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Mission

The U.S. Department of State is the lead institution for the conduct of American diplomacy and the Secretary of State is the President’s principal foreign policy advisor. The Foreign Service is a corps of some 13,000 employees dedicated to representing America abroad and responding to the needs of American citizens living and traveling around the world. The Department’s Civil Service, totaling more than 11,000 employees, provides continuity and expertise in accomplishing all aspects of the Department’s mission. There are also more than 45,000 locally employed Foreign Service staff at overseas posts.

On September 15, 1789, the Department of Foreign Affairs became the U.S. Department of State whose mission was to provide for the safekeeping of the Acts, Records, and Seal of the United States and other purposes. Over the years, the U.S. Department of State has been responsible for a number of domestic duties ranging from publication of the census to control of copyright to management of the Mint.

Today, the primary responsibility of the U.S. Department of State and its employees is to fight terrorism, protect U.S. interests abroad, and implement foreign policy initiatives while building a freer, prosperous and secure world.

Thousands of committed and dedicated men and women pursue a career in public service through careers in diplomacy. With more than 25 different career paths available, Foreign Service Officers and Specialists can be sent to any embassy, consulate or diplomatic mission in the world at any time, including locations throughout the United States. Civil Service employees largely remain in Washington, D.C. or other domestic locations and provide continuity and expertise in achieving the Department’s mission.

The Department also operates several other types of offices, most of which are located throughout the United States, including passport agencies, foreign press centers, logistic support offices, security offices, and financial service centers.

For an online exploration of diplomatic history and foreign affairs, please visit USDiplomacy.org.

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