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US federal debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP, from 1790 to 2013
Main article: National debt of the United States
The total national debt in the United States was $18.527 trillion (106% of the GDP), according to an estimate for 2014 by the International Monetary Fund. In January 2015, U.S. federal government debt held by the public was approximately $13 trillion, or about 72% of U.S. GDP. Intra-governmental holdings stood at $5 trillion, giving a combined total debt of $18.080 trillion. By 2012, total federal debt had surpassed 100% of U.S. GDP. The U.S. has a credit rating of AA+ from Standard & Poor's, AAA from Fitch, and Aaa from Moody's.
Historically, the U.S. public debt as a share of GDP increased during wars and recessions, and subsequently declined. For example, debt held by the public as a share of GDP peaked just after World War II (113% of GDP in 1945), but then fell over the following 30 years. In recent decades, large budget deficits and the resulting increases in debt have led to concern about the long-term sustainability of the federal government's fiscal policies. However, these concerns are not universally shared.
Main article: United States Armed Forces
The carrier strike groups of the Kitty Hawk, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln with aircraft from the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona (February 4, 2004)
The President holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States Department of Defense administers the armed forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Coast Guard is run by the Department of Homeland Security in peacetime and by the Department of the Navy during times of war. In 2008, the armed forces had 1.4 million personnel on active duty. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 2.3 million. The Department of Defense also employed about 700,000 civilians, not including contractors.
Military service is voluntary, though conscription may occur in wartime through the Selective Service System. American forces can be rapidly deployed by the Air Force's large fleet of transport aircraft, the Navy's 10 active aircraft carriers, and Marine expeditionary units at sea with the Navy's Atlantic and Pacific fleets. The military operates 865 bases and facilities abroad, and maintains deployments greater than 100 active duty personnel in 25 foreign countries.
The military budget of the United States in 2011 was more than $700 billion, 41% of global military spending and equal to the next 14 largest national military expenditures combined. At 4.7% of GDP, the rate was the second-highest among the top 15 military spenders, after Saudi Arabia. U.S. defense spending as a percentage of GDP ranked 23rd globally in 2012 according to the CIA. Defense's share of U.S. spending has generally declined in recent decades, from Cold War peaks of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 and 69.5% of federal outlays in 1954 to 4.7% of GDP and 18.8% of federal outlays in 2011.
The proposed base Department of Defense budget for 2012, $553 billion, was a 4.2% increase over 2011; an additional $118 billion was proposed for the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last American troops serving in Iraq departed in December 2011; 4,484 service members were killed during the Iraq War. Approximately 90,000 U.S. troops were serving in Afghanistan in April 2012; by November 8, 2013 2,285 had been killed during the War in Afghanistan.
Law enforcement and crime
Main articles: Law enforcement in the United States and Crime in the United States
See also: Law of the United States, Capital punishment in the United States, Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Human rights in the United States § Justice system
Law enforcement in the U.S. is maintained primarily by local police departments. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the largest in the country.
Law enforcement in the United States is primarily the responsibility of local police and sheriff's departments, with state police providing broader services. Federal agencies such as theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Marshals Service have specialized duties, including protecting civil rights, national security and enforcing U.S. federal courts' rulings and federal laws. At the federal level and in almost every state, a legal system operates on a common law. State courts conduct most criminal trials; federal courts handle certain designated crimes as well as certain appeals from the state criminal courts. Plea bargaining in the United States is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the country are settled by plea bargain rather than jury trial.
In 2012 there were 4.7 murders per 100,000 persons in the United States, a 54% decline from the modern peak of 10.2 in 1980. Among developed nations, the United States has above-average levels of violent crime and particularly high levels of gun violence. A cross-sectional analysis of the World Health Organization Mortality Database from 2003 showed that United States "homicide rates were 6.9 times higher than rates in the other high-income countries, driven by firearm homicide rates that were 19.5 times higher."[dated info] Gun ownership rights continue to be the subject of contentious political debate. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports estimates that there were 3,246 violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2012, for a total of over 9 million total crimes.
Capital punishment is sanctioned in the United States for certain federal and military crimes, and used in 32 states. No executions took place from 1967 to 1977, owing in part to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. In 1976, that Court ruled that, under appropriate circumstances, capital punishment may constitutionally be imposed. Since the decision there have been more than 1,300 executions, a majority of these taking place in three states: Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, several stateshave either abolished or struck down death penalty laws. In 2010, the country had the fifth highest number of executions in the world, following China, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen.
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate and total prison population in the world. At the start of 2008, more than 2.3 million people were incarcerated, more than one in every 100 adults. At year end 2012, the combined U.S. adult correctional systems supervised about 6,937,600 offenders. About 1 in every 35 adult residents in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2012, the lowest rate observed since 1997. The prison population has quadrupled since 1980. However, the imprisonment rate for all prisoners sentenced to more than a year in state or federal facilities is 478 per 100,000 in 2013 and the rate for pre-trial/remand prisoners is 153 per 100,000 residents in 2012. African-American males are jailed at about six times the rate of white males and three times the rate of Hispanic males. The country's high rate of incarceration is largely due to changes in sentencing guidelines and drug policies. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the majority of inmates held in federal prisons are convicted of drug offenses. The privatization of prisons and prison services which began in the 1980s has been the subject of criticism. In 2008, Louisiana had the highest incarceration rate, and Maine the lowest. In 2012, Louisiana had the highest rate of murder and non-negligent manslaughter in the U.S., and New Hampshire the lowest.
The United States of America is the fourth largest country in the world by total area and the third largest by population. It consists of 50 states and a federal district. Due to large-scale immigration, the country is known to be the most ethnically diverse and multicultural in the world. The USA borders with Canada in the north ad with Mexico in the south. Although the country is comparatively young, it is full of natural and historical attractions. Every year millions of tourists visit the USA to explore its riches. The largest rivers are the Mississippi and the Missouri. The highest peak, Mount McKinley, is located in Alaska, and the largest lakes are the Great Lakes on the border with Canada. The capital of the country is Washington D. C. It’s a small city mainly of political significance. The largest cities are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and some others.
An internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. It spans the Golden Gate strait – a channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. It was built in 1937 and for almost thirty years remained the world’s longest suspension bridge. The red-orange colour of the bridge was chosen to make it more visible through thick fog. The bridge is frequently featured in movies. One of the most spectacular natural wonders of North America is Niagara Falls. It is situated between the state of New York and the province of Ontario. It actually contains three different waterfalls. The largest one, the Horseshoe Falls, is situated on the Canadian side.Grand Canyon is an extremely attractive tourist destination. The site is situated in Northern Arizona by the Colorado River. It is over several millions year. Although it’s not the largest canyon in the world, the view if this landmark is impressive with its colourful landscapes and spectacular vistas.
Yellowstone National Park is another remarkable natural sight. It is situated in the state of Wyoming, although it stretches to Montana and Idaho. It was the first national park in the world established to preserve natural geysers and wildlife. The park lies on top of a gigantic hotspot, which has a light molten rock on the surface. Tourists can find geysers and hot springs there. In addition, they can see grizzly bears and bison, deer and elk and many other wondrous things within the park borders. One of the most desired tourist destinations in the USA is Hollywood – the home of American film industry and entertainment. It is located in central Los Angeles and features several historic studios. The area of Hollywood also includes the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Paramount Pictures, Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive shopping opportunities and many other interesting places.