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. [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 Hawaii and insular territories. [1]

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. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Continent Very large landmass identified by convention

A continent is one of several very large landmasses of the world. 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); [5] the greatest north-south line is 1,650 miles (2,660 km). [6]

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 State of the United States of America

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 president of the United States, 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. It 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 sometimes referred to as Washington State to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States.

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. [7] 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 25 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 fourth. Brazil is the only country that is larger in total area 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. [8]

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

Russia transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia

Russia, officially 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.

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. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

The contiguous United States also does not include overseas U.S. territories such as American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico, the latter of which has a higher population than Alaska and Hawaii.

American Samoa US territory in the Pacific

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Samoa. Its location is centered on 14.2710° S, 170.1322° W. It is on the eastern border of the International Date Line, while independent Samoa is west of it.

Northern Mariana Islands American-dependent insular area in the western Pacific

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago except the southernmost island of the chain, Guam, which is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the westernmost point and territory of the United States.

Guam Island territory of the United States of America

Guam is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States in Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean. It is the westernmost point and territory of the United States, along with the Northern Mariana Islands. The capital city of Guam is Hagåtña and the most populous city is Dededo. The inhabitants of Guam are called Guamanians, and they are American citizens by birth. Indigenous Guamanians are the Chamorros, who are related to other Austronesian natives of Eastern Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Guam has been a member of the Pacific Community since 1983.

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 United States

Because Alaska is also on the North American continent, 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] [9] [10] [11] 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. [12] However, even before Alaska became a state, it was properly included within the continental U.S. due to being an incorporated territory. [13]

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.

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. [14] [15] The District of Columbia is not always specifically mentioned as being part of CONUS. [15]

OCONUS is derived from CONUS with O for outside added, thus referring to Outside of Continental United States (OCONUS). [14] [16]

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. [17] [18]

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 non-continental 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 Pacific 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"; [19] [20] today, more Alaskans use the term "Outside", [21] though a few persons may use "Outside" to refer to any location not within Alaska. [22]

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 contiguous United States, or Continental United States or U.S. continent in reference to the 49 states in North America. [23]

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 US citizens and are free to move to the mainland. 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.

Non-contiguous areas within the contiguous United States

Apart from off-shore US islands, a few continental portions of the contiguous US 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. [24]

List of contiguous U.S. states

The 48 contiguous United States are:

See also

Notes

  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. "The Longest Line in America!" . Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  6. "HowStuffWorks "Geography of the United States - Geography"". Geography.howstuffworks.com. March 30, 2008. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
  7. "The World Factbook". cia.gov.
  8. "Resident Population Data - 2010 Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on October 28, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  9. "National Geographic Style Manual" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. The continental United States comprises the 48 contiguous, or coterminous, states plus Alaska.
  10. "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.
  11. "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.
  12. "What constitutes the United States, what are the official definitions?". www.usgs.gov. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  13. "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)
  14. 1 2 "Per Diem Rates (CONUS and OCONUS)". United States General Services Administration.
  15. 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.
  16. "Glossary of Army Terms" . Retrieved April 4, 2012. "OCONUS: Outside Continental United States
  17. "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.
  18. "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.
  19. "Learn to Speak Alaskan - Alaskan Language Tips - Princess Lodges". princesslodges.com.
  20. "ALASKA: State Profile". Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  21. "Ski". google.com.
  22. Journal, Copper River Country. "Speaking Alaskan: Words Alaskans Say".
  23. 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.
  24. Ross, Oakland (June 3, 2011). "Orphans of the atlas". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 5, 2011.

Wikivoyage-Logo-v3-icon.svg Contiguous United States travel guide from Wikivoyage

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

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