A prefecture-level city (地级市 Pinyin: dj sh, literally "region-level city") are cities governed directly by provincess of the People's Republic of China. As a city, it ranks lower than municipality, and ranks higher than county-class cities. The first ones were created on November 5, 1983. And most the rest 265 existing ones were made such in the remainder of the 1980s.


  • An urban centre with a non-farmer population over 250,000
  • gross output of value of industry of 200,000,000 RMB
  • the out of tertiary industry supersedes that of primary industry
  • Over 35% of the GDP

Most provinces are completely subdivided into prefecture-class cities, but some provinces -- Shanxi, Hunan, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai -- also have other prefecture-level entities (prefectures and autonomous prefectures).

Baoding (Hebei Province), Zhoukou (Henan), Nanyang (Henan), and Linyi (Shandong) are the largest prefecture-class cities, superseding the population of Tianjin.

A sub-prefecture-level city (副地級市), or vice-prefecture-level city, is in a transition state from a county-level city to a true prefecture-level city. They are not numerous; current ones include Chaozhou (Guangdong, since 1990) and Tianshui (Gansu, since 1984).

Sub-provincial cities are sometimes placed on the same tier as prefecture-level cities, or counted as such.

See also: Political divisions of China