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Facts about the USA

The Mississippi-Missouri is the longest river in the USA.

Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, is the USA's largest lake.

The Grand Canyon, in the State of Arizona, is one of the USA's World Heritage Sites.

Six hundred and forty thousand years ago, a massive volcanic eruption took place in present-day Yellowstone Park (Wyoming). The caldera is seventy kilometres long and thirty kilometres wide. Yellowstone became the world's first National Park in 1872.

Skeletons of prehistoric animals buried by volcanic ash in the State of Nebraska can be seen at the Ashfall State Historical Park.

Sixteen thousand years ago North America was covered with trees, such as pines, poplar and spruce. Wolves, coyotes, sabre-toothed cats and mammoths inhabited the country.

Fossilized remains of mammoths and other creatures have been found in Tennessee.

Twenty thousand years ago nomadic people, thought to have traveled from Asia, hunted mammoths and antelope in New Mexico.

Recent studies point to a very early migration of people to America across the Atlantic. One theory is that the Solutrean Neolithic (Stone Age) people from southwest France may have made the journey.

People lived on the Blue Ridge Mountains ten thousand years ago. Some are thought to have built permanent villages near the Shenandoah Valley.

In the sixth century AD the Anasazi built villages in Colorado (Mesa Verde National Park).

The pre-Columbian settlement of Cahokia, (700-1400 AD) near St Louis, had a population of twenty thousand people.

About a thousand years ago Leif Ericson (born in Iceland) made voyages along the North American coast.

Colombus' voyages of discovery to the New World took place between 1492 and 1504.

The explorer Amerigo Vespucci gave his name to "America".

When the first settlers arrived in America millions of buffalo roamed the plains.

The stories of Raven, Mink and Coyote are Native American legends about spirit beings of Northwest mythology.

The Indian princess Pocahontas (1595-1617) was a friend to the colonists of Jamestown in Virginia at a time when they were finding life difficult. During a period when she was held captive, to exchange for English prisoners, Pocahontas met and married the colonist John Rolfe.

Well remembered Native American Indian leaders include Cochise (Apache) Geronimo (Apache) and Sitting Bull (Sioux).

Famous American outlaws include Jesse James, Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy.

Oklahoma was a centre of the early cattle industry.

Richmond, the capital of the state of Virginia in the USA, was named after Richmond upon Thames in the UK.

The State of Nevada's name comes from the Spanish meaning "snow-capped".

The State of Louisiana was named after the French King Louis XIV.

George Washington was the first President of the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln was shot while attending the theatre with his wife. He died the following morning on 15 April 1865.

Between 1927 and 1941, Gutzon Borglum sculpted busts of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.

Russia sold the State of Alaska (to the west of Canada) to the United States in 1867.

Spain ceded Guam to the US in 1898. It is one of the most important bases in the Pacific.

Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty and Gustave Eiffel its structural engineer. The statue was presented to the American people by the people of France on 4th July 1884 and shipped to the US in early 1885.

Al Capone, one of America's most famous gangsters, made his money selling alcohol during Prohibition (anti-alcohol laws).

Helen Keller was born in Alabama in 1880 and lost her sight and hearing at a very early age. Helen grew up to become a famous speaker who also helped to set up the American Foundation for the Blind.

In 1903 the Wright brothers made the first successful flight in a plane.

In 1927 Lindburgh made the first non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris.

Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly the Atlantic (1931).

New York's Empire State Building, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the world's tallest buildings.

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park on Lake Michigan is among the world's largest fountains and one of Chicago's most familiar landmarks. During the Second World War in August 1945 the USA dropped the Atom bomb on Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Polaris atomic-powered submarines were launched in 1958. They were armed with nuclear warheads with a range of fifteen hundred miles.

In 1960 a US reconnaissance ("spy") plane was shot down over the USSR. Its pilot, Gary Powers, was captured but later released.

Malcolm X, the black militant leader, was shot and killed in 1965.

1968 saw the death of Martin Luther King, the Civil Rights leader, aged 38. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

The Anti-Vietnam War Movement in the US gained momentum in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the Americans withdrew from Vietnam in 1973.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were Washington Post reporters who investigated the Watergate break-ins. President Nixon ordered a cover-up of the affair and eventually had to resign.

On 18 May 1980 the Mount St Helens volcano (Washington State) erupted. Fifty-seven people and thousands of animals perished. In 1986 seven members of the crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle were killed when the Challenger exploded just over a minute after take-off.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990 to study stars and galaxies.

On 11 September 2001 four US planes were hijacked by terrorists; two crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, one crashed into the Pentagon and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Over three thousand people were killed.

In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast of the USA killing thousands of people, destroying homes, property and infrastructure.