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A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. It is to be distinguished (usually) from the county, which may encompass rural territory or numerous small communities such as towns, villages and hamlets.

The term municipality may also mean the governing or ruling body of a given municipality.[1] A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district.

The term is derived from French municipalité and Latin municipalis.[2] The English word municipality derives from the Latin social contract municipium (derived from a word meaning "duty holders"), referring to the Latin communities that supplied Rome with troops in exchange for their own incorporation into the Roman state (granting Roman citizenship to the inhabitants) while permitting the communities to retain their own local governments (a limited autonomy).

A municipality can be any political jurisdiction from a sovereign state, such as the Principality of Monaco, to a small village, such as West Hampton Dunes, New York.

The territory over which a municipality has jurisdiction may encompass

  • only one populated place such as a city, town, or village

  • several of such places (e.g., early jurisdictions in the U.S. state of New Jersey (1798–1899) as townships governing several villages, Municipalities of Mexico, Municipalities of Colombia)

  • only parts of such places, sometimes boroughs of a city such as the 34 municipalities of Santiago, Chile.[3]

Political powers

Powers of municipalities range from virtual autonomy to complete subordination to the state. Municipalities may have the right to tax individuals and corporations with income tax, property tax, and corporate income tax, but may also receive substantial funding from the state.

In various countries


In various countries, municipalities are usually referred to as "communes", notably in Romance languages (derived from Latin) such as French commune (France, French-speaking areas of Belgium and Switzerland, French-speaking countries of Africa, e.g. Benin), Italian comune, Romanian comună, and Spanish comuna (Chile), and in Germanic languages such as German Kommune (in political parlance, the official term being Gemeinde), Swedish kommun, Faroese kommuna, Norwegian, Danish kommune, Polish gmina, Dutch/Flemish Gemeente and Luxembourgish Gemeng.


All of them (cognate to "municipality", mostly referred to territory or political structure) In Spanish municipio (Spain, Territory), municipalidad (Chile, Town Hall or Territory), Catalan municipi (Territory).

Other terms

Some people confuse the terms which refer to the Territory or the political Structure (Commune or Municipality) versus that of the Town Hall. Spanish ayuntamiento (which refers to Town Hall). For example, in Moldova and Romania exist both municipalities (municipiu; urban administrative units) and communes (comună; rural units), and a commune may be part of a municipality (see more: communes of Moldova, communes of Romania).


  • In Australia, the term local government area (LGA) is used in place of the generic municipality. Here, the "LGA Structure covers only incorporated areas of Australia. Incorporated areas are legally designated parts of states and territories over which incorporated local governing bodies have responsibility."[4]

  • In Canada, municipalities are local governments established through provincial and territorial legislation, usually within general municipal statutes.[5][6] Types of municipalities within Canada include cities, district municipalities, municipal districts, municipalities, parishes, rural municipalities, towns, townships, villages, and villes among others.[6] The Province of Ontario has different tiers of municipalities, including lower, upper, and single tiers.[7] Types of upper tier municipalities in Ontario include counties and regional municipalities.[7] Nova Scotia also has regional municipalities, which include cities, counties, districts, or towns as municipal units.[8]

  • In India, a Municipality or Nagar Palika is an urban local body that administers a city of population 100,000 or more. However, there are exceptions to that, as previously Municipality were constituted in urban centers with population over 20,000, so all the urban bodies which were previously classified as Municipality were reclassified as Municipality even if their population was under 100,000. Under the Panchayati Raj system, it interacts directly with the state government, though it is administratively part of the district it is located in. Generally, smaller district cities and bigger towns have a Municipality. Municipality are also a form of local self-government entrusted with some duties and responsibilities, as enshrined in the Constitutional (74th Amendment) Act,1992.

