Districts of Switzerland

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Map of Switzerland showing cantonal, districts and municipal boundaries (2015).

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 Bezirk). 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.

Seven of the 26 cantons – Uri, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Glarus, Zug, Basel-City and Geneva – have always existed without the district level of government. An eighth one, Appenzell Innerrhoden, uses no intermediate level either, but calls its lowest-level subdivisions Bezirke, although they are functionally equivalent to municipalities elsewhere.

A number of further cantons are considering (or have already decided) an abolition of the district level in the future: Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Schaffhausen, Lucerne, St. Gallen, 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.

Zurich[edit]

Districts in the Canton of Zürich

The Canton of Zürich is divided into 12 districts (German: Bezirke)containing an estimated 641650 people:

Bern[edit]

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 (Amtsbezirke) were combined into 10 new administrative districts (Verwaltungskreise):[1]

Lucerne[edit]

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[edit]

Districts of the Cantons of Schwyz

The Canton of Schwyz is divided into 6 districts:

Fribourg[edit]

Districts of canton Fribourg

The Canton of Fribourg is divided into 7 districts:

Solothurn[edit]

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-Landschaft[edit]

districts of Canton Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Landschaft is divided into 5 districts:

St. Gallen[edit]

Constituencies of St. Gallen

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

Graubünden[edit]

Districts of Canton Graubünden

Graubünden is divided into 11 districts:

Aargau[edit]

Districts in Aargau

Aargau is divided into 11 districts:

Thurgau[edit]

Districts of Canton Thurgau

Thurgau is divided into five districts (eight prior to 2011) and each is named after its capital:

Ticino[edit]

Districts of Canton Ticino

Ticino is divided into 8 districts:

Vaud[edit]

Districts of Canton Vaud

Vaud is divided into 10 districts:

Valais[edit]

Districts in Valais

Valais is divided into 13 districts:

The district of Raron is divided into:

Neuchâtel[edit]

Districts of Canton Neuchâtel

The Canton of Neuchâtel is divided into 6 districts:

Jura[edit]

Districts in Canton of Jura

The Canton of Jura is divided into 3 districts:

Schaffhausen[edit]

Districts in Canton of Schaffhausen

The Canton of Schaffhausen is divided into 6 districts:

Lucerne[edit]

Districts in Canton of Lucerne

The Canton of Lucerne is divided into 5 districts:

St. Gallen[edit]

Districts of St. Gallen

The Canton of St. Gallen is divided into 8 districts (wahlkreis):

Appenzell Ausserrhoden[edit]

Districts of Appenzell Ausserrhoden

The Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden is divided into 3 districts:

Appenzell Innerrhoden[edit]

Districts of Appenzell Innerrhoden

In Appenzell Innerrhoden districts are the lowest administrative division as the canton has no municipalities (except for the Feuerschaugemeinde, a special-purpose municipality for the town of Appenzell). The districts are functionally equivalent to municipalities elsewhere in Switzerland, and are generally shown as municipalities on maps etc.

The Canton is divided into 6 districts:

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]