Turnpike trusts were bodies set up by individual acts of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the principal roads in Britain from the 17th but during the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak, in the 1830s, over 1,000 trusts administered around 30,000 miles of turnpike road in England and Wales, taking tolls at 8,000 toll-gates and side-bars. During the early 19th century the concept of the turnpike trust was adopted and adapted to manage roads within the British Empire and in the United States. Turnpikes declined with the coming of the railways and the Local Government Act 1888 gave responsibility for maintaining main roads to county councils and county borough councils; the term "turnpike" originates from the similarity of the gate used to control access to the road, to the barriers once used to defend against attack by cavalry. The turnpike consisted of a row of pikes or bars, each sharpened at one end, attached to horizontal members which were secured at one end to an upright pole or axle, which could be rotated to open or close the gate.
Pavage grants made for paving the marketplace or streets of towns, began to be used for maintaining some roads between towns in the 14th century. These grants were made by letters patent invariably for a limited term the time to be required to pay for the required works. Tudor statutes had placed responsibility on each parish vestry to maintain all its roads; this arrangement was adequate for roads that the parishioners used themselves but proved unsatisfactory for the principal highways that were used by long-distance travellers and waggoners. During the late 17th century, the piecemeal approach to road maintenance caused acute problems on the main routes into London; as trade increased, the growing numbers of heavy carts and carriages led to serious deterioration in the state of these roads and this could not be remedied by the use of parish statute labour. A parliamentary bill was tabled in 1621/22 to relieve the parishes responsible for part of the Great North Road by imposing a scale of tolls on various sorts of traffic.
The toll revenue was to be used in repairing the road, the bill was defeated. During the following forty years, the idea of making travellers contribute to the repair of roads was raised on several occasions. Many parishes continued to struggle to find funds to repair major roads and in Hertfordshire way wardens on behalf of the vestries stood frequent trial at quarter sessions for their failure to keep the Old North Road in a good state of repair. In 1656 the parish of Radwell, Hertfordshire petitioned their local sessions for help to maintain their section of the Great North Road; as a result judges on the Hertfordshire and Huntingdonshire circuit represented the matter to Parliament. It passed an act that gave the local justices of the peace powers to erect toll-gates on a section of the road, between Wadesmill, Hertfordshire; the toll-gate erected at Wadesmill was the prototype in England. Parliament gave similar powers to the justices in other counties in England and Wales. An example is the first Turnpike Act for Surrey in 1696, during the reign of William III for enhanced repairs between Reigate in Surrey and Crawley in Sussex.
The act made provision to erect turnpikes, appoint toll collectors. The first scheme that had trustees who were not justices was established through a Turnpike Act in 1707, for a section of the London-Chester road between Fornhill and Stony Stratford; the basic principle was that the trustees would manage resources from the several parishes through which the highway passed, augment this with tolls from users from outside the parishes and apply the whole to the maintenance of the main highway. This became the pattern for the turnpiking of a growing number of highways, sought by those who wished to improve flow of commerce through their part of a county; the proposal to turnpike a particular section of road was a local initiative and a separate Act of Parliament was required to create each trust. The Act gave the trustees responsibility for maintaining a specified part of the existing highway, it provided them with powers to achieve this. Local gentlemen and merchants were nominated as trustees and they appointed a clerk, a treasurer and a surveyor to administer and maintain the highway.
These officers were paid by the trust. Trustees were not paid, though they derived indirect benefits from the better transport, which improved access to markets and led to increases in rental income and trade; the first action of a new trust was to erect turnpike gates. The Act gave a maximum toll allowable for each class of vehicle or animal – for instance one shilling and six pence for a coach pulled by four horses, a penny for an unladen horse and ten pence for a drove of 20 cows; the trustees could call on a portion of the statute duty from the parishes, either as labour or by a cash payment. The trust applied the income to pay for labour and materials to maintain the road, they were able to mortgage future tolls to raise loans for new structures and for more substantial improvements to the existing highway. The trusts applied some funds to erecting tollhouses that accommodated the pikeman or toll-collector beside the tu
This article is about the place in Northumberland, England. For other places with the same name see BelfordBelford is a village and civil parish in Northumberland, about halfway between Alnwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed, a few miles inland from the east coast and just off the Great North Road, the A1. At the 2001 census it had a population of 1,055. Belford is surrounded by rich pastoral farmland, to the west of the village is found one of the better rock climbing locations in the county, Bowden Doors. Belford is in the parliamentary constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed and is served by Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Belford is served by Northumberland County Council; the area attracts tourists and there are a number of businesses based in Belford. Belford Hall is an 18th-century mansion house; the Manor of Belford was acquired by the Dixon family in 1726 and in 1752 Abraham Dixon built a mansion house in a Palladian style to a design by architect James Paine. In 1770 heiress Margaret Dixon married William Brown.
