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A county is a jurisdiction
Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...

 of local government
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

 in certain modern nations. Historically in mainland Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, the original French term, comté, and its equivalents in other languages (contea, contado, comtat, condado, Grafschaft, Gau, etc.) denoted a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 (cf. conte, comte
Comte
Comte is a title of Catalan, Occitan and French nobility. In the English language, the title is equivalent to count, a rank in several European nobilities. The corresponding rank in England is earl...

,
conde, Graf
Graf
Graf is a historical German noble title equal in rank to a count or a British earl...

).

When the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 conquered England, they brought the term with them. But the Vikings had already introduced the term earl
Earl
An earl is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced with duke...

 (from Old Norse,
jarl) to the British Isles. Thus, "earl" and "earldom" were taken as equivalent to the continental use of "count" and "county". So, the later-imported term became a synonym for the native English word scir ([ʃir]) or, in Modern English
Modern English
Modern English is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift in England, completed in roughly 1550.Despite some differences in vocabulary, texts from the early 17th century, such as the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern...

,
shire
Shire
A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom and in Australia. In parts of Australia, a shire is an administrative unit, but it is not synonymous with "county" there, which is a land registration unit. Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland and in the far...



Since a shire was an administrative division of the kingdom, the term "county" evolved to designate an administrative division of national government in most modern uses.

A county may be further subdivided into townships or other administrative jurisdictions under the county's control. The boundaries of a county usually, but not always, contain cities
City
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

, village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

s, town
Town
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

s, or other municipal corporations. Depending on the particular nation, municipalities might or might not be subject to direct or indirect county control.

In the United Kingdom, many county names derive from the name of the county town with the word "shire" added on: for example, Gloucester
Gloucester
Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. Gloucester lies close to the Welsh border, and on the River Severn, approximately north-east of Bristol, and south-southwest of Birmingham....

, in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

; Worcester
Worcester
The City of Worcester, commonly known as Worcester, , is a city and county town of Worcestershire in the West Midlands of England. Worcester is situated some southwest of Birmingham and north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000 people. The River Severn runs through the...

, in Worcestershire
Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region...

; etc.

Outside the Anglophone community of nations, the term "county" is often used to describe sub-national jurisdictions that are structurally equivalent to counties in the relationship they have with their national government; but which may or may not be operationally equivalent to the county as that entity is known in predominantly English-speaking countries.

Australia


In the eastern states of Australia
Eastern states of Australia
In Australia, the term eastern states refers to the states adjoining the east coast of Australia. These are the mainland states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory, while not states, are also included. The term usually includes the...

, counties are lands administrative divisions.

Canada


Five of the ten Canadian provinces use county as a regional subdivision. These include all four original provinces, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, and Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, and the seventh province, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

. In addition to counties, Ontario is also subdivided into territorial districts, district municipalities, metropolitan municipalities, and regional municipalities. In Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, the county used to be a type of municipal status; but this was changed to "municipal district" 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. Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

, Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

, and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

 use census divisions instead of counties, and British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 uses regional districts. County can be abbreviated as either co. or cty.

China


The word "county" is used to translate the Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 term
xiàn (县 or 縣). On Mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

 under the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, counties are the third level of local government, coming under both the province level and the prefecture level.

There are 1,464 counties in mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

 out of a total of 2,862 county-level divisions. The number of counties has remained more or less constant since the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (206 BC–AD 220). The county remains one of the oldest levels of government in China and significantly predates the establishment of provinces in the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 (1279–1368). The county government was particularly important in imperial China because this was the lowest layer at which the imperial government functioned. The head of a county during imperial times was the magistrate
Magistrate
A magistrate is an officer of the state; in modern usage the term usually refers to a judge or prosecutor. This was not always the case; in ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest government officers and possessed both judicial and executive powers. Today, in common law systems, a...

.

In older context, "prefecture" and "district" are alternative terms to refer to xiàn before the establishment of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

. The English nomenclature "county" was adopted following the establishment of the ROC.

