Where Did the 50 American States Names Come From?

Updated on January 2, 2020
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I'm fond of studying the history of my country and other countries and then teaching them to other people.

The Short Answer

Most of them had Native American roots, along with French and Spanish origins. Below are more explanations behind each state, their names, and each state flag.

etymology

noun

Is the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.

Roots: People and Languages

This map shows a breakdown of all of the states' etymologies.
This map shows a breakdown of all of the states' etymologies. | Source

1. Algonquian

The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups. Historically, the peoples were prominent along the Atlantic Coast and into the interior along the Saint Lawrence River and around the Great Lakes.

2. Siouan

Siouan languages, also called Siouan-Catawban and Catawba-Siouan, family of languages in North America spread primarily across the Great Plains. The Sioux is a large group of Native American tribes that traditionally lived in the Great Plains. Many Sioux tribes were nomadic people who moved from place to place following bison (buffalo) herds.

3. Uto-Aztecan

Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a family of indigenous languages of the Americas, consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found almost entirely in the Western United States and Mexico. It is one of the oldest and largest family of American Indian languages both in terms of extent of distribution (Oregon to Panama) and number of languages and speakers.

4. Hawaiian

The Hawaiian language is a Polynesian language that takes its name from Hawaiʻi, the largest island in the tropical North Pacific archipelago where it developed. Hawaiian, along with English, is an official language of the State of Hawaii.

5. Latin

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium.

6. English

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England.

7. French

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages.

The States: Capitals, Flags, and Etymologies

Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores: Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is popular with both campers and day-trippers, offering a wide variety of facilities and more than two miles of white, sandy beaches. www.alapark.com/gulf-state-park
Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores: Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is popular with both campers and day-trippers, offering a wide variety of facilities and more than two miles of white, sandy beaches. www.alapark.com/gulf-state-park | Source

Alabama (AL)

Capital: Montgomery

Flag: consists of a crimson cross of St. Andrew on a field of white. The cross of St. Andrew referred to in the law is a diagonal cross, known in vexillology as a saltire. A saltire, also called Saint Andrew's Cross or the crux decussata, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross, like the shape of the letter X in Roman type. The word comes from the Middle French sautoir, Middle Latin saltatoria.

Alabama is from the Choctaw word albah amo meaning "thicket-clearers" or "plant-cutters. The Choctaw were a tribe of Native American Indians who originated from modern Mexico and the American Southwest to settle in the Mississippi River Valley for about 1800 years. Known for their head-flattening and Green Corn Festival, these people built mounds and lived in a matriarchal society.


Denali National Park: In the northern part of the Alaska Range, Denali National Park is the one of the largest in the United States and encompasses North America's highest mountain. http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm
Denali National Park: In the northern part of the Alaska Range, Denali National Park is the one of the largest in the United States and encompasses North America's highest mountain. http://www.nps.gov/dena/index.htm | Source

Alaska (AK)

Capital: Juneau

Flag: consists of eight gold stars, forming the Big Dipper and Polaris, on a dark blue field. The Big Dipper is an asterism in the constellation Ursa Major which symbolizes a bear, an animal indigenous to the state.

Alaska is from the Aleut word alaxsxaq and from Russian Аляска, meaning "the object toward which the action of the sea is directed." The Aleuts, who are usually known in the Aleut language, are the indigenous people of the Aleutian Islands. Both the Aleut people and the islands are divided between the U.S. state of Alaska and the Russian administrative division of Kamchatka Krai. Three groups of natives lived in Alaska: Eskimos, Aleuts, and Indians. Europeans first discovered Alaska in 1741, when Danish explorer Vitus Bering sighted it on his long voyage from Siberia. The first settlement in Alaska was established by Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island in 1784.

Grand Canyon: Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon looking out over the endless ridges of colorful cliff walls and deep ravines.
Grand Canyon: Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon looking out over the endless ridges of colorful cliff walls and deep ravines. | Source

Arizona (AZ)

Capital: Pheonix

Flag: consists of 13 rays of red and weld-yellow on the top half. The red and yellow also symbolize Arizona's picturesque landscape. The center star signifies copper production because Arizona produces more copper than any other state in the country.

Arizona is from the O'odham (an Uto-Aztecan language) word ali sona-g via Spanish Arizonac meaning "good oaks." The O'odham are an indigenous Uto-Aztecan peoples of the Sonoran desert in southern and central Arizona and northern Sonora. Sonora, the second largest state in Mexico, is sparsely populated. Mountainous and arid, the region is sunny almost year–round and has little rainfall. Nearly all of Mexico’s copper is produced here.

Buffalo National River: Buffalo National River is a protected area and home to deer, bobcats, and a variety of other wildlife. Photo by OakleyOriginals.
Buffalo National River: Buffalo National River is a protected area and home to deer, bobcats, and a variety of other wildlife. Photo by OakleyOriginals. | Source

Arkansas (AR)

Capital: Little Rock

Flag: consists of a red field charged with a large blue-bordered white lozenge (or diamond). Twenty-nine five-pointed stars appear on the flag: twenty-five small white stars within the blue border, and four larger blue stars in the white diamond. The inscription "ARKANSAS" appears in blue within the white lozenge, with one star above and three stars below. The star above and the two outer stars below point upwards; the inner star below points downwards. The flag was designed by Willie K. Hocker of Wabbaseka, a member of Pine Bluff Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Arkansas (pronounced as ar-kan-saw) came from the French pronunciation of an Algonquin name for the Quapaw people: akansa. This word, meaning either "downriver people" or “people of the south wind," comes from the Algonquin prefix -a plus the Siouan word kká:ze for a group of tribes including the Quapaw. The Quapaw people are a tribe of Native Americans that coalesced in the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

Hollywood Sign: Although you can’t hike directly to the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, there is a legal trail that allows you to look out over the sign, which dates back to the 1920s when it was used as an advertisement for a real-estate. © Gnaphron
Hollywood Sign: Although you can’t hike directly to the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, there is a legal trail that allows you to look out over the sign, which dates back to the 1920s when it was used as an advertisement for a real-estate. © Gnaphron | Source

California (CA)

Capital: Sacramento

Flag: the bear flag is selected and adopted as the state flag of California. The upper five-sixths of the width thereof to be a white field and the lower sixth of the width thereof to be a red stripe; there shall appear in the white field in the upper left-hand corner a single red star, and at the bottom of the white field the words 'California Republic,' and in the center of the white field a California grizzly bear upon a grass plat, in the position of walking toward the left of the said field; said bear shall be dark brown in color.

In his popular novel "Las sergas de Esplandián" (The Adventures of Esplandián) is the fifth book in a series of Spanish chivalric romance novels published in 1510, writer Garci Ordóñez de Montalvo named an imaginary realm California. Las Sergas mentions a fictional island named California inhabited only by black women and ruled by Queen Calafia, a pagan warrior queen who ruled over a kingdom of Arabic women. When Spanish explorers (including Francisco de Ulloa) learned of an island (actually a peninsula) off western Mexico rumored to be ruled by Amazon women, they named it California. Where Montalvo learned the name and its meaning remain a mystery.

San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar Highway: A spectacular scenic drive stretches from the old mining town of Silverton, to the town of Ouray, along what is called the Million Dollar Highway.
San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and the Million Dollar Highway: A spectacular scenic drive stretches from the old mining town of Silverton, to the town of Ouray, along what is called the Million Dollar Highway. | Source

Colorado (CO)

Capital: Denver

Flag: consists of a bicolor horizontal triband of blue and white charged with a circular red letter "C" filled with a golden disk. That is, it consists of three horizontal stripes of equal width, the top and bottom stripes blue, and the middle stripe white, on top of which sits a circular red "C", filled with a golden disk. The blue is meant to represent the skies, the gold stands for the abundant sunshine the state enjoys, the white represents the snowcapped mountains, and the red represents the ruddy earth.

Colorado is named from the Rio Colorado (Colorado River), which in Spanish means "ruddy" or "reddish." The has been inhabited by Native Americans for more than 13,000 years.

Mystic Seaport: Mystic Seaport recreates a historical seaport village as part of one of the most prominent maritime museums in the United States. Photo by ReefTECK
Mystic Seaport: Mystic Seaport recreates a historical seaport village as part of one of the most prominent maritime museums in the United States. Photo by ReefTECK | Source

Connecticut (CT)

Capital: Hartford

Flag: consists of a black baroque shield with three grapevines, each bearing three bunches of purple grapes on a field of royal blue. The banner below the shield reads "Qui Transtulit Sustinet", Latin for "He who transplanted sustains"), Connecticut's state motto.

