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The contiguous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states plus Washington, D.C. (federal district), on the continent of North America. The term excludes the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii and all off-shore United States territories and possessions, which include American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

The greatest distance (on a great circle route) entirely within the 48 contiguous states is 2,802 miles (4,509 km, between Florida and the state of Washington); the greatest north-south line is 1,650 miles (2,660 km).

Together, the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. occupy a combined area of 3,119,884.69 square miles (8,080,464.3 km), which is 1.58% of the total surface area of the Earth. Of this area, 2,959,064.44 square miles (7,663,941.7 km) is land, composing 83.65% of U.S. land area, just slightly smaller than that of Australia. Officially, 160,820.25 square miles (416,522.5 km) is water area, composing 62.66% of the nation's water area.

The contiguous United States would be placed 5th in the list of countries and dependencies by area; the total area of the country, including Alaska and Hawaii, ranks fourth. Brazil is the only country that is larger in total area than the contiguous United States, but smaller than the entire United States, while Russia, Canada, and China are the only three countries larger than both. The 2010 census population of this area was 306,675,006, comprising 99.33% of the nation's population, and a density of 103.639 inhabitants/sq mi (40.015/km), compared to 87.264/sq mi (33.692/km) for the nation as a whole.

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