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Lapland is a sparsely populated territory in Northern Europe. A view from Saana in Finnish Lapland View from saana.JPG
Lapland is a sparsely populated territory in Northern Europe. A view from Saana in Finnish Lapland

A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, belonging or connected to a particular country, person, or animal. [1]


In international politics, a territory is usually a geographic area which has not been granted the powers of self-government, i.e. an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state.

As a subdivision, a territory in most countries is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally developed into, [1] or incorporated into, a political unit of that country, which political units are of equal status to one another and are often referred to by words such as "provinces", "regions", or "states". In its narrower sense, it is "a geographic region, such as a colonial possession, that is dependent on an external government." [2]


The origins of the word "territory" begin with the Proto-Indo-European root ters ('to dry'). [3] From this emerged the Latin word terra ('earth, land') and later the Latin word territorium ('land around a town'). [4] [5] Territory made its debut as a word in Middle English during the 14th century. At this point the suffix -orium, which denotes place, was replaced with -ory which also expresses place. [6]


Examples for different types of territory include the following:

Overseas territory

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:

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Netherlands Antilles was a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The country consisted of several island territories located in the Caribbean Sea. The islands were also informally known as the Dutch Antilles. The country came into being in 1954 as the autonomous successor of the Dutch colony of Curaçao and Dependencies. The Antilles were dissolved in 2010. The Dutch colony of Surinam, although relatively close by on the continent of South America, did not become part of the Netherlands Antilles but became a separate autonomous country in 1954. All the island territories that belonged to the Netherlands Antilles remain part of the kingdom today, although the legal status of each differs. As a group they are still commonly called the Dutch Caribbean, regardless of their legal status. People from this former territory continue to be called Antilleans in the Netherlands.

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A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a 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 constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision, neither by the component states nor the federal political body.

A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state and remains politically outside the controlling state's integral area. As such, a dependent territory includes a range of non-integrated not fully to non-independent territory types, from associated states to non-self-governing territories.

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An autonomous administrative division is a subnational administrative division or internal territory of a sovereign state that has a degree of autonomy—self-governance—under the national government. Autonomous areas are distinct from the constituent units of a federation in that they possess unique powers for their given circumstances. Typically, it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the state or populated by a national minority, which may exercise home rule. Decentralization of self-governing powers and functions to such divisions is a way for a national government to try to increase democratic participation or administrative efficiency or to defuse internal conflicts. States that include autonomous areas may be federacies, federations, or confederations. Autonomous areas can be divided into territorial autonomies, subregional territorial autonomies, and local autonomies.

A regional state, or a regionalised unitary state, is a term used to denote a type of state that is formally unitary but where a high degree of political power has been highly decentralised to regional governments. This contrasts with a state organized on principles of federalism where the powers of the regions are enshrined in constitutional law. In many cases, the regions are based on long standing cultural or regional divisions.

A federacy is a form of government where one or several substate units enjoy considerably more independence than the majority of the substate units. To some extent, such an arrangement can be considered to be similar to asymmetric federalism.

A province is 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".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kingdom of the Netherlands</span> Sovereign state including the Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands, commonly known simply as the Netherlands, is a sovereign state consisting of a collection of constituent territories united under the monarch of the Netherlands, who functions as head of state. The realm is not a federation; it is a unitary monarchy with its largest subdivision, the eponymous Netherlands, predominantly located in Northwestern Europe and with several smaller island territories located in the Caribbean.

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The Dutch Caribbean are the New World territories, colonies, and countries of the Dutch Empire and the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the Caribbean Sea, mainly the northern and southwestern regions of the Lesser Antilles archipelago.

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The borders of Venezuela are the international borders that Venezuela shares with neighboring countries. Venezuela borders with 14 countries totaling 5,161 kilometers which includes territories of France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom (Montserrat) and the United States. Venezuela has the seventh largest number of land and maritime borders after France, China, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States and Italy.


  1. 1 2 "territory". Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary . Cambridge University Press . Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  2. Territory. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Accessed 28 January 2022. Archived 29 January 2022.
  3. Harper, Douglas. "*ters-". Online Etymology Dictionary . Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  4. Harper, Douglas. "territory". Online Etymology Dictionary . Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  5. "Definition of TERRITORY". Merriam Webster Dictionary . merriam-webster.com . Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  6. Dunmore, Charles W.; Fleischer, Rita M. (2008). Studies in Etymology (Second ed.). Focus. p. 236. ISBN   9781585100125. JSTOR   288048.
  7. "Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples". United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) . the United Nations General Assembly. 14 December 1960. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 23 September 2019 via Wikisource.
  8. "The Overseas Territories" (PDF). Foreign and Commonwealth Office. June 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 May 2019. Retrieved 29 November 2020.