Difference Between State and Union Territory

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 03, 2023


Difference Between State and Union Territory

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India, the most populous democracy in the world, shares its power among governments at different levels- a general government for the entire country and governments at the provincial level. Frequently, you must’ve been told that India has a federal system of government with a strong unitary bias. However, have you ever been told about states, territories, and their basic differences?

States vs. Union Territory

Simply put, a state is a centralized political organization with a separate legislature and is administered by the Chief Minister. On the contrary, the Central Government governs a union territory. Every Union Territory is administered by an administrator appointed by the nation's president.

Difference Between States and Territories in Tabular Form

ParametersStateUnion Territory
MeaningA state is defined as a political body formed by people inhabiting a definite territory and exercising permanent power.Union territories are federal administrative units in India ruled by the union.
AdministrationA state is administered by a governor and the council of ministers, with the chief minister as the head.A union territory is governed by the president of India through an administrator. The president has the power to name an administrator. It could be a Lieutenant Governor, Chief Commissioner, or simply Administrator.
SizeStates are larger.Union territories are usually smaller than states.
NumberIn a country, states will be more than the territories. India has 28 states.Union territories are in lesser numbers than the states. There are 8 Union territories in India.
CharacterStates are federalUnion territories are Unitary
Executive HeadGovernorLieutenant governor
AutonomyExistsDoes not exist

What is a State?

In an uncomplicated way, a state is a self-governing political unit that holds everlasting centralized power and rules over the population confined within a territory.

A state is administered by the governor, the head of the Executive. Each state has a unique history, culture, background, language, etc. A state is further divided into multiple districts.

Types Of States in India

The Indian subcontinent is divided into four types of states, namely – Part A States, Part B States, Part C States, and Part D States.

Part A States

The states that were formerly the provinces of British rule constitute Part A states. There are nine such states. They are – Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Orissa, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Part B States

This part includes states that were previously princely states. They are governed by a Rajpramukh, appointed by the president of India. There are eight such states, namely- Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Mysore, Madhya Bharat, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, Rajasthan, Saurashtra, and Travancore- Cochin.

Part C States

It contains provinces of the chief minister along with some other princely states. Part C States are controlled by the chief commissioner, appointed by the President of India. This part contains ten states they are- Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Coorg, Cutch, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, and Vindhya Pradesh.

Part D States

It consists of states governed by the lieutenant governor, appointed by the central government. Only Andaman and Nicobar Islands are part of it.

The States Reorganization Act of 1956

The States Reorganization Act was certainly a significant reform for the Indian States. The Act reorganized the states on a linguistic basis. Due to the Reorganization Act, enacted in August 1956, the government divided the country into 14 states and 6 union territories. The first state formed as a result of this Act was Andhra Pradesh. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, the new states formed as a result of the States Reorganization Act were Bombay, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, Punjab, and Rajasthan.

Indian States and their Capitals

Andhra PradeshAmaravati
Arunachal PradeshItanagar
Himachal PradeshShimla
Madhya PradeshBhopal
Tamil NaduChennai
Uttar PradeshLucknow
West BengalKolkata

What are Union Territories?

The concept of Union Territories was added by the Seventh Amendment Act (1956) of the Indian Constitution. They are administrative units in India governed by the Union Government. A Union Territory is represented by the state’s governor, appointed by the President of India.

As a result of The States Reorganization Act of 1956, Part C and Part D states were merged into other states or combined to form a separate category called “the union territories”.

There are a total of eight union territories in the Republic of India, namely – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, and Puducherry.

The exceptional union territories

Delhi, Puducherry, and Jammu and Kashmir are exceptional cases when it comes to union territories. What makes them different from other territories is that they have an elected legislature and government. They have a chief minister and are promised partial statehood.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, passed in 2019, the state was divided into two union territories- Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. According to the act, Ladakh was made of Kargil and Leh, while Jammu and Kashmir were formed by the remaining districts. Both the territories would be handled by different Lieutenant Governors.

Formation of the Union Territories

The Union Territories were formed as they were too small to be called a state or too different culturally, geographically, and economically to be merged into other states. Due to the aforementioned reasons, they would not have been able to survive as separate executive units and demanded to be administered by the Union Government.

Union Territories and Their Capitals

Union TerritoryCapital
Andaman and NicobarPort Blair
Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and DeuDaman
DelhiNew Delhi
Jammu and KashmirSummer Capital – SrinagarWinter Capital - Jammu
LadakhSummer Capital- LehWinter Capital - Kargil

Main Differences Between States and Union Territories in Points

  • A state has a separate government. Meanwhile, a union territory is controlled by the Central Government of India.
  • States are in more numbers than union territories. For Instance, the Republic of India has 28 States and only 8 Union Territories.
  • The states have the right to autonomy or self-government, whereas the Union Territories do not.
  • A state is governed by a governor, along with the council of ministers. The head of government of each state is the Chief Minister, elected through an election. Contrarily, A Union Territory is governed by the president of the nation, through an administrator or Lieutenant Governor appointed by him.
  • Union Territories are easier to administer than the states since they are smaller in area and are mostly urban areas.


A vast and heavily populated country, such as India, needs to be divided into states and union territories for improved and easier administration. Several factors, like size, administration, language, culture, history, etc., are kept into consideration while dividing a country into states or union territories. The territories that were too small to be called states were called Union Territories.


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"Difference Between State and Union Territory." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 10 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-state-and-union-territory-2>.

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