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. It is to be distinguished (usually) from the county, which may encompass rural territory or numerous small communities such as towns, villages and hamlets.
The term municipality may also mean the governing or ruling body of a given municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district.
The term is derived from French municipalité and Latin municipalis. The English word municipality derives from the Latin social contract municipium (derived from a word meaning “duty holders”), referring 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 only one populated place such as a city, town, or village several of such places (e.g., early jurisdictions in the U.S. state of New Jersey (1798–1899) as townships governing several villages, Municipalities of Mexico, Municipalities of Colombia) only parts of such places, sometimes boroughs of a city such as the 34 municipalities of Santiago, Chile.
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