America


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America

[for Amerigo VespucciVespucci, Amerigo
, 1454–1512, Italian navigator in whose honor America was named, b. Florence. He entered the commercial service of the Medici and in 1492 moved to Seville.
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], the lands of the Western Hemisphere—North America, Central (or Middle) America, and South America. The world map published in 1507 by Martin WaldseemüllerWaldseemüller, Martin
, Gr. Ilacomilus, 1470?–1522?, German cosmographer. A member of a society of humanists known as the Gymnasium Vosagense, he lived at Saint-Dié, Lorraine, during the latter part of his life.
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 is the first known cartographic use of the name. In English, America and American are frequently used to refer only to the United States.

America,

in music, a patriotic hymn of the United States. The words (beginning "My country, 'tis of thee") were written in 1832 by Samuel Francis SmithSmith, Samuel Francis,
1808–95, American Baptist clergyman and poet, b. Boston. He is remembered as the author of the national hymn "America," written while he was a student at Andover Theological Seminary. Among his many other hymns is "The Morning Light Is Breaking."
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 while he was a theological student in Andover, Massachusetts. According to his own account he was asked by Lowell MasonMason, Lowell,
1792–1872, American composer and music educator, b. Medfield, Mass. While working as a bank clerk in Savannah, Ga., he helped compile an anthology that was published as The Boston Handel and Haydn Society's Collection of Church Music (1822).
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 to examine a book of German songs and, if he found any good tunes, to write an English translation or an original song. Smith found the tune God Save the King, which inspired the words of his patriotic poem, and it was not until later that he learned that he had happened upon the tune of the British national hymn. The tune is used in many countries, but credit is usually given to the English composer, Henry Carey, for the tune in its present form.

Bibliography

See C. A. Browne, The Story of Our National Ballads (1919), and J. T. Howard, Our American Music (1946).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

America

 

a part of the world formed by the two continents of North and South America. America is situated in the western hemisphere between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It includes Greenland, the largest island in the world, and several neighboring islands. The West Indies and Central America (the area between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Isthmus of Panama) are frequently considered separate parts of North America. Because of the isolation of North and South America from each other, their remoteness from other parts of the world, their sizes, and their radically different natural conditions (despite the similarity of their geological structure and topology), they are considered to be separate continents. The Isthmus of Panama is generally accepted as the boundary line between them. America occupies an area of 42.5 million sq km and had a population of 479 million in 1967.

Greenland and the northeast coast of North America were first sighted by the Normans in the tenth and 11th centuries (the initial discovery was made around 900). The Antilles, part of the northern coastline of South America, and the southern part of the Caribbean shore of North America were discovered by Christopher Columbus between 1492 and 1503. (It is speculated that these territories had been sighted long before Columbus’ expedition to the shores of America.) The name “America” was provided by the Lorraine cartographer M. Waldseemüller in 1507 in his book Introduction to Cosmography and was derived from the name of the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci, the first person to suggest that the land discovered in the western hemisphere was a new part of the world.

The indigenous population of pre-Columbian America consisted of numerous Indian tribes and nations as well as Eskimos in the far north. The establishment of European control of America entailed the annihilation of a considerable part of the Indian population. In addition, many Indians died as a result of cruel exploitation and disease contracted from the colonists. Today the population of America consists of descendants of European settlers and Africans brought there as slaves (the two are intermixed in most of the countries) and the remainder of the aboriginal Indian population. From the standpoint of anthropology the population of America is extremely diversified, consisting of intermixtures of representatives of the three major races of humanity: the Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. The intermixture of these components varies throughout the different parts of America. The largest group in America, the Caucasoid group, constitutes about 90 percent of the population of North America and about one-third of that of Latin America. The second largest group—the métis—is composed of descendants of mixed marriages of Indians and Europeans. They constitute the basic population in a number of countries (Mexico, the majority of the Central American republics, Venezuela, Paraguay, and others). The third group—the mulattoes—is the result of intermarriages between Europeans and Africans. This group includes part of the population of Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, the USA, and a number of West Indian countries. There are also groups of mixed Indian-Negroid origin in Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. The next group, the Negroid, consists of pure (or only slightly mixed) descendants of African Negro slaves. A considerable number of them live in Brazil, and they also constitute the basic population of Haiti, Jamaica, and a majority of the West Indian countries. They also include the Negro population of the USA. The aboriginal population, the Indians, who belong to a particular branch of the Mongoloid race, has survived in a number of regions of Central and South America (in areas of present-day Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Paraguay, Brazil, Mexico, and so forth). In the USA, Canada, and other countries Indians have been settled on reservations specifically created for them.

