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Territories of the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Territories of the United States
  The 50 states and the Federal District   Commonwealtha   Incorporated unorganized territory   Unincorporated organized territory   Unincorporated unorganized territory
  The 50 states and the Federal District
  Commonwealtha
  Incorporated unorganized territory
  Unincorporated organized territory
  Unincorporated unorganized territory
Largest settlementSan Juan, Puerto Rico, U.S.
LanguagesEnglish, 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]
CurrencyUnited States dollar
Date formatmm/dd/yyyy (AD)
  1. "Commonwealth" does not describe a political status, and has been applied to states and territories. When used for U.S. non-states, the term describes a self-governed area with a constitution whose right of self-government will not be unilaterally withdrawn by Congress.[1]
Map of the U.S. from 1868 to 1876
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]

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. Two territories (Bajo Nuevo Bank and Serranilla Bank) are defacto 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.

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]

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]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The 55 States of America: U.S. Territories Explained
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  • ✪ The USA And Its Territories

Transcription

This is The United States of America. Wait, no. This is the United States of America. These islands aren’t states, but rather territories of the United States. There are 16 islands here, most of which are in the caribbean, polynesia, or micronesia. 11 of these island territories are less significant than the rest because they have no permanent population. In fact, some of them have an area of less than 5 square miles. The other 5 of the 16 islands are inhabited, and those are the ones you’ve probably heard of. So, what are these 5 islands? First let’s talk about how these territories are organized. Incorporated organized territories are the first of these subclasses. Territories under this group are incorporated, meaning they are not a state, but are still entitled to all parts of the Constitution, besides for parts specifically reserved for states. The organized in the title refers to the Organic Acts, which were acts that gave certain territories the right to self-govern. Organic Acts have been passed for territories in the past, some of which are now states, including my home state of Illinois, Hawaii, Colorado, and even the District of Columbia, to name a few. There are currently no territories in the Incorporated Organized subclass, the last territories in the group being Alaska and Hawaii, both granted statehood in 1959. The second group, Incorporated Unorganized territories, are the same as Incorporated Organized territories except for their lack of a “normal” government. Territories in this group also usually have no or a very small permanent population. The Minnesota, California, and Dakota territories, for example, were all part of this group before becoming states. Currently, the group only includes one territory, Palmyra Atoll. U.S. coastal waters, extending out to about 12 nautical miles, are also Incorporated Unorganized “territories”, along with U.S. flagged vessels, including the Coast Guard, Navy, and U.S. Merchant Marine ships. The U.S. Merchant Marine refers to both federally and civilian owned merchant vessels. The third group, Unincorporated Organized territories, consists of the territories you’ve probably heard of, including Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The last group, Unincorporated Unorganized territories, are all desolate islands with no inhabitants, with one exception, the American Samoa. This island is in this group simply because Congress hasn’t done anything about it yet. An uninformed person would expect to see yet another desolate island, just like the others in the group, but instead they’d find over 50,000 people and a lot of tourists. Since these islands are unincorporated, some fundamental rights are given, but other Constitutional rights are not. Of course, the American Samoa is self governing, but it doesn’t fit the description of a not “normally” constituted system of government. So, now that you have a better understanding of the way these territories are grouped, how did they become territories in the first place? The largest territory of all, both population and land wise, is Puerto Rico. This island boasts a large population of 3.7 million making it more populous than 21 states, and has a land area of 3,515 square miles. Puerto Rico was first settled by humans between 3,000 BCE and 2,000 BCE. However, Puerto Rico, in its modern form, was founded on November 19th, 1493 by Columbus himself. He originally named the island San Juan Bautista, but Spanish traders referred to the island as Puerto Rico, meaning rich port, and that name stuck. After enslaving the natives and establishing ports, Columbus sailed onwards to Florida, but the island remained an important trade port. After the United States gained independence from Britain, trade between the nations grew to the point where the US