The Ponce City Hall, in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico, is the seat of the government for both the city and the surrounding barrios making up the municipality.
Map of all city municipalities in Slovenia

A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate.

The term municipality may also mean the governing body of a given municipality.[1] A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district.

The English word is derived from French municipalité, which in turn derives from the Latin municipalis,[2] based on the word for social contract (municipium), referring originally to the Latin communities that supplied Rome with troops in exchange for their own incorporation into the Roman state (granting Roman citizenship to the inhabitants) while permitting the communities to retain their own local governments (a limited autonomy).

A municipality can be any political jurisdiction, from a sovereign state such as the Principality of Monaco, to a small village such as West Hampton Dunes, New York.

The territory over which a municipality has jurisdiction may encompass:

Political powers

Powers of municipalities range from virtual autonomy to complete subordination to the state. Municipalities may have the right to tax individuals and corporations with income tax, property tax, and corporate income tax, but may also receive substantial funding from the state. In some European countries, such as Germany, municipalities have the constitutional right to supply public services through municipally-owned public utility companies.[4]

Terms in various countries

A map with five insular regions of different colors.
New York City as well as its composite five boroughs are all municipalities.
  1. Manhattan
  2. Brooklyn
  3. Queens
  4. The Bronx
  5. Staten Island
City or town municipalities (red-colored) with other non-town municipalities in Finland (2020)


Terms cognate with "municipality", mostly referring to territory or political structure,[clarification needed] are Spanish municipio (Spain) and municipalidad (Chile), Catalan municipi, Portuguese município.


In many countries, terms cognate with "commune" are used, referring to the community living in the area and the common interest. These include terms:

The same terms "Gemeente" (Dutch) or "Gemeinde" (German) may be used for church congregations or parishes, for example, in the German and Dutch Protestant churches.

Other terms

In Greece, the word Δήμος (demos) is used, also meaning 'community'; the word is known in English from the compound democracy (rule of the people).

In some countries, the Spanish term ayuntamiento, referring to a municipality's administration building, is extended via synecdoche to denote the municipality itself.[6] In Moldova and Romania, both municipalities (municipiu; urban administrative units) and communes (comună; rural units) exist, and a commune may be part of a municipality.[citation needed]

In many countries, comparable entities may exist with various names.



Municipalities by country

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Country Term Example Subdivision of Quantity Notes Further reading
Brazil município Blumenau, Cuiabá, Maceió, Porto Alegre a state (estado), which is part of a region (região) 5,570 A municipality usually is divided in the urban part, the city (cidade), and the rural part. List of municipalities of Brazil
Greece Deme / Δήμος Athens, Thessaloniki 332 A municipality usually is divided in Municipal Units and them into Communities. List of municipalities of Greece
Ireland bardas, contae or comhairle Baile Átha Cliath a province (cúige) or a county (contae) 31 A municipality usually has authority of the whole county. In some cases however, authority is reduced to a subdivision of the county for highly populated regions, especially in Dublin (Baile Átha Cliath) Local governments in the Republic of Ireland
Italy comune Montefiascone a province (provincia) which is part of a region (regione). 7,982 Solely used for subdivisions of larger comuni, especially in Rome; municipio indicates the city hall; in some case, they are joined in mountain communities (comunità montane)[16] List of municipalities of Italy
India municipality (nagar palika, or nagar parishad in Hindi) It is an administrative unit that governs a specific urban area, such as a town or city. Municipalities are established under state legislation and operate under the framework of the relevant state municipal acts. Municipalities have their own elected bodies, which typically include a mayor or chairperson and councilors representing different wards or constituencies within the urban area. Municipal governance in India
Philippines bayan, munisipyo or munisipalidad Janiuay a province (lalawigan or probinsya, except for Pateros) 1,488[17] A municipality is the official name for a town and is divided into barangays. Municipalities with a larger population and income may become a city through a city charter.[18] Municipalities of the Philippines
Portugal município Lisbon, Sintra, Vila Nova de Gaia 18 districts and 2 autonomous regions (Azores and Madeira) 308 Usually a municipality is named after its largest or historically most important town or city. Municipalities are typically much larger than the city or town after which they are named. List of municipalities of Portugal
Puerto Rico municipio Arecibo none 78 municipality consists of an urban area (termed a city or town) plus all of its surrounding barrios comprising the municipality. It has a popularly elected administration and a municipal mayor. The seat of the municipal government is located in such urban area and serves the entire municipal jurisdiction.[19][20] Municipalities of Puerto Rico
Sweden kommun Stockholm Municipality, Gothenburg Municipality, Malmö Municipality, Ale Municipality a region (region), the 21 self-governing areas consisting of one or more municipalities)

