Local government is the order of government that is nearest to civil society. Therefore, the role of local government is crucial for federal systems as it is the closest interface between civil society and the state.
While all federal countries contain local government, its place and role in the governance of these countries vary considerably. Some federations consider local governments an essential part of the federal nature of the state and recognize this in the constitution. Other federations treat local government as a creature of the subnational states/provinces. Local government institutions come in all shapes and sizes, performing widely divergent functions. They range from metropolitan municipalities of mega-cities to counties, small-town councils, and village assemblies. Their focus is either multi-purpose (in municipalities) or single purpose (in special districts or school districts).