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The Divided United States: Counties v Parishes v Boroughs


Un-United
The United States sure seems to be less and less united with each and every news cycle.  These divisions of political, religious, and economic ideology point to fractures in the American psyche, but not all divisions are bad. Even though "united" is in the nation's title, the fact that there are individual states is proof that some division is at the least inevitable and perhaps preferable.  Some states actually prefer to call themselves "Commonwealths" instead of "State". For now, however, we are going to look at the next level of divisions.  Forty-eight states are divided into "counties"; with one outlier divided by "parishes" and another by "boroughs".

County
Count Dracula, the Count of Monte Crisco, Count Chocula....
"County" was once used to designate the lands controlled by a count and the term showed the power and wealth that a count/countess held.  Though the title has largely went out of fashion, many nations still use the term to show administrative divisions. Forty-eight states also choose the "county" designation; with the exceptions being Louisiana and Alaska.   

Parish
Louisiana is divided by parishes.  Unlike "county", which signals the power of an individual, "parish"once signaled the power of the Catholic Church.  Louisiana, once controlled by Catholic dominated Spain and France, was divided both administratively and religiously through various church parishes.  The Catholic Church no longer controls Louisiana's parishes, but the term remains a reminder of Louisiana's religious past.

Borough
Alaska uses the term "boroughs*" for its administrative regions.  "Borough" once referred to a fort or walled-off area.  For enemies, a borough would be a difficult place to attack.  For citizens, a borough bestowed feelings of safety. So why did Alaska buck tradition and choose "borough"?  - Apparently for the sake of being different.

Thanks for reading!


*Some cities use boroughs to further divide their administrative regions.

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