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Due to
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
's large
population Population typically refers the number of people in a single area whether it be a city or town, region, country, or the world. Governments typically quantify the size of the resident population within their jurisdiction by a process called a ...
and geographical area, the administrative divisions of China have consisted of several levels since ancient era. The constitution of China provides for three ''
de jure In law and government, ''de jure'' ( ; , "by law") describes practices that are legally recognized, regardless of whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, ("in fact") describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally ...
'' levels of government. Currently, however, there are five practical (''
de facto ''De facto'' ( ; , "in fact") describes practices that exist in reality, even though they are not officially recognized by laws. It is commonly used to refer to what happens in practice, in contrast with ''de jure'' ("by law"), which refers to th ...
'') levels of local government: the provincial (province, autonomous region, municipality, and special administrative region), prefecture, county, township, and village. Since the 17th century, provincial boundaries in China have remained largely static. Major changes since then have been the reorganization of provinces in the northeast after the establishment of the People's Republic of China and the formation of
autonomous regions An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnational administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country sub ...
, based on Soviet ethnic policies. The provinces serve an important cultural role in China, as people tend to identify with their native province.


Levels

The
Constitution of China The Constitution of the People's Republic of China is nominally the constitution, supreme law of the People's Republic of China. It was adopted by the 5th National People's Congress on December 4, 1982, with Constitution of the People's Repub ...
provides for four levels: the provincial (province, autonomous region, municipality, and special administrative region), the prefectural (prefecture-level city fficially "city with district-level divisions" () and "city without district-level divisions" () autonomous prefecture, prefecture dditional divisionand league he_alternative_name_of_“prefecture”_which_is_used_in_Inner_Mongolia.html" ;"title="Inner_Mongolia.html" ;"title="he alternative name of “prefecture” which is used in Inner Mongolia">he alternative name of “prefecture” which is used in Inner Mongolia">Inner_Mongolia.html" ;"title="he alternative name of “prefecture” which is used in Inner Mongolia">he alternative name of “prefecture” which is used in Inner Mongolia, county (district, county, county-level city [officially “city without district-level divisions”], autonomous county, banner [the alternative name of “county” which is used in Inner Mongolia], autonomous banner [the alternative name of “autonomous county” which is used in Inner Mongolia], special district dditional division forestry area dditional division and township. The fifth level which is commonly known as “village level” is actually not an administrative level. The Constitution of China designs the fifth level as “basic level autonomy”. , China administers 33 provincial-level regions, 334 prefecture-level divisions, 2,862 county-level divisions, 41,034 township-level administrations, and 704,382 basic level autonomies. Each of the levels (except "special administrative regions") correspond to a level in the
Civil service of the People's Republic of China Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue Civic virtue is the harvesting of habit (psychology), habits important for the success of the community. Closely linked to the concept of citizenship, civic virtue is often conceived as the dedication of citize ...
.


Table


Summary

This table summarizes the divisions of the area administered by the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
.


Provincial level (1st)

The
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
(PRC) administers 34 provincial-level divisions () or first-level divisions (), including 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities, and 2 special administrative regions and 1 claimed province: Provinces are theoretically subservient to the PRC central government, but in practice provincial officials have large discretion with regard to economic policy. Unlike the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, the power of the central government was (with the exception of the military) not exercised through a parallel set of institutions until the early 1990s. The actual practical power of the provinces has created what some economists call federalism with Chinese characteristics. Most of the
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
, with the exception of the provinces in the
northeast The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...

northeast
, have boundaries which were established long ago in the Yuan,
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
, and
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press Oxford Univers ...
dynasties. Sometimes provincial borders form cultural or geographical boundaries. This was an attempt by the imperial government to discourage
separatism Separatism is the advocacy of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. As with secession, separatism conventionally refers to full political separation. Groups simply seeking greater ...
and warlordism through a
divide and rule Divide and rule policy ( la, divide et impera), or divide and conquer, in politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals ...

divide and rule
policy. Nevertheless, provinces have come to serve an important cultural role in China. People tend to be identified in terms of their native provinces, and each province has a stereotype that corresponds to their inhabitants. The most recent administrative changes have included the elevation of
Hainan Hainan (, ; ) is the smallest and southernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Hainan
(1988) and
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese dialects, Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Romanization, alternately romanized as Chungking, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality in southwest China. ...

