51 Stars American Flag

51 or 52 States in the United States of America

Actual Number of States in the United States of America: 50 States

The United States of America (USA) sometimes shortened as United States (U.S.) or just America is composed of 50 states and a federal district (Washington, D.C). The USA also has a number of unincorporated territories. These include islands such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa to name a few. The states are represented as stars on the flag. The last state (50) to be added was Hawaii in 1959.

Remembering that the US has 51 or 52 states is a common Mandela Effect, seemingly from people even living in the US, although if the responses are to be believed online, it appears as though this misconception is generally coming from non-US residents. I first heard about about it on the Mandela Effect website.

Many of these people seem to think that Washington, D.C. might be a state (51) rather than a separate district, while others may assume one of the territories is a state such as Puerto Rico. Sometimes both of these are believed, equalling the 52 states.

My Experience

51 seems correct to me. I’m not sure why or where I started to believe this, or even if I did at all. Perhaps the article itself changed my memory based on lack of knowledge. It seems to me that I have a fuzzy memory of 51, but perhaps because of some of the reasons I explain in the possible explanations.

Possible Explanations

The 51st state is a common phrase used in politics that is applied to external territories as well as parts of existing states which would be admitted as separate states. These include the unincorporated territories as well as Washington D.C. There’s even a version of the flag showing a 51st star. If you perform Google searches of things such as “Puerto Rico 51st state” or “Washington D.C. 51st state” you will get tons of news article talking about a potential inclusion of those two examples as the 51st state.

50 appears to be a more strict, rounded number. It almost seems to be too perfect for something so complex as the number of states. Our brains automatically thinks that this nice round number simply cannot be correct, so we go to the next logical step of 51. For example, would you believe there is 200 different countries in the world? Or would it seem more correct if there was 201, or 202, or maybe even 203? As of writing there is actually 196 countries in the world, this was just an example of a possible effect happening.

Alaska and Hawaii, two official states are disconnected from the main American landmass. This factoid may be a source of the confusion in assuming that the disconnected states are the two extra instead of included in the 50.

There is 52 cards in a deck of cards. This fact may have been learned while growing up or studying, perhaps around the same time you learned that there is 50 states. Perhaps these memories are getting reversed or replacing one another.

Additional Sources

52 States in America (Subreddit)

40 thoughts on “51 or 52 States in the United States of America

  1. Nope, I clearly remember the fifty nifty United States, but later learned(about 7 years ago) that we annexed another area to be the 51st state, I was born in the U.S

  2. I can’t understand the misconception of 52 states are from(majority) people foreign to this country, when I clearly remember the text book that we use starting from elementary all the way to high school stated that the 51st and 52nd state are D.C. and Puerto Rico(even though I later learned Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory). If anything, I blamed the people that made the text book and the school system that approval them for use.

    • I wonder what school a person attended where they were taught that there were ever more than 50 states. This is elementary school stuff. I graduated high school in 77 there have never been nor has it ever been taught that there are 51 or 52 states. Not D.C. or Puerto Rico never. The mere thought is ludicrous. What we are really witnessing here is a testament of our scholastic system that would allow for a student to proceed without knowing basic geography. I’ve met entirely too many people American citizens who think we have more than 50 states. It’s nearly a laugh but it’s really a cry.

      • Well Ken, nice you find such humor with Ken’s comments. Shows your lack of tolerance and age. David is absolutely correct with his memories. I too was taught the same thing. Orange County, CA. 1960’s.

  3. How about to wait until next ‘July 4’ to see if one or two more ‘stars’ are added to flag? For now this discussion is mute since the official flag of the United States of America displays 50 star states. It seems the last 5 stars representing states were added respectively on July 4, 1908 (Oklahoma), then July 4, 1912 (New Mexico and Arizona), July 4, 1959 (Alaska) and July 4, 1960 (Hawaii). So, for now there is 50 stars representing 50 official states.

    • Yeah, but the idiot who wrote the above article claims Hawaii became a state in 1959. So there you go… The so called Mandela Effect in progress… thanks to misinformation of the above article.

      • Hawaii was incorporated in ’59, the star added to flags in ’60, no misinformation there. Just you misunderstanding the reality of the situation.

