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A municipality is usually an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government or jurisdiction. The term municipality is also used to mean the governing body of a municipality.[1] A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district. The term is derived from French "municipalité" and Latin "municipalis".[2]


The English word "Municipality" derives from the Latin social contract "Municipium", meaning duty holders, referring to the Latin communities that supplied Rome with troops in exchange for their own incorporation into the Roman state (granting Roman citizenship to the inhabitants) while permitting the communities to retain their own local governments (a limited autonomy).

Generic term

The term "municipality" is a generic term, and can describe any political jurisdiction from a sovereign state, such as the Principality of Monaco, or a small village, such as West Hampton Dunes, New York.

The territory over which a municipality has jurisdiction may encompass

In a number of countries such as Finland, all land must belong to a municipality. In contrast, in other countries the municipality covers only a single populated place and the rest - unincorporated territory, which may have substantial population such as villages - is governed directly by the county. Municipalities may be subdivided into several types or tiers, such as cities, towns, or rural municipalities.

Political powers

The power of municipalities range from virtual autonomy to complete subordination to the state. Municipalities may have the right to tax individuals and corporations with income tax, property tax, and corporate income tax, but may also receive substantial funding from the state.

In various countries

In various countries, a municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision to have democratically elected representation. Municipalities are sometimes referred to as "communes" (for example, French commune, Spanish ayuntamiento, Italian comune, Romanian comună, Swedish kommun Norwegian/Danish kommune and German Kommune).

English speaking

  • In Australia, the term local government area (LGA) is used in place of the generic municipality. Here, the "LGA Structure covers only incorporated areas of Australia. Incorporated areas are legally designated parts of states and territories over which incorporated local governing bodies have responsibility."[4]
  • In the United Kingdom, the term was used until 1974 in England and Wales, and until 1975 in Scotland and 1976 in Northern Ireland, "both for a city or town which is organized for self-government under a municipal corporation, and also for the governing body itself. Such a corporation in Great Britain consists of a head as a mayor or provost, and of superior members, as aldermen and councillors".[9] Since local government reorganisation, the unit in England, Northern Ireland and Wales is known as a district, and in Scotland as a council area. A district may be awarded borough or city status, or can retain its district title.
  • In the United States, "municipality" is usually understood as a city, town, village, or other local government unit, formed by municipal charter from the state as a municipal corporation.[10] In a state law context, some U.S. state codes define "municipality" more widely, from the state itself to any political subdivisions given jurisdiction over an area that may include multiple populated places and unpopulated places.[11][12] (see: Political divisions of the United States)
  • In Jersey, a municipality refers to the honorary officials elected to run each of the 12 Parishes into which it is subdivided. This is the highest level of regional government in this jurisdiction.

