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Territory is a loan word from the Latin language and denotes - derived from the Latin terra , the earth , the ground , the land - the area of a city .

A territory (plural: territories ) is in the broadest sense a geographically delimited area that expresses a certain ratio of its (human or animal) inhabitants to a higher-level geographical unit. The term is mostly used in politics and biology .

The more detailed definition and use of the designation depends on the respective context.


  1. State territory: Territory has often been used synonymously for sovereign or state territory since the 19th century .
  2. Administrative territory : The geopolitical subdivision of some states (e.g. USA , Canada , Australia ) refers to areas as territories that are directly subordinate to state authority and that do not have the status of a member state with its own (limited) sovereignty (e.g. Washington, DC ). Such territories often have significance under international law as the autonomous areas of indigenous peoples (e.g. Nunavut )
  3. Colonial Territory : Former colonial territories with a certain degree of autonomy but limited political and economic power that are ruled by an external state (e.g. Greenland )


  1. In biology, territory is synonymous with the term territory , i.e. the habitat of an animal or a group of animals that it defends against intruders and competitors.

Incidentally, the term is also used metaphorically to denote something over which one has control (e.g. as intellectual territory ).

Development of meaning

In the early Middle Ages , the following meanings mainly occur:

In the high Middle Ages , rule over a territory became the decisive criterion for statehood ; in the process of territorialisation from it develops territorial state .

Borrowed from Latin since the 16th century, the word has since been applied to more and more areas of the earth's surface that are surrounded by borders and on which a claim to rule or territory is raised.

In the 19th century, the special importance as a national territory was emphasized. In addition, the term is intended to designate land and the area of ​​a property.

See also


Special territories (selection)

Web links

Wiktionary: Territory  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl Ernst Georges : Comprehensive Latin-German concise dictionary. 8th edition, Vol. 2, Hannover 1913-1918, Col. 3081.
  2. JF Niermeyer: Medici latinitatis lexicon minus. Brill, Leiden 1954, p. 1024.
  3. Pierer's Universal Lexikon der Gegenwart und Past 1857–1865 , Vol. 17, p. 392.