  4. For me it was always the common misconception that there were 50 and that the actual number had increased to 52. The smart people would always like to remind people that there were actually 52 just to piss them off.
    Now it seems the smart people are enjoying correcting people that there are actually 50 states and not 52 as commonly misconceived.

  5. I think that there is a possibility that Cuba could become a state since relations with that country have improved. That would make 51 states. I also know there is a active movement among some Hawaiians to separate themselves from the USA. I sat next to a person who was active in that movement at Louisa’s Restaurant here in
    San Luis Obispo. We will just have to keep watching this situation.

  6. Fifty states – although some territories are allowed to vote and periodically there are pushes for Puerto Rico to become a state. Not too long ago (I forget who it was) a politician stated there were 51 states (or maybe they said 52) although it was not a factual statement.

  7. I think part of the problem is that 51- and 52- star flag variants exist, and reappear any time a territory considers statehood. Visually, you can glance at them and go “Yeah, that’s the flag I’ve always seen” because the pattern is so close. My theory on this one is that since the brain always takes in more information than we process, tucked away somewhere is the idea “the flag has 52 stars”.

  8. This is the proverbial “Tempest in a tea-pot”. The correct answer to this question is; “Who gives a shit?
    It may be important to immigrants applying for citizenship, but mistaking it will not get the rest of us thrown out of the country.

  9. As far as I remember, there always been 50 states, since Hawaii, that is. Remember “Washington. D.C” The District of Columbia is or at least was the 51st star when I studied geography at school in the 60’s. It is not a state as is, but nor is it part of any state. A lot of countries have their capital in such a district. Beware, while you scratching your heads, trying to discover who really killed KFJ, your government is stealing whatever freedom you got left. While you’re mounting guard in your chicken coop. They come around and steal your cows.

  10. Continental US is often referred by to people up north as the lower 48. Add Alaska and Hawaii and you get
    50. What is the problem?

  11. Of course, I never bothered to count them all at such a young age. But if you add Washington DC (The District of Columbia) and Alaska does that make 51 or 52? Hawaii became the 50th sate in 1959. Alaska 49th 1959. 51 then. What was considered the 52nd? I just remember being told that there were really 52 states even if we were told there were only 50.

  12. 52 states. Parents born and raised here, I was born and raised overseas 1970’s returning for college; they taught me the same. If you count the current territories/commonwealth areas it comes up to 55, a number I have never heard attributed to the country’s states. So, where did that number come from?

    It is unnecessary to “debunk” the Mandela Effect, it is not a conspiracy theory. It is a strange phenomena. One either experiences it or not. It IS necessary to offer possible explanations for why hundreds if not thousands remember things differently.

    Mine was, literally, Mandela’s death. I remember still being in school and all the hubbub about his passing in jail. Then later learning that he was voted president. Wondered about that, and chalked it up to misremembering. Then I find scores of people who have/had the same “misremembering”. Why? How?

    Bush, Jr’s 2007 speech about Mandela being dead has been explained away as a metaphor for the saviors of the Middle East. Still, in that word vomit of his, it is an awkward, strange, and inappropriate mix in whatever context you frame it with.

  13. Oh boy. All of you people saying it has always been 50 states, i guess you would be native to this dimension or otherwise reality. I am glad to see another person point out that for us it has been the other way around. In our reality, the dimension we were inexplicably ported from, it was considered stupid to believe that America had 50 states.

    This is just one of the many (or few) indications we have that imply the reality of our situation. I counted the stars on the flag as a child, 51 stars. We were taught that each star corresponds to a state. I am not great in geography i don’t know which state our reality included into USA but i do know for a fact that we were taught that D.C is a state.

    When you stack multiple 2 dimensional planes onto eachother it becomes 3dimensional space. The same applies for 4dimensional space. It means there are multiple 3d planes or universes (realities even) stacked in CLOSE PROXIMITY to eachother. We can only see fractions of such a 4dimensional world from a 3dimensional perspective but travelling between 3dimensional worlds through the fourth dimension is as possible as moving in a new direction.

    I am quite certain that either a major illuminati psyop hoax is taking place or many of us are literal dimensional immagrants with no idea how or if our realities merged or wether we travelled through dimensions. Cern certainly seems happy with the mandela effect according to their own website videos.