Chongqing
(1997) to provincial level status, and the creation of
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of China on the ...

Hong Kong
(1997) and
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
(1999) as Special administrative regions. Provincial level governments vary in details of organization:


Prefectural level (2nd)

Prefectural level divisions or second-level divisions are the second level of the administrative structure. Most provinces are divided into only prefecture-level cities and contain no other second level administrative units. Of the 22 provinces and 5 autonomous regions, only 3 provinces (
Yunnan Yunnan () is a landlocked Provinces of China, province in Southwest China, the southwest of the People's Republic of China. The province spans approximately and has a population of 48.3 million (as of 2018). The capital of the province is Ku ...

Yunnan
,
Guizhou Guizhou (; alternately Kweichow) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Guizhou
,
Qinghai Qinghai (; alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdi ...

Qinghai
) and 1 autonomous region (
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
) have more than three second-level or prefectural-level divisions that are not prefecture-level cities. As of January 2019, there were 333 prefectural level divisions:


County level (3rd)

As of August 18, 2015, there were 2,852 county-level divisions:


Township level (4th)


Basic level autonomy (5th)

The basic level autonomy serves as an organizational division (census, mail system) and does not have much importance in political representative power. Basic local divisions like
neighborhoods A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval E ...

neighborhoods
and
communities A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, wor ...
are not informal like in America, but have defined boundaries and elected heads (one per area): In urban areas, every subdistrict of a district of a city administers many
communities A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, wor ...
or
residential committees
residential committees
. Each of them have a residential committee to administer the dwellers of that neighborhood or community. Rural areas are organized into village committees or villager groups. A "village" in this case can either be a natural village, one that spontaneously and naturally exists, or a virtual village, which is a bureaucratic entity.


Special cases

Five cities formally on prefectural level have a special status in regard to planning and budget. They are separately listed in the five-year and annual state plans on the same level as provinces and national ministries, making them economically independent of their provincial government. These cities specifically designated in the state plan () are *
Dalian Dalian is a major in , , and is Liaoning's second largest city (after the ) and the fourth-most populous city of . Located on the southern tip of , it is the southernmost city in both Liaoning and the entire Northeast. Dalian borders t ...

Dalian
(
Liaoning Liaoning (), is a coastal province in Northeast China Northeast China, is a geographical region of China. It usually corresponds specifically to the three province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country ...
) *
Ningbo Ningbo (; , Putonghua, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ), Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanized as Ningpo, is a major sub-provincial city in northeast Zhejiang Provinces of China, province, China, People's Republic of China. It com ...
(
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
) *
Qingdao Qingdao (, also spelled Tsingtao; , Mandarin: ) is a major city in eastern Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative divi ...

Qingdao
(
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
) *
Shenzhen Shenzhen (; ; ), also known as Sham Chun, is a major Sub-provincial division, sub-provincial city and one of the Special economic zones of China, special economic zones of China. The city is located on the east bank of the Pearl River (China), ...

Shenzhen
(
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
) *
Xiamen Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from pronunciation ), is a in southeastern , People's Republic of China, beside the . It is divided into six : , , , , , and . All together, these cover an area of with a population of 5,163,970 a ...

Xiamen
(
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnat ...

Fujian
) In terms of budget authority, their governments have the ''de facto'' status of a province, but their legislative organs (
National People's Congress The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (), often referred to as the National People's Congress (NPC) (), is the highest organ of state power and the of the . With 2,980 members in 2018, it is the largest parlia ...
and
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC, zh, 中国人民政治协商会议), also known as the People's PCC (, ) or simply the PCC (), is a political advisory body in the People's Republic of China China (), offi ...

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
) and other authorities not related to the economy are on the level of a prefecture and under leadership of the province. Some other large prefecture-level cities, known as sub-provincial cities, are ''half a level'' below a province. The
mayor In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official An official is someone who holds an office (function or , regardless whether it carries an actual with it) in an or government and participates in the exercise of , (either their ow ...

mayor
s of these cities have the same
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "ranked ...
as a vice
governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, ''governor'' may be t ...

governor
of a province, and their district governments are half a rank higher than those of normal districts. The capitals of some provinces (seat of provincial government) are sub-provincial cities. In addition to the five cities specifically designated in the state plan, sub-provincial cities are: *
Harbin Harbin (; ) is a sub-provincial city A sub-provincial division () in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most ...

