I've read the above comments carefully, and skimmed some of the sources. Based on that, my recommended resolution for this issue is as follows:
- There is strong consensus that Wikipedia should contain only one article on the United States.
- The term "United States" has several usages, including (a) the member of the world's family of nations (includes territories); (b) the terrain; and (c) the 50 federated states (excludes territories).
- The article should describe all usages, but - for clarity - the lead needs to focus on a single usage. Other usages can be described in detail later in the body.
- The lead should focus on the broadest, most prominent usage. That is the United States considered as a member of the family of nations (including the territories). That usage is what most readers will expect to see when they visit the article; and is also the broadest usage, in the sense that it includes the other usages.
- Thus, the lead's first sentence should start with a definition that includes the territories; and it should be immediately followed by a statement such as "Sometimes the term 'United States' is use to refer only to the 50 states, and exclude the territories".
- Here is the lead I recommend:
The United States of America ... [abbreviations] ... is a federal constitutional republic consisting of fifty states, a federal district, and other territories. Sometimes the term 'United States' is used to refer only to the 50 states
- I do not see any significant impact to other US-related articles by changing the lead this way. The vast majority of articles are not impacted by whether or not territories are included. For those articles that are sensitive to the inclusion/exclusion of territories, those articles should already clarify their context by explaining if they include/exclude the territories. Each US-related article, on a case-by-case basis, can adopt its own convention based on what the sources (of that particular article) use, and what makes most sense for readers.
- The Untied States article includes many statistics, both in the Infobox and in the body. Each statistic should indicate (usually in a footnote) whether or not it includes the territories.
I present this proposed resolution in the hope that it provides a path forward for all the parties. DRN is not a binding process - feel free to adopt or reject this proposal, or to modify it as desired. Bear in mind that consensus does not mean everyone loves the resolution - consensus just means everyone can live with the resolution. --Noleander (talk) 12:44, 6 March 2013 (UTC)