What Is the United States?

Most of you are American.  I can safely say that, because more than 50% of the readers of this blog are American.  In 2014, Americans made up around 60% of the readers.  So, chances are you’re American.  If not, forgive me.  I’m not American, either.

This is the first post in a new series where I explore each country that my readers come from, starting with the biggest and going down to the smallest.  However, I need your help.  I’m going to provide the most basic information that you can find, but I want opinions from you.

Are you American?  Have you lived in the United States?  Or have you visited the United States?  Even if you aren’t, please read on.

320px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svgThe United States of America

It’s a big country.  With an area of 9,857,306 square kilometres, it’s the third largest country in the world.  It has a population of 320,061,700, which is also third in the world.  The capital city is Washington, D.C.  The largest city is New York City, with a population of 8,405,837 (metro 19,949,502).  English is the most common language, although not official.  The country became independent on July 4, 1776.  The leader of the country is the President (currently Barack Obama) and it’s a federal presidential constitutional republic.

The United States is so big, every region has many different things to see, do, and eat.  So, I’d like your help.  If you’re American, lived in the USA, or visited the USA, please answer the following questions in the comments below.

  1. What places would you say are the best to visit?
  2. What would you say is the truly American food?
  3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
  4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?

Thank you very much.  If you can, please share this.  I’d like to get many great answers.  Also, as a stereotypically Canadian thing to do, I apologise for all of the British spelling.

81 thoughts on “What Is the United States?”

  1. 1 What places would you say are the best to visit?
    The ones with few tourists

    2 What would you say is the truly American food?
    High fructose corn syrup

    3 What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    Watching television

    4 For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    Mark Twain

  2. The US is so different that it is hard to pick a favorite place. I love San Antonio Texas, I was raised there but love New England and live just outside New York city. Because we are composed of many food traditions that is also hard to say. Katz Deli in New York city with traditional Jewish food is American but then so is Texas Barbeque or Soul food cooking. I love Robert Frost’s poetry my favorite book is Shogun. Favorite American activity has to be eating and sports.

  3. 1. It may seem like a cop-out, but the U.S. is so varied that I think everywhere is a great place to visit. You can experience so much variety, in so many different seasons, that it is worth traveling all over. My preference is the rolling hills and pastoral countryside of places list southwestern Missouri, the Ozarks region.

    2. What would you say is the truly American food?

    Fried chicken, tex-mex, American style pizza

    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?

    While I like baseball, the NFL is, to me, the most American of sports. But that is where my sports passion lies.

    4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?

    Edgar Allen Poe is my favorite American author

  4. So here is the California POV:

    What places would you say are the best to visit?
    San Diego beaches, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite

    What would you say is the truly American food?
    Burgers and dogs (I know Californians are obsessed with organic veggies, nuts and twigs)

    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    American NFL football and the spectator sport of TV

    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? Going with Maya Angelou, Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut–covers many genres!

  5. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    Anywhere quiet. Like Small towns in Rhode Island or the Poconos.

    What would you say is the truly American food?
    Hamburgers.

    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    Patriotism. Some Americans are always quick to prove why America is the best.

    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    Any Black author.

  6. 1. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    Any place you like. Every state has something different to offer. It would be like picking the best place in Europe or Canada: there is a place to suit any taste. That being said, try to pick a place where there is little tourism. I think tourists anywhere make a place less fun to visit.

    2. What would you say is the truly American food?
    Anything that has excessive calories and will kill you after 40 years of eating it.

    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    American football, baseball, and arguing with people about anything.

    4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    Chuck Palahniuk.

    1. I agree. It’s difficult to choose just one place in such a big country. One thing I love doing is going to small towns and checking them out. I don’t get much of a chance living in metro Tokyo, but even here, I like going to the less busy train stations and exploring the neighbourhoods. They tend to be quiet.

  7. What places would you say are the best to visit? Just about any of the National Parks.

    What would you say is the truly American food? Sadly, hot dogs and hamburgers

    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime? I like baseball the best, but American football is the most watched, most popular

    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? This is really tough, as there are so many genres and so many great authors. Isaac Asimov, Leon Uris, Herman Wouk, James Michner, Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain…. How much more room have I got?.

      1. “Is it practical to visit every national park in the States?” It depends upon how much time you have, but probably not. Still, there are some that stand out: Zion, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Yellowstone, Glacier, Yosemite, King’s Canyon, just to name a few.

