A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws to which it is subordinate. It is to be distinguished (usually) from the county, which may encompass rural territory or numerous small communities such as towns, villages and hamlets.
The term is derived from French municipalité and Latin municipalis. The English word municipality derives from the Latin social contract municipium (derived from a word meaning "duty holders"), referring to the Latin communities that supplied Rome with troops in exchange for their own incorporation into the Roman state (granting Roman citizenship to the inhabitants) while permitting the communities to retain their own local governments (a limited autonomy).
The territory over which a municipality has jurisdiction may encompass
Powers of municipalities range from virtual autonomy to complete subordination to the state. Municipalities may have the right to tax individuals and corporations with income tax, property tax, and corporate income tax, but may also receive substantial funding from the state. In some European countries, such as Germany, municipalities have the constitutional right to supply public services through municipally-owned public utlity companies.
In a number of countries terms cognate with "commune" are used, referring to the community living in the area and the common interest. These include terms:
The same terms may be used for church congregations or parishes, for example in the German and Dutch protestant churches.
In Greece, the word Δήμος (demos) is used, also meaning 'community'; the word is known in English from the compound democracy (rule of the people).
In some countries, the Spanish term ayuntamiento, referring to a municipality's administration building, is extended viasynecdoche to denote the municipality itself. In Moldova and Romania, both municipalities (municipiu; urban administrative units) and communes (comună; rural units) exist, and a commune may be part of a municipality.