Connecticut is named after the Connecticut River, which stems from Eastern Algonquian, possibly Mohican, quinnitukqut, meaning "at the long tidal river." Originally the Mohicans lived along the banks of the Hudson River, in modern-day New York state. The Connecticut region was inhabited by multiple Indian tribes before European settlement and colonization. The first European explorer in Connecticut was Adriaen Block, a Dutch private trader, privateer, and ship's captain who is best known for exploring the coastal and river valley areas between present-day New Jersey and Massachusetts who explored the region in 1614.

Winterthur Museum and Gardens:  Winterthur is considered America's finest museum of decorative arts. Photo by Peter Bond
Winterthur Museum and Gardens: Winterthur is considered America's finest museum of decorative arts. Photo by Peter Bond | Source

Delaware (DE)

Capital: Dover

Flag: consists of a buff-colored diamond on a field of colonial blue, with the coat of arms of the state of Delaware inside the diamond. Below the diamond, the date December 7, 1787, declares the day on which Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution. The colors of the flag reflect the colors of the uniform of General George Washington.

Delaware is named after the Delaware Bay that is also named after Baron De la Warr (Thomas West, 1577 – 1618), the first English governor of Virginia. His surname ultimately comes from de la werre, meaning "of the war" in Old French.

There have been two creations of Baron De La Warr, and West came from the second. He was the son of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr, of Wherwell Abbey in Hampshire and Anne Knollys. He was born at Wherwell, Hampshire, England, and died at sea while travelling from England to the Colony of Virginia. Counting from the original creation of the title, West would be the 12th Baron.

Fort Lauderdale: Located on the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” due to its expansive and intricate canal system.
Fort Lauderdale: Located on the Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale is known as the “Venice of America” due to its expansive and intricate canal system. | Source

Florida (FL)

Capital: Tallahassee

Flag: consists of a red saltire on a white background, with the state seal superimposed on the center. The flag was first adopted as the state flag of Florida in 1868. The flag's current design has been in use since May 21, 1985, after the Florida state seal was graphically altered and officially sanctioned for use by state officials.

Florida is from the Spanish Pascua florida meaning "flowering Easter." Spanish explorers discovered the area on Palm Sunday in 1513. Florida was the first region of the continental United States to be visited and settled by Europeans. The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León. Ponce de León spotted and landed on the peninsula on April 2, 1513. He named it La Florida in recognition of the verdant landscape and because it was the Easter season, which the Spaniards called Pascua Florida (Festival of Flowers).

The state name also relates to the English word florid, an adjective meaning "strikingly beautiful," from Latin floridus. If it were a country, Florida would be the 16th largest economy in the world and the 58th most populous as of 2018.

Georgia Aquarium: The world's largest aquarium, Georgia Aquarium houses more than 100,000 aquatic animals in more than 10 million gallons of fresh and saltwater
Georgia Aquarium: The world's largest aquarium, Georgia Aquarium houses more than 100,000 aquatic animals in more than 10 million gallons of fresh and saltwater | Source

Georgia (GA)

Capital: Atlanta

Flag: the current flag of the State of Georgia was adopted on May 8, 2003. The flag bears three stripes consisting of red-white-red, featuring a blue canton containing a ring of 13 white stars encompassing the state's coat of arms in gold. In the coat of arms, the arch symbolizes the state's constitution while the pillars represent the three branches of government. The words of the state motto, "Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation", are wrapped around the pillars, guarded by a male figure dressed in colonial attire from the American Revolutionary War. Within the arms, a sword is drawn to represent the defense of the state's constitution with an additional motto, In God We Trust, featured below these elements. The ring of stars that encompass the state's coat of arms represents Georgia as one of the original Thirteen Colonies.

Founded in 1733 as a British colony, Georgia was the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established. Georgia is named after King George II of Great Britain. The King's name originates with Latin Georgius, from Greek Georgos, meaning farmer, from ge (earth) + ergon (work). George II was king of Great Britain and Ireland, duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 until his death in 1760. George is the most recent British monarch born outside Great Britain: he was born and brought up in northern Germany.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu: This neighborhood on the southern shore of Honolulu is known for its high-end resorts, entertainment, shopping, and dining, as well as its gorgeous beaches.
Waikiki Beach, Honolulu: This neighborhood on the southern shore of Honolulu is known for its high-end resorts, entertainment, shopping, and dining, as well as its gorgeous beaches. | Source

Hawaii (HI)

Capital: Honolulu

Flag: the current official flag of Hawaii (Hawaiian: Ka Hae Hawaiʻi) had also previously been used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory of Hawaii. The inclusion of an emblem of a foreign country, the Union Flag of the United Kingdom, is a mark of the British Empire's historical relations with the Hawaiian Kingdom, and particularly with King Kamehameha I. It is the only US state flag to include a foreign country's national flag.

Hawaii is from the Hawaiian Hawai'i, from Proto-Polynesian hawaiki, thought to mean "place of the Gods." Originally named the Sandwich Islands by James Cook, a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy, in the late 1700s. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Sun Valley: Sun Valley's year-round outdoor recreation and awesome mountain scenery draw visitors from around the world.Getty Images.
Sun Valley: Sun Valley's year-round outdoor recreation and awesome mountain scenery draw visitors from around the world.Getty Images. | Source

Idaho (ID)

Capital: Boise

Flag: consists of the state seal on a field of blue. The words "State of Idaho" appear in gold letters on a red and gold band below the seal. The seal of the Territory of Idaho was adopted in 1863 and redrawn several times before statehood in 1890. The state Great Seal was designed by Emma Edwards Green, the only woman to design a state seal.

Idaho, originally applied to the territory now part of eastern Colorado, is named from the Kiowa-Apache (Athabaskan) word idaahe, meaning "enemy," a name given by the Comanches. The name Kiowa may be a variant of their name for themselves, Kai-i-gwu, meaning “principal people.” The Comanche became the dominant tribe on the southern Great Plains in the 18th and 19th centuries. The name Comanche is derived from a Ute word meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time.”

Lincoln Home National Historic Site: Abraham Lincoln only owned one home and he lived there with his wife, Mary, for seventeen years. Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Matt Turner.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: Abraham Lincoln only owned one home and he lived there with his wife, Mary, for seventeen years. Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Matt Turner. | Source

Illinois (IL)

Capital: Springfield

Flag: consists of the seal of Illinois on a white background, with the word "Illinois" underneath the seal. The present seal was adopted in 1869, the flag bearing the central elements of the seal was adopted in 1915, and the word Illinois was added to the flag in 1970.

Illinois came from the French spelling ilinwe of the Algonquian's name for themselves Inoca, also written Ilinouek, from Old Ottawa for "ordinary speaker." Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. A microcosm is a community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic qualities or features of something much larger.

Illinois is known as the "Land of Lincoln" as Abraham Lincoln spent most of his life there.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for the U.S. Senate. Lincoln’s stand against slavery during several debates in Illinois, gave him national attention. He lost the election, but became president of the United States two years later. Six southern states seceded from the Union and the Civil War (1861-1865) began after Lincoln’s inauguration.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and join the Indy Racing Experience Driving Program. You will have drive a real IndyCar series on the actual tracks. Photo Courtesy by Facebook/IndianapolisMotorSpeedway
Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and join the Indy Racing Experience Driving Program. You will have drive a real IndyCar series on the actual tracks. Photo Courtesy by Facebook/IndianapolisMotorSpeedway

Indiana (IN)

Capital: Indianapolis

Flag: consisting a gold torch surrounded by an outer circle of thirteen stars, an inner semi circle of five stars, and a 19th, larger, star at the top of the torch, crowned by the word 'Indiana', representing Indiana's admission to the Union as the 19th state. The flag of Indiana was designed by Paul Hadley and officially adopted by the state of Indiana on May 11, 1917. It was the state's first official flag and has remained unchanged since then except for the creation of a statute to standardize the production of the flag.

Indiana is from the English word Indian + -ana, a Latin suffix, roughly meaning "land of the Indians." Thinking they had reached the South Indes, explorers mistakenly called native inhabitants of the Americas Indians. And India comes from the same Latin word, from the same Greek word, meaning "region of the Indus River."

