government—that will cleanse Thai politics and eradicate the Thaksin regime.[56] In response to the intensive protests, Yingluck dissolved parliament on 9 December 2013 and proposed a new election for 2 February 2014, a date that was later approved by the election commission.[57] The PDRC insisted that the prime minister stand down within 24 hours, regardless of her actions, with 160,000 protesters in attendance at Government House on 9 December. Yingluck insisted that she would continue her duties until the scheduled election in February 2014, urging the protesters to accept her proposal: "Now that the government has dissolved parliament, I ask that you stop protesting and that all sides work towards elections. I have backed down to the point where I don't know how to back down any further."[58] In response to the Electoral Commission (EC)'s registration process for party-list candidates—for the scheduled election in February 2014—anti-government protesters marched to the Thai-Japanese sports stadium, the venue of the registration process, on 22 December 2013. Suthep and the PDRC led the protest, of which security forces claimed that approximately 270,000 protesters joined. Yingluck and the Pheu Thai Party reiterated their election plan and anticipate presenting a list of 125 party-list candidates to the EC.[59] On 7 May 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that Yingluck would have to step down as the Prime Minister as she was deemed to have abused her power in transferring a high-level government official.[60] On 21 August 2014 she was replaced by army chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha.[61] 2014 coup d'état Main article: 2014 Thai coup d'état On 20 May 2014 the Thai army declared martial law and began to deploy troops in the capital, denying that it was a coup attempt.[62] On 22 May, the army admitted that it was a coup and that it was taking control of the country and suspending the country's constitution.[63][64] On the same day, the military imposed a curfew between the hours of 22:00–05:00, ordering citizens and visitors to remain indoors during this period.[65][66][67][68][69] On 21 August 2014 the National Assembly of Thailand elected the army chief, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, as prime minister. Martial law was declared formally ended on 1 April 2015.[70] "Uniformed or ex-military men have led Thailand for 55 of the 83 years since absolute monarchy was overthrown in 1932,..." observed one journalist in 2015.[71] 2014 to present The ruling junta led by Prayuth Chan-o-cha promised to hold new elections, but wants to enact a new constitution before the elections are held. An initial draft constitution was rejected by government officials in 2015. A national referendum, the first since the 2014 coup, on a newly drafted constitution was held on 7 August 2016.[72] There was a 55% turnout of which around 61% voted in favour of the constitution.[73] Under the new constitution an unelected person other than a member of parliament can be appointed as Prime Minister, which would open the post to a military official.[74] The new constitution also gives the National Council for Peace and Order the authority to make all the appointments to the 250-member senate in the next government.[75] The constitutional court will also have final authority in times of crisis, a power previously held by the king. King Maha Vajiralongkorn refused to put the new constitution into effect until amendments were made to the provisions concerning the authority of the constitutional court, appointment of a regent when abroad, and the need for a countersignature on all royal acts.[76] Administrative divisions Thailand is divided into 76 provinces (จังหวัด, changwat), which are gathered into five groups of provinces by location. There are also two specially-governed districts: the capital Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon) and Pattaya. Bangkok is at provincial level and thus often counted as a province. Each province is divided into districts and the districts are further divided into sub-districts (tambons). As of 2006 there were 877 districts (อำเภอ, amphoe) and the 50 districts of Bangkok (เขต, khet). Some parts of the provinces bordering Bangkok are also referred to as Greater Bangkok (ปริมณฑล, pari monthon). These provinces include Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon. The name of each province's capital city (เมือง, mueang) is the same as that of the province. For example, the capital of Chiang Mai Province (Changwat Chiang Mai) is Mueang Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai. A clickable map of Thailand exhibiting its provinces.   Southern region See also: South Thailand insurgency Southern provinces of Thailand showing the Malay-Muslim majority areas Thailand controlled the Malay Peninsula as far south as Malacca in the 15th century and held much of the peninsula, including Temasek (Singapore), some of the Andaman Islands, and a colony on Java, but eventually contracted when the British used force to guarantee their suzerainty over the sultanate. Mostly the northern states of the Malay Sultanate presented annual gifts to the Thai king in the form of a golden flower—a gesture of tribute and an acknowledgement of vassalage. The British intervened in the Malay State and with the Anglo-Siamese Treaty tried to build a railway from the south to Bangkok. Thailand relinquished sovereignty over what are now the northern Malay provinces of Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, and Terengganu to the British. Satun and Pattani Provinces were given to Thailand. The Malay peninsular provinces were occupied by the Japanese during World War II, and infiltrated by the Malayan Communist Party (CPM) from 1942 to 2008, when they sued for peace with the Malaysian and Thai governments after the CPM lost its support from Vietnam and China subsequent to the Cultural Revolution. Recent insurgent uprisings may be a continuation of separatist fighting which started after World War II with Sukarno's support for the PULO. Most victims since the uprisings have been Buddhist and Muslim bystanders. Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Thailand The foreign relations of Thailand are handled by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Thailand participates fully in international and regional organisations. It is a major non-NATO ally and Priority Watch List Special 301 Report of the United States. The country remains an active member of ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Thailand has developed increasingly close ties with other ASEAN members: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, whose foreign and economic ministers hold annual meetings. Regional co-operation is progressing in economic, trade, banking, political, and cultural matters. In 2003, Thailand served as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) host. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, currently serves as Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In 2005 Thailand attended the inaugural East Asia Summit. In recent years, Thailand has taken an increasingly active role on the international stage. When East Timor gained independence from Indonesia, Thailand, for the first time in its history, contributed troops to the international peacekeeping effort. Its troops remain there today as part of a UN peacekeeping force. As part of its effort to increase international ties, Thailand has reached out to such regional organisations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Thailand has contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thaksin initiated negotiations for several free trade agreements with China, Australia, Bahrain, India, and the US. The latter especially was criticised, with claims that uncompetitive Thai industries could be wiped out.[77] Thaksin also announced that Thailand would forsake foreign aid, and work with donor countries to assist in the development of neighbours in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.[78] Thaksin sought to position Thailand as a regional leader, initiating various development projects in poorer neighbouring countries like Laos. More controversially, he established close, friendly ties with the Burmese dictatorship.[79] Thailand joined the US-led invasion of Iraq, sending a 423-strong humanitarian contingent.[80] It withdrew its troops on 10 September 2004. Two Thai soldiers died in Iraq in an insurgent attack. Abhisit appointed Peoples Alliance for Democracy leader Kasit Piromya as foreign minister. In April 2009, fighting broke out between Thai and Cambodian troops on territory immediately adjacent to the 900-year-old ruins of Cambodia's Preah Vihear Hindu temple near the border. The Cambodian government claimed its army had killed at least four Thais and captured 10 more, although the Thai government denied that any Thai soldiers were killed or injured. Two Cambodian and three Thai soldiers were killed. Both armies blamed the other for firing first and denied entering the other's territory.[81][82] Armed forces Main article: Royal Thai Armed Forces The HTMS Chakri Naruebet, an aircraft carrier of the Royal Thai Navy The Royal Thai Armed Forces (Thai: กองทัพไทย, Kong Thap Thai) constitute the military of the Kingdom of Thailand. It consists of the Royal Thai Army (กองทัพบกไทย), the Royal Thai Navy (กองทัพเรือไทย), and the Royal Thai Air Force (กองทัพอากาศไทย). It also incorporates various paramilitary forces. The Thai Armed Forces have a combined manpower of 306,000 active duty personnel and another 245,000 active reserve personnel.[83] The head of the Thai Armed Forces (จอมทัพไทย, Chom Thap Thai) is the king,[84] although this position is only nominal. The armed forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence of Thailand, which is headed by the Minister of Defence (a member of the cabinet of Thailand) and commanded by the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, which in turn is headed by the Chief of Defence Forces of Thailand.[85] In 2011, Thailand's known military expenditure totalled approximately US$5.1 billion.[86] According to the constitution, serving in the armed forces is a duty of all Thai citizens.[87] However, only males over the age of 21, who have not gone through reserve training of the Army Reserve Force Students, are given the option of volunteering for the armed forces, or participating in the random draft. The candidates are subjected to varying lengths of training, from six months to two years of full-time service, depending on their education, whether they have partially completed the reserve training course, and whether they volunteered prior to the draft date (usually 1 April every year). Candidates with a recognised bachelor's degree serve one year of full-time service if they are conscripted, or six months if they volunteer at their district office (สัสดี, satsadi). Likewise, the training length is also reduced for those who have partially completed the three-year reserve training course (ร.ด., ro do). A person who completed one year out of three will only have to serve full-time for one year. Those who completed two years of reserve training will only have to do six months of full-time training, while those who complete three years or more of reserve training will be exempted entirely. Royal Thai Armed Forces Day is celebrated on 18 January, commemorating the victory of Naresuan of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in battle against the crown prince of the Taungoo Dynasty in 1593.[citation needed] Geography Main article: Geography of Thailand View of the Luang Prabang Range, which straddles the Thai-Lao border, in Nan Province, Northern Thailand A typical limestone island in Thailand Phi Phi Islands Totalling 513,120 square kilometres (198,120 sq mi),[1] Thailand is the world's 50th-largest country by total area. It is slightly smaller than Yemen and slightly larger than Spain. Thailand comprises several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is the mountainous area of the Thai highlands, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon in the Thanon Thong Chai Range at 2,565 metres (8,415 ft) above sea level. The northeast, Isan, consists of the Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the Mekong River. The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. Southern Thailand consists of the narrow Kra Isthmus that widens into the Malay Peninsula. Politically, there are six geographical regions which differ from the others in population, basic resources, natural features, and level of social and economic development. The diversity of the regions is the most pronounced attribute of Thailand's physical setting. The Chao Phraya and the Mekong River are the indispensable water courses of rural Thailand. Industrial scale production of crops use both rivers and their tributaries. The Gulf of Thailand covers 320,000 square kilometres (124,000 sq mi) and is fed by the Chao Phraya, Mae Klong, Bang Pakong, and Tapi Rivers. It contributes to the tourism sector owing to its clear shallow waters along the coasts in the southern region and the Kra Isthmus. The eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand is an industrial centre of Thailand with the kingdom's premier deepwater port in Sattahip and its busiest commercial port, Laem Chabang. The Andaman Sea is a precious natural resource as it hosts the most popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga and Trang, and their islands, all lay along the coasts of the Andaman Sea and, despite the 2004 tsunami, they are a tourist magnet for visitors from around the world. Plans have resurfaced for a canal which would connect the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand, analogous to the Suez and the Panama Canals. The idea has been greeted positively by Thai politicians as it would cut fees charged by the Ports of Singapore, improve ties with China and India, lower shipping times, and eliminate pirate attacks in the Strait of Malacca, and support the Thai government's policy of being the logistical hub for Southeast Asia. The canal, it is claimed, would improve economic conditions in the south of Thailand, which relies heavily on tourism income, and it would also change the structure of the Thai economy by making it an Asia logistical hub. The canal would be a major engineering project and has an expected cost of US$20–30 billion. Climate Thailand map of Köppen climate classification Satellite image of flooding in Thailand, Oct 2011 Thailand's climate is influenced by monsoon winds that have a seasonal character (the southwest and northeast monsoon).[88]:2 The southwest monsoon, which starts from May until October is characterized by movement of warm, moist air from the Indian Ocean to Thailand, causing abundant rain over most of the country.[88]:2 The northeast monsoon, starting from October until February brings cold and dry air from China over most of Thailand.[88]:2 In southern Thailand, the northeast monsoon brings mild weather and abundant rainfall on the eastern coast of that region.[88]:2 Most of Thailand has a "tropical wet and dry or savanna climate" type (Köppen's Tropical savanna climate).[89]The south and the eastern tip of the east have a tropical monsoon climate. Thailand is divided into three seasons.[88]:2 The first is the rainy or southwest monsoon season (mid–May to mid–October) which prevails over most of the country.[88]:2 This season is characterized by abundant rain with August and September being the wettest period of the year.[88]:2 This can occasionally lead to floods.[88]:4 In addition to rainfall caused by the southwest monsoon, the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and tropical cyclones also contribute to producing heavy rainfall during the rainy season.[88]:2Nonetheless, dry spells commonly occur for 1 to 2 weeks from June to early July.[88]:4This is due to the northward movement of the Intertropical Convergence Zone to southern China.[88]:4 Winter or the northeast monsoon starts from mid–October until mid–February.[88]:2 Most of Thailand experiences dry weather during this season with mild temperatures.[88]:2:4 The exception is the southern parts of Thailand where it receives abundant rainfall, particularly during October to November.[88]:2 Summer or the pre–monsoon season runs from mid–February until mid–May and is characterized by warmer weather.[88]:3 Due to its inland nature and latitude, the north, northeast, central and eastern parts of Thailand experience a long period of warm weather.[88]:3 During the hottest time of the year (March to May), temperatures usually reach up to 40 °C (104 °F) or more with the exception of coastal areas where sea breezes moderate afternoon temperatures.[88]:3 In contrast, outbreaks of cold air from China can bring colder temperatures; in some cases (particularly the north and northeast) close to or below 0 °C (32 °F).[88]:3 Southern Thailand is characterized by mild weather year-round with less diurnal and seasonal variations in temperatures due to maritime influences.[88]:3 Most of the country receives a mean annual rainfall of 1,200 to 1,600 mm (47 to 63 in).[88]:4 However, certain areas on the windward sides of mountains such as Ranong province in the west coast of southern Thailand and eastern parts of Trat Province receive more than 4,500 mm (180 in) of rainfall per year.[88]:4 The driest areas are on the leeward side in the central valleys and northernmost portion of south Thailand where mean annual rainfall is less than 1,200 mm (47 in).[88]:4 Most of Thailand (north, northeast, central and east) is characterized by dry weather during the northeast monsoon and abundant rainfall during the southwest monsoon.[88]:4 In the southern parts of Thailand, abundant rainfall occurs in both the northeast and southwest monsoon seasons with a peak in September for the western coast and a peak in November–January on the eastern coast.[88]:4 Environment Thailand has a mediocre but improving performance in the global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) with an overall ranking of 91 out of 180 countries in 2016. This is also a mediocre rank in the Asia Pacific region specifically, but ahead of countries like Indonesia and China. The EPI was established in 2001 by the World Economic Forum as a global gauge to measure how well individual countries perform in implementing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. The environmental areas where Thailand performs worst (i.e. highest ranking) are air quality (167), environmental effects of the agricultural industry (106) and the climate and energy sector (93), the later mainly because of a high CO2 emission per KWh produced. Thailand performs best (i.e. lowest ranking) in water resource management (66), with some major improvements expected for the future too, and sanitation (68).[90][91] Wildlife Main article: List of species native to Thailand The population of Asian elephants in Thailand's wild has dropped to an estimated 2,000–3,000.[92] The elephant is Thailand's national symbol. Although there were 100,000 domesticated elephants in Thailand in 1850, the population of elephants has dropped to an estimated 2,000.[92] Poachers have long hunted elephants for ivory, meat[citation needed], and hides. Young elephants are often captured for use in tourist attractions or as work animals, although their use has declined since the government banned logging in 1989. There are now more elephants in captivity than in the wild, and environmental activists claim that elephants in captivity are often mistreated.[93] Poaching of protected species remains a major problem. Hunters have decimated the populations of tigers, leopards, and other large cats for their valuable pelts. Many animals (including tigers, bears, crocodiles, and king cobras) are farmed or hunted for their meat, which is considered a delicacy, and for their supposed medicinal properties. Although such trade is illegal, the famous Bangkok market Chatuchak is still known for the sale of endangered species.[94] The practice of keeping wild animals as pets threatens several species. Baby animals are typically captured and sold, which often requires killing the mother. Once in captivity and out of their natural habitat, many pets die or fail to reproduce. Affected populations include the Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, white-handed lar, pileated gibbon and binturong.[95] Education Main article: Education in Thailand Primary school students in Thailand In 2014 the literacy rate was 93.5%.[96] Education is provided by a well-organized school system of kindergartens, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schools, numerous vocational colleges, and universities. The private sector of education is well developed and significantly contributes to the overall provision of education which the government would not be able to meet with public establishments. Education is compulsory up to and including age 14, with the government providing free education through to age 17.[citation needed] Chulalongkorn University, established in 1917, is the oldest university in Thailand. Teaching relies heavily on rote learning rather than on student-centred methodology. The establishment of reliable and coherent curricula for its primary and secondary schools is subject to such rapid changes that schools and their teachers are not always sure what they are supposed to be teaching, and authors and publishers of textbooks are unable to write and print new editions quickly enough to keep up with the volatility. Issues concerning university entrance has been in constant upheaval for a number of years. Nevertheless, Thai education has seen its greatest progress in the years since 2001. Most of the present generation of students are computer literate. Thailand was ranked 54th out of 56 countries globally for English proficiency, the second-lowest in Asia.[97] Students in ethnic minority areas score consistently lower in standardised national and international tests.[98] [99] [100] This is likely due to unequal allocation of educational resources, weak teacher training, poverty, and low Thai language skill, the language of the tests.[98] [101] [102] Extensive nationwide IQ tests were administered to 72,780 Thai students from December 2010 to January 2011. The average IQ was found to be 98.59, which is higher than previous studies have found. IQ levels were found to be inconsistent throughout the country, with the lowest average of 88.07 found in the southern region of Narathiwat Province and the highest average of 108.91 reported in Nonthaburi Province. The Ministry of Public Health blames the discrepancies on iodine deficiency and steps are being taken to require that iodine be added to table salt, a practice common in many Western countries.[103] In 2013, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology announced that 27,231 schools would receive classroom-level access to high-speed internet.[dead link][104] Science and technology Main article: List of Thai inventions and discoveries The National Science and Technology Development Agency is an agency of the government of Thailand which supports research in science and technology and its application in the Thai economy.[citation needed] The Synchrotron Light Research Institute (SLRI) is a Thai synchrotron light source for physics, chemistry, material science, and life sciences. It is at the Suranaree University of Technology (SUT), in Nakhon Ratchasima, about 300 kilometres (190 miles) northeast of Bangkok. The institute, financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), houses the only large scale synchrotron in Southeast Asia. It was originally built as the SORTEC synchrotron in Japan and later moved to Thailand and modified for 1.2 GeV operation. It provides users with regularly scheduled light.[citation needed] Internet In Bangkok, there are 23,000 free public Wi-Fi Internet hotspots.[105] The Internet in Thailand includes 10Gbit/s high speed fibre-optic lines that can be leased and ISPs such as KIRZ that provide residential Internet services.[citation needed] The Internet is censored by the Thai government, making some sites unreachable.[106] The organisations responsible are the Royal Thai Police, the Communications Authority of Thailand, and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).[citation needed] Economy Main article: Economy of Thailand Thailand is an emerging economy and is considered a newly industrialised country. Thailand had a 2013 GDP of US$673 billion (on a purchasing power parity [PPP] basis).[107] Thailand is the 2nd largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Thailand ranks midway in the wealth spread in Southeast Asia as it is the 4th richest nation according to GDP per capita, after Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia. Thailand functions as an anchor economy for the neighbouring developing economies of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia. In the third quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate in Thailand stood at 0.84% according to Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).[108] Recent economic history The BTS Skytrain passes through Sathon, the business district of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and the country's largest commercial and financial centre. The MahaNakhon skyscraper in Bangkok Thailand experienced the world's highest economic growth rate from 1985 to 1996 – averaging 12.4% annually. In 1997 increased pressure on the baht, a year in which the economy contracted by 1.9%, led to a crisis that uncovered financial sector weaknesses and forced the Chavalit Yongchaiyudh administration to float the currency. Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was forced to resign after his cabinet came under fire for its slow response to the economic crisis. The baht was pegged at 25 to the US dollar from 1978 to 1997. The baht reached its lowest point of 56 to the US dollar in January 1998 and the economy contracted by 10.8% that year, triggering the Asian financial crisis. Thailand's economy started to recover in 1999, expanding 4.2–4.4% in 2000, thanks largely to strong exports. Growth (2.2%) was dampened by the softening of the global economy in 2001, but picked up in the subsequent years owing to strong growth in Asia, a relatively weak baht encouraging exports, and increased domestic spending as a result of several mega projects and incentives of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, known as Thaksinomics. Growth in 2002, 2003, and 2004 was 5–7% annually. Growth in 2005, 2006, and 2007 hovered around 4–5%. Due both to the weakening of the US dollar and an increasingly strong Thai currency, by March 2008 the dollar was hovering around the 33 baht mark. While Thaksinomics has received criticism, official economic data reveals that between 2001 and 2011, Isan's GDP per capita more than doubled to US$1,475, while, over the same period, GDP in the Bangkok area increased from US$7,900 to nearly US$13,000.[109] With the instability surrounding major 2010 protests, the GDP growth of Thailand settled at around 4–5%, from highs of 5–7% under the previous civilian administration. Political uncertainty was identified as the primary cause of a decline in investor and consumer confidence. The IMF predicted that the Thai economy would rebound strongly from the low 0.1% GDP growth in 2011, to 5.5% in 2012 and then 7.5% in 2013, due to the monetary policy of the Bank of Thailand, as well as a package of fiscal stimulus measures introduced by the former Yingluck Shinawatra government.[110] Following the Thai military coup of 22 May 2014, the AFP global news agency published an article that claimed that the nation was on the verge of recession. The article focused on the departure of nearly 180,000 Cambodians from Thailand due to fears of an immigration clampdown, but concluded with information on the Thai economy's contraction of 2.1% quarter-on-quarter, from January to the end of March 2014.[111] Exports and manufacturing Automotive production in Thailand, 2004–2013 A proportional representation of Thailand's exports The economy of Thailand is heavily export-dependent, with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP). Thailand exports over US$105 billion worth of goods and services annually.[1] Major exports include rice, textiles and footwear, fishery products, rubber, jewellery, cars, computers, and electrical appliances.[1] Substantial industries include electric appliances, components, computer components, and vehicles. Thailand's recovery from the 1997–1998 Asian financial crisis depended mainly on exports, among various other factors. As of 2012, the Thai automotive industry was the largest in Southeast Asia and the 9th largest in the world.[112][113][114] The Thailand industry has an annual output of near 1.5 million vehicles, mostly commercial vehicles.[114] Most of the vehicles built in Thailand are developed and licensed by foreign producers, mainly Japanese and South Korean. The Thai car industry takes advantage of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) to find a market for many of its products. Eight manufacturers, five Japanese, two US, and Tata of India, produce pick-up trucks in Thailand.[115] Thailand is the second largest consumer of pick-up trucks in the world, after the US.[citation needed] In 2014, pick-ups accounted for 42% of all new vehicle sales in Thailand.[115] Tourism Further information: Tourism in Thailand Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok Statue of a mythical Kinnon, Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok An Airbus A380 of the national carrier Thai Airways Tourism makes up about 6% of the economy. Thailand was the most visited country in Southeast Asia in 2013, according to the World Tourism Organisation. Estimates of tourism receipts directly contributing to the Thai GDP of 12 trillion baht range from 9 percent (1 trillion baht) (2013) to 16 percent.[116] When including the indirect effects of tourism, it is said to account for 20.2 percent (2.4 trillion baht) of Thailand's GDP.