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Town

Town usually refers to a settlement larger than a village or hamlet but which doesn't have the status of city.

In the United States of America, the term town has varying significance depending on the state. In most states, a town is an incorporated municipality, that is, one with a charter received from the state, similar to a city. Typically, municipalities are classed as cities, towns, or villages in decreasing order of size.

In the six New England states, a town is a subdivision of the county, and in these states, in fact, a more important unit than the county. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, in fact, counties only exist as map divisions and have no legal functions; in the other four states, counties are simply judicial districts. In all six, towns perform functions that in most states would be county functions. In many of these towns, town meetings[?] serve as the main form of government, allowing citizens to govern their town by direct democracy.

In New York, a town is similarly a subdivision of the county, but with less importance than in New England. Of some importance is that, in New York, municipalities such as villages or hamlets are generally contained within a town, and a town may contain a number of such municipalities as well as unincorporated areas. Everyone in New York State who does not live in an Indian reservation or a city lives in a town.

In Virginia, a town is similar to a city (though with a smaller required minimum population), but while cities are by Virginia law independent of counties, towns are contained in a county.

In England, the status of a city is reserved for cities that have Royal Charters; some large municipalities are legally towns, whereas some cities are quite small. It's often though that towns with bishops' seats are also classed as cities, however this is not so; Chelmsford remains a town despite being home to the Diocese of Chelmsford.

Historically, a town was distinguished from a village by having a regular market or fair[?]. There are some villages (e.g. Shepshed[?]) larger than some towns (Middleham[?]). Not all towns were Boroughs.

See also: township



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