Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Geographical Math, Part V

This is the 5th installment on numbers describing US geography. I chose geography because it promised to contain lots of numbers (see yesterday's post), giving me a chance to showcase how we use elementary math. 

Talking about territories and states and counties leads to the ultimate political subdivision - the citizen. As I was counting and sorting people who live in the US, I wondered, "Are there classes of citizenship for each kind of political subdivision?" Let's find out - and we'll throw in some numbers if possible.

In the United States, citizenship most often acquired in one of two ways - you are either a "natural" citizen or a "naturalized" citizen.
  1. Citizens from birth are "natural" citizens.
  2. Those acquiring citizenship after birth are "naturalized" citizens. They can take a class, pass a test and be sworn in as citizens (the most familiar way) or can be adopted en masse ( Congress granted citizenship to all Puerto Ricans in 1917, and all Native Americans citizenship in 1924).
If you were not born on US soil but were adopted, born of a surrogate mother, born "out of wedlock", conceived via artificial insemination, or have dual nationality, then you may face extra hurdles becoming a naturalized citizen.

Natural citizens can be divided into two groups; those having been born themselves in the US, or under its jurisdiction, and those that acquired their citizenship by been born to parents who are citizens of the US.

Here are some legal (Latin) terms that describe categories of citizenship:
  1. People born on U.S. soil or its jurisdictions are citizens under the doctrine of "jus soli" or by "right of the land". 
  2. People born of parents who were citizens (but not on US soil), are citizens under the "jus sanguinis" doctrine or "right through blood". 
  3. A third phrase describes a way by which people who have married US citizens may be naturalized: the "jure matrimony" doctrine, or "right through marriage".
NOTE: These technicalities make a difference when you are traveling abroad. My former boss and his wife were asked to leave Canada after living there on a work permit for 5 years - due to Canadian re-interpretations of her citizenship, because she was born in a US embassy in Africa rather than on US soil!

You can expedite US citizenship by serving in the US military. In the past 10 years, 76,000 people have became naturalized citizens by serving in these 26 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, Hong Kong, Cuba (Guantanamo), Djibouti, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the UK.

In some cases people may end up with dual (or multiple) citizenships, because it is the country who defines (claims) who its citizens are. More than one country can define or claim you as its citizen.

If a country ceases to exist, or is in the midst of war or ethnic conflict, or rejects its citizens, many people may suddenly become stateless - with no citizenship in any country. The nomadic Romani people (gypsies), are denied citizenship in many countries. A child born outside either parents' home country, or a child with no birth certificate, may be stateless and end up in a refugee camp, like the "Lost Boys of Sudan". About 12 million people worldwide were stateless in 2011.

A few actions can cause you to lose citizenship, or you can choose to renounce US citizenship. Although we often hear about people coming to the US, we seldom hear about the citizens who renounce their citizenship. This US State Department page outlines the various categories for losing or renouncing citizenship.


The Census Bureau uses the term native to refer to anyone born on US soil, or born abroad with a US citizen parent. In 2010, including the military and others living abroad, the Census Bureau said we have approximately:

267 million native (natural citizens)
  16 million foreign born (naturalized citizens)
  21 million foreign born (not citizens)

NOTE: The Census Bureau uses the term foreign born for naturalized US citizens, people who are undocumented, lawful permanent residents (immigrants), temporary visitors (tourists, foreign students, farm workers), and humanitarian immigrants (refugees seeking asylum).