List of Chinese provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and SARs


China Territory  Updated: Fri, Dec 21, 2012 20:19 PM   By HugChina


Chinese provinces,Chinese autonomous regions

Map of China: provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and Special Administrative Regions of China. 

PR China is divided into 34 provincial level sub divisions, among which there are 23 Chinese provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities and 2 special administrative regions (SARs). Geographically China is divided to 7 regions: South China, Southwest China, East China, North China, Northwest China, Northeast China, Central China.

PR China has a fairly complex system of political geography. Most of it is broken up into provinces (省), but there are several other geographic units of the same hierarchical rank as provinces:

* Various ethnic groups have autonomous regions (自治区), although their autonomy is far from complete.

* Some of the larger municipalities (市) are not part of provinces, but independent entities whose leaders report directly to the central government. The smallest of these, Tianjin, has a population well over 10 million. The largest, Chongqing, has over 30 million residents.

* Hong Kong and Macau are special administrative regions (SARs, 特别行政区). These are former colonies — Hong Kong British and Macau Portuguese — that rejoined China in the late 1990s. Their economies and distinct political systems are allowed to flourish under separate regulatory regimes from the Mainland under the slogan "One country, two systems". The SARs have their own currencies, issue their own visas, and elect their own representative assemblies through a combination of direct and indirect representation.

Province-level divisions

A full list of province-level divisions is:


Name Chinese Pinyin Abbr. Area(km2) Capital Chinese Region
1 Heilongjiang 黑龙江 Hēilóngjiāng 黑 hēi 454,000 Harbin 哈尔滨 Northeast China
2 Jilin 吉林 Jílín 吉 jí 187,400 Changchun 长春 Northeast China
3 Liaoning 辽宁 Liáoníng 辽 liáo 145,900 Shenyang 沈阳 Northeast China
4 Qinghai 青海 Qīnghǎi 青 qīng 721,200 Xining 西宁 Northwest China
5 Gansu 甘肃 Gānsù 甘 gān or 陇 lǒng 454,300 Lanzhou 兰州 Northwest China
6 Shaanxi 陕西 Shǎnxī 陕 shǎn or 秦 qín 205,600 Xi'an 西安 Northwest China
7 Shanxi 山西 Shānxī 晋 jìn 156,300 Taiyuan 太原 North China
8 Hebei 河北 Héběi 冀 jì 187,700 Shijiazhuang 石家庄 North China
9 Sichuan 四川 Sìchuān 川 chuān or 蜀 shǔ 485,000 Chengdu 成都 Southwest China
10 Hubei 湖北 Húběi 鄂 è 185,900 Wuhan 武汉 Central China
11 Henan 河南 Hénán 豫 yù 167,000 Zhengzhou 郑州 Central China
12 Shandong 山东 Shāndōng 鲁 lǔ 153,800 Jinan 济南 East China
13 Anhui 安徽 Anhuī 皖 wǎn 139,700 Hefei 合肥 East China
14 Jiangsu 江苏 Jiāngsū 苏 sū 102,600 Nanjing 南京 East China
15 Yunnan 云南 Yúnnán 滇 diān or 云 yún 394,000 Kunming 昆明 Southwest China
16 Guizhou 贵州 Gùizhōu 黔 qián or 贵 gùi 176,000 Guiyang 贵阳 Southwest China
17 Hunan 湖南 Húnán 湘 xiāng 210,000 Changsha 长沙 Central China
18 Jiangxi 江西 Jiāngxī 赣 gàn 167,000 Nanchang 南昌 East China
19 Zhejiang 浙江 Zhèjiāng 浙 zhè 102,000 Hangzhou 杭州 East China
20 Hainan 海南 Hǎinán 琼 qióng 34,000 Haikou 海口 South China
21 Guangdong 广东 Guǎngdōng 粤 yuè 180,000 Guangzhou 广州 South China
22 Fujian 福建 Fújiàn 闽 mǐn 121,300 Fuzhou 福州 East China
23 Taiwan 台湾 Táiwān 台 tái 35,581 Taipei 台北 East China

