The 55 States of America: 5 places that could become U.S. States in your lifetime

Alaska and Hawaii became the last additions to the United States in 1959. Why has the United States failed to add another state in over five decades?

In Watchmen, Vietnam becomes the 51st State, while former Presidential candidate Newt Gingrinch called for the Moon to be the 51st state. What are some realistic candidates for statehood in the 21st Century?

Strategic positioning
Both Alaska and Hawaii played important strategic roles in World War II and the Cold War, all while separated from their nearest state by over two thousand miles.

Strategic territories are less important in wartime, thanks to the proliferation of U.S. military bases on foreign soil, possibly leading to a decrease in named territories and the inclusion of additional states. 12 years into the 21st Century, several areas are poised to become states — what are they, and why would they be added to the current 50 states?

51. Puerto Rico
An easy pick. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has had the opportunity to join the United States a number of times, with the United States Federal government welcoming the commonwealth as a state with open arms. The citizens of Puerto Rico are full United States citizens, but the majority do not pay Federal income tax. Puerto Rico does have a representative in the United States Congress, but their representative does not carry a vote.

The citizens of Puerto Rico will vote to pursue statehood on August 12, 2012 — making it possible that the United States could welcome a 51st State in the next year.

The 55 States of America: 5 places that could become U.S. States in your lifetimeS

52. New York City
A desire to create a state out of New York City is not a new one - novelist Norman Mailer used statehood as a key issue in his bid for election for mayor of New York City in 1969. New York City is the de facto financial capital of the planet and the population of the city dwarfs most states.

The population of New York City surpassed 8 million in 2010, making it the 11-12th largest state if only Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island jointly separated. The New York Metropolitan Area surpasses a population of 20 million (and covering parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut), making it the third largest state in the union.

Becoming its own state would give the New York Metropolitan Area a greater say in governing itself, as the state capital of Albany is 150 miles away. Secession from the state would also allow NYC to retain $11 billion in tax revenue it currently sends to Albany.

53. The District of Columbia
Like New York City, Washington, D.C. could be a viable candidate for statehood via secession. Citizens of the United States seat of power pay Federal taxes yet lack full voting representation in the United States Congress, an antiquated agreement stemming from a desire to prevent political players from having a say in national elections.

As the population of Washington, D.C. increases, the push for statehood will continue to grow, if only to give its citizens without political connections a rightful say in Federal government. If the district becomes a state, it will likely adopt a new name, with New Columbia being a popular choice since the early 1980s.

The 55 States of America: 5 places that could become U.S. States in your lifetimeS

54. Cuba
Less than 100 miles from the coast of Florida, Cuba and the United States enjoy a tenuous relationship at best. Cuba is home to the United States oldest overseas Navy Base, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, a 45-square-mile parcel held the southern tip of the island since 1903.

The United States is actively seeking a democratic Cuba once Fidel Castro dies, funding the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba to transition the government from a socialist republic when the time comes.

Investors are lining up to buy property in Cuba, likely turning the island into a tourist destination, if not a state, once doors open.

55. The United Kingdom
A flight from New York City to London covers over 3500 miles, but the two nations own a shared history and financial connection. Great Britain is a little larger than the combined states of Alabama and Georgia, but enjoys a massive population (over 60 million) that would instantly make Great Britain the most populous of the United States.

Great Britain is currently a member of the European Union, but has no plans to adopt the Euro, staunchly maintaining the Pound Sterling as its currency.

As the English monarchy becomes little more than a tourism-driven cliché, the identity of Great Britain begins to fade. The strong financial position and large population of Great Britain are quite attractive, making it a prime choice for a United States looking to extend its foothold onto another continent at the end of the 21st Century.

Top image via Norebbo/Shutterstock.com. Additional images courtesy of Frank Franklin II/AP and Roberto Chile/AP.