Contiguous United States

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This shows the contiguous United States and, in insets at the lower left, the two states that are not contiguous. National-atlas-blank-state-outlines.png
This shows 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. [1] [5]

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders.

Continent Very large landmass identified by convention

A continent is one of several very large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, they are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

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]

Great circle intersection of the sphere and a plane which passes through the center point of the sphere

A great circle, also known as an orthodrome, of a sphere is the intersection of the sphere and a plane that passes through the center point of the sphere. A great circle is the largest circle that can be drawn on any given sphere. Any diameter of any great circle coincides with a diameter of the sphere, and therefore all great circles have the same center and circumference as each other. This special case of a circle of a sphere is in opposition to a small circle, that is, the intersection of the sphere and a plane that does not pass through the center. Every circle in Euclidean 3-space is a great circle of exactly one sphere.

Florida U.S. state in the United States

Florida is the southernmost contiguous state in the United States. The state is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida. Florida is the 22nd-most extensive, the 3rd-most populous, and the 8th-most densely populated of the U.S. states. Jacksonville is the most populous municipality in the state and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is Florida's most populous urban area. Tallahassee is the state's capital.

Washington (state) state of the United States of America

Washington, officially the State of Washington, is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first U.S. president, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which was ceded by Britain in 1846 in accordance with the Oregon Treaty in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute. The state, which is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, Oregon to the south, Idaho to the east, and the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north, was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the state capital; the state's largest city is Seattle. Washington is often referred to as Washington State to distinguish it from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C..

Together, the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia occupy a combined 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.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 26 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.

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 third, ahead of Canada, but behind Russia and China. Brazil is about the same size as 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. [9]

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is, by a considerable margin, the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.79 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third or fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

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 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] [10] [11] [12] 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. [13] However, even before Alaska became a state, it was properly included within the continental U.S. due to being an incorporated territory. [14]

Alaska U.S. state in the United States

Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of the United States West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015—is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. United States armed forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.

United States Board on Geographic Names US geographic naming government agency

The United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) is a federal body operating under the United States Secretary of the Interior. The purpose of the board is to establish and maintain uniform usage of geographic names throughout the federal government of the United States.

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). [15]

Hawaii U.S. state in the United States

Hawaii is a state in the Pacific United States. It is the most recent state to join the United States, on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state geographically located in Oceania, although it is governed as a part of North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Insular area U.S. territory that is neither a U.S. state nor the District of Columbia

An insular area of the United States is a U.S. territory that is neither a part of one of the 50 states nor of a Federal district. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution grants to United States Congress the responsibility of overseeing these territories, of which as of 2018 there are 14, 3 in the Caribbean Sea and 11 in the Pacific Ocean. These territories are classified by whether they are incorporated and whether they have an organized territorial government established by the U.S. Congress through an Organic Act. All territories but one are unincorporated, and all but four are considered to be unorganized. Five U.S. territories have a permanent, nonmilitary population. Each of them has a civilian government, a constitution, and enjoys some degree of local political autonomy.

Aleutian Islands Chain of islands in the northern Pacific Ocean

The Aleutian Islands, also called the Aleut Islands or Aleutic Islands and known before 1867 as the Catherine Archipelago, are a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller ones belonging to both the U.S. state of Alaska and the Russian federal subject of Kamchatka Krai. They form part of the Aleutian Arc in the Northern Pacific Ocean, occupying an area of 6,821 sq mi (17,666 km2) and extending about 1,200 mi (1,900 km) westward from the Alaska Peninsula toward the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, and mark a dividing line between the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Crossing longitude 180°, at which point east and west longitude end, the archipelago contains both the westernmost part of the United States by longitude and the easternmost by longitude. The westernmost U.S. island in real terms, however, is Attu Island, west of which runs the International Date Line. While nearly all the archipelago is part of Alaska and is usually considered as being in the "Alaskan Bush", at the extreme western end, the small, geologically related Commander Islands belong to Russia.

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. [16] [17] The District of Columbia is not always specifically mentioned as being part of CONUS. [17]

OCONUS is derived from CONUS with O for outside added, thus referring to Outside of Continental United States (OCONUS). [16] [18]

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. [19] [20] 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 jurisdictions

Alaskans, Hawaiians, and off-shore 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"; [21] [22] today, more Alaskans use the term "Outside", [23] though a few persons may use "Outside" to refer to any location not within Alaska. [24]

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 (3,500 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. [25] [26]

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida. Puerto Ricans born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens and are free to move to the United States. A Stateside Puerto Rican is a term for residents in a U.S. state who were born in or trace family ancestry to Puerto Rico. [27]

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. [28]

List of contiguous U.S. states

The 48 contiguous United States are:

See also

Related Research Articles

Americas Landmass comprising North America, Central America and South America

The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.

Geography of the United States geography of the United States of America

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, and the Bahamas in addition to Canada and Mexico. The northern border of the United States with Canada is the world's longest bi-national land border.

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.

United States territory legal designation

United States territory is any extent of region under the sovereign jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States, including all waters and all U.S. naval vessels. 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.

United States territorial acquisitions

United States territory is any extent of region under the sovereign jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States, including all waters and all U.S. naval vessels. 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.

Mean center of the United States population

The mean center of the United States population is determined by the United States Census Bureau from the results of each national census. The Bureau defines it as follows:

The concept of the center of population as used by the U.S. Census Bureau is that of a balance point. The center of population is the point at which an imaginary, weightless, rigid, and flat surface representation of the 50 states and the District of Columbia would balance if weights of identical size were placed on it so that each weight represented the location on one person. More specifically, this calculation is called the mean center of population.

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

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

Northern America the northernmost region of North America, which consists of Canada, the United States, and Greenland

Northern America is the northernmost region 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 of America.

Area code 907 area codes in the United States

Area code 907 covers the state of Alaska, except for the small southeastern community of Hyder, which uses area codes 236, 250 and 778 of neighboring Stewart, British Columbia.

Geography of Alaska State in the northwestern U.S.

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.

Boundaries between the continents of Earth Global geographic limits

The boundaries between the continents of Earth are generally a matter of geographical convention. Several slightly different conventions are in use. The number of continents is most commonly considered seven but may range as low as four when the Americas and Afro-Eurasia are each considered a single continent. According to the definition of a continent in the strict sense, an island cannot be part of any continent, but by convention and in practice most major islands are associated with a 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.

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.
  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. "Resident Population Data - 2010 Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 28, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  10. "National Geographic Style Manual" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. The continental United States comprises the 48 contiguous, or coterminous, states plus Alaska.
  11. "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.
  12. "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.
  13. "What constitutes the United States, what are the official definitions?". www.usgs.gov. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  14. "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)
  15. Hyslop, Stephen G. (April 5, 1996). Political Geography of the United States. Guilford Press. p. 105-110.
  16. 1 2 "Per Diem Rates (CONUS and OCONUS)". United States General Services Administration.
  17. 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.
  18. "Glossary of Army Terms" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. "OCONUS: Outside Continental United States
  19. "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.
  20. "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.
  21. "Learn to Speak Alaskan - Alaskan Language Tips - Princess Lodges". princesslodges.com.
  22. "ALASKA: State Profile". Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  23. "Ski". google.com.
  24. Journal, Copper River Country. "Speaking Alaskan: Words Alaskans Say".
  25. 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.
  26. Hyslop, Stephen G. (April 5, 1996). Political Geography of the United States. Guilford Press. p. 65.
  27. 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.
  28. Ross, Oakland (June 3, 2011). "Orphans of the atlas". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 5, 2011.