Districts of Germany

In most German states, the primary administrative subdivision is the Landkreis ("rural district"); the exceptions are the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein, which use the term Kreis.[1] Most major cities in Germany are not part of any Kreis, but instead themselves perform functions like those of the Kreise; such a city is referred to as a Kreisfreie Stadt (literally "district-free city") or Stadtkreis ("urban district").

Kreise stand at an intermediate level of administration between each German state (Land, plural Länder) and the municipal governments (Gemeinde, plural Gemeinden) within it.[2] 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.

Types of districts

Federal LevelFederal StatesCity States(Governmental Districts)(Rural) Districts(Collective Municipalities)Municipalities(Municipalities)Urban Districts
Administrative divisions of Germany.

The majority of German districts are "rural districts"[3] (German: Landkreise), of which there are 294 as of 2017. 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,[4] bringing the total number of districts to 401. As of 2016, approximately 26 million people live in these 107 urban districts.[5]

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, 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.


Landkreise, Kreise und kreisfreie Städte in Deutschland 2011-09-04
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.

District council

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 an adjacent rural district.

District administration

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.

See also


  1. ^ 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 (for example in statistical summaries) for a district of any type.
  2. ^ A Kreis is not to be confused with a Regierungsbezirk", a state administrative subdivision which exists in only a few of the German states.
  3. ^ "Country Compendium, A companion to the English Style Guide" (PDF). European Commission Directorate-General for Translation (EC DGT). February 2017. pp. 50–51.
  4. ^ This number includes the "city-states" of Berlin and Hamburg, and two urban districts of the city-state Bremen.
  5. ^ "Kreisfreie Städte und Landkreise nach Fläche und Bevölkerung auf Grundlage des ZENSUS 2011 und Bevölkerungsdichte - Gebietsstand: 31.12.2015" (XLS) (in German). Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland. July 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
Artern (district)

Artern (Kreis Artern) was a Kreis (district) in the Bezirk (district) of Halle in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). From 1990 to 1994 it persisted as Landkreis Artern in the state of Thüringen. It occupied land that is for the most part modern Kyffhäuserkreis in Thüringen.

Braunschweig (district)

Braunschweig or Landkreis Braunschweig was a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. The administrative centre of the district was the independent city of Braunschweig, which, however, was not part of the district itself.

The district was disbanded on 28 February 1974, as part of a district reform in Lower Saxony. The main part of the district was incorporated into the city of Braunschweig, while smaller parts were merged into the districts of Helmstedt, Peine, and Wolfenbüttel.

At the time of its disestablishment, the district consisted of:

the municipalities of Abbenrode, Alvesse, Beienrode, Bettmar, Bevenrode, Bienrode, Bodenstedt, Bortfeld, Broitzem, Cremlingen, Denstorf, Destedt, Dibbesdorf, Duttenstedt, Erkerode, Essehof, Essenrode, Essinghausen, Flechtorf, Fürstenau, Gardessen, Groß-Brunsrode, Groß-Gleidingen, Harvesse, Hemkenrode, Hötzum, Hondelage, Hordorf, Klein-Brunsrode, Klein-Gleidingen, Klein-Schöppenstedt, Köchingen, Lamme, Lehre, Liedingen, Lucklum, Mascherode, Meerdorf, Neubrück, Niedersickte, Obersickte, Rautheim, Rüningen, Schandelah, Schapen, Schulenrode, Sierße, Sonnenberg, Sophiental, Stöckheim bei Braunschweig, Thune, Timmerlah, Vallstedt, Vechelade, Vechelde, Veltheim (Ohe), Völkenrode, Volkmarode, Waggum, Wahle, Watenbüttel, Weddel, Wedtlenstedt, Wendeburg, Wenden, Wendezelle, Wendhausen, Wierthe, and Zweidorf

the unincorporated areas of Beienrode, Buchhorst, Essehof I, Essehof II, Essehof III, Meerdorfer Holz, Querum, Sophiental I, Sophiental II, and Wendhausen.The exclave of Thedinghausen had already been incorporated into the district of Verden in 1972.

Circle (country subdivision)

Circle is a type of administrative division of some countries. In Thailand the former monthon are translated as circle. The former Holy Roman Empire was organized into Imperial Circles (German: Reichskreise). Algerian daïras are circles.

Districts of Prussia

Prussian districts (German: Kreise, literally "circles") were administrative units in the former Kingdom of Prussia, part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918, and its successor state, the Free State of Prussia, similar to a county or a shire. They were established in the course of the Stein-Hardenberg Reforms from 1815 to 1818 at an intermediate level, between the higher provinces and the government districts (Regierungsbezirke), and the lower municipal governments (Gemeinden). Then part of a modern and highly effective public administration structure, they served as a model for the present-day districts of Germany

In the aftermath of World War I, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy (Belgium) were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.

Kreis Bergen

Kreis Bergen (district of Bergen) was a Kreis on the island of Rügen in the district of Bezirk Rostock in East Germany from 1952 to 1955.

Kreis Putbus

Kreis Putbus (district of Putbus) was a Kreis on the island of Rügen in the district of Bezirk Rostock in East Germany from 1952 to 1955.

Krumbach, Swabia (district)

Krumbach was a district in Swabia, Bavaria, Germany, before the regional reorganization in 1972. Krumbach was the capital of this district. The licence plate code was KRU.

The district had 49 municipalities. The largest of them were the towns Krumbach, Bavaria and Thannhausen and the municipalities Ziemetshausen, Neuburg an der Kammel and Ursberg.

