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In contrast to centrally organised states, in the federally constituted Switzerland each Canton is completely free to decide its own internal organisation. Therefore there exists a variety of structures and terminology for the subnational entities between Canton and Municipality, loosely termed districts (i.e. Urban Administration Districts).

Most Cantons are divided into Bezirke (German for districts). They are also termed Ämter (Lucerne), Amtsbezirke (Bern), district (in French) or distretto (Tessin and part of Graubünden). The Bezirke generally provide only administration and court organization. However, for historical reasons districts in cantons Graubünden and Schwyz are their own legal entities with jurisdiction over tax and often have their own Landsgemeinde.

Eight of the 26 Cantons – Uri, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Glarus, Zug, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-City and Geneva – have historically done without the district level of government; each with its own reason, be it historical or practical or because the area is small enough already.

A number of further cantons have dispensed with the district level recently, Appenzell Ausserrhoden in 1995, Schaffhausen in 1999, St Gallen in 2003 and Lucerne in 2007.

A number of further cantons are considering (or have already decided) an abolition of the district level in the future: Schwyz in 2006 voted on its abolition, but voted in favour of keeping the division. Bern in 2006 divided a reduction of its 26 districts to five administrative regions. Vaud decided a reduction from 19 to 10 districts. Valais is planning a similar reduction and in Thurgau, a reduction of eight to four districts is under discussion.

Contents

Zurich

Districts in the Canton of Zürich

The Canton of Zürich is divided into 12 districts (German: Bezirke):

Bern

Districts of the canton of Bern

The Canton of Bern is divided in five regions: Berner Jura, Seeland (with two subregions, Biel/Bienne and Seeland), Bern-Mittelland, Oberland (with subregions Thun, Obersimmental-Saanen, Frutigen-Niedersimmental, Interlaken-Oberhasli) and Emmental-Oberaargau (with two subregions, Emmental and Oberaargau) The current division has taken effect on 1 January 2010, based on a 2006 decision to abolish the former system of districts.

On 1 January 2010, the 26 administrative districts were combined into 10 new districts:[1]

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Former Organization

Districts of the canton of Bern

Until 2009, the canton of Bern was divided into 26 districts (German: Amtsbezirke; French: districts):

Lucerne

Districts of Canton Lucerne

The Canton of Lucerne used to be divided into 5 Ämter:

These were abolished with the new cantonal constitution of 2007, although they will continue to be used as electoral districts.

Schwyz

Districts of the Cantons of Schwyz

The Canton of Schwyz is divided into 6 districts:

Fribourg

Districts of canton Fribourg

The Canton of Fribourg is divided into 7 districts:

Solothurn

Districts of Canton Solothurn

From 2005, Solothurn's ten districts are merged pairwise into five electoral districts, termed Amtei. From 2005, districts only have a statistical meaning.

  • Bucheggberg, Amtei Wasseramt-Bucheggberg
  • Dorneck, Amtei Dorneck-Thierstein (unofficially Schwarzbubenland)
  • Gäu, Amtei Thal-Gäu
  • Gösgen, Amtei Olten-Gösgen (unofficially Niederamt)
  • Lebern, Amtei Solothurn-Lebern
  • Olten, Amtei Olten-Gösgen
  • Solothurn, Amtei Solothurn-Lebern
  • Thal, Amtei Thal-Gäu
  • Thierstein, Amtei Dorneck-Thierstein
  • Wasseramt, Amtei Wasseramt-Bucheggberg

Basel-Country

districts of Canton Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Country is divided into 5 districts:

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Districts of Appenzell Innerrhoden

In Appenzell Innerrhoden districts are the lowest administrative division: the canton is not subdivided in municipalities. Because of that, for firefighting, energy and water, the town Appenzell has a special-purpose municipality, the Feuerschaugemeinde.

