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The German term district (from Middle High German  zirc from Latin circulus 'circle', abbreviations: Bez./Bz.) Denotes a demarcated area , a stretch of land , a region , but in particular a hierarchical level of the administrative structure . There are historical and regional differences in the delimitation or comparison of the terms “district” and “district”.


A city district is the administrative, political or statistical division of a city .

Term by country


In Germany , the formation of administrative and political city districts is regulated in the municipal codes of the federal states. Larger cities are then often obliged to subdivide them into city districts. The city districts are formally established by resolution of the city ​​council and are enshrined in the main statute . The individual names for city districts often vary depending on the city. For example, they are simply called districts in Hamburg and Berlin ; During the GDR , the districts in East Berlin were called Stadtbezirke because the term district was used. In Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate, on the other hand, the term local district is used uniformly , since in these states both cities and municipalities without city status can form districts.


In Austria there are nominal city ​​districts in some cities ( Graz , Klagenfurt am Wörthersee ; see list of the city districts of Graz and Klagenfurt am Wörthersee #Stadtgliederung ) or municipal districts ( Vienna ; see Vienna municipal districts ). In other cities such as Salzburg , however, one speaks of districts . Until 2013, Linz was also divided into districts , which in turn were divided into statistical districts . This system was replaced in 2014 by the division into statistical districts , which are mostly larger than the former statistical districts , but smaller than the former city ​​districts .

Another type of urban district in many municipalities - with the exception of census districts - is the census district , which is of a population-statistical nature. In cities that have no census districts, these are also anchored in the urban structure (for example in Linz); in some census districts and city districts coincide, in others not.

Some communities are finally divided into localities (e.g. Innsbruck ; there these are also districts ).


In Switzerland , the term Stadtkreis is common for a city district .

Administrative unit

City districts as administrative units below the city administration are set up in large cities in order to be able to administer them close to the citizens. Examples are the Berlin , Hamburg , Vienna , Paris or London districts.

Such city districts (also: administrative district, municipal district) have a directly elected parliament and their own mayor (the names and competencies differ depending on the city).

In North Rhine-Westphalia , according to the municipal code, there are city ​​districts with district representatives in the independent cities . In Lower Saxony , city districts can be set up in independent cities or cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. The committee or its individual members are then called the city ​​district council .

The city district has its own district council, often called the district advisory council or district assembly , in NRW district council , in Lower Saxony city ​​district council , which is newly formed at or after each local election . Depending on the country, the body is elected directly by the people or appointed by the city council. The city district has a district head or district office manager who works full-time or on a voluntary basis and is officially called the district mayor in Berlin and the cities of Lower Saxony (in other federal states this is occasionally unofficially named). A specially set up district office serves as the administrative office of the city district . The terms district advisory board, district chairman, district mayor or district office can vary from country to country.

The lack of or unbalanced representation of individual city ​​districts or quarters within the city districts can lead to a democratic deficit and to political or social conflicts.

Statistical classification

So-called city districts can, however, also be small-scale statistical areas within cities that have nothing to do with the aforementioned self-governing unit city ​​district , an example of this are the city ​​districts of Frankfurt am Main. The inner-city subdivisions with self-administration are called local districts instead .

In addition to administrative districts, cities also define statistical districts as a level of small-scale structure for the purpose of small-scale presentation of statistical data .

Delimitation to the district

The term district primarily describes a geographical division. In smaller cities, the terms are often used synonymously.

The definition of the term district is not uniform. A city district as an administrative unit or statistical unit can:

State administrative units


In Belgium the provinces are divided into a total of 43 districts. In French they are called arrondissements , in Dutch arrondissementen , but are officially referred to as districts in Belgian official German, while the term arrondissement is also used unofficially in German . The equation of the terms “district” and “arrondissement” is official in Belgium, but cannot simply be transferred to other countries. These districts are purely administrative units, without their own political decision-making powers.


In Germany , the term is used for the following regional administrative levels (some of which are however comparable in terms of their spatial extent):


The use of the designation "Bezirk" for the higher administrative division and "Kreis" for the lower comes from Prussia and was only transferred to the other countries in 1939. Previously, in Bavaria , Württemberg and Saxony, the higher level was referred to as the district or district main team and the lower level as the district, upper office or district administration.