Denmark



Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 was divided into counties (
amter) from 1662 to 2006. On 1 January 2007 the counties were replaced by five Regions
Regions of Denmark
The Regions of Denmark were created as part of the 2007 Danish Municipal Reform. The five regions replace the former sixteen counties . At the same time, the number of municipalities was cut from 270 to 98. The reform was made effective on 1 January 2007.- List of regions :The names of the regions...

. At the same time, the number of municipalities was slashed from 271 to 98.

The counties were first introduced in 1662, replacing the 49 fiefs (
len) in Denmark–Norway
Denmark–Norway
Denmark–Norway is the historiographical name for a former political entity consisting of the kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, including the originally Norwegian dependencies of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands...

 with the same number of counties. This number does not include the subdivisions of the Duchy of Schleswig, which was only under partial Danish control. The number of counties in Denmark (excluding Norway) had dropped to c. 20 by 1793. Following the reunification of South Jutland with Denmark in 1920, four counties replaced the Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n
Kreise. Aabenraa
Aabenraa County
Aabenraa County is a former province in Denmark, located on the east-central region of South Jutland. Aabenraa County was established in 1920 following the reunification of Denmark and South Jutland following the Schleswig Plebiscites. It was dissolved in 1970 when it merged with three other...

 and Sønderborg County
Sønderborg County
Sønderborg County is a former province in Denmark, located on the island of Als and the easternmost part of South Jutland. Sønderborg County was established in 1920 following the reunification of Denmark and South Jutland following the Schleswig Plebiscites. It was dissolved in 1970 when it merged...

 merged in 1932 and Skanderborg and Aarhus
Aarhus County
Aarhus County or Århus County is a former county in central Denmark on the Jutland peninsula. The county was abolished effective January 1, 2007, when almost all of it merged into Region Midtjylland . A very small portion was merged into Region Nordjylland...

 were separated in 1942. From 1942 to 1970, the number stayed at 22. The number was further decreased by the 1970 Danish municipal reform, leaving 14 counties plus two cities unconnected to the county structure; Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

 and Frederiksberg
Frederiksberg
Frederiksberg Kommune is a municipality on the island of Zealand in Denmark. It surrounded by the city of Copenhagen. The municipality, co-extensive with its seat, covers an area of and has a total population of 98,782 making it the smallest municipality in Denmark area-wise, the fifth most...

.

In 2003, Bornholm County
Bornholm County
Bornholms Amt is a former county on the island of Bornholm in easternmost Denmark.-Short history:The county was established in 1662, replacing the former Hammershus Len. It was the only county unchanged by the administrative reforms of 1793 and 1970 consequently occupying the same territory from...

 merged with the local four municipalities, forming the Bornholm Regional Municipality
Bornholm
Bornholm is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea located to the east of the rest of Denmark, the south of Sweden, and the north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts like glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is...

. The remaining 13 counties were abolished on 1 January 2007 where they were replaced by five new regions. In the same reform, the number of municipalities was slashed from 270 to 98 and all municipalities now belong to a region.

France


A comté
Comté
Comté is a French word that can refer to:* The territory ruled by a count in medieval France...

 was a territory ruled by a count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 (comte) in medieval France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. In modern France, the rough equivalent of a "county" as used in many English-speaking countries are arrondissements
Arrondissements of France
The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements, which may be translated into English as districts.The capital of an arrondissement/district is called a subprefecture...

, though the term is usually translated as "district".

Germany


For the situation in Germany compare Kreise.

Each administrative district consists of an elected council and an executive, and whose duties are comparable to those of a county executive in the United States, supervising local government administration.

Hungary



The administrative unit of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 is called
megye (historically, they were also called vármegye, or comitatus
Comitatus (Kingdom of Hungary)
A county is the name of a type of administrative units in the Kingdom of Hungary and in Hungary from the 10th century until the present day....

 in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

), which can be translated with the word
county. The 19 counties constitute the highest level of the administrative subdivisions of the country together with the capital city Budapest, although counties and the capital are grouped into seven statistical regions.

