Talk:Political divisions of the United States

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Cleaning up Insular Areas[edit]

Adam, you just undid my revisions at Political divisions of the United States. I am still in the process of updating this article. You say that the links are an important part of this article. I disagree. They are an important part of the Insular Area article, and you'll note, are copied from there almost word for word. This page, rated C by the United States project, is currently a mess. I am trying to clean it up. I will copy all this to the talk page. Let's talk about it there. Bg860e (talk) 07:15, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Adam apparently doesn't want to talk, so I'll try again to clean up the insular area section, again leaving important links intact. Bg860e (talk) 23:22, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Administrative Divisions vs. Political Divisions[edit]

I'd like to restart the discussion on moving this page to "Administrative Divisions of the United States." I think that is the most accurate title for the following reasons:

  • "Political", according to Wiktionary, means "concerning or relating to politics, the art and process of governing". Therefore, a "political division" to me is a way of dividing the act of governing into different groups. I'm thinking here federation, oligarchy, aristocracy, etc. are most appropriately called "political divisions".
  • What is being discussed here are really "administrative divisions" - the dividing of the United States into smaller areas for the purpose of administration. This is a tricky distinction, since these divisions are ultimately administered by local governments, but I think it is important to distinguish between the act of dividing territory and the act of establishing government to administer it. I have encountered this in research for the Local government in the United States article. The consolidated city-county illustrates this distinction well: for the purposes of administrative division, the Census Bureau considers consolidated city-counties counties (not even county-equivalents - proper counties), but for the purposes of describing local government, it considers them municipalities, since they operate more like a city than a county. I think this article should cover administrative division, and the local government article should handle describing the governments of these divisions.
  • Finally, to address an earlier comment noted below, I think "division" is more appropriate than "subdivision" since this article does (and should) address the states themselves. Again, according to Wiktionary, a "subdivision" is "a division into smaller pieces of something that has already been divided". Therefore, the "subdivisions of the United States" are the counties, towns, cities, etc., while the "administrative divisions of the United States" include all of these, and the states as well.

Bg860e (talk) 20:58, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

I've bumped up earlier comments on this subject to this section as follows: Bg860e (talk) 20:58, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

I had the same problem. I was looking for Subdivisions of the United States, but simply couldnt find it! With no opposition being voiced since March 9 (comment above), I was bold and moved it.
Cheers, The Minister of War (Peace) 08:04, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
And I moved it back. You didn't even both to fix the double redirects. My goodness, the categories are all wrong! Some German speaker with poor English skills has corrupted the correct "Administrative Divisions" into "Subdivisions" Needless to say, the categories are not about platting.
--William Allen Simpson 15:17, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Excuse me? German speaker with poor English skills? Would you like to take that back before or after I point you to my user page?
I'd also like to point out that the Subdivisions of Russia (which, like Germany, I also dont come from) are also not about platting. They are just in sync with the regular naming for such articles, thats all.
And indeed forgot about the redirects, my bad.
The Minister of War (Peace) 15:47, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, wasn't referring to you, was Tobias Conradi that renamed all the categories (changed context in the previous sentence, probably should have been a new paragraph). At about the same time he lost the straw poll at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (subnational entities).
The standard terminology is Political division and Administrative division. I've only just started looking, and found a pile of articles and categories that used to be correctly named "Administrative divisions of XXX". Can't tell about Subdivisions of Russia, seems to have been originally about "Federal subjects" and split some time ago.
--William Allen Simpson 18:18, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
Aha okay. I thought it was a strange insult, but got me riled up nonetheless.
I agree Admin Div is better; I'll comment at CfD as well.
Cheers, The Minister of War (Peace) 21:21, 4 April 2006 (UTC)
I did rename "all the categories"?. Which categories do you refer to? I only renamed those that were not in sync. If you prefer to have the stuff not in sync this is another thing. As you want to split the cats into Pol Divs and Admin Divs, depending on country. Tobias Conradi (Talk) 06:50, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Subdivision (for countries) is not only used by German's with poor english skills. see: ISO 3166-2 Codes for the representation of names of countries and their subdivisions -- Part 2: Country subdivision code .
  • If Admin Div is better, why the title now is Pol Div? I think an umbrella term (country subdivisions) for Admin Div and Pol Div is better used for the categories. Tobias Conradi (Talk) 06:50, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
  • Ok, I'm kinda confused here. I'm working on a page for the Political subdivisions of North Carolina State. Should this page be "Political Divisions of" or "Administrative Divisions of" North Carolina? I got the idea to start working on this because there is a page for the "Political Subdivisions of New York State" and that got me interested in wanting to figure out the breakdown of NC state politics, and being able to compare the two for myself, since i'm from NY and now live in NC. So do I need to change something here? Political subdivisions of New York State I'm not sure about some of this tag stuff here... hope i get it right! eromrab (Talk) 10:10, 5 April 2006 (EST).
The correct form should be:
This is the official terminology of the United States, and most state governments. See (quick non-exhaustive Google search):
--William Allen Simpson 23:00, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't seem that this renaming was ever attempted... The above discussion still seems pertinent, so objections notwithstanding, I shall do it! ... Batternut (talk) 10:15, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

