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If like me you browse sweepstake rules before entry, then you might have noticed there will often be a term stating that “you must be a resident of the Contiguous United States” or “you must be a resident of the Continental United States” in order to enter. Aside from the similarity in their names which can make them confusing, they technically are both the US, so what exactly is the difference and why is it important to know this when entering sweepstakes? 
Well first things first, this distinction is significant if you are interested in sweepstakes entry because it is often stated in the rules (at least of US based contests) that you must be a resident of one of the two if you want to participate. If you do not know whether or not you’re a resident or if you ignore this portion of the rules and you’re not a resident, you will have wasted your time signing up for the sweepstakes, as breaking the rules can disqualify you, ruining your chances of winning, It’s better to know all the specifics in advance so you don’t waste your time signing up for anything you are not eligible for, and instead spend that time becoming a part of whatever giveaways you can. 
Let’s begin by breaking down the Contiguous US. The word contiguous is defined as sharing a common border or touching; so keeping that in mind this will help better your understanding of the Contiguous US. The Contiguous United States (also referred to as the Conterminous US) are all of the US states besides Alaska and Hawaii. This is because the rest of the states aside from those two touch each other, so hopefully that will make it easier to remember. Basically if a set of sweepstakes rules says you must be a resident of the Contiguous US and you live in either Alaska or Hawaii, you will unfortunately not be able to participate in that one (but don’t worry there are many giveaways that welcome all US residents). 
The Continental US on the other hand is everything that comprises the North American continent; so Alaska would in fact be included here, but Hawaii still would not. Though Washington D.C. is not a state it is on the content of North America so it too would be a part of the Continental US, but a territory such as Puerto Rico (like Hawaii) would be left out. When it comes to sweepstakes entry rules, where you must be a resident of is typically clearly written out, so if you are ever unsure just double check there. 
Overall the difference between the Contiguous and the Continental US may not be the biggest deal to you if you are not a resident of the states or territories that are excluded, but hey you learned something new! The main takeaway I’d hope you get from this post is to look back at the rules if you’re ever unsure because you don’t want to enter into a sweepstakes that you’re ineligible for. Have no fear, the rules will always be clearly stated; Winning Codes also offers direct links to rules, so you will have no issues finding them, happy sweeping!