The Canton is divided into 6 districts:

St. Gallen

Constituencies of St. Gallen

The canton abolished the district level in 2003, but it remains divided into eight constituencies (Wahlkreise) without administrative significance:

Graubünden

Districts of Canton Graubünden

Graubünden is divided into 11 districts:

Aargau

Districts in Aargau

Aargau is divided into 11 districts:

Thurgau

Districts of Canton Thurgau

Thurgau is divided into eight districts, and each is named after its capital:

Ticino

Districts of Canton Ticino

Ticino is divided into 8 districts:

Vaud

Districts of Canton Vaud

Vaud is divided into 10 districts:

Valais

Districts in Valais

Valais is divided into 13 districts, representing the 13 stars on the flag of Valais:


District Raron is divided into:

Neuchâtel

Districts of Canton Neuchâtel

The Canton of Neuchâtel is divided into 6 districts:

Jura

Districts in Canton of Jura

The Canton of Jura is divided into 3 districts:

References


Simple English

In Switzerland each Canton is free to decide its own internal organisation. Because of this there many types and names for smaller administrative divisions in each canton. The term District is used for these smaller divisions.

Contents

Amt, Amtsbezirk, District and Distretto

Most Cantons are divided into Bezirke (German for districts). Some are called Ämter (Lucerne), Amtsbezirke (Bern), district (in French) or distretto (Tessin and part of Graubünden).

The Bezirke generally only deals with administration and court organization. The cantons Graubünden and Schwyz are their own legal entities. They have the power to control taxes as well.

Absence of a district level in ten cantons

Ten of the 26 Cantons entirely dispense with the district level of government:

Uri, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Glarus, Zug, Basel-City and Geneva. Schaffhausen stopped using Bezirke in the middle of 1999. Since the start of 2003 Canton of St. Gallen does not use the Bezirk level any more.

List of Swiss districts by canton

Canton Districts
AG Aargau 11 Bezirke
AR Appenzell Ausserrhoden    
AI Appenzell Innerrhoden    
BS Basel-City    
BL Basel-Country 5 Bezirke
BE Berne 26 Amtsbezirke, Districts
FR Fribourg 7 Districts, Bezirke
GE Geneva    
GL Glarus    
GR Graubünden 11 Bezirke, districts, distretti
JU Jura 3 districts
LU Lucerne 5 Ämter
NE Neuchâtel 6 districts
NW Nidwalden    
OW Obwalden    
SH Schaffhausen    
SZ Schwyz 6 Bezirke
SO Solothurn 10 Bezirke
SG St. Gallen 8 Wahlkreise
TG Thurgau 8 Bezirke
TI Ticino 8 distretti
UR Uri    
VS Valais 14 districts, Bezirke
VD Vaud 19 districts
ZG Zug    
ZH Zürich 12 Bezirke
Total159

Canton of Zürich

The Canton of Zürich is divided into 12 districts (German: Bezirke). The city of Zürich is its own district.

DistrictCapital
Affoltern Affoltern am Albis
Andelfingen Andelfingen
Bülach Bülach
Dielsdorf Dielsdorf
Dietikon Dietikon
Hinwil Hinwil
Horgen Horgen
Meilen Meilen
Pfäffikon Pfäffikon
Uster Uster
Winterthur Winterthur


Canton of Bern

There are 26 administrative districts in Berne

DistrictCapital
Aarberg Aarberg
Aarwangen Aarwangen
Bern Bern
Biel Biel
Büren Büren an der Aare
Burgdorf Burgdorf
Courtelary Courtelary
Erlach Erlach
Fraubrunnen Fraubrunnen
Frutigen Frutigen
Interlaken Interlaken
Konolfingen Konolfingen
Laupen Laupen
Moutier Moutier
La Neuveville La Neuveville
Nidau Nidau
Niedersimmental Wimmis
Oberhasli Meiringen
Obersimmental Blankenburg
Saanen Saanen
Schwarzenburg Schwarzenburg
Seftigen Belp
Signau Langnau im Emmental
Thun Thun
Trachselwald Trachselwald
Wangen Wangen an der Aare

Canton of Lucerne

The Canton of Lucerne is divided into 5 districts termed Ämter:

DistrictCapital
Amt Luzern Luzern
Amt Hochdorf Hochdorf
Amt Sursee Sursee
Amt Willisau Willisau
Amt Entlebuch Schüpfheim

Canton of Uri

Canton of Uri is not divided into districts: the municipality is the next lowest unit of government.

