||This article provides insufficient context for those unfamiliar with the subject. (February 2013)|
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, singular Berzirk). They are also termed Ämter (Lucerne, singular Amt), Amtsbezirke (Bern, Amtsbezirk), district (in French) or distretto (Ticino 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.
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 decided 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.
The Canton of Zürich is divided into 12 districts (German: Bezirke):
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 (Amtsbezirke) were combined into 10 new administrative districts (Verwaltungskreise):
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.
The Canton of Schwyz is divided into 6 districts:
The Canton of Fribourg is divided into 7 districts:
From 2005, Solothurn's ten districts are merged pairwise into five electoral districts, termed Amtei. From 2005, districts only have a statistical meaning.
Basel-Landschaft is divided into 5 districts:
In Appenzell Innerrhoden districts are the lowest administrative division[inconsistent]: 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:[inconsistent]
The canton abolished the district level in 2003, but it remains divided into eight constituencies (Wahlkreise) without administrative significance:
Graubünden is divided into 11 districts:
Aargau is divided into 11 districts:
Thurgau is divided into five districts, and each is named after its capital:
Ticino is divided into 8 districts:
Vaud is divided into 10 districts:
Valais is divided into 13 districts:
District Raron is divided into:
The Canton of Neuchâtel is divided into 6 districts:
The Canton of Jura is divided into 3 districts:
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