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The term township is used to denote a lower level territorial subdivision. The word is derived from Old English tún meaning "manor".

Township generally means the district or area associated with a town. However in some systems, especially in the U.S., no town need be involved, and indeed in the Scottish Highlands the term describes a very small agricultural community. Specific use of the term to describe political subdivisions has varied by country, usually to describe a local rural or semi-rural government within a county.

  • In Canada, two kinds of township occur in common use. See: Township (Canada)
    • In eastern Canada a township is one form of the subdivision of a county. In Canadian French, this is a canton. Townships are referred to as "lots" in Prince Edward Island and merely form census subdivisions and are not administrative units.
    • In western Canada townships exist only for the purpose of land division by the Dominion Land Survey and do not form administrative units. These townships are six miles by six miles (36 square miles, or roughly 93.24 km²).
  • In the People's Republic of China, townships are found at the fourth level of the administrative hierarchy, together with ethnic townships, towns and subdistricts. See Township (China).
  • In England the term township referred to a subdivision used to administer a large parish. This use became obsolete a long time ago. Recently, some councils, normally in the north of England, have revived the term (see Township (England)).
  • In Australia and New Zealand the designation of "township" traditionally refers to a small town: a place that in Britain might qualify as a village or a hamlet.
  • In parts of north west Scotland (Highlands and Islands), a "township" is a crofting settlement.
  • In Ireland, the term townland is used.
  • In South Africa under Apartheid the term township came to mean a residential development which confined non-whites (Africans, "coloureds" and Indians) who lived near or worked in white-only communities. Soweto ("SOuth-WEst TOwnships") furnishes a well-known example. See Township (South Africa)
  • In Zimbabwe during colonial years of Rhodesia, the term township referred to a residential area reserved for non-white (black) citizens and no town was necessary. In modern Zimbabwe it refers to a residential area within close proximity of a rural growth point. See also Township (South Africa).
  • In the United States, two kinds of township occur. A state may have only one or both of these. In states that have both, the boundaries usually coincide. See Township (United States)
    • A survey township is a unit of land measure defined by the Public Land Survey System. These are generally referenced by a numbering system.
    • A civil township is a widely-used unit of local government. These are generally given names. These are usually abbreviated "Twp". However, even within the category of civil townships, there is great variety among how townships are used in different states. In New Jersey, for example, townships have the same legal standing as other types of municipalities.

See also[]

  • Urban-type settlement
  • Croft (Scotland)


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