Territories of the United States
Territories of the United States
The 50 states and the Federal District
Incorporated unorganized territory
Unincorporated organized territory
Unincorporated unorganized territory
|Largest settlement||San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.|
|Languages||English, Spanish, Hawaiian, Chamorro, Carolinian, Samoan|
|List of current territorial governors|
|22,294.19 km2 (8,607.83 sq mi)|
|Currency||United States dollar|
|Date format||mm/dd/yyyy (AD)|
of the United States
Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the federal government. They differ from U.S. states and Native American tribes, which have limited sovereignty.[note 1] The territories are classified by incorporation and whether they have an “organized” government through an organic act passed by Congress.
The U.S. currently has sixteen territories in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.[note 2] Five (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 eleven, only one is classified as an incorporated territory. Two territories (Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank) are defacto administered by Colombia. Territories were created to administer newly-acquired land, and most eventually attained statehood. Others, such as the Philippines, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, later became independent.
Many organized incorporated territories of the United States 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-developed or -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.
Territorial telecommunications and other infrastructure is generally inferior to that of the U.S. mainland, and American Samoa’s Internet speed was found to be slower than several Eastern European countries. Poverty rates are higher in the territories than in the states.
- 1 Existing territories and legal status
- 2 Incorporated and unincorporated territories
- 3 Organized territories
- 4 Former territories and administered areas
- 5 Public image
- 6 Galleries
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Existing territories and legal status
The U.S. has had territories since its beginning. According to federal law, the term “United States” (used in a geographical sense) means “the continental United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands”. Since 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands have also been considered part of the U.S. A 2007 executive order included American Samoa in the U.S. “geographical extent”, as reflected in the Federal Register. All territories are in the Northern Hemisphere, except for American Samoa and Jarvis Island.
The U.S. has five permanently-inhabited territories, two of which are known as “commonwealths”: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea; Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, in the western North Pacific Ocean‘s Mariana Islands, and American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean. About four million people in these territories are U.S. citizens, and citizenship at birth is granted in four of the five territories. American Samoa has about 32,000 non-citizen U.S. nationals. Under U.S. law, “only persons born in American Samoa and Swains Island are non-citizen U.S. nationals” in its territories. American Samoans are under U.S. protection, and can travel to the rest of the U.S. without a visa. American Samoans must become naturalized citizens, like foreigners. Unlike the other four inhabited territories, Congress has passed no legislation granting birthright citizenship to American Samoans.[note 3]
Each territory[note 4] is self-governing with three branches of government, including a locally-elected governor and a territorial legislature. It elects a non-voting member (a non-voting resident commissioner in the case of Puerto Rico) to the U.S. House of Representatives. They “possess the same powers as other members of the House, except that they may not vote [on the floor] when the House is meeting as the House of Representatives”; they debate, are assigned offices and staff funding, and nominate constituents from their territories to the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force and Merchant Marine academies. They can vote in their appointed House committees on all legislation presented to the House, they are included in their party count for each committee, and they are equal to senators on conference committees. Depending on the Congress, they may also vote on the floor in the House Committee of the Whole. In January 2017, the members of Congress from the territories were Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Amata Coleman Radewagen (American Samoa), Jenniffer González (Puerto Rico) and Stacey Plaskett (U.S. Virgin Islands). The District of Columbia also has a non-voting delegate. Like the District of Columbia, U.S. territories do not have voting representation in Congress and have no representation in the Senate.
Every four years, U.S. political parties nominate presidential candidates at conventions which include delegates from the territories. U.S. citizens living in the territories cannot vote in the general presidential election, and non-citizen nationals in American Samoa cannot vote for president.
The territorial capitals are Pago Pago (American Samoa), Hagåtña (Guam), Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands), San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Charlotte Amalie (U.S. Virgin Islands). Their governors are Lolo Matalasi Moliga (American Samoa), Eddie Baza Calvo (Guam), Ralph Torres (Northern Mariana Islands), Ricardo Rosselló (Puerto Rico) and Kenneth Mapp (U.S. Virgin Islands).
