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|Basic forms of government|
A unitary state is a state governed as a single power in which the central government is ultimately supreme and any administrative divisions (sub-national units) exercise only the powers that the central government chooses to delegate. The majority of states in the world have a unitary system of government. Of the 193 UN member states, 165 are governed as unitary states.
In a unitary state, sub-national units are created and abolished (an example being the 22 mainland regions of France being merged into 13), and their powers may be broadened and narrowed, by the central government. Although political power may be delegated through devolution to local governments by statute, the central government remains supreme; it may abrogate the acts of devolved governments or curtail their powers.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an example of a unitary state. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a degree of autonomous devolved power, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution (England does not have any devolved power). Many unitary states have no areas possessing a degree of autonomy. In such countries, sub-national regions cannot decide their own laws. Examples are the Republic of Ireland and the Kingdom of Norway.
Unitary states are contrasted with federations, or federal states. In such states, the sub-national governments share powers with the central government as equal actors through a written constitution, to which the consent of both is required to make amendments. This means that the sub-national units have a right of existence and powers that cannot be unilaterally changed by the central government.
List of unitary states
Italics: States with limited recognition
Afghanistan Albania Algeria Angola Armenia Artsakh, Republic of Azerbaijan Bangladesh Belarus Benin Bolivia Botswana Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Congo Central African Republic Chad Chile China, People's Republic of Colombia Congo, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Djibouti Dominica, Commonwealth of Dominican Republic Donetsk People's Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Fiji Finland France Gabon Gambia Georgia Ghana Greece Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Honduras Hungary Iceland Indonesia (federation before 1950) Iran Ireland Israel Italy Ivory Coast Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of (federation before 1960) Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Liberia Libya Lithuania Luhansk People's Republic Macedonia Madagascar Malawi Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mauritius Moldova Mongolia Montenegro Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nicaragua Niger Palau Palestine Panama Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Rwanda Samoa San Marino São Tomé and Príncipe Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Somaliland South Africa South Ossetia Sri Lanka Suriname Syria Taiwan, ROC Tajikistan Tanzania Togo Transnistria Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Uganda Ukraine Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vietnam Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
Andorra Antigua and Barbuda Bahrain Bahamas Barbados Belize Bhutan Brunei Cambodia Denmark Grenada Jamaica Japan Jordan Kuwait Lesotho Liechtenstein Luxembourg Monaco Morocco Netherlands New Zealand Norway Oman Papua New Guinea Qatar Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saudi Arabia Solomon Islands Spain Sweden Thailand Tonga Tuvalu United Kingdom Vatican City
5 largest unitary states by nominal GDP
5 largest unitary states by population
5 largest unitary states by area
- Devolution within a unitary state, like federalism may be symmetrical, with all sub-national units having the same powers and status, or asymmetric, with sub-national units varying in their powers and status.
- "unitary system | government". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
- Svalbard has even less autonomy than the mainland. It is directly controlled by the government and has no local rule.
- Roy Bin Wong. China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience. Cornell University Press.
- "Story: Nation and government – From colony to nation". The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
- "Social policy in the UK". An introduction to Social Policy. Robert Gordon University – Aberdeen Business School. Archived from the original on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014.