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Diplomacy at Work: A U.S. Embassy

Diplomacy at Work: A U.S. Embassy

The U.S. Government has diplomatic relations with about 180 countries. In most of these countries, the U.S. maintains an embassy, which usually is located in the capital. The U.S. also may have branches of the embassy, called consulates, in other locations within the country. When the U.S. does not have full diplomatic relations with a nation, the U.S. may be represented by only a Liaison Office or Interests Section. In addition, the U.S. has representation or missions at international organizations. There are more than 250 missions or posts throughout the world.

photo of US Embassy, LondonThe Ambassador leads the Embassy. The Deputy Chief of Mission handles everyday, operational issues. Different sections of the embassy or mission handle different issues:

Consular Officers are the State Department employees whom both American citizens overseas and foreign nationals are most likely to meet. Consular officers protect U.S. citizens abroad and their property.

Commercial, Economic, and Financial Affairs Officers help American businesses abroad.

Agricultural officers promote the export of U.S. agricultural products and report on agricultural production and market developments in their area. Environment, science, technology, and health officers analyze and report on developments in these areas and their potential impact on U.S. policies and programs.

photo of US Embassy, Cairo, EgyptPolitical officers analyze political developments and their potential impact on U.S. interests; Labor officers promote labor policies in countries to support U.S. interests and provide information on local labor laws and practices.

Many posts have defense attaches from the Department of Defense

Administrative officers are responsible for normal business operations of the post, including overall management of personnel, budget, and fiscal matters; real and expendable property; motor pools; and acquisitions. Information management officers are responsible for the post's unclassified information systems, database management, programming, and operational needs. Regional security officers are responsible for providing physical, procedural, and personnel security services to U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel.

Public affairs officers, information officers, and/or cultural affairs officers
of U.S. missions overseas serve as press spokespersons and as administrators of such official U.S. exchange programs as those for Fulbright scholars.

photo of US Embassy, SingaporeLegal attaches serve as Department of Justice representatives on criminal matters.

Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services officers are responsible for administering the laws regulating the admission of foreign-born persons (aliens) to the United States and for administering various immigration benefits.

USAID mission directors are responsible for USAID Programs including dollar and local currency loans, grants, and technical assistance.

Ambassadors and the Embassy team use diplomacy to

  • prevent war;
  • keep dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands;
  • advance democracy, human rights, and the rule of law;
  • open up economic opportunities for Americans;
  • fight terrorism;
  • keep drugs out of our country;
  • promote the safety of Americans abroad;
  • combat global poverty;
  • help refugees;
  • create a healthier world; and 
  • pursue U.S. interests at the United Nations.

Additionally, the State Department issues passports, provides travel information on any country, helps you do business abroad, teaches about other cultures through exchange programs, answers inquiries about a U.S. relative abroad, assists in foreign adoptions, assists when a child has been abducted from the U.S., helps if a U.S. citizen dies overseas, assists when an American citizen is arrested abroad, and evacuates people from dangerous situations abroad.

"There is no country on earth that is not touched by America, for we have become the motive force for freedom and democracy in the world. And there is no country in the world that does not touch us. We are a country of countries, with a citizen in our ranks from every land."    
     --Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

Many posts, such as the U.S. Embassy in London, have web sites, all of which are listed at

Interested in a career with the Department of State?

graphic of article on Amsterdam
U.S. posts from around the world are featured every month in the Department's monthly issue of State Magazine.

See Independent States in the World
for a list of all countries and their dependencies.

More about what comprises a typical U.S. Embassy.

This site is managed by the Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
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