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A wilāyah (Arabic: ولاية) or vilayet (Turkish: vilâyet) or (ولایت in Persian) is an administrative division, usually translated as "province." The word means the same in Malay. The word derives from the Arabic waliyah, meaning "to administer."

A wilayah was governed by a Wali.


[edit] Use in specific countries

[edit] Middle East and North Africa

For Morocco which is divided into provinces and wilāyas the translation "province" would cause the distinction to cease. For Sudan the term state, and for Mauritania the term region is used.

See also:

The governorates of Iraq (muhafazah) are often translated as province, in opposite to official Iraqi documents and the general use for other Arab countries. This conflicts somehow with the general translation for muhafazah (governorate) and wilāyah (province).

[edit] Malaysia and Indonesia

Wilayah Persekutuan is the Malay term for federal territory. In Malaysia the term wilayah is used to represent central government controlled areas. Wilayah Persekutuan are the areas directly under the control of the federal government, which all other states in Malaysia are subordinate to. States such as Penang and Malacca enjoy far more autonomy from the central government, as they were former Straits Settlements of Britain. A major difference between Penang Island can be seen in automatic granting citizenship to any persons born within the Island of Penang, regardless of the citizenship of the parents. This right is a derived form of a law from the British era called "Jus soli". However neither Penang or Malacca actually practise their autonomy status in the spirit of unity within Malaysia. However east Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah practice a large degree of autonomy from the central government. Passports are required for a Peninsular Malaysian to travel to Malaysian Borneo, although in the spirit of the union, these requirements maybe done away in the future.

Technically, Malaysia is only the areas covered within the Wilayah Persekutuan, all other states in the Federation of Malaysia are subordinate states to the federal government, which may choose to leave the federation. [citation needed] One former state has done this in the past; the state of Singapore left the Malaysian Federation to form a new Republic of Singapore in the mid-Sixties.

However all Malaysians are equal federal citizens, meaning they owe no allegiance to the state, only to the federation of Malaysia, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Federal Constitution and the Malaysian Flag.

In Indonesian wilayah means area, region or regional, but does not refer to a level of government.

[edit] Turkey and Central Asia

The provinces of the Ottoman Empire were called vilâyets – the Turkish pronunciation of the Arabic word wilāyah. This Ottoman Turkish name is still used in several similar forms:

The current provinces of Turkey are called il in Turkish.

In Iran, the word is also used, though un-officially, as well.

See also: Subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire.

[edit] South Asia

In Hindi and Urdu, the term Vilayet is used to refer to any Foreign Country. A adjective Vilayeti is used indicate an imported article or good.

[edit] Other areas

In Arabic, wilāyah is used to refer to the states of the United States, and the United States as a whole is called "الولايات المتحدة" (al Wilāyat al Mutahidah) literally meaning "the United States."

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