The Seven Largest States in the U.S. in Area

4. Montana

Area: 147,042 square miles
Capital: Helena
State since: 1889

The Spanish word for mountainous is montaña. The state known as Big Sky Country has been the location for many finds of dinosaur fossils.

Fun Montana fact: The state fossil, Maiasaura peeblesorum (a duck-billed dinosaur known as the Good Mother Lizard), was the first dinosaur in space.

3. California

Area: 163,695 square miles
Capital: Sacramento
State since: 1850

The gold discovered at Sutter's Mill in 1849 led to the California Gold Rush and accelerated the process of the territory's becoming a state. Sacramento, the state capital, was also the terminus of the Pony Express. The state’s name comes from a Spanish romance in which Queen Califia ruled over the island of California; Spanish explorers originally thought that (the real) California was an island.

Fun California fact: The state mammal, the grizzly bear, is also on the state flag.


2. Texas

Area: 268,580 square miles
: Austin
State since
: 1845

Texas is the only state to have entered the Union by treaty; it was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845. The Lone Star State gets its state name from the Caddo, who called themselves Tejas, meaning "those who are friends." The largest of the 48 contiguous states, Texas has 254 counties.

Fun Texas fact: The state plant is the prickly pear cactus.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

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David White