51st state

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51-star flags have been designed and used as a symbol by supporters of statehood in various areas. This is an example of how a 51-star flag might look.

The "51st state", in post-1959 American political discourse, is a phrase that refers to areas or locales that are – seriously or facetiously – considered candidates for U.S. statehood, joining the 50 states that presently compose the United States of America. The phrase has been applied to external territories as well as parts of existing states which would be admitted as separate states in their own right.

The phrase "51st state" can be used in a positive sense, meaning that a region or territory is so aligned, supportive, and conducive with the United States, that it is like a U.S. state. It can also be used in a pejorative sense, meaning an area or region is perceived to be under excessive American cultural or military influence or control. In various countries around the world, people who believe their local or national culture has become too Americanized sometimes use the term "51st state" in reference to their own countries.[1]

Legal requirements

Under Article IV, Section Three of the United States Constitution, which outlines the relationship among the states, Congress has the power to admit new states to the union. The states are required to give "full faith and credit" to the acts of each other's legislatures and courts, which is generally held to include the recognition of legal contracts, marriages, and criminal judgments. The states are guaranteed military and civil defense by the federal government, which is also obliged by Article IV, Section Four, to "guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government".

Congress is a highly politicized body, and discussions about the admission of new states, which typically take years before approval, are invariably informed by the political concerns of Congress at the time the proposal is presented. These concerns include or included maintaining a balance between free and slave states, and which faction in Congress (Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, rural or urban blocks) would benefit, and which lose, if the proposed state were admitted.

Possible new states

By status changes of current or former U.S. territories

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has been discussed as a potential 51st state of the United States. In a 2012 status referendum a majority of voters, 54%, expressed dissatisfaction with the current political relationship. In a separate question, 61% of voters supported statehood (excluding the 26% of voters who left this question blank).[2] On December 11, 2012, Puerto Rico's legislature resolved to request that the President and the U.S. Congress act on the results, end the current form of territorial status and begin the process of admitting Puerto Rico to the Union as a state.[3]


Since 1898, Puerto Rico has had limited representation in the Congress in the form of a Resident Commissioner, a nonvoting delegate. The 110th Congress returned the Commissioner's power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but not on matters where the vote would represent a decisive participation.[4] Puerto Rico has elections on the United States presidential primary or caucus of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to select delegates to the respective parties' national conventions although presidential electors are not granted on the Electoral College. As American citizens, Puerto Ricans can vote in U.S. presidential elections, provided they reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia and not in Puerto Rico itself.

Residents of Puerto Rico pay U.S. federal taxes: import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, therefore contributing to the American Government. Most Puerto Rico residents do not pay federal income tax but do pay federal payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare). However, federal employees, those who do business with the federal government, Puerto Rico–based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S. and others do pay federal income taxes. Puerto Ricans may enlist in the U.S. military. Puerto Ricans have participated in all American wars since 1898; 52 Puerto Ricans had been killed in the Iraq War and War in Afghanistan by November 2012.[5]

Puerto Rico has been under U.S. sovereignty for over a century when it was ceded to the U.S. by Spain following the end of the Spanish–American War, and Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917. The island's ultimate status has not been determined as of 2012, its residents do not have voting representation in their federal government. Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. Congress in the form of a Resident Commissioner, a delegate with limited no voting rights.[4] Like the states, Puerto Rico has self-rule, a republican form of government organized pursuant to a constitution adopted by its people, and a bill of rights.

This constitution was created when the U.S. Congress directed local government to organize a constitutional convention to write the Puerto Rico Constitution in 1951. The acceptance of that constitution by Puerto Rico's electorate, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. president occurred in 1952. In addition, the rights, privileges and immunities attendant to United States citizens are "respected in Puerto Rico to the same extent as though Puerto Rico were a state of the union" through the express extension of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution by the U.S. Congress in 1948.[6]

