Map of Switzerland showing cantonal, districts and municipal boundaries (April 2021).
Swiss cantons
Schweizer Kantone (German) Cantons suisses (French)
Cantoni Svizzeri (Italian) Chantuns svizras (Romansh)
  • Also known as:
  • Stände, États, Stati
CategoryFederated state
Found inCountry
  • 13th century
Number26 cantons (as of 1979)
Populations16,003 – 1,487,969
Areas37 km2 (14 sq mi) – 7,105 km2 (2,743 sq mi)

Districts of Switzerland are a political subdivision for cantons. 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. 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 further number of cantons are considering (or have already decided) an abolition of the district level in the future. Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Schaffhausen, Lucerne, St. Gallen and Schwyz voted in 2006 on its abolition; some voted in favour of keeping the division, some with modifications. Bern in 2006 decided a reduction of its 26 districts to ten administrative regions, which took effect in 2010. St. Gallen, Solothurn and Lucerne removed the administrative role, but retained districts for elections. In 2008 Vaud decided on a reduction from 19 to 10 districts, followed by Thurgau which combined eight into five in 2012. In 2017 Graubünden replaced the 11 districts with 11 regions. In 2018 Neuchâtel eliminated the district level.


Districts in the Canton of Zürich

The Canton of Zürich is divided into 12 districts (German: Bezirke):


Districts of the canton of Bern

Main article: Subdivisions 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) lost their administrative role that was transferred to 10 new administrative districts (Verwaltungskreise):[1]

Nota bene that the 26 Bernese districts do still formally exist and are maintained by Article 38 of the Law on the Organisation of the Executive Council and the Administration (Organization Law, LOCA/OrG)[2] and by Article 3 al.2 of the cantonal Constitution.


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.


Districts of the Cantons of Schwyz

The Canton of Schwyz is divided into 6 districts:


Districts of canton Fribourg

The Canton of Fribourg is divided into 7 districts:


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.


districts of Canton Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Landschaft is divided into 5 districts:

St. Gallen

Main article: Subdivisions of the canton of St. Gallen

Constituencies of St. Gallen

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


Regions of Canton Graubünden

Beginning in 2017 Graubünden is divided into 11 regions:


Districts in Aargau

Aargau is divided into 11 districts:


Districts of Canton Thurgau

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


Main article: Subdivisions of the canton of Ticino

Districts of Canton Ticino

Ticino is divided into 8 districts:


Districts of Canton Vaud

Main article: Subdivisions of the canton of Vaud

Vaud is divided into 10 districts:


Districts in Valais

Main article: Subdivisions of the canton of Valais

Valais is divided into 13 districts:

The district of Raron is divided into:


Districts of Canton Neuchâtel

The Canton of Neuchâtel was divided into 6 districts until 1 January 2018 when the district system was terminated.[3]


Districts in Canton of Jura

The Canton of Jura is divided into 3 districts:


Districts in Canton of Schaffhausen

The Canton of Schaffhausen is divided into 6 districts:

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Districts of Appenzell Ausserrhoden

The Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden is divided into 3 districts:

Appenzell Innerrhoden

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 five districts:

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz, Mutationsmeldungen 2009 / Répertoire officiel des communes de Suisse, Mutations 2009 / Elenco ufficiale dei Comuni della Svizzera, Mutazione 2009 (PDF) (Report). Federal Statistical Office. 2009. nden. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 November 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  2. ^ "Gesetzessammlung".
  3. ^ Amtliches Gemeindeverzeichnis der Schweiz (in German) accessed 15 February 2018