By Wilson C. ’20
The United States has five states who border the Pacific Ocean: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California. These states are known for their beautiful coastlines, dramatic mountains, pristine beaches, and a high concentration of National Parks. Furthermore, they are crucial economically: ports like Oakland and Seattle receive a massive amount of imported goods from across the Pacific. The Pacific coast, specifically Northwest Washington, is also home to the two best football teams in the US 😉. For years, there have been fringe movements attempting to secure the independence of California. For the sake of this article, let’s imagine that this happened, and through the extreme charisma of California’s future president, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, four other Pacific states were inspire to secede from the union and create a new country along with California, called the United Pacific States.
This country would have an absolutely gargantuan economy. By itself, California has an economy equal in size to that of the United Kingdom, and would ultimately make up about ⅔ of the United Pacific States’ $3.464 trillion economy. This would make it the fifth largest economy in the world, just behind Germany. Alaska, while accounting for a large amount of the new countries’ area, would account for just 1.4% of the country’s economy. This country would also have a fairly large population, mostly thanks to California, which currently has the largest population of any US state. Its population would be 53.64 million, placing it at 26th in the world; ahead of South Korea but only about 1/25th the size of China. This country would have a GDP per capita of approximately $64,600, higher than the US average, and 6th in the world overall; ahead of Ireland but behind Norway. The average quality of life would be very high, and certainly citizens of this country would, on average, have a better life than the average citizen in the neighboring United States. With the exception of Alaska, these states have a high percentage of socially liberal people, meaning that this new country would be a haven for refugees fleeing from conflict in Central and South America. As for the United States, the losses which would be incurred are quite large, but not crippling. Their population would shrink by 16%, but still keeping it the third-largest in the world by population, ahead of Indonesia by about 10 million people. Their economy would shrink by 12%, but it would still easily be the largest economy in the world, and about 40% larger than China, who are currently the second largest.
The ethnic makeup of the country would be very diverse. About 40% of the country would be made up of non-hispanic white people, whereas 35% would be made up of hispanic ethnicities. These two groups together in the Pacific States would be larger in population than the entire country of Canada. There would also be significant minority populations of Asians (13%) and African-Americans (4.8%). Most people who are religiously affiliated would be Christians, but especially in urban areas, there would be large Jewish and Atheist minorities. Spanish would be spoken by about 30% of the population, and would be likely to become an official language of the new nation. The country would be extremely ethnically and culturally diverse, and many other languages like Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Korean would be common compared to the United States of America. The diversity in this country could cause problems, and it would be interesting to see how they shape their immigration policy, especially along their southern border with Mexico. However, with the exception of Alaska, these states vote blue very consistently and would be likely to introduce legislation favoring relaxed immigration policy and would also enact liberal reform, which could lessen racial tensions to a certain extent by providing equal opportunity. However, unlike the United States of Scandinavia, this country would be far from a utopia, and racial tensions would persist. Many people would live in poverty and cities with a high cost of living such as Seattle or San Francisco would have to deal with rising numbers of homeless people. Nonetheless, increased welfare programs under the new liberal government would certainly help to alleviate some problems currently facing these states under the US Federal Government.
The physical features of the United Pacific States would be some of the most breathtaking of any country in the world. They would have a vast range of climates, from the frozen tundra and fjords of Alaska, to the evergreen forests of Washington and Oregon, to the Yosemite National Park in California, and the stunning beaches and volcanoes of Hawaii. The new country would be very diverse in climate and have great biodiversity as well. The geography would present and interesting problem not currently faced by any modern nation other than the United States: it would be separated into three main land masses which are not connected to one another. This doesn’t cause a problem in the modern US, and it is unlikely that it would cause major geopolitical rifts within the new country. The road system within the contiguous states (Washington, Oregon, and California) is already well developed, but the country would probably have to construct new roads between the contiguous states and Alaska as well as reach new border control agreements with Canada and Mexico. Ultimately, the terrain of the new country, while diverse and at times treacherous, is unlikely to cause major problem. Maybe “The Rock” will be able to convince British Columbia and the Yukon territories to join the new nation as well. Assuming that none of the Canadian provinces join the new nation, the country’s area would be 1,009,000 square miles, larger than Algeria but smaller than Kazakhstan. More than half of that area would be the uninhabited wildlands of Alaska, but Alaska would provide this country with valuable natural resources in the Arctic circle like oil and natural gas. The population density would be roughly 53 people per square mile, about that of Mexico. The largest cities (in order) would be Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland. Most of the population centers are in California, so one economic challenge for the new nation would be to avoid drastic centralization. Sacramento would likely be the capital due to its current state capital status and geographically central location. However, it’s possible that the capital would be move to a coastal city like Los Angeles or San Francisco for trade purposes. The country would likely be a world superpower due to its advantageous positioning as having the closest North American ports to Asia as well as its massive economy. While its foreign policy would likely align with that of the United States, and depending on terms of secession, they would likely be allies, the United Pacific States would not quite have the same power on the world stage that the US does. They’d have a military with 229,000 active troops; comparable to that of Saudi Arabia in terms of troops numbers. Ultimately, this country would likely grow its military in order to greater protect its economic might and strategic positioning, but likely would not maintain a massive global presence.
This country would be an extremely popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and world-class cities. Cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Anaheim (thanks to its theme parks and AAU tournaments) rake in tens of millions of visitors annually. The new nation would have 22 locations currently designated as National Parks, with treasures such as Yosemite, Denali, Glacier Bay, Haleakala, Crater Lake, and Hawai’i Volcanoes. Its natural beauty would truly be unmatched by any other North American country, including what would remain of the United States. Furthermore, the country would have landmarks recognizable worldwide such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Space Needle, and the Hollywood sign. Ultimately, the area would continue to be an extremely popular tourist destination despite its new status as a sovereign nation.
As for athletics, the new country would not be able to lay claim to any olympic medals; however, they would have no problem acquiring them once recognized by the IOC, as California currently has the most gold medalists of any state. The country would not be able to lay claim to any FIFA World Cup victories, mens or womens, but should have no problem being recognized by FIFA and beginning to compete in CONCACAF competition (FIFA recognizes many footballing nations that aren’t sovereign nations, such as Gibraltar, and thus would be very quick to recognize a legitimate state). Perhaps the most interest athletic development to come out of the new nation would be a potentially different structure for the major five US sports leagues. The country would be responsible for 3 Stanley Cups, 9 MLS cups, 24 NBA championships, 24 World Series titles, and 10 Super Bowls. It’s unlikely that these US and Canada-based leagues would ban all of these historic clubs from participation, but it would be interesting to see whether or not the UPS would form its own leagues. Ultimately, this new nation would become a world economic superpower, but would struggle to keep up with its superpower neighbor, the USA, in terms of military might. Being a potential resident of this new nation, I’d have to say that I definitely would not want this secession to happen. The economic and cultural consequences would be staggering, and politics would be affected on a global scale. That being said, there are many things that this country would do well which I feel like the rest of the United States can aspire to, and the United Pacific States would be a pleasant place to live.