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Wikipedia

This article is about the political entities, current or former, called United States territories. For the historic territories which became U.S. states, see Organized incorporated territories of the United States. For the forms of U.S. jurisdiction, see U.S. territorial sovereignty. For historical evolution, see Territorial evolution of the United States and Historic regions of the United States.

Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the U.S. federal government. The various U.S. territories differ from the U.S. states and Native American tribes in that they are not sovereign entities. 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". Territories are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by the Congress. U.S. territories are under U.S. 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). Unincorporated territories in particular are not considered to be integral parts of the United States, and the Constitution of the United States applies only partially in those territories.

Territories of the United States
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
List
Area
• Total
22,294.19 km2 (8,607.83 sq mi)
Population
• Estimate
4,100,954 in 2010
3,569,284 in 2020
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the term describes a self-governed area with a constitution whose right of self-government will not be unilaterally withdrawn by Congress.

The U.S. currently administers three territories in the Caribbean Sea and eleven in the Pacific Ocean. 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. Historically, territories were created to administer newly acquired land, and most eventually attained statehood. Others, such as the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau, later became independent.

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.

Politically and economically, the territories are underdeveloped. Residents of U.S. territories cannot vote in U.S. Presidential elections, and they have only non-voting representation in the U.S. Congress. Territorial telecommunications and other infrastructure is 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. Poverty rates are higher in the territories than in the states.

Contents

Definition

Organized territories are lands under federal sovereignty (but not part of any state) which were given a measure of self-governance 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

The term unorganized was historically applied either to a newly acquired region not yet constituted as an organized incorporated territory (e.g. the Louisiana Purchase prior to the establishment of Orleans Territory and the District of Louisiana), or to a region previously part of an organized incorporated territory left "unorganized" after part of it had been organized and achieved the requirements for statehood (e.g. a large portion of Missouri Territory became unorganized territory for several years after its southeastern section became the state of Missouri).

Regions that have been admitted as states by the United States Constitution in addition to the original thirteen were (most often), prior to admission, territories or parts of territories of this kind. As the United States grew, the most populous parts of the organized territory would achieve statehood. Some territories existed only a short time before becoming states, while others remained territories for decades. The shortest-lived was Alabama Territory at two years, while New Mexico Territory and Hawaii Territory both lasted more than 50 years.

Of the current 50 states, 31 were at one time or another part of an organized, incorporated U.S. territory. In addition to the original 13, six subsequent states never were: Kentucky, Maine, and West Virginia were each set off from an already existing state; Texas and Vermont were both sovereign states (only de facto sovereignty in Vermont's case, as the region was claimed by New York) at the time when they entered the Union; and California was set off from unorganized land ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848 at the end of the Mexican–American War.

Current status

All of the five major U.S. territories are permanently inhabited and have constitutions, locally elected territorial legislatures and executives, and some degree of political autonomy. Four of the five are "organized", but American Samoa is technically "unorganized". All of the U.S. territories without permanent non-military populations are unorganized.

For a list of former organized territories, see Historic regions of the United States § Former organized territories.

The Office of Insular Affairs coordinates federal administration of the U.S. territories and freely associated states, except for Puerto Rico.

On March 3, 1849, the last day of the 30th Congress, a bill was passed to create the U.S. Department of the Interior to take charge of the internal affairs of United States territory. The Interior Department has a wide range of responsibilities (which include the regulation of territorial governments, the basic responsibilities for public lands, and other various duties).

In contrast to similarly named Departments in other countries, the United States Department of the Interior is not responsible for local government or for civil administration except in the cases of Indian reservations, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and island dependencies administered by the Office of Insular Affairs.

The U.S. has five permanently inhabited territories: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, and American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean. American Samoa is in the Southern Hemisphere, while the other four are in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2020, their combined population was about 3.62 million, over 90% of which is accounted for by Puerto Rico alone.

People born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands acquire U.S. citizenship by birth, and foreign nationals residing there may apply for U.S. citizenship by naturalization. People born in American Samoa acquire U.S. nationality but not U.S. citizenship by birth if they do not have a U.S. citizen parent. U.S. nationals without U.S. citizenship may hold U.S. passports and reside in any part of the United States without restriction. However, to become U.S. citizens they must apply for naturalization, like foreigners, and may only do so while residing in parts of the United States other than American Samoa. Foreign nationals residing in American Samoa cannot apply for U.S. citizenship or U.S. nationality at all.

Each territory is self-governing with three branches of government, including a locally elected governor and a territorial legislature. Each territory elects a non-voting member (a non-voting resident commissioner in the case of Puerto Rico) to the U.S. House of Representatives. Although they cannot vote on the passage of legislation, they can be members of and vote in committees, are assigned offices and staff funding, and may nominate constituents from their territories to the Army, Naval, Air Force and Merchant Marine academies.

As of the 117th Congress (January 3, 2021 – January 3, 2023) the territories are represented by Aumua Amata Radewagen (R) of American Samoa, Michael San Nicholas (D) of Guam, Gregorio Sablan (D) of Northern Mariana Islands, Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PNP) of Puerto Rico and Stacey Plaskett (D) of U.S. Virgin Islands. The District of Columbia's delegate is Eleanor Holmes Norton (D); like the district, the territories have no vote in Congress and no representation in the Senate. Additionally, the Cherokee Nation has delegate-elect Kimberly Teehee, who has not been seated by Congress.

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 can vote for presidential candidates in these primary elections but not in the general election.

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 Lemanu Peleti Mauga (American Samoa), Lou Leon Guerrero (Guam), Ralph Torres (Northern Mariana Islands), Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico) and Albert Bryan (U.S. Virgin Islands).

Among the inhabited territories, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available only in the Northern Mariana Islands; however in 2019 a U.S. judge ruled that the federal government's denial of SSI benefits to residents of Puerto Rico is unconstitutional. This ruling was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing for the exclusion of territories from such programs. In the decision, the court explained that the exemption of island residents from most federal income taxes provides a "rational basis" for their exclusion from eligibility for SSI payments.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory with its own immigration system (a system separate from the United States immigration system). American Samoa also has a communal land system in which ninety percent of the land is communally owned; ownership is based on Samoan ancestry.

Overview of populated American territories
Name (Abbreviation) Location Area Population
(2020)
Capital Largest town Status Acquired
American Samoa (AS) Polynesia (South Pacific) 197.1 km2 (76 sq mi) 49,710 Pago Pago Tafuna Unincorporated, unorganized April 17, 1900
Guam (GU) Micronesia (North Pacific) 543 km2 (210 sq mi) 153,836 Hagåtña Dededo Unincorporated, organized April 11, 1899
Northern Mariana Islands (MP) Micronesia (North Pacific) 463.63 km2 (179 sq mi) 47,329 Saipan Saipan Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth) November 4, 1986
Puerto Rico (PR) Caribbean (North Atlantic) 9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi) 3,285,874 San Juan San Juan Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth) April 11, 1899
U.S. Virgin Islands (VI) Caribbean (North Atlantic) 346.36 km2 (134 sq mi) 87,146 Charlotte Amalie Charlotte Amalie Unincorporated, organized March 31, 1917

History

  • 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. took control of 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. For 51 years, the U.S. Navy controlled the territory. American Samoa is locally self-governing under a constitution last revised in 1967. The first elected governor of American Samoa was in 1977, and the first non-voting member of Congress was in 1981. People born in American Samoa are U.S. nationals, but not U.S. citizens. 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 together with Guam were part of the Spanish Empire until 1899 when the Northern Marianas were sold to the German Empire after the Spanish–American War. Beginning in 1919, they were administered by Japan as a League of Nations mandate until the islands were captured by the United States in the Battle of Saipan and Battle of Tinian (June–August 1944) and the surrender of Aguigan (September 1945) 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. Following failed efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to reunify Guam and the Northern Marianas, 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 on November 4, 1986. In 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands formally left U.N. trusteeship. The abbreviations "CNMI" and "NMI" are both used in the commonwealth. Most residents in the Northern Mariana Islands 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. Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have been granted U.S. citizenship. Puerto Rico 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 territory 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.

Statistics

Except for Guam, the inhabited territories lost population in 2020. 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.

Statistical overview of American territories
Territory Official language(s) Pop. change (2021 est.)
Poverty rate Life expectancy in 2018–2020
(years)
HDI GDP ($) Traffic flow Time zone Area code (+1) Largest ethnicity
American Samoa English, Samoan −2.1% 65%
(2017)
74.8 0.827 $0.636 billion Right Samoan Time (UTC−11) 684 Pacific Islander
(Samoan)
Guam English, Chamorro +0.18% 22.9%
(2009)
79.86 0.901 $5.92 billion Right Chamorro Time (UTC+10) 671 Pacific Islander
(Chamorro)
Northern Mariana Islands English, Chamorro, Carolinian −0.36% 52.3%
(2009)
76.1 0.875 $1.323 billion Right Chamorro Time 670 Asian
Puerto Rico English, Spanish −1.46% 43.1%
(2018)
79.78 0.845 $104.98 billion Right Atlantic Time (UTC−4) 787, 939 Hispanic / Latino
(Puerto Rican)
U.S. Virgin Islands English −0.42% 22.4%
(2009)
79.57 0.894 $3.85 billion Left Atlantic Time 340 African-American

The territories do not have administrative counties. 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.

