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City limits or city boundaries refer to the defined boundary or border of a
city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a pe ...
. The area within the city limit can be called the
city proper A city proper is the geographical area contained within city limits. The term, ''proper'', is not exclusive to city, cities; it can describe the geographical area within the boundaries of any given locality. The United Nations defines the term as " ...
. Town limit/boundary and village limit/boundary apply to
town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the criteria to distinguish between them vary considerably in different parts of the world. Origin and use The word "town" ...
s and
village A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smaller towns), with a population typically ranging from a ...
s. Similarly, corporate limit is a legal name that refers to the boundary of municipal corporations. In some countries, the limit of a municipality may be expanded through annexation.


United Kingdom

In the UK, city boundaries are more difficult to define, since British cities are defined as any town, regardless of size, that has been granted
letters patent File:1768 transfer of the University to Nancy.jpg, upLetters patent transferring a predecessor of the University of Lorraine to Nancy, France, Nancy in 1768 Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a ty ...
. In smaller cities, such as Wells (pop. approx. 10,000) or
Gloucester Gloucester ( ) is a cathedral city and the county town of Gloucestershire in the South West of England. Gloucester lies on the River Severn, between the Cotswolds to the east and the Forest of Dean to the west, east of Monmouth Monmouth ...
(pop. approx. 100,000), the boundary will be that governed by the
city council A city council, town council, town board, or board of aldermen is the legislative body that governs a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J. ...
, though in certain cases such as Carlisle, this may include large rural and even uninhabited areas. In the case of larger cities, such as
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. It is the second-largest city, urban area and ESPON metropolitan areas in the United Kingdom, metropoli ...
(pop. approx. 1,000,000), local government will be administered by a metropolitan borough but the wider metro area may also have a county or regional combined authority.
London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its estuary leading to the Nor ...
, the largest city, is the original model for this in the UK: almost all of the metropolitan area (known as
Greater London Greater London is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of England that makes up the majority of the London region. This Regions of England, region forms the administrative boundaries of London and is organised into 33 Districts ...
) is governed by the
Greater London Authority The Greater London Authority (GLA), known colloquially as City Hall, is the devolved regional governance body of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the Uni ...
. However, as a regional administration its powers are limited, and the 32 boroughs plus the ancient The City of London contained within it are responsible for the majority of services to citizens. Although British city (or borough) boundaries are often important for defining local services such as refuse collection and planning (zoning), in most places they form a low level local government. Law enforcement, education and other services are generally defined by county boundaries (or larger areas), and central government is responsible for the National Health Service (NHS Scotland or NHS Wales outside of England). Planning (zoning) law around British cities is generally determined by green belt laws, which prevent building on the countryside surrounding large and medium-sized towns and cities.


United States

In the United States, such limits are usually formally described in a state, provincial, or territorial law (or an appropriate regulation) as being under the control of the municipal corporation or government agency, agency that constitutes the municipal government, city government. It is customary to indicate city limits with signs on freeways, highways, and arterial roads. Property within a city limit is subject to city taxation and city regulation, and expects city services. Areas outside any city's limit are considered to be unincorporated area, unincorporated, and in most U.S. states they are by default regulated and taxed by the county (United States), county. In others, areas outside a city's limit fall within another type of local government in the United States, local government, such as the civil township (a division of a county). Cities and towns may have extraterritorial jurisdiction beyond their limits, typically for zoning purposes. The distance this extends varies based on the population or area of the city, or which "class" it is considered to be under state law. Home rule within a city's limit is usually exercised by the mayor (executive branch) and
city council A city council, town council, town board, or board of aldermen is the legislative body that governs a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J. ...
(legislative branch). Home rule outside the city's limit is usually exercised by the county commission (which is often both legislative and executive), or the township's board of supervisors. Even without home rule, the county, as a unit of state government, also has certain powers and responsibilities even within the limits of its cities, including the sheriff that performs evictions, runs the county jail that all city and county police departments take arrested persons to, and guards the courthouse for the county's State court (United States), state court even though it is usually within the city limit of the county seat. Elections and health departments are also common county responsibilities which include all cities. (City residents still pay some county taxes for these reasons.) If a city chooses to have its own emergency services, they only have jurisdiction within the city's limit, except for mutual aid (emergency services), mutual aid (typically among fire departments) in case of disaster. Telephone companies also must keep track of changing a city's limit to ensure that calls to 9-1-1 are routed to the appropriate public-safety answering point, if the city operates a PSAP separate from the county. Calls from mobile phones are usually routed based on the location of the base station rather than the calling party, so these (along with landline calls to non-emergency telephone numbers) must be handled manually by the Switchboard operator, telephone operator or dispatcher, determining whether the caller or incident is within a particular city limit or not so that the proper authorities may be sent. A city's limit may extend into more than one county, which can complicate certain matters of policing and taxation. (For example, sales tax revenue collected in a city by one county may not be spent in another part of the city outside that county.) Where a city merges its government with that of its county to become a consolidated city-county, the city limit is usually considered to be expanded to occupy all of the previously-unincorporated area of the county, while other existing municipalities continue to exist but are permanently locked into their city's limit without the possibility of annexation (except possibly into a neighboring county). An independent city's limit separates it from being in any county at all. Similarly, cities and towns may or may not be considered part of the township[s] they are in. City, town, and village limits are not usually coterminous with post office locations or ZIP codes, and the USPS even considers some places to be "unacceptable" for use on mail. (For example, parts of Sandy Springs within its city limit but outside 30328 must use "Atlanta, GA" instead.) School districts and other special-purpose districts may be overlaid on cities, or cities may choose to have their own — however, these are often under other authorities. A Town's limit was often a radius from a train depot, and several still remain this way.


See also

*List of cities proper by population


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:City Limits Local government City Borders