From sea to shining sea
After Puerto Rico was badly damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, USA Today and Suffolk University conducted a poll that showed that only 47 percent of Americans from the 50 states were aware the Caribbean island is a U.S. territory and that its 3.4 million inhabitants are U.S. citizens.
Puerto Rico is the largest of the U.S. territories in terms of both land and population. Four other territories in the Caribbean and Pacific have significant populations, while the remaining areas host military bases or nature preserves (or are otherwise strategically or ecologically important). How did these different lands, some of them in far-flung corners of the Pacific Ocean, become part of the United States? And what does the future hold for them?