, an unincorporated area
is a region of land
that is not a part
of any municipality
. To "incorporate"
in this context means to form a municipal corporation
, a city or town
with its own government. Thus, an unincorporated community is
usually not subject to or taxed
by a municipal government
. Such regions are
generally administered by default as a part of larger administrative divisions
, such as a
, or country
Occasionally small towns disincorporate, such as when they become
, and services become
the responsibility of a higher administration. An example is Cabazon,
California, which disincorporated in 1972.
the unincorporated areas are
places outside municipal council boundaries, usually in remote
areas. Some are of vast area but tiny population. Until 30 June 2008,
there were large unincorporated areas in the Northern
Territory with over 9000 km of roads in those areas.,
with 92 percent of the territory area and 16.5 percent of its
With the reform of local government on 1 July
2008, these shares dropped to 1.45 percent of the area and 4.0
percent of the population. The remaining unincorporated areas in the
Northern Territory are the Unincorporated Top End Region
(Finniss-Mary, the largest), the
Darwin Rates Act Area
(East Arm), Nhulunbuy, Alyangula in the northern
region, and Yulara in the
of the area South
Australia is in the
unincorporated Outback Areas
Community Development Trust. The far west and north
of New South
Wales is called the Unincorporated Far West
Region, which is sparsely populated and barely warrants an
However a civil servant in the state
capital manages such matters as are necessary. The second
unincorporated area of this state is Lord Howe Island.
other state to have unincorporated areas is Victoria, which has two small unincorporated areas in
Shire, and one in Shire of
Mansfield (all of which are ski
resorts), as well as some small off shore islands.
complete list is:
- Elizabeth Island
- Falls Creek Alpine Resort
- French Island
- Gabo Island
- Lady Julia Percy Island
- Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
- Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort
- Mount Buller Alpine Resort
- Mount Hotham Alpine Resort
- Mount Stirling Alpine Resort
- Yallourn Works Area
on the province, an unincorporated settlement is
one that has no town council.
It is usually, but not always,
part of a larger municipal government. This can range from small
to larger urbanized areas.
Park, a suburb of Edmonton, would be the seventh largest city in Alberta if it were incorporated, but remains simply a part
of the Specialized Municipality of Strathcona
County. Likewise, the oil
sands boomtown of Fort McMurray is not a separate community but part of the massive
Unincorporated settlements with a population of between 100 and
1,000 residents may have the status of designated place
in Canadian census
Some unincorporated settlements which are not part of a larger
municipality—particularly those in very remote areas—may have some
types of municipal services provided to them by a
quasi-governmental agency such as a local services board
Since Germany has no administrative level comparable to the
of other countries, the vast
majority of the country is organized in municipalities, often
consisting of multiple settlements which are not considered to be
unincorporated. Because these settlements lack a council of their
own, there is usually an Ortsvorsteher
appointed by the larger municipality, except in the very smallest
, Germany had 248 uninhabited unincorporated areas (of which 214 are located in Bavaria), called gemeindefreie Gebiete or singular gemeindefreies Gebiet, not belonging to any municipality, consisting mostly of forested areas.
also three inhabited unincorporated areas, all of which serve as
military proving grounds: Osterheide and Lohheide in Lower
Saxony, and Gutsbezirk Münsingen in Baden-Württemberg.
They have fewer than 2,000 inhabitants in
States local government,
an unincorporated area generally refers to the part of a county which is outside of any municipality.
Most American states have
granted some form of home rule
, so that
have the same
powers in these areas as city councils
or town councils
have in their
respective incorporated areas. Some states instead put these powers
in the hands of townships
, which are
minor civil divisions
county, and are called "towns" in some states. Some American states
have no unincorporated land areas; these include New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode
Island although these states all have communities that are
not separately incorporated but are part of a larger
An unincorporated community
is one general term
for a geographic area having a common social identity without
benefit of municipal organization or official political designation
(i.e. incorporation as a city or town). There are two main types of
- a neighborhood or other community existing within one or across multiple
existing incorporated areas (i.e., cities or towns). In this sense,
a community is part of a municipal government, but not
separately incorporated from it. For example, Hyannis,
Massachusetts is an unincorporated village within the town of
- a neighborhood or other community existing outside of an
government. In this sense, the community is outside of any
municipal government, and entirely unincorporated. Some, like Nutbush,
Tennessee, or Perry Park, Kentucky are small rural settlements of low
population. Others, like Springfield,
Virginia are densely populated, urbanized areas that have
never been incorporated despite dense populations.
Due to differences in state laws regarding the incorporation of
communities, there is a great variation in the distribution and
nature of unincorporated areas. Unincorporated regions are essentially
non-existent in the six New England states and New Jersey due to the weak or nonexistent county government
Nearly all of the land in New England (and all of
the land in New Jersey) is part of an incorporated area of some
type. In these "home rule" areas, types (and official names) of
local government entities can vary. New England has historically
preferred more direct forms of government, such as the open town meeting
or representative town meeting
New Jersey, multiple types exist as well, such as the City
, but these differences are in
the structure of the legislative branches, NOT in the powers or
functions of the entities themselves.
opposite end of the spectrum is the Virginia "strong county" model. Virginia and other
states with this model such as Alabama, Maryland, and Tennessee set strict requirements on incorporation or grant
counties and townships broad powers that in other states are
carried out by cities, creating a disincentive to incorporate, and
thus have large, urbanized areas which have no municipal government
below the county or township level.
