A municipality (Estonian: omavalitsus, plural omavalitsused) is the smallest administrative subdivision of Estonia. Each municipality is a unit of self-government with its representative and executive bodies. The municipalities in Estonia cover the entire territory of the country.
Municipalities in Estonia are of two types:
- Urban municipalities or towns (linnad, singular linn)
- Rural municipalities or parishes (vallad, singular vald).
There is no other status distinction between them.
Municipalities may contain one or several settlements. All urban municipalities plus 6 rural municipalities contain only one settlement. Of the latter 6, five are so-called "borough-parishes", consisting of one borough, while Ruhnu Parish consists of one village.
Some municipalities are divided into districts. The 8 urban districts (linnaosad, singular linnaosa) of Tallinn have limited self-government, while other urban districts are formed for administrative purposes. Some rural districts (osavallad) have limited self-government, while other types of rural districts do not.
Municipalities range in population from Tallinn with 427,500 inhabitants to Ruhnu with 68. Previously, as over two-thirds of the municipalities had a population of under 3,000, many of them found it advantageous to co-operate in providing services and carrying out administrative functions.
After the administrative reform was completed in October 2017, there are total of 79 municipalities, 15 of which are urban and 64 rural. 51 of the present municipalities were the result of mergers, 28 remain unchanged. After the reform small municipalities with under 5,000 inhabitants have been reduced from a number of 169 to 15. The number of councillors was reduced from 2,026 to 1,019. The municipalities are: