Territories of the United States

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Territories of the United States
Flag of the United States.svg
5flagsterritories.png
US insular areas.svg
  The 50 states and the Federal District
  Commonwealtha
  Incorporated unorganized territory
  Unincorporated organized territory
  Unincorporated unorganized territory
Largest settlement San Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.
Languages English, Spanish, Hawaiian, Chamorro, Carolinian, Samoan
Demonym(s) American
Territories
Leaders
Donald Trump
  Governors
List of current territorial governors
Area
 Total
22,294.19 km2 (8,607.83 sq mi)
Population
 Estimate
4,066,778[ citation needed ]
Currency United 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the term describes a self-governed area with a constitution whose right of self-government will not be unilaterally withdrawn by Congress. [1]
The United states from 1868 to 1876, including nine organized and two unorganized territories United States 1868-1876.png
The United states from 1868 to 1876, including nine organized and two unorganized territories

Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the federal government. They differ from U.S. states and Native American tribes, which have limited sovereignty. [2] [note 1] The territories are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by Congress. [3]

Federal government of the United States National government of the United States

The federal government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the president, and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.

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.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the United States (except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. More than 570 federally recognized tribes live within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while "Native Americans" are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. The US Census does not include Native Hawaiians or Chamorro, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

Contents

The U.S. currently has sixteen territories in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. [note 2] Five (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 eleven, only one is classified as an incorporated territory (Palmyra Atoll). Two territories (Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank) are de facto administered by Colombia. [5] [6] Territories were created to administer newly-acquired land, and most eventually attained statehood. [7] [8] Others, such as the Philippines, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau, later became independent.

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.

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.

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.

Many organized incorporated territories of the United States 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-developed or -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. [9]

Organized incorporated territories of the United States United States territory with organized government and to which full constitutional rights are extended

Organized incorporated territories are territories of the United States that are both incorporated and organized. There have been no such territories since Alaska and Hawaii were admitted as states in 1959.

Northwest Territory United States territory (1787-1803)

The Northwest Territory in the United States was formed after the American Revolutionary War, and was known formally as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio. It was the initial post-colonial Territory of the United States and encompassed most of pre-war British colonial territory west of the Appalachian mountains north of the Ohio River. It included all the land west of Pennsylvania, northwest of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River below the Great Lakes. It spanned all or large parts of six eventual U.S. States. It was created as a Territory by the Northwest Ordinance July 13, 1787, reduced to Ohio, eastern Michigan and a sliver of southeastern Indiana with the formation of Indiana Territory July 4, 1800, and ceased to exist March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio, and the remainder attached to Indiana Territory.

Southwest Territory Territory of the USA between 1790-1796

The Territory South of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Southwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 26, 1790, until June 1, 1796, when it was admitted to the United States as the State of Tennessee. The Southwest Territory was created by the Southwest Ordinance from lands of the Washington District that had been ceded to the U.S. federal government by North Carolina. The territory's lone governor was William Blount.

Territorial telecommunications and other infrastructure is generally inferior to that of the U.S. mainland, and American Samoa's Internet speed was found to be slower than several Eastern European countries. [10] Poverty rates are higher in the territories than in the states. [11] [12]

Eastern Europe eastern part of the European continent

Eastern Europe is the eastern part of the European continent. There is no consensus on the precise area it covers, partly because the term has a wide range of geopolitical, geographical, cultural, and socioeconomic connotations. There are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region". A related United Nations paper adds that "every assessment of spatial identities is essentially a social and cultural construct". One definition describes Eastern Europe as a cultural entity: the region lying in Europe with the main characteristics consisting of Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and some Ottoman culture influences. Another definition was created during the Cold War and used more or less synonymously with the term Eastern Bloc. A similar definition names the formerly communist European states outside the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. The majority of historians and social scientists view such definitions as outdated or relegated, but they are still sometimes used for statistical purposes.

The U.S. has had territories since its beginning. [13] According to federal law, the term "United States" (used in a geographical sense) means "the continental United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands". [14] Since 1986, the Northern Mariana Islands have also been considered part of the U.S. [14] A 2007 executive order included American Samoa in the U.S. "geographical extent", as reflected in the Federal Register . [15] All territories are in the Northern Hemisphere, except for American Samoa and Jarvis Island.