    We are not stupid. I come from a timeline where it was considered ignorant to think America had any less than 51 states., i understand that in this timeline it is apparent that america has always had 50 states. Some are from timelines in which America had 52 states apparently. I am not misinterpreting or misremembering it is not something you forgot how many states does one of the most influentuel countries *cough* continent *cough* have…

    I mean I remember things like sex in the city (not being sex and the city), small potatoes, could be foggy memory. But i know for a fact in the 90’s kitkats’ logo used to be kit-kat apparently that never existed in this timeline. Could also be too old to find on google right. 2 years ago i researched jfk and i know there were 2 drivers, jfk and his murderer wife in the back seat. now on google there are pictures of jfk, his wife and two other guys sitting within headshot range in front of jfk and his wife between the drivers. I researched that two years ago. there were four people in the continental limo (i think it was a continental, not too familiar with American car names). now there are six.

    Things are popping in and out of history it seems for us. I am not joking here, i feel like this is starting to look like bizarro world. there are the small mandela effects. i would love to attribute to foggy memories guys.

    Then there is history as we know it being changed seemingly overnight and people are like no dude it’s always been this way. Like maybe a year or two ago i also caught wind of America having 50 states now and thought to myself that you guys changed it. I grew up knowing damn well that America had 51 states. Every movie you guys had in Hollywood they would something along the linesof to protect the civilians of all 51 states of America.

    It is hard to take reality seriously anymore when apparently overnight everything you thought you knew to be true could change. Please understand for us it is difficult. This is not “oh i forgot where my car keys are” this is “why is my car yellow when i know i bought a blue one?”

    I have been to schools in both England and Holland and i was taught in both schools that America has 51 states and that each star represents a state and the flag all over the media was a 51 starred version that according to your timelines’ google is a “joke flag”.

    I am telling you guys now we are from different timelines i think somehow they merged due to cerns doing which explains why a lot of us are unaware of how these changes happened.

    I would accept any cases of poor memory yet if there is one thing i know for a fact is that i come from a reality where from my perspective, not too long ago (about 2 years ago) it was considered stupid to think America had less than 51 states. I always remembered this number because it was uneven. it wasn’t round. it was 50+1 so 51 states of America was for me symbolic, an image that i would not mistaken. Where i’m from (same timeline as the other dude commnting how it was mainstream to know America had 51 states), “the 51 states of America” was a common term and not something used jokingly.

    believe me or not, i am being as honest as i can. I firmly believe this is a timeline merge we are experiencing. There are many things, events, products that we will remember differently from the time before the merge happened because we are from a different timeline .

    If anybody else is trying to figure this out please communicate. This is literally something that is happening to us.

    Also this timelines’ Mona Lisa painting looks a lot happier than ours. I remember her as being grim. Barely a facial expression. In fact she was renowned for her expressionless posture. She was actually sad in our timeline. I am wondering wether we were merged perhaps to a happier timeline?

    But what about chemtrails? They aren’t happy?

  14. not about some confusion about proposed states or bills, in our timeline we were VERY well informed in the 90s regarding political worldwide affairs. We didn’t experience your version of the nineties. I am deducing this through the implications and responses of individuals and collective alike.

    I am saying we were taught that America had pretty much from i guess 1960 or earlier, has always had 51 states. 2 years ago i heard America suddenly has 50 states. I thought this was a new change. According to the timeline i am writing in (your timeline), America has ALWAYS had 50 states. This gives me reason to believe that our realities merged somewhere around 2 years ago, as other mandela effects seemed to occur around this timeframe.

    I would not be posting this in a serious manner, but 51 states of America people. For 23 years of my life this has been common knowledge. We had spiderman episodes telling us about the STATE of washington dc. which i just googled, happens to be not a state all of a sudden.

    Also, Google itself has changed radically for me in this two year timeframe. My timelines’ google was a bit more extensive searchwise. I thought they chamged the algorithms which is a common occurence in IT but when you take reality shifts into account it does explain why the search engine from another timeline would differ greatly from the other.

    I would suspect the mandela effect to be a psyop, yet this is an instance where i would say a psyop of merging timelines would be more difficult than actually merging the timelines. That our history is being tampered with is not a hoax. For me for someone to say America has always had 50 states is a lie. It was all over the media. The movies. Either they changed the movies the media and brainwashed the entire people, or they actually merged our timeline with yours somehow. Or i am suffering from some severe case of false memory syndrome.

