American (Civ5)
Introduced in Vanilla
Leader Washington (Civ5) Washington
Unique units B17 (Civ5) B17 (replaces Bomber)
Minuteman (Civ5) Minuteman (replaces Musketman)
Unique building None
Ability Manifest Destiny:
  • All land military units have +1 sight
  • 50% discount when purchasing tiles
Starts bias None
Language spoken American English
BackArrowGreen Back to the list of civilizations
Wikipedia has a page called:

The American people represent a civilization in vanilla Civilization V.

  • Symbol: Stylized shield with three stars and three white stripes (based on the design of the American flag)
  • Musical Theme: America the Beautiful (composed by Michael Curran, orchestrated by Geoff Knorr)
  • Music Set: European
  • Architecture: European
  • Spy Names: Cousin, Felix, Dennis, Edward, Prof. Rex, Eliza, Mary, Virginia, Scarlett, Barbara
  • Preferred Religion: Christianity (GodsKings5 clear) or Protestantism (BNW-only)
  • Preferred Ideology: Freedom


The unique abilities of the Americans aren't particularly interesting, or aimed at a particular victory type. The extra sight on units helps a lot with early scouting (because they're able to see farther than other units and thus spot Ancient Ruins and natural wonders more easily), and the reduced 20xGold5 Gold price for purchasing tiles allows them to expand their borders more easily when needed - for example, when there's a particular resource tile they want right away. However, they still need 20xGold5 Gold to purchase those tiles, and the natural border expansion remains unchanged, which makes the similar ability of the Shoshone civilization much more useful.

The Americans become very powerful only in the middle and late game, thanks to their unique units. First, the Minuteman, available in the early Renaissance Era, is the most mobile infantry unit in the whole game, able to move like a Scout through any terrain and thus reach good positions well ahead of the enemy army. This nicely complements its free Drill I promotion, making the Minuteman a formidable force in rough terrain. The Woodsman promotion and Altitude Training (Mt. Kilimanjaro effect) stack with its ability for double normal (open terrain) speed in wooded and hilly terrain, respectively. If that is not enough, with each kill, it contributes 20xGoldenAge5 Golden Age counter points equal to the attack CS of its enemy. All of these promotions and great abilities transfer on upgrade, continuing to give the Americans an important edge in later conflicts!

Their second unique unit, the B17, becomes available early in the Atomic Era. It is far more powerful than the the standard Bomber it replaces, and demonstrates well modern American military dominance. It comes with extra strength (70 vs. 65) and two free promotions that transfer when it is upgraded to a Stealth Bomber, Siege I and Evasion. (Note that all Stealth Bombers receive the free Evasion promotion.)

Civilopedia Entry


The United States of America is a world "super-power" (which more or less means that it is vital to the world economy and balance of power). A relatively young civilization, the United States formed in the 18th century, nearly self-destructed in the 19th century, and became the most powerful and dominant military, technological, cultural and economical civilization in the 20th.

Geography and Climate

The United States spans the continent of North America and includes Alaska in the far north and several islands in the Pacific Ocean. Conditions vary widely across the country, from near-Arctic in Alaska to near-tropic conditions in Florida, to arid desert in Arizona. The continent is bisected by two mountain ranges, the older and lower Appalachians in the east, and the much younger and bigger Rockies in the west. The central plains between the two ranges drain into the Gulf of Mexico via the Missouri/Mississippi River system. The country borders on the Great Lakes, some of the largest freshwater bodies of water on the planet.

Despite several centuries of enthusiastic harvesting, the United States still has plentiful forests, coal supplies and other natural resources.

The Native Americans

Some historians hypothesize that North America was originally settled by Eurasian people who migrated onto the continent via the "Beringia" land-bridge that once connected Alaska and Russia. This theory is under debate, and even more so is the question of how many waves of settlers there were and when the first settlers arrived. There appears to be some agreement that the natives migrated between 9,000 and 50,000 years ago (which is quite a spread). It's also quite possible that the natives arrived in a series of waves over many years, with some groups migrating south along the western coastline, while later groups moved inland, into the heart of Canada and the United States.