Counties are subdivided to municipalities, the two types of which are towns and villages, each one having their own elected mayor and council. 23 of the towns have the rights of a county although they do not form independent territorial units equal to counties. Municipalities are grouped within counties into subregions (kistérség in Hungarian), which have statistical and organizational functions only.

The
vármegye was also the historic administrative unit in the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

, which included areas of present-day neighbouring countries of Hungary. Its Latin name (
comitatus) is the equivalent of the French comté. Actual political and administrative role of counties changed much through history. Originally they were subdivisions of the royal administration, but from the 13th century A.D. they became self-governments of the nobles and kept this character until the 19th century when in turn they became modern local governments.

Iran




The provinces
Provinces of Iran
Iran is subdivided into thirty one provinces , each governed from a local center, usually the largest local city, which is called the capital of that province...

 of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 are further subdivided into counties called shahrestan , an area inside an ostan, and consisting of a city centre, a few bakhsh
Bakhsh
A bakhsh is a type of administrative division of Iran. While sometimes translated as county, it is more accurately translated as district, as they are similar to a township in the United States or a district of England....

 , and many villages around them. There are usually a few cities and rural agglomerations in each county. Rural agglomerations are a collection of a number of villages. One of the cities of the county is appointed as the capital of the county.

Each shahrestan has a government office known as Farmandari, which coordinates different events and government offices. The Farmandar, or the head of Farmandari, is the governor of the Shahrestan.

Fars Province has the highest number of Shahrestans, with 23, while Semnān
Semnan Province
Semnan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the north of the country, and its center is Semnan. The province of Semnan covers an area of 96,816 square kilometers and stretches along the Alborz mountain range and borders to Dasht-e Kavir desert in its southern parts.Counties of...

 and South Khorasan
South Khorasan Province
South Khorasan Province is a province located in eastern Iran. Birjand is the centre of the province. The other major cities are Ferdows and Qaen....

 have only 4 Shahrestans each; Qom
Qom Province
Qombol Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran with 11,237 km², covering 0.89% of the total area in Iran. It is in the north of the country, and its provincial capital is the city of Qom. It was formed from part of Tehran Province in 1995. In 2005, this province had a population of...

 uniquely has one, being coextensive with its namesake county
Qom County
Qom County is a county in Qom Province in Iran. The capital of the county is Qom. At the 2006 census, the county's population was 1,036,714, in 262,313 families. The county has five districts: Jafarabad District, Khalajastan District, the Central District, Nofel Loshato District, and Salafchegan...

. Iran had 324 Shahrestans in 2005.

Ireland



The island of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 was historically divided into 32 counties, of which 26 later formed the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 and 6 made up Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

.

These counties are traditionally grouped into 4 provinces
Provinces of Ireland
Ireland has historically been divided into four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. The Irish word for this territorial division, cúige, literally meaning "fifth part", indicates that there were once five; the fifth province, Meath, was incorporated into Leinster, with parts going to...

 - Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

 (12), Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 (6) Connacht
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

 (5) and Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 (9). Historically, the counties of Meath
County Meath
County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Mide . Meath County Council is the local authority for the county...

, Westmeath and small parts of surrounding counties constituted the province of Mide, which was one of the "Five Fifths" of Ireland (in the Irish language
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 the word for province, Cuige, from Cuig, five means "a fifth"); however, these have long since become the three northernmost counties of Leinster province. In the Republic each county is administered by an elected "county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

", and the old provincial divisions are merely traditional names with no political significance.

The number and boundaries of administrative counties in the Republic of Ireland were reformed in the 1990s. For example County Dublin
County Dublin
County Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Dublin Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the city of Dublin which is the capital of Ireland. County Dublin was one of the first of the parts of Ireland to be shired by King John of England following the...

 was broken into three: Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. Located to the south-east of Dublin city, its county seat is the town of Dún Laoghaire. It is one of the four constituent parts of the Dublin Region...

