US State Map

Powers, Functions and Representation of the States of the United States

The United States is a huge nation which comprises 50 states and a federal district, Washington D.C., which is the capital of the nation. The area of he states is not uniform. While Alaska is the largest state of the country comprising an area of 665,384 square miles, Rhode Island is the smallest and covers an area of just 1,545 square miles. For a better administration, the all the 50 states are divided into counties or county-equivalents. These counties many have some sort of local government for an effective management of affairs; however, they are not sovereign and are subject to the laws of the state. the structure of the counties or county-equivalents differs from one state to the other.

Through their individual constitution, the government of each state of the United States is allocated power by the people. The government of every state in the country comprises three branches and these are the executive, legislature, and the judiciary.

Powers and functions of the US states

The States have a number of powers that are granted to them under the Constitution of the country. One of the most important powers of the states is the ratifying of the constitutional amendments. Some of the functions that come under the control of the state governments are public education and health, local law enforcement, regulating intrastate commerce, and local transportation, to name a few. However, these now receive funding from the federal government and are regulated as well. During, the past few years, the relations between the federal government and the states in the country have undergone some changes. Today, the federal government is playing a much larger role in state affairs as compared to the earlier times. In a nutshell, it can be said that the general tendency in the country is today more towards centralization.

States’ representation in the Congress and bicameral legislature

Every state of the country is well represented in the federal Congress and the bicameral legislature, which comprises the Senate and the House of Representatives. Two Senators represent a particular state in the Senate, while every state is entitled to at least one representative in the House of Representatives. The representatives are elected from the single-member districts. However, unlike the senate, the allotment of seats to the representatives is not uniform across all states. The seats in the House of Representatives are distributed among all states of the country in proportion to the constitutionally mandated decennial census that has been conducted recently. Thus California, which is the most populous state of the country, has 53 representatives, while Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming have just one representative. Another significant role that states play is the selecting of electors. Every state of the nation is entitled to select a number of electors to the to vote in the Electoral College. This is an important body, which elects the President of the United States. The number of electors elected by each state should be equal to the total of representatives and senators from that particular state.

Admitting new states

The Congress has been granted authority by the Constitution of the nation to admit new states into the Union. This authority has frequently been used and a number of new states have been admitted into the Union over the years. During the establishment of the United States in 1776, there were just 13 states in the country. Over the course of the next two years the number has significantly risen and today the United States comprises 50 states. The recent additions to the Union have been the two stats of Hawaii and Alaska. Both these states were admitted to the Union in 1959.

Meanwhile, the Constitution says nothing about the states’ right to secede from the Union. However, the Supreme Court had passed a judgment in this regard shortly after the end of the Civil War. In the Texas v. White case, which was argued before the Supreme Court in 1869, the highest court of the land held that the states couldn’t secede from the Union.

