Federated state

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Federated states of various types exist within many of the modern federal states (represented in green color) Map of unitary and federal states.svg
Federated states of various types exist within many of the modern federal states (represented in green color)

A federated state (which may also be referred to as a state, a province, a region, a canton, a land, a governorate, an oblast, an emirate or a country) is a territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federation. [1] Such states differ from fully sovereign states, in that they do not have full sovereign powers, as the sovereign powers have been divided between the federated states and the central or federal government. Importantly, federated states do not have standing as entities of international law. Instead, the federal union as a single entity is the sovereign state for purposes of international law. [2] Depending on the constitutional structure of a particular federation, a federated state can hold various degrees of legislative, judicial and administrative jurisdiction over a defined geographic territory and is a form of regional government.


In some cases, a federation is created from a union of political entities, which are either independent, or dependent territories of another sovereign entity (most commonly a colonial power). [upper-alpha 1] In other cases, federated states have been created out of the regions of previously unitary states. [upper-alpha 2] Once a federal constitution is formed, the rules governing the relationship between federal and regional powers become part of the country's constitutional law and not international law.

In countries with federal constitutions, there is a division of power between the central government and the component states. These entities - states, provinces, counties, cantons, Länder, etc. - are partially self-governing and are afforded a degree of constitutionally guaranteed autonomy that varies substantially from one federation to another. [upper-alpha 3] Depending on the form the decentralization of powers takes, a federated state's legislative powers may or may not be overruled or vetoed by the federal government. Laws governing the relationship between federal and regional powers can be amended through the national or federal constitution, and, if they exist, state constitutions as well.

In terms of internal politics, federated states can have republican or monarchical forms of government. Those of republican form (federated republics) are usually called states (like states of the USA) or republics (like republics in the former USSR). Those that have monarchical form of government (federated monarchies) are defined by traditional hierarchical ranks and titles of their monarchs (like emirates of the United Arab Emirates).

Differences in terminology

Federated states typically, though not necessarily, use differences in the terminology of institutions to which there is an analogous federal-level equivalent. This list is a demonstration of common—though neither exhaustive nor universal—terminology differences between the state and federal levels:

Type of GovernmentFederal-level titleState-level title
Republic - DeputyVice PresidentLieutenant Governor
MonarchyQueen / KingQueen / King
Monarchy - RepresentativeGovernor GeneralGovernor / Lieutenant Governor
Head of Government (if any)Prime Minister / ChancellorPremier
Chief Minister
Minister President
Head of DepartmentMinister / SecretaryMinister / Secretary
Executive BodyCabinetCabinet
Privy CouncilExecutive Council
Federal Government / Union GovernmentState Government
Council of MinistersBoard of Ministers / Council of Ministers
Legislative BodyParliamentLegislature
CongressState Council
National AssemblyGeneral Assembly
Upper HouseCouncil of States/ SenateLegislative Council
Lower HouseHouse of RepresentativesLegislative Assembly
Chamber of DeputiesLandtag
National AssemblyHouse of Assembly
Highest CourtSupreme CourtHigh Court
Court of Final Appeal

List of constituents by federation

The "federated units" in the table below have inherent governmental authority in the federation's constitutional system, while the "other units" are delegated authority by the federal government or are administered directly by it.

FederationFederated unitsOther units
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina [3] 23 provinces: 1 autonomous city:
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia [4] 6 states: 3 internal territories:
7 external territories:
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria [5] 9 states:
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium [6] 3 regions: [upper-alpha 6]
3 communities: [upper-alpha 7]
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 entities: [upper-alpha 5] 1 self-governing district:
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself a federation of 10 cantons :
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil [8] 26 states:
1 federal district:
5,568 municipalities [upper-alpha 9]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada [9] 10 provinces: 3 territories:
Flag of the Comoros.svg  Comoros 3 islands: [upper-alpha 5]
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia [10] 10 regions: 2 chartered cities:
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany [11] 16 states:
Flag of India.svg  India [12] 28 states: 8 union territories:
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq [13] 19 governorates: 1 autonomous region:
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia [14] 13 states: 3 federal territories:
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico [15] 31 states:
1 autonomous city:
Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Micronesia [16] 4 states:
Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 7 provinces:
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria [17] 36 states: 1 territory:
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan [18] 4 provinces: 2 autonomous territories: [upper-alpha 5]
1 federal territory:

Proposed Flag of Islamabad Capital Territory.svg  Islamabad Capital Territory [upper-alpha 4]

Flag of Russia.svg  Russia [19] [20] 46 oblasts:
22 republics: [upper-alpha 5]
9 krais:
4 autonomous okrugs: [upper-alpha 5]
3 federal cities:
1 autonomous oblast:
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Saint Kitts and Nevis 2 islands: [upper-alpha 11]
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia [21] [22] 6 federal member states: [upper-alpha 12]
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan 10 states: [23] 3 administrative areas: [24]
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan [25] 18 states: 1 special administrative status area: [26]
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland [27] 26 cantons:
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates [28] 7 emirates:
Flag of the United States.svg  United States [29] 50 states: 1 federal district:
1 incorporated territory:
13 unincorporated territories:
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela [30] 23 states: 1 capital district:
1 federal dependency:

See also


  1. Examples are Australia and the United States.
  2. This occurred in Belgium in 1993. The Belgian regions had previously devolved powers.
  3. For instance, Canadian provinces and Swiss cantons possess substantially more powers and enjoy more protection against interference and infringements from the central government than most non-Western federations.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Federal capital district, region or territory.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 autonomous area
  6. Flanders and Wallonia are subdivided into five provinces each, which are mandated by the Constitution of Belgium. Provincial governance is the responsibility of the regional governments.
  7. The communities and regions of Belgium are separate government institutions with different areas of responsibility. The communities are organized based on linguistic boundaries, which are different from regional boundaries.
  8. The Brazilian federal district has a level of self-ruling equal to the other main federal units.
  9. Article 18 of the 1988 Brazilian Constitution treats the municipalities as parts of the federation and not simply dependent subdivisions of the states.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Sovereignty over territory actively disputed by another sovereign state or the international community.
  11. The federation is divided into 14 parishes, nine on Saint Kitts and five on Nevis.
  12. Adopted constitution accommodates existing regional governments, with the ultimate number and boundaries of the Federal Member States to be determined by the House of the People of the Federal Parliament.

Related Research Articles

Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government with regional governments in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, first embodied in the Constitution of the United States of 1789, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus be defined as a form of government in which powers are divided between two levels of government of equal status.

Monarchy System of government where the head of state is a single person who holds the position for life or until abdication

A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largely symbolic, to fully autocratic, and can expand across the domains of the executive, legislative, and judicial. A monarchy can be a polity through unity, personal union, vassalage or federation, and monarchs can carry various titles such as emperor, king, queen, raja, khan, caliph, tsar, sultan, shah, or pharaoh.

Administrative divisions of Mexico States composing Mexico

The United Mexican States is a federal republic composed of 32 Federal Entities: 31 states and Mexico City, an autonomous entity. According to the Constitution of 1917, the states of the federation are free and sovereign in all matters concerning their internal affairs. Each state has its own congress and constitution.

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Some of the most famous and significant secessions have been: the former Soviet republics leaving the Soviet Union, Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and Algeria leaving France. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. A secession attempt might be violent or peaceful, but the goal is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

Federation Political union of partially self-governing territories under a central government

A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government (federalism). In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, is typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of either party, the states or the federal political body. Alternatively, a federation is a form of government in which sovereign power is formally divided between a central authority and a number of constituent regions so that each region retains some degree of control over its internal affairs.

States of Germany First-level administrative subdivisions of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states. Since the German nation state was formed from an earlier collection of several states, it has a federal constitution, and the constituent states retain a measure of sovereignty.

