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Upazila (Bengali: উপজেলা, lit. 'sub-district' pronounced: upôjela), formerly called thana (Bengali: থানা), is an administrative region in Bangladesh. They function as sub-units of districts. Their functionality can be seen to be analogous to that of a county or a borough of Western countries.
Bangladesh has 492 upazilas (as of 19 December 2017). The upazilas are the second lowest tier of regional administration in Bangladesh. The administrative structure consists in fact in Divisions (8), Districts (64), Upazilas and Union Parishads (UPs). This system of devolution was introduced by the former military ruler and President of Bangladesh, Lieutenant General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, in an attempt to strengthen local government.
Below UPs, villages (gram) and para exist, but these have no administrative power and elected members. The Local Government Ordinance of 1982 was amended a year later, redesignating and upgrading the existing thanas as upazilas.
Upazilas were formerly known as thana which literally means police station. Despite the meaning, thanas functioned much as an administrative and geographic region, much as today's upazilas. In 1982 thanas were re-termed to as upazilas with provisions for semi-autonomous local governance. This system was reverted to the thana system in 1992. Later in 1999 geographic regions under administrations of thanas were converted into upazilas. All administrative terms in this level were renamed from thana to upazila. For instance, Thana Nirbahi Officer (lit.Thana Executive Officer) was renamed to upazila Nirbahi Officer (lit.upazila Executive Officer). The word thana is now used to solely refer to police stations. Generally, there is one police station for each upazila; but larger administrative units may have more than one police station covering different regions.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO, or Upazila Executive Officer; Bengali: উপজেলা নির্বাহী কর্মকর্তা) is a non-elected Administrator in Upazila. UNOs are Senior Assistant Secretary of Bangladesh Civil Service(Administration)Cadre. They act as executive officer of the upazila under the elected posts.
Each Upazila Parishad (or council) has a chairman, a vice-chairman and a woman vice-chairman. All three are elected through direct popular election. Union Parishad chairmen within the upazila are considered as the members of the porishod. The post of a woman vice-chairman was created to ensure at least one-third woman representation in the all elected posts of the local government. On 22 January 2010 the first election in 18 years of Upazila Porishod was held.