America was founded by thirteen colonies of Great Britain located along the Atlantic seaboard. Proclaiming themselves "states," they issued the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The rebellious states defeated Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War. On September 17, 1787, a federal convention adopted the current United States Constitution. Its ratification the following year made the states part of a single republic.
Today, the United States is a federal union of fifty states. As the original thirteen states rebelled against British rule, most of the rest have been carved from territory, obtained through war or purchase by the U.S. government. The exceptions are Vermont, Texas, and Hawaii. Before joining the union, these states were each an independent republic. Early in the country's history, three states were created out of the territory of existing ones: Kentucky from Virginia; Tennessee from North Carolina; and Maine from Massachusetts. West Virginia broke away from Virginia during the American Civil War. The most recent state — Hawaii — achieved statehood on August 21, 1959. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the states do not have the right to secede from the union.
The states compose the vast bulk of the U.S. land mass. There are several other areas, which are considered integral parts of the country. One of them is the District of Columbia. This is the federal district where the capital, Washington, is located. Another integral part is Palmyra Atoll. It is an uninhabited, but incorporated territory in the Pacific Ocean.
The United States possesses five major territories with indigenous populations They are: Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. Those born in the territories (except for American Samoa) possess U.S. citizenship.
a federal union — федеральный союз
to be carved from territory — отделяться от территории
to break away from smb/smth — отделиться от кого-либо, от чего-либо
to achieve smth — достигать чего-то, получать что-то
statehood — государственность
to secede from the union — выходить из союза, отделиться от союза
the vast bulk — широкий объем, основная часть
an uninhabited territory — незаселенная территория
to possess smth — владеть чем-либо
indigenous populations — туземные народы, местное население