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
California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U. S. the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento; the Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, the country's second most populous, after New York City. California has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, its largest county by area, San Bernardino County; the City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. California's $3.0 trillion economy is larger than that of any other state, larger than those of Texas and Florida combined, the largest sub-national economy in the world. If it were a country, California would be the 5th largest economy in the world, the 36th most populous as of 2017.
The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and third-largest urban economies, after the New York metropolitan area. The San Francisco Bay Area PSA had the nation's highest GDP per capita in 2017 among large PSAs, is home to three of the world's ten largest companies by market capitalization and four of the world's ten richest people. California is considered a global trendsetter in popular culture, innovation and politics, it is considered the origin of the American film industry, the hippie counterculture, fast food, the Internet, the personal computer, among others. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are seen as global centers of the technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California has a diverse economy: 58% of the state's economy is centered on finance, real estate services and professional, scientific and technical business services. Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state's economy, California's agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.
S. state. California is bordered by Oregon to the north and Arizona to the east, the Mexican state of Baja California to the south; the state's diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the east, from the redwood–Douglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state's center. Although California is well-known for its warm Mediterranean climate, the large size of the state results in climates that vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains. Over time and wildfires have become more pervasive features. What is now California was first settled by various Native Californian tribes before being explored by a number of European expeditions during the 16th and 17th centuries; the Spanish Empire claimed it as part of Alta California in their New Spain colony. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its successful war for independence but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War.
The western portion of Alta California was organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850. The California Gold Rush starting in 1848 led to dramatic social and demographic changes, with large-scale emigration from the east and abroad with an accompanying economic boom; the word California referred to the Baja California Peninsula of Mexico. The name derived from the mythical island California in the fictional story of Queen Calafia, as recorded in a 1510 work The Adventures of Esplandián by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo; this work was the fifth in a popular Spanish chivalric romance series that began with Amadis de Gaula. Queen Calafia's kingdom was said to be a remote land rich in gold and pearls, inhabited by beautiful black women who wore gold armor and lived like Amazons, as well as griffins and other strange beasts. In the fictional paradise, the ruler Queen Calafia fought alongside Muslims and her name may have been chosen to echo the title of a Muslim leader, the Caliph. It's possible.
Know ye that at the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California close to that part of the Terrestrial Paradise, inhabited by black women without a single man among them, they lived in the manner of Amazons. They were robust of body with great virtue; the island itself is one of the wildest in the world on account of the craggy rocks. Shortened forms of the state's name include CA, Cal. Calif. and US-CA. Settled by successive waves of arrivals during the last 10,000 years, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America. Various estimates of the native population range from 100,000 to 300,000; the Indigenous peoples of California included more than 70 distinct groups of Native Americans, ranging from large, settled populations living on the coast to groups in the interior. California groups were diverse in their political organization with bands, villages, on the resource-rich coasts, large chiefdoms, such as the Chumash and Salinan.
Trade, intermarriage a
To cities, towns, charter townships and boroughs. The term can be used to describe municipally owned corporations. Municipal incorporation occurs when such municipalities become self-governing entities under the laws of the state or province in which they are located; this event is marked by the award or declaration of a municipal charter. A city charter or town charter or municipal charter is a legal document establishing a municipality, such as a city or town. In Canada, charters are granted by provincial authorities; the Corporation of Chennai is the oldest Municipal Corporation in the world after UK. The title "corporation" was used in boroughs from soon after the Norman conquest until the Local Government Act 2001. Under the 2001 act, county boroughs were renamed "cities" and their corporations became "city councils". After the Partition of Ireland, the corporations in the Irish Free State were Dublin, Cork and Waterford and Drogheda, Sligo and Wexford. Dún Laoghaire gained borough status in 1930 as “The Corporation of Dun Laoghaire".