[117]:1 The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) uses the slogan "Amazing Thailand" to promote Thailand internationally. In 2015, this was supplemented by a "Discover Thainess" campaign.[118] Asian tourists primarily visit Thailand for Bangkok and the historical, natural, and cultural sights in its vicinity. Western tourists not only visit Bangkok and surroundings, but in addition many travel to the southern beaches and islands. The north is the chief destination for trekking and adventure travel with its diverse ethnic minority groups and forested mountains. The region hosting the fewest tourists is Isan in the northeast. To accommodate foreign visitors, the Thai government established a separate tourism police with offices in the major tourist areas and its own central emergency telephone number.[119] "Amazing Thailand" – Thailand Tourism booth at a Travel and Tour Expo Thailand's attractions include diving, sandy beaches, hundreds of tropical islands, nightlife, archaeological sites, museums, hill tribes, flora and bird life, palaces, Buddhist temples and several World Heritage sites. Many tourists follow courses during their stay in Thailand. Popular are classes in Thai cooking, Buddhism and traditional Thai massage. Thai national festivals range from Thai New Year Songkran to Loy Krathong. Many localities in Thailand also have their own festivals. Among the best-known are the "Elephant Round-up" in Surin, the "Rocket Festival" in Yasothon and the "Phi Ta Khon" festival in Dan Sai. Thai cuisine has become famous worldwide with its enthusiastic use of fresh herbs and spices. Bangkok shopping malls offer a variety of international and local brands. Towards the north of the city, and easily reached by skytrain or underground, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is possibly the largest market in the world, selling everything from household items to live, and sometimes endangered, animals.[120] The "Pratunam Market" specialises in fabrics and clothing. The night markets in the Silom area and on Khaosan Road are mainly tourist-oriented, selling items such as T-shirts, handicrafts, counterfeit watches and sunglasses. In the vicinity of Bangkok one can find several floating markets such as the one in Damnoen Saduak. The "Sunday Evening Walking Street Market", held on Rachadamnoen Road inside the old city, is a shopping highlight of a visit to Chiang Mai up in northern Thailand. It attracts many locals as well as foreigners. The "Night Bazaar" is Chiang Mai's more tourist-oriented market, sprawling over several city blocks just east of the old city walls towards the river. Prostitution in Thailand and sex tourism also form a de facto part of the economy. Campaigns promote Thailand as exotic to attract tourists.[121] Cultural milieu combined with poverty and the lure of money have caused prostitution and sex tourism in particular to flourish in Thailand. One estimate published in 2003 placed the trade at US$4.3 billion per year or about 3% of the Thai economy.[122] According to research by Chulalongkorn University on the Thai illegal economy, prostitution in Thailand in the period between 1993 and 1995, made up around 2.7% of the GDP.[123] It is believed that at least 10% of tourist dollars are spent on the sex trade.[124] Thailand is at the forefront of the growing practice of sex-reassignment surgery (SRS). Statistic taken from 2014, illustrated the country's medical tourism industry attracting over 2.5 million visitors per year.[125] In 1985–1990, only 5% of foreign transsexual patients visited Thailand for sex-reassignment surgery. In more recent years, 2010–2012, more than 90% of the visitors traveled to Thailand for SRS.[126] Agriculture Further information: Agriculture in Thailand Thailand had long been the largest rice exporter in the world. Forty-nine percent of Thailand's labour force is employed in agriculture.[127] Forty-nine per cent of Thailand's labour force is employed in agriculture.[127] This is down from 70% in 1980.[127]Rice is the most important crop in the country and Thailand had long been the world's leading exporter of rice, until recently falling behind both India and Vietnam.[128] Thailand has the highest percentage of arable land, 27.25%, of any nation in the Greater Mekong Subregion.[129] About 55% of the arable land area is used for rice production.[130] Agriculture has been experiencing a transition from labour-intensive and transitional methods to a more industrialised and competitive sector.[127] Between 1962 and 1983, the agricultural sector grew by 4.1% per year on average and continued to grow at 2.2% between 1983 and 2007.[127] The relative contribution of agriculture to GDP has declined while exports of goods and services have increased. Energy Further information: Energy in Thailand 75% of Thailand's electrical generation is powered by natural gas in 2014.[131] Coal-fired power plants produce an additional 20% of electricity, with the remainder coming from biomass, hydro, and biogas.[131] Thailand produces roughly one-third of the oil it consumes. It is the second largest importer of oil in SE Asia. Thailand is a large producer of natural gas, with reserves of at least 10 trillion cubic feet. After Indonesia, it is the largest coal producer in SE Asia, but must import additional coal to meet domestic demand. Transportation Main articles: Transport in Thailand and List of airports in Thailand Demographics Main article: Demographics of Thailand Thailand had a population of 66,720,153[132] as of 2013. Thailand's population is largely rural, concentrated in the rice-growing areas of the central, northeastern, and northern regions. Thailand had an urban population of 45.7% as of 2010, concentrated mostly in and around the Bangkok Metropolitan Area. Thailand's government-sponsored family planning program resulted in a dramatic decline in population growth from 3.1% in 1960 to around 0.4% today. In 1970, an average of 5.7 people lived in a Thai household. At the time of the 2010 census, the average Thai household size was 3.2 people. Ethnic groups Further information: Ethnic groups in Thailand A procession during the Hae Pha Khuen That festival of Wat Phra Mahathat Thai nationals make up the majority of Thailand's population, 95.9% in 2010. The remaining 4.1% of the population are Burmese (2.0%), others 1.3%, and unspecified 0.9%.[1] According to the Royal Thai Government's 2011 Country Report to the UN Committee responsible for the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, available from the Department of Rights and Liberties Promotion of the Thai Ministry of Justice,[3]:3 62 ethnic communities are officially recognised in Thailand. Twenty million Central Thai (together with approximately 650,000 Khorat Thai) make up approximately 20,650,000 (34.1 percent) of the nation's population of 60,544,937[133] at the time of completion of the Mahidol University Ethnolinguistic Maps of Thailand data (1997).[134] The 2011 Thailand Country Report provides population numbers for mountain peoples ('hill tribes') and ethnic communities in the Northeast and is explicit about its main reliance on the Mahidol University Ethnolinguistic Maps of Thailand data.[134] Thus, though over 3.288 million people in the Northeast alone could not be categorised, the population and percentages of other ethnic communities circa 1997 are known for all of Thailand and constitute minimum populations. In descending order, the largest (equal to or greater than 400,000) are a) 15,080,000 Lao (24.9 percent) consisting of the Thai Lao[2] (14 million) and other smaller Lao groups, namely the Thai Loei (400–500,000), Lao Lom (350,000), Lao Wiang/Klang (200,000), Lao Khrang (90,000), Lao Ngaew (30,000), and Lao Ti (10,000; b) six million Khon Muang (9.9 percent, also called Northern Thais); c) 4.5 million Pak Tai (7.5 percent, also called Southern Thais); d) 1.4 million Khmer Leu (2.3 percent, also called Northern Khmer); e) 900,000 Malay (1.5%); f) 500,000 Ngaw (0.8 percent); g) 470,000 Phu Thai (0.8 percent); h) 400,000 Kuy/Kuay (also known as Suay) (0.7 percent), and i) 350,000 Karen (0.6 percent).[3]:7–13 Thai Chinese, those of significant Chinese heritage, are 14% of the population,[6] while Thais with partial Chinese ancestry comprise up to 40% of the population.[135] Thai Malays represent 3% of the population, with the remainder consisting of Mons, Khmers and various "hill tribes". The country's official language is Thai and the primary religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practised by around 95% of the population. Increasing numbers of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, as well as from Nepal and India, have pushed the total number of non-national residents to around 3.5 million as of 2009, up from an estimated 2 million in 2008, and about 1.3 million in 2000.[136] Some 41,000 Britons live in Thailand.[137] Language Main article: Languages of Thailand Population, Thailand Year Pop. ±% 1910 8,131,247 —     1919 9,207,355 +13.2% 1929 11,506,207 +25.0% 1937 14,464,105 +25.7% 1947 17,442,689 +20.6% 1960 26,257,916 +50.5% 1970 34,397,371 +31.0% 1980 44,824,540 +30.3% 1990 54,548,530 +21.7% 2000 60,916,441 +11.7% 2010 65,926,261 +8.2% Source: [1] National Statistical Office of Thailand The official language of Thailand is Thai, a Tai–Kadai language closely related to Lao, Shan in Myanmar, and numerous smaller languages spoken in an arc from Hainan and Yunnan south to the Chinese border. It is the principal language of education and government and spoken throughout the country. The standard is based on the dialect of the central Thai people, and it is written in the Thai alphabet, an abugida script that evolved from the Khmer alphabet. Sixty-two languages were recognised by the Royal Thai Government in the 2011 Country Report to the UN Committee responsible for the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which employed an ethnolinguistic approach and is available from the Department of Rights and Liberties Promotion of the Thai Ministry of Justice.[3]:3 Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, and Northern Thai is spoken in the provinces that were formerly part of the independent kingdom of Lan Na. For the purposes of the national census, which does not recognise all 62 languages recognised by the Royal Thai Government in the 2011 Country Report, four dialects of Thai exist; these partly coincide with regional designations. The largest of Thailand's minority languages is the Lao dialect of Isan spoken in the northeastern provinces. Although sometimes considered a Thai dialect, it is a Lao dialect, and the region where it is traditionally spoken was historically part of the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. In the far south, Kelantan-Pattani Malay is the primary language of Malay Muslims. Varieties of Chinese are also spoken by the large Thai Chinese population, with the Teochew dialect best-represented. Numerous tribal languages are also spoken, including many Austroasiatic languages such as Mon, Khmer, Viet, Mlabri and Orang Asli; Austronesian languages such as Cham and Moken; Sino-Tibetan languages like Lawa, Akha, and Karen; and other Tai languages such as Tai Yo, Phu Thai, and Saek. Hmong is a member of the Hmong–Mien languages, which is now regarded as a language family of its own. English is a mandatory school subject, but the number of fluent speakers remains low, especially outside cities. Religion Main article: Religion in Thailand Religion in Thailand, 2010[1][138] Religion     Percent   Buddhism    93.2% Islam    4.9% Christianity    0.9% Hinduism    0.1% Unaffiliated    0.3% Thailand's prevalent religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is an integral part of Thai identity and culture. Active participation in Buddhism is among the highest in the world. According to the 2000 census, 94.6% of the country's population self-identified as Buddhists of the Theravada tradition. Muslims constitute the second largest religious group in Thailand, comprising 4.9% of the population.[1][138] Islam is concentrated mostly in the country's southernmost provinces: Pattani, Yala, Satun, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Chumphon, which are predominantly Malay, most of whom are Sunni Muslims. Christians represent 0.9% of the population, with the remaining population consisting of Sikhs and Hindus, who live mostly in the country's cities. There is also a small but historically significant Jewish community in Thailand dating back to the 17th century. Culture Main article: Culture of Thailand See also: Music of Thailand, Isan, and Cinema of Thailand Theravada Buddhism, highly practised in Thailand Thai culture has been shaped by many influences, including Indian, Lao, Burmese, Cambodian, and Chinese. Its traditions incorporate a great deal of influence from India, China, Cambodia, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Thailand's national religion, Theravada Buddhism, is central to modern Thai identity. Thai Buddhism has evolved over time to include many regional beliefs originating from Hinduism, animism, as well as ancestor worship. The official calendar in Thailand is based on the Eastern version of the Buddhist Era (BE), which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian (Western) calendar. Thus the year 2015 is 2558 BE in Thailand. Several different ethnic groups, many of which are marginalised, populate Thailand. Some of these groups spill over into Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia and have mediated change between their traditional local culture, national Thai, and global cultural influences. Overseas Chinese also form a significant part of Thai society, particularly in and around Bangkok. Their successful integration into Thai society has allowed for this group to hold positions of economic and political power. Thai Chinese businesses prosper as part of the larger bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses operating in the markets of Southeast Asia that share common family and cultural ties.[139] Khon show is the most stylised form of Thai performance. The traditional Thai greeting, the wai, is generally offered first by the younger of the two people meeting, with their hands pressed together, fingertips pointing upwards as the head is bowed to touch face to fingertips, usually coinciding with the spoken words "sawatdi khrap" for male speakers, and "sawatdi kha" for females. The elder may then respond in the same way. Social status and position, such as in government, will also have an influence on who performs the wai first. For example, although one may be considerably older than a provincial governor, when meeting it is usually the visitor who pays respect first. When children leave to go to school, they are taught to wai their parents to indicate their respect. The wai is a sign of respect and reverence for another, similar to the namaste greeting of India and Nepal. As with other Asian cultures, respect towards ancestors is an essential part of Thai spiritual practice. Thais have a strong sense of hospitality and generosity, but also a strong sense of social hierarchy. Seniority is paramount in Thai culture. Elders have by tradition ruled in family decisions or ceremonies. Older siblings have duties to younger ones. Taboos in Thailand include touching someone's head or pointing with the feet, as the head is considered the most sacred and the foot the lowest part of the body. Cuisine Further information: Cuisine of Thailand Thai cuisine blends five fundamental tastes: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter, and salty. Common ingredients used in Thai cuisine include garlic, chillies, lime juice, lemon grass, coriander, galangal, palm sugar, and fish sauce (nam pla). The staple food in Thailand is rice, particularly jasmine variety rice (also known as "hom Mali" rice) which forms a part of almost every meal. Thailand was long[when?] the world's largest exporter of rice, and Thais domestically consume over 100 of milled rice per person per year.[130] Over 5,000 varieties of rice from Thailand are preserved in the rice gene bank of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines. The king of Thailand is the official patron of IRRI.[140] Media Further information: Media of Thailand Thai society has been influenced in recent years by its widely available multi-language press and media. There are some English and numerous Thai and Chinese newspapers in circulation. Most Thai popular magazines use English headlines as a chic glamour factor. Many large businesses in Bangkok operate in English as well as other languages. Thailand is the largest newspaper market in Southeast Asia with an estimated circulation of over 13 million copies daily in 2003. Even upcountry, out of Bangkok, the media flourish. For example, according to Thailand's Public Relations Department Media Directory 2003–2004, the nineteen provinces of Isan, Thailand's northeastern region, hosted 116 newspapers along with radio, TV, and cable. Since then, another province, Bueng Kan, was incorporated, totalling twenty provinces. In addition, a military coup on 22 May 2014 led to severe state restrictions on all media and forms of expression. Units of measurement Further information: Thai units of measurement Thailand generally uses the metric system, but traditional units of measurement for land area are used, and imperial units of measurement are occasionally used for building materials, such as wood and plumbing fixtures. Years are numbered as B.E. (Buddhist Era) in educational settings, the civil service, government, and on contracts and newspaper datelines. In banking, and increasingly in industry and commerce, standard Western year (Christian or Common Era) counting is the standard practice.[141] Sports See also: Thailand at the Olympics, Rugby union in Thailand, Golf in Thailand, and Football in Thailand Muay Thai, Thailand's signature sport Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย, RTGS: Muai Thai,  [muaj tʰaj], lit. "Thai boxing") is a native form of kickboxing and Thailand's signature sport. It incorporates kicks, punches, knees and elbow strikes in a ring with gloves similar to those used in Western boxing and this has led to Thailand gaining medals at the Olympic Games in boxing. Association football has overtaken muay Thai as the most widely followed sport in contemporary Thai society. Thailand national football team has played the AFC Asian Cup six times and reached the semifinals in 1972. The country has hosted the Asian Cup twice, in 1972 and in 2007. The 2007 edition was co-hosted together with Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. It is not uncommon to see Thais cheering their favourite English Premier League teams on television and walking around in replica kit. Another widely enjoyed pastime, and once a competitive sport, is kite flying. Rajamangala National Stadium Volleyball is rapidly growing as one of the most popular sports. The women's team has often participated in the World Championship, World Cup, and World Grand Prix Asian Championship. They have won the Asian Championship twice and Asian Cup once. By the success of the women's team, the men team has been growing as well. Takraw (Thai: ตะกร้อ) is a sport native to Thailand, in which the players hit a rattan ball and are only allowed to use their feet, knees, chest, and head to touch the ball. Sepak takraw is a form of this sport which is similar to volleyball. The players must volley a ball over a net and force it to hit the ground on the opponent's side. It is also a popular sport in other countries in Southeast Asia. A rather similar game but played only with the feet is buka ball. Snooker has enjoyed increasing popularity in Thailand in recent years, with interest in the game being stimulated by the success of Thai snooker player James Wattana in the 1990s.[142] Other notable players produced by the country include Ratchayothin Yotharuck, Noppon Saengkham and Dechawat Poomjaeng.[143] Rugby is also a growing sport in Thailand with the Thailand national rugby union team rising to be ranked 61st in the world.[144] Thailand became the first country in the world to host an international 80 welterweight rugby tournament in 2005.[145] The national domestic Thailand Rugby Union (TRU) competition includes several universities and services teams such as Chulalongkorn University, Mahasarakham University, Kasetsart University, Prince of Songkla University, Thammasat University, Rangsit University, the Thai Police, the Thai Army, the Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Air Force. Local sports clubs which also compete in the TRU include the British Club of Bangkok, the Southerners Sports Club (Bangkok) and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. Thailand has been called the golf capital of Asia[146] as it is a popular destination for golf. The country attracts a large number of golfers from Japan, Korea, Singapore, South Africa, and Western countries who come to play golf in Thailand every year.[147] The growing popularity of golf, especially among the middle classes and immigrants, is evident as there are more than 200 world-class golf courses nationwide,[148] and some of them are chosen to host PGA and LPGA tournaments, such as Amata Spring Country Club, Alpine Golf and Sports Club, Thai Country Club, and Black Mountain Golf Club. Basketball is a growing sport in Thailand, especially on the professional sports club level. The Chang Thailand Slammers won the 2011 ASEAN Basketball League Championship.[149] The Thailand national basketball team had its most successful year at the 1966 Asian Games where it won the silver medal.[150] Other sports in Thailand are slowly growing as the country develops its sporting infrastructure. The success in sports like weightlifting and taekwondo at the last two summer Olympic Games has demonstrated that boxing is no longer the only medal option for Thailand. Sporting venues Thammasat Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Bangkok. It is currently used mostly for football matches. The stadium holds 25,000. It is on Thammasat University's Rangsit campus. It was built for the 1998 Asian Games by construction firm Christiani and Nielsen, the same company that constructed the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. Rajamangala National Stadium is the biggest sporting arena in Thailand. It currently has a capacity of 65,000. It is in Bang Kapi, Bangkok. The stadium was built in 1998 for the 1998 Asian Games and is the home stadium of the Thailand national football team. The well-known Lumpini Boxing Stadium will host its final Muay Thai boxing matches on 7 February 2014 after the venue first opened in December 1956. Managed by the Royal Thai Army, the stadium was officially selected for the purpose of muay Thai bouts following a competition that was staged on 15 March 1956. From 11 February 2014, the stadium will relocate to Ram Intra Road, due to the new venue's capacity to accommodate audiences of up to 3,500. Foreigners typically pay between 1,000–2,000 baht to view a match, with prices depending on the location of the seating.[151]  

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United States From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "United States of America", "America", "US", "U.S.", "USA", and "U.S.A." redirect here. For the landmass encompassing North and South America, see Americas. For other uses, see America (disambiguation), US (disambiguation), USA (disambiguation), and United States (disambiguation). The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S.) or America, is a constitutional federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.[fn 6] Forty-eight of the fifty states and the federal district are contiguous and located in North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Nine time zones are covered. The geography, climate and wildlife of the country are extremely diverse.[21] At 3.8 million square miles (9.8 million km2)[12] and with over 324 million people, the United States is the world's third- or fourth-largest country by total area,[fn 7] third-largest by land area, and the third-most populous. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, and is home to the world's largest immigrant population.[26]The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city is New York City; nine other major metropolitan areas—each with at least 4.5 million inhabitants and the largest having more than 13 million people—are Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco. Paleo-Indians migrated from Asia to the North American mainland at least 15,000 years ago.[27] European colonization began in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the Seven Years' War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775. On July 4, 1776, during the course of the American Revolutionary War, the colonies unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. The war ended in 1783 with recognition of the independence of the United States by Great Britain, representing the first successful war of independence against a European power.[28] The current constitution was adopted in 1788, after the Articles of Confederation, adopted in 1781, were felt to have provided inadequate federal powers. The first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and designed to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties. The United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century,[29]displacing Native American tribes, acquiring new territories, and gradually admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848.[29] During the second half of the 19th century, the American Civil War led to the end of legal slavery in the country.[30][31] By the end of that century, the United States extended into the Pacific Ocean,[32] and its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar.[33] The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power. The United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower.[34] The U.S. is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States (OAS), and other international organizations. The United States is a highly developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP. It ranks highly in several measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage,[35] human development, per capita GDP, and productivity per person.[36] While the U.S. economy is considered post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge economy, the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world.[37] Though its population is only 4.3% of the world total,[38] the United States accounts for nearly a quarter of world GDP[39] and over a third of global military spending,[40] making it the world's foremost economic and military power. The United States is a prominent political and cultural force internationally, and a leader in scientific research and technological innovations.[41] Etymology See also: Naming of America, Names for United States citizens, and American (word) In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America" after the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci (Latin: Americus Vespucius).[42] The first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq., George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army. Addressed to Lt. Col. Joseph Reed, Moylan expressed his wish to carry the "full and ample powers of the United States of America" to Spain to assist in the revolutionary war effort.[43][44][45] The first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776.[46][47] The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the 'United States of America.'"[48] The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America'".[49] In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence.[50][51] This draft of the document did not surface until June 21, 1776, and it is unclear whether it was written before or after Dickinson used the term in his June 17 draft of the Articles of Confederation.[48] In the final Fourth of July version of the Declaration, the title was changed to read, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America".[52] The preamble of the Constitution states "...establish this Constitution for the United States of America." The short form "United States" is also standard. Other common forms are the "U.S.", the "USA", and "America". Colloquial names are the "U.S. of A." and, internationally, the "States". "Columbia", a name popular in poetry and songs of the late 18th century, derives its origin from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".[53] In non-English languages, the name is frequently the translation of either the "United States" or "United States of America", and colloquially as "America". In addition, an abbreviation (e.g. USA) is sometimes used.[54] The phrase "United States" was originally plural, a description of a collection of independent states—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. The singular form—e.g., "the United States is"—became popular after the end of the American Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States".[55] The difference is more significant than usage; it is a difference between a collection of states and a unit.[56] A citizen of the United States is an "American". "United States", "American" and "U.S." refer to the country adjectivally ("American values", "U.S. forces"). In English, the word "American" rarely refers to topics or subjects not connected with the United States.[57] History Main articles: History of the United States, Timeline of United States history, American business history, Economic history of the United States, and Labor history of the United States Indigenous and European contact Further information: Pre-Columbian era and Colonial history of the United States An artistic recreation of The Kincaid Site from the prehistoric Mississippian culture as it may have looked at its peak 1050–1400 AD Italian explorer Christoper Columbus arrives in America and takes possession of Guanahani The first inhabitants of North America migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 15,000 years ago, though increasing evidence suggests an even earlier arrival.