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A chef-lieu (French pronunciation: ​[ʃɛfljø], principal place; plural : chefs-lieux) is a town or city that is pre-eminent, from an administrative perspective, in any given sub-division of territory in France, French-speaking countries, and other countries too (as Italy, Switzerland or Luxembourg).

The capital of an Algerian Province is called a chef-lieu.

The chef-lieu in Belgium is the administrative centre of each of the ten Provinces of Belgium. Three of these cities also give their name to their province (Antwerp, Liège and Namur).

Luxembourg is divided in two arrondissements, three districts, twelve cantons and one hundred and eighteen towns. Each has a chef-lieu. In particular, in every district chef-lieu, there is a district commissioner specifically in charge of the administration of the towns within the district.

In France

  • The chef-lieu of a département is known as the préfecture.
  • The chef-lieu of a canton is usually the biggest city or town within the canton, but has only a nominal role.
  • The chef-lieu of a commune is the principal area of the town or city that gives the commune its name, the other areas of the town being called hamlets

The chef-lieu indicates the principal city of the provinces of New Caledonia.

The term chef-lieu is applied to the capital of each Swiss canton.

The term chef-lieu is used to designate the capital of each gouvernorat (department) in Tunisia.

More information on the Wikipedia page [1]