A prefecture (from the Latin Praefectura) is an administrative jurisdiction or subdivision in any of various countries and within some international church structures, and in antiquity a Roman district governed by an appointed prefect.
Prefecture most commonly refers to a self-governing body or area since the tetrarchy when Emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire into four districts (each divided into dioceses), grouped under a Vicarius (a number of Roman provinces, listed under that article), although he maintained two pretorian prefectures as an administrative level above the also surviving dioceses (a few of which were split).
As canon law is strongly inspired by Roman law, it is not surprising that the Catholic Church has several offices under a prefect. That term occurs also in otherwise styled offices, such as the head of a congregation or department of the Roman Curia. Various ecclesiastical areas, too small for a diocese, are termed prefects.
In Brazil, the prefecture (prefeitura or prefeitura municipal in Portuguese) is the executive branch of the government of each Brazilian municipality (município in Portuguese). The term also refers to the office of the mayor (prefeito in Portuguese).
From 1836 until 2011, modern Greece was divided into nomoi (Greek: νομοί, singular νομός, nomos) which formed the country's main administrative units. These are most commonly translated into English as "prefectures" or "counties".
Each nomos was headed by a prefect (νομάρχης, nomarches), who was a ministerial appointee until ca. 1990, but was then elected by direct popular vote in a process of decentralization that saw the prefectures become local government units. Municipal elections in Greece are held every four years and voting for the election of prefects and mayors was carried out concurrently but with separate ballots.
The 2010 Kallikratis plan, which took effect on 1 January 2011, abolished the prefectures as separate administrative units, and transformed them into regional units within the country's thirteen administrative regions.
When used in the context of Chinese history, especially China before the Tang Dynasty, the word "prefecture" is used to translate xian (县/縣). This unit of administration is translated as "county" when used in a contemporary context, because of the increase of the number of "xian" and the decrease of their sizes over time in the Chinese history.
In the context of Chinese history during or after the Tang Dynasty, the word "prefecture" is used to translate zhou (Wade–Giles chou (州), another ancient unit of administration in China, equivalent to the modern province.
In modern-day China, the prefecture (地区; pinyin: dìqū) is an administrative division found in the second level of the administrative hierarchy. In addition to prefectures, this level also includes autonomous prefectures, leagues, and prefecture-level cities. The prefecture level comes under the province level, and in turn oversees the county level.
In France, a préfecture is the capital city of a département. As there are 101 départements in France, there are 101 préfectures in France. A préfecture de région is the capital city of a région. This is the city where the préfet - the appointed government representative - resides.
In English, "prefecture" is used as the translation for todōfuken (都道府県), which are the main subdivisions of Japan. They consist of 43 prefectures (県 ken) proper, two urban prefectures (府 fu, Osaka and Kyoto), one "circuit" or "territory" (道 dō, Hokkaido) and one "metropolis" (都 to, Tokyo).
Until 1894 Hyeon (현; 縣) was the lowest level administrative division in Korea and can be translated into "Petty Prefecture" in the modern sense. It was below Gun (군, 郡; "county") in the administrative hierarchy.
Dohobu (도호부; 都護府) was a higher level administrative division and can be translated into "Protectorate General", "Greater Prefecture", "Metropolitan Prefecture", or "Martial Prefecture" in the modern sense. The capital, Hanyang (Seoul), can sometimes be translated as "Hanseong Prefecture".
In 1895, Hyeon and Dohobu divisions were abolished. From 1910 to 1949, the term "prefecture" was used to translate Bu (부; 府). Since 1949 neither Hyeon nor Bu have been used, and there has been no division in either the South Korean or North Korean administrative system which translates as "prefecture".
In Morocco, the 75 second-level administrative subdivisions are 13 prefectures and 62 provinces. They are subdivisions of the 12 regions of Morocco. Each prefecture and province are subdivided in their turn into districts (cercles, sing. cercle), municipalities (communes, sing. commune) or urban municipalities (communes urbaines, sing. commune urbaine), and arrondissements in some metropolitan areas.
Traditionally the prefecture as being the City Hall and the prefect as being the equivalent of a mayor and commissioner until recently; now the prefectures and prefect are analogous with the figure of Town Clerk.
