A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or counties, several municipalities, subdivisions of municipalities, school district, or political district.
Electoral districts are used in state elections. Districts were also used in several states as cadastral units for land titles. Some were used as squatting districts. New South Wales had several different types of districts used in the 21st century.
In Austria, a district (Bezirk) is an administrative division normally encompassing several municipalities, roughly equivalent to the Landkreis in Germany. The administrative office of a district, the Bezirkshauptmannschaft, is headed by a Bezirkshauptmann. It is in charge of the administration of all matters of federal and state administrative law and subject to orders from the higher instances, usually the Landeshauptmann (governor) in matters of federal law and the Landesregierung (state government) in state law. While there are matters of administrative law the municipalities themselves are in charge of, or where there are special bodies, the district is the basic unit of general administration in Austria. Officials on the district level are not elected, but appointed by the state government. There are also independent cities in Austria. They are called Statutarstadt in Austrian administrative law. These urban districts do have the same tasks as a normal district.
The State of Vienna, which is at the same time a municipality, is also subdivided in twenty-three districts, which, however, have a somewhat different function than in the rest of the country. Legally, the Magistratisches Bezirksamt (district office) is a local office of the municipality's administration. However, representatives (Bezirksräte) on the district level are elected, and they in turn elect the head of the district, the Bezirksvorsteher. Those representative bodies are supposed to serve as immediate contacts for the locals on the political and administrative level. In practice, they have some power, e.g. concerning matters of traffic.
Bangladeshi districts are local administrative units. In all, there are 64 districts in Bangladesh. Originally, there were 21 greater districts with several subdivisions in each district. In 1984, the government made all these subdivisions into districts. Each district has several sub districts called Upazila in Bengali.
In Belgian municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, on initiative of the local council, sub-municipal administrative entities with elected councils may be created. As such, only Antwerp, having over 460,000 inhabitants, became subdivided into nine districts (Dutch: districten).
The Belgian arrondissements (also in French as well as in Dutch), an administrative level between province (or the capital region) and municipality, or the lowest judicial level, are in English sometimes called districts as well.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a district is a self-governing administrative unit.
Brazilian municipalities are subdivided into districts. Small municipalities usually have only one urban district, which contains the city itself, consisting of the seat of the local government, where the municipality's prefeitura and câmara de vereadores (City Hall and City Council, respectively, the Executive and Legislative local bodies) are located. The rural districts and groups of urban districts (mainly in large cities) may also present a sub local Executive body, named subprefeitura.
A district is known locally as daerah and it is the first-level administrative division of Brunei. There are four districts in the country, namely Brunei-Muara, Tutong, Belait and Temburong. Each district is administered by a Jabatan Daerah (District Office), which is headed by a Pegawai Daerah (District Officer). All district offices are government departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs (Malay: Kementerian Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri).
In Alberta, the municipal districts and improvement districts are types of rural municipalities. They are recognized as census subdivisions by Statistics Canada, which form parts of census divisions.
In the province of British Columbia, there are several kinds of administrative districts by that name. The usual usage is a reference to district municipalities, which are a class of municipality in the same hierarchy as city, town, or village. Most are styled, e.g., "District of Mission" or "District of Wells", though some are styled, e.g., "Corporation of Delta" or "Township of Langley".
Within the area of municipal powers, regional districts – which are somewhat analogous to counties in other jurisdictions, a number of municipalities, and unincorporated areas – are always referred to as "regional districts" to distinguish them from district municipalities and other kinds of district.
Other kinds of districts in British Columbia are:
In Ontario, a district is a statutory subdivision of the province, but, unlike a county, a district is not incorporated. Most districts are composed of unincorporated lands, mostly Crown land. Originally present-day Southern Ontario (then part of the Province of Quebec and after 1791, Upper Canada) was divided into districts in 1788 . Districts continued to operation until 1849 when they were replaced by counties by the Province of Canada.
The current Ontario districts such as Algoma and Nipissing were first created by the Province of Canada in 1858 prior to Confederation for the delivery of judicial and provincial government services to sparsely populated areas from the district seat (e.g. Sault Ste. Marie). Some districts may have District Social Service Administration Boards, which are designed to provide certain social services. The boundaries of a federal census division may correspond to those of a district.
