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to ask you how many states you think there are in the USA?

(142 Posts)
MuttonWasAGoose Sat 05-Dec-15 12:40:32

I was just in a grocery store and this (loud) employee was talking to another employee about how stupid he thought the USA was. Whatever. Not my business. But then he said "Well, there are 52 different states and then the Federal government..." Since I was standing one foot away from him I said, "Actually, there are 50 states."

(Yes, I know that I was butting into a conversation and for that I WBVU.)

He looked at me with disdain (probably because I butted in, so understandable). Then he said very snarkily, "No, there are FIFTY TWO states!" He said it in a tone that implied that I was very stupid. Perhaps he assumed that someone with an American accent should know better.

I said, "Well, Alaskans talk about 'the lower 48' and then you add Hawaii that's fifty." and he just snapped, "You are mistaken!"

I figured arguing with strangers in a supermarket would only compound my idiocy for having butted in. What was I going to do, whip out my phone and Google it or something?

But I got home and Googled "how many states are there" because I wondered how commonly people thought this... and it turns out there are a LOT. Hundreds of people insisting they were taught that there were 52, and dozens more saying they thought it was 51. Mostly from people outside the US, but some from within. This may be down to confusion over Puerto Rico and Washington DC.

I have lived here ten years and I honestly have no idea how many MPs there are. I also don't know how many states are in Mexico or provinces in Canada. I wouldn't expect foreigners to know, but I'm curious - if you have ever been told how many states there are, what number was it?

TheXxed Sat 05-Dec-15 12:41:49

50 I think does Puerto Rico count?

SweetAdeline Sat 05-Dec-15 12:43:20

50 because people joke about other places being the "51st state".

MuttonWasAGoose Sat 05-Dec-15 12:44:55

No, Puerto Rico is a territory. Its inhabitants are American citizens but have no vote in Federal elections. I'm not sure why they've never become a state.

DC isn't a State but its residents can vote for President. They have no seats in Congress.

mrsleomcgary Sat 05-Dec-15 12:45:08

50 states,not sure what puerto rico is exactly but it's not a state.

LurcioAgain Sat 05-Dec-15 12:45:18


Enjolrass Sat 05-Dec-15 12:45:21

I have always thought 50, because of the film '51st state'

GingerPCatt Sat 05-Dec-15 12:46:00

There are 50. There are 50 stars on the US flag to represent this. There are some territories including Puerto Rico. DC is a separate state (think Vatican City) which is deeply ironic since they pay taxes but don't have representation in the House or Senate.

BooAvenue Sat 05-Dec-15 12:46:06

50. I am 100% sure.

LurcioAgain Sat 05-Dec-15 12:47:05

Whole point about Washington DC is it os not a state for constitutional reasons.

PuppyMonkey Sat 05-Dec-15 12:48:09

And that The The song where he sings:

"This is the 51st state of the Yooo SA."

Bet nobody else remembers it, good song.

CaspoFungin Sat 05-Dec-15 12:48:13

I thought 52!

LittleMiss77 Sat 05-Dec-15 12:48:21


We used to have to name them at school. Geography teacher wouldnt let us out the classroom until we nailed it.

DP thinks there are 51 and wont have it that he is wrong

Piffpaffpoff Sat 05-Dec-15 12:50:12

50. I know this because there was a song in the 80's that referred to the the UK as 'the 51st state...of the yooouuuuu esssssss aaaaaaay'. Can't remember who it was singing though. Someone angsty and political I expect. (Knowing my memory though, it was probably Sonia or The Reynolds Girls.)

Piffpaffpoff Sat 05-Dec-15 12:51:21

Puppy I remember it!!

megletthesecond Sat 05-Dec-15 12:52:07


Yes, I only know because of the film '51st state' (which i've never seen).

MuttonWasAGoose Sat 05-Dec-15 12:52:43

I think the song was by New Model Army?

WhirlwindHugs Sat 05-Dec-15 12:53:38

50. ... Partly because of the film the 51st state!

It gets referenced quite a lot though? Anyone that has grown up watching a lot of American tv is quite likely to know I should think.

R0nJ0n Sat 05-Dec-15 12:54:26

I collect America state quarters, there's a coin for each of the fifty states, plus US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa. I think those are all classed as dependant territories, I could be wrong though.

elQuintoConyo Sat 05-Dec-15 12:54:36


Definitely 50.

That's as many as I can list.... reminds me of the Friends thanksgiving episode grin

PuppyMonkey Sat 05-Dec-15 12:54:52

Nope definitely The The the one I'm thinking of.

Lndnmummy Sat 05-Dec-15 12:55:38

I always thought 52, very ashamed if I have walked around not knowing

sleepyhead Sat 05-Dec-15 12:56:19

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout 'em, scout 'em, Tell all about 'em,
One by one till we've given a day to ev'ry state in the U.S.A

Were the lyrics of a song we had to learn in Primary 5. I used to be able to recite all 50 in alphabetical order because of said song. But I can't now sad

honeysucklejasmine Sat 05-Dec-15 12:56:21

I was told it was 52 as a child, but found out as a teenager that it's actually 50.

specialsubject Sat 05-Dec-15 12:56:23

the song is 'Heartland' by The The and there are indeed 50 states.

I also don't know how many MPs we have without looking it up, that is today's fact to learn!

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