The word is attested in English since c.1330, deriving from Old French province (13th c.), which comes from the Roman word provincia, which referred to the sphere of activity which a magistrate was assigned to exercise his authority; hence, in particular, a foreign territory.
A possible origin in Latin is from pro- ("on behalf of") and vincere ("to triumph/take control over"). Thus a province is a territory or function that a Roman magistrate took control of on behalf of his government. However this does not tally with the even earlier Latin usage as a generic term for a jurisdiction under Roman law.
The Roman Empire was divided into provinces (provinciae).
In many countries, a province is a relatively small non-constituent level of sub-national government (similar to a county in many English-speaking countries). In others it is an autonomous level of government and constituent part of a federation or confederation, often with a large area (similar to a US state). In France and China, province is a sub-national region within a unitary state. This means the province can be abolished or created by the central government.
In Italy and Chile a province is an administrative sub-division of a region, which is the first order administrative sub-division of the state. Italian provinces consist of several administrative sub-divisions called comune (communes). In Chile they are referred to as comunas.
Ireland is divided up into four historic provinces (see Provinces of Ireland), each of which is sub-divided into counties (see Counties of Ireland). These are Connacht (in the west), Leinster (in the east), Munster (in the south) and, perhaps most famously (due to The Troubles), Ulster (in the north). Nowadays, these provinces have little or no administrative function.
Various overseas parts of the British Empire had the colonial title of Province (in a more Roman sense), such as the Province of Canada and the Province of South Australia (the latter to distinguish it from the penal 'colonies' elsewhere in Australia). Equally, for instance, Mozambique was a "province" as a Portuguese colony.
In France, the expression en province still tends to mean "outside of the region of Paris". The same expression is used in Peru (where en provincias means "outside of the city of Lima"), in Romania (where în provincie means "outside the region of Bucharest") and Poland (prowincjonalny denotes coming from small city, countryfied ). Prior to the French Revolution, France consisted of various governments (such as Ile-de-France, built around the early Capetian royal demesne) some of which were considered as provinces, although the term would be used colloquially to describes lands as small as a manor (châtellenie). Mostly, the Grands Gouvernements, generally former medieval feudal principalities (or agglomerates of such), were the most commonly referred to as provinces. Today, the expression is sometimes replaced with en région, as that term is now officially used for the secondary level of government.
In historical terms, Fernand Braudel has depicted the European provinces—built up of numerous small regions called by the French pays or by the Swiss cantons, each with a local cultural identity and focused upon a market town—as the political unit of optimum size in pre-industrial Early Modern Europe and asks, "was the province not its inhabitants' true 'fatherland'?" (The Perspective of the World 1984, p. 284) Even centrally organized France, an early nation-state, could collapse into autonomous provincial worlds under pressure, such as the sustained crisis of the Wars of Religion, 1562—1598.
For 19th and 20th-century historians, "centralized government" had been taken as a symptom of modernity and political maturity in the rise of Europe. Then, in the late 20th century, as a European Union drew the nation-states closer together, centripetal forces seemed to be moving towards a more flexible system composed of more localized, provincial governing entities under the European umbrella. Spain after Franco is a State of Autonomies, formally unitary, but in fact functioning as a federation of Autonomous Communities, each one with different powers. (see Politics of Spain). While Serbia, the rump of the former Yugoslavia, fought the separatists in the province of Kosovo, at the same time the UK, under the political principle of "devolution", established local parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (1998). Strong local nationalisms surfaced or developed in Brittany, the Basque Country, Cornwall, Languedoc, Catalonia, Lombardy, Corsica and Flanders, and east of Europe in Abkhasia, Chechnya and Kurdistan.
In geology the term province refers to a specific physiogeographic area composed of a grouping of like bathymetric or former bathymetric elements (now sedimentary strata above water) whose features are in obvious contrast to the surrounding regions, or other provinces. The term usually refers to sections or regions of a craton recognized within a given time-stratigraphy, i.e., recognized within a major division of time within a period.
In many federations and confederations, the province or state is not clearly subordinate to the national or "central" government. Rather, it is considered to be sovereign in regard to its particular set of constitutional functions. The central and provincial governmental functions, or areas of jurisdiction, are identified in a constitution. Those that are not specifically identified called "residual powers". These residual powers lie at the provincial (or state) level in a decentralised federal system (such as the United States and Australia) whereas in a centralised federal system they are retained at the federal level (as in Canada). Nevertheless, some of the enumerated powers can also be very significant. For example, Canadian provinces are sovereign in regard to such important matters as property, civil rights, education, social welfare and medical services.
The evolution of federations has created an inevitable tug-of-war between concepts of federal supremacy versus "states' rights". The historic division of responsibility in federal constitutions is inevitably subject to multiple overlaps. For example, when central governments, responsible for "foreign affairs", enter into international agreements in areas where the state or province is sovereign, such as the environment or health standards, agreements made at the national level can create jurisdictional overlap and conflicting laws. This overlap creates the potential for internal disputes that lead to constitutional amendments and judicial decisions that significantly change the balance of powers.
