Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Prefecture of China

Prefectures (地区级, abbreviated 地级, "region"), first established in 1982, are intermediate levels of Chinese administration between the counties and the provinces and autonomous regions. There are four kinds of prefectures: prefectures (地区), prefecture-level cities, autonomous prefectures (自治州), and leagues (盟).

Table of contents
1 Prefecture
2 League
3 Autonomous prefecture
4 Development zone


Prefectures (diqu), governed by administrative office (行政公署), are the most common prefecture-level entities. The head of the office (行政首长) is appointed by the province. Many (and possibly all in the future) prefectures have converted to prefecture-level cities.

There are 65 prefectures on the Mainland.


Leagues (meng) are the prefectures of Inner Mongolia, established in 1978, but is based on a thousand-year-old Mongolian unit. It was also used during the Qing Dynasty in Mongolia. During the ROC rule, the leagues had status equivalent to provinces. Leagues contain bannerss, equivalent to counties. Most leagues were replaced by prefecture-level cities.

Autonomous prefecture

Autonomous prefectures (zizhizhou) are either have over 50% of the population with ethnic minorities or are historically resided by significant minorities. All autonomous prefectures are mostly dominated, in population, by the Han Chinese. All autonomous prefectures' official names include the most dominant minority in that region, sometimes two, rarely three. Therefore, if the official name is Romanized in Pinyin, it will contain zu after the ethnicity's official name, which may or may not be in Chinese, for example, a Kazakh (Kazak in official naming system) prefecture may be called Kazakzu Zizhizhou).

Usually the subdivision of a autonomous prefecture are counties, some developed ones, like Yanbian contain cities, though. Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang is an exception. It contains counties governed by prefectures within its own autonomous prefecture.

Under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, autonomous prefectures cannot not be abolished.

Development zone

Development zones (开发区) are temporary divisions comparable to a prefectures. It was the status of Chongqing City's subdivision before it became a municipality.