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Amt is a type of
administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular ...

administrative division
governing a group of municipalities, today only in Germany, but formerly also common in other countries of
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
. Its size and functions differ by country and the term is roughly equivalent to a US
township A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings g ...

township
or
county A county is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment ...
or English shire district.


Current usage


Germany


Prevalence

The ''Amt'' (plural: ''Ämter'') is unique to the
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
''
Bundesländer
Bundesländer
'' (federal states) of
Schleswig-Holstein Schleswig-Holstein () is the northernmost of the 16 states of Germany The Federal Republic of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , la ...

Schleswig-Holstein
,
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MV; , Mecklenburgisch dialect, Mecklenburgian nds, Mäkelborg-Vörpommern), internationally also known by its Anglicisation, anglicized name Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, is a Federated state, state in the north-east of ...
and
Brandenburg Brandenburg (, also , ; nds, Brannenborg; dsb, Bramborska) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...

Brandenburg
. Other German states had this division in the past. Some states have similar administrative units called ''
Samtgemeinde A ''Samtgemeinde'' (; plural: ''Samtgemeinden'') is a type of administrative division in Lower Saxony, Germany. ''Samtgemeinden'' are local government associations of municipality, municipalities, equivalent to the ''Amt (administrative division) ...
'' (
Lower Saxony Lower Saxony (german: Niedersachsen ; nds, Neddersassen; stq, Läichsaksen) is a German state The Federal Republic of Germany, as a federal state, consists of sixteen partly sovereign federated states (german: Land (state), plural (st ...
), ''
Verbandsgemeinde A Verbandsgemeinde (; plural Verbandsgemeinden) is a low-level administrative unit Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as m ...
'' (
Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland-Palatinate (german: Rheinland-Pfalz, ) is a western state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''T ...
) or ''
Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Municipal associations (german: Verwaltungsgemeinschaften) are statutory corporations or Public body, public bodies created by statute in the German federal states of Bavaria, Saxony, Thuringia, and Schleswig-Holstein. In Baden-Württemberg the term ...
'' (
Baden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg (; ) is a state (''Land'') in southwest Germany Southern Germany () as a region has no exact boundary but is generally taken to include the areas in which Upper German dialects are spoken. This corresponds roughly to the h ...
,
Bavaria Bavaria (; German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language ...

Bavaria
,
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...

Saxony
,
Saxony-Anhalt Saxony-Anhalt (german: Sachsen-Anhalt ; nds, Sassen-Anholt) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...

Saxony-Anhalt
,
Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth smallest of the sixteen German States (including City States). It ...
).


Definition

An ''Amt'', as well as the other above-mentioned units, is subordinate to a ''Kreis'' (
district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by the local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or County, counties, several Municipality, municipal ...

district
) and is a collection of municipalities. The amt is lower than district-level government but higher than municipal government, and may be described as a supra-municipality or "municipal confederation". Normally, it consists of very small municipalities (''Gemeinden'', plural of Gemeinde). Larger municipalities do not belong to an ''Amt'' and are called ''amtsfreie Gemeinden'' (independent municipalities); some of these municipalities may also not depend from a ''Kreis'' (district) and are called ''kreisfreie Gemeinden'', and when they do also not belong to any other ''Land'' they are also called ''Stadtstaaten'' (plural of ''Stadtstaat''), i.e. city-states (
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
and
Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central (CET) , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central (CEST) , utc_offset1_DST = +2 , postal_code_type = Post ...

Hamburg
). These large municipalities (cities, in German ''Städte'', plural of ''Stadt'') may be further divided into local offices named ''Ortsämter'' (plural of ''Ortsamt''), each of them possibly grouping several suburbs (or small townships in rural areas) of the municipality named ''Ortsteile'' (plural of ''Ortsteil''), named from small villages or hamlets or localities. The ''Ortsteil'' (suburb or township) may have been a former parish, but today it is meant only for civil purpose and essentially used for planning within the municipality; the ''Ortsamt'' (sometimes just named informally but confusingly as an ''Amt'', or informally translated as an "urban district") is used to offer decentralized services of the municipality within local administrative offices for the residents in neighbouring suburbs. The ''Ortsteil'' itself may also be confusingly translated as a "municipality", but it is incorrect because it belongs to a city which is the only effective municipality (''Gemeinde'').


