I will answer the first part of your question as it pertains to the United States however, you do not identify where you are from therefore I cannot possibly answer how the U.S. economy has played a role in your nations' economy.
Capitalism or Free Enterprise is the system in the United States where by the means of production are privately owned. (However there are several U.S. government regulated corporations, among them the Post office and Amtrak)
The characteristics of Capitalism:
1. means of production are privately owned
2. founded on the principle of private property- the people have the right to own property
3. profit motive- the right to earn money
4. consumer sovereignty- people have the right to buy what they want...as long as they have the money to pay for it
5. competition- the rivalry between sellers