a large country in N America consisting of 50 states and the District of Columbia Although United States is sometimes found with a plural verb after it, this is quite rare and it is much more common to use a singular verb. More AboutAmerica The continent of America is divided into North America and South America. The narrow region joining North and South America is Central America. North America, which is a geographical term, consists of the United States of America, Canada and Mexico. Latin America, a cultural term, refers to the non-English speaking countries of Central and South America, where mainly Portuguese and Spanish are spoken. Mexico is part of Latin America. The United States of America is usually shortened to the USA, the US, the States or simply America:the US President Have you ever been to the States? She emigrated to America in 1995. Many people from other parts of the continent dislike this use of America to mean just the US, but it is very common. American is usually used to talk about somebody or something from the United States of America:Do you have an American passport? American football I’m not American, I’m Canadian. Latin American and South American are used to refer to other parts of the continent:Latin American dance music Quite a lot of South Americans study here. See related entries: Countries and continents CultureAmericaThe United States of America is called by several different names, both by the people who live there and by people in other countries. These names include the USA, the United States, the US, the States and America. The official name, the United States of America, first appears in the Declaration of Independence of 1776, when the country was called 'the thirteen united States of America'. America is widely used as a name for the US, though this seems unfair on all the other nations in the Americas (= the continents of North and South America). Songs like America and America the Beautiful are about the US. Americans also use informal names like the US of A and Stateside, especially when they are out of the country. Other names, e.g. 'the land of the free', 'the land of liberty', 'God's country', 'the melting pot' and 'the greatest nation on earth', show their pride in their country. People in Britain and America sometimes refer humorously to each other's countries as 'the other side of the pond', i.e. the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.North America refers to a continent and region, and includes Canada and Mexico as well as the US. Between the US and South America is the region of Central America. Sometimes the countries of Central and South America are together referred to as Latin America.America and the Americas are said to have been named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer (= person who travels to an unknown land) who sailed to South America in 1499, visiting the area that later became known as Brazil, and also the Bahamas. Vespucci believed that the land he had discovered was a new continent, not part of Asia as Columbus had thought. By 1538, the famous map-maker Gerardus Mercator was using the name 'America', the Latin form of Vespucci's name, for the New World (= North and South America, as opposed to Europe).People from the US are called Americans, though British people may, rather rudely, call them 'Yanks'. People from other countries in the Americas are called by national names derived from the name of their country, e.g. Canadians. The adjective used to describe things from the US is American. The US is always referred to in organizations such as the American Legion and in expressions like 'the American dream'. US is also used as an adjective, as in the US Olympic team. Official names of government organizations may use United States, e.g. the United States Military Academy. CultureBritain and the USThe relationship between Britain and the US has always been a close one. Like all close relationships it has had difficult times. The US was first a British colony (= an area of land owned and settled by Britain), but between 1775 and 1783 the US fought a war to become independent. The US fought the British again in the War of 1812.In general, however, the two countries have felt closer to each other than to any other country, and their foreign policies have shown this. During World War I and World War II, and more recently in the Gulf War and the Iraq War, Britain and the US supported each other. When the US looks for foreign support, Britain is usually the first country to come forward and it is sometimes called ‘the 51st state of the union’.But the special relationship that developed after 1945 is not explained only by shared political interests. An important reason for the friendship is that the people of the two countries are very similar. They share the same language and enjoy each other's literature, films and television. Many Americans have British ancestors, or relatives still living in Britain. The US government and political system is based on Britain's, and there are many Anglo-American businesses operating on both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain some people are worried about the extent of US influence.The special relationship was strong in the early 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister in Britain and Ronald Reagan was President of the US. Since September 11 the support given by Britain under Tony Blair for US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq has led to problems at home and with Britain's partners in the European Union.