When most people think of the United States, they likely picture a pan with a handle. That’s because the country has a lot of shapes that look like a pan handle. One of the most common is the state of Florida’s panhandle, which stretches into Mexico along the Gulf of Mexico.
But the Sunshine State isn’t the only state to have a panhandle, and there are actually 10 panhandles in the U.S. The other nine are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, West Virginia (which has two panhandles), and Utah.
Most states have panhandles that are formed by a narrow strip of land that juts out from another state. This is different from the “corner” of a state, which is defined by a line on the map that encloses a state’s northeastern corner and the area to its north, east and south.
There are also a few protrusions that look like panhandles but aren’t recognized as such, including the notch of Utah, which includes Salt Lake City, and the northern portion of West Virginia, which is squeezed between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The residents of these areas feel distant — or even divorced – from the rest of their state, and some have campaigned for the region to break off to become a separate state. The folks of the western Florida panhandle have a similar feeling, with differences in climate, geography, and politics that make them unique from their southern neighbors.