Executive order Federal administrative instruction issued by the President of the United States

In the United States, an executive order is a directive issued by the president of the United States that manages operations of the federal government and has the force of law. The legal or constitutional basis for executive orders has multiple sources. Article Two of the United States Constitution gives the president broad executive and enforcement authority to use their discretion to determine how to enforce the law or to otherwise manage the resources and staff of the executive branch. The ability to make such orders is also based on express or implied Acts of Congress that delegate to the president some degree of discretionary power.

<i>Federal Register</i> official journal of the US Federal Government

The Federal Register is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. It is published daily, except on federal holidays. The final rules promulgated by a federal agency and published in the Federal Register are ultimately reorganized by topic or subject matter and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which is updated annually.

Northern Hemisphere half of Earth that is north of the equator

The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is north of the Equator. For other planets in the Solar System, north is defined as being in the same celestial hemisphere relative to the invariable plane of the solar system as Earth's North Pole.

Permanently-inhabited territories

The U.S. has five permanently-inhabited territories, two of which are known as "commonwealths": Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea; Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, in the western North Pacific Ocean's Mariana Islands, and American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean. About four million people in these territories are U.S. citizens, and citizenship at birth is granted in four of the five territories. [16] American Samoa has about 32,000 non-citizen U.S. nationals. [17] Under U.S. law, "only persons born in American Samoa and Swains Island are non-citizen U.S. nationals" in its territories. [18] American Samoans are under U.S. protection, and can travel to the rest of the U.S. without a visa. [18] American Samoans must become naturalized citizens, like foreigners. [19] Unlike the other four inhabited territories, Congress has passed no legislation granting birthright citizenship to American Samoans. [16] [note 3]

Puerto Rico Unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and briefly called Porto 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.

United States Virgin Islands Group of islands in the Caribbean

The United States Virgin Islands, officially the Virgin Islands of the United States, is a group of islands in the Caribbean and an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States. The islands are geographically part of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Caribbean Sea A sea of the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North, Central, and South America

The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

Each territory [note 4] is self-governing with three branches of government, including a locally-elected governor and a territorial legislature. It elects a non-voting member (a non-voting resident commissioner in the case of Puerto Rico) to the U.S. House of Representatives. [22] [23] [24] They "possess the same powers as other members of the House, except that they may not vote [on the floor] when the House is meeting as the House of Representatives"; [25] they debate, are assigned offices and staff funding, and nominate constituents from their territories to the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force and Merchant Marine academies. [25] They can vote in their appointed House committees on all legislation presented to the House, they are included in their party count for each committee, and they are equal to senators on conference committees. Depending on the Congress, they may also vote on the floor in the House Committee of the Whole. [26] In January 2017, the members of Congress from the territories were Gregorio Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam), Amata Coleman Radewagen (American Samoa), Jenniffer González (Puerto Rico) and Stacey Plaskett (U.S. Virgin Islands). [27] The District of Columbia also has a non-voting delegate. Like the District of Columbia, U.S. territories do not have voting representation in Congress and have no representation in the Senate. [28] [29]

Every four years, U.S. political parties nominate presidential candidates at conventions which include delegates from the territories. [30] U.S. citizens living in the territories cannot vote in the general presidential election, [28] and non-citizen nationals in American Samoa cannot vote for president. [16]

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). [31] [32] Their governors are Lolo Matalasi Moliga (American Samoa), Eddie Baza Calvo (Guam), Ralph Torres (Northern Mariana Islands), Ricardo Rosselló (Puerto Rico) and Kenneth Mapp (U.S. Virgin Islands).

