Difference between city and municipality

As many know, city and municipality are two frequently used terms, especially when referring to territorial divisions in the different countries or states of the world. Each of these terms refers to places politically or geographically separated from each other, with their own characteristics that differentiate them.

Next, in this article the definition of each one of them is presented to later show the most outstanding definitions among them.


A city is a community that has a certain number of inhabitants (normally greater than that of towns and villages) and that also has commercial, industrial, educational, banking, service development centers and government or administrative headquarters. In the cities, activities related to industry and commerce unrelated to the countryside and farming are generally carried out.

In that order of ideas, the main characteristics of the city are:

  • High population density whose majority is dedicated to industrial or commercial activities.
  • Presence of multiple dwellings (buildings) to house the high number of people.
  • Developed transport structure with very wide streets and avenues, paved and with the presence of distributors for greater vehicular flow.
  • Presence of commercial, financial, industrial and administrative centers and little land for green spaces.
  • Large number of educational centers of different levels and modalities.
  • The territory of a city is delimited by the most populated area and some surrounding towns, although it may be delimited in the legislation of each state or country.


A municipality is an administrative territorial division governed by a city council, municipality, council, mayor’s office or other government body of lesser magnitude than the central power. Likewise, it is an administrative entity that can house one or more cities, towns or other types of populated centers and territories dedicated to agriculture, industry or other types of activities.

On the other hand, several municipalities make up a state and one of them is usually the capital or main municipality of the state. The territory of a municipality is delimited by legislation and the population that resides in it is usually registered within it for their educational and legal activities, among others.

A municipality is then, a territorial division and in turn an administrative division contemplated in the legislation that includes various populated centers such as cities, hamlets, towns or communities.

In short, there are several differences between city and municipality, which are indicated in the following table:

Town Municipality
It is a territorial division that has a higher population density. It is a territorial and administrative division delimited by legislation.
A city is part of a municipality. A municipality can contain one or more cities as well as other types of population centers.
A city belongs to a state or department. A municipality is a subdivision of a state or department.
The cities are dedicated to commercial and industrial activities not related to the countryside and farming. The municipalities can contain territories dedicated to agriculture, the countryside, livestock, among others.

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