It was bounded by (from the north and clockwise) the districts of Günzburg, Augsburg, Schwabmünchen, Mindelheim, Illertissen and Neu-Ulm.

In 1972 the district was merged with Günzburg (district) and the urban district Günzburg to Günzburg district in today's borders.

Landkreis Regenwalde

The Prussian Landkreis Regenwalde in Pomerania was a rural district that existed between 1818 and 1945.

On January 1, 1945, the district included:

four cities





99 more municipalities with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants

List of Bundestag constituencies

Under Germany's mixed member proportional system of election, the Bundestag has 299 constituencies, each of which elects one member of the Bundestag by first-past-the-post voting (i.e. a plurality of votes). At least 299 more representatives are elected from closed lists in each of Germany's sixteen Länder, distributed in a manner that ensures that the overall proportion of representatives for each party is approximately equal to the proportion of votes its list received.

Voting was last held in Germany's constituencies on 24 September 2017.

List of districts of Germany

Germany is divided into 401 administrative districts; these consist of 294 rural districts (German: Kreise [in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein] and Landkreise), and 107 urban districts (Kreisfreie Städte or, in Baden-Württemberg only, Stadtkreise – cities that constitute districts in their own right).

List of places in Germany

This is a list of places in Germany. For cities see List of cities in Germany; for districts see List of districts of Germany; for urban districts see Urban districts of Germany.

List of places in Baden-Württemberg

List of places in Bavaria (Bayern)

List of places in Brandenburg

List of places in Hesse (Hessen)

List of places in Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen)

List of places in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

List of places in North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen)

List of places in Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz)

List of places in Saarland

List of places in Saxony (Sachsen)

List of places in Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt)

List of places in Schleswig-Holstein

List of places in Thuringia (Thüringen)

List of places in Germany named after people


Mönchengladbach (German pronunciation: [mœnçn̩ˈɡlatbax] (listen)) is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located west of the Rhine, halfway between Düsseldorf and the Dutch border.


Mülheim an der Ruhr (German pronunciation: [ˈmyːlhaɪm ʔan deːɐ̯ ˈʁuːɐ̯] (listen)), also described as "City on the River", is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. It is located in the Ruhr Area between Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and Ratingen. It is home to many companies, especially in the food industry, such as the Aldi Süd Company, the Harke Group and the Tengelmann Group.

Mülheim received its town charter in 1808, and 100 years later the population exceeded 100,000, making Mülheim officially a city. At the time of the city's 200th anniversary with approximately 170,000 residents, it was counted among the smaller cities of Germany.

In 1966 Mülheim was the first city in the Ruhr Area to become completely free of coal mines, when its last coal mine "Rosenblumendelle" was closed. The former leather and coal city had successfully made a complete transformation to a diversified economic centre. With more than 50% covered by greenery and forest, the city is regarded as an attractive place to live between Düsseldorf and the rest of the Ruhr. It is the home of two Max Planck Institutes and, since 2009, the technical college Ruhr West. It has a station on the important railway between Dortmund and Duisburg and is served by Rhine-Ruhr S-Bahn lines S1 and S3.


Oberhausen (, German: [ˈoːbɐhaʊzn̩] (listen)) is a city on the river Emscher in the Ruhr Area, Germany, located between Duisburg and Essen (c. 13 km or 8.1 mi). The city hosts the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and its Gasometer Oberhausen is an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage.

Quarter (urban subdivision)

A quarter is a section of an urban settlement.

Its borders can be administratively chosen (then denoted as borough), and it may have its own administrative structure (subordinate to that of the city, town or other urban area). Such a division is particularly common in countries like Portugal (bairro), Poland (dzielnica), Serbia (четврт / četvrt), Croatia (četvrt), Georgia (კვარტალი), Germany (Stadtteil), Italy (Quartiere), France (Quartier), Romania (Cartier) and Cambodia (Sangkat).

Quarter can also refer to a non-administrative but distinct neighbourhood with its own character: for example, a slum quarter. It is often used for a district connected with a particular group of people: for instance, some cities are said to have Jewish quarters, diplomatic quarters or Bohemian quarters.

Most Roman cities were divided to four parts, called Quarters, by their two main avenues: the Cardo and the Decumanus Maximus.

The Old City of Jerusalem currently has four quarters: the Muslim Quarter, Christian Quarter, Jewish Quarter and Armenian Quarter (it used to have a Moroccan Quarter). A Christian quarter also exists in Damascus.


Remscheid (German pronunciation: [ˈʁɛmʃaɪt] (listen)) is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is, after Wuppertal and Solingen, the third largest municipality in Bergisches Land, being located on the northern edge of the region, on the south side of the Ruhr area.

Remscheid had around 109,000 inhabitants in 2015.

Its highest point is the Brodtberg (378 m).


Teltow-Fläming is a Kreis (district) in the southwestern part of Brandenburg, Germany. Neighboring districts are (from the east clockwise) Dahme-Spreewald, Elbe-Elster, the districts Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt, the district Potsdam-Mittelmark, and the Bundesland Berlin.

Urban district

Urban district may refer to:


urban area

Quarter (urban subdivision)

NeighbourhoodSpecific subdivisions in some countries:

Urban districts of Denmark

Urban districts of Germany

Urban districts of Great Britain and Ireland (historic)

Urban districts of the Netherlands

Urban districts of Sweden

Urban districts of Ukraine

Urban districts of Vietnam

Articles on second-level administrative divisions of European countries
Sovereign states

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