NameAbbr.LocationAreaPopulation
(2017)
CapitalLargest townStatusAcquired
Flag of American Samoa.svg  American Samoa AS Polynesia (South Pacific)197.1 km2 (76 sq mi)51,504 Pago Pago Tafuna Unincorporated, unorganizedApril 17, 1900
Flag of Guam.svg  Guam GU Micronesia (North Pacific)543 km2 (210 sq mi)162,742 Hagåtña Dededo Unincorporated, organizedApril 11, 1899
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svg  Northern Mariana Islands MPMicronesia463.63 km2 (179 sq mi)52,263 Capitol Hill, Saipan [note 5] Garapan Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth)November 4, 1986 [note 6] [34] [33]
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg  Puerto Rico PR Caribbean (North Atlantic)9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi)3,337,177 San Juan San JuanUnincorporated, organized (commonwealth)April 11, 1899 [35]
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg  Virgin Islands, U.S. VICaribbean346.36 km2 (134 sq mi)104,901 Charlotte Amalie Charlotte AmalieUnincorporated, organizedMarch 31, 1917

History

Statistics

Except for Guam, the inhabited territories lost population from 2010 to 2017. 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. [50] [51]

TerritoryOfficial language(s) [50] [51] Pop. change (2010–17) [52] Poverty rate (2009) [53] [54] Life expectancy (years)HDI [55] [56] GDP ($) [57] Traffic flow Time zoneArea code (+1)
American SamoaEnglish, Samoan −2.39%65% [note 8] 73.40.827$658 millionRight Samoan Time (UTC-11) 684
GuamEnglish, Chamorro 2.12%22.9%760.901$5.793 billionRight Chamorro Time (UTC+10) 671
Northern Mariana IslandsEnglish, Chamorro, Carolinian −0.68%52.3%75.40.875$1.242 billionRightChamorro Time 670
Puerto RicoEnglish, Spanish−10.43%43.5% [note 9] 80.90.845$103.135 billionRight Atlantic Time (UTC−4) 787, 939
U.S. Virgin IslandsEnglish−3.25%22.4%79.40.894$3.765 billionLeftAtlantic Time 340

The territories do not have administrative counties. [note 10] 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. [59] [60] The Census Bureau also counts each of the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands as county equivalents. [59] [60]

Minor outlying islands

The United States Minor Outlying Islands are small islands, atolls and reefs. Palmyra Atoll, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll and Wake Island are in the Pacific Ocean, and Navassa Island, Serranilla Bank, and Bajo Nuevo Bank are in the Caribbean Sea. Palmyra Atoll (formally known as the United States Territory of Palmyra Island) [61] is the only incorporated territory, a status it has maintained since Hawaii became a state in 1959.

The status of several territories is disputed. Navassa Island is disputed by Haiti, Wake Island is disputed by the Marshall Islands, Swains Island (part of American Samoa) is disputed by Tokelau, and Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank (both administered by Colombia) are disputed by Colombia, Jamaica, Honduras, and Nicaragua. [62] [63] They are uninhabited except for Midway Atoll, whose approximately 40 inhabitants are employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service and their services provider; [64] Palmyra Atoll, whose population varies from four to 20 Nature Conservancy and Fish and Wildlife staff and researchers; [65] and Wake Island, which has a population of about 100 military personnel and civilian employees. [66]

NameLocationAreaStatusNotes
Bajo Nuevo Bank North Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean Sea 110 km2 (42 sq mi)Unincorporated & unorganizedAdministered 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. [67]
Baker Island [lower-alpha 1] North Pacific Ocean 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedClaimed under the Guano Islands Act on October 28, 1856. [68] [69] Annexed on May 13, 1936, and placed under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior. [70]
Howland Island [lower-alpha 1] North Pacific Ocean4.5 km2 (1.7 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedClaimed under the Guano Islands Act on December 3, 1858. [68] [69] Annexed on May 13, 1936, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department. [70]
Jarvis Island [lower-alpha 1] South Pacific Ocean (Polynesia)4.75 km2 (1.83 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedClaimed under the Guano Islands Act on October 28, 1856. [68] [69] Annexed on May 13, 1936, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Department. [70]
Flag of Johnston Atoll (local).svg  Johnston Atoll [lower-alpha 1] North Pacific Ocean2.67 km2 (1.03 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedLast used by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004
Kingman Reef [lower-alpha 1] North Pacific Ocean18 km2 (6.9 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedClaimed under the Guano Islands Act on February 8, 1860. [68] [69] Annexed on May 10, 1922, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department on December 29, 1934. [71]
Flag of the Midway Islands (local).svg  Midway Atoll North Pacific Ocean6.2 km2 (2.4 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedTerritory since 1859; primarily a wildlife refuge and previously under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department
Flag of Navassa Island (local).svg  Navassa Island Caribbean Sea5.4 km2 (2.1 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedTerritory since 1857; also claimed by Haiti
Flag of Palmyra Atoll (local).svg  Palmyra Atoll North Pacific Ocean12 km2 (5 sq mi)Incorporated, unorganizedPartially privately owned by the Nature Conservancy, with much of the rest owned by the federal government and managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service. [72] [73] It is an archipelago of about 50 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. [74]
Serranilla Bank North Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean Sea350 km2 (140 sq mi)Unincorporated & unorganizedAdministered 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. [67]
Flag of Wake Island.svg  Wake Island [lower-alpha 1] Western Pacific Ocean (Micronesia)7.4 km2 (2.9 sq mi)Unincorporated, unorganizedTerritory since 1898; host to the Wake Island Airfield, administered by the U.S. Air Force. Also claimed by the Marshall Islands. [75]
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 These six territories and Palmyra Atoll make up the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Incorporated and unincorporated territories

