Prefectures of Greece

Prefectures of Greece

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During the first administrative division of independent Greece in 1833–1836 and then again from 1845 until their abolition with the Kallikratis reform in 2010, the prefectures (Greek: νομοί, sing. νομός) were the country's main administrative unit. They are now defunct, and have been approximately replaced by peripheral units.

They are called departments in ISO 3166-2:GR and by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names[1]

The prefectures were the second-degree organization of local government, grouped into 13 peripheries or (before 1987) 10 geographical departments, and in turn divided into provinces and comprising a number of communities and municipalities. The prefectures became self-governing entities in 1994, when the first prefectural-level elections took place. The prefects were previously appointed by the government. By 2010, their number had risen to 51, of which one, the Attica Prefecture, where more than a third of the country's population resided, was further subdivided into four prefecture-level administrations (νομαρχίες, sing. νομαρχία). In addition, there were three super-prefectures (υπερνομαρχίες, sing. υπερνομαρχία) controlling two or more prefectures.

With the Kallikratis reform, which entered into force on 1 January 2011, the prefectures were abolished. Many, especially in the mainland, were retained in the form of peripheral units (περιφερειακές ενότητες) within the empowered peripheries, which largely took over the prefectures' administrative role.



The current "Prefectural Self-Governments" were formed in 1994[2] and replaced the previous prefectures, whose councils and prefects were appointed by the government.

Prefectures are governed by a Prefectural Council (νομαρχιακό συμβούλιο) made up of 21 to 37 members,[3] led by the Prefect (νομάρχης) and presided by a Council President (πρόεδρος).

Other organs of the prefectures are:

  • The Prefectural Committee, consisted of the Prefect or an assistant appointed by him and 4 to 6 members, elected by the Prefectural Council.[4]
  • The Provincial Council and
  • The Eparchos (Sub-prefect, έπαρχος).

Super-prefectures have their own organs (Council, Committee and Super-prefect).

Prefectural councillors are elected via public election every four years. Three-fifths of all seats go to the combination winning a majority and two-fifths of the seats go to remaining parties based on a proportional system. Prefect becomes the president of the victorious electoral combination. Electoral is a combination which attains more than 42% in the first round of the prefectural elections. If no combination passes this threshold, a second round takes place between the two combinations that took the most votes in the first round[5]


The State ultimately oversees the actions of local governments, including the prefectures, but the Constitution of Greece[6] and the Code of Prefectural Self-Government[7] still provide communities and municipalities with legal control over the administration of their designated areas.

The Code of Prefectural Self-Government does not include a non-restrictive list of prefectural duties, but a general rule, according to which the newly formed Prefectural Self-Governments have all the duties of the previous prefectures, which are related to their local affairs.[8] Nonetheless, the affairs of "(central) state administration" belonging to the prefects before 1994 are now exerted by the Presidents of the Peripheries (περιφερειάρχης).[9] The current Prefectural Self-Governments have kept the "local affairs of prefectureal level" not belonging to the "(central) state administration".[10]

With certain laws specific affairs of certain ministries were transferred to the Prefectural Self-Governments (sanitary committees, urban-planning services etc.).[11]

List of prefectures as of 2010

Division of the prefecture of Attica

The prefecture of Attica (labelled 1 in the map above) consist of the following prefectural-level administrations (νομαρχίες nomarchies):

  1. Athens
  2. East Attica
  3. Piraeus
  4. West Attica

List of landlocked prefectures

(Of the above, Florina and Kastoria are doubly landlocked.)

List of prefectures consisting solely of islands or parts of islands

List of primarily mainland prefectures that also include islands

List of exclaves

  • Troizina is an exclave of the prefecture of Piraeus on the northern coast of geographical Argolis, bordering the prefecture of Argolis on the south

List of prefectures bordering foreign countries

(traversing the border of Greece in an east-to-west direction)