a county (län), subdivision of the national state into 21 areas administered by County administrative boards.

Regions and counties often follow the same geographical borders.
290 According to the Instrument of Government, Swedish democracy is realised through a parliamentary form of government and through local selfgovernment. Municipalities are independent of the regions and counties in which they are located.[21][22]

Before 1971, municipalities were incorporated as either cities (stad), market towns (köping) or rural municipalities (landskommun). The city-label is still used for marketing purposes, but lacks legal status and cannot be used in formal governing documents.

For resident and land registration purposes, Sweden is also divided in 2 523 districts (distrikt), based on the historic Church of Sweden parishes of 1999. The districts lack authority, governing body and agency.[23]
Municipalities of Sweden

See also


  1. ^ "Municipality". Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ "municipality definition".
  3. ^ "Santiago de Chile – Comunas". Mapas de Chile, Castor y Polux Ltda. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  4. ^ Andersen, Uwe. "Gemeinden/Kommunale Selbstverwaltung | bpb". (in German). Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Constituição da república federativa do brasil de 1988". Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  6. ^ ASALE, RAE-; RAE. "ayuntamiento | Diccionario de la lengua española". «Diccionario de la lengua española» - Edición del Tricentenario (in Spanish). Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 28 September 2005.
  8. ^ "Municipal Government". The Canadian Encyclopedia > Government > Government, General > Municipal Government. Historica Foundation of Canada. 2009. Archived from the original on 13 February 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Interim List of Changes to Municipal Boundaries, Status, and Names – From January 2, 2010 to January 1, 2011" (PDF). Statistics Canada. April 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b "List of Ontario Municipalities". Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 4 July 2011. Archived from the original on 28 February 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Municipal Government Act" (PDF). Office of the Legislative Counsel, Nova Scotia House of Assembly. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Municipality" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 19 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 7.
  13. ^ "Legal Dictionary: Municipal Law". FindLaw.
  14. ^ "2009 Nevada Code". Justia.
  15. ^ "Kansas Statues". Lesterama. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014.
  16. ^ The law provides for the possibility of overlapping of the office of President of the mountain community with that of mayor of one of the municipalities of the community: Buonomo, Giampiero (2001). "Compatibile il sindaco-dirigente della locale Comunità montana". Diritto&Giustizia Edizione Online. Archived from the original on 24 March 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  17. ^ "National Summary –number of Provinces, Cities, Municipalities and Barangays, by Region – As of 30 June 2021". Philippine Statistics Authority. 30 June 2021. Retrieved 26 January 2022.
  18. ^ "Republic Act 7160 – Local Government Act of 1991". Official Gazette (Philippines). 11 October 1991. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  19. ^ Ayuda: Divulgación de Resultados de la Comisión Estatal de Elecciones – Municipio. Archived 21 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Comision Estatal de Elecciones. Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 2004. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  20. ^ Autonomous Municipalities Law. (in Spanish) Archived 5 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  21. ^ "The Constitution". Sveriges Riksdag. 2023. Retrieved 25 August 2023.
  22. ^ "The Instrument of Government (1974:152)" (PDF). Sveriges Riksdag. 2018. Retrieved 25 August 2023. All public power in Sweden proceeds from the people. Swedish democracy is founded on the free formation of opinion and on universal and equal suffrage. It is realised through a representative and parliamentary form of government and through local selfgovernment. Public power is exercised under the law.
  23. ^ SFS 2015:493 Archived 30 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine, Svensk författningssamling: Förordning om distrikt.