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Autonomous administrative divisions of China are specific areas associated with one or more
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, ...
that are designated as
autonomous The federal subject The federal subjects of Russia, also referred to as the subjects of the Russian Federation (russian: субъекты Российской Федерации, subyekty Rossiyskoy Federatsii) or simply as the subjects o ...
within 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). These areas are recognized in 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 ...
and are nominally given a number of rights not accorded to other
administrative divisions Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular ...
. For example,
Tibetan Tibetan may mean: * of, from, or related to Tibet * Tibetan people, an ethnic group * Tibetan language: ** Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard ** Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialec ...
minorities in Autonomous regions are granted rights and support not given to the Han Chinese, such as fiscal and medical subsidies.


Autonomous administrative divisions

The PRC's autonomous administrative divisions may be found in the first (or top) to third levels of its national
administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for geographical areas into which a particular ...

administrative division
s thus:


Ethnic area

Although not named as autonomous areas, some third-level settlements and areas that are identified as
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 ...
and county-level districts enjoy the same autonomy as autonomous areas. At the fourth ("township") level, 1
ethnic sumu Ethnic townships (), ethnic towns (), and ethnic Sum (administrative division)#China, sumu () are fourth-level administrative units designated for ethnic minorities in China, ethnic minorities of Administrative divisions of China#Township leve ...
(the Evenk Ethnic Sumu) and over 270
ethnic township An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousne ...
s also exist, but are not considered to be autonomous and do not enjoy the laws pertaining to the larger ethnic autonomous areas. As these autonomous areas were created by the PRC, they are not recognised by 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 ...

Republic of China
on
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), 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, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
which ruled
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 ...

Mainland China
before the PRC's creation.


Nomenclature

The names of most of the PRC's autonomous areas are made from linking together: * the name of a geographical area; * the name or names of the predominant ethnic minority or minorities; * the word "Autonomous"; * a type of administrative division. For instance: In the Chinese name of the administrative area, the nationality name is always suffixed with "" ("nationality"), unless the nationality name consists of more than two syllable (''e.g.'' Xinjiang Uyghur/Wéiwú'ěr AR) or the geographical name contains the nationality name (''e.g.'' Inner Mongolia and Tibet ARs). This distinction is not reflected in translation into English. Some autonomous areas have more than one specified minority, which tend to be listed in the name of the prefecture, creating rather long names. Two autonomous counties simply use "Various Nationalities" in their names as placeholders, rather than listing out all of their designated ethnicities: A few autonomous areas break the regular nomenclature pattern, because the name of the nationality is already contained within the geographical name, or because there is no geographical name:


Legal basis

Autonomous regions, prefectures, counties, and banners are covered under Section 6 of Chapter 3 (Articles 111–122) of the
Constitution of the People's Republic 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 Repu ...
, and with more detail under the Law of the People's Republic of China on Regional National Autonomy ({{lang, zh-Hans, 《中华人民共和国民族区域自治法》). The constitution states that the head of government of each autonomous areas must be of the ethnic group as specified by the autonomous area (
Tibetan Tibetan may mean: * of, from, or related to Tibet * Tibetan people, an ethnic group * Tibetan language: ** Classical Tibetan, the classical language used also as a contemporary written standard ** Standard Tibetan, the most widely used spoken dialec ...
,
UyghurUyghur may refer to: * Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia * Uyghur language, a Turkic language spoken primarily by the Uyghurs ** Uyghur alphabets, any of four systems used to write the language * Uyghur Khaganate, a T ...
, etc.). The constitution also guarantees a range of rights including: independence of finance, independence of economic planning, independence of arts, science and culture, organization of local police, and use of local language. In addition, the head of government of each
autonomous region 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 ...
is known as a "chairman", unlike
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 ...
, where they are known as "governors".


Demographics

Of the five autonomous regions, only
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...
has an absolute majority (>50%) of the designated ethnic group, since Tibetans make up 90% of the population as of 2011.
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
is more ethnically diverse, with the titular
Uyghurs The Uyghurs ( or ; ; ; zh, s=, t=, p=Wéiwú'ěr, IPA: ), alternatively spelled Uighurs, Uyghers, Uygurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic peoples, Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central Asi ...
making up a plurality at 46%,
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
making up 39%, and various other ethnic groups making up the remaining 15% as of 2015. The remaining three autonomous regions have absolute majorities of Han people, the majority ethnicity of China.


History

Autonomous regions, prefectures, counties, and banners were established after communist takeover, following Soviet practice. At first, the nomenclature of these autonomous areas were somewhat confused, with autonomous regions appearing at the province, prefecture, county, and township levels. Eventually the nomenclature was standardized to the conventions used today. The first autonomous region to be established was
Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnati ...

Inner Mongolia
, created within communist-held territory in 1947, two years before the establishment of the People's Republic.
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
was converted from a province to an autonomous region in 1955.
Guangxi Guangxi (; alternately romanized as Kwanghsi; ; za, Gvangjsih), officially the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (GZAR), is an autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, uni ...

Guangxi
and
Ningxia Ningxia (, ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as Ninghsia), officially the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NHAR), is a landlocked Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region in the Northwest China, northwest of the China, Pe ...

Ningxia
followed in 1957, and
Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) or Xizang Autonomous Region, often shortened to Tibet or Xizang, is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , count ...
was formally established in 1965.


References

bg:Автономни региони в КНР