A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally developed into, or incorporated into, a political unit of the country that is of equal status to other political units that may often be referred to by words such as "provinces" or "regions" or "states". In international politics, a ''territory'' is usually either the total area from which a state may extract power resources or any non-sovereign geographic area which has come under the authority of another government; which has not been granted the powers of self-government normally devolved to secondary territorial divisions; or both.


The origins of the word territory begin with the Proto-Indo-European root ''ters'' ('to dry'). From this emerged the Latin word ''terra'' ('earth, land') and later the Latin word ''territorium'' ('land around a town'). Territory made its debut as a word in Middle English during the 14th century. At this point the suffix -orium, which denotes place, was replaced with -ory which also expresses place.


Examples for different types of territory include the following: * Capital territory * Dependent territory * Disputed territory, a geographic area claimed by two or more rival governments. For example, the territory of Kashmir is claimed by the governments of both India and Pakistan; for each country involved in the dispute, the whole territory is claimed as a part of the existing state. Another example is the Republic of China (commonly labeled "Taiwan"), whose sovereignty status is disputed by and territory claimed by the People's Republic of China. * Federal territory * Maritime territory * Occupied territory, a region that is under the military control of an outside power that has not gained universal recognition from the international community. Current examples are Crimea, occupied by the Russian Federation; East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, occupied by the State of Israel; Western Sahara, partially occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco. Other examples of occupied territory include the country of Kuwait after it was briefly invaded by Iraq in 1990, Iraq after the American invasion of 2003, Germany after World War II, and Kosovo after 1999. * Overseas territory * Unorganized territory, a region of land without a "normally" constituted system of government. This does not mean that the territory has no government at all or that it is an unclaimed territory. In practice, such territories are always sparsely populated.

Capital territory

A capital territory or federal capital territory is usually a specially designated territory where a country's seat of government is located. As such, in the federal model of government, no one state or territory takes pre-eminence because the capital lies within its borders. A capital territory can be one specific form of federal district. * In Australia, the capital Canberra lies within the Australian Capital Territory and was originally called the FCT. * The National Capital Territory is where New Delhi, the capital of India, is located. * Nigeria has its capital Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory. * In Pakistan, the capital city Islamabad lies within the Islamabad Capital Territory.

Dependent territory

Dependent territory is a designation for a territory that is not an independent sovereign state, yet remains politically outside the governing state's integral area. Presently, all dependent territories are either overseas territories or non-sovereign associated states. Only four countries currently possess dependent territories: New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Examples include: * The three Crown dependencies are self-governing possessions of the British Crown similar to freely associated states, not parts of the United Kingdom itself nor of any of its four constituent countries. * American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are unincorporated territories of the United States with varying local autonomy. * Bouvet Island is an uninhabited dependent territory of Norway. * The Cook Islands and Niue are associated states of New Zealand. * Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand.

Federal territory

A federal territory is an area within the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of the central or national government within a federation. Federal territories include: * Federal Capital Territory (Nigeria) * Federal Territory (Malaysia)

Overseas territory

Overseas territory is a broad designation for a territorial entity that is separated from the country that governs it by an ocean. An overseas territory may be either a constituent part of the governing state or a dependent territory. Examples include: * The fourteen British Overseas Territories are dependent territories of the British Crown with varying degrees of self-governance, not parts of the United Kingdom itself nor of any of its four constituent countries. * Overseas France includes the five overseas collectivities of France, which are broadly autonomous territories, as well as overseas regions and overseas departments, which are essentially the same as regions and departments in Metropolitan France. Nonetheless, all are integral parts of the French Fifth Republic. * Greenland and the Faroe Islands are constituent countries of the Kingdom of Denmark that are internally self-governing.

See also

* :Category:Territories under military occupation * List of enclaves and exclaves


External links

Peace Palace Library – Research Guide
{{Terms for types of country subdivisions Category:Types of administrative division Category:Administrative territorial entities by type