Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular, independent sovereign state (country) is divided. Such a unit usually has an administrative authority with the power to take administrative or policy decisions for its area. Usually, the countries have several levels of administrative divisions. The common names for the principal (largest) administrative divisions are: states (i.e. "federated states", rather than sovereign states),
province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outs ...
s, , oblasts, governorates, cantons, prefectures, regions, departments, and emirates. These, in turn, are often subdivided into smaller administrative units known by names such as circuits, counties,
comarca A ''comarca'' (, or ) is a traditional region or local administrative division found in Portugal, Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España ...
raion A raion (also rayon) is a type of administrative unit of several post-Soviet states (such as part of an oblast). The term is from the French "''rayon''" (meaning "honeycomb, department"), which is both a type of a subnational entity Adminis ...
s, judets or districts, which are further subdivided into the
municipalities A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. The term ''municipali ...
, communes or communities constituting the smallest units of subdivision (the Local government, local governments). The exact number of the levels of administrative divisions and their structure largely varies by country (and sometimes within a single country). Usually, the smaller the country is (by area or population), the fewer levels of administrative divisions it has. For example, Vatican City, the Vatican does not have any administrative subdivisions and Monaco has only one level, while such countries as France and Pakistan have five levels each. The principal administrative division of a country might be called the "''first-level'' (or ''first-order'') administrative division" or "first administrative level". Its next subdivision might be called "second-level administrative division" or "second administrative level" and so on. Administrative divisions are conceptually separate from dependent territory, dependent territories, with the former being an integral part of the sovereign state, state and the other being only under some lesser form of control. However, the term "administrative division" can include dependent territories as well as accepted administrative divisions (for example, in geographical databases).

Examples of administrative divisions

English terms

In many of the following terms originating from British cultural influence, areas of relatively low mean population density might bear a title of an entity one would expect to be either larger or smaller. There is no fixed rule, for "all politics is local" as is perhaps well demonstrated by their relative lack of systemic order. In the realm of self-government, any of these can and does occur along a stretch of road—which for the most part is passing through rural unsettled countryside. Since the terms are administrative political divisions of the local regional government their exact relationship and definitions are subject to home rule considerations, tradition, as well as sovereign state, state statute law and local governmental (administrative) definition and control. In British cultural legacy, some territorial entities began with fairly expansive counties which encompass an appreciably large area, but were divided over time into a number of smaller entities. Within those entities are the large and small cities or towns, which may or may not be the county seat. Some of the world's larger cities culturally, if not officially, span several counties, and those crossing state or provincial boundaries have much in common culturally as well, but are rarely incorporated within the same municipal government. Many sister cities share a water boundary, which quite often serves as a border of both cities and counties. For example, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts appear to the casual traveler as one large city, while locally they each are quite culturally different and occupy different counties.


*Region, Area *Autonomous community *Banners of Inner Mongolia, Banner *Barony (county division), Barony *Capital city *Canton (administrative division), Canton *County *Community (Wales), Community *Constituency *Crown dependencies, Crown dependency *Department (administrative division), Department *District *Division (political geography), Division *Duchy *Governorate * Legal entity *Hundred (county division), Hundred *Federal subjects *Federal monarchy, Kingdom *Local council (disambiguation), Local council *Municipality **Regional municipality, Regional **Regional county municipality, Regional county **Rural municipality, Rural *Oblast *Parish (administrative division), Parish *Prefecture *Principality *Province *Public body (Netherlands), Public body *Region (administrative), Region *Autonomous republic, Republic *Riding (division), Riding *Constituent state, State *Special administrative region *Territory *Theme (Byzantine district), Theme *Voivodeship

Urban or rural regions

''General terms for these incorporated town, incorporated places include "municipality," "human settlement, settlement," "locality," and "populated place.''" *Borough, burgh or "boro" *City *Shire *Town *Township *Village


*Tribe *Indian reservation *Indian reserve *Band society, Band *Rancheria

Non-English terms

Due to variations in their use worldwide, consistency in the translation of terms from non-English to English is sometimes difficult to maintain.


*Sovereign state, a national or supra-national division. *Country, a national or sub-national division. *Empire, a supra-national entity.

See also

*GADM, a high-resolution database of country administrative areas. *ISO 3166-2, specifically ''Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions — Part 2''. *List of administrative division name changes *List of etymologies of country subdivision names *List of administrative divisions by country


External links

Second Administrative Level Boundaries (SALB) programme of the United Nations.
an international convention with standardized two-letter-based multi-level summaries of administrative divisions worldwide (e.g

represents Adansi South District, Adansi South (AE) in the Greater Accra Region, Accra Home (AH) Regions of Ghana, region of Ghana (GH)). {{Authority control Administrative divisions, Types of administrative division,