Districts of Germany: Wikis

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German districts (Landkreise or, in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, Kreise, singular: Landkreis and Kreis; Kreis means 'circle') are administrative units used in Germany and the former state of Prussia. The districts are at an intermediate level of administration between the Länder (German states) and the local / municipal levels (Gemeinden). They are not to be confused with the larger Regierungsbezirk. Their equivalent in other nations is the county or arrondissement. They correspond to level 3 administrative units or Local Administrative Units under the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.

Map of German districts

Contents

Types of districts

The majority of the districts are rural districts (Landkreise) of which there are 313. Cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants (and smaller towns in some states) do usually not belong to a district, but take over district responsibilities themselves, similar to the concept of independent cities. These are known as urban districts (Kreisfreie Städte / Stadtkreise)—cities which constitute a district in their own right—and there are currently (2007) 116 of them, bringing the total number of districts to 429.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are some cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants which are not urban districts, for example Iserlohn, Recklinghausen, Siegen, Paderborn, Bergisch Gladbach, Witten and Neuss. These cities, however, take over many district responsibilities themselves although belonging to a district.

There are also two so-called Kommunalverbände besonderer Art, a fusion of a district and a district-free town: Besides the Regionalverband Saarbrücken (1974–2007: Stadtverband Saarbrücken), there is the Region Hannover since 2001. The foundation of a Städteregion Aachen is planned for October 2009.

Responsibilities

The districts are responsible for the following:

  • according to federal and regional laws:
    • the building and upkeep of B roads
    • 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 institutes of secondary education
    • household waste collection and disposal
    • car registration
    • electing the Landrat or Landrätin, the chairperson of the district
  • according to local laws: (differ 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 Volkshochschulen (state run adult education colleges)

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, the Kreistag, is the legislative body of the district and is responsible for local self-administration. The parliament is elected directly every five years, except in Bavaria where it is elected every six years.

District administration

The executive authority is an officer known as Landrat or Landrätin, who administers the district. In parts of northern Germany, this is also the name of the district administration, in southern Germany it is known as Kreisverwaltung.

Lists of districts

See also

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Simple English

Germany

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Germany


  • Human rights
  • Foreign relations

Other countriesTemplate:· Atlas

German districts (Kreise) are administrative units used in Germany for local government.

The districts are in between the Länder (German states) and the local / municipal levels (Gemeinden). They are not to be confused with the larger Regierungsbezirk.

Their equivalent in other nations is the county or arrondissement.

Contents

Types of districts

Most of the districts are rural districts (Landkreise). There are 301 Landkreise.

Cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants (and smaller towns in some states) are not usually part of a district, but do the work of a district themselves. These are known as urban districts (Kreisfreie Städte or Stadtkreise) The equivalent in the United Kingdom is a unitary authority, they do the work of a town and a county. There are 112 of these Kreisfreie Städte.

This makes a total of 413 districts.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, there are some cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants which are not urban districts, for example Iserlohn, Recklinghausen, Siegen, Paderborn, Bergisch Gladbach, Witten and Neuss. These cities belong to a district, but still do so the districts jobs themselves, as though they were independent.

Responsibilities

The districts are responsible for the following:

  • according to federal and regional laws:
    • the building and upkeep of B roads
    • 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 institutes of secondary education
    • household waste collection and disposal
    • car registration
    • electing the Landrat or Landrätin, the chairperson of the district
  • according to local laws: (differ 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 Volkshochschulen (state run adult education colleges)

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, the Kreistag, is the legislative body of the district and is responsible for local self-administration. The parliament is elected every five years, except in Bavaria where it is elected every six years.

District administration

The person in charge of the district's government is the Landrat or Landrätin. In parts of northern Germany, this is also the name of the district administration, in southern Germany it is known as Kreisverwaltung.

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