It's fairly common knowledge that the United States of America is made up of many states—the country's name makes it fairly clear. However, far fewer people may realize that the U.S. is not the only North American country with states. The country's southern neighbor, Mexico, has 32 states of its own (and one non-state federal entity), and its northern ally, Canada, is divided into a dozen provinces, which are identical to states in function and purpose, if not in name. All told, the total number of states in North America is not just 50, but more than 90.
The 50 states of the United States of America
Whether one is new to North America or has been here for years, it's helpful to know all 50 states that make up the United States. The U.S. is often divided into several smaller regions to help users envision the general area in which a state is located, but exactly how many such regions exist and which states are included in which region depends heavily upon the source. For example, the National Centers for Environmental Information divide the country into nine regions, while the National Weather service uses a four-region system—and the U.S. Climate Divisional Dataset contains 344 regions.
|State||Date Admitted||State||Date Admitted|
In addition to the 50 states, the U.S. includes one federal district: Washington D.C., formally known as the District of Columbia. The seat of the United States' federal government, Washington D.C. has an area of roughly 68.34 mi² (177.0 km²) and a population approaching 700,000 people. In contrast to Mexico's empowered capital, Mexico City, Washington D.C. has no real political power of its own. The district has no constitution, no representation in the Senate, and only non-voting representation in the House of Representatives. Ultimately, the District of Columbia has far less representation than the states—despite the fact that its citizens pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the country and the district as a whole pays more taxes annually than 19 of the 50 states.
The United States also has (at least) 14 territories, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. There exists a growing sentiment among U.S. citizens that both Puerto Rico and the aforementioned District of Columbia should be offered the opportunity to become the 51st and 52nd states. However, given the partisan state of current U.S. politics, it is unlikely that such an offer, which would require broad bipartisan support, will ever be extended.
The 10 provinces of Canada
Technically, the United States' northern neighbor calls its internal divisions provinces rather than the states of Canada, but that's a less vital distinction than one might imagine. Canadian provinces and U.S. states are slightly different in theory, with states wielding a bit more power and autonomy. In practice, however, the two are essentially synonymous, to the degree that both official sources (and internet commenters) have trouble agreeing upon which of the two is more powerful.
|Province||Date Admitted||Province||Date Admitted|
|Manitoba||1870||Prince Edward Island||1873|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1949||Saskatchewan||1905|
Like the U.S., Canada oversees a handful of territories in addition to its states. But unlike the United States' territories, the largest of which is Puerto Rico at 9,104 km² (3,515 mi²), Canada's three territories are massive in size. The Northwest Territory spreads over 1,346,106 km² (519,734 mi²), Yukon is 482,443 km² (186,272 mi²), and Nunavut sprawls over 2,093,190 km² (808,185 mi²). On the other hand, all three of these territories together were home to only 118,160 citizens in 2021—a number easily exceeded by more than 200 cities in the U.S. alone.
The 31 states—but 32 federal entities—of Mexico
To the south of the United States lies Mexico, a country whose formal name is actually the United Mexican States. Officially, Mexico has 31 states but 32 "federal entities", with the additional entity being the country's capital, Mexico City. Like the United States' Washington D.C., Mexico City is the seat of the country's national government, existing separate from any of the states. However, unlike Washington D.C., Mexico City has legitimate political representation of its own.
In 2016, Mexico City was changed from a federal district to a federal entity. This made the city very similar to a state, with its own constitution, legislature, and voice in the federal government. Mexico City cannot officially be declared a state because the Mexican constitution forbids the national capital from becoming a state. However, as a federal entity, it enjoys nearly all of the same privileges.
|State||Date Admitted||State||Date Admitted|
|Baja California Sur||1974||Nuevo León||1824|
|Colima||1856||San Luis Potosí||1823|