Their daughter married Newcastle upon Tyne merchant, Lt. Col. William Clark, Deputy Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Northumberland who, in 1818, remodelled the house and added two new wings, with the assistance of architect John Dobson. An extensive park, created in the mid 18th century, retains several original features and has been designated a conservation area. An 18th-century folly in the park is a Grade II listed building. During World War II the Hall was requisitioned by the Army and thereafter became neglected and dilapidated. In the 1980s it was acquired by the Northern Heritage Trust and restored and converted to residential flats; this is located about 3 km east of Belford, is an 18th-century tapering cylindrical stone tower with a conical roof of Welsh slate. Its usage sometimes as a dovecote. Westhall is a owned Victorian house built in the style of the castellated fortified house that it replaced on the same site; the moat that surrounded the original building can still be seen. It is now in use as a farmhouse.
For much of the Middle Ages, Belford was at the forefront of the ongoing border conflict between the Scots and the English and it is believed that only Well House escaped damage or destruction at the hands of Scottish raiders. In 1272 it is recorded that Walter de Huntercombe, the Lord of the Manor, was charged with'assisting pirates'! They had seized, by force, goods belonging to some wealthy Spanish merchants and landed with their booty on Holy Island. In 1726, A wealthy city merchant, Abraham Dixon bought the Belford Estate, he made improvements which enhanced the fortunes of its inhabitants including purchasing a licence in 1742 allowing him to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs at Belford. His son continued improvements after his death in 1746 and by 1770, a visitor was able to report the existence of a woollen mill, a tannery, collieries and a'large lime kiln'. Improvements to hygiene were imposed upon the inhabitants with the forced removal of muck heaps from the houses and the banning of swine.
Larger market towns have replaced Belford in importance and the location of the station outside of the town itself did nothing to halt a gradual decline in its fortunes since the end of the 19th century. Many of the features of its heyday have been retained however. Belford was for many years a coaching stop on the main A1 road from London to Edinburgh, which passed through the village. However, in 1983 a bypass was opened, freed from the constant traffic and pollution, the village could hold events on the High Street and in the Market Place once again. Belford railway station opened on 29 March 1847. Freight services ceased on 7 June 1965 and the station closed for passenger services on 20 January 1968. However, on 8 February 2010 Northumberland County Council agreed plans to resume passenger services by constructing a new platform and car parking. St Mary's Church of England Voluntary Aided Middle School in Williams Way, Belford provides mainstream education for just under 100 boys and girls aged from nine to thirteen.
The Church of England parish church of St Mary is an Early English Gothic stone building on a hill overlooking the village. Its tower has two bells. St Mary's was built in about 1200, rebuilt in 1615, renovated in 1700 and 1828. Belford has a United Reformed Church. In 2008, Belford Junior Football Club was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. Belford has an active local history society which has published a series of books in recent years, the latest being'Bygone Belford'. In 1995 the society carried out A Survey of Belford. A booklet was published and the text of the survey is available online. A similar survey had been conducted quarter of a century earlier, in 1970. Births: Marcus Dods, Scottish divine and biblical scholar, was born in Belford in 1834 Robert Mason was born in Belford in 1857 and was a member of parliament from 1918 to 1922 Michael Clark was born in Belford in 1861 and moved to Canada in 1902 Sir William Coldstream, was born in Belford, 28 February 1908 William Wilson Allen, VC lived at Belford Moor, as a child.