    I am not suffering from false memory syndrome. I just cannot show you a recording of my memories. Therefore my word is the only proof i have. I have nothing to gain by making this up. by telling the truth i am hoping to make people aware of our situation. i wonder what happened to the reality we came from. some say it was destroyed. an apparent worker who allegedly with 22 other scientists caused this merge. he says in 2012 our timeline was destroyed but they has saved us by porting our timeline to a similar one. take it with a grain of salt. i know that i am from a universe where everybody knew America had 51 states. albeit our version of America.

    Common knowldge. Universal fact. Heck i even saw it on wikipedia more than once. 51 states with the blue hyperlink bar. it was there. According to this timeline that was NEVER the case. It is so eery that it questions my belief in reality entirely. This IS real though. so it would seem that we are in a different place. A dimension very similar to our previous residence, yet with many subtle differences. Butterfly effect perhaps? We are living in a universe with some minor changes in history..

    Can we go up in dimensions then? Cause this reality doesn’t seem to be doing to good either..

    state of washington d.c was common knowledge where i came from. And i’m talking about american movies cartoons. you have hollywood in this dimension too so u know how influential America really is. Do you think there is any chance that the number of states in your superstate would slip past us? That we would forget with all the patriotic movies being literally thrown at us? There is no way in hell that we are mistaken about that one. Our America had 51 states and according to this timeline such an America never existed in this universe. Ergo we are from a different dimension. A 3dimensional universe similar to this one but with differences such as America having 51 states for a long period in history.

    Wikipedia even said so.

  15. Growing up in Canada, i was always very aware there were 50 states, because the ongoing joke for a long time was Canada was practically the 51st State.

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  17. Apparently there were 51 up until 2014 according to Wiki. I learnt 52 & this has always been ingrained. I had an excellent education. This is Mandela Effect & when it happens to you you will know.

    This website doesn’t debunk the effect btw – it just disagrees with it.

    The best example for me is the Volvo logo: I haven’t met anyone yet who remembers the arrow, but Google it & it’s been there throughout the history of the car. Why use the male symbol on a logo in a politically correct world? You’d think they’d take it off over history if anything.

    Another good example = scarecrow with gun in only one scene: Wizard of Oz. It’s on my DVD at home. Rent it if you don’t have it & see for yourself.

    Why in only one scene? It comes from nowhere & then vanishes again. And totally incongruous for a kids’ film of this era too…

    This is your sign to wake up & realise that there’s more to this reality than we think. This has only just begun.

  18. I don’t get why people are using the “only 50 stars” excuse, well just look at the stripes. Yes, Jamestown was a capitol city, but before then, it was a colony. It was the first colony of the U.S. Same with Plymouth Rock and Cape Cod, but you don’t see 20 stripes on the American flag, do you? No, it’s only because these colonies weren’t as major as the other ones, the same situation occurs with the states, D.C. and Puerto Rico are states, but you don’t find them on the American flag because they aren’t as important as the other 50

  19. First – What is a “State”?

    Click on links to read all including other opinions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_(polity)

    A state is a type of polity that is an organized political community living under a single system of government.[1] States may or may not be sovereign. For instance, federated states are members of a federal union, and may have only partial sovereignty, but are, nonetheless, states.[1] Some states are subject to external sovereignty or hegemony, in which ultimate sovereignty lies in another state.[2] States that are sovereign are known as sovereign states.

    https://www.globalpolicy.org/nations-a-states/what-is-a-state.html

    Some see a “state” as an ancient institution, going back to Rome, Greece and before, and theorized by Plato, Aristotle and other classical philosophers. Others insist on the unique features of the modern state, with its extensive rule of law, citizenship rights, and broad economic and social responsibilities. A state is more than a government; that is clear.

    To use the corporate “legal” statute definition I would say there are 57.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territories_by_area

    The 50, plus, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands,
    United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, & United States Minor Outlying Islands.

    However, the older definition in America would not include the 7, hence the flag.

    Why is this relevant?

    Why do we have codes and statutes?

    Why is that different than Laws?

