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  • Territorial evolution of the United States

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    The United States of America was created on July 4, 1776, with the declaration of independence of thirteen British colonies. Their independence was recognized by Great Britain with the Treaty of Paris of 1783, following the American Revolutionary War. This effectively doubled the size of the colonies, now able to stretch west past the Proclamation Line to the Mississippi River. This land was organized into territories and then states, though there remained some conflict with the sea-to-sea grants claimed by some of the original colonies. In time, these grants were ceded to the federal government. The first great expansion of the country came with the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which doubled the country's territory, but brought it into minor conflict with the colonies of Spain which eventually resulted in the acquisition of Spanish Florida. The Oregon Country gave the United States access to the Pacific Ocean, though it was shared for a time with the United Kingdom.

  • Languages of the United States

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    The most commonly used language in the United States is English (specifically, American English), which is the de facto national language. Nonetheless, many other languages are also spoken, or historically have been spoken, in the United States. These include indigenous languages, languages brought to the country by colonists, enslaved people and immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia. There are also several languages, including creoles and sign languages, that developed in the United States. Approximately 430 languages are spoken or signed by the population, of which 176 are indigenous to the area. Fifty-two languages formerly spoken in the country's territory are now extinct. Based on annual data from the American Community Survey (ACS), the U.S. Census Bureau regularly publishes information on the most common languages spoken at home. It also reports the English speaking ability of people who speak a language other than English at home. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau published information on the number of speakers of over 350 languages as surveyed by the ACS from 2009 to 2013, but it does not regularly tabulate and report data for that many languages. Language Spoken at Home(U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2016) List According to the ACS in 2016, the most common languages spoken at home by people aged five years of age or older are as follows (the most recent data can be found via the U.S. Census Bureau's American Fact-finder): English only 229.7 million Spanish 40.5 million Chinese (including Mandarin and Cantonese) 3.4 million Tagalog (including Filipino) 1.7 million Vietnamese 1.5 million Arabic 1.2 million French 1.2 million Korean 1.1 million Russian 0.91 million German 0.91 million Haitian Creole 0.86 million Hindi 0.81 million Portuguese 0.77 million Italian 0.58 million Polish 0.54 million Urdu 0.47 million Japanese 0.46 million Persian (including Farsi and Dari) 0.44 million Gujarati 0.41 million Telugu 0.37 million Bengali 0.32 million Tai–Kadai (including Thai and Lao) 0.31 million Greek 0.29 million Punjabi 0.29 million Tamil 0.27 million Armenian 0.24 million Serbo-Croatian (including Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian) 0.24 million Hebrew 0.23 million Hmong 0.22 million Bantu (including Swahili) 0.22 million Khmer 0.20 million Navajo 0.16 millionThe ACS is not a full census but an annual sample-based survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The language statistics are based on responses to a three-part question asked about all members of a target U.S. household who are at least five years old. The first part asks if they "speak a language other than English at home." If so, the head of household or main respondent is asked to report which language each member speaks in the home, and how well each individual speaks English. It does not ask how well individuals speak any other language of the household. Thus, some respondents might have only a limited speaking ability of that language. In addition, it is difficult to make historical comparisons of the numbers of speakers because language questions used by the U.S. Census changed numerous times before 1980. The ACS does not tabulate the number of people who report the use of American Sign Language at home, so such data must come from other sources. While modern estimates indicate that American Sign Language was signed by as many as 500,000 Americans in 1972 (the last official survey of sign language), estimates as recently as 2011 were closer to 100,000. Various cultural factors, such as passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, have resulted in far greater educational opportunities for hearing-impaired children, which could double or triple the number of current users of American Sign Language.

  • Americans

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    Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents, may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance. English-speakers, and even speakers of many other languages, typically use the term "American" to exclusively mean people of the United States; this developed from its original use to differentiate English people of the American colonies from English people of England. The word "American" can also refer to people from the Americas in general (see names for United States citizens).

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