A major reform of local government structure took effect on 1 April 1970. Copenhagen and Fredericksberg enjoy dual status as both local and county authorities. The previous distinction between boroughs and urban and rural districts was abolished, and the number of counties was reduced from 25 to 14. The primary local units, reduced from 1,400 to 275, are governed by an elected council (kommunalbestyrelse) composed of 9 to 31 members who, in turn, elect a mayor (borgmester) who is vested with executive authority. Each county is governed by an elected county council (amtsiåd), which elects its own chairman, or county mayor (amstborgmester). County councils look after local matters, such as road building and maintenance, health and hospital services, and general education.
The Faroe Islands and Greenland enjoy home rule, with Denmark retaining responsibility for foreign affairs, defense, and monetary matters. Representatives of the Faroe Islands announced plans to organize a referendum on independence from Denmark by fall 2000. The government's response was to threaten to cut off all aid to the Faroese if they opted for independence. The referendum planned for May 2001 was cancelled.