Over time these groups spread across the continents, developing language, hunting skills, arts and crafts, and so forth. They did not domesticate horses, however (having consumed all of the horse's ancestors before figuring out that they might be good for something else).

Estimates on how many natives lived in the portion of North America that would eventually become the United States also vary, ranging from five to twenty-five million. In any event, the first European visitors brought with them a number of extremely unpleasant diseases (like measles and smallpox) that the natives' immune systems were totally unaccustomed to, and 90 percent or even more of the North American native population died from disease within a century of the first white man's arrival.

Having lost 90% of their population, lacking guns or any significant industrial technology, the natives were relatively helpless in the face of massive European assault.

Enter the Europeans

Four European groups set up colonies in North America, beginning in the 16th century: the French in Canada, the British (with a small settlement of Dutch right in the center), and the Spanish in Florida and points south. Over time the English would conquer the French colonies to the north and the Dutch colony at Manhattan, and with the exception of Florida, the entire eastern seaboard would be English. As discussed above, the native population was ravaged by disease and badly outgunned, unable to resist the European incursion.

The American Revolution

As the 18th century progressed, the British colonies in North America grew and prospered. Immigrants from Great Britain and elsewhere arrived in the country in great numbers, drawn by the promise of land, wealth, and often to escape religious persecution in the mother country. The slave trade provided plenty of cheap labor, and British North America began to establish agriculture and light industry.

Tensions grew between the colonies and the British government as the century progressed. The colonies were controlled by Crown-appointed governors and they did not have direct representation in the British Parliament. Further, the colonials chafed under what they considered to be unfair trade restrictions from Great Britain. Meanwhile, the government thought that the colonials were in large ungrateful rabble who had no idea how much money the Crown was spending on their protection.

By the late 1770s the American colonies were in open revolt, and on July 4, 1776 the United States declared their independence. As the war opened the Colonists were grossly outgunned and outmanned by the highly trained British Army, particularly since the British Navy had absolute control of the seas and thus could move large numbers of troops up and down the coast with impunity. The Continental Army, untrained and untested, was no match for the "Redcoats." The British Were Allies of the Native Americans known as the Iroquois League Which led to a battle called Cherry Valley Massacre in November 1778.

George Washington

The commander of the Continental Army was George Washington, a wealthy Virginia landowner with some military experience as a colonel in the British army in the French and Indian War. His first major battles were nearly catastrophes - his overly-complex battle-plans collapsed in the face of enemy action and his troops' inexperience. Washington had several important qualities: his personal heroism and calm in the face of disaster allowed him to extract his army from almost certain destruction, and he also learned quickly from his mistakes (for more on George Washington, see his Civilopedia entry).

The Redcoats having failed to crush the Continental Army when it had the chance, the American Revolutionary War became a long, drawn-out, grinding war of wills. The British Army couldn't pin down the American forces long enough to defeat them, and as the years passed British war-weariness grew.

In 1778 the French entered the war on the side of the United States, and in 1779 so did Spain. While unable to match the British Navy ship for ship the French were occasionally able to gain local superiority, and this proved decisive. In 1781 the Continental Army besieged the British Army at Yorktown, Virginia. With the French Navy off-shore the British were unable to escape, and British General Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on October 19, 1781.

In 1787 the states convened a Constitutional Convention, and the new Constitution was ratified the next year. In 1789 George Washington was elected president.

The Louisiana Purchase

In 1803 the United States purchased 828,800 square miles of North American territory from France. This territory included most of the terrain in the Mississippi Valley, from the Rocky Mountains in the west to Ohio in the east. This deal, which doubled the size of the United States, cost around $15,000,000, a shockingly good deal for the US. It was also a good deal for France: France was at war with Great Britain (see below), and as the British controlled the seas, the French had no way to profit from or to protect this territory from the British. The French also saw it as a poke in Britain's eye.

