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  Wikipedia: United States territory

Wikipedia: United States territory
United States territory
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

United States territory contains a myriad of political divisions, including states, territories, cities, townships, counties, the federal district, possessions, embassies and consulates, and non-municipal districts like school districts or utilities districts. There are an estimated 85,000 current political entities in the United States.

Territory of the United States

The United States territory is the extent of region under the control of the United States of America federal government. These regions, districts, and divisions are under the supervision of the United States federal government. The United States territory is a clearly defined geographical area and refers to an area of land under jurisdiction of United States federal governmental authority. This extent of territory is all the area belonging to, and under the dominion of, the United States of America federal government (which includes tracts of land lying at a distance from the country) for administrative and other purposes.

Territories have historically been divided into incorporated territories and unincorporated territories. Incorporated territories are areas which are intended to become states, while unincorporated territories are not. Since the admission of Alaska and Hawaii, there are no incorporated territories of the United States.

Territories should also be distinguished from commonwealths, such as Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas. In these areas, Congress has delegated some powers to the local population. Unlike states, these powers are not constitutionally entrenched, and the Congress has the power to withdraw those powers.

The United States territory can include illegally occupied territory, which is a geographic area that claims sovereignty, but is being illegally or forcibly subjugated to the authority of the United States of America federal government.

The United States territory can also include disputed territory, which is a geographic area claimed by United States of America federal government and one (or more) rival governments.

Constitution of the United States

In the Constitution of the United States, territory is also portions of the country subject to and belonging to the United States but not within the national boundaries of any of any individual state. This includes portions of the country not included within the limits of any State and not admitted as a State into the Union. These usually are legally administered territory, which is a non-sovereign geographic area that has voluntarily come under the authority of another government. These are usually organized with a separate legislature under a Territorial governor and officers appointed by the President and Senate of the United States. For example, American Samoa is a territory of the government of the United States.

The Constitution of the United States states,

"the congress shall have power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property of the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be construed, so as to preclude the claims of the United States or of any state." - Article IV

Congress of the United States

Congress possesses power to set territorial governments within the territory of the United States. The power of congress over such territory is exclusive and universal. Congress legislation is subject to no control, unless in the case of ceded territory.

Supreme Court of the United States

All territory under the control of the federal government is considered part of the "United States" for purposes of law. The Supreme Court ruling from 1945 stated that the term "United States" can have three different meanings, in different contexts.

"The term 'United States' may be used in any one of several senses. It may be merely the name of a sovereign occupying the position analogous to that of other sovereigns in the family of nations. It may designate the territory over which the sovereignty of the United States extends, or it may be the collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution." [Hooven & Allison Co. v. Evatt, 324 U.S. 652 (1945)]

This means that the United States territory is composed of any area or region over which the federal government has jurisdiction, including the 50 states, plus all federal possessions and territories.

United States Department of the Interior

On March 3, 1849, during the last day of the 30th Congress, a bill was passed to create the Department of the Interior to take charge of the United States territory internal affairs. The Interior Department had a wide range of responsibilities (which include the regulation of territorial governments, the basic responsibilities for public lands, and other various duties). In one way or another all of these had to do with the internal development of the United States territory or the welfare of its people.

In contrast to similarly named Departments in other countries, the United States Department of the Interior is not responsible for local government or for civil administration except in the cases of Indian reservations.

Historic territories of the United States

The United States currently has no incorporated territories--territories slated to become states. This has been the case since 1959, up to which point large parts of the United States were under the control of the federal government, with nominal political autonomy at the territorial level. See also: List of U.S. states that were never territories

Listed in more or less chrononical order:

Federal district of the United States

A separate federal district under the direct authority of congress, the District of Columbia, was formed independent of any state. It is there that the nation's capital city resides. The city contains the historic Federal City and is that part that was originally designed as the National Capitol. It is part of the United States of America but not part of any state.

States of the United States

Main article: States of the United States

At the Declaration of Independence, the United States consisted of 13 states. In the following years, this number has grown steadily due to expansion to the west, conquest and purchase of lands by the American government, and division of existing states to the current number of 50:

The contiguous part of the U.S. (i.e. without Hawaii and Alaska) is called continental United States.

Counties in the United States

The states are divided into smaller administrative regions, called counties in most states--exceptions being Alaska (boroughs) and Louisiana (parishes). Counties can include a number of cities and towns, or sometimes just a part of a city. These counties have varying degrees of political and legal significance. For further detail, visit counties and county statistics of the United States.

Cities in the United States

There are approximately 30,000 incorporated cities in the United States. For more information, visit cities of the United States

Townships in the United States

Township is an intermediate civic designation between city and county; cities sometimes cross county boundaries, townships never do. Some townships have governments and political power, others are simply geographic designations. For more information, see township.

Dependent areas of the United States

Several islands in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea are dependent territories of the United States:

(The term "commonwealth" expresses the political relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas).

The United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay is leased from Cuba and only mutual agreement or U.S. abandonment of the area can terminate the lease.

The United States has made no territorial claim in Antarctica but has reserved the right to do so.

From July 18, 1947 until October 1, 1994, the U.S. administered the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, but recently entered into a new political relationship with all four political units.

Land occupied by the United States

Main article: Occupied territories

Historically, all of the United States of America was originally the territory of a multitude of Native American Indian tribes/nations. However, the source of this situation goes back several centuries, and includes land taken from Native Americans by the Spanish, French, Russians, Dutch, Danish and British. In the case of America, it is incorrect to hold that the Federal government of the United States of America, which only came into existence in 1776, for bein responsible for the initial issues. However, there is reportedly Native American Indian territory that is currently illegally occupied by the United States; this is said to be because this land legally belongs to various Native American Indian groups due to legally binding treaties signed between the United States of America and particular Indian tribes, which the tribes view that the United States of America later violated.

The United States is an occupying power of the following countries:

  • Iraq, this power is shared with the United Kingdom. Iraq retains its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The United States was previously an occupying power of Japan and West Germany.

See also


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona