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How the States of America got their names (1/5).

Updated on November 29, 2013

The United States of America has been forged over time by the citizens who are proud to call themselves American. The United States is seen as a leader in many different fields, be it as a financial powerhouse, military superpower, pioneer of space exploration or industrial giant. The people of the USA believe in freedom and are protected by their Constitution. Since the Cold War with the now obsolete Soviet Union between 1945-1989, America has protected the notion of Democracy and the idea of a free market economy.

From it's humble beginnings the United States has grown and surpassed the exploits of its old Colonial powers of Britain, Spain and France. Many people are aware of America's rise and development throughout its inception, but what I would like to share with you is how the Fifty states got the names they use today...

The United States of America

Alabama, USA

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Alaska, USA

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Arizona, USA

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Arkansas, USA

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California, USA

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Colorado, USA

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Connecticut, USA

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Delaware, USA

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Florida, USA

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The state of Alabama joined the Union in 1819, and left it to join the confederacy in 1861. Alabama's state capital is the city of Montgomery, it's previous capital was Tuscaloosa. The name of the State comes from the Native American tribe the "Alabama", their name is believed to refer to cultivators for farming in the Choctaw language.


Alaska joined the USA as an actual state in 1959, after it was purchased for $7.2 million in 1867 from the Russian Empire. Alaska's state capital is the city of Juneau, although its most recognisable city is Anchorage. Many people are mistaken in the belief that Anchorage is the state capital, Anchorage is in fact the largest city within the state. The state gets its name from the Aleut tribe who called it Alaxsxaq , meaning the mainland. The Russians took their term and adapted it to their tongue and after the Americans purchased it the name became Alaska.


Arizona achieved statehood in 1912, having previously been under Mexican and Confederate control. Arizona's state capital is Phoenix, and it also has the cities of Tucson, Mesa and Scottsdale. Arizona is home to many Native American peoples such as the Hopi, Apache and Navajo. The states name owes much to its Spanish heritage, with a number of plausible explanations for its name all seeming realistic. Popular theories include the Spanish phrase arida zona which means arid zone, this would describe much of the south of the state. Also worthy of mention is the O'odham languages word for small spring "Alisonak", the Spanish used this name and it became "Arizonac".


Arkansas was accepted into the Union of the United States in 1836, until then it was under French colonial and Native American governance. The area that we know as Arkansas was bought in the Louisiana purchase of 1803. The USA bought the North American territorial claims of France for around $11.5 million, and the purchase was governed as individual territories. The state capital of Arkansas is the city of Little Rock, it replaced Arkansas Post as capital in 1821.

The name Arkansas is the French pronunciation of a Quapaw word "Akakaze". This word refers to the tribe living down the river, and the French version was Anglicized very quickly.


California joined the Union in 1850, and had until the events of the US-Mexico war of 1846-48 been a part of Mexico. After the defeat of Mexico large tracts of land where given over to the United States of America. California's state capital is the city of Sacramento, while the more well known Los Angeles is the largest city. California was home to many Native American tribes and is known for its Gold rush, Earthquakes and in modern times its Film industry. The term California comes from a piece of Spanish literature dating from the early 16th century.

The state is named after a fictional Queen of a far off paradise, her name was Queen Calafia. The Spanish explorers originally designated the Californian peninsula as the Island of California in the 1530's.


Colorado was admitted into the Union in 1876, this made it the Centennial state. Colorado was an unorganized territory of the North Americas until President Ulysses S. Grant signed off its admittance. Colorado's capital city is Denver, and it had its origins as a mining town. Colorado gets its name from the Spanish language. Colorado relates to the colour of the river that runs through the state. The Colorado river and state makes reference to the Red/ Brown silted colour which washes down from the mountains where the river is raised.


Connecticut was admitted to the Union in 1778, and before that had its roots as a Dutch and English colonial possession. Connecticut's state capital is Hartford, Hartford is one of the United States oldest cities. The British forced out the Dutch settlers by the 1630's and built on the original Dutch settlement of Fort Hoop ( Fort Huys de Goede Hoop). Connecticut's name comes from an Anglicized form of the Algonquian word " Quinatucquet " which means upon the long river, once called the fresh river by the Dutch settlers.


Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States constitution, and one of the Thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule. Delaware was settled by the Dutch, but lost a lot of its colonists to conflict with the Native Americans. The original lands were divided among several different Native American tribes who were maneuvered out of their ancestral lands by Swedish, British, Dutch and Finnish immigrants.Delaware was named after the Third Baron of De la Warr, a British soldier who helped suppress uprisings in Ireland and the new British colonies.


The State of Florida was admitted into the Union in 1845, and withdrew from the Union in 1861 to become a founding member of the Confederacy. After the American Civil War, the state of Florida rejoined the Union in 1868. The state capital is not Miami as most people usually expect, but the city of Tallahassee. Much of the state of Florida was explored by the Spanish and they set up many Catholic missions in the area to bring Christianity to the native populations. Florida gets its name from the Spanish language, it was called La Florida by a Spanish explorer and means flowery land.


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