United States of America

$name - General

Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. Since the end of World War II, the economy has achieved relatively steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Country name:
conventional long form: United States of America
conventional short form: United States
abbreviation: US or USA

Government type:

constitution-based federal republic; strong democratic tradition


name: Washington, DC
geographic coordinates: 38 53 N, 77 02 W
time difference: UTC-5 (during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November
note: the 50 United States cover six time zones

Administrative divisions:

50 states and 1 district*; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia*, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Dependent areas:

American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island
note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; it entered into a political relationship with all four political entities: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994)


4 July 1776 (declared); 3 September 1783 (recognized by Great Britain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 4 July (1776)


previous 1781 (Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union); latest drafted July - September 1787, submitted to the Congress of the Confederation 20 September 1787, submitted for states' ratification 28 September 1787, ratification completed by nine states 21 June 1788, effective 4 March 1789; amended many times, last in 1992 (2014)

Legal system:

common law system based on English common law at the federal level; state legal systems based on common law except Louisiana, which is based on Napoleonic civil code; judicial review of legislative acts

International law organization participation:

withdrew acceptance of compulsory ICJ jurisdiction in 2005; withdrew acceptance of ICCt jurisdiction in 2002


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approval
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)
election results: Barack H. OBAMA reelected president; percent of popular vote - Barack H. OBAMA 50.6%, Mitt ROMNEY 47.9%, other 1.5%;

Legislative branch:

bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, 2 members elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 4 November 2014); House of Representatives - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 4 November 2014)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 54, Republican Party 45, independent 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 201, Republican Party 234

Judicial branch:

highest court(s): US Supreme Court (consists of 9 justices - the chief justice and 8 associate justices)
note - The US court system consists of the federal court system and the state court systems; although each court system is responsible for hearing certain types of cases, neither is completely independent of the other, and the systems often interact
judge selection and term of office: president nominates, and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints Supreme Court justices; justices appointed for life
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal (includes the US Court of Appeal for the Federal District and 12 regional appeals courts); 94 federal district courts in 50 states and territories

Political parties and leaders:

Democratic Party [Debbie Wasserman SCHULTZ]
Green Party
Libertarian Party [Mark HINKLE]
Republican Party [Reince PRIEBUS]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

environmentalists; business groups; labor unions; churches; ethnic groups; political action committees or PACs; health groups; education groups; civic groups; youth groups; transportation groups; agricultural groups; veterans groups; women's groups; reform lobbies

International organization participation:

ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), ANZUS, APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC (observer), CBSS (observer), CD, CE (observer), CERN (observer), CICA (observer), CP, EAPC, EAS, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-20, G-5, G-7, G-8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SELEC (observer), SICA (observer), SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNITAR, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNRWA, UNSC (permanent), UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Flag description:

13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a blue rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars (top and bottom) alternating with rows of five stars; the 50 stars represent the 50 states, the 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies; the blue stands for loyalty, devotion, truth, justice, and friendship; red symbolizes courage, zeal, and fervency, while white denotes purity and rectitude of conduct; commonly referred to by its nickname of Old Glory
note: the design and colors have been the basis for a number of other flags, including Chile, Liberia, Malaysia, and Puerto Rico

National symbol(s):

bald eagle

National anthem:

name: "The Star-Spangled Banner"

lyrics/music: Francis Scott KEY/John Stafford SMITH
note: adopted 1931; during the War of 1812, after witnessing the successful American defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore following British naval bombardment, Francis Scott KEY wrote the lyrics to what would become the national anthem; the lyrics were set to the tune of "The Anacreontic Song"; only the first verse is sung

Source: CIA World Fact Book


North America, bordering both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean, between Canada and Mexico

Geographic coordinates:

38 00 N, 97 00 W

Map references:

North America


total: 9,826,675 sq km
country comparison to the world: 3
land: 9,161,966 sq km
water: 664,709 sq km
note: includes only the 50 states and District of Columbia, no overseas territories