Galway's borough status, lost in 1840, was restored in 1937. The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 allowed municipal corporations to be established within the new Provinces of New Zealand; the term fell out of favour following the abolition of the Provinces in 1876. In the United States, such municipal corporations are established by charters that are granted either directly by a state legislature by means of local legislation, or indirectly under a general municipal corporation law after the proposed charter has passed a referendum vote of the affected population. Under the enterprise meaning of the term, municipal corporations are "organisations with independent corporate status, managed by an executive board appointed by local government officials, with majority public ownership"; some MOCs rely on revenue from user fees, distinguishing them from agencies and special districts funded through taxation, although this is not always the case. Municipal corporation follows a process of externalization that requires new skills and orientations from the respective local governments, follow common changes in the institutional landscape of public services.
They are argued to be more efficient than bureaucracy but have higher failure rates because of their legal and managerial autonomy. Unincorporated area German town law Municipal incorporationA Brief Summary of Municipal Incorporation Procedures by State - University of Georgia Characteristics and State Requirements for Incorporated Places - United States CensusMunicipal disincorporation / dissolutionDissolving Cities - University of California, Berkeley Municipal Disincorporation in California - California City Finance
North American Free Trade Agreement
The North American Free Trade Agreement is an agreement signed by Canada and the United States, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994, it superseded the 1988 Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Canada, is expected to be replaced by the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement once it is ratified. NAFTA has two supplements: the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation. Most economic analyses indicate that NAFTA has been beneficial to the North American economies and the average citizen, but harmed a small minority of workers in industries exposed to trade competition. Economists hold that withdrawing from NAFTA or renegotiating NAFTA in a way that reestablishes trade barriers will adversely affect the U. S. economy and cost jobs. However, Mexico would be much more affected by job loss and reduction of economic growth in both the short term and long term.
On September 30, 2018, it was announced that the United States and Canada had come to an agreement to replace NAFTA with the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. The USMCA is the result of the renegotiation of NAFTA that the member states undertook from 2017 to 2018, though NAFTA will remain in force until the USMCA is ratified by its members; the impetus for a North American free trade zone began with U. S. President Ronald Reagan, who made the idea part of his campaign when he announced his candidacy for the presidency in November 1979. Canada and the United States signed the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988, shortly afterward Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari decided to approach US president George H. W. Bush to propose a similar agreement in an effort to bring in foreign investment following the Latin American debt crisis; as the two leaders began negotiating, the Canadian government under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney feared that the advantages Canada had gained through the Canada–US FTA would be undermined by a US–Mexican bilateral agreement, asked to become a party to the US–Mexican talks.
Following diplomatic negotiations dating back to 1990, the leaders of the three nations signed the agreement in their respective capitals on December 17, 1992. The signed agreement needed to be ratified by each nation's legislative or parliamentary branch; the earlier Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement had been controversial and divisive in Canada, featured as an issue in the 1988 Canadian election. In that election, more Canadians voted for anti-free trade parties, but the split of the votes between the two parties meant that the pro-free trade Progressive Conservatives came out of the election with the most seats and so took power. Mulroney and the PCs had a parliamentary majority and passed the 1987 Canada–US FTA and NAFTA bills. However, Mulroney was replaced as prime minister by Kim Campbell. Campbell led the PC party into the 1993 election where they were decimated by the Liberal Party under Jean Chrétien, who campaigned on a promise to renegotiate or abrogate NAFTA. Chrétien subsequently negotiated two supplemental agreements with Bush, who had subverted the LAC advisory process and worked to "fast track" the signing prior to the end of his term, ran out of time and had to pass the required ratification and signing of the implementation law to incoming president Bill Clinton.
Before sending it to the United States Senate Clinton added two side agreements, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation and the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, to protect workers and the environment, to allay the concerns of many House members. The U. S. required its partners to adhere to environmental regulations similar to its own. After much consideration and emotional discussion, the U. S. House of Representatives passed the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act on November 17, 1993, 234–200; the agreement's supporters included 102 Democrats. The bill passed the Senate on November 20, 1993, 61–38. Senate supporters were 27 Democrats. Clinton signed it into law on December 8, 1993. Clinton, while signing the NAFTA bill, stated. American jobs, good-paying American jobs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't support this agreement." NAFTA replaced the previous Canada-US FTA. The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the U.
