Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Do you know the biggest states in America?

  • Do you know the biggest states in America?

    American states vary in terms of population size, land mass, and population density. Although a state may rank high in total land mass, it could rank low in population estimates for a variety of reasons. The economy plays a large role in a state's population estimate and ranking, as certain states attract people to their cities based on job and living opportunities. The landscape of a state also plays a major role in the differences between total land mass and population size.

    Some places, such as Washington D.C., play a large role in our nation's history and attract millions of visitors annually. Suburbs tend to have higher population densities due to their proximity to major metropolitan areas—without the high cost of living associated with city dwelling. History plays a large role in the cultural distribution of each state's population. Louisiana, for example, has a multicultural heritage due to the different groups of people who have claimed power over the state throughout its history. New Mexico has the highest population of Native Americans in the United States and is home to many Native American reservations.

    Researchers at Stacker analyzed population and housing unit datasets and state population totals datasets from the Census Bureau, which were updated in July 2018. The Census Bureau's 2018 population estimates determined the rankings of the states in the list, which includes all 50 states and Washington D.C. Total land area was calculated by subtracting total water area from total area.

    Read on to learn about the rankings of the biggest states in America.


    You may also like: Biggest city in every state

  • #51. Wyoming

    - Population estimate: 577,737
    - Population density: 6 residents/square mile (#50)
    - Total land mass: 97,093 sq. mi. (#9)

    Although Wyoming is the ninth largest state by area, it is one of the most sparsely populated states in the country. Wyoming is home to many natural landforms, specifically its mountain ranges within the otherwise flat state. Yellowstone National Park, the first designated national park in the world, is located in this state.

  • #50. Vermont

    - Population estimate: 626,299
    - Population density: 68 residents/square mile (#32)
    - Total land mass: 9,217 sq. mi. (#43)

    Vermont is one of the smallest states based on both population and area. Despite its small size, Vermont played a large role in shaping the United States' history. The Battle of Bennington, fought on Aug. 16, 1777, marked a turning point in the Revolutionary War and is to this day celebrated as a holiday throughout the state. Over the past few decades, Vermont's population has fluctuated year-to-year, with some years seeing an increase in Vermont births, and other years seeing an increase in people moving to other states.

  • #49. District of Columbia

    - Population estimate: 702,455
    - Population density: 11,377 residents/square mile (#1)
    - Total land mass: 61 sq. mi. (#51)

    As the capital of the United States, Washington D.C. is viewed as an extremely important world political capital and is one of the most visited cities in the world. The District of Columbia is home to many historical sites, such as the Washington Monument and the White House, which draw over 20 million tourists annually. Besides the tourists, the district houses many influential and important political officials and families, maintaining a fairly high population estimate.

  • #48. Alaska

    - Population estimate: 737,438
    - Population density: 1 residents/square mile (#51)
    - Total land mass: 570,641 sq. mi. (#1)

    The U.S. purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in March 1867, and it officially became the 49th state on Jan. 3, 1959. Alaska used to be populated mainly by indigenous people, but during the gold rushes in the late 1890s, thousands of American miners relocated themselves and their families to this territory. The population has slowly been increasing. However, as the largest U.S. state by area, Alaska remains one of the most sparsely populated places in the world.

  • #47. North Dakota

    - Population estimate: 760,077
    - Population density: 11 residents/square mile (#47)
    - Total land mass: 69,001 sq. mi. (#17)

    During the 21st century, North Dakota's population and unemployment rate drastically shifted. Natural resources, specifically oil found in the Bakken formation, drove population growth and reduced unemployment rates in the state. Other than oil, North Dakota is known for its hilly landscape as part of the Great Plains and the northern part of the Badlands, thus making this state the fourth most sparsely populated U.S. state and the 19th largest by area.

  • #46. South Dakota

    - Population estimate: 882,235
    - Population density: 11 residents/square mile (#47)
    - Total land mass: 75,811 sq. mi. (#16)

    South Dakota is known for its farming culture thanks to the rich soil that grows many of our country's crops. Thus, this state is more land heavy than population heavy. South Dakota is home to the famous Mount Rushmore site and is a major tourist attraction. Throughout the years, South Dakota's population has fluctuated, seeing an increase due to the gold rush and decreases as people migrated out of the state. Recently, the population has been rising steadily for the past few decades.

  • #45. Delaware

    - Population estimate: 967,171
    - Population density: 494 residents/square mile (#7)
    - Total land mass: 1,949 sq. mi. (#49)

    Delaware, also known as “The First State,” was the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States. It is one of the most densely populated U.S. states, given that it is the second smallest state. Delaware saw massive population growth of 40% from 1950 to 1960 and has maintained a steady population growth over the years.

  • #44. Rhode Island

    - Population estimate: 1.06 million
    - Population density: 1,025 residents/square mile (#3)
    - Total land mass: 1,034 sq. mi. (#50)

    Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union. However, it has the longest name of any state—its official title is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The Colony of Rhode Island was the first to renounce its allegiance to England in May 1776. Over half of the population is between 18 and 65, which may be a result of the many colleges and universities found in this state.

  • #43. Montana

    - Population estimate: 1.06 million
    - Population density: 7 residents/square mile (#49)
    - Total land mass: 145,546 sq. mi. (#4)

    Montana is split in half in terms of landscape. The western part of the state contains numerous mountain ranges, many of which are part of the Rocky Mountains. The eastern half of Montana consists of badlands and Western prairie terrain. Agriculture, such as ranching, is the major economic driving force. Montana is the third least densely populated state and is also becoming a major tourist destination, with about 13 million tourists annually visiting Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and many other locations.

  • #42. Maine

    - Population estimate: 1.34 million
    - Population density: 43 residents/square mile (#39)
    - Total land mass: 30,843 sq. mi. (#39)

    Maine became a part of the U.S. as the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 under the Missouri Compromise. It is a major tourist attraction for its coastline, mountains, and seafood cuisine. Originally populated by indigenous people for thousands of years, a French settlement took over in 1604. Three years later, that colony was taken over by the English. Since 1990, Maine has experienced a slow rate of population growth.