Canton of Schwyz

The Canton of Schwyz is divided into six districts and 30 municipalities, although the districts Einsiedeln, Küssnacht and Gersau simply comprise the municipality of the same name.

DistrictMunicipalities
Schwyz Schwyz, Arth, Ingenbohl, Muotathal, Steinen, Sattel, Rothenthurm, Oberiberg, Unteriberg, Lauerz, Steinerberg, Morschach, Alpthal, Illgau, Riemenstalden
Einsiedeln Einsiedeln
Gersau Gersau
Höfe Wollerau, Freienbach, Feusisberg
Küssnacht Küssnacht am Rigi
March Lachen, Altendorf, Galgenen, Vorderthal, Innerthal, Schübelbach, Tuggen, Wangen, Reichenburg

Canton of Obwalden

Obwalden is not divided into districts: the municipality is the next lowest unit of government. See: Obwalden.

Canton of Nidwalden

Nidwalden is not divided into districts.

Canton of Glarus

Canton of Glarus is not divided into districts: the municipality is the next lower unit of government.

Canton of Zug

Canton of Zug is not divided into districts.

Canton of Fribourg

The Canton of Fribourg is divided into 7 districts:

DistrictCapital
Broye Estavayer-le-Lac
Glâne Romont
Gruyère Bulle
Saane Fribourg
See Murten
Sense Tafers
Veveyse Châtel-Saint-Denis

Canton of Solothurn

From 2005, Solothurn's ten districts are combined in pairs into five electoral districts, called Amtei. From 2005, districts are only used for statistics.

DistrictElectoral district
Bucheggberg Amtei Wasseramt-Bucheggberg
Dorneck Amtei Dorneck-Thierstein (unofficially Schwarzbubenland)
Gäu Amtei Thal-Gäu
Gösgen Amtei Olten-Gösgen (unofficially Niederamt)
Lebern Amtei Solothurn-Lebern
Olten Amtei Olten-Gösgen
Solothurn Amtei Solothurn-Lebern
Thal Amtei Thal-Gäu
Thierstein Amtei Dorneck-Thierstein
Wasseramt Amtei Wasseramt-Bucheggberg

Canton of Basel-City

Basel-City is not divided into districts. It is formed only of the city of Basel and two municipalities.

Canton of Basel-Country

There are 5 Bezirke in Basel-Landschaft:

DistrictpopCapitalPop
Arlesheim 145 039 Arlesheim 8 944)
Laufen 17 845 Laufen 5 039
Liestal 55 396 Liestal 12 817
Sissach 31 770 Sissach 5 569
Waldenburg 15 045 Waldenburg 1 280

Canton of Schaffhausen

The Canton of Schaffhausen used to be divided into 6 districts (Bezirke) until July 1999. The municipality is now the next lower unit of government.

Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden is not divided into districts. The municipality is the next lower unit of government.

Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden

The 6 Bezirke (districts) are the local government level. They are part of the municipalities:

Districtpop
Appenzell 5 587
Gonten 1 398
Oberegg 1 831
Rüte 3 036
Schlatt-Haslen 1 160
Schwende 2 094

Feuerschaugemeinde is a special-purpose municipality for firefighting, energy and water for the town Appenzell.

Canton of St. Gallen

The canton used to be subdivided into 14 districts (Bezirke) until 2003 January 1, when it was reorganised into 8 constituencies (Wahlkreise).

Canton of Graubünden

Canton Graubünden is divided into 11 Districts. They tend to follow the natural boundaries of the landscape. The districts are further subdivided into 39 sub-districts (German: Kreise):

DistrictSub-districts
Albula Alvaschein, Belfort, Bergün and Surses
Bernina Brusio and Poschiavo
Hinterrhein Avers, Domleschg, Rheinwald, Schams and Thusis
Imboden Trins and Rhäzüns
Inn Ramosch, Sur Tasna, Suot Tasna and Val Müstair
Landquart Maienfeld and Fünf Dörfer
Maloja Bergell and Oberengadin
Moesa Calanca, Misox and Roveredo
Plessur Chur, Churwalden and Schanfigg
Prättigau/Davos Davos, Jenaz, Klosters, Küblis, Luzein, Schiers and Seewis
Surselva Disentis, Ilanz, Lumnezia/Lugnez, Ruis and Safien

Canton of Aargau

Aargau is divided into 11 districts.

DistrictCapital
Aarau Aarau
Baden Baden
Bremgarten Bremgarten
Brugg Brugg
Kulm Unterkulm
Laufenburg Laufenburg
Lenzburg Lenzburg
Muri Muri
Rheinfelden Rheinfelden
Zofingen Zofingen
Zurzach Zurzach

Canton of Thurgau

The Canton of Thurgau is divided into eight districts. Each district is named after its capital.

DistrictCapital
Steckborn Steckborn
Frauenfeld Frauenfeld
Kreuzlingen Kreuzlingen
Weinfelden Weinfelden
Bischofszell Bischofszell
Diessenhofen Diessenhofen
Münchwilen Münchwilen
Arbon Arbon

Canton of Ticino

The Canton of Ticino is divided into 8 districts (called distretti):

Canton of Vaud

Since 1803 the Canton of Vaud has been divided into 19 districts:

DistrictCapital
Aigle Aigle
Aubonne Aubonne
Avenches Avenches
Cossonay Cossonay
Echallens Echallens
Grandson Grandson
Lausanne Lausanne
Lavaux Cully
Morges Morges
Moudon Moudon
Nyon Nyon
Orbe Orbe
Oron Oron
Payerne Payerne
Pays-d'Enhaut Château-d'Œx
Rolle Rolle
La Vallée Le Sentier (in Le Chenit)
Vevey Vevey
Yverdon Yverdon-les-Bains


As of January 1, 2008, Vaud will be reorganized into the following districts:

  • Aigle
  • Broye-Vully (which will combine the districts of Avenches and Payerne, and part of the districts of Moudon and Oron)
  • Gros-de-Vaud (which will combine the district of Echallens, and part of the districts of Cossonay, Moudon, and Oron)
  • Jura-North Vaudois (which will combine the districts of Grandson, Orbe, and Yverdon)
  • Lausanne (part of the current district will be merged into West Lausannois)
  • Lavaux-Oron (which will combine the district of Lavaux and part of the district of Oron)
  • Morges (which will combine parts of the districts of Aubonne, Cossonay, Morges, and Rolle)
  • Nyon (part of Rolle district will merge into Nyon)
  • Riviera-Pays-d'Enhaut (which will combine the current districts of Pays-d'Enhaut and Vevey)
  • West Lausannois (which will be carved out of parts of the districts of Lausanne and Morges)

Canton of Valais

The Canton of Valais is divided into 14 districts and half-districts:

See also: Valais Municipalities

Canton of Neuchâtel

The Canton of Neuchâtel is divided into 6 districts which belong to 4 geographic regions:

DistrictCapital
District of Neuchâtel Neuchâtel
District of Boudry Boudry
District of Val-de-Ruz Cernier
District of Val-de-Travers Môtiers
District of La Chaux-de-Fonds La Chaux-de-Fonds
District of Le Locle Le Locle

Canton of Geneva

The Canton of Geneva is not divided into districts. The municipality is the next level of government.

Canton of Jura

Canton Jura is divided into 3 districts:

DistrictCapital
Delémont Delémont
Porrentruy Porrentruy
Franches-Montagnes Saignelégier


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