States, provinces and territories

Completing a trilogy of geographical-related posts is a topic I’ve had on my mind since posting about Texas not being that big, four and half years ago: the largest country subdivisions in the world. These go by different names in different countries. The most common in English-speaking countries are state, province and territory. 

Drawing mostly on Wikipedia’s list of the largest country subdivisions by area, the top 10 are:

NameCapital (largest city)Area km2Comparison (world country, x Texas)Population (percentage of country’s total)Comparison (world country, USA city proper)
Sakha Republic (Yakutia), RussiaYakutsk3,083,523 India 4.4 964,330 (0.6%)Djibouti
Austin TX
State of Western Australia, AustraliaPerth2,645,615 Kazakhstan  3.8 2,615,794 (10%)Lithuania Chicago IL
Krasnoyarsk Krai, RussiaKrasnoyarsk2,339,700 Democratic Republic of the Congo 3.42,876,497 (2%)Albania Chicago IL
Greenland, DenmarkNuuk2,166,086 Saudi Arabia 3.155,877 (1%)American Samoa (Wikipedia’s list stops at 100,000, the last being Roanoke VA)
Territory of Nunavut, CanadaIqaluit2,038,722 Mexico 2.938,780 (0.1%)Monaco
(see above)
State of Queensland, AustraliaBrisbane1,851,856 Sudan 2.75,076,512 (20%)Costa Rica Chicago IL + Houston TX 
State of Alaska, USAJuneau (Anchorage)1,717,854 Iran 2.5737,438 (0.2%)Bhutan
Seattle WA
Xingjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China Ürümqi1,664,897 Iran 2.424,867,600 (1.77%)Australia
State of Amazonas, BrazilManaus1,570,745Mongolia 2.34,080,611 (1.9%)Moldova
Los Angeles CA
Province of Quebec, CanadaQuebec City (Montreal)1,542,056Mongolia, 2.28,484,965 (22%)Israel
New York NY

A few common factors are noticeable in most cases:

1) They are some combination of very hot, very cold, very wet or very dry

2) They have natural resources which are often too far away and/or in wilderness areas 

3) They are located in the 6 biggest countries in the world, with the anomalous exception of Greenland. Even the next 25 biggest country subdivisions add only Mali, Algeria, Niger, Libya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia (which lie contiguously across North Africa and the Middle East), and Kazakhstan. Even so, 41 of the 50 belong to those 6 biggest countries.

4) They lie at or toward the periphery of their country (Quebec less so now than at the time of federation).

5) They have low populations, and a small percentage of their country’s total, and most of what population they have is clustered in a very small area, leaving the rest of the land very sparsely populated. Even Xinjiang’s 25 million is less than 2% of China’s total. Quebec and Queensland have the highest percentages, and, not surprisingly, those two have some clout economically/politically. (Also, their most populated clusters lie within the population heartland of their countries.)

6) They have population profiles rather distinct from their country’s overall, especially with Indigenous peoples or ethnic minorities. But these have been or are being overwhelmed by incomers from other parts of the country. 

7) They were late and/or reluctant joiners of their country, have a degree of autonomy, or have active or semi-active autonomy or secession movements. 

Why am I interested in all this? I don’t know. 


5 thoughts on “States, provinces and territories

  1. Geographical sizes of regions generally aren’t considered as important as population counts. By that measure, Texas isn’t the biggest state in the US either. That honor usually goes to California (it used to be my birth state of New York until some years ago). Which brings me to another pet peeve: the frequent references in the press to California as “the world’s fifth largest economy.” That statement is just not valid. First, the world’s fifth largest economy is, I believe, the UK. Second, it is not appropriate to place the California economy implicitly in a list of national economies, because California is not a nation. And if it were, it would mean the United States economy would be reduced by that amount, messing with the lineup.

    Apparently some statistical measures grant California’s economy a place on the list out of deference to its size and influence. Sorry, I don’t buy that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As far as I know, even in discussions of population or economy, New South Wales is only ever referred to as ‘the most populous state’ or ‘Australia’s biggest state economy’.
    I’ve seen statements to the effect that Coca-cola or Microsoft or etc etc is the world’s Xth largest economy, which is even less sensible.
    In our countries, economy correlates with population (or vice versa). From Wikipedia, in the USA, the most populous states are CA, TX, FL, NY, PE and IL, and the biggest state economies are CA, TX, NY, FL, IL and PE. In Australia, with only 6 states and 2 major territories, the correlation is almost exact, except the Australian Capital Territory (equivalent to DC) is ranked above the smallest state despite a population about 80% as many.


  3. Lots of things I never knew about, like the Australian Capital Territory, corporations ranked as economies, etc. I’m not even sure how an economy is measured. Is it similar to GDP?


  4. The ACT is Australia’s best-kept secret!

    There are various ways of measuring economic output. GDP is the most common. I’m not sure how it works. If I buy an Apple computer in Sydney, but it’s made in Guangzhou and designed in California, whose economy am I contributing to?


  5. Probably contributing to all three economies, whether directly or indirectly. Sellers, manufacturers and designers all get paid somehow.


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