In western and northern Canada, the federal government created districts as subdivisions of the Northwest Territories 1870–1905, partly on the model of the districts created in the Province of Canada. The first district created was the District of Keewatin in 1876 followed by four more districts in 1882. Gradually, these districts became separate territories (such as Yukon), separate provinces (such as Alberta and Saskatchewan) or were absorbed into other provinces.
In China, the district or qū (市辖区, pinyin: shì xiá qū) is a subdivision of any of various city administrative units, including municipalities, sub-provincial cities and prefecture-level cities. Districts have county level status.
Modern districts are a recent innovation. In the context of pre-modern China, the English translation "district" is typically associated with xian, another Chinese administrative division. The xian is translated as "county" in the context of modern China.
In the Republic of China, district (Chinese: 區; pinyin: Qū) is the 3rd level of the administrative division. It is a division of special municipality and provincial city of Taiwan Province. Currently, there are 157 districts in total from 5 special municipalities and 3 provincial cities.
In Colombia, a district is one of ten special administrative units:
A "district" in the Czech Republic is an okres (plural okresy). After a reform in 2002, the districts lost administrative power to regions (kraje) and selected towns (pověřené obce) and became statistical zones.
French districts were the first subdivision of the départements from the 4 March 1790 to the 28 pluviôse an VIII (17 February 1800). Then, in the 20th century, districts were a type of intercommunity, they've been replaced by communauté de communes and communautés d'agglomération after 1999.
Hong Kong is divided into eighteen districts, each with a district council.
175 districts were established on January 1, 2013. The existing 19 counties are subdivided into 6 - 18 districts per county. The capital city of Budapest does not belong to any counties and is already divided to 23 districts.
India's districts (Assamese: জিলা; Bengali (জেলা); Gujarati (જિલ્લો); Hindi: (ज़िला) [zɪla] or (जनपद) [dʒənpəd̪]; Kannada: ಜಿಲ್ಲೆ (jille); Malayalam: ജില്ല(jilla); Punjabi: ਜ਼ਿਲ੍ਹਾ; mavattam Tamil: மாவட்டம்;Telugu: జిల్లా;) are local administrative units inherited from the British Raj. They generally form the tier of local government immediately below that of India's subnational states and territories. Where warranted, districts may further be grouped into administrative divisions, which form an intermediate level between the district and the subnational state (or union territory).
A district is headed by a Deputy Commissioner/ Collector, who is responsible for the overall administration and the maintenance of law and order. The district collector may belong to IAS (Indian Administrative Service). Other key responsibilities include the collection of revenue, and criminal prosecution in the district and sessional courts. Usually, the Deputy Commissioner/District Collector is granted magisterial powers under section 20 of Criminal Procedure Code, and designated as the District Magistrate. The official designations are "Collector and District Magistrate" or "Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate".
Districts are most frequently further sub-divided into smaller administrative units, called either tehsils or talukas or mavattams, depending on the region. These units have specific local responsibilities, including in particular coordinating revenue collection. An intermediate level (the sub-division) between district and tehsil/taluka may be formed by grouping these units under the oversight of Assistant Commissioners or sub-collectors. Each district includes one or two cities (or large towns), a few smaller towns and dozens of villages. Most of the Indian districts have the same name as their main town or city.
In Uttar Pradesh Districts and tahsils are defined in U.P. Land Revenue Act, 1901.
Tiers of administration
In Papua and West Papua, two of the 34 provinces of Indonesia, a distrik is a subdivision of a regency or a city. Formerly it was called a kecamatan, which translates into English as subdistrict. However, even though both terms refer to the same hierarchical level, the translation is ambiguous. In many newer translations of official documents kecamatan itself is translated into English as "district", while some others still translate it to "subdistrict". Distrik or kecamatan do not have legal autonomy to govern themselves, because they are only administrative extensions of a regency or a city.
