County

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A county is a land area of local government within a country. A county may have cities and towns within its area. Originally, in continental Europe, a county (contea or contado, comté, comtat, condado, Grafschaft, Gau) was the land under the jurisdiction of a count (conte, comte, conde, Graf).

Counties are called earldoms in post-Celtic Britain, Ireland and France—the term is from Old Norse jarl and was introduced by the Vikings—but there is no correlation between counties and earldoms. Rather, county, from French comté, was simply used by the Normans after 1066 to replace the native English term scir ([ʃir])—Modern English shire.

In the United Kingdom, many county names derive from the name of the county town with the word "shire" added on: for example, Gloucester, in Gloucestershire; Worcester, in Worcestershire; etc.[1]

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Canada

Five of the ten Canadian provinces use county as a regional subdivision. These include all four original provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec, as well as the fifth province, Prince Edward Island. Only portions of Ontario are counties; other divisions include districts, district municipalities, metropolitan municipalities, and regional municipalities. County once was an official municipal status type in Alberta. However, counties were continued as municipal districts under the Municipal Government Act when the County Act was repealed in the mid-1990s, at which time they were also permitted to retain the usage of county in their official names.[2] Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan use census divisions instead of counties, and British Columbia uses regional districts. County can be abbreviated as either co. or cty.

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