S. Canada and Mexico; the implementation of NAFTA on January 1, 1994, brought the immediate elimination of tariffs on more than one-half of Mexico's exports to the U. S. and more than one-third of U. S. exports to Mexico. Within 10 years of the implementation of the agreement, all U. S.–Mexico tariffs were to be eliminated except for some U. S. agricultural exports to Mexico. Most U. S.–Canada trade was duty-free. NAFTA sought to eliminate non-tariff trade barriers and to protect the intellectual property rights on traded products. Chapter 20 provides a procedure for the international resolution of disputes over the application and interpretation of NAFTA, it was modeled after Chapter 69 of the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement. The roster of NAFTA adjudicators includes many retired judges, such as Alice Desjardins, John Maxwell Evans, Constance Hunt, John Richard, Arlin M. Adams, Susan Getzendanner, George C. Pratt, Charles B. Renfrew and Sandra Day O'Connor. NAFTA is, in part, implemented by
Calipatria is a city in Imperial County, California. Calipatria is located 23 miles north of El Centro, it is part of the El Centro Metropolitan Area. The population was 7,710 at the 2010 census, up from 7,289 at the 2000 census, including 4000 inmates at Calipatria State Prison; the community is located along State Route 111. Calipatria is located at 33°07′32″N 115°30′51″W. At an elevation of 180 feet below sea level, Calipatria is the lowest elevation city in the western hemisphere; the city claims to have the "tallest flagpole where the flag flies at sea level" at 184 feet, so their American flag will always fly above sea level. According to the Guinness Book of World Records the Jeddah Flagpole holds the title of world's tallest, but it is above sea level. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.7 square miles, all land. This area has a large amount of sunshine year round due to its stable descending air and high pressure. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Calipatria has a hot desert climate, abbreviated "Bwh" on climate maps.
The Imperial Valley Farm Lands Association founded the town as Date City in 1914. The first post office at Calipatria opened in 1914. Calipatria incorporated in 1919; the 2010 United States Census reported that Calipatria had a population of 7,800. The population density was 2,073.6 people per square mile. The racial makeup of Calipatria was 3,212 White, 1,612 African American, 80 Native American, 95 Asian, 25 Pacific Islander, 2,455 from other races, 227 from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4,940 persons; the Census reported that 3,541 people lived in households, 0 lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, 4,164 were institutionalized. There were 1,008 households, out of which 541 had children under the age of 18 living in them, 515 were opposite-sex married couples living together, 213 had a female householder with no husband present, 92 had a male householder with no wife present. There were 53 unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, 15 same-sex married couples or partnerships.
162 households were made up of individuals and 70 had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.51. There were 819 families; the population was spread out with 1,246 people under the age of 18, 932 people aged 18 to 24, 3,738 people aged 25 to 44, 1,431 people aged 45 to 64, 358 people who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 330.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 427.3 males. There were 1,121 housing units at an average density of 301.7 per square mile, of which 1,008 were occupied, of which 536 were owner-occupied, 472 were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 5.9%. 1,867 people lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,674 people lived in rental housing units. As of the census of 2000, there were 7,289 people, 899 households, 756 families residing in the city; the population density was 1,965.8 people per square mile. There were 961 housing units at an average density of 259.2 per square mile.
The racial makeup of the city was 32.4% White, 21.3% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.6% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 42.7% from other races, 2.3% from two or more races. 57.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 899 households out of which 50.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.2% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 15.8% were non-families. 14.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.6% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.6 and the average family size was 3.9. In the city, the population was spread out with 16.3% under the age of 18, 12.3% from 18 to 24, 52.6% from 25 to 44, 15.0% from 45 to 64, 3.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 363.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 497.5 males. The median income for a household in the city was $60,962, the median income for a family was $61,302.