Aichi Prefecture (愛知県, Aichi-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region. The region of Aichi is also known as the Tōkai region. The capital is Nagoya. It is the focus of the Chūkyō metropolitan area.Arcadia
Arcadia (Greek: Αρκαδία, Arkadía) is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological figure Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan. In European Renaissance arts, Arcadia was celebrated as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness.Chiba Prefecture
Chiba Prefecture (千葉県, Chiba-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region, and the Greater Tokyo Area. The sixth most populous prefecture, and 27th largest by land area, Chiba is on the east coast of Honshu and largely consists of the Bōsō Peninsula, which encloses the eastern side of Tokyo Bay. Its capital is the city of Chiba.Fukuoka Prefecture
Fukuoka Prefecture (Japanese: 福岡県, Hepburn: Fukuoka-ken) is a prefecture of Japan on Kyūshū Island. The capital is the city of Fukuoka. As of 2018, it is the ninth most populated prefecture in Japan.Fukushima Prefecture
Fukushima Prefecture (福島県, Fukushima-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku region. The capital is the city of Fukushima.Hokkaido
Hokkaido (北海道, Hokkaidō, lit. "Northern Sea Circuit"; Japanese: [hokːaꜜidoː] (listen), English: ; Ainu: アィヌ・モシㇼ, romanized: aynu mosir), formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is the second largest island of Japan, and the largest and northernmost prefecture. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu. The two islands are connected by the undersea railway Seikan Tunnel. The largest city on Hokkaido is its capital, Sapporo, which is also its only ordinance-designated city. About 43 km north of Hokkaido lies Sakhalin Island, Russia. To its east and north-east are the disputed Kuril Islands.Honshu
Honshu (本州, Honshū, pronounced [hoɰ̃ꜜɕɯː] (listen); "Main island/Main province") is the largest and most populous island of Japan, located south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Straits. The island separates the Sea of Japan, which lies to its north and west, from the North Pacific Ocean to its south and east. It is the seventh-largest island in the world, and the second-most populous after the Indonesian island of Java.Honshu had a population of 104 million as of 2017, mostly concentrated in the coastal lowlands, notably in the Kantō plain where 25% of the total population resides in the Greater Tokyo Area. As the historical center of Japanese cultural and political power, the island includes several past Japanese capitals, including Kyoto, Nara, and Kamakura. Much of the island's southern shore forms part of the Taiheiyō Belt, a megalopolis that spans several of the Japanese islands.
Most of Japan's industry is located in a belt running along Honshu's southern coast, from Tokyo to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Kobe, and Hiroshima; by contrast, the economy along the northwestern Sea of Japan coast is largely based on fishing and agriculture. The island is linked to the other three major Japanese islands by a number of bridges and tunnels. Its climate is humid and mild.Hyōgo Prefecture
Hyōgo Prefecture (兵庫県, Hyōgo-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kansai region on Honshu island. The capital of Hyogo is Kobe.Kanagawa Prefecture
Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県, Kanagawa-ken) is a prefecture located in Kantō region of Japan. The capital of the prefecture is Yokohama. Kanagawa is part of the Greater Tokyo Area. Kanagawa Prefecture is home to Kamakura and Hakone, two popular side trip destinations from Tokyo.Kyoto Prefecture
Kyoto Prefecture (京都府, Kyōto-fu) is a prefecture of Japan in the Kansai region of the island of Honshu. Its capital is the city of Kyoto.Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji (富士山, Fujisan, IPA: [ɸɯꜜdʑisaɴ] (listen)), located on Honshū, is the highest volcano in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft), 2nd-highest peak of an island (volcanic) in Asia, and 7th-highest peak of an island in the world. It is a dormant stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–1708. Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometers (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped for about 5 months a year, is commonly used as a symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.Mount Fuji is one of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains" (三霊山, Sanreizan) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. It is also a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and one of Japan's Historic Sites. It was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013. According to UNESCO, Mount Fuji has "inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries". UNESCO recognizes 25 sites of cultural interest within the Mount Fuji locality. These 25 locations include the mountain and the Shinto shrine, Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha, as well as the Buddhist Taisekiji Head Temple founded in 1290, later immortalized by Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai.Nagano Prefecture
Nagano Prefecture (長野県, Nagano-ken) is a prefecture located in the Chūbu region of Japan. The capital is the city of Nagano.Nagano has impressive highland areas, including most of the Kita-Alps, Chūō-Alps, and Minami-Alps, which extend into the neighbouring prefectures. Due to the abundance of mountain ranges in this area, the land available for human habitation is relatively limited. In addition to its natural scenic beauty and rich history, Nagano was host to the 1998 Winter Olympics, which gained the prefecture international recognition as a world-class winter sport destination, as well as a new Shinkansen line to Tokyo.Niigata Prefecture
Niigata Prefecture (新潟県, Niigata-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region of Honshu. Niigata Prefecture has a population of 2,285,856 (2016) and is the fifth-largest prefecture of Japan by geographic area at 12,584.10 km2 (7819.40 sq mi). Niigata Prefecture borders Toyama Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture to the southwest, Gunma Prefecture to the south, Fukushima Prefecture to the east, and Yamagata Prefecture to the northeast.
