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Map Layer Info

Two Million-Scale State Boundaries

What this map layer shows:

The boundaries of the United States of America at a scale of 1:2,000,000 as of 2005.
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Background Information
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A State is the primary legal subdivision of the United States, and State boundaries translate this concept into a geographic framework for our Nation. A State can be discussed in terms of the many roles it plays in national, regional, and local government and in terms of its history, geography, and demographics. Each State has a unique identity evidenced by those of us who carry a lifelong allegiance to the place where we grew up, our home State.

The Government of the United States is based on the concept of federalism, where power is shared between the National Government and the State Governments. This relationship is defined by the Constitution of the United States. Under this system, State Governments have exclusive powers to issue licenses, regulate intrastate businesses, conduct elections, establish local governments, ratify amendments to the Constitution, and take measures for public health and safety. States may exert powers that are not delegated to the National Government. States may exert powers not explicitly prohibited by the Constitution. Sharing power between National and State governments allows us to enjoy the benefits of a unified government, while retaining many rights at the State and local levels.

States are often grouped or described by their geography. Forty-eight of the fifty States form the conterminous United States (States within a common boundary). The remaining two States are Alaska and Hawaii. Canada separates Alaska from the conterminous United States, and Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean.

The 2-Million-Scale State Boundaries map layer includes boundaries for the fifty States and for three State equivalents: the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These State equivalents are not States but are governmental units treated as if they were States for purposes of data presentation. State names, two-letter State abbreviations, the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) codes for each State, and the date and order of State admission for each State are included. FIPS codes are standardized numeric codes used to ensure the uniform identification of geographic entities through all Federal Government agencies. This map layer was compiled by the National Atlas of the United States®. A newer map layer showing 1 Million-Scale State Boundaries as of 2012 is also available.

In cooperation with national mapping programs in Canada and Mexico, we also produce a map layer of political boundaries across North America.


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State Boundaries
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