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A territory is a term for types of administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a state. In most countries' terminology, such as the United States and Nigeria, it refers to an organized division of an area that is under control of a country but not formally developed into, or incorporated into, a political unit of that country of equal status to other political units such as states or provinces. In international politics, the term is used particularly in reference to a non-sovereign geographic area which has come under the authority of another government; which has not been granted the powers of self-government normally devolved to secondary territorial divisions; or both.


Common types of territory include:

  • Capital territory
  • Federal territory
  • Overseas territory
  • Unorganized territory, a region of land without a "normally" constituted system of government. This does not mean that the territory has no government at all or that it is unclaimed territory. In practice, such territories are always sparsely populated.
  • A dependent territory, a distant non-sovereign geographic area that has come under the authority of another government, but which has not become an integral part of the administering country.
  • A disputed territory, which is a geographic area claimed by two or more rival governments. For example, the territory of Kashmir is claimed by both the governments of India and Pakistan; for each nation involved in the dispute, the territory is claimed as an integral part of an existing state.
  • An occupied territory, which is a region that is under the military control of an outside power that has not annexed the region. An example of an occupied territory is the country of Kuwait after it was briefly invaded by Iraq in 1990, Iraq after the American invasion of 2003, Germany after World War II or Kosovo after 1999.

Capital territory

A capital territory is normally a specially designated territory where a country's seat of government is located. As such, in the federal model of government, no one state or territory takes pre-eminence because the capital lies within its borders. A capital territory can be one specific form of federal district.

Overseas territory

Overseas territory is a designation for a territorial entity that is separated from the country that governs it by an ocean.

Examples include:

Special areas of a country

In a country, a territory may be the equivalent of a state or province which has less local control. For example, the major difference between a Canadian province and a Canadian territory is that the federal government has more direct control over the territories, while the provinces are run by provincial governments empowered by the constitution. The same distinction applies between States and territories of Australia, territories of the United States (and former territories of the United States which later became states), and former national territories of Argentina.

A less common usage of the term "territory" refers to any administrative division of a country or subunit. Examples:

See also


External links