Niigata is the capital and largest city of Niigata Prefecture, with other major cities including Nagaoka, Jōetsu, and Sanjō. Niigata Prefecture contains the Niigata Major Metropolitan Area centered on Niigata with a population of 1,395,612, the largest metropolitan area on the Sea of Japan coast and the twelfth-largest in Japan. Niigata Prefecture is part of the historic Hokuriku region and features Sado Island, the sixth largest island of Japan in area following the four main islands and Okinawa Island.Okinawa Prefecture
Okinawa Prefecture (Japanese: 沖縄県, Hepburn: Okinawa-ken, Okinawan: ウチナー Uchinaa) is the southernmost prefecture of Japan. It encompasses two thirds of the Ryukyu Islands in a chain over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) long. The Ryukyu Islands extend southwest from Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu (the southwesternmost of Japan's four main islands) to Taiwan. Naha, Okinawa's capital, is located in the southern part of Okinawa Island.Although Okinawa Prefecture comprises just 0.6 percent of Japan's total land mass, about 75 percent of all United States military personnel stationed in Japan are assigned to installations in the prefecture. Currently about 26,000 U.S. troops are based in the prefecture.Osaka Prefecture
Osaka Prefecture (大阪府, Ōsaka-fu) is a prefecture located in the Kansai region on Honshu, the main island of Japan. The capital is the city of Osaka. It is the center of Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto area. Osaka is one of the two "urban prefectures" (府, fu) of Japan, Kyoto being the other (Tokyo became a "metropolitan prefecture", or to, in 1941).Prefecture-level city
A prefectural-level municipality (Chinese: 地级市), prefectural-level city or prefectural city; formerly known as province-administrated city (Chinese: 省辖市) from 1949 to 1983, is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China (PRC), ranking below a province and above a county in China's administrative structure. Prefectural level cities form the second level of the administrative structure (alongside prefectures, leagues and autonomous prefectures). Administrative chiefs (mayors) of prefectural level cities generally have the same rank as a division chief (Chinese: 司长) of a national ministry. Since the 1980s, most former prefectures have been renamed into prefectural level cities.
A prefectural level city is a "city" (Chinese: 市; pinyin: shì) and "prefecture" (Chinese: 地区; pinyin: dìqū) that have been merged into one consolidated and unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal entry with subordinate districts, and a prefecture with subordinate county-level cities and counties which is an administrative division of a province.
A prefectural level city is often not a "city" in the usual sense of the term (i.e., a large continuous urban settlement), but instead an administrative unit comprising, typically, a main central urban area (a city in the usual sense, usually with the same name as the prefectural level city), and its much larger surrounding rural area containing many smaller cities, towns and villages. The larger prefectural level cities span over 100 kilometres (62 mi).
Prefectural level cities nearly always contain multiple counties, county level cities, and other such sub-divisions. This results from the fact that the formerly predominant prefectures, which prefectural level cities have mostly replaced, were themselves large administrative units containing cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. To distinguish a prefectural level city from its actual urban area (city in the strict sense), the term 市区 shìqū ("urban area"), is used.
The first prefectural level cities were created on 5 November 1983. Over the following two decades, prefectural level cities have come to replace the vast majority of Chinese prefectures; the process is still ongoing.
Most provinces are composed entirely or nearly entirely of prefectural level cities. Of the 22 provinces and 5 autonomous regions of the PRC, only 9 provinces (Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Heilongjiang, Sichuan, Gansu, Jilin, Hubei, Hunan) and 3 autonomous regions (Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia) have at least one or more second level or prefectural level divisions that are not prefectural level cities.
Criteria that a prefecture must meet to become a prefectural level city:
An urban centre with a non-rural population over 250,000
gross output of value of industry of 200,000,000 RMB (US$32 million)
the output of tertiary industry supersedes that of primary industry, contributing over 35% of the GDP15 large prefectural level cities have been granted the status of sub-provincial city, which gives them much greater autonomy.
Shijiazhuang and Zhengzhou are the largest prefectural level cities with populations approaching or exceeding some sub-provincial cities.
A sub-prefecture-level city is a county-level city with powers approaching those of prefectural level cities.Prefectures of Japan
Japan is divided into 47 prefectures (都道府県, Todōfuken), forming the first level of jurisdiction and administrative division. They consist of 43 prefectures (県, ken) proper, two urban prefectures (府, fu, Osaka and Kyoto), one "circuit" or "territory" (道, dō, Hokkaido) and one "metropolis" (都, to, Tokyo).
