A federal territory is an area within the direct and usually exclusive jurisdiction of the central or national government within a federation. The territories are areas in a federation which are not part of the federated states. The federated states are the parts which comprise the federation itself and sharing sovereignty with the federal government, while a territory does not have a sovereign status.
Unlike a federal district, the territory may have some degree of self-rule, but the terms are used somewhat differently in different federations.
Federal territories in various federations
Federal territories include:
- Federal Capital Territory (Nigeria)
- Federal Territory (Malaysia)
- Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory (Australia)
- Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon (Canada)
In India, the federal territories are formally called union territories. There are seven of these: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, and Delhi.
Historical federal territories
In Brazil, although mentioned in the Federal Constitution, currently there are no federal territories. Until, 1988 there were three territories: Fernando de Noronha (today a state-level district of Pernambuco), Amapá, and Roraima, now fully recognised states. From 1943 to 1982 Rondônia was also a federal territory (until 1956 under the name of Território do Guaporé).
In the United States, many of the states were territories or parts of territories before reaching statehood, e.g. Louisiana Territory, Mississippi Territory, Oregon Territory, Alaska Territory and Hawaii Territory. Before reaching statehood, these territories of the United States were formally usually of a kind which can be described as "organized incorporated territories", meaning that the government of the jurisdiction was formally organized in such a way as to comply with recognized federal standards for self-government, and that the jurisdiction was "organic" to the United States, that is, an irrevocably inseverable part of it rather than a protectorate, an area leased from and still pertaining formally to another nation, or a concession granted by another nation or group which conceivably could retain certain rights to it. "Incorporated" territories are a part of the United States, though not of any particular constituent state, and as are not readily saleable or cessionable to other powers in the way that "unincorporated" territories are.