For statistical purposes, the U.S. Census Bureau has a defined area called the "Island Areas" which consists of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (every major territory except Puerto Rico). The U.S. Census Bureau often treats Puerto Rico as its own entity or groups it with the states and D.C. (for example, Puerto Rico has a QuickFacts page just like the states and D.C.) Puerto Rico data is collected annually in American Community Survey estimates (just like the states), but data for the other territories is collected only once every ten years.

Governments and legislatures

The five major inhabited territories contain the following governments and legislatures:

Political party status

The following is the political party status of the governments of the U.S. territories following completion of the 2020 United States elections. Instances where local and national party affiliation differs, the national affiliation is listed second. Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have unicameral territorial legislatures.

Territory 2020 presidential
election
Governor Territory Senate Territory House U.S. House of Representatives
American Samoa None Non-Partisan
Democratic
Non-Partisan Non-Partisan Republican
Guam None Democratic Democratic 8–7 Democratic
Northern Mariana Islands None Republican Republican 5–1–3 Democratic 9–8–3 Independent
Democratic
Puerto Rico None New Progressive
Democratic
Popular Democratic
12–10–2–1-1-1
Popular Democratic
26–21–2–1-1
New Progressive
Republican
U.S. Virgin Islands None Democratic Democratic 13–2 Democratic
  1. Republicans have 5 seats, Democrats 1, and Independents 3
  2. Republicans hold a nominal majority with 9 seats and Democrats with 8 seats; however, one independent caucuses with the Republicans and two with the Democrats, leaving the House split 10–10. One Republican crossed party lines to elect Democrat-aligned Independent Edmund Villagomez as Speaker of the House.
  3. Popular Democratic Party has 12 seats, New Progressive Party 10, Citizen's Victory Movement 2, Puerto Rico Independence Party 1, Project Dignity 1, and Independent 1
  4. The Popular Democratic Party has 26 seats, New Progressive 21, Citizen's Victory Movement 2, Puerto Rico Independence Party 1, and Project Dignity 1

Courts

Building where the Supreme Court of Guam is located

Each of the five major territories has its own local court system:

Of the five major territories, only Puerto Rico has an Article III federal district court (i.e., equivalent to the courts in the fifty states); it became an Article III court in 1966. This means that, unlike other U.S. territories, federal judges in Puerto Rico have life tenure. Federal courts in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands are Article IV territorial courts. The following is a list of federal territorial courts, plus Puerto Rico's court:

American Samoa does not have a federal territorial court, and so federal matters in American Samoa are sent to either the District court of Hawaii or the District court of the District of Columbia. American Samoa is the only permanently inhabited region of the United States with no federal court.

Demographics

While the U.S. mainland is majority non-Hispanic White, this is not the case for the U.S. territories. In 2010, American Samoa's population was 92.6% Pacific Islander (including 88.9% Samoan); Guam's population was 49.3% Pacific Islander (including 37.3% Chamorro) and 32.2% Asian (including 26.3% Filipino); the population of the Northern Mariana Islands was 34.9% Pacific Islander and 49.9% Asian; and the population of the U.S. Virgin Islands was 76.0% African American. In 2019, Puerto Rico's population was 98.9% Hispanic or Latino, 67.4% white, and 0.8% non-Hispanic white.

Throughout the 2010s, the U.S. territories (overall) lost population. The combined population of the five inhabited territories was 4,100,594 in 2010, and 3,569,284 in 2020.

The U.S. territories have high religiosity rates—American Samoa has the highest religiosity rate in the United States (99.3% religious and 98.3% Christian).

Economies

The economies of the U.S. territories vary from Puerto Rico, which has a GDP of $104.989 billion in 2019, to American Samoa, which has a GDP of $636 million in 2018. In 2018, Puerto Rico exported about $18 billion in goods, with the Netherlands as the largest destination.

Guam's GDP shrank by 0.3% in 2018, the GDP of the Northern Mariana Islands shrank by 19.6% in 2018, Puerto Rico's GDP grew by 1.18% in 2019, and the U.S. Virgin Islands' GDP grew by 1.5% in 2018. In 2017, American Samoa's GDP shrank by 5.8%, but then grew by 2.2% in 2018.

American Samoa has the lowest per capita income in the United States—it has a per capita income comparable to that of Botswana. In 2010, American Samoa's per capita income was $6,311. As of 2010, the Manu'a District in American Samoa had a per capita income of $5,441, the lowest of any county or county-equivalent in the United States. In 2018, Puerto Rico had a median household income of $20,166 (lower than the median household income of any state). Also in 2018, Comerío Municipality, Puerto Rico had a median household income of $12,812 (the lowest median household income of any populated county or county-equivalent in the U.S.) Guam has much higher incomes (Guam had a median household income of $48,274 in 2010.)

The United States Minor Outlying Islands are small uninhabited islands, atolls, and reefs. Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Palmyra Atoll, and Wake Island are in the Pacific Ocean while Navassa Island is in the Caribbean Sea. The additional disputed territories of Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank are also located 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. All are uninhabited except for Midway Atoll, whose approximately 40 inhabitants are employees of the U.S. 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. The two-letter abbreviation for the islands collectively is "UM".

The status of several islands is disputed. Navassa Island is disputed by Haiti, Wake Island is disputed by the Marshall Islands, Swains Island (a part of American Samoa) is disputed by Tokelau, and Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank (both administered by Colombia) are disputed by Colombia, Honduras (Serranilla Bank only), and Jamaica.

Overview of standard Minor Outlying Islands
Name Location Area Status Notes
Baker Island Polynesia (Central Pacific) 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 Polynesia (North Pacific) 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 Polynesia (South Pacific) 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 Polynesia (North Pacific) 2.67 km2 (1.03 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Last used by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004
Kingman Reef Polynesia (North Pacific) 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 Polynesia (North Pacific) 6.2 km2 (2.4 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Territory since 1859; primarily a National Wildlife Refuge and previously under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department.
Navassa Island Caribbean (North Atlantic) 5.4 km2 (2.1 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Territory since 1857; also claimed by Haiti
Palmyra Atoll Polynesia (North Pacific) 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 fifty 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. U.S. sovereignty over Palmyra Atoll (and Hawaii) is disputed by the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.
Wake Island Micronesia (North Pacific) 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. Wake Island is claimed by the Marshall Islands.
  1. These six unincorporated territories and Palmyra Atoll make up the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Disputed

The following two territories are claimed by multiple countries (including the United States), and are not included in ISO 3166-2:UM. However, they are sometimes grouped with the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands. According to the GAO, "the United States conducts maritime law enforcement operations in and around Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo [Bank] consistent with U.S. sovereignty claims."

Overview of disputed Minor Outlying Islands
Name Location Area Status Notes
Bajo Nuevo Bank Caribbean (North Atlantic) 110 km2 (42 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized
(disputed sovereignty)
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.
Serranilla Bank Caribbean (North Atlantic) 350 km2 (140 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized
(disputed sovereignty)
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.

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Ofu Beach on Ofu Island in American Samoa
Wake Island lagoon
Navy memorial and albatross monument with Laysan albatross chicks at Midway Atoll

Pursuant to a series of Supreme Court rulings, 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 to be integral parts of the U.S., rather than possessions.

In unincorporated territories, "fundamental rights apply as a matter of law, but other constitutional rights are not available", raising concerns about how citizens in these territories can influence politics in the United States. Selected constitutional provisions apply, depending on congressional acts and judicial rulings according to U.S. constitutional practice, local tradition, and law.[citation needed] As a result, these territories are often considered colonies of the United States.

All modern inhabited territories under the control of the federal government can be considered as part of the "United States" for purposes of law as defined in specific legislation. However, the judicial term "unincorporated" was coined to legitimize the late-19th-century territorial acquisitions without citizenship and their administration without constitutional protections temporarily until Congress made other provisions. The case law allowed Congress to impose discriminatory tax regimes with the effect of a protective tariff upon territorial regions which were not domestic states. In 2022, the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Vaello Madero held that the territorial clause of the constitution allowed wide congressional latitude in mandating "reasonable" tax and benefit schemes in Puerto Rico and the other territories, which are different from the states, but did not address the incorporated/unincorporated distinction. In a concurrence, one of the justices opined that it was time to overrule the incorporation doctrine, as wrongly decided and founded in racism.

Insular Cases

Main article: Insular Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1901–1905 Insular Cases opinions, ruled that the Constitution extendedex proprio vigore (i.e., of its own force) to the continental territories. The Court also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation, in which the Constitution applies fully to incorporated territories (such as the then-territories of Alaska and Hawaii) and partially in the unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and, at the time, the Philippines (which is no longer a U.S. territory).

In the 1901 Supreme Court case Downes v. Bidwell, the Court said that the U.S. Constitution did not fully apply in unincorporated territories because they were inhabited by "alien races".

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 1922 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 article3 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.

On June 5, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 3–0 in Tuaua v. United States to deny birthright citizenship to American Samoans, ruling that the guarantee of such citizenship to citizens in the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to unincorporated U.S. territories. In 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the appellate court's decision.

In 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the District Court decision in Segovia v. United States, which ruled that former Illinois residents living in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands did not qualify to cast overseas ballots according to their last registered address on the U.S. mainland. (Residents of the Northern Marianas and American Samoa, however, were still allowed to cast such ballots.) In October 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the 7th Circuit's decision.