    You will be very surprised.

    http://www.barefootsworld.net/admiralty.html

    Why did the Supreme Court Rule the way they did in Citizen’s United? Hmmm.

    http://thelawdictionary.org/artificial-person/

  20. Da aveți dreptate eu ca european le consider state aderete la SUA din ce spuneți voi dar într-o bună zi vor deveni state aderete la UNIUNEA EUROPEANĂ la U.E.datorită tratatului Cefta la care SUA nu e membru cum a făcut Canada.US

  21. The comments on this are interesting. I seem to have a vague recollection of 51 states, having something to do with a spat over DC in the early 80’s, that resulted in the District of Columbia being granted statehood. It was on the news, Reagan was president. I was young. I could have misunderstood something else that was actually going on.

  22. Callum….I so agree with what you are saying. I had been taught 52 and Hawaii and Alaska the latter. It’s not going to do any of us any good to argue about it because this is a Mandela effect like so many other things that are happening and I believe due to CERN too. DC was considered a state of it’s own and Porta Rico. We can’t convenience anyone differently. I’ve had a couple of things happen and no explanation for it either. Try getting in your car and getting ready to start it and you decide to check to make sure you locked the house front door, and your car is right there in sight….you come back and the keys are gone…..nowhere and never found again. Bible scripture changed from ‘the lion will lie with the lamb’ to ‘the wolf will lie with the lamb’. All bibles are changed now….no matter how old they are. A video showed this and the man had one at back in the 1800’s and once said lion and lamb and now says wolf and lamb. He showed it in the video and also showed that another book wasn’t change because it wasn’t the Bible but a book of A to z in dictionary for the Bible and it said the Lion and the lamb. This is a CERN thing definitely. Thank you for letting me know that some of us out here aren’t losing their minds. NOT going to change my mind of this. Things aren’t what they seem anymore….think outside of the box and eyes wide open.

  23. I’m from Alaska and we have a term for the continental US. “The lower 48” It has always been that. Lower 47,49,50 would sound too weird. I call b.s on this one.

  24. Pretty easy to check that there’s never been 51 or 52 states, only 50 since 1959.

    Only states have Senators and there have been 100 every year since Alaska and Hawaii were admitted.

    Only states have Representatives, and DC and Puerto Rico, American Samoa etc. have never had Representatives, only non-voting Delegates. Easy to check the Congressional Record, year after year, to find this out.

    States are sovereign entities. They are not just random lines drawn on the map for the convenience of the national government and they do not correspond to the provinces or districts or prefects or what have you that other nations are divided into. The US has a lot of territories that are not states and there is no ambiguity whatever about their status, whether they “count” as a state. Only states have Senators and Representatives. There are only 50. There has been no change since 1959.

    So why would so many people think they remembered a different number, as recently as 2012?

    I think for most people it’s just a misremembering of trying to understand the distinction between US states and other US territories in elementary school and not quite getting it and never revisiting the issue. This I think would explain all the foreigners getting this wrong, as they’d probably never need to revisit the topic again once out of school.

    Also I noticed, when I was a kid, that elementary and middle school teachers frequently got a lot of facts wrong. I knew they had it wrong because I was always doing my own reading outside of school. If a teacher says something wrong to you at an early age, you might remember it forever.

    When I was a kid, in the 1980s, we still had geography classes. We had to memorize the fifty states and their capitals, and the same with all the nations that existed then (there’s a lot more now).

    I think the conviction that people have, that it was once different, is not so much about the fallibility of human memory. I think it has more to do with attitudes about memory; that people feel their memories are what is really real. Whenever you find that something you strongly remember is wrong, confronted with strong and unambigous evidence that it is wrong, you can laugh about it and be a little more humble and aware that your brain is not a video camera. Or you can double down and natter on about conspiracies and alternative universes.

    I was reading articles on this topic online in the late 90s and 2000s, and in printed books before that. But it wasn’t dignified then into a “Mandela Effect” that we must all look for reasons to explain. Instead, it was presented as this is how human memories actually work as opposed to how people feel that memories work.

  25. To the poster who said it’s to do with bad schooling. I went to one of the top schools in the UK and was a little geography geek. I have distinct memories of it being 52. I remember it ‘going up’ though, like a couple were added (not alaska and hawaii).
    So do many other people to the extent we very recently played a state naming game where were tried to name all 52 states.
    We got to like mid forties or something but the point was we aren’t all uneducated idiots with no clue of where things are supposed to be or getting our information from bad sources. We are all legitimately remembering something different that doesn’t seem to now exist.

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