A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a state. In most countries, a territory is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally developed into,[1] or incorporated into, a political unit of the country that is of equal status to other political units that may often be referred to by words such as "provinces" or "states". In international politics, a territory is usually either the total area from which a state may extract power resources[2] or any non-sovereign geographic area which has come under the authority of another government; which has not been granted the powers of self-government normally devolved to secondary territorial divisions; or both.


The origins of the word territory begin with the Proto-Indo-European root ters ('to dry').[3] From this emerged the Latin word terra ('earth, land') and later the Latin word territorium ('land around a town').[4][5] Territory made its debut as a word in Middle English during the 14th century. At this point the suffix -orium, which denotes place, was replaced with -ory which also expresses place.[6]