Director D. W. Griffith, the top American filmmaker during the silent film period, was central to the development of film grammar, and producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising. Directors such as John Ford redefined the image of the American Old West, and, like others such as John Huston, broadened the possibilities of cinema with location shooting. The industry enjoyed its golden years, in what is commonly referred to as the "Golden Age of Hollywood," from the early sound period until the early 1960s, with screen actors such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe becoming iconic figures. In the 1970s, "New Hollywood" or the "Hollywood Renaissance" was defined by grittier films influenced by French and Italian realist pictures of the post-war period. In more recent times, directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron have gained renown for their blockbuster films, often characterized by high production costs and earnings.
About 82% of Americans live in urban areas (including suburbs); about half of those reside in cities with populations over 50,000. In 2008, 273 incorporated municipalities had populations over 100,000, nine cities had more than one million residents, and four cities had over two million (namely New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston). Estimates for the year 2018 show that 53 metropolitan areas have populations greater than one million. Many metros in the South, Southwest and West grew significantly between 2010 and 2018. The Dallas and Houston metros increased by more than a million people, while the Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta, and Phoenix metros all grew by more than 500,000 people.More Info
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, American art and literature took most of its cues from Europe. Writers such as Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry David Thoreau established a distinctive American literary voice by the middle of the 19th century. Mark Twain and poet Walt Whitman were major figures in the century's second half; Emily Dickinson, virtually unknown during her lifetime, is now recognized as an essential American poet. A work seen as capturing fundamental aspects of the national experience and character—such as Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925) and Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)—may be dubbed the "Great American Novel."More Info
In a 2014 survey, 70.6% of adults in the United States identified themselves as Christians; Protestants accounted for 46.5%, while Roman Catholics, at 20.8%, formed the largest single Christian group. In 2014, 5.9% of the U.S. adult population claimed a non-Christian religion. These include Judaism (1.9%), Islam (0.9%), Hinduism (0.7%), and Buddhism (0.7%). The survey also reported that 22.8% of Americans described themselves as agnostic, atheist or simply having no religion—up from 8.2% in 1990.More Info
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types. To the east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south. The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid. Much of the Western mountains have an alpine climate. The climate is arid in the Great Basin, desert in the Southwest, Mediterranean in coastal California, and oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska. Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar. Hawaii and the southern tip of Florida are tropical, as well as its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. States bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur in the country, mainly in Tornado Alley areas in the Midwest and South. Overall, the United States has the world's most violent weather, receiving more high-impact extreme weather incidents than any other country in the world.More Info
Accounting for 4.24% of the global population, Americans collectively possess 29.4% of the world's total wealth, and Americans make up roughly half of the world's population of millionaires. The Global Food Security Index ranked the U.S. number one for food affordability and overall food security in March 2013. Americans on average have more than twice as much living space per dwelling and per person as European Union residents, and more than every EU nation. For 2017 the United Nations Development Programme ranked the United States 13th among 189 countries in its Human Development Index and 25th among 151 countries in its inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI).More Info
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