[27] Some, such as the pre-Columbian Mississippian culture, developed advanced agriculture, grand architecture, and state-level societies.[58] After the Spanish conquistadors made the first contacts, the native population declined for various reasons, primarily from diseases such as smallpox and measles. Violence was not a significant factor in the overall decline among Native Americans, though conflict among themselves and with Europeans affected specific tribes and various colonial settlements.[59][60][61][62][63][64] In the Hawaiian Islands, the earliest indigenous inhabitants arrived around 1 AD from Polynesia. Europeans under the British explorer Captain James Cook arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. In the early days of colonization, many European settlers were subject to food shortages, disease, and attacks from Native Americans. Native Americans were also often at war with neighboring tribes and allied with Europeans in their colonial wars. At the same time, however, many natives and settlers came to depend on each other. Settlers traded for food and animal pelts, natives for guns, ammunition and other European wares.[65] Natives taught many settlers where, when and how to cultivate corn, beans and squash. European missionaries and others felt it was important to "civilize" the Native Americans and urged them to adopt European agricultural techniques and lifestyles.[66][67] Settlements Further information: European colonization of the Americas and Thirteen Colonies Globe showing North America from 1602. Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the United States The signing of the Mayflower Compact, 1620 After Spain sent Columbus on his first voyage to the New World in 1492, other explorers followed. The Spanish set up small settlements in New Mexico and Florida. France had several small settlements along the Mississippi River. Successful English settlement on the eastern coast of North America began with the Virginia Colony in 1607 at Jamestown and the Pilgrims'Plymouth Colony in 1620. Early experiments in communal living failed until the introduction of private farm holdings.[68] Many settlers were dissenting Christian groups who came seeking religious freedom. The continent's first elected legislative assembly, Virginia's House of Burgesses created in 1619, and the Mayflower Compact, signed by the Pilgrims before disembarking, established precedents for the pattern of representative self-government and constitutionalism that would develop throughout the American colonies.[69][70] Most settlers in every colony were small farmers, but other industries developed within a few decades as varied as the settlements. Cash crops included tobacco, rice and wheat. Extraction industries grew up in furs, fishing and lumber. Manufacturers produced rum and ships, and by the late colonial period Americans were producing one-seventh of the world's iron supply.[71] Cities eventually dotted the coast to support local economies and serve as trade hubs. English colonists were supplemented by waves of Scotch-Irish and other groups. As coastal land grew more expensive freed indentured servants pushed further west.[72] Slave cultivation of cash crops began with the Spanish in the 1500s, and was adopted by the English, but life expectancy was much higher in North America because of less disease and better food and treatment, leading to a rapid increase in the numbers of slaves.[73][74][75] Colonial society was largely divided over the religious and moral implications of slavery and colonies passed acts for and against the practice.[76][77] But by the turn of the 18th century, African slaves were replacing indentured servants for cash crop labor, especially in southern regions.[78] With the British colonization of Georgia in 1732, the 13 colonies that would become the United States of America were established.[79] All had local governments with elections open to most free men, with a growing devotion to the ancient rights of Englishmen and a sense of self-government stimulating support for republicanism.[80] With extremely high birth rates, low death rates, and steady settlement, the colonial population grew rapidly. Relatively small Native American populations were eclipsed.[81] The Christian revivalist movement of the 1730s and 1740s known as the Great Awakening fueled interest in both religion and religious liberty.[82] During the Seven Years' War (in America, known as the French and Indian War), British forces seized Canada from the French, but the francophone population remained politically isolated from the southern colonies. Excluding the Native Americans, who were being conquered and displaced, the 13 British colonies had a population of over 2.1 million in 1770, about one-third that of Britain. Despite continuing new arrivals, the rate of natural increase was such that by the 1770s only a small minority of Americans had been born overseas.[83] The colonies' distance from Britain had allowed the development of self-government, but their success motivated monarchs to periodically seek to reassert royal authority.[84] Independence and expansion (1776–1865) Further information: American Revolutionary War, United States Declaration of Independence, American Revolution, and Territorial evolution of the United States The Declaration of Independence: the Committee of Five presenting their draft to the Second Continental Congress in 1776 The American Revolutionary War was the first successful colonial war of independence against a European power. Americans had developed an ideology of "republicanism" asserting that government rested on the will of the people as expressed in their local legislatures. They demanded their rights as Englishmen and "no taxation without representation". The British insisted on administering the empire through Parliament, and the conflict escalated into war.[85] Following the passage of the Lee Resolution, on July 2, 1776, which was the actual vote for independence, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, which proclaimed, in a long preamble, that humanity is created equal in their unalienable rights and that those rights were not being protected by Great Britain, and declared, in the words of the resolution, that the Thirteen Colonies were independent states and had no allegiance to the British crown in the United States. The fourth day of July is celebrated annually as Independence Day. In 1777, the Articles of Confederation established a weak government that operated until 1789.[86] Britain recognized the independence of the United States following their defeat at Yorktown in 1781.[87] In the peace treaty of 1783, American sovereignty was recognized from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River. Nationalists led the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in writing the United States Constitution, ratified in state conventions in 1788. The federal government was reorganized into three branches, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances, in 1789. George Washington, who had led the revolutionary army to victory, was the first president elected under the new constitution. The Bill of Rights, forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1791.[88] Although the federal government criminalized the international slave trade in 1808, after 1820, cultivation of the highly profitable cotton crop exploded in the Deep South, and along with it, the slave population.[89][90][91] The Second Great Awakening, especially 1800–1840, converted millions to evangelical Protestantism. In the North, it energized multiple social reform movements, including abolitionism;[92] in the South, Methodists and Baptists proselytized among slave populations.[93] Americans' eagerness to expand westward prompted a long series of American Indian Wars.[94] The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory in 1803 almost doubled the nation's area.[95] The War of 1812, declared against Britain over various grievances and fought to a draw, strengthened U.S. nationalism.[96] A series of military incursions into Florida led Spain to cede it and other Gulf Coast territory in 1819.[97] Expansion was aided by steam power, when steamboats began traveling along America's large water systems, which were connected by new canals, such as the Erie and the I&M; then, even faster railroads began their stretch across the nation's land.[98] U.S. territorial acquisitions–portions of each territory were granted statehood since the 18th century. From 1820 to 1850, Jacksonian democracy began a set of reforms which included wider white male suffrage; it led to the rise of the Second Party System of Democrats and Whigs as the dominant parties from 1828 to 1854. The Trail of Tears in the 1830s exemplified the Indian removal policy that resettled Indians into the west on Indian reservations. The U.S. annexed the Republic of Texas in 1845 during a period of expansionist Manifest destiny.[99] The 1846 Oregon Treaty with Britain led to U.S. control of the present-day American Northwest.[100] Victory in the Mexican–American War resulted in the 1848 Mexican Cession of California and much of the present-day American Southwest.[101] The California Gold Rush of 1848–49 spurred western migration and the creation of additional western states.[102] After the American Civil War, new transcontinental railways made relocation easier for settlers, expanded internal trade and increased conflicts with Native Americans.[103] Over a half-century, the loss of the American bison (sometimes called "buffalo") was an existential blow to many Plains Indians cultures.[104] In 1869, a new Peace Policy sought to protect Native-Americans from abuses, avoid further war, and secure their eventual U.S. citizenship, although conflicts, including several of the largest Indian Wars, continued throughout the West into the 1900s.[105] Civil War and Reconstruction Era Further information: American Civil War and Reconstruction Era The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the Civil War by Thure de Thulstrup Differences of opinion and social order between northern and southern states in early United States society, particularly regarding Black slavery, ultimately led to the American Civil War.[106] Initially, states entering the Union alternated between slave and free states, keeping a sectional balance in the Senate, while free states outstripped slave states in population and in the House of Representatives. But with additional western territory and more free-soil states, tensions between slave and free states mounted with arguments over federalism and disposition of the territories, whether and how to expand or restrict slavery.[107] With the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, the first president from the largely anti-slavery Republican Party, conventions in thirteen slave states ultimately declared secession and formed the Confederate States of America, while the federal government maintained that secession was illegal.[107] The ensuing war was at first for Union, then after 1863 as casualties mounted and Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation, a second war aim became abolition of slavery. The war remains the deadliest military conflict in American history, resulting in the deaths of approximately 618,000 soldiers as well as many civilians.[108] Following the Union victory in 1865, three amendments were added to the U.S. Constitution: the Thirteenth Amendment prohibited slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment provided citizenship to the nearly four million African Americans who had been slaves,[109] and the Fifteenth Amendment ensured that they had the right to vote. The war and its resolution led to a substantial increase in federal power[110] aimed at reintegrating and rebuilding the Southern states while ensuring the rights of the newly freed slaves. Southern white conservatives, calling themselves "Redeemers" took control after the end of Reconstruction. By the 1890–1910 period Jim Crow laws disenfranchised most blacks and some poor whites. Blacks faced racial segregation, especially in the South.[111] Racial minorities occasionally experienced vigilante violence.[112] Industrialization Main articles: Economic history of the United States and Technological and industrial history of the United States Ellis Island in New York City was a major gateway for European immigration. In the North, urbanization and an unprecedented influx of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe supplied a surplus of labor for the country's industrialization and transformed its culture.[113] National infrastructure including telegraph and transcontinental railroads spurred economic growth and greater settlement and development of the American Old West. The later invention of electric light and the telephone would also affect communication and urban life.[114] The end of the Indian Wars further expanded acreage under mechanical cultivation, increasing surpluses for international markets.[115] Mainland expansion was completed by the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867.[116] In 1893, pro-American elements in Hawaii overthrew the monarchy and formed the Republic of Hawaii, which the U.S. annexed in 1898. Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines were ceded by Spain in the same year, following the Spanish–American War.[117] Rapid economic development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries fostered the rise of many prominent industrialists. Tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie led the nation's progress in railroad, petroleum, and steel industries. Banking became a major part of the economy, with J. P. Morgan playing a notable role. Edison and Tesla undertook the widespread distribution of electricity to industry, homes, and for street lighting. Henry Ford revolutionized the automotive industry. The American economy boomed, becoming the world's largest, and the United States achieved great power status.[118] These dramatic changes were accompanied by social unrest and the rise of populist, socialist, and anarchist movements.[119] This period eventually ended with the advent of the Progressive Era, which saw significant reforms in many societal areas, including women's suffrage, alcohol prohibition, regulation of consumer goods, greater antitrust measures to ensure competition and attention to worker conditions.[citation needed] World War I, Great Depression, and World War II Further information: World War I, Great Depression, and World War II U.S. troops approaching Omaha Beach in 1944 The United States remained neutral from the outbreak of World War I, in 1914, until 1917 when it joined the war as an "associated power", alongside the formal Allies of World War I, helping to turn the tide against the Central Powers. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson took a leading diplomatic role at the Paris Peace Conference and advocated strongly for the U.S. to join the League of Nations. However, the Senate refused to approve this, and did not ratify the Treaty of Versailles that established the League of Nations.[120] In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of a constitutional amendment granting women's suffrage.[121] The 1920s and 1930s saw the rise of radio for mass communication and the invention of early television.[122] The prosperity of the Roaring Twenties ended with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. After his election as president in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt responded with the New Deal, which included the establishment of the Social Security system.[123] The Great Migration of millions of African Americans out of the American South began before World War I and extended through the 1960s;[124] whereas the Dust Bowl of the mid-1930s impoverished many farming communities and spurred a new wave of western migration.[125] At first effectively neutral during World War II while Germany conquered much of continental Europe, the United States began supplying material to the Allies in March 1941 through the Lend-Lease program. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to join the Allies against the Axis powers.[126] During the war, the United States was referred as one of the "Four Policemen"[127] of Allies power who met to plan the postwar world, along with Britain, the Soviet Union and China.[128][129] Though the nation lost more than 400,000 soldiers,[130] it emerged relatively undamaged from the war with even greater economic and military influence.[131] The United States played a leading role in the Bretton Woods and Yalta conferences with the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and other Allies, which signed agreements on new international financial institutions and Europe's postwar reorganization. As an Allied victory was won in Europe, a 1945 international conference held in San Francisco produced the United Nations Charter, which became active after the war.[132] The United States developed the first nuclear weapons and used them on Japan in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; causing the Japanese to surrender on September 2, ending World War II.[133][134] Parades and celebrations followed in what is known as Victory Day, or V-J Day.[135] Cold War and civil rights era Main articles: History of the United States (1945–64), History of the United States (1964–80), and History of the United States (1980–91) Further information: Cold War, Civil Rights Movement, War on Poverty, Space Race, and Reaganomics U.S. President Ronald Reagan at his "Tear down this wall!" speech in Berlin, Germany on June 12, 1987. The Iron Curtain of Europe manifested the division of the world's superpowers during the Cold War. After World War II the United States and the Soviet Union jockeyed for power during what became known as the Cold War, driven by an ideological divide between capitalism and communism[136] and, according to the school of geopolitics, a divide between the maritime Atlantic and the continental Eurasian camps. They dominated the military affairs of Europe, with the U.S. and its NATO allies on one side and the USSR and its Warsaw Pact allies on the other. The U.S. developed a policy of containment towards the expansion of communist influence. While the U.S. and Soviet Union engaged in proxy wars and developed powerful nuclear arsenals, the two countries avoided direct military conflict. The United States often opposed Third World movements that it viewed as Soviet-sponsored. American troops fought communist Chinese and North Korean forces in the Korean War of 1950–53.[137] The Soviet Union's 1957 launch of the first artificial satellite and its 1961 launch of the first manned spaceflight initiated a "Space Race" in which the United States became the first nation to land a man on the moon in 1969.[137] A proxy war in Southeast Asia eventually evolved into full American participation, as the Vietnam War. At home, the U.S. experienced sustained economic expansion and a rapid growth of its population and middle class. Construction of an Interstate Highway System transformed the nation's infrastructure over the following decades. Millions moved from farms and inner cities to large suburban housing developments.[138][139] In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th and last U.S. state added to the country.[140]The growing Civil Rights Movement used nonviolence to confront segregation and discrimination, with Martin Luther King Jr. becoming a prominent leader and figurehead. A combination of court decisions and legislation, culminating in the Civil Rights Act of 1968, sought to end racial discrimination.[141][142][143] Meanwhile, a counterculture movement grew which was fueled by opposition to the Vietnam war, black nationalism, and the sexual revolution. The launch of a "War on Poverty" expanded entitlements and welfare spending, including the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, two programs that provide health coverage to the elderly and poor, respectively, and the means-tested Food Stamp Program and Aid to Families with Dependent Children.[144] The 1970s and early 1980s saw the onset of stagflation. After his election in 1980, President Ronald Reagan responded to economic stagnation with free-market oriented reforms. Following the collapse of détente, he abandoned "containment" and initiated the more aggressive "rollback" strategy towards the USSR.[145][146][147][148][149] After a surge in female labor participation over the previous decade, by 1985 the majority of women aged 16 and over were employed.[150] The late 1980s brought a "thaw" in relations with the USSR, and its collapse in 1991 finally ended the Cold War.[151][152][153][154] This brought about unipolarity[155]with the U.S. unchallenged as the world's dominant superpower. The concept of Pax Americana, which had appeared in the post-World War II period, gained wide popularity as a term for the post-Cold War new world order. Contemporary history Main articles: History of the United States (1991–2008) and History of the United States (2008–present) Further information: Gulf War, September 11 attacks, War on Terror, 2008 financial crisis, Affordable Care Act, and Political positions of Donald Trump The World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan during the September 11 attacks in 2001 One World Trade Center, newly-built in its place After the Cold War, the conflict in the Middle East triggered a crisis in 1990, when Iraq under Sadaam Hussein invaded and attempted to annex Kuwait, an ally of the United States. Fearing that the instability would spread to other regions, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Desert Shield, a defensive force buildup in Saudi Arabia, and Operation Desert Storm, in a staging titled the Gulf War; waged by coalition forces from 34 nations, led by the United States against Iraq ending in the successful expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, restoring the former monarchy.[156] Originating in U.S. defense networks, the Internet spread to international academic networks, and then to the public in the 1990s, greatly affecting the global economy, society, and culture.[157] Due to the dot-com boom, stable monetary policy under Alan Greenspan, and reduced social welfare spending, the 1990s saw the longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history, ending in 2001.[158]Beginning in 1994, the U.S. entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), linking 450 million people producing $17 trillion worth of goods and services. The goal of the agreement was to eliminate trade and investment barriers among the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by January 1, 2008. Trade among the three partners has soared since NAFTA went into force.[159] On September 11, 2001, Al-Qaeda terrorists struck the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., killing nearly 3,000 people.[160] In response, the United States launched the War on Terror, which included war in Afghanistan and the 2003–11 Iraq War.[161][162] In 2007, the Bush administration ordered a major troop surge in the Iraq War,[163] which successfully reduced violence and led to greater stability in the region.[164][165] Government policy designed to promote affordable housing,[166] widespread failures in corporate and regulatory governance,[167] and historically low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve[168] led to the mid-2000s housing bubble, which culminated with the 2008 financial crisis, the largest economic contraction in the nation's history since the Great Depression.[169] Barack Obama, the first African American[170] and multiracial[171] president, was elected in 2008 amid the crisis,[172] and subsequently passed stimulus measures and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in an attempt to mitigate its negative effects. While the stimulus facilitated infrastructure improvements[173] and a relative decline in unemployment,[174] Dodd-Frank has had a negative impact on business investment and small banks.[175] In 2010, the Obama administration passed the Affordable Care Act, which made the most sweeping reforms to the nation's healthcare system in nearly five decades, including mandates, subsidies and insurance exchanges. The law caused a significant reduction in the number and percentage of people without health insurance, with 24 million covered during 2016,[176] but remains controversial due to its impact on healthcare costs, insurance premiums, and economic performance.[177]Although the recession reached its trough in June 2009, voters remained frustrated with the slow pace of the economic recovery. The Republicans, who stood in opposition to Obama's policies, won control of the House of Representatives with a landslide in 2010 and control of the Senate in 2014.[178] American forces in Iraq were withdrawn in large numbers in 2009 and 2010, and the war in the region was declared formally over in December 2011.[179] The withdrawal caused an escalation of sectarian insurgency,[180] leading to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the successor of al-Qaeda in the region.[181] In 2014, Obama announced a restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961.[182] The next year, the United States as a member of the P5+1 countries signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement aimed to slow the development of Iran's nuclear program.[183] Donald Trump, the wealthiest president in U.S. history and the first president with no political or military experience prior to taking office,[184] was elected to office in the 2016 presidential election.[185] Geography, climate, and environment Main articles: Geography of the United States, Climate of the United States, and Environment of the United States A composite satellite image of the contiguous United States and surrounding areas Köppen climate classifications The land area of the contiguous United States is 2,959,064 square miles (7,663,940.6 km2). Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 663,268 square miles (1,717,856.2 km2). Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, is 10,931 square miles (28,311 km2) in area. The populated territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands together cover 9,185 square miles (23,789 km2).[186] The United States is the world's third- or fourth-largest nation by total area (land and water), ranking behind Russia and Canada and just above or below China. The ranking varies depending on how two territories disputed by China and India are counted and how the total size of the United States is measured: calculations range from 3,676,486 square miles (9,522,055.0 km2)[187] to 3,717,813 square miles (9,629,091.5 km2)[188] to 3,796,742 square miles (9,833,516.6 km2)[11] to 3,805,927 square miles (9,857,306 km2).[12] Measured by only land area, the United States is third in size behind Russia and China, just ahead of Canada.[189] The coastal plain of the Atlantic seaboard gives way further inland to deciduous forests and the rolling hills of the Piedmont.[190] The Appalachian Mountains divide the eastern seaboard from the Great Lakes and the grasslands of the Midwest.[191] The Mississippi–Missouri River, the world's fourth longest river system, runs mainly north–south through the heart of the country. The flat, fertile prairie of the Great Plains stretches to the west, interrupted by a highland region in the southeast.[191] The Rocky Mountains, at the western edge of the Great Plains, extend north to south across the country, reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m) in Colorado.[192] Farther west are the rocky Great Basin and deserts such as the Chihuahua and Mojave.[193] The Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges run close to the Pacific coast, both ranges reaching altitudes higher than 14,000 feet (4,300 m). The lowest and highest points in the contiguous United States are in the state of California,[194] and only about 84 miles (135 km) apart.[195] At an elevation of 20,310 feet (6,190.5 m), Alaska's Denali (Mount McKinley) is the highest peak in the country and North America.[196] Active volcanoes are common throughout Alaska's Alexander and Aleutian Islands, and Hawaii consists of volcanic islands. The supervolcano underlying Yellowstone National Park in the Rockies is the continent's largest volcanic feature.[197] The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south.[198] The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of Florida are tropical, as are the populated territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific.[199] Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South.[200] Wildlife Main articles: Fauna of the United States and Flora of the United States See also: Category:Biota of the United States The bald eagle has been the national bird of the United States since 1782.[201] The U.S. ecology is megadiverse: about 17,000 species of vascular plants occur in the contiguous United States and Alaska, and over 1,800 species of flowering plants are found in Hawaii, few of which occur on the mainland.[202] The United States is home to 428 mammal species, 784 bird species, 311 reptile species, and 295 amphibian species.[203] About 91,000 insect species have been described.[204] The bald eagle is both the national bird and national animal of the United States, and is an enduring symbol of the country itself.[205] There are 58 national parks and hundreds of other federally managed parks, forests, and wilderness areas.[206] Altogether, the government owns about 28% of the country's land area.[207] Most of this is protected, though some is leased for oil and gas drilling, mining, logging, or cattle ranching; about .86% is used for military purposes.[208][209] Environmental issues have been on the national agenda since 1970. Environmental controversies include debates on oil and nuclear energy, dealing with air and water pollution, the economic costs of protecting wildlife, logging and deforestation,[210][211] and international responses to global warming.