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Encyclopedia > U.S. States

A U.S. state is any one of the 50 states which have membership of the federation known as the United States of America (USA or U.S.). The separate state governments and the U.S. federal government share sovereignty. The United States Constitution allocates power between the two levels of government in general terms. 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.



List of states

The states, with their US postal abbreviations, Associated Press abbreviations, and capitals, are:

AL Ala. Alabama Montgomery
AK Alaska Alaska Juneau
AZ Ariz. Arizona Phoenix
AR Ark. Arkansas Little Rock
CA Calif. California Sacramento
CO Colo. Colorado Denver
CT Conn. Connecticut Hartford
DE Del. Delaware Dover
FL Fla. Florida Tallahassee
GA Ga. Georgia Atlanta
HI Hawaii Hawaii Honolulu
ID Idaho Idaho Boise
IL Ill. Illinois Springfield
IN Ind. Indiana Indianapolis
IA Iowa Iowa Des Moines
KS Kan. Kansas Topeka
KY Ky. Kentucky Frankfort
LA La. Louisiana Baton Rouge
ME Maine Maine Augusta
MD Md. Maryland Annapolis
MA Mass. Massachusetts Boston
MI Mich. Michigan Lansing
MN Minn. Minnesota Saint Paul
MS Miss. Mississippi Jackson
MO Mo. Missouri Jefferson City
MT Mont. Montana Helena
NE Neb. Nebraska Lincoln
NV Nev. Nevada Carson City
NH N.H. New Hampshire Concord
NJ N.J. New Jersey Trenton
NM N.M. New Mexico Santa Fe
NY N.Y. New York Albany
NC N.C. North Carolina Raleigh
ND N.D. North Dakota Bismarck
OH Ohio Ohio Columbus
OK Okla. Oklahoma Oklahoma City
OR Ore. Oregon Salem
PA Pa. Pennsylvania Harrisburg
RI R.I. Rhode Island Providence
SC S.C. South Carolina Columbia
SD S.D. South Dakota Pierre
TN Tenn. Tennessee Nashville
TX Texas Texas Austin
UT Utah Utah Salt Lake City
VT Vt. Vermont Montpelier
VA Va. Virginia Richmond
WA Wash. Washington Olympia
WV W.Va. West Virginia Charleston
WI Wis. Wisconsin Madison
WY Wyo. Wyoming Cheyenne

For a complete list of non-state dependent areas and other territory under control of the U.S., see United States dependent areas.


At the time of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, the 13 colonies became 13 independently sovereign states. Upon the adoption of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the states became a single sovereign political entity as defined by international law, empowered to levy war and to conduct international relations, albeit with a very loosely structured and inefficient central government. After the failure of the union under the Articles of Confederation, the 13 states joined the modern union via ratification of the Constitution, beginning in 1789.

The U.S. Congress has the power to admit new states to the Union.

The Constitution is silent on the issue of the secession of a state from the United States, but the Articles of Confederation stated that "the union shall be perpetual," and the Declaration of Independence already clarifies the circumstances that permit legitimate secession, limiting that justification to overtly tyrannical government. Also, the U.S. judicial system, in the case of Texas v. White, established that states do not have the right to secede, at least under normal circumstances.

Various facts about the states

  • "Georgia" can refer to either a U.S. state or to an independent country in the Caucasus.
  • The name "New York" can refer to any one of three geographical levels: a state, a city in that state, or a county (coterminous with the borough of Manhattan) in that city.
  • The state of Washington is the only state named after a U.S. President (or after a person born within the area now comprising the U.S., for that matter).
  • States are free to organize their judicial systems differently from the federal judiciary, as long as due process is protected. See state supreme court for more information. For example, most lawsuits in the state of New York are filed in the Supreme Court, and then appealed to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. The highest court in New York is the Court of Appeals.
  • One state at the time of joining the United States had the right to divide itself into up to five separate states. The treaty of annexation by which the Republic of Texas joined the United States in 1845 included this provision; the state of Texas arguably retains that right by virtue of the treaty.
  • Only two states have state capitals named for the state (however, such name-sharing occurs commonly with states and provinces in some other countries, where the state or province actually often takes its name from a capital city): Oklahoma, with capital Oklahoma City, and Indiana, with capital Indianapolis (which means Indiana City). Iowa City, Iowa was the first state capital of Iowa but the capital was later moved to Des Moines, Iowa.

Grouping of the states in regions

U.S. Census Bureau regions:
The West, The Midwest, The South and The Northeast

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.

See also

External links

Political divisions of the United States
States Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Federal district District of Columbia
Insular areas American Samoa | Baker Island | Guam | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll | Kingman Reef | Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Palmyra Atoll | Puerto Rico | Virgin Islands | Wake Island



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