The Territories of the United States

The United States has sixteen territories, only five of which are inhabited, with the most populous being Puerto Rico.

The Territories of the United States are administrative divisions of the US federal government. The territories are either incorporated into the US or have an organized government through an Organic Act passed by the Congress. The US has a total of sixteen territories organized into self-governing territories with elected governors and regional legislators. Five of the territories of the US are permanently inhabited and are classified as unincorporated. The other eleven territories are small islands spread across the Pacific and Caribbean. The territories of US were created to govern the land that was newly acquired when the borders of US was still evolving.

16. Wake Island - 0

#16 Wake Island - 0

Wake Island is an atoll found in the western parts of the Pacific Ocean and is one of the most isolated islands in the world. The neighboring inhabited islands include Utiriki Atoll and Marshall Island. Wake Island is a refueling stop for the military aircraft and administered by the US Air Force. The Japanese forces used the island as a site to attack the US troops in December 1941. Wake Island has been claimed by the Republic of the Marshall Island. However, the US Congress included the island as part of the US territory in 1990.

15. Serranilla Bank - 0

Serranilla Bank is a partially submerged reef in the western part of the Caribbean Sea covering an area of 463 square miles. It was first shown on the Spanish Map in 1510 and has since been a subject of conflicting claims by several sovereign states including Nicaragua, Colombia, Jamaica, and the US. However, in 2012 the International Court of Justices declared that Colombia had sovereignty over Serranilla Bank. The US still considers Serranilla Bank as unorganized and unincorporated part of its territory.

14. Navassa Island - 0

Navassa Island is an uninhabited island in the Caribbean Sea and a subject of the ongoing territorial dispute. Since 1857 the island has been considered by the US as part of its unorganized and unincorporated territory administered through the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Haiti has also held claim to Navassa Island since 1801 through its constitution. The island covers an area of 2 square miles and is located south of US naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Navassa Island was once a center of guano mining and a nature reserve for the US.

13. Bajo Nuevo Bank - 0

Bajo Nuevo Bank is uninhabited reef covered with small grass and located in the Caribbean Sea. The reef was first shown on a Dutch map in 1634 but was named Bajo Nuevo Bank or Petrel Island in 1654. It was rediscovered in 1660 by John Glover. The reef is currently controlled by Colombia although it remains a subject of a dispute involving the US, Nicaragua, and Jamaica. The US made a claim to Bajo Nuevo Bank in 1869 under the Guano Islands Act and administered the bank as its unorganized and unincorporated territory.

12. Midway Islands - 0

Midway Islands is an atoll located in the North Pacific Ocean covering an area of 2.4 square miles. It is located midway between North America and Asia and considered by the US as its unorganized and unincorporated territory. The US Navy defeated the Japanese forces at the Midway Islands in one of the most significant battles of the Pacific Campaign in the World War II known as the Battle of Pacific. About 60 people, mostly the staff of US Fish and Wildlife Service, live on the Midway Islands.

11. Kingman Reef - 0

#11 Kingman Reef - 0

Kingman Reef is a triangular shaped reef located in the North Pacific Ocean between Hawaiian Island and American Samoa. It encloses a lagoon up to 270 feet and covers an area of 29 square miles. Kingman Reef is US unorganized and unincorporated territory under the administration of the Washington DC. It is closed to the public, and it is designated a national monument. The US Navy assumed the jurisdiction of the reef in 1934 while the lagoon was used in 1937 as a station by the Pan American Airways flying boat

10. Johnston Atoll - 0

Johnston Atoll or Kalama Atoll is part of the unorganized and unincorporated US territory under the administration of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The entry to the atoll is by special-use permit. Johnston Atoll was under the control of the American military for 70 years and was used as a bird’s sanctuary during that period and as a refueling depot for the naval. It was also used for nuclear weapon testing which left the environment contaminated. Johnston Atoll is made up of four islands covering a total area of 1.03 square miles.

9. Jarvis Island - 0

Jarvis Island is a coral island covering an area of 1.75 square miles and located in the South Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Cook Island. It is part of the US territories under the administration of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for conservation under the National Wildlife Refuge System. The island has no ports or harbors while currents are swift and hazardous. The lagoons on the Jarvis Island are completely dry. Public entry to the island is restricted to the scientists and educators with a special-use permit.