French leader Napoleon Bonaparte said of the deal, "This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States. I have given England a maritime rival who will sooner or later humble her pride." President Thomas Jefferson received a good deal of criticism for the purchase at the time, but historians tend to agree that he got one really great bargain.

The War of 1812

As the eighteenth century opened, France was convulsed in its own revolution. Many Americans believed that France would become a democracy, but instead Napoleon Bonaparte emerged as ruler and within a few years had himself declared emperor. As Napoleon extended his power across continental Europe, Great Britain countered with its unmatchable navy, imposing an embargo on trade with France and at times most of the rest of Europe. This hurt American commerce deeply. Further, British warships routinely stopped and searched American vessels looking for deserted British sailors. This was considered an intolerable breach of American sovereignty, and in 1812 the United States declared war on Great Britain. (Some historians believe that the US declared war primarily to justify a land-grab of British possession Canada.)

The primary American weapon in this war was the commerce raiding vessel. Small to mid-sized American ships plied the oceans, snatching up British merchant ships, strangling British trade. On land the Americans launched an invasion of Canada, which the British and Canadian forces repelled without great difficulty. The British navy, stretched thin by the decade-old conflict with France, found it almost impossible to blockade the American coast or track down its commerce raiders. It was far more successful on land, and in fact a British army fought its way to Washington, DC, the American capital, and burned much of it to the ground.

Despite this stinging blow to American pride, the British and American governments both realized that neither had much of a chance of winning the war, and that further conflict would merely expend valuable treasure and lives to no purpose. In December 1814 the two countries signed the "Treaty of Ghent," which simply called for the cessation of hostilities: neither side gained or lost territory, and none of the root causes of the war were addressed. The war was a tie.

The Mexican-American War

In 1835, Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna abolished the Mexican constitution, replacing it with a new constitution that concentrated power in the Mexican central government. Several Mexican states revolted at that time, including the state of Coahuila y Tejas (which included the territory that would become Texas). Despite early successes (including the capture of the Alamo fort), eventually Santa Anna was defeated and captured. Bargaining from this position of extreme weakness, Santa Anna grudgingly agreed to Texan independence.

The Mexican government deposed Santa Anna while he was captive and disavowed the treaty. Low-level fighting continued between the new "Republic of Texas" and Mexico, while parties in Texas and the United States schemed for ways to get Texas into the Union. In 1845 the American Congress passed a bill that would allow the US to annex Texas, and then president John Tyler signed it into law. At the same time, Mexico saw an influx of other American citizens into its northern territories (including California), some of whom openly avowed that they were going to take those into the US as well. Late in 1845 Texas was made into a state, and in 1846 American troops were occupying the disputed territory. When Mexican cavalry clashed with an American patrol, killing 11 soldiers, the US government used that as an excuse to declare war.

The war was short and decisive. After a few opening skirmishes in Texas and northern Mexico, an American army of some 12,000 soldiers landed at Veracruz, Mexico, and marched west. The Mexican army was defeated at every turn, and in short order United States troops occupied Mexico City. Defeated, the Mexican government signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ceding to the United States the land that would become the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and parts of Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado. In return the US paid Mexico $18,250,000, or roughly half a billion in today's dollars.

In addition to annexing large chunks of valuable land from Mexico, the war had one other benefit: it taught a number of American soldiers their craft. These men would use these skills to great effect fifteen years later in the American Civil War.

The American Civil War

As the nineteenth century progressed, the United States was divided roughly in half between slave states in the south and free states in the north. The South, which had an agrarian economy, needed cheap labor to work the fields. Slaves were far less useful in the North, which had a growing industrial base and access to plenty of cheap labor from Europe. Further, slavery had woven itself into the fiber of Southern life to the extent that many found the concept of "abolition" abhorrent, inconceivable, and (by an extremely twisted interpretation of the Bible) a grave sin. The South framed the issue in terms of "states rights," beliving the Federal government had no constitutional right to meddle in internal conditions in states. It was the slavery issue that made this question so explosive. Many Northerners opposed slavery, considering it totally evil - the country's original sin.

