Unincorporated area

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Unincorporated in law is a region of land that is not a part of any municipality. To "incorporate" in this context means to form a municipal corporation, i.e., a city or town with its own government. Thus, an unincorporated community is usually not subject to or taxed by a city government. Such regions are generally administered by default as a part of larger territorial divisions such as: township, borough, county, state, province, canton, parish, or country. It is uncommon, but not unknown, for small towns in fiscal crisis to disincorporate in order to have services provided by a higher administration.


In Australia there are large unincorporated areas in the Northern Territory with 9000 km of roads in those areas.[1]

New South Wales Edit

The far west and north of this state is called the Unincorporated Far West Region, which is sparsely populated and barely warrants an elected council. However a civil servant in the state capital manages such matters as are necessary.


In Canada, depending on the province, an unincorporated settlement is one that has no town council and is part of a larger municipal government. This can range from small hamlets to larger urbanised areas. For example the Edmonton, Alberta suburb of Sherwood Park would be one of the largest cities in Alberta if it were incorporated but remains simply a part of the Specialized Municipality of Strathcona County. Likewise the oil sands boomtown of Fort McMurray, Alberta is not a separate community but part of the massive Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality.


As of January 1, 2004, Germany has 244 (of which 215 are located in Bavaria) uninhabited unincorporated areas, called gemeindefreie Gebiete or singular gemeindefreies Gebiet, not belonging to any municipality, consisting mostly of forested areas. There are also three inhabited unincorporated areas (Osterheide and Lohheide in Lower Saxony, and Gutsbezirk Münsingen in Baden-Württemberg).

United StatesEdit

In the United States, unincorporated regions tend to be fairly rare in the densely populated New England and Mid-Atlantic states, but are very common in the Midwest, western and southwestern states, such as California and Nevada, and in the southeastern states, such as Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Unlike most other states, Maryland in particular grants significant home-rule powers to its counties, hence population centers comprising tens of thousands — including virtually all of suburban Baltimore — have little incentive to incorporate. The state of Michigan has policies that favor townships and discourage city formation, and so has many such communities. The state of Hawaii takes the concept to its logical conclusion: it has no incorporated cities as subcounty governments (the City and County of Honolulu is the state's only "city") and all its "towns" are administered at the county level. In United States local government, an unincorporated community is one general term for a geographic area having a common social identity without benefit of municipal organization or official political designation (i.e. incorporation as a city or town). There are two main types of unincorporated communities:

In New York, unincorporated communities within towns are called hamlets. The towns are themselves municipalities which can contain villages. Exceptions to this exist, however, such as the peculiar relationship between the Village of Mamaroneck, the Village of Larchmont, the unincorporated town of Mamaroneck, and the overarching Town of Mamaroneck. In Ohio, townships are considered unincorporated areas while only villages and cities are referred to as incorporated.

In the context of the United States insular areas, the word "unincorporated" means that the territory has not been formally and irrevocably incorporated into the United States. (See: incorporated territory.) Unincorporated insular areas are therefore potentially subject to being sold or otherwise transferred to another power, or, conversely, being granted independence. However, neither fate seems likely to occur in the foreseeable future to the five remaining major unincorporated U.S. insular areas, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands.

In some areas, small centers of population retain the names that they were given when they were originally settled, even though the neighborhoods later became part of other municipalities. Official signs mark those towns, with the designation, "unincorporated."

Countries without unincorporated placesEdit

Many countries, especially those with many centuries of history using multiple tiers of local government, do not use the concept of an unincorporated place.

In the United Kingdom the whole of the country, rural and urban, has been covered by a two or three-tier system of local government for many centuries. In South Africa the latest constitution gave every place in the country democratically elected third-tier government.

Likewise the whole of the territory of Austria, France (except for some small overseas possessions), Poland, Netherlands and Italy is divided into communes.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Loraine Braham (10am. August 25, 2004). "Building Healthier Communities – Report". Full Text Transcript, Ministerial Reports, Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 

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