A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes in certain modern nations. Its etymology derives from the Old French term, conté or cunté and could denote a jurisdiction in mainland Europe, under the sovereignty of a count (earl) or a viscount. The modern French is comté, and its equivalents in other languages are contea, contado, comtat, condado, Grafschaft, Gau, etc.) (cf. conte, comte, conde, Graf).
When the Normans conquered England, they brought the term with them. The Saxons had already established the regions that became the Historic counties of England calling them shires. The Vikings introduced the term earl (from Old Norse, jarl) to the British Isles. Thus, "earl" and "earldom" were taken as equivalent to the continental use of "count" and "county". So, the later-imported term became a synonym for the native English word scir or, in Modern English, shire
Since a shire was an administrative division of the kingdom, the term "county" evolved to designate an administrative division of national government in most modern uses.
A county may be further subdivided into townships or other administrative jurisdictions under the county's control. The boundaries of a county usually, but not always, contain cities, villages, towns, townships or other municipal corporations. Depending on the particular nation, municipalities might or might not be subject to direct or indirect county control.
In the United Kingdom, many county names derive from the name of the county town with the word "shire" added on: for example, Gloucester, in Gloucestershire; Worcester, in Worcestershire.
Outside the Anglophone community of nations, the term "county" is often used to describe sub-national jurisdictions that are structurally equivalent to counties in the relationship they have with their national government; but which may or may not be operationally equivalent to the county as that entity is known in predominantly English-speaking countries.
Read more about County: Australia, Canada, China (People's Republic), Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Republic of China (Taiwan), Korea, United Kingdom, United States
Famous quotes containing the word county:
“I believe the citizens of Marion County and the United States want to have judges who have feelings and who are human beings.”
—Paula Lopossa, U.S. judge. As quoted in the New York Times, p. B9 (May 21, 1993)
“A horse, a buggy and several sets of harness, valued in all at about $250, were stolen last night from the stable of Howard Quinlan, near Kingsville. The county police are at work on the case, but so far no trace of either thieves or booty has been found.”
—H.L. (Henry Lewis)
“In the County Tyrone, in the town of Dungannon,”
—Unknown. The Old Orange Flute (l. 1)