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Counties ( zh, t=縣, s=县, hp=Xiàn), formally county-level divisions, are found in the third level of the administrative hierarchy in
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 gene ...
and
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 ...
and the second level in
municipalities 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, ...

municipalities
and
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
, a level that is known as "county level" and also contains autonomous counties,
county-level cities 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, ...
,
banners A banner can be a flag A flag is a piece of textile, fabric (most often rectangular or quadrilateral) with a distinctive design and colours. It is used as a symbol, a signalling device, or for decoration. The term ''flag'' is also used to re ...
, autonomous banners 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 ...
. There are 1,355 counties in
Mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies b ...

Mainland China
out of a total of 2,851 county-level divisions. The term ''xian'' is sometimes translated as "district" or "prefecture" when put in the context of
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...

Chinese history
.


History

''Xian'' have existed since 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 were set up nationwide by 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
. The number of counties in
China proper China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the -led to express a distinction between the core and frontier regions of . There is no fixed extent for China proper, as many administrative, cultura ...

China proper
gradually increased from dynasty to dynasty. As
Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BCE), or Shihuangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and first Emperor of China, emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of "Chinese king, king" ( ''wáng'') borne by the previous Shang dyna ...
reorganized the counties after his unification, there were about 1,000. Under the Eastern
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
, the number of counties increased to above 1,000. About 1400 existed when the
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earli ...

Sui dynasty
abolished the
commandery In the Middle Ages, a commandery (rarely commandry) was the smallest administrative division of the European landed estate, landed properties of a Military order (religious society), military order. It was also the name of the house where the knight ...
level (郡 jùn), which was the level just above counties, and demoted some commanderies to counties. The current number of
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
mostly resembled that of the later years of
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 ...
. Changes of location and names of counties in
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...

Chinese history
have been a major field of research in Chinese historical geography, especially from the 1960s to the 1980s. In Imperial China, the county was a significant administrative unit because it marked the lowest level of the imperial bureaucratic structure; in other words, it was the lowest level that the government reached. Government below the county level was often undertaken through informal non-bureaucratic means, varying between dynasties. The head of a county was the
magistrate The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In , a ' was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both and powers. In other parts of t ...
, who oversaw both the day-to-day operations of the county as well as civil and criminal cases.


Autonomous counties

Autonomous counties () are a special class of counties in
Mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies b ...

Mainland China
reserved for non-
Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The four cardinal directions, or cardinal points, are the directions north North is one of the four ...
ethnic minorities A minority group, by its original definition, refers to a group of people whose practices, race, religion, ethnicity, or other characteristics are lesser in numbers than the main groups of those classifications. However, in present-day sociology, ...
. Autonomous counties are found all over China, and are given, by law, more legislative power than regular counties. There are 117 autonomous counties in
Mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies b ...

Mainland China
.


Government

As the
Communist Party of China ) , anthem = "The Internationale "The Internationale" (french: "L'Internationale", italic=no, ) is a left-wing anthem. It has been a standard of the socialism, socialist movement since the late nineteenth century, when the Second ...

Communist Party of China
is central to directing government policy in Mainland China, every level of administrative division has a local
CPC Committee CPC may refer to: Organizations Companies * Canada Post Corporation * Caspian Pipeline Consortium * Consolidated Pastoral Company, Australia * Corn Products Company, later CPC International, acquired by Unilever * CPC (company), British electr ...
. A county's is called the
Secretary A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant A personal assistant, also referred to as personal aide (PA) or personal secretary (PS), is a job title describing a person who assists a specific person with their daily busine ...
(), the ''de facto'' highest office of the county. Policies are carried out via the People's government of the county, and its head is called the County Governor (). The governor is often also one of the deputy secretaries in the CPC Committee.


See also

* — ''historical''. *
List of counties in the People's Republic of China This is a list of all counties (including Autonomous counties, Autonomous banners, and Banners) along with County-level cities A county-level municipality (), county-level city or county city, formerly known as prefecture-controlled city ...
*
List of county-level divisions of China County-level divisions are the third level of administration 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 world's List of countries and dependencies by ...
*
History of the administrative divisions of China The history of the administrative divisions of China is covered in the following articles: * History of the administrative divisions of China before 1912 The history of the administrative divisions of the Imperial China is quite complex. Across hi ...


References


Citations


Sources

* {{authority control 01 Administrative divisions of China China 3 Counties, China