An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administrative division or internal territory of a sovereign state that has a degree of autonomy—self-governance—under the national government. Autonomous areas are distinct from the constituent units of a federation (e.g. a state, or province) in that they possess unique powers for their given circumstances. Typically, it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the state or populated by a national minority. Decentralization of self-governing powers and functions to such divisions is a way for a national government to try to increase democratic participation or administrative efficiency or to defuse internal conflicts. States that include autonomous areas may be federacies, federations, or confederations. Autonomous areas can be divided into territorial autonomies, subregional territorial autonomies, and local autonomies.
See also: List of autonomous areas by country
|Azad Kashmir||Pakistan||Azad Kashmir is a self-governing polity which has not been formally annexed by Pakistan. It was established after a rebellion against the Maharajah of Kashmir, and the subsequent First Kashmir War. It is located within the historic Kashmir region which is disputed between India, Pakistan and China.|
|United Kingdom||Three of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, namely Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each have an elected, devolved legislature which has the ability to legislate in devolved matters. The Parliament of the United Kingdom which retains sovereignty (the United Kingdom is a unitary state), can dissolve the devolved legislatures at any time, and legislates in matters that are not devolved, as well as having the capacity to legislate in areas that are devolved (by constitutional convention, without the agreement of the devolved legislature). Formerly, both Scotland and England were fully sovereign states.|
|Kingdom of Denmark||The two autonomous territories (Danish: land, Faroese: land, Greenlandic: nuna) of the realm of the Kingdom, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, each have an elected devolved legislature which has the ability to legislate in devolved matters. The Kingdom Parliament 'Folketinget' retains sovereignty (The Kingdom of Denmark is a unitary state) and legislates in matters that are not devolved, as well as having the capacity to legislate in areas that are devolved (this does not normally occur without the agreement of the devolved legislature).|
|Tobago||Trinidad and Tobago||The Tobago House of Assembly is a devolved legislature that is responsible for the island of Tobago.|
|Kosovo / Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija||Claimed by: Serbia
Controlled by: Kosovo
|In 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared itself as an independent state. Its international recognition is split between those who recognize it as an independent state and those who recognize it as an autonomous province of Serbia under United Nations administration.|
|Bougainville||Papua New Guinea|
| Hong Kong
|People's Republic of China|
|Somalia||Somaliland is a self-declared independent state, although it is internationally considered an autonomous region in northwestern Somalia.|
|Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria||Syria|
|Abkhazia / Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia||Claimed by: Georgia
Controlled by: Abkhazia
|In 1999, the Republic of Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia after the 1992–1993 war. Georgia and most of the U.N. member states have not recognized Abkhazia's independence and still has an administrative apparatus for the claimed Autonomous Republic; its independence is recognized by Russia and three other U.N. member states.|
|Republic of Crimea / Autonomous Republic of Crimea||Claimed by: Ukraine
Controlled by: Russia
|The 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia is not recognized by most countries, including Ukraine.|
|Transnistria / Left Bank of the Dniester||Claimed by: Moldova
Controlled by: Transnistria
|In 1990, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR, commonly known as Transnistria) declared its independence from the Soviet Union. While Moldova has not formally recognized Transnistria's independence and still has an administrative apparatus for the claimed Autonomous Territorial Unit, its independence is recognized by 3 other non-UN member states.|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Chile||In 2007, the Chamber of Deputies of Chile passed a law designating both as "special territories", granting them more autonomy. Additionally, the Juan Fernandez Islands archipelago is a commune, while Easter Island is both a commune and a province.|
|Barbuda (1976)||Antigua and Barbuda|
|Kurdistan Region (1970)||Iraq|
|Nevis (1967)||Saint Kitts and Nevis|
|Autonomous Region of Príncipe (1995)||São Tomé and Príncipe|
|Svalbard||Norway||Although it does not fit the definition of autonomous area (not possessing partial internal sovereignty), Svalbard has the sovereignty of Norway limited by the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920 and therefore is considered as having special status (as it is considered fully integrated with Norway, and not a dependency, it is a sui generis case).|
|Heligoland||Germany||Heligoland, Germany: Although it is part of a German state, Schleswig-Holstein, it has been excluded of some European Union normatives, such as customs union and the Value Added Tax Area.|
|Büsingen am Hochrhein||Germany||Despite being integral parts of their respective countries, these two enclaves of Switzerland predominantly use the Swiss franc as currency and are in customs union with Switzerland.|
|Isle of Man|
Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and Jersey are self-governing Crown Dependencies which are not part of the United Kingdom; however, the UK is responsible for their defence and international affairs.
|British Virgin Islands|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha|
|Turks and Caicos Islands|
Gibraltar is a self-governing overseas territory of the UK. Most of the other 13 British Overseas Territories also have autonomy in internal affairs through local legislatures.
|Aruba||Kingdom of the Netherlands|
Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, each with their own parliament. In addition they enjoy autonomy in taxation matters as well as having their own currencies.
|Alsace (2021)||France||single territorial collectivity|
|Corsica (2018)||single territorial collectivity|
|French Guiana||overseas collectivity|
|Guadeloupe||overseas region and department|
|Martinique||overseas region and department|
|Mayotte||overseas region and department|
|Réunion||overseas region and department|
|French Polynesia||overseas collectivity|
|Saint-Pierre and Miquelon||overseas collectivity|
|Wallis and Futuna||overseas collectivity|
|New Caledonia||sui generis collectivity|
Main article: Overseas collectivity
The French Constitution recognises three autonomous jurisdictions. Corsica, a region of France, enjoys a greater degree of autonomy on matters such as tax and education compared to mainland regions. New Caledonia, a sui generis collectivity, and French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity, are highly autonomous territories with their own government, legislature, currency, and constitution. They do not, however, have legislative powers for policy areas relating to law and order, defense, border control or university education. Other smaller overseas collectivities have a lesser degree of autonomy through local legislatures. The five overseas regions, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion, are generally governed the same as mainland regions; however, they enjoy some additional powers, including certain legislative powers for devolved areas.
|Cook Islands||New Zealand|
New Zealand maintains nominal sovereignty over three Pacific Island nations. The Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing countries in free association with New Zealand that maintain some international relationships in their own name. Tokelau remains an autonomous dependency of New Zealand. The Chatham Islands—despite having the designation of Territory—is an integral part of the country, situated within the New Zealand archipelago. The territory's council is not autonomous and has broadly the same powers as other local councils, although notably it can also charge levies on goods entering or leaving the islands.
In Ethiopia, "special woredas" are a subgroup of woredas (districts) that are organized around the traditional homelands of specific ethnic minorities, and are outside the usual hierarchy of a kilil, or region. These woredas have many similarities to autonomous areas in other countries.
|Hopi Reservation||United States|
|Pine Ridge Indian Reservation|
|Kuna de Madugandí|
|Kuna de Wargandí|
|Naso Tjër Di Comarca|
Other areas that are autonomous in nature but not in name are areas designated for indigenous peoples, such as those of the Americas:
Denmark has established very specific territorial autonomies with its two island territories
Faroese and Greenlandic are seen as official regional languages in the self-governing territories belonging to Denmark.
Greenland [...] is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark
The Faroe Islands [...] is one of three autonomous territories in the Nordic Region