The culture of the United States is a Western culture originally influenced by European cultures.
It has been developing since long before the United States became a
country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore. Today, the United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country as a result of large-scale immigration from many different countries throughout its history.
Its chief early influences came from English, Scottish and Irish settlers of colonial America. British culture, due to colonial ties with Britain that spread the English language, legal system
and other cultural inheritances, had a formative influence. Other
important influences came from other parts of western Europe, especially
Germany, France, and Italy.
Original elements also play a strong role, such as the invention of Jeffersonian Democracy. Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia was perhaps the first influential domestic cultural critique by an American and a reactionary piece to the prevailing European consensus that America's domestic originality was degenerate. Prevalent ideas and ideals which evolved domestically such as national holidays, uniquely American sports, military tradition, and innovations in the arts and entertainment give a strong sense of national pride among the population as a whole.
American culture includes both conservative and liberal elements,
military and scientific competitiveness, political structures, risk
taking and free expression, materialist and moral elements. Despite
certain consistent ideological principles (e.g. individualism,
egalitarianism, and faith in freedom and democracy), American culture
has a variety of expressions due to its geographical scale and
demographic diversity. The flexibility of U.S. culture and its highly
symbolic nature lead some researchers to categorize American culture as a
mythic identity; others see it as American exceptionalism.
It also includes elements which evolved from Native Americans, and other ethnic subcultures; most prominently the culture of African Americans and different cultures from Latin America. Many cultural elements, especially popular culture, have been exported across the globe through modern mass media.
The United States has often been thought of as a melting pot, but recent developments tend towards cultural diversity, pluralism and the image of a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. Due to the extent of American culture there are many integrated but unique social subcultures within the United States. The cultural affiliations an individual in the United States may have commonly depend on