Contiguous United States

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A map showing the contiguous United States and, in insets at the lower left, the two states that are not contiguous. National-atlas-blank-state-outlines.png
A map showing the contiguous United States and, in insets at the lower left, the two states that are not contiguous.

The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States [1] consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states (plus the District of Columbia) on the continent of North America. [2] The terms exclude the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all other off-shore insular areas, such as American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico. [3] [4] These differ from the related term continental United States, which includes Alaska (also on the North American continent but separated from the 48 states by British Columbia, Canada) but excludes the Hawaiian Islands and unincorporated U.S. territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific. [1] [5]

Contents

The greatest distance (on a Great-circle route) entirely within the 48 contiguous states is 2,802 miles (4,509 km) between Florida and the State of Washington; [6] the greatest north–south line is 1,650 miles (2,660 km). [7]

Together, the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia occupy an area of 3,119,884.69 square miles (8,080,464.3 km2). Of this area, 2,959,064.44 square miles (7,663,941.7 km2) is contiguous land, composing 83.65% of total U.S. land area, similar to the area of Australia. [8] Officially, 160,820.25 square miles (416,522.5 km2) of the contiguous United States is water area, composing 62.66% of the nation's total water area.

The contiguous United States would be placed 5th in the list of sovereign states and dependencies by area; the total area of the country, including Alaska and Hawaii, ranks third. In land area only, the country ranks fourth, ahead of Brazil but behind Russia, Canada and China. [9] Brazil is 431,000 square kilometers (166,000 sq mi) larger than the contiguous United States, but smaller than the entire United States, while Russia, Canada, and China are the only three countries larger than both. The 2010 census population of this area was 306,675,006, comprising 99.33% of the nation's population, and a density of 103.639 inhabitants/sq mi (40.015/km2), compared to 87.264/sq mi (33.692/km2) for the nation as a whole. [10]

Other terms

While conterminous U.S. has the precise meaning of contiguous U.S. (both adjectives meaning "sharing a common boundary"), other terms commonly used to describe the 48 contiguous states have a greater degree of ambiguity.

Continental and Mainland United States

Because Alaska is also a part of North America, the term continental United States also includes that state, so the term is qualified with the explicit inclusion of Alaska to resolve any ambiguity. [3] [11] [12] [13] On May 14, 1959, the United States Board on Geographic Names issued the following definitions based partially on the reference in the Alaska Omnibus Bill, which defined the continental United States as "the 49 States on the North American Continent and the District of Columbia..." The Board reaffirmed these definitions on May 13, 1999. [14] However, even before Alaska became a state, it was properly included within the continental U.S. due to being an incorporated territory. [15]

Likewise, the term mainland United States is referred to any U.S. state located on the landmass continent of North America, which excludes Hawaii, off-shore insular areas, and nearby adjacent islands such as the Aleutian Islands (Alaska), San Juan Islands (Washington), and the Channel Islands (California). [16]

CONUS and OCONUS

CONUS, a technical term used by the U.S. Department of Defense, General Services Administration, NOAA/National Weather Service, and others, has been defined both as the continental United States, and as the 48 contiguous states. [17] [18] The District of Columbia is not always specifically mentioned as being part of CONUS. [18]

OCONUS is derived from CONUS with O for outside added, thus referring to Outside of Continental United States (OCONUS). [17] [19]

The lower 48

The term lower 48 is also used to refer to the conterminous United States. The National Geographic style guide recommends the use of contiguous or conterminous United States instead of lower 48 when the 48 states are meant, unless used in the context of Alaska. [20] [21] Almost all of Hawaii is in fact south of the southernmost point of the conterminous United States, in Florida.

Zone of the Interior

During World War II, the first four numbered Air Forces of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) were said to be assigned to the Zone of the Interior by the American military organizations of the time—the future states of Alaska and Hawaii, then each only organized incorporated territories of the Union, were respectively covered by the Eleventh Air Force and Seventh Air Force during the war.

Terms used in the non-contiguous U.S. jurisdictions

Alaskans, Hawaiians, and off-shore U.S. territories have unique labels for the contiguous United States because of their own locations relative to them.

Alaska

Alaska became the 49th state of the United States on January 3, 1959. Alaska is on the northwest end of the North American continent, but separated from the rest of the United States West Coast by the Canadian province of British Columbia. The term Lower 48 has, for many years, been a common Alaskan equivalent for "contiguous United States"; [22] [23] today, more Alaskans use the term "Outside", [24] though a few persons may use "Outside" to refer to any location not within Alaska. [25]

Hawaii

Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States on August 21, 1959. It is the southernmost and so far, the latest state to join the Union. Not part of any continent, Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean, about 2,200 miles (3,541 km) from North America and almost halfway to Asia. In Hawaii and overseas American territories, for instance, the terms the Mainland or U.S. Mainland are often used to refer to the 49 states in North America. [26] [27]

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,609 km) southeast of Miami, Florida. Puerto Ricans born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens and are free to move to the mainland United States. The term Stateside Puerto Rican refers to residents of a U.S. state or the District of Columbia, who were born in or trace family ancestry to Puerto Rico. [28]

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands is a U.S. territory located directly to the east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. [29] The term "stateside" is used to refer to the mainland, in relation to the U.S. Virgin Islands [30] (see Stateside Virgin Islands Americans).