National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium: strives to showcase the important role this river and its watershed plays on the environment and people. http://www.rivermuseum.com
National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium: strives to showcase the important role this river and its watershed plays on the environment and people. http://www.rivermuseum.com | Source

Iowa (IA)

Capital: Des Moines

Flag: a vertical tricolor consisting of blue, white, red. The center stripe is twice the width of the other two and contains an eagle holding a ribbon.

Iowa is named after the natives of the Chiwere branch of the Aiouan family, from Dakota ayuxba, meaning "sleepy ones." Chiwere is a Siouan language formerly spoken in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. It was first documented in the 1830s by Christian missionaries. Since then little has been written about the language.

Botanica Wichita Gardens: is one of the top things to do in the city of Wichita. It is a paradise celebrating horticulture that is open year-round. Photo by One Day Closer.
Botanica Wichita Gardens: is one of the top things to do in the city of Wichita. It is a paradise celebrating horticulture that is open year-round. Photo by One Day Closer. | Source

Kansas (KS)

Capital: Topeka

Flag: represented by a dark-blue silk rectangle representing Kansas arranged horizontally with the state seal aligned in the center. Above the seal is a sunflower which sits over a bar of gold and light blue. Below the seal is printed the name of the state "KANSAS".

Kansas is named after the Kansa tribe, natively called kká:ze, meaning "people of the south wind." Despite having the same etymological root as Arkansas, Kansas has a different pronunciation (kan-zhus). The Kansa, also spelled Konza or Kanza, also called Kaw Nation, are North American Indians of Siouan linguistic stock who lived along the Kansas and Saline rivers in what is now central Kansas.

The Kentucky Horse Park: located a short drive north of Lexington, allows visitors a chance to see a working horse farm, learn about, and visit with horses. Photo by David Paul Ohmer.
The Kentucky Horse Park: located a short drive north of Lexington, allows visitors a chance to see a working horse farm, learn about, and visit with horses. Photo by David Paul Ohmer. | Source

Kentucky (KY)

Capital: Frankfort

Flag: consists of the Commonwealth's seal on a navy blue field, surrounded by the words "Commonwealth of Kentucky" above and sprigs of goldenrod, the state flower, below. The seal depicts a pioneer and a statesman embracing. Popular belief claims that the buckskin-clad man on the left is Daniel Boone, who was largely responsible for the exploration of Kentucky, and the man in the suit on the right is Henry Clay, Kentucky's most famous statesman. However, the official explanation is that the men represent all frontiersmen and statesmen, rather than any specific persons.

Kentucky is named after the Kentucky River, from Shawnee or Wyandot language, meaning "on the meadow" (also "at the field" in Seneca). The Wyandot people or Wendat, also called the Huron Nation and Huron people, are an Iroquoian-speaking peoples of North America who emerged as a tribe around the north shore of Lake Ontario. The Iroquoian languages are a language family of indigenous peoples of North America. They are known for their general lack of labial consonants.

The Rosedown Plantation: is a State Historic Site known for being one of the most well preserved domestic Southern plantations. Photo by dtroyka via Flickr.
The Rosedown Plantation: is a State Historic Site known for being one of the most well preserved domestic Southern plantations. Photo by dtroyka via Flickr. | Source

Louisiana (LA)

Capital: Baton Rouge

Flag: consists of a "pelican in her piety," the heraldic charge representing a mother pelican "in her nest feeding her young with her blood" on an azure field with state motto reworded to "Union Justice Confidence."

Louisiana is named after Louis XIV of France. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country in European history. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory for France in 1682, he named it La Louisiane, meaning "Land of Louis." Louis stems from Old French Loois, from Medieval Latin Ludovicus, a changed version of Old High Germany Hluodwig, meaning "famous in war."

  • The Battle of New Orleans, which made Andrew Jackson a national hero, was fought two weeks after the War of 1812 had ended and more than a month before the news of the war's end had reached Louisiana.
  • Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a big celebration with a festival and carnival-like atmosphere. People in colorful costumes dance around the major streets of the city in celebration of the state’s most popular holiday. Aside from Mardi Gras, New Orleans also holds several music festivals including Jazz Fest, a gathering of the world’s best in jazz music.

Acadia National Park: the rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline also surrounds a large inland region of lakes, streams, and forests. https://www.nps.gov/acad
Acadia National Park: the rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline also surrounds a large inland region of lakes, streams, and forests. https://www.nps.gov/acad | Source

Maine (ME)

Capital: Augusta

Flag: features Maine's state coat of arms on a blue field. In the center of the shield, a moose rests under a tall pine tree. A farmer and seaman represent the traditional reliance on agriculture and the sea by the state. The North Star represents the state motto: dirigo" ("I Lead").

Maine is of uncertain origins, potentially named for the French province of Maine, named for the river of Gaulish, an extinct Celtic language, origin. During the 1st millennium BC, Celtic languages were spoken across much of Europe and in Asia Minor. Today, they are restricted to the northwestern fringe of Europe and a few diaspora communities. There are four living languages: Welsh, Breton, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. All are minority languages in their respective countries, though there are continuing efforts at revitalisation. Welsh is an official language in Wales and Irish is an official language of Ireland and of the European Union. Welsh is the only Celtic language not classified as endangered by UNESCO.

Antietam National Battlefield: few places illustrate the terrible cost of war like Antietam National Battlefield, scene of the bloodiest day's battle in the Civil War. http://www.nps.gov/ancm/index.htm
Antietam National Battlefield: few places illustrate the terrible cost of war like Antietam National Battlefield, scene of the bloodiest day's battle in the Civil War. http://www.nps.gov/ancm/index.htm | Source

Maryland (MD)

Capital: Annapolis

Flag: consists of the 17th century heraldic banner with the colors and shield from the coat of arms of the Calvert-Crossland families of Sir George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore (1579–1632). The flag was officially adopted by the General Assembly of Maryland (state legislature) in 1904.

Maryland was named after Henrietta Maria, wife of English King Charles I. Mary originally comes from Hebrew Miryam, the sister of Moses. Henrietta Maria was the daughter of King Henry IV of France and Marie de Médicis. Throughout her childhood she was surrounded by political intrigue; her father was assassinated six months after her birth, and when she was seven her mother was banished from Paris. In 1625, at the age of 15, she was married to Charles. Like his father, James I, and grandmother Mary, Queen of Scots, Charles I ruled with a heavy hand. His frequent quarrels with Parliament ultimately provoked a civil war that led to his execution on January 30, 1649.

Cape Cod Beaches: is a long, curving peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic, protecting Cape Cod Bay with its northward curve.
Cape Cod Beaches: is a long, curving peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic, protecting Cape Cod Bay with its northward curve. | Source

Massachusetts (MA)

Capital: Boston

Flag: the state currently has three official flags:

  • a state flag,
  • a "naval and maritime flag" (despite it no longer having its own navy),
  • and a governor's flag.

With Florida and Minnesota, it is one of only three state flags to prominently feature a Native American in its heraldry. The flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts displays, on both sides, the state coat of arms centered on a white field:

  • The shield depicts an Algonquian Native American with bow and arrow; the arrow is pointed downward, signifying peace.
  • A white star with five points appears next to the figure's head, signifying Massachusetts as a U.S. state.
  • A blue ribbon surrounds the shield, bearing the state motto Ense Petit Placidam, Sub Libertate Quietem ("By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty").
  • Above the shield is the state military crest: the bent arm holding a broadsword aloft. The sword has its blade up, to remind that it was through the American Revolution that liberty was won.
  • The arm itself is of Myles Standish and signifies the philosophy that one would rather lose their right arm than live under tyranny.

Massachusetts is from Algonquian Massachusett, a name for the native people who lived around the bay, meaning "at the large hill," in reference to Great Blue Hill, southwest of Boston.

Alternatively, Massachusett has been represented as Moswetuset—from the name of the Moswetuset Hummock, meaning "hill shaped like an arrowhead", in Quincy, where Plymouth Colony commander Myles Standish, hired English military officer met Chief Chickatawbut in 1621. Chickatawbut was the sachem, or leader, of a large group of indigenous people of what is now eastern Massachusetts, United States known as the Massachusett tribe, during the initial period of English settlement in the region in the early seventeenth century. In 1630 Chickatawbut deeded the land that is now Boston to the Puritans. The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and needed to become more protestant.

