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091 Name one U.S. territory.

 91. Name one U.S. territory.
• Puerto Rico • American Samoa • Guam
• U.S. Virgin Islands • Northern Mariana Islands

When most people think of the United States, they think about the 50 states, but they often forget that other parts of the world are part of the United States, too. A U.S. territory is an area of land that belongs to the U.S. government but is not a state or the country’s capital, Washington, DC. Right now there are five U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Three of these territories – Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands – are in the Pacific Ocean. The other two territories – Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – are in the Atlantic Ocean.

Those territories are unincorporated, which means that the land belongs to the United States, but only certain parts of the U.S. Constitution (or the country’s most important legal document) are applied to those territories. The territories have to follow some parts of the Constitution, but they do not have to follow all of it. Let’s take a look at what this means for one territory, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. Spain ceded (or gave) Puerto Rico to the United States. Since then, Puerto
Rico has been a U.S. territory. The head of state (or most important political leader) of Puerto Rico is the president of the United States. But Puerto Rico also has its own government which mirrors (or is very similar to) the U.S. government. Puerto Rico’s government has three branches or parts just like the U.S. government does. These branches are the executive (which enforces laws), the legislative (which makes laws), and the judicial (which decides what laws mean). In the United States, the head or leader of the executive branch is the president. In Puerto Rico, the head of the executive branch is called a governor.

The 50 states in the United States have representation in Congress (or the national government), meaning that people from those states can vote in the national legislature. As a territory, Puerto Rico doesn’t have this same representation, but it does have a nonvoting delegate, which is a person who is elected to be part of the U.S. Congress but cannot vote there.

An interesting thing is that Puerto Ricans who live in Puerto Rico are prohibited from voting in the U.S. presidential elections, meaning that they cannot help decide who will be the next U.S. president. But Puerto Ricans who live in a U.S. state can vote to decide who will be the next U.S. president.


territory – an area of land that belongs to the United States but is not a state
* People who live in a U.S. territory can get a U.S. passport.

unincorporated – land that is not officially part of a city, country, or business
* Edgar lives in an unincorporated part of the city, far from downtown.

to apply – to affect; to be relevant for
* To be fair, the same rules must apply to everyone.

to cede – for one country to give land to another country, usually because it lost a war
* Did Mexico cede part of California to the United States?

head of state – the most important political leader of a country
* The U.S. president often meets with heads of state from other countries.

to mirror – to be very similar to or the same as something
* Her new hairstyle mirrors her mother's hairstyle almost exactly.

nonvoting delegate – a person who is chosen to attend meetings, especially of a legislature, but cannot vote there
* How many nonvoting delegates does Washington, DC have in the U.S. Congress?

to prohibit – to forbid; to not allow something; to make something illegal or unacceptable
* Employees in our company are prohibit from sending personal emails from work.