município (Brasil)


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Is each município of Brazil a city or town, or does/can a município consist of multiple cities and/or towns? In other words, is a município the equivalent of a county in the US?

  • Each município contains only one (1) cidade (city). Other villages inside the same município are called distrito(s); however one may find a povoação or aldeia (hamlet?) inside a distrito. A distrito has some kind of administration, linked to the município, that a povoação hasn't. Please do not confuse with bairro, a division inside the cidade.

    The closest we have in Brazil to the county in the USA is the comarca, in this case not a political division but a juridical division. One comarca (the seat of a judge) may comprise more than one município or in some cases one huge município may be divided into more than one comarca.

    Thank you! It sounds to me from what you're saying that a município might (or always does?) include, other than the city, small villages or hamlets, but sizable suburbs would probably be part of their own municípios?
    The concept of suburb (subúrbio) in Brazil is quite different from the one you have in the USA. Here the term "suburb" bears (or bore) its original meaning: sub=under; urbe=city - a place not totally integrated into a city or where urban facilities aren't totally available. This was observed mainly in late 19th Century and early 20th Century when urban expansion/explosion began to thrive and actually subúrbio means a borough, which is part of the city, with all its facilities, but far from downtown.

    For exclusive and separated areas the most common term is condomínio (condo) but as long as I know they do not form their own município(s) being part of a city having to elect mayor and councilors together with all other people living there.
    In Brazil there are 5568 municípios, each with its own elected mayor and city council. They can be as big as São Paulo (population over 12 million) or as small as Araguainha (population under 1 thousand). We don't have political distinctions between city, town, village or hamlet (only a município is an autonomous political entity). In popular use we tend to say cidade regardless of how big or small it is. The American concept of county is basically alien to Brazilians.

    EDIT: A county usually contains cities and towns. That doesn't apply to Brazilian municípios, though large cities like São Paulo can be divided into subprefeituras for administrative purposes.
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