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A municipality is an administrative entity composed of a clearly defined territory and its population and commonly denotes a city, town, or village, or a small grouping of them. A municipality is typically governed by a mayor and a city council or municipal council.

The notion of municipality includes townships but is not restricted to them. A municipality is a general-purpose district, as opposed to a special-purpose district.

In most countries, a municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision to have its own democratically elected representative leadership. In some countries, municipalities are referred to as "communes" (for example, French commune, Italian comune, Romanian comună, Swedish kommun and Norwegian/Danish kommune). The term derives from the medieval commune. In some countries, especially in the Middle East, the term "municipality" is also used to refer to the municipal administrative building known elsewhere as the town hall or city hall.

The largest municipalities can be found in Canadamarker, Greenlandmarker, Australia and Brazilmarker.

Municipalities as lower-level governance structures

  • In Albaniamarker, a municipality is either part of a city (bashki) or a province (komunë).
  • In Algeriamarker, a municipality (baladiyah) is part of a daïra, which is part of a wilaya; there are 1,541 municipalities in Algeria.
  • In Argentinamarker, a municipality (municipalidad) is a city, town, or township, which is part of a province. The provinces organize the municipalities in their territories according to their own municipal regime.
  • In Australia, municipalities are subdivisions of a state or territory. (See Local Government Areas in Australia).
  • In Austriamarker, a municipality (Gemeinde) is part of a district (Bezirk), which is in turn part of a state (Bundesland).
  • In Bangladeshmarker, a municipality (Paurashava) is part of a upazila or subdistrict, which is in turn part of a district.
  • In Belgiummarker, a municipality (gemeente/commune) is either part of a province (provincie/province) or of the Brussels-Capital Regionmarker
  • In Boliviamarker, a municipality (municipio) is part of a province, which is part of a departamento.
  • In Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, a municipality (općina or opština) is
  • In Brazilmarker, states (estado) are directly divided into municipalities (municípios), and the latter are the smallest political-administrative divisions; 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 Districtmarker (the area of the national capital city, Brasíliamarker) has special status and is not divided into municipalities, but otherwise all land in Brazil, even the remotest wilderness areas, is in the territory of some municipality, and hence technically under the jurisdiction of a "city." No point in the country is in a non-incorporated area, and this is why some municipalities in sparsely populated areas such as the Amazon region can be larger than many sovereign countries.
  • In Bulgariamarker, a municipality (Bulgarian: община) is the smallest regional administrative division and is part of a province. There are 264 municipalities grouped in 28 provinces in Bulgaria.
  • In Canadamarker, a municipality (or local municipality) is a city, town, village, township or (formerly) borough. A region (or regional municipality) is a district, county or (formerly) metropolis which has been incorporated by statute by the legislature of the province or territory. It is also a specific designation for certain municipalities in Quebecmarker, Nova Scotiamarker and Ontariomarker. Certain areas of Ontariomarker, Saskatchewanmarker and Manitobamarker are designated as rural municipalities, while equivalent areas in Albertamarker are designated as municipal districts and some in British Columbiamarker are designated as district municipalities.
  • In Chilemarker, a municipality (municipalidad) is a legal entity which administers one or more commune (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 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.
  • In Colombiamarker, a municipality (municipio) is part of a department (departamento). It is also subdivided into Corregimientos and Veredas.
  • In Croatiamarker, a municipality (općina) is part of a county (županija)
  • In the Czech Republicmarker, a municipality (obec) is part of a kraj (kraj)
  • In Denmarkmarker, a municipality (kommune) is part of a region. Counties (amter) were abandoned in Denmark on January 1, 2007.
  • In the Dominican Republicmarker a municipality (municipio) is a subdivision of a province (see municipalities of the Dominican Republic).
  • In Estoniamarker, a municipality (omavalitsus) is the smallest division (vald).
  • In Finlandmarker, a municipality (kunta / kommun) co-operates with municipalities nearby in a sub-region (seutukunta / region) and region (maakunta / landskap); a region belongs to a province (lääni / län) of the state. A municipality can freely call itself a "city" (kaupunki / stad).
  • In Francemarker, a municipality (commune) is part of a department (département) which is part of a region (région)
  • In Germanymarker, a municipality (Gemeinde) is part of a 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)
  • In Greecemarker, a municipality is either demos (δήμος, pl. δήμοι) or koinoteta (κοινότητα, pl. κοινότητες) with lesser population, 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 demoi, presidents in koinotetes) are appointed via popular vote held every four years.
  • In Haitimarker, a municipality (commune) is part of an arrondissement, which is part of a department (département).
