American Culture

Other Considerations

  • Discussions about terrorism, Islam, slavery and race relations can be sensitive topics.
  • If discussing politics, expect to have to explain how aspects of the Australian social system work (e.g. healthcare). The American political and social system operates quite differently as a Republic.
  • Public anger is permissible to a degree, but if it gets out of hand people are often taken to the side to vent in private. One is not necessarily expected to hide their emotions, but keep them in check.
  • There is a strong cultural and religious narrative in America of the ‘Good Samaritan’. As many as 1 in 4 Americans volunteer for non-profit organisations and events. It is also common (in a relative sense to Australia) for people to reach out and help total strangers on impulse.
  • 13 is an unlucky number to the superstitious, and therefore some buildings may skip it when numbering floors.
  • Americans write the date as month/day/year. 
  • Americans use U.S. customary units to measure instead of the metric system (i.e. miles instead of kilometres, pounds instead of kilograms).
  • Americans can be very passionate about those sports that have originated in the USA. If you support a team adverse to an American’s, take light insults and slurs without offence. It is all in the name of sportsmanship and doesn’t go so far as to ruin relationships.
  • Over 68% of American adults over 20 years-old are considered overweight, with a third of all adults considered to be obese. If talking about this, it’s less inflammatory to frame it as a social problem as opposed to a result of people’s poor willpower.
  • Some important laws vary significantly between states in America. For example, the age of independence, drug laws and sentencing laws can drastically differ from state to state. Thus, when travelling in America, be aware that some things will not be permitted in all states.

Ethnic and Racial Sensitivity
America is becoming increasingly culturally sensitive in regards to minority races and ethnicities. The following are important points:
  • The term ‘African-American’ refers to the descendants of African slaves in America. It is not always a black person’s term of preference as some feel no affiliation to their African genealogy and would rather just be recognised as ‘American’. Others are have other ancestry that they would rather be referred to by (e.g. Caribbean or Afro-Caribbean). Alternatively, some black people may identify as being ‘African-American’ for its cultural meaning in contemporary America as opposed to its reflection of their African heritage.
  • More recently, black people have preferred their race to be referred to as simply ‘black’, finding terms readdressing them by another category to be insulting.
  • The term ‘people of colour’ is sometimes used as the politically correct terminology to refer to anyone who is not white. However, the term is still felt to be offensive by many as it implies that ‘non-coloured’ or white is the norm or ideal. ‘Coloured people’ is considered even more offensive with its link to the civil rights movement and segregated populations in the southern states.
  • Wearing ‘blackface’ (by which a non-black person paints themselves black to imitate being of that race) is extremely offensive. Furthermore, it can be offensive to depict the average black man or woman as ‘ghetto’ by connoting a lack of education, drug involvement or violence.
  • It is offensive to culturally appropriate the Native Indian headdress for a decorative costume.
  • ‘Hispanic’ refers to people from a Spanish-speaking countries while ‘Latino’ refers to people of Latin American origin. Latin America includes a diversity of countries that speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc. People from any of these countries may find the terms to be inadequate as they group together a big variety of cultures. If referring to their background, it is best to define them by their nationality.
  • Latino and Hispanic are not races but are rather recognised as ethnicities. Thus, a Latino person may be black, white, Asian, etc.
  • It can be offensive to assume that someone is not Latino or Hispanic because they have white or Anglo-Saxon physical features. The same applies to indigenous peoples. 
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The United States
  • Population
    323,995,528
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Language
    English (79%)
    Spanish (13%)
    Other Indo-European languages (3.7%)
    Asian and Pacific Island languages (3.4%)
    Other (1%)
    [2015 est.]
    Note: Data represent the language spoken at home.
  • Religion
    Protestant Christianity (46.5%)
    Catholic Christianity (20.8%)
    No Religion (22.8%)
    Mormon (1.6%)
    Judaism (1.9%)
    Christianity [ndf] (1.7%)
    Other (4.7%)
    [2014 est.]
  • Ethnicity
    White (72.4%)
    Black or African American (12.6%)
    Asian (4.8%)
    Native American or Alaskan Native (0.9%)
    Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (0.2%)
    Latino or Hispanic (16.3%)
    [2010 est.]
    Note: The category of "Hispanic or Latino" is considered by the U.S. Census Bureau to be separate from racial categories as people of this origin may be of any race or ethnic group (white, black, Asian, etc.).
  • Cultural Dimensions
    40
    91
    62
    46
    26
    68
  • Australians with American Ancestry
    66,556 [Census, 2016]
Americans in Australia
  • Population
    86,125
    [Census, 2016]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in the United States.
  • Median Age
    38 [Census, 2016]
  • Gender
    Male (48.9%)
    Female (51.1%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Religion
    No Religion (40.0%)
    Catholic Christianity (17.0%)
    Anglican Christianity (5.6%)
    Christianity [not defined] (5.6%)
    Baptist Christianity (4.2%)
    Other Religion (21.6%)
    Not Stated (5.2%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Ancestry
    American (18.3%)
    English (16.9%)
    Irish (10.9%)
    German (9.9%)
    Other Ancestry (44.0%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Language Spoken at Home
    English (90.0%)
    Spanish (1.7%)
    Mandarin (0.9%)
    Arabic (0.5%)
    Other (6.3%)
    Of those who speak a language other than English at home, 94.0% speak English fluently.
    [Census, 2016]
  • Diaspora
    New South Wales (34.9%)
    Victoria (22.9%)
    Queensland (19.8%)
    Western Australia (10.8%)
    Other (11.6%)
    [Census, 2016]
  • Arrival to Australia
    Prior to 2007 (56.2%)
    2007 - 2011 (16.8%)
    2012 - 2016 (23.7%)
    [Census, 2016]
Country https://dtbhzdanf36fd.cloudfront.net/countries/139/us.svg Flag Country United States of America