How Old Is The United States?

The United States of America, the world’s third or fourth-largest country by area and the most developed economy celebrate its birthday (otherwise known as Independence Day) on July 4 every year. However, amidst the fireworks and all sorts of celebrations to mark this day, many people often ask just how old the country is. For most people, all they want to know is America’s age since attaining independence from the European colonizer. For others, they want to know how long America has been occupied. According to the country’s history, the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, making the country 245 years old as of July 4, 2021. However, Native Americans have occupied the area that later became the US for at least 12,000 years. 

Earliest Settlement

Although the US is 245 years old as of 2021, the country has existed for more than 2.5 centuries. The first Native Americans migrated to North America long before the Declaration of Independence. According to most historians, the first indigenous people settled in the area at least 15,000 BC, although the migration to the area could have happened as early as 30,000 years ago. The first indigenous people used the Bering land bridge to move from Eurasia to North America until 10,000 years ago when the land bridge submerged.

Paleoamericans were the first Native Americans to arrive and settle in North America and were later joined by ancestors of several present-day tribes, including Aleuts, Athabaskans, and Eskimos. Over time, the indigenous people developed distinct cultures and spread throughout the area until Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the 15th century, marking the beginning of European colonization.

Colonization And Declaration Of Independence

Declaration of independence
John Hancock signs the Declaration of Independence 1776.

Although Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to sight the American continent, the Spanish were the first people to settle in the present-day United States, setting up settlements in New Mexico and Florida, including Saint Augustine and Santa Fe. By the mid-17th century, the English had established their presence on the Atlantic Coast and founded the first colony, Jamestown, Virginia. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the British established the 13 colonies, with Georgia as the last colony in 1733.   

In the late 18th century, tension developed between the 13 colonies and Great Britain over lack of representation and imposition of burdensome taxes, leading to the American Revolutionary War. The war, which broke out in April 1775, ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris signing between the US and Great Britain. However, on July 4, 1776, just over a year after the war broke out, Americans adopted the Declaration of Independence. The United States of America was born on this day, celebrated annually as Independence Day. However, the British recognized American independence following the Treaty of Paris signing on September 3, 1783.

In 2.5 centuries, the US has grown from the initial 13 colonies (granted statehood on various dates) to the current 50 states, becoming the third or fourth-largest country by total area. The country’s population has also grown over 130 times to about 330 million, making it the world’s third most populous country after China and India.

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