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Government - United States
Government type:
Federal republic; strong democratic tradition

Administrative divisions:
50 states
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
1 district
District of Columbia
Dependent areas:
American Samoa, Baker Island, Guam, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Wake Island

Note: from 18 July 1947 until 1 October 1994, the US administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. It entered into a political relationship with all four political units: the Northern Mariana Islands is a commonwealth in political union with the US (effective 3 November 1986); Palau concluded a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 1 October 1994); the Federated States of Micronesia signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 3 November 1986); the Republic of the Marshall Islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the US (effective 21 October 1986)

Independence:
4 July 1776 (from Great Britain)

Constitution:
17 September 1787, effective 4 March 1789

Legal system:
Based on English common law; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
Chief of state: The president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with Senate approval
Elections: President and vice president elected on the same ticket by a college of representatives who are elected directly from each state; president and vice president serve four-year terms.

Legislative branch:
Bicameral Congress consists of the Senate (100 seats, one-third are renewed every two years; two members are elected from each state by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives (435 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve two-year terms).

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (its nine justices are appointed for life by the president with confirmation by the Senate); United States Courts of Appeal; United States District Courts; State and County Courts

Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party, Green Party, Republican Party

Contributed by Central Intelligence Agency World Fact Book
7 February 2005

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