Area - comparative:

about half the size of Russia; about three-tenths the size of Africa; about half the size of South America (or slightly larger than Brazil); slightly larger than China; more than twice the size of the European Union

Land boundaries:

total: 12,034 km
border countries: Canada 8,893 km (including 2,477 km with Alaska), Mexico 3,141 km
note: US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is leased by the US and is part of Cuba; the base boundary is 28 km


19,924 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified


mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains


vast central plain, mountains in west, hills and low mountains in east; rugged mountains and broad river valleys in Alaska; rugged, volcanic topography in Hawaii

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Death Valley -86 m
highest point: Mount McKinley (Denali) 6,194 m (highest point in North America)
note: the peak of Mauna Kea (4,207 m above sea level) on the island of Hawaii rises about 10,200 m above the Pacific Ocean floor; by this measurement, it is the world's tallest mountain - higher than Mount Everest (8,850 m), which is recognized as the tallest mountain above sea level

Natural resources:

coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, rare earth elements, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber
note: the US has the world's largest coal reserves with 491 billion short tons accounting for 27% of the world's total

Land use:

arable land: 16.29%
permanent crops: 0.26%
other: 83.44% (2011)

Irrigated land:

266,440 sq km (2007)

Total renewable water resources:

3,069 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 478.4 cu km/yr (14%/46%/40%)
per capita: 1,583 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards:

tsunamis; volcanoes; earthquake activity around Pacific Basin; hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts; tornadoes in the Midwest and Southeast; mud slides in California; forest fires in the west; flooding; permafrost in northern Alaska, a major impediment to development
volcanism: volcanic activity in the Hawaiian Islands, Western Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and in the Northern Mariana Islands; both Mauna Loa (elev. 4,170 m) in Hawaii and Mount Rainier (elev. 4,392 m) in Washington have been deemed Decade Volcanoes by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to their explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Pavlof (elev. 2,519 m) is the most active volcano in Alaska's Aleutian Arc and poses a significant threat to air travel since the area constitutes a major flight path between North America and East Asia; St. Helens (elev. 2,549 m), famous for the devastating 1980 eruption, remains active today; numerous other historically active volcanoes exist, mostly concentrated in the Aleutian arc and Hawaii; they include: in Alaska: Aniakchak, Augustine, Chiginagak, Fourpeaked, Iliamna, Katmai, Kupreanof, Martin, Novarupta, Redoubt, Spurr, Wrangell; in Hawaii: Trident, Ugashik-Peulik, Ukinrek Maars, Veniaminof; in the Northern Mariana Islands: Anatahan; and in the Pacific Northwest: Mount Baker, Mount Hood

Environment - current issues:

air pollution resulting in acid rain in both the US and Canada; large emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water pollution from runoff of pesticides and fertilizers; limited natural freshwater resources in much of the western part of the country require careful management; desertification

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes

Geography - note:

world's third-largest country by size (after Russia and Canada) and by population (after China and India); Mt. McKinley is highest point in North America and Death Valley the lowest point on the continent

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Demographics and Population Development

noun: American(s)
adjective: American

Ethnic groups:

white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate)
note: a separate listing for Hispanic is not included because the US Census Bureau considers Hispanic to mean persons of Spanish/Hispanic/Latino origin including those of Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic, Spanish, and Central or South American origin living in the US who may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.); about 15.1% of the total US population is Hispanic


English 82.1%, Spanish 10.7%, other Indo-European 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island 2.7%, other 0.7% (2000 census)
note: the US has no official national language, but English has acquired official status in 28 of the 50 states; Hawaiian is an official language in the state of Hawaii


Protestant 51.3%, Roman Catholic 23.9%, Mormon 1.7%, other Christian 1.6%, Jewish 1.7%, Buddhist 0.7%, Muslim 0.6%, other or unspecified 2.5%, unaffiliated 12.1%, none 4% (2007 est.)


