A U.S. state is any one of the 50 subnational entities of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government (four states use the official title of commonwealth rather than state). Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile.[1] However, state citizenship is very flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states (with the exception of convicts on parole).

The United States Constitution allocates power between the two levels of government in general terms. By ratifying the Constitution, each state transfers certain sovereign powers to the federal government. Under the Tenth Amendment, all powers not explicitly transferred are retained by the states and the people. Historically, the tasks of public education, public health, transportation and other infrastructure have been considered primarily state responsibilities, although all have significant federal funding and regulation as well.

Over time, the Constitution has been amended, and the interpretation and application of its provisions have changed. The general tendency has been toward centralization, with the federal government playing a much larger role than it once did. There is a continuing debate over "states' rights", which concerns the extent and nature of the states' powers and sovereignty (in relation to that of the federal government) and their power over individuals.

Federal power Edit

Since the 1930s, the Supreme Court of the United States has interpreted the Commerce Clause of the Constitution of the United States in an expansive way that has dramatically expanded the scope of federal power. For example, Congress can regulate railway traffic across state lines, but it may also regulate rail traffic solely within a state, based on the theory that wholly intrastate traffic can still have an impact on interstate commerce.

Another source of Congressional power is its "spending power"—the ability of Congress to impose uniform taxes across the nation and then distribute the resulting revenue back to the states (subject to strict conditions set by Congress). A classic example of this is the system of "federal-aid highways", which includes the Interstate Highway System. The system is mandated and largely funded by the federal government, but also serves the interests of the states. By threatening to withhold federal highway funds, Congress has been able to persuade state legislatures to pass a variety of laws. Although some object that this infringes on states' rights, the Supreme Court has upheld the practice as a permissible use of the Constitution's Spending Clause.

State governments Edit

States are free to organize their state governments any way they like, as long as they conform to the sole requirement of the U.S. Constitution that they have "a Republican Form of Government". In practice, each state has adopted a three branch system of government generally along the same lines as that of the federal government—though this is not a requirement.

Despite the fact that each state has chosen to follow the federal model, there are significant differences in some states. One of the most notable is that of the unicameral Nebraska Legislature, which, unlike the legislatures of the other 49 states, has only one house. While there is only one federal president, who then selects a Cabinet responsible to him, most states have a plural executive, with members of the executive branch elected directly by the people and serving as equal members of the state cabinet alongside the governor. And only a few states choose to have their judicial branch leaders—their judges on the state's courts—serve for life terms.

A key difference between states is that many rural states have part-time legislatures, while the states with the highest populations tend to have full-time legislatures. Texas, the second largest state in population, is a notable exception to this: excepting special sessions, the Texas Legislature is limited by law to 140 calendar days out of every two years. In Baker v. Carr, the U.S. Supreme Court held that all states are required to have legislative districts which are proportional in terms of population.

States can also organize their judicial systems differently from the federal judiciary, as long as due process is protected. See state court and state supreme court for more information. Most have a trial level court, generally called a District Court or Superior Court, a first-level appellate court, generally called a Court of Appeal (or Appeals), and a Supreme Court. However, Texas has a separate highest court for criminal appeals. New York state is notorious for its unusual terminology, in that the trial court is called the Supreme Court. Appeals are then taken to the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and from there to the Court of Appeals. Most states base their legal system on English common law (with substantial indigenous changes and incorporation of certain civil law innovations), with the notable exception of Louisiana, which draws large parts of its legal system from French civil law.

Relationships among the states Edit

Under Article IV of the Constitution, which outlines the relationship between the states, the United States Congress has the power to admit new states to the union. The states are required to give "full faith and credit" to the acts of each other's legislatures and courts, which is generally held to include the recognition of legal contracts, marriages, criminal judgments, and—at the time—slave status. States are prohibited from discriminating against citizens of other states with respect to their basic rights, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. The states are guaranteed military and civil defense by the federal government, which is also required to ensure that the government of each state remains a republic.

States called commonwealths Edit

Main article: Commonwealth (United States)

Four of the states bear the formal title of commonwealth: Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In these cases, this is merely a historically based name and has no legal effect. Somewhat confusingly, two U.S. territories—Puerto Rico and the Northern Marianas—are also referred to as commonwealths, and do have a legal status different from the states (both are unincorporated territories).