Puerto Rico is designated in its constitution as the "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico".[7] The Constitution of Puerto Rico which became effective in 1952 adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado (literally translated as "Free Associated State"), officially translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic.[8][9] The island is under the jurisdiction of the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which has led to doubts about the finality of the Commonwealth status for Puerto Rico. In addition, all people born in Puerto Rico become citizens of the U.S. at birth (under provisions of the Jones–Shafroth Act in 1917), but citizens residing in Puerto Rico cannot vote for president nor for full members of either house of Congress. Statehood would grant island residents full voting rights at the Federal level. The Puerto Rico Democracy Act (H.R. 2499) was approved on April 29, 2010, by the United States House of Representatives 223–169,[10] but was not approved by the Senate before the end of the 111th Congress. It would have provided for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico. This act would provide for referendums to be held in Puerto Rico to determine the island's ultimate political status. It had also been introduced in 2007.[11]

Vote for statehood

In November 2012, a referendum resulted in 54 percent of respondents voting to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution,[12] while a second question resulted in 61 percent of voters identifying statehood as the preferred alternative to the current territorial status.[13] The 2012 referendum was by far the most successful referendum for statehood advocates and support for statehood has risen in each successive popular referendum.[14][15] However, more than one in four voters abstained from answering the question on the preferred alternative status. Statehood opponents have argued that the statehood option garnered only 45 percent of the votes if abstentions are included.[16] If abstentions are considered, the result of the referendum is much closer to 44 percent for statehood, a number that falls under the 50 percent majority mark.[17]

The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Boston Herald have published opinion pieces expressing support for the statehood of Puerto Rico.[18][19][20] On November 8, 2012, Washington, D.C. newspaper The Hill published an article saying that Congress will likely ignore the results of the referendum due to the circumstances behind the votes.[21] and U.S. Congressman Luis Gutiérrez U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, both of Puerto Rican ancestry, agreed with the The Hill 's statements.[22] Shortly after the results were published Puerto Rico-born U.S. Congressman José Enrique Serrano commented "I was particularly impressed with the outcome of the 'status' referendum in Puerto Rico. A majority of those voting signaled the desire to change the current territorial status. In a second question an even larger majority asked to become a state. This is an earthquake in Puerto Rican politics. It will demand the attention of Congress, and a definitive answer to the Puerto Rican request for change. This is a history-making moment where voters asked to move forward."[23]

Several days after the referendum, the Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, Governor Luis Fortuño, and Governor-elect Alejandro García Padilla wrote separate letters to the President of the United States Barack Obama addressing the results of the voting. Pierluisi urged Obama to begin legislation in favor of the statehood of Puerto Rico, in light of its win in the referendum.[24] Fortuño urged him to move the process forward.[25] García Padilla asked him to reject the results because of their ambiguity.[26] The White House stance related to the November 2012 plebiscite was that the results were clear, the people of Puerto Rico want the issue of status resolved, and a majority chose statehood in the second question. Former White House director of Hispanic media stated, "Now it is time for Congress to act and the administration will work with them on that effort, so that the people of Puerto Rico can determine their own future."[27]

On May 15, 2013, Resident Commissioner Pierluisi introduced H.R. 2000 to Congress to "set forth the process for Puerto Rico to be admitted as a state of the Union," asking for Congress to vote on ratifying Puerto Rico as the 51st state.[28] On February 12, 2014, Senator Martin Heinrich introduced a bill in the US Senate. The bill would require a binding referendum to be held in Puerto Rico asking whether the territory wants to be admitted as a state. In the event of a yes vote, the president would be asked to submit legislation to Congress to admit Puerto Rico as a state.[29]

Government funds

On January 15, 2014, the United States House of Representatives approved $2.5 million in funding to hold a referendum. This referendum can be held at any time as there is no deadline by which the funds have to be used.[30] The United States Senate then passed the bill which was signed into law on January 17, 2014 by Barack Obama, the President of the United States.[31]

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is often mentioned as a candidate for statehood. In Federalist No. 43 of The Federalist Papers, James Madison considered the implications of the definition of the "seat of government" found in the United States Constitution. Although he noted potential conflicts of interest, and the need for a "municipal legislature for local purposes,"[32] Madison did not address the district's role in national voting. Legal scholars disagree on whether a simple act of Congress can admit the District as a state, due to its status as the seat of government of the United States, which Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution requires to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; depending on the interpretation of this text, admission of the full District as a state may require a Constitutional amendment, which is much more difficult to enact.[33] However, the Constitution does not set a minimum size for the District. Its size has already changed once before, when Virginia reclaimed the portion of the District south of the Potomac. So the constitutional requirement for a federal district can be satisfied by reducing its size to the small central core of government buildings and monuments, giving the rest of the territory to the new state.

