A dependent territory, dependent area, dependency or autonomous territory is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside of the controlling state's integral area.

A dependency is commonly distinguished from other subnational entities in that they are not considered to be part of the integral territory of the governing State. A subnational entity typically represents a division of the State proper, while a dependent territory often maintains a great degree of autonomy from the controlling State. Historically, most colonies were considered to be dependencies of their controlling State. The dependencies that remain generally maintain a very high degree of political autonomy. At the same time, not all autonomous entities are considered to be dependencies.

Many political entities have a special position recognized by international treaty or agreement resulting in a certain level of autonomy or differences in immigration rules. These are sometimes considered dependencies, but are officially considered by their controlling states to be integral parts of the state. Examples are Ã…land (Finland), Hong Kong (China), and Macau (China).

Summary of list contents

Dependent territory

The following listings indicate (or can be interpreted to indicate):

Dependent territories
  • 2 states in free association, 1 dependent territory and 1 dependency claim in the listing for New Zealand;
  • 1 dependent territory and 2 dependency claims in the listing for Norway;
  • 12 dependent territories, 3 Crown dependencies, 1 group of sovereign base areas and 1 dependency claim in the listing for the United Kingdom;
  • 13 dependent territories and 2 dependency claims in the listing for the United States.
Other entities
  • 6 territories in administration and 1 dependency claim in the listing for Australia;
  • 2 special administrative regions in the listing for China;
  • 2 territories with autonomy in internal affairs in the listing for Denmark;
  • 1 territory governed according to an act and international treaties in the listing for Finland;
  • 8 autonomous overseas possessions in the listing for France;
  • 3 territories with autonomy in internal affairs and 3 integrated territories in the listing for the Netherlands;
  • 2 territories with limited sovereignty in the listing for Norway;
  • 1 unorganized incorporated territory and 3 sovereign states in free association in the listing for the United States.

Lists of dependent territories

Dependency claims without general international recognition, including all claims in Antarctica, are listed in italics. The list includes several territories that are not included in the list of non-self-governing territories listed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. This list includes territories that have not been legally incorporated into their governing state.

New Zealand

Summary: The Realm of New Zealand includes two self-governing states in free association with New Zealand, one dependent territory (Tokelau) and a territorial claim in Antarctica


Summary: Norway has 1 dependent territory and 2 dependency claims.

United Kingdom

Summary: the United Kingdom has 12 dependent territories, 3 crown dependencies, 1 group of sovereign base areas and 1 dependency claim.

United States

Summary: the United States has 13 dependent territories and 2 dependency claims.

Note: The United States also has one incorporated territory, and three sovereign states in free association. See below.

Lists of other entities

Dependent territory

The following entities are according to the law of their state full part of their governing country, but exhibit characteristics of dependent territories. Most inhabited territories have their own ISO 3166 country codes.


Summary: Australia has 6 territories in its adiministration and 1 dependency claim.

Although all territories of Australia are considered to be fully integrated in its federative system, and the official status of an external territory does not differ largely from that of a mainland territory (except in regards to immigration law), debate remains as to whether the external territories are integral parts of Australia, due to their not being part of Australia in 1901, when its constituent states federated. They are often listed separately for statistical purposes.


Summary: China has 2 special administrative regions.


Summary: The Kingdom of Denmark contains 2 self-governing countries.


Summary: Finland has 1 territory governed according to an act and international treaties.


Summary: France has 8 autonomous overseas possessions, not counting the overseas departments and regions of Réunion, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Mayotte, which, although located overseas, are not autonomous. All of France's possessions are considered to be integral parts of the French Republic.


Summary: The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of 3 Caribbean countries, territories with autonomy in internal affairs and one country (Netherlands) with most of its area in Europe, but which includes 3 Caribbean territories. All Dutch citizens of the Kingdom share the same nationality and are thus citizens of the European Union.


Summary: Norway has 2 territories with limited Norwegian sovereignty.

United States

Summary: the United States 1 Incorporated unorganized territory and 3 self-governing sovereign states in free association.

Note: The United States also has 13 dependent territories and 2 dependency claims. See above.


Dependent territory

Three Crown dependencies are in a form of association with the UK. They are independently administrated jurisdictions, although the British Government is solely responsible for defence and international representation, and has ultimate responsibility for ensuring good government. They do not have diplomatic recognition as independent states, but they are not an integrated part of the UK, nor do they form part of the European Union. The UK Parliament retains the ability to legislate for the Crown dependencies even without the agreement of the insular legislatures. None of the Crown dependencies has representatives in the UK Parliament. Bermuda and Gibraltar have similar relationships to the UK as the Crown dependencies. While Britain is officially responsible for defence and international representation, these jurisdictions maintain their own militaries and have been granted limited diplomatic powers, in addition to having internal self-government. Nevertheless, they are British overseas territories.

New Zealand and dependencies share the same Governor-General and constitute one realm. The Cook Islands and Niue are officially termed associated states.

Puerto Rico (since 1952) and the Northern Mariana Islands (since 1986) are non-independent states freely associated with the United States. The mutually negotiated Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in Political Union with the United States was approved in 1976. The Covenant was fully implemented November 3, 1986, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation no. 5564, which conferred United States citizenship on legally qualified CNMI residents.

Under the Constitution of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico is described as a Commonwealth and Puerto Ricans have a degree of administrative autonomy similar to citizens of a U.S. state. Puerto Ricans "were collectively made U.S. citizens" in 1917 as a result of the Jones-Shafroth Act. The commonly used name in Spanish of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, literally "Associated Free State of Puerto Rico", which sounds similar to "free association" particularly when loosely used in Spanish, is sometimes erroneously interpreted to mean that Puerto Rico's relationship with United States is based on a Compact of Free Association and at other times erroneously held to mean that Puerto Rico's relationship with United States is based on an Interstate compact. This is a constant source of ambiguity and confusion when trying to define, understand and explain Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States. For various reasons Puerto Rico's political status differs from that of the Pacific Islands that entered into Compacts of Free Association with the United States. As sovereign states, these islands have full right to conduct their own foreign relations, while the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has territorial status subject to United States congressional authority under the Constitution's Territory Clause, "to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory… belonging to the United States.". Puerto Rico does not have the right to unilaterally declare independence, and at the last referendum (1998) the narrow majority voted for "none of the above", which was a formally undefined alternative used by commonwealth supporters to express their desire for an "enhanced commonwealth" option.

This kind of relationship also can be found in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is a federacy. The continental part is organized like a unitary state but the status of its territories (Aruba, since 1986, and the Netherlands Antilles, since 1954 until 2010) can be considered dependencies or "associated non-independent states". After the split-up of the Netherlands Antilles, Curaçao and Sint Maarten are separate associated states like Aruba.

Additionally, Denmark operates in a similar manner to a federacy. The Faroes and Greenland are two self-governing territories, or regions within the Kingdom. The relationship between Denmark proper and the two territories is semi-officially termed the "Rigsfællesskabet".

See also

Dependent territory
  • Associated state
  • Colonisation
  • Colony
  • Condominium
  • Federacy
  • List of autonomous areas by country
  • List of current dependent territory leaders
  • List of sovereign states
  • List of former sovereign states - Section: Former colonies, possessions, protectorates and territories
  • Suzerainty
  • Table of administrative divisions by country
  • Territorial claims in Antarctica
  • United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories

Notes and references

Dependent territory

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.


Dependent territory
  • George Drower, Britain's Dependent Territories, Dartmouth, 1992
  • George Drower, Overseas Territories Handbook, TSO, 1998

External links

  • WorldStatesmen- includes former dependent states

Post a Comment