Dependent territory

A dependent territory, dependent area or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside the controlling state's integral area.[1]

A dependency is commonly distinguished from country subdivisions by not being considered to be an integral territory of the governing state. Administrative subdivisions instead are understood as typically representing a division of the state proper. A dependent territory conversely often maintains a great degree of autonomy from the controlling central state. Historically, most colonies were considered dependencies. Those dependent territories currently remaining generally maintain a very high degree of political autonomy. Not all autonomous entities, though, are considered to be dependencies,[2] and not all dependencies are autonomous. Most inhabited dependent territories have their own ISO 3166 country codes.

Some political entities inhabit a special position guaranteed by international treaty or other agreement: creating a certain level of autonomy (e.g., differences in immigration rules). These are sometimes considered or at least grouped with dependencies,[3][4] but are officially considered by their controlling states to be integral parts of the state.[3] Examples are Åland (Finland) and Hong Kong (China).[5]


The lists below indicate (or can be interpreted to indicate) the following:

Dependent territories
Similar entities