, Fingal
Fingal
Fingal is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. With its county seat located in Swords, it has a population of 239,992 according to the 2006 census...

, and South Dublin
South Dublin
South Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is one of three smaller counties into which County Dublin was divided in 1994. The county seat is Tallaght, the largest suburb of Dublin and the biggest urban centre in the county. Other important centres of population are Lucan and Clondalkin...

 - the City of Dublin had existed for centuries before. In addition "County Tipperary
County Tipperary
County Tipperary is a county of Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster and is named after the town of Tipperary. The area of the county does not have a single local authority; local government is split between two authorities. In North Tipperary, part of the Mid-West Region, local...

" is actually two administrative counties, called North Tipperary
North Tipperary
North Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-West Region and is also located in the province of Munster. It is named after the town of Tipperary and consists of 48% of the land area of the traditional county of Tipperary. The county was established in 1898 and has had a county...

 and South Tipperary
South Tipperary
South Tipperary is a county in Ireland. It is part of the South-East Region and is also located in the province of Munster. It is named after the town of Tipperary and consists of 52% of the land area of the traditional county of Tipperary. The county was established in 1898 and has had a county...

 while the major urban centres Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Galway
Galway
Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

, Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

, and Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

 have been separated from the town and rural areas of their counties. Thus, the Republic of Ireland now has thirty-four 'county-level' authorities, although the borders of the original twenty-six counties are still officially in place.

In Northern Ireland, the six county councils and the smaller town councils were abolished in 1973 and replaced by a single tier of local government. However, in the north as well as in the south, the traditional 32 counties and 4 provinces remain in common usage for many sporting, cultural and other purposes. County identity is heavily reinforced in the local culture by allegiances to county teams in Hurling
Hurling
Hurling is an outdoor team game of ancient Gaelic origin, administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. Hurling is the national game of Ireland. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and...

 and Gaelic football
Gaelic football
Gaelic football , commonly referred to as "football" or "Gaelic", or "Gah" is a form of football played mainly in Ireland...

. Each GAA county
GAA county
A Gaelic Athletic Association county is a geographic region within the Gaelic Athletic Association , controlled by a county board and originally based on the counties of Ireland as they were in 1884. While the counties of Ireland have changed since the foundation of that date, the GAA counties have...

 has its own flag/colours (and often a nickname too), and county allegiances are taken quite seriously. See the counties of Ireland
Counties of Ireland
The counties of Ireland are sub-national divisions used for the purposes of geographic demarcation and local government. Closely related to the county is the County corporate which covered towns or cities which were deemed to be important enough to be independent from their counties. A county...

 and the Gaelic Athletic Association
Gaelic Athletic Association
The Gaelic Athletic Association is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders...

.

Liberia



Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 has 15 counties, each of which elects two senators to the Liberian Senate.

Lithuania


Apskritis (pl. apskritys) is the Lithuanian word for county. Since 1994 Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 has 10 counties; before 1950 it had 20. The only purpose with the county is an office of a state governor who shall conduct law and order in the county. See counties of Lithuania
Counties of Lithuania
The territory of Lithuania is divided into 10 counties , all named after their capitals. The counties are divided into 60 municipalities : 9 city municipalities, 43 district municipalities and 8 municipalities...

.

New Zealand



After New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 abolished its provinces
Provinces of New Zealand
The Provinces of New Zealand existed from 1841 until 1876 as a form of sub-national government. They were replaced by counties, which were themselves replaced by districts.Following abolition, the provinces became known as provincial districts...

 in 1876, a system of counties similar to other countries' systems was instituted, lasting until 1989. They had chairmen, not mayors as borough
Borough
A borough is an administrative division in various countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing township although, in practice, official use of the term varies widely....

s and cities had; many legislative provisions (such as burial
Burial
Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...

 and land subdivision control) were different for the counties.