Harbin
(
Heilongjiang Heilongjiang, formerly romanized as Heilungkiang, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provincia'', which was the major territorial and a ...

Heilongjiang
) *
Changchun Changchun (, ; ), Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Ch'angch'un is the capital and largest city of Jilin, Jilin Province, China, People's Republic of China. Lying in the center of the Songliao Plain, Changchun is administered as a , ...

Changchun
(
Jilin Jilin (; alternately romanized as Kirin or Chilin) is one of the three provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrat ...

Jilin
) *
Shenyang Shenyang (, ; ; Mandarin pronunciation: ), formerly known as Fengtian () or by its Manchu name Mukden, is a major Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a ...

Shenyang
(
Liaoning Liaoning (), is a coastal province in Northeast China Northeast China, is a geographical region of China. It usually corresponds specifically to the three province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country ...
) *
Jinan Jinan (), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanization of Chinese, romanized as Tsinan, is the Capital (political), capital of Shandong province in East China, Eastern China. With a population of 9.2 million (including Laiwu), it is the ...

Jinan
(
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
) *
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
(
Jiangsu Jiangsu (; ; formerly romanized Kiangsu) is an eastern-central coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative regi ...

Jiangsu
) *
Hangzhou Hangzhou (, , Standard Mandarin Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca A lingua franca (; ...

Hangzhou
(
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
) *
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
(
Guangdong Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admin ...

Guangdong
) *
Wuhan Wuhan (, ; ; ) is the capital of Hubei Province Hubei (; Postal romanization, alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the Central China region. The name of t ...

Wuhan
(
Hubei Hubei (; ; alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity ...

Hubei
) *
Chengdu Chengdu (, ; simplified Chinese Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representa ...

Chengdu
(
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
) *
Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals ( ...
(
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
) A similar case exists with some county-level cities. Some county-level cities are given more autonomy. These cities are known as sub-prefecture-level cities, meaning that they are given a level of power higher than a county, but still lower than a prefecture. Such cities are also ''half a level'' higher than what they would normally be. Sub-prefecture-level cities are often not put into any prefecture (i.e. they are directly administered by their province). Examples of sub-prefecture-level cities include
Jiyuan Jiyuan () is a sub-prefecture-level city in northwestern Henan Henan (; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is of ...

Jiyuan
(
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (), which literally means "central plain" or "midlan ...

Henan
province),
Xiantao Xiantao () is a sub-prefecture-level city A sub-prefectural municipality (), sub-prefectural city, or vice-prefectural municipality, is an unofficial designation for a type of administrative division of China. A sub-prefectural city is official ...
, Qianjiang and
Tianmen Tianmen () is a sub-prefecture-level city (sometimes considered a county-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is ...
(
Hubei Hubei (; ; alternately Hupeh) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity ...

Hubei
),
Golmud Golmud, also known by various other romanizations, is a county-level city in the Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai Province, China. It is now the second-largest city in Qinghai and the third largest in the Tibetan Plat ...

Golmud
(
Qinghai Qinghai (; alternately romanized as Tsinghai, Ch'inghai), also known Kokonor, is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdi ...

Qinghai
),
Manzhouli Manzhouli (; mn, Манжуур хот; ) is a sub-prefectural city located in Hulunbuir prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply "Huangshi" ( ...
(
Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is a landlocked of the . Its border includes most of the length of China's with the country of . Inner Mongolia also accounts for a small section of China's with (). Its capit ...

Inner Mongolia
),
Shihanza
Shihanza
, Tumushuk, Aral, and
Wujiaqu Wujiaqu is a sub-prefecture-level city in the northern part of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Xinjiang, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang; officially Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) ...

Wujiaqu
(
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...

Xinjiang
). Some districts are also placed at ''half a level'' higher that what it should be. Examples are
Pudong Pudong (浦东) is a list of administrative divisions of Shanghai, district of Shanghai located east of the Huangpu River across from the historic city center of Shanghai in Puxi. The name refers to its historic position as "bank (geography), ...