[212][213] Many federal and state agencies are involved. The most prominent is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created by presidential order in 1970.[214] The idea of wilderness has shaped the management of public lands since 1964, with the Wilderness Act.[215] The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is intended to protect threatened and endangered species and their habitats, which are monitored by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.[216] Demographics Main articles: Demography of the United States, Americans, List of U.S. states by population density, and List of United States cities by population Largest ancestry groups by county (2000), led by German Americans The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the country's population to be 323,425,550 as of April 25, 2016, and to be adding 1 person (net gain) every 13 seconds, or about 6,646 people per day.[220] The U.S. population almost quadrupled during the 20th century, from about 76 million in 1900.[221] The third most populous nation in the world, after China and India, the United States is the only major industrialized nation in which large population increases are projected.[222] In the 1800s the average woman had 7.04 children, by the 1900s this number had decreased to 3.56.[223]Since the early 1970s the birth rate has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 with 1.86 children per woman in 2014. Foreign born immigration has caused the US population to continue its rapid increase with the foreign born population doubling from almost 20 million in 1990 to over 40 million in 2010, representing one third of the population increase.[224] The foreign born population reached 45 million in 2015.[225][fn 8] The United States has a birth rate of 13 per 1,000, which is 5 births below the world average.[229] Its population growth rate is positive at 0.7%, higher than that of many developed nations.[230] In fiscal year 2012, over one million immigrants (most of whom entered through family reunification) were granted legal residence.[231] Mexico has been the leading source of new residents since the 1965 Immigration Act. China, India, and the Philippines have been in the top four sending countries every year since the 1990s.[232] As of 2012, approximately 11.4 million residents are illegal immigrants.[233] As of 2015, 47% of all immigrants are Hispanic, 26% are Asian, 18% are white and 8% are black. The percentage of immigrants who are Asian is increasing while the percentage who are Hispanic is decreasing.[225] According to a survey conducted by the Williams Institute, nine million Americans, or roughly 3.4% of the adult population identify themselves as homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.[234][235] A 2016 Gallup poll also concluded that 4.1% of adult Americans identified as LGBT. The highest percentage came from the District of Columbia (10%), while the lowest state was North Dakota at 1.7%.[236] In a 2013 survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 96.6% of Americans identify as straight, while 1.6% identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% identify as being bisexual.[237] In 2010, the U.S. population included an estimated 5.2 million people with some American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry (2.9 million exclusively of such ancestry) and 1.2 million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific island ancestry (0.5 million exclusively).[238] The census counted more than 19 million people of "Some Other Race" who were "unable to identify with any" of its five official race categories in 2010, over 18.5 million (97%) of whom are of Hispanic ethnicity.[238] The population growth of Hispanic and Latino Americans (the terms are officially interchangeable) is a major demographic trend. The 50.5 million Americans of Hispanic descent[238] are identified as sharing a distinct "ethnicity" by the Census Bureau; 64% of Hispanic Americans are of Mexican descent.[239] Between 2000 and 2010, the country's Hispanic population increased 43% while the non-Hispanic population rose just 4.9%.[240] Much of this growth is from immigration; in 2007, 12.6% of the U.S. population was foreign-born, with 54% of that figure born in Latin America.[241][fn 9] U.S. population density in 2005 About 82% of Americans live in urban areas (including suburbs);[11] about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000.[247] The US has numerous clusters of cities known as megaregions, the largest being the Great Lakes Megalopolis followed by the Northeast Megalopolis and Southern California. In 2008, 273 incorporated municipalities had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four global cities had over two million (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston).[248] There are 52 metropolitan areas with populations greater than one million.[249] Of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas, 47 are in the West or South.[250] The metro areas of San Bernardino, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Phoenix all grew by more than a million people between 2000 and 2008.[249] Language Main article: Languages of the United States See also: Language Spoken at Home in the United States of America, List of endangered languages in the United States, and Language education in the United States English (American English) is the de facto national language. Although there is no official language at the federal level, some laws—such as U.S. naturalization requirements—standardize English. In 2010, about 230 million, or 80% of the population aged five years and older, spoke only English at home. Spanish, spoken by 12% of the population at home, is the second most common language and the most widely taught second language.[254][255] Some Americans advocate making English the country's official language, as it is in 32 states.[256] Both Hawaiian and English are official languages in Hawaii, by state law.[257]Alaska recognizes twenty Native languages.[258] While neither has an official language, New Mexico has laws providing for the use of both English and Spanish, as Louisiana does for English and French.[259] Other states, such as California, mandate the publication of Spanish versions of certain government documents including court forms.[260] Many jurisdictions with large numbers of non-English speakers produce government materials, especially voting information, in the most commonly spoken languages in those jurisdictions. Several insular territories grant official recognition to their native languages, along with English: Samoan[261] and Chamorro[262] are recognized by American Samoa and Guam, respectively; Carolinian and Chamorro are recognized by the Northern Mariana Islands;[263] Cherokee is officially recognized by the Cherokee Nation within the Cherokee tribal jurisdiction area in eastern Oklahoma;[264] Spanish is an official language of Puerto Rico and is more widely spoken than English there.[265] According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Arabic and Urdu are the fastest-growing foreign languages spoken in American households. In recent years, Arabic-speaking residents increased by 29%, Urdu by 23% and Persian by 9%.[266] The most widely taught foreign languages at all levels in the United States (in terms of enrollment numbers) are: Spanish (around 7.2 million students), French (1.5 million), and German (500,000). Other commonly taught languages (with 100,000 to 250,000 learners) include Latin, Japanese, American Sign Language, Italian, and Chinese.[267][268] 18% of all Americans claim to speak at least one language in addition to English.[269] Religion Main article: Religion in the United States See also: History of religion in the United States, Freedom of religion in the United States, Separation of church and state in the United States, and List of religious movements that began in the United States Christianity is by far the most common religion practiced in the U.S., but other religions are followed, too. In a 2013 survey, 56% of Americans said that religion played a "very important role in their lives", a far higher figure than that of any other wealthy nation.[270] In a 2009 Gallup poll, 42% of Americans said that they attended church weekly or almost weekly; the figures ranged from a low of 23% in Vermont to a high of 63% in Mississippi.[271]The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids Congress from passing laws respecting its establishment. As with other Western countries, the U.S. is becoming less religious. Irreligion is growing rapidly among Americans under 30.[272] Polls show that overall American confidence in organized religion has been declining since the mid to late 1980s,[273] and that younger Americans in particular are becoming increasingly irreligious.[10][274] According to a 2012 study, Protestant share of U.S. population dropped to 48%, thus ending its status as religious category of the majority for the first time.[275][276] Americans with no religion have 1.7 children compared to 2.2 among Christians. The unaffiliated are less likely to get married with 37% marrying compared to 52% of Christians.[277] According to a 2014 survey, 70.6% of adults identified themselves as Christian,[278] Protestant denominations accounted for 46.5%, while Roman Catholicism, at 20.8%, was the largest individual denomination.[279] The total reporting non-Christian religions in 2014 was 5.9%.[279] Other religions include Judaism (1.9%), Islam (0.9%), Buddhism (0.7%), Hinduism (0.7%).[279] The survey also reported that 22.8% of Americans described themselves as agnostic, atheist or simply having no religion, up from 8.2% in 1990.[279][280][281] There are also Unitarian Universalist, Baha'i, Sikh, Jain, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, Druid, Native American, Wiccan, humanist and deist communities.[282] Protestantism is the largest Christian religious grouping in the United States. Baptists collectively form the largest branch of Protestantism, and the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest individual Protestant denomination. About 26% of Americans identify as Evangelical Protestants, while 15% are Mainline and 7% belong to a traditionally Black church. Roman Catholicism in the United States has its origin in the Spanish and French colonization of the Americas, and later grew because of Irish, Italian, Polish, German and Hispanic immigration. Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics with 40 percent of the total population.[283] Lutheranism in the U.S. has its origin in immigration from Northern Europe and Germany. North and South Dakota are the only states in which a plurality of the population is Lutheran. Presbyterianism was introduced in North America by Scottish and Ulster Scots immigrants. Although it has spread across the United States, it is heavily concentrated on the East Coast. Dutch Reformed congregations were founded first in New Amsterdam (New York City) before spreading westward. Utah is the only state where Mormonism is the religion of the majority of the population. The Mormon Corridor also extends to parts of Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.[284] The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative Evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average. By contrast, religion plays the least important role in New England and in the Western United States.[271] Family structure Main article: Family structure in the United States As of 2007, 58% of Americans age 18 and over were married, 6% were widowed, 10% were divorced, and 25% had never been married.[285] Women now work mostly outside the home and receive a majority of bachelor's degrees.[286] The U.S. teenage pregnancy rate is 26.5 per 1,000 women. The rate has declined by 57% since 1991.[287] In 2013, the highest teenage birth rate was in Alabama, and the lowest in Wyoming.[287][288] Abortion is legal throughout the U.S., owing to Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. While the abortion rate is falling, the abortion ratio of 241 per 1,000 live births and abortion rate of 15 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 remain higher than those of most Western nations.[289] In 2013, the average age at first birth was 26 and 40.6% of births were to unmarried women.[290] The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated for 2013 at 1.86 births per woman.[291] Adoption in the United States is common and relatively easy from a legal point of view (compared to other Western countries).[292] In 2001, with over 127,000 adoptions, the U.S. accounted for nearly half of the total number of adoptions worldwide.[293] Same-sex marriage is legal nationwide and it is legal for same-sex couples to adopt. Polygamy is illegal throughout the U.S.[294] Government and politics Main articles: Federal government of the United States, State governments of the United States, Local government in the United States, and Elections in the United States The United States Capitol, where Congress meets: the Senate, left; the House, right The White House, home and principal workplace of the U.S. President Supreme Court Building, where the nation's highest court sits Donald Trump, the President of the United States since January 20, 2017 The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, "in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law".[295] The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document.[296] For 2016, the U.S. ranked 21st on the Democracy Index[297] (tied with Italy) and 18th on the Corruption Perceptions Index.[298] In the American federalist system, citizens are usually subject to three levels of government: federal, state, and local. The local government's duties are commonly split between county and municipal governments. In almost all cases, executive and legislative officials are elected by a plurality vote of citizens by district. There is no proportional representation at the federal level, and it is rare at lower levels.[299] The federal government is composed of three branches: Legislative: The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse,[300] and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.[301] Executive: The President is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law (subject to Congressional override), and appoints the members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.[302] Judicial: The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the President with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional.[303] The Statue of Liberty in New York City is a symbol of both the U.S. and the ideals of freedom, democracy, and opportunity.[304] The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population every tenth year. At the 2010 census, seven states had the minimum of one representative, while California, the most populous state, had 53.[305] The Senate has 100 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year. The President serves a four-year term and may be elected to the office no more than twice. The President is not elected by direct vote, but by an indirect electoral college system in which the determining votes are apportioned to the states and the District of Columbia.[306] The Supreme Court, led by the Chief Justice of the United States, has nine members, who serve for life.[307] The state governments are structured in roughly similar fashion; Nebraska uniquely has a unicameral legislature.[308] The governor (chief executive) of each state is directly elected. Some state judges and cabinet officers are appointed by the governors of the respective states, while others are elected by popular vote. The original text of the Constitution establishes the structure and responsibilities of the federal government and its relationship with the individual states. Article One protects the right to the "great writ" of habeas corpus. The Constitution has been amended 27 times;[309] the first ten amendments, which make up the Bill of Rights, and the Fourteenth Amendment form the central basis of Americans' individual rights. All laws and governmental procedures are subject to judicial review and any law ruled by the courts to be in violation of the Constitution is voided. The principle of judicial review, not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, was established by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803)[310] in a decision handed down by Chief Justice John Marshall.[311] Political divisions Main articles: Political divisions of the United States, U.S. state, Territories of the United States, List of states and territories of the United States, and Indian reservation Further information: Territorial evolution of the United States and United States territorial acquisitions Map of U.S. Economic Exclusion Zone,[312] highlighting states, territories and possessions The United States is a federal republic of 50 states, a federal district, five territories and eleven uninhabited island possessions.[313] The states and territories are the principal administrative districts in the country. These are divided into subdivisions of counties and independent cities. The District of Columbia is a federal district which contains the capital of the United States, Washington DC.[314] The states and the District of Columbia choose the President of the United States. Each state has presidential electors equal to the number of their Representatives and Senators in Congress; the District of Columbia has three.[315] Congressional Districts are reapportioned among the states following each decennial Census of Population. Each state then draws single member districts to conform with the census apportionment. The total number of Representatives is 435, and delegate Members of Congress represent the District of Columbia and the five major U.S. territories.[316] The United States also observes tribal sovereignty of the American Indian nations to a limited degree, as it does with the states' sovereignty. American Indians are U.S. citizens and tribal lands are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress and the federal courts. Like the states they have a great deal of autonomy, but also like the states tribes are not allowed to make war, engage in their own foreign relations, or print and issue currency.[317] Parties and elections Main articles: Politics of the United States and Political ideologies in the United States Congressional leadership meeting with then-President Obama in 2011.[318] The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history.[319] For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-party presidential candidate—former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as a Progressive in 1912—has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. The President and Vice-president are elected through the Electoral College system.[320] Within American political culture, the center-right Republican Party is considered "conservative" and the center-left Democratic Party is considered "liberal".[321][322] The states of the Northeast and West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "blue states", are relatively liberal. The "red states" of the South and parts of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative. Republican Donald Trump, the winner of the 2016 presidential election, is currently serving as the 45th President of the United States.[323] Current leadership in the Senate includes Republican Vice President Mike Pence, Republican President Pro Tempore (Pro Tem) Orrin Hatch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.[324] Leadership in the House includes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Majority LeaderKevin McCarthy, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.[325] In the 115th United States Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are controlled by the Republican Party. The Senate currently consists of 52 Republicans, and 46 Democrats with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats.[326] In state governorships, there are 33 Republicans, 16 Democrats and 1 Independent.[327] Among the DC mayor and the 5 territorial governors, there are 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat, 1 New Progressive, and 2 Independents.[328] Foreign relations Main articles: Foreign relations of the United States and Foreign policy of the United States The United Nations Headquarters was built in Midtown Manhattan in 1952.[329] The United States has an established structure of foreign relations. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and New York City is home to the United Nations Headquarters. It is a member of the G7,[330] G20, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Almost all countries have embassies in Washington, D.C., and many have consulates around the country. Likewise, nearly all nations host American diplomatic missions. However, Iran, North Korea, Bhutan, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) do not have formal diplomatic relations with the United States (although the U.S. still maintains relations with Taiwan and supplies it with military equipment).[331] The United States has a "Special Relationship" with the United Kingdom[332] and strong ties with Canada,[333] Australia,[334]New Zealand,[335] the Philippines,[336] Japan,[337] South Korea,[338] Israel,[339] and several European Union countries, including France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. It works closely with fellow NATO members on military and security issues and with its neighbors through the Organization of American States and free trade agreements such as the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. In 2008, the United States spent a net $25.4 billion on official development assistance, the most in the world. As a share of America's large gross national income (GNI), however, the U.S. contribution of 0.18% ranked last among 22 donor states. By contrast, private overseas giving by Americans is relatively generous.[340] The U.S. exercises full international defense authority and responsibility for three sovereign nations through Compact of Free Association with Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. These are Pacific island nations, once part of the U.S.-administered Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands after World War II, which gained independence in subsequent years.[341] Government finance See also: Taxation in the United States and United States federal budget US federal debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP, from 1790 to 2013.[342] Taxes in the United States are levied at the federal, state and local government level. These include taxes on income, payroll, property, sales, imports, estates and gifts, as well as various fees. In 2010 taxes collected by federal, state and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of GDP.[343] During FY2012, the federal government collected approximately $2.45 trillion in tax revenue, up $147 billion or 6% versus FY2011 revenues of $2.30 trillion. Primary receipt categories included individual income taxes ($1,132B or 47%), Social Security/Social Insurance taxes ($845B or 35%), and corporate taxes ($242B or 10%).[344]Based on CBO estimates,[345] under 2013 tax law the top 1% will be paying the highest average tax rates since 1979, while other income groups will remain at historic lows.[346] U.S. taxation is generally progressive, especially the federal income taxes, and is among the most progressive in the developed world.[347][348][349][350][351] The highest 10% of income earners pay a majority of federal taxes,[352] and about half of all taxes.[353] Payroll taxes for Social Security are a flat regressive tax, with no tax charged on income above $118,500 (for 2015 and 2016) and no tax at all paid on unearned income from things such as stocks and capital gains.[354][355] The historic reasoning for the regressive nature of the payroll tax is that entitlement programs have not been viewed as welfare transfers.[356][357] However, according to the Congressional Budget Office the net effect of Social Security is that the benefit to tax ratio ranges from roughly 70% for the top earnings quintile to about 170% for the lowest earning quintile, making the system progressive.[358] The top 10% paid 51.8% of total federal taxes in 2009, and the top 1%, with 13.4% of pre-tax national income, paid 22.3% of federal taxes.[359] In 2013 the Tax Policy Center projected total federal effective tax rates of 35.5% for the top 1%, 27.2% for the top quintile, 13.8% for the middle quintile, and −2.7% for the bottom quintile.[360][361] The incidence of corporate income tax has been a matter of considerable ongoing controversy for decades.[350][362] State and local taxes vary widely, but are generally less progressive than federal taxes as they rely heavily on broadly borne regressive sales and property taxes that yield less volatile revenue streams, though their consideration does not eliminate the progressive nature of overall taxation.[350][363] During FY 2012, the federal government spent $3.54 trillion on a budget or cash basis, down $60 billion or 1.7% vs. FY 2011 spending of $3.60 trillion. Major categories of FY 2012 spending included: Medicare & Medicaid ($802B or 23% of spending), Social Security ($768B or 22%), Defense Department ($670B or 19%), non-defense discretionary ($615B or 17%), other mandatory ($461B or 13%) and interest ($223B or 6%).[344] The total national debt of the United States in the United States was $18.527 trillion (106% of the GDP) in 2014.[364][fn 11] Military Main article: United States Armed Forces The carrier strike groups of the Kitty Hawk, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln with aircraft from the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force. The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Coast Guard is run by the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and by the Department of the Navy during times of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel on active duty. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including contractors.[369] Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System.[370] American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy's 10 active aircraft carriers, and Marine expeditionary units at sea with the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets. The military operates 865 bases and facilities abroad,[371] and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.[372] The military budget of the United States in 2011 was more than $700 billion, 41% of global military spending and equal to the next 14 largest national military expenditures combined. At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after Saudi Arabia.[373]U.S. defense spending as a percentage of GDP ranked 23rd globally in 2012 according to the CIA.[374] Defense's share of U.S. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal outlays in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal outlays in 2011.[375] US global military presence. The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion, was a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion was proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.[376] The last American troops serving in Iraq departed in December 2011;[377] 4,484 service members were killed during the Iraq War.[378] Approximately 90,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan in April 2012;[379] by November 8, 2013 2,285 had been killed during the War in Afghanistan.[380] Law enforcement and crime Main articles: Law enforcement in the United States and Crime in the United States See also: Law of the United States, Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, Human rights in the United States § Justice system, Incarceration in the United States, and Capital punishment in the United States Law enforcement in the U.S. is maintained primarily by local police departments.[381] Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing broader services. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest in the country. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties, including protecting civil rights, national security and enforcing U.S. federal courts' rulings and federal laws.[382] At the federal level and in almost every state, a legal system operates on a common law. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. Plea bargaining in the United States is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than jury trial.[383] In 2015, there were 15,696 murders which was 1,532 more than in 2014, a 10.8 per cent increase, the largest since 1971.[384] The murder rate in 2015 was 4.9 per 100,000 people.[385] In 2012 there were 4.7 murders per 100,000 persons in the United States, a 54% decline from the modern peak of 10.2 in 1980.[386] In 2001–2, the United States had above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence compared to other developed nations.[387] A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2003 showed that United States "homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher."[388][needs update] Gun ownership rights continue to be the subject of contentious political debate. From 1980 through 2008 males represented 77% of homicide victims and 90% of offenders. Blacks committed 52.5% of all homicides during that span, at a rate almost eight times that of whites ("whites" includes most Hispanics), and were victimized at a rate six times that of whites. Most homicides were intraracial, with 93% of black victims killed by blacks and 84% of white victims killed by whites.[389] In 2012, Louisiana had the highest rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in the U.S., and New Hampshire the lowest.[390] The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports estimates that there were 3,246 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, for a total of over 9 million total crimes.[391] Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and used in 31 states.