In many ways, 24th-century America is strikingly different from America of the early 21st century. Perhaps most obvious is the introspection, bordering on isolationism, which developed after the nation lost its superpower status. America in the 24th century seems at once less overtly boastful of its abilities and yet increasingly self-assured, regaining its taste for interaction in international and interstellar affairs.
The population of America in 2300 a third less than in the early part of the 21st century, but once the loss of southern California, Texas, and most of Arizona and New Mexico is taken into account, it can be seen that population in the remaining regions has actually increased.
- Population: 211,540,000 (85% urban, 15% rural)
- Literacy: 100%
- College Education: 89%
- Life Expectancy: 92.1 male, 94.5 female
- Largest Cities: Chicago (2,340,000), New York (2,255,000), San Francisco (2,087,000)
The American economy in 2300 is healthy, with steady growth and a high standard of living for American citizens.
- Industrial Capacity: 17 Rudell Units
- AgricuItural Output: 107%, net exporter of grain
- Mineral Production: 77%, net importer of metals and radioactives, principally from off-world
- Power Production: 112% (80% solar, 12% atomic, 8% mineral), net exporter of power (mostly to L4 and Mars)
- Principal Trading Partners: Canada, Nigeria, Great Britain, France
HISTORY SINCE TWILIGHT
During the latter half of the 19th century and nearly all of the 20th, America was effectively in complete control of affairs in the Western Hemisphere and was a dominant force in world events. The country projected its will and military might in many conflicts during this period, including all three world wars. American involvement in world affairs during this period could be attributed not only to a commitment to help its allies, but even more to an American belief that the nation was the paragon and linchpin of Western democracy.
Twilight brought an end to America’s superpower status. As a result of the commitment of money and military forces to the fighting in every corner of the globe, and of the collapse of the world economy after the waves of deadly epidemics, the nation was plunged into chaos in the midst of famine and desolation. Civilian government, military government, and ultra-rightist New America struggled among themselves as to who would pick up the reins of power in the nation. During these years, America lost both Texas and much of the American Southwest. Chaos reigned for 20 years before Civgov and Milgov patched up their differences and united to bring down New America and establish federal authority once again.
Extensive public work programs were instituted to rebuild the nation and the confidence of its peoples, so that by the end of the century America had settled into its new role as an equal among competitive industrial nations, all under the umbrella of the French Peace. Late in the 21st century and into the early 22nd, America became embroiled in war with Mexico over Texan independence (2099-2103) and then in supporting what had been southern California against Mexico in a Mexican civil war (2103-2106). Texas gained its independence, but southern California remained in Mexico’s hands. Mexican and American rivalry has lived on from those troubled times to the present
In the mid-22nd century, America began to concentrate upon developing an effective space program, in close cooperation with Australia. The two countries’ industrial power, combined with the resource of superbly educated populations did much to allow America and Australia to dominate an entire arm of stellar exploration and, eventually, colonization. An American colony was established at Mu Herculis in 2215 and on Ellis in 2229. America has traditionally had a large presence in the Sol system, with L4 and Mars outposts, as well as in interstellar space. America spent most of the 23rd century improving the quality of the lives of its continental inhabitants and consolidating its off-world assets. Ellis was made a state of the Union on July 4, 2276, the quinticentennial of the United States.
Americans’ traditional notion of America as the greatest nation on Earth and of Americans as defenders of democracy in the world ended with the nuclear exchanges, epidemics, and ensuing famine of Twilight. A new direction of national effort and will dedicated itself toward the rebuilding of the nation nearly from scratch. The everyday struggle to survive drove notions of world domination far from the American mindset. A surge of nationalism and isolationism swept the county, easing the pain of a people taking a step backward in world ranking.
In 2300, America is a strong industrial and technological nation which provides a comfort able living for nearly all of its terrestrial population. The trend in population movement has been from rural to urban, but the actual population density in individual cities has come sharply down. These effects are due to four causes. First, a paranoia settled over postwar America for some time as people avoided plague and radiation areas even after they were safe to revisit or settle. Second, the increasing speed of transportation made travel between distant points less and less of a problem, and as a consequence, commuting distances increased dramatically. Third, as the nation turned increasingly to service industries, the need for centrally located offices diminished since distant points could be easily connected by computer network. Because of this last factor, a sizable portion of the population began to work at home or in local branch offices of their employers’ businesses. Finally, as the suburbs of individual cities sprawled further and further, many cities became interconnected, and population figures began to be calculated merely on the basis of each city’s core, population figures for suburbs being calculated separately
Twenty-fourth-century America can be viewed as consisting of the continental states (in four major geographical regions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the South, and the West) and the non-continental states (Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Ellis).