Lucy Bronze, an English female footballer who plays for Everton Ladies, lived for a time in BelfordDeaths: Geoffrey Hornblower Cock,MC, World War I flying ace died in Belford in 1980 Belford is mentioned in "The Great Race" episode of the 1970s sitcom Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? when Terry claims he overtook Bob in a bicycle race by cycling through the town whereas Bob used the A1 bypass. Belford was featured on the TV programm
Roman roads were physical infrastructure vital to the maintenance and development of the Roman state, were built from about 300 BC through the expansion and consolidation of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. They provided efficient means for the overland movement of armies and civilians, the inland carriage of official communications and trade goods. Roman roads were of several kinds, ranging from small local roads to broad, long-distance highways built to connect cities, major towns and military bases; these major roads were stone-paved and metaled, cambered for drainage, were flanked by footpaths and drainage ditches. They were laid along surveyed courses, some were cut through hills, or conducted over rivers and ravines on bridgework. Sections could be supported over marshy ground on piled foundations. At the peak of Rome's development, no fewer than 29 great military highways radiated from the capital, the late Empire's 113 provinces were interconnected by 372 great roads; the whole comprised more than 400,000 kilometres of roads, of which over 80,500 kilometres were stone-paved.
In Gaul alone, no less than 21,000 kilometres of roadways are said to have been improved, in Britain at least 4,000 kilometres. The courses of many Roman roads survived for millennia. Livy mentions some of the most familiar roads near Rome, the milestones on them, at times long before the first paved road—the Appian Way. Unless these allusions are just simple anachronisms, the roads referred to were at the time little more than levelled earthen tracks. Thus, the Via Gabina is mentioned in about 500 BC. In the Itinerary of Antoninus, the description of the road system, after the death of Julius Caesar and during the tenure of Augustus, is as follows: "With the exception of some outlying portions, such as Britain north of the Wall and certain provinces east of the Euphrates, the whole Empire was penetrated by these itinera. There is hardly a district to which we might expect a Roman official to be sent, on service either civil or military, where we do not find roads, they reach the Wall in Britain.
A road map of the empire reveals that it was laced with a dense network of prepared viae. Beyond its borders there were no paved roads. There were, for instance, some pre-Roman ancient trackways in Britain, such as the Ridgeway and the Icknield Way. For specific roads, see Roman road locations below; the Laws of the Twelve Tables, dated to about 450 BC, required that any public road be 8 Roman feet wide where straight and twice that width where curved. These were the minimum widths for a via. Actual practices varied from this standard; the Tables command Romans to build public roads and give wayfarers the right to pass over private land where the road is in disrepair. Building roads that would not need frequent repair therefore became an ideological objective, as well as building them as straight as possible in order to build the narrowest roads possible, thus save on material. Roman law defined the right to use a road as liability; the ius eundi established a claim to use an footpath, across private land.
A via combined both types of servitutes, provided it was of the proper width, determined by an arbiter. The default width was the latitudo legitima of 8 feet. Roman law and tradition forbade the use of vehicles except in certain cases. Married women and government officials on business could ride; the Lex Iulia Municipalis restricted commercial carts to night-time access in the city within the walls and within a mile outside the walls. Roman roads varied from simple corduroy roads to paved roads using deep roadbeds of tamped rubble as an underlying layer to ensure that they kept dry, as the water would flow out from between the stones and fragments of rubble, instead of becoming mud in clay soils. According to Ulpian, there were three types of roads: Viae publicae, praetoriae or militares Viae privatae, glareae or agrariae Viae vicinales The first type of road included public high or main roads and maintained at the public expense, with their soil vested in the state; such roads led either to a town, or to a public river, or to another public road.