Isle Royale National Park: this relatively unspoiled tract of country attracts those looking for a remote wilderness experience. www.nps.gov/isro
Isle Royale National Park: this relatively unspoiled tract of country attracts those looking for a remote wilderness experience. www.nps.gov/isro | Source

Michigan (MI)

Capital: Lansing

Flag: depicts the state's coat of arms on a dark blue field, as set forth by Michigan state law. The state coat of arms depicts a blue shield, upon which the sun rises over a lake and peninsula, and a man with a raised hand representing peace and holding a long gun representing the fight for state and nation as a frontier state

Michigan is named after Lake Michigan, which stems from a French spelling of Old Ojibwa (Algonquian) meshi-gami, meaning "big lake." The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people of Canada and the northern Midwestern United States. They are one of the most numerous indigenous peoples north of the Rio Grande. In Canada, they are the second-largest First Nations population, surpassed only by the Cree.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: from tigers, elephants, monkeys, polar bears, and giraffes to birds, fish and insects, you can get up close and personal with all these exotic animals. Photo Courtesy of Facebook/Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: from tigers, elephants, monkeys, polar bears, and giraffes to birds, fish and insects, you can get up close and personal with all these exotic animals. Photo Courtesy of Facebook/Como Park Zoo & Conservatory | Source

Minnesota (MN)

Capital: Saint Paul

Flag: the design of the Minnesota flag consists of a version of the state seal on a blue background. In the State Seal:

  • a Native American rides on horseback in the background, symbolizing Minnesota's Native American heritage.
  • In a field in the foreground, a farmer plows a field, while his axe, gun, and powder horn rest on a stump nearby. The field and plow represent the importance of agriculture. The tools used by the Native American and the farmer represent the tools used for labor and hunting in the past, while the stump represents the importance of lumber in Minnesota's history.
  • Next to the field, a river and waterfall symbolize the Mississippi River and St. Anthony Falls. Three pine trees in the background represent the pine regions of St. Croix, Mississippi, and Lake Superior.

The flag:

  • is rectangular, and consists of a design on a medium blue background. According to the official statute, the flag contains a thin gold border and gold fringe, however, this is rarely used.
  • A white circle in the center contains the word MINNESOTA across the bottom, four groups of four stars and one group of three stars spread out evenly around the edge, and designs from the state seal in the center.
  • The star at the top symbolizes the North Star. The design in the center is surrounded by pink-and-white lady's slippers, the state flower.
  • The border also contains the dates 1819 (founding of Fort Snelling), 1858 (date of statehood), and 1893 (adoption of first flag). The U.S. Army built Fort Snelling between 1820 and 1825 to protect American interests in the fur trade. In these early years and until its temporary closure in 1858, Fort Snelling was a place where diverse people interacted and shaped the future state of Minnesota.

Minnesota is named after the river, from Dakota (Siouan) mnisota, meaning "cloudy water, milky water." Native Americans demonstrated the name to early settlers by dropping milk into water and calling it mnisota. Many places in the state have similar names, such as Minnehaha Falls ("curling water" or waterfall), Minneiska ("white water"), Minneota ("much water"), Minnetonka ("big water"), Minnetrista ("crooked water"), and Minneapolis, a hybrid word combining mni ("water") and polis (Greek for "city").

The Windsor Ruins:  are well and truly off the beaten track, giving visitors a private window into the centuries gone by quite unlike other tourist attractions. Photo source by karenfoleyphotography via Shutterstock.
The Windsor Ruins: are well and truly off the beaten track, giving visitors a private window into the centuries gone by quite unlike other tourist attractions. Photo source by karenfoleyphotography via Shutterstock. | Source

Mississippi (MS)

Capital: Jackson

Flag: consists of three equal horizontal tribands of blue, white, and red, with a red square in the canton (referred to specifically as the "union") bearing a blue cross, bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen small, white, five-pointed stars. The 13 stars on the flag correspond to the original number of the states of the Union. The current design was adopted in 1894.

Mississippi is named after the river, from French variation of Algonquian Ojibwa meshi-ziibi, meaning "big river." On December 10, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state admitted to the Union. By 1860, Mississippi was the nation's top cotton producing state and enslaved persons accounted for 55% of the state population. Mississippi declared its secession from the Union on March 23, 1861, and was one of the seven original Confederate States. Following the Civil War, it was restored to the Union on February 23, 1870. Until the Great Migration of the 1930s, African Americans were a majority of Mississippi's population. Mississippi was the site of many prominent events during the American Civil Rights movement.

Branson: in southwest Missouri, with no false modesty, calls itself the "Live country music capital of the universe." It draws millions of tourists each year, mainly country music fans. Photo by doug_wertman via Flickr.
Branson: in southwest Missouri, with no false modesty, calls itself the "Live country music capital of the universe." It draws millions of tourists each year, mainly country music fans. Photo by doug_wertman via Flickr. | Source

Missouri (MO)

Capital: Jefferson City

Flag: consists of red, white, and blue stripes, with the Great Seal of Missouri in the center. Designed by Mary Elizabeth Oliver, the red and white stripes, as is traditional, represent valor and purity, respectively. The blue represents three things: the permanency, vigilance, and justice of the state. The three colors also highlight the French influence on the state in its early years. The Great Seal of Missouri, surrounded by a blue band and stars, is superimposed in the field center.

Missouri is named after a group of native peoples among Chiwere (Siouan) tribes, from an Algonquian word, likely wimihsoorita, meaning "people of the big (or wood) canoes." This appears to be folk etymology—the Illinois spoke an Algonquian language and the closest approximation that can be made in that of their close neighbors, the Ojibwe, is "You Ought to Go Downriver & Visit Those People." This would be an odd occurrence, as the French who first explored and attempted to settle the Mississippi River usually got their translations during that time fairly accurate, often giving things French names that were exact translations of the native tongue(s).

Glacier National Park: is an area of spectacular mountain ranges, alpine meadows, thick forests, tall waterfalls, countless sparkling lakes, and numerous glaciers. www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm
Glacier National Park: is an area of spectacular mountain ranges, alpine meadows, thick forests, tall waterfalls, countless sparkling lakes, and numerous glaciers. www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm | Source

Montana (MT)

Capital: Helena

Flag: consists of the image of the Montanan state seal centered on a blue field. The outer ring of the seal contains the text "The Great Seal of the State of Montana". The inner circle depicts a landscape of mountains, plains and forests by the Great Falls on the Missouri River. A plow, a pick and a shovel are depicted on the front, representing the state's industry. The banner at the bottom of the seal reads the territorial motto of Oro y Plata, meaning "Gold and Silver" in Spanish.

Montana is from the Spanish word montaña, meaning "mountain, which stems from Latin mons, montis. U.S. Rep. James H. Ashley of Ohio proposed the name in 1864. Montaña del Norte was the name given by early Spanish explorers to the entire mountainous region of the west. James Mitchell Ashley was an American politician and abolitionist. A member of the Republican Party, Ashley served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio during the American Civil War, where he became a leader of the Radical Republicans and pushed for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery in the United States.

Strategic Air and Space Museum: with over 300,000 square feet of exhibits, the destination aims to provide interactive, educational and fun exhibits to inspire and sharpen young minds. www.sasmuseum.com
Strategic Air and Space Museum: with over 300,000 square feet of exhibits, the destination aims to provide interactive, educational and fun exhibits to inspire and sharpen young minds. www.sasmuseum.com | Source

Nebraska (NE)

Capital: Lincoln

Flag: is a blue rectangular cloth charged with the Nebraskan state seal. The current design was commissioned in 1925, when a bill was passed that the flag would have the Nebraska state seal in gold and silver on a field of national blue.

Nebraska is from a native Siouan name for the Platte River, either Omaha ni braska or Oto ni brathge, both meaning "water flat." The Elephant Hall at the University of Nebraska State Museum features the largest mammoth fossil on display anywhere in the world. The fossils were discovered in Lincoln County in 1922 and have been identified as the remains of a Columbian mammoth. It is also Nebraska’s official state fossil.