During the period immediately preceding Twilight, the Northeast was the most populous region in America, as well as the most industrialized. It was also, of course, the center of government for the nation. The chaos following the Twilight War greatly reduced the Northeast’s population, but left the majority of industrial areas virtually intact Only a few areas had been hit by military or terrorist nuclear strikes (Delaware City, DE; downtown Washington, DC; Andrews AFB, MD, Fort Meade, MD, Camp David, MD; Linden, NJ; Perth Amboy, NJ, Paulsboro, NJ; Westville, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; and Marcus Hook, PA), and these were typically governmental centers, military facilities, or oil facilities. The larger warheads were all air bursts, wreaking considerable damage but causing short-lived radioactivity, while the smaller ground bursts were crude and of very low yield, contaminating only a limited area that could eventually be reclaimed.
As the region’s population began to swell once again, it was fairly easy to bring abandoned or slightly damaged industrial facilities back into service, and with the loss of Texas and southern California to Mexico, the Northeast had no stiff competition in returning to its status as the nation’s leading industrial area. The result of this has been that in 2300 the eastern seaboard is nearly one continuous metropolitan area.
The Megalopolis that in the 20th century stretched from Boston to Washington, DC now reaches as far south as Norfolk. It also extends into the Midwest, through Albany, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit, to Chicago, then north to Milwaukee and south to St. Louis. Population density varies considerably throughout its length, but it includes no areas that could be considered rural by any stretch of the term. Over 70 million people live within the boundaries of the mega-city, nearly one-third of America’s total population. The range of cultures encompassed is diverse, but a few dominant influences should be mentioned. Predominant, of course, are descendants of European origin, especially English and German. By 2300, most of these people have become so “Americanized” that they have nearly forgotten their original heritage. There is also a strong Japanese influence throughout the mega-city, not only in the Boston-New York region, where Japanese population has traditionally been ,high, but also in the most industrialized areas, where investments from Japanese corporations helped accelerate America’s recovery. The African-American population is distributed throughout the mega-city, but in very few areas is it collected into culturally distinct pockets. In general, blacks have been assimilated into the general American culture while maintaining their heritage. Chicago and its environs hold a high percentage of Hispanics, primarily localized in culturally distinct neighborhoods. Many of the member cities of Megalopolis also have distinct Chinatowns, where Chinese populations are concentrated.
Rural areas of the American Northeast are largely devoted to dairy farms with mixed crop- raising through the region’s southern reaches. Virtually all of the agriculture is owned and directed by major corporations which are themselves owned by larger conglomerates. There are a few localities where communal farms are operated by political or religious communes (such as the Amish) that have been in existence since Twilight or earlier, but these operate near a subsistence level and have little effect upon American society in general.
Outside of the Midwest portion of Megalopolis, almost the entire Midwest region is devoted to extensive corporate farms. The American Midwest continues to enjoy the twin benefits of the most fertile soil in the world and nearly perfect climate for farming. Winters are cold enough to keep numbers of parasitic organisms very low, and summers are long enough and warm enough to provide an excellent growing season. With the addition of the best in bioengineering technology, the Midwest remains central to America’s ability to feed its population easily and with great variety, while still exporting foodstuffs to less fortunate nations. Primary agricultural products in this region are feed grains and livestock.
During the 20th century, the Midwest’s high agricultural output was only possible by use of petroleum fuels, some obtained from the Midwest’s own natural supplies, but most purchased from other regions of the world. With the advent of widespread solar and wind power, dependence upon foreign oil for fuel has become a thing of the past. Midwestern fossil fuels are being extracted much more than in the past, however, for use in the manufacture of plastics.
As with other regions of America, the scars of Twilight have largely been obliterated. The relatively few nuclear targets were primarily oil facilities, although a few military bases were hit as well. The long-term effects of these blasts were minimal. The population of the Midwest was largely rural at the time, and no major centers of population were targeted. By 2300, the rural population has shrunk even further, its only members being employees of the corporate farms, with a scattering of communal farmlands such as those mentioned in the Northeast.
The American South remains perhaps the most conservative area of the county, particularly in Florida, which was a center of New American influence during Twilight. With the loss of Texas, the region has lost much of its political clout. The South holds little in the manner of mineral resources, although there are some coal deposits in its western states and some iron, bauxite, copper, and zinc in the center of the region. Agriculture is important in the South, with livestock and specialty crops such as peanuts, rice, and some spices being raised. Tobacco is still grown in very limited amounts as a luxury item for some of the very wealthy, among whom it is something of a fashion.
