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Unorganized territory
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Unorganized territory

The term unorganized territories has several connotations depending the exact usage and context.

U.S. Census Bureau

Unorganized territories, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, occur in 10 minor civil division (MCD) states (Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota) where portions of counties are not included in any legally established MCD or independent incorporated place. The U.S. Census Bureau recognizes such separate pieces of territory as one or more separate county subdivisions for statistical purposes. It assigns each unorganized territory a descriptive name, followed by the designation "unorganized territory." Unorganized territories were first used for statistical purposes in conjunction with the 1960 census. [1]


Unorganized territories also exist in certain regions of Canada, such as Northern Ontario where there is no region-wide level of government.

United States territory

Unorganized territory also refers to a United States territory for which the United States Congress has not enacted an organic act. In this sense, unorganized territories are lands possessed by the federal U.S. government but which are not within any of the states of the Union and have not been "organized" into self-governing units. Currently, all federal unorganized territory is considered to be an Insular area, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior. American Samoa is technically unorganized, in that Congress has not passed an organic act, but is self-governing under terms of a constitution last revised in 1967.

Historically, Unorganized Territory was a name used by the United States government to refer to the enormous territory in the Great Plains before it was organized into smaller territories. The name was first officially used after the 1820 Missouri Compromise, when the state of Missouri was carved out. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 divided the area into the Kansas and Nebraska Territories.

See also