By the 1850s the situation had become intolerable. Tensions between the North and South were at an extremely high point, and the 1860 election of the moderately anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln started a sequence of events which led inexorably to Southern secession and civil war.

The war started very badly for the Union (the North). The Confederacy (South) had a stronger military tradition than the North, and most of the country's best officers came from southern states and felt bound to protect their homes from Northern invasion, no matter how they felt personally about the cause of the war. Further, the South was entirely on the defensive, and it's far more difficult for an untrained army to attack than it is to defend - and both sides began the fight with untrained armies.

Many believed that the war would be over after one decisive battle but this would not be the case. The first big battle (Bull Run) was a Union defeat, but the Southern army was unable to follow up its victory. What ensued was four years of grinding warfare across the length and breadth of the country. Despite its victories, the South was unable to break the North's morale and, as the war continued, the Northern generals became better at their craft, while the Northern advantage in numbers and industry began to dominate the battlefield. In 1865, the Southern capital fell, and shortly thereafter the remaining Southern armies laid down their arms. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, shortly after the capture of the Southern capital and the surrender of the South's main army.

The war had a number of major effects on the United States, the most important of which was the abolition of slavery across the country. Unfortunately, many of the gains made by blacks were steadily whittled away during the Reconstruction period following the war. As the 19th century progressed, blacks could in no way be considered equal to whites anywhere in the country, but at least they were no longer subject to being bought and sold like cattle.

Westward Ho

The rest of the 19th century saw a steady migration of American citizens west, filling in the vast plains of the mid-west and along the Pacific coast. American engineers built train tracks across the steppes and through the mountains, and cities and towns sprang up in their wake. The surviving Native American populations were forced into smaller and smaller pockets of the least desirable land. Immigrants continued to pour into the country from all corners of the world, all looking for their piece of the American dream (and many finding it).

In the late 19th century, the United States fought another war for territory, this time against the moribund Spanish "empire." Spurred on by the jingoistic cries of so-called "yellow journalists" like William Randolph Hearst, the US rapidly defeated the Spanish armed forces, gaining for its trouble the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Spain further lost the island of Cuba, which after a short period as a US protectorate, quickly gained its independence.

The Early 20th Century - The World Intrudes

While American industrial and economic power continued to grow, American military power did not. The United States possessed a large enough army and navy to defeat Spain (and to keep Canada and Mexico in line), but it was hardly a world military power in any sense of the word. Primarily it relied on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which were the domain of the incomparable British Navy, for protection.

As Europe fell into World War I, most Americans wanted nothing to do with the conflict. In fact, many had immigrated to the United States to avoid Europe's endless wars. Americans came from all parts of Europe, including Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Russia and the UK - so no matter which side the US came in on, they'd be fighting somebody's cousin. Whatever American politicians felt privately, the American government declared neutrality.

In actuality, American neutrality greatly favored the British and French, since Britain's dominance of the sea meant that the US could only trade with the UK and her allies. This was bad for the Germans, since they needed to cut Great Britain's supply lines to achieve victory. In 1917, a German "U-boat" submarine sank the ocean liner Lusitania. Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral shipping. The American declaration of war against Germany and her allies followed shortly thereafter.

At the start of the war the United States had just a small professional army, but by 1918 the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) had over 1,000,000 men in Europe. This huge influx of fresh soldiers made a substantial difference on the battlefield, and also on enemy morale. The war was over by year's end. During its brief stint in France, the AEF saw significant combat, suffering some 50,000 deaths and 300,000 injuries.

After the war, US President Woodrow Wilson attempted to mediate what he considered a "just peace" and create a League of Nations, but the victorious European nations were more interested in imposing heavy penalties on the defeated nations. As a result, American public opinion turned against Europe and especially against any further military adventures there. This would have grave consequences some two decades later.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression was triggered by the US stock market crash of 1929, and rapidly spread across the country and the world. Banks collapsed, American unemployment rose to 25%, crop prices fell by some 60%. There were bread lines in all major cities. The Depression dragged on for years. The US economy began to revive in the mid-thirties, but did not fully recover until World War II.

