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From the country's founding to modern times, the USA has found success through immigration, attracting thinkers, leaders and businesspeople from around the world. Now with its own distinct identity, the country is a melting pot of colours and flavours and continues to be a favourite expat destination.
Expats moving to the USA will be exposed to one of the world’s largest economic powers, supporting more than 300 million people in 50 states and across six time zones.
Throughout the country's history, immigration has always been a constant. The inspiring sign greeting immigrants at Ellis Island, one of the historic entry points, famously reads, "Give me your tired, your poor, your humbled masses yearning to breathe free."
On the other hand, the upward mobility of the USA and policy changes since 9/11 have resulted in much more selective immigration regulations, and many more expats would like to relocate than are accepted. President Donald Trump's anti-immigration stance has also led to a stricter enforcement of current laws and a more stringent application process. However, immigration rates remain high, with roughly a million people moving to America each year – and the influx of foreigners is still responsible for the majority of the country's population growth.
Some of the benefits of living in the US include high wages, possible rewards for those with a bit of do-it-alone pioneer spirit, a safe and child-friendly environment for the family-oriented expat, and efficient infrastructure that makes systems such as education and healthcare in the USA some of the best in the world – but only for those who can afford them.
As a downside, the USA does tend to have a thin safety net and limited aid for those in need of monetary assistance. Not to mention that competition for jobs in many US cities is intense.
Still, expats in the USA are known to bring enthusiasm and new ideas to an economy that highly values both – as a result, there is plenty of opportunity to make a mark and live life well.
Population: 330 million
Capital city: Washington DC
Largest city: New York City
Neighbouring countries: Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.
Geography: The United States is one of the world's largest countries with diverse geographic features ranging from the grasslands of the Great Plains in the east to the harsh desert terrain in the southwest to the infamous Great Lakes in the north.
Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic
Major religion: Christianity
Main languages: English and Spanish
Money: The US Dollar (USD), divided into 100 cents.
Tipping: Standard 15 to 20 percent in restaurants and taxis.
Time: The USA spans six time zones from GMT-5 to GMT-10. Daylight saving time applies between March and November in all states except Arizona and Hawaii.
Electricity: 120V, 60 Hz. Standard plugs have two flat blades but three-pin plugs are also used.
Internet domain: .us
International dialling code: +1
Emergency contact: 911
Transport and driving: Traffic drives on the right. There is a comprehensive public transport system in place, including subways, cabs and buses. Cities are well-connected.
"I really enjoy that you can do anything at any time you want; learning a new language, dancing salsa, hitting up a party – it’s a madhouse sometimes!" German expat Laura shares her experiences of life in the USA.
"I love the atmosphere and pace of the city, and the energy here is like no other. I like the notion that everyone thinks anything is possible and nothing stands in the way of their dreams." Kimberly, a British expat, tells us why she loves living in America.
Are you an expat living in The USA?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The USA. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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