Switzerland consists of 23 Kantone (cantons or states), three of them are divided into Halb-Kantone (half-cantones).
Because the half-cantons have full cantonal rights for most affairs, the number of cantons can also be given as 26.
As each canton can determine its own internal organization, in some there exist districts (named Bezirke or Arrondissements), some of which are again subdivided in Kreise.
At the local level all cantons are divided into political communes (Gemeinden), which vary greatly in size, population and resources.
Other local divisions may exist within the same territory as the political commune, e.g. church communes, school communes etc.
The coexistence of several types of communes within the same area is a distinctive characteristic of Switzerland.