Is The United States A Country? What is a country? The traditional definition is a state with sovereignty over a geographic area with a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states.
So does the United States perfectly match this description?
And, perhaps even more importantly, what exactly is the United States?
When you say the words “United States of America”,you sort of assume the country is in America.
But that’s not really the case,America means the continents of North and South America.
But only 99.5 percent of the United States of America is actually located here and 1.6 percent of all Americans live outside of America.
Most of this non American, yet still American land is located on islands in both the Caribbean and Pacific.
In the Pacific, we have Hawaii, which is the only state out of 50 to be located outside of America.
And a bunch of other islands that together make up something called US Territory.
Territories are part of the US and are divided between Incorporated and Unincorporated territory.
But they are all directly governed by Congress,which means that they are essentially ruled by what the 50 states decide.
All without any representation for themselves and without the ability to even vote for president.
The furthest away of these territories is Guam, which is a little chunk of America 3,633 miles away from the nearest state, Hawaii.
And 7,912 miles away from the US Capital building, where the laws governing the island are decided.
There are 160,000 people who live on Guam and there are 4 other island territories with people on them.
The Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, The US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
There are 8 other islands scattered around there too, but nobody lives on those, so they’re not really that important.
The US Constitution only partially applies in all of these territories which is getting more and more awkward all the time.
In a place like Puerto Rico which has a higher population than these 21 actual states.
Puerto Rico may very well someday in the future actually become the 51st state.
But a place that likely won’t anytime soon is this tiny island in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific.
This is Palmyra Atoll, home of nobody, but the only incorporated territory of the United States, meaning that the US Constitution fully applies here.
And anybody born here for whatever reason automatically becomes a US citizen.
Weirdly, the person who is given the right to administer this island is the U.S. President, which I am sure is probably very high on the list of Presidential things to be doing.
The President also has to worry about some U.S. land that is contested with other countries.
like these two uninhabited islands covered in bird poop that are claimed by Colombia or these islands off the coast of Maine that is claimed by both the U.S. and Canada which strangely means if you were to give birth on either of them your child would automatically gain both american and canadian citizenship and perhaps most controversially of all this piece of land in Cuba called Guantanamo Bay it’s actually not a small space.
Guantanamo Bay is larger than five UN-recognized sovereign states and it is about the same size as the island of Jersey between England and France.
Cuba has laid claim to the territory ever since 1959 but the United States has so far decided to keep it instead.
Now that’s all of America that isn’t actually located in America but what about the other 99.5% of the country that we have been neglecting so far Well, that would be the 49 states then make up the rest of the United States along with Hawaii.
The states have the power to elect representatives that are sent to congress which creates laws for the entire union, the individual states are granted a considerable amount of power on their own by congress and they share this power with the federal or the national government, the state and federal government are both allowed to pass their own separate laws which have caused a huge amount of trouble in the nation’s past over which laws are more valid the civil war answered the question once and for all though however federal law always wins over state law, the civil war also decided that states never have the right to leave the union, once they have joined even today.
So a state could actually vote to leave the union but it would not ever be recognized by the federal government states also cannot ever declare a federal law to be invalid, but they can kind of get around that by legalizing things that the federal government has declared illegal.
The most famous instance of this is Marijuana which continues to be illegal everywhere in the United States on the federal level.
But has been fully legalized for all uses in the states of Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Oregon.
Since federal law always wins over state law.
The federal government could in theory, at any time, enter any of these states with federal law enforcement and arrest the hundreds of thousands of people participating in legal state laws but illegal federal laws.
The only reason why they haven’t yet is just because they’ve decided that it isn’t worth their time.
But if states can ignore federal law or even legalize things that are technically illegal.
Then what does it say about our definition of a country particularly the sovereignty part.
Further how many people in states identify more with their own individual state over the actual country of the United States?
Despite how we just discussed earlier the illegality of secession.
the states that continued to have active separatist movement regardless of that are Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, New Hampshire the former Confederate States of America, and most famously, Texas.
The only remotely significant ones however are: Texas, Hawaii, and probably biggest of all, Alaska.
where the Alaska Independence Party is currently polling at around 6% of the population and even got their candidate elected governor of the state back in 1990.
And finally, there is one more significant way that you can challenge the definition of a country in regards to the United States.
The defined territory part that we went over in the beginning.
This map leaves out the numerous American Indian reservations located within the U.S. of which there are 326.
Many of them are very small but 12 reservations are actually larger than the state of Rhode Island.
And the biggest one, the Navajo Nation reservation, is about the same size as West Virginia or Latvia for the Europeans watching this video.
and has a population of nearly 200,000 people.
Together, these reservations have a population of over 1 million people and take up space the size of Idaho or a little larger than Belarus.
These reservations are granted something called Tribal Sovereignty, which gives them the right to govern themselves within the territory of the United States.
The federal government recognizes these reservations sort of like independent countries calling them officially “Domestic Dependent Nations”.
They have jurisdiction over their own land and can pass laws separate or even in violation of both state and federal laws, which is why the largest casino in the world is located on one of these reservations in Oklahoma, despite the fact that gambling is illegal in Oklahoma.
You can gamble anywhere on the territory or the reservation but as soon as you step off back into state territory, it suddenly becomes instantly illegal again.
Reservations sometimes even have their own court, their own police forces elect their own president and even lead foreign delegations abroad as representatives not of the United States, but of the reservation.
Therefore you could actually really draw the United States to look like this if you took out all American Indian reservations which are extremely independent anyway.
But all of the remaining states can have their own unique laws and even disregard some federal laws that are passed by Congress.
So the only territory that is 100% governed by the federal government is this city of Washington D.C., which isn’t a part of any state and the islands that make up the US territories.
So that really begs the question again, what exactly is the United States and is the United States actually a country?
So the European Union is actually a lot like the United States.
They are both composed of a bunch of different states, they both have open borders, they each have a common currency, a sential government with representatives from the different states.
The only big difference is that the United States is a country.
And the European Union is made up of countries.
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