Department (administrative division)


A department (, ) is an
administrative Administration may refer to: Management of organizations * Management Management (or managing) is the administration of an organization, whether it is a business, a not-for-profit organization, or government body. Management includes th ...

or political division in many countries. Departments are the first-level divisions of 11 countries, nine in
the Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to East and West. ''North'' ...
and two in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are ...

. An additional 10 countries use departments as second-level divisions, eight in Africa, and one each in the Americas and
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...

. As a territorial entity, "department" was first used by the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended in coup of 18 Brumaire, November 1799 with the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles ...

French Revolution
ary governments, apparently to emphasize that each territory was simply an administrative sub-division of the united sovereign nation. (The term "department", in other contexts, means an administrative sub-division of a larger organization.) This attempt to de-emphasize local political identity contrasts strongly with countries divided into "states" (implying local sovereignty). The division of France into departments was a project particularly identified with the French revolutionary leader the
Abbé Sieyès upFrench abbé of the 18th century ''Abbé'' (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Lat ...
, although it had already been frequently discussed and written about by many politicians and thinkers. The earliest known suggestion of it is from 1764 in the writings of d'Argenson. Today, departments may exist either with or without a
representative assemblyA representative assembly is a political institution in which a number of persons representing the population or privileged orders within the population of a state come together to debate, negotiate with the executive (originally the king or other ru ...
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
head depending upon the
countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

al and administrative structure.

Countries using departments

Argentina Argentina (), officially the Argentine Republic ( es, link=no, República Argentina), is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered b ...
* *
Benin Benin ( , ; french: Bénin ), officially the Republic of Benin (french: République du Bénin) and formerly known as Republic of Dahomey, Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina ...
* Departments of Bolivia, Bolivia * Departments of Burkina Faso, Burkina Faso * Divisions of Cameroon, Cameroon * Departments of Chad, Chad * Departments of Colombia, Colombia * Departments of the Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo * Departments of Côte d'Ivoire, Côte d'Ivoire * Departments of El Salvador, El Salvador * Departments of France, France * Departments of Gabon, Gabon * Departments of Guatemala, Guatemala * Departments of Haiti, Haiti * Departments of Honduras, Honduras * Departments of Mauritania, Mauritania * Departments of Nicaragua, Nicaragua * Departments of Niger, Niger * Departments of Paraguay, Paraguay * Departments of Senegal, Senegal * Departments of Uruguay, Uruguay ''*All provinces except Buenos Aires province.''

Former countries using departments

* Batavian Republic * Cisalpine Republic * 130 departments of the First French Empire, French Empire * Departments of Gran Colombia, Gran Colombia * Centralist Republic of Mexico * Kingdom of Holland * Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic) * Italian Republic (Napoleonic) * Departments of Peru, Peru** * Administrative division of Duchy of Warsaw, Duchy of Warsaw * Department of Alaska, United States*** * Kingdom of Westphalia ''**Replaced by Regions of Peru, regions in 2002.''
''***Before Alaska became a U.S. state, it was designated as the "Department of Alaska".''


External links


See also

* :Administrative divisions, Administrative divisions * :Departments of the Duchy of Warsaw, Departments of the Duchy of Warsaw * Departments of France * Overseas departments and territories of France Departments, Types of administrative division {{Geo-term-stub