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The term "panhandle" derives from the analogous part of a cooking pan, and its use is generally confined to the United States. A term used elsewhere is salient, derived from military salients. While similar to a peninsula in shape, a panhandle is not surrounded by water on three sides and connected to a geographical mainland. Instead, it is delimited by a land border on at least two sides and extends out from the larger geographical body of the administrative unit.
The panhandle shape is the result of arbitrarily drawn international or subnational boundaries, although the location of some administrative borders takes into account other considerations such as economic ties or topography. In the United States, a protrusion with a less elongated shape is informally called a bootheel.
United States of America panhandles
|State||Largest city||Population||Area (sq. mi)||Population density
(per sq. mi)
|Eastern West Virginia||Martinsburg||212,483||3,499||61|
|Northern West Virginia||Wheeling||141,060||601||235|
† This definition of the Florida panhandle includes the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington.
Many people in the Pacific Northwest refer to the extreme northern section of Idaho's panhandle as "The Chimney", due to its resemblance to a Chimney when viewed on maps. The northern segment of the borough of Manhattan in New York City represents a geographic panhandle as well.
Although Utah, like Nebraska, has a protrusion from its otherwise straight border, it is not usually considered a panhandle.
- The six northwest Cook County, Illinois townships, outside of Chicago.
- The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway was often called the Panhandle, as it crossed the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.
- The San Francisco Panhandle, California
Panhandles outside the USA
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Outside the United States, the term is not in common usage, with the arguable exception of the nearby New Brunswick Panhandle. Nonetheless, the following territorial protrusions could be considered panhandles, or may be known as corridors. Such shapes can be a result of linguistic (or ethnic) lines or come about as the result of geographic features among other reasons. Notable examples include:
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- Border irregularities of the United States
- Corridor (disambiguation)
- Enclave and exclave
- Fergana Valley (triple junction of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan)
- Chicken's Neck (disambiguation)
- Political geography
- Salients, re-entrants and pockets
- The Thumb
- "Cook County Forest Preserve District Recreational Facilities". Users.rcn.com. Retrieved 2012-11-15.