318,892,103 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4

Age structure:

0-14 years: 19.4% (male 31,580,349/female 30,221,106)
15-24 years: 13.7% (male 22,436,057/female 21,321,861)
25-54 years: 39.9% (male 63,452,792/female 63,671,631)
55-64 years: 12.6% (male 19,309,019/female 20,720,284)
65 years and over: 13.9% (male 20,304,644/female 25,874,360) (2014 est.)
population pyramid:  

Dependency ratios:

total dependency ratio: 51 %
youth dependency ratio: 29.4 %
elderly dependency ratio: 21.6 %
potential support ratio: 4.6 (2014 est.)

Median age:

total: 37.6 years
male: 36.3 years
female: 39 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.77% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143

Birth rate:

13.42 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

country comparison to the world: 150

Death rate:

8.15 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94

Net migration rate:

2.45 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40


urban population: 82.4% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.14% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population:

New York-Newark 20.352 million; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 13.395 million; Chicago 9.676 million; Miami 6.061 million; Philadelphia 5.927 million; WASHINGTON, D.C. (capital) 4.705 million (2011)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth:

25.4 (2009 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:

21 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)country comparison to the world: 136

Infant mortality rate:

total: 6.17 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 169
male: 6.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.56 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 79.56 years
country comparison to the world: 42
male: 77.11 years
female: 81.94 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.01 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123

Contraceptive prevalence rate:

note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2010)

Health expenditures:

17.9% of GDP (2011)
country comparison to the world: 3

Physicians density:

2.42 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density:

3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source:

urban: 99.4% of population
rural: 98% of population
total: 99.2% of population
urban: 0.6% of population
rural: 2% of population
total: 0.8% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access:

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.6% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

1.2 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 9

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

17,000 (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19

Obesity - adult prevalence rate:

33% (2008)
country comparison to the world: 18

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

1.3% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 129

Education expenditures:

5.4% of GDP (2010)
country comparison to the world: 63


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 17 years
male: 16 years
female: 17 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:

total: 17.3%
country comparison to the world: 73
male: 18.7%
female: 15.7% (2011)

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Economy - overview:
The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $49,800. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income. Imported oil accounts for nearly 55% of US consumption. Crude oil prices doubled between 2001 and 2006, the year home prices peaked; higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets and many individuals fell behind in their mortgage payments. Oil prices climbed another 50% between 2006 and 2008, and bank foreclosures more than doubled in the same period. Besides dampening the housing market, soaring oil prices caused a drop in the value of the dollar and a deterioration in the US merchandise trade deficit, which peaked at $840 billion in 2008. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, falling home prices, investment bank failures, tight credit, and the global economic downturn pushed the United States into a recession by mid-2008. GDP contracted until the third quarter of 2009, making this the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. To help stabilize financial markets, in October 2008 the US Congress established a $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The government used some of these funds to purchase equity in US banks and industrial corporations, much of which had been returned to the government by early 2011. In January 2009 the US Congress passed and President Barack OBAMA signed a bill providing an additional $787 billion fiscal stimulus to be used over 10 years - two-thirds on additional spending and one-third on tax cuts - to create jobs and to help the economy recover. In 2010 and 2011, the federal budget deficit reached nearly 9% of GDP. In 2012 the federal government reduced the growth of spending and the deficit shrank to 7.6% of GDP. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the budget deficit and public debt. Through 2011, the direct costs of the wars totaled nearly $900 billion, according to US government figures. US revenues from taxes and other sources are lower, as a percentage of GDP, than those of most other countries. In March 2010, President OBAMA signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health insurance reform that was designed to extend coverage to an additional 32 million American citizens by 2016, through private health insurance for the general population and Medicaid for the impoverished. Total spending on health care - public plus private - rose from 9.0% of GDP in 1980 to 17.9% in 2010. In July 2010, the president signed the DODD-FRANK Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a law designed to promote financial stability by protecting consumers from financial abuses, ending taxpayer bailouts of financial firms, dealing with troubled banks that are "too big to fail," and improving accountability and transparency in the financial system - in particular, by requiring certain financial derivatives to be traded in markets that are subject to government regulation and oversight. In December 2012, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) announced plans to purchase $85 billion per month of mortgage-backed and Treasury securities in an effort to hold down long-term interest rates, and to keep short term rates near zero until unemployment drops below 6.5% or inflation rises above 2.5%. In late 2013, the Fed announced that it would begin scaling back long-term bond purchases to $75 billion per month in January 2014 and reduce them further as conditions warranted; the Fed, however, would keep short-term rates near zero so long as unemployment and inflation had not crossed the previously stated thresholds. Long-term problems include stagnation of wages for lower-income families, inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, energy shortages, and sizable current account and budget deficits.
GDP (purchasing power parity):

