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Hamlet (place)


Hamlet (place)

Oberwil in Waldkirch, St. Gallen, Switzerland is an example of a hamlet.

A hamlet is a type of settlement. The definition of hamlet varies by country. It usually refers to a small settlement, with a small population that is usually under 100, in a rural area, or a component of a larger settlement or municipality. Hamlets are typically unincorporated communities.


  • Etymology 1
  • Canada 2
  • France 3
  • Germany 4
  • India 5
  • Indonesia 6
  • Romania 7
  • Switzerland 8
  • United Kingdom 9
  • United States 10
    • Mississippi 10.1
    • New York 10.2
    • Oregon 10.3
  • Vietnam 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


The word comes from Anglo-Norman hamelet(t)e, corresponding to Old French hamelet, the diminutive of Old French hamel. This, in turn, is a diminutive of Old French ham, possibly borrowed from Franconian languages. Compare with modern French Hameau, Dutch heem, German Heim, Old English hām and Modern English home.[1]


In Canada's three territories, hamlets are officially designated municipalities.[2] As of January 1, 2010:

  • Northwest Territories had 10 hamlets,[2] which had a population of less than 1,000 people as of the 2006 census;[3][4]
  • Nunavut had 24 hamlets,[2] all of which had a population of less than 2,500 people as of the 2006 census;[5] and
  • Yukon had two hamlets,[2] both of which had a population of less than 400 people as of the 2006 census.[6]

In Canada's provinces, hamlets are usually small unincorporated communities within a larger municipality, such as many communities within the single-tier municipalities of Ontario or within Alberta's specialized and rural municipalities.[7]

Canada's two largest hamlets – Fort McMurray (formerly incorporated as a city)[8] and Sherwood Park – are located in Alberta. They both have populations well in excess of the 10,000-person threshold to incorporate as a city.[9][10] As such, these two hamlets have been further designated by the Province of Alberta as urban service areas.[11] An urban service area is recognized as equivalent to a city for the purposes of program delivery and grant eligibility.[12][13]


During the 18th century, for rich or noble people, it was up-to-date to create their own hameau (hamlet) in their gardens. They were a group of some houses or farms with rustic appearance, but in fact very comfortable. The best known in the Hameau de la Reine built by the queen Marie-Antoinette in the park of the Château de Versailles. Or the Hameau de Chantilly built by Louis Joseph, Prince of Condé in Chantilly, Oise.

Lieu-dit (local name) is another name for hamlet. The difference is that a hamlet is permanently inhabited, but a lieu-dit is not (in winter for example, or when the lieu-dit is only an important road crossing).


In Germany hamlets are called Weiler (German: ). They are often part of bigger villages and municipalities. Most German hamlets are situated in Bavaria, Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse. In the low Saxon dialect of northwestern Germany hamlets are called Bauerschaft.


In different states of India, there are different words for hamlet. In Gujarat a hamlet is called a "nesada," which are more prevalent in the Gir forest. In Maharashtra it's called a "paadaa". In southern Bihar, especially in the Magadh division, a hamlet is called a "bigha".


The hamlet Kampung Naga in West Java Province, Indonesia

All over Indonesia, hamlets are translated as "small village", or kampung. They are known as dusun in Central Java and East Java, banjar in Bali, jorong or kampuang in West Sumatra.


In Romania hamlets are called cătunuri (singular: cătun), and they represent villages that contain several houses at most. They are legally considered villages, and statistically, they are placed in the same category. Like villages, they do not have a separate administration, and thus are not an administrative division, but are part of a parent commune.


In the four national languages hamlets are known as Weiler (German), hameaux (French), frazioni (Italian) and fracziun (Romansh). A hamlet is always part of a larger municipality or may be shared between two municipalities. The difference between a hamlet and a village is that typically a hamlet lacks a compact core settlement and lacks a central building such as a church or inn. However, some hamlets (Kirchwiler) may have grown up as an unplanned settlement around a church.[14] There is no population limit that defines a hamlet and some hamlets have a larger population than some of the smallest municipalities. Generally there are no street names in a hamlet; rather, addresses are given by hamlet name and a number. House numbers might start at one side of the hamlet and continue to the other side or may have no clear organization.

