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For other uses, see Territory (disambiguation).

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
  • Dependent territory
  • Special areas
  • 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.
  • Disputed territory, 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.
  • Occupied territory, a region that is under the military control of an outside power that has not annexed the region. Current examples are Gaza, the West Bank and East Jeruzalem, occupied by Israel. Other examples of occupied territory include 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 and Kosovo after 1999.

Capital territory[edit]

A capital territory or federal capital territory is usually 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[edit]

Overseas territory is a broad designation for a territorial entity that is separated from the country that governs it by an ocean. An overseas territory may be either a constituent part of the governing state or a dependent territory.

Examples include:

Dependent territory[edit]

Main article: Dependent territory

Dependent territory is a designation for a territory that is not an independent sovereign state, yet remains politically outside of the governing state's integral area.[1] Presently, all dependent territories are either overseas territories or non-sovereign associated states. Only four countries currently posses dependent territories: the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Norway and the United States.

Examples include:

Special areas of a country[edit]

Main category: Territories by 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[edit]


External links[edit]