Most of the provinces of China have boundaries which were established in the late Ming Dynasty. Major changes since then have been the reorganization of provinces in the Northeast after the Communist takeover of mainland China in 1949 and the establishment of autonomous regions which are based on Soviet nationality theory.

The most recent administrative changes have included the elevation of Chongqing and Hainan to provincial level status and the organization of Hong Kong and Macau as special administrative regions. All of the newly created administrative levels of the People's Republic of China equal those of the provinces. In Taiwan, Taipei and Kaohsiung were elevated to the status of centrally administered municipalities after the retreat of the KMT-led government.

In mainland China, provinces theoretically are subservient to the PRC central government, but in practice provincial officials have a large amount of discretion with regard to economic policy. Unlike the 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.

Provinces also 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.

Table of contents
1 Levels
2 Provinces
3 Autonomous Regions
4 Municipalities
5 Special administrative regions
6 See also
7 External Links


The People's Republic of China is subdivided into provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. They are in term divided into smaller divisions, with about five administrative levels:

{| border=1 cellpadding=5 style="border-collapse: collapse;" |-bgcolor=cccccc ! !! Name !! Types !! !! |---------------------------------------------------- | 1 || Province level (省级) ||

  • Municipalities are subdivided directly into districts, except the largest Chongqing, which also contains county-level cities and counties.
  • Provinces: most common
  • Special administrative regions are local administrative regions enjoying a high degree of autonomy under the One country, two systems arrangement, and come directly under the central government. They are divided into only districts. Special administrative regions were provided for in the Constitution in 1982, but was only established in 1997 and 1999 in Hong Kong and Macao respectively when China resumes its exercise of sovereignty in these regions.
  • Autonomous regions have provincial status as well.

|| || |---------------------------------------------------- | 2 || Prefecture level (地级) ||

Some provinces are composed entirely of:

Some provinces and all provinces and all autonomous regions have, in addition:
  • Prefectures (地区 "region") and autonomous prefectures (自治州)
  • Provincial cities and sub-provincial cities belong to provinces as well. Despite their English names, sub-provincial cities actually have more autonomy than provincial cities.

Only Inner Mongolia has leagues.

|| || |---------------------------------------------------- | 3 || County level (县级) ||

  • Counties (县): governed by magistrates
  • Districts (市辖区): absent under prefectures and leagues
  • County-level cities (县级市, or "county-class cities"): the lowest-level city
  • Autonomous counties (自治县)
  • There are 393 county-level city and 1669 counties in the early 2000s.

Only Inner Mongolia has bannerss, which are subidivisions not only of leagues, but other prefecture-level entities.

|| || |---------------------------------------------------- | 4 || Township level (乡级) ||

  • towns (镇)
  • townships (乡), or "region": more rural
  • national/ethnic townships (民族乡): concentrated by ethnic minorities
  • (urban) sub-district (街道办事处 "street offices", or 办/辦): only in county-level cities and districts (not counties). They are much smaller than towns and townships, but are more developed.

|| || |---------------------------------------------------- | 5 || Village level (村级) ||
  • neighborhood committee (居民委员会 "residential/residence committee", abbrev. 居委)
  • village committee (村民委员会), aka, villager group (村民小组): the most undeveloped region, and most numerous (but the number is decreasing, converting to other sub-town-level entities)
    • administrative village (行政村)
    • natural village (自然村)

''Instead of neighborhood committees and sub-districts, a city could have:
  • neighborhood (居民区)
  • community (社区)

|| || |---------------------------------------------------- |}

Basic local divisions like neighbourhoods and communities are not informal like in the West, but have defined boundary and designated heads (one per area).

Above them all, there used to exist the supreme divisions of greater administrative areas.

The Republic of China has no autonomous regions, prefecture-level cities and sub-provincial cities. Province-governed cities are the equivalents of county-level cities. It has county-governed city (town-level). In addition, it translates towns and townships both as townships. See Political divisions of the Republic of China


Mainland China has 22 provinces (省 pinyin sheng3):