Washington, D.C. residents who support the statehood movement sometimes use a shortened version of the Revolutionary War protest motto "No taxation without representation", omitting the initial "No", denoting their lack of Congressional representation; the phrase is now printed on newly issued Washington, D.C. license plates (although a driver may choose to have the Washington, D.C. website address instead). President Bill Clinton's presidential limousine had the "Taxation without representation" license plate late in his term, while President George W. Bush had the vehicle's plates changed shortly after beginning his term in office.[34] President Barack Obama had the license plates changed back to the protest style at the beginning of his second term.

This position was carried by the D.C. Statehood Party, a minor party; it has since merged with the local Green Party affiliate to form the D.C. Statehood Green Party. The nearest this movement ever came to success was in 1978, when Congress passed the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment. Two years later in 1980, local citizens passed an initiative calling for a constitutional convention for a new state. In 1982, voters ratified the constitution of the state, which was to be called New Columbia. The drive for statehood stalled in 1985, however, when the Washington, D.C. Voting Rights Amendment failed because not enough states ratified the amendment within the seven-year span specified.

Another proposed option would be to have Maryland, from which the current land was ceded, retake the District of Columbia, as Virginia has already done for its part, while leaving the National Mall, the United States Capitol, and the White House in a truncated District of Columbia.[35] This would give residents of the city of Washington the benefit of statehood while precluding the creation of a 51st state.

By expansion and merger of current or former U.S. territories

Other less likely contenders are Guam and the United States Virgin Islands, both of which are unincorporated organized territories of the United States. Also, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, an unorganized, unincorporated territory, could both attempt to gain statehood. Some proposals call for the Virgin Islands to be admitted with Puerto Rico as one state (often known as the proposed "Commonwealth of Prusvi", for Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands, or as "Puerto Virgo"), and for the amalgamation of U.S. territories or former territories in the Pacific Ocean, in the manner of the "Greater Hawaii" concept of the 1960s. Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands would be admitted as one state, along with Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands (although these latter three entities are now separate sovereign nations, which have Compact of Free Association relationships with the United States). Such a state would have a population of 412,381 (slightly lower than Wyoming's population) and a land area of 911.82 square miles (2,361.6 km2) (slightly smaller than Rhode Island). American Samoa could possibly be part of such a state, increasing the population to 467,900 and the area to 988.65 square miles (2,560.6 km2). Radio Australia, in late May 2008, issued signs of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands becoming one again and becoming the 51st state.[36]

In 2014, a "Decolonization Registry" was created to have a non-binding vote on the future status of Guam in relations to the United States; it failed to register the 70% of native inhabitants, therefore no vote will be held.[37] The limiting of the registry to only native inhabitants had resulted in lawsuits challenging this restriction as discriminatory.[38]

A hypothetical merging of several former and current Pacific US territories into a single state.
Caribbean Territories
Location Population Area (sq. mi.) Comments
 Puerto Rico 3,725,789 3,514 2010 U.S. Census results
 United States Virgin Islands 109,750 133.73 2010 U.S. Census results
Total 3,835,539 3,647.73 Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands
Pacific Territories
Location Population Area (sq. mi.) Comments
 Northern Mariana Islands 53,883 184.17 2010 U.S. Census results
 Guam 159,358 209.85 2010 U.S. Census results
Total Mariana Islands 213,241 394.02
 American Samoa 55,519 76.83 2010 U.S. Census results
Total American Pacific 268,760 470.85
 Marshall Islands 67,182 70 2011 estimate
 Palau 20,958 177 2011 estimate
 Federated States of Micronesia 111,000 271 2009 estimate
Total Former Trust Territories 199,140 518
Total 467,900 989


The Philippines has had small grassroots movements for U.S. statehood.[39] Originally part of the platform of the Progressive Party, then known as the Federalista Party, the party dropped it in 1907, which coincided with the name change.[40][41] As recently as 2004, the concept of the Philippines becoming a U.S. state has been part of a political platform in the Philippines.[42] Supporters of this movement include Filipinos who believe that the quality of life in the Philippines would be higher and that there would be less poverty there if the Philippines were an American state or territory. Supporters also include Filipinos that had fought as members of the United States Armed Forces in various wars during the Commonwealth period.[43][44]