Former usage


Denmark

The ' (plural, '; commonly translated as "province" or, less accurately, "county") was an administrative unit of
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
(and, historically, of Denmark-Norway). The provinces were established by royal decree in 1662 as replacements for the former ' (fiefs). The ' were originally composed of independent towns (') and parishes, and held only small areas of responsibility. During the 20th century, they were granted responsibility for the hospital service for the non-urban population. A 1970 administrative reform reduced the number of provinces to fourteen and eliminated the administrative distinction between (rural) parish and town. From then on, the ''amter'' were composed of a number of municipalities ('). The reform granted the provinces wider areas of responsibility, most notably running the national health service and the ''
gymnasium Gymnasium may refer to: *Gymnasium (ancient Greece), educational and sporting institution *Gymnasium (school), type of secondary school that prepares students for higher education **Gymnasium (Denmark) **Gymnasium (Germany) **Gymnasium UNT, high ...
'' secondary schools. The Danish Municipal Reform of 1 January 2007 abolished the ''amter'' and replaced them with five administrative
regions In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the wor ...

regions
, now solely charged with running the national health service. In contrast to the ''amter'' the regions hold no authority to levy taxes. The reform re-delegated all other areas of responsibility to either the municipalities or the state. At the same time, smaller municipalities were merged into larger units, cutting the number of municipalities from 270 to 98. See
Counties of Denmark The Counties of Denmark ( da, Danmarks amter) were former subdivisions of metropolitan Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, ...
for more information about the Danish usage of the term.


Germany

In Germany an ''Amt'' was a medieval administrative district covering a manorial estate or the land owned by a castle or village. It was headed by an ''
Amtmann __NOTOC__ The ''Amtmann'' or ''Ammann'' (in Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial sy ...
'', usually a lesser nobleman or cleric, appointed by a
territorial lord A territory is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names f ...
to administer and dispense justice within the ''Amt''.


Iceland

While Iceland was a territory of the Danish-Norwegian realm, amts (singular: '; plural: ') were established in the country on top of the existing
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
. From 1684 to 1770, Iceland as whole was a single amt in the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway but was then split into two amts: North and East Amt (') and South and West Amt ('). The latter was in 1787 split into a West Amt (') and South Amt ('). Iceland was thus divided into three amts until 1872, when the South and West amts were again merged. Amts were abolished in 1904, when Iceland gained
home rule Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a part (administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...

home rule
from Denmark. Amts are not used to denote a geographical region in Iceland but the name lives on in the names of two public libraries in Iceland that were established during the amt era. The Amts libraries in
Akureyri Akureyri is a town in northern Iceland. It is Iceland's fourth-largest Municipalities of Iceland, municipality, after Reykjavík, Hafnarfjörður, and Kópavogur, and the largest town outside Iceland's heavily populated southwest corner. Nic ...

Akureyri
and
Stykkishólmur
Stykkishólmur
which were established as the designated archives for the North and East Amt and the West Amt respectively.


Netherlands and Flanders

''Ambacht'' can be seen as the
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
equivalent to ''amt''. ''Ambachten'' existed in
Holland Holland is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (en ...

Holland
,
Zeeland , nl, Ik worstel en kom boven("I struggle and emerge") , anthem = "Zeeuws volkslied"("Zeelandic Anthem") , image_map = Zeeland in the Netherlands.svg , map_alt = , m ...

Zeeland
and
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...

Flanders
up to about 1800.


Norway

From 1662 to 1919, the
counties of Norway Norway is divided into 11 administrative division, administrative regions, called county, counties (singular no, fylke, plural nb, fylker; nn, fylke from Old Norse: ''fylki'' from the word "folk", sme, fylka, sma, fylhke, smj, fylkka ...

counties of Norway
were called ''amter''. They are now referred to as ''
fylke Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk' ...
r'', a term revived from the Middle Ages.


See also

* ''
Amtmann __NOTOC__ The ''Amtmann'' or ''Ammann'' (in Switzerland , french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_type = Federalism, Federal semi-direct democracy under an assembly-independent Directorial sy ...
''


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Amt (Administrative Division) Collective municipalities in Germany Types of administrative division