  • In Hungarymarker, a municipality (települési önkormányzat) is part of a county (megye). There were 3168 municipalities in 2005.
  • In Icelandmarker,a municipality is a town concil. It can also be a village with population from 300 to 18000 people. (see Municipalities of Iceland)
  • In Indiamarker, a municipality is often referred to as a town. It is neither a village nor a big city. Usually, a municipality would have 100,000 or more people, but if it exceeds one million, it becomes a corporation.
  • In Italymarker, a comune is part of 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 Romemarker).
  • In Japanmarker, a municipality is the sphere of government within the prefectures, the sub-division of the state.
  • In Kenyamarker, a municipality is one of four types of local authorities. Nearly 50 major towns are given the municipality status.
  • In Latviamarker, a municipality (sing.:novads, plur.:novadi) is part of a district (sing.:rajons, plur.:rajoni). A municipality normally consists of amalgated parishe (sing.:pagasts, plur.:pagasti).
  • In Lebanonmarker, a municipality is part of a district ( ) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafazah).
  • In Libyamarker, the municipality level is that of the Basic People's Congress. Large cities are subdivided.
  • In Lithuaniamarker, a municipality (savivaldybė) is a part of a district (apskritis) and is subdivided into elderates (seniūnija).
  • In Luxembourgmarker, communes are the lowest divisions.
  • In Mexicomarker, a municipality (municipio) is a subdivision of a state (estado) and a borough (delegación) is a subdivision of the Federal Districtmarker (see municipalities of Mexico and boroughs of the Mexican Federal District).
  • In the Netherlandsmarker, a municipality (gemeente) is part of a province (provincie).
  • Every part of mainland New Zealandmarker 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.
  • In Nicaraguamarker, a municipality (municipio) is subdivision of a department (departamento) or of one of the two Autonomous Regions, Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte and Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur.
  • In Norwaymarker, a municipality (kommune) is part of a county (fylke). There are 430 municipalities in Norway (2009).
  • In the Palestinian National Authority, municipalities are localities with populations over 4,000 and have 13-15 council members. There are 105 municipalities in the PNA.
  • In Paraguaymarker, a municipality (municipalidad) is part of a departament (departamento).
  • In Perumarker, a municipality (municipio) is another term for district (distrito) and is the lower-level administrative subdivision. It is part of a province (provincia), which is part of a department (departamento). As of 2002 a department is now called a region (región).
  • In the Philippinesmarker, a municipality (bayan or munisipyo) is a town with a popularly elected administration including a mayor, and is part of a province (lalawigan)—except for the independent municipality of Pateros, Metro Manila in the National Capital Regionmarker—and is composed of barangays.
  • In Polandmarker, a municipality (gmina) is a part of a county (powiat).
  • In Portugalmarker, a municipality (município or concelho) is a directly elected local area authority generally consisting of a main town and surrounding villages, with wide-ranging local administration powers. Apart from the municipality of Corvomarker, however, concelhos 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 Puerto Rico, a municipality (municipio) is a town or city with a popularly elected administration, including a mayor.
  • In Romaniamarker, a municipality (municipiu) is a town or a city ranked by law at this level. A commune is the lowest subdivision of a judeţ.
  • In Russiamarker, several types of municipalities ("municipal formations") exist; see subdivisions of Russia
  • In San Marinomarker, there are also eight minor municipalities, castelli.
  • In Serbiamarker, a municipality (opština) is part of a district (okrug)
  • In Slovakiamarker, a municipality (obec) is part of a district (okres). There are 2 891 municipalities in the country.
  • In South Africa, district municipalities and metropolitan municipalities are subdivisions of the provinces, and local municipalities are subdivisions of district municipalities.
  • In Swedenmarker, a municipality (kommun) is part of a county (län).
  • In Switzerlandmarker, a municipality (commune/Gemeinde/comune) is part of a canton (canton/Kanton/cantone) and defined by cantonal law.
  • In the United Arab Emiratesmarker, a municipality is part of an emirate, and is defined by the law of the specific emirates.
  • In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irelandmarker, the term "municipality" is rarely used and the municipal level of government used in other countries shares characteristics with (but is not identical to) the civil parish, town, city, borough, district, and/or unitary authority, depending on the location. The term "municipal" is used to refer to things pertaining to the government of a town or city.
  • In the United Statesmarker, the entities that have status as a municipality vary from state to state. Cities, towns, boroughs, or villages are common terms for municipalities. Townships, counties, and parishes are not generally considered to be municipalities, although there are exceptions. In some states, towns have a non-municipal status similar to townships. Likewise, some townships have full municipal status.
  • In Venezuelamarker, a municipality (municipio) is part of a state, as well as a subdivision of the Capital District (estado).


First-level entities and other forms of municipalities



See also




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