From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Americans are citizens of the United States of America. The country is home to people of many different national origins. As a result, Americans do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance. Although citizens make up the majority of Americans, non-citizen residents, dual citizens, and expatriates may also claim an American identity.
English-speakers, and even speakers of many other languages, typically use the term "American" to exclusively mean people of the United States; this developed from its original use to differentiate English people of the American colonies from English people of England. The word "American" can also refer to people from the Americas in general. See Names for United States citizens.
The majority of Americans or their ancestors immigrated to America or were brought as slaveswithin the past five centuries, with the exception of the Native American population and people from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands who became American through expansion of the country in the 19th century, and American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islandsand Northern Mariana Islands in the 20th century.
Despite its multi-ethnic composition, the culture of the United States held in common by most Americans can also be referred to as mainstream American culture, a Western culturelargely derived from the traditions of Northern and Western European colonists, settlers, and immigrants. It also includes influences of African-American culture. Westward expansion integrated the Creoles and Cajuns of Louisiana and the Hispanos of the Southwest and brought close contact with the culture of Mexico. Large-scale immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from Southern and Eastern Europe introduced a variety of elements. Immigration from Asia, Africa, and Latin America has also had impact. A cultural melting pot, or pluralistic salad bowl, describes the way in which generations of Americans have celebrated and exchanged distinctive cultural characteristics.
In addition to the United States, Americans and people of American descent can be found internationally. As many as seven million Americans are estimated to be living abroad, and make up the American diaspora.