American Samoa

See also: Samoan Americans

American Samoa is a U.S. territory located in the South Pacific Ocean in Polynesia, south of the equator — it is 2,200 miles (3,500 km) southwest of Hawaii. [31] In American Samoa, the contiguous United States is called the "mainland United States" or "the states"; those not from American Samoa are called palagi (outsiders). [32]

Non-contiguous areas within the contiguous United States

Apart from off-shore U.S. islands, a few continental portions of the contiguous U.S. are accessible by road only by traveling through Canada. Point Roberts, Washington; Elm Point, Minnesota; and the Northwest Angle in Minnesota are three such places. Alburgh, Vermont, is not directly connected by land, but is accessible by road via bridges from within Vermont and from New York. [33]

List of contiguous U.S. states

The 48 contiguous states are:

In addition, the District of Columbia is within the contiguous United States.

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of the United States

The term "United States", when used in the geographical sense, is the contiguous United States, the state of Alaska, the island state of Hawaii, the five insular territories of Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, and minor outlying possessions. The United States shares land borders with Canada and Mexico and maritime borders with Russia, Cuba, the Bahamas, and other countries, in addition to Canada and Mexico. The northern border of the United States with Canada is the world's longest bi-national land border.

County (United States) Subdivision used by most states in the United States of America

In the United States, a county is an administrative or political subdivision of a state that consists of a geographic region with specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs, respectively.

Mainland is defined as "relating to or forming the main part of a country or continent, not including the islands around it [regardless of status under territorial jurisdiction by an entity]." The term is often politically, economically and/or demographically more significant than politically associated remote territories, such as exclaves or oceanic islands situated outside the continental shelf.

U.S. territory Extent of region under the sovereign jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States

In the United States, a territory is any extent of region under the sovereign jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States, including all waters. The United States asserts sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing its territory. This extent of territory is all the area belonging to, and under the dominion of, the United States federal government for administrative and other purposes. The United States total territory includes a subset of political divisions.

In 48 of the 50 states of the United States, the county is used for the level of local government immediately below the state itself. Louisiana uses parishes, and Alaska uses boroughs. In several states in New England, some or all counties within states have no governments of their own; the counties continue to exist as legal entities, however, and are used by states for some administrative functions and by the United States Census bureau for statistical analysis. There are 3,242 counties and county equivalent administrative units in total, including the District of Columbia and 100 county-equivalents in the U.S. territories.

Political divisions of the United States states, the District of Columbia, territories; and their subdivisions

Political divisions of the United States are the various recognized governing entities that together form the United States – states, the District of Columbia, territories and Indian reservations.

Territories of the United States Political division that is directly overseen by the United States federal government

Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the United States government. The various U.S. territories differ from the U.S. states and Native American tribes in that they are not sovereign entities. Territories are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by 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. 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.

Office of Insular Affairs Subsidiary of the Department of the Interior

The Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) is a unit of the United States Department of the Interior that oversees federal administration of several United States insular areas. It is the successor to the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department, which administered certain territories from 1902 to 1939, and the Office of Territorial Affairs in the Interior Department, which was responsible for certain territories from the 1930s to the 1990s. The word "insular" comes from the Latin word insula ("island").

Northern America

Northern America is the northernmost subregion of North America. The boundaries may be drawn slightly differently. In one definition, it lies directly north of Middle America. Northern America's land frontier with the rest of North America then coincides with the Mexico–United States border. Geopolitically, according to the United Nations' scheme of geographic regions and subregions, Northern America consists of Bermuda, Canada, Greenland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and the United States.

Space-A travel is a means by which members of United States Uniformed Services, and these groups' family members, are permitted to travel on aircraft under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Defense when excess capability allows.

The United States shares international land borders with two nations:

Under United States law, an unincorporated territory is an area controlled by the United States government that is not "incorporated" for the purposes of United States constitutional law. In unincorporated territories, the U.S. Constitution applies only partially. In the absence of an organic law, a territory is classified as unorganized. In unincorporated territories, "fundamental rights apply as a matter of law, but other constitutional rights are not available". Selected constitutional provisions apply, depending on congressional acts and judicial rulings according to U.S. constitutional practice, local tradition, and law. As such, these territories are often considered colonies of the United States.

Geography of Alaska

Alaska is one of two U.S. states not bordered by another state; Hawaii is the other. Alaska has more ocean coastline than all of the other U.S. states combined. About 500 miles (800 km) of Canadian territory separate Alaska from Washington state. Alaska is thus an exclave of the United States that is part of the continental U.S. and the U.S. West Coast, but is not part of the contiguous U.S. Alaska is also the only state, other than Hawaii, whose capital city is accessible only via ship or air, because no roads connect Juneau to the rest of the continent.