Chinese speaking

Municipalities by country

Country Term Example Subdivision of Quantity Notes Further reading
Albania bashki (urban) or komunë (rural) Municipalities of Albania
Algeria baladiyah daïra (district), which is part of a wilaya (province) 1,541 Municipalities of Algeria
Argentina 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.
Austria Gemeinde district (Bezirk), which is in turn part of a state (Bundesland). Municipalities of Austria
Bangladesh Pouroshabha / Pouroshava upazila or subdistrict, which is in turn part of a district 311 Municipalities of Bangladesh
Belgium gemeente/commune a province (provincie/province) or of the Brussels-Capital Region 589 Municipalities in Belgium
Bolivia municipio Arani Municipality province, which is part of a departamento. 327 (2005) Municipalities of Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina općina or opština in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina : of a canton (kanton). In Republika Srpska, municipality is first order of government after entity government. Municipalities of Republika Srpska
Brazil municípios São Paulo (largest), Borá (smallest) states (estados) 5,564 is the smallest political-administrative division; 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, belongs to the territory of some municipality, and, hence, technically under the jurisdiction of a "city." No point in the country lies in a non-incorporated area, and that explains why some municipalities in sparsely populated areas such as the Amazon region can be larger than many sovereign countries. Municipalities of Brazil
Bulgaria Bulgarian: община, obshtina Aksakovo Municipality an oblast 264 Municipalities of Bulgaria
Kingdom of Cambodia (ស឵ល឵ក្រុង) refers to city hall Example, if they say Phnom Penh Municipality it means Phnom Penh City Hall, but sometimes a municipality refers to the capital city, which is Phnom Penh City.
Chile municipalidad provinces 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 almost 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.
Colombia municipio a department (departamento) 1119 It is also subdivided into Corregimientos and Veredas. Municipalities of Colombia
Costa Rica Municipalidad Province (Provinces of Costa Rica) Cantones of Costa Rica
Croatia općina county (županija) Municipalities of Croatia
Czech Republic obec a kraj (kraj)
Denmark kommune Aabenraa Municipality a region 98 Counties (amter) were abandoned in Denmark on January 1, 2007. Municipalities of Denmark
Dominican Republic municipio province Municipalities of the Dominican Republic
Estonia omavalitsus Are vald (Are Parish) county (maakond) 226 is the smallest division of local government. Municipalities can be both towns (linn) and parishes (vald). Municipalities of Estonia
Finland kunta is independent and constitutes local government; each co-operates with municipalities nearby in a sub-region (seutukunta) and region (maakunta). A municipality can freely call itself a "city" (kaupunki). Municipalities of Finland
France commune department (département) which is part of a region (région) 36,600
Germany Gemeinde 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) 12013 Municipalities of Germany
Greece demos (δήμος, pl. δήμοι) or kinotita (κοινότητα, pl. κοινότητες) with lesser population a municipality is either, 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.
Greenland kommunea Kujalleq is the first-level administrative division of country. Municipalities of Greenland
Haiti commune an arrondissement, which is part of a department (département).
Honduras 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). 298 Municipalities of Honduras
Hungary települési önkormányzat a county (megye). 3,168 (in 2005)
Iceland sveitarfélag Reykjavík Regions 74 Municipalities in Iceland are the only self-governing local administrative units. Municipalities of Iceland
India nagar palika A municipality 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 (Mahanagar Nigam). Ward councillors of municipal corporations are nominated by the subdivisional officers and elected by the people. The chairman is also a nominee of the subdivisional officer who is a government officer in India. Municipalities of India
Israel a municipality generally takes one of three forms: city councils, which govern a large municipality, local councils, which govern a small municipality, and regional councils, which govern a group of communities, often but not necessarily of a rural nature.
Italy comune 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).
Japan a municipality is the sphere of government within the prefectures, the sub-division of the state. Municipalities of Japan include shi (cities), cho (towns), and son (villages).
Kenya a municipality is one of four types of local authorities. Nearly 50 major towns are given the municipality status.
Latvia sing.:novads, plur.:novadi) Aglona novads (Aglona Municipality) A municipality normally consists of amalgamated parishes (sing.:pagasts, plur.:pagasti). Municipalities of Latvia
Lebanon a district (Arabic: Qadaa‎) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafazah).
Libya the municipality level is that of the Basic People's Congress. Large cities are subdivided. Municipalities of Libya
Lithuania savivaldybė Kalvarijos savivaldybė (Kalvarija Municipality) a district (apskritis) and is subdivided into elderates (seniūnija). Municipalities of Lithuania
Luxembourg communes are the lowest divisions
Macedonia opština Aračinovo Municipality the country (top-level) or the City of Skopje 84 (2004) current set established in 2004, reduced from 123 created in 1996. Municipalities of the Republic of Macedonia
Malta Kunsill Lokali (Local Council) Valletta Local Council none 68 established 1993, one new council created since then (Mtarfa) Local councils of Malta
Mexico municipio / delegación Asientos Municipality a state (estado) or the DF a borough (delegación) is a subdivision of the Federal District Municipalities of Mexico and boroughs of the Mexican Federal District
