The term township generally means the district or area associated with a town. However in some systems no town need be involved. Specific use of the term to describe political subdivisions has varied by country, usually to describe a local rural or semi-rural government within a county.
- In eastern Canada a township is one form of the subdivision of a county. This is translated into French as canton in Quebec.
- In western Canada townships exist only for the purpose of land division by the Dominion Land Survey and are not administrative units.
- In England the township has been long obsolete, but was a subdivision used to administer a large parish.
- In South Africa under Apartheid, a township was a residential development which confined Africans who lived near or worked in white-only communities. Soweto is the most well-known of these.
- In the United States, there are two kinds of township in common use. A survey township is a unit of land measure defined by the Public Land Survey System. A civil township is a widely-used unit of local government. The former are always numbered; the latter are usually given names. A state may have neither, only one, or both of these.