Department (French: département, Spanish: departamento) is the name given to the administrative and political subdivisions of many countries.
As a territorial unit, "department" was first used by the French Revolutionary governments, apparently to emphasize that each territory was simply an administrative sub-division of the united sovereign nation. (The term "department", in other contexts, means an administrative sub-division of a larger organization.) This attempt to de-emphasize local political identity contrasts strongly with countries which are divided into "states" (implying local sovereignty).
Today, departments may exist either with or without a representative assembly and executive head depending upon the countries' constitutional and administrative structure.
The United States used this designation for the "Department of Alaska" during the early period of US rule in Alaska.
Countries using departments 
Former countries using departments 
See also