Sand Harbor Beach, Lake Tahoe: the sparkling blue water of Lake Tahoe, surrounded by often snow-capped mountains, is one of the most beautiful sites in Nevada.
Sand Harbor Beach, Lake Tahoe: the sparkling blue water of Lake Tahoe, surrounded by often snow-capped mountains, is one of the most beautiful sites in Nevada. | Source

Nevada (NV)

Capital: Carson City

Flag: consists of a cobalt blue field with a variant of the state's emblem in the upper left hand corner. The emblem contains a silver star (a reference to the state's nickname, The Silver State), below which appears the state's name. Above the star is a golden-yellow scroll with the words "Battle Born", one of the state's mottos (in reference to Nevada becoming a state during the American Civil War). Below the star and state name are two sprays of green sagebrush (the state flower) with yellow flowers

Nevada is named after the western boundary of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, meaning "snowy mountains" in Spanish. You might think of it as the gambling state, but silver ore helped put Nevada on the map. The 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode triggered a silver rush and population boom. Nevada's location and mineral wealth made it an attractive potential Union state during the Civil War. That's why Nevada's also known as the Battle Born State. With fewer than 10 inches of rain per year, Nevada's the driest state in the U.S.

Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and Franconia Notch: the first aerial tramway in North America, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway carried its first passengers to the 4,080-foot summit high above Franconia Notch in 1938. Photo by Jaine via Flickr.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and Franconia Notch: the first aerial tramway in North America, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway carried its first passengers to the 4,080-foot summit high above Franconia Notch in 1938. Photo by Jaine via Flickr. | Source

New Hampshire (NH)

Capital: Concord

Flag: consists of the state seal centered on a blue background. The 1931 State Seal law placed the frigate Raleigh as the centerpiece of the new seal. The Raleigh was built in Portsmouth in 1776, as one of the first 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress for a new American navy.

New Hampshire is named after the county of Hampshire in England, which was named for city of Southampton. Southampton was known in Old English as Hamtun, meaning "village-town." The surrounding area (or scīr) became known as Hamtunscīr. Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England. New Hampshire is nicknamed the Granite State because it has a history of granite mining.

Battleship New Jersey: the US Navy's most decorated vessel, the mammoth New Jersey is now an excellent floating museum moored on the Delaware River. www.battleshipnewjersey.org
Battleship New Jersey: the US Navy's most decorated vessel, the mammoth New Jersey is now an excellent floating museum moored on the Delaware River. www.battleshipnewjersey.org | Source

New Jersey (NJ)

Capital: Trenton

Flag: includes the coat of arms of the state on a buff-colored background.

The coat of arms of the State of New Jersey includes:

  • A shield with three plows, representative of New Jersey's agricultural tradition.
  • A forward-facing helmet.
  • A horse's head as the crest of the helmet.
  • The female figures Liberty and Ceres, representative of the state's motto. Liberty is holding a staff supporting a "liberty cap"; Ceres is holding an overflowing cornucopia, a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts.
  • The streamer at the foot of the emblem contains the State Motto of New Jersey, "Liberty and Prosperity", and the year of statehood, 1776.

New Jersey is named by one of the state's proprietors, Sir George Carteret, for his home the Channel island of Jersey, a bastardization (change something in such a way as to lower its quality or value, typically by adding new elements) of the Latin word Caesarea, the Roman name for the island. Lord John Berkeley was co-proprietor of New Jersey from 1664 to 1674. In 1665, Berkeley and Sir George Carteret drafted the Concession and Agreement, a proclamation for the structure of the government for the Province of New Jersey. The document also provided freedom of religion in the colony.

Albuquerque Balloon Festival: each autumn, Albuquerque hosts the world's largest hot air balloon festival, drawing crowds of more than 80,000 people. www.balloonfiesta.com
Albuquerque Balloon Festival: each autumn, Albuquerque hosts the world's largest hot air balloon festival, drawing crowds of more than 80,000 people. www.balloonfiesta.com | Source

New Mexico (NM)

Capital: Santa Fe

Flag: consists of a red sun symbol of the Zia on a field of yellow, and was officially introduced in 1925. It was designed in 1920, to highlight the state's Native American Pueblo and Nuevo México Hispano roots. The colors evoke the flags of Habsburg Spain (the Cross of Burgundy), Spain and the Crown of Aragon, brought by the conquistadors.

New Mexico is from the Spanish Nuevo Mexico of Nahuatl (Aztecan) mexihco, the name of the ancient Aztec capital. New Mexico received its name long before the present-day nation of Mexico won independence from Spain and adopted that name in 1821.

Náhuatl, the language spoken by the Aztecs and their neighbours, is not a dead language. It is spoken by a million or so people in Mexico today, and there is at least as much Classical Náhuatl committed to writing as Classical Greek. The Aztecs were famous for their agriculture, cultivating all available land, introducing irrigation, draining swamps, and creating artificial islands in the lakes. They developed a form of hieroglyphic writing, a complex calendar system, and built famous pyramids and temples.

The Statue of Liberty: was France's gift to America. Built in 1886, it remains a famous world symbol of freedom and one of the greatest American icons. www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm
The Statue of Liberty: was France's gift to America. Built in 1886, it remains a famous world symbol of freedom and one of the greatest American icons. www.nps.gov/stli/index.htm | Source

New York (NY)

Capital: Albany

Flag: consists of the coat of arms on a solid blue background and the state seal of New York is the coat of arms surrounded by the words "The Great Seal of the State of New York."

The shield displays a masted ship and a sloop on the Hudson River (symbols of inland and foreign commerce), bordered by a grassy shore and a mountain range in the background with the sun rising behind it. The unheraldic nature of the Hudson River landscape reveals the modern origin of the design.

The shield has two supporters:

  • Left: Liberty, with the Revolutionary imagery of a Phrygian cap raised on a pole. Her left foot treads upon a crown that represents freedom from the British monarchy that once ruled what is now New York as a colony.
  • Right: Justice, wearing a blindfold (representing impartiality) and holding scales (representing fairness) and the sword of justice.

A banner below the shield shows the motto Excelsior, a Latin word meaning "higher", "superior", "lordly", commonly translated as "Ever Upward." The shield is surmounted by a crest consisting of an eagle surmounting a world globe.

New York is named in honor of the Duke of York and Albany, the future James II. York comes from Old English Eoforwic, earlier Eborakon, an ancient Celtic name probably meaning "Yew-Tree Estate." New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. James II was king of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1685 to 1688. Britain's last Stuart and last Catholic monarch, he granted religious minorities the right to worship. He was deposed by the Glorious Revolution by William III. The Glorious Revolution (1688–89) permanently established Parliament as the ruling power of England—and, later, the United Kingdom—representing a shift from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy.

Blue Ridge Parkway: nicknamed "America's favorite drive," the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway was designed by landscape architect Stanley Abbott whose vision was to create a road that was far more than just a way. https://www.nps.gov/blri/index.htm
Blue Ridge Parkway: nicknamed "America's favorite drive," the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway was designed by landscape architect Stanley Abbott whose vision was to create a road that was far more than just a way. https://www.nps.gov/blri/index.htm | Source

New Carolina (NC)

Capital: Raleigh

Flag: consists of a blue union, containing in the center thereof a white star with the letter "N" in gilt on the left and the letter "C" in gilt on the right of said star, the circle containing the same to be one-third the width of the union. It bears the dates of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (May 20, 1775) and of the Halifax Resolves (April 12, 1776), documents that place North Carolina at the forefront of the American independence movement.

North Carolina was established as a royal colony in 1729 and is one of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is nicknamed the "Tar Heel State." No one is sure of the origin of the nickname. Both Carolinas were named for King Charles II. The proper form of Charles in Latin is Carolus, and the division into north and south originated in 1710. In latin, Carolus is a strong form of the pronoun "he" and translates in many related languages as a "free or strong" man. There were also some people who did not like King Charles II because of his religious beliefs. He had been brought up by his mother, who was Roman Catholic, while most people in the country were Protestant. He married a princess from Portugal, Catherine of Braganza.

North Dakota Heritage Center: located in Bismarck, the North Dakota Heritage Center offers an overview of the history of North Dakota from prehistoric to modern times. Photo by minnemom via Flickr.
North Dakota Heritage Center: located in Bismarck, the North Dakota Heritage Center offers an overview of the history of North Dakota from prehistoric to modern times. Photo by minnemom via Flickr. | Source

North Dakota (ND)

Capital: Bismarck

Flag: consists of an almost exact copy of the unit banner carried by the state's troop contingent in the Philippine–American War. It was adopted by the North Dakota Legislative Assembly on March 3, 1911, although the color was not precisely specified at that time. Legislation in 1943 brought the flag in line with the original troop banner, which is on display at the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck. The flag also resembles the Great Seal of the United States. The Philippine–American War was an armed conflict between the First Philippine Republic and the United States that lasted from February 4, 1899, to July 2, 1902. While Filipino nationalists viewed the conflict as a continuation of the struggle for independence that began in 1896 with the Philippine Revolution, the U.S. government regarded it as an insurrection, a violent uprising against an authority or government. The conflict arose when the First Philippine Republic objected to the terms of the Treaty of Paris under which the United States took possession of the Philippines from Spain, ending the short Spanish–American War.

