A county is a land area of local government
within a country. A county may have cities
and towns within its area.
Originally, in continental Europe, a county
(comté, Grafschaft) was the land under the
jurisdiction of a count (comte, Graf).
Counts are called earls in post-Celtic Bri-
tain and Ireland—the term is from Old Norse
jarl and was introduced by the Vikings—but
there is no correlation between counties and
earldoms. Rather, county,
comté, was simply used by the Normans after
1066 to replace the native English term scir
([ʃir])—Modern English shire, as the Anglo-
Saxon system of Shires was unique and thus
hard for the Norman invaders to comprehend
so they resorted to calling them Counties. A
shire was an administrative division of an
Anglo-Saxon kingdom (Wessex, Mercia, East
Anglia, etc.), usually named after its adminis-
trative centre: for example, Gloucester, in
shire; etc. or originate from these forms of
names (e.g. Wiltshire derived from ’Wilton-
shire’ with Wilton as its old county town).
Thus, whereas the word comté denoted a
sovereign jurisdiction in the original French,
the English county denotes a subdivision of a
* The 32 refers to the counties of the Repub-
lic of Ireland and Northern Ireland combined.
For more information, see the sections on
Ireland and United Kingdom below.
Each Austrian state (in German Bundesland,
plural Bundesländer) is divided in a number
(in German Bezirk,
Bezirke). Sometimes, the word "Bezirk" is
translated by "district" instead of county.
Each county is subdivided in towns or vil-
lages. Some larger towns do not form part of
a county and are governed by a unitary
administration instead which counts both for
administration as well
The federal capital Vienna is considered
as a state as well. The capital government of
Vienna is responsible for state, county and
town governance. Vienna is subdivided in