The United States of America is the third-largest country by landmass, after Russia and Canada. The fun fact is that the US has official borders with Canada and Russia (yes, America and Russia are only 2.4 miles (4 km) away).
Currently, the United States has 50 states and five major territories. Each state has a unique story behind its history of joining other states.
In this post, we’ll talk about the US territories that have a chance to become the 51st state of the United States of America.
We’ll introduce each territory and its chances of becoming the 51st state of the US.
Which U.S. states are the latest ones that joined the Union?
The last territories that officially became states are Alaska and Hawaii, both in 1959. Ever since there has been a long debate over which U.S. territory should become the 51st state, and so far non of them could win the battle yet.
What is the difference between a state and a territory?
Unlike states, the territories do not have a vote in Congress. They each send a delegate to the House who possesses all powers of a representative besides voting rights, like the ability to debate legislation or sit on committees.
The territories also send delegates to political conventions, such as those to nominate presidential candidates. However, the territories have no electoral votes in the presidential election.
Why should a territory want to become a state?
There are a lot of benefits for a territory to become a state.
As mentioned above, territories citizens don’t have much of a right to vote in the most important U.S. elections. One of the perks of living in democratic countries is that the politicians need people on their side to remain in power and would do anything to satisfy the voters (at least a while before the new election). And it means that if a territory is unable to vote, politicians won’t care about its people and their level of satisfaction, because those people have no role in giving them power or take them down!
Another reason is the budget a state receives from the federal government is far more than what a territory receives. However, the federal government paid territories a better budget in 2020 compared to the previous years.On the other hand, American citizens are not familiar with the territories and some of them don’t even know that most residents of the territories are American citizens, just like themselves. A new poll of 2,200 adults by Morning Consult found that only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, are U.S. citizens.
It doesn’t look like a big deal until you realize that More than three million Americans in Puerto Rico were struggling to meet basic needs after a devastating strike from Hurricane Maria, but their plight attracted far less public or political attention than the woes caused by the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
How many territories does the U.S. have and what are their names?
Currently, the United States has five major U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each such territory is partially self-governing that exists under the authority of the U.S. government.
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and unincorporated U.S. territory. This island is home to 3.194 million people, most of them being American citizens.
Why did Puerto Rico become a U.S. territory?
In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico, which remains an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world’s oldest colony. Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917 and can move freely between the island and the mainland.
Is a child born in Puerto Rico a US citizen?
The Nationality Act of 1940 established that Puerto Rico was a part of the United States for citizenship purposes. Since Jan. 13, 1941, birth in Puerto Rico amounts to birth in the United States for citizenship purposes.
Will Puerto Rico become the 51st state of the U.S.?
On Tuesday, November 3rd, when other Americans were busy with the election day 2020 in the U.S., fellow Puerto Ricans who are all American citizens voted to become an American state. It seems like after more than 100 years of being a territory, yet contributing to most of the federal taxes, Puerto Rico is finally on the path to becoming the 51st state of America. If everything goes on according to the plans, Puerto Rico should become an American state by 2025.
While politicians always brought excuses for the significant delay, most experts and historians believe that the reason why Puerto Rico is not a state yet has roots in racism against Puerto Ricans because of being of Spanish descendants.
Guam is a U.S. island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. It’s distinguished by tropical beaches, Chamorro villages, and ancient latte-stone pillars.
Why is Guam part of the U.S.?
Guam was claimed by Spain in 1565 and became a U.S. territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. In 1950, an act of Congress made it an unincorporated organized territory of the United States.
Is a child born in Guam a U.S. citizen?
Persons born in Guam on or after December 24, 1952, acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. Section 301(a) INA provides that a person born in and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States shall be a U.S. citizen. Section 307(b) INA conferred U.S. citizenship upon anyone born in Guam after April 11, 1899.
Will Guam become the 51st state of the U.S.?
A poll in Guam is supposed to be held to give people the options of statehood, independence, or free association. But it has not happened yet. However, a study shows that most Guam residents are in favor of becoming a state in the union.
The federal government, however, doesn’t seem to be in favor of making Guam the 51st state, mostly for financial reasons. Guam is heavily relying on the budget arriving from the federal government and has no economical benefit to have its status changed to a state.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are a group of Caribbean islands and islets. A U.S. territory, it’s known for white-sand beaches, reefs, and verdant hills.
Why is the U.S. Virgin Islands a part of the U.S.?