On June 15, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled 2-1 in Fitisemanu v. United States to deny birthright citizenship to American Samoans and not to overrule the Insular Cases. The court cited Downes and ruled that "neither constitutional text nor Supreme Court precedent" demands that American Samoan should be given automatic birthright citizenship. The case is now pending certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court.

On April 21, 2022, in the case United States v. Vaello Madero, Justice Gorsuch urged the Supreme Court of the United States to overrule the Insular Cases when possible as it "rests on rotten foundation" and called the cases "shameful".

In analyzing the Insular Cases, Christina Duffy Ponsa of the New York Times said the following: "To be an unincorporated territory is to be caught in limbo: although unquestionably subject to American sovereignty, they are not considered part of the United States for certain purposes but not others. Whether they are part of the United States for purposes of the Citizenship Clause remains unresolved."

Supreme Court decisions about current territories

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(October 2020)

The 2016 Supreme Court case Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle ruled that territories do not have their own sovereignty. That year, the Supreme Court declined to rule on a lower-court ruling in Tuaua v. United States that American Samoans are not U.S. citizens at birth.

Supreme Court decisions about former territories

In Rassmussen v. U.S., the Supreme Court quoted from Article III of the 1867 treaty for the purchase of Alaska:

"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.

Alaska Territory

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.

Concurring justice Henry Brown agreed:: 533–4

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.

Florida Territory

In Dorr v. U.S., the court quoted Chief Justice John Marshall from an earlier case:: 141–2

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

Southwest Territory

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. 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.

Louisiana Territory

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

Modern Puerto Rico

Scholars agreed as of 2009 in the Boston College Law Review, "Regardless of how Puerto Rico looked in 1901 when the Insular Cases were decided, or in 1922, today, Puerto Rico seems to be the paradigm of an incorporated territory as modern jurisprudence understands that legal term of art". In November 2008 a district court judge ruled that a sequence of prior Congressional actions had the cumulative effect of changing Puerto Rico's status to incorporated. The United States Supreme Court, in 2021, held that the territorial clause of the constitution allowed wide congressional latitude in mandating "reasonable" tax and benefit schemes in Puerto Rico and the other territories that are different from the states, but did not address the incorporated/unincorporated distinction. In a concurrence, one of the justices opined that it was time to overrule the Insular Cases and the incorporation doctrine, as wrongly decided.

The United States from 1868 to 1876, including nine organized and two unorganized (at the time) territories

Formerly unorganized territories

At various times during the 19th century, large parts of the Great Plains were unorganized territory. After the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, the entire region was part of the Louisiana Territory until 1812 and the Missouri Territory until 1821. In 1821 the Missouri Compromise created the State of Missouri from the territory, and the rest of the region was left unorganized. The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the Kansas and Nebraska Territories, bringing organized government to the region once again. The creation of Kansas and Nebraska left the Indian Territory as the only unorganized territory in the Great Plains.

In 1858, the western part of the Minnesota Territory became unorganized when it was not included in the new state of Minnesota; this area was organized in 1861 as part of the Dakota Territory. On May 2, 1890, the western half of the Indian Territory was organized as Oklahoma. The remainder was incorporated into the State of Oklahoma upon its admission to the union in 1907.

Alaska was an unorganized territory between its acquisition from Russia in 1867 and the creation of Alaska Territory in 1912. Hawaii was as well from the time of its annexation by the U.S. in 1898 until organized as Hawaii Territory in 1900.

Former organized incorporated territories

(All areas that have become U.S. states outside of the Thirteen Colonies)

Former unincorporated territories

Former U.S.-administered areas

See also: Banana Wars

Former U.S. military occupations

The territories of the United States have many plant and animal species found nowhere else in the United States. All U.S. territories have tropical climates and ecosystems.

Forests

View of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico

The USDA says the following about the U.S. territories (plus Hawaii):

[The U.S. territories, plus Hawaii] include virtually all the Nation's tropical forests as well as other forest types including subtropical, coastal, subalpine, dry limestone, and coastal mangrove forests. Although distant from America's geographic center and from each other—and with distinctive flora and fauna, land use history, and individual forest issues—these rich and diverse ecosystems share a common bond of change and challenge.

Forests in the U.S. territories are vulnerable to invasive species and new housing developments. El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest system.

American Samoa has 80.84% forest cover and the Northern Mariana Islands has 80.37% forest cover—these are among the highest forest cover percentages in the United States (only Maine and New Hampshire are higher).

Birds

Left: Many-colored fruit dove (found in American Samoa); Right: Golden white-eye (found only in the Northern Mariana Islands)

U.S. territories have many bird species that are endemic (not found in any other location).

Introduction of the invasive brown tree snake has harmed Guam's native bird population—nine of twelve endemic species have become extinct, and the territorial bird (the Guam rail) is extinct in the wild.

Puerto Rico has several endemic bird species, such as the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot, the Puerto Rican flycatcher, and the Puerto Rican spindalis. The Northern Mariana Islands has the Mariana swiftlet, Mariana crow, Tinian monarch and golden white-eye (all endemic). Birds found in American Samoa include the many-colored fruit dove, the blue-crowned lorikeet, and the Samoan starling.

The Wake Island rail (now extinct) was endemic to Wake Island, and the Laysan duck is endemic to Midway Atoll and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Palmyra Atoll has the second-largest red-footed booby colony in the world, and Midway Atoll has the largest breeding colony of Laysan albatross in the world.

The American Birding Association currently excludes the U.S. territories from their "ABA Area" checklist.

Other animals

American Samoa has several reptile species, such as the Pacific boa (on the island of Ta‘ū) and Pacific slender-toed gecko. American Samoa has only a few mammal species, such as the Pacific (Polynesian) sheath-tailed bat, as well as oceanic mammals such as the Humpback whale. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands also have a small number of mammals, such as the Mariana fruit bat; oceanic mammals include Fraser's dolphin and the Sperm whale. The fauna of Puerto Rico includes the common coquí (frog), while the fauna of the U.S. Virgin Islands includes species found in Virgin Islands National Park (including 302 species of fish).

American Samoa has a location called Turtle and Shark which is important in Samoan culture and mythology.

Protected areas

There are two National Parks in the U.S. territories: the National Park of American Samoa, and Virgin Islands National Park. The National Park Service also manages War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam. There are also National Natural Landmarks, National Wildlife Refuges (such as Guam National Wildlife Refuge), El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (which includes the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands).

Hand-drawn map, 2018

In The Not-Quite States of America, his book about the U.S. territories, essayist 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? 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.

Organizations such as Facebook view U.S. territories as not being part of the United States—instead, they are viewed as equivalent to foreign countries. In response to Facebook's view, former Guam representative Madeleine Bordallo said, "It is an injustice that Americans living in the U.S. territories are not treated as other Americans living in the states. [...] Treating residents of Guam and other U.S. territories as living outside the United States and excluding them from programs perpetuates misconceptions and injustices that have long had a negative impact on our communities".

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." 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".

Rosselló and others have referred to the U.S. territories as American "colonies". David Vine of The Washington Post said the following: "The people of [the U.S. territories] are all too accustomed to being forgotten except in times of crisis. But being forgotten is not the worst of their problems. They are trapped in a state of third-class citizenship, unable to access full democratic rights because politicians have long favored the military's freedom of operation over protecting the freedoms of certain U.S. citizens." In his article "How the U.S. Has Hidden Its Empire", Daniel Immerwahr of The Guardian writes, "The confusion and shoulder-shrugging indifference that mainlanders displayed [toward territories] at the time of Pearl Harbor hasn't changed much at all. [...] [Maps of the contiguous U.S.] give [mainlanders] a truncated view of their own history, one that excludes part of their country." The 2020 U.S. Census excludes non-citizen U.S. nationals in American Samoa—in response to this, Mark Stern of Slate.com said, "The Census Bureau's total exclusion of American Samoans provides a pertinent reminder that, until the courts step in, the federal government will continue to treat these Americans with startling indifference."