The Philippine statehood movement had a significant impact during the early American colonial period.[41] It is no longer a mainstream movement,[45] but is a small social movement that gains interest and talk in that nation.[46] For the Philippine presidential election, 2016, one candidate, Arturo Pacheco, intends to push to make the Philippines the next US state should he get elected.[47]

By partition and secession of current or former U.S. territories

There exist several proposals to divide states with regions that are politically or culturally divergent into smaller, more homogeneous, administratively efficient entities.[48] Splitting a state would need to receive the approval of its legislature and the Congress.[49]

Proposals of new states by partition include:

  • Arizona: The secession of Pima County in Arizona with the hopes of Cochise, Yuma, and Santa Cruz joining to form a state.[50]
  • California and Oregon:
  • Colorado: On June 6, 2013, commissioners in Weld County, Colorado announced a proposal to leave Colorado along with neighboring counties and form the state of North Colorado.[54] The counties in contention voted to begin plans for secession on November 5, 2013, with mixed results.[55]
  • Delaware, Maryland and Virginia: Delmarva, from the eastern shores of Maryland and Virginia combining with the state of Delaware, or more often, only Kent County and Sussex County, Delaware.[56]
  • Florida: The secession of South Florida and the Greater Miami area to form the state of "South Florida." South Florida has a population of over 7 million, comprising 41% of Florida's population.[57]
  • Illinois: The secession of Cook County, which contains Chicago, from Illinois to form a state.[58] Chicago sits in the northeast corner of the state, with the remainder of the Illinois sometimes referred to as Downstate Illinois. Such proposals have invariably come from the more Republican downstate Illinois, as a way to end the dominance in statewide politics of the overwhelmingly Democratic Chicago area. Stronger moves have been made to form Southern Illinois "The Great Rivers State". With the separation being south of Springfield, the capitol would be in Mt. Vernon.
  • Maryland: The secession of five counties on the western side of the state due to political differences with the more liberal central part of the state.[59]
  • Michigan and Superior: The northern part of Michigan known formally as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and informally as Yooper Land, the Yooper Peninsula, or Superiorland. Note that the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is actually north of the region of the Lower Peninsula normally known in lower Michigan as "Northern Michigan", which tends to cause some confusion.
  • New York: Various proposals partitioning New York into separate states, all of which involve to some degree the separation of New York City from the rest of New York state[60]
  • Texas: Under the joint resolution of Congress by which the Republic of Texas was admitted to the Union, it had the right to divide itself into as many as five different states. It is not clear whether this provides any power beyond that already provided by the Constitution. What is clear is that the Texas Legislature would have to approve any proposal to divide the state using this prerogative. There were a significant number of Texans who supported dividing the state in its early decades. They were generally called divisionists.[61][62][63] The Texas Constitution and the Texas Annexation Act both provide for the possibility of Texas voting to divide into up to five sovereign States of the Union. Current Texas politics and self-image make any tampering with Texas' status as the largest state by land area in the contiguous United States unlikely.[64][65][66]
  • Washington: Dividing the state into Western Washington and Eastern Washington via the Cascade Mountains. Suggested names include East Washington, Lincoln, and Cascadia.
  • The National Movement for the Establishment of a 49th State, founded by Oscar Brown, Sr. and Bradley Cyrus and active in Chicago in 1934–37, had the aim of forming an African American state in the South.[67][68]

Use internationally

Some countries, because of their cultural similarities and close alliances with the United States, are often described as a 51st state. In other countries around the world, movements with various degrees of support and seriousness have proposed U.S. statehood.


In Canada, "the 51st state" is a phrase generally used in such a way as to imply that if a certain political course is taken, Canada's destiny will be as little more than a part of the United States. Examples include the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988, the debate over the creation of a common defense perimeter, and as a potential consequence of not adopting proposals intended to resolve the issue of Quebec sovereignty, the Charlottetown Accord in 1992 and the Clarity Act in 1999.