|American Samoa||AS||Polynesia (South Pacific)||197.1 km2 (76 sq mi)||51,504||Pago Pago||Tafuna||Unincorporated, unorganized||April 17, 1900|
|Guam||GU||Micronesia (North Pacific)||543 km2 (210 sq mi)||162,742||Hagåtña||Dededo||Unincorporated, organized||April 11, 1899|
|Northern Mariana Islands||MP||Micronesia||463.63 km2 (179 sq mi)||52,263||Capitol Hill, Saipan[note 5]||Garapan||Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth)||November 4, 1986[note 6]|
|Puerto Rico||PR||Caribbean (North Atlantic)||9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi)||3,337,177||San Juan||San Juan||Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth)||April 11, 1899|
|Virgin Islands, U.S.||VI||Caribbean||346.36 km2 (134 sq mi)||104,901||Charlotte Amalie||Charlotte Amalie||Unincorporated, organized||March 31, 1917|
- American Samoa – Territory since 1900; after the end of the Second Samoan Civil War, the Samoan Islands were divided into two regions. The U.S. controlled the eastern half of the islands. In 1900, the Treaty of Cession of Tutuila took effect. The Manuʻa islands became part of American Samoa in 1904, and Swains Island became part of American Samoa in 1925. Congress ratified American Samoa’s treaties in 1929. American Samoa is locally self-governing under a constitution last revised in 1967.[note 7] People born in American Samoa are U.S. nationals. American Samoa is technically unorganized, and its main island is Tutuila.
- Guam – Territory since 1899, acquired at the end of the Spanish–American War. Guam is the home of Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base. It was organized under the Guam Organic Act of 1950, which granted U.S. citizenship to Guamanians and gave Guam a local government. In 1968, the act was amended to permit the election of a governor.
- Northern Mariana Islands – A commonwealth since 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands were part of the Spanish Empire until 1899 and part of the German Empire from 1899 to 1919. They were administered by Japan as a League of Nations mandate until the islands were conquered by the United States during World War II. They became part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in 1947, administered by the United States as U.N. trustee. The other constituents of the TTPI were Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. A covenant to establish the Northern Mariana Islands as a commonwealth in political union with the United States was negotiated by representatives of both political bodies; it was approved by Northern Mariana Islands voters in 1975, and came into force on March 24, 1976. In accordance with the covenant, the Northern Mariana Islands constitution partially took effect on January 9, 1978 and became fully effective in November 1986. The covenant is one of the two principal documents of the multi-document CNMI constitution; the second is the local constitution, which was approved in a 1977 referendum. In 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands formally left U.N. trusteeship. The abbreviations “CNMI” and “NMI” are both used in the commonwealth. Most of its residents live on Saipan, the main island.
- Puerto Rico – Unincorporated territory since 1899; Puerto Rico was acquired at the end of the Spanish–American War, and has been a U.S. commonwealth since 1952. The island was organized under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950 (Public Law 600). In November 2008, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that a series of Congressional actions have had the cumulative effect of changing Puerto Rico’s status from unincorporated to incorporated. The issue is proceeding through the courts, however, and the U.S. government still refers to Puerto Rico as unincorporated. A Puerto Rican attorney has called the island “semi-sovereign”. Puerto Rico has a statehood movement, whose goal is to make the island the 51st state. See also Political status of Puerto Rico.
- U.S. Virgin Islands – Purchased by the U.S. from Denmark in 1917 and organized under the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands in 1954, U.S. citizenship was granted in 1927. The main islands are Saint Thomas, Saint John and Saint Croix.
Except for Guam, the inhabited territories lost population from 2010 to 2017. Although the territories have higher poverty rates than the mainland U.S., they have high Human Development Indexes. Four of the five territories have another official language, in addition to English.
|Territory||Official language(s)||Pop. change (2010–17)||Poverty rate (2009)||Life expectancy (years)||HDI||GDP ($)||Traffic flow||Time zone||Area code (+1)|
|American Samoa||English, Samoan||−2.39%||65%[note 8]||73.4||0.827||$658 million||Right||Samoan Time (UTC-11)||684|
|Guam||English, Chamorro||2.12%||22.9%||76||0.901||$5.793 billion||Right||Chamorro Time (UTC+10)||671|
|Northern Mariana Islands||English, Chamorro, Carolinian||−0.68%||52.3%||75.4||0.875||$1.242 billion||Right||Chamorro Time||670|
|Puerto Rico||English, Spanish||−10.43%||43.5%[note 9]||80.9||0.845||$103.135 billion||Right||Atlantic Time (UTC−4)||787, 939|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||English||−3.25%||22.4%||79.4||0.894||$3.765 billion||Left||Atlantic Time||340|
The territories do not have administrative counties.[note 10] The U.S. Census Bureau counts Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ three main islands, all of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands’ four municipalities, and American Samoa’s three districts and two atolls as county equivalents. The Census Bureau also counts each of the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands as county equivalents.
