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Encyclopedia > Autonomous district

An autonomous region or autonomous district is a subnational region with special powers of self-rule. Typically an autonomous region contains a national minority which is different from the national majority.

Some countries have several levels of autonomous regions. For example, Russia among its subdivisions has (autonomous) republics, autonomous region (autonomous oblast) and autonomous districts (okrugs).


Modern autonomous regions

More information on existing autonomous regions can be found at the list of autonomous entities.


Since the 1994 Constitution grants Buenos Aires, formerly Capital Federal (Spanish, Federal Capitol), the status of, Autonomous and changes the formal name to Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires (Spanish, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires). The city which was part of the Buenos Aires Province is not longer considered to be in the province. The Buenos Aires suburbs are considered part of the Buenos Aires Province, and not from the city.

This also changed the politics of the city as introduced the election for Mayor, which was formerly elected by the President.


In the case of Spain, after the drafting of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, the first areas to become autonomous communities were highly nationalistic, ethnically distinct ones such as the Basque Country and Catalonia. It was not intended that all Spanish regions should become autonomous communities; however, this is what ended up happening, in what was dubbed café para todos ("coffee for everyone"). However, the more ethnically distinct autonomous communities have more powers than ones that are less so.


In Portugal, the two island regions of Azores and Madeira became autonomous regions in 1976 with self-rule by a regional government and a regional legislative assembly. They gain their autonomy because of the great distance from the capital of the country, it is not due to ethnic distinction like in Spain.


In the People's Republic of China, administrative divisions with various levels of autonomy occur at several levels of the administrative hierarchy. Except for special administrative regions, all of these autonomous divisions are designated for one or more ethnic minorities.

At the province level:

At the prefecture level:

At the county level:

See Political divisions of China for more information.


In Russia, there are three administrative levels of autonomous regions:

See: Subdivisions of Russia.

  Results from FactBites:
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With their respective autonomous republics abolished, the Georgian SSR was briefly granted some of their territory, until 1957.
The new government's efforts to reassert the Georgian authority in the southwestern autonomous republic of Ajaria led to a major crisis early in 2004.
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