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The United States of America

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In 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere "America" after Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci. The former British colonies first used the country's modern name in the Declaration of Independence, the "unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America" adopted by the "Representatives of the united States of America" on July 4, 1776. On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation, which states, "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be 'The United States of America.'" The Franco-American treaties of 1778 used "United States of North America", but from July 11, 1778, "United States of America" was used on the country's bills of exchange, and it has been the official name ever since.

The short form the United States is also standard. Other common forms include the U.S., the USA, and America. Colloquial names include the U.S. of A. and the States. Columbia, a once popular name for the United States, was derived from Christopher Columbus; it appears in the name "District of Columbia".

The standard way to refer to a citizen of the United States is as an American. Though United States is the formal appositional term, American and U.S. are more commonly used to refer to the country adjectivally ("American values," "U.S. forces"). American is rarely used in English to refer to people not connected to the United States.

The phrase "the United States" was originally treated as plural—e.g., "the United States are"—including in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1865. It became common to treat it as singular—e.g., "the United States is"—after the end of the Civil War. The singular form is now standard; the plural form is retained in the idiom "these United States".

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