Minor outlying islands
The United States Minor Outlying Islands are small islands, atolls and reefs. Palmyra Atoll, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll and Wake Island are in the Pacific Ocean, and Navassa Island, Serranilla Bank, and Bajo Nuevo Bank are in the Caribbean Sea. Palmyra Atoll (formally known as the United States Territory of Palmyra Island) is the only incorporated territory, a status it has maintained since Hawaii became a state in 1959.
The status of several territories is disputed. Navassa Island is disputed by Haiti, Wake Island is disputed by the Marshall Islands, Swains Island (part of American Samoa) is disputed by Tokelau, and Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank (both administered by Colombia) are disputed by Colombia, Jamaica, Honduras, and Nicaragua. They are uninhabited except for Midway Atoll, whose approximately 40 inhabitants are employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and their services provider; Palmyra Atoll, whose population varies from four to 20 Nature Conservancy and Fish and Wildlife staff and researchers; and Wake Island, which has a population of about 100 military personnel and civilian employees.
|Bajo Nuevo Bank||North Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean Sea||110 km2 (42 sq mi)||Unincorporated & unorganized||Administered by Colombia. Claimed by the U.S. (under the Guano Islands Act) and Jamaica. A claim by Nicaragua was resolved in 2012 in favor of Colombia by the International Court of Justice, although the U.S. was not a party to that case and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ.|
|Baker Island[a]||North Pacific Ocean||2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on October 28, 1856. Annexed on May 13, 1936, and placed under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior.|
|Howland Island[a]||North Pacific Ocean||4.5 km2 (1.7 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on December 3, 1858. Annexed on May 13, 1936, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department.|
|Jarvis Island[a]||South Pacific Ocean (Polynesia)||4.75 km2 (1.83 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on October 28, 1856. Annexed on May 13, 1936, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department.|
|Johnston Atoll[a]||North Pacific Ocean||2.67 km2 (1.03 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Last used by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004|
|Kingman Reef[a]||North Pacific Ocean||18 km2 (6.9 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on February 8, 1860. Annexed on May 10, 1922, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department on December 29, 1934.|
|Midway Atoll||North Pacific Ocean||6.2 km2 (2.4 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Territory since 1859; primarily a wildlife refuge and previously under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department|
|Navassa Island||Caribbean Sea||5.4 km2 (2.1 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Territory since 1857; also claimed by Haiti|
|Palmyra Atoll||North Pacific Ocean||12 km2 (5 sq mi)||Incorporated, unorganized||Partially privately owned by the Nature Conservancy, with much of the rest owned by the federal government and managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. It is an archipelago of about 50 small islands with a land area of about 1.56 sq mi (4.0 km2), about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) south of Oahu. The atoll was acquired through the annexation of the Republic of Hawaii in 1898. When the Territory of Hawaii was incorporated on April 30, 1900, Palmyra Atoll was incorporated as part of that territory. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, however, an act of Congress excluded the atoll from the state. Palmyra remained an incorporated territory, but received no new, organized government.|
|Serranilla Bank||North Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean Sea||350 km2 (140 sq mi)||Unincorporated & unorganized||Administered by Colombia; site of a naval garrison. Claimed by the U.S (since 1879 under the Guano Islands Act), Honduras, and Jamaica. A claim by Nicaragua was resolved in 2012 in favor of Colombia by the International Court of Justice, although the U.S. was not a party to that case and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ.|
|Wake Island[a]||Western Pacific Ocean (Micronesia)||7.4 km2 (2.9 sq mi)||Unincorporated, unorganized||Territory since 1898; host to the Wake Island Airfield, administered by the U.S. Air Force. Also claimed by the Marshall Islands.|
- These six territories and Palmyra Atoll make up the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Incorporated and unincorporated territories
Congress decides whether a territory is incorporated or unincorporated. The U.S. constitution applies to each incorporated territory (including its local government and inhabitants) as it applies to the local governments and residents of a state. Incorporated territories are considered part of the U.S., rather than possessions.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1901–1905 Insular Cases, ruled that the constitution extended to U.S. territories. The court also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation, in which the constitution applies fully to incorporated territories (such as the territories of Alaska and Hawaii) and partially in the unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.
