A wilāyah ( _ar. ولاية) or vilâyet (in Persian and Ottoman Turkish) is an administrative division, usually translated as "province." The word derives from the Arabic root "w-l-i", meaning "to govern": a wāli 'governor' governs a "wilayah" 'that which is governed'. Under the Caliphate, it referred to one of the constituent near-sovereign states.

Use in specific countries

Arab World

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:
*Provinces of Algeria
*Provinces of Oman
*Regions of Mauritania
*States of Sudan
*Districts of Kenya
*Governorates of Tunisia

The governorates of Iraq (muhafazah) are often translated as province, in contrast 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).

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. Fact|date=February 2007 One former state has been expelled in the past; the state of Singapore was expelled from 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.

The Ottoman Empire

Traditionally the provinces of the Ottoman Empire were known as "eyâlet"s, but beginning in 1864, they were gradually restructured as "vilâyet"s – the Turkish pronunciation of the Arabic word "wilāyah".

The current provinces of Turkey are called "il" in Turkish.

Central Asia

The Ottoman Turkish word for "province" ("vilâyet") is still used in several similar forms in Central Asian countries:

*Provinces of Afghanistan (velayat in Pashto, wilaayat in Dari)
*Provinces of Tajikistan (singular: viloyat, plural: viloyatho)
*Provinces of Turkmenistan (singular: welayat, plural: welayatlar)
*Provinces of Uzbekistan (singular: viloyat, plural: viloyatlar)


In Iran, the word is also used unofficially.

outh Asia

In Hindi and Urdu, the term "Vilayet" is used to refer to any foreign country. As an adjective "Vilayeti" is used to indicate an imported article or good.

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 Muttaḥidah") literally meaning "the United States."

In the Tsez language, the districts of Dagestan are also referred to as "вилайат" ("wilayat"), plural "вилайатйоби" ("wilayatyobi"). But the term "район" ("rayon"), plural "районйаби" ("rayonyabi") is also used.

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