  • In the United Kingdom, the term was used until the 1972 Local Government Act came into effect in 1974 in England and Wales, and until 1975 in Scotland and 1976 in Northern Ireland, "both for a city or town which is organized for self-government under a municipal corporation, and also for the governing body itself. Such a corporation in Great Britain consists of a head as a mayor or provost, and of superior members, as aldermen and councillors".[9] Since local government reorganisation, the unit in England, Northern Ireland and Wales is known as a district, and in Scotland as a council area. A district may be awarded borough or city status, or can retain its district title.

  • In Jersey, a municipality refers to the honorary officials elected to run each of the 12 parishes into which it is subdivided. This is the highest level of regional government in this jurisdiction.

  • In Trinidad and Tobago, "municipality" is usually understood as a city, town, or other local government unit, formed by municipal charter from the state as a municipal corporation. A town may be awarded borough status and later on may be upgraded to city status. Chaguanas, San Fernando, Port of Spain, Arima and Point Fortin are the 5 current municipalities in Trinidad and Tobago.

  • In the United States, "municipality" is usually understood as a city, town, village, or other local government unit, formed by municipal charter from the state as a municipal corporation.[10] In a state law context, some U.S. state codes define "municipality" more widely, from the state itself to any political subdivisions given jurisdiction over an area that may include multiple populated places and unpopulated places.[11][12] (See also Political divisions of the United States.)


  • In the People's Republic of 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 Taiwan (Republic of China), a special municipality (直轄市 in pinyin: zhíxiáshì) is a city with equal status to a province: Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei and Taoyuan (see Special municipality of Taiwan).

