Districts of Switzerland

Districts of Switzerland

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 Berzirk). 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.

Eight of the 26 cantons – Uri, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Glarus, Zug, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Basel-City and Geneva – have always existed without the district level of government.

A number of further cantons have dispensed with the district level recently, Appenzell Ausserrhoden in 1995, Schaffhausen in 1999, St Gallen in 2003 and Lucerne in 2007.

A number of further cantons are considering (or have already decided) an abolition of the district level in the future: 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.



Districts in the Canton of Zürich

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


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]

  • Bern-Mittelland with capital Ostermundigen, made up of all or part of the former districts of Bern, Fraubrunnen, Konolfingen, Laupen, Schwarzenburg and Seftigen
  • Biel/Bienne with capital Biel/Bienne, made up of all of the former district of Biel and about half of the former district of Nidau
  • Emmental with capital Langnau im Emmental, made up of all or part of the former districts of Burgdorf, Signau and Trachselwald
  • Frutigen-Niedersimmental with capital Frutigen, made up of all or part of the former districts of Frutigen and Niedersimmental
  • Interlaken-Oberhasli with capital Interlaken, made up of all or part of the former districts of Interlaken and Oberhasli
  • Jura bernois with capital Courtelary, made up of all or part of the former districts of Courtelary, Moutier and La Neuveville
  • Oberaargau with capital Wangen an der Aare, made up of all or part of the former districts of Aarwangen and Wangen
  • Obersimmental-Saanen with capital Saanen, made up of all of the former districts of Obersimmental and Saanen
  • Seeland with capital Aarberg, made up of all or part of the former districts of Aarberg, Büren, Erlach and Nidau
  • Thun with capital Thun, made up of all of the former administrative district of Thun


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:

  • Einsiedeln including only the municipality of the same name
  • Gersau including only the municipality of the same name
  • Höfe with capital alternating between Wollerau and the village of Pfäffikon
  • Küssnacht including only the municipality of the same name
  • March with capital Lachen
  • Schwyz with capital Schwyz


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.

  • 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


districts of Canton Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Landschaft is divided into 5 districts:

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Districts of Appenzell Innerrhoden

In Appenzell Innerrhoden districts are the lowest administrative division: the canton is not subdivided in municipalities. Because of that, for firefighting, energy and water, the town Appenzell has a special-purpose municipality, the Feuerschaugemeinde.

The Canton is divided into 6 districts:

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:


Districts of Canton Graubünden

Graubünden is divided into 11 districts:


Districts in Aargau

Aargau is divided into 11 districts:


Districts of Canton Thurgau

Thurgau is divided into five districts, and each is named after its capital:


Districts of Canton Ticino

Ticino is divided into 8 districts:


Districts of Canton Vaud

Vaud is divided into 10 districts:


Districts in Valais

Valais is divided into 13 districts, representing the 13 stars on the flag of Valais:

District Raron is divided into:


Districts of Canton Neuchâtel

The Canton of Neuchâtel is divided into 6 districts:


Districts in Canton of Jura

The Canton of Jura is divided into 3 districts:


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