Territories, Possessions, and Influenced Areas of the  United States of America

By image -September 11, 2003

When we think of the United States we often think of the 50 official states, but there is much more to America than just the 50 states.  Below is a listing of all of the territories, commonwealths, and possessions of the United States of America.

Territories:

  • American Samoa - since 1878 (original purpose of acquisition: coaling station)

  • Guam - since 1898 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance)

  • United States Virgin Islands - since 1917 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance)

Commonwealths:

  • Puerto Rico - under US control since 1900, became a commonwealth in 1902 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance)

  • Northern Mariana Islands - under US control since 1947, became a commonwealth in 1978 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance) see also

Possessions:

  • Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands - since 1857 (original purpose of acquisition: guano production)

  • Navassa Island - since 1857 (original purpose of acquisition: guano production)

  • Johnston Island - since 1858 (original purpose of acquisition: guano production)

  • Midway Atolls - claimed in 1876, annexed in 1908 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance)

  • Palmyra Atoll - since 1898 (original purpose of acquisition: was part of the Hawaii acquisition)

  • Wake Islands - since 1898 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance)

  • Guantanamo Bay - since 1898 (original purpose of acquisition: military significance)

  • Kingman Reef - since 1922 (original purpose of acquisition: stopping point for air traffic)

Compacts of Free Association:

For more information about these American places and how they are governed see:

http://www.macmeekin.com/Library/terr+commonw2.htm

In addition to these places it is helpful to know which places have been possessions of the United States in the past as well.  Previously occupied American territories include:

On a more subjective level there are also many countries who's leaders or political systems have been controlled or influenced by the United States in some way over the years.  For the purpose of helping to understand American influence I will include some of these places here and the times in which it is generally accepted that their political systems were under significant influence of the United States.

  • Nicaragua 1855 - 1860

  • Liberia 1820 - 1865

  • Cuba 1898 - 1952

  • Germany 1945 - 1955

  • Japan 1945 - 1955

  • South Korea 1948 - 1960

  • Congo 1960 - 1964

  • Vietnam 1950 - 1973

  • Chile 1964 - 1973

  • Iran 1953 - 1979

  • Guatemala 1953 - 1980s

  • Indonesia/East Timor 1965 - 2002

  • Iraq 2003 - ?

Timeline of major American wars and acquisitions

image

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