Nature of the US Federal System[edit]

The federal government of the United States was created when sovereign states delegated some of their sovereignty to one central government. The sovereignty they delegated, however, was not complete. The logical extension of this delegation is that the federal government enjoys limited sovereignty, and the states retain whatever sovereignty they never delegated to the federal government.

This is incorrect and puts a bit of a Civil War era spin on the nature of the Federal system. The states did not create the national government by a "delegation" of sovereignty. The United States has traditionally been regarded (legally and colloquially) as a creation of the people, not as agents of state government, but as individuals. One does not have to be a citizen of a state to be a citizen of the United States, and state governments have no explicit power over the national government. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.97.45.146 (talk) 03:20, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

I have to agree.. we have a federal government not a national one.. Nickmxp (talk) 01:29, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

I have to disagree. The United States Constitution was adopted by the people in their capacity as citizens of the states. The Constitution was ratified by the states. In any case, the United States as an entity pre-existed the current Constitution. The Aricles of Confederation was adopted by the delegates of the state governments in the Continental Congress. I think the claim that "the people" created the United States is nationalist (ant-federal) spin. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.212.80.149 (talk) 19:24, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

Misleading[edit]

  This is misleading enough to need an extensive rewrite,

the first paragraph is just wrong. The Constitution explicitly prohibits Congress from altering the boundaries of states without their consent.

Federal Oversight of United States Territory[edit]

Congress of the United States[edit]

The U.S. Congress is granted the power to set political divisions within the territory of the United States. The power of Congress over such divisions is exclusive and universal, which would not preclude state and local governments from suing the federal government if they disputed an act of Congress.

United States Department of the Interior[edit]

On March 3, 1849, on the last day of the 30th Congress, a bill was passed to create the U.S. Department of the Interior to take charge of the internal affairs of United States territory. The Interior Department has a wide range of responsibilities (which include the regulation of territorial governments, the basic responsibilities for public lands, and other various duties).

In contrast to similarly named Departments in other countries, the United States Department of the Interior is not responsible for local government or for civil administration except in the cases of Indian reservations, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and island dependencies, through the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Roadrunner (talkcontribs) 05:56, April 29, 2004 (UTC)


I'm not sure what you are objecting to. The paragraphs you excised talk about the Congress' authority over U.S. territory, NOT the States of the Union. There is a difference. older wiser 11:44, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)

For reference, from the U.S. Constitution.

