A township (or municipality) is a settlement which has the status and powers of a unit of local government. Specific use of the term to describe political subdivisions has varied by country.
Uses of the term
Township (or municipality) is generally associated with an urban area. However there are many exceptions to this rule, especially in the U.S.
In the Scottish Highlands
the term describes a very small agricultural community, usually describing a local rural or semi-rural government within a county.
"Municipality" refers to a town or "an area governed like a town". Small (in terms of population) rural subdivisions with limited administrative responsibilities are better referred to as "parishes" or "communities", and this (rather than "municipality") is the preferred translation of the expressions commune, gemeende, Gemeinte, comuna, obec, etc referred to below.
In most countries, a municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision to have its own democratically elected representative leadership.
The largest municipalities can be found in Canada and Greenland. Possibly the largest municipality in the world is Baie-James in northern Quebec, Canada, with a land area of 297,330 km² (114,800 sq. miles), which is larger than the United Kingdom.
- In Australia, municipalities are subdivisions of a state or territory. (See Local Government Areas in Australia). In Australia and New Zealand the designation of "township" traditionally refers to a small town: a place that in Britain might qualify as a village or a hamlet.
- In Belgium, a municipality (commune in French gemeente in Dutch or Gemeinde in German) is the lowest level of administrative division. It is a part of a province.
- In Benin, there are 77 communes, grouped into twelve departments.
- In Bolivia, a municipality (municipio) is part of a province, which is part of a departamento.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a municipality (općina or opština) is
- In Brazil, a municipality (município) is part of a state (estado). However, the Federative Republic of Brazil is defined as a Tripartide Federal Republic. In other words, there isn't a federal hierarchy in Brazil.
- In Canada, two kinds of township occur in common use. See: Township (Canada)
- In Chile, a municipality (municipalidad) is a legal entity which administers one or more communes (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 Colombia, a municipality (municipio) is a decentralized entity that group to form a department (departamento). Municipalities are formed by Corregimientos and Veredas.
- In Croatia, a municipality (općina) is part of a county (županija)
- In the Czech Republic, a municipality (obec) is part of a district (okres)
- In Denmark, a municipality (kommune) is part of a region. Counties (amter) were abandoned in Denmark on January 1, 2007.
- In the Dominican Republic a municipality (municipio) is a subdivision of a province (see municipalities of the Dominican Republic).
- In England the term township referred to a subdivision used to administer a large parish. This use became obsolete a long time ago. Recently, some councils, normally in the north of England, have revived the term (see Township (England)).
- In Estonia, a municipality (omavalitsus) is the smallest division.
- In Finland, a municipality (kunta) co-operates with municipalities nearby in a sub-region (seutukunta) and region (maakunta); a region belongs to a province (lääni) of the state. A municipality can freely call itself a "city" (kaupunki).
- In France, a municipality (commune) is the lowest level of administrative division. A commune can be either a village, a small town, or a large city. The word municipalité is usually used to designate the administration running a "commune".
- In Germany, 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 Greece, a municipality is either an urban demoi or rural koinotetes which is then part of a prefecture (nomos) and then a larger region known as a periphery.
- In Hungary, a municipality (települési önkormányzat) is part of a county (megye).
- In Italy, 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 Rome).
- In Japan, a municipality is the sphere of government within the prefectures, the sub-division of the state.
- In Jersey, a municipality refers to the honorary officials elected to run each of the 12 Parishes into which it is subdivided.
- In Kenya, a municipality is one of four types of local authorities. Nearly 50 major towns are given the municipality status.
- In Lebanon, a municipality is part of a district (Arabic: Qadaa) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafazah).
- In Lithuania, a municipality (savivaldybė) is a part of a county (apskritis) and is subdivided into elderates (seniūnija).
- In Mexico, a municipality (municipio) is a subdivision of a state (estado) and a borough (delegación) is a subdivision of a city; the most known boroughs are those in Mexico City (see municipalities of Mexico and Boroughs of the Mexican Federal District).
- In the Netherlands, a municipality (gemeente) is part of a province (provincie).
- Every part of mainland New Zealand 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 Nicaragua, 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 Norway, a municipality (kommune) is part of a county (fylke)
- In the Philippines, a municipality (bayan) is part of a province (lalawigan) — except for the independent municipalities of Navotas, Pateros and San Juan in the National Capital Region — and is composed of barangays.
