There are three things which are important to keep in mind when considering the American phenomenon. One is its size (huge), the other is its history (short but eventful), and the third, diversity, is both a result of thefirst two and a contributing factor in shaping the United States’ unique role in world history.
The United States is a large country. In terms of land mass it comes behind only Russia and Canada, and unlike those two countries most of it isn’t frozen solid most of the year. It is land that can be used, and it is land that can be populated. Americans have done both and they’ve done them at a pace unparalleled in history. .
At the time Columbus did not discover America in 1492, there were less than a million people living on what is now the Continental United States. Due to the fact that Columbus thought that he had finally found a sea passage to India, he called these people Indians. They weren’t, of course. They were one of the some three hundred nations, or tribes, of North Americans who had been developing their own separate histories, languages, philosophies, and religions for over a thousand years.
In any case, two hundred years went by and things didn’t change much on the North American continent. The many nations of “North Americans” continued to live off the land in their many different ways, but when the thirteen British colonies that had settled on the East Coast of that continent declared their independence in 1776, a new nation was formed. And two hundred years after that there were about 240 million people eating and sleeping, working, and driving around in over a hundred million cars on the very same land. All of them belonged to that one new nation. Today there are about 250 million of them and they all still belong to that one nation -the United States of America.
The amazing thing is that all of these approximately 250 million Americans have as much in common as they do. Let us look at the…