Members of the House of Representatives (non-voting)

Territorial governors

Satellite images

Inhabited territories

Uninhabited territories (minor outlying islands)

  • Baker Island

  • Howland Island

  • Jarvis Island

  • Johnston Atoll

  • Kingman Reef

  • Midway Atoll

  • Navassa Island

  • Palmyra Atoll

  • Wake Island

Maps

More detail on all current territories

Related topics

  1. Note: This number was produced by adding four July 2020 population estimates presented by the CIA World Factbook for the five permanently inhabited territories with Puerto Rico excepted, plus the July 1, 2019, U.S. Census Bureau estimate for Puerto Rico.
  2. According to the 2016 Supreme Court ruling Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle, territories are not sovereign
  3. Two additional territories (Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank) are claimed by the United States but administered by Colombia—if these two territories are counted, the total number of U.S. territories is sixteen.
  4. The U.S. General Accounting Office reports, "Some residents of the Stewart Islands in the Solomon Islands group [ Sikaiana ] ... claim that they are native Hawaiians and U.S. citizens. ... 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".
  5. The Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau are in free association with the United States.
  6. Two territories (Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands) are called "commonwealths".
  7. The New York Times notes, "Even in [the four] territories, where statutory birthright citizenship has provided a makeshift solution for many decades, doubt, confusion and anxiety over the extent to which citizenship is constitutionally guaranteed have persisted for more than a century."
  8. In Tuaua v. United States, the DC Circuit ruled that citizenship-at-birth is not a right in unincorporated regions of the U.S.—current citizenship-at-birth in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands exists only because the U.S. Congress passed legislation granting it for those territories, and Congress has not done so for American Samoa. The Supreme Court declined to rule on the case. In 2021, the 10th Circuit ruled similarly in Fitisemanu v. United States.
  9. In parts of the United States other than American Samoa, non-citizen U.S. nationals cannot work in certain government jobs, vote or be elected for federal, state of most local government offices. For those who apply for naturalization, there is no guarantee that they will become U.S. citizens.
  10. SSI benefits are available only in the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands
  11. American Samoa, technically unorganized, is de facto organized.
  12. The administrative center of the Northern Mariana Islands is Capitol Hill, Saipan. However, because Saipan is governed as a single municipality, most publications refer to the capital as "Saipan".
  13. The largest village within Saipan is Garapan.
  14. U.S. sovereignty took effect on November 3, 1986 (Eastern Time) and on November 4, 1986 (local Northern Mariana Islands Chamorro Time).
  15. 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.
  16. 2017 poverty rate; in 2009, American Samoa's poverty rate was 57.8%
  17. The largest racial group is white, in addition to Hispanic/Latino.
  18. American Samoa is divided into counties, but the U.S. Census Bureau treats them as minor civil divisions.
  19. The forest cover percentage for the Northern Mariana Islands is for the three main islands only (Saipan, Tinian, and Rota).
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Territories of the United States Article Talk Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from U S territories This article is about the political entities current or former called United States territories For the historic territories which became U S states see Organized incorporated territories of the United States For the forms of U S jurisdiction see U S territorial sovereignty For historical evolution see Territorial evolution of the United States and Historic regions of the United States Territories of the United States are sub national administrative divisions overseen by the U S federal government The various U S 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 U S territories are under U S 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 Territories of the United StatesFlag The 50 states and the District of Columbia Incorporated unorganized territory Unincorporated organized territory Unincorporated organized territory with Commonwealth status Unincorporated unorganized territoryLargest settlementSan Juan Puerto RicoLanguagesEnglish Spanish Carolinian Chamorro SamoanDemonym s AmericanTerritories5 inhabited American Samoa Guam Northern Mariana Islands Puerto Rico U S Virgin Islands 9 uninhabited Baker Island Howland Island Jarvis Island Johnston Atoll Kingman Reef Midway Islands Navassa Island Palmyra Atoll Wake Island 2 disputed Bajo Nuevo Bank Serranilla BankLeaders Head of stateJoe Biden GovernorsListArea Total22 294 19 km2 8 607 83 sq mi Population Estimate4 100 954 in 2010 1 3 569 284 in 2020 2 3 4 5 6 7 note 1 CurrencyUnited States dollarDate formatmm dd yyyy AD 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 The U S 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 U S territories cannot vote in U S Presidential elections and they have only non voting representation in the U S Congress 14 Territorial telecommunications and other infrastructure is 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 Contents 1 Organized vs unorganized territories 1 1 Definition 1 2 Former 1 3 Current status 2 Federal administration 3 Permanently inhabited territories 3 1 History 3 2 Statistics 3 3 Governments and legislatures 3 3 1 Political party status 3 4 Courts 3 5 Demographics 3 6 Economies 4 Minor Outlying Islands 4 1 Disputed 5 Incorporated vs unincorporated territories 5 1 Insular Cases 5 2 Supreme Court decisions about current territories 5 3 Supreme Court decisions about former territories 5 3 1 Alaska Territory 5 3 2 Florida Territory 5 3 3 Southwest Territory 5 3 4 Louisiana Territory 5 4 Modern Puerto Rico 6 Former territories and administered areas 6 1 Formerly unorganized territories 6 2 Former organized incorporated territories 6 3 Former unincorporated territories 6 4 Former U S administered areas 6 5 Former U S military occupations 7 Flora and fauna 7 1 Forests 7 2 Birds 7 3 Other animals 7 4 Protected areas 8 Public image 9 Galleries 9 1 Members of the House of Representatives non voting 9 2 Territorial governors 9 3 Satellite images 9 3 1 Inhabited territories 9 3 2 Uninhabited territories minor outlying islands 9 4 Maps 10 See also 10 1 More detail on all current territories 10 2 Related topics 11 Notes 12 References 13 External linksOrganized vs unorganized territories EditDefinition Edit Organized territories are lands under federal sovereignty but not part of any state which were given a measure of self governance 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 27 Former Edit The term unorganized was historically applied either to a newly acquired region not yet constituted as an organized incorporated territory e g the Louisiana Purchase prior to the establishment of Orleans Territory and the District of Louisiana or to a region previously part of an organized incorporated territory left unorganized after part of it had been organized and achieved the requirements for statehood e g a large portion of Missouri Territory became unorganized territory for several years after its southeastern section became the state of Missouri Regions that have been admitted as states by the United States Constitution in addition to the original thirteen were most often prior to admission territories or parts of territories of this kind As the United States grew the most populous parts of the organized territory would achieve statehood Some territories existed only a short time before becoming states while others remained territories for decades The shortest lived was Alabama Territory at two years while New Mexico Territory and Hawaii Territory both lasted more than 50 years Of the current 50 states 31 were at one time or another part of an organized incorporated U S territory In addition to the original 13 six subsequent states never were Kentucky Maine and West Virginia were each set off from an already existing state 28 Texas and Vermont were both sovereign states only de facto sovereignty in Vermont s case as the region was claimed by New York at the time when they entered the Union and California was set off from unorganized land ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848 at the end of the Mexican American War Current status Edit All of the five major U S territories are permanently inhabited and have constitutions locally elected territorial legislatures and executives and some degree of political autonomy Four of the five are organized but American Samoa is technically unorganized All of the U S territories without permanent non military populations are unorganized For a list of former organized territories see Historic regions of the United States Former organized territories Federal administration EditThe Office of Insular Affairs coordinates federal administration of the U S territories and freely associated states except for Puerto Rico 29 On March 3 1849 the last day of the 30th Congress a bill was passed to create the U S Department of the Interior to take charge of the internal affairs of United States territory The Interior Department has a wide range of responsibilities which include the regulation of territorial governments the basic responsibilities for public lands and other various duties In contrast to similarly named Departments in other countries the United States Department of the Interior is not responsible for local government or for civil administration except in the cases of Indian reservations through the Bureau of Indian Affairs BIA and island dependencies administered by the Office of Insular Affairs Permanently inhabited territories EditThe U S has five permanently inhabited territories Puerto Rico and the U S Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in the North Pacific Ocean and American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean note 6 American Samoa is in the Southern Hemisphere while the other four are in the Northern Hemisphere 30 In 2020 their combined population was about 3 62 million over 90 of which is accounted for by Puerto Rico alone 31 32 People born in Puerto Rico the U S Virgin Islands Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands acquire U S citizenship by birth and foreign nationals residing there may apply for U S citizenship by naturalization 33 34 35 note 7 People born in American Samoa acquire U S nationality but not U S citizenship by birth if they do not have a U S citizen parent note 8 U S nationals without U S citizenship may hold U S passports and reside in any part of the United States without restriction 39 However to become U S citizens they must apply for naturalization like foreigners and may only do so while residing in parts of the United States other than American Samoa 40 note 9 Foreign nationals residing in American Samoa cannot apply for U S citizenship or U S nationality at all 42 43 Each territory is self governing 15 with three branches of government including a locally elected governor and a territorial legislature 14 Each territory elects a non voting member a non voting resident commissioner in the case of Puerto Rico to the U S House of Representatives 14 44 45 Although they cannot vote on the passage of legislation they can be members of and vote in committees are assigned offices and staff funding and may nominate constituents from their territories