Municipality

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A municipality is an administrative division composed of a defined territory and population. While there are many varieties of municipalities, most fall into one of two categories: (1) a single settlement, a city, town, or village, and (2) a land area similar to a township that may contain multiple settlements, or even just part of one, such as a city's borough. A town municipality is typically governed by a mayor and a council, while others may have appointed prefects. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district.

In most countries, a municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision to have democratically elected representation. Municipalities are sometimes referred to as "communes" (for example, French commune, Italian comune, Romanian comună, Swedish kommun and Norwegian/Danish kommune). The term derives from the medieval commune. The term "municipality" is used in some countries to refer to the municipal administrative building known elsewhere as the town hall or city hall.

The largest municipalities can be found in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greenland, and Iceland.

Municipalities as lower-level governance structures

  • In Albania, a municipality is either part of a city (bashki) or a province (komunë).
  • In Algeria, a municipality (baladiyah) is part of a daïra, which is part of a wilaya; there are 1,541 municipalities in Algeria.
  • In Argentina, a municipality (municipalidad) is the institution in charge of local administration. The provinces organize the municipalities for each city in their territories according to their own municipal regime.
  • In Australia, municipalities are subdivisions of a state or territory. (See Local Government Areas in Australia).
  • In Austria, a municipality (Gemeinde) is part of a district (Bezirk), which is in turn part of a state (Bundesland).
  • In Bangladesh, a municipality (Paurashava) is part of a upazila or subdistrict, which is in turn part of a district.
  • In Belgium, a municipality (gemeente/commune) is either part of a province (provincie/province) or of the Brussels-Capital Region
  • 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 part of a canton (kanton)
  • In Brazil, states (estados) are directly divided into municipalities (municípios), and the latter are the smallest political-administrative divisions; there is no equivalent to a county level. A city (cidade) is defined in Brazilian law as the urban seat of a municipality, and a municipality always has the same name as the corresponding city. Brazilian law establishes no difference between cities and towns; all it takes for an urban settlement to be called a "city" is to be the seat of a municipality, and some are very small. Other settlements have no form of local government and are under the authority of the municipality they are in, although in some cases the municipal government may set up local administrative offices there. The Federal District (the area of the national capital city, Brasília) has special status and is not divided into municipalities. The Fernando de Noronha and St. Peter and St. Paul archipelagos together comprise a unique case of a "state district" under the direct administration of the state government of Pernambuco. Apart from these exceptions, all land in Brazil, even the remotest wilderness areas, is in the territory of some municipality, and hence technically under the jurisdiction of a "city." No point in the country is in a non-incorporated area, and this is why some municipalities in sparsely populated areas such as the Amazon region can be larger than many sovereign countries.

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