Territories are separate bodies under the jurisdiction of another country. For example, here is a list of US terrortories. The natives of these areas are non-taxpaying citizens. They qualify for medicare and social security, but cannot be drafted into the army.

Here are some US Territories, along with their land area and capital city/controlling force.

American Samoa ............. 77sq mi ....... Pago Pago
Baker Island ............... 1sq mi ........ N/A
Guam ....................... 212sq mi ...... Agaña
Howland Island ............. 1sq mi ........ N/A
Jarvis Island .............. 1sq mi ........ N/A
Johnston Atoll ............. 1.1sq mi ...... US Navy
Kingman Reef(submerged) .... 9.5sq mi ...... US Navy
Midway Islands ............. 2sq mi ........ US Navy
Navassa Island ............. 2sq mi ........ N/A
Northern Mariana Islands ... 184sq mi ...... Chalan Kanoa
Palmyra Atoll .............. 4.6sq mi ...... N/A
Puerto Rico ................ 3,495sq mi .... San Juan
Virgin Islands ............. 276sq mi ...... Charlotte Amalie
Wake Island ................ 2.5sq mi ...... N/A

The United States of America maintains sovereignty over a number of islands, mostly found in the Pacific Ocean and Carribean Sea.

Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa are its major Territories while Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands make up its principal Commonwealths. Many other tiny islands are considered simple possessions of the United States.

In his article entitled, The Overseas Territories and Commonwealths Of the United States of America1, Attorney at Law Dan MacMeekin makes the excellent point that only a U.S. Citizen residing in a State is entitled to vote for the President of the United States, Senators or Representatives in the House of Representatives.

Mr. MacMeekin also notes that until the early 20th century, gaining territorial status was a stepping stone to Statehood -- this stopped with the acquisition of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippine Islands and Guam in the Spanish American War. Since territories are no longer intended for Statehood, he says, any justifications for treating them as inferior jurisdictions disappear.

The American consensus seems to be that, although Citizens living outside the fifty States are unable to vote, they also don't have to pay federal taxes. It's also commonly suggested that residents of Territories or possessions don't desire Statehood, although aside from a series of public referendums there's really no way to say.


1 Dan MacMeekin's article is available online from: http://www.macmeekin.com/Library/terr+commonw2.htm

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