Europe NUTS classification

The hierarchical categorisation of EU territories and regions

The nomenclature of territorial units for statistics (Nomenclature des Unités territoriales statistiques – NUTS) is a geographical system, according to which the territory of the European Union is divided into hierarchical levels. The three hierarchical levels are known as NUTS-1, NUTS-2 and NUTS-3. This classification enables cross-border statistical comparisons at various regional levels within the EU.

In many cases the classification ties in with the administrative structure of the Member States. In most – but not all – countries each NUTS level corresponds to a certain administrative level or an aggregation of administrative units.

In Germany for example the NUTS-1 regions correspond to the federal States (Bundesländer). The population of all European NUTS-1 regions generally lies between 3 and 7 million inhabitants.

NUTS-2 regions usually have between 800,000 and 3 million inhabitants. In Germany this level corresponds to governmental regions known as Regierungsbezirke.

NUTS-3 regions generally have a population of 150,000 to 800,000 inhabitants. Germany's NUTS-3 regions are generally districts known as Kreise or as kreisfreie Städte.

Every EU NUTS-region has a unique code. The length of the code depends on the hierarchical level of the NUTS-region. The following example based on the English city Leeds illustrates this:

RegionNUTS levelCode
United KingdomNUTS-0UK
Yorkshire and the HumberNUTS-1UKE
West YorkshireNUTS-2UKE4

Despite the fact that this classification attempts to create comparable regions at all hierarchical levels, the regions at a given level can differ quite significantly with respect to land area, population, economic strength and administrative importance. Given its relatively small population, Luxembourg for instance simultaneously represents the NUTS-1, NUTS-2 and NUTS-3 level. In Germany for instance the Federal States Berlin, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saarland function as both NUTS-1 and NUTS-2 regions.

In the theme General and regional statistics Eurostat offers data on all European regions.

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