The Second World War

During the Great Depression, the political doctrine of fascism gained popularity around the world, particularly in Europe. Mussolini came to power in Italy, Francisco Franco in Spain, and Adolf Hitler in Germany. Crippled and exhausted by the twin blows of World War I and the Depression, and distracted by an excessive fear of Communism, the democracies watched as Germany rebuilt its army, navy and air force and gobbled up the smaller countries around it. It wasn't until Germany (and the Soviet Union) invaded Poland in 1939 that France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. Meanwhile, Japanese forces were assaulting China and menacing European interests in the Pacific.

Isolationist sentiment kept the United States officially "neutral" through 1940 and 1941, as France was conquered and German troops ground through the Soviet Union. However, as in World War I, American neutrality heavily favored the British, whose navy still controlled the Atlantic. At home, President Franklin Roosevelt built up the American armed forces as quickly as possible, while trying to turn public sentiment towards active military intervention and war with Germany. In the Pacific, an American oil embargo on Japan was a crushing military and economic burden and a deep insult to Japanese pride. In response to the growing American pressure, the Empire of the Rising Sun made one of the most catastrophic military and political blunders in modern history.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed the American Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor, in the American territory of Hawaii. While many of the nation's battleships were destroyed, its aircraft carriers were not in port at the time of the attack. This would prove to be of decisive importance in the war in the Pacific.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Germany also declared war on the United States. This too was a colossal error, as it allowed the United States to intervene heavily in Europe, which President Roosevelt might not have been able to do in the face of "Japan First" sentiment in the US.

The US at War

World War II was an astonishingly complex military, industrial and political challenge for the United States. Although the US had been building up its military forces for some years, it was still woefully underprepared in all areas: manpower, arms, ships, planes, tanks and so forth. The government had to balance the need for manpower with the need for workers to construct arms and vehicles for itself and its increasingly desperate allies.

Further, it had to maintain an extremely difficult alliance with the United Kingdom, its possessions and the Soviet Union, each of which had differing political and military objectives. This was especially tough because before the war the US and UK had been implacable enemies of Communism and the USSR.

And finally, its largely untested military had to face two superb opponents in battle: the triumphant Japanese Navy and the deadly German Army.

As the US entered the war it found itself on the defensive in all theatres. The Japanese Navy captured Allied bases across the Pacific, drawing ever closer to Australia and New Zealand.

The German U-boats destroyed hundreds of thousands of tons of Allied shipping in the Atlantic, nearly starving Great Britain right out of the war. But the American industrial base roared into action, building warships, planes, and tanks at an astonishing rate. As it fought, the US military learned from its early mistakes and, with its allies, stopped the enemies' advances on all fronts. By 1942 the US was on the offensive in North Africa and the Pacific.

By 1944, American and British troops were in France and, caught between this new peril and the Russian juggernaut grinding from the East, Germany collapsed in May 1945. Japan held on for several months longer, fighting bitter rearguard actions on islands across the Pacific until the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria.

America in the Second Half of the 20th Century

The US had learned two important lessons from World Wars I and II: first, that it ignored the world at its peril. It was clear that while the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans provided enormous security for the American mainland, American security was inexorably bound up in events across the world, if for no other reason than that it needed foreign markets in which to sell its goods. The second lesson it learned was that it was a bad idea to harshly punish a defeated enemy. It was better to help rebuild the enemy so that it would become an ally and buy your industrial output. Thus, at the end of the war, the United States assisted rebuilding Europe and Japan, former allies and enemies alike, with one important exception: the USSR.

At the end of World War II, the United States found itself the most powerful country in the world. The US mainland had not been invaded or bombed during the war, and its industrial base was bigger and better than ever. Its military was battle-tested and equipped with the best weapons in the world, and it had sole possession of the Atom bomb. On the other hand, the Soviet Union's army was the strongest military force in Europe. In the US there was little appetite for further conflict with the Soviet Union; people just wanted the troops to come home.

