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Introducing USA

Enormous and staggeringly diverse, America harbors an astounding collection of natural and cultural wonders, from teeming city streets to mountains, plains and forests covering vast swaths of the continent.

Bright Lights, Big Cities

America is the birthplace of LA, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami, Boston and New York City – each a brimming metropolis whose name alone conjures a million different notions of culture, cuisine and entertainment. Look more closely, and the American quilt unfurls in all its surprising variety: the eclectic music scene of Austin, the easy-going charms of antebellum Savannah, the ecoconsciousness of free-spirited Portland, the magnificent waterfront of San Francisco, and the captivating old quarters of New Orleans, still rising up from its waterlogged ashes.

On the Road Again

This is a country of road trips and great open skies, where four million miles of highways lead past red-rock deserts, below towering mountain peaks, and across fertile wheat fields that roll off toward the horizon. The sun-bleached hillsides of the Great Plains, the lush rain forests of the Pacific Northwest and the scenic country lanes of New England are a few fine starting points for the great American road trip.

Food-Loving Nation

Cuisine is another way of illuminating the American experience. On one evening in the US, thick barbecue ribs and smoked brisket come piping hot at a Texas roadhouse; over 1500 miles away, talented chefs blend organic, fresh-off-the-farm produce with Asian accents at award- winning West Coast restaurants. A smattering of locals get their fix of bagels and lox at a century-old deli in Manhattan's Upper West Side, while several states away, plump pancakes and fried eggs disappear in a hurry under the clatter of cutlery at a 1950s-style diner. Steaming plates of fresh lobster served off a Maine pier, oysters and champagne in a fashion-forward wine bar in California, beer and pizza at a Midwestern pub – these are just a few ways to dine à la Americana.

Cultural Behemoth

The world's third-largest nation has made tremendous contributions to the arts. Georgia O'Keeffe's wild landscapes, Robert Rauschenberg's surreal collages, Alexander Calder's elegant mobiles and Jackson Pollock's drip paintings have entered the vernacular of modern 20th-century art. Cities like Chicago and New York have become veritable drawing boards for the great archi- tects of the modern era. Musically speaking, America has few peers on the world stage. From the soulful blues born in the Mississippi Delta to the bluegrass of Appalachia and Detroit's Motown sound, plus jazz, funk, hip-hop, country, and rock and roll – America has invented sounds that are integral to modern music.

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