Males had a median income of $61,350 versus $50,063 for females. The per capita income for the city was $43,970. About 2.4% of families and 2.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.9% of those under age 18 and 17.8% of those age 65 or over. Calipatria is one of the state's poorest cities in income per capita due to agricultural paychecks and a declined economy in the 1990s. Hispanics of Mexican descent are three-fourths of the people; the city was first called Sante Patria and was founded by Irish American and Irish Mexican soldiers, who deserted both in the Mexican–American War and from the Union and/or Confederate armies after the American Civil War but Calipatria has a large Arab population from Jordan and Syria, descendants of agriculture laborers in the 1920s. In the state legislature, Calipatria is in the 40th Senate District, represented by Democrat Ben Hueso, the 56th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Eduardo Garcia. Federally, Calipatria is in California's 51st congressional district, represented by Democrat Juan Varga
North American Numbering Plan
The North American Numbering Plan is a telephone numbering plan that encompasses twenty-five distinct regions in twenty countries in North America, including the Caribbean. Some North American countries, most notably Mexico, do not participate in the NANP; the NANP was devised in the 1940s by AT&T for the Bell System and independent telephone operators in North America to unify the diverse local numbering plans, established in the preceding decades. AT&T continued to administer the numbering plan until the breakup of the Bell System, when administration was delegated to the North American Numbering Plan Administration, a service, procured from the private sector by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States; each participating country forms a regulatory authority that has plenary control over local numbering resources. The FCC serves as the U. S. regulator. Canadian numbering decisions are made by the Canadian Numbering Administration Consortium; the NANP divides the territories of its members into numbering plan areas which are encoded numerically with a three-digit telephone number prefix called the area code.
Each telephone is assigned a seven-digit telephone number unique only within its respective plan area. The telephone number consists of a four-digit station number; the combination of an area code and the telephone number serves as a destination routing address in the public switched telephone network. For international call routing, the NANP has been assigned the international calling code 1 by the International Telecommunications Union; the North American Numbering Plan conforms with ITU Recommendation E.164, which establishes an international numbering framework. From its beginnings in 1876 and throughout the first part of the 20th century, the Bell System grew from local or regional telephone systems; these systems expanded by growing their subscriber bases, as well as increasing their service areas by implementing additional local exchanges that were interconnected with tie trunks. It was the responsibility of each local administration to design telephone numbering plans that accommodated the local requirements and growth.
As a result, the Bell System as a whole developed into an unorganized system of many differing local numbering systems. The diversity impeded the efficient operation and interconnection of exchanges into a nationwide system for long-distance telephone communication. By the 1940s, the Bell System set out to unify the various numbering plans in existence and developed the North American Numbering Plan as a unified, systematic approach to efficient long-distance service that did not require the involvement of switchboard operators; the new numbering plan was accepted in October 1947, dividing most of North America into eighty-six numbering plan areas. Each NPA was assigned a numbering plan area code abbreviated as area code; these codes were first used by long-distance operators to establish long-distance calls between toll offices. The first customer-dialed direct call using area codes was made on November 10, 1951, from Englewood, New Jersey, to Alameda, California. Direct distance dialing was subsequently introduced across the country.
By the early 1960s, most areas of the Bell System had been converted and DDD had become commonplace in cities and most larger towns. In the following decades, the system expanded to include all of the United States and its territories, Canada and seventeen nations of the Caribbean. By 1967, 129 area codes had been assigned. At the request of the British Colonial Office, the numbering plan was first expanded to Bermuda and the British West Indies because of their historic telecommunications administration through Canada as parts of the British Empire and their continued associations with Canada during the years of the telegraph and the All Red Line system. Not all North American countries participate in the NANP. Exceptions include Mexico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, the Central American countries and some Caribbean countries; the only Spanish-speaking state in the system is the Dominican Republic. Mexican participation was planned, but implementation stopped after three area codes had been assigned, Mexico opted for an international numbering format, using country code 52.