S.N.State NameAbbreviationsCapitalBecame a StateTotal Area (sq mi)Total area (km²)Census population, April 1, 2010
1AlabamaALMontgomeryDecember 14, 181952,420.07135,7674,780,127
2AlaskaAKJuneauJanuary 3, 1959665,384.041,723,337710,249
3ArizonaAZPhoenixFebruary 14, 1912113,990.30295,2346,392,307
4ArkansasARLittle RockJune 15, 183653,178.55137,7322,915,958
5CaliforniaCASacramentoSeptember 9, 1850163,696.32423,97237,252,895
6ColoradoCODenverAugust 1, 1876104,093.67269,6015,029,324
7ConnecticutCTHartfordJanuary 9, 17885,543.4114,3573,574,118
8DelawareDEDoverDecember 7, 17872,488.726,446897,936
9FloridaFLTallahasseeMarch 3, 184565,757.70170,31218,804,623
10GeorgiaGAAtlantaJanuary 2, 178859,425.15153,9109,688,681
11HawaiiHIHonoluluAugust 21, 195910,931.7228,3131,360,301
12IdahoIDBoiseJuly 3, 189083,568.95216,4431,567,652
13IllinoisILSpringfieldDecember 3, 181857,913.55149,99512,831,549
14IndianaINIndianapolisDecember 11, 181636,419.5594,3266,484,229
15IowaIADes MoinesDecember 28, 184656,272.81145,7463,046,869
16KansasKSTopekaJanuary 29, 186182,278.36213,1002,853,132
17KentuckyKYFrankfortJune 1, 179240,407.80104,6564,339,349
18LouisianaLABaton RougeApril 30, 181252,378.13135,6594,533,479
19MaineMEAugustaMarch 15, 182035,379.7491,6331,328,361
20MarylandMDAnnapolisApril 28, 178812,405.9332,1315,773,785
21MassachusettsMABostonFebruary 6, 178810,554.3927,3366,547,817
22MichiganMILansingJanuary 26, 183796,713.51250,4879,884,129
23MinnesotaMNSaint PaulMay 11, 185886,935.83225,1635,303,925
24MississippiMSJacksonDecember 10, 181748,431.78125,4382,968,103
25MissouriMOJefferson CityAugust 10, 182169,706.99180,5405,988,927
26MontanaMTHelenaNovember 8, 1889147,039.71380,831989,417
27NebraskaNELincolnMarch 1, 186777,347.81200,3301,826,341
28NevadaNVCarson CityOctober 31, 1864110,571.82286,3802,700,691
29New HampshireNHConcordJune 21, 17889,349.1624,2141,316,466
30New JerseyNJTrentonDecember 18, 17878,722.5822,5918,791,936
31New MexicoNMSanta FeJanuary 6, 1912121,590.30314,9172,059,192
32New YorkNYAlbanyJuly 26, 178854,554.98141,29719,378,087
33North CarolinaNCRaleighNovember 21, 178953,819.16139,3919,535,692
34North DakotaNDBismarckNovember 2, 188970,698.32183,108672,591
35OhioOHColumbusMarch 1, 180344,825.58116,09811,536,725
36OklahomaOKOklahoma CityNovember 16, 190769,898.87181,0373,751,616
37OregonORSalemFebruary 14, 185998,378.54254,7993,831,073
38PennsylvaniaPAHarrisburgDecember 12, 178746,054.35119,28012,702,887
39Rhode IslandRIProvidenceMay 19, 17901,544.894,0011,052,931
40South CarolinaSCColumbiaMay 23, 178832,020.4982,9334,625,401
41South DakotaSDPierreNovember 2, 188977,115.68199,729814,191
42TennesseeTNNashvilleJune 1, 179642,144.25109,1536,346,275
43TexasTXAustinDecember 29, 1845268,596.46695,66225,146,105
44UtahUTSalt Lake CityJanuary 4, 189684,896.88219,8822,763,888
45VermontVTMontpelierMarch 4, 17919,616.3624,906625,745
46VirginiaVARichmondJune 25, 178842,774.93110,7878,001,045
47WashingtonWAOlympiaNovember 11, 188971,297.95184,6616,724,543
48West VirginiaWVCharlestonJune 20, 186324,230.0462,7561,853,011
49WisconsinWIMadisonMay 29, 184865,496.38169,6355,687,289
50WyomingWYCheyenneJuly 10, 189097,813.01253,335563,767
S.N.Other AreasAbbreviationsCapitalTotal Area (sq mi)Total area (km²)Census population, April 1, 2010
1American SamoaASPago Pago581.051,50555,519
2District of ColumbiaDC 68.34177601,767
3GuamGUHagåtña570.621,478159,358
4Minor Outlying IslandsUMWashington, D.C. (Administrative center)16.0041208
5Northern Mariana IslandsMPSaipan1,975.575,11753,883
6Puerto RicoPRSan Juan5,324.8413,7913,726,157
7United States Virgin IslandsVICharlotte Amalie732.931,898106,405
S.N.TotalTotal Area (sq mi)Total area (km²)Census population, April 1, 2010
1Contiguous United States3,120,426.478,081,867308,156,338
250 states and District of Columbia3,796,742.239,833,517308,758,105
3All U.S. territory3,805,943.269,857,348312,913,872