Until 1974 Wales was divided into civil parishes. These were abolished by section 20 (6) of the Local Government Act 1972, and replaced by communities by section 27 of the same Act. The principal areas of Wales are divided entirely into communities. Unlike in England, where unparished areas exist, no part of Wales is outside a community, even in urban areas.
Community councils in Wales are identical to English parish councils in terms of their powers and the way they operate. Welsh community councils may call themselves town councils unilaterally and may have city status granted by the Crown. In Wales, all town councils are community councils. There are now three communities with city status: Bangor, St Asaph and St David's and the Cathedral Close. The Chair of a town council or city council will usually have the title Mayor (Welsh: maer). However, not every community has a council. In communities with populations too small to sustain a full community council, community meetings may be established.
As of the United Kingdom Census 2001 there were 869 communities in Wales. More than 730 have a council (i.e. 84%). They vary in size from Rhayader with an area of 13,945 hectares (34,460 acres) to Cefn Fforest with an area of 64 hectares (160 acres). In the 2001 Census they ranged in population from Barry with 45,053 recorded inhabitants to Baglan Bay with no permanent residents.
- Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Baines, Menna; Lynch, Peredur I (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.[page needed]