The political order of the USA did not undergo substantial changes during the 1960s. The Confederation therefore continues to include 50 states and the Federal District, while Puerto Rico remains an associated state; the dependencies are made up of the Virgin Islands in American territory and some island groups (Guam, Midway, Samoa, Wake) of Oceania. The USA still governs the archipelagos of the Marianas, the Carolines and the Marshalls in the Pacific in a trustee regime, while since May 22, 1972, they have returned the island of Okinawa (Ryūkyū), occupied after the 2nd World War, to Japan.
The USA, with a population of over 200 million individuals (203,211,926 at the 1970 census; 218,520,000 according to a 1978 estimate), is currently the fourth largest country in the world by number of residents, surpassed only by China, India. and Soviet Union in order. In the decade 1960-70 the demographic increase (13.9%) was rather limited compared to previous periods, also suffering the negative repercussions of the loss of human life linked to the long Vietnamese conflict. Only 4 states within the Confederation recorded annual rates above 3% (Florida + 3.3%; Texas + 5.5%; Nevada + 5.8%; California + 8.8%). In the Federal District, in West Virginia and in North and South Dakota there was an absolute population decrease (see Table 1).
The severe limits placed on immigration since the war are among the fundamental causes of the slowdown in the growth rate of the US population. Permanent immigration continues to be governed by the quota system, which sets the maximum number of people who can settle in the territory of the USA each year. The quota is currently fixed at around 290,000 immigrants per year (no more than 20,000 per country of origin). During 1972, however, US citizenship was granted to 385,000 individuals (against 370,000 in each of the previous two years): of these 295,000 were new immigrants, while 90,000 already lived within the borders of the Confederation. In the 1970s, the share of immigrants originating from other states North and Central America has become by far the most prevalent (over 35%) and the Mexicans are at the head of all, reaching 64,000 immigrants in 1972 (about one sixth of the total). About 5% of the new citizens of the USA come from the countries of South America, while arrivals from Europe remain around 25% and those from Asia have exceeded 30%; just over 2% are from other parts of the world. The share of Asian immigrants experienced a sharp surge in 1974-75 following the crumbling and fall of pro-American regimes established in Southeast Asia, which led many individuals to seek refuge in the USA. this circumstance substantial exceptions to the pre-established quotas). Not all immigrants, however, take US citizenship; the ratio between immigrants and naturalized persons grows with the increasing distance from the countries of origin: very low, in the order of 20-30%, for Mexico and Canada, it becomes rather high for European countries: in particular it reaches the value of 85% for Italy. There has been a slowdown in the migratory flow in the past which has slightly reduced the high rate of foreign-born people in the last decade; while in 1960 the ratio of out-of-country births to the total was 6%, by the end of the decade it had fallen to 5%. Another typical characteristic of the population of the USA remains the strong social mobility, which implies a marked willingness of individuals to move where new situations allow a higher standard of living, so that internal migrations take on very accentuated dimensions. These movements give rise to a series of currents that take different directions: to the more traditional ones, which refer to the large urban-industrial agglomerations of the North-East and to the Great Lakes district, a major direction has recently been added that affects Western states, in particular California and Texas, where industrial life pulsates more intensely today, especially in certain avant-garde branches such as electronics and petrochemicals. The new earning opportunities have attracted numerous families, particularly from the central and southern regions.
The distribution of the residents remains very different from one region to another and vast spaces still open to the prospects of future population. In fact, the average density of the USA (22 residents / km 2) remains quite low in itself, but there are, especially in the interior, immense territories (such as Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and others) in whose density still rarely exceeds 1 residents/km 2. In reality, all of the Center-West has densities that are even much lower than the national average, with the exception of populous California (21,185,000 residents in 1975; 51 residents / km 2), which recently surpassed the state of New York in the ranking of population consistency. On the contrary, the strip of Atlantic lands of the oldest colonization bears higher densities, in particular in New Jersey (360 residents / km 2), in Rhode Island (294), in Massachusetts (272), in Connecticut (238). The states of the South-East and those of the Center-North, which overlook the Great Lakes, generally have average densities.
Of the ancient indigenous peoples only a few survivors (about 800,000) are found today, mostly collected in those “Indian reservations”, frequent above all in Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma, which are little less than ethnological museums. Whites, who number almost 178 million (177,748,975 at the 1970 census, of which 169 million natives and the rest of foreign origin), constitute by far the dominant group (87%); followed by blacks, which amounted to over 22 million (22,580,289 in 1970, equal to 11% of the total population) and then the minor ethnic groups, which official statistics group under the heading “other races” and which on the whole amount approximately 3 million (2,882,692 at the 1970 survey; among them: 591,290 Japanese; 435,062 Chinese, 343,060 Filipinos, ethnic groups that after the end of the Second World War have greatly increased their presence in the USA, also in relation to the intensification of political and economic relations with the Asian allies of the Confederation). Among whites born abroad (8,733,770 in 1970) Italians prevail (about 12% of the total), followed by Germans (9.5%), Canadians (9%), Mexicans (8.5%), British (7.7%), Poles (6.2%), Russians (5.2%) and Irish (2.9%). In particular, as regards the Italians, they currently form a community of about one million individuals, to which must be added another 250,000 people who still retain their nationality of origin. Especially in the great Atlantic metropolises (and in particular in New York) and in those on the Great Lakes, the colonies of
Unlike the whites, who are distributed in all the states of the Confederation, the blacks, albeit numerous in the metropolises of the Atlantic front (the state of New York has the greatest number of them, equal to over 2 million) and in the Center- North, they still live mainly in the southern states, where they represent rather high rates compared to the total population: over a quarter in Alabama and Georgia, about 30% in Louisiana and S. Carolina, over 35% in Mississippi. A separate case is offered by the District of Colombia, in which blacks make up over 70% of the residents (Washington metropolitan area). Overall, 60% of the black population of the United States still lives in the southern states.
The blacks of the United States still experience acute forms of discrimination, which are particularly felt in the territories of the deep south, but they also find a sad expression in the ghettos of the big cities, where they very often occupy the last rungs of the social and economic ladder. In the South, blacks are still very often denied the exercise of the most elementary political rights and the enjoyment of the freedoms that the Federal Constitution (which the law on civil rights gave concrete application in 1964) guarantees to all citizens. Due to this series of obstacles, as well as to seek more remunerative wages, in the last period the number of Negroes who abandon the southernmost states has increased considerably, especially in the states of the North-East, the Center-North and the
Among the other minority races, the most conspicuous nuclei, Chinese and Japanese, live mostly concentrated in the major metropolises and in particular along the Pacific coasts (in California the Asian groups make up about 4% of the population).
As far as religions are concerned, no official statistics are available, but estimates in 1975 estimated that there were approximately 131 million followers of the various professions, with a net prevalence of the various Protestant Churches (54%), followed by Catholicism (37%), and from the Jewish religion (4%). In more recent times, certain Muslim sects have taken hold (such as that of black Muslims, particularly widespread among the more politicized blacks) or Buddhist (especially among young people and veterans from Southeast Asia). Among the Protestant professions, which group 69,743,000 individuals, the largest share of followers belong to Baptists (about 36%), Methodists (just under 20%) and Lutherans (7%); of the others very few exceed a million faithful and many are those practiced by very small communities, often immigrants.