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History: before 1912, 1912–49, 1949–present


Administrative division codes

The term district, in the context of China, is used to refer to several unrelated political divisions in both ancient and modern China.

In the modern context, district, ward, or sub-city (Chinese: ), formally city-governed district, city-controlled district, or municipal district (Chinese: 市辖区), are subdivisions of a municipality or a prefecture-level city. The rank of a district derives from the rank of its city. Districts of a municipality are prefecture-level; districts of a sub-provincial city are sub-prefecture-level; and districts of a prefecture-level city are county-level.

It was also formerly used to refer the obsolete County-controlled districts (also known as district public office).

However, if the word district is encountered in the context of ancient Chinese history, then it is a translation for xian, another type of administrative division in China.

Before the 1980s, cities in China were administrative divisions containing mostly urban, built-up areas, with very little farmland, except for the immediate suburbs in order to ensure a large supply of food or raw materials. As a result, districts were also mostly urban or suburban in nature.

After the 1980s, prefectures began to be replaced with prefecture-level cities. From then on, "cities" in mainland China became just like any other administrative division, containing urban areas, towns, villages, and farmland. These cities are subdivided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, and county-level cities. At the same time, counties and county-level cities began to be replaced with districts, especially after 1990. From then onwards, districts were no longer strictly an urban entities — some districts today are just like counties, with a large towns and townships under them governing rural areas.

Types of districtsAutonomous regions


Sub-provincial autonomous prefectures


Sub-provincial city districts New areas


Autonomous administrative divisions


National Central Cities


History: before 1912, 1912–49, 1949–present


Administrative division codes