The Cold War

As World War II ended, the latent hostilities between the US and UK and the Soviet Union settled into the Cold War. The US feared that International Communism backed by the Soviet Union (and later, China) would, if unchecked, overrun Europe and the world. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, wanted to make it absolutely clear to everyone that it was sick and tired of being overrun by foreign troops every twenty years or so, and it would be as tough and ruthless as necessary to make sure it didn't happen again. (It also despised American-style capitalism and wanted to spread International Communism across the world as well.)

Over the next fifty years, the US and the Soviet Union spent huge amounts of energy and money building weapons, subverting foreign governments, and engaging in proxy wars around the world. The US fought in Korea (resulting in the country being split), and later in Vietnam (a decisive loss). The Soviet Union annexed much of Eastern Europe, and eventually invaded Afghanistan (another decisive loss).

By the late 1980s, internal strife and excessive military expenditures had virtually bankrupted the USSR. In the 1990s, the Soviet Union was dissolved and the US began trading freely with China, effectively ending the Cold War.

By any reasonable measurement the Cold War was a colossal, expensive blunder for everyone concerned. If the US had convinced the USSR that it wasn't its implacable foe, the USSR might have been able to relax its massive overwhelming paranoia and perhaps stop oppressing and killing huge numbers of its own people. The US might have been able to devote its wealth to something other than building more and more dangerous and exotic weapons and supporting foreign despots around the world.

Despite its costs in resources and lives, the Cold War drove both sides into technological innovation. The space race led to many critical inventions such as communications satellites, as well as the moon landing.

The War Against Terrorism

On September 11, 2001, a group of terrorists hijacked four jet planes and flew them into the World Trade Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth attack was foiled by passengers aboard another jet, sacrificing their lives in the process. The attacks were traced to an organization named Al-Qaeda, a Muslim extremist group based in Afghanistan dedicated to driving foreigners out of the Middle East and to destroying the United States, which they saw as the "Great Satan."

US President George W. Bush responded by declaring war on global terror, following up with an invasion of Afghanistan and driving its Islamic fundamentalist leaders (who supported al-Qaeda) out of power. Then, in an extremely controversial decision, its forces invaded Iraq to oust its dictator Saddam Hussein.

At present the US is attempting to repair its international image, recruit allies in its war against terrorism, and extricate itself from Iraq. Afghanistan remains an incredibly difficult challenge, and it is by no means certain that the US will emerge victorious in either of its current conflicts.

The US in the Future

As the US emerged from the Cold War it became the unquestioned global hegemon, maintaining military bases and trade relations around the world. With the dissolution of the USSR and the liberalization of trade barriers around the world the new "global economy" is headed by the United States through such institutions as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. 

In 2007 the global financial system entered a crisis as the massively inflated prices in the real estate market fell precipitously. The US entered an economic crisis and the Federal Reserve approved several trillion dollars' worth of toxic asset purchases from insolvent US banks. The US then passed an economic stimulus bill including over $700 billion in spending to address what was already being called the Great Recession. As the world economy faces conditions not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s the US may, for the first time, have to face the prospect of diminished living standards for future generations.

With the US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the rise of China and India as economic powers in their own right, America's role in the geopolitics is similarly in question. 

United States Trivia

American astronauts land on the moon, July 1969, arguably the single greatest scientific event in the history of mankind.


  • America's unique ability is named after a 19th century belief that the United States was destined to expand across North America.

List of Cities

Main article: American cities (Civ5)

Related achievements

Steam achievement First in the Hearts of Your Countrymen (Civ5)
First in the Hearts of Your Countrymen
Beat the game on any difficulty setting as Washington.
Steam achievement Flying Fortress (Civ5)
Flying Fortress
Bomb an enemy city with a B-17.
Steam achievement Raiders of the Lost Ark (Civ5)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Have your American Archaeologist extract an Artifact from Egypt with a German Archaeologist within 2 tiles.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.