Local government in New Hampshire is divided between county, school district, and municipal governments.
There are 10 counties in the state of New Hampshire responsible for local sheriff services, nursing homes, and prisons. A county is governed by a board of county commissioners. Similar to the rest of New England, county government in New Hampshire is very weak and have relatively few responsibilities compared to states in other regions. Most local government functions are performed at the town and city level.
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New Hampshire contains 234 incorporated towns and cities. Thirteen are cities and 221 are towns. Towns and cities are treated identically under state law. The primary difference is that cities are former towns whose form of government was changed through a special act of the New Hampshire General Court. Since 1979, however, any town or city can change its form of government by creation of a new charter and voter approval of the new municipal charter.
Collectively, these 234 municipalities cover the vast majority of, but not all of, the state's territory. There are some unincorporated areas in the sparsely populated northern region of the state. Most of the unincorporated areas are in Coos County, the state's northernmost county. Carroll and Grafton counties also contain smaller amounts of unincorporated territory. This territory includes seven unincorporated townships and an assortment of gores, grants, purchases and locations. The remaining seven counties in the state are entirely incorporated (Grafton County was also fully incorporated at one time, but lost that status when one of its towns disincorporated). Fewer than 250 of the state's residents live in unincorporated areas.
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