There are three administrative tiers of local government in Vietnam:
- First tier: provinces (tỉnh) and municipalities (thành phố trực thuộc trung ương);
- Second tier: provincial cities (thành phố trực thuộc tỉnh), town (thị xã), rural districts (huyện) and urban districts (quận);
- Third tier: communes (xã), township (thị trấn) and wards (phường).
The rural districts existed since the 15th century. Prior to 1945 the huyện (chữ Hán: 縣) was also called district and earlier "sub-prefecture" of the prefectures, or phủ into which provinces were previously divided. The administrative reorganization by Minh Mạng in 1832 did not substantially affect the position of the huyện, but concentrated administration of the level above the huyện, the phủ under new larger unit of the tỉnh and provincial governors. The position of local prefects and district heads remained unaffected.
- List of districts of Vietnam
- Commune-level subdivisions (Vietnam): rural commune (xã), commune-level town (thị trấn), urban ward (phường)
- Ward (Vietnam) phường, urban subdistrict
- Donald F. Lach, Edwin J. Van Kley - Asia in the Making of Europe, Volume III: A Century of Advance (1998) p. 1278 "The Huyện was an administrative unit — a subprefecture — within the province which first came into use in the fifteenth century. See Whitfield, op. cit. (n. 2), p. 118. '6'Each province was divided into several phu or prefectures. Ibid.
- Journal asiatique Société asiatique (Paris, France), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France), Gallica (Organization) (1834). p. 475 "A cette époque il a voulu marcher sur les traces de l'empereur de Chine et a divisé son royaume en tinh ou métropoles. Il y a laissé les phù et les huyên comme auparavant. L'ordre a été changé, mais le fond de l'administration est le même."
- Jacob Ramsay Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early ... (2008) p. 37 "Provinces (tỉnh) over which directly appointed governors-general (tổngđốc), one to every two provinces, and every two provinces, and governors (tuấn phủ), to every other province, ruled. Under the provincial structure, a descending hierarchy of smaller territorial jurisdictions was organized: these included the prefecture (phủ), the district (huyện), the canton (tổng), and the village ... Just as bureaucratic order provided the foundation for the administration of the kingdom, attention to key sites of ritual power projected"