Both Dakotas stem from the name of a group of native peoples from the Plains states, from Dakota dakhota, meaning "friendly" (often translated as "allies"). The first European to reach the area was the French-Canadian trader Pierre Gaultier, sieur de La Vérendrye, who led an exploration and trading party to the Mandan, a Native American tribe of the Great Plains to which are usually divided into two broad classifications which overlap to some degree, who have lived for centuries villages in 1738. Idaho has its potatoes, and Iowa has its corn, but North Dakota is the nation's number one producer of spring wheat (nearly half the nation's total), durum wheat, sunflower, barley, oats, lentils, honey, edible beans, canola and flaxseed.

Cedar Point Amusement Park: is one of the most popular summer destinations in Ohio. Cedar Point has more than 17 world-class roller coasters, several kids' areas, and live entertainment. Photo by cryogenic666 via Flickr.
Cedar Point Amusement Park: is one of the most popular summer destinations in Ohio. Cedar Point has more than 17 world-class roller coasters, several kids' areas, and live entertainment. Photo by cryogenic666 via Flickr. | Source

Ohio (OH)

Capital: Colombus

Flag: a Guidon (a pennant that narrows to a point or fork at the free end, especially one used as the standard of a light cavalry regiment) consisting of 5 horizontal stripes alternating between red and white. The chevron is azure containing a white and red "O" and 17 white stars. Ohio's flag is the only non-rectangular U.S. state flag. It is a rare example of a non-quadrilateral civil flag, another well-known example being the flag of Nepal. According to vexillologist – the study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general – Whitney Smith, it may be loosely based upon cavalry flags of the Civil War and Spanish–American War. The flag has been officially defined as a "burgee" since 2002, even though burgees are typically used as maritime flags. Its shape, lack of text, and mirror symmetry allow it to be flown or hung in various orientations without affecting legibility. A burgee is defined as a triangular flag or one having a shallow, angular indentation in the fly, forming two tails, used as an identification flag, especially by yachts

Ohio is named after the Ohio River, from Seneca (Iroquoian) ohi:yo', meaning "good river." Seneca is the language of the Seneca people, one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois League; it is an Iroquoian language, spoken at the time of contact in the western portion of New York. Ohio often refers to itself as the “birthplace of aviation.” This is because they produced the first people to fly an airplane. The Wright Brothers, who were the pioneers of aviation, were raised in Ohio. The brother, Orville, and Wilber, were credited for designing, building and flying the first ever successful airplane.

Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden: in operation for more than a century, the destination engages tourists and families with more than 500 animal species, including rhinos, gorillas, lions, and tigers. www.okczoo.com
Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden: in operation for more than a century, the destination engages tourists and families with more than 500 animal species, including rhinos, gorillas, lions, and tigers. www.okczoo.com | Source

Oklahoma (OK)

Capital: Oklahoma City

Flag: consists of a traditional Osage Nation buffalo-skin shield with seven eagle feathers on a Choctaw sky blue field. The Osage Nation is a Midwestern Native American tribe of the Great Plains. The Osage tribe developed in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys around 700 BC along with other groups of its language family. They migrated west of the Mississippi after the 17th century due to wars with Iroquois invading the Ohio Valley from New York and Pennsylvania in a search for new hunting grounds.

Oklahoma came from a Choctaw word, meaning "red people," which breaks down as okla "nation, people" plus homma "red." Choctaw scholar Allen Wright, later principal chief of the Choctaw Nation, coined the word. The Choctaw are a Native American people originally occupying what is now the Southeastern United States. He dreamed of an all-Indian state with power held by the United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Okla humma was a phrase in the Choctaw language that meant the same as the English word Indian. It was used to describe the Native American people all together. Oklahoma later became the de facto (describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws) name for Oklahoma Territory. It was officially accepted in 1890, two years after the area was opened to white settlers.

Crater Lake National Park: it is not actually a crater, but rather an ancient caldera of an extinct volcano, Mount Mazama, and its lava cliffs rise to heights of up to 2,000 feet around the intensely blue and extremely deep lake.
Crater Lake National Park: it is not actually a crater, but rather an ancient caldera of an extinct volcano, Mount Mazama, and its lava cliffs rise to heights of up to 2,000 feet around the intensely blue and extremely deep lake. | Source

Oregon (OR)

Capital: Salem

Flag: consists of a two-sided flag in navy blue and gold with an optional gold fringe. On the front is the escutcheon from the state seal and on the reverse is a gold figure of a beaver, the state animal. Oregon is the only U.S. state to feature different designs on both sides of its flag (the flag of Massachusetts was changed in 1971 to be single-sided).

Oregon came from uncertain origins:

  • The earliest evidence of the name Oregon has Spanish origins. The term "orejón" comes from the historical chronicle Relación de la Alta y Baja California (1598) written by the new Spaniard Rodrigo Montezuma and made reference to the Columbia River when the Spanish explorers penetrated into the actual North American territory that became part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. This chronicle is the first topographical and linguistic source with respect to the place name Oregon.
  • There are also two other sources with Spanish origins, such as the name Oregano, which grows in the southern part of the region. It is most probable that the American territory was named by the Spaniards, as there are some populations in Spain such as "Arroyo del Oregón"
  • One theory is that the name comes from the French word ouragan ("windstorm" or "hurricane"), which was applied to the River of the West based on Native American tales of powerful Chinook winds on the lower Columbia River, or Great Plains.
  • Another account, endorsed as the "most plausible explanation" in the book Oregon Geographic Names, was advanced by George R. Stewart in a 1944 article in American Speech. According to Stewart, the name came from an engraver's error in a French map published in the early 18th century, on which the Ouisiconsink (Wisconsin) River was spelled "Ouaricon-sint", broken on two lines with the -sint below, so there appeared to be a river flowing to the west named "Ouaricon".

Oregon was a long way from the United States of America, which was east of the Mississippi river in the 1830s and 1840s. To get to Oregon, settlers had to cross the Great Plains, which were empty except for a few forts and groups of Native Americans. Most people thought that it was impossible to farm there. They called it the "Great American Desert", because crossing it was long and dangerous; however, thousands did anyway.

The Gettysburg National Military Park: the destination in Gettysburg is the site of Gettysburg Battlefield, where in 1863 this Civil War battle took the life of some 51,000 people over a three-day period. Photo by Alaskan Dude via Flickr.
The Gettysburg National Military Park: the destination in Gettysburg is the site of Gettysburg Battlefield, where in 1863 this Civil War battle took the life of some 51,000 people over a three-day period. Photo by Alaskan Dude via Flickr. | Source

Pennsylvania (PA)

Capital: Harrisburg

Flag: consists of a blue field on which the state coat of arms is embroidered. The Pennsylvania coat of arms features:

  • a shield crested by an American bald eagle, flanked by horses, and adorned with symbols of Pennsylvania's strengths—a ship carrying state commerce to all parts of the world
  • a clay-red plough, a symbol of Pennsylvania's rich natural resources and three golden sheaves of wheat, representing fertile fields and Pennsylvania's wealth of human thought and action.
  • An olive branch and cornstalk cross limbs beneath—symbols of peace and prosperity. The state motto, "Virtue, Liberty and Independence", appears festooned below. A
  • Atop the coat of arms is a bald eagle, representing Pennsylvania's loyalty to the United States.

The first European settlers in Pennsylvania were from Sweden. They arrived in 1643. The area was later ruled by the Netherlands and Great Britain. In 1681, Charles II of England, gave the land to William Penn. Penn used the land to create a home for Quakers. Pennsylvania was named not for William Penn, the state's proprietor, but for his late father Admiral William Penn (1621-1670) after suggestion from Charles II. The name literally means "Penn's Woods," a hybrid formed from the surname Penn and Latin sylvania. The state of Delaware was once part of Pennsylvania. In 1704, Delaware formed when three Pennsylvania counties left the colony and created their own government.