San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan skyline.jpg
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Protestant Cay in Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands Protestantcaystcroix.jpg
Protestant Cay in Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands
Tumon Beach in Guam.JPG
Mount Tapochau in the Northern Mariana Islands Mount Tapochau.JPG
Mount Tapochau in the Northern Mariana Islands
Afono, in American Samoa Afono Village NPS.jpg
Afono, in American Samoa
Wake Island lagoon Wake Island Lagoon Paradise by Matthew Piatkowski.jpg
Wake Island lagoon
Red-footed booby at Palmyra Atoll Red-footed Booby (5896652469).jpg
Red-footed booby at Palmyra Atoll
Navy memorial and albatross monument with Laysan albatross chicks at Midway Atoll Starr 080531-4748 Pritchardia sp..jpg
Navy memorial and albatross monument with Laysan albatross chicks at Midway Atoll

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 part of the U.S., rather than possessions. [76]

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 1901–1905 Insular Cases, ruled that the constitution extended to U.S. territories. The court also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation, in which the constitution applies fully to incorporated territories (such as the territories of Alaska and Hawaii) and partially in the unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. [77] [78]

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 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. [79] :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 ..." [80] :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. [81]

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. [82]

In Balzac, the court defined "implied": [79] :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.

Supreme Court decisions about individual territories

In Rassmussen v. U.S., the Supreme Court quoted from Article III of the 1867 treaty for the purchase of Alaska and then said: "'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." [83] :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. [81]

The 2016 Supreme Court case Puerto Rico v. Sanchez Valle ruled that territories do not have sovereignty. [2] That year, the court declined to rule on a lower-court ruling in Tuana v. United States that American Samoans are not citizens at birth. [20] [21]

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, [84] and the congressional implication was strong enough to exclude any other view: [83] :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: [83] :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: [85] :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.'" [86] :256

Southwest Territory

Justice Brown first mentioned incorporation in Downes: [86] :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. In order 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

1904 stamp, the first U.S. stamp to commemorate a territory and depict a map Louisiana Purchase7 1903 Issue-10c-crop.jpg
1904 stamp, the first U.S. stamp to commemorate a territory and depict a map

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 ... [86] :252

Organized territories

Map of the U.S. exclusive economic zone, showing the location of each territory US.EEZ Pacific centered NOAA map.png
Map of the U.S. exclusive economic zone, showing the location of each territory

Organized territories are lands under federal sovereignty (but not part of any state) which were given a measure of self-rule 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. [87]

Former territories and administered areas

Organized incorporated territories

Unincorporated territories

Under military government

  • Puerto Rico: April 11, 1899 – May 1, 1900
  • Philippines: August 14, 1898 [88] – July 4, 1901
  • Guam: April 11, 1899 – July 1, 1950

Administered areas

Other zones

Public image

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, as the federal government’s inadequate preparation for and response to Hurricane Maria made crystal clear." [92] 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." [93] Rosselló called Puerto Rico the "oldest, most populous colony in the world". [94]

Galleries

Members of the House of Representatives

Territorial governors

Satellite images

Inhabited territories

Uninhabited territories (minor outlying islands)