The area codes in use were subsequently withdrawn in 1991. Area code 905 for Mexico City, was reassigned to a split of area code 416 in the Greater Toronto Area. Dutch-speaking Sint Maarten joined the NANP in September 2011, receiving area code 721; the NANP is administered by the North American Numbering Plan Administration. Today, this function is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission, which assumed the responsibility upon the breakup of the Bell System; the FCC solicits private sector contracts for the role of the administrator. The service was provided by a division of Lockheed Martin. In 1997, the contract was awarded to Neustar Inc.. In 2012, the contract was renewed until 2017. In 2015, the contract beginning 2017 was granted to Ericsson; the vision and goal of the architects of the North American Numbering Plan was a system by which telephone subscribers in the United States and Canada could themselves dial and establish a telephone call to any other subscriber wi
Marriage called matrimony or wedlock, is a or ritually recognised union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions, but throughout the history of any given culture and religion, evolving to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity; when defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. A marriage ceremony is known as a wedding. Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, libidinal, financial and religious purposes. Whom they marry may be influenced by gender determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire.
In some areas of the world, arranged marriage, child marriage and sometimes forced marriage, may be practiced as a cultural tradition. Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalized in parts of the world out of concerns of the infringement of women's rights, or the infringement of children's rights, because of international law. Around the world in developed democracies, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights within marriage for women and recognizing the marriages of interfaith and same-sex couples; these trends coincide with the broader human rights movement. Marriage can be recognized by a state, an organization, a religious authority, a tribal group, a local community, or peers, it is viewed as a contract. When a marriage is performed and carried out by a government institution in accordance with the marriage laws of the jurisdiction, without religious content, it is a civil marriage. Civil marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before the state.
When a marriage is performed with religious content under the auspices of a religious institution it is a religious marriage. Religious marriage recognizes and creates the rights and obligations intrinsic to matrimony before that religion. Religious marriage is known variously as sacramental marriage in Catholicism, nikah in Islam, nissuin in Judaism, various other names in other faith traditions, each with their own constraints as to what constitutes, who can enter into, a valid religious marriage; some countries do not recognize locally performed religious marriage on its own, require a separate civil marriage for official purposes. Conversely, civil marriage does not exist in some countries governed by a religious legal system, such as Saudi Arabia, where marriages contracted abroad might not be recognized if they were contracted contrary to Saudi interpretations of Islamic religious law. In countries governed by a mixed secular-religious legal system, such as in Lebanon and Israel, locally performed civil marriage does not exist within the country, preventing interfaith and various other marriages contradicting religious laws from being entered into in the country, civil marriages performed abroad are recognized by the state if they conflict with religious laws.
The act of marriage creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved, any offspring they may produce or adopt. In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and a diminishing number of these permit polygyny, child marriages, forced marriages. In modern times, a growing number of countries developed democracies, have lifted bans on and have established legal recognition for the marriages of interfaith and same-sex couples; some cultures allow the dissolution of marriage through annulment. In some areas, child marriages and polygamy may occur in spite of national laws against the practice. Since the late twentieth century, major social changes in Western countries have led to changes in the demographics of marriage, with the age of first marriage increasing, fewer people marrying, more couples choosing to cohabit rather than marry. For example, the number of marriages in Europe decreased by 30% from 1975 to 2005.
In most cultures, married women had few rights of their own, being considered, along with the family's children, the property of the husband. In Europe, the United States, other places in the developed world, beginning in the late 19th century and lasting through the 21st century, marriage has undergone gradual legal changes, aimed at improving the rights of the wife; these changes included giving wives legal identities of their own, abolishing the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives, giving wives property rights, liberalizing divorce laws, providing wives with reproductive rights of their own, requiring a wife's consent when sexual relations occur. These changes have occurred in Western countries. In the 21st century, there continue to be controversies regarding the legal status of married women, legal acceptance of or leniency towards violence within marriage, traditional marriage customs such as dowry and bride price, for