The united states and its territories, 1870

     
United States territorial acquisitionsU.S. Territories
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American Samoa • Guam • Northern Mariana Islands • Puerto Rico • U.S. Virgin Islands

Since the United States Constitution"s ratification in 1789, the country has grown from 864,746 square miles to lớn 3,531,905 through territorial acquisitions.

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As of August 2021, the United States controlled five unincorporated, organized, inhabited territories: Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, và American Samoa. The U.S. Also controlled nine minor outlying islands: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Navassa Island, Johnston Atoll, Midway Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Wake Island, and Kingman Reef.

The United States has acquired new island territories through cession, purchase, và occupation, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior"s Office of Insular Affairs.<3> The U.S. Also leased the Panama Canal Zone from 1903 khổng lồ 1999. The country"s first & largest territorial acquisition was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 for $10 million; it nearly doubled the landmass of the original 13 states. In 1947, the Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, và Marshall Islands became the most recent U.S. Territorial acquisitions, as of August 2021.

The cheapest acquisition by purchase was of Alaska for $12 per square mile. The most expensive acquisition by purchase was of the U.S. Virgin Islands for $183,824 per square mile.

The territories gained by the U.S. Through occupation were primarily small islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The Guano Islands Act of 1856, which was designed to assist American farmers by making guano (dried sea bird excrement) easier to mine for use as fertilizer, authorized such occupations.<4>


Contents


1 Historical U.S. Territories3 Current U.S. Territories3.1 American Samoa3.2 Guam3.3 Northern Mariana Islands3.4 Puerto Rico3.5 U.S. Virgin Islands

Historical U.S. Territories

List of U.S. Territorial acquisitions

The table below lists the major territorial acquisitions of the United States since 1789. The list does not contain all of the small islands the U.S. Claimed in the Pacific Ocean & Caribbean Sea under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, but it does include the nine minor outlying islands under undisputed U.S. Control as of August 2021: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Navassa Island, Johnston Atoll, Midway Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Wake Island, and Kingman Reef.<4> The minor outlying islands do not have permanent populations và are unorganized (they lack local government).<5>

For each acquisition, the table shows the year the U.S. Gained control of the territory, the method through which it was obtained, the purchase price (if it was purchased), previous control, the form size of the territory by square mile, the status of U.S. Control of the territory, and whether the land had been incorporated into the 50 states as of August 2021.

According lớn the U.S. Department of the Interior"s Office of Insular Affairs, the United States has employed three methods of territorial acquisition for acquiring island territories:<3>

Cession
refers khổng lồ a transfer of land that is formally agreed upon by the acquiring and ceding state, usually by treaty.A purchase is a type of cession in which the acquiring nation agrees to lớn financially compensate the ceding country for a territorial transfer.Occupation refers khổng lồ the appropriation of an area that lacks supreme control by another sovereign.

Three other methods for acquisition of island territories are recognized under public international law, according to lớn the Department of the Interior, are:<3>

Accretion is an increase in land mass through geological changes.Subjugation occurs when a sovereign establishes a conquest followed by formal annexation.

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Prescription is "the acquisition of an insular area subject khổng lồ the supreme nguồn of another sovereign through the continuous and undisturbed exercise of that supreme power."

The table contains seven purchased territories, 10 ceded territories, và 10 territories obtained through occupation. The U.S. Occupied nearly 100 additional islands under the Guano Islands Act of 1856.<4>

Territories acquired by the United States<6><3>Acquisition/AgreementYear acquiredAcquisition methodPurchase pricePrevious controlSize of territory by square mileCurrent U.S. Control?<7>Incorporated into state(s)?
Louisiana Purchase1803Purchase$15 millionFrance827,987YesYes
British Cession1818CessionN/AUnited Kingdom45,417YesYes
Florida Purchase1819Purchase$5 millionSpain72,101YesYes
Texas1845CessionN/AIndependent republic389,166YesYes
Oregon territory1846OccupationN/AUnited Kingdom, United States(contested)286,541YesYes
Mexican Cession<8>1848Purchase$15 millionMexico529,189YesYes
Gadsden Purchase1853Purchase$10 millionMexico29,670YesYes
Baker Island1857OccupationN/AUnclaimed0.5YesNo
Howland Island1857OccupationN/AUnclaimed0.6YesNo
Jarvis Island1857OccupationN/AUnclaimed1.7YesNo
Navassa Island1857OccupationN/AUnclaimed2YesNo
Johnston Atoll1858OccupationN/AUnclaimed1.1YesNo
Alaska1867Purchase$7.2 millionRussia591,000YesYes
Midway Islands1867OccupationN/AUnclaimed2YesNo
Hawaiian Islands1898CessionN/AIndependent republic6,450YesYes
Palmyra Atoll1898CessionN/ARepublic of Hawaii4.6YesNo
Philippine Islands1898Purchase$20 millionSpain115,800NoNo
Puerto Rico1898CessionN/ASpain3,508YesNo
Guam1898CessionN/ASpain209YesNo
American Samoa1899CessionN/AGermany, United Kingdom, United States76YesNo
Wake Island1899OccupationN/AUnclaimed3YesNo
Virgin Islands1917Purchase$25 millionDenmark136YesNo
Kingman Reef1922OccupationN/AUnclaimed0.4YesNo
Kanton và Enderbury islands<9>1938OccupationN/AUnclaimed3NoNo
Mariana Islands<10>1947CessionN/AJapanese League of Nations mandate179YesNo
Caroline Islands<11>1947CessionN/AJapanese League of Nations mandate500NoNo
Marshall Islands<12>1947CessionN/AJapanese League of Nations mandate70NoNo