        1. All sound like great places to see. After moving back to Canada, we plan to do some traveling by car, so places like Yellowstone and Glacier will be pretty easy to access. Others may require flying.

  8. 1) What places would you say are the best to visit?
    I haven’t been to a lot of places outside of my immediate area, but I really want to visit the Sequoia National Forest.

    2) What would you say is the truly American food?

    Hamburgers and hotdogs

    3) What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?

    Baseball

    4) For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?

    I’m not sure I could say the greatest but my favorite is Ray Bradbury.

  9. I did not know English was not the official language, but my husband enlightened me this is a purposeful tribute to and recognition of our diversity.
    1. What places would you say are the best to visit? The generally clean beaches of NC, the mountains, Washington DC.
    2. What would you say is the truly American food? hot dogs and burgers, though I prefer pizza.
    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime? Baseball is the national pastime because it originated here. Though more people do watch football.
    4.For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? My favorite is Anne Lamott

    Thanks for asking!

  10. Great questions: I have traveled from Key West Florida to Fairbanks Alaska and most points in between, so my questions are bias based on my travels.

    1. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    Any US National Parks, especially western US parks.

    2. What would you say is the truly American food?
    Any food at a state fair, especially anything deep fried. Lol!

    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    Tractor pulls, demolition deberies, and of course Baseball, all can be seen at most state fairs.

    4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    Stephen King, or Daniel Brown.

    1. Thanks for answering. I’m loving all the answers.
      The National Parks seem to be very popular answers. Festival foods in Japan are some of my favourites, so I can imagine American state fair foods would be great, too.

  11. 1) I would recommend the National Parks, too.
    2) I think the most American food, so common that you can find it at nearly any venue is ironically French fries.
    3) I think the most truly American sport is, well, I don’t know. Baseball?
    4) Hemingway.

  12. 1. What places would you say are the best to visit? But – there are so many! I’d say New York, for sure, and Las Vegas. My favorite place(s) to go? The Disney Parks, either in California or Florida.

    2. What would you say is the truly American food? Hmm. Depends on where you go, honestly. Down south it would probably be fried chicken or grits, up in New England it would be lobster or clam chowder. But for an overall choice? I’d say barbecue.

    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime? I don’t really follow sports, but I know both baseball and American football are huge. *big grin* Then again, there’s NASCAR. Heh.

    4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? Now, see. Those are two very different things. The greatest American author is probably Mark Twain. At least, he’s the first one that comes to mind. As for my favorite American author? Anne McCaffrey – though I don’t know if she counts, since she moved to Ireland after publishing her … third book? Something like that. But she was American born, that counts, right?

    1. I love barbecue! It’s also a Canadian pastime. I really need to read some Twain. He’s the most popular answer for that question, it seems. I also love Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. I need to reread the whole thing. Thanks for the answers!

  13. Every country has splendid natural wonders so for something truly American I’d take San Francisco. Food has to be a decent burger since I dont think they add syrup, sport is anything with world in the title but which is only played in the US and the author is Lionel Shriver. But I’m british so what do I know!?

  14. Good questions.

    What places would you say are the best to visit? Any of the major cities like Philadelphia, New York or LA, but if you want to see the real charm, smaller areas in New England and down south.

    What would you say is the truly American food? Cheesesteaks, pizza, fried chicken, and bar b que.

    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime? Football and baseball are the most popular sports. We also like the ballet and the opera. We also love our politics. We are a nation built on freedom to express our views and make changes from the people. Note of correction (don’t know where you saw this but it is wrong), we are not a federal “presidential” constitutional republic. The US is a Constitutional Republic although the term Federal Republic has been used, but I think that is a more recent term designed to give the impression the federal government is at the center of our governing. It is not. Throwing “presidential” in their makes it sound like the president is a supreme ruler. Although current presidents have acted in this manner, that is not what our Constitution provides or what the Founders envisioned. We are a nation that is supposed to be governed for the people by the people. That is where our strength comes from or, well, used to come from.

    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? Fitzgerald, Poe, Hemingway, Nelson DeMille, and Vine Flynn.

    Sorry for the long-winded answer on #3.

    FBF

    1. Thanks for the answers, and no problem about the long answer. I would blame Wikipedia for that. I just went there to get the government type, so who knows how accurate it is?

      I’d love to try a real Philly cheesesteak. It just seems so delicious.

