A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most countries, a territory is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally developed into, or incorporated into, a political unit of the country that is of equal status to other political units that may often be referred to by words such as "provinces" or "regions" or "states". In international politics, a territory is usually either the total area from which a state may extract power resources or any non-sovereign geographic area which has come under the authority of another government; which has not been granted the powers of self-government normally devolved to secondary territorial divisions; or both.
The origins of the word territory begin with the Proto-Indo-European root ters ('to dry'). From this emerged the Latin word terra ('earth, land') and later the Latin word territorium ('land around a town'). Territory made its debut as a word in Middle English during the 14th century. At this point the suffix -orium, which denotes place, was replaced with -ory which also expresses place.
Examples for different types of territory include the following:
- Capital territory
- Dependent territory
- Disputed territory, a geographic area claimed by two or more rival governments. For example, the territory of Kashmir is claimed by the governments of both India and Pakistan; for each country involved in the dispute, the whole territory is claimed as a part of the existing state. Another example is the Republic of China (commonly labeled "Taiwan"), whose sovereignty status is disputed by and territory claimed by the People's Republic of China.
- Federal territory
- Maritime territory
- Occupied territory, a region that is under the military control of an outside power that has not gained universal recognition from the international community. Current examples are Crimea, occupied by the Russian Federation; East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, occupied by the State of Israel; Western Sahara, partially occupied by the Kingdom of Morocco. Other examples of occupied territory include the country of Kuwait after it was briefly invaded by Iraq in 1990, Iraq after the American invasion of 2003, Germany after World War II, and Kosovo after 1999.
- Overseas territory
- Unorganized territory, a region of land without a "normally" constituted system of government. This does not mean that the territory has no government at all or that it is an unclaimed territory. In practice, such territories are always sparsely populated.
A capital territory or federal capital territory is usually a specially designated territory where a country's seat of government is located. As such, in the federal model of government, no one state or territory takes pre-eminence because the capital lies within its borders. A capital territory can be one specific form of federal district.
Dependent territory is a designation for a territory that is not an independent sovereign state, yet remains politically outside the governing state's integral area. Presently, all dependent territories are either overseas territories or non-sovereign associated states. Only four countries currently possess dependent territories: New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A federal territory is an area within the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of the central or national government within a federation.
Federal territories include:
Overseas territory is a broad designation for a territorial entity that is separated from the country that governs it by an ocean. An overseas territory may be either a constituent part of the governing state or a dependent territory.