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Quiz about Fifteen at the Top  USA Edition
Quiz about Fifteen at the Top  USA Edition

Fifteen at the Top - USA Edition Quiz

The states listed below are the 15 largest in the Union by area from largest to smaller. The hints will help you to rank them in the correct order.

An ordering quiz by LadyNym. Estimated time: 3 mins.
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3 mins
Order Quiz
Quiz #
May 24 22
# Qns
Very Easy
Avg Score
14 / 15
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Guest 172 (12/15), zeroapoc (15/15), Guest 73 (15/15).
Mobile instructions: Press on an answer on the right. Then, press on the question it matches on the left.
(a) Drag-and-drop from the right to the left, or (b) click on a right side answer, and then click on its destination box to move it.
What's the Correct Order?Choices
(Last frontier)
New Mexico
(Oil and cattle)
(Big sky)
(Enchanting chili peppers)
(Deserts and canyons)
(Take a gamble)
(Rocky Mountains)
(Busy beaver)
(The Mitten)
(10,000 lakes)
(A saintly beehive)
(No place like home)

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Alaska

If Alaska were a sovereign nation, it would rank as the world's 16th-largest in area - smaller than Sudan, and slightly larger than Libya. With a total area of 1,723,337 kmē (665,384 sq mi), it is about two and a half times as large as Texas, the runner-up. On the other hand, this huge state ranks among the very last in terms of population. Nicknamed "The Last Frontier", Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, but was not admitted into the Union until 3 January, 1959. The state's name comes from an Aleut language word meaning "the mainland"; its capital is Juneau, the second-largest US city by area.

Alaska is deservedly famous for its unspoiled nature, and is home to a number of national parks - one of which contains the highest peak in the North American continent, Mount Denali. All this makes Alaska one of the country's most popular tourist destinations, with cruises being a particular draw. The state is also home to the nation's highest percentage of people of Native American ethnicity.
2. Texas

Texas may be considerably smaller than Alaska, but occupies a more than respectable area of land with its 695,662 kmē (268,596 sq mi); it is also the second-largest US state (after California) in terms of population. The state's name comes from a word in Caddo, a Native American language, meaning "friend"; this etymology is reflected in its motto, "Friendship". Nicknamed "The Lone Star State" after the white star that appears on the state's flag, Texas joined the Union at the end of 1845, after having been ruled by Spain, France and Mexico, and nine years as an independent republic. In spite of its association with desert and semi-arid zones, Texas is very diverse in terms of geography and climate, and deserts make up less than 10% of its territory.

Texas's capital is Austin, a university city known for its thriving music scene. Though often associated with cattle farming and the oil industry, Texas has a strong, diversified economy, which would be one of the world's top ten if it were a sovereign state.
3. California

The most populous US state, California occupies an area of 423,967 kmē (163,694 sq mi) on the Pacific coast of the country; it is the westernmost of the four states that border Mexico. Formerly the Viceroyalty of New Spain, California was ceded to Mexico in 1821, and was admitted into the Union in September 1850. Known for its natural beauty - which includes its famed coastline, deserts, forests, mountains, and lakes - its agricultural bounty, and its entertainment industry, over the past few decades California has become the world's foremost technology hub, with a much larger economy than most sovereign countries. California is also globally renowned for culture and academic research, as well as political activism. The state capital, Sacramento, is located in the northern part of the state.

The origin of the name "California" is still debated: many historians believe it originated from a 16th-century novel that described the mythical island of California, ruled by Queen Calafia, though a derivation from the Latin "calida fornax" ("hot furnace") has also been suggested. "Eureka" ("I found it"), the state motto, refers to the discovery of gold in 1848, as does the nickname "The Golden State".
4. Montana

With a name meaning "mountainous " in Spanish, it will not come as a surprise to learn that Montana contains at least 100 named ranges within the 380,800 kmē (147,040 sq mi) of its territory. One of eight Mountain States (all of which are mentioned in this quiz), Montana is also one of the 13 US states that border Canada, and the only one that borders three Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan). Slightly larger than Japan, Montana is far less populous, being home to about one million people at the time of writing.

Nicknamed "Big Sky Country" because of its vast landscape uncluttered by tall buildings, and "The Treasure State" because of its rich mineral reserves (as also pointed out by the state motto, "Oro y Plata" meaning "Gold and Silver"), Montana contains the stunning Glacier National Park, and part of Yellowstone National Park. The state was admitted to the Union in November 1889; its capital, Helena, was established in 1864.
5. New Mexico

One of the Mountain States, New Mexico shares the Four Corners region of the western US with Arizona, Colorado and Utah (all featured in this quiz). The state, known by the nickname of "Land of Enchantment", covers an area of 314,918 kmē (121,591 sq mi); it is home to the nation's largest percentage of people of Hispanic and Latino ethnicity, and the second-highest percentage of Native Americans. New Mexico comprises different environments and climates, from the colder mountain areas in the north and east to the deserts or semi-deserts in the west and south; it also boasts three (at the time of writing) UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the historic Taos Pueblo.