List of prefectures whose territorial sea abuts that of a foreign country

with Albania
with Turkey

List of geographically extremal prefectures

  • Easternmost prefecture: Dodecanese (island of Kastellorizo)
  • Northernmost prefecture: Evros
  • Westernmost prefecture: Corfu (island of Othonoi)
  • Southernmost prefecture: Chania (island of Gavdos). Also, the southernmost place of Europe.
  • Prefecture with the longest distance between two of its points ("longest diameter"): Dodecanese (draw a line from Anidros, an islet NW of Patmos, to the islet of Stroggyli, the easternmost place in Greece, just east of Kastellorizo)
  • Prefecture with the shortest distance between two of its points ("shortest diameter"): Lefkas

List of prefectures that share a name with their capital

List of prefectures whose capital is not their largest city

List of prefectures with the least populous capitals

  1. Chalkidiki (capital: Polygyros with a population of 6,232)
  2. Samos (capital: Vathy with a population of 6,275)
  3. Evrytania (capital: Karpenisi with a population of 6,775)
  4. Phokis (capital: Amfissa with a population of 6,946)
  5. Lefkas (capital: Lefkas with a population of 7,548)
  6. Thesprotia (capital: Igoumenitsa with a population of 9,104)
  7. Kefallinia Prefecture (capital: Argostoli with a population of 9,522)
  8. Grevena (capital: Grevena with a population of 10,447)
  9. Lasithi (capital: Agios Nikolaos with a population of 10,906)
  10. Zakynthos (capital: Zakynthos with a population of 11,224)

List of prefectures with the most populous capitals

  1. Athens (capital: Athens with a population of 745,514. Note: the Athens metropolitan complex transcends the boundaries of the Athens prefecture, and has a cumulative population of 3,7 million)
  2. Thessaloniki (capital: Thessaloniki with a population of 363,987 ; metropolitan area population at approximately 1,05 million)
  3. Piraeus (capital: Piraeus with a population of 175,697 ; part of the wider Athens metropolitan complex)
  4. Achaea (capital: Patras with a population of 161,114)
  5. Heraclion (capital: Heraclion with a population of 133,012)
  6. Larisa (capital: Larisa with a population of 124,786)
  7. Magnesia Prefecture (capital: Volos with a population of 82,439)
  8. Ioannina (capital: Ioannina with a population of 61,629)
  9. Kavala (capital: Kavala with a population of 60,802)
  10. Serres (capital: Serres with a population of 54,666)

List of largest cities that are not prefecture capitals

  1. Peristeri (population: 137,918; prefecture: Athens)
  2. Kallithea (population: 109,609; prefecture: Athens)
  3. Nikaia (population: 93,086; prefecture: Piraeus)
  4. Kalamaria (population: 87,255; prefecture: Thessalonica)
  5. Ilio (population: 80,859; prefecture: Athens)
  6. Glyfada (population: 80,409; prefecture: Athens)
  7. Zografou (population: 76,115; prefecture: Athens)
  8. Keratsini (population: 76,102; prefecture: Piraeus)
  9. Ilioupoli (population: 75,904; prefecture: Athens)
  10. Acharnes (population: 75,341; prefecture: East Attica)
  11. Egaleo (population: 74,046; prefecture: Athens)
  12. Nea Smyrni (population: 73,986; prefecture: Athens)
  13. Chalandri (population: 71,684; prefecture: Athens)
  14. Amarousio (population: 69,470; prefecture: Athens)
  15. Korydallos (population: 67,456; prefecture: Piraeus)
  16. Nea Ionia (population: 66,017; prefecture: Athens)
  17. Agios Dimitrios (population: 65,173; prefecture: Athens)
  18. Paleo Faliro (population: 64,759; prefecture: Athens)
  19. Vironas (population: 61,102; prefecture: Athens)
  20. Galatsi (population: 58,042; prefecture: Athens)
  21. Evosmos (population: 52,624; prefecture: Thessalonica)
  22. Petroupoli (population: 48,327; prefecture: Athens)
  23. Chaidari (population: 46,276; prefecture: Athens)
  24. Iraklio Attikis (population: 45,926; prefecture: Athens)
  25. Agrinio (population: 44,030; prefecture: Aetolia-Acarnania) [the largest non-capital that is not a suburb of Athens, Piraeus, or Thessalonica]

