The North American frontier contributed greatly to today\'s

American culture. For nearly 150 years before independence, the

Appalachian mountain range had been the American frontier, separating
civilization from wilderness. When North America gained independence
and became the United States, however, people began to move more
freely across the frontiers, into the unknown. The land belonged to
them now, and they were free to explore it however deeply they chose
claiming at will what land they saw. One can explain American
development as the existence of a large area of free land constantly
receding, and American settlement advancing westward. The difference
in American institutions from those of any other nation is that

American institutions have a way of adapting themselves to the
growing, changing nation for which they were imposed. In addition,

American development has shown itself to be not only an advance along
a single frontier, but a cycle of returning to primitive conditions
along a constantly moving frontier line, then settling and civilizing
those areas. The American frontier is also unlike that of any other
country in that most other countries have developed in a limited area
of which they knew the boundaries, meeting and conquering other
developing nations around them. But in the case of North America, the
frontier was where savagery and civilization met, and nobody knew what
lay beyond it. The settlers of North America had no idea that the
continent they had begun settling was so enormously vast; they simply
took nature as it came. The pioneers\' necessity to cope with natural
barriers and survive in near anarchy, in essence being
self-sufficient, has greatly affected the American culture of
today.

One of the areas affected by the frontier experience was
politics. People on the frontier had to deal with whatever life
brought them and make the best of it. They learned how to be very
individualized, pushing their way through whatever barriers nature
presented. This individuality has led Americans to develop a
government that facilitates individualism. We, the Americans, are
usually suspicious, untrusting, and paranoid of the government because
we like to be independent, individually solving whatever problems
arise in our path to the goal. This mentality is shown in the nation\'s
protests to the government\'s increasing tyranny and intervention in
our personal lives; however, a changing, growing nation requires
changes in government. We believe in individualism, and we apply this
belief to all aspects of our lives. In the so-called "Wild West",
government does not pay as close attention to people\'s actions, and
this was where the vast majority of the nation\'s reforms we know today
originated. For example, initiative, the right of the citizens to
initiate a new law into the legislature; referendum, the citizens\'
right to directly vote a law into action instead of passing it through
the legislature; recall, the citizens\' to vote a corrupt legislator
out of office by way of petition; and term limits were all reforms
born in the West. The reason for the government\'s low involvement in

Westerners\' daily lives is that for centuries, even to this day, many
parts of the West have still been developing their society,
civilization, and state governments. In the East, where we have always
been on the civilized side of the frontier, people tend more to accept
the government\'s rules, mentally coming to the conclusion that there
is nothing they can do about it. But in the West new ideas for reform
are constantly being born. Of course, there must be a compromise
between a totalitarian government and complete anarchy; too much
government restricts freedom while too little government does not
provide the convenient government services we may take for granted,
and allows society to get far too out of hand.

The United States of America is a diverse but tolerant social
mixing pot. Unlike most other nations, America is a safe haven for
many, many races and religions. People of a particular race or ethnic
group usually live in clusters, minimally interfering with outsiders;
taking this into mind, however, many immigrants are still amazed by
the high level of tolerance America holds. Our tolerance comes from
the fact that so many ethnic groups arrived here during the
settlement, and that the black African slaves intermingled with the
white community enough to earn that tolerance. Furthermore, in the

West many different types of people can settle without upsetting one
another because of the vast empty space out west to separate them. In
addition to our toleration of race and religion, America gives more
privileges to its women than most other countries. This anomaly
results from the fact that during settlement the women were required
to do certain mandatory work. They had nearly the same status