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The US is a federal republic of 50 states. The framers of the Constitution, drafted in 1787, wanted to block any individual or group from gaining too much control, so they established a government of separate institutions that share powers. Authority is divided into three tiers of national, state and local government, with the American people electing officials to serve in each tier. At the national level the government is split into three autonomous branches - legislative, executive and judicial. Each has its own distinct responsibilities, but they can also partially limit the authority of the others through a complex system of checks and balances.

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