Siculus Flaccus, who lived under Trajan, calls them viae publicae regalesque, describes their characteristics as follows: They are placed under curatores, repaired by redemptores at the public expense. These roads bear the names of their constructors. Roman roads were named after the censor who had ordered their reconstruction; the same person served afterwards as c
A town is a human settlement. Towns are larger than villages but smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish them vary between different parts of the world; the word town shares an origin with the German word Zaun, the Dutch word tuin, the Old Norse tun. The German word Zaun comes closest to the original meaning of the word: a fence of any material. An early borrowing from Celtic *dunom. In English and Dutch, the meaning of the word took on the sense of the space which these fences enclosed. In England, a town was a small community that could not afford or was not allowed to build walls or other larger fortifications, built a palisade or stockade instead. In the Netherlands, this space was a garden, more those of the wealthy, which had a high fence or a wall around them. In Old Norse tun means a place between farmhouses, the word is still used in a similar meaning in modern Norwegian. In Old English and Early and Middle Scots, the words ton, etc. could refer to diverse kinds of settlements from agricultural estates and holdings picking up the Norse sense at one end of the scale, to fortified municipalities.
If there was any distinction between toun and burgh as claimed by some, it did not last in practice as burghs and touns developed. For example, "Edina Burgh" or "Edinburgh" was built around a fort and came to have a defensive wall. In some cases, "town" is an alternative name for "city" or "village". Sometimes, the word "town" is short for "township". In general, today towns can be differentiated from townships, villages, or hamlets on the basis of their economic character, in that most of a town's population will tend to derive their living from manufacturing industry and public services rather than primary industry such as agriculture or related activities. A place's population size is not a reliable determinant of urban character. In many areas of the world, e.g. in India at least until recent times, a large village might contain several times as many people as a small town. In the United Kingdom, there are historical cities; the modern phenomenon of extensive suburban growth, satellite urban development, migration of city dwellers to villages has further complicated the definition of towns, creating communities urban in their economic and cultural characteristics but lacking other characteristics of urban localities.
Some forms of non-rural settlement, such as temporary mining locations, may be non-rural, but have at best a questionable claim to be called a town. Towns exist as distinct governmental units, with defined borders and some or all of the appurtenances of local government. In the United States these are referred to as "incorporated towns". In other cases the town lacks its own governance and is said to be "unincorporated". Note that the existence of an unincorporated town may be set out by other means, e.g. zoning districts. In the case of some planned communities, the town exists in the form of covenants on the properties within the town; the United States Census identifies many census-designated places by the names of unincorporated towns which lie within them. The distinction between a town and a city depends on the approach: a city may be an administrative entity, granted that designation by law, but in informal usage, the term is used to denote an urban locality of a particular size or importance: whereas a medieval city may have possessed as few as 10,000 inhabitants, today some consider an urban place of fewer than 100,000 as a town though there are many designated cities that are much smaller than that.
Australian geographer Thomas Griffith Taylor proposed a classification of towns based on their age and pattern of land use. He identified five types of town: Infantile towns, with no clear zoning Juvenile towns, which have developed an area of shops Adolescent towns, where factories have started to appear Early mature towns, with a separate area of high-class housing Mature towns, with defined industrial and various types of residential area In Afghanistan and cities are known as shār; as the country is an rural society with few larger settlements, with major cities never holding more than a few hundred thousand inhabitants before the 2000s, the lingual tradition of the country does not discriminate between towns and cities. In Albania "qytezë" means town, similar with the word for city. Although there is no official use of the term for any settlement. In Albanian "qytezë" means "small city" or "new city", while in ancient times "small residential center within the walls of a castle"; the center is a population group, larger than a village, smaller than a city.
Though the village is bigger than a hamlet In Australia, towns or "urban centre localities" are understood to be those centers of population not formally declared to be cities and having a population in excess of about 200 people. Centers too small to be called towns are understood to be a township. In addition, some local government entities are styled as towns in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, before the statewide amalgamations of th
Berwick-upon-Tweed is a town in the county of Northumberland. It is the northernmost town in England, at the mouth of the River Tweed on the east coast, 2 1⁄2 miles south of the Scottish border. Berwick is 56 miles east-south east of Edinburgh, 65 miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne and 345 miles north of London; the United Kingdom census, 2011 recorded Berwick's population as 12,043. A civil parish and town council were created in 2008 comprising the communities of Berwick and Tweedmouth. Berwick was founded as an Anglo-Saxon settlement during the time of the Kingdom of Northumbria, annexed by England in the 10th century; the area was for more than 400 years central to historic border wars between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, several times possession of Berwick changed hands between the two kingdoms. The last time it changed hands was when Richard of Gloucester retook it for England in 1482. To this day many Berwickers feel a close affinity to Scotland. Berwick remains a traditional market town and has some notable architectural features, in particular its medieval town walls, its Georgian Town Hall, its Elizabethan ramparts, Britain's earliest barracks buildings, which Nicholas Hawksmoor built for the Board of Ordnance.
