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Land area vs total area?

General U.S. Forum - Relocation, Moving, Local City Discussions - City-Data Forum - www.city-data.com
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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