After the United States bought what is now known as the United States Virgin Islands from the Danish, the islands officially became an unincorporated U.S. territory in 1927.
Why is the U.S. Virgin Islands called that?
Christopher Columbus named the islands after Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins (Spanish: Santa Úrsula y las Once Mil Vírgenes), shortened to the Virgins (las Vírgenes).
Is a child born in the U.S. Virgin islands a U.S. citizen?
With very few exceptions, most of which have to do with children born to foreign government officials on assignment to the U.S., a person born in the U.S. Virgin Islands is an American Citizen at birth, under the principle of jus soli, regardless of the nationality of his/her parents.
Will the U.S. virgin islands become the 51st state of the U.S.?
The U.S. Virgin Islands explored the possibility of statehood in 1984, and most recently in a 1993 referendum. But it doesn’t seem that this Caribbean American territory would join the union as a state anytime soon.
The Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean. Saipan, the largest island, is known for its sandy shores and mountainous landscapes. In clear waters off its west coast is the tiny, coral-fringed Mañagaha islet.
When did The Northern Mariana Islands become a U.S. territory?
The Federal law (the Covenant) making the CNMI a U.S. territory passed in 1975. The CNMI adopted its constitution in 1977, and its first constitutional government took office in 1978.
The CNMI was willing to get integrated with Guam, another nearby U.S. territory, but this did not happen; Guam rejected integration in a 1969 referendum.
Is a child born in the Northern Mariana Islands a U.S. citizen?
the Department of State issues U.S. passports to persons born in the Northern Mariana Islands. This is an amazing opportunity for Chinese nationals since the CNMI is visa-free for ordinary Chinese passport holders and a great place to give birth to American children who will have a brighter future compared to their parents.
Will the Northern Mariana Islands become the 51st state of the U.S.?
Although both the CNMI and Guam were pushing for statehood since becoming a U.S. territory, the Northern Mariana Islands will not join the union as a state anytime soon.
American Samoa is a U.S. territory covering 7 South Pacific islands and atolls, in Oceania.
Are American Samoans U.S. citizens?
Unlike other territory residents who are considered American citizens, people in American Samoa are not U.S. citizens, but U.S. national.
What is the difference between a U.S. citizen and U.S. national?
Both U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals are eligible to apply for an American passport and both can serve in the U.S. Army (which a lot of American Samoans do).
But U.S. nationals miss a few perks that U.S. citizens have, like:
- Getting citizenship for your minor children who were born abroad
- Eligibility for certain federal or law enforcement jobs that require citizenship
- Voting in federal elections
- Running for elective office when citizenship is required
- Participating in a jury
The U.S. nationals are eligible to apply for full U.S. citizenship thou and the process is not hard.
What is the difference between Samoa and American Samoa?
Samoa is an independent country, having full control over its land while American Samoa is a U.S. territory. Read more about Samoa here.
Will American Samoa become the 51st state of the U.S.?
American Samoa’s citizens are proud of their identity, as much as they appreciate having ties to the United States. They have full control over their land and have a lot more control over their islands compared to other American territories. Becoming a state would change American Samoans’ lifestyle which is not what they are looking for. Then the answer is no, American Samoa will not become the next American state.
District of Columbia
‘District of Columbia’ is a formal name for Washington, D.C., the capital of the United State of America. This city is not part of any state, nor a state itself.
Since The district is not a state and therefore has no voting representation in Congress. D.C. residents elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives (D.C. At-Large), who may sit on committees, participate in the debate, and introduce legislation, but cannot vote on the House floor. The district has no official representation in the United States Senate. Neither chamber seats the district’s elected “shadow” representative or senators. Unlike residents of U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico or Guam, which also have non-voting delegates,
Do D.C. residents pay tax, similar to other American citizens?
D.C. residents are subject to all federal taxes. In the financial year 2012, D.C. residents and businesses paid $20.7 billion in federal taxes; more than the taxes collected from 19 states and the highest federal taxes per capita.
Will the District of Columbia become the 51st state of the U.S.?
The residents of Washington D.C. have always been trying to get statehood and they use a famous slogan that says “Taxation without representation”, referring to the fact that they have to pay equal taxes like any other American citizen, yet not having similar rights, like other states.
There’s a good chance for Washington D.C. to become the 51st state in near future.
What is your opinion? which territory do you think will be the next American state? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.