Autonomous administrative division

An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administrative division or internal territory of a sovereign state that has a degree of autonomyself-governance — under the national government. Autonomous areas are distinct from the constituent units of a federation (e.g. a state, or province) 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. 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.

List of autonomous subdivisions by designationEdit

Division State Notes
Oroqen   People's Republic of China In effect, these are autonomous counties.
Morin Dawa Daur
  Buenos Aires   Argentina Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina
  Ceuta   Spain The autonomous cities of Spain are two exclaves located on the north coast of North Africa surrounded by Morocco, separated from the Iberian peninsula by the Strait of Gibraltar.
  Tashkent   Uzbekistan Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan
Bangui   Central African Republic Bangui is the capital and the largest city of the Central African Republic
There are 17 autonomous communities of Spain
  United Kingdom Three of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom, namely Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each has an elected, devolved legislature which has the ability to legislate in devolved matters. The Parliament of the United Kingdom which retains sovereignty (the United Kingdom is a unitary state), can dissolve the devolved legislatures at any time, and legislates in matters that are not devolved, as well as having the capacity to legislate in areas that are devolved (by constitutional convention, without the agreement of the devolved legislature). Formerly, both Scotland and England were fully sovereign states.
  Kingdom of Denmark The two autonomous countries[1] (Danish: land, Faroese: land, Greenlandic: nuna) of the realm of the Kingdom, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, each have an elected devolved legislature which has the ability to legislate in devolved matters. The Kingdom Parliament 'Folketinget' retains sovereignty (The Kingdom of Denmark is a unitary state) and legislates in matters that are not devolved, as well as having the capacity to legislate in areas that are devolved (this does not normally occur without the agreement of the devolved legislature).
  Palestinian Authority West Bank and Gaza Strip In 1947, the United Nations (UN) adopted a Partition Plan for Palestine recommending the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and an internationalised Jerusalem. The plan was accepted by the Jewish Agency, and rejected by Arab leaders. The following year, the Jewish Agency declared the independence of the State of Israel, and the subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War saw Israel's establishment over most of the former Mandate territory, while the West Bank and Gaza were held by neighboring Arab states. Israel has since fought several wars with Arab countries, and since the Six-Day War in 1967 held occupied territories including the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip (still considered occupied after the 2005 disengagement, although some legal experts dispute this claim). It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank. Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories is the world's longest military occupation in modern times. Efforts to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict have not resulted in a final peace agreement. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have been signed. On 15 November 1988, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in Algiers proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine. A year after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestinian National Authority was formed to govern the areas A and B in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Gaza would later be ruled by Hamas in 2007, two years after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The State of Palestine is recognised by 138 UN members and since 2012 has a status of a non-member observer state in the United Nations – which implies recognition of statehood. It is a member of the Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, G77, and the International Olympic Committee and other international bodies.
There are 117 autonomous counties in China   China
There are 25 autonomous district councils in India   India Autonomous district councils are formed under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India
Tobago   Trinidad and Tobago The Tobago House of Assembly is an autonomous legislature that is responsible for the island of Tobago.[2]
There are 4 autonomous okrugs of Russia
  Jewish Autonomous Oblast   Russia
There are 30 autonomous prefectures of the People's Republic of China
  Jeju   South Korea
  South Tyrol   Italy The autonomous provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino actually constitute Trentino-Alto Adige, one of the five special regions of Italy to be granted more autonomy than the ordinary fifteen, but the most recent regional constitutional reform redistributed so many regional competences to the two provinces that these two can now be considered separate autonomous provinces for all practical purposes, leaving the existence of the region to basic importance. (for example, some national acts apply to «all regions and autonomous provinces», specifically using this theoretically unnecessary terminology almost as if Trentino-Alto Adige didn't exist as a region, even though it does and «all regions» should also include the one constituted by those two provinces)
  Vojvodina   Serbia
  Aceh   Indonesia Aceh is the only Indonesian province practicing Sharia law officially
  Papua Papua and West Papua are the only Indonesian provinces where the indigenous people have privileges in their local government
  West Papua
  Yogyakarta Yogyakarta is the only officially recognised monarchy within Indonesia
  Vanuatu The provinces of Vanuatu are autonomous units with their own popularly elected local parliaments.
  Åland   Finland
  Aosta Valley   Italy
  Azores   Portugal
  Bangsamoro   Philippines
  Bougainville   Papua New Guinea
  Friuli-Venezia Giulia   Italy
Guangxi   People's Republic of China
  Hong Kong
  People's Republic of China
  Hopi Reservation   United States
  Cherokee Nation   United States
  Choctaw Nation   United States
  Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation   United States
Inner Mongolia   People's Republic of China
  Iraqi Kurdistan   Iraq Iraqi Kurdistan is the only region that has gained official recognition internationally as an autonomous regional entity.
  Jakarta   Indonesia Jakarta is the capital and the largest city of Indonesia
  Hirshabelle State

