Unincorporated territories of the United States
Unincorporated territory is a legal term of art in United States law denoting an area controlled by the government of the United States, but which is not a part of the United States proper (see also possession).
An incorporated territory of the United States is a specific area under the jurisdiction of the United States, over which the United States Congress has determined that the United States Constitution is to be applied to the territory's local government and inhabitants in its entirety (e.g., citizenship, trial by jury), in the same manner as it applies to the local governments and residents of the U.S. states. Incorporated territories are considered an integral part of the United States, as opposed to being merely possessions.
All territory under the control of the federal government is considered part of the "United States" for purposes of law. From 1901 to 1905, the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of opinions known as the Insular Cases held that the Constitution extended ex proprio vigore to the territories. However, the Court in these cases also established the doctrine of territorial incorporation, under which the Constitution applies fully only in incorporated territories such as Alaska and Hawaii, and applies only partially in the new unincorporated territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.
To define what is an unincorporated territory in Balzac v. People of Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298, 312 (1922), the Court used, as an argument of non-incorporated territory, the following statements regarding the court in Puerto Rico:
The United States District Court is not a true United States court established under article 3 of the Constitution to administer the judicial power of the United States therein conveyed. It is created by virtue of the sovereign congressional faculty, granted under article 4, 3, of that instrument, of making all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory belonging to the United States. The resemblance of its jurisdiction to that of true United States courts, in offering an opportunity to nonresidents of resorting to a tribunal not subject to local influence, does not change its character as a mere territorial court.
Upon like considerations, Article III has been viewed as inapplicable to courts created in unincorporated territories outside the mainland, Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244, 266 -267; Balzac v. Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298, 312 -313; cf. Dorr v. United States, 195 U.S. 138, 145, 149, and to the consular courts established by concessions from foreign countries, In re Ross, 140 U.S. 453, 464 -465, 480. 18
"The inhabitants of the ceded territory . . . shall be admitted to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States;" This declaration, although somewhat changed in phraseology, is the equivalent, as pointed out in Downes v. Bidwell, of the formula, employed from the beginning to express the purpose to incorporate acquired territory into the United States, especially in the absence of other provisions showing an intention to the contrary.". Here we see that the act of incorporation is on the people of the territory, not on the territory per se, by extending the privileges and immunities clause of the Constitution to them.
List of unincorporated territories 
|American Samoa||55,519||197.1 km2|
|Northern Mariana Islands||53,883||463.63 km2|
|Puerto Rico||3,706,690||9,104 km2|
|United States Virgin Islands||109,750||346.36 km2|
|Baker Island||Uninhabited||2.1 km2|
|Howland Island||Uninhabited||1.8 km2|
|Jarvis Island||Uninhabited||4.5 km2|
|Johnston Atoll||Uninhabited||2.67 km2|
|Kingman Reef||Uninhabited||76 km2|
|Midway Atoll||Uninhabited||6.2 km2|
|Navassa Island||Uninhabited||5.2 km2|
|Wake Island||120||7.38 km2|
- Baker Island
- Howland Island
- Jarvis Island
- Johnston Atoll
- Kingman Reef
- Midway Atoll (administered as a National Wildlife Refuge)
- Navassa Island (disputed with Haiti)
- Panama Canal Zone — jointly controlled with Panama 1979-1999; exclusively in Panama from 31 December 1999.
- Philippines — independent since 1946
- Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands
- August 28, 1867
- April 11, 1899
The 1898 Treaty of Paris came in to effect, transferring Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico from Spain to the United States, all three becoming unorganized, unincorporated territories. Puerto Rico's official name was changed to Porto Rico, a phonetic reinterpretation of the Spanish name for the territory.
- April 12, 1900
- June 7, 1900
- April 1, 1901
- February 23, 1903
- August 29, 1916
- March 2, 1917
- March 31, 1917
- May 17, 1932
- March 24, 1934
- July 4, 1946
The United States recognized Philippine independence.