  15. I’m not American, but I guess that my seven years in the country entitle me to answer those questions:

    1. What places would you say are the best to visit?

    I’d say anywhere. And I’ll answer that about any country. Anywhere is worth visiting, and it’s a silly thing to believe only famous and/or exceptional places are worth it.

    2. What would you say is the truly American food?

    I would say, and that’s probably one of America’s biggest problems, that Americans just don’t understand the concept of “food.” Very few individuals – who usually have lived abroad – do, but Americans as a nation have no understanding what food is all about, and as a consequence there is no such thing as “American food” except maybe fast food (which can barely be qualified as “food”) and as something else responded: high fructose syrup… oh and GMOs too.

    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?

    Watching football, watching TV, going to the shopping mall.

    4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?

    Hemingway, probably the best thing to come out of the country.

    1. I must check out Hemingway! Thanks for the answer, David, even though you’re French and live in Japan. But hey, your answer is very welcome 🙂 You have far more experience with living in the US than I. I’ve never lived there.

    2. Bravo! I live in the US and was born here. However, I have been to Greece. You are so right about the food. If it have breading on it, even if it’s cardboard, Americans love it. At one time the American food was fried chicken. There were contests held in almost every county of every state, showing who made the best fried chicken. That was over 50 years ago though.

  16. Keep in mind that these are the answers of a misanthropic shut-in, so your mileage may vary, but here goes:

    Best place? I am ridiculously fond of Bend, Oregon and its surrounding areas. It’s green year round, damp, never over sixty degrees and positively reeks of pine trees and water. Plus has a low population. Pretty much my definition of heaven.

    American food? Like others, I don’t know that we actually have “American” food. We just swipe what we like from everywhere else, throw them in a blender, and see what falls out. But personally, I would go crazy if I couldn’t find a Jimmy John’s, so I’ll vote for that. 😉

    Pastime? Probably NFL football, but I think pointless litigation runs a strong second. Someone will probably sue me for saying so, though.

    Favorite American Author? Don’t think I have just one, but the folks I idolize (that I’m sure come from this country, anyway) are Stephen King, Denis Leary, and Bentley Little. The first because he made me want to read, the second because he says/writes the things I’d like to say most of the time, and the last because he’s who I want to be, geographically and career/talent wise. Yes, I’m aware I lack culture and responses like Hemingway, Twain or Poe.

    1. Thanks for the answers. Oregon is one place I’ve heard a lot of great things about. I took a quiz about which state would be best for me, and it said Oregon. So, it must be something special.

          1. Pretty much. There’s a lovely little village there that has most of the mod cons (at least those that matter; decent internet, my brand of cigarettes, and gas that won’t trash my truck’s engine) there that has an average temperature of 55 degrees year round, 95% humidity, only 20,000 people, and one can buy a six-bedroom farmhouse there for only about $30k. Plus there’s the amusement of telling people “yes, I’m a horror writer who lives in Transylvania.”

            I have a fractured mind.

  17. Born and raised here.

    As for places to visit, and large city has its attractions, but I would focus on our National Parks. All of them are interesting, some are spectacular.

    Food. This is hard because my favorite places to eat in America are the little diners and delis tucked away in the various ethnic enclaves in and around most major cities. Find yourself a greasy grill. Have a burger and a hotdog and talk to the guy/gal next to you. That’s my favorite eating experience.

    Sports, hmm – American style Football, a.k.a. the NFL is probably the king of American sports today. That said, if I were visiting this country, I’d come during the summer and go to a baseball game.

    Author – Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite.

    1. Diners and delis! Sounds wonderful. I’ve eaten at some diners in Canada, and the food, while greasy, tastes wonderful. I love the burgers and the big breakfasts.

      Vonnegut seems to be getting a couple mentions here. Thanks for the answers.

  18. What places would you say are the best to visit? Our national parks, such as the Grand Canyon or Crater Lake. Big cities are fun but they are overrated, as is theme parks. Unless it’s New Orleans. New Orleans is amazing and has plenty of food, music, history, and swamps to occupy you for weeks. The only other city I recommend is San Antonio and for the same reasons, minus the swamp. You must eat at Me Tierras!
    What would you say is the truly American food?Cajun/Creole. They are a mix of all the colonial countries that settled the South with the addition on native and African foods. Can’t get more American than that.
    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime? College football (not soccer).
    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? Mark Twain

  19. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    New York City has such variety of people culture, food, and anything else. This is a good place to learn about the general American way of life. New Orleans is a good place to visit because it’s so different than most places in the US. For nature, I suggest anyplace along the Rocky Mountains. If you’re from Europe, the west coast will show you how different oceans can be.
    What would you say is the truly American food?
    It’s got to be the famous McDonald’s hamburger. Actually, any hamburger with a good bun and your choice of fixings for it.
    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    Way too easy. American football (not soccer).
    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    He isn’t the greatest author but I’ve loved his books for years —
    Fr. Andrew Greeley.