[392][393] No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In 1976, that Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. Since the decision there have been more than 1,300 executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma.[394] Meanwhile, several states have either abolished or struck down death penalty laws. In 2014, the country had the fifth-highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.[395] The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world.[396] At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults.[397] In December 2012, the combined U.S. adult correctional systems supervised about 6,937,600 offenders. About 1 in every 35 adult residents in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision in December 2012, the lowest rate observed since 1997.[398] The prison population has quadrupled since 1980,[399] and state and local spending on prisons and jails has grown three times as much as that spent on public education during the same period.[400] However, the imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478 per 100,000 in 2013[401] and the rate for pre-trial/remand prisoners is 153 per 100,000 residents in 2012.[402] The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing guidelines and drug policies.[403] According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses.[404] The privatization of prisons and prison services which began in the 1980s has been a subject of debate.[405][406] In 2008, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate,[407] and Maine the lowest.[408] Economy Main article: Economy of the United States United States export treemap (2011): The U.S. is the world's second-largest exporter. The United States has a capitalist mixed economy[417] which is fueled by abundant natural resources and high productivity.[418] According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. GDP of $16.8 trillion constitutes 24% of the gross world product at market exchange rates and over 19% of the gross world product at purchasing power parity (PPP).[419] The US's nominal GDP is estimated to be $17.528 trillion as of 2014[420] From 1983 to 2008, U.S. real compounded annual GDP growth was 3.3%, compared to a 2.3% weighted average for the rest of the G7.[421]The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita and sixth in GDP per capita at PPP.[419] The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency.[422] The United States is the largest importer of goods and second-largest exporter, though exports per capita are relatively low. In 2010, the total U.S. trade deficit was $635 billion.[423] Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners.[424] In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country's largest export.[423] Japan is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt.[425] The largest holder of the U.S. debt are American entities, including federal government accounts and the Federal Reserve, who hold the majority of the debt.[426][427][428][429][fn 12] In 2009, the private sector was estimated to constitute 86.4% of the economy, with federal government activity accounting for 4.3% and state and local government activity (including federal transfers) the remaining 9.3%.[432] The number of employees at all levels of government outnumber those in manufacturing by 1.7 to 1.[433] While its economy has reached a postindustrial level of development and its service sector constitutes 67.8% of GDP, the United States remains an industrial power.[434] The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing.[435] In the franchising business model, McDonald's and Subway are the two most recognized brands in the world. Coca-Cola is the most recognized soft drink company in the world.[436] Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field.[437] The United States is the largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its second-largest importer.[438] It is the world's number one producer of electrical and nuclear energy, as well as liquid natural gas, sulfur, phosphates, and salt. The National Mining Association provides data pertaining to coal and minerals that include beryllium, copper, lead, magnesium, zinc, titanium and others.[439][440] Agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP,[434] yet the United States is the world's top producer of corn[441]and soybeans.[442] The National Agricultural Statistics Service maintains agricultural statistics for products that include peanuts, oats, rye, wheat, rice, cotton, corn, barley, hay, sunflowers, and oilseeds. In addition, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides livestock statistics regarding beef, poultry, pork, and dairy products. The country is the primary developer and grower of genetically modified food, representing half of the world's biotech crops.[443] Consumer spending comprises 68% of the U.S. economy in 2015.[444] In August 2010, the American labor force consisted of 154.1 million people. With 21.2 million people, government is the leading field of employment. The largest private employment sector is health care and social assistance, with 16.4 million people. About 12% of workers are unionized, compared to 30% in Western Europe.[445] The World Bank ranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers.[446]The United States is ranked among the top three in the Global Competitiveness Report as well. It has a smaller welfare state and redistributes less income through government action than European nations tend to.[447] The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation[448] and is one of just a few countries in the world without paid family leave as a legal right, with the others being Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Liberia.[449] While federal law currently does not require sick leave, it is a common benefit for government workers and full-time employees at corporations.[450] 74% of full-time American workers get paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although only 24% of part-time workers get the same benefits.[450] In 2009, the United States had the third-highest workforce productivity per person in the world, behind Luxembourg and Norway. It was fourth in productivity per hour, behind those two countries and the Netherlands.[451] The 2008–2012 global recession significantly affected the United States, with output still below potential according to the Congressional Budget Office.[452] It brought high unemployment (which has been decreasing but remains above pre-recession levels), along with low consumer confidence, the continuing decline in home values and increase in foreclosures and personal bankruptcies, an escalating federal debt crisis, inflation, and rising petroleum and food prices. There remains a record proportion of long-term unemployed, continued decreasing household income, and tax and federal budget increases.[453][454][455] Income, poverty and wealth A tract housing development in San Jose, California. Further information: Income in the United States, Poverty in the United States, Affluence in the United States, United States counties by per capita income, and Income inequality in the United States Americans have the highest average household and employee income among OECD nations, and in 2007 had the second-highest median household income.[456][457] According to the Census Bureau, median household income was $53,657 in 2014.[458] Despite accounting for only 4.4% of the global population, Americans collectively possess 41.6% of the world's total wealth,[459] and Americans make up roughly half of the world's population of millionaires.[460] The Global Food Security Index ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013.[461] Americans on average have over twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as European Union residents, and more than every EU nation.[462] For 2013 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 5th among 187 countries in its Human Development Index and 28th in its inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI).[463] There has been a widening gap between productivity and median incomes since the 1970s.[464] However, the gap between total compensation and productivity is not as wide because of increased employee benefits such as health insurance.[465] While inflation-adjusted ("real") household income had been increasing almost every year from 1947 to 1999, it has since been flat on balance and has even decreased recently.[466] According to Congressional Research Service, during this same period, immigration to the United States increased, while the lower 90% of tax filers incomes became stagnant, and eventually decreasing since 2000.[467] The rise in the share of total annual income received by the top 1 percent, which has more than doubled from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011, has significantly affected income inequality,[468] leaving the United States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD nations.[469] The post-recession income gains have been very uneven, with the top 1 percent capturing 95 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2012.[470] The extent and relevance of income inequality is a matter of debate.[471][disputed – discuss][472] There were about 578,424 sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons in the U.S. in January 2014, with almost two-thirds staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.[480] In 2011 16.7 million children lived in food-insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels, though only 1.1% of U.S. children, or 845,000, saw reduced food intake or disrupted eating patterns at some point during the year, and most cases were not chronic.[481] According to a 2014 report by the Census Bureau, one in five young adults lives in poverty today, up from one in seven in 1980.[482]Wealth, like income and taxes, is highly concentrated; the richest 10% of the adult population possess 72% of the country's household wealth, while the bottom half claim only 2%.[474] Between June 2007 and November 2008 the global recession led to falling asset prices around the world. Assets owned by Americans lost about a quarter of their value.[475] Since peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth was down $14 trillion, but has since increased $14 trillion over 2006 levels.[476][477] At the end of 2014, household debt amounted to $11.8 trillion,[478] down from $13.8 trillion at the end of 2008.[479] Infrastructure Transportation Main article: Transportation in the United States The Interstate Highway System, which extends 46,876 miles (75,440 km).[483] Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 4 million miles (6.4 million km) of public roads,[484] including one of the world's longest highway systems at 57,000 miles (91700 km).[485] The world's second-largest automobile market,[486] the United States has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans.[487] About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks.[488] The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km).[489] Map showing current rail speeds in the United States.[490] Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips.[491][492] Transport of goods by rail is extensive, though relatively low numbers of passengers (approximately 31 million annually) use intercity rail to travel, partly because of the low population density throughout much of the U.S. interior.[493][494] However, ridership on Amtrak, the national intercity passenger rail system, grew by almost 37% between 2000 and 2010.[495] Also, light rail development has increased in recent years.[496] Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal.[497] The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since 1978, while most major airports are publicly owned.[498] The three largest airlines in the world by passengers carried are U.S.-based; American Airlines is number one after its 2013 acquisition by US Airways.[499] Of the world's 50 busiest passenger airports, 16 are in the United States, including the busiest, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and the fourth-busiest, O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.[500] Energy Further information: Energy policy of the United States The U.S. power transmission grid consists of about 300,000 km (190,000 mi) of lines operated by approximately 500 companies. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) oversees all of them. The United States energy market is about 29,000 terawatt hours per year.[501] Energy consumption per capita is 7.8 tons (7076 kg) of oil equivalent per year, the 10th-highest rate in the world. In 2005, 40% of this energy came from petroleum, 23% from coal, and 22% from natural gas. The remainder was supplied by nuclear power and renewable energy sources.[502]The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum.[503] For decades, nuclear power has played a limited role relative to many other developed countries, in part because of public perception in the wake of a 1979 accident. In 2007, several applications for new nuclear plants were filed.[504] The United States has 27% of global coal reserves.[505] It is the world's largest producer of natural gas and crude oil.[506] Water supply and sanitation Main article: Water supply and sanitation in the United States Issues that affect water supply in the United States include droughts in the West, water scarcity, pollution, a backlog of investment, concerns about the affordability of water for the poorest, and a rapidly retiring workforce. Increased variability and intensity of rainfall as a result of climate change is expected to produce both more severe droughts and flooding, with potentially serious consequences for water supply and for pollution from combined sewer overflows.[507][508][fn 13] Education Main article: Education in the United States The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, is one of the many public universities in the United States. American public education is operated by state and local governments, regulated by the United States Department of Education through restrictions on federal grants. In most states, children are required to attend school from the age of six or seven (generally, kindergarten or first grade) until they turn 18 (generally bringing them through twelfth grade, the end of high school); some states allow students to leave school at 16 or 17.[511] About 12% of children are enrolled in parochial or nonsectarian private schools. Just over 2% of children are homeschooled.[512] The U.S. spends more on education per student than any nation in the world, spending more than $11,000 per elementary student in 2010 and more than $12,000 per high school student.[513] Some 80% of U.S. college students attend public universities.[514] The United States has many competitive private and public institutions of higher education. The majority of the world's top universities listed by different ranking organizations are in the U.S.[515][516][517] There are also local community colleges with generally more open admission policies, shorter academic programs, and lower tuition. Of Americans 25 and older, 84.6% graduated from high school, 52.6% attended some college, 27.2% earned a bachelor's degree, and 9.6% earned graduate degrees.[518] The basic literacy rate is approximately 99%.[11][519] The United Nations assigns the United States an Education Index of 0.97, tying it for 12th in the world.[520] As for public expenditures on higher education, the U.S. trails some other OECD nations but spends more per student than the OECD average, and more than all nations in combined public and private spending.[513][521] As of 2012, student loan debt exceeded one trillion dollars, more than Americans owe on credit cards.[522] Culture Main article: Culture of the United States See also: Alaska Natives § Cultures, Native American cultures in the United States, Culture of the Native Hawaiians, Social class in the United States, Public holidays in the United States, and Tourism in the United States The United States is home to many cultures and a wide variety of ethnic groups, traditions, and values.[26][523] Aside from the Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Native Alaskan populations, nearly all Americans or their ancestors settled or immigrated within the past five centuries.[524] Mainstream American culture is a Western culture largely derived from the traditions of European immigrants with influences from many other sources, such as traditions brought by slaves from Africa.[26][525]More recent immigration from Asia and especially Latin America has added to a cultural mix that has been described as both a homogenizing melting pot, and a heterogeneous salad bowl in which immigrants and their descendants retain distinctive cultural characteristics.[26] Core American culture was established by Protestant British colonists and shaped by the frontier settlement process, with the traits derived passed down to descendants and transmitted to immigrants through assimilation. Americans have traditionally been characterized by a strong work ethic, competitiveness, and individualism,[526] as well as a unifying belief in an "American creed" emphasizing liberty, equality, private property, democracy, rule of law, and a preference for limited government.[527] Americans are extremely charitable by global standards. According to a 2006 British study, Americans gave 1.67% of GDP to charity, more than any other nation studied, more than twice the second place British figure of 0.73%, and around twelve times the French figure of 0.14%.[528][529] The American Dream, or the perception that Americans enjoy high social mobility, plays a key role in attracting immigrants.[530] Whether this perception is realistic has been a topic of debate.[531][532][533][534][421][535] While mainstream culture holds that the United States is a classless society,[536] scholars identify significant differences between the country's social classes, affecting socialization, language, and values.[537] Americans' self-images, social viewpoints, and cultural expectations are associated with their occupations to an unusually close degree.[538] While Americans tend greatly to value socioeconomic achievement, being ordinary or average is generally seen as a positive attribute.[539] Food Main article: Cuisine of the United States Apple pie is a food commonly associated with American cuisine. Mainstream American cuisine is similar to that in other Western countries. Wheat is the primary cereal grain with about three-quarters of grain products made of wheat flour[540] and many dishes use indigenous ingredients, such as turkey, venison, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, and maple syrup which were consumed by Native Americans and early European settlers.[541] These home grown foods are part of a shared national menu on one of America's most popular holidays; Thanksgiving, when some Americans make traditional foods to celebrate the occasion.[542] Roasted turkey is a traditional menu item of an American Thanksgiving dinner.[543] Characteristic dishes such as apple pie, fried chicken, pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs derive from the recipes of various immigrants. French fries, Mexican dishes such as burritos and tacos, and pasta dishes freely adapted from Italian sources are widely consumed.[544] Americans drink three times as much coffee as tea.[545] Marketing by U.S. industries is largely responsible for making orange juice and milk ubiquitous breakfast beverages.[546][547] American eating habits owe a great deal to that of their British culinary roots with some variations. Although American lands could grow newer vegetables that Britain could not, most colonists would not eat these new foods until accepted by Europeans.[548] Over time American foods changed to a point that food critic, John L. Hess stated in 1972: "Our founding fathers were as far superior to our present political leaders in the quality of their food as they were in the quality of their prose and intelligence".[549] The American fast food industry, the world's largest,[550] pioneered the drive-through format in the 1940s.[551] Fast food consumption has sparked health concerns. During the 1980s and 1990s, Americans' caloric intake rose 24%;[544] frequent dining at fast food outlets is associated with what public health officials call the American "obesity epidemic".[552] Highly sweetened soft drinks are widely popular, and sugared beverages account for nine percent of American caloric intake.[553] Literature, philosophy, and the arts Main articles: American literature, American philosophy, Architecture of the United States, Visual art of the United States, and American classical music Mark Twain, American author and humorist. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet.[554] A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925) and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel".[555] Twelve U.S. citizens have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, most recently Bob Dylan in 2016. William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck are often named among the most influential writers of the 20th century.[556] Popular literary genres such as the Western and hardboiled crime fiction developed in the United States. The Beat Generation writers opened up new literary approaches, as have postmodernist authors such as John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo.[557] The transcendentalists, led by Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, established the first major American philosophical movement. After the Civil War, Charles Sanders Peirce and then William James and John Dewey were leaders in the development of pragmatism. In the 20th century, the work of W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty, and later Noam Chomsky, brought analytic philosophy to the fore of American philosophical academia. John Rawls and Robert Nozick led a revival of political philosophy. Cornel West and Judith Butler have led a continental tradition in American philosophical academia. Chicago school economists like Milton Friedman, James M. Buchanan, and Thomas Sowell have affected various fields in social and political philosophy.[558][559] In the visual arts, the Hudson River School was a mid-19th-century movement in the tradition of European naturalism. The realist paintings of Thomas Eakins are now widely celebrated. The 1913 Armory Show in New York City, an exhibition of European modernist art, shocked the public and transformed the U.S. art scene.[560]Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and others experimented with new, individualistic styles. Major artistic movements such as the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning and the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein developed largely in the United States. The tide of modernism and then postmodernism has brought fame to American architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Frank Gehry.[561] Times Square in New York City, the hub of the Broadway theater district[562] One of the first major promoters of American theater was impresario P. T. Barnum, who began operating a lower Manhattan entertainment complex in 1841. The team of Harrigan and Hart produced a series of popular musical comedies in New York starting in the late 1870s. In the 20th century, the modern musical form emerged on Broadway; the songs of musical theater composers such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim have become pop standards. Playwright Eugene O'Neill won the Nobel literature prize in 1936; other acclaimed U.S. dramatists include multiple Pulitzer Prize winners Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and August Wilson.[563] Though little known at the time, Charles Ives's work of the 1910s established him as the first major U.S. composer in the classical tradition, while experimentalists such as Henry Cowell and John Cage created a distinctive American approach to classical composition. Aaron Copland and George Gershwin developed a new synthesis of popular and classical music. Choreographers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham helped create modern dance, while George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins were leaders in 20th-century ballet. Americans have long been important in the modern artistic medium of photography, with major photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Ansel Adams.[564] Music Main article: Music of the United States The Grammy Award is awarded to leading music artists. The rhythmic and lyrical styles of African-American music have deeply influenced American music at large, distinguishing it from European traditions. Elements from folk idioms such as the blues and what is now known as old-time music were adopted and transformed into popular genres with global audiences. Jazz was developed by innovators such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington early in the 20th century. Country music developed in the 1920s, and rhythm and blues in the 1940s.[565] Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry were among the mid-1950s pioneers of rock and roll. In the 1960s, Bob Dylan emerged from the folk revival to become one of America's most celebrated songwriters and James Brown led the development of funk. More recent American creations include hip hop and house music. American pop stars such as Presley, Michael Jackson, and Madonna have become global celebrities,[565] as have contemporary musical artists such as Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and Beyoncé as well as hip hop artists Jay Z, Eminem and Kanye West.[566] Rock bands such as Metallica, the Eagles, and Aerosmith are among the highest grossing in worldwide sales.[567][568][569] Cinema Main article: Cinema of the United States The Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, California Hollywood, a northern district of Los Angeles, California, is one of the leaders in motion picture production.[570] The world's first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City in 1894, using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope.[571] The next year saw the first commercial screening of a projected film, also in New York, and the United States was in the forefront of sound film's development in the following decades. Since the early 20th century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, although in the 21st century an increasing number of films are not made there, and film companies have been subject to the forces of globalization.[572] Director D. W. Griffith, American's top filmmaker during the silent film period, was central to the development of film grammar, and producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising.[573] Directors such as John Ford redefined the image of the American Old West and history, and, like others such as John Huston, broadened the possibilities of cinema with location shooting, with great influence on subsequent directors. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the "Golden Age of Hollywood", from the early sound period until the early 1960s,[574] with screen actors such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures.[575][576] In the 1970s, film directors such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman were a vital component in what became known as "New Hollywood" or the "Hollywood Renaissance",[577] grittier films influenced by French and Italian realist pictures of the post-war period.[578] Since, directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron have gained renown for their blockbuster films, often characterized by high production costs, and in return, high earnings at the box office, with Cameron's Avatar (2009) earning more than $2 billion.[579] Notable films topping the American Film Institute's AFI 100 list include Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941), which is frequently cited as the greatest film of all time,[580][581] Casablanca (1942), The Godfather (1972), Gone with the Wind (1939), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Graduate (1967), On the Waterfront (1954), Schindler's List (1993), Singin' in the Rain (1952), It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Sunset Boulevard (1950).[582] The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have been held annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1929,[583] and the Golden Globe Awards have been held annually since January 1944.[584] Sports Main article: Sports in the United States Swimmer Michael Phelps and then-President George W. Bush August 10, 2008 at the National Aquatic Center in Beijing. Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.[585][586] American football is by several measures the most popular spectator sport;[587] the National Football League (NFL) has the highest average attendance of any sports league in the world, and the Super Bowl is watched by millions globally. Baseball has been regarded as the U.S. national sport since the late 19th century, with Major League Baseball (MLB) being the top league. Basketball and ice hockey are the country's next two leading professional team sports, with the top leagues being the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL). These four major sports, when played professionally, each occupy a season at different, but overlapping, times of the year. College football and basketball attract large audiences.[588] In soccer, the country hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the men's national soccer team qualified for ten World Cups and the women's team has won the FIFA Women's World Cup three times; Major League Soccer is the sport's highest league in the United States (featuring 19 American and 3 Canadian teams). The market for professional sports in the United States is roughly $69 billion, roughly 50% larger than that of all of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa combined.[589] Eight Olympic Games have taken place in the United States. As of 2014, the United States has won 2,400 medals at the Summer Olympic Games, more than any other country, and 281 in the Winter Olympic Games, the second most behind Norway.