MINI TOUR - Quick Profile of the USA

Country Overview - covering a large part of the North American continent, the United States of America shares borders with Canada, Mexico, the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
One of the largest countries in the world, the USA has an enormous diversity of geographical features. The climate ranges from subtropical to Arctic, with a corresponding breadth of flora and fauna.

TOTAL LAND AREA: 3,787,319 sq miles.
CAPITAL: Washington, DC.
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LANGUAGE: English, with significant Spanish-speaking minorities.
RELIGION: Protestant with Roman Catholic, Jewish and many ethnic minorities. In large cities people of the same ethnic background often live within defined communities.

ELECTRICITY: 110/120 volts AC, 60Hz. Plugs are of the flat 2-pin type. European electrical appliances not fitted with dual-voltage capabilities will require a plug adaptor, which is best purchased before arrival in the USA.

Telephone: Full IDD is available. Country code: 1. Outgoing international code: 011. For emergency police, fire or medical services in major cities, dial 911.

Fax: There are bureaux in all main centres, and major hotels also have facilities. Fax services are very widely available.
Telegram: These can be sent through all telegraph and post offices.

Post: There are only a limited number of post offices, so it is advisable to buy stamps in bulk. There are, however, stamp machines in hotels and shops, but these have a 25% price mark-up. Airmail to Europe takes up to a week. Post office hours: 0900-1700 (24 hours at main offices in larger cities). If sending gifts valued at less than US$50 to the USA, the recipient will not have to pay tax if the package is marked 'Unsolicited Gift'.

Press: The most influential papers are The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. Owing to the high degree of self-government of each State, newspapers tend to be regionalised, although recent economic pressures have resulted in large-scale mergers. Even so, the USA publishes more newspapers than any other country, and has perhaps the bulkiest Sunday newspapers in the world, particularly the Sunday edition of The New York Times.

US places of interest include: The Yosemite National Park, The Grand Canyon, the Florida Everglades, Death Valley, San Fransisco's China Town and Golden Gate Bridge; not to mention the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty .

The range of cuisine is truly international but featuring American icons such as hamburgers, weenies and hash browns. Mexican food is very popular.
Clubs generally stay open until the early hours in most major cities, where one can find music and theatre of all descriptions.

Time Zones
The USA is divided into six time zones:

Eastern Standard Time: GMT minus 5 hours (from Apr-Oct: GMT - 4).
Central Standard Time: GMT minus 6 hours (from Apr-Oct: GMT - 5).
Mountain Standard Time: GMT minus 7 hours (from Apr-Oct: GMT - 6).
Pacific Standard Time: GMT minus 8 hours (from Apr-Oct: GMT - 7).

Alaska: GMT minus 9 hours (from Apr-Oct: GMT - 8).
Hawaii: GMT minus 10 hours.

Note: When calculating travel times, bear in mind the adoption of Daylight Saving Time (DST) by most States in summer. From the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, clocks are put forward one hour, changing at 0200 hours local time. Regions not observing DST include most of Indiana, all of Arizona and Hawaii.

USA Quick Facts from the USA Census Bureau
clickable map of the USA to find statistics on each State.