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County councils were responsible for more strategic services in a region, with smaller urban district councils and rural district councils responsible for other activities. The new system was a major modernisation, which became necessary because of the increase of functions carried out by local government in late Victorian Britain.
England and Wales
The system was soon extended to Scotland, by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, and the island of Ireland by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. Except in Scotland, the areas they covered were called administrative counties and were not always the same as the traditional shire counties.
In the United States, most of the individual states have counties as a form of local government; in nine states, they are headed by a county council. In other states, each county is headed by a county commission or a county board of supervisors.
- Edwards, John (1955). 'County' in Chambers's Encyclopedia. LONDON: George Newnes. pp. pp189-191.