Skip to Content

What Is The Difference Between A Parish, A County, And A Borough In The US?

What Is The Difference Between A Parish, A County, And A Borough In The US?

Although to some, the terms “borough” and “county” may not appear that distinct from one another, the phrases “parish,” “county,” and “borough” all have various meanings in the United States.

One thing is for certain: each of the three functions as a distinct area that may be categorized as either tiny or large in terms of the nation.

A county is a region of a state or country that has its own government to handle local issues, whereas a parish can be described as an administrative district, or “a church,” where people congregate to meet their spiritual and temporal needs.

The borough is slightly different from the parish because it deals with a smaller area, ideally a town with its own government. It may also be a part of a powerful large city.

To understand them separately in a larger context, give this article a read till the end. Let’s begin.

What Is A Parish?

A parish is a small area included within a bigger territory. Parishes that are both administrative and ecclesiastical in nature are referred to by this name.

In both instances, it is led by a central authority figure who, depending on the type being discussed, may be a priest or a local government.

Both sorts of parishes can be found all over the world, and depending on where one is, the meaning of the word might change, which can be perplexing at times.

The number of parishioners can range from a few to thousands, with the Roman Catholic Church often having the largest parishes.

A priest may be chosen to serve as the parish priest for several parishes. A deacon, a layperson, or a group of people might assist in providing pastoral care for a parish when there is a shortage of priests.

What Is County?

Kings County in California

A county is an area designated for local government purposes by territorial division. They were initially developed by the state to increase individuals’ access to public services.

Counties exist to improve the quality of life for their residents. County governments accomplish this by offering essential services including public and mental healthcare, schools, libraries, and assistance to vulnerable seniors and young people.

Counties create significant regional regulations (ordinances) and uphold laws that safeguard individuals from hazardous conduct. They also encourage people to participate in their communities and businesses.

Some states use different names for their counties, such as the following:

CaliforniaLos Angeles
New YorkKings
Counties in the USA
To better understand what counties mean, you must know the difference between a county and a city.

Is Parish Bigger Than A County?

A parish is an administrative unit of a diocese with its own church, whereas a county is a territory under the control of a count or countess, or in some civil government units, the state of Louisiana.

As a result, a county is larger than a parish. In contrast to a county, which is geographically larger than a city, a parish typically refers to a tiny elected area.

For political purposes, cities and counties primarily serve as geographic divisions of territory. It is a strategy for controlling both the population and the land’s resources. It is also a way to entrust obligations.

A city is a significant, long-term encampment. It encompasses a huge amount of countries with a common historical history. A county is a unit of the national government’s administration in modern parlance.

What Is A Borough?

A borough is a municipality, or a section of a municipality, with its own council.

While boroughs are legally recognized political units, they are often smaller than cities. Although there are few outliers, the majority of Pennsylvania’s 959 boroughs, for instance, have populations under 5,000.

Burghs were the Middle Ages’ equivalent of English boroughs, while boroughs were Scotland’s form of local government. Boroughs in medieval England had the right to choose their own representatives.

The term “burh” or “borough” appears to have been used again to refer to a self-governing community following the Norman Conquest when some towns were granted self-governance.

Let’s look at some cities that act as administrative units or boroughs:

  1. Montreal
  2. New York City
  3. London

Boroughs In USA

In several American states, a borough is a subordinate level of municipal government or another type of administrative division.

Of the fifty states, forty-eight have functioning county governments. Boroughs and parishes, respectively, are the names given to the county-style governments of Alaska and Louisiana.

The most costly real estate in the city and the majority of the wealthiest neighborhoods are in Manhattan, followed by Brooklyn. In New York City, the Bronx is the most affordable borough.

The term “borough” is used in Pennsylvania state statutes that govern various types of municipalities in a manner similar to how other states occasionally use the terms “town” or “village.” A borough is a type of autonomous community that is typically scaled down from a city.

Does Florida In The USA Have Perishes Or Counties?

Fulwar Skipwith, a native of Louisiana, staged an uprising against the Spanish in 1810, who was in charge of the Florida Parishes region of Louisiana at the time.

Following the triumphant uprising, Fulwar and his interim administration changed the region’s name to the Republic of West Florida and made efforts to secure the region’s annexation to the Union.

However, the U.S. rejected Skipwith’s administration and brought the region under the supervision of the civil and military authorities then located in New Orleans, considering the area to be a part of a previously signed pact.

That is where the term originated, and the reason it has stuck around is probably because there’s a gap between Florida parish culture and the New Orleans area and Acadiana culture.

City picture
A panoramic view of a community

How are “Parish”, “County” and a “Borough” Distinct in the US?

Parish is the equivalent of a county in Louisiana; counties are used in the US to delineate local jurisdictions for courts, educational institutions, welfare programs, etc.

A borough can also be a small town within a county. Boroughs are typically a section of a metropolis, like the five boroughs of New York City: Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

A county is a region of a state or nation that is bigger than a city and has its own government to handle local issues.

A county and a city differ fundamentally from one another. Counties don’t have the same level of extensive self-government that California’s cities have.


  • While Louisiana and Alaska’s functionally identical subdivisions are referred to as parishes and boroughs, respectively, the name “county” is used throughout the other 48 US states.
  • The South Carolina Lowcountry was split into parishes until the late 19th century. South Carolina is currently divided into counties.
  • A division of a consolidated metropolis that corresponds to a different political unit, either current or former: New York and Virginia.
  • A borough is the equivalent of a county exclusively in Alaska. In plain English, counties are divisions of the state, whereas boroughs are divisions of the city.
  • Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island are the boroughs of New York. The 50 U.S. states each have 196 specific churches, according to parishes in the United States.
  • The United States has 33 city-county governments and 3,033 counties. The largest counties in the United States are Elko County in Nevada, Mohave County in Arizona, and Apache County in Arizona.

Related Articles