8. Howland Island - 0

Howland Island is found on the northern part of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and Australia. The island is part of the unorganized and unincorporated territory of the US. Howland Island is part of a National Refuge System together with the surrounding areas. The island has no economic activity and has no harbors. The atoll is characterized by scattered grass with a long prostrate vine. The US took possession of the island in 1856 through Guan Island Act.

7. Baker Island - 0

Baker Island is located in the central Pacific Ocean some distance between Hawaii and Australia and southwest of Honolulu. The island has been a territory of the US since 1857 although the UK considered it as part of the British Empire from 1897 to 1936. The island is part of the Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge. Baker Island was discovered in 1818 by Elisha Folger who called it the New Nantucket and claimed by the US in 1857 under the Guano Island Act

6. Palmyra Atoll - 0

#6 Palmyra Atoll - 0

Palmyra Atoll is part of the Northern Line Island located south of Hawaiian Islands. It is administered as part of the US territory by the US federal government and covers an area of 4.6 square miles since 1959. Palmyra Atoll consists of reefs, lagoons, and bars covered with vegetations. Edmund Funning first sighted it in 1798. Palmyra Atoll is also claimed by a native of Hawaiian who is challenging the legality of the Newlands Resolution that removed Hawaii as rightful owners of the island in 1898.

5. Samoa - 55,519

#5 Samoa - 55,519

American Samoa is a territory of the US located in the South Pacific Ocean and consists of five mainland and coral atolls. Samoa has a population of 55,500 people and covers an area of 76.8 square miles. American Samoa has the highest military enlightenment of the sixteen US territories. The main export from the island includes tuna product with the US as the main trading partner. The government of Samoa is defined by the Constitution of American Samoa. Most of the inhabitants of the island are bilingual and can speak English and Samoan.

4. U.S. Virgin Islands - 106,405

#4 U.S. Virgin Islands - 106,405

U.S. Virgin Islands are groups of islands in the Caribbean sea located in the Leeward Islands. The islands cover a total area of 133.73 square miles and have a population of 106,105 people who are mostly Afro-Caribbean. Tourism is the main economic activity on the islands with several manufacturing activities supplementing the economy. Christopher Colombus named the U.S. Virgin Islands during his voyage in 1493. The islands are part of the US territories, but the citizens of the island are not eligible to vote in the US presidential elections.

3. Northern Mariana Islands - 77,000

#3 Northern Mariana Islands - 77,000

The Northern Mariana Island is a commonwealth of the US consisting of 15 islands in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean. The 15 islands include those of the Marianas Archipelagos and cover an area of 183.5 square miles. Northern Mariana Islands have a population of 77000 people with the vast majority living in the Saipan and Tinian. The administrative center of the islands is the Capitol Hill although most people consider Saipan as the capital of the island. The negotiation between the US and the Northern Mariana Islands for territorial status began in 1972 and was approved in 1975 through a referendum. The island formed a new government under its new constitution in 1978.

2. Guam - 159,358

#2 Guam - 159,358

Guam is a US territory with an established civil government located in the western Pacific Ocean. Guam has a population of 161,785 people who are mainly the American citizens by birth. The island covers an area of 210 square miles, the largest of the Mariana Islands. Guam is a popular tourist destination for tourists, especially from Japan. The US took charge of the island in 1898 as part of the Treaty of Paris and was transferred to the US Navy on December 1898 through an Executive Order 108-A.

1. Puerto Rico - 3,667,084

#1 Puerto Rico - 3,667,084

Puerto Rico is a territory of the US located in the Northeast Caribbean Sea. The territory of Puerto Rico consists of the main island and other smaller islands such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The population of the island is approximately 3.7 million people. The island is rich in history, climate, and traditional cuisines which make it a popular destination for tourists from around the world. The Puerto Ricans were first granted US citizenship in 1917. However, the Puerto Rican delegates have tried several times in vain for the independence of the island. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico covers an area of 5,320 square miles of which 3,420 qs ml is land, and the rest is water.

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