$16.72 trillion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1
$16.47 trillion (2012 est.)
$16.02 trillion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):

$16.72 trillion (2013 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:

1.6% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
2.8% (2012 est.)
1.8% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):

$52,800 (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
$52,400 (2012 est.)
$51,400 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
Gross national saving:

13.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 116
12.5% of GDP (2012 est.)
11.4% of GDP (2011 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use:

household consumption: 68.6%
government consumption: 18.6%
investment in fixed capital: 15.3%
investment in inventories: 0.4%
exports of goods and services: 13.4%
imports of goods and services: -16.3%
(2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of origin:

agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 19.5%
services: 79.4%
(2013 est.)
Agriculture - products:

wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish; forest products

highly diversified, world leading, high-technology innovator, second largest industrial output in world; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
Industrial production growth rate:

2.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 115
Labor force:

155.4 million
country comparison to the world: 4
note: includes unemployed (2013 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:

farming, forestry, and fishing: 0.7%
manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts: 20.3%
managerial, professional, and technical: 37.3%
sales and office: 24.2%
other services: 17.6%
note: figures exclude the unemployed
Unemployment rate:

7.3% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
8.1% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line:

15.1% (2010 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 30% (2007 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:

45 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 41
40.8 (1997)

revenues: $2.849 trillion
expenditures: $3.517 trillion
note: for the US, revenues exclude social contributions of approximately $1.0 trillion; expenditures exclude social benefits of approximately $2.3 trillion (2013 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:

17% of GDP
country comparison to the world: 182
note: excludes contributions for social security and other programs; if social contributions were added, taxes and other revenues would amount to approximately 22% of GDP (2013 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):

-4% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
Public debt:

71.8% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
70% of GDP (2012 est.)
note: data cover only what the United States Treasury denotes as "Debt Held by the Public," which includes all debt instruments issued by the Treasury that are owned by non-US Government entities; the data include Treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data exclude debt issued by individual US states, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of Treasury borrowings from surpluses in the trusts for Federal Social Security, Federal Employees, Hospital Insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), Disability and Unemployment, and several other smaller trusts; if data for intra-government debt were added, "Gross Debt" would increase by about one-third of GDP
Fiscal year:

1 October - 30 September
Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.5% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
2.1% (2012 est.)
Central bank discount rate:

0.5% (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 137
0.5% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:

3.3% (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
3.25% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money:

$2.612 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
$2.311 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money:

$12.99 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
$12.07 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:

$16.97 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$16.17 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:

$18.67 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1
$15.64 trillion (31 December 2011)
$17.14 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)
Current account balance:

-$360.7 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 193
-$440.4 billion (2012 est.)

$1.575 trillion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3
$1.561 trillion (2012 est.)
Exports - commodities:

agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0%
Exports - partners:

Canada 18.9%, Mexico 14%, China 7.2%, Japan 4.5% (2012)

$2.273 trillion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$2.303 trillion (2012 est.)
Imports - commodities:

agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys)
Imports - partners:

China 19%, Canada 14.1%, Mexico 12%, Japan 6.4%, Germany 4.7% (2012)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$150.2 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
$148 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Debt - external:

$15.68 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
$15.51 trillion (31 December 2011)
note: approximately 4/5ths of US external debt is denominated in US dollars; foreign lenders have been willing to hold US dollar denominated debt instruments because they view the dollar as the world's reserve currency
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$2.815 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1
$2.651 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$4.854 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1
$4.453 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Exchange rates:

