|Districts of Germany |
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). 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).
(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. 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.
The majority of German districts are "rural districts" Landkreise), of which there are 294 as of 2017 [update] . 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, bringing the total number of districts to 401. As of 2016 [update] , approximately 26 million people live in these 107 urban districts.(German:
In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are some cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants which are not urban districts, these being Recklinghausen, Gütersloh, 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.
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.
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.
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").
Rhineland-Palatinate is a western state of Germany. It covers 19,846 km2 (7,663 sq mi) and has about 4.05 million residents. It is the ninth largest and sixth most populous of the sixteen states. Mainz is the capital and largest city. Other cities are Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Koblenz, Trier, Kaiserslautern and Worms. It is bordered by North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse and by the countries France, Luxembourg and Belgium.
North Rhine-Westphalia, commonly shortened to NRW, is a state (Land) in Western Germany. With more than 17.9 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state of Germany. Apart from the city-states, it is also the most densely populated state in Germany. Covering an area of 34,084 square kilometres (13,160 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest German state by size.
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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 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).
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 Städteregionsparlament, headed by the Städteregionspräsident or "region president".
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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.
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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.
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Marlon Andreas Paul Bröhr is a German dentist and politician (CDU). He was District Administrator of the Rhine-Hunsrück district from May 2015 to September 2021. He is a directly elected member of the 20th German Bundestag.