Continental United States

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The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada, plus the District of Columbia.[1] The term excludes the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all off-shore U.S. territories and possessions, such as Puerto Rico.[2][3][4]

Together, the 48 contiguous states and D.C. have an area of 3,119,884.69 square miles (8,080,464.25 km²). Of this, 2,959,064.44 sq mi (7,663,941.71 km²) is land, comprising 83.65% of U.S. land area. Officially, 160,820.25 sq mi (416,522.38 km²) is water area, comprising 62.66% of the nation's water area. Its 2000 census population was 279,583,437, comprising 99.35% of the nation's population. Its population density was 94.484 inhabitants/sq mi (36.480/km²), compared to 79.555/sq mi (30.716/km²) for the nation as a whole.[5]

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Other terms

While coterminous U.S. and conterminous U.S. have the same precise meaning as contiguous U.S., other terms commonly used to describe the 48 contiguous states have a greater degree of ambiguity.

Continental United States

Because Alaska is also on the North American continent, the term continental United States, if interpreted literally, should also include that state,[6] so the term is sometimes qualified with the explicit inclusion or exclusion of Alaska to resolve any ambiguity.[7][3][8][9][10] The term was in use prior to the admission of Alaska and Hawaii as states of the United States, and at that time usually excluded outlying territories of the U.S.[11][12] However, even before Alaska became a state, it was sometimes included within the "Continental US".[13]

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