The USA is a large country in North America, and is about the same size as China. It borders both the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean and is situated between Canada and Mexico. It has the world’s third largest population, some of them living in sprawling and densely-populated cities and others in vast, sparsely-inhabited areas of natural beauty. There are of course the world-famous and much-visited cities of New York - famous for its shopping, Broadway and famous landmarks, Los Angeles in California, including the world-famous district of Hollywood and the glitzy Las Vegas, home of cabaret, neon lights and high-rolling casinos. Another holiday favourite is Florida, boasting beautiful beaches, family theme parks and the natural beauty of the Everglades.
The US is a federal republic made up of 50 states, controlled overall by a President. Due to the size of the US, it can be time-consuming and expensive to get from one area to another. Plus, it can be difficult to fulfil the onerous visa requirements needed to enter the USA, travellers benefit from the Visa Waiver Program, where a visa is not needed for a tourism or business purposes, on a trip not exceeding 90 days.
Health-care is provided by private sector businesses, and individuals pay for the care received through their health insurance. If you are travelling to the US, it is essential that you get travel insurance, as this will cover emergency medical care and repatriation if needed – otherwise you could be faced with a hefty medical bill.
America is of course famous for fast food and large portion sizes, but it has a great deal of variety to offer too, as a result of the melting pot of nationalities and cultures that live and cook there and the landscape that it inhabits. Seafood is popular in many parts, this originated with the Native Americans, foods like clam chowder are now associated with New England. Comfort foods like apple pie are synonymous with the US countryside. Fast food favourites include American-style pizza, the hot-dog and fried chicken.
The voltage used here is 120V, you will need a universal adapter to fit the different shaped sockets.
The currency is the United States Dollar (USD)
You drive on the right-hand side of the road.
The climate is mostly classified as temperate, but because of the size of the US, there are variations. Hawaii and Florida are tropical, Alaska is arctic, the Great Plains are classed as semi-arid and the Great Basin of the Southwest is arid. There are some extreme weather conditions that regularly cause problems. Tornadoes are a problem in the Midwest (known as Tornado Alley) and hurricanes are a persistent problem for the Atlantic Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico.
This very much depends on what areas you are visiting and when, but clothing is often cheaper to buy in the US, and in some states there is no sales-tax (a version of VAT).
Where to go?
History and Culture
You are spoilt for choice, but one option is to head for Massachusetts, the home of Boston’s Freedom Trail, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums and the Museum of Fine Arts. This stylish New England city is also home to the Boston Red Sox baseball team, a more contemporary cultural activity.
For kids and teens
It just has to be Orlando, Florida. Take your pick of themeparks – Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Orlando Seaworld or Legoland Orlando – to name but a few. You can also cool off at an Orlando waterpark or have some fun at a Floridian beach – an hour away from Orlando itself.
Find yourself relaxed and re-energised by the stunning natural beauty of Hawaii. Enjoy the spectacle of a lilting Hula dance, play a relaxing round of golf or enjoy a spot of whale-watching, even if you don’t catch sight of one of these amazing mammals, you will still enjoy a trip on the calm, clear waters of the Auau Channel.
New Orleans is famous for being the birthplace of jazz, but it has lots more to offer those seeking a thrilling night’s entertainment. Apart from a casino, plenty of bars and nightclubs, there are music and jazz clubs where you can hear music played by authentic local musicians. There are also burlesque and cabaret clubs for some humorous or harmlessly risqué entertainment.
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