British pounds per US dollar: 0.6324 (2012 est.), 0.624 (2011 est.), 0.6472 (2010), 0.6175 (2009), 0.5302 (2008)
Canadian dollars per US dollar: (2013 est.), 1.001 (2012 est.), 0.9895 (2011 est), 1.0302 (2010 est.), 1.1431 (2009), 1.0364 (2008)
Chinese yuan per US dollar: (2012 est.), 6.311 (2012 est.), 6.4615 (20111 est.), 6.7703 (2010 est.), 6.8314 (2009), 6.9385 (2008)
euros per US dollar: 0.7838 (2012 est.), 0.7185 (2011 est.), 0.755 (2010 est.), 0.7198 (2009), 0.6827 (2008)
Japanese yen per US dollar: 79.42 (2012 est.), 79.81 (2011 est.), 87.78 (2010), 93.57 (2009), 103.58 (2008)

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Telephones - main lines in use:
139 million (2012)
country comparison to the world: 2

Telephones - mobile cellular:

310 million (2012)
country comparison to the world: 3

Telephone system:

general assessment: a large, technologically advanced, multipurpose communications system
domestic: a large system of fiber-optic cable, microwave radio relay, coaxial cable, and domestic satellites carries every form of telephone traffic; a rapidly growing cellular system carries mobile telephone traffic throughout the country
international: country code - 1; multiple ocean cable systems provide international connectivity; satellite earth stations - 61 Intelsat (45 Atlantic Ocean and 16 Pacific Ocean), 5 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 4 Inmarsat (Pacific and Atlantic Ocean regions) (2011)

Broadcast media:

4 major terrestrial TV networks with affiliate stations throughout the country, plus cable and satellite networks, independent stations, and a limited public broadcasting sector that is largely supported by private grants; overall, thousands of TV stations broadcasting; multiple national radio networks with many affiliate stations; while most stations are commercial, National Public Radio (NPR) has a network of some 600 member stations; satellite radio available; overall, nearly 15,000 radio stations operating (2008)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

505 million (2012); note - the US Internet total host count includes the following top level domain host addresses: .us, .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, and .org
country comparison to the world: 1

Internet users:

245 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 2

Source: CIA World Fact Book


13,513 (2013)
country comparison to the world: 1

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 5,054
over 3,047 m: 189
2,438 to 3,047 m: 235
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1,478
914 to 1,523 m: 2,249
under 914 m: 903 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 8,459
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 140
914 to 1,523 m: 1,552
under 914 m: 
6,760 (2013)


5,287 (2013)

natural gas 1,984,321 km; petroleum products 240,711 km (2013)


total: 224,792 km
country comparison to the world: 1
standard gauge: 224,792 km 1.435-m gauge (2007)


total: 6,586,610 km
country comparison to the world: 1
paved: 4,304,715 km (includes 76,334 km of expressways)
unpaved: 2,281,895 km (2012)


41,009 km (19,312 km used for commerce; Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3,769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3,058 km, is shared with Canada) (2012)
country comparison to the world: 5

Merchant marine:

total: 393
country comparison to the world: 26
by type: barge carrier 6, bulk carrier 55, cargo 51, carrier 2, chemical tanker 30, container 84, passenger 18, passenger/cargo 56, petroleum tanker 35, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 27, vehicle carrier 26
foreign-owned: 85 (Australia 1, Bermuda 5, Denmark 31, France 4, Germany 5, Malaysia 2, Norway 17, Singapore 16, UK 4)
registered in other countries: 794 (Antigua and Barbuda 7, Australia 2, Bahamas 109, Belgium 1, Bermuda 26, Canada 10, Cayman Islands 57, Comoros 2, Cyprus 5, Georgia 1, Greece 8, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 44, Indonesia 2, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 1, Italy 23, Liberia 53, Malta 34, Marshall Islands 200, Netherlands 16, Norway 10, Panama 90, Portugal 4, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18, Singapore 36, South Korea 8, Togo 1, UK 14, Vanuatu 2, unknown 6) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

