United States State

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Map of the United States with the names of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia (Hawaii and Alaska are scaled differently here)

A state in the United States of America , also short US state ( English US state ), is a member state . The United States is a federal state with currently 50 partially sovereign states. The first federal states emerged from the 13 colonies in 1776 with the ratification of the constitution . More came through expansions to the west, the Louisiana Purchase , the accession of the Republic of Texas and the conversion of Hawaii and Alaskain states too. Together with the federal district and the suburbs , the states make up the territory of the United States.

Four states - Kentucky , Massachusetts , Pennsylvania and Virginia - bear the formal designation Commonwealth without any further rights or obligations arising from it - in contrast to the Commonwealth Territories of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands .


Map of the US states by date of accession to the federal constitution
Abbr. since Country capital city
AL 1819 USA AlabamaAlabama Alabama Montgomery
AK 1959 USA AlaskaAlaska Alaska Juneau
AZ 1912 USA ArizonaArizona Arizona Phoenix
AR 1836 USA ArkansasArkansas Arkansas Little rock
CA 1850 USA CaliforniaCalifornia California Sacramento
CO 1876 USA ColoradoColorado Colorado Denver
CT 1788 USA ConnecticutConnecticut Connecticut Hartford
DE 1787 USA-DelawareDelaware Delaware Dover
FL 1845 USA FloridaFlorida Florida Tallahassee
GA 1788 USA GeorgiaGeorgia Georgia Atlanta
HI 1959 USA HawaiiHawaii Hawaii Honolulu
ID 1890 USA IdahoIdaho Idaho Boise
IL 1818 USA IllinoisIllinois Illinois Springfield
IN 1816 USA IndianaIndiana Indiana Indianapolis
IA 1846 USA IowaIowa Iowa Des Moines
KS 1861 USA KansasKansas Kansas Topeka
KY 1792 USA KentuckyKentucky Kentucky Frankfort
LA 1812 USA LouisianaLouisiana Louisiana Baton Rouge
ME 1820 USA MaineMaine Maine Augusta
MD 1788 USA MarylandMaryland Maryland Annapolis
MA 1788 USA-MassachusettsMassachusetts Massachusetts Boston
MI 1837 USA MichiganMichigan Michigan Lansing
MN 1858 USA MinnesotaMinnesota Minnesota Saint Paul
MS 1817 USA MississippiMississippi Mississippi Jackson
MO 1821 USA MissouriMissouri Missouri Jefferson City
MT 1889 USA MontanaMontana Montana Helena
NE 1867 USA NebraskaNebraska Nebraska Lincoln
NV 1864 USA NevadaNevada Nevada Carson City
NH 1788 USA New HampshireNew Hampshire New Hampshire Concord
NJ 1787 USA New JerseyNew Jersey New Jersey Trenton
NM 1912 USA New MexicoNew Mexico New Mexico Santa Fe
NY 1788 USA New Yorknew York new York Albany
NC 1789 USA North CarolinaNorth Carolina North Carolina Raleigh
ND 1889 USA North DakotaNorth Dakota North Dakota Bismarck
OH 1803 USA OhioOhio Ohio Columbus
OK 1907 USA OklahomaOklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma City
OR 1859 USA OregonOregon Oregon Salem
PA 1787 USA PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Pennsylvania Harrisburg
RI 1790 USA Rhode IslandRhode Island Rhode Island Providence
SC 1788 USA South CarolinaSouth carolina South carolina Columbia
SD 1889 USA South DakotaSouth Dakota South Dakota Pierre
TN 1796 USA TennesseeTennessee Tennessee Nashville
TX 1845 USA TexasTexas Texas Austin
UT 1896 USA UtahUtah Utah Salt Lake City
VT 1791 USA VermontVermont Vermont Montpelier
VA 1788 USA VirginiaVirginia Virginia Richmond
WA 1889 USA WashingtonWashington Washington Olympia
WV 1863 USA West VirginiaWest Virginia West Virginia Charleston
WI 1848 USA WisconsinWisconsin Wisconsin Madison
WY 1890 USA WyomingWyoming Wyoming Cheyenne

The American Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 from the Kingdom of Great Britain created thirteen independent states (the respective signatories of the declaration in brackets):

The 13 states initially only formed a loose union of states , held together by the articles of confederation . A common federal state only came into being with the entry into force of the United States Constitution on March 4, 1789. With the years 1787 to 1789, 12 of the founding states are listed in the table. Rhode Island did not ratify the constitution until 1790. With the adoption of the constitution, the 13 states ceded the previously shared land gains between Appalachia and Mississippi to the Union, so that new states could gradually be formed there.

