For most of those who have come to its shores, it means the ideal of freedom—the right to worship as one chooses, to seek a job appropriate to one's skills and interests, to be judged equally before the law. It means the ideal of the frontier, of overcoming obstacles—taming the West, curing diseases, voyaging to the planets. It means the ideal of progress—that personal life and political, social, and economic institutions will improve through hard work, fair play, and honest endeavor. It means the ideal of democracy—the right to be heard as an individual, the right to cast a ballot in a free election, the right to dream of a better life and to work toward one's goals. In order to understand the United States, it is necessary to consider the role its landscape and its ideals have played in its development.