How Old Is the United States?

US map
The Declaration of Independence is often cited as the birth of the United States.

The age of the United States depends on what stage you are counting as the birth. For the purpose of this article, we will define birth as the Declaration of Independence.

How old is the United States?

The Declaration of Independence was 1776, which makes the United States 246 years old in 2022.

Read on to find out how we calculate and define what the age is.

United States – A Young Country?

Historians often refer to the United States as a young country.

There isn’t as much history of the country compared to other nations because of its ties to the British before the Revolutionary War.

But how old is the USA, and how old is America?

How Old Is the USA?

When we ask the age of the USA, the answer is more complex than you might suspect. The deeper you go into the colonization of the landmass and settlements, the older the country gets.

Couple draped in US flag
The United States celebrates Independence Day on the 4th of July.

But, if you specifically mean the country of the United States of America, it is less than 250 years old.

This takes us back to 1776 and the official “birth” of the nation. It is also why the nation celebrated its bicentennial in 1976.

History of the United States and the Mayflower

However, the history of America is much older than that. With so much emphasis on the Mayflower 400 celebrations of 2020, it is easy to assume that the country is 400 years old, not 246.

Mayflower II
Mayflower II.

Then there is the fact that the establishment of the first of the thirteen colonies occurred earlier still.

Finally, we can’t overlook the fact that America as a landmass was inhabited long before the arrival of Christopher Columbus or European colonization.

Born on the 4th of July

Let’s start with the official age of 240-250. Relatively speaking, the USA is a very young country. The United States of America became an official country in its own right on July 4th, 1776, with the Declaration of Independence following the War of Independence.

Fireworks display
4th of July celebrations.

The aim was to break away from the rule of Great Britain that governed the colonies of America and to form their own independent nation.

The Puritans Arrived 400 Years Ago

But, this means that the basis of an American nation began much earlier than 1776. It must have been, as for those colonies to exist that would feel so separate from the British as to want to rule themselves.

Therefore, the age of “America” as a nation colonized by the British and other European settlers is much older.

Thanksgiving and Pilgrims

If we think back to the origins of Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock, we go back much further to 1620. This would make the colonized America over 400 years old.

Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock.

This is the date etched in history as when the brave Puritans set sail for the New World, shared their meal with the local natives, and successfully began what is now New England. Of course, it wasn’t a New World as it was already inhabited.

Also, they weren’t the first Europeans to form a colony on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Creation and Expansion of the Thirteen Colonies

While there is the misconception that the formation of Plymouth led to the first American colony of Massachusetts, this is the second of the Thirteen Colonies. The first was Virginia.

Settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607 – 13 years before the Mayflower Pilgrims set sail. While this settlement wasn’t that successful, it was still the first time European settlers created a town and made a corner of North America their own.

The East Coast of the United States

Over time, the United States’ east coast grew with more and more colonies. By the time of the Revolutionary War, thirteen of them had strong identities and generations far removed from their British ancestry.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty.

The USA may have been born in 1776, but its people expanded and populated the region for 169 years. For perspective, that’s the same amount of time between the birth of the USA and the end of the Second World War.

  • Virginia came first in 1607
  • Then it was Massachusetts in 1620
  • New Hampshire followed this in 1623
  • Maryland in 1634
  • Connecticut in 1635
  • Rhode Island in 1636
  • Then there was Delaware in 1638, ending a very quick expansion through these neighboring states.
  • A little later, the Virginians settled in North Carolina.
  • South Carolina followed in 1663
  • A year later saw the formation of New Jersey and New York, the latter named for the founder, the Duke of York.
  • William Penn founded Pennsylvania sometime later in 1682
  • Then came Georgia in 1732, making it almost 100 years younger than Maryland.

Different states will have their own idea of how old America is, which may be more significant to them than the age of the USA.

Varying Ages of the US

As you can see, there are vast differences in the ages of various parts of what makes up the United States today. The age of the USA as a whole may be 246 years old.

Virginia fields
Jamestown in Virginia was home to the first European colony in America.

But, Virginians would argue that their part of the country is 413 years old. Arizona is only 108 years old. 

The youngest state is Hawaii, which was only admitted into the union in 1959, but the people of Hawaii would say that their state is much older because of their rich native culture.

Great History of the States

With that in mind, we can’t talk about the age of the USA, and the age of America, without taking a moment to consider the greater history of some of the states. While young in terms of their involvement with the USA, many were home to Native Americans for millennia.

Early Native Americans and Settlers

It is thought that settlers first inhabited the country as long as 30,000 years ago before the land bridge between continents fell to rising sea levels. Various cultures emerged across the states, many of which still exist in some form today.

How Old Is the USA?

Officially, the USA is 246 years old, and we will celebrate its birthday on July 4th, Independence Day. But, the official formation of an independent nation isn’t the only factor to consider here. 

United States of America
United States of America.

The USA began on a specific date. However, the formation of its colonies, population, culture, and views to fight for independence began much earlier.

The first European settlement is 413 years old, while New England is 400 years old. That history counts – as makes the native history of those already on the North American landmass before the Europeans arrived, and indeed that of African-Americans. The latter celebrate Black Independence Day on what has come to be known as Juneteenth.

How Old Is the United States? Quiz

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