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Many South Americans; and many North Americans too, tend to get rather upset when citizens of the United States refer to themselves as “Americans”. One Columbian was qouted as saying it was “unfair, imperialistic, and U.S. centric” for U.S. citizens to use the terms “America” and “American” to refer specifically to the United States and it citizens. She asserted “I’m American too”, but we “North Americans” are “Americans” only to the extent that they live on this continent.
Many “North Americans” find that a bit self-serving, since both the United States and Canada reside in the “North American” Continent; but of course Canadians call themselves “Canadians”, thus avoiding the issue.
So should the residents of the USA call themselves “United Statezins”?
The controversy has been around all long time. American journalist H.L. Mencken wrote in 1947 “As everyone knows, the right of Americans to be so called is frequently challenged, especially in Latin America”, and a Facebook group with 1,800 “likes” agreed that America is a continent, not a country. On urbandictionary.com, the top definition for “America” is: “A country that claims the name of an entire continent to itself alone for no compelling reason.”
Why the big fuss? It’s a big continent with room for all. Should Americans get upset because a Central American Country call itself “Columbia”; which is also the name of the District where our National Capital resides? Do Columbians resent the naming of our Capital “District of Columbia”?
It’s true that “America” is an imperfect word. Early maps called the hemisphere “The Americas” and few, if any, mistake “Latin” or “South” America from “North” America. John Adams used “America” to mean the “U.S.” in his first inaugural address, well before the nation even emerged as a world power.