Political divisions of the United States describes the various subnational entities that together form the United States. The primary division is the state. The United States Federal and State governments operate within a system of parallel sovereignty, so states are not technically "divisions" created from the United States, but rather units that, together with the federal district and other territories administered by the Federal government, comprise the United States.
States are typically subdivided into counties. Louisiana uses the term parish and Alaska uses the term borough for what the Census terms county-equivalents in those states.
Counties and county equivalents may be further subdivided into townships. Towns in New York and New England are treated equivalent to townships by the United States Census Bureau. Towns or townships are used as subdivisions of a county in 20 states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest.
Population centers may be organized into incorporated cities, towns, villages, and other types of municipalities. Municipalities are typically subordinate to a county government, with some exceptions. Certain cities, for example, have consolidated with their county government as consolidated city-counties. In Virginia, cities are completely independent from the county in which they would otherwise be a part. In some states, particularly New England, towns form the primary unit of local government below the state level, in some cases eliminating the need for county government entirely.
Outside of the states, other divisions include the federal district, insular areas administered by the Federal government, and American Indian reservations. The Federal government also maintains exclusive jurisdiction over the military installations, and American embassies and consulates located in foreign countries. Other special purpose divisions exist separate from those for general governance, examples of which include conservation districts and Congressional districts.
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