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In 13 German states, the primary administrative subdivision higher than a Gemeinde (municipality) is the Landkreis or Kreis. Most major cities in Germany are not part of any Kreis, but instead combine the functions of a municipality and a Kreis; such a city is referred to as a kreisfreie Stadt or Stadtkreis.
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(Land-)Kreise stand at an intermediate level of administration between each state (Länder) and the municipalities (Gemeinden) within it. These correspond to level-3 administrative units in the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS 3).
Previously, the similar title Imperial Circle (Reichskreis) referred to groups of states in the Holy Roman Empire. The related term Landeskommissariat was used for similar administrative divisions in some German territories until the 19th century.
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