Article IV, Section. 3.
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

The deleted text may need some minor clarification, but there is no basis for wholesale deletion or overhaul. older wiser 20:32, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Regarding City-States[edit]

I already excised an entire paragraph which completely mischaracterized the government of New York City. I'm thinking this also needs to go: In essence, the city as municipal corporation is the modern form of the ancient city-state, a sovereign entity that exists today only in the forms of Singapore, San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican. What do others think? Nelson Ricardo 17:18, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

I know it's over two years since your post, but I agree. This whole paragraph:
In some states, cities operate independently of townships. Some cities (and all cities in Virginia) operate outside of the jurisdiction of any county. Cities, which are sometimes called towns, differ from counties and townships in that they are not administrative divisions of the state. Instead, they are semi-autonomous municipal corporations that are recognized by the state. In essence, the city as municipal corporation is the modern form of the ancient city-state, a sovereign entity that exists today only in the forms of Monaco, San Marino, Singapore, and the Vatican City.

needs to be deleted. Just because a city is not part of a county does not mean that it is not a political subdivision of the state. Take Carson City, Nevada. Despite not being part of a county, it's the state capital for Christ's sakes. How is it, or any other non-county municipality, semi-autonomous from the state? I'm thinking about deleting this. The only city in the US proper that is not part of a state is Washington, coterminous with the District of Columbia. -24.149.203.34 (talk) 00:31, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

While Monaco, Singapore, and Vatican City are city-states, the article says that San Marino is also a city-state. It seems to me it has multiple cities ("municipalities") such as Dogana and Borgo Maggiore, unlike Monaco, which is one city with multiple quarters. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.164.236.198 (talk) 00:39, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Agreed, this is a mess. To be addressed as part of a general cleanup of the first section. Bg860e (talk) 00:14, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Districts & Misc[edit]

The article misses entirely the elected local governments called "districts." Most important are school districts, which operate either under state statute or local charter initiative, depending on the state, and have independent governing bodies. In most states there are several other types of service disticts authorized in statute as local governments, rather than as non-governmental associations.

I'll just stick this in here because I don't really care that much, but MAryland (and perhaps other states, I don't know) has a strong county level of government. Does it warrant mention? I leave that to the constant bickering mandarins of the wikipedia.

Number of cities[edit]

Article states:"There are approximately 30,000 incorporated cities in the United States, with varying degrees of self-rule."

The 2002 Census of governments Volume 1 http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/gc021x1.pdf States:

There are 19,429 municipal governments in the United States. For the purposes of the census, a “municipal government” refers to “political subdivisions within which a municipal corporation has been established to provide general local government for a specific population concentration in a defined area, and includes all active government units officially designated as cities, boroughs (except in Alaska), towns (except in Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, and six New England states) and villages.”

Should this citation be more precise than "approximatly 30,000"?


I want to comment here on the claim that counties are always the second tier of government below the state-level, as well as the claim that townships are an administrative subdivision of counties. In Vermont, neither of these things is true. Below the state level, we have town government. Counties exist in Vermont (we have county court houses and a county sheriff), but there is no government at that level. Furthermore, town governments are not administrative subdivisions of anything, but are elected governments in their own right, many of which pre-date the state. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Streifenhörnchen (talkcontribs) 00:42, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

New section: Pseudo-government entities?[edit]

I'd like to propose a new section: Pseudo-government entities, or something along those lines. Skim through Homeowners association. They are increasing, both in number and power, have the ability to levy taxes and fines, regulate the colours one paints a house, etc. They have been recognised as plaintiffs in various court cases. A few quotes from the page follow.

  • "In some U.S. states, California or Texas for instance, a homeowners association can foreclose a member's house without any judicial procedure in order to collect special assessments, fees and even a fine. Other states, like Florida, require a judicial hearing."
  • (different court case) "In ruling for the plaintiffs [in Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Association], the appeals court relied on a 1946 United States Supreme Court case, Marsh v. Alabama. In Marsh, the Court held that a company-owned town that functioned like a government should be treated like one."

