The land area of the world is divided into countries (1). Most of the countries are, in turn, divided into smaller units. These units may be called states, provinces, regions, governorates, and so on. A phrase that describes them all is "major administrative divisions of countries". I will use the term "statoid" for short. Since the word has no other accepted meaning (2), it can be used as a search term on search engines to target this site. The 'a' of statoid is long.
This page is a guide to Internet sites about the statoids of each country. It can be used independently, but it is meant to be an update to the book "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries", by Gwillim Law (McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina) (3). The international standard ISO 3166 is the source for the list of countries. As a result, some dependencies, and a few integral parts of larger countries, are listed as if they were separate countries.
Can continents be used to define another hierarchical level of subdivisions, below the whole world and above the countries? There are some difficulties with that idea, which I discuss on the Continents page.
The book and website attempt to satisfy two types of inquirer: those who simply want a quick answer to a specific question about present-day subdivisions, and those who want to solve a problem involving conflicting data from different sources. The first type should consult the main table for each country, which will be the first table in that country's article. Tables with a yellow color scheme contain the most current list of subdivisions available; tables with a purple color scheme are historical or supporting data.
For selected countries, I've posted lists of the secondary administrative subdivisions on this website. For example, to find the counties of the United States, click on "U" on the alphabet bar. Find the row of the table for the United States, and click on "county" in the column headed "Secondary". The primary subdivisions of countries change fairly often. There are perhaps a couple of dozen changes a year among all the countries of the world. The secondary subdivisions are more numerous, and governments can change them with fewer repercussions. Their changes are much more frequent. So be aware that the secondary division lists may not be up to date.
There are also some general reference sites which have information about many countries:
If you would like a generic word for secondary administrative divisions, I've coined the term "districles" (many countries call them districts). I also call the lowest-level administrative divisions in each country "municities"; often, the term actually used is commune or municipality. Pronounce municity with the accent on the second syllable, mew-NIH-sih-tee.
1. It would be easy to quibble with this statement. (What about Antarctica? What about the various neutral and demilitarized zones, such as between North and South Korea? Are dependencies supposed to be counted as separate countries, or parts of their mother countries?) All I mean to say here is that, using national sovereignty as a basis, it's possible to divide the entire land area of the world up into disjoint named areas. Admittedly, to do so, you would have to make some arbitrary decisions about nationhood and boundaries.
2. There are some websites that apparently use the word "statoids" to mean isolated statistical statements, analogous to factoids. I haven't seen it in any dictionary yet.
Why "statoid"? In English, the suffix "-oid" can usually be understood as "-like". An asteroid is a "star-like" object (aster = star); a spheroid is something that's close to spherical, but not quite; an android is a robot that's shaped like a man (andr- = man).
3. The book "Administrative Subdivisions of Countries" can be ordered from Barnes and Noble , Amazon.com , or direct from McFarland . To order through your independent bookseller, ask for ISBN 978-0-7864-6097-7. Finally, I myself have a few spare copies for sale. If interested, please contact me.
This website has been maintained since May, 1999. In 2003, it was receiving so many hits that the Internet service provider's bandwidth limit was exceeded, so I switched to a different ISP, and necessarily changed the URLs; however, I maintained redirects from the old pages to the new ones for six months. Some URLs on this site are based on ISO country codes; when those codes change, the address for the corresponding country changes, although I try to keep the old URL with a redirect. With those exceptions, the URLs for pages on this site have never changed.
|Back to main statoids page||Last update: 2014-11-12|
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