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In the United States, an independent city is a city that is not in the territory of any county or counties and is considered a primary administrative division of its state.Independent cities are classified by the United States Census Bureau as "county equivalents" and may also have similar governmental powers as a consolidated city-county. However, in the case of a consolidated city-county, a city and a county were merged into a unified jurisdiction in which the county at least nominally exists to this day, whereas an independent city was legally separated from any county or merged with a county that simultaneously ceased to exist even in name.
Of the 41 independent U.S. cities,38 are in Virginia, whose state constitution makes them a special case. The three independent cities outside Virginia are Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and Carson City, Nevada. The most populous of them is Baltimore, Maryland.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, all municipalities incorporated as "cities" have been "independent cities", also called "free cities", since 1871, when a revised state constitution took effect following the American Civil War and the creation of West Virginia. Virginia's thirty-eight independent cities are not politically part of a county, even though geographically they may be completely surrounded by one. An independent city in Virginia may serve as the county seat of an adjacent county, even though the city by definition is not part of that county.Some other Virginia municipalities, even though they may be more populous than some existing independent cities, are incorporated towns. These towns always form part of a county. Incorporated towns have limited powers, varying by each charter. They typically share many aspects such as courts and public school divisions with the county they are within.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are two classes of city. The primary difference relates to the court system. A first-class city (e.g., Richmond) has its own District Court and also its own Circuit Court. A second-class city (e.g. Norton or Emporia) has its own District Courts, but not its own Circuit Court. As a second-class city, Fairfax shares a Circuit Court with Fairfax County, while Falls Church shares a Circuit Court with adjacent Arlington County. In Virginia, a District Court is not a court of record, so all cases are heard by a judge; all jury trials are heard in a Circuit Court.
Three older Virginia counties, whose origins go back to the original eight shires of Virginia formed in 1634 in the Colony of Virginia, have or had the word city in their names; politically, however, they are counties. The independent cities were formed to centralize trading and legal matters as the older system of merchant ships cruising from plantation to plantation was inefficient. The colonial capital of Williamsburg was created for this reason, being a port for the James River. Two of these counties are Charles City County and James City County, whose names originated with earlier "incorporations" created in 1619 by the Virginia Company as Charles Cittie and James Cittie. Another was Elizabeth City County, originally part of the older Elizabeth Cittie, which became extinct in 1952 when it was consolidated politically by mutual consent with the small City of Hampton, the county seat, and the Town of Phoebus to reform and expand into the current independent city of Hampton, Virginia, one of the large cities of Virginia.
Former independent cities, now extinct, that were long extant in Virginia include:
Two other independent cities existed only for a short time:
An independent city is not the same as:
A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French conté or cunté denoting a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a count (earl) or a viscount. Literal equivalents in other languages, derived from the equivalent of "count", are now seldom used officially, including comté, contea, contado, comtat, condado, Grafschaft, graafschap, and zhupa in Slavic languages; terms equivalent to English language administrative terms such as municipality, district, circuit and commune/community are now often instead used.
An independent city or independent town is a city or town that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity.
A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Hungary and the United States. The equivalent term shire town is used in the U.S. state of Vermont and perhaps elsewhere. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, as well as historically in Jamaica.
A unitary authority is a local authority for a place's borough which is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are usually performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national government.
In the United States, a county is an administrative or political subdivision of a state that consists of a geographic region with specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority. The term "county" is used in 48 U.S. states, while Louisiana and Alaska have functionally equivalent subdivisions called parishes and boroughs, respectively.
In United States local government, a consolidated city-county is formed when one or more cities and their surrounding county merge into one unified jurisdiction. As such it has the governmental powers of both a municipal corporation and an administrative division of a state.
In 45 of the 50 states of the United States, the county is used for the level of local government immediately below the state itself. Louisiana uses parishes, and Alaska uses boroughs. In several states in New England, some or all counties within states have no governments of their own; the counties continue to exist as legal entities, however, and are used by states for some administrative functions and by the United States Census bureau for statistical analysis. There are 3,242 counties and county equivalent administrative units in total, including the District of Columbia and 100 county-equivalents in the U.S. territories.
Political divisions of the United States are the various recognized governing entities that together form the United States – states, the District of Columbia, territories and Indian reservations.
Nansemond is an extinct jurisdiction that was located south of the James River in Virginia Colony and in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States, from 1646 until 1974. It was known as Nansemond County until 1972. From 1972 to 1974, a period of eighteen months, it was the independent city of Nansemond. It is now part of the independent city of Suffolk.
Local government in the United States refers to governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state. Most states and territories have at least two tiers of local government: counties and municipalities. In some states, counties are divided into townships. There are several different types of jurisdictions at the municipal level, including the city, town, borough, and village. The types and nature of these municipal entities vary from state to state. In addition to these general-purpose local governments, states may also create special-purpose local governments.
A borough in some U.S. states is a unit of local government or other administrative division below the level of the state. The term is currently used in six states:
The town is the basic unit of local government and local division of state authority in the six New England states. Most other U.S. states lack a direct counterpart to the New England town. New England towns overlay the entire area of a state, similar to civil townships in other states where they exist, but they are fully functioning municipal corporations, possessing powers similar to cities in other states. New Jersey's system of equally powerful townships, boroughs, towns, and cities is the system which is most similar to that of New England. New England towns are often governed by a town meeting legislative body. The great majority of municipal corporations in New England are based on the town model; there, statutory forms based on the concept of a compact populated place are uncommon, though elsewhere in the U.S. they are prevalent. County government in New England states is typically weak at best, and in some states nonexistent. Connecticut, for example, has no county governments, nor does Rhode Island. Both of those states retain counties only as geographic subdivisions with no governmental authority, while Massachusetts has abolished eight of fourteen county governments so far. Counties serve mostly as dividing lines for the states' judicial systems in the southern New England states, while only providing limited services in the three northern New England states.
The administrative divisions of Virginia are the areas into which the Commonwealth of Virginia, a U.S. state, is divided for political and administrative purposes. Some are local governments; others are not. However, all local governments are political subdivisions of the state.
Whaleyville is a neighborhood of Suffolk, Virginia, United States. It was formerly an incorporated town located in southern Nansemond County, Virginia. Whaleyville is located midway between the former county seat at downtown Suffolk and the North Carolina border along U.S. Route 13.