to the Army Naval Air Force and Merchant Marine academies 46 As of the 117th Congress January 3 2021 January 3 2023 the territories are represented by Aumua Amata Radewagen R of American Samoa Michael San Nicholas D of Guam Gregorio Sablan D of Northern Mariana Islands Jenniffer Gonzalez Colon R PNP of Puerto Rico and Stacey Plaskett D of U S Virgin Islands 47 The District of Columbia s delegate is Eleanor Holmes Norton D like the district the territories have no vote in Congress and no representation in the Senate 48 49 Additionally the Cherokee Nation has delegate elect Kimberly Teehee who has not been seated by Congress Every four years U S political parties nominate presidential candidates at conventions which include delegates from the territories 50 U S citizens living in the territories can vote for presidential candidates in these primary elections but not in the general election 14 48 The territorial capitals are Pago Pago American Samoa Hagatna Guam Saipan Northern Mariana Islands San Juan Puerto Rico and Charlotte Amalie U S Virgin Islands 2 3 4 5 6 51 52 Their governors are Lemanu Peleti Mauga American Samoa Lou Leon Guerrero Guam Ralph Torres Northern Mariana Islands Pedro Pierluisi Puerto Rico and Albert Bryan U S Virgin Islands Among the inhabited territories Supplemental Security Income SSI is available only in the Northern Mariana Islands note 10 however in 2019 a U S judge ruled that the federal government s denial of SSI benefits to residents of Puerto Rico is unconstitutional 53 This ruling was later overturned by the U S Supreme Court allowing for the exclusion of territories from such programs 54 In the decision the court explained that the exemption of island residents from most federal income taxes provides a rational basis for their exclusion from eligibility for SSI payments 55 American Samoa is the only U S territory with its own immigration system a system separate from the United States immigration system 56 57 American Samoa also has a communal land system in which ninety percent of the land is communally owned ownership is based on Samoan ancestry 58 Overview of populated American territories 2 3 4 5 6 Name Abbreviation Location Area Population 2020 31 32 Capital Largest town Status Acquired American Samoa AS Polynesia South Pacific 197 1 km2 76 sq mi 49 710 Pago Pago Tafuna Unincorporated unorganized note 11 April 17 1900 Guam GU Micronesia North Pacific 543 km2 210 sq mi 153 836 Hagatna Dededo Unincorporated organized April 11 1899 Northern Mariana Islands MP Micronesia North Pacific 463 63 km2 179 sq mi 47 329 Saipan note 12 Saipan note 13 Unincorporated organized commonwealth November 4 1986 note 14 60 59 Puerto Rico PR Caribbean North Atlantic 9 104 km2 3 515 sq mi 3 285 874 San Juan San Juan Unincorporated organized commonwealth April 11 1899 61 U S Virgin Islands VI Caribbean North Atlantic 346 36 km2 134 sq mi 87 146 Charlotte Amalie Charlotte Amalie Unincorporated organized March 31 1917 62 History Edit 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 took control of the eastern half of the islands 63 30 In 1900 the Treaty of Cession of Tutuila took effect 64 The Manuʻa islands became part of American Samoa in 1904 and Swains Island became part of American Samoa in 1925 64 Congress ratified American Samoa s treaties in 1929 64 For 51 years the U S Navy controlled the territory 41 American Samoa is locally self governing under a constitution last revised in 1967 30 note 15 The first elected governor of American Samoa was in 1977 and the first non voting member of Congress was in 1981 41 People born in American Samoa are U S nationals but not U S citizens 33 30 American Samoa is technically unorganized 30 and its main island is Tutuila 30 Guam territory since 1899 acquired at the end of the Spanish American War 66 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 66 In 1968 the act was amended to permit the election of a governor 66 Northern Mariana Islands A commonwealth since 1986 60 59 the Northern Mariana Islands together with Guam were part of the Spanish Empire until 1899 when the Northern Marianas were sold to the German Empire after the Spanish American War 67 Beginning in 1919 they were administered by Japan as a League of Nations mandate until the islands were captured by the United States in the Battle of Saipan and Battle of Tinian June August 1944 and the surrender of Aguigan September 1945 during World War II 67 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 67 59 The other constituents of the TTPI were Palau the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands 68 Following failed efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to reunify Guam and the Northern Marianas 69 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 67 4 In accordance with the covenant the Northern Mariana Islands constitution partially took effect on January 9 1978 and became fully effective on November 4 1986 4 In 1986 the Northern Mariana Islands formally left U N trusteeship 60 The abbreviations CNMI and NMI are both used in the commonwealth Most residents in the Northern Mariana Islands live on Saipan the main island 4 Puerto Rico unincorporated territory since 1899 61 Puerto Rico was acquired at the end of the Spanish American War 70 and has been a U S commonwealth since 1952 71 Since 1917 Puerto Ricans have been granted U S citizenship 72 Puerto Rico 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 73 The issue is proceeding through the courts however 74 and the U S government still refers to Puerto Rico as unincorporated A Puerto Rican attorney has called the island semi sovereign 75 Puerto Rico has a statehood movement whose goal is to make the territory the 51st state 49 76 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 77 The main islands are Saint Thomas Saint John and Saint Croix 6 Statistics Edit Except for Guam the inhabited territories lost population in 2020 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 78 79 Statistical overview of American territories Territory Official language s 78 79 Pop change 2021 est 2 3 4 5 6 Poverty rate 80 81 Life expectancy in 2018 2020 years 82 2 3 4 5 6 HDI 83 84 GDP 85 Traffic flow Time zone Area code 1 Largest ethnicityAmerican Samoa English Samoan 2 1 65 2017 note 16 74 8 0 827 0 636 billion Right Samoan Time UTC 11 684 Pacific Islander Samoan 87 Guam English Chamorro 0 18 22 9 2009 79 86 0 901 5 92 billion Right Chamorro Time UTC 10 671 Pacific Islander Chamorro 88 Northern Mariana Islands English Chamorro Carolinian 0 36 52 3 2009 76 1 0 875 1 323 billion Right Chamorro Time 670 Asian 89 Puerto Rico English Spanish 1 46 43 1 2018 79 78 0 845 104 98 billion Right Atlantic Time UTC 4 787 939 Hispanic Latino Puerto Rican note 17 90 U S Virgin Islands English 0 42 22 4 2009 79 57 0 894 3 85 billion Left Atlantic Time 340 African American 91 The territories do not have administrative counties note 18 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 92 93 The Census Bureau also counts each of the U S Minor Outlying Islands as county equivalents 92 93 94 For statistical purposes the U S Census Bureau has a defined area called the Island Areas which consists of American Samoa Guam the Northern Mariana Islands and the U S Virgin Islands every major territory except Puerto Rico 1 95 96 The U S Census Bureau often treats Puerto Rico as its own entity or groups it with the states and D C for example Puerto Rico has a QuickFacts page just like the states and D C 97 Puerto Rico data is collected annually in American Community Survey estimates just like the states but data for the other territories is collected only once every ten years 98 Governments and legislatures Edit See also Politics of American Samoa Politics of Guam Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands Politics of Puerto Rico and Politics of the United States Virgin Islands The American Samoa Fono The five major inhabited territories contain the following governments and legislatures Governments and legislatures of the U S territories Government Legislature Legislature formGovernment of American Samoa American Samoa Fono BicameralGovernment of Guam Legislature of Guam UnicameralGovernment of the Northern Mariana Islands N Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature BicameralGovernment of Puerto Rico Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico BicameralGovernment of the U S Virgin Islands Legislature of the Virgin Islands UnicameralPolitical party status Edit The following is the political party status of the governments of the U S territories following completion of the 2020 United States elections Instances where local and national party affiliation differs the national affiliation is listed second Guam and the U S Virgin Islands have unicameral territorial legislatures Territory 2020 presidential election Governor Territory Senate Territory House U S House of RepresentativesAmerican Samoa None Non Partisan Democratic Non Partisan Non Partisan RepublicanGuam None Democratic Democratic 8 7 DemocraticNorthern Mariana Islands None Republican Republican 5 1 3 a Democratic 9 8 3 b Independent DemocraticPuerto Rico None New Progressive Democratic Popular Democratic 12 10 2 1 1 1 c Popular Democratic 26 21 2 1 1 d New Progressive RepublicanU S Virgin Islands None Democratic Democratic 13 2 Democratic Republicans have 5 seats Democrats 1 and Independents 3 Republicans hold a nominal majority with 9 seats and Democrats with 8 seats however one independent caucuses with the Republicans and two with the Democrats leaving the House split 10 10 One Republican crossed party lines to elect Democrat aligned Independent Edmund Villagomez as Speaker of the House 99 Popular Democratic Party has 12 seats New Progressive Party 10 Citizen s Victory Movement 2 Puerto Rico Independence Party 1 Project Dignity 1 and Independent 1 The Popular Democratic Party has 26 seats New Progressive 21 Citizen s Victory Movement 2 Puerto Rico Independence Party 1 and Project Dignity 1 Courts Edit Building where the Supreme Court of Guam is located Each of the five major territories has its own local court system High Court of American Samoa Supreme Court of Guam Supreme Court of the Northern Mariana Islands Supreme Court of Puerto Rico Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands Of the five major territories only Puerto Rico has an Article III federal district court i e equivalent to the courts in the fifty states it became an Article III court in 1966 100 This means that unlike other U S territories federal judges in Puerto Rico have life tenure 100 Federal courts in Guam the Northern Mariana Islands and the U S Virgin Islands are Article IV territorial courts 100 101 The following is a list of federal territorial courts plus Puerto Rico s court District Court of Guam Ninth Circuit District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands Ninth Circuit District Court for the District of Puerto Rico not a territorial court First Circuit District Court of the Virgin Islands Third Circuit American Samoa does not have a federal territorial court and so federal matters in American Samoa are sent to either the District court of Hawaii or the District court of the District of Columbia 102 American Samoa is the only permanently inhabited region of the United States with no federal court 102 Demographics Edit See also Demographics of American Samoa Demographics of Guam Demographics of the Northern Mariana Islands Demographics of Puerto Rico and Demographics of the United States Virgin Islands While the U S mainland is majority non Hispanic White 103 this is not the case for the U S territories In 2010 American Samoa s population was 92 6 Pacific Islander including 88 9 Samoan Guam s population was 49 3 Pacific Islander including 37 3 Chamorro and 32 2 Asian including 26 3 Filipino the