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Q: Where are the U.S. territories located?--from William G., Miami, Florida

A: The United States has 14 territories, all located in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea [see map]. Only five of the territories are inhabited--American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even though most of the residents of the territories are U.S. citizens, they cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections.

Two of the territories, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico, maintain a commonwealth status. This gives them more self-governing power than the other territories, as well as the right to vote for independence from the U.S.

But what is life like in the uninhabited territories? Most of these tiny islands are atolls and reefs. A few years ago, I traveled to Midway Islands in the North Pacific Ocean. The site of an important naval battle during World War II, the islands are now home to gooney birds, monk seals, and Hawaiian green sea turtles. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service keeps a few rangers there to protect the island's animals from commercial fishing nets, disease, and each other.

--Jim McMahon, Mapman
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Title Annotation:Some Fun
Author:McMahon, Jim
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Date:Mar 26, 2007
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