Territories of the United States

Territories of the United States
Flag of Commonwealth Unincorporated territory Insular area
A world map with the states and territories of the United States highlighted in different colors.
  Incorporated, unorganized territory
  Unincorporated, organized territory
  Unincorporated, organized territory with Commonwealth status
  Unincorporated, unorganized territory
Largest settlementSan Juan, Puerto Rico
LanguagesEnglish, Spanish, Carolinian, Chamorro, Samoan
Demonym(s)American
Territories
Leaders
Joe Biden
• Governors
List
Area
• Total
22,294.19 km2 (8,607.83 sq mi)
Population
• Estimate
4,100,954 in 2010[1]
3,569,284 in 2020[2][3][4][5][6][7][note 1]
CurrencyUnited States dollar
Date formatmm/dd/yyyy (AD)
  1. "Commonwealth" does not describe a political status, and has been applied to states and territories. When used for U.S. non-states, the term describes a self-governed area with a constitution whose right of self-government will not be unilaterally withdrawn by Congress.[8]

Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the Federal government of the United States. The various American territories differ from the U.S. states and Native American tribes in that they are not sovereign entities.[note 2] In contrast, each state has a sovereignty separate from that of the federal government and each federally recognized Native American tribe possesses limited tribal sovereignty as a "dependent sovereign nation".[9] Territories are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by the Congress.[10] American territories are under American sovereignty and, consequently, may be treated as part of the United States proper in some ways and not others (i.e., territories belong to, but are not considered to be a part of, the United States).[11] Unincorporated territories in particular are not considered to be integral parts of the United States,[12] and the Constitution of the United States applies only partially in those territories.[13][14][10][15][16]

The United States currently administers three[13][17] territories in the Caribbean Sea and eleven in the Pacific Ocean.[note 3][note 4] Five territories (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are permanently inhabited, unincorporated territories; the other nine are small islands, atolls, and reefs with no native (or permanent) population. Of the nine, only one is classified as an incorporated territory (Palmyra Atoll). Two additional territories (Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank) are claimed by the United States but administered by Colombia.[14][19][20] Historically, territories were created to administer newly acquired land, and most eventually attained statehood.[21][22] Others, such as the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, later became independent.[note 5]

Many organized, incorporated territories existed from 1789 to 1959. The first were the Northwest and Southwest territories and the last were the Alaska and Hawaii territories. Thirty-one territories (or parts of territories) became states. In the process, some less-populous areas of a territory were orphaned from it after a statehood referendum. When a portion of the Missouri Territory became the state of Missouri, the remainder of the territory (the present-day states of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, most of Kansas, Wyoming, and Montana, and parts of Colorado and Minnesota) became an unorganized territory.[23]

Politically and economically, the territories are underdeveloped. Residents of United States territories cannot vote in United States Presidential elections, and they have only non-voting representation in the United States Congress.[14] Territorial telecommunications and other infrastructure are generally inferior to that of the continental United States and Hawaii, and some territories' Internet speed was found to be slower than the least developed countries in Eastern Europe.[24] Poverty rates are higher in the territories than in the states.[25][26]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Census2010_2012 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference CIAAS was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference CIAGuam was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ Cite error: The named reference CIACNMI was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  5. ^ Cite error: The named reference CIAPR was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference CIAVI was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ "QuickFacts – Puerto Rico". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  8. ^ "Definition of Terms—1120 Acquisition of U.S. Nationality in U.S. Territories and Possessions". U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7—Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2015. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Wolf, Richard (June 9, 2016). "Puerto Rico not sovereign, Supreme Court says". USA Today. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Definitions of Insular Area Political Organizations". U.S. Department of the Interior. June 12, 2015.
  11. ^ Cite error: The named reference Ponsa was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  12. ^ a b "Chapter 2: Introduction." (PDF). Renewable Resource Management for U.S. Insular Areas—Integrated. Princeton.edu (Report). p. 40. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  13. ^ a b "What Are The US Territories?". worldatlas.com. Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference GAO1997 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ "Introduction – Harvard Law Review". Harvard Law Review—U.S. Territories: Introduction. April 10, 2017. Retrieved July 2019.
  16. ^ Perez, Lisa Marie (June 2008). "Citizenship Denied: The 'Insular Cases' and the Fourteenth Amendment". Virginia Law Review. 94 (4): 1029–1081. JSTOR 25470577.
  17. ^ Cite error: The named reference DOI OIA was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  18. ^ U.S. Insular Areas. Application of the U.S. Constitution (PDF) (Report). United States General Accounting Office. November 1997. p. 39. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  19. ^ Van Dyke, Jon M.; Richardson, William S. (March 23, 2007). "Unresolved Maritime Boundary Problems in the Caribbean" (PDF). Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  20. ^ "Bajo Nuevo Bank (Petrel Islands) and Serranilla Bank". Wondermondo.com. October 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  21. ^ United States Summary, 2010: Population and housing unit counts. U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau. 2012.
  22. ^ Smith, Gary Alden (February 28, 2011). State and National Boundaries of the United States. McFarland. p. 170. ISBN 9781476604343.
  23. ^ Gold, Susan Dudley (September 2010). Missouri Compromise. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 33. ISBN 9781608700417.
  24. ^ Murph, Darren. "The most expensive internet in America: fighting to bring affordable broadband to American Samoa". Engadget. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  25. ^ Sagapolutele, Fili (March 2, 2017). "American Samoa Governor Says Small Economies 'Cannot Afford Any Reduction In Medicaid' | Pacific Islands Report". www.pireport.org. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  26. ^ "Poverty Determination in U.S. Insular Areas" (PDF). Retrieved January 9, 2018.


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