Political subdivision of Switzerland, France, and some other European countries. Each of Switzerland's 26 cantons and half-cantons has its own constitution, legislature, executive, and judiciary. Five preserve the ancient democratic assembly, in which all citizens meet; the remaining 21 have a cantonal legislature with elective representatives and usually proportional representation. In France, the canton is a territorial and administrative subdivision of an arrondissement but not an actual unit of local government.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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