Iran is subdivided into thirty one provinces (Persian: استان Ostān), each governed from a local center, usually the largest local city, which is called the capital (Persian: Markaz) of that province. The provinces of Iran further subdivided into counties called shahrestan (Persian: شهرستان shahrestān), an area inside an ostan, and consists of a city center, few bakhsh (Persian: بخش bakhsh) and many villages around them. There are usually a few cities (Persian: شهر shahr) and rural agglomerations (Persian: دهستان dehestān) in each county. Rural agglomerations are a collection of a number of villages. One of the cities of the county is appointed as the capital of the county. The world Shahrestan comes from the Persian words shahr and ostan, which mean city (or town) and province, respectively. The nearest equivalent of Shahrestan in English would be sub-province or county. Each Shahrestan has a governmental office known as Farmandari which coordinates different events and governmental offices. The Farmandar, or the head of Farmandari, is the governor of the Shahrestan which is the highest governmental authority in the division.
In Iraq, they use the word qadaa for districts. There are over a hundred districts, each district being within one of 18 Iraqi governorates, sometimes known as provinces. The district generally (but not always) bears the name of a city within that district, usually the capital of that district.
A district (gun in Japanese) is a local administrative unit comprising towns and villages but not cities. See districts of Japan for more complete description. In 1923, its administrative role was abolished although it is still in use for addressing purposes. "District" is also a translation of chiku, defined by Japan's planning law.
The Districts of the Republic of Mauritius are the second-order administrative divisions after the Outer islands of the country. Mauritius is divided into nine districts which consist of 2 cities, 4 towns and 130 villages, the capital is Port Louis.
The island of Rodrigues used to be the tenth district of Mauritius but it gained autonomous status in 2002.
In East Malaysia, a district is a subdivision within a division of a state. For example, Tuaran is a district within the West Coast Division of Sabah. A district is usually named after the main town or its administrative capital, for example, Sandakan town is the capital of the district of Sandakan, as well the capital of Sandakan Division. (Note: Sandakan district is a sub-division of Sandakan Division.)
In Malaysia, each district will have a District Office, headed by a district officer, and is administered by a local government either being a District Council, Municipal Council, or a City Council. In some highly urbanized districts, there may be further subdivisions. For example, the district of Petaling in Selangor is administered by 3 local governments: Shah Alam City Council, Petaling Jaya City Council, and Subang Jaya Municipal Council. Another example is the district of Johor Bahru in Johor, which has 3 subdivisions: Johor Bahru City Council, Iskandar Puteri City Council, and Pasir Gudang Municipal Council. Conversely, there may be one local government administering more than one district, for example, Seberang Perai Municipal Council administers the districts of Central Seberang Perai, North Seberang Perai, and South Seberang Perai.
The districts of Nauru are the only subdivisions of the whole state.
Nepal is divided into 77 districts. Each district acts as an independent administrative unit. A district consists two types of units like Rural Municipalities and Municipalities. Official documents like citizenship cards and passports are issued by the Chief of District Office (CDO). Constituencies for elections are also constructed according to the population distribution within the district.
A district in New Zealand is a territorial authority (second-tier local government unit) that has not gained the distinction of being proclaimed a city. Districts tend to be less urbanized, tend to cover more than one population center and a larger amount of rural area, and tend to have a smaller population than cities. While cities and districts are generally considered to be two different types of territorial authority, the area covered by a city is often known as its district—for example the term district plan is used equally in districts and cities. The Chatham Islands Territory is neither a district nor a city.
Pakistan's districts are local administrative units inherited from the British Raj. Districts were generally grouped into administrative divisions, which in turn formed provinces. Pakistan has 130 districts (including ten in Azad Jammu and Kashmir). They comprise villages, towns and cities. A district is headed by a district nazim (mayor), who is an elected official and the local controller of the district level officers of all the departments under provincial government while Deputy Commissioner is executive head of the District usually Grade-18 officer from Pakistan Administrative Service.Deputy Commissioner is entrusted with overall responsibility of law & order, implementation of government schemes and is also authorised to hear revenue cases pertaining to the district. The district mayor(nazim) heads an elected district council composed of councilors, who represent various district-level constituencies. The councils have a constitutional requirement to be composed of a minimum of 33% women; there is no upper limit, so women can comprise 100% of these councils but men cannot.
The usage of the term 'district' (distrito) in the Philippines has similarities to that in the United States.
A constituency with a representative in the lower house of Congress is a congressional district. However, the term congressional district has become synonymous in local parlance with 'representative district,' because, just like in the US, the word 'congress' (konggreso) has come to refer specifically to the lower house (the House of Representatives).
A legislative district, which has an average population of about 250,000 to 500,000, may be composed of: (a.) an entire province, (b.) within a province, a group of municipalities and cities (sometimes even including independent and highly urbanized cities geographically located in the province), (c.) a single city, (d.) a group of geographically adjacent independent cities and independent municipalities (currently the only example is the Pateros-Taguig, or (e.) a group of barangays within a city.
Each province is guaranteed at least one representative to the lower house, even though it may not come close to having the same population as other legislative districts. Only voters within each district are allowed to vote in the election for the member of the House of Representatives from that district.
From 1916 to 1935, the Philippines were divided into 12 senatorial districts, of which 11 elected two members each, for a total of 22 out of the 24 members of the upper house of Congress (the Senate). Since 1935 senators have been elected at large.
In addition, each congressional district that falls under the jurisdiction of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (a total of 8) elects three members each to the country's only subnational legislative assembly.
There are provincial districts for the purpose of electing Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council) members, which follow the congressional district arrangement, except that independent and highly urbanized cities whose charters prevent them from electing provincial officials are excluded. Also, provinces that comprise a lone congressional district are divided into at least two provincial districts.
There are also city councilor districts for the purpose of electing Sangguniang Panlungsod (City Council) members, which follow the congressional district arrangement. In cases where the city does not form two or more congressional districts by itself, it is divided into at least two city council districts.
Districts exist as an administrative entity only in local government, with limited powers or responsibilities. Certain cities, such as Manila, Iloilo and Davao, for administrative purposes, formally divide their jurisdictions into city districts composed of several barangays, but the extent of these district-level administrative powers vary. Several barangays (the lowest level of government) also have the word 'district' in their names – examples are those in Jala-jala and Zamboanga City. However, this is solely for the purpose of nomenclature, and does not imply a higher level of local government.
During Spanish and early American colonial rule, certain areas of the Philippines were designated as 'districts,' mainly those that had not been formally organized into provinces or incorporated into existing ones. In the American era, cities and municipalities were divided into city and municipal districts, which served as the lowest level of government before the creation of the barangay.
Special-purpose districts also exist in the Philippines, created for government departments and agencies. Examples are school districts for the Department of Education (DepEd), engineering districts for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and coast guard districts for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Some cities and municipalities also extend the usage of the word 'district' to refer to certain areas, even without having any formal administrative purposes. Examples are the central business districts in Naga City and Makati City.
The second-level unit of local government and administration in Poland, equivalent to a county, district or prefecture (LAU-1) in other countries is called a powiat. As of 2008 there are 379 powiat-level entities in Poland: 314 land counties and 65 city counties. For a complete alphabetical listing, see list of counties in Poland.
Districts (distritos) are administrative divisions of Portugal. They were mainly used as the jurisdiction areas for the civil governors, the government officials that represented locally the Central Government. However, in 2011, the role of civil governor was de facto extinct (although not de jure), with the decision taken by the Government not to appoint new civil governors and to transfer its functions to other bodies. The district areas are now only used as the regional jurisdiction areas of some public bodies (like the Public Security Police district commands) and some private entities (like the district associations and championships of football).
In Russia, districts are administrative and municipal divisions of the federal subjects, as well as administrative divisions of larger cities ("city districts") which are commonly referenced as raions (Russian: Районы) and okrugs (Russian: Округи) respectively. The term "district" is also used to refer to the type of administrative division of the Sakha Republic—ulus (Russian: улус; Sakha: улуус). The Sakha Republic is administratively divided into five cities under the Republic's jurisdiction and 33 uluses. The law of the Sakha Republic establishes that the terms "ulus" and "district" are equivalent.
In Slovakia, a district (okres) is a local administrative unit.
This structure varies in the eight largest urban areas:
where a metropolitan municipality replaces both a district and a local municipality.
For purposes of local government, the country of Sri Lanka is divided into nine provinces: Western, Central, Southern, Northern, Eastern, North Western, North Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa. (The Northern and Eastern Provinces have however, technically been jointly administered since 1988.)
