A dependent territory, dependent area or dependency is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state yet remains politically outside the controlling state's integral area.
A dependency is commonly distinguished from subnational entities in that they are not considered to be part of the integral territory of the governing state. A subnational entity typically represents a division of the state proper, while a dependent territory often maintains a great degree of autonomy from the controlling state. Historically, most colonies were considered to be dependencies of their controlling state. The dependencies that remain generally maintain a very high degree of political autonomy. At the same time, not all autonomous entities are considered to be dependencies, and not all dependencies are autonomous. Most inhabited dependent territories have their own ISO 3166 country codes.
Some political entities have a special position recognized by international treaty or agreement resulting in a certain level of autonomy or differences in immigration rules. These are sometimes considered dependencies, but are officially considered by their controlling states to be integral parts of the state. Examples are Åland (Finland) and Hong Kong (China).