WaterFire Providence: more than 100 bonfires are lit in large iron pans in the river's center and kept blazing throughout the evening as residents and tourists stroll along the brick riverside walkways and footbridges. Photo by liz west via Flickr.
WaterFire Providence: more than 100 bonfires are lit in large iron pans in the river's center and kept blazing throughout the evening as residents and tourists stroll along the brick riverside walkways and footbridges. Photo by liz west via Flickr. | Source

Rhode Island (RI)

Capital: Providence

Flag: consists of white and of a gold anchor in the center surrounded by thirteen gold stars. A blue ribbon below the anchor bears the state's motto in gold: "HOPE." The flag is frequently depicted with golden fringe around the edges of the flag.

It is thought that Dutch explorer Adrian Block named modern Block Island (a part of Rhode Island) Roodt Eylandt, meaning "red island" for the cliffs. English settlers later extended the name to the mainland, and the island became Block Island for differentiation. An alternate theory is that Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano gave it the name in 1524 based on an apparent similarity to the island of Rhodes.

  • Adriaen Block was a Dutch private trader, privateer, and ship's captain who is best known for exploring the coastal and river valley areas between present-day New Jersey and Massachusetts during four voyages from 1611 to 1614, following the 1609 expedition by Henry Hudson.
  • Giovanni da Verrazzano or Verrazano was an Italian explorer of North America, in the service of King Francis I of France. He is renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick in 1524, including New York Bay and Narragansett Bay. Despite his discoveries, Verrazzano's reputation did not proliferate as much as other explorers of that era; for example, Verrazzano gave the European name Francesca to the new land which he had seen, in accordance with the practices of the time, after the French king in whose name he sailed. This and other names have not survived, which he bestowed on features that he discovered.

Myrtle Beach: one of the most popular things to do in South Carolina in the summer is to retreat to the miles of pristine sands that line the coast at Myrtle Beach. 
Myrtle Beach: one of the most popular things to do in South Carolina in the summer is to retreat to the miles of pristine sands that line the coast at Myrtle Beach.  | Source

South Carolina (SC)

Capital: Columbia

Flag: the flag has existed in some form since 1775, being based on one of the first Revolutionary War flags. It consists of white palmetto tree on an indigo field. The canton contains a white crescent.

South Carolina was formed in 1729 when the Carolina colony was divided in two. South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788. Both Carolinas were named for King Charles II. The proper form of Charles in Latin is Carolus, and the division into north and south originated in 1710. In latin, Carolus is a strong form of the pronoun "he" and translates in many related languages as a "free or strong" man. South Carolina entered the Union on May 23, 1788 and became the 8th state.

Mount Rushmore National Monument: carved majestically into the side of the mountain are the heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. https://www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/index.htm
Mount Rushmore National Monument: carved majestically into the side of the mountain are the heads of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. https://www.nps.gov/moru/planyourvisit/index.htm | Source

South Dakota (SD)

Capital: Pierre

Flag: represents the common weather in South Dakota. Represents the U.S. state of South Dakota with a field of sky blue charged with a version of the state seal in the center, surrounded by gold triangles representing the sun's rays, surrounded in turn by inscriptions in gold sans-serif capitals of "south dakota" on top and "the mount rushmore state" on the bottom. The inscription on the bottom was "the sunshine state" before it was changed in 1992.

Prior to Dakota's origins, North Dakota and South Dakota were Admitted to the Union. After controversy over the location of a capital, the Dakota Territory was split in two and divided into North and South in 1889. Later that year, on November 2, North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted to the Union as the 39th and 40th states. Nicknames for South Dakota includes the Mount Rushmore State, the Coyote State, and the Sunshine State. Another, more fitting, state moniker is the Blizzard State. South Dakota is also called the Artesian State, thanks to its large number of artesian wells, and is sometimes referred to as the “Land of Plenty" and "The Land of Infinite Variety."

The Smokies: there's no better place to begin your Great Smoky Mountains National Park adventure than in the small town of Gatlinburg with its many big-ticket attractions, such as the excellent Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.
The Smokies: there's no better place to begin your Great Smoky Mountains National Park adventure than in the small town of Gatlinburg with its many big-ticket attractions, such as the excellent Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. | Source

Tennessee (TS)

Capital: Nashville

Flag: consists of an emblem on a field of red, with a strip of white and blue on the fly. The emblem in the middle consists of three stars on a blue circle. The central emblem portion of the flag appears in the logos of some Tennessee-based companies and sports teams.

Tennessee is from a Cherokee (Iroquoian) village name ta'nasi' of unknown origin. Some accounts suggest it is a Cherokee modification of an earlier Yuchi word. It has been said to mean "meeting place", "winding river", or "river of the great bend". The earliest variant of the name that became Tennessee was recorded by Captain Juan Pardo, the Spanish explorer, when he and his men passed through an American Indian village named "Tanasqui" in 1567 while traveling inland from South Carolina. In the early 18th century, British traders encountered a Cherokee town named Tanasi (or "Tanase") in present-day Monroe County, Tennessee.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to the four highest peaks in Texas.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is home to the four highest peaks in Texas.

Texas (TX)

Capital: Austin

Flag: is well known for its prominent single white star which gives the flag its commonly-used name: "Lone Star Flag." This lone star, in turn, gives rise to the state's nickname: "The Lone Star State." The flag, flown at homes and businesses statewide, is highly popular among Texans and is treated with a great degree of reverence and esteem within Texas. Along with the flag of Hawaii, it is one of two state flags to have previously served as a national flag.

Texas is from the Spanish word Tejas, earlier pronounced "ta-shas;" originally an ethnic name, from Caddo (the language of an eastern Texas Indian tribe) taysha meaning "friends, allies." The Caddo Nation is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes. Their ancestors historically inhabited much of what is now East Texas, Louisiana, and portions of southern Arkansas and Oklahoma. They were descendants of the Caddoan Mississippian culture that constructed huge earthwork mounds at several sites in this territory. In the early 19th century, Caddo people were forced to a reservation in Texas; they were removed to Indian Territory in 1859.

The Uinta Mountains are a subrange of the Rocky Mountains and are highest east to west running range in the United States.
The Uinta Mountains are a subrange of the Rocky Mountains and are highest east to west running range in the United States. | Source

Utah (UT)

Capital: Salt Lake City

Flag: was adopted in February 2011 and consists of the seal of Utah encircled in a golden circle on a background of dark navy blue: The flag symbolizes:

  • a bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, symbolizes protection in peace and war
  • the sego lily, the state flower of Utah, represents peace
  • the state motto "Industry" and the beehive represent progress and hard work
  • the U.S. flags show Utah's support and commitment to the United States t
  • the state name "Utah" appears below the beehive
  • the date 1847 represents the year the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley, while 1896 represents the year that Utah was admitted as the 45th state to the Union.

Utah is from the Spanish word yuta, name of the indigenous Uto-Aztecan people of the Great Basin; perhaps from Western Apache (Athabaskan) yudah, meaning "high" (in reference to living in the mountains). The first KFC franchise opened in South Salt Lake around 1952. Colonel Sanders initially franchised his chicken recipe to Pete Harman. Kentucky Fried Chicken was painted on the sign and the “finger lickin’ good” chain expanded from there.

Lake Champlain: extending for 120 miles between Vermont and New York, with its northern tip in Canada, Lake Champlain lies mostly in Vermont, and draws visitors for its recreation, wildlife, and historical attractions. http://www.lclt.org
Lake Champlain: extending for 120 miles between Vermont and New York, with its northern tip in Canada, Lake Champlain lies mostly in Vermont, and draws visitors for its recreation, wildlife, and historical attractions. http://www.lclt.org | Source

Vermont (VT)

Capital: Montpelier

Flag: consists of the coat of arms and motto of Vermont on a rectangular blue background. The coat of arms of the state shall be, and is described as follows: "Green, a landscape occupying half of the shield; on the right and left, in the background, high mountains, blue; the sky yellow. From near the base, and reaching nearly to the top of the shield, arises a pine-tree of the natural color, and between three erect sheaves, yellow, placed bendwise on the dexter side, and a red cow standing on the sinister side of the field. The Crest: A buck's head, of the natural color, cut off and placed on a scroll, blue and yellow. The Motto and Badge: On a scroll beneath the shield, the motto: Vermont: Freedom and Unity. The Vermonter's Badge: two pine branches of natural color, crossed between the shield and scroll."

