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[HugChina] List of Chinese provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and SARs

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Bernd Chang

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Posted on Sun, Jul 22, 2012 04:18 AM 03583





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 (?), but there are several other geographic units of the same hierarchical rank as provinces:

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

* Some of the larger municipalities (?) 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? ?????). 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 ??? H?ilóngji?ng ? h?i 454,000 Harbin ??? Northeast China
2 Jilin ?? Jílín ? jí 187,400 Changchun ?? Northeast China
3 Liaoning ?? Liáoníng ? liáo 145,900 Shenyang ?? Northeast China
4 Qinghai ?? Q?ngh?i ? q?ng 721,200 Xining ?? Northwest China
5 Gansu ?? G?nsù ? g?n or ? l?ng 454,300 Lanzhou ?? Northwest China
6 Shaanxi ?? Sh?nx? ? sh?n or ? qín 205,600 Xi'an ?? Northwest China
7 Shanxi ?? Sh?nx? ? jìn 156,300 Taiyuan ?? North China
8 Hebei ?? Héb?i ? jì 187,700 Shijiazhuang ??? North China
9 Sichuan ?? Sìchu?n ? chu?n or ? sh? 485,000 Chengdu ?? Southwest China
10 Hubei ?? Húb?i ? è 185,900 Wuhan ?? Central China
11 Henan ?? Hénán ? yù 167,000 Zhengzhou ?? Central China
12 Shandong ?? Sh?nd?ng ? l? 153,800 Jinan ?? East China
13 Anhui ?? Anhu? ? w?n 139,700 Hefei ?? East China
14 Jiangsu ?? Ji?ngs? ? s? 102,600 Nanjing ?? East China
15 Yunnan ?? Yúnnán ? di?n or ? yún 394,000 Kunming ?? Southwest China
16 Guizhou ?? Gùizh?u ? qián or ? gùi 176,000 Guiyang ?? Southwest China
17 Hunan ?? Húnán ? xi?ng 210,000 Changsha ?? Central China
18 Jiangxi ?? Ji?ngx? ? gàn 167,000 Nanchang ?? East China
19 Zhejiang ?? Zhèji?ng ? zhè 102,000 Hangzhou ?? East China
20 Hainan ?? H?inán ? qióng 34,000 Haikou ?? South China
21 Guangdong ?? Gu?ngd?ng ? yuè 180,000 Guangzhou ?? South China
22 Fujian ?? Fújiàn ? m?n 121,300 Fuzhou ?? East China
23 Taiwan ?? Táiw?n ? tái 35,581 Taipei ?? East China

Autonomous regions

Name Chinese Region Minority Abbr. Capital
1 Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region ???????? Northwest China Uyghur ? X?n Ürümqi ????
2 Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region ?????? North China Mongol ? M?ng Hohot

3 Tibet Autonomous Region ????? Southwest China Tibetan ? Zàng Lhasa ??
4 Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region ??????? Northwest China Hui ? Níng Yinchuan ??
5 Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region ??????? South China Zhuang ? Guì Nanning ??


Name Chinese Pinyin Abbr. Area(km2) Population Region
1 Beijing ??? B?ij?ng Shì ? j?ng 16,800 15,810,000 North China
2 Tianjin ??? Ti?nj?n Shì ? j?n 11,305 11,519,000 North China
3 Chongqing ??? Chóngqìng Shì ? yú 82,300 31,442,300 Southwest China
4 Shanghai ??? Shàngh?i Shì ? hù 6,341 18,450,000 East China

Special Administrative Regions

Name Chinese Pinyin Abbr. Population Area(km2) Location
1Hong Kong ?? Xi?ngg?ng ? g?ng 7008900 1104 South China
2 Macau ?? Àomén ? 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 (???) for the various ethnic groups. Within prefectures and cities, autonomous or otherwise, there are also Autonomous Counties (???) depending on their ethnic composition.

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

* Prefectures (?) and Prefecture-level Cities (?) - 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 (?) and County-level Cities (?) - 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 (?) and Townships (?) - 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 (????).

* Villages (?) or Neighborhoods(???) - 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.

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


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