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The Number of States and Territories in the U.S.
The U.S. has many states and territories. States have their own government. Territories are owned by the federal government. To show this, one can make a table. It should have columns for each. Alphabetically list the states, then the territories. The table could also include data such as population and area. This gives a simple way to learn about the U.S. and its subdivisions.
It’s important to note the number of territories has changed. Some became states. Others were added or removed. Each territory has a special relationship with the federal government. Some may become states one day. Knowing the differences is key to understanding the U.S.’s political makeup and history. This shows the importance of the number of states and territories.
The following table shows the states and territories of the United States, along with their year of admission:
|State/Territory||Year of Admission|
|Northern Mariana Islands*||—|
|U.S. Virgin Islands*||—|
On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain. This marked an important step in the history of statehood. Initially, the nation was made up of thirteen colonies under British rule. Over the following decades, the country grew westward, with more states joining the Union.
The process of achieving statehood had various requirements that changed throughout time. For instance, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 created a procedure for admitting new states. Ohio became the first state to join, outside of the original thirteen. With the country expanding westward, more territories became states. By 1912, the contiguous United States had fifty states.
An interesting detail regarding statehood in America is the territorial acquisition process. The United States acquired territories via purchase, war, and negotiations. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 opened up many areas to the United States. The Mexican-American war of the 1840s resulted in the current states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Negotiations with Great Britain in the 1840s and 1850s enabled the acquisition of the Pacific Northwest. This set the path for future statehood. This unique blend of acquisition through war, purchase, and negotiation shaped the rich history of statehood in America.
Types of Territories in the U.S.
In the US, it is important to be aware of the Types of Territories. There are 5 main types, consisting of Commonwealths, Territories, Federal Districts, Insular Areas, and Indian Reservations. The table shows their names, legal statuses, and when they were acquired/established.
|Type of Territory||Legal Status||Year Acquired/ Established|
|Commonwealths||Autonomy||Puerto Rico – 1952|
|Territories||Limited Self-Rule||Guam – 1898|
|Federal Districts||Federal District||Washington, D.C. – 1800|
|Insular Areas||No Constitutional Rights||Midway Islands – 1867|
|Indian Reservations||Semi-Autonomous||Various Dates|
Each type has its own legal and political characteristics. Commonwealths, like Puerto Rico, have autonomy. Territories, like Guam, have limited self-rule. Insular Areas, like Midway Islands, don’t have the same constitutional rights as the mainland states.
The U.S. expanded in the 19th century. The Louisiana Purchase and Mexican-American War of ’46-’48 added lots of territories. These were then put into different types, each with its own legal and political features.
State Governors and Capitals
The United States of America has 50 states. Each has its own government and capital city. The state governor leads the executive branch. They are responsible for implementing the laws. To help you keep track, here’s a table of the governors and their capitals:
|Arkansas||Asa Hutchinson||Little Rock|
|Iowa||Kim Reynolds||Des Moines|
|Louisiana||John Bel Edwards||Baton Rouge|
|Minnesota||Tim Walz||St. Paul|
|Missouri||Mike Parson||Jefferson City|
|Nevada||Steve Sisolak||Carson City|
|New Hampshire||Chris Sununu||Concord|
|New Jersey||Phil Murphy||Trenton|
|New Mexico||Michelle Lujan Grisham||Santa Fe|
|New York||Andrew Cuomo||Albany|
|North Carolina||Roy Cooper||Raleigh|
|North Dakota||Doug Burgum||Bismarck|
|Oklahoma||Kevin Stitt||Oklahoma City|
|Rhode Island||Dan McKee||Providence|
|South Carolina||Henry McMaster||Columbia|
|South Dakota||Kristi Noem||Pierre|
|Utah||Spencer Cox||Salt Lake City|
|West Virginia||Jim Justice||Charleston|
It’s fascinating! The capital cities are not always the biggest or central cities in each state. For instance, Albany is New York’s capital, but New York City is the state’s largest city. Similarly, Austin is Texas’s capital, but there are bigger cities like Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Don’t forget, the state governor and capital are an important part of each state’s unique government system.
State and Territory Size Comparison
The United States is vast. It has many states and territories that come in different sizes. These areas have their own landscapes, cultures, and traditions. To understand the differences, we compare their sizes. The largest state is Alaska at 665,384 square miles. The smallest is the District of Columbia with only 68.34 square miles. Texas, California, Puerto Rico, and Guam are in between.
These places differ in more than size. There are differences in demographics, economies, and politics. Some of the smaller territories, like American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, don’t have much power. According to World Atlas, Alaska is the biggest state in the United States. It spans 665,384 square miles.