  • Anhui (安徽 pinyin an1 hui1), abbreviation: Wan (皖 pinyin wan3)
  • Fujian (福建 fu2 jian4), abbr. Min (闽 min3)
  • Gansu (甘肃 gan1 su4), abbr. Gan (甘 gan1), Long (陇 long3)
  • Guangdong (广东 guang3 dong1), abbr. Yue (粤 yue4)
  • Guizhou (贵州 gui4 zhou1), abbr. Qian (黔 qian2), Gui (贵 gui4)
  • Hainan (海南 hai3 nan2), abbr. Hai (海 hai3), Qiong (琼 qiong2)
  • Hebei (河北 he2 bei3), abbr. Ji (冀 ji4)
  • Heilongjiang (黑龙江 hei1 long2 jiang1), abbr. Hei (黑 hei1)
  • Henan (河南 he2 nan2), abbr. Yu (豫 yu4)
  • Hubei (湖北 hu2 bei3), abbr. E (鄂 e4)
  • Hunan (湖南 hu2 nan2), abbr. Xiang (湘 xiang1)
  • Jiangsu (江苏 jiang1 su1), abbr. Su (苏 su1)
  • Jiangxi (江西 jiang1 xi1), abbr. Gan (赣 gan4)
  • Jilin (吉林 ji2 lin2), abbr. Ji (吉 ji2)
  • Liaoning (辽宁 liao2 ning2), abbr. Liao (辽 liao2)
  • Qinghai (青海 qing1 hai3), abbr. Qing (青 qing1)
  • Shaanxi (陕西 shan3 xi1), abbr. Shan (陕 shan3), Qin (秦 qin2)
  • Shandong (山东 shan1 dong1), abbr. Lu (鲁 lu3)
  • Shanxi (山西 shan1 xi1), abbr. Jin (晋 jin4)
  • Sichuan (四川 si4 chuan1), abbr. Chuan (川 chuan1), Shu (蜀 shu3)
  • Yunnan (云南 yun2 nan2), abbr. Dian (滇 dian1), Yun (云 yun2)
  • Zhejiang (浙江 zhe4 jiang1), abbr. Zhe (浙 zhe4)

For the capitals, please refer to the list of capitals of subnational entities.

Defunct Provinces

  • Chahar (察哈爾 cha2 ha1 er3), abbr. (察 cha2)
  • Fengtian (奉天 feng4 tian1), abbr. (奉 feng4)
  • Rehe (熱河 re4 he2), abbr. (熱 re4)
  • Suiyuan (綏遠 sui1 yuan3), abbr. (綏 sui1)
  • Xikang (西康 xi1 kang1), abbr. (康 kang1)

Disputed Province

Main article:
Political status of Taiwan

  • Taiwan (traditional: 臺灣; simplified: 台湾 tai2 wan1), abbr. Tai (台 tai2)

Since its founding in 1949, the People's Republic of China has considered Taiwan to be its 23rd province. However, the Republic of China currently controls the island and province of Taiwan, and Kinmen and Lienchiang counties of Fujian province. The ROC also officially claims all of mainland China (including Tibet) and outer Mongolia. However, this claim was unofficially dropped by Lee Teng-hui in 1991, but not officially approved by the National Assembly.

Maps of China published in Taiwan will often show provincial boundaries as they were in 1949 which do not match the current administrative structure as decided by the Communist Party of China post-1949.

Autonomous Regions

Apart from provinces there are 5 autonomous regions (自治区 pinyin zi4 zhi4 qu1) being concentrations of some Chinese minorities:

  • Guangxi Zhuang (广西壮族 guang3 xi1 zhuang4 zu2), abbr. Gui (桂 gui4) - home of Zhuang minority
  • Nei Mongol or Inner Mongolia (内蒙古 nei4 meng3 gu3), abbr. Meng (蒙 meng3) - home of Mongol minority
  • Ningxia Hui (宁夏回族 ning2 xia4 hui2 zu2), abbr. Ning (宁 ning2) - home of Hui minority
  • Xinjiang Uighur (新疆维吾尔族 xin1 jiang1 wei2 wu2 'er3 zu2), abbr. Xin (新 xin1); - home of Uighur minority (See also East Turkestan)
  • Xizang (Tibetan Autonomous Region) (西藏 xi1 zang4), abbr. Zang (藏 zang4) - home of Tibetanss


4 municipalities (直辖市 pinyin zhi2 xia2 shi4, literal meaning: "directly administrated city (by the central government)") adminstered by the PRC:

2 municipalities administered by the ROC:

Special administrative regions

2 special administrative regions (SARs) (特别行政区 pinyin te4 bie2 xing2 zheng4 qu1):

  • Hong Kong (香港 xiang1 gang3), abbr. Gang (港 gang3)
  • Macau (澳门 ao4 men2), abbr. Ao (澳 ao4)

See also

External Links

Uniform template for articles of the provinces are upon discussion at Wikipedia:WikiProject Chinese provinces.