How Well Do You Know the US States?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Ever since the intention was first declared to form a more perfect union, America has been a work in progress. 

One of the great mechanisms by which forward progress is achieved, or, depending on the issue, thwarted, is the federal model of American government, whereby the country is formed of autonomous states that write their own laws, while also agreeing to the primacy of the federal government's law. This is what Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, called the "laboratories of democracy," in which states may try "novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

As it is with the law, so it is with economics, infrastructure, architecture, art, literature, science and more. While from the outside, U.S. states seem pretty interchangeable, from the inside, it's very clear that each state has its own approach to all of these things. States are even generally topographically different, at least on a regional level. You'd never mistake a Great Plains state for New England or the Deep South. 

Let's see how well you can distinguish these frustrating, fabulous and forever-changing laboratories of democracy by taking this quiz!

Which state's capital is Cheyenne and is also home to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park?

Wyoming is a beautiful mountain state whose national parks are national treasures. It is also the least populous state in the country.


Two states have both a north and a south. One pair is the Dakotas. Which is the other?

There's a North Carolina and a South Carolina. Tennessee was once part of the former. Both Carolinas became states in 1776.


Which state contains the city of Chicago and is on the shore of Lake Michigan?

Chicago is known sometimes as America's Second City. This, of course, is why the famous comedy club in Chicago is also called "The Second City." The nickname actually comes from the battle to host the World's Fair: Columbia Exposition. They beat New York, despite their "second city" status.


Which state has the postal abbreviation MO and sits on the Mississippi River?

Missouri is a Midwestern state on the banks of the Mississippi River. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a world-famous landmark that was recently renovated and expanded at the cost of $176 million.


Which is one of ten states with a "panhandle" and home to the city of Tallahassee?

Seas are rising, and not evenly; in some areas, due to gravity and thermal expansion, which means warming water, water levels are going up an inch per year. Most of Florida's critical coastal infrastructure will need to be rebuilt if the trend is not halted.


Which was the last state to join the Union (for now) and is noted for its beautiful volcanoes?

Hawaii is the most westerly state and is noted for its beautiful climate. It also has a lot of military bases, as it provides the main strategic position for control over the Pacific.


Which state is known as the Silver State and is noted for its deserts and the Hoover Dam?

Nevada's economy is largely centered on vices: legal gambling and prostitution. Only seven of the top twenty employers in the state aren't associated with casinos or gambling. If you want to feel a little better, two school districts are the top two employers in the state.


Which state has the motto "Virtue, liberty, and independence" and contains one of the original options for capital city of the U.S.?

Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State and is a microcosm of the United States; it has multiple types of industries and is relatively culturally diverse.


Which state is known as the Peach State and is the largest state east of the Mississippi?

Georgia has 159 counties and is known for its delicious peaches! Georgia was one of the original Thirteen Colonies. Georgia was first inhabited by Mound Builders, pre-Columbian indigenous tribes.


Which state, home to Seattle, is known as the Evergreen State and joined the Union after it was ceded by Britain in 1846?

Washington State is known for its tech sector and aerospace industry. Seattle boasts the famous Space Needle, built in 1962, which was constructed to be able to withstand a 9.0 earthquake.


Which state is home to the most famous racing derby and is noted for its bluegrass music?

Kentucky is known for Bourbon and Churchill Downs, home of the world-famous Kentucky Derby. Bluegrass music is also from Appalachia, of which Kentucky is part of.


Which state on the Mississippi River is noted for being the home of Walmart and for its highest point, Mount Magazine?

Arkansas has the honor of hosting the headquarters of Walmart. This is due in part to its relatively central position from which the whole continental U.S. is easily reached.


Which state is famous for bluegrass music and for its capital, which is known as Music City?

Formerly part of North Carolina, Tennessee is now its own state and is noted for its vibrant musical culture. Nashville is known as Music City, and is also home to the Grand Ole Opry.


Which state is home to Zion National Park, noted for its glorious slot canyons?

Utah is home to some amazingly flat areas, such as the Bonneville Salt Flats, but it is also very mountainous. A slot canyon is one that is much narrower than it's walls are tall.


Which state is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes and became a state in 1858?

Minnesota has a lot of lakes; more than 10,000. It's also home to some of the oldest rocks and minerals on earth. They're 3.6 billion years old, which is only 20% younger than the planet itself.


Which state in the Pacific Northwest contains Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is in a volcanic caldera and also happens to be the deepest lake in the United States. The state is also home to numerous volcanoes.


