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View Poll Results: Land area or total area?
Land area 5 35.71%
Total area 2 14.29%
It's murky 7 50.00%
No preference 0 0%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-12-2017, 01:33 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,511 posts, read 2,968,854 times
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When describing how geographically large a state is, do you prefer to use land area or total area? Most states' size ranking lines up with both, but there are quite a few where there is a dramatic difference between the two, and enough to knock them up or down quite a few spots.

For example, Michigan is the 11th largest state by total area, but only the 22nd largest by land area. Water is a fundamental part of Michigan's identity, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes. But is it "fair" to say it's larger than nearby Minnesota?
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Old 08-12-2017, 02:08 PM
 
9,383 posts, read 9,529,334 times
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I would say its murky, if the water is intrusive like RI for example, where many towns are across Narragansett bay or connected estuaries from each other it really makes the state feel bigger because you have to drive extra distances to get places. Same with Maryland which the Chesapeake Bay nearly bisects the state. Places with large coastlines but mostly external water like Connecticut or California since there is nothing across the water generally speaking it doesn't act in a way to "expand" the state.

So if the land mass of the state has water in it then total area is appropriate but if the water is adjacent to the state then I think Land area is more accurate.
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Old 08-12-2017, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Austin
596 posts, read 675,495 times
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I prefer land area but understand it is a more difficult matter than a clear black or white answer. I believe land only is used when determining density numbers but when measuring size, total area (including water) is used.

Related trivia: The US is actually larger than Canada when measuring only land area.
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque
136 posts, read 80,241 times
Reputation: 89
definitely total area. That is how these things are usually defined.
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Old 08-12-2017, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,511 posts, read 2,968,854 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricNorthman View Post
I prefer land area but understand it is a more difficult matter than a clear black or white answer. I believe land only is used when determining density numbers but when measuring size, total area (including water) is used.

Related trivia: The US is actually larger than Canada when measuring only land area.
Wow, did not know that.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:51 AM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
15,504 posts, read 17,720,777 times
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Depends. If the water bodies are mostly contained like ponds, lakes, bays, or otherwise insinuous (like rivers, estuaries, or other narrow channels) then I would include them, and they usually do not make a huge impact except in certain areas, but if the boundary is over a portion of ocean or inland sea, such as the Great Lakes it is a bit of a reach in my opinion.

I think the difference is that huge areas of open water are not habitable or otherwise open to typical human activity (except fishing and transportation, so the figure is misleading.

I mean two countries with a similar total area of 100,000 sq. mi. would give a very different impression if you knew that one was landlocked, while the other was a thin coastal strip, 10 miles wide and 50 miles long with an immense water boundary.
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Old 08-14-2017, 01:41 PM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,511 posts, read 2,968,854 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
Depends. If the water bodies are mostly contained like ponds, lakes, bays, or otherwise insinuous (like rivers, estuaries, or other narrow channels) then I would include them, and they usually do not make a huge impact except in certain areas, but if the boundary is over a portion of ocean or inland sea, such as the Great Lakes it is a bit of a reach in my opinion.

I think the difference is that huge areas of open water are not habitable or otherwise open to typical human activity (except fishing and transportation, so the figure is misleading.

I mean two countries with a similar total area of 100,000 sq. mi. would give a very different impression if you knew that one was landlocked, while the other was a thin coastal strip, 10 miles wide and 50 miles long with an immense water boundary.
I see. So based on your post, do you feel that Florida (moves up 4 spots in total area) overreaches in its total area definition? While Idaho (moves up 3 spots in total area) would not be?
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Old 08-14-2017, 03:42 PM
 
11,171 posts, read 22,363,867 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABQConvict View Post
Depends. If the water bodies are mostly contained like ponds, lakes, bays, or otherwise insinuous (like rivers, estuaries, or other narrow channels) then I would include them, and they usually do not make a huge impact except in certain areas, but if the boundary is over a portion of ocean or inland sea, such as the Great Lakes it is a bit of a reach in my opinion.

I think the difference is that huge areas of open water are not habitable or otherwise open to typical human activity (except fishing and transportation, so the figure is misleading.

I mean two countries with a similar total area of 100,000 sq. mi. would give a very different impression if you knew that one was landlocked, while the other was a thin coastal strip, 10 miles wide and 50 miles long with an immense water boundary.
I would agree with this. Rivers, ponds and smaller lakes are more part of the immediate landscape and are surrounded by the land area where they sit.

Including some strip of ocean or great lakes coastal area would be pushing it a bit. Like you said if you have a strip of water 10 miles out and hundreds of miles long that is included in the legal boundary of your state - you're including a lot of "area" that's just open ocean. By most people's common sense "Florida" for them ends at the ocean's coast or areas just offshore, not at some arbitrary point way out in the distance.

Michigan has 40,000 square miles of water because its legal boundary extends out into the middle of the lakes. For general purposes though the state "ends" at the water's edge.
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Old 08-17-2017, 12:27 AM
 
Location: Alexandria, Commonwealth of Virginia
1,609 posts, read 1,105,742 times
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Land area by far. Michigan is NOT 96,716 square miles.
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