cargo ports (tonnage): Baton Rouge, Corpus Christi, Hampton Roads, Houston, Long Beach, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Plaquemines, Tampa, Texas City
container port(s) (TEUs): Hampton Roads (1,918,029), Houston (1,866,450), Long Beach (6,061,091), Los Angeles (7,940,511), New York/New Jersey (5,503,485), Oakland (2,342,504), Savannah (2,944,678), Seattle (2,033,535)(2011)
cruise departure ports (passengers): Miami (2,032,000), Port Everglades (1,277,000), Port Canaveral (1,189,000), Seattle (430,000), Long Beach (415,000) (2009)
oil terminals: LOOP terminal, Haymark terminal

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Electricity - production:
4.099 trillion kWh (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Electricity - consumption:

3.886 trillion kWh (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Electricity - exports:

12 billion kWh (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19

Electricity - imports:

59.26 billion kWh (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Electricity - installed generating capacity:

1.039 billion kW (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Electricity - from fossil fuels:

75.3% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101

Electricity - from nuclear fuels:

9.7% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:

7.6% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119

Electricity - from other renewable sources:

5.3% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45

Crude oil - production:

11.11 million bbl/day (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Crude oil - exports:

41,640 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47

Crude oil - imports:

9.213 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Crude oil - proved reserves:

20.68 billion bbl (1 January 2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13

Refined petroleum products - production:

18.45 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Refined petroleum products - consumption:

18.84 million bbl/day (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Refined petroleum products - exports:

2.311 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Refined petroleum products - imports:

2.58 million bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Natural gas - production:

681.4 billion cu m (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Natural gas - consumption:

689.9 billion cu m (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 1

Natural gas - exports:

45.84 billion cu m (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 8

Natural gas - imports:

88.77 billion cu m (2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 3

Natural gas - proved reserves:

9.459 trillion cu m (1 January 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:

5.491 billion Mt (2011 est.)

Source: CIA World Fact Book


Source: CIA World Fact Book

Annual Exports

Top 20 Sectors exported from Kwazulu-Natal in 2017

#DescriptionChapter CodeTotal (in Rands)
1Aluminium and articles thereof76 R5,145,824,836.00
2Ores, slag and ash26 R4,783,305,413.00
3Iron and steel72 R1,243,476,464.00
4Sugars and sugar confectionery17 R 438,144,203.00
5Vehicles other than railway, tramway87 R 351,223,109.00
6Pulp of wood, fibrous cellulosic material, waste etc47 R 341,652,240.00
7Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, etc84 R 285,835,804.00
8Copper and articles thereof74 R 187,799,984.00
9Organic chemicals29 R 165,968,115.00
10Electrical, electronic equipment85 R 159,436,127.00
11Pharmaceutical products30 R 143,695,250.00
12Miscellaneous chemical products38 R 55,781,109.00
13Inorganic chemicals, precious metal compound, isotopes28 R 51,708,838.00
14Other base metals, cermets, articles thereof81 R 40,755,129.00
15Edible fruit, nuts, peel of citrus fruit, melons08 R 36,171,346.00
16Carpets and other textile floor coverings57 R 31,647,118.00
17Railway, tramway locomotives, rolling stock, equipment86 R 29,924,540.00
18Articles of iron or steel73 R 28,500,200.00
19Cocoa and cocoa preparations18 R 26,427,847.00
20Tanning, dyeing extracts, tannins, derivs,pigments etc32 R 24,333,465.00

Source: SARS

Visa Requirements

Visa Required: Yes


Visa Fee: Yes

Visa Issuing Authority: Consulate General (Johannesburg) Tel 011-6448000 Fax 011-6466916 Consulate (Cape Town) Tel 021-7027300 Fax 021-7027493 Consulate (Durban) Tel 031-3057600 Fax 031-3057691  