In the Electorate of Hesse , the provinces were dissolved after the March Revolution in 1848 and replaced by nine districts, the layout of which roughly corresponded to today's districts. This new regulation was reversed in 1851. See district (Electorate of Hesse) . In the Bavarian constitution of 1946 the traditional designations were used again, ie "Kreis" for the district and "Bezirk" for the district.

When Alsace-Lorraine was annexed by the German Empire in 1871 , the French administrative division there was renamed according to the Prussian model, the departments became districts and the arrondissements became districts (though considerably smaller). For the level of the cantons located under the arrondissements / districts , the French name was adopted into German.


In Austria , the 94 political districts (15 statutory cities (city districts), 79 rural districts - administrative districts in Vorarlberg and Lower Austria ) are administrative units between the federal state and the municipality, but in contrast to these do not enjoy self-administration rights. Its top official is an - appointed - district captain (or in the statutory cities the mayor ). In addition, there are and have been political expositions , which are a kind of branch office of the district administration.

Statistically, the Austrian districts are grouped into 35 NUTS 3 regions .

The term district appears in the Austrian Empire as an administrative unit of the Austrian military border based on the 18 regimental districts. In addition to the political districts, there are also (not always congruent) judicial districts as the competent district of a district court .


In Switzerland , a district is a regional body of the cantons that serves the administrative subdivision of their territory, but with the exception of the Schwyz districts - in contrast to the municipalities - has no internal autonomy. In some cantons it is also called a district, district, amtei or region, formerly also an office or administrative district .

In the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden district is the name for (political) municipality .


South Tyrol uses a term that is analogous to Austria , and also knows district communities at valley level as structuring elements.


If the use of the term district is inconsistent in the German-speaking area, the translation of administrative terms from other countries and languages ​​is even more problematic. For the most part, analogies are used to the administrative division of Prussia or that of the GDR , in Danube countries instead Austrian ones .

People's Republic of China

Chinese administrative units are referred to in German according to the Prussian model in descending order as province, district, district and municipality. In the People's Republic of China , the highest administrative body within a province is called Chinese   , Pinyin , which literally means “country”, but is usually translated as “district” (sometimes “prefecture” in the past). Depending on the proportion of rural and urban settlements as well as the non- Han Chinese population, a distinction is made between 地区 , dìqū " administrative district " (literally 'land area'), 地 級 市 , dìjíshì , " district-free city " (literally 'country-rank-city', ie City of the rank of a country), and 自治州 , zìzhìzhōu  - "self-governing state / federal state" Autonomous District . Except in the sparsely populated peripheral regions, most of the districts now have the status of a district-free city. Their subdivisions of the rank of a district, Chinese  /  , xiàn , are differentiated according to city ​​districts , Chinese 市 辖区 , shìxiáqū  - "urban administered area" with a purely urban character, English city ​​district , then independent cities , Chinese 县级 市 , xiànjíshì  - "City of the rank of a district", with a large urban share but also rural areas, as well as ordinary districts ( , xiàn ) and autonomous districts 自治县 , zìzhìxiàn  - "self-governing district", the latter with a significant proportion of the population of national minorities.


The seutukunta in Finland lies in the hierarchy between the upper (uppermost) division of the country into landscapes (Finnish maakunta , Swedish landskap ) and the municipal level . In Swedish, the second national language of Finland, this administrative unit is called ekonomiska region . In terms of function, it is more of an administrative community . Nevertheless, seutukunta is also translated as “district”.


In Indonesia there are 501 administrative districts ( Kabupaten ) below the provinces and above the districts . They are also known as administrative districts, in English and Dutch they are translated as 'Regency', which corresponds to the Indian word of origin and the pre-colonial meaning. A city ( kota ) is on the same level as a kabupaten .


Iceland is divided into four landsfjórðungar , which is often translated as “districts”.

Czech Republic

Until 2002 there were administrative units in the Czech Republic called Okresy ("districts").


