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The U.S. State Department


Seal of the U.S. State Department

Seal of the U.S. State Department

U.S. State Department

What Is It?:

The U.S. State Department is the lead government agency for developing and implementing foreign policy. In most countries, this agency would be know as the "foreign ministry." The State Department is responsible for issuing passports and offering guidance and assistance for Americans traveling outside the United States. And the department issues visas for non-citizens wishing to visit the United States.


The U.S. State Department was created in 1789. Thomas Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State.


The U.S. State Department is lead by the secretary of state who also serves as the top foreign policy advisor to the president of the United States. There have been 66 secretaries of state including six who went on to become president.

According to the Presidential Succession Law of 1947, the secretary of state is fourth in line to succeed the president behind the vice president, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.


U.S. State Department
The Harry S. Truman Building
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

The department operates more than 250 embassies, consulates, and missions worldwide.


The President's 2007 International Affairs Budget for the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other foreign affairs agencies totals $ 35.1 billion:

  • Foreign Operations – $23.7 billion
  • State Operations – $9.3 billion
  • Food Aid and Famine Assistance – $1.3 billion
  • International Broadcasting – $672 million
  • Other Programs – $93 million

Fun Fact:

The U.S. State Department has held a variety of domestic responsibilities over the years. At one point, the department was in charge of issuing patents and operating the U.S. Mint. While those tasks are now carried out by other government agencies, the State Department still cares for and operates the Great Seal of the United States.

Official Blog:

Dipnote is the official U.S. State Department blog. The authors say it "...offers the public an alternative source to mainstream media for U.S. foreign policy information. This blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials."

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