United States Territories

US Territories

"Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. They are classified as unincorporated territories. They are organized, self-governing territories with locally elected governors and territorial legislatures. Each also elects a non-voting member (or resident commissioner) to the U.S. House of Representatives

"Eleven territories are small islands, atolls and reefs, spread across the Caribbean and Pacific, with no native or permanent populations. These are Palmyra Atoll, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Islands, Bajo Nuevo Bank, Navassa Island, Serranilla Bank and Wake Island, which are claimed by the United States under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. The status of some are disputed by Colombia, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and the Marshall Islands. The Palmyra Atoll is the only territory currently incorporated.

"Historically, territories were created to govern newly acquired land while the borders of the United States were still evolving. Most territories eventually attained statehood. Other territories administered by the United States went on to become independent countries, such as the Philippines, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau. Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau gained independence under the Compact of Free Association (COFA), which allows the U.S. full authority over aid and defense in exchange for continued access to U.S. health care, government services such as the FCC and United States Postal Service, and the right for COFA citizens to work freely in the United States and vice versa.

"Many organized incorporated territories of the United States existed from 1789 to 1959 (the first being the Northwest and the Southwest territories, the last being the Alaska Territory and the Hawaii Territory), through which 31 territories applied for and were granted statehood. In the process of organizing and promoting territories to statehood, some areas of a territory demographically lacking sufficient development and population densities were temporarily orphaned from parts of a larger territory at the time a vote was taken petitioning Congress for statehood rights. For example, when a portion of the Missouri Territory became the state of Missouri, the remaining portion of the territory, consisting of the present states of Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas, most of Kansas, Wyoming, and Montana, and parts of Colorado and Minnesota, effectively became an unorganized territory."

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