Pudong
,
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
and
Binhai Binhai, officially known as Binhai New Area (), is a sub-provincial division, sub-provincial district (China), district and new areas, state-level new area within the jurisdiction of Tianjin Direct-administered municipalities of China, Munici ...

Binhai
,
Tianjin Tianjin (; ; Mandarin: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is ...

Tianjin
. Although its status as a
district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by the local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or County, counties, several Municipality, municipal ...
of a
municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, ...
would define it as prefecture-level, the district head of Pudong is given sub-provincial powers. In other words, it is ''half a level'' higher than what it would normally be.


Ambiguity of the word "city" in China

The Chinese word "" (shì) is usually loosely translated into English as "city". However, it has several different meanings due to the complexity of the administrative divisions used in China. Despite being urban or having urban centers, the
SARs Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory disease Respiratory diseases, or lung diseases, are pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange Gas exchange is the physical process by which ga ...
are almost never referred to as "Hong Kong City"/"Macau City" in contemporary Chinese, and thus are not covered by the description below. By its political level, when a "city" is referred to, it can be a: * LV 1 (provincial-level): **
Municipality of China A municipality (), formally a municipality under the direct administration of central government, is the highest level of classification for cities used by the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (P ...
, literally "direct-controlled city" in Chinese, there being actually four:
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
,
Tianjin Tianjin (; ; Mandarin: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is ...

Tianjin
,
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
and
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese dialects, Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Romanization, alternately romanized as Chungking, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality in southwest China. ...

Chongqing
* LV 2 (prefecture-level): **
Sub-provincial city A sub-provincial division () in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1 ...
, for example,
Shenzhen Shenzhen (; ; ), also known as Sham Chun, is a major Sub-provincial division, sub-provincial city and one of the Special economic zones of China, special economic zones of China. The city is located on the east bank of the Pearl River (China), ...

Shenzhen
in
Guangdong Province Guangdong (, ), alternately romanized as Canton Province or Kwangtung, is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...
**
Prefecture-level city A prefectural-level municipality (), prefectural-level city or prefectural city is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It ...
, for example,
Shijiazhuang Shijiazhuang (; ; Mandarin: ), formerly known as Shimen and romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by hum ...

Shijiazhuang
, capital of
Hebei Province Hebei (; Postal romanization, alternately Hopeh) is a coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, and is part of the North China region. The modern province was established in 1911 as Zhili, Chihli Provinc ...
* LV 3 (county-level): **
Sub-prefecture-level city A sub-prefectural municipality (), sub-prefectural city, or vice-prefectural municipality, is an unofficial designation for a type of administrative division of China. A sub-prefectural city is officially considered to be a county-level city ...
, for example,
Jiyuan Jiyuan () is a sub-prefecture-level city in northwestern Henan Henan (; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China, central part of the country. Henan is of ...

Jiyuan
(directly under the administration of
Henan Province Henan (; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China, in the central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (), which literally means "central plain" or "midland", although the name is also ap ...
) **
County-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a county-level administrative division of the People's Republic of China China ...
, for example,
Yiwu Yiwu () is a under the jurisdiction of in Central , . As of the 2020 census, the city had 1,859,390 inhabitants and its built-up (or metro) area, joined with that of the neighboring , was home to 2,947,340 inhabitants. The city is famous fo ...
(under the administration of the prefecture-level city of
Jinhua , alternately romanized as Kinhwa, is a prefecture-level city in central Zhejiang province in eastern China. It borders the provincial capital of Hangzhou to the northwest, Quzhou to the southwest, Lishui to the south, Taizhou, Zhejiang, Taizh ...

Jinhua
) By its actual area and population, it can be: * Province-like, which is the municipality of
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese dialects, Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Romanization, alternately romanized as Chungking, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality in southwest China. ...

Chongqing
, a merger of 4 former prefectures and similar to the former Eastern-Sichuan province. * Prefecture-like, which are the other three municipalities and almost all prefectural-level cities, usually 10–1,000 times larger than the urban center and a conglomeration of several counties and county-level cities. Some of them in sparsely populated areas like
Hulunbuir Hulunbuir or Hulun Buir ( mn, , ''Kölün buyir'', Mongolian Cyrillic: Хөлөнбуйр, ''Khölönbuir''; zh, s=呼伦贝尔, ''Hūlúnbèi'ěr'') is a region that is governed as a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.j ...

