mánudagur, mars 14, 2005

the 52 states

I was showing a PowerPoint presentation I am doing on the U.S. to my coworkers. It's all in Icelandic, for my Icelandic class, and mentions the "50 ríki" (50 states) on the opening slide.

Both coworkers said, "Aren't there 52 states?"

"No," I said.

"What about Alaska and Hawaii?" they asked.

"Nope, those are number 49 and 50," I said.

"But if you count the number of stars in the flag, you get 52," they said.

So we counted. I had never actually done that. Sure enough, it's 50.

Then I decided to undertake a little informal survey of my coworkers. To a person, every coworker I asked responded that the U.S. has 52 states. We are guessing that somewhere in the past, the national Icelandic geography curriculum erroneously had the number 52. Everyone also seems to have learned the bit about the flag, but of course it's a rare and strange child who actually bothers to count the stars.

"Ah, but what about Afghanistan and Iraq?" coworker Sindri said, "There's your 52!"


Blogger JB said...

Of course, it's probably a rare and strange American schoolkid who acutally knows the number of states... or can find the U.S. on a map of the world.

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Some additional info about The Flag: http://www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmah/flag.htm

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

To show that not all americans are ignorant, here's the confusing rules for iceland: http://www.statoids.com/yis.html
and wikipedia's take on it:

I must admit 50 states is lookin pretty cool now. But I won't attempt to defend the electoral college :)


Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I think somehow people are confusing the number of states with the number of cards in a card-deck...

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I think what Sindri said is hilarious!
Maybe the confusion exists, because people always want to give the USA extra couple of states becaus they're always invading someone, somewhere!

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

This is what the 50 States that Rhyme song is for! http://tinyurl.com/ccfhw

Blogger Unknown said...

The confusion may come fron the fact that the USA consists of more than just states. There are 50 states, but in addition there is the Dictrict of Columbia (where the capital city,Washington, is situated)and several non-state dependencies particularly Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
To get to 52 you include the Dictrict of Columbia and Puerto Rico, but exclude American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands.

Blogger JB said...

Yeah but there are still only 50 states. 50 stars on the flag, baby.

I prefer the Iraq/Afghanistan explanation, myself.


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