The overwhelming majority of the population of America speaks languages of the Indo-European family. English is the most prevalent language in North America, Spanish in Mexico and in the majority of countries in South and Central America, and Portuguese in Brazil. French is one of the two official languages of Canada and is also predominant in Haiti and a number of the small islands of the West Indies. The major Indian nationalities (Quechua, Aymara, and Aztec) have largely retained their own languages, but this is not true of any of the ethnic groups from Africa.

Catholicism is the predominant religion in Latin America. Only a small number of Indian tribes living in inaccessible regions have retained their tribal faiths. In countries composed largely of Negroes and mulattoes, Catholicism incorporates rites derived from the African faiths. In North America, where about one-fourth of the population follows Catholicism, there are also many Protestant churches and sects.

Numerically, the major nationalities of America are American, British Canadian, Mexican, Brazilian, Argentinean, Colombian, Chilean, Venezuelan, and Cuban. America consists of 50 countries—that is, separate political units; of these, 26 are independent states and 24 are colonial possessions (see Table 1). The political map of America has changed since World War II. The victorious popular revolution resulted in the foundation of the first socialist state in America—Cuba. New politically sovereign states have been formed in America: Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados.

Table 1. Political division of America, 1967
 Area (thou sq km)Population (thou)
COUNTRIES
North and Central America
Barbados ............................0.43246
Haiti ................................27.84,581
Guatemala ...........................108.94,717
Honduras ............................112.12,445
Dominican Republic ...................48.73,889
Canada ..............................9,976.120,441
Costa Rica ...........................50.71,594
Cuba ................................114.58,033
Mexico ..............................1,972.545,671
Nicaragua ...........................130.01,783
Panama .............................75.61,329
El Salvador...........................21.43,151
USA ................................9,363.4199,118
Trinidad and Tobago ..................5.11,030
Jamaica .............................11.01,876
South America
Argentina ............................2,776.723,031
Bolivia ..............................1,098.63,801
Brazil ...............................8,512.085,655
Venezuela ...........................912.09,352
Guyana..............................215.0680
Colombia ............................1,138.919,191
Paraguay ............................406.82,161
Peru ................................1,285.212,385
Uruguay .............................186.92,783
Chile ................................756.98,935
Ecuador .............................283.65,508
POSSESSIONS OF CAPITALIST STATES
British possessions
Antigua .............................0.4461
The Bahamas ........................11.4144
The Bermudas ........................0.0551
The Virgin Islands (part) ...............0.159
British Honduras ......................23.0113
Grenada .............................0.3499
Dominica ............................0.870
Cayman Islands ......................0.269
Montserrat ...........................0.114
Saint Vincent .........................0.491
Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla .............0.460
Saint Lucia ..........................0.6105
Turks and Caicos Islands..............0.46
Falkland Islands (rights disputed by Argentina)......................12.02
US possessions
The Virgin Islands (part)...............0.356
Panama Canal Zone (leased by USA). . . .1.456
Puerto Rico ..........................8.92,697
Dutch possessions
Dutch Antilles (Curacao, etc.)...........1.0212
Surinam (Dutch Guiana) ...............163.2363
French possessions
Guadeloupe .........................1.8320
French Guiana .......................91.038
Martinique ...........................1.1330
Saint Pierre and Miquelon Islands.......0.25
Danish possessions
Greenland ...........................2,175.643
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

