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 is derived from French municipalité and Latin municipalis. 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).
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.
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 some European countries, such as Germany, municipalities have the constitutional right to supply public services through municipally-owned public utlity companies.
Terms in various countries
In a number of countries terms cognate with "commune" are used, referring to the community living in the area and the common interest. These include terms:
- in Romance languages, 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);
- in Germanic languages such as German Kommune (in political parlance), Swedish kommun, Faroese kommuna, Norwegian, Danish kommune;
- the more remote cognates Gemeente in Dutch, Gemeng in Luxembourgish and Gemeinde in German (the official term);
- and Polish gmina.
The same terms may be used for church congregations or parishes, for example in the German and Dutch protestant churches.
In Greece, the word Δήμος (demos) is used, also meaning 'community'; the word is known in English from the compound democracy (rule of the people).
In some countries, the Spanish term ayuntamiento, referring to a municipality's administration building, is extended viasynecdoche to denote the municipality itself. In Moldova and Romania, both municipalities (municipiu; urban administrative units) and communes (comună; rural units) exist, and a commune may be part of a municipality.
In many countries, comparable entities may exist with various names.
- 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."
- In Canada, municipalities are local governments established through provincial and territorial legislation, usually within general municipal statutes. Types of municipalities within Canada include cities, district municipalities, municipal districts, municipalities, parishes, rural municipalities, towns, townships, villages, and villes among others. The Province of Ontario has different tiers of municipalities, including lower, upper, and single tiers. Types of upper tier municipalities in Ontario include counties and regional municipalities. Nova Scotia also has regional municipalities, which include cities, counties, districts, or towns as municipal units.
- 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". 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. 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 (see also: Political divisions of the United States).
- In the People's Republic of China, a direct-administered municipality (直辖市 in pinyin: zhíxiáshì) is a municipality with equal status to a province: Beijing Municipality, Chongqing Municipality, Shanghai Municipality, and Tianjin Municipality (see also: Direct-administered municipalities of China).
- In the Republic of China (Taiwan), a special municipality (直轄市 in pinyin: zhíxiáshì) is a municipality with equal status to a province: Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei, and Taoyuan (see also: Special municipality (Taiwan)).
Municipalities by country
|Country||Term||Example||Subdivision of||Quantity||Notes||Further reading|
|Afghanistan||شاروالی یا شهرداری
shārwāli (or shahr-dari)
|Provinces of Afghanistan||204||34 'provincial' municipalities of provincial capitals (shārwāli) and 170 rural or 'district' municipalities (shārwāli uluswāli)||www.km.gov.af, dmm.gov.af, idlg.gov.af|
|Albania||bashki (urban) or komunë (rural)||61||Municipalities of Albania|
|Algeria||baladiyah||daïra (district), which is part of a wilaya (province)||1,541||Municipalities of Algeria|
|Andorra||parròquia||Sant Julià de Lòria||7|
|Argentina||municipalidad||Puerto Madryn||Provinces of Argentina, in some provinces they are a subdivision of departments||2,100||Smallest administrative division; either a city, town, or township||Municipalities of Argentina|
|Australia||Local government area||Port Stephens Council||States and territories of Australia||547||Local government in Australia|
|Austria||Gemeinde||a state (Bundesland).||1,725||The 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)|
|Bangladesh||Pouroshobha||Upazila or subdistrict, which is in turn part of a district||311||Municipalities of Bangladesh|
|Belgium||gemeente/commune||Montigny-le-Tilleul||a province (provincie/province) or of the Brussels-Capital Region||581||The provinces are themselves subdivisions of the Walloon and Flemish Regions which have the authority over the municipalities||Municipalities in Belgium|
|Bolivia||municipio||Arani Municipality||province, which is part of a departamento.||327 (2005)||Municipalities of Bolivia|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||općina or opština||in Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina : of a canton (kanton). In Republika Srpska, municipality is first order of government after entity government.||144||Municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Brazil||município||São Paulo (most populous), Borá (least populous)||states (estados)||5,570||Smallest 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 nationwide||Municipalities of Brazil|