Hulunbuir
are even larger than Chongqing but have a population comparable to that of prefectures. * County-like, which is all sub-prefecture-level and some county-level cities, and several extremely simple prefecture-level cities ( Jiayuguan,
Xiamen Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from pronunciation ), is a in southeastern , People's Republic of China, beside the . It is divided into six : , , , , , and . All together, these cover an area of with a population of 5,163,970 a ...

Xiamen
,
Haikou Haikou (; ), also spelled as Hoikow is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''ma ...

Haikou
, etc). * Not substantially larger than urban establishment: some county-level cities, plus some members of the previous category. However, country-level cities converted from counties is unlikely to belong here. Shanghai, despite being prefecture-like in size, belongs here due to its subway already extending beyond municipality limits. Some other economically prosperous prefecture-level cities are also provoking inter-prefecture urban integration, although they still possess (and never intend to eliminate) large swaths of rural area. When used in the statistical data, the word "city" may have three different meanings: * The area administrated by the city. For the municipality, the sub-provincial city, or the prefecture-level city, a "city" in this sense includes all of the counties, county-level cities, and
city districts A City district is a designated administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...
that the city governs. For the
Sub-prefecture-level city A sub-prefectural municipality (), sub-prefectural city, or vice-prefectural municipality, is an unofficial designation for a type of administrative division of China. A sub-prefectural city is officially considered to be a county-level city ...
or the
County-level city A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city (1949–1970: ; 1970–1983: ), is a county-level administrative division of the People's Republic of China China ...
, it includes all of the
subdistrictsA subdistrict or sub-district is an administrative division that is generally smaller than a district. Equivalents * Administrative posts of East Timor, formerly Portuguese-language * Kelurahan, in Indonesia * Mukim, a township in Brunei, Indone ...
, towns and
townships A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings g ...
that it has. * The area comprising its urban
city districts A City district is a designated administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...
and suburb
city districts A City district is a designated administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are gene ...
. The difference between the urban district and the suburb districts is that an urban district comprises only the
subdistrictsA subdistrict or sub-district is an administrative division that is generally smaller than a district. Equivalents * Administrative posts of East Timor, formerly Portuguese-language * Kelurahan, in Indonesia * Mukim, a township in Brunei, Indone ...
, while a suburb district also has towns and
townships A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings g ...
to govern rural areas. In some sense, this definition is approximately the
metropolitan area A metropolitan area or metro is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core Urban means "related to a city". In that sense, the term may refer to: * Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas * Urban culture, the cul ...

metropolitan area
. This definition is not applied to the sub-prefecture-level city and the county-level city since they do not have city districts under them. ** Somewhat bizarrely, some districts such as
Haidian District Haidian District () is a district of the municipality of Beijing Beijing ( ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, capital of the People's Republic of China. It is the world's List of n ...
also possess towns. They have been treated clearly as urban districts for decades, but not from the inception, some areas are rural but other areas form an inseparable part of the central city. * The urban area. Sometimes the urban area is referred as (). For the municipality, the sub-provincial city, and the prefecture-level city, it comprises the urban city district and the adjacent
subdistrictsA subdistrict or sub-district is an administrative division that is generally smaller than a district. Equivalents * Administrative posts of East Timor, formerly Portuguese-language * Kelurahan, in Indonesia * Mukim, a township in Brunei, Indone ...
of the suburb city districts. For the sub-prefecture-level city and the county-level city, only central
subdistrictsA subdistrict or sub-district is an administrative division that is generally smaller than a district. Equivalents * Administrative posts of East Timor, formerly Portuguese-language * Kelurahan, in Indonesia * Mukim, a township in Brunei, Indone ...
are included. This definition is close to the strict meaning of "city" in western countries. The choice of definition of "city" used for statistical data of Chinese cities can lead to different results. For example,
Shanghai Shanghai (, , Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four Direct-administered municipalities of China, direct-administered municipalities of the China, People's Republic of China. The city is located on the sou ...

Shanghai
is the largest city in China by population in the urban area but is smaller than
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese dialects, Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Romanization, alternately romanized as Chungking, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality in southwest China. ...

