Special Report

How Each State Got Its Name

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Montana
> Joined United States: Nov. 8, 1889 (41st state to join)
> Capital: Helena
> Population: 1,062,330

The name “Montana” is based on the Spanish word for mountain, montaña, though it is not known who first used the name for the territory. The name “Montana” was proposed in 1864 when the area was separated from the Nebraska Territory.

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Nebraska
> Joined United States: March 1, 1867 (37th state to join)
> Capital: Lincoln
> Population: 1,932,549

The Cornhusker State’s name is based on an Otoe Indian word “Nebrathka,” meaning “flat water,” which refers to the Platte River, a symbol of Nebraska.

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Nevada
> Joined United States: Oct. 31, 1864 (36th state to join)
> Capital: Carson City
> Population: 3,056,824

The Spanish influence is evident in Nevada, whose name is derived from the Spanish phrase “Sierra Nevada,” meaning snow-covered mountain range. “Nevada” is Spanish for “covered in snow” or “snow-capped.”

Source: Ktr101 / Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire
> Joined United States: June 21, 1788 (9th state to join)
> Capital: Concord
> Population: 1,350,575

New Hampshire was named by Captain John Mason after Hampshire, England, where Mason had lived as a child. Mason received a land grant for what would become New Hampshire in 1629.

Source: Famartin / Wikimedia Commons

New Jersey
> Joined United States: Dec. 18, 1787 (3rd state to join)
> Capital: Trenton
> Population: 9,032,872

New Jersey, the third state to the join the Union, was named for the island of Jersey in the English Channel in honor of Sir George Carteret, one of the two men to whom the land that would become New Jersey was originally given. The city of Carteret in central New Jersey is named after Sir George Carteret.

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