During the second half of the 20th century, many counties received overflow population from nearby cities. The result was often a merger of the two into a "district" (e.g. Rotorua
Rotorua
Rotorua is a city on the southern shores of the lake of the same name, in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand. The city is the seat of the Rotorua District, a territorial authority encompassing the city and several other nearby towns...

) or a change of name to "district' (e.g. Waimairi) or "city
City
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

" (e.g. Manukau City).

The Local Government Act 1974 began the process of bringing urban, mixed, and rural councils into the same legislative framework. Substantial reorganisations under that Act resulted in the 1989 shake-up, which covered the country in (non-overlapping) cities and districts and abolished all the counties except for the Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
The Chatham Islands are an archipelago and New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean consisting of about ten islands within a radius, the largest of which are Chatham Island and Pitt Island. Their name in the indigenous language, Moriori, means Misty Sun...

 County, which survived under that name for a further 6 years but then became a "Territory" under the "Chatham Islands Council".

Norway


Norway is divided into 19 counties
Counties of Norway
Norway is divided into 19 administrative regions, called counties . The counties form the primary first-level subdivisions of Norway and are further divided into 430 municipalities...

 (sing. fylke, plur. fylke/fylker) since 1972. Up to that year Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

 was a separate county, but is today a municipality
Municipality
A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...

 in the county of Hordaland
Hordaland
is a county in Norway, bordering Sogn og Fjordane, Buskerud, Telemark and Rogaland. Hordaland is the third largest county after Akershus and Oslo by population. The county administration is located in Bergen...

. All counties form administrative entities called county municipalities (sing.
fylkeskommune, plur. fylkeskommunar/fylkeskommuner), further subdivided into municipalities, (sing. kommune, plur. kommunar/kommuner). One county, Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

, is not divided into municipalities, rather it is equivalent to the municipality of Oslo.

Each county has its own county council
County council (Norway)
A County Council is the highest governing body of the county municipalities in Norway. The county council sets the scope of the county municipal activity. The council is led by a chairman or county mayor...

 (
fylkesting) whose representatives are elected every four years together with representatives to the municipal councils. The counties handle matters as high schools and local roads, and until 1 January 2002 hospitals as well. This responsibility was transferred to the state-run health authorities
Regional Health Authority
A regional health authority is a state enterprise responsible for specialist healthcare in one of four regions of Norway. Responsibilities of the RHFs include patient treamtment, education of medical staff, research and training of patients and relatives...

 and health trust
Health Trust
Health trust or HF is a health enterprise owned by one of the four regional health authority in Norway, with responsibility for performing a geographic and/or specialist activities of operations on behalf of the regional health authority. There are 43 HFs in Norway, each led by a board of...

s, and there is a debate on the future of the county municipality as an administrative entity. Some people, and parties, such as the Conservative and Progress Party
Progress Party (Norway)
The Progress Party is a political party in Norway which identifies as conservative liberal and libertarian. The media has described it as conservative and right-wing populist...

, call for the abolishment of the county municipalities once and for all, while others, including the Labour Party
Norwegian Labour Party
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in Norway. It is the senior partner in the current Norwegian government as part of the Red-Green Coalition, and its leader, Jens Stoltenberg, is the current Prime Minister of Norway....

, merely want to merge some of them into larger regions.

Poland



A second-level administrative division in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 is called a powiat
Powiat
A powiat is the second-level unit of local government and administration in Poland, equivalent to a county, district or prefecture in other countries. The term powiat is most often translated into English as "county", although other terms are also sometimes used...

. (This is a subdivision of a voivodeship
Voivodeships of Poland
The voivodeship, or province, called in Polish województwo , has been a high-level administrative subdivision of Poland since the 14th century....

, or province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

, and is further subdivided into gmina
Gmina
The gmina is the principal unit of administrative division of Poland at its lowest uniform level. It is often translated as "commune" or "municipality." As of 2010 there were 2,479 gminas throughout the country...

s.) The term is often translated into English as
county (or sometimes district).