Municipalities by country

CountryTermExampleSubdivision ofQuantityNotesFurther reading
Afghanistanشاروالی یا شهرداری shārwāli (or shahr-dari)Provinces of Afghanistan15434 'provincial' municipalities of provincial capitals (shārwāli) and 120 rural or 'district' municipalities (shārwāli uluswāli)www.km.gov.af
Albaniabashki (urban) or komunë (rural)61Municipalities of Albania
Algeriabaladiyahdaïra (district), which is part of a wilaya (province)1,541Municipalities of Algeria
AndorraparròquiaSant Julià de Lòria7
ArgentinamunicipalidadPuerto MadrynProvinces of Argentina, in some provinces they are a subdivision of departments2,100Smallest administrative division; either a city, town, or townshipMunicipalities of Argentina
AustriaGemeindea state (Bundesland).1,725The entire area of Austria is divided into municipalities, with no non-municipal gaps. This leads to some municipalities being very large despite having a small population.Municipality (Austria)
BangladeshPouroshobha**Upazila or subdistrict, which is in turn part of a district311Municipalities of Bangladesh
Belgiumgemeente/communeMontigny-le-Tilleula province (provincie/province) or of the Brussels-Capital Region581The provinces are themselves subdivisions of the Walloon and Flemish Regions which have the authority over the municipalitiesMunicipalities in Belgium
BoliviamunicipioArani Municipalityprovince, which is part of a departamento.327 (2005)Municipalities of Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovinaopćina or opštinain Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina : of a canton (kanton). In Republika Srpska, municipality is first order of government after entity government.144Municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina
BrazilmunicípioSão Paulo (most populous), Borá (least populous)states (estados)5,570Smallest administrative subdivision. Not used in the Federal District or the Fernando de Noronha and St. Peter and St. Paul archipelagos, but encompasses all other territories nationwideMunicipalities of Brazil
BruneibandaranBandar Seri Begawan4Independent of subdivisions; nevertheless overlap with mukims and villagesMunicipalities of Brunei
BulgariaBulgarian:община, *Bulgarian:obshtina
Aksakovo Municipalityan oblast264Municipalities of Bulgaria
Canadamunicipality3,572Municipality system is similar to that in the United States, however rules vary depending on the province.Lists of municipalities in Canada
Cambodiaក្រុង(krong)Phnom Penh1,446
ChilemunicipalidadTorres del Paineprovinces346Specifically the administrative body, while subdivisions are comunas; most municipalities administer one comuna each, but occasional municipalities administer more
China直辖市Beijing4Status equal to a provinceMunicipalities of China
Colombiamunicipioa department (departamento)1,102It is also subdivided into Localities and Neighborhoods in urban municipalities and into Corregimientos and Veredas in rural municipalitiesMunicipalities of Colombia
Costa RicaMunicipalidadProvince (Provinces of Costa Rica)Cantones of Costa Rica
Croatiaopćinacounty (županija)428Municipalities of Croatia
Czech RepublicobecKarlovy Varya kraj (kraj)6,254
DenmarkkommuneAabenraa Municipalitya region98Counties (amter) were abandoned in 2007Municipalities of Denmark
Dominican RepublicmunicipioprovinceMunicipalities of the Dominican Republic
El SalvadormunicipioZacatecolucadepartamentos262Municipalities of El Salvador
EstoniaomavalitsusAre vald (Are Parish)county (maakond)215Can be either towns (linn) or parishes (vald)Municipalities of Estonia
Finlandkunta (in Finnish), kommun (in Swedish)Helsinkiregion311Can choose whether to call itself a "city" (kaupunki).Municipalities of Finland
Francecommunecanton, which is part of an arrondissement, which is part of a department (département) which is part of a region (région)36,600
GermanyGemeindedistrict (Kreis, literally "Circle"). Larger entities of the same level are called Stadt, plural Städte (Cities resp. Towns), which can be part of a Kreis (they are kreisangehörig, meaning "belonging to a Circle") or constituting a district on its own (kreisfrei, meaning "free of a Circle"). In less populated regions, small municipalities are often put together into consolidated superior municipalities (Verbandsgemeinde, Samtgemeinde or Amtsgemeinde)12,013Municipalities of Germany
Georgiamunits'ipaliteti76self-governing towns/cities (k'alak'i) and communities (t'emi)Municipalities of Georgia
Greecedemos (δήμος, pl. δήμοι) or koinoteta (κοινότητα, pl. κοινότητες)325Demoi and koinotetes are both considered municipalities; the latter are less populousMunicipalities and communities of Greece
GreenlandkommuneaKujalleq4First-level administrative divisionMunicipalities of Greenland
Haiticommunean arrondissement, which is part of a department (département).
Hondurasmunicipiowas in 1895 originally the subdivision of the district (distrito), but as districts have fallen into disuse, it is now the subdivision of the department (departamento).298Municipalities of Honduras
Hungarytelepülésa county (megye).3,168 (in 2005)
IcelandsveitarfélagReykjavíkRegions74The country's only self-governing local administrative unitsMunicipalities of Iceland