The phrase is usually used in local political debates, in polemic writing or in private conversations. It is rarely used by politicians themselves in a public context, although at certain times in Canadian history political parties have used other similarly loaded imagery. In the 1988 federal election, the Liberals asserted that the proposed Free Trade Agreement amounted to an American takeover of Canada[69]—notably, the party ran an ad in which Progressive Conservative (PC) strategists, upon the adoption of the agreement, slowly erased the Canada-U.S. border from a desktop map of North America.[70] Within days, however, the PCs responded with an ad which featured the border being drawn back on with a permanent marker, as an announcer intoned "Here's where we draw the line."[71]

The implication has historical basis and dates to the breakup of British America during the American Revolution. The colonies that had confederated to form the United States invaded Canada (at the time a term referring specifically to the modern-day provinces of Quebec and Ontario, which had only been in British hands since 1763) at least twice, neither time succeeding in taking control of the territory. The first invasion was during the Revolution, under the assumption that French-speaking Canadians' presumed hostility towards British colonial rule combined with the Franco-American alliance would make them natural allies to the American cause; the Continental Army successfully recruited two Canadian regiments for the invasion. That invasion's failure forced the members of those regiments into exile, and they settled mostly in upstate New York. The Articles of Confederation, written during the Revolution, included a provision for Canada to join the United States, should they ever decide to do so, without needing to seek U.S. permission as other states would.[72] The United States again invaded Canada during the War of 1812, but this effort was made more difficult due to the large number of Loyalist Americans that had fled to what is now Ontario and still resisted joining the republic. The Hunter Patriots in the 1830s and the Fenian raids after the American Civil War were private attacks on Canada from the U.S.[73] Several U.S. politicians in the 19th century also spoke in favour of annexing Canada.[74]

In the late 1940s, during the last days of the Dominion of Newfoundland (at the time a dominion-dependency in the Commonwealth and independent of Canada), there was mainstream support, although not majority, for Newfoundland to form an economic union with the United States, thanks to the efforts of the Economic Union Party and significant U.S. investment in Newfoundland stemming from the U.S.-British alliance in World War II. The movement ultimately failed when, in a 1948 referendum, voters narrowly chose to confederate with Canada (the Economic Union Party supported an independent "responsible government" that they would then push toward their goals).

A few groups in Canada have actively campaigned in favor of joining the United States. These annexationist movements have not attracted large mainstream attention, although surveys have found that a small minority of Canadians expressed support for the concept in surveys done by Léger Marketing in 2001 [75] and in 2004.[76]

In the United States, the term "the 51st state" when applied to Canada can serve to highlight the similarities and close relationship between the United States and Canada. Sometimes the term is used disparagingly, intended to deride Canada as an unimportant neighbor. In the Quebec general election, 1989, the political party Parti 51 ran 11 candidates on a platform of Quebec seceding from Canada to join the United States (with its leader, André Perron, claiming Quebec could not survive as an independent nation).[77] The party attracted just 3,846 votes across the province, 0.11% of the total votes cast.[78] In comparison, the other parties in favour of sovereignty of Quebec in that election got 40.16% (PQ) and 1.22% (NPDQ).

Latin America

Central America

Due to geographical proximity of the Central American countries to the U.S. which has powerful military, economic, and political influences, there were several movements and proposals by the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries to annex some or all of the Central American republics (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras with the formerly British-ruled Bay Islands, Nicaragua, Panama which had the U.S.-ruled Canal Zone territory from 1903 to 1979, and formerly British Honduras or Belize since 1981). However, the U.S. never acted on these proposals from some U.S. politicians; some of which were never delivered or considered seriously. In 2001, El Salvador adopted the U.S. dollar as its currency, while Panama has used it for decades due to its ties to the Canal Zone.


In 1854 the Ostend Manifesto was written, outlining the rationale for the U.S. to purchase Cuba from Spain, implying taking the island by force if Spain refused. Once the document became published many northern states denounced the document.

