There is a great variety of governance and territorial structures, and handling the regional tier can be problematic.
In very small and sparsely populated countries, there may be no regional tier.
Iceland: The central government relates directly to urban and rural municipalities run by elected councils.
Luxembourg: The country is divided into 3 districts headed by a commissioner appointed by central government; but he has no executive powers. He liaises between central and local government.
In larger sparsely populated countries, there is usually a need for regional administration, organized by the central government.
Finland: The provinces (Laani) are directly administered by a governor without the aid of a council. The governor is appointed by the President and is directly responsible to the Ministry of the Interior. In practice, provincial administration is the most important branch office of central government.
There can be a combination of central appointment and regional representation.
Belgium: Each province has both a Crown-appointed governor and a council. The governor presides over and can veto the small governing board, whose places are filled by vote from the 50-90 member council. There are only occasional sessions of the full elected council.
Sweden: Each province has a centrally-appointed governor assisted by a 14 member board composed of political representatives of various sorts.
Something similar applies to: Netherlands provinces, Greek prefectures, French regions, Danish counties.
Thailand has provinces (changwat) administered by a governor appointed by Central Government, and also a locally elected council.
There can be two tiers of local government, with regional organization handled on a service-by-service basis if it is required.
Norway: The counties have an elected council, whose Chairman is a full-time political figure. The county governor checks all decisions of municipal councils for legality.
Eire: With 4 million people, Eire has counties and boroughs; but health services, physical planning and tourism are regionalized.
Originally posted: August-2009; Last updated: 15-Nov-2010