population of the Northern Mariana Islands was 34 9 Pacific Islander and 49 9 Asian and the population of the U S Virgin Islands was 76 0 African American 104 In 2019 Puerto Rico s population was 98 9 Hispanic or Latino 67 4 white and 0 8 non Hispanic white 7 Throughout the 2010s the U S territories overall lost population The combined population of the five inhabited territories was 4 100 594 in 2010 1 and 3 569 284 in 2020 2 3 4 5 6 7 The U S territories have high religiosity rates American Samoa has the highest religiosity rate in the United States 99 3 religious and 98 3 Christian 2 Economies Edit See also Economy of American Samoa Economy of Guam Economy of the Northern Mariana Islands Economy of Puerto Rico and Economy of the United States Virgin Islands The economies of the U S territories vary from Puerto Rico which has a GDP of 104 989 billion in 2019 to American Samoa which has a GDP of 636 million in 2018 85 In 2018 Puerto Rico exported about 18 billion in goods with the Netherlands as the largest destination 105 Guam s GDP shrank by 0 3 in 2018 the GDP of the Northern Mariana Islands shrank by 19 6 in 2018 Puerto Rico s GDP grew by 1 18 in 2019 and the U S Virgin Islands GDP grew by 1 5 in 2018 106 107 5 108 109 In 2017 American Samoa s GDP shrank by 5 8 but then grew by 2 2 in 2018 110 American Samoa has the lowest per capita income in the United States it has a per capita income comparable to that of Botswana 111 In 2010 American Samoa s per capita income was 6 311 112 As of 2010 the Manu a District in American Samoa had a per capita income of 5 441 the lowest of any county or county equivalent in the United States 112 In 2018 Puerto Rico had a median household income of 20 166 lower than the median household income of any state 7 113 Also in 2018 Comerio Municipality Puerto Rico had a median household income of 12 812 the lowest median household income of any populated county or county equivalent in the U S 114 Guam has much higher incomes Guam had a median household income of 48 274 in 2010 115 Minor Outlying Islands EditThe United States Minor Outlying Islands are small uninhabited islands atolls and reefs Baker Island Howland Island Jarvis Island Johnston Atoll Kingman Reef Midway Atoll Palmyra Atoll and Wake Island are in the Pacific Ocean while Navassa Island is in the Caribbean Sea The additional disputed territories of Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank are also located in the Caribbean Sea Palmyra Atoll formally known as the United States Territory of Palmyra Island 116 is the only incorporated territory a status it has maintained since Hawaii became a state in 1959 17 All are uninhabited except for Midway Atoll whose approximately 40 inhabitants are employees of the U S Fish and Wildlife Service and their services provider 117 Palmyra Atoll whose population varies from four to 20 Nature Conservancy and Fish and Wildlife staff and researchers 118 and Wake Island which has a population of about 100 military personnel and civilian employees 119 The two letter abbreviation for the islands collectively is UM 94 The status of several islands is disputed Navassa Island is disputed by Haiti 120 Wake Island is disputed by the Marshall Islands 119 Swains Island a part of American Samoa is disputed by Tokelau 121 2 and Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank both administered by Colombia are disputed by Colombia Honduras Serranilla Bank only and Jamaica 14 122 Overview of standard Minor Outlying Islands Name Location Area Status NotesBaker Island a Polynesia Central Pacific 2 1 km2 0 81 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on October 28 1856 123 124 Annexed on May 13 1936 and placed under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior 125 Howland Island a Polynesia North Pacific 4 5 km2 1 7 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on December 3 1858 123 124 Annexed on May 13 1936 and placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department 125 Jarvis Island a Polynesia South Pacific 4 75 km2 1 83 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on October 28 1856 123 124 Annexed on May 13 1936 and placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department 125 Johnston Atoll a Polynesia North Pacific 2 67 km2 1 03 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Last used by the U S Department of Defense in 2004Kingman Reef a Polynesia North Pacific 18 km2 6 9 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Claimed under the Guano Islands Act on February 8 1860 123 124 Annexed on May 10 1922 and placed under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department on December 29 1934 126 Midway Atoll Polynesia North Pacific 6 2 km2 2 4 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Territory since 1859 primarily a National Wildlife Refuge and previously under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department Navassa Island Caribbean North Atlantic 5 4 km2 2 1 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized Territory since 1857 also claimed by Haiti 120 Palmyra Atoll Polynesia North Pacific 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 127 128 It is an archipelago of about fifty 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 17 U S sovereignty over Palmyra Atoll and Hawaii is disputed by the Hawaiian sovereignty movement 129 130 Wake Island a Micronesia North Pacific 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 Wake Island is claimed by the Marshall Islands 119 a b c d e f These six unincorporated territories and Palmyra Atoll make up the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Disputed Edit The following two territories are claimed by multiple countries including the United States 14 and are not included in ISO 3166 2 UM However they are sometimes grouped with the U S Minor Outlying Islands According to the GAO the United States conducts maritime law enforcement operations in and around Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank consistent with U S sovereignty claims 14 Overview of disputed Minor Outlying Islands Name Location Area Status NotesBajo Nuevo Bank Caribbean North Atlantic 110 km2 42 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized disputed sovereignty 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 131 Serranilla Bank Caribbean North Atlantic 350 km2 140 sq mi Unincorporated unorganized disputed sovereignty 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 131 Incorporated vs unincorporated territories EditSee also Unincorporated area San Juan Puerto Rico Protestant Cay in Christiansted U S Virgin Islands Tumon Beach in Guam Mount Tapochau in the Northern Mariana Islands Ofu Beach on Ofu Island in American Samoa Wake Island lagoon Red footed booby at Palmyra Atoll Navy memorial and albatross monument with Laysan albatross chicks at Midway Atoll Pursuant to a series of Supreme Court rulings 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 to be integral parts of the U S rather than possessions 12 132 In unincorporated territories fundamental rights apply as a matter of law but other constitutional rights are not available raising concerns about how citizens in these territories can influence politics in the United States 133 Selected constitutional provisions apply depending on congressional acts and judicial rulings according to U S constitutional practice local tradition and law citation needed As a result these territories are often considered colonies of the United States 134 135 All modern inhabited territories under the control of the federal government can be considered as part of the United States for purposes of law as defined in specific legislation 136 However the judicial term unincorporated was coined to legitimize the late 19th century territorial acquisitions without citizenship and their administration without constitutional protections temporarily until Congress made other provisions The case law allowed Congress to impose discriminatory tax regimes with the effect of a protective tariff upon territorial regions which were not domestic states 137 In 2022 the United States Supreme Court in United States v Vaello Madero held that the territorial clause of the constitution allowed wide congressional latitude in mandating reasonable tax and benefit schemes in Puerto Rico and the other territories which are different from the states but did not address the incorporated unincorporated distinction In a concurrence one of the justices opined that it was time to overrule the incorporation doctrine as wrongly decided and founded in racism 138 139 Insular Cases Edit Main article Insular Cases The U S Supreme Court in its 1901 1905 Insular Cases opinions ruled that the Constitution extended ex proprio vigore i e of its own force to the continental territories The Court also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation in which the Constitution applies fully to incorporated territories such as the then territories of Alaska and Hawaii and partially in the unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico Guam and at the time the Philippines which is no longer a U S territory 140 141 142 In the 1901 Supreme Court case Downes v Bidwell the Court said that the U S Constitution did not fully apply in unincorporated territories because they were inhabited by alien races 143 144 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 1922 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 145 312 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 146 547 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 147 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 148 In Balzac the Court defined implied 145 306 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 On June 5 2015 the U S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 3 0 in Tuaua v United States to deny birthright citizenship to American Samoans ruling that the guarantee of such citizenship to citizens in the Fourteenth Amendment does not apply to unincorporated U S territories In 2016 the U S Supreme Court declined to review the appellate court s decision 149 In 2018 the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the District Court decision in Segovia v United States which ruled that former Illinois residents living in Puerto Rico Guam and the U S Virgin Islands did not qualify to cast overseas ballots according to their last registered address on the U S mainland 150 Residents of the Northern Marianas and American Samoa however were still allowed to cast such ballots In October 2018 the U S Supreme Court declined to review the 7th Circuit s decision On June 15 2021 the U S Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled 2 1 in Fitisemanu v United States to deny birthright citizenship to American Samoans and not to overrule the Insular Cases The court cited Downes and ruled that neither constitutional text nor Supreme Court precedent demands that American Samoan should be given automatic birthright citizenship 151 The case is now pending certiorari before the U S Supreme Court 152 On April 21 2022 in the case United States v Vaello Madero Justice Gorsuch urged the Supreme Court of the United States to overrule the Insular Cases when possible as it rests on rotten foundation and called the cases shameful 153 154 155 In analyzing the Insular Cases Christina Duffy Ponsa of the New York Times said the following To be an unincorporated territory is to be caught in limbo although unquestionably subject to American sovereignty they are not considered part of the United States for certain purposes but not others Whether they are part of the United States for purposes of the Citizenship Clause remains unresolved 11 Supreme Court decisions about current territories Edit This section needs to be updated Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information