Puneet Varma (Editor)

Provinces of China

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Unitary State


Provinces of China

34 (33 controlled by PRC & 1 controlled by ROC)

552,300 (Macau) – 104,303,132 (Guangdong)

31 km (12 sq mi) (Macau) – 730,000 km (280,000 sq mi) (Qinghai)

Dual-Party Government SARs: 1 country, 2 systems

Provinces (Chinese: ; pinyin: Shěng), formally provincial-level administrative divisions (Chinese: 省级行政区; pinyin: Shěng Jí Xíngzhèngqū) or first-level administrative divisions (Chinese: 一级行政区; pinyin: Yī Jí Xíngzhèngqū), are the highest-level Chinese administrative divisions. There are 34 such divisions, classified as 23 provinces (including Taiwan Province, which is claimed but not actually controlled by the People's Republic of China), four municipalities, five autonomous regions, and two Special Administrative Regions.


Map of China

The People's Republic of China (PRC) claims sovereignty over the territory administered by the Republic of China (ROC), claiming most of it as its Taiwan Province. The ROC also administers some offshore islands which form Fujian Province, ROC. These were part of an originally unified Fujian province, which since the stalemate of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 has been divided between the PRC and ROC.

Note that every province (except Hong Kong and Macau, the two special administrative regions) has a Communist Party of China provincial committee (Chinese: 省委; pinyin: shěng wěi), headed by a secretary (Chinese: 书记; pinyin: shūjì). The committee secretary is in effective charge of the province, rather than the nominal governor of the provincial government.


The government of each standard province (Chinese: ; pinyin: shěng) is nominally led by a provincial committee, headed by a secretary. The committee secretary is first-in-charge of the province; second-in-command is the governor of the provincial government.

The People's Republic of China claims the island of Taiwan and its surrounding islets, including Penghu, as "Taiwan Province". (Kinmen and the Matsu Islands are claimed by the PRC as part of its Fujian Province. Pratas and Itu Aba are claimed by the PRC as part of Guangdong and Hainan provinces respectively.) The territory is controlled by the Republic of China (ROC, commonly called "Taiwan").


A municipality (Chinese: 直辖市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì) or direct-controlled municipality is a higher level of city which is directly under the Chinese government, with status equal to that of the provinces. In practice, their political status is higher than that of common provinces.

Autonomous region

An autonomous region (simplified Chinese: 自治区; traditional Chinese: 自治區; pinyin: zìzhìqū) is a minority subject which has a higher population of a particular minority ethnic group along with its own local government, but an autonomous region theoretically has more legislative rights than in actual practice. The governor of each autonomous region is usually appointed from the respective minority ethnic group.

Special administrative region (SAR)

A special administrative region (SAR) (simplified Chinese: 特别行政区; traditional Chinese: 特別行政區; pinyin: tèbié xíngzhèngqū) is a highly autonomous and self-governing subnational subject of the People's Republic of China that is directly under the Central People's Government. Each SAR has a chief executive as head of the region and head of government. The region's government is not fully independent, as foreign policy and military defence are the responsibility of the central government, according to the basic laws.

List of province-level divisions


1: as of 2010 2: per km2 3: km2 4: Abbreviation in the parentheses is informal 5: Since founding in 1949, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has considered Taiwan to be its 23rd province. However, the PRC has never controlled Taiwan. Taiwan (officially the Republic of China) currently administers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. The subject of whether or not Taiwan is part of "China" is often debated, with no clear conclusion. 6: Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: HK 7: Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: MO

Yuan provinces

The rulers of China first set up provinces—initially 10 in number—during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) with the addition of the Central Region ruled by the Zhongshu Sheng (中書省) and the Tibetan Plateau ruled by the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs (宣政院).

Ming provinces

The Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) kept the province system set up by the Yuan Dynasty, however, it divided the original 10 provinces into 16 provinces.

Qing provinces

By the time of the establishment of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) in 1644 there were 18 provinces, all of them in China proper.

New provinces

  • Xinjiang (新疆省) 1884–1912
  • Fengtian (奉天省) 1907–1912
  • Jilin (吉林省) 1907–1912
  • Heilongjiang (黑龍江省) 1907–1912
  • Taiwan (台灣省) 1885–1895
  • Each province had a xunfu (巡撫; xúnfǔ; translated as "governor"), a political overseer on behalf of the emperor, and a tidu (提督; tídū; translated as "captain general"), a military governor. In addition, there was a zongdu (總督; zǒngdū), a general military inspector or governor general, for every two to three provinces.

    Outer regions of China (those beyond China proper) were not divided into provinces. Military leaders or generals (將軍; jiāngjūn) oversaw Manchuria (consisting of Fengtian (now Liaoning), Jilin, Heilongjiang), Xinjiang, and Mongolia, while vice-dutong (副都統; fù dūtǒng) and civilian leaders headed the leagues (盟長; méng zhǎng), a subdivision of Mongolia. The ambans (駐藏大臣; zhù cáng dàchén) supervised the administration of Tibet.

    In 1884 Xinjiang became a province; in 1907 Fengtian, Jilin, and Heilongjiang were made provinces as well. Taiwan became a province in 1885, but China ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895. As a result, there were 22 provinces in China (Outer China and China proper) near the end of the Qing Dynasty.

    ROC provinces (1912–1949)

    The Republic of China, established in 1912, set up four more provinces in Inner Mongolia and two provinces in historic Tibet, bringing the total to 28. In 1931, Ma Zhongying established Hexi in the northern parts of Gansu but the ROC never acknowledged the province. But China lost four provinces with the establishment of the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria. After the defeat of Japan in World War II in 1945, China re-incorporated Manchuria as 10 provinces, and assumed control of Taiwan as a province. As a result, the Republic of China in 1946 had 35 provinces. Although the Republic of China now only controls one province (Taiwan), and some islands of a second province (Fujian), it continues to formally claim all 35 provinces (including those that no longer form part of the area of the People's Republic of China).

    List of PRC province-level divisions

      abolished   claimed


    The People's Republic of China abolished many of the provinces in the 1950s and converted a number of them into autonomous regions. Hainan became a separate province in 1988, bringing the total number of provinces under PRC control to 22.


    The provinces in south coastal area of China—such as Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian and (mainly) Guangdong—tend to be more industrialized, with regions in the hinterland less developed.


    Provinces of China Wikipedia

    Similar Topics