IndiaSainthiaExcludes both villages and large cities; typically has more than twenty thousand residents, but cannot exceed five hundred thousandMunicipalities of India
IndonesiaKabupaten (regency) or Kotamadya (city)Provinces of IndonesiaList of regencies and cities of Indonesia
IraqQadhaaAl-Hamdaniya Districta district (Arabic:Qadhaa‎) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafatha).130Second-level, below the governorateMunicipalities of Iraq
IsraelIri'ya (עיריה, City Government), Moatsa (מועצה, Council)Includes city councils (large municipalities), local councils (small municipalities), and regional councils (a group of communities; often rural)
Italycomunea province (provincia) which is part of a region (regione).7,982Solely used for subdivisions of larger comuni, especially in Rome; municipio indicates the city hall; in some case, they are joined in mountain communities (comunità montane)[13]List of comuni of Italy
Japan市町村 Shichoson1,719Below the prefecture; includes shi (cities), cho (towns), and son (villages)Municipalities of Japan
Kenyaa municipality is one of four types of local authorities. Nearly 50 major towns are given the municipality status.
Latviasingular: novads, plural: novadiAglonas novads (Aglona Municipality)110A municipality normally consists of amalgamated parishes (singular: pagasts, plural: pagasti).Municipalities of Latvia
Lebanona district (Arabic:Qadaa‎) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafazah).
Libyathe municipality level is that of the Basic People's Congress. Large cities are subdivided.Municipalities of Libya
LithuaniasavivaldybėKalvarijos savivaldybė (Kalvarija Municipality)a district (apskritis) and is subdivided into elderates (seniūnija).Municipalities of Lithuania
Luxembourgcommune (in French); Gemeng, plur. Gemengen (in Luxembourgish)part of a canton (Luxembourgish: Kantoun) which itself is part of a district105are the lowest divisions
MaltaKunsill Lokali (Local Council)Valletta Local Councilnone68established 1993, one new council created since then (Mtarfa)Local councils of Malta
Mauritiusa municipality: The administration of all the main towns in Mauritius is done by the municipality of the respective towns.Most of the towns are found in the district of Plaines Wilhems. The capital city, Port-Louis is managed by the Municipality of Port-Louis, found in the district of Port Louis. The other seven districts are administered by are called district councils.
Mexicomunicipio / delegaciónAsientos Municipalitya state (estado) or the DF2,466a borough (delegación) is a subdivision of the Federal DistrictMunicipalities of Mexico and boroughs of the Mexican Federal District
MoldovamunicipiuMunicipiul Chișinău32is a main city or town and surrounding villages ranked by law at this level.Moldova#Administrative divisions
MontenegroopštinaAndrijevica Municipalitythe country (top-level)Municipalities of Montenegro
NepalNagarpalika and Gaunpalika276 Municipalities (by Constitution of Nepal, 2015 and amendments thereafter)Nepal has 276 municipalities and 460 rural municipalities or gaunpalikas after federal division of country by Constitution of Nepal 2015. A municipality is a town not large enough in population or infrastructure to qualify as a sub-metropolitan city.
Netherlandsgemeentea province (provincie)388 + 3 special municipalitiesMunicipalities in the Netherlands
New Zealanda municipality 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. (See territorial authorities of New Zealand.)
Nicaraguamunicipioa department (departamento) or of one of the two Autonomous Regions, North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region.Municipalities of Nicaragua
North MacedoniaopštinaAračinovo MunicipalityThe country (top-level) or the City of Skopje84 (2004)Current set established in 2004, reduced from 123 created in 1996.Municipalities of North Macedonia
NorwaykommuneRøyken kommunea county (fylke)430 (2009)Municipalities of Norway
Palestinian National Authority105municipalities are localities with populations over 4,000 and have 13-15 council members.Municipality (Palestinian Authority)
Pakistanof a tehsil/taluka or sub-district of a "district".149Local government in Pakistan
Paraguaymunicipalidada departament (departamento)
Perumunicipioa province (provincia), which is part of a department (departamento). As of 2002 a department is now called a region (región).is another term for district (distrito) and is the lower-level administrative subdivision.
Philippinesbayan or munisipyo or munisipalidada provinceis a town with a popularly elected administration including a mayor and is part of a province (lalawigan or probinsya) (except for the independent municipality of Pateros, Metro Manila in the National Capital Region). Municipalities are not the smallest division of local government and are composed of barangays.
PolandgminaGmina Annopolcounty (powiat).
Portugalconcelho or municípioOeirasDistrict308Concelho is a directly elected local area authority generally consisting of a main city or town and surrounding villages, with wide-ranging local administration powers. Apart from the municipality of Corvo, however, municípios 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 Portugal, a municipality (município/concelho) is the primary local administrative unit. Although 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.Municipalities of Portugal