Population in the South is largely centered in Florida, which is almost as urbanized as Megalopolis, although nowhere near as widespread. Florida’s extensive urban sprawl contains predominantly a mix of African Americans and peoples of European descent. A large number of Puerto Rican and, especially, Cuban neighborhoods can be found as well. The southern coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama is also very populous. During Twilight, with the loss of artificial control upon its course, the Mississippi River shifted its mouth approximately 200 kilometers to the west, entering the Gulf of Mexico near Morgan City, Louisiana. The old delta became largely salt marsh, and ground water for most of the cities south of Baton Rouge became contaminated with salt, forcing most of the population to leave. In 2300, this region has become heavily populated again, largely because of its easy access to the gulf. Large solar-powered desalinization plants supply fresh water for the populace. Morgan City has replaced New Orleans as the area’s primary seaport, but the latter city remains a popular historical spot.
With the collapse of a central economy in America during Twilight, the nation’s West suffered heavily. Rainfall increased in the states of Washington and Oregon, making crop-raising very difficult. In the meantime, much of California was stricken by drought. As in the rest of the nation, people fled from the cities into the county in search of food sources. As America began to recover in the 21st century, the population began to move back to the cities, and much of the county’s western coast is now nearly as heavily populated as Megalopolis in the East. Those Western states east of the Rocky Mountains found themselves effectively cut off from the rest of the nation during Twilight, as long-distance transportation became virtually nonexistent. These people banded together into strong local units and worked to scratch crops from the arid lands they inhabited. Those communities that survived became fiercely independent, almost tribal, and in a few cases they were centered around Native Americans from the region’s reservations. The Mormon Church also served as a unifying influence in Utah.
As the nation recovered, cattle production became important to this region once again. In other regions of the county, as agricultural production geared up again, corporate America gathered up the reins and soon controlled it all. In these Western states, however, the agricultural corporations have experienced frustration time and again as the ranchers have banded together to keep them out. In the 24th century, there is a virtual economic war being waged in this region to determine who will control the ranges. Signs are that the corporations will eventually win, as they simply have more resources to bring to bear, but it is a tribute to the independent ranchers that they have held out this long.
An industry in the West in which corporate America has had much more success is tourism. The Rocky Mountains, for example, abound with ski lodges, fishing camps, and the like, all owned by a few major corporations.
Alaska was invaded by the Russians and the Chinese during Twilight, primarily to seize its oil production. As Twilight progressed, without continued support from their home governments, the invaders were soon absorbed into the general population. In 2300, Alaska is a major producer of oil and a popular vacation spot.
Hawaii in 2300 is virtually unchanged from 20th-century Hawaii. Twilight brought short-term panic and rioting to the state’s primarily urban population, but food resources were adequate for the population, and the state quickly recovered from its chaos. Tourism is still the state’s primary industry, supplemented by specialized agriculture, such as sugar cane production.
Like Hawaii, Puerto Rico experienced some panic as a result of the Twilight War, but suffered no lasting effects. As a state, Puerto Rico in 2300 has become a real competitor with Hawaii as a vacation spot.
Ellis is an American colony world at the far end of the American Arm of exploration, and is treated in detail with its own database entry.
THE “UNITED STATES” AND THE AMERICAN FLAG
One of the effects of America’s experiences during the last three centuries is that the term “United States” is almost never used, even though it remains a part of the nation’s official name. That trend is slowly changing as America, buoyed by its successes in the Kafer War, is beginning to reassert itself on the world stage.
Loathe to lose its self- image, America maintained 50 stars on its flag even after losing Texas, southern California, and most of New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico. Once it had been settled that after gaining its independence from Mexico, Texas would remain a sovereign nation, much political pressure was brought to bear on Puerto Rico to become a state and take Texas’s place among the 50 stars. California, of course, remained an American state despite the loss of its southern end. The northern regions of Arizona and New Mexico (including New Mexico’s capital city, Santa Fe) remained in the possession of America, but the greatest portion of these two states had been assimilated into the Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua (and Texas also absorbed a good portion of Mexican-held New Mexico). Mexican possession of these territories was a cause of continual friction between Mexico and America. The American people considered their county to still consist of 50 states, but it was obvious that Arizona and New Mexico were only shadows of their former selves. Much of the tension was relieved in 2276, when Ellis joined the union as a state and Arizona officially acquired what was left of New Mexico, restoring Arizona to nearly its original size. The name New Mexico was stricken from the list of the states and Ellis’s name was added. Once again, American citizens could consider their nation a cohesive union Of 50 states.