What is the number of US commonwealths that exist outside of the mainland?

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By Laurie Baratti

Understanding US Commonwealths

The United States is a vast country that extends beyond the mainland into various territories, including commonwealths. Commonwealths are unique entities that are not states but have a special relationship with the United States. The term “commonwealth” does not necessarily indicate a political union or relationship with the United States, but in the context of American territories, it indicates a self-governing political entity that has a unique relationship with the United States.

The Definition of a US Commonwealth

A US commonwealth is an unincorporated territory that has a unique relationship with the United States. These territories are not states and do not have the same rights and privileges as states. However, they have a certain level of autonomy and self-governance, which means that they can govern themselves to a certain extent. The relationship between the United States and commonwealths is governed by the US Constitution, which grants Congress the power to oversee and regulate these territories.

Location of US Commonwealths

US commonwealths are located outside of the mainland and are scattered across the globe. Most commonwealths are located in the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. These territories are often islands with small populations. Some commonwealths, such as the Commonwealth of the Philippines, are located in Asia.

Number of US Commonwealths

There are currently three US commonwealths: Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and the Philippines. However, there have been other territories in the past that have been designated as commonwealths, but their status has changed since then.

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is the most populous US commonwealth, with a population of approximately 3.2 million people. It is located in the Caribbean and has been a US commonwealth since 1952. Puerto Rico has a unique relationship with the United States, which allows it to govern itself to a certain extent while maintaining close ties with the US.

Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands

The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands is located in the Pacific Ocean and consists of 14 islands. It has a population of approximately 52,000 people and has been a US commonwealth since 1978. The Northern Mariana Islands has its own government and legal system, but the United States has authority over its foreign affairs and defense.

Commonwealth of the Philippines

The Commonwealth of the Philippines was a US commonwealth from 1935 to 1946. It was established as a transition government in preparation for Philippine independence from the United States. However, the Philippines became an independent nation in 1946, ending its status as a US commonwealth.

Other Former US Commonwealths

There have been other territories that have been designated as commonwealths in the past, but their status has changed since then. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands was previously part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, which was administered by the United States. The Republic of Palau was also part of the Trust Territory but became an independent nation in 1994.

Current Relationship between US and Commonwealths

The relationship between the United States and its commonwealths is complex and multifaceted. While commonwealths have a certain level of autonomy and self-governance, they are still subject to US law and regulation. The United States also has authority over their foreign affairs and defense.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Commonwealth Status

The advantages of being a US commonwealth include access to US funding and resources, protection from foreign threats, and a certain level of autonomy and self-governance. However, there are also disadvantages, such as limited representation in Congress, lack of voting rights in presidential elections, and the inability to make decisions without the approval of the United States.

Future Outlook for US Commonwealths

The future of US commonwealths is uncertain. Some territories, such as Puerto Rico, have expressed a desire for statehood, while others, such as the Northern Mariana Islands, have expressed satisfaction with their current status. The United States will need to balance the desires of these territories with its own interests and priorities.

Conclusion: The Importance of US Commonwealths

US commonwealths play an important role in the United States’ global presence and political influence. While they are not states, they have a unique relationship with the United States that allows them to govern themselves while maintaining close ties with the US. As the world continues to change, the United States will need to adapt to ensure that its commonwealths remain an important part of its political and economic landscape.

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Laurie Baratti

Laurie Baratti, a renowned San Diego journalist, has contributed to respected publications like TravelAge West, SPACE, Modern Home + Living, Montage, and Sandals Life. She's a passionate travel writer, constantly exploring beyond California. Besides her writing, Laurie is an avid equestrian and dedicated pet owner. She's a strong advocate for the Oxford comma, appreciating the richness of language.

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