Meanwhile, in other mid-Atlantic states such
York and Pennsylvania, a "hybrid" model that tries to "balance" the two
approaches is prevalent, with differing allocations of power
between municipalities and counties exists.
Throughout the United States of America,
some large cities have annexed all surrounding unincorporated
areas, creating what are known as consolidated city-county forms of
government (e.g., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).
In areas of sparse population the majority
of the land in any given state may be unincorporated.
states, including North
Carolina and others,
jurisdiction to cities and towns (but rarely villages), so that
they may control zoning for a limited
distance into adjacent unincorporated areas, often as a precursor (and sometimes as a legal requirement)
to later annexation of those
This is especially useful in rural
counties which have no zoning at all, or only
California, all counties except San
Francisco County have unincorporated areas.
Even in highly
populated counties, the unincorporated portions may contain a large
number of inhabitants. In Los Angeles County
county government estimates the population of its unincorporated
areas to exceed one million people. Despite having 88 incorporated cities and
towns, including the state's most populous, 65% of the land in Los
Angeles County is unincorporated, this mostly consisting of
National Forest and sparsely populated regions to its
context of the United
States insular area, the word
"unincorporated" means that the territory has not been formally and
irrevocably incorporated into the United States.
Unincorporated insular areas are therefore potentially subject to
being sold or otherwise transferred to another power, or,
conversely, being granted independence. However, neither fate
seems likely to occur in the foreseeable future to the five
remaining major unincorporated U.S. insular areas, American
Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam, the
U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
Many unincorporated communities are also recognized as acceptable
place names for use in mailing addresses by the United States Postal Service
(indeed, some have their own post
), and the United
States Census Bureau
designates some unincorporated communities
as census-designated places
and tabulates census data for them.
However, the USPS
very conservative about recognizing new place names for use in
mailing addresses, and typically only does so when a place
incorporates. The original place name associated with a ZIP code is
still maintained as the "default" place name, even though the name
of the newly-incorporated place is more accurate. As an example,
Springs is one of the most populated places in Georgia, but is served by a branch of the Atlanta post office. Only after the city was incorporated in
2005 has "Sandy Springs" been approved by the USPS for use in
mailing addresses, though "Atlanta" remains the default
name. Accordingly, "Atlanta" is the only accepted
place name for mailing addresses in the nearby unincorporated town
of Vinings, also served by a branch of the Atlanta post
office, even though Atlanta is in a different county.
contrast, neighboring Mableton has not been incorporated in nearly a century, but
has its own post office and thus "Mableton" is the only acceptable
place name for mailing addresses in the town.
unincorporated area becomes incorporated, it may be split among ZIP
codes, and its new name may be recognized as "acceptable" for use
with some or all of them in mailing addresses, as has been the case
Creek and Milton, Georgia. However, if an incorporated area
disincorporates, this has no effect on whether a place name is
"acceptable" in a mailing address or not, as is the case with
ZIP code boundaries often ignore political
boundaries, so the appearance of a place name in a mailing address
alone does not indicate whether the place is incorporated or
The Netherlands has had regular periods with unincorporated land
when newly reclaimed land polders
Unincorporated land is since medieval times administered by an
appointed officer with the name Landdrost or Drossaart.
Elten and Tudderen,
both annexed from Germany after World War II, were governed by a
Landdrost until they were ceded to Germany in 1963.
The last period with unincorporated land started in 1967 when the
dyke around Southern Flevoland was closed. It however requires
several years before the polder is genuinely accessible for
cultivation and construction of roads and homes can start, as in
the first years the soil is equivalent to quick sand. During the
initial period of inhabitation a special, government appointed
officer is installed, who is called Landdrost. During the
administrative office of a Landdrost there is no municipal
the first homes in what is now the city of Almere were built
and from 1976 till 1984 the area was governed by the Landdrost as
the executive of the Openbaar Lichaam Zuidelijk Flevoland.
In 1984 the Landdrost became the first mayor of the new city
Almere. Since that date the Netherlands does not have any
Countries without unincorporated places
Many countries, especially those with many centuries of history
using multiple tiers of local government, do not use the concept of
an unincorporated place.
Kingdom the whole of the country, rural and urban, has been
covered by a two or three-tier system of local government for many
centuries (although many of the larger conurbations now have single
tier or unitary local governments).
- In South Africa the latest constitution gave every place in the
country democratically elected third-tier government.
- Likewise the whole of the territories of
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France (except
for some small overseas possessions), Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Norway (though a
handful of unincorporated
cities exist within ordinary municipalities), Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden and
Switzerland (with exceptions) are divided into communes.
Mexico, all land
must belong to a municipality. Even large uninhabited areas,
such as forests or grasslands, are by law part of the nearest
"city". This is because in Latin America, a "municipality" is the
equivalent of what in the United States and Canada is called a
- The History of County Government Part I.
National Association of
Counties. Accessed 17 July 2009.
- County Government. Illinois Association of County
Board Members. Accessed 17 July 2009.
- Los Angeles County website
- Los Angeles County website
- Denmark in fact has one unincorporated area, the former naval
fortress Ertholmene with less than 100 inhabitants, which
is still governed directly by the Ministry of Defence.
- Switzerland also has a few exceptions as described by the Swiss
federal statistical office(see page 5: Gemeindefreie Spezialgebiete