[590] While most major U.S. sports have evolved out of European practices, basketball, volleyball, skateboarding, and snowboarding are American inventions, some of which have become popular in other countries. Lacrosse and surfing arose from Native American and Native Hawaiian activities that predate Western contact.[591] The most watched individual sports are golf and auto racing, particularly NASCAR.[592][593] The United States men's national volleyball team has won three gold medals at the Olympic Games, one FIVB World Championship, two FIVB Volleyball World Cup, and one FIVB World League.[594] Rugby union is considered the fastest growing sport in the U.S., with registered players numbered at 115,000+ and a further 1.2 million participants.[595] The United States national rugby union team (the Eagles) have competed in every Rugby World Cup since 1987 (except for the 1995 Rugby World Cup), PRO Rugby is the elite level competition and was introduced in 2016. USA Rugby is the governing body and oversees rugby union in the USA. The USA Rugby 7s team won gold at the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, with Las Vegas hosting the USA Sevens yearly. Media Main article: Media of the United States The corporate headquarters of the American Broadcasting Company in New York City The four major broadcasters in the U.S. are the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Fox. The four major broadcast television networks are all commercial entities. Cable television offers hundreds of channels catering to a variety of niches.[596] Americans listen to radio programming, also largely commercial, on average just over two-and-a-half hours a day.[597] In 1998, the number of U.S. commercial radio stations had grown to 4,793 AM stations and 5,662 FM stations. In addition, there are 1,460 public radio stations. Most of these stations are run by universities and public authorities for educational purposes and are financed by public or private funds, subscriptions and corporate underwriting. Much public-radio broadcasting is supplied by NPR (formerly National Public Radio). NPR was incorporated in February 1970 under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967; its television counterpart, PBS, was also created by the same legislation. (NPR and PBS are operated separately from each other.) As of September 30, 2014, there are 15,433 licensed full-power radio stations in the US according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[598] Well-known newspapers are The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Although the cost of publishing has increased over the years, the price of newspapers has generally remained low, forcing newspapers to rely more on advertising revenue and on articles provided by a major wire service, such as the Associated Press or Reuters, for their national and world coverage. With very few exceptions, all the newspapers in the U.S. are privately owned, either by large chains such as Gannett or McClatchy, which own dozens or even hundreds of newspapers; by small chains that own a handful of papers; or in a situation that is increasingly rare, by individuals or families. Major cities often have "alternative weeklies" to complement the mainstream daily papers, for example, New York City's The Village Voice or Los Angeles' LA Weekly, to name two of the best-known. Major cities may also support a local business journal, trade papers relating to local industries, and papers for local ethnic and social groups. Early versions of the American newspaper comic strip and the American comic book began appearing in the 19th century. In 1938, Superman, the comic book superhero of DC Comics, developed into an American icon.[599] Aside from web portals and search engines, the most popular websites are Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Yahoo.com, eBay, Amazon and Twitter.[600] More than 800 publications are produced in Spanish, the second most widely spoken mother tongue behind English.[601][602] Science and technology Main articles: Science and technology in the United States and Science policy of the United States Astronaut James Irwin walking on the Moon next to Apollo 15's landing module and lunar rover in 1971. The effort to reach the Moon was triggered by the Space Race. The United States has been a leader in technological innovation since the late 19th century and scientific research since the mid 20th century. Methods for producing interchangeable parts were developed by the U.S. War Department by the Federal Armories during the first half of the 19th century. This technology, along with the establishment of a machine tool industry, enabled the U.S. to have large scale manufacturing of sewing machines, bicycles and other items in the late 19th century and became known as the American system of manufacturing. Factory electrification in the early 20th century and introduction of the assembly line and other labor saving techniques created the system called mass production.[603] In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone. Thomas Edison's research laboratory, one of the first of its kind, developed the phonograph, the first long-lasting light bulb, and the first viable movie camera.[604]The latter lead to emergence of the worldwide entertainment industry. In the early 20th century, the automobile companies of Ransom E. Olds and Henry Ford popularized the assembly line. The Wright brothers, in 1903, made the first sustained and controlled heavier-than-air powered flight.[605] The rise of Fascism and Nazism in the 1920s and 1930s led many European scientists, including Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and John von Neumann, to immigrate to the United States.[606] During World War II, the Manhattan Project developed nuclear weapons, ushering in the Atomic Age, while the Space Race produced rapid advances in rocketry, materials science, and aeronautics.[607][608] The invention of the transistor in the 1950s, a key active component in practically all modern electronics, led to many technological developments and a significant expansion of the U.S. technology industry.[609][610][611] This in turn led to the establishment of many new technology companies and regions around the country such as in Silicon Valley in California. Advancements by American microprocessor companies such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and Intel along with both computer software and hardware companies that include Adobe Systems, Apple Computer, IBM, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems created and popularized the personal computer. The ARPANET was developed in the 1960s to meet Defense Department requirements, and became the first of a series of networks which evolved into the Internet.[612] These advancements then lead to greater personalization of technology for individual use.[613] As of 2013, 83.8% of American households owned at least one computer, and 73.3% had high-speed Internet service.[614] 91% of Americans also own a mobile phone as of May 2013.[615] The United States ranks highly with regard to freedom of use of the internet.[616] In the 21st century, approximately two-thirds of research and development funding comes from the private sector.[617] The United States leads the world in scientific research papers and impact factor.[618] Health See also: Health care in the United States, Health care reform in the United States, and Health insurance in the United States Health spending per capita, in US$ PPP-adjusted, compared amongst various first world nations. The United States has a life expectancy of 79.8 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990.[619][620][621] Increasing obesity in the United States and health improvements elsewhere have contributed to lowering the country's rank in life expectancy from 1987, when it was 11th in the world.[622] Obesity rates in the United States are amongst the highest in the world.[623] Approximately one-third of the adult population is obese and an additional third is overweight;[624] the obesity rate, the highest in the industrialized world, has more than doubled in the last quarter-century.[625] Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is considered epidemic by health care professionals.[626] The infant mortality rate of 6.17 per thousand places the United States 56th-lowest out of 224 countries.[627] In 2010, coronary artery disease, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and traffic accidents caused the most years of life lost in the U.S. Low back pain, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, neck pain, and anxiety caused the most years lost to disability. The most deleterious risk factors were poor diet, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, and alcohol use. Alzheimer's disease, drug abuse, kidney disease and cancer, and falls caused the most additional years of life lost over their age-adjusted 1990 per-capita rates.[621] U.S. teenage pregnancy and abortion rates are substantially higher than in other Western nations, especially among blacks and Hispanics.[628] The U.S. is a global leader in medical innovation. America solely developed or contributed significantly to 9 of the top 10 most important medical innovations since 1975 as ranked by a 2001 poll of physicians, while the EU and Switzerland together contributed to five.[629] Since 1966, more Americans have received the Nobel Prize in Medicine than the rest of the world combined. From 1989 to 2002, four times more money was invested in private biotechnology companies in America than in Europe.[630] The U.S. health-care system far outspends any other nation, measured in both per capita spending and percentage of GDP.[631] Health-care coverage in the United States is a combination of public and private efforts and is not universal. In 2014, 13.4% of the population did not carry health insurance.[632] The subject of uninsured and underinsured Americans is a major political issue.[633][634] In 2006, Massachusetts became the first state to mandate universal health insurance.[635] Federal legislation passed in early 2010 would ostensibly create a near-universal health insurance system around the country by 2014, though the bill and its ultimate effect are issues of controversy.[636][637]

May 2, 2017 by
Chile From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia For other uses, see Chile (disambiguation). Chile (/ˈtʃɪli/;[8] Spanish: [ˈtʃile]), officially the Republic of Chile (Spanish: República de Chile (help·info)), is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty. The arid Atacama Desert in northern Chile contains great mineral wealth, principally copper. The relatively small central area dominates in terms of population and agricultural resources, and is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.[9] Spain conquered and colonized Chile in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule in northern and central Chile, but failing to conquer the independent Mapuche who inhabited south-central Chile. After declaring its independence from Spain in 1818, Chile emerged in the 1830s as a relatively stable authoritarian republic. In the 19th century, Chile saw significant economic and territorial growth, ending Mapuche resistance in the 1880s and gaining its current northern territory in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) after defeating Peru and Bolivia.[10] In the 1960s and 1970s the country experienced severe left-right political polarization and turmoil. This development culminated with the 1973 Chilean coup d'état that overthrew Salvador Allende's democratically elected left-wing government and instituted a 16-year-long right-wing military dictatorship that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.[11] The regime, headed by Augusto Pinochet, ended in 1990 after it lost a referendum in 1988 and was succeeded by a center-left coalition which ruled through four presidencies until 2010. Chile is today one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations.[11] It leads Latin American nations in rankings of human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, state of peace, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption.[12] It also ranks high regionally in sustainability of the state, and democratic development.[13] Chile is a founding member of the United Nations, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Etymology There are various theories about the origin of the word Chile. According to 17th-century Spanish chronicler Diego de Rosales,[14] the Incas called the valley of the Aconcagua "Chili" by corruption of the name of a Picunche tribal chief ("cacique") called Tili, who ruled the area at the time of the Incan conquest in the 15th century.[15][16] Another theory points to the similarity of the valley of the Aconcagua with that of the Casma Valley in Peru, where there was a town and valley named Chili.[16] Other theories say Chile may derive its name from a Native American word meaning either "ends of the earth" or "sea gulls";[17] from the Mapuche word chilli, which may mean "where the land ends;"[18] or from the Quechua chiri, "cold",[19]or tchili, meaning either "snow"[19][20] or "the deepest point of the Earth".[21] Another origin attributed to chilli is the onomatopoeic cheele-cheele—the Mapuche imitation of the warble of a bird locally known as trile.[18][22] The Spanish conquistadors heard about this name from the Incas, and the few survivors of Diego de Almagro's first Spanish expedition south from Peru in 1535–36 called themselves the "men of Chilli".[18] Ultimately, Almagro is credited with the universalization of the name Chile, after naming the Mapocho valley as such.[16] The older spelling "Chili" was in use in English until at least 1900 before switching over to "Chile."[23] History Main article: History of Chile Early history The Mapuche people were the original inhabitants of southern and central Chile. Stone tool evidence indicates humans sporadically frequented the Monte Verde valley area as long as 18,500 years ago.[24] About 10,000 years ago, migrating Native Americans settled in fertile valleys and coastal areas of what is present-day Chile. Settlement sites from very early human habitation include Monte Verde, Cueva del Milodon and the Pali Aike Crater's lava tube. The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the Mapuche (or Araucanians as they were known by the Spaniards) successfully resisted many attempts by the Inca Empire to subjugate them, despite their lack of state organization.[25] They fought against the Sapa Inca Tupac Yupanqui and his army. The result of the bloody three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Maule was that the Inca conquest of the territories of Chile ended at the Maule river.[26] Spanish colonization Main articles: Conquest of Chile and Colonial Chile In 1520, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the southern passage now named after him, the Strait of Magellan, thus becoming the first European to set foot on what is now Chile. The next Europeans to reach Chile were Diego de Almagro and his band of Spanish conquistadors, who came from Peru in 1535 seeking gold. The Spanish encountered various cultures that supported themselves principally through slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting.[26] The conquest of Chile began in earnest in 1540 and was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, one of Francisco Pizarro's lieutenants, who founded the city of Santiago on 12 February 1541. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part of the Spanish Empire.[26] Pedro de Valdivia Cornelius van Wytfliet map from 1597 Conquest took place gradually, and the Europeans suffered repeated setbacks. A massive Mapuche insurrection that began in 1553 resulted in Valdivia's death and the destruction of many of the colony's principal settlements. Subsequent major insurrections took place in 1598 and in 1655. Each time the Mapuche and other native groups revolted, the southern border of the colony was driven northward. The abolition of slavery by the Spanish crown in 1683 was done in recognition that enslaving the Mapuche intensified resistance rather than cowing them into submission. Despite royal prohibitions, relations remained strained from continual colonialist interference.[27] Cut off to the north by desert, to the south by the Mapuche, to the east by the Andes Mountains, and to the west by the ocean, Chile became one of the most centralized, homogeneous colonies in Spanish America. Serving as a sort of frontier garrison, the colony found itself with the mission of forestalling encroachment by both the Mapuche and Spain's European enemies, especially the British and the Dutch. Buccaneers and English adventurers menaced the colony in addition to the Mapuche, as was shown by Sir Francis Drake's 1578 raid on Valparaíso, the colony's principal port. Chile hosted one of the largest standing armies in the Americas, making it one of the most militarized of the Spanish possessions, as well as a drain on the treasury of the Viceroyalty of Peru.[18] The first general census was conducted by the government of Agustín de Jáuregui between 1777 and 1778; it indicated that the population consisted of 259,646 inhabitants: 73.5 percent of European descent, 7.9 percent mestizos, 8.6 percent indigenous peoples and 9.8 percent blacks. Francisco Hurtado, Governor of the province of Chiloé, conducted a census in 1784 and found the population consisted of 26,703 inhabitants, 64.4 percent of whom were whites and 33.5 percent of whom were natives. The Diocese of Concepción conducted a census in areas south of the Maule river in 1812, but did not include the indigenous population or the inhabitants of the province of Chiloé. The population is estimated at 210,567, 86.1 percent of whom were Spanish or of European descent, 10 percent of whom were indigenous and 3.7 percent of whom were mestizos, blacks and mulattos.[28] Independence and nation building See also: Argentine–Chilean naval arms race Bernardo O'Higgins, the Supreme Director of Chile In 1808, Napoleon's enthronement of his brother Joseph as the Spanish King precipitated the drive by the colony for independence from Spain. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand – heir to the deposed king – was formed on 18 September 1810. The Government Junta of Chile proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy (in memory of this day Chile celebrates its National Day on 18 September each year). After these events, a movement for total independence, under the command of José Miguel Carrera (one of the most renowned patriots) and his two brothers Juan José and Luis Carrera, soon gained a wider following. Spanish attempts to re-impose arbitrary rule during what was called the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle, including infighting from Bernardo O'Higgins, who challenged Carrera's leadership. Intermittent warfare continued until 1817. With Carrera in prison in Argentina, O'Higgins and anti-Carrera cohort José de San Martín, hero of the Argentine War of Independence, led an army that crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On 12 February 1818 Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th-century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which was greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. A strong presidency eventually emerged, but wealthy landowners remained powerful.[26] Fighting during the War of the Pacific: The Battle of Iquique on 21 May 1879 Chile slowly started to expand its influence and to establish its borders. By the Tantauco Treaty, the archipelago of Chiloé was incorporated in 1826. The economy began to boom due to the discovery of silver ore in Chañarcillo, and the growing trade of the port of Valparaíso, which led to conflict over maritime supremacy in the Pacific with Peru. At the same time, attempts were made to strengthen sovereignty in southern Chile intensifying penetration into Araucanía and colonizing Llanquihue with German immigrants in 1848. Through the founding of Fort Bulnes by the Schooner Ancud under the command of John Williams Wilson, the Magallanes region joined the country in 1843, while the Antofagasta area, at the time part of, Bolivia, began to fill with people. Chile's territorial gains after the War of the Pacific (1879–83) Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by the Occupation of Araucanía. The Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina confirmed Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879–83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third, eliminating Bolivia's access to the Pacific, and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence. Chile had joined the stand as one of the high-income countries in South America by 1870.[29] The 1891 Chilean Civil War brought about a redistribution of power between the President and Congress, and Chile established a parliamentary style democracy. However, the Civil War had also been a contest between those who favored the development of local industries and powerful Chilean banking interests, particularly the House of Edwards who had strong ties to foreign investors. Soon after, the country engaged in a vastly expensive naval arms race with Argentina that nearly led to a war. 20th century See also: South American dreadnought race The Chilean economy partially degenerated into a system protecting the interests of a ruling oligarchy. By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, Arturo Alessandri, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. In the 1920s, Marxist groups with strong popular support arose.[26] A military coup led by General Luis Altamirano in 1924 set off a period of political instability that lasted until 1932. Of the ten governments that held power in that period, the longest lasting was that of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, who briefly held power in 1925 and then again between 1927 and 1931 in what was a de facto dictatorship (although not really comparable in harshness or corruption to the type of military dictatorship that has often bedeviled the rest of Latin America).[30][31] By relinquishing power to a democratically elected successor, Ibáñez del Campo retained the respect of a large enough segment of the population to remain a viable politician for more than thirty years, in spite of the vague and shifting nature of his ideology. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932–52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez del Campo to office for another six years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez del Campo in 1958, bringing Chilean conservatism back into power democratically for another term. The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva by an absolute majority initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in Liberty", the Frei administration embarked on far-reaching social and economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian reform, including rural unionization of agricultural workers. By 1967, however, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who found them excessive. At the end of his term, Frei had not fully achieved his party's ambitious goals.[26] President Salvador Allende In the 1970 election, Senator Salvador Allende of the Socialist Party of Chile (then part of the "Popular Unity" coalition which included the Communists, Radicals, Social-Democrats, dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement, and the Independent Popular Action),[26] achieved a partial majority in a plurality of votes in a three-way contest, followed by candidates Radomiro Tomic for the Christian Democrat Party and Jorge Alessandri for the Conservative Party. Allende was not elected with an absolute majority, receiving fewer than 35 percent of votes. The Chilean Congress conducted a runoff vote between the leading candidates, Allende and former president Jorge Alessandri and keeping with tradition, chose Allende by a vote of 153 to 35. Frei refused to form an alliance with Alessandri to oppose Allende, on the grounds that the Christian Democrats were a workers party and could not make common cause with the right-wing.[32][33] An economic depression that began in 1972 was exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits in response to Allende's socialist program. Production fell and unemployment rose. Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, to increase consumer spending and redistribute income downward.[34] Joint public-private public works projects helped reduce unemployment.[35][page needed] Much of the banking sector was nationalized. Many enterprises within the copper, coal, iron, nitrate, and steel industries were expropriated, nationalized, or subjected to state intervention. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the Allende administration's first year.[35] Allende's program included advancement of workers' interests,[35][36] replacing the judicial system with "socialist legality",[37] nationalization of banks and forcing others to bankruptcy,[37] and strengthening "popular militias" known as MIR.[37] Started under former President Frei, the Popular Unity platform also called for nationalization of Chile's major copper mines in the form of a constitutional amendment. The measure was passed unanimously by Congress. As a result,[38] the Richard Nixon administration organized and inserted secret operatives in Chile, in order to swiftly destabilize Allende’s government.[39] In addition, US financial pressure restricted international economic credit to Chile.[40] The economic problems were also exacerbated by Allende's public spending which was financed mostly by printing money and poor credit ratings given by commercial banks.[41] Simultaneously, opposition media, politicians, business guilds and other organizations helped to accelerate a campaign of domestic political and economical destabilization, some of which was backed by the United States.[40][42] By early 1973, inflation was out of control. The crippled economy was further battered by prolonged and sometimes simultaneous strikes by physicians, teachers, students, truck owners, copper workers, and the small business class. On 26 May 1973, Chile’s Supreme Court, which was opposed to Allende's government, unanimously denounced the Allende disruption of the legality of the nation. Although illegal under the Chilean constitution, the court supported and strengthened Pinochet's seizure of power.[37][43] Pinochet era (1973–1990) Main article: Military government of Chile (1973–90) Fighter jets bombing the Presidential Palace (La Moneda) in Santiago during the Chilean coup of 1973 Augusto Pinochet's authoritarian military government ruled Chile between 1973 and 1990. A military coup overthrew Allende on 11 September 1973. As the armed forces bombarded the presidential palace, Allende apparently committed suicide.[44][page needed][45][page needed] After the coup, Henry Kissinger told U.S. president Richard Nixon that the United States had "helped" the coup.[46] A military junta, led by General Augusto Pinochet, took control of the country. The first years of the regime were marked by human rights violations. On October 1973, at least 72 people were murdered by the Caravan of Death.[47] According to the Rettig Report and Valech Commission, at least 2,115 were killed,[48] and at least 27,265[49] were tortured (including 88 children younger than 12 years old).[49] In 2011, Chile recognized an additional 9,800 victims, bringing the total number of killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons to 40,018.[50] At the national stadium, filled with detainees, one of those tortured and killed was internationally known poet-singer Victor Jara (see "Music and Dance", below). The stadium was renamed for Jara in 2003. A new Constitution was approved by a controversial plebiscite on 11 September 1980, and General Pinochet became president of the republic for an eight-year term. After Pinochet obtained rule of the country, several hundred committed Chilean revolutionaries joined the Sandinista army in Nicaragua, guerrilla forces in Argentina or training camps in Cuba, Eastern Europe and Northern Africa.[51] In the late 1980s, largely as a result of events such as the 1982 economic collapse[52] and mass civil resistance in 1983–88, the government gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and association, to include trade union and political activity.[53] The government launched market-oriented reforms with Hernán Büchi as Minister of Finance. Chile moved toward a free market economy that saw an increase in domestic and foreign private investment, although the copper industry and other important mineral resources were not opened for competition. In a plebiscite on 5 October 1988, Pinochet was denied a second eight-year term as president (56% against 44%). Chileans elected a new president and the majority of members of a two-chamber congress on 14 December 1989. Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, the candidate of a coalition of 17 political parties called the Concertación, received an absolute majority of votes (55%).[54] President Aylwin served from 1990 to 1994, in what was considered a transition period. In December 1993, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of previous president Eduardo Frei Montalva, led the Concertación coalition to victory with an absolute majority of votes (58%).[55] 21st century See also: 2010 Chile earthquake and 2011–2012 Chilean protests Five presidents of Chile since Transition to democracy (1990–2018), celebrating the Bicentennial of Chile Frei Ruiz-Tagle was succeeded in 2000 by Socialist Ricardo Lagos, who won the presidency in an unprecedented runoff election against Joaquín Lavín of the rightist Alliance for Chile.[56] In January 2006, Chileans elected their first female president, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party, defeating Sebastián Piñera, of the National Renewal party, extending the Concertación governance for another four years.