Hungary was divided into Megye soon after it was founded in the Middle Ages . In German and French, the term is mostly given as Komitat / Comitat, derived from the Latin comitatus ("Grafschaft"). This classification was restored after the Turkish rule (63 Megye) and has been preserved up to the present day. Since the Second World War there are 19 Megye and the capital Budapest. As a level below, the Járás were established in the Austrian Empire, in German "districts" according to the Austrian definition. In 1983/84 by Város and Nagyközség (urban or large areas), replaced by Kistérség (small areas) in 1994, the Járás were restored in 2013. There are now 175 Járás, 23 of them in Budapest.


In the Ukraine , as in the Soviet republics , the oblasts form the highest territorial division. Oblast can also be translated as district. However, the further subdivisions of the district , which are called Rajon , correspond to the district .


The district was an administrative unit in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria .

English speaking states

In England the counties ( counties ) have been divided into Districts since 1965 , which is sometimes translated as “districts”. The layout and competencies of these administrative units show considerable differences. In predominantly rural counties there are non-metropolitan districts , but one or the other “urban district” is also included. In metropolitan areas there are metropolitan districts often referred to as boroughs , e.g. B. the London Boroughs . Since the 1990s, some cities in metropolitan areas, but also one or the other entire county, have been converted into unitary authorities .

In Scotland there were also counties from 1889 to 1975; since 1996 there is only one administrative level below the state administration, the 32 Council Areas (large municipalities).

In Wales , which was divided into counties from the Middle Ages until 1975 and then instead into 37 districts, there has also been a single-tier administration since 1996, with the large municipalities here being called Principal Areas .

In the USA , the constituencies are known as districts . And because the area of ​​the American federal capital is called the District of Columbia , several other states also refer to their capital territory in the respective national language as a “federal district” or “national district”.

The nine provinces of South Africa are divided into a total of 52 districts . The eight largest cities form metropolitan districts .

French speaking states

France and, following the French model, Senegal are divided into regions, departments and arrondissements , while Haiti is only divided into departments and arrondissements according to the previous French situation. Since Département and Arrondissement can be translated equally with “District”, it is for the sake of clarity that the original names are also used in German. The Canadian state ("province") of Québec is divided into 17 régions administratives ("administrative areas", one could also say "administrative districts"), below which there are 82 municipalités régionales de comté ("regional county municipalities "), which in turn together more than a thousand municipalités locaux (local parishes ), and two communautés métropolitaines ("metropolitan communities").

Spanish speaking states

There is a great variety of structures and names in the administrative divisions of Spanish-speaking countries; Provincia are the states in Argentina and the second lowest levels in Spain . Departamentos form the second lowest level in Argentina, in Colombia the only one between the state and the Municipios ("municipalities"). In Cuba, the provincias form this level. In Venezuela , the divisions of the second lowest level are called Municipios, including the Parroqíuas (literally "parishes"). In Ecuador , the Cantones lie between Parroquías and Provincias. Guatemala is divided into eight regions, including 22 Departamentos and 334 Municipios (municipalities). In Mexico there is no other level of administration between states and municipalities. For most of the designations between state and municipality there are German forms that are no less common than the word Bezirk, or the Spanish word is known in its French equivalent.

Other meanings

In addition, many organizations (companies, political parties, trade unions, sports associations, etc.) also refer to their regional organizational or administrative units as districts. In the forest administration there are, for example, forest districts .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: District  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: City district  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Magistrat Linz, Stadtforschung: Linz - Politics / Administration - Linz Numbers - City Area. Retrieved June 9, 2017 .
  2. Lower Saxony municipal code (for city districts, see from page 26 of the PDF; 188 kB)
  3. Regulations on the tasks and working methods of the city council of Greater Berlin and its organs ( Memento of January 11, 2010 in the Internet Archive ), decree of the Council of State of the GDR of September 7, 1961 (Journal of Laws of SDr. 341, p. 3) .
  4. From manorial to citizen service in the official gazette of BH Mödling, anniversary edition 2018
  5. ^ Provincial manual of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria for the year 1852  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Dead Link / mtg-malopolska.org.pl   . Lemberg: from the Imperial and Royal Galician Provincial State Printing House, 1852, p. 103 etc.