The name "Berwick" is of Old English origin, is derived from the term bere-wīc, combining bere, meaning "barley", wīc, referring to a farm or settlement. "Berwick" thus means "barley village" or "barley farm". Alternative etymologies, including ones connecting the name with the Anglo-Saxon kingdom Bernicia, the Brythonic element aber, meaning'estuary, confluence', have been suggested. In the post-Roman period, the area was inhabited by the Brythons of Bryneich; the region became part of the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia. Bernicia united with the kingdom of Deira to form Northumbria, which in the mid-10th century entered the Kingdom of England under Eadred. Berwick remained part of the Earldom of Northumbria until control passed to the Scots following the Battle of Carham of 1018; the town itself was founded as an Anglo-Saxon settlement during the time of the Kingdom of Northumbria. Between the late 10th and early 11th centuries, the land between the rivers Forth and Tweed came under Scottish control, either through conquest by Scotland or through cession by England.
Berwick was made a royal burgh in the reign of David I. A mint was present in the town by 1153. In 1276 William de Baddeby was Constable of Berwick, it is unclear if this relates to the castle. While under Scottish control, Berwick was referred to as "South Berwick" in order to differentiate it from the town of North Berwick, East Lothian, near Edinburgh. Berwick had a mediaeval hospital for the sick and poor, administered by the Church. A charter under the Great Seal of Scotland, confirmed by King James I of Scotland, grants the king's chaplain "Thomas Lauder of the House of God or Hospital lying in the burgh of Berwick-upon-Tweed, to be held to him for the whole time of his life with all lands, teinds and profits, etc. belonging to the said hospital, as as is granted to any other hospital in the Kingdom of Scotland. Dated at Edinburgh June 8, in the 20th year of his reign." Berwick's strategic position on the Anglo-Scottish border during centuries of war between the two nations and its great wealth led to a succession of raids and takeovers.
William I of Scotland invaded and attempted to capture northern England in 1173–74. After his defeat, Berwick was ceded to Henry II of England, it was sold back to William by Richard I of England in order to raise funds for his Crusade. Berwick had become a prosperous town by the middle of the 13th century. According to William Edington, a bishop and chancellor of England, Berwick was "so populous and of such commercial importance that it might rightly be called another Alexandria, whose riches were the sea and the water its walls". In 1291–92 Berwick was the site of Edward I of England's arbitration in the contest for the Scottish crown between John Balliol and Robert Bruce, 5th Lord of Annandale; the decision in favour of Balliol was pronounced in the Great Hall of Berwick Castle on 17 November 1292. In 1296 England went to war with which Scotland was in alliance. Balliol invaded England in response. Edward in turn invaded Scotland and captured Berwick, destroying much of the town and massacring some 20,000 of the inhabitants.
Edward I went again to Berwick in August 1296 to receive formal homage from some 2,000 Scottish nobles, after defeating the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in April and forcing John Balliol to abdicate at Kincardine Castle the following July. It was at this time. An arm of William Wallace was displayed at Berwick after his execution and quartering on 23 August 1305. In 1314 Edward II of England mustered 25,000 men at Berwick, who fought in the Battle of Bannockburn. Between 1315 and 1318 Scottish armies, sometimes with the help of Flemish and German privateers and blockaded the town invading and capturing it in April 1318. England retook Berwick the day after the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. In October 1357 a treaty was signed at Berwick by which the Scottish estates undertook to pay 100,000 marks as a ransom for David II of Scotland, w
The Appian Way is one of the earliest and strategically most important Roman roads of the ancient republic. It connected Rome to Brindisi, in southeast Italy, its importance is indicated by its common name, recorded by Statius: Appia longarum... regina viarum "the Appian Way the queen of the long roads" The road is named after Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor who began and completed the first section as a military road to the south in 312 BC during the Samnite Wars. The Appian Way was used as a main route for military supplies since its construction for that purpose in 312 B. C; the Appian Way was the first long road built to transport troops outside the smaller region of greater Rome. The few roads outside the early city were Etruscan and went to Etruria. By the late Republic, the Romans had expanded over most of Italy and were masters of road construction, their roads began at Rome, where the master itinerarium, or list of destinations along the roads, was located, extended to the borders of their domain — hence the expression, "All roads lead to Rome".
