Exploring American Culture

America is an immigrant country with a great diversity of people, cultures, music, food, and sports—with just about every climate, landscape, and terrain imaginable. Its fifty states cover a vast section of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean. From the skylines of New York City and Chicago to the majesty of the Grand Canyon, global citizens have been flocking to the U.S. for many generations to pursue their dreams. Pop culture is everywhere, sports and news dominate many conversations, and American culture and traditions vary greatly depending on region, ethnicity and religion.

American People and Community

A family in the United States

The immediate family is the basic unit of American society. Traditionally, the average household consisted of a mother, father, and two or more children. Presently, families are increasingly more diverse—married couples without children, single-parent households, same-sex couples, and unmarried couples. Children may live with or be cared for by grandparents, especially if the parents are young and unmarried. In American culture, dinner is considered the main meal of the day, though sometimes family members may eat at different times due to busy work and school schedules—and takeout meals are quite common.

Recently, the number of multigenerational households has grown due to an increase in young adults returning to live with their parents after college. Many Americans also consider the family pet (usually a dog or cat) a member of the family.

Language and Communication Styles in America

Teenagers in the United States

English is the main language spoken in the U.S., but many people also speak Spanish, or another language depending on their family background.

American Food

A serving of pulled pork with side dishes in USA

From burgers to barbecue chicken, pizza to pasta, salads to sushi—anything and everything is American food, which makes it difficult to name a national dish. Ethnic foods of all flavors—Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Greek, you name it!—can be found even in the smallest town. Classic old American fare like hot dogs, clam chowder or apple pie and sweet potatoes represent down home “soul food” cooking from the American south.

People in the United States eat beef, pork, chicken, and turkey in large quantities. Fresh vegetables and fruits are available year-round. Many people also eat large amounts of junk food, including potato chips, soda, candy, and ice cream. However, an increasing number of Americans are becoming more health conscious, choosing organically grown and raised meat and produce.