Municipality

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A municipality is an administrative division composed of a defined territory and population. While there are many varieties of municipalities, most fall into one of two categories: (1) a single settlement, a city, town, or village, and (2) a land area similar to a township that may contain multiple settlements, or even just part of one, such as a city's borough. A town municipality is typically governed by a mayor and a council, while others may have appointed prefects. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district.

In most countries, a municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision to have democratically elected representation. Municipalities are sometimes referred to as "communes" (for example, French commune, Italian comune, Romanian comună, Swedish kommun and Norwegian/Danish kommune). The term derives from the medieval commune. The term "municipality" is used in some countries to refer to the municipal administrative building known elsewhere as the town hall or city hall.

The largest municipalities can be found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

Municipalities as lower-level governance structures

  • In Albania, a municipality is either part of a city (bashki) or a province (komunë).
  • In Algeria, a municipality (baladiyah) is part of a daïra, which is part of a wilaya; there are 1,541 municipalities in Algeria.
  • In Argentina, a municipality (municipalidad) is the institution in charge of local administration. The provinces organize the municipalities for each city in their territories according to their own municipal regime.
  • In Australia, municipalities are subdivisions of a state or territory. (See Local Government Areas in Australia).
  • In Austria, a municipality (Gemeinde) is part of a district (Bezirk), which is in turn part of a state (Bundesland).
  • In Bangladesh, a municipality (Paurashava) is part of a upazila or subdistrict, which is in turn part of a district.
  • In Belgium, a municipality (gemeente/commune) is either part of a province (provincie/province) or of the Brussels-Capital Region
  • In Bolivia, a municipality (municipio) is part of a province, which is part of a departamento.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a municipality (općina or opština) is part of a canton (kanton)
  • In Brazil, states (estados) are directly divided into municipalities (municípios), and the latter are the smallest political-administrative divisions; there is no equivalent to a county level. A city (cidade) is defined in Brazilian law as the urban seat of a municipality, and a municipality always has the same name as the corresponding city. Brazilian law establishes no difference between cities and towns; all it takes for an urban settlement to be called a "city" is to be the seat of a municipality, and some are very small. Other settlements have no form of local government and are under the authority of the municipality they are in, although in some cases the municipal government may set up local administrative offices there. The Federal District (the area of the national capital city, Brasília) has special status and is not divided into municipalities. The Fernando de Noronha and St. Peter and St. Paul archipelagos together comprise a unique case of a "state district" under the direct administration of the state government of Pernambuco. Apart from these exceptions, all land in Brazil, even the remotest wilderness areas, is in the territory of some municipality, and hence technically under the jurisdiction of a "city." No point in the country is in a non-incorporated area, and this is why some municipalities in sparsely populated areas such as the Amazon region can be larger than many sovereign countries.
  • In Bulgaria, a municipality (Bulgarian: община) is the smallest regional administrative division and is part of a province. There are 264 municipalities grouped in 28 provinces in Bulgaria.
  • In Canada, a municipality (or local municipality) is a city, town, village, township or borough, or a combination of several cities, boroughs or townships, incorporated to form one municipality. A region (or regional municipality) is a district, county or (formerly) metropolis which has been incorporated by statute by the legislature of the province or territory. It is also a specific designation for certain municipalities in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. Certain areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are designated as rural municipalities. Equivalent areas in Alberta are designated as municipal districts, those in Ontario are called townships, and some in British Columbia are designated as district municipalities.