Not all "second-level" political entities are termed provinces. In Arab countries the secondary level of government, called a muhfazah, is usually translated as a governorate. This term is also used for the historic Russian guberniyas (sing. губе́рния, pl. губе́рнии), (compare to modern-day oblast область). Russia has a variety of federal subject types (provinces):
In Peru, provinces are a tertiary unit of government, as the country is divided into twenty-five regions, which are then subdivided into 194 provinces. Chile follows a similar division being divided into 15 regions, which are then divided into a total of 53 provinces each being run by a governor appointed by the president.
Historically, New Zealand was divided into provinces, each with its own Superintendent and Provincial Council, and with considerable responsibilities conferred on them. However, the colony (as it then was) never developed into a federation; instead, the provinces were abolished in 1876. The old provincial boundaries continue to be used to determine the application of certain public holidays. Over the years, when the central Government has created special purpose agencies at a sub-national level, these have often tended to follow or approximate the old provincial boundaries. Current examples include the 16 Regions into which New Zealand is divided, and also the 21 District Health Boards. Sometimes the term the provinces is used to refer collectively to rural and regional parts of New Zealand, that is, those parts of the country lying outside some or all of the "main centres" of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Dunedin.
Some provinces are as large and populous as nations. The most populous province is Henan, China, pop. 93,000,000. Also very populous are several other Chinese provinces, as well as Punjab, Pakistan, pop. 85,000,000.
|Country||local name(s)||Number of entities|
|Provinces of Afghanistan||from Arab. wilaya||34|
|Provinces of Algeria||Arab. wilaya||48|
|Provinces of Argentina||span. provincia||23|
|Provinces of Armenia||marz||11|
|Provinces of Belarus||Belarusian: vobłaść||7|
|Provinces of Belgium:|
|– Provinces of the Flemish Region||Dutch provincie||5|
|– Provinces of the Walloon Region||French province||5|
|Provinces of Bolivia||span. provincia||100|
|Provinces of Bulgaria||bulg. oblast||28|
|Provinces of Cambodia||khaet||20|
|Provinces of Canada||engl.+ French province||10|
|Provinces of Chile||span. provincia||53|
|Provinces of China||chin. (mand.) 省 (sheng)||22 + 1|
|Provinces of Costa Rica||span. provincia||7|
|Provinces of Colombia|
|Provinces of Cuba||span. provincia||15|
|Provinces of the Dominican Republic||span. provincia||33|
|Provinces of Ecuador||span. provincia||24|
|Provinces of Equatorial Guinea||span. provincia||7|
|Provinces of Fiji||Fijian: yasana||14|
|Provinces of Finland||finn. läänit / swed. län||6|
|Provinces of Gabon||fran. province||9|
|Provinces of Greece||Greek: επαρχία, "eparchia"||73|
|Provinces of Indonesia||Indo. provinsi or propinsi||33|
|Provinces of Iran||Pers. ostan||30|
|Provinces of Ireland||Irish cúige||4|
|Provinces of Italy||ital. provincia||110|
|Provinces of Kazakhstan||oblasy||14|
|Provinces of Kenya||8|
|Provinces of Kyrgyzstan||oblasty||7|
|Provinces of Laos||lao khoueng||16|
|Provinces of Madagascar||faritany||6|
|Provinces of the Netherlands||dutc. provincie||12|
|Provinces of North Korea||kore. do, to||10|
|Provinces of Norway||norw. fylke||19|
|Provinces of Oman||ara. wilaya||appr. 60|
|Provinces of Pakistan||Singular: "Suba" Plural: "Subai"||4|
|Provinces of Panama||span. provincia||9|
|Provinces of Papua New Guinea||19|
|Provinces of Peru||span. provincia||195|
|Provinces of the Philippines||fili.: lalawigan / probinsya||81|
|Provinces of Poland||pl. województwo||16|
|Provinces of Rwanda||intara||12|
|Provinces of São Tomé and Príncipe||port. província||2|
|Provinces of Saudi Arabia||Arab. mintaqah||13|
|Provinces of the Solomon Islands||9|
|Provinces of South Africa||9|
|Provinces of South Korea||kore. do, to||10|
|Provinces of Spain||span. provincia||50|
|Provinces of Sri Lanka||9|
|Provinces of Tajikistan||veloyati, from Arab. wilaya||3|
|Provinces of Thailand||changwat||76|
|Provinces of Turkey||Turk. il||81|
|Provinces of Turkmenistan||from Arab. wilaya||5|
|Provinces of Ukraine||ukra. oblast||24|
|Provinces of Uzbekistan||from Arab. wilaya||12|
|Provinces of Vanuatu||6|
|Provinces of Vietnam||from Vietnamese tỉnh||58|
|Provinces of Zambia||9|
|Provinces of Zimbabwe||8|
province (plural provinces)
province f plural
A province is a subdivision of a country.
Some countries are divided into provinces. The word "province" comes from the Latin word provincia.
provinces are also given other names:
Departements usually have less power than provinces. States, Bundesländer and autonomous communities have more power than provinces.
Small countries like Singapore are not divided.
Province should not be confused with Provence, which is a region in France.