Districts of Germany

Last updated
Districts of Germany
Landkreis (German)
  • Also known as:
  • Kreis
  • Stadtkreis
Landkreise, Kreise und kreisfreie Stadte in Deutschland.svg
Location Germany
Found in States
Possible types
  • Rural District
  • Urban District
Government
  • Kreistag
Subdivisions

In all German states, except for the three city states, the primary administrative subdivision higher than a Gemeinde (Municipality) is the Landkreis (official term in all but two states) or Kreis (official term in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein). [1] Most major cities in Germany are not part of any Kreis, but instead combine the functions of a municipality and a Kreis; such a city is referred to as a kreisfreie Stadt (literally "district-free city"; official term in all but one state) or Stadtkreis (literally "urban district"; official term in Baden-Württemberg).

Contents

(Land-)Kreise stand at an intermediate level of administration between each German state (Land, plural Länder) and the municipal governments (Gemeinde, plural Gemeinden ) within it. [2] These correspond to level-3 administrative units in the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS 3), and are roughly equivalent to counties in the United States.

Previously, the similar title Reichskreis (Imperial Circle) referred to groups of states in the Holy Roman Empire. The related term Landeskommissariat was used for similar administrative divisions in some German territories until the 19th century.

Types of districts

Administrative divisions of Germany. (Clickable image). Administrative divisions of Germany.svg Federal LevelFederal StatesCity States(Governmental Districts)(Rural) Districts(Collective Municipalities)Municipalities(Municipalities)Urban Districts
Administrative divisions of Germany. (Clickable image).

The majority of German districts are "rural districts" [3] (German: Landkreise), of which there are 294 as of 2017. Cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants (and smaller towns in some states) do not usually belong to a district, but take on district responsibilities themselves, similar to the concept of independent cities. These are known as "urban districts" (German: kreisfreie Städte or Stadtkreise)—cities which constitute a district in their own right—and there are 107 of them, [4] bringing the total number of districts to 401. As of 2016, approximately 26 million people live in these 107 urban districts. [5]

In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are some cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants which are not urban districts, for example Recklinghausen, Siegen, Paderborn, Bergisch Gladbach, Neuss and Moers. Nevertheless, these cities take over many district responsibilities themselves, although they are still part of a larger rural district. Midsize towns can perform particular administrative functions of the district as well, especially to provide common services to the local citizens. The classification as "midsize" town is usually based on a town's registered population, but varies from state to state.

A special type of rural districts includes the three Kommunalverbände besonderer Art (Municipal unions of special kind), a fusion of a district-free town with its adjacent rural district: besides the Regionalverband Saarbrücken (Saarbrücken regional association), from 1974 until 2007 called "Stadtverband Saarbrücken" (Saarbrücken town association), there is the Hanover Region since 2001 and the Städteregion Aachen (Aachen region of towns) since 2009. Aachen, Hanover and Göttingen retain certain rights of an urban district (Kreisfreie Stadt); Saarbrücken has not explicitly determined a similar provision in its legislation.

Responsibilities

According to common federal and state laws, the districts are responsible for the following tasks:

Districts can perform additional functions, based on varying local laws in each region:

All these tasks are carried out by local (municipal) authorities operating together. Urban districts have these responsibilities and also those of the municipalities.

District council

The district council (German: Kreistag) is the highest institution of a rural district and is responsible for all fundamental guidelines of regional self-administration. This council is elected directly every five years, except in Bavaria where it is elected every six years. Usually the administrative seat of a rural district is located in one of its largest towns. However, district council and administrative seat of some rural districts are not situated within the district proper, but in an adjacent district-free city. Most of those rural districts are named after this central city as well (e.g. Bamberg and Karlsruhe). Moers is the biggest city in Germany (and at present time the only one with more than 100,000 inhabitants) that is neither an urban district, nor the district seat of its rural district.

District administration

The highest administrative position of a rural district is an officer known as Landrat or Landrätin, who is responsible for the district's day-to-day administration and acts as its representative for official purposes. In parts of northern Germany, Landrat is also the name of the entire district administration, which in southern Germany is known as Kreisverwaltung or Landratsamt.

In urban districts similar administrative functions are performed by a mayor, in most greater cities usually by the Lord Mayor.

Rural districts in some German states have an additional administrative committee called Kreisausschuss. This committee is generally led by the Landrat and includes a number of additional voluntary members. It takes over certain administrative functions for the district, following decisions of the district council. However, the exact role and regulations of this panel vary greatly between different states.

The city where the office of the district's administration is located is called Kreisstadt ("district city"), or Kreishauptort ("district main community") if it's not a city. Often the district is named after its district city.

Linguistically, any city within a district could be called a "Kreisstadt", especially those that aren't district-free to distinguish them from district-free cities. This term has to be distinguished from the legal term "Kreisstadt" that only denotes the location of the administrative office. In everyday language, district cities are also called Kreishauptstadt ("district capital").

See also

Notes

  1. In either case, the plural of the noun is formed by suffixing it with "e". In Germany, the term Kreis is also used informally for any rural district, and (for example in statistical summaries) for a district of any type.
  2. A Kreis is not to be confused with a Regierungsbezirk ". These are state administrative subdivision above Landkreis-level and below state-level. Currently only four German 'Länder' (federal states) make use of this administrational level: North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.
  3. "Country Compendium, A companion to the English Style Guide" (PDF). European Commission Directorate-General for Translation (EC DGT). February 2017. pp. 50–51.
  4. This number includes the "city-states" of Berlin and Hamburg, and two urban districts of the city-state Bremen.
  5. "Kreisfreie Städte und Landkreise nach Fläche und Bevölkerung auf Grundlage des ZENSUS 2011 und Bevölkerungsdichte - Gebietsstand: 31.12.2015" (XLS) (in German). Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland. July 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.

