Map of the Tri-State Area.

Dear Dr. Boli: I am in a fierce debate with my pekingese, which you may perchance be able to settle. What, objectively speaking, is the tri-state area? —Yours cordially, D. Wright, Esq.

Dear Sir or Madam: The answer to your question has varied over the long history of tri-state areas. When Charlemagne died, his empire was divided among his three sons, and many historians regard this division as the original tri-state area. In modern times, the most important tri-state area is, of course, the one surrounding Cumberland (Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia), but New York (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut), Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio), Cincinnati (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana), Chandigarh (Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh), and Murtho (South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria) are also centers of important tri-state areas. Geographers now estimate that approximately 89% of the earth’s habitable land surface may be counted as belonging to a “tri-state area,” with the rest made up of various curious anomalies such as the Four Corners region or Iceland.

The leading objection against granting statehood to the District of Columbia has always been that doing so would create yet another tri-state area, which, added to the 138 already existing tri-state areas in the United States alone, might cause unnecessary confusion.


  1. I doubt Charlemagne’s division of his empire was the true birth of the tri-state area. Even earlier was the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280) of Chinese history, which overlapped with the Three Kingdoms of Korea (AD 57-668) or the even earlier “In Tres Partes Gallia Divisa Est” of Julius Caesar’s “Gallic Wars”.

    I’m sure Babylon, Sumer, and Ur had a tri-city-state area even earlier than that, however.

    But today’s true Tri-state area is that of the Dubuque-Galena metroplex in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa.

  2. Evan says:

    In further news, due to the abysmal state of our public education, especially in mathematics, I believe the area surrounding the Four Corners monument is now considered one of the premier tri-state areas in the county.

  3. Dave Mullenix says:

    It’s got one more.

  4. JohnS says:

    @Evan, LOL

    I grew up in the Twin Cities, the epicenter of the five state area NoDak, SoDak, WI, IA and MN) and the center of the known universe. (It was quite a surprise to visit Texas and hear them refer to Dallas and Ft. Worth as twin cities (it’s not true, they aren’t even particularly close).) As I traveled more and ran into more geographic areas, I always felt a little sad for all those areas that could only afford a tri-state area. Of course, not everyplace can be the center of the known universe, but it would be nice if they could afford a fourth state.

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