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Wilayah: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A wilāyah (Arabic: ولاية‎) or vilâyet (in Persian and Ottoman Turkish) is an administrative division, usually translated as "province" or "governorate". The word comes from Arabic w-l-y 'to govern': a wāli 'governor' governs a wilayah 'that which is governed'. Under the Caliphate, it referred to one of the constituent near-sovereign states.


Use in specific countries


Arab World

For Morocco which is divided into provinces and wilāyas the translation "province" would cause the distinction to cease. For Sudan the term state, and for Mauritania the term region is used.

See also:

The governorates of Iraq (muhafazah) are often translated as province, in contrast to official Iraqi documents and the general use for other Arab countries. This conflicts somehow with the general translation for muhafazah (governorate) and wilāyah (province).


In Kenya, the term wilaya is a Kiswahili term which refers to the administrative districts into which provinces are divided.

Malaysia and Indonesia

Wilayah Persekutuan is the Malay term for federal territory. In Malaysia the term wilayah is used to represent central government controlled areas. Wilayah Persekutuan are the areas directly under the control of the federal government, which all other states in Malaysia are subordinate to. States such as Penang and Malacca enjoy far more autonomy from the central government, as they were former Straits Settlements of Britain. A major difference between Penang Island can be seen in automatic granting citizenship to any persons born within the Island of Penang, regardless of the citizenship of the parents. This right is a derived form of a law from the British era called "Jus soli". However neither Penang or Malacca actually practise their autonomy status in the spirit of unity within Malaysia. However east Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah practice a large degree of autonomy from the central government. Passports are required for a Peninsular Malaysian to travel to Malaysian Borneo, although in the spirit of the union, these requirements maybe done away in the future.

One former state has been expelled in the past; the state of Singapore was expelled from the Malaysian Federation to form a new Republic of Singapore in the mid-Sixties.

In Indonesian wilayah means area, region or regional, but does not refer to a level of government.

The Ottoman Empire

Traditionally the provinces of the Ottoman Empire were known as eyâlets, but beginning in 1864, they were gradually restructured as smaller vilâyets – the Turkish pronunciation of the Arabic word wilāyah. Most were subdivided into sanjaks.

The current provinces of Turkey are called il in Turkish.

Central Asia

The Ottoman Turkish word for province (vilâyet) is still used in several similar forms in Central Asian countries:


In Iran, the word is also used unofficially.

South Asia

In Hindi and Urdu, the term Vilayet is used to refer to any foreign country. As an adjective Vilayeti is used to indicate an imported article or good. The British slang term blighty derives from this word, via the fact that the foreign British were referred to using this word during the time of the British Raj. [1]

Other areas

In Arabic, wilāyah is used to refer to the states of the United States, and the United States as a whole is called "الولايات المتحدة" (al-Wilāyāt al-Muttaḥidah) literally meaning "the United States."

In the Tsez language, the districts of Dagestan are also referred to as "вилайат" (wilayat), plural "вилайатйоби" (wilayatyobi). But the term "район" (rayon), plural "районйаби" (rayonyabi) is also used.

Caucasus Emirate, a self-proclaimed successor state to the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, is divided into vilayats.


  1. ^ Stuart Thompson, Andrew (2005). The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact Of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Pearson Education. p. 180. "Other Indian words include blighty ('one's home country', from the Hindi word 'bilayati' meaning 'foreign', whence 'British')" 


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