Which Midwestern state is known as the Buckeye State?

Ohio is an industrial state where manufacturing is now giving way to a knowledge economy. There is also plenty of farming. Also, buckeye candies are peanut butter and chocolate. What more could you want?


Which state has the longest coastline and is noted for its spectacular national parks and cold climate?

Alaska is the biggest and most northerly state. It has an immense coastline, as it has the ocean on three sides.


Which state has the biggest city by population?

New York City has a population of over eight million, making it the most populous city in the U.S. However, by landmass, New York State is in the middle of the pack.


Which mountainous state sometimes suffers from wildfires and produces mountains of potatoes?

The mountainous state, Idaho, is the biggest potato grower of all the states! Idaho boasts dozens of mountain ranges, as well. For non-locals, if you pronounce their capital, Boise, as "boy-zee," they'll know you're not from there. They pronounce it "boy-see."


Which state is the biggest exporter of solar energy in the U.S. and has the biggest economy?

California's smart incentives mean it may be one of the first states to be all renewable-powered. It has the fifth-biggest economy in the world and the biggest population of the U.S. states.


Which state was first to secede from the Union in 1861, and is known as the Palmetto State?

In 1886, South Carolina had the largest earthquake to ever hit the Southeast U.S. It was a magnitude 7.2 and killed dozens of people.


Which northerly state is home to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, as well as the Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest?

South Dakota gets a lot of tourism for its size, thanks to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. The Mashed Potato Wrestling Contest is more of a local affair.


Which state has only the tenth highest hottest average temperature, even though sometimes it's so hot that planes cannot fly?

Arizona's mild winters keep its average down, but it has the hottest summers; enough to melt roads and render airplanes unable to fly in the thin air. Arizona is home to Grand Canyon National Park.


Which state is home to several founding fathers who became president?

Virginia was one of the main providers of presidents in the early days of the Union. These include George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.


Which state is home to part of Route 66 and is noted for being the location of the first installed parking meter, as well as being the home of many Comanche?

Oklahoma was geographically at the end of the Trail of Tears, where native tribes were forcibly removed from ancestral land in other parts of the country and sent there. The Comanche were originally from Oklahoma and Texas.


Which state is the most northerly in the lower forty-eight and is known for its bitterly cold winters?

Minnesota is a beautiful state, but the winters there are brutal. Stock up on supplies, and learn to ice skate. For reference, the average January high temperature in International Falls, Minnesota is 15 degrees F.


Which state on the Canadian border is the leading producer of sunflowers in the U.S.?

North Dakota produces not only a lot of sunflowers, but also soybeans and honey. Nearly 90% of the state's land area is taken up by farms and ranches.


Which state lies on the northern end of the U.S. Rockies and is among the least densely populated?

Montana is the largest of the states that include the Rockies, but there aren't many people there (it's technically the 8th least populous state in the country!) It is also the largest landlocked state.


Which state on the Appalachian Trail also includes the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.

West Virginia is among the ten smallest states by land area. It boasts many forests and mountains, including one of the most popular sections of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200 miles thru-hike.


Which southern state's name means "thicket clearers?"

Alabama is a Deep South state. It is one of the Gulf states, enjoying a beautiful coastline. Alabama is also the name of the indigenous people and language of the region.


Which wealthy state is in commuting distance to the Beltway and has the highest average income in the nation?

Maryland's stupendously high household income (median $80,000+) is more than 20K above the national median. It's largely a product of its proximity to the capital in Washington D.C.


Which very flat state grows a lot of corn and is the only one with a single chamber in its legislature?

Nebraska has "the Unicameral," a single chamber legislature that is nonpartisan. This means the elections are also nonpartisan, although each candidate's political leanings are publicly known.


Which big state is known for oil, but should be known for wind, as it is the biggest producer of wind energy?

All four of these answers are huge wind exporters now, but Texas has the edge. Wind energy in these states is already cheaper than running an EXISTING coal or nuclear plant, with prices set to undercut remaining fossil fuels within 25 years. Wind turbine tech is the fastest-growing job type in the U.S., and it pays very nicely. In some states, former coal miners can get free training to become wind turbine techs!


Which state's capital city is at the highest elevation?

The capital city of New Mexico, Santa Fe, is at an elevation of 7,000 feet above sea level. Denver, Colorado is the second-highest at 5,280 feet, earning it the nickname "The Mile High City."


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