Puerto Ricomunicipiomunicipality consists of an urban area (termed a city or town) plus all of its surrounding barrios comprising the municipality. It has a popularly elected administration and a municipal mayor. The seat of the municipal government is located in such urban area and serves the entire municipal jurisdiction.[14][15]Municipalities of Puerto Rico
Romaniamunicipiu / oraș / comunăDevaCounty (județ)103 + 217 + 2856A municipality (municipiu) is a special status given to cities which fulfill certain criteria related to size, influence and development, as defined by Law no. 351/2001 (on the National Territorial Management Plan). Localities which do not meet the criteria are designated "cities" (orașe) or "communes" (comune).Municipalities of Romania
Cities of Romania
Communes of Romania
Russiaseveral types of municipalities ("municipal formations") exist; see subdivisions of Russia
San Marinothere are also eight minor municipalities, castelli.
Serbiaopštinaa district (okrug)
Slovakiaobecdistrict (okres) which is part of a kraj (kraj)2,891
Sloveniaobčinaregion (regija)212a municipality (občina) is the primary local administrative unit. There are 212 of them, 11 of which have a special "Urban" status with additional autonomy.Municipalities of Slovenia
South Africadistrict municipalities and metropolitan municipalities are subdivisions of the provinces, and local municipalities are subdivisions of district municipalities.
Spainmunicipio / municipi / concello / udalerria8,122a municipality (municipio) is the primary local administrative unit. It is a part of a province (provincia) for all national administrative purposes. In the Galicia region, the municipalities are called, in Galician language, concellos, and in the Principality of Asturias region, a municipality is called a concejo (in Spanish language) or a conceyu (in Asturian language). In these two regions a municipality contains one or more parroquias (parishes).Municipalities of Spain
SwedenkommunStockholm MunicipalityGothenburg MunicipalityMalmö MunicipalityAle MunicipalityCounty Councils of Sweden (Swedish: landsting) self-governing local authority, covering 21 counties, each comprising one or more of the municipalities.290is self-governing according to the Swedish constitution and constitutes local government. Before 1971, a municipality could be called a town (stad), a köping or a rural municipality (landskommun); present municipalities which used to be towns are still commonly called towns. Sweden is also divided in 2 523 districts (Swedish: distrikt) since 1 January 2016.[16]Municipalities of Sweden
Switzerlandcommune/Gemeinde/comunea canton (canton/Kanton/cantone) and defined by cantonal law.2,596Municipalities in Switzerland
ThailandthesabanNone1,602There are three levels of municipalities, and municipalities are not self-governed except for Bangkok and Pattaya. Municipalities introduced in 1935, Bangkok became self-governed in 1972, and Pattaya became self-governed in 1978.Thesaban
TurkeybelediyeIstanbul Metropolitan Municipalityil(province)2,920is a local government authority and there are two types of municipalities: metropolitan (büyükşehir) municipality, district (alt/ilçe) municipality.
UkraineUkraine still has a Soviet form of city government where executive power belongs to ispolkom (an executive committee) of local community council. Functions of ispolkom in Kiev and Sevastopol performs a state administration due to the status of those cities. For other populated places, there are mainly two types of municipalities: urban and rural. Both are referred to after their governing body as council (i.e. miskrada, selyshchna rada or silrada). They are considered the lowest administrative division in the country and better known as the local government. Urban municipalities are more complex and divided into city municipalities (miskrada) and town municipalities (selyshchna rada). The most complex municipalities are the cities of regional significance which are referred to simply as cities and create a sort of ambiguity.
United Arab Emiratesan emirateis defined by the law of the specific emirates.
Uruguaymunicipio89Municipalities of Uruguay
VenezuelamunicipioAnaco Municipalitya state, as well as a subdivision of the Capital District (estado)Municipalities of Venezuela
VietnamDirect-controlled municipalityHo Chi Minh City (largest)5A direct-controlled municipality (Thành phố trực thuộc trung ương) is a city with equal status to a provinceMunicipalities of Vietnam
  • In Portuguese language usage, there are two words to distinguish the territory and the administrative organ. When referring to the territory, the word concelho is used, when referring to the organ of State, the word município is used. This differentiation is in use in Portugal and some of its former overseas provinces, but it's no longer in use in Brazil.

See also

  • Council of European Municipalities and Regions

  • Council-manager government

  • Creature of statute

  • Lists of municipalities

  • Mayor-council government

  • Municipal corporation

  • Municipal government


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