|Brunei||bandaran||Bandar Seri Begawan||4||Independent of subdivisions; nevertheless overlap with mukims and villages||Municipalities of Brunei|
|Bulgaria||Bulgarian: община, Bulgarian: obshtina||Aksakovo Municipality||an oblast||264||Municipalities of Bulgaria|
|Canada||municipality||3,572||Municipality system is similar to that in the United States, however rules vary depending on the province.||Lists of municipalities in Canada|
|Cambodia||ក្រុង (krong)||Phnom Penh||1,446|
|Chile||municipalidad||Torres del Paine||provinces||346||Specifically the administrative body, while subdivisions are comunas; most municipalities administer one comuna each, but occasional municipalities administer more|
|China||直辖市||Beijing||4||Status equal to a province||Municipalities of China|
|Colombia||municipio||a department (departamento)||1,102||It is also subdivided into Localities and Neighborhoods in urban municipalities and into Corregimientos and Veredas in rural municipalities||Municipalities of Colombia|
|Costa Rica||Municipalidad||Province (Provinces of Costa Rica)||Cantones of Costa Rica|
|Croatia||općina||county (županija)||428||Municipalities of Croatia|
|Czech Republic||obec||Karlovy Vary||a kraj (kraj)||6,254|
|Denmark||kommune||Aabenraa Municipality||a region||98||Counties (amter) were abandoned in 2007||Municipalities of Denmark|
|Dominican Republic||municipio||province||Municipalities of the Dominican Republic|
|El Salvador||municipio||Zacatecoluca||departamentos||262||Municipalities of El Salvador|
|Estonia||omavalitsus||Are vald (Are Parish)||county (maakond)||215||Can be either towns (linn) or parishes (vald)||Municipalities of Estonia|
|Finland||kunta (in Finnish), kommun (in Swedish)||Helsinki||region||311||Can choose whether to call itself a "city" (kaupunki).||Municipalities of Finland|
|France||commune||canton, which is part of an arrondissement, which is part of a department (département) which is part of a region (région)||36,600|
|Germany||Gemeinde||district (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)||12,013||Municipalities of Germany|
|Georgia||munits'ipaliteti||76||self-governing towns/cities (k'alak'i) and communities (t'emi)||Municipalities of Georgia|
|Greece||demos (δήμος, pl. δήμοι) or koinoteta (κοινότητα, pl. κοινότητες)||325||Demoi and koinotetes are both considered municipalities; the latter are less populous||Municipalities and communities of Greece|
|Greenland||kommunea||Kujalleq||4||First-level administrative division||Municipalities of Greenland|
|Haiti||commune||an arrondissement, which is part of a department (département).|
|Honduras||municipio||was 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).||298||Municipalities of Honduras|
|Hungary||település||a county (megye).||3,168 (in 2005)|
|Iceland||sveitarfélag||Reykjavík||Regions||74||The country's only self-governing local administrative units||Municipalities of Iceland|
|India||Sainthia||Excludes both villages and large cities; typically has more than twenty thousand residents, but cannot exceed five hundred thousand||Municipalities of India|
|Indonesia||Kabupaten (regency) or Kotamadya (city)||Provinces of Indonesia||List of regencies and cities of Indonesia|
|Iraq||Qadhaa||Al-Hamdaniya District||a district (Arabic: Qadhaa) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafatha).||130||Second-level, below the governorate||Municipalities of Iraq|
|Israel||Iri'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)|
|Italy||comune||a province (provincia) which is part of a region (regione).||7,982||Solely 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)||List of comuni of Italy|
|1,719||Below the prefecture; includes shi (cities), cho (towns), and son (villages)||Municipalities of Japan|
|Kenya||a municipality is one of four types of local authorities. Nearly 50 major towns are given the municipality status.|
|Latvia||singular: novads, plural: novadi||Aglonas novads (Aglona Municipality)||110||A municipality normally consists of amalgamated parishes (singular: pagasts, plural: pagasti).||Municipalities of Latvia|
|Lebanon||a district (Arabic: Qadaa) which is part of a Governorate (Region or Province, Arabic: Mouhafazah).|
|Libya||the municipality level is that of the Basic People's Congress. Large cities are subdivided.||Municipalities of Libya|
|Lithuania||savivaldybė||Kalvarijos savivaldybė (Kalvarija Municipality)||a district (apskritis) and is subdivided into elderates (seniūnija).||Municipalities of Lithuania|
|Luxembourg||commune (in French); Gemeng, plur. Gemengen||part of a canton (Luxembourgish: Kantoun) which itself is part of a district||105||are the lowest divisions|
|Malta||Kunsill Lokali (Local Council)||Valletta Local Council||none||68||established 1993, one new council created since then (Mtarfa)||Local councils of Malta|
|Mauritius||a 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.|