Related Research Articles

North Rhine-Westphalia State in Germany

North Rhine-Westphalia, commonly shortened to NRW is a German state (Land) in Western Germany. With more than 17.9 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state of Germany. Covering an area of 34,084 square kilometres (13,160 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest German state by size. Apart from the city-states, it is also the most densely populated state in Germany.

<i>Regierungsbezirk</i> Type of administrative division in Germany

A Regierungsbezirk means "governmental district" and is a type of administrative division in Germany. Four of sixteen Bundesländer are split into Regierungsbezirke. Beneath these are rural and urban districts.

An independent city or independent town is a city or town that does not form part of another general-purpose local government entity.

Upper Franconia Regierungsbezirk in Bavaria, Germany

Upper Franconia is a Regierungsbezirk of the state of Bavaria, southern Germany. It forms part of the historically significant region of Franconia, the others being Middle Franconia and Lower Franconia, which are all now part of the German Federal State of Bayern (Bavaria).

Märkischer Kreis District in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Märkischer Kreis is a district (Kreis) in central North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighbouring districts are Unna, Soest, Hochsauerland, Olpe, Oberbergischer Kreis, Ennepe-Ruhr, and the city of Hagen.

The district of Aachen is a district in the west of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighboring districts are Heinsberg, Düren, Euskirchen, and also the Netherlands province of Limburg and the Belgian province of Liège. Its administrative body is the Städtregionsparlament, headed by the Städteregionspräsident or "region president".

Rhein-Sieg-Kreis District in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Rhein-Sieg-Kreis is a Kreis (district) in the south of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Neighboring districts are Rheinisch-Bergischer Kreis, Oberbergischer Kreis, Altenkirchen, Neuwied, Ahrweiler, Euskirchen, Rhein-Erft-Kreis, the urban district of Cologne. The federal city of Bonn is nearly completely surrounded by the district.

Amt is a type of administrative division governing a group of municipalities, today only in Germany, but formerly also common in other countries of Northern Europe. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a US township or county or English shire district.

Recklinghausen is a Kreis (district) in the centre of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is surrounded by the neighbouring districts of Borken, Coesfeld, Unna, Gelsenkirchen, Bottrop, and Wesel. The district administration is located in the city of the same name.

Upper Bavaria Regierungsbezirk in Bavaria, Germany

Upper Bavaria is one of the seven administrative districts of Bavaria, Germany.

States of Germany First-level administrative subdivisions of the Federal Republic of Germany

The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states. Since the German nation state was formed from an earlier collection of several states, it has a federal constitution, and the constituent states retain a measure of sovereignty.

Siegburg Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Siegburg is a city in the district of Rhein-Sieg-Kreis, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located on the banks of the rivers Sieg and Agger, 10 kilometres from the former seat of West German government Bonn and 26 kilometres from Cologne. The population of the city was 39,192 in the 2013 census.

Municipalities of Germany Lowest level of official territorial division in Germany

Municipalities are the lowest level of official territorial division in Germany. This can be the second, third, fourth or fifth level of territorial division, depending on the status of the municipality and the Land it is part of. The city-states Berlin and Hamburg are second-level divisions. A Gemeinde is one level lower in those states which also include Regierungsbezirke as an intermediate territorial division. The Gemeinde is one level higher if it is not part of a Gemeindeverband.

Große Kreisstadt

Große Kreisstadt is a term in the municipal law (Gemeindeordnung) of several German states. In some federal states the term is used as a special legal status for a district-affiliated town—as distinct from an independent city—with additional competences in comparison with other municipalities of the district. The title is based on sovereign conferment by the state government.

Districts of Prussia

Prussian districts were administrative units in the former Kingdom of Prussia, part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918, and its successor state, the Free State of Prussia, similar to a county or a shire. They were established in the course of the Stein-Hardenberg Reforms from 1815 to 1818 at an intermediate level, between the higher provinces and the government districts (Regierungsbezirke), and the lower municipal governments (Gemeinden). Then part of a modern and highly effective public administration structure, they served as a model for the present-day districts of Germany

Blieskastel Place in Saarland, Germany

Blieskastel is a city in the Saarpfalz (Saar-Palatinate) district, in Saarland, Germany which is divided into villages. It is situated on the river Blies, approximately 10 kilometres southwest of Homburg (Saar), 8 km (5 mi) west of Zweibrücken, and 20 km (12 mi) east of Saarbrücken.

Bezirk Halle District in 20 Kreise and 3 Stadtkreise, German Democratic Republic

The Bezirk Halle was a district (Bezirk) of East Germany. The administrative seat and the main town was Halle.

Aachen II

Aachen II is an electoral constituency represented in the Bundestag. It elects one member via first-past-the-post voting. Under the current constituency numbering system, it is designated as constituency 88. It is located in western North Rhine-Westphalia, comprising the area of Städteregion Aachen outside the city of Aachen.

Lists of German municipal flags Wikipedia list article

The list of German municipal flags lists the flags of municipalities of Germany. Most municipalities of Germany have unique flags. Like state flags, most of them are with either a bicolor or tricolor stipes with or without the emblem ("wappen").