November 10, 2011 - Area Code Day

Those three all-important numbers at the beginning of your phone number used to say something about where you live.

I live in the 9-oh-9 (909) area code, well known to most Southern Californians as a distinctly un-cool, un-hip place to be. People in L.A. and the O.C. (Orange County) often look down on the 9-0-9.

But, weirdly enough, some people who live very near me have another area code, 951. This is because, in a crowded urban area, there are so many people and so many phones, and so many fax machines and modems, that there aren't enough usable phone numbers. In such a case, there are “splits” and “overlays” of new area codes.

My own mother, who lives a block away from me, has two area codes: 909 for her home phone and 951 for her cell.

Did you know that the entire state of Alaska has just one area code. So I sometimes like to point out that my mom has more area codes than the entire state of Alaska! Here are some more states with just one area code: Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Another thing to remember is that these days area codes DON'T necessarily tell us where people live. This is because, when people move, they often keep the same cell phone number. So people living in the VERY cool city of New York, for example, might still have the un-cool 909 area code.


The United States has 269 area codes plus some special area codes such as toll-free 800 and 888.
Canada has 26 area codes.

A Challenge...

Can you use math to figure out how many phone numbers there can be per area code? Remember, phone numbers cannot start with a zero or one.