Vermont is based on French words for "Green Mountain," mont vert. Vermont is the United States’ undisputed maple syrup champion. The state produces 5.5 percent of the global supply of the sweet stuff, making it the country’s leading producer. It even has its own quality grading system that maintains a higher standard of density than the rest of the country. Maple syrup enthusiasts can swing by the New England Maple Museum in Pittford to check out the biggest jug of syrup in the world.

Montpelier, Vermont is the only U.S. state capital without a McDonalds. In ratio of cows to people, Vermont has the greatest number of dairy cows in the country. Montpelier, Is the largest producer of maple syrup in the U.S. Vermont's largest employer isn't Ben and Jerry's, it's IBM.

Luray Caverns: contain breathtaking examples of calcite formations within an extensive underground system that sometimes feels more like an alien landscape than a terrestrial natural landmark. https://luraycaverns.com
Luray Caverns: contain breathtaking examples of calcite formations within an extensive underground system that sometimes feels more like an alien landscape than a terrestrial natural landmark. https://luraycaverns.com | Source

Virginia (VA)

Capital: Richmond

Flag: consists of the obverse of the seal against a blue background. A state flag was first adopted at the beginning of the American Civil War in April 1861, readopted in 1912, and standardized by the General Assembly in February 1950. The flag may be decorated with a white fringe along the fly; this is usually done when the flag is displayed indoors. The obverse of the seal is the official seal of Virginia and is used on all the official papers and documents of the Commonwealth's government, as well as on its flag. On this side:

  • a female figure personifying the Roman virtue of Virtus was selected to represent the genius of the new Commonwealth. Virginia's Virtus is a figure of peace, standing in a pose which indicates a battle already won. She rests on her long spear, its point turned downward to the ground. Her other weapon, a parazonium, is sheathed; it is the sword of authority rather than that of combat. Virtus is typically shown with a bare left breast; this is commonly recognized as the only use of nudity among the seals of the U.S. states.
  • Tyranny lies prostrate beneath the foot of Virtus, symbolizing Great Britain's defeat by Virginia. The royal crown which has fallen to the ground beside him symbolizes the new republic's release from the monarchical control of Great Britain; Maryland, Virginia and New York are the only U.S. states with a flag or seal displaying a crown.
  • The broken chain in Tyranny's left hand represents Virginia's freedom from Britain's restriction of colonial trade and westward expansion.
  • The useless whip in his right hand signifies Virginia's relief from the torturing whip of acts of punishment such as the Intolerable Acts.
  • His robe is purple, a reference to Julius Caesar and the Etruscan king of Rome, Tarquinius Priscus.
  • The motto selected for the obverse of the Virginia seal is Sic semper tyrannis, or in English, Thus always to tyrants. This is a derived quote from the famous events in Roman history, attributed to Brutus upon his participation in the slaying of Julius Caesar.

Virginia came from a Latinized name for Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen. Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland from 1485 until 1603. The Tudors succeeded the House of Plantagenet as rulers of the Kingdom of England, and were succeeded by the House of Stuart.

Recognized around the world as a symbol of the United States, the Capitol is the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The huge dome is based on the dome of St. Peter's in Rome. https://www.aoc.gov/
Recognized around the world as a symbol of the United States, the Capitol is the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The huge dome is based on the dome of St. Peter's in Rome. https://www.aoc.gov/ | Source

Washington (WA)

Capital: Olympia

Flag: consists of a dark green field with the seal of Washington, a portrait of George Washington inside a ring with the words "The Seal of the State of Washington 1889", in the center. The flag may also have an optional gold fringe. It is the only U.S. state flag to feature a green background, as well as the only one to feature the likeness of an identifiable historic person.

Washington is named after President George Washington (1732-1799). The surname Washington means "estate of a man named Wassa" in Old English. Before it became a state, the territory was called Columbia (named after the Columbia River). When it was granted statehood, the name was changed to Washington, supposedly so people wouldn't confuse it with The District of Columbia. Washington was actually born on February 11, 1731, but when the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar, his birthday was moved 11 days. Since his birthday fell before the old date for New Year’s Day, but after the new date for New Year’s Day, his birth year was changed to 1732.

The Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River at this small West Virginia town, which was the site of abolitionist John Brown's raid on the United States arsenal in 1859, an event that hastened the onset of the Civil War.
The Shenandoah River meets the Potomac River at this small West Virginia town, which was the site of abolitionist John Brown's raid on the United States arsenal in 1859, an event that hastened the onset of the Civil War. | Source

West Virginia (WV)

Capital: Charleston

Flag: consists of a pure white field bordered on four sides by a stripe of blue. The white of the field symbolizes purity, while the blue border represents the Union. The center of the state flag is emblazoned with the state's Coat of Arms, a stylized version of the Great Seal of West Virginia. The lower half of the state flag is wreathed by two tethered swags of Rhododendron maximum, the state flower of West Virginia. Across the top of the state flag is an unfurled red ribbon with the constitutional designation "State of West Virginia", and across the bottom of the state flag is a tied red ribbon with the state's Latin motto Montani Semper Liberi (English: "mountaineers are always free").

Also coming from Virginia's origins, West Virginia split from confederate Virginia and officially joined the Union as a separate state in 1863. West Virginia became a state in 1863, but about a century earlier, a group led by Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the area a colony called Vandalia.

The small town of Oshkosh on Lake Winnebago, northwest of Milwaukee, is famous for two things: the popular line of kids' clothing and its place on the world's airshow circuit. www.eaa.org/en/airventure
The small town of Oshkosh on Lake Winnebago, northwest of Milwaukee, is famous for two things: the popular line of kids' clothing and its place on the world's airshow circuit. www.eaa.org/en/airventure | Source

Wisconsin (WI)

Capital: Madison

Flag: is a blue flag charged with the state coat of arms of Wisconsin. The Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin consists of the state coat of arms, with the words "Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin" above it and 13 stars, representing the original states, below it.
Top:

  • Forward, the state motto
  • A badger, the state animal

Center, the state shield:

  • Top left: A plow, representing agriculture
  • Top right: A pick and shovel, representing mining
  • Bottom left: An arm-and-hammer, representing manufacturing
  • Bottom right: An anchor, representing navigation
  • Center: The U.S. coat of arms, including the motto E Pluribus Unum
  • The shield is supported by a sailor and a yeoman (usually considered a miner), representing labor on water and land

Bottom:

  • A cornucopia, representing prosperity and abundance
  • 13 lead ingots, representing mineral wealth and the 13 original United States

Wisconsin is of uncertain origins but likely from a Miami word Meskonsing, meaning "it lies red"; misspelled Mescousing by the French, and later corrupted to Ouisconsin. Quarries in Wisconsin often contain red flint. Wisconsin's official nickname is "The Badger State,” but not because the state's forests are teeming with the fuzzy woodland creatures. In the early 19th century, lead was discovered in the tiny town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Immigrants from Cornwall, England, settled in the region and dug mines. Some miners without homes lived in the tunnels during the winter months to keep warm, and their dwellings reminded people of badger holes. Today, the badger is proudly featured on Wisconsin's state flag and is also the official state animal.

The world's first and oldest national park, Yellowstone is one of the most awe-inspiring wilderness areas on the planet. Huge herds of bison still roam free in the valleys, and the abundant wildlife includes grizzly and black bears, gray wolves, etc.
The world's first and oldest national park, Yellowstone is one of the most awe-inspiring wilderness areas on the planet. Huge herds of bison still roam free in the valleys, and the abundant wildlife includes grizzly and black bears, gray wolves, etc. | Source

Wyoming (WY)

Capital: Cheyenne

Flag: consists of the silhouette of an American bison. The red symbolizes the Native Americans and the blood of pioneers who gave their lives. The white is a symbol of purity and uprightness. The blue is the color of the skies and distant mountains. It is also a symbol of fidelity, justice and virility. The bison represents the local fauna, while the seal on it symbolizes the custom of branding livestock.

Wyoming came from a Munsee Delaware (Algonquian) word chwewamink, meaning "at the big river flat." The name “Wyoming” also comes from the Lenape Indian word mecheweami-ing, which means “at (or on) the big plain.” The Lenape, also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands, who live in Canada and the United States.

The Wyoming territory became first in the nation to grant women over the age of 21 the right to vote in 1869. Historians believe that legislators passed the bill for several reasons, including a genuine conviction that women should have the same rights as men, a desire to attract new settlers to the territory by making it appear more modern, and because some legislators voted for it just to be able to say they did, believing (mistakenly) that the bill did not have enough traction to pass.

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    © 2019 Darius Razzle Paciente

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