County seat A is an county seat administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica. FunctionIn most of the United States, counties are the political subdivisions of a state. The city, town, or populated place that houses county government is known as the seat of its respective county. Generally, the county legislature, county courthouse, sheriff's department headquarters, hall of records, jail and correctional facility are located in the county seat, though some functions may also be located or conducted in other parts of the county, especially if it is geographically large. A county seat is usually, but not always, an incorporated municipality. The exceptions include the county seats of counties that have no incorporated municipalities within their borders, such as Arlington County, Virginia. Ellicott City, the county seat of Howard County, is the largest unincorporated county seat in the United States, followed by Towson, the county seat of Baltimore County, Maryland. Likewise, some county seats may not be incorporated in their own right, but are located within incorporated municipalities. For example, Cape May Court House, New Jersey, though unincorporated, is a section of Middle Township, an incorporated municipality. In some of the colonial states, county seats include or formerly included "Court House" as part of their name,. CanadaIn the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the term "shire town" is used in place of county seat.County seats in Taiwan are the administrative centers of the counties. Currently there are 13 county seats in Taiwan, which are in the forms of county-administered city, urban township or rural township. Lists of Taiwan county seats by county United States U.S. counties with more than one county seatMost counties have only one county seat. However, some counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont have two or more county seats, usually located on opposite sides of the county. An example is Harrison County, Mississippi, which lists both Biloxi and Gulfport as county seats, and Hinds County, Mississippi, which lists both Raymond and the state capital of Jackson. The practice of multiple county seat towns dates from the days when travel was difficult. There have been few efforts to eliminate the two-seat arrangement, since a county seat is a source of pride for the towns involved. There are 36 counties with multiple county seats in 11 states: In New England, the town, not the county, is the primary division of local government. Historically, counties in this region have served mainly as dividing lines for the states' judicial systems. Coffee County, Alabama St. Clair County, Alabama Arkansas County, Arkansas Carroll County, Arkansas Clay County, Arkansas Craighead County, Arkansas Franklin County, Arkansas Logan County, Arkansas Mississippi County, Arkansas Prairie County, Arkansas Sebastian County, Arkansas Yell County, Arkansas Columbia County, Georgia Lee County, Iowa Campbell County, Kentucky Kenton County, Kentucky Essex County, Massachusetts Middlesex County, Massachusetts Plymouth County, Massachusetts Bolivar County, Mississippi Carroll County, Mississippi Chickasaw County, Mississippi Harrison County, Mississippi Hinds County, Mississippi Jasper County, Mississippi Jones County, Mississippi Panola County, Mississippi Tallahatchie County, Mississippi Yalobusha County, Mississippi Jackson County, Missouri Hillsborough County, New Hampshire Seneca County, New York Bennington County, Vermont Other variations Connecticut and Rhode Island have no county level of government and thus no county seats, and Massachusetts has dissolved many but not all of its county governments. In Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine the county seats are legally designated shire towns. County government consists only of a Superior Court and Sheriff, both located in the respective shire town. Bennington County has two shire towns, but the Sheriff is located in Bennington.In Virginia, a county seat may be an independent city surrounded by, but not part of, the county of which it is the administrative center; for example, Fairfax City is both the county seat of Fairfax County and completely surrounded by Fairfax County, but the city is politically independent of the county.Two counties in South Dakota have their county seat and government services centered in a neighboring county. Their county-level services are provided by Fall River County and Tripp County, respectively.In Louisiana, which is divided into parishes rather than counties, county seats are referred to as parish seats. Alaskais divided into boroughs rather than counties; the county seat in these case is referred to as the "borough seat"; this includes six consolidated city-borough governments. The Unorganized Borough, which covers 49% of Alaska's area, has no county seat or equivalent. Lists of U.S. county seats by stateThe state with the most counties is Texas, with 254, and the state with the fewest counties is Delaware, with 3.
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