As early as 1791, the 14th state, Vermont , was formed from an area previously disputed between New York , New Hampshire and Massachusetts . In 1792, Kentucky became the first state west of the Appalachians , i.e. beyond the settlement limits for whites that were valid in colonial times. From 1796 to 1819 the states of Tennessee , Ohio , Indiana , Mississippi , Illinois and Alabama were formed in the territories conquered in 1783 . Louisiana was founded in 1812 around the city ​​of New Orleans, which was bought by France in 1803 .

With this, and with the founding of Missouri in 1821, the first state completely west of the Mississippi , the weight shifted in favor of the slave-holding states. Therefore in 1820 the new free state of Maine was formed from the northeastern land reserve of Massachusetts . Arkansas and Michigan were added in quick succession as slave-holding and free states, respectively. In 1845 Florida , which was bought by Spain in 1819, became a state, as did Texas , which had separated from Mexico in 1836 (apart from the 13 founding states, the only state that was not formed from territory that had previously belonged to the United States). To compensate for these two slave states, Iowa and Wisconsin were added in 1846/48 .

After the gold discoveries in the newly acquired California in 1848 , the population grew so quickly that it was the first state on the Pacific to join the Union in 1850 . With Minnesota and Oregon two more free states were accepted, Kansas was only barely a slave-free state in 1861 after bloody fighting , one of the triggers for the civil war .

In 1861 eleven southern states left the union, which President Abraham Lincoln regarded as inadmissible and led to the civil war. The question of whether individual states had a right to secession from the Union of the United States was debated until the outbreak of the Civil War. The fact that the northern states loyal to the Union won the war led to the conviction that they did not have this right. In 1863 a new state was formed from the part of breakaway Virginia in the Appalachians, West Virginia . Nevada was incorporated to the west in 1864 .

From 1867 to 1890 almost all of the West was organized into states. Nebraska became a state in 1867, Colorado in 1876, exactly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, and is therefore nicknamed Centennial State. In 1889 and 1890 the 6 states of Montana , North Dakota , South Dakota , Washington , Idaho and Wyoming were formed. Utah followed in 1896 as the last state before the turn of the century. The Indian Territory also became a state in 1907 as Oklahoma , and Arizona and New Mexico were added to the union in 1912 as the last of the 48 territorially contiguous states .

In January 1959, Alaska, bought by Russia in 1867, and Hawaii, annexed in 1898 (first state outside the continent of America) in August 1959, became the last states to become members of the Union (see 51st state and Continental United States ).

The capital district with the federal capital Washington, DC , is not organized as a state. Its residents do not take part in the elections to the Congress , but vote for the president .

The Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico are Commonwealth Territories, as mentioned above. Its residents count as American citizens, but are not eligible to vote in the federal organs unless they are resident in one of the US states. After the population of Puerto Rico had voted against membership in the Union as a state in three referendums (1967, 1993 and 1998), on November 6, 2012, in another referendum, a majority voted for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state in the United States target.

In October 2013, rural Colorado counties, such as Cheyenne, had certain tendencies to split off as New Colorado or North Colorado.

Relationship to the State as a whole

There is a clear separation of powers between the member states and the federal government : According to the constitution, the federal government only has those legislative powers that are clearly assigned to it by the constitution, the rest falls within the competence of the individual states. Each state has its own independent political system with its own constitution, directly elected governor , legislature , state administration and its own judiciary . The system of the individual federal states is less comparable with the German or Austrian federal states than with the individual member states of the European Union. Parliaments of states with few inhabitants are designed as after-work parliaments , with the meetings being concentrated in a few weeks a year. Populous states such as California and New York have full-time parliaments that operate similarly to federal congresses.

The US states also have their own police and armed forces in the form of militias as well as national and state guards , the supreme command of which lies with the governor.

American Post's addressing abbreviation

Lists and summaries of the states


  • Jörg Annaheim: The member states in the American state. Institutions and processes for safeguarding the interests of the member states in the United States of America. Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-428-07441-6 .
  • Daniel Elazar: American Federalism. A View from the States. 3rd Edition. Harper & Row, New York 1984, ISBN 0-06-041884-2 .
  • Christoph M. Haas: The government systems of the individual states. In: Wolfgang Jäger, Christoph M. Haas, Wolfgang Welz (Hrsg.): Government system of the USA. Instructional and manual. 3rd Edition. Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58438-7 , pp. 459-496.
  • Wolfgang Welz: The federal structure. In: Wolfgang Jäger, Christoph M. Haas, Wolfgang Welz (Hrsg.): Government system of the USA. Instructional and manual. 3rd Edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-58438-7 , pp. 69-98.

Web links

Commons : Maps of the states  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Referendum in the Caribbean: Puerto Rico wants to become the 51st state in the USA. Stern , November 7, 2012.
  2. Colorado farmers want secession - "There will be a revolution". ORF.at , October 12, 2013.
  3. http://www.51ststate.org/tp50/Default.asp?ID=314893 Website - The 51st State Initiative, accessed October 13, 2013.
  4. Birgitt Oldopp: The political system of the USA. 2005, p. 33 f.