Romania


Romania is divided into 41 jurisdictions
Counties of Romania
The 41 judeţe and the municipality of Bucharest comprise the official administrative divisions of Romania. They also represent the European Union' s NUTS-3 geocode statistical subdivision scheme of Romania.-Overview:...

. A jurisdiction is called a
județ
Judet
A județ is an administrative division in Romania, and was also used for some time in Moldova, before that country switched to raions.Județ translates into English as jurisdiction, but is commonly mistranslated as county .The territory of Romania is divided for administrative purposes into 41...

.

The Romanian word for county, comitat, is not currently used for any Romanian administrative divisions.

Sweden


The Swedish division into counties
Counties of Sweden
The Counties of Sweden are the first level administrative and political subdivisions of Sweden. Sweden is divided into 21 counties. The counties were established in 1634 on Count Axel Oxenstierna's initiative, superseding the historical provinces of Sweden to introduce a modern administration...

 was established in 1634, and was based on an earlier division into Provinces
Provinces of Sweden
The provinces of Sweden, landskap, are historical, geographical and cultural regions. Sweden has 25 provinces and they have no administrative function, but remain historical legacies and the means of cultural identification....

. Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 is today divided into 21 counties, and each county is further divided into municipalities
Municipalities of Sweden
The municipalities of Sweden are the local government entities of Sweden. The current 290 municipalities are organized into 21 counties...

. At the county level there is a county administrative board
County Administrative Boards of Sweden
A County Administrative Board is a Government appointed board of a County in Sweden. It is led by a Governor or Landshövding appointed for a term of six years and the list of succession, in most cases, stretches back to 1634 when the counties were created...

 led by a governor appointed by the central government of Sweden
Government of Sweden
The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden is the supreme executive authority of Sweden. It consists of the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible for their actions to the Riksdag, which is the legislative assembly...

, as well as an elected county council
County Councils of Sweden
A county council, or landsting, is an elected assembly of a county in Sweden. A county council is a political entity, elected by the county electorate and typically its main responsibilities lie within the public health care system. In each county there is also a county administrative board which...

 that handles a separate set of issues, notably hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

s and public transportation.

The Swedish term used is län
Län
Län and lääni refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010....

, which literally means "fief".

Republic of China (Taiwan)


County is the common English translation for the character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

 縣 that denotes the current first level political division in Taiwan. See County (Republic of China)
County (Republic of China)
Counties , are one of administrative divisions within the Republic of China . They are officially found at the second level. However, the streamlining of Taiwan Province and Fukien Province has effectively promoted the county the first level below the Republic of China central government's rule...


United Kingdom



The United Kingdom is divided into a number of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and...

. There are also ceremonial counties
Ceremonial counties of England
The ceremonial counties are areas of England to which are appointed a Lord Lieutenant, and are defined by the government as counties and areas for the purposes of the Lieutenancies Act 1997 with reference to the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England and Lieutenancies Act 1997...

 which group small non-metropolitan counties into geographic areas broadly based on the historic counties of England
Historic counties of England
The historic counties of England are subdivisions of England established for administration by the Normans and in most cases based on earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and shires...

. The metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties had replaced in 1974 a system of administrative counties
Administrative counties of England
Administrative counties were a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government from 1889 to 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1888 as the areas for which county councils were elected. Some large counties were divided into several administrative...

 and county borough
County borough
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in...

s which were introduced in 1889.

Most non-metropolitan counties in England are run by county council
County council
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.-United Kingdom:...

s and divided into non-metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially shire districts, are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties in a so-called "two-tier" arrangement...

s, each with its own council. Local authorities in the UK are usually responsible for running education, emergency services, planning, transport, social services, and a number of other functions.