Each of the districts is divided into divisions. These were originally based on the feudal counties, the korales and ratas. They were formerly known as 'D.R.O. Divisions' after the 'Divisional Revenue Officer'. Later the D.R.O.s became 'Assistant Government Agents' and the Divisions were known as 'A.G.A. Divisions'. Currently, the Divisions are administered by a 'Divisional Secretary', and are known as a 'D.S. Divisions'. Rural D.S. Divisions are also administered by a 'Pradeshiya Sabha' (Sinhala for 'Regional Council'), which is elected.
Some municipalities in the Kingdom of Sweden have divided their territory into smaller areas, which often are assigned an administrative board responsible for certain elements of municipal governance within their district. These areas take a variety of different Swedish names; however "district" is usually the official English term for them. The term "borough" is sometimes used in unofficial contexts.
Districts are the most recognizable form of local government in large parts of England. For those areas that retain two-tier local government, districts usually form the lower tier of that arrangement, with counties forming the upper tier. Districts tend to have responsibility for a number of areas including:
Each district raises taxes from residents on behalf of itself, and the upper tier authority through the Council Tax. It also raises income from business through the Non-Domestic Rates system, which is coordinated nationally.
There is no official use of the word district in Wales. The country is broken up into 22 unitary authorities. However, district may be used informally for a whole or unofficial part of a ward in a city.
Districts of Scotland were local government areas between 1975 and 1996.
Between 1930 and 1975 districts were subdivisions of counties, formed under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929. See List of local government areas in Scotland 1930–75. Scotland, since 1996, has been divided in 32 unitary council areas and districts are no longer used.
Scotland has had other kinds of administrative areas which might be described as districts:
Northern Ireland is divided into 11 districts for local government purposes. The councils do not carry out the same range of functions as those in the rest of the United Kingdom; for example they have no responsibility for education, road-building or housing (although they do nominate members to the advisory Northern Ireland Housing Council).
Their functions do include waste and recycling services, leisure and community services, building control and local economic and cultural development. They are not planning authorities, but are consulted on some planning applications. Collection of rates (local tax) is handled by the Rate Collection Agency.
In Ukraine, districts (raions) second level of administrative division of Ukraine and are primary the most common division of Ukrainian regions, as well as administrative divisions of larger cities ("city districts").
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There are several types of districts in the United States.
A constituency with a representative in Congress is a congressional district. Each state is organized into one or more such districts; the exact number within each state is based on the most recent census. Only voters within each district are allowed to vote in the election for the member of the House of Representatives from that district. Overall, there are 435 congressional districts in the United States; each has roughly 630,000 people, with some variance.
The United States also has many types of special-purpose districts with limited powers of local government. School districts are the most common, but other types of districts include community college districts, hospital districts, utility districts, irrigation districts, port districts, and public transit districts.
Many cities in the late 20th century adopted names for non-governmental districts as a way of increasing recognition and identity of these distinct areas and neighborhoods. Perhaps most apparently in Los Angeles, various areas and neighborhoods within the city are specified as districts. For instance, Hollywood is a district of Los Angeles, whereas Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are independent incorporated cities, with their own governments and police departments. This can be confusing, as the difference between districts and neighboring cities is usually not readily apparent, for they all make up the greater Los Angeles area. Typically, districts may or may not be distinguished at the boundary of the district with a "district sign" with the city's insignia; whereas at a city boundary, a city limit sign would usually be placed on the street with the city's name and population, at a minimum, but also often includes its elevation. The important distinction is that areas classified as districts are still part of the parent city and governed by the laws and ordinances of that city.
The term district in Vietnam refers to the second level administrative unit, below provinces (tỉnh) and centrally administered cities (thành phố trực thuộc trung ương). This second level unit is called a "huyện" in rural areas, while in urban areas districts are either "quận" (sub-divisions of centrally administered cities), "Thành phố trực thuộc tỉnh" (provincial cities) or "thị xã" (towns). As of 28 November 2011, Vietnam had 698 "districts" including 55 provincial cities, 47 towns, 47 urban sub-divisions, and 549 rural districts (including 12 island districts).
Vietnamese districts vary significantly in both population and area. Excluding the island districts, the most populous is Biên Hoà (provincial city) with 784,398 people; the least populous is the town of Mường Lay (11,650). Similarly, the largest district is Mường Tè (3,677.4 km²) while the smallest is District ("Quận") 4 of Hồ Chí Minh City with an area of only 4.18 km².