The U.S. had no unincorporated territories (also known as overseas possessions or insular areas) until 1856. Congress enacted the Guano Islands Act that year, authorizing the president to take possession of unclaimed islands to mine guano. The U.S. has taken control of (and claimed rights on) many islands and atolls, especially in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, under this law; most have been abandoned. It also has acquired territories since 1856 under other circumstances, such as under the Treaty of Paris (1898) which ended the Spanish–American War. The Supreme Court considered the constitutional position of these unincorporated territories in Balzac v. People of Porto Rico, and said the following about a U.S. court in Puerto Rico:
The United States District Court is not a true United States court established under article 3 of the Constitution to administer the judicial power of the United States … It is created … by the sovereign congressional faculty, granted under article 4, 3, of that instrument, of making all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory belonging to the United States. The resemblance of its jurisdiction to that of true United States courts, in offering an opportunity to nonresidents of resorting to a tribunal not subject to local influence, does not change its character as a mere territorial court.:312
In Glidden Company v. Zdanok, the court cited Balzac and said about courts in unincorporated territories: “Upon like considerations, Article III has been viewed as inapplicable to courts created in unincorporated territories outside the mainland … and to the consular courts established by concessions from foreign countries …”:547 The judiciary determined that incorporation involves express declaration or an implication strong enough to exclude any other view, raising questions about Puerto Rico’s status.
In 1966, Congress made the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico an Article III district court. This (the only district court in a U.S. territory) sets Puerto Rico apart judicially from the other unincorporated territories, and U.S. district judge Gustavo Gelpi express the opinion that Puerto Rico is no longer unincorporated:
The court … today holds that in the particular case of Puerto Rico, a monumental constitutional evolution based on continued and repeated congressional annexation has taken place. Given the same, the territory has evolved from an unincorporated to an incorporated one. Congress today, thus, must afford Puerto Rico and the 4,000,000 United States citizens residing therein all constitutional guarantees. To hold otherwise, would amount to the court blindfolding itself to continue permitting Congress per secula seculorum to switch on and off the Constitution.
In Balzac, the court defined “implied”::306
Had Congress intended to take the important step of changing the treaty status of Puerto Rico by incorporating it into the Union, it is reasonable to suppose that it would have done so by the plain declaration, and would not have left it to mere inference. Before the question became acute at the close of the Spanish War, the distinction between acquisition and incorporation was not regarded as important, or at least it was not fully understood and had not aroused great controversy. Before that, the purpose of Congress might well be a matter of mere inference from various legislative acts; but in these latter days, incorporation is not to be assumed without express declaration, or an implication so strong as to exclude any other view.
Supreme Court decisions about individual territories
In Rassmussen v. U.S., the Supreme Court quoted from Article III of the 1867 treaty for the purchase of Alaska and then said: “‘The inhabitants of the ceded territory … shall be admitted to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States …’ This declaration, although somewhat changed in phraseology, is the equivalent … of the formula, employed from the beginning to express the purpose to incorporate acquired territory into the United States, especially in the absence of other provisions showing an intention to the contrary.”:522 The act of incorporation affects the people of the territory more than the territory per se by extending the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution to them, such as its extension to Puerto Rico in 1947; however, Puerto Rico remains unincorporated.
The 2016 Supreme Court case Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle ruled that territories do not have sovereignty. That year, the court declined to rule on a lower-court ruling in Tuana v. United States that American Samoans are not citizens at birth.
Rassmussen arose from a criminal conviction by a six-person jury in Alaska under federal law. The court held that Alaska had been incorporated into the U.S. in the treaty of cession with Russia, and the congressional implication was strong enough to exclude any other view::523
That Congress, shortly following the adoption of the treaty with Russia, clearly contemplated the incorporation of Alaska into the United States as a part thereof, we think plainly results from the act of July 20, 1868, concerning internal revenue taxation … and the act of July 27, 1868 … extending the laws of the United States relating to customs, commerce, and navigation over Alaska, and establishing a collection district therein … And this is fortified by subsequent action of Congress, which it is unnecessary to refer to.
Apparently, acceptance of the territory is insufficient in the opinion of the court in this case, since the result that Alaska is incorporated into the United States is reached, not through the treaty with Russia, or through the establishment of a civil government there, but from the act … extending the laws of the United States relating to the customs, commerce, and navigation over Alaska, and establishing a collection district there. Certain other acts are cited, notably the judiciary act … making it the duty of this court to assign … the several territories of the United States to particular Circuits.