Maps

See also

Notes

  1. According to the 2016 Supreme Court ruling , territories are not sovereign.
  2. Some residents of Sikaiana (also known as the Stewart Islands) believe that Sikaiana is part of the United States: "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". [4]
  3. In Tuana v. United States , it was ruled that citizenship-at-birth is not a right in unincorporated regions of the U.S. — current citizenship-at-birth in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is granted only because the U.S. Congress passed legislation granting citizenship to those territories. The Supreme Court declined to rule on the case. [20] [21]
  4. American Samoa, technically unorganized, is de facto organized.
  5. Because Saipan is governed as a single municipality, most publications refer to the capital as "Saipan".
  6. U.S. sovereignty took effect on November 3, 1986 (Eastern Time) and on November 4, 1986 (local Northern Mariana Islands Chamorro Time). [33]
  7. 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. [39]
  8. 2017 poverty rate; [11] in 2009, American Samoa's poverty rate was 57.8% [58]
  9. 2017 rate.
  10. American Samoa is divided into 14 counties, but the U.S. Census Bureau treats them as minor civil divisions. [59] [60]

    Related Research Articles

    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.

    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.

    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 there are currently 14—three 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.

    The Insular Cases are a series of opinions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1901, about the status of U.S. territories acquired in the Spanish–American War. When the war ended in 1898, the United States had to answer the question of whether or not people in newly acquired territories were citizens, a question the country had never faced before. The preliminary answer came from a series of Supreme Court rulings, now known as the Insular Cases, which responded to the question of how American constitutional rights apply to those in United States territories. The Supreme Court held that full constitutional protection of rights does not automatically extend to all places under American control. This meant that inhabitants of unincorporated territories such as Puerto Rico—"even if they are U.S. citizens"—may lack some constitutional rights. Today, many legal scholars refer to the Insular Cases as a constitutional justification for colonialism and annexation of places not within United States boundaries. The Insular Cases “authorized the colonial regime created by Congress, which allowed the United States to continue its administration—and exploitation— of the territories acquired from Spain after the Spanish–American War." These Supreme Court rulings allowed for the United States government to extend unilateral power over these newly acquired territories.

    In the terminology of the United States insular areas, a Commonwealth is a type of organized but unincorporated dependent territory. There are currently two United States insular areas with the status of commonwealth, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

    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").

    In the United States, each state has its own constitution.

    Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives are representatives of their territory in the House of Representatives, who do not have a right to vote on proposed legislation in the full House but nevertheless have floor privileges and are able to participate in certain other House functions. Non-voting members may vote in a House committee of which they are a member and introduce legislation. There are currently six non-voting members: a delegate representing the federal district of Washington D.C., a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, and one delegate for each of the other four permanently inhabited US Territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. As with voting members, non-voting delegates are elected every two years, and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is elected every four years.

    The United States territorial courts are tribunals established in territories of the United States by the United States Congress, pursuant to its power under Article Four of the United States Constitution, the Territorial Clause. Most United States territorial courts are defunct because the territories under their jurisdiction have become states or been retroceded.

    Title 48 of the United States Code outlines the role of United States territories and insular areas in the United States Code.

    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.

    District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters Series of U.S. coins

    The District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program was a one-year coin program of the United States Mint that saw quarters being minted in 2009 to honor the District of Columbia and the unincorporated United States insular areas of Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The islands commonly grouped together as the United States Minor Outlying Islands were not featured, as the law defined the word "territory" as being limited to the areas mentioned above. It followed the completion of the 50 State Quarters program. The coins used the same George Washington obverse as with the quarters of the previous 10 years. The reverse of the quarters featured a design selected by the Mint depicting of the federal district and each territory. Unlike on the 50 State quarters, the motto "E Pluribus Unum" preceded and was the same size as the mint date on the reverse.

    Forest cover by U.S. state and territory is estimated from tree-attributes using the basic statistics reported by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (FIA). Tree volumes and weights are not directly measured in the field, but computed from other variables that can be measured.

    Voting rights of citizens in Guam differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Guam is entitled to a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House, but can vote on procedural matters and in House committees. Citizens of Guam may not vote in general elections for President.

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