How Many States Are There in the United States?

A map showing the United States.
A map showing the United States.

Located in North America, the United States of America is roughly the same size as Europe. The country is subdivided into states, territories, and minor islands. States are the major subdivisions and are bestowed several powers and responsibilities by the US Constitution.

Number of States In The US

Currently, the US has 50 states as well as a federal district, minor islands, and five main territories. Of these 50 states, 48 of them are contiguous, that is, they are connected directly. These 48 states all exist in the central region of North America between Mexico and Canada. Examples of these states include Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, Oregon, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. The other two states are Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska lies on the northwestern portion of North America while Hawaii is located on an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

Delaware is the oldest state in the country. It was established on December 7, 1787. The youngest state is Hawaii which was founded on August 21, 1959. The largest state by total area is Alaska with 665,384 square miles while the smallest is the state of Rhode Island with a total area of only 1,545 square miles. By population, California is the most populous state with about 39,536,653 people while the least populous state is Wyoming with only 579,315 people.

Territories Of The US

Aside from the 50 states, the US owns 14 territories. Of these territories, only five have permanent civilian populations. These five territories are American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. All of the territories lie on the Pacific Ocean except for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Navassa Island, and Puerto Rico, which are in the Caribbean. Only the territory of Palmyra Atoll is incorporated, that is, the US constitution is applied fully. Of the 14 territories, ten of them are unorganized (do not have an Organic Act) while the remaining four are organized.

Washington, D.C.

As mentioned previously, the US has one federal district that is neither a state nor a territory. The District of Columbia does not have representatives in the Senate although it has representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The US Congress, as outlined in the constitution, has exclusive jurisdiction over the district. However, it has a mayor and council that makes some decisions under the 1973 District of Columbia Home Rule Act, although Congress can intervene and overturn decisions.


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