In 1859, Senator John Slidell introduced a bill to purchase Cuba from Spain.[79][80]

Cuba, like many Spanish territories, wanted to break free from Spain. A pro-independence movement in Cuba was supported by the U.S., and Cuban guerrilla leaders wanted annexation to the United States, but Cuban revolutionary leader José Martí called for Cuban nationhood. When the U.S. battleship Maine sank in Havana Harbor, the U.S. blamed Spain and the Spanish–American War broke out in 1898. After the U.S. won, Spain relinquished claim of sovereignty over territories, including Cuba. The U.S. administered Cuba as a protectorate until 1902. Several decades later in 1959, the corrupt Cuban government of U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by Fidel Castro. Castro installed a Marxist–Leninist government allied with the Soviet Union, which has been in power ever since.


In 1898, one or more news outlets in the Caribbean noted growing sentiments of resentment of British rule in Dominica, including the system of administration over the country. These publications attempted to gauge sentiments of annexation to the United States as a way to change this system of administration.[81]

Dominican Republic

On June 30, 1870, the United States Senate took a vote on an annexation treaty with the Dominican Republic, but it failed to proceed.[82]


Time Magazine columnist Mark Thompson suggested that Haiti had effectively become the 51st state after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, with the widespread destruction prompting a quick and extensive response from the United States, even so far as the stationing of the U.S. military in Haitian air and sea ports to facilitate foreign aid.[83]


In 1847–48, with the United States occupying Mexico at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War, there was talk in Congress of annexing the entirety of Mexico; see All of Mexico Movement. The result was the Mexican Cession, also called the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo for the town in which the treaty was signed, in which the U.S. annexed over 40% of Mexico. Talk of annexing all of Mexico disappeared after this time.

Asia and Pacific


In Australia, the term '51st state' is used as a disparagement of a perceived invasion of American cultural or political influence.[84]


A resident of Seattle, Washington, through a homemade sign, facetiously declares that the Republic of Iraq is the 51st U.S. state.

Several publications suggested that the Iraq War was a neocolonialist war to make the Republic of Iraq into the 51st U.S. state, though such statements are usually made in a facetious manner, as a tongue-in-cheek statement.[85][86][87][88][89]


Several websites assert that Israel is the 51st state due to the annual funding and defense support it receives from the United States. An example of this concept can be found in 2003 when Martine Rothblatt published a book called Two Stars for Peace that argued for the addition of Israel and the Palestinian territories surrounding it as the 51st state in the Union. The American State of Canaan, is a book published by Prof. Alfred de Grazia, political science and sociologist, in March 2009, proposing the creation of a 51st from Israel and the Palestinian territories.


In Article 3 of the Treaty of San Francisco between the Allied Powers and Japan, which came into force in April 1952, the U.S. put the outlying islands of the Ryukyus, including the island of Okinawa—home to over 1 million Okinawans related to the Japanese—and the Bonin Islands, the Volcano Islands, and Iwo Jima into U.S. trusteeship.[90] All these trusteeships were slowly returned to Japanese rule. Okinawa was returned on May 15, 1972, but the U.S. stations troops in the island's bases as a defense for Japan.

New Zealand

In 2010 there was an attempt to register a 51st State Party with the New Zealand Electoral Commission. The party advocates New Zealand becoming the 51st state of the United States of America. The party's secretary is Paulus Telfer, a former Christchurch mayoral candidate.[91][92] On February 5, 2010, the party applied to register a logo with the Electoral Commission.[91] The logo – a US flag with 51 stars – was rejected by the Electoral Commission on the grounds that it was likely to cause confusion or mislead electors.[93] As of 2014, the party remains unregistered and cannot appear on a ballot.


A poll in 2003 among Taiwanese residents aged between 13 and 22 found that, when given the options of either becoming a province of the People's Republic of China or a state within the U.S., 55% of the respondents preferred statehood while only 36% chose joining China.[94] A group called Taiwan Civil Government, established in Taipei in 2008, claims that the island of Taiwan and other minor islands are the territory of the United States.[95]



Albania has often been called the 51st state for its perceived strongly pro-American positions, mainly because of the United States' policies towards it.[96] In reference to President George W. Bush's 2007 European tour, Edi Rama, Tirana's mayor and leader of the opposition Socialists, said: "Albania is for sure the most pro-American country in Europe, maybe even in the world ... Nowhere else can you find such respect and hospitality for the President of the United States. Even in Michigan, he wouldn't be as welcome." At the time of ex-Secretary of State James Baker's visit in 1992, there was even a move to hold a referendum declaring the country as the 51st American state.[97][98] In addition to Albania, Kosovo which is predominately Albanian is seen as a 51st state due to the heavily presence and influence of the United States. The US has had troops and the largest base outside US territory, Camp Bondsteel in the country since 1999.


