Districts (Vietnamese: huyện; Chữ nôm: 縣), also known as rural districts, are one of several types of second-tier administrative subdivisions of Vietnam, the other types being urban districts (quận), provincial cities (thành phố trực thuộc tỉnh), and district-level towns (thị xã). The districts are subdivisions of the first-tier divisions, namely the provinces and municipalities. Districts are subdivided into third-tier units, namely townships and communes.
The districts existed since the 15th century. Prior to 1945 the huyện (chữ Hán: 縣) was also called district and earlier "sub-prefecture" of the prefectures, or phủ into which provinces were previously divided. The administrative reorganization by Minh Mạng in 1832 did not substantially affect the position of the huyện, but concentrated administration of the level above the huyện, the phủ under new larger unit of the tỉnh and provincial governors. The position of local prefects and district heads remained unaffected.
- Hack & Rettig 2006
31 Phủ is an administrative subdivision of a province
32 Huyện is an administrative subdivision of a Phủ
- Whitfield 1976, p. 118
Each province was divided into several phu or prefectures
- Lach & Van Kley 1998, p. 1278
The huyện was an administrative unit – a subprefecture – within the province, which first came into use in the fifteenth century. See
- Gallica 1834, p. 475
A cette époque il a voulu marcher sur les traces de l'empereur de Chine et a divisé son royaume en tinh ou métropoles. Il y a laissé les phù et les huyên comme auparavant. L'ordre a été changé, mais le fond de l'administration est le même.
- Ramsay 2008, p. 37
Provinces (tỉnh) over which directly appointed governors-general (tổngđốc), one to every two provinces, and every two provinces, and governors (tuấn phủ), to every other province, ruled. Under the provincial structure, a descending hierarchy of smaller territorial jurisdictions was organized: these included the prefecture (phủ), the district (huyện), the canton (tổng), and the village … Just as bureaucratic order provided the foundation for the administration of the kingdom, attention to key sites of ritual power projected.
- "Gallica". Journal asiatique (in French). Paris, France: Société asiatique, Centre national de la récherche scientifique. 1834.
- Hack, Karl; Rettig, Tobias, eds. (2005). Colonial Armies in Southeast Asia. Routlege. ISBN 978-0415334136.
- Lach, Donald F.; Van Kley, Edwin J. (1998). A Century of Advance. Asia in the Making of Europe. III. UP Chicago. ISBN 978-0226467696.
- Ramsay, Jacob (2008). Mandarins and Martyrs: The Church and the Nguyen Dynasty in Early Nineteenth-Century Vietnam. UP Stanford. ISBN 978-0804756518.
- Whitfield, Danny J. (1976). Historical and Cultural Dictionary of Vietnam. Rowman & Littlefield / Methuen. ISBN 978-0810808874.