Cultural Differences Between the US and Other Nations

A look at what makes the United States a unique "home away from home" for everyone who comes within its borders.

The United States is such a melting pot when it comes to the traditions of its people, technologies, and everything in between.  Food, clothing, music, and dialect are just some of the things that vary between states and regions.  What helps to make this country unique is its rich history of various cultures.  Without them, the US is nothing.

Exploring the Past

We all know that the first true Americans were the Native Indians, whose tribes populated every area of the land.  As caretakers of the earth, they utilized its resources to provide their food, clothing, shelter, and livelihood.  But once the English colonists, known as Puritans, stepped in to claim the area in pursuit of a place where they could avoid religious persecution, the "white man's" ways prevailed.  That meant, their way of life replaced all that the Indians knew, causing great conflicts and bloodshed along the way.  To top it off, other groups from around the globe decided to also come to America in order to claim unchartered territories.  French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican - such people came to seek free enterprise and outdo the Puritans as they began to number the Eastern seaboard.  Unfortunately, slavery was also a huge part of this era, so Africans and the poor from struggling nations like Ireland and Scotland were forced to work the land.

Eventually, Germans, Swedes, and Asians also decided to take part in a new way of life in the US.  Different ethnicities populated various regions, resulting in an immersion of culture unique to each area.  Thus began the shift of a completely "new" culture that was set apart from the rest of the world as these foreigners incorporated their ways of life with the new resources they now had.  Of course, this does in no way discount modern day Canada, who is a close second to the US in many ways, yet still follows many more European practices than here (which makes sense, considering they are linked with England as well as France).

American Made

It's true that here in the US, we do things differently from the rest of the world.  While the traditional English language is based off of "the Motherland", we have adapted pronunciations and spellings.  We have our own measuring system, we drive on the right side of the road, and even our voltage for electricity is reversed.  Clearly, in many ways our differences stemmed from wanting to spite the English and other countries.  Our way of showing we can make it without them.  As the leader in world finances, inventions, computers, medicine, and renowned schools, America has come a long way to proving its ability to endure and take charge.  The pride that comes from acknowledging this results in the kind of patriotism that can be hard to understand to people who are unfamiliar with the American way of life.  Yet, the US is the same in its ideals worldwide - to have a home, a promising career, and religious freedom.  We all enjoy technology - every nation has cars, computers, cell phones, and televisions at their disposal.  Everyone appreciates movies and music, sports and recreation, and food.  But when it comes to what the United States is famous for, the following are just some of what were invented and/or originated here:

  • flippers for swimming
  • mail order catalogue
  • bifocals
  • crackers
  • cotton gin
  • refrigerator
  • dental floss
  • coffee percolator
  • Morse code
  • combine harvester
  • vulcanized rubber
  • potato chips
  • safety pins
  • toilet paper
  • vacuum cleaners

Indeed, there is a long line of inventions worth noting (see US Timeline of Inventions).  People like Benjamin Franklin, Charles Goodyear, Samuel Morse, and Eli Whitney shaped the way we live and how to view new ideas and concepts.


Women began wearing pants as an acceptable form of dress decades ago, as a means of practical attire in the manual labor workforce that traditionally was for men.  As more freedom was allowed women, they were able to change their looks, roles, and interests to match men's.  While the Northern and Central regions of the US have four distinct seasons, the South and South Western regions are generally warmer.  Such differences impacts the types of clothing for both women and men, as well as housing, furniture, and even local produce.

Food is something that continues to evolve, owing much to the many ethnicities residing here.  Within the hearts of major cities like Chicago, New York, Houston, Memphis, Charleston, or Baton Rouge, you can find hints of Creole, French, Spanish, Mexican, Asian, and Italian combined with local flair in favorite American dishes like jambalaya, burgers, pizza, tacos, barbecue, chowder, apple pie, fried chicken, or steak (see 10 American Foods).

Overall, the United States is a hotbed of change, innovation, and energy.  It's also by far one of the easiest countries to get used to living in, especially if you are familiar with the English language.  What you see on television does not define the country, but the real picture is shown through experience alone.  People have and continue to realize that it's worth being here, even if only for a short while.  So if you are thinking of visiting or even living here, you will be glad you did!   


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