Chongqing
by the population within the administration area.


History

Before the establishment of the
Qin Dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...

Qin Dynasty
, China was ruled by a network of kings, nobles, and tribes. The rivalry of these groups culminated in the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period i ...
, and the
state of Qin Qin () was an during the . Traditionally dated to 897 BC, it took its origin in a reconquest of western lands previously lost to the ; its position at the western edge of permitted expansion and development that was unavailable to its rivals in ...
eventually emerged dominant. The
Qin Dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...

Qin Dynasty
was determined not to allow China to fall back into disunity, and therefore designed the first hierarchical administrative divisions in China, based on two levels: ''jùn'' commanderies and ''xiàn''
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...

counties
. The
Han Dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han Dynasty
that came immediately after added '' zhōu'' (usually translated as "provinces") as a third level on top, forming a three-tier structure. The
Sui Dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese, Han in the entirety of ...

Sui Dynasty
and
Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
abolished commanderies, and added
circuitsCircuit may refer to: Science and technology Electrical engineering * Electrical circuit, a complete electrical network with a closed-loop giving a return path for current ** Analog circuit, uses continuous signal levels ** Balanced circuit, p ...
(''dào'', later ''lù'' under the
Song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called s ...
and Jin) on top, maintaining a three-tier system that lasted through the 13th century. (As a second-level division, ''zhou'' are translated as "prefectures".) The Mongol-established
Yuan Dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succe ...
introduced the modern precursors to
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
, bringing the number of levels to four. This system was then kept more or less intact until the
Qing Dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, the last imperial dynasty to rule China. The
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
streamlined the levels to just provinces and counties in 1928, and made the first attempt to extend political administration beyond the county level by establishing
townships A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings g ...
below counties. This was also the system officially adopted by the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
in 1949, which defined the administrative divisions of China as three levels: provinces,
counties A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes Chambers Dictionary, L. Brookes (ed.), 2005, Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, Edinburgh in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French ...
, and
townships A township is a kind of human settlement In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings g ...
. In practice, however, more levels were inserted. The ROC government soon learned that it was not feasible for a province to directly govern tens and sometimes hundreds of counties. Started from Jiangxi province in 1935,
prefectures A prefecture (from the Latin ''Praefectura'') is an administrative jurisdiction traditionally governed by an appointed prefect. This can be a regional or local government subdivision in various countries, or a subdivision in certain international ...
were later inserted between provinces and counties. They continued to be ubiquitously applied by the PRC government to nearly all areas of China until the 1980s. Since then, most of the prefectures were converted into prefecture-level cities.
Greater administrative area Greater administrative areas () were early top-level administrative divisions of the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies ...
s were inserted on top of provinces by the PRC government, but they were soon abolished, in 1954. District public offices were inserted between counties and townships; once ubiquitous as well, they are currently being abolished, and very few remain. The most recent major developments have been the establishment of
Chongqing Chongqing ( ; ; Sichuanese dialects, Sichuanese pronunciation: , Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Romanization, alternately romanized as Chungking, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality in southwest China. ...

Chongqing
as a municipality of China, municipality and the creation of
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of China on the ...

Hong Kong
and
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
as Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China, special administrative regions.


Reform

In recent years there have been calls to reform the administrative divisions and levels of China. Rumours of an impending major reform have also spread through various online bulletin boards. The District (PRC), district public offices is an ongoing reform to remove an extra level of administration from between the county and township levels. There have also been calls to abolish the prefecture level, and some provinces have transferred some of the power prefectures currently hold to the counties they govern. There are also calls to reduce the size of the provinces. The ultimate goal is to reduce the different administration levels from five to three (Provincial level, County level, Village level), reducing the amount of Corruption in China, corruption as well as the number of government workers, in order to lower the budget.


See also

* List of regions of the People's Republic of China, Regions of China * List of cities in China by population, Metropolitan cities of China * Secession in China * Language Atlas of China * Tiao-kuai * New areas


References


External links


Ministry of Civil Affairs official website for administrative divisions





China's Regions and City Reportspaito china
{{DEFAULTSORT:Administrative Divisions Of China Administrative divisions of China, Lists of administrative divisions of China, Administrative divisions in Asia, China