how many islands does the u s own


When it comes to the United States, most people immediately think of the mainland and often forget that the U.S. actually owns numerous islands scattered across the world. From tropical paradises to remote outposts, the U.S. has a diverse range of islands under its jurisdiction. In this article, I will explore how many islands the U.S. owns and shed light on some of the lesser-known territories under its control. Let’s dive in and discover the hidden treasures of the U.S. islands!

The U.S. owns over 6000 islands

Many people are surprised to learn that the U.S. actually owns over 6000 islands, which are spread across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea. These islands vary in size, population, and significance, with some being well-known tourist destinations, while others remain largely uninhabited. The U.S. has acquired these islands through various means, including treaties, purchases, and conquests throughout its history.


One of the most famous island territories of the U.S. is Hawaii. Located in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is made up of eight main islands, each offering its own unique charm and beauty. From the stunning beaches of Maui to the active volcanoes of the Big Island, Hawaii is a popular tourist destination and a vibrant cultural hub. Its tropical climate, rich history, and diverse marine life make it a prized possession of the U.S.

Puerto Rico

Another well-known U.S. territory is Puerto Rico, situated in the Caribbean Sea. Puerto Rico offers a blend of Spanish, African, and indigenous influences, creating a rich tapestry of culture and traditions. The island’s vibrant music, colorful festivals, and delicious cuisine make it a popular destination for travelers seeking a taste of the Caribbean. Despite its challenges, Puerto Rico remains an integral part of the U.S.

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Located in the western Pacific Ocean, Guam is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. known for its lush landscapes and warm hospitality. As a strategic military outpost, Guam plays a crucial role in the U.S. defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. The island’s unique blend of Chamorro and American cultures makes it a fascinating destination for visitors looking to explore the Western Pacific.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands, including St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, are known for their pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs. These islands offer a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, with opportunities for snorkeling, sailing, and exploring historic sites. The U.S. Virgin Islands are a top choice for travelers seeking a tropical paradise within the U.S. borders.

Lesser-known U.S. island territories

In addition to the well-known territories, the U.S. also has several lesser-known island territories that often escape the limelight. These include American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and various other remote atolls and islets. While these territories may not attract as many tourists as Hawaii or Puerto Rico, they still play a significant role in the U.S.’s global presence and contribute to the country’s cultural diversity.

American Samoa

American Samoa is a group of five volcanic islands and two coral atolls located in the South Pacific Ocean. The islands are known for their lush rainforests, breathtaking waterfalls, and welcoming Polynesian culture. Despite being one of the most remote U.S. territories, American Samoa offers a unique blend of natural beauty and traditional customs, making it a hidden gem for adventurous travelers.

Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, including Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, are tucked away in the western Pacific Ocean. These islands boast pristine beaches, ancient Chamorro ruins, and a laid-back island lifestyle. While they may not be as well-known as other U.S. territories, the Northern Mariana Islands offer a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, and cultural immersion.

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The U.S. owns a diverse array of islands, each with its own unique offerings and significance. From bustling tourist hotspots to remote hideaways, these island territories contribute to the rich tapestry of the U.S.’s cultural and natural heritage. Whether it’s the tropical allure of Hawaii, the vibrant energy of Puerto Rico, or the tranquil serenity of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. islands offer something for every type of traveler. As these territories continue to thrive and evolve, they remain an integral part of the U.S.’s identity and global presence.


1. Does the U.S. own any islands in the Atlantic Ocean?

Yes, the U.S. owns several islands in the Atlantic Ocean, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and various other smaller island territories.

2. Are all U.S. islands open to visitors?

While many U.S. islands are open to visitors, some may have restricted access due to their military or ecological significance. It’s best to research and plan ahead before visiting any U.S. island territory.

3. Why does the U.S. own so many islands?

The U.S. acquired many of its islands through historical events such as wars, treaties, and purchases, as well as through strategic considerations for defense and commerce.

4. Are U.S. island territories American citizens?

Yes, residents of U.S. island territories are American citizens, but they may have different rights and representation compared to residents of the mainland U.S.

5. What is the biggest island owned by the U.S.?

The biggest island owned by the U.S. is the island of Hawaii, which is actually made up of eight main islands, each with its own unique attractions and landscapes.