rivaled Spain in trade importance on the island. On September 23rd, 1868, an army of Puerto Ricans claimed independence from Spain for their island in a movement known as Grito de Lares. However, the army was soon defeated by the mightier Spanish army. The island was granted autonomy by Spain in 1897, but a year later the Spanish American war broke out. The United States launched an invasion of Puerto Rico in July of 1898, and claimed the island with little resistance from the inhabitants. In December of the same year, the Treaty of Paris (the 3rd one that involved the US) was signed, officially ending the Spanish American war. It also approved of the cession of Puerto Rico. Because of this, Puerto Rico, the now colony of the US, switched to the US’s monetary system and placed it under tariff protection. Things remained the same until 1947, when the American government gave Puerto Rico the right to elect their own governor. Luis Munoz Marin became the first governor of Puerto Rico that was elected by the people. 3 years later, in 1950, the US government gave the island the right to draft its own Constitution. Another 3 years later, Puerto Rico was changed from a US territory to commonwealth. This means it's a state in every way except name. 4 states, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Pennsylvania are commonwealths in their full, official state names. There is no difference between these 4 commonwealths/states and the 46 other states nowadays. However, when the states were founded they drafted their own Constitutions, written in order to ensure the monarchy doesn’t return. Commonwealth status gives Puerto Ricans common citizenship to the US, common defense, and a common market. But, because the island is not a state, they do not pay federal taxes, and are not able to vote in Congress. They do however send delegates to Congress, but they can’t vote. This makes for an awkward situation when the island has a larger population than 21 states. Guam, with a population of 170,000 and a land area of 210 square miles, is the second largest US territory both population and land wise. The island was purely inhabited by natives until March 6th, 1521 when a Spanish expedition, led by Ferdinand Magellan, arrived with a 3 ship fleet. Magellan was Portuguese, but was sailing for King Charles I of Spain. Magellan's fleet had consisted of 5 ships when they first left from Spain, but 2 ships were lost along the way, and the 3 remaining lost about half their crew. This was because of storms, disease, and mutiny. Magellan's fleet first landed at Umatac, a village on the southwestern coast of the island. Guam wasn’t officially claimed by Spain until 1565, 44 years after Magellan first landed on the island. From 1565 on, the island was a regular port for Spanish traders sailing from Mexico to the Philippines. A few hundred years later, on June 21st, 1898, American troops captured Guam in a bloodless takeover. This was during the Spanish-American war, and Guam was an important Spanish port island. The island wasn’t officially owned by the US until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1898. From this point on, the island was an important naval station for the US. Because of this, the US made the naval commandant governor of the island. The Navy governed the island as “USS Guam”, and refused any proposals of a civilian government. Besides for serving as a military base, the island was also used for farming. Maize, copra (essentially dried coconut), rice, sugar, and timber were exported, along with fish and refined petroleum. The island continued exporting goods until, on December 8th, 1941, Guam was invaded by the Japanese. The Japanese renamed the island “Omiya Jima”, which means Great Shrine Island. This was one of the countless islands captured by Imperial Japan during World War 2. However, the second Battle of Guam began on July 21st, 1944. It ended when Japanese forces surrendering to US troops on August 10th. Sumay and Hagåtña, Guam’s previous largest towns, were destroyed. With the island back in US hands, they converted it into a naval base like it had been previously, now with airfields. However, Guam’s natives weren’t too happy with this. The result was the Guam Organic Act of 1950, which established Guam as an unincorporated organized territory of the US, the same status held by Puerto Rico. The Immigration Act of 1952, section 307, associated the island with the US even more. It granted everyone born on the island after April 11th, 1899, full US citizenship. 