What’s the difference between a village and a town?

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Geographically, continents take up to about 148 million square kilometers of land of the earth. With that comes various cultural differences for each continent, country, state, city, town, village, community, and family. This time, let us talk about Village vs Town and how it differs in meaning and concepts from around the world and in the Philippines.

Village vs Town around the world


A village is a small community that is often situated in a rural area. Generally speaking, it is bigger than a “hamlet” but smaller than a “town.” According to some geographers, a village is defined as having 500 to 2,500 residents. Villages are groupings of people gathered around a central location across the majority of the world. Most frequently, a church, a market, or a public area serves as the center. A built square or an open area (sometimes known as a village green) might be considered a public place (sometimes called a plaza or piazza).

 In some countries, some village are linear settlements meaning they cluster around a line instead of the central public space. The line may be a railroad route or is usually a riverbank or seashore which is common among fishing villages. Planned villages, on the other hand, are communities that do not develop around a central point, but rather, are planned to avoid land-use conflicts. For instance, in the 1950s,  Tapiola, Finland was planned to be an ecological or garden city to provide local jobs and establish life in harmony with nature.  In countries like China and Japan, a village is an official administrative unit which is its own component of government with its own leaders and services. As to the United Kingdom, a pit village is a settlement known for its mining activities. For other underdeveloped nations, primary activities still puts focus on the rural village life providing basic goods and services to its inhabitants and nearby areas. Most villages in developed countries are no longer focused toward primary activities since factors like cultural changes, globalization, and others have encouraged villagers to seek other occupations or migrate.


In other countries, a town is a sort of urban area. A town is larger than a village but smaller than a metropolis or city. Some geographers define a town as having 2,500 to 20,000 persons.

Towns often have local self-government and may develop around specific economic activity such as mining or railroading. In the United States, “ghost towns” encompases  the western part of the country. These are towns full of abandoned buildings and roads which are the remains of “boom towns” which were developed after gold and silver were discovered during the 19th century around said area leaving the place empty of homes and business when all the gold and silver were mined.

In Australia, most rural and regional centres of population can be called towns, with many small towns having populations of less than 200 people.

As to most countries, there is no distinction between a town and a city as since the word is used for both bigger and smaller settlements, which are bigger than villages.

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Village vs Town in the Philippines

In its Philippine counterpart, a village is commonly referred to as the Barangay. Its role in the society is as the basic political unit, the barangay serves as the primary planning and implementing unit of government policies, plans, programs, projects, and activities in the community, and as a forum wherein the collective views of the people may be expressed, crystallized and considered, and where disputes may be amicably settled.

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For a barangay or village in the Philippines is to be created, the following criterias should be met:

(a) A barangay may be created out of a contiguous territory which has a population of at least two thousand (2,000) inhabitants as certified by the Philippine Statistics Agency (Formerly: National Statistics Office) except in cities and municipalities within Metro Manila and other metropolitan political subdivisions or in highly urbanized cities where such territory shall have a certified population of at least five thousand (5,000) inhabitants: Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the population of the original barangay or barangays to less than the minimum requirement prescribed herein.

Barangays may also be created in such communities by an Act of Congress, regardless of the aforesaid condition so as to enhance the delivery of basic services in the indigenous cultural communities.

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of the new barangay shall be properly identified by metes and bounds or by more or less permanent natural boundaries. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands. Lastly,

(c) Based on the above criteria, the governor or city mayor may prepare a consolidation plan for barangays which will be submitted to the sangguniang panlalawigaan or panglungsod concerned for appropriate action. In some cases, the barangay consolidation plan shall be prepared and approved by the concerned sangguniang bayan.

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On the other hand, the Municipality is the Philippine version of a town. The municipality is comprised of a group of barangays. Its purpose is to act as a general purpose government who shall coordinate and deliver basic, regular and direct services, and effective governace of the constituents within its territory and jurisdiction.

According to the local government code, a municipality may be created, divided, merged, abolished, or its boundary substantially altered only by an Act of Congress and subject to the approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the COMELEC in the local government unit or units directly affected. Except as may otherwise be provided in the said act, the plebiscite shall be held within one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of its effectivity. The following are the criterias for the creation of a municipality:

a) A municipality may be created if it has an average annual income, as certified by the provincial treasurer, of at least Two million Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P2,500,000.00) for the last two (2) consecutive years based on the 1991 constant prices; a population of at least twenty-five thousand (25,000) inhabitants as certified by the National Statistics Office; and a contiguous territory of at least fifty (50) square kilometers as certified by the Lands Management Bureau: Provided, That the creation thereof shall not reduce the land area, population or income of the original municipality or municipalities at the time of said creation to less than the minimum requirements as mentioned above.

(b) The territorial jurisdiction of a newly-created municipality shall be properly identified by metes and bounds. The requirement on land area shall not apply where the municipality proposed to be created is composed of one (1) or more islands. The territory need not be contiguous if it comprises two (2) or more islands.

(c) The average annual income shall include the income accruing to the general fund of the municipality concerned, exclusive of special funds, transfers and non-recurring income.

Officials and Offices

A barangay is led by:

  1. A punong barangay
  2. Seven (7) sangguniang barangay members
  3. Sangguniang kabataan chairman
  4. A barangay secretary
  5. A barangay treasurer, and
  6. the lupong tagapamayapa (peace officers)

The punong barangay, sangguniang barangay members, and members of the lupong tagapayamapa in each barangay are the persons in authority within the jurisdictions of their barangay territories who are mandated to keep and maintain public order, protection and security, and maintain a desirable and balanced environment within the scope of their authority.

Whereas, a municipality is officiated by:

  1. A municipal mayor
  2. A municipal vice-mayor
  3. Sangguniang bayan members
  4. A secretary to the sangguniang bayan
  5. A municipal treasurer
  6. A municipal assessor
  7. A municipal accountant
  8. A municipal budget officer
  9. A municipal planning and development coordinator
  10. A municipal engineer/building official
  11. A municipal health officer and
  12. A municipal civil registrar

In addition, the mayor may appoint a municipal administrator, a municipal legal officer, a municipal agriculturist, a municipal environment and natural resources officer, a municipal social welfare and development officer, a municipal architect, and a municipal information officer.

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