US Basics

All-American fareAll-American fare

Name: United States, or USA, or U.S. (long form) United Sates of America. American is named after the Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci

Capital City: Washington, D.C

National Independence Day: July 4, 1776

Motto: In God We Trust

Largest Cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose

Border Countries and Oceans: Canada, Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean

Land Area: 3,615,123 sq. mi. (9,375,720 sq. km.)

Highest Point: Mt. McKinley, Alaska, 20,320 ft. (6194 m.) above sea level

Lowest Point: Death Valley, California, 282 ft (86 m.) below sea level

Largest State: Alaska

Smallest State: Rhode Island

Official Religion: Christianity (Protestant 52%, Catholic 24%)

Currency: US Dollar (US$)

Political System: Constitution-based federal republic

National Bird: Bald Eagle

National Flower: Rose

National Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner

National Sport: Baseball

Economy: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Manufacturing, Mining, Construction 

International Dialing Code: +1

Electricity: 110-120V  60Hz (don’t forget to pack an AC and plug adapter – the U.S. uses electrical plugs with two flat parallel blades)

Weights & Measures: Imperial

Time Zones: GMT/UTC-5 (Eastern)

GMT/UTC-6 (Central)

GMT/UTC-7 (Mountain)

GMT/UTC-8 (Pacific Standard)

Tipping: Customary for service industry professionals - usually 15 percent of the total bill – 20 percent or more for exceptional service. Tip coatroom attendants $1 per garment; parking valets $1-2 when you drop off your car and another $1-2 when you pick it up; hotel porters and airport skycaps at least $1 per bag; and hotel chambermaids $3-5 a day.


  • The national language of the United States is English. Not many Americans speak another language.
  • If they do speak another language, such as in pockets in the central states where small communities speak German or one of the Scandinavian languages, or people living or working along the U.S. border with eastern Canada, where French may be a second language for some, they will almost always speak English too.
  • But in general, it’s an English-only country - the one exception being along the southern U.S. border from California to Texas that where are communities where Spanish is the first language, and some residents may not speak any English. Also in those areas, many native English speakers know a fair amount of Spanish.
  • Therefore, it’s probably essential that you (or someone in your motorhome traveling group) speak English. There are obviously exceptions, but on the whole but you shouldn’t rely on Americans understanding any other language.


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