The Status and Future of US Territories in the Pacific and Caribbean

TLDR The United States has 16 territories, with only 5 having permanent populations. These territories face various options for their future, including independence, changes to their organic acts, or merging with other territories.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The United States has territories that have served as training grounds for regions before they became states, and currently, all US territories are islands located in the Pacific Ocean or Caribbean Sea.
02:06 There are currently 16 US territories, with only 5 of them having permanent human populations, and they can be either incorporated or unincorporated and organized or unorganized.
03:57 American Samoa is the only inhabited US territory that does not have an Organic Act, meaning its residents are US nationals rather than US citizens, and while they can travel freely within the US and work wherever they want, they cannot vote or run for office unless they go through the naturalization process to become US citizens.
05:37 American Samoa has the option to do nothing, pass an organic act, seek independence, or join back with the nation of Samoa, but there is currently no consensus on any of these options; Guam serves as the unofficial capital of the Micronesia region and is a hub for medical procedures and shopping for the surrounding islands.
07:18 The future of Guam is uncertain, with options including independence, merger with Hawaii, changes to their organic act, or a merger with the Northern Mariana Islands, which are culturally and geographically similar to Guam; the Northern Mariana Islands, also known as CNMI, became a US territory in 1975 and discussions about its future mostly revolve around a merger with Guam.
09:00 Puerto Rico is the largest US territory in terms of population and land area, and while support for independence has declined over time, support for statehood has increased due to the strong ties between Puerto Rico and the mainland United States.
10:43 In 2017, a referendum was held in Puerto Rico where the majority of voters supported the idea of statehood, and in November 2020, Puerto Rico will have another referendum on the subject of statehood.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History