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10 great places to celebrate July 4 beyond US borders – USA TODAY

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This Fourth of July, think outside the 50 states. American presence is found across the globe in territories, commonwealths and independent lands that were once part of the country, says travel writer Doug Mack, author of The Not-Quite States of America (Norton, $26.95). “These are places that we forgot about. They helped make the USA a global power.” He shares some far-flung sites that have surprising American heritage with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

American Samoa

This Pacific outpost provides a startling blend of Polynesian and American traditions. For example, most residents live in villages, where property is communally owned, but they shop at grocery stores selling Tex-Mex foods because so many residents have lived in California and the Southwest. The territory’s home to the only national park south of the equator, and has the highest rate of military enlistment of any state or territory. “People really do have a sense of patriotism, and pride,” Mack says. americansamoa.gov

Puerto Rico

This Caribbean island has been linked with the territory since the Spanish-American War. Now in the middle of an economic crisis, citizens voted in a non-binding referendum earlier this month to become the 51st state, an unlikely scenario that would require Congressional approval. Politics aside, Mack says it’s a great place to visit. “My favorite part of Puerto Rico is up in the mountains, where there are lots of really cool small towns with beautiful historic architecture,” he says. seepuertorico.com

U.S. Virgin Islands

Most territories came as the spoils of war, but the USA flat-out purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark 100 years ago during World War I. While the three major islands, St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John, had strategic value, they’re also beautiful, Mack says. “People there are very proud to be Americans.” visitusvi.com

Guam

With malls, amusement parks and a huge U.S. Air Force base, visitors can tell immediately that this Pacific Island territory is part of the homeland. “I’m convinced it’s one of the best barbecue regions in the U.S.,” Mack says.  “Guam looks and feels pretty American. Asian tourists come to get a taste of the United States and to do some shopping.” visitguam.com

Northern Mariana Islands

This area played a major role in World War II, and officially joined the USA as a commonwealth in 1976. It served as the staging area for the missions that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Now, it’s a quiet, contemplative place, Mack says. “There are these old Japanese and American military buildings and abandoned runways.” mymarianas.com

Panama Canal Zone

Although the zone longer exists, the USA controlled the canal and a narrow adjoining strip of land for much of the 20th century before returning control to Panama in 1979. If the 2008 election had played out differently, it also could have claimed to have produced a president since it’s where the Republican candidate, U.S. Sen. John McCain, was born. visitpanama.com

Marshall Islands

Even though it’s a member of the United Nations, this Pacific country still has strong U.S. connections, dating to the days when the military conducted nuclear tests in places like Bikini Atoll. Mack calls it a de facto territory. “They use a lot of U.S. services, like the post office. They even have their own zip code, but the stamps themselves are Marshall Island.” Located in the heart of Micronesia, it’s among the world’s least-visited countries. rmiembassyus.org

Philippines

Acquired as part of Spanish American War, the Philippines was never keen to join the USA, and gained sovereignty after World War II. “There’s still a pretty strong relationship between the countries,” Mack says. For a while the nation even celebrated its independence day on July 4, but moved it to June 12. experiencephilippines.org

Palau

The U.S. briefly ruled this former Japanese colony after World War II. Although now a freestanding republic, U.S government departments like the Federal Emergency Management Agency still operate there today. “They are particularly well known for ecotourism and environmental stewardship,” Mack says. “It has hundreds of limestone islands and in 2009, they created the world’s first shark sanctuary.” pristineparadisepalau.com

Federated States of Micronesia

Once home to the Japanese navy’s largest South Pacific base, the U.S. briefly controlled this now-independent nation. Today divers around the world visit to explore one of the biggest ship graveyards in the world. Others come to marvel at the mysterious abandoned coral reef city of Nan Madol. “It’s listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, even though it’s not officially part of the USA,” Mack says. visit-micronesia.fm

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Source: Google News : https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/10greatplaces/2017/06/30/us-territories/439929001/

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