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51st state refers to a place or territory that is not one of the 50 states of the United States, but people think about making it the 51st state. It is sometimes a joke term in American politics, and sometimes a realistic one. It is usually said about the possibility of Puerto Rico or other U.S. territories becoming part of the United States. When used to refer to other countries, it is a joke, usually about Canada. There have been tries by people in the United States to get Canada to join them (like in the Articles of Confederation), but Canada has never taken up these offers.[source?] It is also sometimes used to refer to countries that seem to be controlled by the United States. Before the year 1959 when Alaska and Hawaii became states, the word "the 49th state" was used.[source?]
The term is used in Canada and other countries to show that they think there is a bad U.S. influence on the world. Places in the United States that are not states right now that might become the 51st state are Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Guam, the US Virgin Islands, or the Northern Marianas. The most serious proposals for forming a 51st or even 52nd state are those for dividing the most-populous state (and third-largest state, geographically) of California into two or even three states, giving that area either four or six seats in the U.S. Senate, rather than just two as is the present situation, plus more-efficient local administrations.
Some regions of the U.S. that include land that is now in two different states and might become a new state include the "State of Jefferson" (Northmost California plus the southern counties of Oregon) and the "State of Lincoln" (Eastmost Washington State plus the northern panhandle of Idaho. A move has also been proposed to separate the westmost one-fourth of Nebraska from that state, but to add that to Wyoming (the least-populous state), rather than to create an entirely-new state. This region is actually much closer to Cheyenne, Wyoming, the capital city, than it is to its current capital of Lincoln, Nebraska.