List of prefectures that border a single other prefecture

  1. Chalcidice (borders Thessaloniki; also borders Mount Athos, which is not a province stricto sensu)
  2. Chania (borders Rethymno)
  3. Lasithi (borders Heraklion)
  4. Evros (borders Rhodope)

List of prefectures that border the most (seven, 7) other prefectures

(prefectures bordered ordered in an anti-clockwise manner)

  1. Kozani (borders Imathia, Pella, Florina, Kastoria, Grevena, Larisa, Pieria)
  2. Larisa (borders Pieria, Kozani, Grevena, Trikala, Karditsa, Phthiotis, Magnesia)
  3. Phthiotis (borders Magnesia, Larisa, Karditsa, Evrytania, Aetolia-Akarnania, Phokis, Boeotia)

List of prefectures that are part of the Greek state since independence

  • Attica
  • Boeotia
  • Phthiotis Prefecture
  • Phocis Prefecture
  • Evrytania Prefecture
  • Euboea Prefecture
  • Aetolia-Acarnania Prefecture
  • Cyclades Prefecture
  • Corinthia Prefecture
  • Argolis Prefecture
  • Arcadia Prefecture
  • Laconia Prefecture
  • Messinia Prefecture
  • Achaea Prefecture
  • Elis


  1. Many of the prefectures were originally combined in pairs:
    1. Attica and Boeotia formed the Attica and Boeotia Prefecture
    2. Phthiotis Prefecture and Phocis Prefecture formed the Phthiotis and Phocis Prefecture (in 1833–1836 the Phocis and Locris Prefecture)
    3. Corinthia Prefecture and Argolis Prefecture formed Argolis and Corinthia Prefecture
    4. Achaea Prefecture and Elis Prefecture formed the Achaea and Elis Prefecture
  2. Aetolia-Acarnania originally also included Evrytania. Unlike the rest mentioned above, the prefecture never broke up into two prefectures, thus being the only one left with a composite appellation.
  3. Messenia originally included the southern half of what is now Elis.
  4. Laconia originally included the southern-eastern half of what is now Messinia.
  5. Euboea originally included the Sporades, which now belong to Magnesia.
  6. The territory of Phthiotis Prefecture did not originally include the Domokos Province, which was part of Thessaly (under Ottoman rule until 1881). The area currently constituting the Domokos Province of the Fthiotis Prefecture only became a part of the Greek state in general, and of Phthiotis in particular, after the annexation of Thessaly to Greece in 1881.
  7. Arcadia Prefecture and the Cyclades Prefecture are the only prefectures to have their borders unchanged since independence.
  8. The capital of Argolis Prefecture, Nafplion was the first capital of the modern Greek state (1828–1834), before the move of the capital to Athens by King Otto.

List of former prefectures in other countries

  • Argyrokastron (1915–1916), in Northern Epirus (southern Albania)
  • Korytsa (1915–1916), in Northern Epirus (southern Albania)
  • Adrianople (1920–1922), in Eastern Thrace (European Turkey)
  • Kallipolis (1920–1922), in Eastern Thrace (European Turkey)
  • Rhaedestos (1920–1922), in Eastern Thrace (European Turkey)
  • Saranta Ekklisies (1920–1922), in Eastern Thrace (European Turkey)

See also

External links


  1. ^ United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names: Administrative Division of Greece (Working Paper N° 95), New York 2000, (PDF, 1,3 MB)]
  2. ^ Law 2218/1994
  3. ^ Articles 13 and 14 of the "Code of Prefectural Self-Government" (Presidential Decree 30/1996)
  4. ^ Article 15 of the Code of Prefectural Self-Government
  5. ^ According to the legislative reform of 2006 (Law 3463/2006). See also the circular 12 of the Ministry of Interior Affairs about the upcoming local elections.
  6. ^ Article 102 of the Constitution
  7. ^ Articles 1 and 8 of the Code of Prefectural Self-Government
  8. ^ About the meaning of local affairs see the Decision 888/1997 of the Council of State.
  9. ^ Articles 3 and 8 of the Code of Prefectural Self-Government
  10. ^ See the Decision 3441/1998 of the Council of State.
  11. ^ See the Law 2647/1998 for instance.

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