The 6th article of the treaty of cession contains the following provision: ‘The inhabitants of the territories which His Catholic Majesty cedes the United States by this treaty shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States as soon as may be consistent with the principles of the Federal Constitution, and admitted to the enjoyment of the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States’ … This treaty is the law of the land, and admits the inhabitants of Florida to the enjoyment of the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States. It is unnecessary to inquire whether this is not their condition, independent of stipulation. They do not, however, participate in political power; they do not share in the government till Florida shall become a state. In the meantime Florida continues to be a territory of the United States, governed by virtue of that clause in the Constitution which empowers Congress “to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States.“‘
In Downes v. Bidwell, the court said: “The same construction was adhered to in the treaty with Spain for the purchase of Florida … the 6th article of which provided that the inhabitants should ‘be incorporated into the Union of the United States, as soon as may be consistent with the principles of the Federal Constitution.‘“:256
Justice Brown first mentioned incorporation in Downes::321–2
In view of this it cannot, it seems to me, be doubted that the United States continued to be composed of states and territories, all forming an integral part thereof and incorporated therein, as was the case prior to the adoption of the Constitution. Subsequently, the territory now embraced in the state of Tennessee was ceded to the United States by the state of North Carolina. In order to ensure the rights of the native inhabitants, it was expressly stipulated that the inhabitants of the ceded territory should enjoy all the rights, privileges, benefits, and advantages set forth in the ordinance of the late Congress for the government of the western territory of the United States.
In Downes, the court said:
Owing to a new war between England and France being upon the point of breaking out, there was need for haste in the negotiations, and Mr. Livingston took the responsibility of disobeying his (Mr. Jefferson’s) instructions, and, probably owing to the insistence of Bonaparte, consented to the 3d article of the treaty (with France to acquire the territory of Louisiana), which provided that “the inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess.” [8 Stat. at L. 202.] This evidently committed the government to the ultimate, but not to the immediate, admission of Louisiana as a state …:252
Organized territories are lands under federal sovereignty (but not part of any state) which were given a measure of self-rule by Congress through an organic act subject to the Congress’s plenary powers under the territorial clause of the Constitution’s Article Four, section 3.
Former territories and administered areas
Organized incorporated territories
- Corn Islands (1914–1971): leased for 99 years under the Bryan-Chamorro Treaty, but returned to Nicaragua when the treaty was annulled in 1970.
- Line Islands: disputed claim with the United Kingdom. U.S. claim to most of the islands was ceded to Kiribati upon its independence in 1979, but the U.S. retained Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll and Jarvis Island.
- Panama Canal Zone (1903–1979): sovereignty returned to Panama under the Torrijos-Carter Treaties of 1978. The U.S. retained a military base and control of the canal until December 31, 1999.
- Philippine Islands (1898–1935) and the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935–46): granted independence on July 4, 1946.
- Phoenix Islands: disputed claim with the United Kingdom. U.S. claim ceded to Kiribati upon its independence in 1979. Baker and Howland Islands, sometimes considered part of this group, are retained by the U.S.
- Quita Sueño Bank (1869–1981): claimed under the Guano Islands Act; claim abandoned in a September 7, 1981 treaty.
- Roncador Bank (1856–1981): claimed under the Guano Islands Act; ceded to Colombia in September 7, 1981 treaty.
- Serrana Bank: claimed under the Guano Islands Act; ceded to Colombia in September 7, 1981 treaty.
- Swan Islands (1863–1972): claimed under the Guano Islands Act; ceded to Honduras in a 1972 treaty.
Under military government
- Puerto Rico: April 11, 1899 – May 1, 1900
- Philippines: August 14, 1898 – July 4, 1901
- Guam: April 11, 1899 – July 1, 1950
- Cuba: April 11, 1899 – May 20, 1902
- Philippines: August 14, 1898 – July 4, 1946
- Veracruz: occupied from April 21 to November 23, 1914, after the Tampico Affair during the Mexican Revolution.
- Nicaragua: occupied by United States from 1912 to 1933.
- Haiti: occupied by the United States from 1915 to 1934.
- Dominican Republic: occupied from 1916 to 1924 and from 1965 to 1966.
- Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (1947–1986): liberated in World War II; included the Compact of Free Association nations (the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau) and the Northern Mariana Islands.
- Ryukyu Islands, including Okinawa (U.S. occupation 1952–1972): returned to Japan in an agreement including the Daitō Islands.
- Nanpō Islands and Marcus Island (1945–1968): Occupied after World War II, and returned to Japan by mutual agreement.