Thoughts?samwaltz 14:36, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Disputed Areas[edit]

The disputed areas in the list are not all 'territories' but yet are listed under that heading. It would be unbiased to direct people to the page about American territorial disputes than to confuse them into thinking that Machias Seal Island is considered a federal territory when it is actually Maine's and that the Dixon Entrance is a land dispute. Do you think I don't want people to know about the disputes? What is my motivation except to make this page unbiased?CharlesRobertCountofNesselrode 11:20, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Remove SVG map?[edit]

What purpose does the SVG map in the "External links" section serve? There are already maps and links to all the states earlier in the article, and the state names/abbreviations aren't well positioned on the map (probably varies by user). For me, "Oklahoma" barely touches Oklahoma, and "DC" is in the middle of Pennsylvania. I think the map should be deleted if it can't be fixed (and even then it seems redundant). —KCinDC (talk) 20:59, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

The map is totally useless. I say delete it. -epicAdam (talk) 21:38, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
No one's spoken up for it, so I removed it. —KCinDC (talk) 23:00, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Resolved Issues[edit]

Iraq and Afghanistan[edit]

  • Are Iraq and Afghanistan also US territories as they are American occupied entities? 210.9.15.116 12:38, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
  • I don't believe so; both have their own heads of state, armies, police, etc. Regards, David Kernow (talk) 08:36, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Both Iraq and Afghanistan are completely sovereign nations. While the United States and other coalition governments have troops stationed there, they are there to assist the local governments fight terrorists and not as an “occupation force.”
  • Agreed. There is no legitimate basis for considering either Iraq or Afghanistan a part of the United States. This issue is resolved. Bg860e (talk) 00:10, 1 March 2012 (UTC)


Insular Areas[edit]

Update February 2012: To resolve the below comments, I streamlined the section on insular areas, removing most of the content to the Insular area and Territories of the United States articles. It is most appropriate as part of this article on the administrative divisions of the United States to identify these types of jurisdictions, and guide the reader to linked articles for further detail. Bg860e (talk) 06:58, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Good question. This is the first that I've heard of it being "disputed" (other than between the two of us as to whether is is permanently staffed or not :). olderwiser 17:04, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  • (Laughing out loud!) Thanks. Pædia 19:39, 2004 Jun 30 (UTC)
The privately owned is explained on Palmyra's page, but the disputed is mysterious. According to this page Palymra has no territorial disputes, although it does say that there are competing claims for Wake and Navassa... jengod 19:50, Jun 30, 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure why the above comment is here, but the appropriate place for this content is Palau, if the existing text there doesn't cover this adequately. -- Beland 03:14, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
  • A "Trust Territory" is specifically defined as an international mandate to administer a non-self-governing territory, and to help it build a self-governing infrastructure, with the explicit intention and obligation of preparing that territory to exercize its right of self-determination, be it by independence or by eventual political union with the administrating country.
  • While the actual governance of a Trust Territory is the responsability of the country holding the trusteeship, said country does not possess sovereignty. Sovereignty lies with the international organization that executes the Mandate or Trust, be it the League of Nations or the United Nations. For this reason, an accurate political map will never label a Trust Territory with the name of the administrating country, or with the phrase "to [country]," but will instead show the proper formula of "[country]-administered."
Ditto, for United Nations Trust Territories. -- Beland 03:14, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
  • Is there a better way to sync content of the Insular areas list with Insular areas? A template, perhaps? -- Beland 02:50, 16 July 2005 (UTC)
  • Where is [Puerto Rico] in this article. The Insular Area section only lists American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.157.173.183 (talk) 01:53, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

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External links modified[edit]

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Template:Infobox U.S. state: Image-related parameters generate lint error[edit]

Please see Template_talk:Infobox_U.S._state#Images generate lint error: Bogus file options for a discussion on the bug in {{Infobox U.S. state}} that the flag, seal, and map parameters each generate a Lint error: Bogus file options, and please add your thoughts there, not here. —Anomalocaris (talk) 18:50, 27 October 2017 (UTC)