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Politics and government of
The Regierungsbezirk pronounced [ʁeˈɡiːʁʊŋsbəˌtsɪʁk] (English: Government District) is a subdivision in 4 of the 16 federal states in Germany. It is governed by a Regierungspräsidium or a Bezirksregierung (English: District Government) and led by a Regierungspräsident (English: Government President). The Regierungsbezirke do not pass any legislation. They are mostly concerned with administrative decisions on a regional level for the Districts covered.
The first Regierungsbezirke were created by the Kingdom of Prussia, which divided its provinces into 25 Regierungsbezirke in 1808/1816. The Regierungsbezirke of North Rhine-Westphalia are in direct continuation of those created in 1815. Other states of the German Empire created similar entities, named Kreishauptmannschaft (in Saxony) or Kreis (in Bavaria and Württemberg) (not to be confused with the Kreis or Landkreis today). During the Third Reich the naming was unified to Regierungsbezirk.
Regierungsbezirke by state 
Today only 4 of the 16 states are divided into Regierungsbezirke, all others are directly divided into districts. Currently, those four states are divided into a total of 19 Regierungsbezirke, ranging in population from 5,255,000 (Düsseldorf) to 1,065,000 (Gießen):
- Baden-Württemberg: Freiburg, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Tübingen
- Bavaria: Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, Upper Palatinate, Upper Franconia, Middle Franconia, Lower Franconia, Swabia
- Hesse: Darmstadt, Gießen, Kassel
- North Rhine-Westphalia: Arnsberg, Cologne, Detmold, Düsseldorf, Münster
Former states with Regierungsbezirke 
On January 1, 2000 Rhineland-Palatinate disbanded its three Regierungsbezirke Koblenz, Rheinhessen-Pfalz and Trier - the employees and assets of the three Bezirksregierungen were converted into three public authorities responsible for the whole state, each covering a part of the former responsibilities of the Bezirksregierung.
On January 1, 2004, Saxony-Anhalt disbanded its three Regierungsbezirke: Dessau, Halle and Magdeburg. The responsibilities are now covered by a Landesverwaltungsamt with three offices at the former seats of the Bezirksregierungen.
At the foundation of Lower Saxony in 1946 by the merger of the three former Free States of Brunswick, Oldenburg, Schaumburg-Lippe and the former Prussian province of Hanover the former two states became Verwaltungsbezirke (roughly administrative regions of extended competence) within Lower Saxony besides the less autonomous Prussian-style Regierungsbezirke comprising the former Province of Hanover and the tiny Schaumburg-Lippe. These differences were levelled on 1 January 1978, when four territorially redeployed Regierungsbezirke replaced the two Verwaltungsbezirke and the old six Regierungsbezirke: Brunswick and Oldenburg as well as Aurich, Hanover (remaining mostly the same), Hildesheim, Lüneburg (old), Osnabrück and Stade. On 1 January 2005, Lower Saxony disbanded its remaining four Regierungsbezirke: Brunswick, Hanover, Lüneburg, and Weser-Ems.
On August 1, 2008, Saxony restructured its districts (Landkreise) and changed the name of its Regierungsbezirke to Direktionsbezirke. This was necessary because one of the new districts did not fit with the borders of the old Regierungsbezirke and some responsibilities are now covered by the districts. The Direktionsbezirke are still named Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig. As of March 1, 2012, the Direktionsbezirke were merged into one Landesdirektion.
- Regional Governments in France, Germany, Poland and The Netherlands (HTML version of PowerPoint presentation) - Cachet, A (coordinator), Erasmus University, Rotterdam[dead link]
Media related to Regierungsbezirk at Wikimedia Commons