October 2020 The 2016 Supreme Court case Puerto Rico v Sanchez Valle ruled that territories do not have their own sovereignty 9 That year the Supreme Court declined to rule on a lower court ruling in Tuaua v United States that American Samoans are not U S citizens at birth 36 37 Supreme Court decisions about former territories Edit In Rassmussen v U S the Supreme Court quoted from Article III of the 1867 treaty for the purchase of Alaska 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 156 522 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 147 Alaska Territory Edit 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 157 and the congressional implication was strong enough to exclude any other view 156 523 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 Concurring justice Henry Brown agreed 156 533 4 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 Florida Territory Edit In Dorr v U S the court quoted Chief Justice John Marshall from an earlier case 158 141 2 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 159 256 Southwest Territory Edit Justice Brown first mentioned incorporation in Downes 159 321 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 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 Louisiana Territory Edit 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 159 252 Modern Puerto Rico Edit Scholars agreed as of 2009 in the Boston College Law Review Regardless of how Puerto Rico looked in 1901 when the Insular Cases were decided or in 1922 today Puerto Rico seems to be the paradigm of an incorporated territory as modern jurisprudence understands that legal term of art 160 In November 2008 a district court judge ruled that a sequence of prior Congressional actions had the cumulative effect of changing Puerto Rico s status to incorporated 161 The United States Supreme Court in 2021 held that the territorial clause of the constitution allowed wide congressional latitude in mandating reasonable tax and benefit schemes in Puerto Rico and the other territories that are different from the states but did not address the incorporated unincorporated distinction In a concurrence one of the justices opined that it was time to overrule the Insular Cases and the incorporation doctrine as wrongly decided 138 Former territories and administered areas Edit The United States from 1868 to 1876 including nine organized and two unorganized at the time territories Formerly unorganized territories Edit At various times during the 19th century large parts of the Great Plains were unorganized territory After the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803 the entire region was part of the Louisiana Territory until 1812 and the Missouri Territory until 1821 In 1821 the Missouri Compromise created the State of Missouri from the territory and the rest of the region was left unorganized The Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854 created the Kansas and Nebraska Territories bringing organized government to the region once again The creation of Kansas and Nebraska left the Indian Territory as the only unorganized territory in the Great Plains In 1858 the western part of the Minnesota Territory became unorganized when it was not included in the new state of Minnesota this area was organized in 1861 as part of the Dakota Territory On May 2 1890 the western half of the Indian Territory was organized as Oklahoma The remainder was incorporated into the State of Oklahoma upon its admission to the union in 1907 Alaska was an unorganized territory between its acquisition from Russia in 1867 and the creation of Alaska Territory in 1912 Hawaii was as well from the time of its annexation by the U S in 1898 until organized as Hawaii Territory in 1900 Former organized incorporated territories Edit Further information Organized incorporated territories of the United States List of organized incorporated territories All areas that have become U S states outside of the Thirteen Colonies Former unincorporated territories Edit Corn Islands 1914 1971 leased for 99 years under the Bryan Chamorro Treaty but returned to Nicaragua after 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 Commonwealth of the Philippines Philippines 1898 1946 military government 1898 1902 insular government 1901 1935 commonwealth government 1935 1942 and 1945 1946 islands under Japanese occupation 1942 1945 and puppet state 1943 1945 granted independence on July 4 1946 162 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 Sueno Bank 1869 1981 claimed under the Guano Islands Act claim abandoned in a treaty ratified September 7 1981 Roncador Bank 1856 1981 claimed under the Guano Islands Act ceded to Colombia in treaty ratified September 7 1981 Serrana Bank claimed under the Guano Islands Act ceded to Colombia in treaty ratified September 7 1981 163 Swan Islands 1863 1972 claimed under the Guano Islands Act ceded to Honduras in a 1972 treatyFormer U S administered areas Edit See also Banana Wars Cuba 1899 1902 1906 1909 and 1917 1922 Dominican Republic 1916 1924 and 1965 66 Haiti 1915 1934 1994 1995 Nanpō Islands and Marcus Island 1945 1968 Occupied after World War II and returned to Japan by mutual agreement Nicaragua 1912 1933 Panama 1989 1990 Ryukyu Islands including Okinawa 1952 1972 returned to Japan in an agreement including the Daitō Islands 164 Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands 1947 1986 U N trust territory administered by the U S included the Marshall Islands the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau which are sovereign states that have entered into a Compact of Free Association with the U S along with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Veracruz 1914 after the Tampico Affair during the Mexican RevolutionFormer U S military occupations Edit Participation in the Occupation of the Rhineland 1918 1921 Participation in the Occupation of Constantinople 1918 1923 Participation in the Occupation of Austria Hungary 1918 1919 Occupation of Greenland in World War II 1941 1945 165 Occupation of Iceland in World War II 1941 1946 165 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 citation needed 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 166 Flora and fauna EditFurther information Fauna of the United States Territories The territories of the United States have many plant and animal species found nowhere else in the United States All U S territories have tropical climates and ecosystems 167 Forests Edit View of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico The USDA says the following about the U S territories plus Hawaii The U S territories plus Hawaii include virtually all the Nation s tropical forests as well as other forest types including subtropical coastal subalpine dry limestone and coastal mangrove forests Although distant from America s geographic center and from each other and with distinctive flora and fauna land use history and individual forest issues these rich and diverse ecosystems share a common bond of change and challenge 167 Forests in the U S territories are vulnerable to invasive species and new housing developments 167 El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest system 168 American Samoa has 80 84 forest cover and the Northern Mariana Islands has 80 37 forest cover these are among the highest forest cover percentages in the United States only Maine and New Hampshire are higher 169 note 19 Birds Edit See also List of birds of American Samoa List of birds of Guam List of birds of the Northern Mariana Islands List of birds of Puerto Rico List of birds of the U S Virgin Islands List of birds of the U S Minor Outlying Islands and List of birds of the United States Left Many colored fruit dove found in American Samoa Right Golden white eye found only in the Northern Mariana Islands U S territories have many bird species that are endemic not found in any other location 167 Introduction of the invasive brown tree snake has harmed Guam s native bird population nine of twelve endemic species have become extinct and the territorial bird the Guam rail is extinct in the wild 167 Puerto Rico has several endemic bird species such as the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot the Puerto Rican flycatcher and the Puerto Rican spindalis 170 The Northern Mariana Islands has the Mariana swiftlet Mariana crow Tinian monarch and golden white eye all endemic 171 Birds found in American Samoa include the many colored fruit dove 172 the blue crowned lorikeet and the Samoan starling 173 The Wake Island rail now extinct was endemic to Wake Island 174 and the Laysan duck is endemic to Midway Atoll and the Northwest Hawaiian Islands 175 Palmyra Atoll has the second largest red footed booby colony in the world 176 and Midway Atoll has the largest breeding colony of Laysan albatross in the world 177 178 The American Birding Association currently excludes the U S territories from their ABA Area checklist 179 Other animals Edit See also List of mammals of American Samoa List of mammals of Guam List of mammals of the Northern Mariana Islands List of mammals of Puerto Rico List of mammals of the U S Virgin Islands List of mammals of the United States Minor Outlying Islands List of reptiles of American Samoa List of reptiles of Puerto Rico Fauna of Puerto Rico and Fauna of the U S Virgin Islands American Samoa has several reptile species such as the Pacific boa on the island of Ta u and Pacific slender toed gecko 180 American Samoa has only a few mammal species such as the Pacific Polynesian sheath tailed bat as well as oceanic mammals such as the Humpback whale 181 182 Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands also have a small number of mammals such as the Mariana fruit bat 183 oceanic mammals include Fraser s dolphin and the Sperm whale The fauna of Puerto Rico includes the common coqui frog 184 while the fauna of the U S Virgin Islands includes species found in Virgin Islands National Park including 302 species of fish 185 American Samoa has a location called Turtle and Shark which is important in Samoan culture and mythology 186 Protected areas Edit There are two National Parks in the U S territories the National Park of American Samoa and Virgin Islands National Park 187 188 The National Park Service also manages War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam 189 There are also National Natural Landmarks National Wildlife Refuges such as Guam National Wildlife Refuge El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico and the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument which includes the U S Minor Outlying Islands Public image Edit Hand drawn map 2018 In The Not Quite States of America his book about the U S territories essayist 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 190 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 191 Organizations such as Facebook view U S territories as not being part of the United States instead they are viewed as equivalent to foreign countries In response to Facebook s view former Guam representative Madeleine Bordallo said It is an injustice that Americans living in the U S territories are not treated as other Americans living in the states Treating residents of Guam and other U S territories as living outside the United States and excluding them from programs perpetuates misconceptions and injustices that have long had a negative impact on our communities 192 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 193 According to Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello 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 194 Rossello called Puerto Rico the oldest most populous colony in the world Rossello and others have referred to the U S territories as American colonies 195 196 197 198 11 David Vine of The Washington Post said the following The people of the