  • In Chile, a municipality (municipalidad) is a legal entity which administers one or more communes (comuna) which are the third-level division of the country. The first division are regions which a next divided into provinces (provincia). These provinces are next divided into comunas which are assigned to a municipality for administration. In most cases the municipality and the comuna have the same name, but the constitution permits a single municipality to be responsible for more than one commune.
  • In Colombia, a municipality (municipio) is part of a department (departamento). It is also subdivided into Corregimientos and Veredas.
  • In Croatia, a municipality (općina) is part of a county (županija)
  • In the Czech Republic, a municipality (obec) is part of a kraj (kraj)
  • In Denmark, a municipality (kommune) is part of a region. Counties (amter) were abandoned in Denmark on January 1, 2007.
  • In the Dominican Republic a municipality (municipio) is a subdivision of a province (see municipalities of the Dominican Republic).
  • In Estonia, a municipality (omavalitsus) is the smallest division of local government. Municipalities can be both towns (linn) and parishes (vald).
  • In Finland, a municipality (kunta / kommun) co-operates with municipalities nearby in a sub-region (seutukunta / region) and region (maakunta / landskap). A municipality can freely call itself a "city" (kaupunki / stad).
  • In France, a municipality (commune) is part of a department (département) which is part of a region (région)
  • In Germany, a municipality (Gemeinde) is part of a district (Kreis). Larger entities of the same level are called towns (Stadt). In less populated regions, municipalities are often put together into collective municipalities (Verbandsgemeinde)
  • In Greece, a municipality is either demos (δήμος, pl. δήμοι) or kinotita (κοινότητα, pl. κοινότητες) with lesser population, which are then part of a prefecture (nomos, νομός) and then a larger region known as a periphery (περιφέρεια, pl. περιφέρειες). Municipalities are third-level administrative divisions and their heads (mayors in demi, presidents in kinotites) are appointed via popular vote held every four years.
  • In Haiti, a municipality (commune) is part of an arrondissement, which is part of a department (département).
  • In Honduras, the municipality (municipio) was in 1895 originally the subdivision of the district (distrito), but as districts have fallen into disuse, it is now the subdivision of the department (departamento). There are 298 municipalities. (See Municipalities of Honduras.)
  • In Hungary, a municipality (települési önkormányzat) is part of a county (megye). There were 3,168 municipalities in 2005.
  • In Iceland,a municipality is a town concil. It can also be a village with population from 300 to 18,000 people. (see Municipalities of Iceland)
  • In India, a municipality (Nagar palika) is often referred to as a town. It is neither a village nor a big city. Usually, a municipality would have 20,000 or more people, but if it exceeds 500,000 it becomes a municipal corporation.
  • In Israel, a municipality generally takes one of three forms: city councils, which governs a large municipality, local councils, which governs a small municipality, and regional councils, which governs a group of communities, often but not necessarily of a rural nature.
  • In Italy, a comune is part of a province (provincia) which is part of a region (regione). The term "municipality" is reserved for subdivisions of larger comuni (in particular, the comune of Rome).
  • In Japan, a municipality is the sphere of government within the prefectures, the sub-division of the state.
  • In Kenya, a municipality is one of four types of local authorities. Nearly 50 major towns are given the municipality status.
  • In Latvia, a municipality (sing.:novads, plur.:novadi) is part of a district (sing.:rajons, plur.:rajoni). A municipality normally consists of amalgated parishes (sing.:pagasts, plur.:pagasti).
  • In Lebanon, a municipality is part of a district (Arabic: Qadaa‎) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafazah).
  • In Libya, the municipality level is that of the Basic People's Congress. Large cities are subdivided.
  • In Lithuania, a municipality (savivaldybė) is a part of a district (apskritis) and is subdivided into elderates (seniūnija).
  • In Luxembourg, communes are the lowest divisions.
  • In Mexico, a municipality (municipio) is a subdivision of a state (estado) and a borough (delegación) is a subdivision of the Federal District (see municipalities of Mexico and boroughs of the Mexican Federal District).
  • In the Netherlands, a municipality (gemeente) is part of a province (provincie).
  • In New Zealand, a municipality is part of either a "city" (mostly urban) or a "district" (mostly rural). The term "municipality" has become rare in New Zealand since about 1979 and has no legal status.
  • In Nicaragua, a municipality (municipio) is subdivision of a department (departamento) or of one of the two Autonomous Regions, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte and Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur.