The Meiji Fuhanken sanchisei administration created the first prefectures (urban -fu and rural -ken) from 1868 to replace the urban and rural administrators (bugyō, daikan, etc.) in the parts of the country previously controlled directly by the shogunate and a few territories of rebels/shogunate loyalists who had not submitted to the new government such as Aizu/Wakamatsu. In 1871, all remaining feudal domains (han) were also transformed into prefectures, so that prefectures subdivided the whole country. In several waves of territorial consolidation, today's 47 prefectures were formed by the turn of the century. In many instances, these are contiguous with the ancient ritsuryō provinces of Japan.Each prefecture's chief executive is a directly-elected governor (知事, chiji). Ordinances and budgets are enacted by a unicameral assembly (議会, gikai) whose members are elected for four-year terms.
Under a set of 1888–1890 laws on local government until the 1920s, each prefecture (then only 3 -fu and 42 -ken; Hokkai-dō and Okinawa-ken were subject to different laws until the 20th century) was subdivided into cities (市, shi) and districts (郡, gun) and each district into towns (町, chō/machi) and villages (村, son/mura). Hokkaido has 14 subprefectures that act as branch offices (総合振興局, sōgō-shinkō-kyoku) and branch offices (振興局, shinkō-kyoku) of the prefecture. Some other prefectures also have branch offices that carry out prefectural administrative functions outside the capital. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a merged city-prefecture; a metropolis, it has features of both cities and prefectures.Saitama Prefecture
Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県, Saitama-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region. The capital is the city of Saitama.This prefecture is part of the Greater Tokyo Area, and many of Saitama's cities can be described as suburbs of Tokyo, to which a large number of residents commute each day.Shizuoka Prefecture
Shizuoka Prefecture (静岡県, Shizuoka-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region of Honshu. The capital is the city of Shizuoka, while Hamamatsu is the largest city by population.Tokyo
Tokyo (東京, Tōkyō, English: , Japanese: [toːkʲoː] (listen); lit. "Eastern Capital"), officially Tokyo Metropolis (東京都, Tōkyō-to), one of the 47 prefectures of Japan, has served as the Japanese capital since 1869. As of 2018, the Greater Tokyo Area ranked as the most populous metropolitan area in the world. The urban area houses the seat of the Emperor of Japan, of the Japanese government and of the National Diet. Tokyo forms part of the Kantō region on the southeastern side of Japan's main island, Honshu, and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Tokyo was formerly named Edo when Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters in 1603. It became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture (東京府, Tōkyō-fu) and the city of Tokyo (東京市, Tōkyō-shi). Tokyo is often referred to as a city but is officially known and governed as a "metropolitan prefecture", which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo.
The 23 Special Wards of Tokyo were formerly Tokyo City. On July 1, 1943, it merged with Tokyo Prefecture and became Tokyo Metropolis with an additional 26 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture, and the Izu islands and Ogasawara islands south of Tokyo. As of October 1, 2015, the population of Tokyo is estimated to be over 13.4 million, or about 11% of Japan’s total population. The latest estimate in 2019 shows the growing population of Tokyo with 13.9 million people, with the special wards 9.6 million, the Tama area 4.2 million, and the Islands 25,147. The prefecture is part of the world's most populous metropolitan area called the Greater Tokyo Area with over 38 million people and the world's largest urban agglomeration economy. As of 2011, Tokyo hosted 51 of the Fortune Global 500 companies, the highest number of any city in the world at that time. Tokyo ranked third (twice) in the International Financial Centres Development Index. The city is home to various television networks such as Fuji TV, Tokyo MX, TV Tokyo, TV Asahi, Nippon Television, NHK and the Tokyo Broadcasting System.
Tokyo ranks first in the Global Economic Power Index and third in the Global Cities Index. The GaWC's 2018 inventory classified Tokyo as an alpha+ world city – and as of 2014 TripAdvisor's World City Survey ranked Tokyo first in its "Best overall experience" category (the city also ranked first in the following categories: "helpfulness of locals", "nightlife", "shopping", "local public transportation" and "cleanliness of streets"). As of 2018 Tokyo ranked as the 2nd-most expensive city for expatriates, according to the Mercer consulting firm. and also the world's 11th-most expensive city according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's cost-of-living survey. In 2015, Tokyo was named the Most Liveable City in the world by the magazine Monocle. The Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo by far the most Michelin stars of any city in the world. Tokyo was ranked first out of all sixty cities in the 2017 Safe Cities Index. The QS Best Student Cities ranked Tokyo as the 3rd-best city in the world to be a university student in 2016 and 2nd in 2018.
Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics, the 1979 G-7 summit, the 1986 G-7 summit, and the 1993 G-7 summit, and will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the 2020 Summer Olympics and the 2020 Summer Paralympics.
Designations for types of administrative territorial entities
1 Used by ten or more countries or having derived terms. Historical derivations in italics.