18 years later, on September 11, 1968, Congress passed the Elective Governor Act. This allowed the people of Guam to elect their own governor and lieutenant governor (a lieutenant governor is basically a “vice governor”, if you will). In the current day, the island is still used as an important strategic location for air force and naval bases. In fact, after the US’s leases in the Philippines expired in the 90’s, they relocated many of the troops located there to Guam. The United States Virgin Islands, or USVI, with a population of 106,000 and a land area of 133 square miles, is the third most populous territory island of the United States. The USVI consists of 4 large islands and 50 plus smaller islets and cays. The first European to discover the islands was Christopher Columbus, when he was blown off course during his 1493-1496 voyage. He first landed in modern day Saint Croix island, and continued exploring Saint Thomas and Saint John. By the 1600s, many European countries were interested in establishing colonies on the islands, including England, France, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands. England and the Netherlands followed through with their plans in the 1620s, when they jointly settled Saint Croix island. Puerto Rico, still under Spanish control, invaded the small colony, causing the French to intervene. They were able to fend off the invasion, and took the colony for themselves. It remained under French control until 1733. The Danish West India and Guinea Company founded the second settlement on the islands in 1665, which was on modern day Saint Thomas island. Their new settlement had a mere 113 residents. Wanting to expand, they founded their second settlement, which was in modern day Saint John island in 1692. The Danish had claimed the island since the 1680s, but they hadn’t been able to settle due to their feud with the neighboring British city Tortola. In order to maintain their relationship with the Danish, they eventually ceased their opposition. The Danes joined the West India Company and settled Saint John. After they settled, the agricultural business exploded on the island. The Danish West Indian Company purchased St. Croix from the French in 1733, uniting St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John together as the Danish West Indies. The island remained under Danish control until 1917, until the US bought the islands for strategic reasons in the ongoing World War 1. The islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John became the United States Virgin Islands. The Northern Mariana Islands, officially known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, with a population of 77,000 and a land area of 179 square miles, is the 4th most populous territory of the United States. The commonwealth consists of 22 islands, all of which are part of the larger chain of islands simply known as the Mariana Islands. The Mariana Islands chain even includes Guam, though it is politically separated. Saipan is the largest of the islands with a land area of 46.5 square miles, and is where the capital, Chalan Kanoa, is located. The islands were only inhabited by the Chamorro people until European explorers settled the islands in 1668. The Chamorro people are believed to have come from Southeast Asia to the islands around 2,000 BCE. They were skilled sailors and craftsmen, making intricate weavings and pottery. Chamorro farmers mainly grew sweet potatoes and yams, planting the seeds based on the phases of the moon and ocean tides. The islands were under Spanish rule from their first meeting with Ferdinand Magellan until 1899, when they were sold to Germany. Germany then relinquished the islands to Japan as the empire went against Germany. The islands did not become US owned until the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands was put into effect in 1947, following World War 2. Initially the islands included in the trust were under the control of the US Navy, but in 1951, they were transferred to the Department of the Interior. This would remain this way until the trust was dissolved by the UN in 1990. This made the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands an American territory. The American Samoa, officially known as the Territory of American Samoa, with a population of 56,000 and a land area of 76 square miles, is the least populated of the populated island territories. The island has been inhabited by Samoan people since around 1,500 BCE. In 1722, Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to encounter the islands. Even after Europeans knew of the island, their influence was limited to occasionally trading with the islanders. In the 1830s, missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived on the Samoa Islands. The missionaries converted the islanders to Christianity with great success. Some of these missionaries, along with traders, enjoyed the islands so much that they settled there. They established their own communities, with governments and laws. The natives and the settlers lived in peace for many years. 42 years later, in 1872, the United States asked the high chief of tribes on the eastern Samoa islands for permission to establish a naval base in exchange for military protection. The base was greenlighted, and was built 6 years later in 1878. By the end of the century, both Britain and Germany were competing for control of the island. As a result of the second Samoan Civil War, a treaty between Great Britain, Germany, and the US was drafted, making island became an official territory of the United States. Uniquely, citizens of this island territory are not granted citizenship to the United States because of the territory’s odd classification under Unincorporated unorganized. Instead of citizens, the islanders are American nationals. This means that they can live and work in the states and other territories but cannot vote in elections unless they go through normal immigration processes. So that’s the US, 50 states and 13 islands (5 of which aren’t desolate), with, like everything else, a deeper history than you would have thought.

