As regards the railways (about 350,000 km including Alaska, of which only 4,500 are electrically powered), no major new lines have been built in recent years. The formidable competition from the airplane and automobile means reduces the number of travelers (430 million to 440 million a year), but the traffi co goods instead records gigantic figures (around two billion and three quarters of year t). The competition mentioned for travelers leads us to try to increase the speed of trains: indeed this can be signaled as one of the major current objectives. The following table indicates, by way of example, the minimum duration of certain journeys.
As for inland navigation, it should be remembered that the major works carried out on the f. San Lorenzo (see in this App.) To make it an artery accessible to ocean-going vessels (inaugurated in 1959) also benefit the USA and in particular the ports of Duluth at the bottom of Lake Superior, of Chicago and satellites on Lake Michigan and also those of Saginaw and Bay City on the Huron, of Detroit on the river of the same name that leads into Lake Erie, of Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo on the same Erie, of Rochester on Ontario.
The network of roads accessible to vehicles now exceeds five and a half million km; of these, those under state control are close to one million (over 515,000 km of urban roads). The major interstate roads are numbered: the most important of them runs from Key West in Florida to the Canadian border, where it connects to the Canadian network; it crosses a strip of land in the immediate vicinity of which over 30 million people live.
Car roads for rapid long-range communications (Parkways, Thruways) are in continuous and grandiose development, avoiding the crossing of the large centers to which they are connected by connecting trunks, and have no intersections; among the most recent the Merrit Parkway, the Pennsylvania New Jersey Turnpike, the Ohio Turnpike, etc.
About twenty roads connect the USA to Canada, seven to Mexico: among them the Pan – American Highway which begins in Laredo on the Rio Grande del Norte. At the end of 1959, about 70 million cars were in circulation in the USA, that is, about one for every 2 residents.
Maritime navigation and ports. – The merchant marine of the USA in 1959 counted about 3765 mechanically propelled ships (over 100 t) with a total tonnage of about 23 million t, equivalent to 18.5% of the world total (United Kingdom 17.1%). There is also the significant fleet in service on the Great Lakes: 430 ships for over 2 and a half million tons.
For the tonnage of ships entering and exiting, the first place always goes to the port system of New York (over 150 million tons). Between the ports of the Atlantic follow Philadelphia and the port complex of Delaware, Hampton Roads and its satellites on the Chesapeake, Baltimore, Boston. On the Gulf of Mexico, Houston has overtaken New Orleans. As for the ports of the Pacific, the colossal rise of Los Angeles and its satellites (Long Beach, etc.), whose movement, essentially due to the enormous development of oil traffic, now exceeds that of the port complex of San Francisco. Seattle and Portland are also increasing significantly. Chicago and Duluth compete for the primacy of traffic on the Great Lakes (over 15,000,000 tons each).
Air services have made and are still making continuous and very rapid progress, both as regards the multiplication of lines and the thickening of the network, both for the number of aircraft and frequency of flights, and for the increase in speed, especially in the lines transoceanic, and for the increasingly complex equipment of the airports.
Within the USA, the airplane as a means of transport has become so common that between some major cities there are scheduled services every 10-15 minutes: the airplane is in fact now the most preferred means of transport for travelers to cross great distances.. Since 1957, jet airplanes (jet aircraft) entered service, of which all the major world companies are now supplied: they allow you to make the flight from New York to San Francisco or Los Angeles in 4 hours, the one from New York to London. in six, from New York to Rome in eight or nine. The lines of most intense movement are those transcontinental from the centers of the Atlantic to those of the Pacific, those transatlantic with Europe; but all the connections with Central and South America, and the transpacific ones, also have growing importance.
Foreign trade. – The conditions and characteristics of foreign trade have undergone profound changes as a result of the Second World War. The essential characteristics remain the universality of the traffic range, the high superiority of exports over imports (calculated in value), as well as the prevalence, in imports, of the category of raw materials and food products, in exports of that of manufactured products. and semi-invoiced.
Exports exceed imports by at least one third. The totals for the five-year period 1955-59 are shown in the following table (in millions of dollars excluding gold, silver and monetary values).
In 1958, 60% of exports were represented by manufactured products (machinery and vehicles, manufactured cotton, synthetic fibers, chemical-pharmaceutical specialties), 12% by semi-invoiced products, 12% by raw materials, the rest by natural foodstuffs or processed. Of the imports, 27% was represented by manufactured products, 47% by raw materials or semi-finished products, the rest by foodstuffs.