New Mexico was named by the Spanish in the 16th century after the Aztec Valley of Mexico; it was one of the last states to be admitted to the Union, on 6 January 1912. Its state capital, Santa Fe, is the oldest in the US, as well as the one located at the highest altitude (2,194 m/7,199 ft). Chili peppers - green and red - are an essential component of New Mexico's cuisine, and one of the symbols of the state.
6. Arizona

Covering an area of 295,234 kmē (113,990 sq mi), Arizona was the last of the 48 contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, on 14 February 1912 - a bit over a month after its eastern neighbour, New Mexico (see Q. 5). With a name sounding like "arid zone" (though probably derived from "ali sonak", meaning "small spring" in the Native American O'odham language), Arizona is often identified with its deserts - the Mojave in the northwest, the Sonoran (home of the iconic saguaro cactus) in the southwest, and the Painted Desert in the north. Arizona's most celebrated landmark, the spectacular Grand Canyon that gave the state its nickname, is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations.

The state capital, Phoenix, is located in the Sonoran Desert: not surprisingly, its average summer temperature is the highest of any other major city in the US. However, Arizona is also one of the Mountain States: in the north, dense conifer forests can be found, as well as ski resorts (such as Flagstaff) that receive significant snowfall during the winter months.
7. Nevada

With an area of 295,234 kmē (113,990 sq mi), Nevada ("snowy" in Spanish) is slightly smaller than in southern neighbour, Arizona. Known as the "Silver State" after the discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver ore in 1858, Nevada is mostly covered by arid and semi-arid areas, part of the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts; the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the beautiful Lake Tahoe lie on the border with California. More than for its natural attractions, however, Nevada is known for its very lenient laws regarding gambling, prostitution, marriage and divorce, which have all contributed to its status of popular international destination. In fact, tourism is Nevada's most important industry alongside mining: Las Vegas, the state's largest city, is one of the world's major entertainment centres, while Reno has built a reputation as the world divorce capital.

Nevada was admitted to the Union in October 1864 - the second state (after West Virginia) to become part of the Union during the Civil War. Its capital, Carson City, named after frontiersman Kit Carson, is located near Lake Tahoe.
8. Colorado

Located directly north of New Mexico, Colorado is nicknamed "The Centennial State" because it was admitted to the Union in 1876, one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. The state's name, chosen by Congress in 1861, comes from the Spanish word for "ruddy", referring to the red sandstone that characterizes much of its landscape. Covering an area of 269,601 kmē (104,093 sq ft), Colorado has a largely mountainous territory, the southern end of the Rocky Mountains runs through the western part of the state. 53 out of the 58 mountain peaks found in the state have an elevation of at least 14,000 ft (4,2 67 m) above sea level, and are thus known as "fourteeners". The eastern part of the state, on the other hand, consists of vast plains with a semi-arid climate.

Colorado's capital, Denver, is known as the "Mile-High City" because of its official elevation above sea level. The state is also a renowned destination for winter sports, with world-class resorts such as Aspen, Vail, and Telluride.
9. Oregon

Oregon is one of the three West Coast states, located between California to the south and Washington to the north. Its name probably comes from the Spanish "orejón" ("big ear"), a reference to the Columbia River found in a late 16th-century chronicle - though other, rather creative etymologies have been suggested. Covering an area of 254,799 kmē (98,378.54 sq mi), Oregon was admitted to the Union in 1858; it is nicknamed "The Beaver State", and the American beaver (also depicted on the back of the state flag) is its state mammal. Oregon is very geographically diverse, encompassing the beautiful Pacific coastline, mountains and volcanoes (such as Mount Hood), bodies of water such as the famed Crater Lake, high deserts, and dense conifer and mixed forests.

Salem, the state capital, lies about an hour south of Portland, its largest city - a bustling port on the Willamette River known for its vibrant cultural life, progressive values, and myriad breweries. The Willamette Valley is also renowned for its production of wine, cheese, berries and hazelnuts.
10. Wyoming

Wyoming's 253,600 kmē (97,914 sq mi) are home to a very sparse population, so that the state has often been designated as the US's least populated. The state is a large plateau, covered by various ranges of the Rocky Mountains to the west, and high-elevation prairie to the east; its climate is dry and windy, and nights tend to be cool even in the hottest parts of its territory. With its two national parks - Grand Teton and Yellowstone, the US's oldest national parks - Wyoming draws millions of tourists every year; agriculture and mineral extraction also contribute significantly to the state's economy. Admitted to the Union in 1890, Wyoming is also often associated with cowboys and the Wild West, and "Cowboy State" is one of its unofficial nicknames - the official one being the "Equality State" because it was the first of the US to grant voting rights to women in 1869.