Contents

Existing territories and legal status

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.

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]

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).

Name Abbr. Location Area Population
(2017)
Capital Largest town Status Acquired
 American Samoa AS Polynesia (South Pacific) 197.1 km2 (76 sq mi) 51,504 Pago Pago Tafuna Unincorporated, unorganized April 17, 1900
 Guam GU Micronesia (North Pacific) 543 km2 (210 sq mi) 162,742 Hagåtña Dededo Unincorporated, organized April 11, 1899
 Northern Mariana Islands MP Micronesia 463.63 km2 (179 sq mi) 52,263 Capitol Hill, Saipan[note 5] Garapan Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth) November 4, 1986[note 6][34][33]
 Puerto Rico PR Caribbean (North Atlantic) 9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi) 3,337,177 San Juan San Juan Unincorporated, organized (commonwealth) April 11, 1899[35]
 Virgin Islands, U.S. VI Caribbean 346.36 km2 (134 sq mi) 104,901 Charlotte Amalie Charlotte Amalie Unincorporated, organized March 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]

Territory Official 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 zone Area code (+1)
American Samoa English, Samoan −2.39% 65%[note 8] 73.4 0.827 $658 million Right Samoan Time (UTC-11) 684
Guam English, Chamorro 2.12% 22.9% 76 0.901 $5.793 billion Right Chamorro Time (UTC+10) 671
Northern Mariana Islands English, Chamorro, Carolinian −0.68% 52.3% 75.4 0.875 $1.242 billion Right Chamorro Time 670
Puerto Rico English, Spanish −10.43% 43.5%[note 9] 80.9 0.845 $103.135 billion Right Atlantic Time (UTC−4) 787, 939
U.S. Virgin Islands English −3.25% 22.4% 79.4 0.894 $3.765 billion Left Atlantic 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]

Name Location Area Status Notes
Bajo Nuevo Bank North Atlantic Ocean & Caribbean Sea 110 km2 (42 sq mi) Unincorporated & unorganized Administered by Colombia. Claimed by the U.S. (under the Guano Islands Act) and Jamaica. A claim by Nicaragua was resolved in 2012 in favor of Colombia by the International Court of Justice, although the U.S. was not a party to that case and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ.[67]
Baker Island[a] North Pacific Ocean 2.1 km2 (0.81 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Claimed 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[a] North Pacific Ocean 4.5 km2 (1.7 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Claimed 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[a] South Pacific Ocean (Polynesia) 4.75 km2 (1.83 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Claimed 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]
 Johnston Atoll[a] North Pacific Ocean 2.67 km2 (1.03 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Last used by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004
Kingman Reef[a] North Pacific Ocean 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Claimed 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]
 Midway Atoll North Pacific Ocean 6.2 km2 (2.4 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Territory since 1859; primarily a wildlife refuge and previously under the jurisdiction of the Navy Department
 Navassa Island Caribbean Sea 5.4 km2 (2.1 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Territory since 1857; also claimed by Haiti
 Palmyra Atoll North Pacific Ocean 12 km2 (5 sq mi) Incorporated, unorganized Partially privately owned by the Nature Conservancy, with much of the rest owned by the federal government and managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.[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 Sea 350 km2 (140 sq mi) Unincorporated & unorganized Administered by Colombia; site of a naval garrison. Claimed by the U.S (since 1879 under the Guano Islands Act), Honduras, and Jamaica. A claim by Nicaragua was resolved in 2012 in favor of Colombia by the International Court of Justice, although the U.S. was not a party to that case and does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ.[67]
 Wake Island[a] Western Pacific Ocean (Micronesia) 7.4 km2 (2.9 sq mi) Unincorporated, unorganized Territory since 1898; host to the Wake Island Airfield, administered by the U.S. Air Force. Also claimed by the Marshall Islands.[75]
  1. ^ a b c d e f These six territories and Palmyra Atoll make up the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

Incorporated and unincorporated territories

San Juan skyline, with a large, old white building in the foreground
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Beach, with modern buildings in the backgroundTumon Beach on Guam
Beach, with palm trees in the foreground
Wake Island lagoon
White bird amid green leaves, looking right at the camera
Red-footed booby at Palmyra Atoll
See caption
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

Ten-cent stamp with a map of the Louisiana Purchase
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

See caption
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

In The Not-Quite States of America, his book about the U.S. territories, Doug Mack said: "It seemed that right around the turn of the twentieth century, the territories were part of the national mythology and the everyday conversation ... A century or so ago, Americans didn't just know about the territories but cared about them, argued about them. But what changed? How and why did they disappear from the national conversation?"[92] Mack also wrote, "The territories have made us who we are. They represent the USA's place in the world. They've been a reflection of our national mood in nearly every period of American history."[92]

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."[93] 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."[94] Rosselló called Puerto Rico the "oldest, most populous colony in the world".[95]

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]

References

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    Puerto Rico's Governor Ramps Up Push For Statehood On Anniversary Of Maria. Washington Post. John Wagner. September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 22, 2018.

External links

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