A unitary state is a state governed as a single power in which the central government is ultimately supreme. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative divisions (sub-national units). Such units exercise only the powers that the central government chooses to delegate. Although political power may be delegated through devolution to regional or local governments by statute, the central government may abrogate the acts of devolved governments or curtail (or expand) their powers. A large majority of the world's states (166 of the 193 UN member states) have a unitary system of government.
Unitary states stand in contrast with federations, also known as federal states. In federations, the provincial governments share powers with the central government as equal actors through a written constitution, to which the consent of both is required to make amendments. This means that the sub-national units have a right of existence and powers that cannot be unilaterally changed by the central government.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an example of a unitary state. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a degree of autonomous devolved power, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution (England does not have any devolved power). Similarly in the Kingdom of Spain, the devolved powers are delegated through the central government. Many unitary states have no areas possessing a degree of autonomy. In such countries, sub-national regions cannot decide their own laws. Examples are Romania, Ireland and Norway.
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|Basic forms of government|
List of unitary republics and unitary kingdoms
Afghanistan Albania Algeria Angola Armenia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Belarus Benin Bolivia Botswana Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde Central African Republic Chad Chile People's Republic of China Colombia Democratic Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Djibouti Commonwealth of Dominica Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Fiji Finland France Gabon The Gambia Georgia Ghana Greece Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Honduras Hungary Iceland Indonesia Iran Ireland Israel Italy Ivory Coast Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati North Korea South Korea Kosovo Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon Liberia Libya Lithuania Luhansk People's Republic North Macedonia Madagascar Malawi Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Mauritania Mauritius Moldova Mongolia Montenegro Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nicaragua Niger Northern Cyprus Palau Palestine Panama Paraguay Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Rwanda Samoa San Marino São Tomé and Príncipe Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Somaliland South Africa Sri Lanka Suriname Syria Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania Togo Transnistria Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Uganda Ukraine Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vietnam Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe
Andorra Antigua and Barbuda Bahrain The Bahamas Barbados Belize Bhutan Brunei Cambodia Denmark Eswatini Grenada Gibraltar Jamaica Japan Jordan Kuwait Lesotho Liechtenstein Luxembourg Monaco Morocco Netherlands New Zealand Norway Oman Papua New Guinea Qatar Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Saudi Arabia Solomon Islands Spain Sweden Thailand Tonga Tuvalu United Kingdom Vatican City
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- Devolution within a unitary state, like federalism may be symmetrical, with all sub-national units having the same powers and status, or asymmetric, with sub-national units varying in their powers and status.
- "unitary system | government". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
- Svalbard has even less autonomy than the mainland. It is directly controlled by the government and has no local rule.
- Roy Bin Wong. China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience. Cornell University Press.
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