America

apple pie
typical, wholesome American dessert. [Am. Culture: Flexner, 68]
bald eagle
national bird of the U.S.; native only to North America. [Am. Culture: EB, I: 753]
baseball
traditional American sport and pastime. [Am. Sports: EB, I: 850]
Brother Jonathan
the original Uncle Sam. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 110]
Crossing of the Delaware
Washington’s beleaguered army attacks Trenton; famous event in American history (1776). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 138]
e pluribus unum
motto of the U.S.: Latin ’one out of many.’ [Am. Culture: RHD, 481]
Fourth of July
Independence Day; traditional U.S. holiday; anniversary of adoption of Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776). [Am. Culture: EB, V: 326]
Liberty Bell
symbol of American freedom; at Independence Hall, Philadelphia. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 284]
Mayflower
ship that brought the founding Puritans. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 313]
melting pot
America as the home of many races and cultures. [Am. Pop. Culture: Misc.]
Old Ironsides
the frigate Constitution, symbol of U.S. success in War of 1812, now preserved as a museum. [Am. Hist.: Benét, 733]
Peoria
typical mid-American town. [Am. Culture: Misc.]
Pledge of Allegiance
statement of loyalty to the U. S., inaugurated in 1892 upon 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. [Am. Hist.: WB, P: 508]
Plymouth Rock
site of Pilgrim landing in Massachusetts (1620). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 395–396]
pumpkin pie
traditional dish, especially at Thanksgiving. [Am. Culture: Flexner, 68]
Red, White and Blue,
the colors of the U. S. flag, used in reference to the flag itself and ideals of patriotism. [Am. Hist.: Misc.]
Silent Majority
average Americans of middle class. [Am. Culture: Flexner, 375]
Star-Spangled Banner, The
U.S. national anthem. [Am. Hist.: EB, IX: 532]
Stars and Stripes
nickname for the U.S. flag. [Am. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 8567]
Statue of Liberty
great symbolic structure in New York harbor. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 284]
Thanksgiving
annual U.S. holiday celebrating harvest and yearly blessings; originated with Pilgrims (1621). [Am. Culture: EB, IX: 922]
Uncle Sam
personifies people or government of the United States. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 870–871]
Vespucci, Amerigo
(1454–1512) Italian navigator-explorer from whose name America is derived. [Am. Hist.: EB, X: 410]
Washington, D.C.
focus of U.S. government, policies, etc. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 899]
Washington, George
(1732–1799) “the Father of our country”; first U.S. President (1789–1797). [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 535–536]
White House
official residence of the president of the U.S. in Washington, D.C. [Am. Culture: EB, X: 656]
Yankee
to an American, a New Englander; to a Southern American, any Northerner; to a foreigner, any American. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 953]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

America

1. short for the United States of America
2. the American continent, including North, South, and Central America
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in classic literature ?
Today we do more than celebrate America, we rededicate ourselves to the very idea of America, an idea born in revolution, and renewed through two centuries of challenge, an idea tempered by the knowledge that but for fate, we, the fortunate and the unfortunate, might have been each other; an idea ennobled by the faith that our nation can summon from its myriad diversity, the deepest measure of unity; an idea infused with the conviction that America's journey long, heroic journey must go forever upward.
It is worthy of remark that not only the first, but every succeeding Congress, as well as the late convention, have invariably joined with the people in thinking that the prosperity of America depended on its Union.
And all the king's friends throughout America were compelled to make the same promise."
It must, indeed, be numbered among the greatest blessings of America, that as her Union will be the only source of her maritime strength, so this will be a principal source of her security against danger from abroad.
In the present condition of America, the States more immediately exposed to these calamities have nothing to hope from the phantom of a general government which now exists; and if their single resources were equal to the task of fortifying themselves against the danger, the object to be protected would be almost consumed by the means of protecting them.
But if the same species can be produced at two separate points, why do we not find a single mammal common to Europe and Australia or South America? The conditions of life are nearly the same, so that a multitude of European animals and plants have become naturalised in America and Australia; and some of the aboriginal plants are identically the same at these distant points of the northern and southern hemispheres?
Edward Forbes insisted that all the islands in the Atlantic must recently have been connected with Europe or Africa, and Europe likewise with America. Other authors have thus hypothetically bridged over every ocean, and have united almost every island to some mainland.
After properly thanking my neighbor for these useful explanations, we naturally fell into discourse about matters and things in general, the weather in America being uniformly too fine to admit of discussion.
I could see enough in America to find fault with, through the creaks of the drawer, and if an American, I might have indulged a little in the same way myself, for I am not one of those who think fault-finding belongs properly to the stranger, and not to the native.
Coulson admitted, "has been remarkably clear, but the question I asked you was this,--what is to be the position of your country in the event of war between Japan and America?"
"And I have told you," Sir Edward declared, "that war between Japan and America is not a subject within the scope of practical politics."
You may bet your last dollar that America isn't going to war about trifles.