I am building a database of sorts and came across this question. I am looking for a word that includes every region that is declared and made up by humans. So no natural regions like forests or continents, but regions that are generally associated with the people residing within its borders and other human-related stuff (laws, culture, goals...). Like Estonia, Tokio, EU...

I found this similar question (Generic name for places like village, town and cities). But it's only about towns, cities etc.

  • 4
    I don't believe there is a general-purpose word for this, but for contexts where one is discussing law and its enforcement, "jurisdiction(s)" is in common US use. Oct 3, 2023 at 12:21
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    Civilization? ....
    – DJohnson
    Oct 3, 2023 at 12:39
  • Developed/undeveloped. Oct 3, 2023 at 13:15
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    Are you talking about things which have their own government (whether national, state, city, borough, or supranational entity), homelands of ethnic groups, populated areas (defined somehow), areas with names, anything human-built that's on a map (including factories, plantations, offshore installations, strip malls, etc), or something else? How are you defining their boundaries? Would you count informally-defined districts of cities; unofficial micronations; individual houses; farms; hamlets; unincorporated settlements; roads; parking lots; railway stations; etc?
    – Stuart F
    Oct 3, 2023 at 14:08
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    Do you want the term to include or exclude regions that have no legal significance and no precise definition, such as the Midwest (an imprecisely defined region of the United States)? Oct 3, 2023 at 21:11

4 Answers 4


Given your use case, the term administrative division, or one of its synonyms, might be what you are looking for. As it is explained on Wikipedia,

Administrative divisions (also administrative units, administrative regions, subnational entities, or constituent states, as well as many similar generic terms) are geographical areas into which a particular independent sovereign state is divided. Such a unit usually has an administrative authority with the power to take administrative or policy decisions for its area.

One could object to this answer, since the definition given by this Wikipedia page pertains only to subdivisions of countries and you have explicitly given both countries (Estonia) and supranational unions (the EU) as examples.

However, "administrative division" is usually qualified by an adjective like "first-level" or "second-level." An example of this usage is in Wikipedia's "List of administrative divisions by country" which shows this scheme applied to each country. You'll notice that these qualifying adjectives are defined relative to an implied zeroth-level, which would be the country. The specifications of one particular dataset even explicitly names national-level administrative boundaries as "Level 0."

I think this is a salient term for your database usage since it already has an established usage in geographical datasets and databases. For example, the GIS company Esri has a "World Administrative Divisions" dataset, and the CIA World Factbook provides a list of administrative divisions.

World Administrative Divisions provides a detailed basemap layer for the country first-level administrative divisions of the world as they existed in January 2020.

This entry generally gives the numbers, designatory terms, and first-order administrative divisions as approved by the US Board on Geographic Names (BGN).

For your use case, you might have to define the "levels" differently than existing examples, because your "zeroth-level" might be supranational unions like the EU and your "first-level" might be individual countries, and so on and so forth.

  • Isn't it the case that an administrative area may contain rivers, forests, etc?
    – Greybeard
    Oct 3, 2023 at 17:08
  • @Greybeard It could, but my understanding of the question was not that the area excludes natural features like forests, but that it is artificially defined irrespective of natural features like forests. Of course one could draw an administrative division around a forest, but then it would be the human act of drawing boundaries that creates the administrative division, not the fact of the forest existing.
    – qoheleth
    Oct 3, 2023 at 17:14

Not quite a single word, but you could call them geopolitical entities. This aptly captures both the physical space of a region as well as the people who live in it and their laws. It can be defined at many levels, but would tend toward describing larger entities that span a region large enough to have a meaningful geography, or have influence outside their own borders.

  • A problem here is that the entities overlap. Cities in the U.S. are within states. Also area organizations (like a water or utility district) may overlap with counties, cities, etc.
    – Xanne
    Oct 4, 2023 at 2:03
  • @Xanne If they overlap, they overlap regardless of what you call them. There is no need to conform to a notion of geopolitical entities that makes them disjoint, nor is there a need to make population regions more narrowly construed disjoint (census metropolitan areas vs. cities is a good example, where the whole city may not be in the CMA). New York is a city that spans multiple counties, etc.
    – Merk
    Oct 4, 2023 at 5:18
  • @Xanne That's not a "problem", it's a desired feature of what the OP is after - artificially defined regions do overlap. A term which described only disjoint regions would not be sufficiently flexible to cover the OP's use case, which explicitly mentions examples at the city, nation, and coalition of nations level. Those aren't disjoint, there's no reason why we should be describing exclusively non-overlapping entities. Oct 4, 2023 at 13:27

If you are after a word which describes the organisation, rather than the region, consider: "polity"

From Wikipedia:

an identifiable political entity, defined as a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of institutionalized social relations

any group of people organized for governance, such as the board of a corporation, the government of a country, or the government of a country subdivision.

a republic administered by an elected representative or the realm of a hereditary monarch.


I think you are overthinking this:

Artificial areas


artificial, adj. & n.

Of a thing: made or constructed by human skill, esp. in imitation of, or as a substitute for, something which is made or occurs naturally; man-made.

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