[57][58] In January 2010, Chileans electedSebastián Piñera as the first rightist President in 20 years, defeating former President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle of the Concertación, for a four-year term succeeding Bachelet. Due to term limits, Sebastián Piñera did not stand for re-election in 2013, and his term expired in March 2014 resulting in Michelle Bachelet returning to office. On 27 February 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 MW earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded at the time. More than 500 people died (most from the ensuing tsunami) and over a million people lost their homes. The earthquake was also followed by multiple aftershocks.[59] Initial damage estimates were in the range of US$15–30 billion, around 10 to 15 percent of Chile's real gross domestic product.[60] Chile achieved global recognition for the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in 2010. On 5 August 2010 the access tunnel collapsed at the San José copper and gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó in northern Chile, trapping 33 men 700 metres (2,300 ft) below ground. A rescue effort organized by the Chilean government located the miners 17 days later. All 33 men were brought to the surface two months later on 13 October 2010 over a period of almost 24 hours, an effort that was carried on live television around the world.[61] Geography, climate, and environment Main article: Geography of Chile See also: Environmental issues in Chile Parinacota volcano in northern Chile The town of San Pedro de Atacama A long and narrow coastal Southern Cone country on the west side of the Andes Mountains, Chile stretches over 4,300 km (2,670 mi) north to south, but only 350 km (217 mi) at its widest point east to west.[62] This encompasses a remarkable variety of climates and landscapes. It contains 756,950 square kilometres (292,260 sq mi) of land area. It is situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire. Excluding its Pacific islands and Antarctic claim, Chile lies between latitudes 17° and 56°S, and longitudes 66° and 75°W. Chile is among the longest north-south countries in the world. If one considers only mainland territory, Chile is unique within this group in its narrowness from east to west, with the other long north-south countries (including Brazil, Russia, Canada, and the United States, among others) all being wider from east to west by a factor of more than 10. Chile also claims 1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as part of its territory (Chilean Antarctic Territory). However, this latter claim is suspended under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, of which Chile is a signatory.[63] It is the world's southernmost country that is geographically on the mainland.[64] Chile controls Easter Island and Sala y Gómez Island, the easternmost islands of Polynesia, which it incorporated to its territory in 1888, and Robinson Crusoe Island, more than 600 km (370 mi) from the mainland, in the Juan Fernández Islands. Also controlled but only temporarily inhabited (by some local fishermen) are the small islands of San Ambrosio and San Felix. These islands are notable because they extend Chile's claim to territorial waters out from its coast into the Pacific Ocean.[65] The northern Atacama Desert contains great mineral wealth, primarily copper and nitrates. The relatively small Central Valley, which includes Santiago, dominates the country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area is also the historical center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century, when it integrated the northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests, grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The Andes Mountains are located on the eastern border. Climate Main article: Climate of Chile Chile map of Köppen climate classification. With more than 300 clear nights each year, La Silla is in an ideal position to house advanced observational instruments The diverse climate of Chile ranges from the world's driest desert in the north—the Atacama Desert—through a Mediterranean climate in the center, humid subtropical in Easter Island, to an oceanic climate, including alpine tundra and glaciers in the east and south.[11] According to the Köppen system, Chile within its borders hosts at least ten major climatic subtypes. There are four seasons in most of the country: summer (December to February), autumn (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November). Biodiversity Main article: Wildlife of Chile Torres del Paine from Lake Pehoé, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile The flora and fauna of Chile are characterized by a high degree of endemism, due to its particular geography. In continental Chile, the Atacama Desert in the north and the Andes mountains to the east are barriers that have led to the isolation of flora and fauna. Add to that the enormous length of Chile (over 4,300 km (2,672 mi)) and this results in a wide range of climates and environments that can be divided into three general zones: the desert provinces of the north, central Chile, and the humid regions of the south. Flora Araucaria araucana trees in Conguillío National Park The native flora of Chile consists of relatively fewer species compared to the flora of other South American countries. The northernmost coastal and central region is largely barren of vegetation, approaching the most absolute desert in the world.[66]On the slopes of the Andes, in addition to the scattered tola desert brush, grasses are found. The central valley is characterized by several species of cacti, the hardy espinos, the Chilean pine, the southern beeches and the copihue, a red bell-shaped flower that is Chile's national flower.[66] Copihue in flower In southern Chile, south of the Biobío River, heavy precipitation has produced dense forests of laurels, magnolias, and various species of conifers and beeches, which become smaller and more stunted to the south. [67] The cold temperatures and winds of the extreme south preclude heavy forestation. Grassland is found in Atlantic Chile (in Patagonia). Much of the Chilean flora is distinct from that of neighboring Argentina, indicating that the Andean barrier existed during its formation.[67] Some of Chile's flora has an Antarctic origin due to land bridges which formed during the Cretaceous ice ages, allowing plants to migrate from Antarctica to South America.[68] Just over 3,000 species of fungi are recorded in Chile,[69][70] but this number is far from complete. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Chile is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7 percent of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered.[71] Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Chile, and 1995 species have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country.[72] Fauna Chile's geographical isolation has restricted the immigration of faunal life, so that only a few of the many distinctive South American animals are found. Among the larger mammals are the puma or cougar, the llama-like guanaco and the fox-like chilla. In the forest region, several types of marsupials and a small deer known as the pudu are found.[66] Lycalopex culpaeus, a culpeo or Andean fox at the border between Bolivia and Chile. There are many species of small birds, but most of the larger common Latin American types are absent. Few freshwater fish are native, but North American trout have been successfully introduced into the Andean lakes.[66] Owing to the vicinity of the Humboldt Current, ocean waters abound with fish and other forms of marine life, which in turn support a rich variety of waterfowl, including several penguins. Whales are abundant, and some six species of seals are found in the area.[66] Puma in Chile (cougar)   A guanaco in northern Chile   Chilla fox, common in the region   Pudú in Chile   Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), the national bird of Chile Topography Chile is located along a highly seismic and volcanic zone, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, due to the subduction of the Nazca and Antarctic plates in the South American plate. Topographic map of Chile. To view maps based on SRTM topographic relief of the country, see here. Nevado Ojos del Salado: View from the top Chilean Argentine side. The Atacama Dry lake, in Chile. At the horizon, the Licancabur volcano. Conguillío National Park, south-central area of the country. A glacier at the Beagle Channel Late Paleozoic, 251 million years ago, Chile belonged to the continental block called Gondwana. It was just a depression accumulated marine sediments began to rise at the end of the Mesozoic, 66 million years ago, due to the collision between the Nazca and South American plates, resulting in the Andes. The territory would be shaped by millions of years due to the folding of the rocks, forming the current relief. The Chilean relief consists of the central depression, which crosses the country longitudinally, flanked by two mountain ranges that make up about 80% of the territory: the Andes mountains to the east-natural border with Bolivia and Argentina, with its most alton 18 located on the Nevado Ojos del Salado, at 6891.3 m, the highest volcano in the world, in the region of Atacama and Coastal Range west-minor height from the Andes, with its highest point located on the hill Vicuña Mackenna, at 3114 meters, located in the Sierra Vicuña Mackenna, the south of Antofagasta. Among the coastal mountains and the Pacific is a series of coastal plains, of variable length, which allow the settlement of coastal towns and big ports. Some areas of the plains territories encompass territory east of the Andes, and the Patagonian steppes and Magellan, or are high plateaus surrounded by high mountain ranges, such as the Altiplano or Puna de Atacama. The Far North is the area between the northern boundary of the country and the parallel 26° S, covering the first three regions. It is characterized by the presence of the Atacama desert, the most arid in the world. The desert is fragmented by streams that originate in the area known as the pampas Tamarugal. The Andes, split in two and whose eastern arm runs Bolivia, has a high altitude and volcanic activity, which has allowed the formation of the Andean altiplano and salt structures as the Salar de Atacama, due to the gradual accumulation of sediments over time. To the south is the Norte Chico, extending to the Aconcagua river. Los Andes begin to decrease its altitude to the south and closer to the coast, reaching 90 km away at the height of Illapel, the narrowest part of the Chilean territory. The two mountain ranges intersect, virtually eliminating the intermediate depression. The existence of rivers flowing through the territory allows the formation of transverse valleys, where agriculture has developed strongly in recent times, while the coastal plains begin to expand. Ten highest peaks of Chile Name Altitude (m) Nevado Ojos del Salado1 6891,3 Nevado Tres Cruces1 6758 Llullaillaco1 6739 Incahuasi1 6638 Tupungato1 6565 Ata Volcano1 6501 Cerro El Muerto1 6488 Parinacota2 6342 Pomerape2 6282 Los Patos1 6239 Note:1 shared with Argentina, 2 shared with Bolivia. The Central area is the most populated region of the country. The coastal plains are wide and allow the establishment of cities and ports along the Pacific, while the coastal mountains down its height. The Andes maintains altitudes above 6000m but descend slowly starts approaching the 4000 meters on average. The intermediate depression reappears becoming a fertile valley that allows agricultural development and human settlement, due to sediment accumulation. To the south, the Cordillera de la Costa reappears in the range of Nahuelbuta while glacial sediments originate a series of lakes in the area of La Frontera. Patagonia extends from within Reloncavi, at the height of parallel 41 ° S, to the south. During the last glaciation, this area was covered by ice that strongly eroded Chilean relief structures. As a result, the intermediate depression sinks in the sea, while the coastal mountains rise to a series of archipelagos, such as Chiloé and the Chonos, disappearing in Taitao peninsula, in the parallel 47 ° S. The Andes mountain range loses height and erosion caused by the action of glaciers has caused fjords. East of the Andes, on the continent, or north of it, on the island of Tierra del Fuego are located relatively flat plains, which in the Strait of Magellan cover large areas. The Andes, as he had done previously Cordillera de la Costa, begins to break in the ocean causing a myriad of islands and islets and disappear into it, sinking and reappearing in the Southern Antilles arc and then the Antarctic Peninsula, where it is called Antartandes, in the Chilean Antarctic Territory, lying between the meridians 53 ° W and 90 ° W. In the middle of the Pacific, the country has sovereignty over several islands of volcanic origin, collectively known as Insular Chile. Of these, we highlight the archipelago of Juan Fernandez and Easter Island, which is located in the fracture zone between the Nazca plate and the Pacific plate known as East Pacific Rise. Hydrography Chungará Lake and Parinacota volcano Ten longest rivers of Chile Name Length (km) Loa 440 Bío Bío 380 Baker 370 Copiapó 292 Maipo 250 Yelcho-Futaleufú 246 Maule 240 Palena 240 Toltén 231 Huasco 230 Note: All lengths exclusively through Chilean territory. General Carrera lake, the largest in the country. Pio XI Glacier (or Brüggen), the longest in the southern hemisphere outside of Antarctica. Due to the characteristics of the territory, Chile is crossed by numerous rivers generally short in length and with low torrential flow. They commonly extend from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, flowing in an East to West direction. Because of the desert, in the Norte Grande there are only short endorheic character streams, except for the river Loa, the longest in the country 440 km.[73] In the high valleys, wetland areas generate Chungará Lake, located at 4500 meters above sea level. It and the river Lauca are shared with Bolivia, as well as the Lluta. In the center-north of the country, the number of rivers that form valleys of agricultural importance increases. Noteworthy are the Elqui with 75 km [73]long, 142 km Aconcagua, Maipo with 250 km [73] and its tributary, the Mapocho with 110 km, and Maule with 240 km. Their waters mainly flow from Andean snowmelt in the summer and winter rains. The major lakes in this area are the artificial lake Rapel, the Colbun Maule lagoon and the lagoon of La Laja. Demographics Main article: Demographics of Chile Population of Chile from 1820, projected up to 2050 Chile's 2002 census reported a population of 15 million people. Its rate of population growth has been decreasing since 1990, due to a declining birth rate.[74] By 2050 the population is expected to reach approximately 20.2 million people.[75] About 85 percent of the country's population lives in urban areas, with 40 percent living in Greater Santiago. The largest agglomerations according to the 2002 census are Greater Santiago with 5.6 million people, Greater Concepción with 861,000 and Greater Valparaíso with 824,000.[76] Ancestry and ethnicity Main articles: Indigenous peoples in Chile and Immigration to Chile Mexican professor Francisco Lizcano, of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, estimated that 52.7% of Chileans were white, 39.3% were mestizo, and 8% were Amerindian.[77] The most recent study in the Candela Project establishes that the genetic composition of Chile is 52% of European origin, with 44% of the genome coming from Native Americans (Amerindians), and 4% coming from Africa, making Chile a primarily mestizo country with traces of African descent present in half of the population.[78] Another genetic study conducted by the University of Brasilia in several American countries shows a similar genetic composition for Chile, with a European contribution of 51.6%, an Amerindian (Native) contribution of 42.1%, and an African contribution of 6.3%.[79] A public health booklet from the University of Chile states that 30% of the population is of Caucasian origin; "predominantly White" Mestizos are estimated to amount a total of 65%, while Native Americans (Amerindians) comprise the remaining 5%.[80] Despite the genetic considerations, many Chileans, if asked, would self-identify as White. The 2011 Latinobarómetro survey asked respondents in Chile what race they considered themselves to belong to. Most answered "White" (59%), while 25% said "Mestizo" and 8% self-classified as "indigenous".[81] A 2002 national poll revealed that a majority of Chileans believed they possessed some (43.4%) or much (8.3%) "indigenous blood", while 40.3% responded that they had none.[82] Araucanian Indians and Huasos in Chile, 19th century. The 1907 census reported 101,118 Indians, or 3.1% of the total population. Only those that practiced their native culture or spoke their native language were considered to be Indians, irrespective of their "racial purity".[83] In 2002 a census took place, directly asking the public whether they considered themselves as part of any of the eight Chilean ethnic groups, regardless of whether or not they maintained their culture, traditions and language, and 4.6 percent of the population (692,192 people) fitted that description of indigenous peoples in Chile. Of that number, 87.3% declared themselves Mapuche.[84] Most of the indigenous population shows varying degrees of mixed ancestry.[85] Chile is one of 22 countries to have signed and ratified the only binding international law concerning indigenous peoples, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989.[86] It was adopted in 1989 as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169. Chile ratified it in 2008. A Chilean court decision in November 2009 considered to be a landmark ruling on indigenous rights and made use of the convention. The Supreme Court decision on Aymara water rights upheld rulings by both the Pozo Almonte tribunal and the Iquique Court of Appeals, and marks the first judicial application of ILO Convention 169 in Chile.[87] Chile was never a particularly attractive destination for migrants, owing to its remoteness and distance from Europe.[88][89]Europeans preferred to stay in countries closer to their homelands instead of taking the long journey through the Straits of Magellan or crossing the Andes.[88] European migration did not result in a significant change in the ethnic composition of Chile, except in the region of Magellan.[90] Spaniards were the only major European migrant group to Chile,[88] and there was never large-scale immigration such as that to Argentina or Uruguay.[89] Between 1851 and 1924, Chile only received 0.5% of European immigration to Latin America, compared to 46% to Argentina, 33% to Brazil, 14% to Cuba, and 4% to Uruguay.[88] However, it is undeniable that immigrants have played a significant role in Chilean society.[89] Italian immigrants to Capitan Pastene in southern Chile. Other groups of Europeans have followed but are found in smaller numbers, like the descendants of Austrians[91] and Dutch people. Currently, these are estimated at about 50,000 people.[92] After the failed liberal revolution of 1848 in the German states,[89][93] a noticeable German immigration took place, laying the foundation for the German-Chilean community. Sponsored by the Chilean government to "unbarbarize" and colonize the southern region,[89] these Germans (including German-speaking Swiss, Silesians, Alsatians and Austrians) settled mainly in Valdivia, Osorno and Llanquihue.[94] Descendants of different European ethnic groups often intermarried in Chile. This intermarriage and mixture of cultures and races have helped to shape the present society and culture of the Chilean middle and upper classes.[95] Due in part to its economic fortunes, Chile has recently become a new magnet for immigrants, mostly from neighboring Argentina, Bolivia and mainly Peru.[96] According to the 2002 national census, Chile's foreign-born population has increased by 75% since 1992.[97] According to an estimate by the Migration and Foreign Residency Department, 317,057 foreigners were living in Chile as of December 2008.[98] Roughly 500,000 of Chile’s population is of full or partial Palestinian origin.[99][100] Religion Main article: Religion in Chile Religious background in Chile (2015)[101] Religion     Percent   Roman Catholic    55% None    25% Protestant    13% Other    7% As of 2012, 66.6%[101] of Chilean population over 15 years of age claimed to be of Catholic creed – a decrease from the 70%[102] reported by the 2002 census – while 17 percent reported adherence to an evangelical church. In the census, the term evangelical referred to all non-Catholic Christian churches with the exception of the Orthodox Church (Greek, Persian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Armenian), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses, essentially limiting it to the Protestants (although Adventism is often considered a part of it). Approximately 90 percent of Protestants (evangelicals) are Pentecostal. Wesleyan, Lutheran, Reformed Evangelical, Presbyterian, Anglican, Episcopalian, Baptist and Methodist churches are also present.[103] Irreligious people, atheists, and agnostics account for around 12 percent of the population. Currently in 2015, the majority religion in Chile is Christianity (68%), with an estimated 55% of Chileans belonging to the Catholic church, 13% Protestant or Evangelical and just 7% with any other religion. Agnostics and atheist are estimated at 25%.[104] The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to the generally free practice of religion. The law at all levels protects this right in full against abuse, either by governmental or private actors.[103] Church and state are officially separate in Chile. The 1999 law on religion prohibits religious discrimination. However, the Catholic Church enjoys a privileged status and occasionally receives preferential treatment[citation needed]. Government officials attend Catholic events as well as major Protestant and Jewish ceremonies.[103] The Government-observed religious holidays include Christmas, Good Friday, the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Feast of the Assumption, All Saints' Day, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as national holidays.[103] The government has recently declared 31 October, Reformation Day, a public national holiday, in honor of the Protestant churches of the country.[105][106] The patron saints of Chile are Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint James the Greater (Santiago).[107] In 2005, St. Alberto Hurtado was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI and became the country's second saint after St. Teresa de los Andes.[108] Languages The Spanish spoken in Chile is distinctively accented and quite unlike that of neighboring South American countries because final syllables and "s" sounds are often dropped, and some consonants have a soft pronunciation. Accent varies only very slightly from north to south; more noticeable are the differences in accent based on social class or whether one lives in the city or the country. That the Chilean population was largely formed in a small section at the center of the country and then migrated in modest numbers to the north and south helps explain this relative lack of differentiation, which was maintained by the national reach of radio, and now television, which also helps to diffuse and homogenize colloquial expressions.[26] There are several indigenous languages spoken in Chile: Mapudungun, Quechua, Aymara and Rapa Nui. After the Spanish invasion, Spanish took over as the lingua franca and the indigenous languages have become minority languages, with some now extinct or close to extinction.[109] German is still spoken to some extent in southern Chile,[110] either in small country side pockets or as a second language among the communities of larger cities. Through initiatives such as the English Opens Doors Program, the government made English mandatory for students in fifth-grade and above in public schools. Most private schools in Chile start teaching English from kindergarten.[111] Common English words have been absorbed and appropriated into everyday Spanish speech.[112] Identity and traditions Tamure Dancers, Easter Island Due to the geography of Chile dissimilar cultural expressions vary markedly in different parts of the country.[citation needed] Government and politics Main articles: Politics of Chile and Law of Chile The Palacio de La Moneda in downtown Santiago. The Palace of Justice in Santiago. The current Constitution of Chile was approved in a national plebiscite —regarded as "highly irregular" by some observers[113]— in September 1980, under the military government of Augusto Pinochet. It entered into force in March 1981. After Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the constitution was amended to ease provisions for future amendments to the Constitution. In September 2005, President Ricardo Lagos signed into law several constitutional amendments passed by Congress. These include eliminating the positions of appointed senators and senators for life, granting the President authority to remove the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces, and reducing the presidential term from six to four years.[114] The Congress of Chile has a 38-seat Senate and a 120-member Chamber of Deputies. Senators serve for eight years with staggered terms, while deputies are elected every 4 years. The last congressional elections were held on 17 November 2013, concurrently with the presidential election. The current Senate has a 21–15 split in favor of the governing coalition and 2 independents. The current lower house-the Chamber of Deputies-contains 67 members of the governing center-left coalition, 48 from the center-right opposition and 5 from small parties or independents. The Congress is located in the port city of Valparaíso, about 140 kilometres (87 miles) west of the capital, Santiago. National Congress building in Valparaíso. Chile's congressional elections are governed by a binomial system that, for the most part, rewards the two largest representations equally, often regardless of their relative popular support. Parties are thus forced to form wide coalitions and, historically, the two largest coalitions (Concertación and Alianza) split most of the seats. Only if the leading coalition ticket out-polls the second place coalition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 does the winning coalition gain both seats, which tends to lock the legislative in a roughly 50-50 split. Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme Court of Chile. In June 2005, Chile completed a nationwide overhaul of its criminal justice system.[115] The reform has replaced inquisitorial proceedings with an adversarial system more similar to that of the United States. In the 2001 congressional elections, the conservative Independent Democratic Union (UDI) surpassed the Christian Democrats for the first time to become the largest party in the lower house. In the 2005 parliamentary election, both leading parties, the Christian Democrats and the UDI lost representation in favor of their respective allies Socialist Party (which became the biggest party in the Concertación block) and National Renewal in the right-wing alliance. In the 2009 legislative elections in Chile, the Communist Party won 3 out of 120 seats in the Chamber of Deputies for the first time in 30 years (the Communist Party was not allowed to exist as such during the dictatorship). Chileans voted in the first round of presidential elections on 17 November 2013. None of the nine presidential candidates got more than 50 percent of the vote. As a result, the top two candidates, center-left Nueva Mayoría coalition's Michelle Bachelet and center-right Alianza coalition's Evelyn Matthei, competed in a run-off election on 15 December 2013, which Bachelet won. This was Chile's sixth presidential election since the end of the Pinochet era. All six have been judged free and fair. The president is constitutionally barred from serving consecutive terms. Foreign relations Main article: Foreign relations of Chile State of Chile’s international relations in the world:   Chile   Country with diplomatic relations and Chilean embassy in the country.   Country with diplomatic relations and an embassy in Chile, but no Chilean embassy.   Country with diplomatic relations but without ambassadors.   Country with no diplomatic relations currently. Since the early decades after independence, Chile has always had an active involvement in foreign affairs. In 1837 the country aggressively challenged the dominance of Peru's port of Callao for preeminence in the Pacific trade routes, defeating the short-lived alliance between Peru and Bolivia, the Peru-Bolivian Confederation (1836–39) in the War of the Confederation. The war dissolved the confederation while distributing power in the Pacific. A second international war, the War of the Pacific (1879–83), further increased Chile's regional role, while adding considerably to its territory.[18] During the 19th century, Chile's commercial ties were primarily with Britain, a nation that had a major influence on the formation of the Chilean navy. The French influenced Chile's legal and educational systems and had a decisive impact on Chile, through the architecture of the capital in the boom years at the turn of the 20th century. German influence came from the organization and training of the army by Prussians.[18] On 26 June 1945, Chile participated as a founding member of the United Nations being among 50 countries that signed the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, California.[116][117][118] With the military coup of 1973, Chile became isolated politically as a result of widespread human rights abuses.