Romans had an affinity for the people of Campania, like themselves, traced their backgrounds to the Etruscans. The Samnite Wars were instigated by the Samnites when Rome attempted to ally itself with the city of Capua in Campania; the Italic speakers in Latium had long ago been incorporated into the Roman state. They were responsible for changing Rome from a Etruscan to a Italic state. Dense populations of sovereign Samnites remained in the mountains north of Capua, just north of the Greek city of Neapolis. Around 343 BC, Rome and Capua attempted to form a first step toward a closer unity; the Samnites reacted with military force. Between Capua and Rome lay the Pontine Marshes, a swamp infested with malaria. A tortuous coastal road wound between Ostia at the mouth of the Neapolis; the Via Latina followed its ancient and scarcely more accessible path along the foothills of Monti Laziali and Monti Lepini, which are visible towering over the former marsh. In the First Samnite War the Romans found they could not support or resupply troops in the field against the Samnites across the marsh.
A revolt of the Latin League drained their resources further. They settled with Samnium; the Romans were only biding their time. The first answer was the colonia, a "cultivation" of settlers from Rome, who would maintain a permanent base of operations; the Second Samnite War erupted when Rome attempted to place a colony at Cales in 334 and again at Fregellae in 328 on the other side of the marshes. The Samnites, now a major power after defeating the Greeks of Tarentum, occupied Neapolis to try to ensure its loyalty; the Neapolitans appealed to Rome, which expelled the Samnites from Neapolis. In 312 BC, Appius Claudius Caecus became, he was of the gens Claudia, who were patricians descended from the Sabines taken into the early Roman state. He had been given the name of the founding ancestor of the gens, he was a populist. A man of inner perspicacity, in the years of success he was said to have lost his outer vision and thus acquired the name caecus, "blind". Without waiting to be told what to do by the Senate, Appius Claudius began bold public works to address the supply problem.
An aqueduct secured the water supply of the city of Rome. By far the best known project was the road, which ran across the Pontine Marshes to the coast northwest of Naples, where it turned north to Capua. On it, any number of fresh troops could be sped to the theatre of operations, supplies could be moved en masse to Roman bases without hindrance by either enemy or terrain, it is no surprise that, after his term as censor, Appius Claudius became consul twice, subsequently held other offices, was a respected consultant to the state during his years. The road achieved its purpose; the outcome of the Second Samnite War was at last favorable to Rome. In a series of blows the Romans reversed their fortunes, bringing Etruria to the table in 311 BC, the year of their revolt, Samnium in 304; the road was the main factor that allowed them to concentrate their forces with sufficient rapidity and to keep them adequately supplied, wherein they became a formidable opponent. The main part of the Appian Way was started and finished in 312 BC.
The road began as a leveled dirt road upon which mortar were laid. Gravel was laid upon this, topped with tight fitting, interlocking stones to provide a flat surface; the historian Procopius said that the stones fit together so securely and that they appeared to have grown together rather than to have been fitted together. The road was cambered in the middle and had ditches on either side of the road which were protected by retaining walls; the road began in the Forum Romanum, passed through the Servian Wall at the porta Capena, went through a cutting in the clivus Martis, left the city. For this stretch of the road, the builders used the via Latina; the building of the Aurelian Wall centuries required the placing of another gate, the Porta Appia. Outside of Rome the new via Appia went through well-to-do suburbs along the via Norba, the ancient track to the Alban hills, where Norba was situated; the road at the time was a via a gravel road. The Romans built a high-quality road, with layers of cemented stone over a layer of small stones, drainage ditches on either side, low retaining walls on sunken portions, dirt pathways for sidewalks.
The via Appia is believed to have be
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous 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, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. 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, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; 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. 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'".
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'". 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; this draft of the document did not surface unti