- In Poland, a municipality (gmina) is a part of a county (powiat).
- In Portugal, a municipality (município) is a directly elected local area authority generally consisting of a main city and surrounding villages, with wide-ranging local administration powers. It is also a subdivision of a district for central government purposes(distritos).
- In Puerto Rico, a municipality (municipio) is a town or city with a popularly elected administration, including a mayor.
- In Romania, 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 parts of north west Scotland (Highlands and Islands), a "township (Scotland)" is a crofting settlement.
- In Serbia, a municipality (opština) is part of a county (okrug)
- In Slovakia, a municipality (obec) is part of a district (okres). There are 2 891 municipalities in the state.
- In South Africa, district municipalities and metropolitan municipalities are subdivisions of the provinces, and local municipalities are subdivisions of district municipalities.
- In South Africa under Apartheid the term township came to mean a residential development which confined non-whites (Africans, "coloureds" and Indians) who lived near or worked in white-only communities. Soweto ("SOuth-WEst Townships") furnishes a well-known example. However, the term township also has a precise legal meaning, and is used on land titles (in all areas, not only traditionally non-white areas). See Township (South Africa)
- In Sweden, a municipality (kommun) is part of a county (län).
- In Switzerland, a municipality (commune/Gemeinde/comune) is part of a canton (canton/Kanton/cantone) and defined by cantonal law.
- In Ukraine, a (village,town,city)municipality (mistseva rada) is part of district (raion) which is part of province (oblast)
- In the United States, townships are often distinct from other types of municipalities. Two kinds of township occur. A state may have only one or both of these. In states that have both, the boundaries usually coincide. See Township (United States)
- A survey township is a unit of land measure defined by the Public Land Survey System. These are generally referenced by a numbering system.
- A civil township is a widely-used yet loose term applied to varying entities of local government, with and without municipal status. Though all townships are generally given names and abbreviated "Twp.," their function differs greatly from state to state. While cities, towns, boroughs, or villages are common terms for municipalities; townships, counties, and parishes are sometimes not considered to be municipalities. In many states, counties and townships are organized and operate under the authority of state statutes. In contrast, municipal corporations are often chartered entities with a degree of home rule. However, there are some exceptions. Most notably, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, townships are a class of incorporation with fixed boundaries and equal standing to a village, town, borough or city, analogous to a New England town or towns in New York.
- In Venezuela, a municipality (municipio) is part of a state, as well as a subdivision of the Capital District (estado).
- In Zimbabwe during colonial years of Rhodesia, the term township referred to a residential area reserved for non-white (black) citizens and no town was necessary. In modern Zimbabwe it refers to a residential area within close proximity of a rural growth point. See also Township (South Africa).
- In the People's Republic of China, townships are found at the fourth level of the administrative hierarchy, together with ethnic townships, towns and subdistricts. See Township (China). A direct-controlled municipality (直辖市 in pinyin: zhíxiáshì) is a city with equal status to a province: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing (see Municipality of China)
- In the Republic of China on Taiwan, a municipality (直轄市 in Wade-Giles: chi-hsia-shih) is a city with equal status to a province: Taipei and Kaohsiung. (see Municipality of China)
- In Macedonia, 84 municipalities (opštini; singular: opština) were established in 2004, reduced from 123 created in 1996.
- In Portugal, a municipality (município/concelho) is the primary local administrative unit. Although it is a part of a district (distrito) for certain national administrative purposes, the municipality is not subordinate to the district and decentralization is doing away with the districts. A municipality contains one or more freguesias.
- In Puerto Rico, there are no first order administrative divisions, and the municipalities (municipio) serves as second-order, but first level, administrative divisions.
- In Montenegro, a municipality (opština) is the topmost regional division
- Municipalities of Libya, some very large.
- In Slovenia, a municipality (občina) is the primary local administrative unit. There are 193 of them, 11 of which have a special "Urban" status with additional autonomy.
- In Spain, a municipality (municipio) is the primary local administrative unit. It is a part of a province (provincia) for all national administrative purposes. A municipality contains one or more parroquias. In the Galicia region, the municipalities are called concellos.