[18] Since its return to democracy in 1990, Chile has been an active participant in the international political arena. Chile completed a 2-year non-permanent position on the UN Security Council in January 2005. Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean national, was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States in May 2005 and confirmed in his position, being re-elected in 2009. Chile is currently serving on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, and the 2007–2008 chair of the board is Chile's ambassador to the IAEA, Milenko E. Skoknic. The country is an active member of the UN family of agencies and participates in UN peacekeeping activities. It was re-elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 for a three-year term.[119] It was also elected to one of five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council in 2013.[120] Chile hosted the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in 2002 and the APEC summit and related meetings in 2004. It also hosted the Community of Democracies ministerial in April 2005 and the Ibero-American Summit in November 2007. An associate member of Mercosur and a full member of APEC, Chile has been a major player in international economic issues and hemispheric free trade.[26] The Chilean Government has diplomatic relations with most countries. It settled all its territorial disputes with Argentina during the 1990s except for part of the border at Southern Patagonian Ice Field. Chile and Bolivia severed diplomatic ties in 1978 over Bolivia's desire to regain sovereign access to the Pacific Ocean it lost to Chile in 1879–83 War of the Pacific. The two countries maintain consular relations and are represented at the Consul General level.[26] Administrative divisions Main article: Administrative divisions of Chile The regions of Chile Chile is divided into 15 regions, each headed by an intendant appointed by the president. The regions are further divided into provinces, with provincial governors also appointed by the president. Finally each province is divided into communes[121] which are administered by municipalities, each with its own mayor and council elected for four-year terms. Each region is designated by a name and a Roman numeral, assigned from north to south. The only exception is the Santiago Metropolitan Region which is designated RM (Región Metropolitana). Two new regions were created in 2006 and became operative in October 2007; Los Ríos in the south (Region XIV), and Arica y Parinacota in the north (Region XV). The numbering scheme skipped Region XIII, usually assumed to be the Metropolitan Region before the 2006 reform. National symbols The Andean condor is the national bird of Chile The national flower is the copihue (Lapageria rosea, Chilean bellflower), which grows in the woods of southern Chile. The coat of arms depicts the two national animals: the condor (Vultur gryphus, a very large bird that lives in the mountains) and the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus, an endangered white tail deer). It also has the legend Por la razón o la fuerza (By reason or by force). The flag of Chile consists of two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; there is a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center representing a guide to progress and honor; blue symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes, and red stands for the blood spilled to achieve independence. The flag of Chile is similar to the Flag of Texas, although the Chilean flag is 21 years older. However, like the Texan flag, the flag of Chile is modeled after the Flag of the United States.[122] Military Main article: Military of Chile   The Armed Forces of Chile are subject to civilian control exercised by the president through the Minister of Defense. The president has the authority to remove the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces.[26] The commander in chief of the Chilean Army is General Humberto Oviedo Arriagada.[123][124] The Chilean Army is 45,000 strong and is organized with an Army headquarters in Santiago, six divisions throughout its territory, an Air Brigade in Rancagua, and a Special Forces Command in Colina. The Chilean Army is one of the most professional and technologically advanced armies in Latin America.[26] Admiral Enrique Larrañaga Martin directs the 21,773-person Chilean Navy,[125]including 2,500 Marines. Of the fleet of 29 surface vessels, only eight are operational major combatants (frigates). Those ships are based in Valparaíso.[126] The Navy operates its own aircraft for transport and patrol; there are no Navy fighter or bomber aircraft. The Navy also operates four submarines based in Talcahuano.[26][127] Air Force General (four star) Jorge Rojas Ávila heads the 12,500 strong Chilean Air Force. Air assets are distributed among five air brigades headquartered in Iquique, Antofagasta, Santiago, Puerto Montt, and Punta Arenas. The Air Force also operates an airbase on King George Island, Antarctica. The Air Force took delivery of the final two of ten F-16s, all purchased from the U.S., in March 2007 after several decades of U.S. debate and previous refusal to sell. Chile also took delivery in 2007 of a number of reconditioned Block 15 F-16s from the Netherlands, bringing to 18 the total of F-16s purchased from the Dutch.[26] After the military coup in September 1973 the Chilean national police (Carabineros) were incorporated into the Defense Ministry. With the return of democratic government, the police were placed under the operational control of the Interior Ministry but remained under the nominal control of the Defense Ministry. Gen. Gustavo González Jure is the head of the national police force of 40,964[128] men and women who are responsible for law enforcement, traffic management, narcotics suppression, border control, and counter-terrorism throughout Chile.[26] Economy Main article: Economy of Chile Sanhattan, the financial district in Santiago de Chile. The Central Bank of Chile in Santiago serves as the central bank for the country. The Chilean currency is the Chilean peso (CLP). Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations,[11] leading Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption.[12]Since July 2013, Chile is considered by the World Bank as a "high-income economy".[129][130][131] Chile has the highest degree of economic freedom in South America (ranking 7th worldwide), owing to its independent and efficient judicial system and prudent public finance management.[132] In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD.[133] In 2006, Chile became the country with the highest nominal GDP per capita in Latin America.[134] Copper mining makes up 20% of Chilean GDP and 60% of exports.[135] Escondida is the largest copper mine in the world, producing over 5% of global supplies.[135] Overall, Chile produces a third of the world’s copper.[135] Codelco, the state mining firm, competes with private ones.[135] Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady economic growth in Chile and have more than halved poverty rates.[10][26] Chile began to experience a moderate economic downturn in 1999. The economy remained sluggish until 2003, when it began to show clear signs of recovery, achieving 4.0% GDP growth.[136] The Chilean economy finished 2004 with growth of 6 percent. Real GDP growth reached 5.7 percent in 2005 before falling back to 4 percent in 2006. GDP expanded by 5 percent in 2007.[26] Faced with an international economic downturn the government announced an economic stimulus plan to spur employment and growth, and despite the global financial crisis, aimed for an expansion of between 2 percent and 3 percent of GDP for 2009. Nonetheless, economic analysts disagreed with government estimates and predicted economic growth at a median of 1.5 percent.[137] Real GDP growth in 2012 was 5.5%. Growth slowed to 4.1% in the first quarter of 2013.[138] The unemployment rate was 6.4% in April 2013.[139] There are reported labor shortages in agriculture, mining, and construction.[138] The percentage of Chileans with per capita household incomes below the poverty line—defined as twice the cost of satisfying a person's minimal nutritional needs—fell from 45.1 percent in 1987 to 11.5 percent in 2009, according to government surveys.[140][141] Critics in Chile, however, argue that true poverty figures are considerably higher than those officially published.[142] Using the relative yardstick favoured in many European countries, 27% of Chileans would be poor, according to Juan Carlos Feres of the ECLAC.[143] Chilean (blue) and average Latin American (gray) GDP per capita (1950–2008). As of November 2012, about 11.1 million people (64% of the population) benefit from government welfare programs,[144][clarification needed] via the "Social Protection Card", which includes the population living in poverty and those at a risk of falling into poverty.[145] The privatized national pension system (AFP) has encouraged domestic investment and contributed to an estimated total domestic savings rate of approximately 21 percent of GDP.[146] Under the compulsory private pension system, most formal sector employees pay 10 percent of their salaries into privately managed funds.[26] However, by 2009, it has been reported that had been lost from the pension system to the global financial crisis.[147] Chuquicamata copper mine Chile has signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with a whole network of countries, including an FTA with the United States that was signed in 2003 and implemented in January 2004.[148] Internal Government of Chile figures show that even when factoring out inflation and the recent high price of copper, bilateral trade between the U.S. and Chile has grown over 60 percent since then.[26] Chile's total trade with China reached US in 2006, representing nearly 66 percent of the value of its trade relationship with Asia.[26] Exports to Asia increased from US in 2005 to US in 2006, a 29.9 percent increase.[26] Year-on-year growth in imports was especially strong from a number of countries-Ecuador (123.9%), Thailand (72.1%), Korea (52.6%), and China (36.9%).[26] Chile's approach to foreign direct investment is codified in the country's Foreign Investment Law. Registration is reported to be simple and transparent, and foreign investors are guaranteed access to the official foreign exchange market to repatriate their profits and capital.[26] The Chilean Government has formed a Council on Innovation and Competition, hoping to bring in additional FDI to new parts of the economy.[26] Standard & Poor's gives Chile a credit rating of AA-.[149] The Government of Chile continues to pay down its foreign debt, with public debt only 3.9 percent of GDP at the end of 2006.[26] The Chilean central government is a net creditor with a net asset position of 7% of GDP at end 2012.[138] The current account deficit was 4% in the first quarter of 2013, financed mostly by foreign direct investment.[138] 14% of central government revenue came directly from copper in 2012.[138] Infrastructure Transport Main article: Transport in Chile Mataveri International Airport in Easter Island Santiago Metro is South America's most extensive metro system[150] Due to Chile's topography a functioning transport network is vital to its economy. Buses are now the main means of long distance transportation in Chile, following the decline of its railway network.[151] The bus system covers the entire country, from Arica to Santiago (a 30-hour journey) and from Santiago to Punta Arenas (about 40 hours, with a change at Osorno). Chile has a total of 372 runways (62 paved and 310 unpaved). Important airports in Chile include Chacalluta International Airport (Arica), Diego Aracena International Airport (Iquique), Cerro Moreno International Airport (Antofagasta), Carriel Sur International Airport (Concepción), El Tepual International Airport (Puerto Montt), Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (Punta Arenas), Mataveri International Airport (Easter Island), the most remote airport in the world[dubious – discuss], and the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (Santiago) with a traffic of 12,105,524 passengers in 2011. Santiago is headquarters of Latin America's largest airline holding company and Chilean flag carrier LAN Airlines. Telecommunications Torre Entel in Santiago de Chile, with the Andes mountains in the background Chile has a telecommunication system which covers much of the country, including Chilean insular and Antarctic bases. Privatization of the telephone system began in 1988; Chile has one of the most advanced telecommunications infrastructure in South America with a modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities and domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations.[10] In 2012, there were 3.276 million main lines in use and 24.13 million mobile cellular telephone subscribers.[10] According to a 2012 database of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 61.42% of the Chilean population uses the internet, making Chile the country with the highest internet penetration in South America.[152] The Chilean internet country code is ".cl". Water supply and sanitation Main article: Water supply and sanitation in Chile Water supply and sanitation sector is characterized by high levels of access and good service quality. Compared to most other countries, Chile's water and sanitation sector distinguishes itself by the fact that all urban water companies are privately owned or operated. The sector also prides itself of having a modern and effective regulatory framework, including an innovative subsidy to water demand by the poor. One weakness of the sector is the relatively high water losses. Agriculture Main article: Agriculture in Chile Many of Chile's vineyards are found on flat land within the foothills of the Andes. Agriculture in Chile encompasses a wide range of different activities due to its particular geography, climate and geology and human factors. Historically agriculture is one of the bases of Chile's economy, now agriculture and allied sectors like forestry, logging and fishing accounts only for 4.9% of the GDP as of 2007 and employed 13.6% of the country's labor force. Some major agriculture products of Chile includes grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans, beef, poultry, wool, fish, timber and hemp.[1] Due to its geographical isolation and strict customs policies Chile is free from diseases such as Mad Cow Disease, fruit fly and Phylloxera. This, plus being located in the Southern Hemisphere which has quite different harvesting times from the Northern Hemisphere, and its wide range of agriculture conditions are considered Chile's main comparative advantages. However, Chile's mountainous landscape limits the extent and intensity of agriculture so that arable land corresponds only to 2.62% of the total territory. Tourism Main article: Tourism in Chile Tourism in Chile has experienced sustained growth over the last few decades. In 2005, tourism grew by 13.6 percent, generating more than 4.5 billion dollars of which 1.5 billion was attributed to foreign tourists. According to the National Service of Tourism (Sernatur), 2 million people a year visit the country. Most of these visitors come from other countries in the American continent, mainly Argentina; followed by a growing number from the United States, Europe, and Brazil with a growing number of Asians from South Korea and PR China.[153] Osorno volcano, the Llanquihue Lake near of Puerto Varas The main attractions for tourists are places of natural beauty situated in the extreme zones of the country: San Pedro de Atacama, in the north, is very popular with foreign tourists who arrive to admire the Incaic architecture, the altiplano lakes, and the Valley of the Moon.[citation needed] In Putre, also in the north, there is the Chungará Lake, as well as the Parinacota and the Pomerape volcanoes, with altitudes of 6,348 m and 6,282 m, respectively. Throughout the central Andes there are many ski resorts of international repute,[citation needed] including Portillo, Valle Nevado and Termas de Chillán. The main tourist sites in the south are national parks (the most popular is Conguillío National Park in the Araucanía)[citation needed] and the coastal area around Tirúa and Cañete with the Isla Mocha and the Nahuelbuta National Park, Chiloé Archipelago and Patagonia, which includes Laguna San Rafael National Park, with its many glaciers, and the Torres del Paine National Park. The central port city of Valparaíso, which is World Heritage with its unique architecture, is also popular.[citation needed] Finally, Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean is one of the main Chilean tourist destinations. Moai on Easter Island, Chile For locals, tourism is concentrated mostly in the summer (December to March), and mainly in the coastal beach towns.[citation needed]Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo are the main summer centers in the north, and Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarrica is the main center in the south. Because of its proximity to Santiago, the coast of the Valparaíso Region, with its many beach resorts, receives the largest number of tourists. Viña del Mar, Valparaíso's northern affluent neighbor, is popular because of its beaches, casino, and its annual song festival, the most important musical event in Latin America.[citation needed] Pichilemu in the O'Higgins Region is widely known as South America's "best surfing spot" according to Fodor's.[citation needed] In November 2005 the government launched a campaign under the brand "Chile: All Ways Surprising" intended to promote the country internationally for both business and tourism.[154] Museums in Chile such as the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts built in 1880, feature works by Chilean artists. Education Main article: Education in Chile In Chile, education begins with preschool until the age of 5. Primary school is provided for children between ages 6 and 13. Students then attend secondary school until graduation at age 17. Secondary education is divided into two parts: During the first two years, students receive a general education. Then, they choose a branch: scientific humanistic education, artistic education, or technical and professional education. Secondary school ends two years later on the acquirement of a certificate (licencia de enseñanza media).[155] 2011–13 Chilean student protests Chilean education is segregated by wealth in a three-tiered system — the quality of the schools reflect socioeconomic backgrounds: city schools (colegios municipales) that are mostly free and have the worse education results, mostly attended by poor students; subsidized schools that receive some money from the government which can be supplemented by fees paid by the student's family, which are attended by mid-income students and typically get mid-level results; and entirely private schools that consistently get the best results. Many private schools charge attendance fees of 0,5 to 1 median household incomes.[156] Higher education See also: List of universities in Chile Upon successful graduation of secondary school, students may continue into higher education. The higher education schools in Chile consist of Chilean Traditional Universities and are divided into public universities or private universities. There are medical schools and both the Universidad de Chile and Universidad Diego Portales offer law schools in a partnership with Yale University.[157] Health Main article: Healthcare in Chile The Ministry of Health (Minsal) is the cabinet-level administrative office in charge of planning, directing, coordinating, executing, controlling and informing the public health policies formulated by the President of Chile. The National Health Fund (Fonasa), created in 1979, is the financial entity entrusted to collect, manage and distribute state funds for health in Chile. It is funded by the public. All employees pay 7 percent of their monthly income to the fund. Fonasa is part of the NHSS and has executive power through the Ministry of Health (Chile). Its headquarters are in Santiago and decentralized public service is conducted by various Regional Offices. More than 12 million beneficiaries benefit from Fonasa. Beneficiaries can also opt for more costly private insurance through Isapre. Hospitals in Chile are mainly located in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. Culture Main articles: Culture of Chile, Music of Chile, and Chilean cuisine Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Prize recipients in literature (1971 and 1945) From the period between early agricultural settlements and up to the late pre-Hispanic period, northern Chile was a region of Andean culture that was influenced by altiplano traditions spreading to the coastal valleys of the north, while southern regions were areas of Mapuche cultural activities. Throughout the colonial period following the conquest, and during the early Republican period, the country's culture was dominated by the Spanish. Other European influences, primarily English, French, and German began in the 19th century and have continued to this day. German migrants influenced the Bavarian style rural architecture and cuisine in the south of Chile in cities such as Valdivia, Frutillar, Puerto Varas, Osorno, Temuco, Puerto Octay, Llanquihue, Faja Maisan, Pitrufquén, Victoria, Pucón and Puerto Montt.[158][159][160][161][162] Music and dance La Zamacueca, by Manuel Antonio Caro. Music in Chile ranges from folkloric, popular and classical music. Its large geography generates different musical styles in the north, center and south of the country, including also Easter Island and Mapuche music.[163] The national dance is the cueca. Another form of traditional Chilean song, though not a dance, is the tonada. Arising from music imported by the Spanish colonists, it is distinguished from the cueca by an intermediate melodic section and a more prominent melody. Between 1950 and 1970 appears a rebirth in folk music leading by groups such as Los de Ramón, Los Cuatro Huasos and Los Huasos Quincheros, among others[164] with composers such as Raúl de Ramón, Violeta Parra and others. In the mid-1960s native musical forms were revitalized by the Parra family with the Nueva canción Chilena, which was associated with political activists and reformers such as Víctor Jara, Inti-Illimani, and Quilapayún. Other important folk singer and researcher on folklore and Chilean ethnography, is Margot Loyola. Also many Chilean rock bands like Los Jaivas, Los Prisioneros, La Ley, and Los Tres have reached international success. In February, annual music festivals are held in Viña del Mar.[165] Literature Chileans call their country país de poetas — country of poets.[166][167] Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature (1945). Chile's most famous poet is Pablo Neruda, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971) and is world-renowned for his extensive library of works on romance, nature, and politics. His three highly personalized homes in Isla Negra, Santiago and Valparaíso are popular tourist destinations. Among the list of other Chilean poets are Carlos Pezoa Véliz, Vicente Huidobro, Gonzalo Rojas, Pablo de Rokha, Nicanor Parra and Raúl Zurita. Isabel Allende is the best-selling Chilean novelist, with 51 millions of her novels sold worldwide.[168] Novelist José Donoso's novel The Obscene Bird of Night is considered by critic Harold Bloom to be one of the canonical works of 20th-century Western literature. Another internationally recognized Chilean novelist and poet is Roberto Bolaño whose translations into English have had an excellent reception from the critics.[169][170][171] Cuisine Chilean Cazuela and assorted salads. Chilean cuisine is a reflection of the country's topographical variety, featuring an assortment of seafood, beef, fruits, and vegetables. Traditional recipes include asado, cazuela, empanadas, humitas, pastel de choclo, pastel de papas, curanto and sopaipillas.[172] Crudos is an example of the mixture of culinary contributions from the various ethnic influences in Chile. The raw minced llama, heavy use of shellfish and rice bread were taken from native Quechua Andean cuisine, (although now beef brought to Chile by Europeans is also used in place of the llama meat), lemon and onions were brought by the Spanish colonists, and the use of mayonnaise and yogurt was introduced by German immigrants, as was beer. Folklore The folklore of Chile, cultural and demographic characteristics of the country, is the result of mixture of Spanish and Amerindian elements that occurred during the colonial period.. Due to cultural and historical reasons, they are classified and distinguished four major areas in the country: Northern Areas, central, southern and south. Most of the traditions of the culture of Chile have a festive purpose, but some, such as dances and ceremonies have religious components.[citation needed] Mythology Main article: Chilean mythology Chilean mythology, is the mythology and beliefs of the Folklore of Chile. This includes Chilote mythology, Rapa Nui mythology and Mapuche mythology. Cinema Main article: Cinema of Chile The film originated in Valparaíso on 26 May 1902 with the premiere of the documentary Exercise General Fire Brigade, the first film completely filmed and processed in the country. In the following decades, marked milestones The deck of Death (or The Enigma of Lord Street) (1916), considered the first film Chilean story, The transmission of presidential (1920), the first animated film in the country, and North and South (1934), the first sound film of Chile. Sports Main article: Sport in Chile Estadio Nacional de Chile Chile's most popular sport is association football. Chile has appeared in nine FIFA World Cups which includes hosting the 1962 FIFA World Cup where the national football team finished third. Other results achieved by the national football team include two Copa América titles (2015 and 2016), and two runners up positions, one silver and two bronze medals at the Pan American Games, a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics and two third places finishes in the FIFA under-17 and under-20 youth tournaments. The top league in the Chilean football league system is the Chilean Primera División, which is named by the IFFHS as the ninth strongest national football league in the world.[173] The main football clubs are Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica. Colo-Colo is the country's most successful football club, having both the most national and international championships, including the coveted Copa Libertadores South American club tournament. Universidad de Chile was the last international champion (Copa Sudamericana 2011). The Chilean national polo team with President Michelle Bachelet and the trophy of the 2008 World Polo Championship. Tennis is Chile's most successful sport. Its national team won the World Team Cup clay tournament twice (2003 & 2004), and played the Davis Cup final against Italy in 1976. At the 2004 Summer Olympics the country captured gold and bronze in men's singles and gold in men's doubles. Marcelo Ríos became the first Latin American man to reach the number one spot in the ATP singles rankings in 1998. Anita Lizana won the US Open in 1937, becoming the first woman from Latin America to win a Grand Slam tournament. Luis Ayala was twice a runner-up at the French Open and both Ríos and Fernando González reached the Australian Open men's singles finals. González also won a silver medal in singles at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. At the Summer Olympic Games Chile boasts a total of two gold medals (tennis), seven silver medals (athletics, equestrian, boxing, shooting and tennis) and four bronze medals (tennis, boxing and football). In 2012, Chile won its first Paralympic Games medal (gold in Athletics). Rodeo is the country's national sport and is practiced in the more rural areas of the nation. A sport similar to hockey called chueca was played by the Mapuche people during the Spanish conquest. Skiing and snowboarding are practiced at ski centers located in the Central Andes, and in southern ski centers near to cities as Osorno, Puerto Varas, Temuco and Punta Arenas. surfing is popular at some coastal towns. Polo is professionally practiced within Chile, with the country achieving top prize in the 2008 and 2015 World Polo Championship. Basketball is a popular sport in which Chile has earned a bronze medal in the first men's FIBA World Championship held in 1950 and winning a second bronze medal when Chile hosted the 1959 FIBA World Championship. Chile hosted the first FIBA World Championship for Women in 1953 finishing the tournament with the silver medal. San Pedro de Atacama is host to the annual "Atacama Crossing", a six-stage, 250-kilometre (160 mi) footrace which annually attracts about 150 competitors from 35 countries. The Dakar Rally off-road automobilie race has been held in both Chile and Argentina since 2009. Cultural heritage The historical district of the port city of Valparaíso The cultural heritage of Chile consists, first, of their intangible heritage, composed of various cultural events, such as visual arts, crafts, dances, holidays, cuisine, games, music and traditions, and, secondly, by its tangible, consists of those buildings, objects and sites of archaeological, architectural, traditional, artistic, ethnographic, folkloric, historical, religious or technological scattered through Chilean territory, among them, those goods are declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, ratified by Chile in 1980. These cultural sites are the Rapa Nui National Park (1995), the Churches of Chiloé (2000), the historical district of the port city of Valparaíso (2003), Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (2005) and the mining city Sewell (2006). In 1999 the Cultural Heritage Day was established as a way to honour and commemorate Chiles cultural heritage. It is an official national holiday celebrated in May every year.  

May 23, 2017 by
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