Compulsory Vaccination Requirement: None

Recommended Vaccination Requirement: None

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Business Etiquette

Language: English
Currency: US Dollar ($)
International Dialing Code: +1
Time Difference: -4 hours GMT (New York) and -7 hours
GMT (Los Angeles)
Greeting: Hello – ‘Hello’ is quite acceptable
Goodbye – ‘Goodbye’

Dealing with a Business Counterpart:
• Greeting and communication is generally informal and casual. It is important to smile;
• The use of first names is common;
• It is important to ensure that all parties are introduced to one another;
• Men shake hands as the common form of greeting;
• When meeting a woman in business, shake hands, as one would with a male business counterpart;
• Business cards may be exchanged without formal ritual;
• As regards to dress, people in the east of the country tend to dress somewhat formally, while people from the west of the country are known for being fairly informal in their dress.

Source: CIA World Fact Book

Realistic Export Opportunities

A total of 160 Realistic Export Opportunities (REOs) from South Africa to United States of America are identified based on the North-West University’s (South Africa) TRADE Decision Support Model (DSM).

The methodology is a very useful instrument to identify market opportunities globally for one’s product and also provides a good reference for one to be able to prioritise marketing efforts based on the value and size of these opportunities.

The TRADE-DSM Navigator provides sound information that companies are able to use in developing their export marketing strategy and forms the basis and guidance for further research should this be required.

In total 160 of the products associated with import demand are identified as realistic export opportunities. The relative 'untapped' potential of the market opportunity is shown in the chart below:

A total 'untapped' potential from South Africa’s perspective of approximately 4 681.25 (in million US dollar terms) based on the average value of the top 6 supplying countries (excluding South Africa) are associated with these specific product export opportunities.

The highest number of identified opportunities are associated with the economic sector of

Machinery & equipment (356-359) .

Not all sectors will be present, as not all economic sectors (some of which are based on economic activity while the REOs are based on traded products) are relevant for all products. However, various other sectors also do exhibit potential.

While the above examples are based on high level economic sectors, the information is available at a much more granular level on the HS 6-digit tariff code level. To demonstrate the following example of a product description is provided:

Sub-heading 84.27:
Fork-lift trucks; other works trucks fitted with lifting or handling equipment:
HS 6-digit product code 8427.10:
Self-propelled trucks powered by an electric motor.

Research reports containing more detailed information related to these realistic export opportunities (down to product level as illustrated with the above product description) for each country are available from TIKZN.

Please contact us if you are interested in more detail by clicking here.

For an example of a more detailed country report please click here.

Please note that a more up-to-date version for the specific country report used in this example is available from TIKZN. This report is provided for demonstration purposes only and should not be used for any decision-making.


Embassies and Diplomats

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Read      Download    Diplomats Information

Trade Agreements

Read African Free Trade Zone Agreement     Download African Free Trade Zone Agreement   African Free Trade Zone Agreement

Read AGOA Trade Agreement     Download AGOA Trade Agreement   AGOA Trade Agreement

Read SA Trade Agreements with other countries since 1994     Download SA Trade Agreements with other countries since 1994   SA Trade Agreements with other countries since 1994

Read South African Trade Agreements     Download South African Trade Agreements   South African Trade Agreements

Export Incentives

Read EMIA Individual Participation     Download EMIA Individual Participation   EMIA Individual Participation

Read SSAS EMIA Sector Specific Assistance Scheme for Emerging Exporters     Download SSAS EMIA Sector Specific Assistance Scheme for Emerging Exporters   SSAS EMIA Sector Specific Assistance Scheme for Emerging Exporters

Read SSAS Sector Specific Assistance Scheme     Download SSAS Sector Specific Assistance Scheme   SSAS Sector Specific Assistance Scheme

Read CPFP Capital Projects Feasibility Programme     Download CPFP Capital Projects Feasibility Programme   CPFP Capital Projects Feasibility Programme

Read Summary of Incentives     Download Summary of Incentives   Summary of Incentives