The Outlying Areas Senate Presidents Caucus is an informal legislative body created in 2007, by leaders of the Senates of the U.S. states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the US territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Marianas Islands. The organization's inaugural meeting took place in Hawaii's State Capitol on December 11, 2007. It was attended by Hawaii Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, Alaska Senate Majority Leader Gary Stevens, Guam Legislature Acting Speaker Eddie Baza Calvo, Senate President Joseph Mendiola of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and Puerto Rico Senate President Kenneth McClintock, who convened the meeting.

Mainlander may refer to:

References

  1. 1 2 "What constitutes the United States, what are the official definitions?". www.usgs.gov.
  2. "United Airlines website". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2012. Contiguous United States: The 48 adjoining states and the District of Columbia.
  3. 1 2 Random House (1991). Random House Webster's College Dictionary . New York: Random House. ISBN   0-679-40110-5.Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  4. These maps show the contiguous 48 states and D.C., but not Alaska and Hawaii.
  5. Hyslop, Stephen G. (April 5, 1996). Political Geography of the United States. Guilford Press. p. 90.
  6. Pickover, Cliff. "The Longest Line in America!". University of Wisconsin.
  7. "HowStuffWorks "Geography of the United States - Geography"". Geography.howstuffworks.com. March 30, 2008. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
  8. "Field Listing: Area". The World Factbook. cia.gov.
  9. "Is China Bigger than the United States?". www.worldatlas.com.
  10. "Resident Population Data - 2010 Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 28, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  11. "National Geographic Style Manual" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. The continental United States comprises the 48 contiguous, or coterminous, states plus Alaska.
  12. "United Cargo website". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2012. Continental United States: The 48 adjoining states, Alaska and District of Columbia.
  13. "Alaska Airlines website" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. The Continental U.S. includes the lower 48 states as well as the State of Alaska, unless otherwise specified.
  14. "What constitutes the United States, what are the official definitions?". www.usgs.gov. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  15. "In the absence of any such statement, Alaska would be regarded as a part of the continental United States." Inland Marine and Transportation Insurance (1949)
  16. Hyslop, Stephen G. (April 5, 1996). Political Geography of the United States. Guilford Press. p. 105-110.
  17. 1 2 "Per Diem Rates (CONUS and OCONUS)". United States General Services Administration.
  18. 1 2 "U.S. Navy Style Guide". CONUS - "Continental United States." CONUS refers to the 48 contiguous states. It is not synonymous with United States. CONUS is acceptable on first reference. "CONUS" seems to be used primarily by the American military and the Federal government and those doing business with them.
  19. "Glossary of Army Terms" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. "OCONUS: Outside Continental United States
  20. "National Geographic Style Manual: conterminous, or contiguous, continental, continental United States" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. Use contiguous, or conterminous, for the 48 states. The continental United States comprises the 48 contiguous, or conterminous, states plus Alaska.
  21. "National Geographic Style Manual: Alaska" . Retrieved December 6, 2013. The continental United States includes Alaska.[] In Alaska context, lower forty-eight or lower 48 may be used. Do not hyphenate lower 48 as an adjective. The term outside may be put in quotes on first reference if ambiguous. To distinguish the 48 states from the 49 or 50, use contiguous or conterminous.
  22. "Learn to Speak Alaskan - Alaskan Language Tips - Princess Lodges". princesslodges.com.
  23. "ALASKA: State Profile". Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  24. "Ski". google.com.
  25. Journal, Copper River Country. "Speaking Alaskan: Words Alaskans Say".
  26. Edles, Laura Desfor (2003). "'Race,' 'Ethnicity,' and 'Culture' in Hawai'i: The Myth of the 'Model Minority' State". In Loretta I. Winters and Herman L. DeBose (ed.) New Faces in a Changing America: Multiracial Identity in the 21st Century. SAGE Publications. p. 241. ISBN   9780761923008.
  27. Hyslop, Stephen G. (April 5, 1996). Political Geography of the United States. Guilford Press. p. 65.
  28. Five million Puerto Ricans now living in the mainland U.S. Archived 2013-12-18 at the Wayback Machine Caribbean Business. 27 June 2013. Vol 41. Issue 24. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  29. https://www.britannica.com/place/United-States-Virgin-Islands Britannica.com. United States Virgin Islands. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  30. https://www.frommers.com/destinations/virgin-islands/planning-a-trip/health--safety Frommers.com. U.S. Virgin Islands - Health and Safety. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  31. https://www.britannica.com/place/American-Samoa Britannica.com. American Samoa. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  32. Doug Mack. The Not-Quite States Of America. page 67, page 88, page 91.
  33. Ross, Oakland (June 3, 2011). "Orphans of the atlas". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 5, 2011.