Explain the difference between “America” and the “United States

Explainthe difference between &quotAmerica&quot and the &quotUnitedStates

Theterm American and United States have been used interchangeably andthe use often imply that the two are synonymous. However, thereexists a way in conceptualization that can be used to make adifference between the two terms. Essentially, the concepts ofnation, state and nation-state can be used to explain what thedifference between the two concepts is. The term America dates backprior to the age of exploration when early explorers asserted thatthey have discovered the Americas and the new Americas. In this lineof thought, American can be said to be a geographical category thatdenotes a given region without other subtle divisions. America, as aterm is used in reference to the continent where the United States ofAmerica is located. It refers to the North America, Central Americaand South America. United States is in North America and form part ofthe Northern hemisphere. In this regards the Northern hemisphere isnormally referred to as America since the United States has come toconstitute part of it and has been dominant on that hemisphere(Gruesz 17).

Americatherefore is a term that has geographical connotation and has beenused as a reference to the North America part of the world. The partthat is now known as the United States was described as Americagenerally by the explorers such as Christopher Columbus. Since thenAmerica is the name that has been used to describe the United Statesbecause of the latter’s occupancy of the larger part of NorthAmerica. America has thus been considered a nation. A nation in thiscase encompasses a socio-cultural entity. It is a union of people whoshare and readily identify culturally and linguistically (Weinbaum164). A nation consists of distinct population of people who arebound together by a common culture and history. These people aretypically concentrated within a specific geographic region- such asAmerica. Thus America as a nation has distinct populations of people(Americans) and share common culture and tradition. Although a nationis a large group of people linked by similar culture and language,they may not share same ethnicity as evident in the case of theUnited States.

TheUnited States, on the other hand, can be defined along the lines ofthe term state. The concept United States dates back to theDeclaration of Independence. This is when different entities thatformed America were unified under one government. Other than denotinga geographical entity alone, the term United States denotes thepolitical infusion and union. It insinuates the concept of state.State means that the geographical entity is a legal/political unitand has sovereignty (Thomas 234). Sovereignty in this case is theultimate power within a territory. This means that the state haspower to make laws, enact policies and defend its borders. A statehas an instrument that does these activities- the government. Thus,not all nations are states especially in the absence of governmentand sovereignty.

Inthe Declaration of the Independence, the 13 states in the southernand northern parts of America were unified and merged into a singleunion- the United States. A state is thus a nation that hassovereignty and is best described as a political unit. Modern nationstogether with their political apparatuses (such as governments) forma collective term that political scientists call nation-state. Anation state is a political unit (state) that rule over a nation(White 27). The difference between America and the United States isthus pegged on the geographical and cultural aspect (America) andlegal/geopolitical entity (United States).


Gruesz,Kirsten. “America.”2014. In Burgett Bruce and Glenn Hendler(Eds), Keywordsfor American Cultural Studies.New York: New York University Press, 2014.

Thomas,Paul. “State.” 2014. In Burgett Bruce and Glenn Hendler (Eds),Keywordsfor American Cultural Studies.New York: New York University Press, 2014.

Weinbaum,Alys. “Nation.” 2014. In Burgett Bruce and Glenn Hendler (Eds),Keywordsfor American Cultural Studies.New York: New York University Press, 2014.

White,George W. Nation,State, and Territory: Origins, Evolutions, and Relationships.Lanham, Md: Rowman &amp Littlefield, 2007.

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