A hamlet may form or have formed a Bürgergemeinde (legal place of citizenship regardless of where a person was born or currently lives) and may own common property for the Bürgergemeinde.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the word 'hamlet' has no defined legal meaning, although hamlets are recognised as part of land use planning policies and administration. A hamlet is traditionally defined ecclesiastically as a village or settlement that usually does not have its own church,[15] belonging to a parish of another village or town. In modern usage it generally refers to a secondary settlement in a civil parish, after the main settlement (if any). Hamlets may have been formed around a single source of economic activity such as a farm, mill, mine or harbour that employed its working population. Some hamlets, particularly those that have a medieval church, may be the result of the depopulation of a village. An example of a hamlet still in existence is Graby. .

The term hamlet was used in some parts of the country for a geographical subdivision of a parish (which might or might not contain a settlement). Elsewhere, these subdivisions were called "townships" or "tithings".[16][17]

In the Scottish Highlands the term clachan, of Gaelic derivation, may be preferred to the term "hamlet".[18] Also found in Scotland more generally is "fermtoun" used in the specific case of a settlement of agricultural workers' homes.

In Northern Ireland the common Irish place name element baile is sometimes considered equivalent to the term "hamlet" in English, although baile would actually have referred to what is known in English today as a townland: that is to say, a geographical locality rather than a small village.

United States


In Mississippi, a 2009 state law (§ 17-27-5) set aside the term "municipal historical hamlet" to designate any former city, town or village with a current population of less than six hundred (600) inhabitants that lost its charter before 1945. The first such designation was applied to the town of Bogue Chitto, Lincoln County, Mississippi.

New York

In New York, hamlets are unincorporated settlements within towns. Hamlets are usually not legal entities and have no local government or official boundaries. Their approximate locations will often be noted on road signs, however.

A hamlet usually depends upon the town that contains it for municipal services and government. A hamlet could be described as the rural or suburban equivalent of a neighborhood in a city or village. The area of a hamlet may not be exactly defined and may simply be contained within the ZIP code of its post office, or may be defined by its school or fire district. Some hamlets proximate to urban areas are sometimes continuous with their cities and appear to be neighborhoods, but they still are under the jurisdiction of the town. Some hamlets, such as Levittown in the Town of Hempstead, with a population of over 50,000, are more populous than some incorporated cities in the state. Others, like The Bellmores in the Town of Hempstead, have a population of 16,218.


In taxes or fees. There are four hamlets in Oregon: Beavercreek, Mulino, Molalla Prairie, and Stafford.


In Vietnam hamlet (xóm, ấp) is the lowest unofficial subdivision. It is a subdivision of a commune ()

See also


  1. ^ T. F. Hoad, English Etymology, Oxford University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-19-283098-8.
  2. ^ a b c d  
  3. ^  
  4. ^  
  5. ^  
  6. ^  
  7. ^  
  8. ^  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ Alberta Queen's Printer (2009-09-15). "2009 Official Population List". Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Province of Alberta (1994-12-21). "Order in Council 817/94 (R.M. of Wood Buffalo status change to specialized municipality)" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  13. ^ Province of Alberta (1995-12-06). "Order in Council 761/95 (Strathcona County status change to specialized municipality)" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  14. ^ Projektteam SINUS. Landschaftsökologische Strukturmerkmale als Indikatoren der Nachhaltigkeit, Spatial INdices for LandUSe Sustainability (SINUS) (PDF) (Report). University of Vienna. p. 308-317. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Greg Stevenson (2006) "What is a Village?", Exploring British Villages, BBC, accessed 20 December 2011
  16. ^ Kain R J P, Oliver R D, Historic Parishes of England & Wales,HDS, 2001, ISBN 0-9540032-0-9, p 12
  17. ^ "Status definition: Hamlet". A Vision of Britain through Time. Great Britain Historical GIS Project. Retrieved 2007-08-31. 
  18. ^ "Clachan". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 

External links

  • Wolfhampcote: A hamlet formed by depopulation
  • Low Mill: A mill hamlet

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