List of states Edit

Template:USA imagemap with state names

The following sortable table lists each of the 50 states of the United States with the following information:

  1. The common state name
  2. The preferred pronunciation of the common state name as transcribed with the International Phonetic Alphabet (see Help:IPA for English for a key)
  3. The United States Postal Service (USPS) two-character state abbreviation[2]
    (also used as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Standard 3166-2 country subdivision code)
  4. An image of the official state flag
  5. The date the state ratified the United States Constitution or was admitted to the Union
  6. The United States Census Bureau estimate of state population as of July 1, 2007[3][4]
  7. The state capital
  8. The most populous incorporated place or Census Designated Place within the state as of 2007-07-01, as estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau[5]
The 50 United States of America
Official State Name Common IPA USPS Flag Date Population Capital Most Populous City
State of Alabama Alabama Template:IPA AL 48px 181912141819-12-14 04,627,851 Montgomery Birmingham
State of Alaska Alaska Template:IPA AK 45px 195901031959-01-03 00,683,478 Juneau Anchorage
State of Arizona Arizona Template:IPA AZ 48px 191202141912-02-14 06,338,755 Phoenix Phoenix
State of Arkansas Arkansas Template:IPA AR 48px 183606151836-06-15 02,834,797 Little Rock Little Rock
State of California California Template:IPA CA 48px 185009091850-09-09 36,553,215 Sacramento Los Angeles
State of Colorado Colorado Template:IPA CO 48px 187608011876-08-01 04,861,515 Denver Denver
State of Connecticut Connecticut Template:IPA CT 48px 178801091788-01-09 03,502,309 Hartford Bridgeport[6]
State of Delaware Delaware Template:IPA DE 48px 178712071787-12-07 00,864,764 Dover Wilmington
State of Florida Florida Template:IPA FL 48px 184503031845-03-03 18,251,243 Tallahassee Jacksonville[7]
State of Georgia Georgia Template:IPA GA 48px 178801021788-01-02 09,544,750 Atlanta Atlanta
[[Hawaii|State of Hawaii
Template:Unicode]] (Hawaiian)
Hawaii Template:IPA HI 48px 195908211959-08-21 01,283,388 Honolulu Honolulu
State of Idaho Idaho Template:IPA ID 39px 189007031890-07-03 01,499,402 Boise Boise
State of Illinois Illinois Template:IPA IL 48px 181812031818-12-03 12,852,548 Springfield Chicago
State of Indiana Indiana Template:IPA IN 48px 181612111816-12-11 06,345,289 Indianapolis Indianapolis
State of Iowa Iowa Template:IPA IA 46px 184612281846-12-28 02,988,046 Des Moines Des Moines
State of Kansas Kansas Template:IPA KS 48px 186101291861-01-29 02,775,997 Topeka Wichita
Commonwealth of Kentucky Kentucky Template:IPA KY 48px 179206011792-06-01 04,241,474 Frankfort Louisville
State of Louisiana
État de Louisiane
Template:Fact (French)
Louisiana Template:IPA LA 48px 181204301812-04-30 04,293,204 Baton Rouge New Orleans
State of Maine Maine Template:IPA ME 48px 182003151820-03-15 01,317,207 Augusta Portland
State of Maryland Maryland Template:IPA MD 48px 178804281788-04-28 05,618,344 Annapolis Baltimore[8]
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts Template:IPA MA 48px 178802061788-02-06 06,449,755 Boston Boston
State of Michigan Michigan Template:IPA MI 47px 183701261837-01-26 10,071,822 Lansing Detroit
State of Minnesota Minnesota Template:IPA MN 48px 185805111858-05-11 05,197,621 Saint Paul Minneapolis
State of Mississippi Mississippi Template:IPA MS 48px 181712101817-12-10 02,918,785 Jackson Jackson
State of Missouri Missouri Template:IPA MO 48px 182108101821-08-10 05,878,415 Jefferson City Kansas City[9]
State of Montana Montana Template:IPA MT 48px 188911081889-11-08 00,957,861 Helena Billings
State of Nebraska Nebraska Template:IPA NE 48px 186703011867-03-01 01,774,571 Lincoln Omaha
State of Nevada Nevada Template:IPA NV 48px 186410311864-10-31 02,565,382 Carson City Las Vegas
State of New Hampshire New Hampshire Template:IPA NH 48px 178806211788-06-21 01,315,828 Concord Manchester[10]
State of New Jersey New Jersey Template:IPA NJ 48px 178712181787-12-18 08,685,920 Trenton Newark[11]
State of New Mexico New Mexico Template:IPA NM 48px 191201061912-01-06 01,969,915 Santa Fe Albuquerque
State of New York New York Template:IPA NY 48px 178807261788-07-26 19,297,729 Albany New York[12]
State of North Carolina North Carolina Template:IPA NC 48px 178911211789-11-21 09,061,032 Raleigh Charlotte
State of North Dakota North Dakota Template:IPA ND 40px 188911021889-11-02 00,639,715 Bismarck Fargo
State of Ohio Ohio Template:IPA OH 48px 180303011803-03-01 11,466,917 Columbus Columbus[13]
State of Oklahoma Oklahoma Template:IPA OK 48px 190711161907-11-16 03,617,316 Oklahoma City Oklahoma City
State of Oregon Oregon Template:IPA OR 48px 185902141859-02-14 03,747,455 Salem Portland
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Template:IPA PA 48px 178712121787-12-12 12,432,792 Harrisburg Philadelphia
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Rhode Island Template:IPA RI 32px 179005291790-05-29 01,057,832 Providence Providence
State of South Carolina South Carolina Template:IPA SC 48px 178805231788-05-23 04,407,709 Columbia Columbia[14]
State of South Dakota South Dakota Template:IPA SD 48px 188911021889-11-02 00,796,214 Pierre Sioux Falls
State of Tennessee Tennessee Template:IPA TN 48px 179606011796-06-01 06,156,719 Nashville Memphis[15]
State of Texas Texas Template:IPA TX 48px 184512291845-12-29 23,904,380 Austin Houston[16]
State of Utah Utah Template:IPA UT 48px 189601041896-01-04 02,645,330 Salt Lake City Salt Lake City
State of Vermont Vermont Template:IPA VT 48px 179103041791-03-04 00,621,254 Montpelier Burlington
Commonwealth of Virginia Virginia Template:IPA VA 46px 178806251788-06-25 07,712,091 Richmond Virginia Beach[17]
State of Washington Washington Template:IPA WA 48px 188911111889-11-11 06,468,424 Olympia Seattle
State of West Virginia West Virginia Template:IPA WV 48px 186306201863-06-20 01,812,035 Charleston Charleston
State of Wisconsin Wisconsin Template:IPA WI 48px 184805291848-05-29 05,601,640 Madison Milwaukee
State of Wyoming Wyoming Template:IPA WY 48px 189007101890-07-10 00,522,830 Cheyenne Cheyenne

Grouping of the states in regions Edit

File:Map of USA showing regions.png

States may be grouped in regions; there are endless variations and possible groupings, as most states are not defined by obvious geographic or cultural borders. For further discussion of regions of the U.S., see the list of regions of the United States.

State lists Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. See the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. Template:Cite web
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. Template:Cite web
  6. The Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Connecticut.
  7. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Florida.
  8. Baltimore City and the 12 Maryland counties of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Maryland.
  9. The City of Saint Louis and the 8 Missouri counties of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Missouri.
  10. The 5 southeastern New Hampshire counties of the Boston-Worcester-Manchester Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Hampshire.
  11. The 13 northern New Jersey counties of the New York-Newark-Bridgeport Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in New Jersey.
  12. New York City is the most populous city in the United States.
  13. The Cleveland-Akron-Elyria Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Ohio.
  14. The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in South Carolina.
  15. The Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Columbia Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Tennessee.
  16. The Dallas-Fort Worth Combined Statistical Area is the most populous metropolitan area in Texas.
  17. The 10 Virginia counties and 6 Virginia cities of the Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia Combined Statistical Area form the most populous metropolitan region in Virginia.

External links Edit


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