  • In Norway, a municipality (kommune) is part of a county (fylke). There are 430 municipalities in Norway (2009).
  • In the Palestinian National Authority, municipalities are localities with populations over 4,000 and have 13-15 council members. There are 105 municipalities in the PNA.
  • In Pakistan, municipalities are subdivisions of a district. (See Local government in Pakistan).
  • In Paraguay, a municipality (municipalidad) is part of a departament (departamento).
  • In Peru, a municipality (municipio) is another term for district (distrito) and is the lower-level administrative subdivision. It is part of a province (provincia), which is part of a department (departamento). As of 2002 a department is now called a region (región).
  • In the Philippines, a municipality (bayan or munisipyo) is a town with a popularly elected administration including a mayor and is part of a province (lalawigan) (except for the independent municipality of Pateros, Metro Manila in the National Capital Region). Municipalities are not the smallest division of local government and are composed of barangays.
  • In Poland, a municipality (gmina) is a part of a county (powiat).
  • In Portuguese language usage, there are two words to distinguish the territory and the administrative organ. When referring to the territory, the word concelho is used, when referring to the organ of State, the word município is used. This differentiation is still in use in Portugal and some of its former overseas provinces, but it’s no longer in use in Brazil. In Portugal, a municipality is a directly elected local area authority generally consisting of a main city or town and surrounding villages, with wide-ranging local administration powers. Apart from the municipality of Corvo, however, concelhos are not the smallest administrative unit in Portugal, that being the freguesia (civil parish). For central government purposes, Portuguese municipalities are grouped into districts (distritos).
  • In Puerto Rico, a municipality (municipio) is a town or city with a popularly elected administration, including a mayor.
  • In Romania, a municipality (municipiu) is a town or a city ranked by law at this level. A commune is the lowest subdivision of a judeţ.
  • In Russia, several types of municipalities ("municipal formations") exist; see subdivisions of Russia
  • In San Marino, there are also eight minor municipalities, castelli.
  • In Serbia, a municipality (opština) is part of a district (okrug)
  • In Slovakia, a municipality (obec) is part of a district (okres). There are 2,891 municipalities in the country.
  • In Slovenia, a municipality (občina) is part of a region (regija). There are 210 municipalities in the country.
  • In South Africa, district municipalities and metropolitan municipalities are subdivisions of the provinces, and local municipalities are subdivisions of district municipalities.
  • In Sweden, a municipality (kommun) is part of a county (län). There are 290 municipalities in the country.
  • In Switzerland, a municipality (commune/Gemeinde/comune) is part of a canton (canton/Kanton/cantone) and defined by cantonal law.
  • In Ukraine there are two types of municipalities (or rada - council): urban and rural. Both are types of lower administrative division in the country. Urban municipalities sometimes carry special status: national, oblast, and raion. Those are complex municipalities that almost always consist of several other smaller ones. Bigger urban municipalities are divided into number of urban raions. Rural municipalities are much smaller and often are part of a raion. Such municipality may combine several villages and rural settlements.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, a municipality is part of an emirate, and is defined by the law of the specific emirates.
  • In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the term "municipality" is rarely used and the municipal level of government used in other countries shares characteristics with (but is not identical to) the civil parish, town, city, borough, district, and/or unitary authority, depending on the location. The term "municipal" is used to refer to things pertaining to the government of a town or city.
  • In the United States, the entities that have status as a municipality vary from state to state. Cities, towns, boroughs, or villages are common terms for municipalities. Townships, counties, and parishes are not generally considered to be municipalities, although there are exceptions. In some states, towns have a non-municipal status similar to townships. Likewise, some townships have full municipal status.
  • In Turkey, a municipality (belediye) is a local government authority and there are two types of municipalities: metropolitan (büyükşehir) municipality, district (alt/ilçe) municipality.
  • In Venezuela, a municipality (municipio) is part of a state, as well as a subdivision of the Capital District (estado).

First-level entities and other forms of municipalities