What is a territory?

A territory (from the word 'terra', meaning 'land') is a defined area (including land and waters), considered to be a possession of a person, organization, institution, animal, state or country subdivision.

In the US, a territory was a defined region prior to being further divided and becoming states. Puerto Rico is a still a territory (called a commonwealth), as are American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas Islands, and eleven other small islands in the Caribbean or Pacific.

In Canada, there are three territories in addition to the ten provinces, which generally have the same functions. They are Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories (plural only in name).

In Australia, there are three mainland territories and seven external possessions, in addition to the six states. The Northern Territory is a territory in name only, effectively a state. There is also the Australian Capital Territory in which Canberra, the national capital is located, and the much smaller Jervis Bay Territory. The island of Tasmania is also called a territory.