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Washington, D.C. and other American cities.

America is very big and it has a lot of interesting cities. But some of them are the most popular and I want to tell you about them.

Three hundred years ago a handful of town dwellers lived in a few scattered locations along the Atlantic coastline of what is now the United States. In the early years of this century, over 50 percent of the population of the United States still lived in rural areas. Today, however, the United States is a nation of urban dwellers. Almost 80 percent of the national population live in cities and towns or in the huge suburban rings (clusters of communities socially and economically connected to the cities) which surround them. There are more than two hundred of these metropolitan regions there now.

The capital of the country is Washington. It has the 10th largest metropolitan population in the country - 3.9 mln people.

Laid out by the French architect Pierre L'Enfant in the late 18th century, it was the world's first city especially planned as a center of government.

What is the starting point for a tour round the city? Of course, it is the White House. This not large, three storeyed building in the centre of the city is the residence of the head of the state. The President works and lives there. And, strange is it may seem for us, Russians, visitors, I mean tourists, are allowed in. The magnificent Capitol stands on the Capitol Hill, the highest point in the city. It contains 430 rooms. The House of Representatives and the Senate hold their sessions there. Washington Monument rises 555 feet. Along with Gefferson Memorial and Linkoln Memorial it is the most impressive sight, they say. High-rise buildings are not allowed in Washington - nothing should be higher than the dome of the Congress building.

New York (then called New Amsterdam) was founded in 1625 by the Dutch West India Company. Captured by the British in 1664, New Amsterdam was renamed New York. Because of its favorable geography, it soon became an important trading port. By the way, its heart, Manhattan was bought from the local Indians for twenty-four dollars.

The Statue of Liberty greets everyone who comes to New York by sea. New York is considered to be a city of skyscrapers. The highest of them is the Empire State Building. It has 102 storeys.

Many metropolitan areas have grown so large that they have begun to merge. The largest of these occupies an area from the North of Boston through New York to Washington and is called "Bosnywash". It contains more than one-sixth of the whole United States population.

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