Presidents, States, and Capitals

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 11:15 AM | 7 comments »

As many of you know, this August I will become eligible for citizenship, and I recently downloaded the list of questions that could be asked during the exam I will eventually take.

I thought it might be an interesting exercise to start my blog on Presidents, States, and Capital Cities with the geography section of the test.

I have already memorized all the states (but to my consternation can only list them in strict alphabetical order -- go figure, I have that kind of mind). Not anywhere on the exam does it require such a basic, fundamental knowledge of the country, knowledge of all fifty states.

Surely, you shouldn’t be able to become a citizen other wise?

The following are a sample of the questions on the exam:

1. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.
2. What oceans are on the East and West Coast of the country (you only need to know one of them)?
3. Name one U.S. Territory.
4. Name one state that borders Canada or one that borders Mexico?
5. What is the capital of the U.S.?
6. Where is the Statue of Liberty?

I know this is a vast country. I know many non English-speaking immigrants take the test. I choose to become an adult citizen of this country; I am not here by accident of birth. Shouldn’t anyone making a choice as important as this have to know all the states?

In case you’re interested:

There are 4 A states, (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona)
3 C’s
1 each of D, F, G, H, L, P, R, and U
4 I’s
2 K’s
8 M’s
8 N’s
3 O’s
2 S’s
2 T’s
2 V’s
4 W’s

Here are the territories:

American Samoa
District of Columbia
Northern Mariana Islands
Puerto Rico
US Minor Outlying Islands
US Virgin Islands

The dh and I love wandering through country back roads and exploring and discovering. So far we’ve yet to visit over half of the states, but are planning trips. Arizona and the Grand Canyon, the badlands of South Dakota, New Mexico, and Texas are high on list ‘must see’ list.

For my US geography knowledge, I plan to take one state at a time in order of joining the union. Over the coming weeks I’ll try to find interesting facts about each state’s capital city, information about a state park, and the food of the state and share them with you.

Along the way I’ll pose more questions from the citizenship test related to history, government, and civics. I hope you’ll stop by and share your discoveries about this great nation with me.


  1. Mary Marvella // July 22, 2009 at 12:40 PM  

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing this experience with us, Jianne!

  2. Mary Ricksen // July 22, 2009 at 1:02 PM  

    This blog reminds me of the men in my family. Every one of them is in Immigration and Nationalization or Border Patrol. Becoming a citizen is not as easy as one would think. There are very few citizens born here that could answer the questions on the tests.
    I followed the process with a friend who immigrated from Poland. That was when you needed a sponsor.

  3. Judy // July 22, 2009 at 3:13 PM  

    Thanks, Jianne! It's nice to see your enthusiasm and to share this learning experience with you. It's a great country! PS I could answer the questions!!

  4. Jianne Carlo // July 22, 2009 at 7:01 PM  

    Glad to hear you could answer the questions, Judy.

    Thanks for your comments Mary and Mary.

    I still think you should have to know all fifty states.


  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 22, 2009 at 10:42 PM  

    Jianne, your enthusiaum for our country is heart warming. Often as natives of our great country we tend to forget how wonderful it truly is. We get bogged down in the little daily things and forget the big picture. Thanks for reminding us.

  6. Nightingale // July 23, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

    When you said you'd chosen to become a citizen, that it wasn't an accident of birth,you made me stop and think. Very interesting post, Jianne.

  7. Pamela Varnado // July 23, 2009 at 2:18 PM  

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful journey with us. I love your enthusiam about coming a US citizen. It's something that some Americans take for granted.