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The United States and the Soviet Union emerged as rival superpowers in the aftermath of World War II.

During the Cold War, the two countries confronted each other indirectly in the arms race, the Space Race, proxy wars, and propaganda campaigns.

Economic growth in terms of overall GDP was even greater.

However compared to European powers, the nation's military strength was relatively limited in peacetime before 1940.

Tax resistance, especially the Boston Tea Party (1773), led to punitive laws by Parliament designed to end self-government in Massachusetts. In 1776, the Second Continental Congress declared a new, independent nation: the United States of America.

Its involvement culminated in using newly invented nuclear weapons on two Japanese cities to defeat Imperial Japan in the Pacific theater.

The national railroad network was completed and large-scale mining and factories industrialized the Northeast and Midwest.

Mass dissatisfaction with corruption, inefficiency and traditional politics stimulated the Progressive movement, from the 1890s to 1920s, which led to many reforms including the 16th to 19th constitutional amendments, which brought the federal income tax, direct election of Senators, prohibition, and women's suffrage.

The beginning of the 21st century saw the September 11 attacks by Al-Qaeda in 2001, which was later followed by the U. In 2008, the United States had its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which was followed by slower-than-usual rates of economic growth during the 2010s.

It is not definitively known how or when the Native Americans first settled the Americas and the present-day United States.

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