Constitutional authority

In the United States, treaties regarding the exchange of territory with sovereign nations are typically initiated by the president and subject to lớn the advice and consent of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. According lớn Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution:

The President shall have Power, by và with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur...<13><14>

Once the United States legally acquires territories, Article IV, Section 3, of the Constitution grants Congress the authority lớn manage them, stating:

The Congress shall have Power khổng lồ dispose of & make all needful Rules và Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging khổng lồ the United States; và nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.<13><14>

Current U.S. Territories

In addition to the 50 states, the United States contains unincorporated organized territories which are governed by & subject to lớn parts of the U.S. Constitution but do not have state status. Those territories are American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico và Northern Mariana Islands are considered commonwealths và have their own constitutions.

Below is a menu containing an overview of each territory and its citizenship status.

American Samoa

American Samoa is located in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. The "Deed of Cession" was signed on April 17, 1900. The capital is Pago Pago. Samoan is the primary language, but English, Tongan, & other Pacific islander languages are also spoken. The motto of American Samoa is "Samoa, Muamua Le Atua" (Samoan) which translates lớn "Samoa, Let God Be First."

Citizenship status

Individuals born in American Samoa are United States nationals, rather than citizens. U.S. Nationals have the right lớn reside within the United States & its territories indefinitely. U.S. Nationals may also apply for citizenship if they choose. Residents of American Samoa cannot vote in federal elections, but they vày elect a nonvoting delegate khổng lồ the U.S. House of Representatives.<15><16><17>

Guam

Guam is located in the Pacific Ocean region known as Micronesia. Guam was ceded khổng lồ the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The capital is Hagåtña. English is the primary language of the island, but Filipino, Chamorro, other Pacific islander languages, and other Asian languages are also spoken.

Citizenship status

Individuals born in Guam are considered citizens of the United States. Residents of Guam cannot vote in federal elections, but they vày elect a delegate khổng lồ the U.S. House of Representatives, who serves for a term of two years and has limited voting abilities. Residents of Guam also caucus for presidential primary candidates & delegates from Guam are sent lớn the Republican & Democratic national conventions.<15><18><19>

Northern Mariana Islands

Northern Marian Islands, more formally known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is located between Hawaii & the Philippines. It consists of fifteen islands. Philippine languages are the primary languages, but Chamorro, English, other Pacific islander languages, Chinese, and other Asian languages are also spoken. The capital is Capitol Hill (Saipan).

Citizenship status

Individuals born in the Northern Mariana Islands are considered citizens of the United States. Residents of the Northern Mariana Islands cannot vote in federal elections, but they vày elect a delegate khổng lồ the U.S. House of Representatives, who serves for a term of two years và has limited voting abilities.<15><20><21>

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, more formally known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is located in the northeastern Caribbean west of the United States Virgin Islands & the British Virgin Islands. It is just east of the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico was ceded lớn the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American War under the Treaty of Paris. Spanish and English are the primary spoken languages. The capital and the largest city is San Juan. The motto of Puerto Rico is "Joannes est nomen eius" (Latin) which translates khổng lồ "John is his name."

Citizenship status

Individuals born in Puerto Rico are considered citizens of the United States. Residents of Puerto Rico cannot vote in federal elections, but they vị elect one resident commissioner khổng lồ serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for a term of two years with limited voting abilities. The United States federal government does not collect income tax from those residing on the island. Puerto Rico residents may, however, serve in the military and are subject to lớn most federal laws.

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U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean. The main islands include Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas, and Water Islands. English is the primary language of the territory, but Spanish, Spanish Creole, French, French Creole are also spoken. The capital và the largest city is Charlotte Amalie. The motto of the United States Virgin Islands is "United in Pride and Hope."

Citizenship status

Individuals born in the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered citizens of the United States. Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot vote in federal elections, but they bởi elect a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.<15><23>