Moldova municipiu Municipiului Chişinău is a main city or town and surrounding villages ranked by law at this level. Moldova#Administrative_divisions
Montenegro opština Andrijevica Municipality the country (top-level) Municipalities of Montenegro
Nepal Nagarpalika 58 (after the census in 2001)+33 new municipalities were in 2012 a municipality is a town not large enough in population or infrastructure to qualify as a sub-metropolitan city.
Netherlands gemeente a province (provincie) 408 + 3 special municipalities Municipalities in the Netherlands
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. (See territorial authorities of New Zealand.)
Nicaragua municipio a department (departamento) or of one of the two Autonomous Regions, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte and Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur. Municipalities of Nicaragua
Norway kommune Røyken kommune a county (fylke) 430 (2009) Municipalities of Norway
Palestinian National Authority 105 municipalities are localities with populations over 4,000 and have 13-15 council members. Municipality (Palestinian Authority)
Pakistan of a tehsil/taluka or sub-district of a "district". Local government in Pakistan
Paraguay municipalidad a departament (departamento)
Peru municipio a province (provincia), which is part of a department (departamento). As of 2002 a department is now called a region (región). is another term for district (distrito) and is the lower-level administrative subdivision.
Philippines bayan or munisipyo is a town with a popularly elected administration including a mayor and is part of a province (lalawigan or probinsya) (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.
Poland gmina Gmina Annopol county (powiat).
Portugal município Aveiro Municipality 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, municípios 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 Portugal, a municipality (município/concelho) is the primary local administrative unit. Although part of a district (distrito) for certain national administrative purposes, the municipality is not subordinate to the district and decentralization is doing away with the districts. A municipality contains one or more freguesias. Municipalities of Portugal
Puerto Rico municipio municipality consists of an urban area (termed a city or town) plus all of its surrounding barrios comprising the municipality. It has a popularly elected administration and a municipal mayor. The seat of the municipal government is located in such urban area and serves the entire municipal jurisdiction.[13][14] Municipalities of Puerto Rico
Romania municipiu is a town or a city ranked by law at this level. A commune is the lowest subdivision of a judeţ. Municipalities in Romania
Russia several types of municipalities ("municipal formations") exist; see subdivisions of Russia
San Marino there are also eight minor municipalities, castelli.
Serbia opština a district (okrug)
Slovakia obec district (okres) 2,891
Slovenia občina region (regija) 212 a municipality (občina) is the primary local administrative unit. There are 212 of them, 11 of which have a special "Urban" status with additional autonomy. Municipalities of Slovenia
South Africa district municipalities and metropolitan municipalities are subdivisions of the provinces, and local municipalities are subdivisions of district municipalities.
Spain municipio a municipality (municipio) is the primary local administrative unit. It is a part of a province (provincia) for all national administrative purposes. In the Galicia region, the municipalities are called concellos, and in the Principality of Asturias region, a municipality is called a conceyu. In these two regions a municipality contains one or more parroquias. Municipalities of Spain
Sweden kommun Ale Municipality 290 is self-governing according to the Swedish constitution and constitutes local government. Before 1971, a municipality could be called a town (stad), a köping or a rural municipality (landskommun); present municipalities which used to be towns are still commonly called towns. Sweden is also divided into 21 counties (län), each containing one or more of the municipalities. Municipalities of Sweden
Switzerland commune/Gemeinde/comune a canton (canton/Kanton/cantone) and defined by cantonal law. Municipalities in Switzerland
Thailand thesaban None 1,602 There are three levels of municipalities, and municipalities are not self-governed except for Bangkok and Pattaya. Municipalities introduced in 1935, Bangkok became self-governed in 1972, and Pattaya became self-governed in 1978. Thesaban
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 could be city or settlement (town). Cities always carry special status: national (two), oblast (at least one in each region), and raion (the rest). Urban municipalities often consist of several other smaller ones. Bigger cities are divided into number of city raions (districts). Rural municipalities are much smaller and may combine several villages and rural settlements (smaller villages). Two cities Kiev and Sevastopol are organized as special municipalities that are independent from their regional government (oblast / republic) within they are located.
United Arab Emirates an emirate is defined by the law of the specific emirates.
Turkey belediye is a local government authority and there are two types of municipalities: metropolitan (büyükşehir) municipality, district (alt/ilçe) municipality.
Uruguay municipio Municipalities of Uruguay
Venezuela municipio Anaco Municipality a state, as well as a subdivision of the Capital District (estado) Municipalities of Venezuela
Vietnam Direct-controlled municipality Ho Chi Minh City (largest) 5 In the Vietnam, a direct-controlled municipality (Thành phố trực thuộc trung ương in Vietnamese) is a city with equal status to a province: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Can Tho Municipalities of Vietnam
  • 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.

See also


External links

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