In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, in the Anglo-Saxon
History of Anglo-Saxon England
Anglo-Saxon England refers to the period of the history of that part of Britain, that became known as England, lasting from the end of Roman occupation and establishment of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the 5th century until the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror...

 period, Shires were established as areas used for the raising of tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

es, and usually had a fortified town at their centre. These became known as the
shire town or later the county town
County town
A county town is a county's administrative centre in the United Kingdom or Ireland. County towns are usually the location of administrative or judicial functions, or established over time as the de facto main town of a county. The concept of a county town eventually became detached from its...

. In most cases, the shires were named after their shire town (for example Bedford
shire) however several exceptions exist, such as Cumberland
Cumberland
Cumberland is a historic county of North West England, on the border with Scotland, from the 12th century until 1974. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974 and now forms part of Cumbria....

, Norfolk
Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 and Suffolk
Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

. In several other cases, such as Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe....

, the town which came to be accepted as the county town is different from that after which the shire is named. (See Toponymical list of counties of the United Kingdom
)

The name 'county' was introduced by the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

, and was derived from a Norman term for an area administered by a Count
Count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

 (lord). These Norman 'counties' were simply the Saxon shires, and kept their Saxon names. Several traditional counties, including Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 and Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, predate the unification of England by Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

, and originally existed as independent kingdoms.

In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, the six county councils, if not their counties, were abolished in 1973 and replaced by 26 local government districts. The traditional six counties remain in common everyday use for many cultural and other purposes.

The thirteen historic counties of Wales were fixed by Statute in 1539 (although counties such as Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire
Pembrokeshire is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. The county town is Haverfordwest where Pembrokeshire County Council is headquartered....

 date from 1138) and most of the shires of Scotland
Counties of Scotland
The counties of Scotland were the principal local government divisions of Scotland until 1975. Scotland's current lieutenancy areas and registration counties are largely based on them. They are often referred to as historic counties....

 are of at least this age. In the Gaelic form, Scottish traditional county names are generally distinguished by the designation "siorramachd"- literally "sherrifdom" e.g. Siorramachd Earra-ghaidheal (County of Argyll). This term corresponding to the jurisdiction of the Sheriff in the Scottish legal system.

The county boundaries of England have changed little over time. In the mediæval period, a number of important cities were granted the status of counties in their own right, such as London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and Coventry
Coventry
Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

, and numerous small exclaves such as Islandshire
Islandshire
Islandshire was an area of Northumberland, England, comprising Lindisfarne or Holy Island, plus five parishes on the mainland.It is historically associated with the Bishop of Durham, and was administratively an exclave of County Palatinate of Durham...

 were created. The next major change occurred in 1844, when many of these exclaves were re-merged with their surrounding counties (for example Coventry was re-merged with Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

).

In 1965 and 1974–1975, a major re-organisation of local government created in England and Wales several new administrative counties such as Hereford and Worcester
Hereford and Worcester
Hereford and Worcester was an English county created on 1 April 1974, by the Local Government Act 1972 from the area of the former administrative county of Herefordshire, most of Worcestershire and the county borough of Worcester.It bordered Shropshire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands to the...

 and also created several new metropolitan counties
Metropolitan county
The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England. There are six metropolitan counties, which each cover large urban areas, typically with populations of 1.2 to 2.8 million...

 which served large urban areas as a single administrative unit. In Scotland county-sized local government was replaced by larger regions, which lasted until 1996. Modern local government in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a large part of England is based on the concept of smaller unitary authorities (a system similar to that which the Redcliffe–Maud Report proposed for most of Britain in the 1960s).

United States


As with the shires of Anglo-Saxon England, counties in U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s are administrative divisions of the state in which their boundaries are drawn. Where they exist, they are the intermediate tier of unitary state government, between the statewide tier and the immediately local government tier. Counties are used in 48 of the 50 unitary states; the other two states (Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 and Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

) have abolished their counties as functional entities, and Massachusetts is in the process of doing so. Of these remaining 48 states, 46 use the term "county" while Alaska and Louisiana use the terms "borough" and "parish", respectively, for analogous jurisdictions.

