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|Look up prefecture in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- For subsequent types of praefectura, see Prefect.
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.
Brazilian equivalent of prefecture
Greek equivalent of prefecture
Modern Greece, under its 1975 Constitution, is divided into 51 nomoi (Greek: νομοί) which form the units of local government. These are most commonly translated into English as prefectures or "Counties".
Each nomos is headed by a prefect (nomarch), who was until recently a ministerial appointee but is nowadays elected by direct popular vote. Municipal elections in Greece are held every four years and voting for the election of nomarchs and mayors is carried out concurrently but with separate ballots.
Kallikratis Reform Law N.3852/2010 substitutes the term 'Prefecture' with 'Regional Unit' (see Regional units of Greece). Region becomes the second degree of Decentralisation instead of Prefecture that it used to be.
Chinese equivalents of prefecture
The ancient sense
- Xian (县/縣)
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. That's 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.
The modern sense
In modern-day People's Republic of 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 100 départements in France, there are 100 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.
Japanese sense of prefecture
In English, "prefecture" is used as the translation for todōfuken (都道府県), which are the main subdivisions of Japan, consisting of 47 prefectures, or 1 to, 1 dō, 2 fu, and 43 ken.
In Morocco, the 61 second-level administrative subdivisions are 13 prefectures and 48 provinces. They are subdivisions of the 16 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.
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- Politics of the People's Republic of China
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of the Republic of China
- Politics of Mongolia