- July 14, 1947
The United Nations granted the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands to the United States, consisting primarily of many islands fought over during World War II, and including what is now the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. It was a trusteeship, and not a territory of the United States.
- August 5, 1947
The Privileges and Immunities Clause regarding the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizens of the United States was expressly extended to Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through the federal law codified on the Title 48 the United States Code as 48 U.S.C. § 737 and signed by President Truman. This law indicates that the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizens of the United States shall be respected in Puerto Rico to the same extent as though Puerto Rico were a State of the Union and subject to the provisions of paragraph 1 of section 2 of article IV of the Constitution of the United States.
- July 1, 1950
- July 25, 1952
- July 22, 1954
- July 1, 1967
- September 12, 1967
Article Three of the United States Constitution, was expressly extended to the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through the federal law 89-571, 80 Stat. 764, this law was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
- January 1, 1978
- October 21, 1986
The Marshall Islands attained independence from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, though the trusteeship granted by the United Nations technically did not end until December 22, 1990. The Marshall Islands remained in free association with the United States.
- November 3, 1986
- December 22, 1990
- May 25, 1994
The United Nations terminated the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands for the Palau district, ending the territory, making Palau de facto independent, as it was not a territory of the United States.
- October 1, 1994
- December 11, 2012
The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico has enacted a concurrent resolution to request the President and the Congress of the United States to respond diligently and effectively, and to act on the demand of the people of Puerto Rico, as freely and democratically expressed in the plebiscite held on November 6, 2012, to end, once and for all, its current form of territorial status and to begin the process to admit Puerto Rico to the Union as a State.
1. In November 2008 a district court judge ruled that a sequence of prior Congressional actions had had the cumulative effect of changing Puerto Rico's status to incorporated. However, as of April 2011 the issue had not yet made its way through the courts, and as of January 2013 the U.S. government still referred to Puerto Rico as unincorporated.
- Definitions of insular area political organizations, Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, retrieved 2007-11-14
- See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(36) and 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(38) Providing the term "State" and "United States" definitions on the U.S. Federal Code, Immigration and Nationality Act. 8 U.S.C. § 1101a
- Consejo de Salud Playa de Ponce v. Johnny Rullan, Secretary of Health of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, pages 6–7, The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, retrieved 4 February 2010
- The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid (2007) Juan R. Torruella, retrieved 5 February 2010
- Balzac v. People of Porto Rico, 258 U.S. 298 (1922)
- Rassmussen v. U S, 197 U.S. 516 (1905)
- "U.S. Census Bureau Releases 2010 Census Population Counts for Guam". 2010 Census. US Census. August 24, 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
- The World Almanac & Book of Facts 1901, p93
- "Transfer Day". Retrieved 2006-08-10.
- "Municipalities of Puerto Rico". Statoids. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
- [dead link]"Relationship with the Insular Areas". U.S. Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
- "Municipalities of Northern Mariana Islands". Statoids. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
- "Background Note: Palau". Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Retrieved 2006-08-10.
- The Senate and the House of Representative of Puerto Rico Concurrent Resolution
- Consejo de Salud Playa Ponce v. Johnny Rullan, p.28: "The Congressional incorporation of Puerto Rico throughout the past century has extended the entire Constitution to the island ...."
- Hon. Gustavo A. Gelpi, "The Insular Cases: A Comparative Historical Study of Puerto Rico, Hawai'i, and the Philippines", The Federal Lawyer, March/April 2011. http://www.aspira.org/files/legal_opinion_on_pr_insular_cases.pdf p. 25: "In light of the [Supreme Court] ruling in Boumediene, in the future the Supreme Court will be called upon to reexamine the Insular Cases doctrine as applied to Puerto Rico and other US territories."
- accessed 26 January 2013: "Puerto Rico is a self-governing, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the Caribbean".
See also 
- Territories of the United States
- Political divisions of the United States
- Insular area
- Political status of Puerto Rico