Senior Member
What's the difference between the two words? I'm rather confused when to use "distrct" and when to use "region". For example, why is "region" instead of "district" used in Hongkong Special Administrative Region?
  • sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Regions are usually larger and, perhaps, less poorly defined than districts, which tend to be well-defined political divisions.

    For example, I live in the Pacific Northwest, a region that has no formal boundaries whatsoever.

    As for the Hong Kong situation, you'll have to ask the people who conferred the designation.

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    It's largely a matter of size, but, where relevant, also of political or administrative importance—the two often going together, of course. A region is generally much bigger than a district in geographical terms, and higher up in administrative hierarchy (where this is relevant). A district is often a part of a city, but may be bigger (e.g. District of Columbia, in the US; the Lake District, in the UK).

    Both districts and regions may be only vaguely defined in extent, or may have distinct boundaries.

    There may be political reasons for calling Hong Kong a region, as this is rather more neutral than some of the alternative terms. However, district would not be at all appropriate for something of its size, relative autonomy, and importance.
    Last edited:


    American English
    What's the difference between the two words? I'm rather confused when to use "distrct" and when to use "region". For example, why is "region" instead of "district" used in Hongkong Special Administrative Region?
    Since it is capitalized, the Hongkong Special Administrative Region is a proper name. Therefore, it's called a "region" because that's what the local government calls it. The same thing is true of the "District of Columbia" in the US or the political areas containing the capitals of countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Australia. You have to use whatever the government uses and may not call the location of the city of Washington the Columbia Region, nor may you call Hong Kong the Hongkong Special Administrative District, even if you think Hong Kong should be a "district" and the U.S. capital should be in a "region."

    If there is no formal political name using "district" or "region," you still might find an area treated as if it were a proper name; the "Lake District" in England was mentioned. Many countries have areas with a lot of lakes; each might have a "lake district," but there is only one "Lake District." I think it is indeed often capitalized as if it were a governmental unit, but it's not. The same is true of the Finger Lakes region in the U.S., but notice that I did not capitalize "region." In the case of the "Lake District," I think it's always called a "district," but "region" isn't part of the name of the Finger Lakes—you could call it the Finger Lakes area or Finger Lakes district; locally, just calling it the Finger Lakes is enough (like mountainous areas such as the Ozarks and the Adirondacks in the U.S., which you could also call the Ozark region or the Adirondack region).

    Some "regions" used to be countries or other political units like provinces but are not anymore, but the name is still used for the general area where the country used to be, but usually then "region" is only used as a description: "Gascony, a region of southwestern France, is famous for . . ." but if you don't explain, you would just say, "Gascony is famous for . . .," not "Gascony region [or Gascony Region] is famous for . . ."

    In this general sense, "region" is mostly used for larger areas than "district," and some small areas might be described as "districts" within a "region" even if none of them are political units with "District" or "Region" as part of their names.
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