Autonomous regions

Name Chinese Region Minority Abbr. Capital
1 Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 新疆维吾尔自治区 Northwest China Uyghur 新 Xīn Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐
2 Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region 内蒙古自治区 North China Mongol 蒙 Měng Hohot

3 Tibet Autonomous Region 西藏自治区 Southwest China Tibetan 藏 Zàng Lhasa 拉萨
4 Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region 宁夏回族自治区 Northwest China Hui 宁 Níng Yinchuan 银川
5 Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 广西壮族自治区 South China Zhuang 桂 Guì Nanning 南宁


Name Chinese Pinyin Abbr. Area(km2) Population Region
1 Beijing 北京市 Běijīng Shì 京 jīng 16,800 15,810,000 North China
2 Tianjin 天津市 Tiānjīn Shì 津 jīn 11,305 11,519,000 North China
3 Chongqing 重庆市 Chóngqìng Shì 渝 yú 82,300 31,442,300 Southwest China
4 Shanghai 上海市 Shànghǎi Shì 沪 hù 6,341 18,450,000 East China

Special Administrative Regions

Name Chinese Pinyin Abbr. Population Area(km2) Location
1Hong Kong 香港 Xiānggǎng 港 gǎng 7008900 1104 South China
2 Macau 澳门 Àomén 澳 ào 546,200 29.5 South China


Taiwan is a special case. At the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, the Communists held most of China and the defeated Nationalists held only Taiwan. That situation continues to this day; Taiwan has had a separate government for 60 years. While listed as a province in the P.R.C., it is a separate region with its own visas, currency and so on. However, both governments agree, at least in principle, that Taiwan is part of China and both support reunification.

* In pairs Guangxi/Guangdong and Shanxi/Shandong, xi is West and dong is East. "Shan" means mountain, referring to Mountain Taihang.

* In pairs Henan/Hebei and Hunan/Hubei, nan is South and bei is North. "He" means river, referring to the Yellow River. "Hu" is lake, referring to the Dongting Lake.

Lower-level divisions

Some of this structure repeats at a lower level. Provinces and regions are generally broken up into prefectures and prefecture-level cities. Where a given minority or minorities predominate, the prefecture can be an Autonomous Prefecture (自治州) for the various ethnic groups. Within prefectures and cities, autonomous or otherwise, there are also Autonomous Counties (自治县) depending on their ethnic composition.

Within a province or autonomous region political geography can be broken down into:

* Prefectures (州) and Prefecture-level Cities (市) - These function similarly to counties in the American political geographic system. Prefectures are predominantly rural while prefecture-level cities are distinguished by their major anchoring urban area, which usually lends its name to the entire area.

* Counties (县) and County-level Cities (市) - these are subdivisions within prefectures or prefecture-level cities. For major urban areas like Beijing, counties are rural and remote from the city proper. A county-level city will be larger than a township but not major enough to anchor the entire region.

* Districts (区) and Townships (镇) - Within the urban or suburban area of a prefecture-level city or province-level municipality, the land is further divided into districts. In the countryside, the county is divided into townships which are generally small towns that form the economic center for surrounding villages. In Maoist times, each township formed a commune (人民公社).

* Villages (村) or Neighborhoods(居委会) - These are the smallest units of political organization. Neighborhoods are the most local level of Communist Party organization in an urban area while villages are the level for rural area. Villages are also the level for the China's experiments with grass-roots democracy since some, under the supervision of the Carter Center, hold free and contested elections for their leaders. Many villages have long-since been absorbed by fast-growing cities and townships.

For example, from village to province: Xie Kang Village - Qingxi Town - Dongguan City/Prefecture - Guangdong Province

There is some ambiguity when one uses place names in China. For example "Chengdu" can mean either the city itself or the entire prefecture. Moreover, when a Chinese says "Chengdu is my home town" it might mean his family and his identity papers are from there, rather than that he grew up there.
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