    1. New Orleans, hamburgers, and football are all very popular answers. New York, surprisingly, few answers. But I’d love to see it. I love big cities, as well as small country towns. Thanks for the answers!

  20. 1. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    For cities, I would say Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, DC. For natural beauty, it depends on what you like. I am partial to Hawai’i, which is stunning, but at the same time varied in its ecosystems. For a combination of natural beauty and culture, I love western Massachusetts, where beautiful rolling hills meet with world class art, theater, and music, especially in the summertime.
    2. What would you say is the truly American food? Anything made with cranberries or blueberries, both of which are native to the US.
    3. What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime? I have to go with baseball.
    4. For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author? Mark Twain has stood the test of time.

    1. Another vote for Mark Twain. He’s very popular. I’d love to visit New England in general, but western Massachusetts sounds pretty nice. And Hawaii. Blueberries are also native to Canada, and happen to be my favourite fruit. Thanks for the answers!

  21. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    Manhattan, Miami, San Francisco all have an overwhelming variety of things to do and see but some of the most charming places are in the random cities and towns you never hear about. It really depends on your preferences.

    What would you say is the truly American food?
    Cheese-drenched meat concoctions, there are so many varieties and combinations.

    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    Consumerism.

    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    Kurt Vonnegut.

  22. Thanks for the great questions! (found this through Linda G Hill’s blog)
    1.Too hard to choose the best places! I love to visit New Mexico (because I grew up there, and it really is the “Land of Enchantment”), Northern California, and Oregon, but I had a great time visiting Alaska, Boston and DC as well! Every place has some interesting sites.
    2.Sadly, I think American food has become characterized by “anything processed and nasty” in the last few decades! But perhaps there are a few “Standards” like a nice steak, pumpkin pie, or chili-mac. Where I’m from we say green chile is “American” 🙂
    3. American football! Also barbecues, and marching bands.
    4.Too difficult to say! Maya Angelou, Edgar Allen Poe, Jonathan Edwards, Orson Scott Card, Willa Cather, Mark Twain, Jack London…

    Thanks for asking!

  23. Our country is large, and there is a variety of climates and sights. i would recommend the Hawaiian Islands, New York City, and New England in the fall months. The American food is probably the hot dog.The American sport is baseball. Ray Bradbury is my favorite American author.

  24. 1) I’m partial to the coast of Maine (Bar Harbor area) and the coast of northern California (Mendocino area), myself.
    2) Corn on the cob!
    3) A very American pastime is probably the road trip!
    4) Too many authors to count. I guess I can pitch my vote behind Mark Twain though.

  25. What places would you say are the best to visit?
    That depends so much on what you’re looking for that I’m not sure what kind of answer to give. America has something in every category.

    What would you say is the truly American food?
    Either hamburgers, or an all-you-can-eat buffet with a huge variety.

    What is a truly American activity, sport, or pastime?
    Despite baseball being regularly called “America’s pastime”, I don’t think it’s even half as popular as American football.

    For the readers out there, who is/was the greatest (or your favourite) American author?
    The classic answers would be Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe, but somebody named Dr. Seuss and the more I think about it the more I realize what a genius he was.
    I also like Isaac Asimov a lot.

  26. 1) small coastal or mountainous towns/cities (Nags Head NC is my favorite coastal, Roanoke VA is my favorite mountainous — the Blue Ridge Parkway!)… of course, I’ve never been to the western half of the US, but I have been midwest and still prefer the coastal and mountainous areas of the East Coast.

    2) Favorite American food would have to be hamburgers or fried chicken

    3) American football (NFL and college), baseball, and unfortunately reality TV

    4) America’s best author, I would say Mark Twain or Ernest Hemingway, my favorite writers are Orson Scott Card and Issac Asimov

    1. Some more popular authors, I see. Mark Twain has been said so many times 🙂 I’d love to visit the east coast of the US one of these days. I’ve never been to the east, only the west. Thanks for the answers!

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