Six percent of American young adults aren’t able to locate their own country on a map, according to a 2006 National Geographic poll. So imagine how hard it is for our fellow citizens to point out Guam on the globe.

Our ignorance about our own geography — we have 16 territories beyond the 50 states, only five of which are permanently inhabited — is a shame, writes Doug Mack in his new travelogue “The Not-Quite States of America.” His mission is to bring the largely unknown parts of our country into full view. “You cannot write an honest master narrative of the United States of America without including the territories,” he writes. “They have made us who we are.”

He’s not wrong. Did you know that the first American shots of World War I were fired in Guam? Or that the territories supply 20,000 young men and women to our armed forces? Were you aware that our territories have national parks and US Post Office addresses?

Though they cannot vote and are not required to follow all of our federal laws, “the people of these far-off islands are not ‘foreign aliens.’ They are us,” Mack writes.

Here’s a map of the five populated United States territories — with some facts from the book:

Status designation: Commonwealth
Year it became a US territory: 1898
Population: 3.5 million
Size: 3,515 square miles
Fun fact: Spanish was briefly the country’s native language. Now Spanish and English share the honor.

Puerto Rico, located in the northeast Caribbean, is not only our most well-known territory, it’s also the largest (bigger than Delaware) and the most populated, with 10 times more people than all our other territories combined.

Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León arrived around 1506, bringing with him the smallpox virus that decimated a third of the tropical island’s native Taino population. He named himself governor four years later and shipped in thousands of African slaves, who constructed much of what stands in the capital of San Juan today.

Puerto Rico was seen as a key strategic point from Europe to Cuba and Central America — and was long envied as a well-positioned holding enticing the Brits and the Dutch to wrest it from the Spanish in the 1600s. But Spain prevailed for another 200 years until the United States grabbed it during the Spanish-American War.

Since then, Puerto Rico has lobbied for more democratic rights from the US. Residents were made US citizens in 1917, and they drafted their own constitution in 1952. Despite it all, they have remained a commonwealth, meaning that although the territory is largely autonomous, the US has ultimate authority. Puerto Ricans can send delegates to party conventions and they can carry US passports, but they can’t vote in US presidential elections unless they move to one of the 50 states.

This does not sit well with a vast majority of Puerto Ricans: In 2012, 61 percent of the territory voted to pursue statehood, a status only Congress can confer.

It’s no wonder Puerto Ricans want change. Their per capita income is half that of the poorest US state (Mississippi).

Status designation: Organized*, unincorporated**
Year it became a US territory: 1917
Size: 133 square miles
Population: 102,951
Fun Fact: Home of Alexander Hamilton, who came of age in the territory’s largest town (Christiansted) when it was still under Danish rule.

This group of islands — consisting of Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas and 50 or so other minor islets and cays — is located in the Caribbean, south of the British Virgin Islands.

Christopher Columbus gave the islands their name during his second voyage to America in 1493. After his arrival, the islands were handed off from occupier to occupier — Spain, Britain, France and Denmark all held these territories as their own at some point. The United States wanted in — the islands were key transit points — and almost bought them in 1870 for $7.5 million from the Danes. But Congress got cold feet and called it off. Later, when the United States took over construction of the Panama Canal in 1904, the need for these islands, which offered a vantage point for monitoring the canal, grew. They offered to buy the islands again, but then Denmark knew what it had. The price suddenly swelled to $25 million — the highest price per acre that the US has ever paid for land.

Status designation: Organized*, unincorporated territory**
Year it became a US territory: 1898
Population: 165,000
Size: 210 square miles
Fun Fact: Home of the world’s largest Kmart

Guam, the southernmost island in the Mariana archipelago, became a Spanish colony when Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan docked there in 1521. The territory came to the US when Spain sold us the Philippines (which later won its independence in 1946) and threw in Guam as a bonus.

The tiny island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean has played a sizable role in US military history. In 1914, weeks after World War I broke out, German naval ship SMS Cormoran came to the island’s Apra Harbor to refuel. Due to strained relations between the countries, the US refused to fill her up. So, three years later, the ship and its crew were still in port when the US joined the Allies against Germany. US troops tried to seize the SMS Cormoran by force, firing the first American shots of the war, while the Germans managed to sink the ship, killing seven members of their crew in the process.

The island again played a big role in World War II. A nexus for US naval communications and airplane refueling, Guam was bombed by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, hours after Pearl Harbor. The next day a fleet of Japanese naval vessels arrived with 6,000 troops, easily overtaking the island, making it “the only part of the United States to fall to Axis control during World War II,” writes Mack. American forces recaptured the island on July 21, 1944 — a date that continues to be marked with an annual public holiday.

Status designation: Commonwealth
Year it became a US territory: 1976
Population: 54,000
Size: 179 square miles
Fun fact: Non-natives are not allowed to own land — just lease it.

The Northern Mariana Islands — made up of 15 islands in the northwest Pacific — is the youngest of the US territories. Ninety percent of its population lives on just three of its isles: Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

The United States seized control of the islands after World War II, but it took another three decades for them to be officially recognized as parts of the US. Because they were exempt from federal minimum-wage laws, US employers — mostly garment factories — opened up in droves hiring cheap labor. At its peak, in the 1990s, there were 36 garment factories on Saipan alone, responsible for nearly a billion dollars in exports, while all clothing tags legitimately bore the words “MADE IN THE USA.”

Once the companies lost their tariff-avoiding economic advantages that made opening up factories there so appealing, the industry left the island. It still produces tapioca, cattle, coconuts and other foods, but not in large quantities. American baseball remains one of the island’s favorite sports — a holdover from soldiers stationed there during World War II.

Status designation: Unorganized*, unincorporated **
Year it became a US territory: 1900
Population: 55,000
Size: 77 square miles
Claim to fame: They’re seriously good at football — an American Samoan male is 56 times as likely to play in the NFL than an American non-Samoan, according to Forbes.

American Samoa consists of seven south Pacific Islands and is closer to New Zealand than it is to the United States. The area was settled 35,000 years ago by the Lapita people from Fiji — and the first European contact happened in the mid-1700s.

The Germans, Brits and Americans all wanted a piece of Samoa — and shared the duties of running it until America took over in 1900, making it an unorganized and unincorporated territory of the United States with a pretty serious caveat. American Samoans are American nationals, not American citizens. This complicates travel — visa eligibility is confusing — and American Samoans can’t sit on juries in the US and may find it difficult to find jobs outside of the islands. Yet, the island has the highest military enlistment per capita — more than any US state.

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