Depending on the individual state, counties or their differently named equivalent may be administratively subdivided themselves into civil township
Civil township
A civil township is a widely used unit of local government in the United States, subordinate to, and geographic divisions of, a county. Specific responsibilities and the degree of autonomy vary based on each state. Civil townships are distinct from survey townships, but in states that have both,...

s, e.g., Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, which has civil townships and charter township
Charter township
A charter township is a form of local government in the U.S. state of Michigan. Townships in Michigan are organized governments. A charter township is a township that has been granted a charter, which allows it certain rights and responsibilities of home rule that are generally intermediary in...

s (or townships are called "towns" in states where "township" means "a town" or "village", e.g. New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

); or counties may contain no large municipal corporations, e.g. Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, where all cities are independent cities
Independent city
An independent city is a city that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity. These type of cities should not be confused with city-states , which are fully sovereign cities that are not part of any other sovereign state.-Historical precursors:In the Holy Roman Empire,...

; or they may contain cities and unincorporated areas, e.g., California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, which historically divided its counties into townships but has abolished the latter.

Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 has entities equivalent to counties called parishes. Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 is divided into boroughs, which typically provide fewer local services than do most U.S. counties, as the state government furnishes many services directly. Some of Alaska's boroughs have merged geographical boundaries and administrative functions with their principal (and sometimes only) cities; these are known as unified city-boroughs and result in some of Alaska's cities ranking among the geographically largest "cities" in the world. Nevertheless, Alaska considers such entities to be boroughs, not cities. Alaska is also unique in that more than half the geographic area of the state is in the "Unorganized Borough
Unorganized Borough
The Unorganized Borough is the part of the U.S. state of Alaska not contained in any of its 18 organized boroughs. It encompasses more than half of Alaska's area, , an area larger than any other US state...

", a legal entity in which the state also functions as the local government.

New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 has a unique system where 57 of its 62 counties are administrative divisions of the state, with normal county executive powers; while the remaining five are administrative divisions of the City of Greater New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. These five are each called borough in context of City government – Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island (formerly Richmond); but are still called "county" where state function is involved, e.g., "New York County Courthouse", not "Manhattan". The county names correlate to the borough names respectively as New York County, Bronx County, Queens County, Kings County, and Richmond County.

In two states and parts of a third, county government as such does not exist, and county refers to geographic regions or districts.
In Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

,
Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...


and parts of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...


counties exist only to designate boundaries for such state-level functions as park districts (Connecticut) or judicial offices (Connecticut and Massachusetts). In states where county government is nonexistent or weak (e.g., New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

), town government
New England town
The New England town is the basic unit of local government in each of the six New England states. Without a direct counterpart in most other U.S. states, New England towns are conceptually similar to civil townships in other states, but are incorporated, possessing powers like cities in other...

 may provide some or all of the local government services.

Most counties have a county seat
County seat
A county seat is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish. The term is primarily used in the United States....

, usually a city, where its administrative functions are centered. Exceptions include the nation's smallest county, Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The land that became Arlington was originally donated by Virginia to the United States government to form part of the new federal capital district. On February 27, 1801, the United States Congress organized the area as a subdivision of...

, which contains no municipalities. In several instances throughout the nation, a municipality has merged with a county into one jurisdiction so the county seat is coextensive with the county. This is the case in the City and County of San Francisco, CA, and in the City and County of Philadelphia, PA. A similar arrangement is found in the "Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County" where the metropolis of Nashville has merged into the county of Davidson (but, other than Nashville, a few municipalities - such as Belle Meade - still exist with some administrative functions). Miami-Dade
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Miami-Dade County is a county located in the southeastern part of the state of Florida. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 2,496,435, making it the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States...

 in south Florida is a unique example of the merger of some functionality resulting in a two tier arrangement of governmental authority and administrative responsibility. New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 is famously coextensive with five counties or boroughs: the Bronx (which is Bronx County), Brooklyn (Kings County), Manhattan (New York County), Queens (Queens County), and Staten Island (Richmond County). Some New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 states use the term shire town to mean "county seat".