In most German states, the primary administrative subdivision is a
Landkreis ("rural district"); the exceptions are the states of North
Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, where the term is simply
Kreis. Most major cities in
Types of districts
Administrative divisions of Germany
The majority of German districts are "rural districts" (German:
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.
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,
Map of German districts. Urban districts are shown in yellow, rural in white.
According to common federal and state laws, the districts are responsible for the following tasks:
The building and upkeep of "district roads" (German: Kreisstraßen) Other building plans which cover more than one local authority's area Caring for national parks Social welfare Youth welfare The building and upkeep of hospitals The building and upkeep of state schools of secondary education Household waste collection and disposal Car registration Accommodation of foreign refugees Electing the Landrat or Landrätin, the chief executive and representative of the district
Districts can perform additional functions, based on varying local laws in each region:
Financial support for culture The building of pedestrian zones and bicycle lanes Financial support for school exchanges The building and upkeep of public libraries Revitalisation of the economy Encouraging tourism The management of state-run adult education colleges (German: Volkshochschulen)
All these tasks are carried out by local (municipal) authorities
operating together. Urban districts have these responsibilities and
also those of the municipalities.
List of districts of Germany States of Germany List of rural districts with populations and area in km² (in German) List of urban districts with populations and area in km² (in German)
^ (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 (e.g. in statistical summaries) for a district of
^ A Kreis is not to be confused with a Regierungsbezirk", a state
administrative subdivision which exists in only a few of the German
^ "Country Compendium, A companion to the English Style Guide" (PDF).
European Commission Directorate-General for Translation (EC DGT).
February 2017. pp. 50–51.
^ This number includes the "city-states" of
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Articles on second-level administrative divisions of European countries
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1 Has part of its territory outside Europe. 2 Partially or entirely in Asia, depending on the definition of the border. 3 Partially recognised.
List of administrative divisions by country