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I guess it must be common knowledge, but I recently learned that there are not 50 states in America. There are actually only 46. Four of the "states" are actually commonwealths - Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Though there is technically no distinction between a commonwealth state and an ordinary state.

There are also three other commonwealths in America - Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. And there are separate rules for each.

In addition to these commonwealths, there are three territories as part of America - American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.

And finally, there are several possessions of America - Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands; Kingman Reef; and Johnson, Palmyra, Wake, and Midway Atolls, all in the Pacific; and Navassa Island in the Caribbean.

I haven't been able to find any source on the web on what are the differences between a state, commonwealth, territory, and a possession. Any enlightenments would be welcomed.

Commonwealths & Territories - Ben's Guide
What Are The Six U.S. Territories? - Peurto Rico Herald
The Overseas Territories and Commonwealths Of the United States of America - MacMeekin
U.S. Insular Areas And Freely Associated States - DOI
Four Commonwealths that are not States - InfoPlease
What is the difference between a state and a commonwealth? - Yahoo Ask
Confusion around the Commonwealth! - Magazine USA
Puerto Rico: Independent Country, State or Commonwealth?

Posted: 2002-10-14 16:54:44

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