A dependency is commonly distinguished from other subnational entities in that they are not considered to be part of the integral territory of the governing State. A subnational entity typically represents a division of the State proper, while a dependent territory often maintains a great degree of autonomy from the controlling State. Historically, most colonies were considered to be dependencies of their controlling State. Most of these have either become independent, by joining neighbouring independent countries, or assimilated into the conquering state. The dependencies that remain generally maintain a very high degree of political autonomy. Although dependencies retain a degree of autonomy, not all autonomous entities are considered to be dependencies.
The United Nations list of Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories (Official document 2002)
Many political entities have a special position recognized by international treaty or agreement resulting in a certain level of autonomy or differences in immigration rules. These are sometimes considered dependencies, but are officially considered by their controlling states to be integral parts of the state. Examples are Åland (Finland), Hong Kong (China), and Macau (China).
Dependency claims without general international recognition, including all claims in Antarctica, are listed in italics. The list includes several territories that are not included in the list of non-self-governing territories listed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. This list includes territories that have not been legally incorporated into their governing state.
Self-governing state in free association with New Zealand since 1965. Cook Islands' status is considered to be equivalent to independence for international law purposes, and the country exercises full sovereignty over its internal and external affairs. Under the terms of the free association agreement, however, New Zealand retains some responsibility for the external affairs and defence of the Cook Islands. These responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Cook Islands Government.
Self-governing state in free association with New Zealand since 1974. Niue's status is considered to be equivalent to independence for international law purposes, and the country exercises full sovereignty over its internal and external affairs. Under the terms of the free association agreement, however, New Zealand retains some responsibility for the external affairs and defence of Niue. These responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Government of Niue.
Territory of New Zealand. As it moves toward free association with New Zealand, Tokelau and New Zealand have agreed to a draft constitution. A UN-sponsored referendum on self-governance in February 2006 did not produce the two-thirds supermajority necessary for changing the current political status. Another one was in October 2007, which failed to reach the 2/3 margin.
Although all territories of Australia are considered to be fully integrated in its federative system, and the official status of an external territory does not differ largely from that of a mainland territory (except in regards to immigration law), debate remains as to whether the external territories are integral parts of Australia, due to their not being part of Australia in 1901, when its constituent states federated. They are often listed separately for statistical purposes.
Former Portuguese colony. Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China since 1999 pursuant to the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, an international treaty registered with the United Nations. The Macau Basic Law provides for the territory to enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the One Country, Two Systems model under the central government of China. However, the territory is not considered to be part of Mainland China.
The Åland Islands are governed according to the Act on the Autonomy of Åland and international treaties. These laws guarantee the islands' autonomy from Finland, which has ultimate sovereignty over them, as well as a demilitarized status
The French Southern and Antarctic Lands (called TAAF for Terres australes et antartiques françaises) is an Overseas territory since 1955, administered from Paris by an Administrateur Supérieur. No permanent population. Includes the French territorial claim in Antarctica: Adelie Land.
Three Crown dependencies are in a form of association with the UK. They are independently administrated jurisdictions, although the British Government is solely responsible for defence and international representation, and has ultimate responsibility for ensuring good government. They do not have diplomatic recognition as independent states, but they are not an integrated part of the UK, nor do they form part of the European Union. The UK Parliament retains the ability to legislate for the Crown dependencies even without the agreement of the insular legislatures. None of the Crown dependencies has representatives in the UK Parliament. Bermuda and Gibraltar have similar relationships to the UK as the Crown dependencies. While Britain is officially responsible for defence and international representation, these jurisdictions maintain their own militaries and have been granted limited diplomatic powers, in addition to having internal self-government. Nevertheless, they are British overseas territories.
Puerto Rico (since 1952) and the Northern Mariana Islands (since 1986) are non-independent states freely associated with the United States. The mutually negotiated Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in Political Union with the United States was approved in 1976. The Covenant was fully implemented November 3, 1986, pursuant to Presidential Proclamation no. 5564, which conferred United States citizenship on legally qualified CNMI residents.
Under the Constitution of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico is described as a Commonwealth and Puerto Ricans have a degree of administrative autonomy similar to citizens of a U.S. state. Puerto Ricans "were collectively made U.S. citizens" in 1917 as a result of the Jones-Shafroth Act. The commonly used name in Spanish of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, literally "Associated Free State of Puerto Rico", which sounds similar to "free association" particularly when loosely used in Spanish, is sometimes erroneously interpreted to mean that Puerto Rico's relationship with United States is based on a Compact of Free Association and at other times erroneously held to mean that Puerto Rico's relationship with United States is based on an Interstate compact. This is a constant source of ambiguity and confusion when trying to define, understand and explain Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States. For various reasons Puerto Rico's political status differs from that of the Pacific Islands that entered into Compacts of Free Association with the United States. As sovereign states, these islands have full right to conduct their own foreign relations, while the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has territorial status subject to United States congressional authority under the Constitution's Territory Clause, “to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory… belonging to the United States.”. Puerto Rico does not have the right to unilaterally declare independence, and at the last referendum (1998) the narrow majority voted for "none of the above", which was a formally undefined alternative used by commonwealth supporters to express their desire for an "enhanced commonwealth" option.
Additionally, Denmark operates in a similar manner to a federacy. The Faroes and Greenland are two self-governing territories, or regions within the Kingdom. The relationship between Denmark proper and the two territories is semi-officially termed the "Rigsfællesskabet".
^ abcFirst Assistant Secretary, Territories Division (2008-01-30). "Territories of Australia". Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 2008-02-07. "The Federal Government, through the Attorney-General's Department administers Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands, Jervis Bay, and Norfolk Island as Territories."
^Territories and Information Law Division; First Assistant Secretary, Territories and Information Law Division (7 September 2009). "Cocos Islands Governance and Administration". Territories of Australia. Australian Government, Attorney-General's Department. Retrieved 2010-09-23.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)
^Willis Island is permanently manned by a small team of meteorologists.
^The Louisiana Purchase and American Expansion: 1803-1898. By Sanford Levinson and Bartholomew H. Sparrow. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. 2005. Page 166, 178. "U.S. citizenship was extended to residents of Puerto Rico by virtue of the Jones Act, chap. 190, 39 Stat. 951 (1971) (codified at 48 U.S.C. § 731 (1987)")