The USA is the world’s largest consumer market because of our rivers. Transporting goods by land is 12 times as expensive as doing it by water, which is why civilizations have always flourished around rivers. The USA has 17,600 miles of navigable waterways, more than the rest of the world combined. For example, China and Germany each have about 2,000 miles, and the entire Arab region has only 120 miles. Puget Sound (around Seattle), San Francisco Bay, and Chesapeake Bay (which runs from Baltimore, through Washington DC into the Atlantic) are the world’s three largest natural harbors. Chesapeake Bay has longer stretches of prime port property than the entire continental coast of Asia--from Vladivostok to Lahore. Imports make up only 17% of the U.S. economy, compared to 25% in China and 46% in Germany. (An increasing percentage of the "foreign" cars on our highways are assembled in Alabama.) The strategy of the USA was always to prosper far from the ills of the world. It wasn't until World War II that this became impractical. (Peter Zeihan, The Accidental Superpower, reviewed in the Washington Post, Nov. 21 2014 -- edited by me for clarity for our non-American members) In other words, our greatness is largely the accidental result of where the country happened to be founded. In addition to the points explained above, another astounding advantage that the first European colonists had was that North America, north of the Rio Grande, had never supported a civilization. It was a paradise of clean water, virgin topsoil, uncleared forests and untapped coal and other minerals.