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The term township generally means the district or area associated with a town. Specific use of the term to describe political subdivisions has varied by country, usually to describe a local rural or semi-rural government within a county.

  • In Canada a township is one form of the subdivision of a County.
  • In England the township has been long obsolete, but was a subdivision used to administer a large parish.
  • In South Africa under Apartheid, a township was a residential development which confined Africans who lived near or worked in white only communities. Soweto is the most well known of these.
  • In the United States the township is widely used as a unit of local government. It is a subdivision of a county, but does not apply within a city or incorporated town. The residents are self governing with respect to some taxes and services.

Townships in the United States The township is a local government unit within a county. Specific responsibilities and the degree of autonomy vary based on each State.

In New England the term 'town' is often substituted for township, although both may coexist. The town proper is the principle settlement within the township, and they usually share the same proper name. Villages with other names may exit in the same township.

In the central Atlantic states, the township is a unit of local government responsible for services such as local road and street maintenance outside of towns or boroughs. Townships were established based on convenient geographical boundaries and vary in size from six to forty square miles (10-74 kmē).

Central and western states

States formed after 1785 have townships based on a standard of 36 square miles. This is literally a square six miles (about 10 kilometers) on a side. They were originally established to enable recording of deeds[?] by a system more fully described as the Public Land Survey System.

Township functions are attended to by a board to trustees and a clerk. Township officers frequently include Justice of the Peace and constable. In the 20th century many townships also added a Township Administrator to the officers as an executive for the trustees.

See also: County, political science, List of subnational entities

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