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An emirate is a territory ruled by an emir, [1] a title used by monarchs or high officeholders in the Muslim world. From a historical point of view, an emirate is a political-religious unit smaller than a caliphate. [2] It can be considered equivalent to a principality in non-Muslim contexts.


Currently in the world, there are two emirates that are independent states (Kuwait, and Qatar), one state ruled by an unrecognised emirate (Afghanistan) and a state that consists of a federation of seven emirates, the United Arab Emirates. A great number of previously independent emirates around the world are now part of larger states, as can be seen in Nigeria. [3]


Etymologically, emirate or amirate (Arabic : إمارةimārah, plural: إماراتimārāt) is the quality, dignity, office, or territorial competence of any emir (prince, commander, governor, etc.). In English, the term is pronounced /ˈɛmərət,-ɪər-,-ɪt,-t/ or /ɛˈmɪərət,-ɪt,-t,iˈ-/ in British English and /ˈɛmərət/ or /ɪˈmɪərət/ in American English. [4]



The United Arab Emirates is a federal state that comprises seven federal emirates, each administered by a hereditary emir, these seven forming the electoral college for the federation's president and prime minister.

As most emirates have either disappeared, been integrated in a larger modern state, or changed their rulers' styles, e.g. to malik (Arabic for "king") or sultan, such true emirate-states have become rare.


Furthermore, in Arabic the term can be generalized to mean any province of a country that is administered by a member of the ruling class, especially of a member (usually styled emir) of the royal family, as in Saudi Arabian governorates.

List of present emirates

Location of Afghanistan (grey), Kuwait (red), Qatar (green), and the emirates of the United Arab Emirates Emiratos.PNG
Location of Afghanistan (grey), Kuwait (red), Qatar (green), and the emirates of the United Arab Emirates

Current emirates with political autonomy are listed below:

Arabian Peninsula

South Asia

List of former and integrated emirates

These are the emirates that have either ceased to exist, are not recognized and hold no real power, or were integrated into another country and preserved as "traditional states". They are arranged by location and in order of the date of the first leader styled "emir."


North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

The Emir of Kano on his throne Emir of Kano.jpg
The Emir of Kano on his throne



Central Asia

South Asia

Near East




Mediterranean region

See also

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  1. "The definition of emirate". Dictionary.com.
  2. "What is the difference between an emirate and a caliphate? – Shakuhachi.net".
  3. "The Cultural and Colonial Settings". A Dangerous Awakening : The Politicization of Religion in Nigeria. African Dynamics. IFRA-Nigeria. 21 February 2013. pp. 9–43. ISBN   9791092312034.
  4. Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, ISBN   9781405881180