- Participation in the Occupation of the Rhineland (1918–1921)
- Occupation of Greenland (1941–1945)
- Occupation of Iceland in World War II (1941–1946); military base retained until 2006.
- Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories, in Allied-controlled sections of Italy from the July 1943 invasion of Sicily until the September armistice with Italy. AMGOT continued in newly-liberated areas of Italy until the end of the war, and also existed in France.
- Clipperton Island (1944–1945): occupied territory, returned to France on October 23, 1945.
- United States Army Military Government in Korea: Occupation south of the 38th parallel from 1945 to 1948.
- American zones of Allied-occupied Germany (1945–1949)
- Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) after World War II
- American occupation zones in Allied-occupied Austria and Vienna (1945–1955)
- American occupation zone in West Berlin (1945–1990)
- Free Territory of Trieste (1947–1954): The U.S. co-administered a portion of the territory (between the Kingdom of Italy and the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia) with the United Kingdom.
- Grenada invasion and occupation (1983)
- Coalition Provisional Authority (Iraq, 2003–2004)
- Green Zone, Iraq (March 20, 2003 – December 31, 2008)
In The Not-Quite States of America, his book about the U.S. territories, Doug Mack said: “It seemed that right around the turn of the twentieth century, the territories were part of the national mythology and the everyday conversation … A century or so ago, Americans didn’t just know about the territories but cared about them, argued about them. But what changed? How and why did they disappear from the national conversation?” Mack also wrote, “The territories have made us who we are. They represent the USA’s place in the world. They’ve been a reflection of our national mood in nearly every period of American history.”
Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida said about a 2018 bill to make Puerto Rico the 51st state, “The hard truth is that Puerto Rico’s lack of political power allows Washington to treat Puerto Rico like an afterthought, as the federal government’s inadequate preparation for and response to Hurricane Maria made crystal clear.” According to Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló, “Because we don’t have political power, because we don’t have representatives, [no] senators, no vote for president, we are treated as an afterthought.” Rosselló called Puerto Rico the “oldest, most populous colony in the world”.
Members of the House of Representatives
Amata Coleman Radewagen (American Samoa)
Madeleine Bordallo (Guam)
Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands)
Jenniffer González (Puerto Rico)
Stacey Plaskett (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Ricardo Rosselló (Puerto Rico)
Saint John (U.S. Virgin Islands)
Uninhabited territories (minor outlying islands)
- Enabling act (United States)
- Extreme points of the United States
- Hawaiian Organic Act
- Historic regions of the United States
- Legal status of Hawaii
- List of museums in the U.S. territories
- List of United States colonial possessions
- List of U.S. National Historic Landmarks in the U.S. territories
- Organic Acts of 1845–46
- Organized incorporated territories of the United States
- Political status of Puerto Rico
- Territories of the United States on stamps
- Unincorporated territories of the United States
- United States National Register of Historic Places listings:
- United States territory
- Unorganized territory
- According to the 2016 Supreme Court ruling , territories are not sovereign.
- Some residents of Sikaiana (also known as the Stewart Islands) believe that Sikaiana is part of the United States: “They base their claim on the assertion that the Stewart Islands were ceded to King Kamehameha IV and accepted by him as part of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1856 and, thus, were part of the Republic of Hawaii (which was declared in 1893) when it was annexed to the United States by law in 1898.” However, Sikaiana was not included within “Hawaii and its dependencies”.
- In Tuana v. United States, it was ruled that citizenship-at-birth is not a right in unincorporated regions of the U.S. — current citizenship-at-birth in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is granted only because the U.S. Congress passed legislation granting citizenship to those territories. The Supreme Court declined to rule on the case.
- American Samoa, technically unorganized, is de facto organized.
- Because Saipan is governed as a single municipality, most publications refer to the capital as “Saipan”.
- U.S. sovereignty took effect on November 3, 1986 (Eastern Time) and on November 4, 1986 (local Northern Mariana Islands Chamorro Time).
- The revised constitution of American Samoa was approved on June 2, 1967 by Stewart L. Udall, then U.S. Secretary of the Interior, under authority granted on June 29, 1951. It became effective on July 1, 1967.
- 2017 poverty rate; in 2009, American Samoa’s poverty rate was 57.8%
- 2017 rate.
- American Samoa is divided into 14 counties, but the U.S. Census Bureau treats them as minor civil divisions.
- “Definition of Terms – 1120 Acquisition of U.S. Nationality in U.S. Territories and Possessions” (PDF). U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7- Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State.
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