|Mexico||municipio / delegación||Asientos Municipality||a state (estado) or the DF||2,466||a borough (delegación) is a subdivision of the Federal District||Municipalities of Mexico and boroughs of the Mexican Federal District|
|Moldova||municipiu||Municipiul Chișinău||32||is a main city or town and surrounding villages ranked by law at this level.||Moldova#Administrative divisions|
|Montenegro||opština||Andrijevica Municipality||the country (top-level)||Municipalities of Montenegro|
|Nepal||Nagarpalika and Gaunpalika||Pokhara||Provinces of Nepal||276 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.||List of cities in Nepal|
|Netherlands||gemeente||a province (provincie)||388 + 3 special municipalities||Municipalities in the Netherlands|
|New Zealand||a 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.)|
|Nicaragua||municipio||a 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 Macedonia||opština||Aračinovo Municipality||The country (top-level) or the City of Skopje||84 (2004)||Current set established in 2004, reduced from 123 created in 1996.||Municipalities of North Macedonia|
|Norway||kommune||Røyken kommune||a county (fylke)||356 (2020)||Municipalities of Norway|
|Palestinian National Authority||105||municipalities are localities with populations over 4,000 and have 13-15 council members.||Municipality (Palestinian Authority)|
|Pakistan||of a tehsil/taluka or sub-district of a "district".||149||Local government in Pakistan|
|Paraguay||municipalidad||a departament (departamento)|
|Peru||municipio||a 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.|
|Philippines||bayan or munisipyo or munisipalidad||a province||is 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.|
|Poland||gmina||Gmina Annopol||county (powiat).|
|Portugal||concelho or município||Oeiras||District||308||Concelho 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 Rico||municipio||Arecibo||none||78||municipality 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.||Municipalities of Puerto Rico|
|Romania||municipiu / oraș / comună||Deva||County (județ)||103 + 217 + 2856||A 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
|Russia||several types of municipalities ("municipal formations") exist; see subdivisions of Russia|
|San Marino||there are also eight minor municipalities, castelli.|
|Serbia||opština||a district (okrug)|
|Slovakia||obec||district (okres) which is part of a kraj (kraj)||2,891|
|Slovenia||občina||region (regija)||212||a 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 Africa||district municipalities and metropolitan municipalities are subdivisions of the provinces, and local municipalities are subdivisions of district municipalities.|
|Spain||municipio / municipi / concello / udalerria||Barcelona, Madrid||8,122||a 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|
|Sweden||kommun||Stockholm Municipality||County Councils of Sweden (Swedish: landsting) self-governing local authority, covering 21 counties, each comprising one or more of the municipalities.||290||is 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.||Municipalities of Sweden|
|Switzerland||commune/Gemeinde/comune||a canton (canton/Kanton/cantone) and defined by cantonal law.||2,596||Municipalities in Switzerland|
|Thailand||thesaban||None||1,602||There 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|
|Turkey||belediye||Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality||il(province)||2,920||is a local government authority and there are two types of municipalities: metropolitan (büyükşehir) municipality, district (alt/ilçe) municipality.|
|Ukraine||Ukraine 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 Emirates||an emirate||is defined by the law of the specific emirates.|
|Uruguay||municipio||89||Municipalities of Uruguay|
|Venezuela||municipio||Anaco Municipality||a state, as well as a subdivision of the Capital District (estado)||Municipalities of Venezuela|
|Vietnam||Direct-controlled municipality - Thành phố trực thuộc trung ương||Ho Chi Minh City (largest)||5||A direct-controlled municipality (Thành phố trực thuộc trung ương) is a city with equal status to a province||Municipalities 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.
- 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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- The law provides for the possibility of overlapping of the office of President of the mountain community with that of mayor of one of the municipalities of the community: Buonomo, Giampiero (2001). "Compatibile il sindaco-dirigente della locale Comunità montana". Diritto&Giustizia edizione online. – via Questia (subscription required)
- Ayuda: Divulgación de Resultados de la Comisión Estatal de Elecciones – Municipio. Archived 21 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Comision Estatal de Elecciones. Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2004. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
- Autonomous Municipalities Law. (in Spanish) Archived 5 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- SFS 2015:493 Archived 30 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Svensk författningssamling: Förordning om distrikt.