The name "Wyoming" comes from a word in the indigenous Munsee language, meaning "at the big river flat". The state capital, Cheyenne, founded in 1867, was named after the Cheyenne, one of the Native American peoples of the Great Plains.
11. Michigan

Nicknamed "the Mitten State" because of its distinctive shape, Michigan is the easternmost of the 15 US states mentioned in this quiz. With an area of 250,487 kmē (96,713 sq mi), it is the largest of the Midwestern states, and is bordered by four of the five Great Lakes. Michigan is also the only state formed by two peninsulas, the Lower Peninsula (the "mitten"), and the Upper Peninsula ("U.P."), separated by the Straits of Mackinac, which joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan; a suspension bridge connects the peninsulas. Michigan became part of the Union in 1837; later in the 19th century it welcomed immigrants from many European countries (especially Finland, the Netherlands, and Macedonia). In the early 20th century, the state became the centre of the US's automotive industry, with the three major companies headquartered in Detroit, Michigan's largest city.

Michigan's name comes from the word "mishigami" ("large water") in the indigenous Ojibwe language. Because of its geographical location, it is also nicknamed "The Great Lake State" and "Water (Winter) Wonderland". The state capital, Lansing, is located in the southern-central part of the state.
12. Minnesota

Like Michigan, Minnesota is one of the upper Midwestern states, bordering the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario; the northeastern part of the state has a coastline on Lake Superior. With an area of 225,163 kmē (86,935 sq mi), Minnesota is the northernmost of the 48 contiguous US states - the isolated Northwest Angle being the only part of the "lower 48" located north of the 49th parallel. The nickname of "Land of 10,000 Lakes" is no hyperbole, as the state boasts almost 12,000 bodies of fresh water over 2 acres (8,093 mē). In addition, Minnesota has over 6,500 rivers and streams - including the Mississippi River, whose source is Lake Itasca, in the northern part of the state. Most of Minnesota is a low-relief plain, a third of which is covered in forests. Not surprisingly, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Minnesota attracted many immigrants from Scandinavia, whose landscape and climate are similar. Now the state is home to the US's largest Somali population.

Minnesota became part of the Union in 1858. Its name comes from "mni sota" ("clear blue water") or "mnissota" ("cloudy water") - both names used by the indigenous Dakota people for the Minnesota River. The state capital is St Paul, which forms the "Twin Cities" metropolitan area together with Minneapolis; the two cities are separated by the Mississippi.
13. Utah

Yet another of the Mountain States, Utah covers an area of 219,887 kmē (82,144 sq mi). The name is believed to derive from "Yuta", the Spanish pronunciation of the name of the Ute tribe of the Great Basin region; the word "Ute", probably of Navajo or Apache origin, has been interpreted as "people of the mountains". Admitted to the Union in 1896, Utah is associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose members are commonly referred to as "Mormons"), who settled there in 1847. The state is very diverse from a geographical and natural point of view, its territory comprising forested valleys, sand deserts, and rugged mountain peaks; some of the nation's most popular national parks and national monuments are found within its boundaries.

The official state nickname, "The Beehive State", refers to the emblem chosen in 1847 by Brigham Young for the new settlement, named "Deseret" - a word in the Book of Mormon meaning "honeybee". As implied by its name, the state capital and largest city, Salt Lake City, is located near the shore of the Great Salt Lake, a remnant of the much larger Lake Bonneville, and the largest salt lake in the Western Hemisphere.
14. Idaho

Idaho is considered part of the Pacific Northwest region, which also includes the US states of Oregon and Washington - as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia, with which Idaho has a short border. With an area of 216,443 kmē (83,569 sq mi), Idaho is largely rugged and mountainous, the Rockies occupying sizable parts of its territory; the southern part mostly consists of the Snake River Plain, where most of the state's population and agricultural land are concentrated. Though Idaho's official nickname is "The Gem State" because of the abundance of gemstones and mineral deposits, the state is associated by most with its potatoes: one-third of the potatoes on the US market come from there. Idaho is also home to numerous protected sites, monuments and natural reserves.

Idaho joined the Union in 1896. The origin of its name is still shrouded in mystery, though various theories have been put forward. The state capital, Boise, is located in the southwestern part of the state, not far from the Oregon border.
15. Kansas

The third, and southernmost, of the Midwestern states included in this quiz, Kansas occupies an area of 213,100 kmē (82,278 sq mi) in the centre of the 48 contiguous US; the geographic centre of the lower 48 is located in the city of Lebanon, near the border with Nebraska. Most of the state is flat, and part of the Great Plains region. Particularly prone to severe weather, as well as high summer temperatures, Kansas is often targeted by tornadoes, lying as it does at the very centre of the notorious "Tornado Alley". Kansas is a largely agricultural state, with about 90% of its territory used for growing wheat, corn, soybeans and other high-yield crops, as well as cattle farming. The state was admitted to the Union in January 1861, a few months before the Civil War broke out, as a "free" (i.e. non-slave) state. Its official nickname, The Sunflower State, refers to the native plant that is widely cultivated for its oil-rich seeds.

The name "Kansas" derives from "Akansa", an Algonquian term for the Kaw people that still live in the area; the name of the state capital, Topeka, comes from a Kaw word believed to mean "a good place for potatoes". The hint refers to the last words of the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz", one of the most famous cultural depictions of Kansas, in which a tornado plays a major role.
Source: Author LadyNym

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