Barack Obama, a Democrat and America's first black president, was re-elected for a second term in November 2012 after a bitterly-fought campaign against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
The Democrats kept control of the Senate and the Republicans remained in control of the House of Representatives, leading to political gridlock in Congress on the budget in late 2013.
The campaign focused on the ailing US economy. In his inaugural speech in January 2013, Mr Obama called on Democrats and Republicans to work together to sustain the country's fragile economic recovery. He also pledged an end to "ten years of war", signalling the departure of US troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
First term challenges
The worst economic crisis in the US since the Great Depression of the 1930s dominated much of Mr Obama's first term. The president pursued an aggressive policy of economic stimulus, including bail-outs of major car makers.
He made reform of the healthcare system to extend coverage and reduce ballooning costs one of his top domestic priorities.
Despite a tortuous drafting process and vociferous Republican opposition, Mr Obama and Democrats in Congress finally succeeded in passing a health care bill in March 2010.
However, the health reform, along with the $787bn stimulus package passed in February 2010 to shore up an ailing economy, galvanised opposition among opponents to Mr Obama's agenda.
The American Right in particular worried about what it saw as moves to extend the role of the state in the economy, and the threat of excessive public debt.
Tea Party boost for Republicans
The rise of the conservative Tea Party movement in 2009 re-energised the Republicans and helped them to capitalise on popular discontent at the slow pace of America's economic recovery.
The Republicans made sweeping gains in mid-term elections in November 2010, regaining control of the House of Representatives.
In autumn 2011 anti-capitalist protestors took to the streets of major cities, marching under the slogan "Occupy Wall Street", against "corporate greed" and increasing government debt. The protests inspired marches in other cities worldwide in October 2011.
Bin Laden operation
In May 2011, Mr Obama was widely applauded domestically - including by the Right - for his decision to order the operation that killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Barack Obama was born in 1961 in Hawaii, the son of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother. After attending an elite Hawaiian academy and Columbia University in New York, he went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1991.
Mr Obama practiced law and did community work in Chicago, where he also became active in the Democratic Party. He won a seat in the Illinois state senate in 1996, and followed this up by winning a US Senate seat in 2004.
He emphatic victory over his opponent John McCain in the 2008 presidential election ended eight years of Republican rule in the White House.
Mr Obama ran for president on a ticket promising change, and came to office riding a wave of high expectations from his supporters, both at home and abroad.
He is widely acknowledged to be a charismatic figure and is noted for his stirring oratory.
- Administrative divisions: This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN). Changes that have been reported but not yet acted on by BGN are noted.
- Capital city > Geographic coordinates: This entry gives the name of the seat of government, its geographic coordinates, the time difference relative to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the time observed in Washington, DC, and, if applicable, information on daylight saving time (DST). Where appropriate, a special note has been added to highlight those countries that have multiple time zones.
- Constitution: The dates of adoption, revisions, and major amendments to a nation's constitution
- Executive branch > Cabinet: Cabinet includes the official name for any body of high-ranking advisers roughly comparable to a U.S. Cabinet. Also notes the method for selection of members.
- Executive branch > Elections: Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election
- Executive branch > Head of government: Head of government includes the name and title of the top administrative leader who is designated to manage the day-to-day activities of the government. For example, in the UK, the monarch is the chief of state, and the prime minister is the head of government. In the US, the president is both the chief of state and the head of government.
- Government type: A description of the basic form of government (e.g., republic, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, parliamentary democracy, military dictatorship).
- Independence: For most countries, this entry gives the date that sovereignty was achieved and from which nation, empire, or trusteeship. For the other countries, the date given may not represent "independence" in the strict sense, but rather some significant nationhood event such as the traditional founding date or the date of unification, federation, confederation, establishment, fundamental change in the form of government, or state succession. Dependent areas include the notation "none" followed by the nature of their dependency status. "
- International organization participation: This entry lists in alphabetical order by abbreviation those international organizations in which the subject country is a member or participates in some other way.
- Judicial branch: The name(s) of the highest court(s) and a brief description of the selection process for members.
- Legal system: A brief description of the legal system's historical roots, role in government, and acceptance of International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction.
- Legislative branch: This entry contains information on the structure (unicameral, bicameral, tricameral), formal name, number of seats, and term of office. Elections includes the nature of election process or accession to power, date of the last election, and date of the next election. Election results includes the percent of vote and/or number of seats held by each party in the last election.
- Political parties and leaders: Significant political organizations and their leaders.
- Political pressure groups and leaders: Organizations with leaders involved in politics, but not standing for legislative election.
- Suffrage: The age at enfranchisement and whether the right to vote is universal or restricted
"United States Government Stats", NationMaster. Retrieved from http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government
"United States Government Stats, NationMaster." 1776-2014. <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government>.
'United States Government Stats, NationMaster', <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government> [assessed 1776-2014]
"United States Government Stats", NationMaster [Internet]. 1776-2014. Avaliable from: <http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government>.
"United States Government Stats", NationMaster. Avaliable at: nationmaster.com. Assessed 1776-2014.
"United States Government Stats, NationMaster," http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government (assessed 1776-2014)
"United States Government Stats", NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government (last visited 1776-2014)
"United States Government Stats", NationMaster, http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/profiles/United-States/Government (as of 1776-2014)
United States Government Profiles (Subcategories)
- United States has had the highest general government final > consumption expenditure > current US$ since 1960.
- United States has had the highest general government final > consumption expenditure > constant 2000 US$ since 1960.
A constitutional republic is a type of representative republic, which is similar to the system that Rome used. Democracy is when the individual members of a state, territory, province, nation, etcetera all vote on everything collectively.
Federal democracy implies that only the federal government votes on anything, which is slightly accurate, though the American people do get to vote on certain laws within their own states, the national laws are voted on solely by the federal government, and further implies that they vote on what they want without regard to what the people want, who did elect them into power and vote on them.
A representative republic occurs where a people vote for people to represent them as a collective, reducing the number of actual voting members by having one person represent thousands. A constitutional republic is where this same thing occurs, but the government is limited by a constitutional framework.