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Political divisions

Map of U.S. <a href=Economic Exclusion Zone , highlighting states, territories and possessions " id="pdf-obj-0-22" src="pdf-obj-0-22.jpg">

Map of U.S. Economic Exclusion Zone, [285] highlighting states, territories and possessions

The United States is a federal republic of 50 states, a federal district, five territories and eleven uninhabited island possessions. [286] The states and territories are the principal administrative districts in the country. These are divided into subdivisions of counties and independent cities. The District of Columbia is a federal district which contains the capital of the United States, Washington DC. [287] The states and the District of Columbia choose the President of the United States. Each state has presidential electors equal to the number of their Representatives and Senators in Congress, the District of Columbia has three. [288]

Congressional Districts are reapportioned among the states following each decennial Census of Population. Each state then draws single member districts to conform with the census apportionment. The total number of Representatives is 435, and delegate Members of Congress represent the District of Columbia and the five major US territories. [289]

The United States also observes tribal sovereignty of the American Indian nations to a limited degree, as it does with the states' sovereignty. American Indians are U.S. citizens and tribal lands are subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S Congress and the federal courts. Like the states they have a great deal of autonomy, but also like the states tribes are not allowed to make war, engage in their own foreign relations, or print and issue currency. [290]


Statehood dates and State flags

Parties and elections

President <a href=Obama meets with congressional leadership in 2011. " id="pdf-obj-1-10" src="pdf-obj-1-10.jpg">

President Obama meets with congressional leadership in 2011. [291]

The United States has operated under a two-party system for most of its history. [292] For elective offices at most levels, state-administered primary elections choose the major party nominees for subsequent general elections. Since the general election of 1856, the major parties have been the Democratic Party, founded in 1824, and the Republican Party, founded in 1854. Since the Civil War, only one third-partypresidential candidate— former president Theodore Roosevelt, running as aProgressive in 1912has won as much as 20% of the popular vote. The President and Vice-president are elected through the Electoral College system. [293]

Within American political culture, the center-right Republican Party is considered "conservative" and the center-left Democratic Party is considered "liberal". [294][295] The states of the Northeast and West Coast and some of the Great Lakes states, known as "blue states", are relatively liberal. The "red states" of the South and parts of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains are relatively conservative.

The winner of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Democrat Barack Obama, is the 44th, and current, U.S. president. Current leadership in the Senate includes Democratic Vice President Joseph Biden, Republican President Pro Tempore (Pro Tem) Orrin Hatch, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader Harry Reid. [296] Leadership in the House includes Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. [297]

In the 114th United States Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate are controlled by the Republican Party. The Senate currently consists of 54 Republicans, and 44 Democrats with two independents who caucus with the Democrats; the House consists of 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats, with one vacancy. [298] In state governorships, there are 31 Republicans, 18 Democrats and one independent. [299] Among the DC mayor and the 5 territorial governors, there are 2 Republicans, 2 Democrats (one is also in the PPD), and 2 Independents. [300]

Foreign relations