Originally, the county was the land under the jurisdiction of a count (in Great Britain, an earl, though the original earldoms covered larger areas) by reason of that office. The term has since tended to represent a geographical unit of administration intermediate between the larger state or province, and the smaller township or municipality.
County governments are typically responsible for services such as record-keeping, elections administration, and judicial administration.
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7 Serbia and Montenegro
9 United Kingdom
10 United States
Five of Canada's ten provinces are divided into counties. In Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, these are local government units, whereas in Quebec and Prince Edward Island they are now only geographical divisions. Most counties consist of several municipalities, however there are a few that consist of a single large city. In sparcely populated northern Ontario and Quebec, these units are called "districts" not "counties", and in densely populated south-central Ontario new "regional municipalities" are used for local government instead of counties.
- List of New Brunswick counties
- List of Nova Scotia counties
- List of Prince Edward Island counties
- List of Ontario counties
- List of Quebec counties
ChinaThe word "county" is the general English translation for the Chinese term xiÓn (县 or 縣 pinyin xian4) which marks a level of government below the province. On Taiwan, the freezing of the administration of Taiwan province has left the county the major governmental level below the ROC national government. On Mainland China, some provinces have reorganized themselves to add a layer of administration known as the region (地 dý) between the county and the provincial government.
Such English nomenclature was adopted following the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC). The number of counties in China proper numbers about 2000, and has remained more or less constant since the Han dynasty. The county remains one of the oldest levels of government in China and significantly predates the establishment of provinces in the Ming dynasty. The county government was particularly important in imperial China because this was the lowest layer at which the imperial government functioned.
The head of a county is the magistrate.
- See also: Counties of Taiwan
FranceThe historical counties of France were abolished in 1790 and incorporated in the new dÚpartements created following the Revolution. The term survives, however, in the name of the Franche-ComtÚ region, the former Free County of Burgundy.
The island of Ireland was originally divided into 32 counties in the nineteenth century, of which 26 later formed the Republic of Ireland and 6 made up Northern Ireland. The counties were grouped into 4 provinces - Leinster (12), Munster (6) Connacht (5) and Ulster (9). In the Republic each county is administered by an elected County Council. In the 1970s in Northern Ireland and in the 1990s in the Republic of Ireland the existing county numbers and boundaries were reformed. In the Republic, for example Dublin County was broken in four, forming Dublin City, Dublin County, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal. In addition 'County Tipperary' is actually two counties, called Tipperary North Riding and Tipperary South Riding, while major urban centres like Cork and Limerick have been separated from rural counties. Thus, though sometimes nicknamed the 'Twenty Six Counties' by some republicans, the Republic of Ireland actually now has thirty-three counties.
"County" is one of the translations of gun (郡), which is a subdivision of prefecture. It is also translated as rural district, rural area or district. The translation "district" is not preferred, because it comes into conflict with the usual translation of "district", choume (丁目). In this enyclopedia, district is used for gun. See Japanese translation note.
In the present, "counties" have no political power or administrative function. The division is mainly significant in postal services.
Norway is divided into 19 Counties (sing. fylke, plur. fylker) as of 1972. Up to this year Bergen was a separate county, but is today a municipality in the county of Hordaland. All counties are divided into municipalities, (sing. kommune, plur. kommuner), the ones with incorporated cities being called city municipalities (sing. bykommune, plur. bykommuner). The county of Oslo is equivalent to the municipality of Oslo.
Each county has its own assembly (fylkesting) whose representatives are elected every 4 years together with representatives to the municipality councils. The counties handle matters as high schools and local roads, and until recently hospitals as well. This responsibility is now transferred to the state, and there is a debate on the future of the county as an administrative entity. Some people, and parties, such as the Conservatives, H°yre, call for the abolishment of the counties once and for all, while others merely want to merger some of them into larger regions.
Serbia and Montenegro
In Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia is divided into 29 counties (okrug) and the city of Belgrade, each of which is further divided into municipalities (opŃtina) while Montenegro is directly divided into 21 municipalities.
The Swedish division into Counties was established in 1634, and was based on an earlier division into Provinces. Sweden is today divided into 21 Counties, and each County is further divided into Municipalities. At the County level there is a County Administrative Board led by a Governor appointed by the central Government of Sweden, as well as an elected County Council that handles a separate set of issues, notably Hospitals and Public transportation.
Great Britain is divided into 86 counties, and Northern Ireland into 6 counties.
The ages and the origins of the Counties of Britain vary. Most of those of England pre-date the Norman conquest. The thirteen Counties of Wales were fixed by Statute in 1539 and most of those of Scotland are of at least this age. In 1888 administrative areas (county councils) were based on them. Various reorganisations of administration since have detached most of the counties from a role in local government, and many survive (as in the U.S.) as solely geographical designations. Modern local government in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a large part of England is based on the concept of smaller unitary authorities, a system similar to that proposed for most of Great Britain in the 1960s.
See Traditional counties of England, Scotland and Wales
The term "county" is also used in 48 of the 50 states of the United States for the level of local government below the state itself. Louisiana uses the term "parishes" and Alaska uses "boroughs". The power of the county government varies widely from state to state as does the relationship between counties and incorporated cities. In New England, counties function primarily as judicial court districts (in fact, in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, they have even lost this function and are solely geographic designations), and most local power is in the form of towns. Lists of counties by state can be found through U.S. Counties. Each county contains a county seat which serves as the county's capital city. County sheriffs are the principal agents of law enforcement in some states, for areas outside of cities and towns.