There are fifty states in the United States of America. Two of these states, Alaska and Hawaii, are not connected to the other states. The US is washed by the Pacific Ocean in the west, by the Atlantic Ocean in the east, by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico in the south. In the north are Great Lakes. More than 250 million people live in the United States. The United States is a young country. Its written history is only a few hundred years old. It is sometimes called the “New World”. Over the last 400 years millions of people have come to start a new life in this “New World”. The people of the United States are a mixture of many different nationalities. These different people brought to their new land a wonderful mixture of customs and traditions. The German brought Christmas trees. The Irish brought St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. The Scots brought Halloween. The US government has three branches. The 1st branch is the Congress. The Congress is a meeting of representatives from all states. The people elect those representatives. The Congress makes the laws that every body must obey. The Congress meets in the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Congress is divided into two parts, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every state, no matter how large or small, sends two people to the Senate. These people are called senators. There are one hundred senators in the Senate. A senator’s term is six years. Each state also sends people to the House of Representatives. They are called congressmen or congresswomen. The number of congressmen from each state depends on the number of people who live in the state. All in all there are 425 congressmen in the House of Representatives. A representative’s term is two years. The Constitution gives many powers to the Congress. One important power of the Congress is the power to declare war. The 2nd branch of government is the President and his helpers. They carry out the laws that the Congress makes. The President signs bills and then they become law. The Vice President and members of the Cabinet help the President to make decisions. The US President is Commander in Chief of the country’s armed forces. A person who wants to become President must be at least 35 years old and must live in the United States for at least 14 years before becoming President. The President’s term is four years and one can be President for one or two terms, but not longer. The 3rd branch of government is the Supreme Court. It is made up of nine judges – the most important judges in the land. They have to make sure that the President and the Congress follow the Constitution. Americans are very proud of their Constitution. It was written more than 200 years ago and it is still working!