A confederation is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty, confederations of states tend to be established for dealing with critical issues, such as defense, foreign relations, internal trade or currency, with the general government being required to provide support for all its members. Confederalism represents a main form of intergovernmentalism, which is defined as any form of interaction around states which takes place on the basis of sovereign independence or government.

Constitution of Russia Principles, institutions and law of political governance in Russia

The Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted by national referendum on 12 December 1993. Russia's constitution came into force on 25 December 1993, at the moment of its official publication, and abolished the Soviet system of government. The current Constitution is the second most long-lived in the history of Russia, behind the Constitution of 1936.

1824 Constitution of Mexico

The Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1824 was enacted on October 4 of 1824, after the overthrow of the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide. In the new constitution, the republic took the name of United Mexican States, and was defined as a representative federal republic, with Catholicism as the official and unique religion. It was replaced by the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1857.

A state government is the government of a country subdivision in a federal form of government, which shares political power with the federal or national government. A state government may have some level of political autonomy, or be subject to the direct control of the federal government. This relationship may be defined by a constitution.

A central government is the government that is a controlling power over a unitary state. Always equivalent in a federation is the federal government, which may have distinct powers at various levels authorized or delegated to it by its federated states, though the adjective 'central' is sometimes also used to describe it.

A constituent state is a state entity that constitutes a part of a sovereign state. A constituent state holds regional jurisdiction over a defined administrative territory, within a sovereign state. Government of a constituent state is a form of regional government. Throughout history, and also in modern political practice, most constituent states are part of complex states, like federations or confederations. Constituent states can have republican or monarchical forms of government. Those of republican form are usually called states or autonomous states, republics or autonomous republics, or cantons. Those that have a monarchical form of government are often defined by traditional hierarchical rank of their ruler.

Asymmetric federalism or asymmetrical federalism is found in a federation in which different constituent states possess different powers: one or more of the substates has considerably more autonomy than the other substates, although they have the same constitutional status. This is in contrast to symmetric federalism, where no distinction is made between constituent states. As a result, it is frequently proposed as a solution to the dissatisfactions that arise when one or two constituent units feel significantly different needs from the others, as the result of an ethnic, linguistic or cultural difference.

A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia, which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The term province has since been adopted by many countries. In some countries with no actual provinces, "the provinces" is a metaphorical term meaning "outside the capital city".

There are six monarchies in Oceania; that is: self-governing sovereign states in Oceania where supreme power resides with an individual hereditary head, who is recognised as the head of state. Each is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the sovereign inherits his or her office, usually keeps it until death or abdication, and is bound by laws and customs in the exercise of their powers. Five of these independent states share Queen Elizabeth II as their respective head of state, making them part of a global grouping known as the Commonwealth realms; in addition, all monarchies of Oceania are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The only sovereign monarchy in Oceania that does not share a monarch with another state is Tonga. Australia and New Zealand have dependencies within the region and outside it, although five non-sovereign constituent monarchs are recognized by New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and France.


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  9. SBS World Guide 2008, p132
  10. SBS World Guide 2008, p239
  11. SBS World Guide 2008, p275
  12. SBS World Guide 2008, p328
  13. SBS World Guide 2008, p346
  14. SBS World Guide 2008, p460
  15. SBS World Guide 2008, p481
  16. SBS World Guide 2008, p486
  17. SBS World Guide 2008, p537
  18. SBS World Guide 2008, p549
  19. SBS World Guide 2008, p600
  20. "Chapter 3. The Federal Structure: Article 65". The Constitution of the Russian Federation.
  21. "The Federal Republic of Somalia - Harmonized Draft Constitution" (PDF). Federal Republic of Somalia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  22. "Guidebook to the Somali Draft Provisional Constitution". Archived from the original on 20 January 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  23. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/6-years-war-peace-finally-south-sudan-200223114919537.html
  24. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/6-years-war-peace-finally-south-sudan-200223114919537.html
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  30. SBS World Guide 2008, p798