USA | July 4th

How old is America on July 4th 2020 and what was its population when founded?

With celebrations taking place around the country and further afield, we looked back on the history and how it compares to other nations.

How old is America on July 4th 2020 and what was its population when founded?

As Americans around the world celebrate their Independence Day on 4 July 2020 - amid the ongoing, if not worsening, coronavirus pandemic - many are asking just how old the country is. So we got out our history books and delved into what must surely be a simple answer. We were mistaken...

How old is America?

Let’s start with the simplest answer, and the one that most people are looking for when they ask the question. That is the age since independence was achieved from Great Britain following the Revolutionary War of the nineteenth century. The founding fathers sealed the declaration on 4 July 1776 and that makes the country 244 years old as of today. Happy birthday!

Alternative answers, however, could lie in the long, long before the idea of barbecues, flags and fireworks were ever considered. Indigenous people settled in America by at least 15,000 BCE although this could have happened as far back as 30,000 years. From the earliest known tribes the Native Americans continued to spread and develop until the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the 15th century saw European influence begin. The Brits then started to settle a couple of centuries later and from Jamestown (now Virginia) to Georgia, the 13 colonies were created by 1733.

What was the US population in 1776?

These days the population of the United States sits at just over 330 million people. But 244 years ago, according to the government Census Bureau, the population was 2.5 million.

In two and a half centuries the US has grown to 130 times its size and now stands as the third most populous country, behind only China (1.40 billion) and India (1.36 billion). 

How does America compare to the oldest countries?

So, 244 years may sound like a decent innings in human or dog years, but in terms of a country, the USA is a relative baby. The oldest country - although there is a distinction needed between country and empire - is believed to be the Republic of San Marino, the small landlocked nation within Italy. It was founded in 301 BCE, making it a whopping 2,321 years old today.

Other examples of countries that have not changed significantly since their early roots include: France (CE 843), Austria (CE 976), Portugal (CE 1143) and Thailand (CE 1238). Out of interest, going back to the US claiming independence from Great Britain, the history and age of those colonial rulers is a rather more complicated story to tell. Here is a neatly worked attempt though so that you can impress anyone you’re talking to at the July 4th celebrations.