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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. 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.

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. The murder rate in 2015 was 4.9 per 100,000 people. In 2016 the murder rate increased by 8.6%, with 17,250 murders that year. The national clearance rate for homicides in 2015 was 64.1%, compared to 90% in 1965. 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. 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. A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2010 showed that United States "homicide rates were 7.0 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher." 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. In 2012, Louisiana had the highest rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in the U.S., and New Hampshire the lowest. 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.

Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and used in 31 states. 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. Meanwhile, several states have either abolished or struck down death penalty laws. In 2015, the country had the fifth-highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults. 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. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980, 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. 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 and the rate for pre-trial/remand prisoners is 153 per 100,000 residents in 2012. The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing guidelines and drug policies. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses. The privatization of prisons and prison services which began in the 1980s has been a subject of debate. In 2008, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate, and Maine the lowest.


The United States has a capitalist mixed economy which is fueled by abundant natural resources and high productivity. 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).

The nominal GDP of the U.S. is estimated to be $17.528 trillion as of 2014 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. The country ranks ninth in the world in nominal GDP per capita (first in the Americas) and sixth in GDP per capita at PPP. The U.S. dollar is the world's primary reserve currency. The U.S. economy is also the fastest growing in the Americas.

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. Canada, China, Mexico, Japan, and Germany are its top trading partners. In 2010, oil was the largest import commodity, while transportation equipment was the country's largest export. Japan is the largest foreign holder of U.S. public debt. 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.

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%. The number of employees at all levels of government outnumber those in manufacturing by 1.7 to 1. 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. The leading business field by gross business receipts is wholesale and retail trade; by net income it is manufacturing. 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.

Chemical products are the leading manufacturing field. The United States is the largest producer of oil in the world, as well as its second-largest importer. 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.

Agriculture accounts for just under 1% of GDP, yet the United States is the world's top producer of corn and soybeans. 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.

Consumer spending comprises 68% of the U.S. economy in 2015. 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. The World Bank ranks the United States first in the ease of hiring and firing workers. 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.

The United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation 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. While federal law currently does not require sick leave, it is a common benefit for government workers and full-time employees at corporations. 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. 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.

The 2008–2012 global recession significantly affected the United States, with output still below potential according to the Congressional Budget Office. 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.

Income, poverty and wealth

Americans have the highest average household and employee income among OECD nations, and in 2007 had the second-highest median household income. According to the Census Bureau, median household income was $59,039 in 2016. Accounting for 4.4% of the global population, Americans collectively possess 41.6% of the world's total wealth, and Americans make up roughly half of the world's population of millionaires. The Global Food Security Index ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013. 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. 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).

After years of stagnant growth, in 2016, according to the Census, median household income reached a record high after two consecutive years of record growth, although income inequality remains at record highs with top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income. There has been a widening gap between productivity and median incomes since the 1970s. However, the gap between total compensation and productivity is not as wide because of increased employee benefits such as health insurance. 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, leaving the United States with one of the widest income distributions among OECD nations. The top 1 percent of income-earners accounted for 52 percent of the income gains from 2009 to 2015, where income is defined as market income excluding government transfers, The extent and relevance of income inequality is a matter of debate.

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%. According to a September 2017 report by the Federal Reserve, the top 1% controlled 38.6% of the country's wealth in 2016. 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. Since peaking in the second quarter of 2007, household wealth was down $14 trillion, but has since increased $14 trillion over 2006 levels. At the end of 2014, household debt amounted to $11.8 trillion, down from $13.8 trillion at the end of 2008.

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. 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. 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.



Personal transportation is dominated by automobiles, which operate on a network of 4 million miles (6.4 million km) of public roads, including one of the world's longest highway systems at 57,000 miles (91700 km). The world's second-largest automobile market, the United States has the highest rate of per-capita vehicle ownership in the world, with 765 vehicles per 1,000 Americans. About 40% of personal vehicles are vans, SUVs, or light trucks. The average American adult (accounting for all drivers and non-drivers) spends 55 minutes driving every day, traveling 29 miles (47 km).

Mass transit accounts for 9% of total U.S. work trips. 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. However, ridership on Amtrak, the national intercity passenger rail system, grew by almost 37% between 2000 and 2010. Also, light rail development has increased in recent years. Bicycle usage for work commutes is minimal.

The civil airline industry is entirely privately owned and has been largely deregulated since 1978, while most major airports are publicly owned. 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. 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. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks of 2001, the Transportation Security Administration was created to police airports and commercial airliners.


The United States energy market is about 29,000 terawatt hours per year. 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. The United States is the world's largest consumer of petroleum.The United States has 27% of global coal reserves. It is the world's largest producer of natural gas and crude oil.

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.

Water supply and sanitation

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.