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Political divisions of China

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) ||

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

Some provinces are composed entirely of:

Some provinces and all provinces and all autonomous regions have, in addition: Only Inner Mongolia has leagues.

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

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

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

|| || |---------------------------------------------------- | 5 || Village level (村级) || ''Instead of neighborhood committees and sub-districts, a city could have: || || |---------------------------------------------------- |}

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):

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

Defunct Provinces

Disputed Province

Main article:
Political status of Taiwan

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:


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):

See also

External Links

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