U S territories are all too accustomed to being forgotten except in times of crisis But being forgotten is not the worst of their problems They are trapped in a state of third class citizenship unable to access full democratic rights because politicians have long favored the military s freedom of operation over protecting the freedoms of certain U S citizens 198 In his article How the U S Has Hidden Its Empire Daniel Immerwahr of The Guardian writes The confusion and shoulder shrugging indifference that mainlanders displayed toward territories at the time of Pearl Harbor hasn t changed much at all Maps of the contiguous U S give mainlanders a truncated view of their own history one that excludes part of their country 196 The 2020 U S Census excludes non citizen U S nationals in American Samoa in response to this Mark Stern of Slate com said The Census Bureau s total exclusion of American Samoans provides a pertinent reminder that until the courts step in the federal government will continue to treat these Americans with startling indifference 199 Galleries EditMembers of the House of Representatives non voting Edit Amata Coleman Radewagen R American Samoa Michael San Nicolas D Guam Gregorio Sablan D Northern Mariana Islands Jenniffer Gonzalez R Puerto Rico Stacey Plaskett D U S Virgin Islands Territorial governors Edit Lemanu Peleti Mauga NP D American Samoa Lou Leon Guerrero D Guam Ralph Torres R Northern Mariana Islands Pedro Pierluisi PNP D Puerto Rico Albert Bryan D U S Virgin Islands Satellite images Edit Inhabited territories Edit Tutuila and Aunu u American Samoa Guam Saipan Northern Mariana Islands Puerto Rico U S Virgin Islands Uninhabited territories minor outlying islands Edit Baker Island Howland Island Jarvis Island Johnston Atoll Kingman Reef Midway Atoll Navassa Island Palmyra Atoll Wake IslandMaps Edit American Samoa Guam Northern Mariana Islands Puerto Rico U S Virgin Islands U S exclusive economic zoneSee also Edit United States portal More detail on all current territories Edit Article indexes AS GU MP PR VI Congressional districts AS GU MP PR VI Geography AS GU MP PR VI Geology AS GU MP PR VI List of museums in the unincorporated territories of the United States List of U S National Historic Landmarks in the U S territories Outlines AS GU MP PR VI Per capita income AS GU MP PR VI Territories of the United States on stamps U S National Historic Places AS GU MP PR VI UM Related topics Edit Colony of Liberia established by Americans but never under administration of the United States Enabling act United States Historic regions of the United States Insular area List of extreme points of the United States List of states and territories of the United States Organic act Organized incorporated territories of the United States Territorial evolution of the United States U S territorial sovereigntyNotes Edit Note This number was produced by adding four July 2020 population estimates presented by the CIA World Factbook for the five permanently inhabited territories with Puerto Rico excepted plus the July 1 2019 U S Census Bureau estimate for Puerto Rico According to the 2016 Supreme Court ruling Puerto Rico v Sanchez Valle territories are not sovereign 9 Two additional territories Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank are claimed by the United States but administered by Colombia if these two territories are counted the total number of U S territories is sixteen The U S General Accounting Office reports Some residents of the Stewart Islands in the Solomon Islands group Sikaiana claim that they are native Hawaiians and U S citizens 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 18 The Federated States of Micronesia the Marshall Islands and Palau are in free association with the United States 12 Two territories Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands are called commonwealths The New York Times notes Even in the four territories where statutory birthright citizenship has provided a makeshift solution for many decades doubt confusion and anxiety over the extent to which citizenship is constitutionally guaranteed have persisted for more than a century 11 In Tuaua v United States the DC Circuit ruled that citizenship at birth is not a right in unincorporated regions of the U S current citizenship at birth in Puerto Rico the U S Virgin Islands Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands exists only because the U S Congress passed legislation granting it for those territories and Congress has not done so for American Samoa 33 The Supreme Court declined to rule on the case 36 37 In 2021 the 10th Circuit ruled similarly in Fitisemanu v United States 38 In parts of the United States other than American Samoa non citizen U S nationals cannot work in certain government jobs vote or be elected for federal state of most local government offices 35 41 For those who apply for naturalization there is no guarantee that they will become U S citizens 35 SSI benefits are available only in the fifty states the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands American Samoa technically unorganized is de facto organized The administrative center of the Northern Mariana Islands is Capitol Hill Saipan However because Saipan is governed as a single municipality most publications refer to the capital as Saipan The largest village within Saipan is Garapan U S sovereignty took effect on November 3 1986 Eastern Time and on November 4 1986 local Northern Mariana Islands Chamorro Time 59 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 65 2017 poverty rate 25 in 2009 American Samoa s poverty rate was 57 8 86 The largest racial group is white in addition to Hispanic Latino 5 American Samoa is divided into counties but the U S Census Bureau treats them as minor civil divisions 92 93 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Constitution to the island Zaide Sonia M 1994 The Philippines A Unique Nation All Nations Publishing Co Inc p 279 ISBN 978 9716420715 Retrieved October 20 2011 International Court of Justice 2012 Territorial and maritime dispute Nicaragua vs Colombia PDF Retrieved November 27 2012 Okinawa Reversion Agreement 1971 The Contemporary Okinawa Website Accessed June 5 2007 a b Committee America First January 1 1990 In Danger Undaunted The Anti interventionist Movement of 1940 1941 as Revealed in the Papers of the America First Committee Hoover Institution Press p 331 ISBN 9780817988418 via Google Books Campbell Robertson Stephen Farrell December 31 2008 Green Zone Heart of U S Occupation Reverts to Iraqi Control The New York Times a b c d e Stein Susan M Carr Mary A Liknes Greg C Comas Sara J August 2014 Islands on the Edge Housing Development and Other Threats to America s Pacific and Caribbean Island Forests PDF U S Department of Agriculture Retrieved July 4 2019 El Yunque National Forest United States Department of Agriculture Retrieved July 4 2019 Forest Inventory And Analysis Fiscal Year 2016 Business Report PDF U S Department of Agriculture August 2017 p 70 78 of PDF Retrieved July 4 2019 Puerto Rico bird checklist Avibase Bird Checklists of the World Retrieved June 1 2019 Northern Marianas bird checklist Avibase Bird Checklists of the World Retrieved July 4 2019 Bird Checklist National Park of American Samoa U S National Park Service U S National Park Service Retrieved July 4 2019 American Samoa bird checklist Avibase Bird Checklists of the World Retrieved June 1 2019 Platt John R May 25 2018 Memorializing the Wake Island Rail An Extinction Caused by War The Revelator Retrieved July 4 2019 Laysan Duck U S Fish amp Wildlife Service Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge Retrieved June 1 2019 Wildlife amp Habitat Palmyra Atoll U S Fish amp Wildlife Service Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge U S Minor Outlying Islands Retrieved July 4 2019 Lapointe Dennis Atkinson Carter Klavitter John January 25 2016 Avian disease assessment in seabirds and non native passerine birds at Midway Atoll NWR University of Hawai i at Hilo Retrieved July 4 2019 Wisdom The Laysan Albatross U S Fish and Wildlife Service Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial Retrieved July 4 2019 The Case for Adding the U S Territories in the Caribbean to the ABA Area 10 000 Birds 10000birds com Retrieved July 4 2019 Marine mammal amp reptile checklist for American Samoa PDF U S National Park Service Retrieved March 4 2022 Pacific Sheath tailed Bat Facts Earth s Endangered Creatures Retrieved July 4 2019 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species IUCN com Retrieved June 1 2019 Search results American Samoa Taxonomy Mammalia search filters Mariana Fruit Bat U S Fish amp Wildlife Service Guam National Wildlife Refuge Retrieved July 4 2019 Here s Why The Coqui Frog is the Symbol of Puerto Rico Culture Trip March 5 2018 Retrieved June 1 2019 Animals Virgin Islands National Park U S National Park Service Retrieved June 1 2019 National Register of Historic Places Registration Form Turtle and Shark PDF U S National Park Service Archived from the original PDF on February 16 2017 National Park of American Samoa U S National Park Service Retrieved July 26 2020 Virgin Islands National Park U S National Park Service Retrieved July 26 2020 War In The Pacific National Historical Park U S National Park Service Retrieved October 13 2021 Mack 2017 pp xxii xxiii Mack 2017 p 274 Facebook US territories aren t part of the US Pacific Island Times Tamuning Guam November 26 2018 Retrieved July 1 2019 Mosbergen Dominique June 28 2018 Bipartisan Bill Seeks To Make Puerto Rico The 51st U S State By 2021 HuffPost Latest News Retrieved September 19 2018 Hulse Carl January 9 2018 Advocates of Puerto Rico Statehood Plan to Demand Representation The New York Times Retrieved September 19 2018 Wagner John September 20 2018 Puerto Rico s governor ramps up push for statehood on anniversary of Maria The Washington Post Retrieved September 22 2018 a b Immerwahr Daniel February 15 2019 How the US has hidden its empire The Guardian Retrieved July 4 2019 Bevacqua Michael Lujan March 9 2017 Bevacqua Guam is a colony of the U S Pacific Daily News Hagatna Guam Retrieved July 4 2019 a b Vine David September 28 2017 Most countries have given up their colonies Why hasn t America The Washington Post Retrieved July 4 2019 Stern Mark Joseph March 30 2018 The census new citizenship question leaves out American Samoa Slate Retrieved July 4 2019 External links EditThe United States and its Territories 1870 1925 The Age of Imperialism a Digital Library special collection at the University of Michigan FindLaw Downes v Bidwell 182 U S 244 1901 regarding the distinction between incorporated and unincorporated territories FindLaw People of Puerto Rico v Shell Co 302 U S 253 1937 regarding the application of U S law to organized but unincorporated territories FindLaw United States v Standard Oil Company 404 U S 558 1972 regarding the application of U S law to unorganized unincorporated territories Office of Insular Affairs Application of the U S Constitution in U S Insular Areas Archived November 3 2013 at the Wayback Machine Department of the Interior Definitions of Insular Area Political Organizations United States District Court decision addressing the distinction between Incorporated vs Unincorporated territories USDA Islands on the Edge Housing Development and Other Threats to America s Pacific and Caribbean Island Forests Harvard Law Review U S Territories Introduction The Washington Post Most countries have given up their colonies Why hasn t America LGBT issues in the U S territories includes background information about the U S territories Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Territories of the United States amp oldid 1094005714, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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