Federated state

Not to be confused with Federation.

A federated state (which may be referred to as a state, a province, a canton, a Land, etc.) is a territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federation.[1] Such states differ from fully sovereign states, in that they have transferred a portion of their sovereign powers to a federal government.[2] Importantly, when states choose to federate, they lose their standing as persons of international law. Instead, the federal union as a single entity becomes the sovereign state for purposes of international law.[3] A federated state holds administrative jurisdiction over a defined geographic territory and is a form of regional government.

In some cases, a federation is created from a union of political entities, which are either independent, or dependent territories of another sovereign entity (most commonly a colonial power).[4] In other cases, federated states have been created out of the regions of previously unitary states.[5] Once a federal constitution is formed, the rules governing the relationship between federal and regional powers become part of the country's constitutional law and not international law.

In countries with federal constitutions, there is a division of power between the central government and the component states. These entities - states, provinces, cantons, Länder, etc. - are partially self-governing and are afforded a degree of constitutionally guaranteed autonomy that varies substantially from one federation to another.[6] Depending on the form the decentralization of powers takes, a federated state's legislative powers may or may not be overruled or vetoed by the federal government. Laws governing the relationship between federal and regional powers can be amended through the federal constitution and state constitutions.

List of constituents by federation

The "federated units" in the table below have inherent governmental authority in the federation's constitutional system, while the "other units" are delegated authority by the federal government or are administered directly by it (see federal district and federal territory). * indicates federal capital (or federated units that contain it) ** actively disputed by other sovereign states or the international community

Federation Federated units Other units
 Argentina[7] 23 provinces: 1 autonomous city:
 Australia[8] 6 states: 10 territories:
 Austria[10] 9 states:
 Belgium[11] 3 regions:[Federated states 1]
3 communities:[Federated states 2]
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 2 entities:[9] 1 self-governing district:
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is itself a federation of 10 cantons:
 Brazil[12] 26 states:
1 federal district:
5,564 municipalities[Federated states 4][13]
 Canada[14] 10 provinces: 3 territories:
 Comoros 3 islands:[9]
 Ethiopia[15] 9 regions: 2 chartered cities:
 Germany[16] 16 states:
 India[17] 29 states: 7 union territories:
 Iraq[18] 19 governorates: Autonomous region:
 Malaysia[19] 13 states: 3 federal territories:
 Mexico[20] 31 states:
1 autonomous city:
 F.S. Micronesia[21] 4 states:
   Nepal 7 Provinces:
 Nigeria[22] 36 states: 1 Territory:
 Pakistan[23] 4 provinces: 2 autonomous areas:[9]
2 territories:
 Russia[24][25] 46 oblasts:
22 republics:[9]
9 krais:
4 autonomous okrugs:[9]
3 federal cities:
1 autonomous oblast:[9]
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 2 states:
 Somalia[26][27] 8 federal member states:[Federated states 6]
 South Sudan 28 states:
 Sudan[28] 18 states:
  Switzerland[29] 26 cantons:
 United Arab Emirates[30] 7 emirates:
 United States[31] 50 states: 1 federal district:
1 incorporated territory:
15 unincorporated territories:
 Venezuela[32] 23 states: 1 federal district:
1 federal dependency:

See also


  1. Flanders and Wallonia are subdivided into five provinces each, which are mandated by the Constitution of Belgium. Provincial governance are the responsibility of the regional governments.
  2. The communities and regions are separate government institutions with different areas of responsibility. The communities are organized based on linguistic boundaries, which are different from regional boundaries.
  3. The federal city has a level of self-ruling equal to the other main federal units.
  4. The 1988 Brazilian Constitution treats the municipalities as parts of the Federation and not simply dependent subdivisions of the states.
  5. Saint Kitts is governed directly by the federal government.
  6. Adopted constitution accommodates existing regional governments, with the ultimate number and boundaries of the Federal Member States to be determined by the House of the People of the Federal Parliament.


  1. The Australian National Dictionary: Fourth Edition, pg 1395. (2004) Canberra. ISBN 978-0-19-551771-2.
  2. Constitution of the United States of America: Tenth Amendment, Reserved Powers
  3. Crawford, J. (2006). The Creation of States in International Law. Oxford, Clarendon Press.
  4. Examples are Australia and the United States.
  5. This occurred in Belgium in 1993. The Belgian regions had previously devolved powers.
  6. For instance, Canadian provinces and Swiss cantons possess substantially more powers and enjoy more protection against interference and infringments from the central government than most non-Western federations.
  7. Daniel, Kate; Special Broadcasting Service Corporation (2008). SBS World Guide: The Complete Fact File on Every Country, 16th ed. Prahran, Victoria, Australia: Hardie Grant Books. p. 827. ISBN 978-1-74066-648-0. p26.
  8. SBS World Guide 2008, p38
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Autonomous region. See more at List of autonomous areas by country
  10. SBS World Guide 2008, p46
  11. SBS World Guide 2008, p74
  12. SBS World Guide 2008, p101
  13. Article 18
  14. SBS World Guide 2008, p132
  15. SBS World Guide 2008, p239
  16. SBS World Guide 2008, p275
  17. SBS World Guide 2008, p328
  18. SBS World Guide 2008, p346
  19. SBS World Guide 2008, p460
  20. SBS World Guide 2008, p481
  21. SBS World Guide 2008, p486
  22. SBS World Guide 2008, p537
  23. SBS World Guide 2008, p549
  24. SBS World Guide 2008, p600
  25. Federal structure of Russia, Article 65 of Russian Constitution.
  26. "The Federal Republic of Somalia - Harmonized Draft Constitution" (PDF). Federal Republic of Somalia. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  27. "Guidebook to the Somali Draft Provisional Constitution". Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  28. SBS World Guide 2008, p687
  29. SBS World Guide 2008, p700
  30. SBS World Guide 2008, p760
  31. SBS World Guide 2008, p774
  32. SBS World Guide 2008, p798
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