Exploring Little Known US Territories

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Did you know that there are small islands around the world that are territories of the United States? This means that you can visit them without, technically, leaving the US! In times like these, when international travel is hard to come by, heading to a couple of these islands might be a good break from the monotony of staying at home all day.

American Samoa

American Samoa is a chain of 5 islands in the middle of the Pacific. It’s full of beautiful coral reefs and lush forests. There aren’t too many people there either, about 55,000 inhabitants. The politics here is a bit interesting since the people are considered nationals, but not citizens of the United States. This means that they can’t vote and they must apply for citizenship. Most people are bilingual, speaking English and Samoan; and if you’re a veteran, you might already know that American Samoa has the highest rate of military enlistment of any US state or territory!


Guam is an island territory in Micronesia, near the Philippines. Unlike American Samoa, people there are American citizens by birth. And while they do vote in presidential elections, they have no vote in the Electoral College. They do have one delegate in the House of Representatives. Despite its size, Guam is extremely diverse. People come from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds and there are several religions. If you’re looking for an American adventure in Asia, put Guam on the list!

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is a territory in the Caribbean. You’ve probably heard a lot about this island, especially if you’re from Miami or New York City. Many Puerto Ricans live and work in the continental US. As for the political situation, Puerto Rico has to deal with its own political parties within the larger US political system. There’s been a decades-long debate about whether this island should remain a territory or become a state or become an independent country. Whatever the decision on its future status, you can still go there to enjoy beautiful beaches, friendly people and rainforest treks.

U.S. Virgin Islands

About 30 miles east of Puerto Rico are the US Virgin Islands. The three main ones are St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. People there are US citizens, but they cannot vote in presidential elections. Before 1970, the president of the United States appointed a territorial governor, but today, the people vote for their own governor every 4 years. You can visit these islands without a passport if you’re a US citizen, so it’s a great way to travel to the Caribbean without going international!

Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands consists of 14 islands in the Pacific Ocean. Unlike other places on this list, the Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth of the US. Even though people who are born there are considered to be citizens of the US, they don’t vote in US elections. They have their own multiparty, representative democratic system. Like most islands in the middle of the ocean, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to beaches and nature. If you love blue waters and sunshine, make this commonwealth nation your next destination!

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