In 1989, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that Denmark becomes the 51st state every Fourth of July, because Danish citizens in and around Aalborg celebrate the American independence day.[99]


During World War II, when Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, the United States briefly controlled Greenland for battlefields and protection. In 1946, the United States offered to buy Greenland from Denmark for $100 million ($1.2 billion today) but Denmark refused to sell it.[100][101] Several politicians and others have in recent years argued that Greenland could hypothetically be in a better financial situation as a part of the United States; for instance mentioned by professor Gudmundur Alfredsson at University of Akureyri in 2014.[102][103] One of the actual reasons behind US interest in Greenland could be the vast natural resources of the island.[104] According to Wikileaks, the U.S. appears to be highly interested in investing in the resource base of the island and in tapping the vast expected hydrocarbons off the Greenlandic coast.[105]


Poland has historically been staunchly pro-American, dating back to General Tadeusz Kościuszko and Casimir Pulaski's involvement in the American Revolution. This pro-American stance was reinforced following favorable American intervention in World War I (leading to the creation of an independent Poland) and the Cold War (culminating in a Polish state independent of Soviet influence). Poland contributed a large force to the "Coalition of the Willing" in Iraq. A quote referring to Poland as "the 51st state" has been attributed to James Pavitt, then Central Intelligence Agency Deputy Director for Operations, especially in connection to extraordinary rendition.[106][107]

Sicily (Italy)

The Party of Reconstruction in Sicily, which claimed 40,000 members in 1944, campaigned for Sicily to be admitted as a U.S. state.[108] This party was one of several Sicilian separatist movements active after the downfall of Italian Fascism. Sicilians felt neglected or underrepresented by the Italian government after the annexation of 1861 that ended the rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies based in Naples. The large population of Sicilians in America and the American-led Allied invasion of Sicily in July–August 1943 may have contributed to the sentiment.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has sometimes been called the 51st state due to the "special relationship" between the two countries, particularly since the close cooperation between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during World War II, and more recently continued during the premierships of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.[109]

In a December 29, 2011, column in The Times, David Aaronovitch said in jest that the UK should consider joining the United States, as the British population cannot accept union with Europe and the UK would inevitably decline on its own. He also made an alternative case that England, Scotland, Wales should be three separate states, with Northern Ireland joining the Republic of Ireland and becoming an all-Ireland state.[110]

From terra nullius

There are four categories of terra nullius, land that is unclaimed by any state: the small unclaimed territory of Bir Tawil between Egypt and Sudan, Antarctica, the oceans, and celestial bodies such as the Moon or Mars. In the last three of these, international treaties (the Antarctic Treaty, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Outer Space Treaty respectively) prevent colonization and potential statehood of any of these uninhabited (and, given current technology, not permanently inhabitable) territories.

Lagrangian points of Earth's orbit

The L5 Society was founded in 1975 with the intention of constructing a space habitat at one of the Lagrangian points of Earth's orbit. Its members successfully lobbied the United States Senate to defeat the Moon Treaty, a treaty that would have transferred sovereignty of all outer space to an international organization, in 1980.[111] The high price such a project would cost compared to previous Earth-based colonies eventually led to the group's demise in the 1980s.

The Moon

In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich stated that "when we have 13,000 Americans living on the Moon, they can petition to become a state," as a way of supporting American colonization of Earth's satellite.[112]

In popular culture

Related terms have been used in books and film usually used in a negative sense:

The term has also been used in music. Examples include:

  • The 1986 album The Ghost of Cain by the English rock band New Model Army features a track called "51st State", which refers to Britain under Margaret Thatcher for her perceived pro-Americanism.[113]
  • The song "Heartland" on the 1986 album Infected, by the British band The The, ends with the refrain "This is the 51st state of the U.S.A."
  • In 1889, Jules Verne and his son Michel Verne published the short story In the Year 2889, predicting that by the year mentioned the United States will have absorbed the entire American continent, as well as annexing the British Islands. The United States flag of that time is mentioned as having a hundred stars.

See also



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External links