  South West State of Somalia

  Somalia Somaliland is a self-declared state, It is internationally considered an autonomous region independent in northwestern Somalia.
  Madeira   Portugal
  Mount Athos   Greece
  Navajo Nation   United States
Ningxia   People's Republic of China
  Nisga'a Nation   Canada
  Atlántico Norte   Nicaragua
  Atlántico Sur
  Mayotte Claimed by:
The islands are politically divided between Union of the Comoros (pop. 850,688) and two territories of France: the department of Mayotte (pop. 270,372) and the Glorioso Islands, a part of the Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean, the 5th district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. This change was approved by 73% at a referendum on Mayotte. After the constitutional reform of 2003 it became a collectivité d'outre-mer while keeping the title collectivité départementale de Mayotte. Mayotte became an overseas department of France (département d'outre-mer, DOM) on 31 March 2011 following the result of the March 2009 Mahoran status referendum, which was overwhelmingly approved by around 95% of voters.
Controlled by:
  Rodrigues   Mauritius
  Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria   Syria
  Sardinia   Italy
Tibet   People's Republic of China
Tłı̨chǫ   Canada
Xinjiang   People's Republic of China
  Zanzibar   Tanzania
  Nakhchivan   Azerbaijan
  Adjara   Georgia
Abkhazia Claimed by:
In 1999, the Republic of Abkhazia declared its independence from Georgia after the 1992–1993 war. Georgia and most of the U.N. member states have not recognized Abkhazia's independence and still has an administrative apparatus for the Autonomous Republic; its independence is recognized by Russia and three other U.N. member states.
Controlled by:
Gorno-Badakhshan   Tajikistan
  Crimea Claimed by:
Controlled by:
  Karakalpakstan   Uzbekistan
  Bissau   Guinea-Bissau Bissau is the capital and largest city of Guinea-Bissau.
  Gagauzia   Moldova
Left Bank of the Dniester Claimed by:
In 1990, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR, commonly known as Transnistria) declared its independence from the Soviet Union. While Moldova has not formally recognized Transnistria's independence and still has an administrative apparatus for the Autonomous Province, its independence is recognized by 3 other non-UN member states.
Controlled by:
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Chile In 2007, the Chamber of Deputies of Chile passed a law designating both as "special territories", granting them more autonomy.[3] Additionally, the Juan Fernandez Islands archipelago is a commune, while Easter Island is both a commune and a province.

Other autonomous regions include, Somaliland, Puntland, Jubaland, Ethiopian Controlled Somalia, The Netherlands (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands), Aruba (Kingdom of the Netherlands), Curaçao (Kingdom of the Netherlands), and Saint Maarten (Kingdom of the Netherlands).

List of other entities considered autonomousEdit

Overseas territoriesEdit

British Overseas Territories and Crown dependenciesEdit

Guernsey, the Isle of Man, and Jersey are self-governing Crown dependencies which are not part of the United Kingdom; however, the UK is responsible for their defence and international affairs. Gibraltar is a self-governing overseas territory of the UK. Most of the other 13 British Overseas Territories also have autonomy in internal affairs through local legislatures.

Dutch constituent countriesEdit

Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten are autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, each with their own parliament. In addition they enjoy autonomy in taxation matters as well as having their own currencies.

French overseas collectivities, New Caledonia, and CorsicaEdit

The French Constitution recognises three autonomous jurisdictions. Corsica, a region of France, enjoys a greater degree of autonomy on matters such as tax and education compared to mainland regions. New Caledonia, a sui generis collectivity, and French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity, are highly autonomous territories with their own government, legislature, currency and constitution. They do not, however, have legislative powers for policy areas relating to law and order, defense, border control or university education. Other smaller overseas collectivities have a lesser degree of autonomy through local legislatures. The five overseas regions, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, and Réunion, are generally governed the same as mainland regions; however, they enjoy some additional powers, including certain legislative powers for devolved areas.

New Zealand overseas territoriesEdit

New Zealand maintains nominal sovereignty over three Pacific Island nations. The Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing countries in free association with New Zealand that maintain some international relationships in their own name. Tokelau remains an autonomous dependency of New Zealand. The Chatham Islands—despite having the designation of Territory—is an integral part of the country, situated within the New Zealand archipelago. The territory's council is not autonomous and has broadly the same powers as other local councils, although notably it can also charge levies on goods entering or leaving the islands.[4]

Ethiopian special woredasEdit

In Ethiopia, "special woredas" are a subgroup of woredas (districts) that are organized around the traditional homelands of an ethnic minority, and are outside the usual hierarchy of a kilil, or region. These woredas have many similarities to autonomous areas in other countries.

Areas designated for indigenous peoplesEdit

Other areas that are autonomous in nature but not in name are areas designated for indigenous peoples, such as those of the Americas:

List of historical autonomous administrative divisionsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b * Benedikter, Thomas (2006-06-19). "The working autonomies in Europe". Society for Threatened Peoples. Archived from the original on 2008-03-09. Retrieved 2019-08-30. Denmark has established very specific territorial autonomies with its two island territories
    • Ackrén, Maria (November 2017). "Greenland". Autonomy Arrangements in the World. Archived from the original on 2019-08-30. Retrieved 2019-08-30. Faroese and Greenlandic are seen as official regional languages in the self-governing territories belonging to Denmark.
    • "Greenland". International Cooperation and Development. European Commission. 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2019-08-27. Greenland [...] is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark
    • "Facts about the Faroe Islands". Nordic cooperation. Archived from the original on 23 April 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2015. The Faroe Islands [...] is one of three autonomous territories in the Nordic Region
  2. ^ Tobago Division Of Tourism - About Tobago, Governance Archived 2007-07-10 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Easter Islands now a "special territory" with more autonomy".
  4. ^ "Chatham Islands Council Act 1995 No 41 (as at 01 July 2013), Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation".

Works citedEdit