Difference between State and Union Territory - Evolution of 28 states and 8 UTs

The basic difference between a State and a Union Territory is that union territories are directly ruled by the union government, while states have a separate government for administrative purposes.

A nation is known by its states and union territories. India as a country comprises 28 states and 8 Union Territories. There is a difference between a state and a union territory. This article will mention the basic differences between the two for IAS Exam aspirants along with the explanation of the states and union territories.

For more articles related to the UPSC Polity segment, candidates can download articles by visiting the UPSC Indian Polity notes (Free PDF Download) page!!

The following links will also be of immense help to the candidates:

Evolution of States and Union Territories in India

Our 28 states and 8 Union Territories have come out from the two categories of political units:

  1. The British Provinces
  2. The Princely States

India as an independent nation started with a total of 28 states classified into four categories:

  1. Part A: Nine erstwhile governor’s provinces of British India
  2. Part B: Nine erstwhile princely states with legislatures
  3. Part C: Erstwhile chief commissioner’s provinces of British India and some of the erstwhile princely states. These Part-C states (in all 10 in number) were centrally administered
  4. Part D: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Check the states in the above-mentioned parts at the time of India’s independence:

Part A States Part B States Part C States Part D States
Assam Hyderabad Ajmer Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Bihar Jammu & Kashmir Bhopal
Bombay Madhya Bharat Bilaspur
Madhya Pradesh Mysore Vindhya Pradesh
Madras Patiala & East Punjab Coorg
Punjab Rajasthan Delhi
Orissa Saurashtra Himachal Pradesh
United Provinces Travancore-Cochin Kutch
West Bengal Manipur

Later, with the States Reorganisation Act (1956) and the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act (1956), the distinction between Part-A and Part-B states was done away with, and Part-C states were abolished. Some of them were merged with adjacent states and some others were designated as union territories.

As a result, the following 14 states and 6 union territories were created in 1956:

States Union Territory
Andhra Pradesh Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Assam Delhi
Bihar Himachal Pradesh
Bombay Laccadive, Minicoy & Amindivi Islands
Jammu & Kashmir Manipur
Kerala Tripura
Madhya Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
West Bengal

States and Union Territories Post-1956

The demand for the creation of states based on languages was one of the major reasons for India to have several states. Post-1956, India came up with 28 States and 7 Union Territories:

States Union Territory
Andhra Pradesh Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Arunachal Pradesh Chandigarh
Assam Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman Diu
Bihar Ladakh
Chhattisgarh Delhi (National Capital Territory)
Goa Lakshadweep
Gujarat Puducherry
Haryana Jammu and Kashmir
Himachal Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh

Note: After the repeal of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir in July 2019, on October 31, 2019, the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories:

  1. Jammu & Kashmir
  2. Ladakh

Hence, now India has 28 states and 8 Union Territories.

Political Map of India 2019

Difference between States and Union Territories

The basic differences between a state and a union territory are given below which can help aspirants in UPSC 2022 exam as the bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir state makes this topic important.

Difference States Union Territory
Definition It is an independent unit which is run by the state legislature which either is unicameral or bicameral:

(to read the difference between unicameral and bicameral, refer to the linked article.)

It is not an independent unit but is run by the administrators appointed by the President of India


Delhi and Puducherry are the only two UTs that have a legislature and are governed by a Lieutenant Governor (LG), CM, and council of ministers.

Administration State Legislature:

  • Governor
  • Chief Minister & Council of Ministers
Central Government through Lieutenant Governors & Administrators. 3 Union Territories – Chandigarh, Lakshwadeep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have Administrators, rest of the 5 Union Territories – Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, and Puducherry have Lieutenant Governors (LG).
Executive Head Governor Lt. Governor
Centre’s relationship Federal in character Unitary in character
Election Chief Minister is elected An LG/Administrator is appointed by the President
Autonomy Exist Does not exist

IAS aspirants must understand that both states and union territories are important blocks of a nation. While states are bigger, UTs are smaller. These differences will help aspirants to understand the two in a better way.

For more UPSC- related preparation articles visit the links given in the table below. Candidates can also visit the UPSC Syllabus page to get a general idea of the UPSC exams.

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference Between States and Union Territories


What is the basic difference between a State and a Union Territory?

A state is a division under Indian constituency, which has a separate government, whereas, a Union Territory is ruled directly by the Central Government by a Lieutenant Governor as an administrator, who is the representative of the President of India and appointed by the Central government.

How many States and Union Territories are there in India?

As in 2020, India has a total of 28 States and 8 Union Territories.

How are Union Territories different from States?

During independence and due to the constitutional provisions, Union Territories were created either because they were too small in area to be called a state or were not entirely a part of the country. Thus, they were named Union Territories depending upon the Union Government.

Who is the administrator of the States and Union Territories?

In terms of administrator, there is a difference between states and the union territories. States are headed by a Chief Minister and Union Territories by Lieutenant Governor.

Why is India divided into States and Union Territories?

For better administration of the entire country, India was divided into states and Union territories.
For any further information regarding the upcoming IAS Exam or other Government exams, study material or preparation notes, candidates can turn to BYJU’S.

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