A comarca (Spanish: [koˈmaɾka], Portuguese: [kuˈmaɾkɐ] or [koˈmaʁkɐ], Galician: [koˈmaɾka] pl. comarcas; Catalan: [kuˈmaɾkə] or [koˈmaɾka], pl. comarques) is a traditional region or local administrative division found in Portugal, Spain and some of their former colonies: Panama, Nicaragua, and Brazil. The term is derived from the term marca, meaning a "march, mark", plus the prefix co- meaning "together, jointly".
Accordingly with the new judicial division of 2015, Angola (a Portuguese-speaking country) will be subdivided into 60 comarcas, each with a court of first instance. The courts of comarca will replace the previous provincial and municipal courts.
Until the 16th century, was divided into comarcas, large administrative regions. There were six traditional comarcas: Entre-Douro-e-Minho, Trás-os-Montes, Beira, Estremadura, Alentejo and Algarve, of which the last had the honorary title of "kingdom". In the 16th century, the comarcas were gradually referred to as "provinces".
The name "comarca" was applied to the administrative and judicial subdivisions of the provinces, a use introduced in the 17th century. Each comarca corresponded to the territorial area of jurisdiction of a corregedor, a high-ranking administrative and judicial officer who represented the Crown in the district.
In the 19th century, the comarcas were replaced by separate administrative and judicial divisions, reflecting the implementation of the separation of executive and judicial powers. The new administrative divisions became the administrative districts and the new judicial divisions kept the name comarca.
Nowadays, in Brazil, Portugal, and some other countries of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries, the comarca is the basic territorial division in the judicial system. It corresponds to the territorial area of jurisdiction of a court of first instance.
The comarca may correspond to a municipality or group several small municipalities together. Presently, in Brazil, there are 2,680 comarcas. A judiciary organization reform implemented in Portugal in 2014 reduced the number of comarcas from 231 to 23.
The term comarca is used in several regions in Spain.
In other places, such as Extremadura, the comarca may simply refer to a loosely defined region.
Because of the comarca's long-standing use, it is sometimes used as the basis for the promotion of tourism, with emphasis on local cultural tradition and history.
In Panama, the comarca indígena is an administrative region for an area with a substantial Amerindian population. Three comarcas (Comarca Emberá-Wounaan, Guna Yala, Ngöbe-Buglé) exist as equivalent to provinces. Two smaller comarcas (Kuna de Madugandí and Kuna de Wargandí) are subordinate to a province and considered equivalent to a corregimiento (municipality).