History of the administrative divisions of China (1949–present)

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The History of the administrative divisions of China after 1949 refers to the administrative divisions under the People's Republic of China. In 1949, the communist forces initially held scattered fragments of China at the start of the Chinese civil war. By late 1949, they controlled the majority of mainland China, forcing the Republic of China government to relocate to Taiwan.

Founding[edit]

Map of the PRC in 1949.
Map comparing administrative divisions as drawn by the PRC and ROC.

The Government of China made the following changes:

1950s[edit]

In 1952, the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui and Sichuan were restored. Pingyuan and Chahar were split into their surrounding provinces. Nanjing, old capital of the Republic of China, was deprived of municipality status and annexed by Jiangsu province. In 1953, Changchun and Harbin were elevated to municipality status.

In 1954, a massive campaign to cut the number of provincial-level divisions was initiated. Of the 14 municipalities existing in 1953, 11 were annexed by nearby provinces, with only Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin remaining. The province of Liaoning was formed out of the merger of Liaodong and Liaoxi, while Suiyuan and Ningxia disappeared into Inner Mongolia and Gansu.

The greater administrative area level was abolished in 1954.

The process continued in 1955 with Rehe being split among Hebei, Liaoning and Inner Mongolia, and Xikang disappearing into Sichuan. In that same year Xinjiang became the second autonomous region of China, and plans for a third, Tibet Autonomous Region, were initiated. Qamdo territory was put under the planned Tibet Autonomous Region.

In 1957 two more autonomous regions were added, Ningxia (split back out of Gansu) and Guangxi (which was previously a province). In 1958 Tianjin was annexed by Hebei, leaving only two municipalities, Beijing and Shanghai.

1960s and 1970s[edit]

In 1965 Tibet Autonomous Region was established out of the formerly self-governing Tibet region, plus Qamdo territory. In 1967 Tianjin was split back out as a municipality.

1980s, 1990s and 2000s[edit]

Starting in the 1980s, prefecture-level cities and county-level cities began to appear in very large numbers, usually by replacing entire prefectures and counties. Hainan and some other islands were split out of Guangdong and set up as a Hainan Province in 1988.

In 1997 Chongqing became the fourth municipality of China. In that same year Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule and became the first special administrative region. Macau became the second in 1999.

In the 1990s, there was a campaign to abolish district public offices as a level. By 2004 very few remained.

In the meantime, most prefectures have become prefecture-level cities.

List of all provincial-level divisions since 1949[edit]

      abolished       claimed

Administrative divisions of China
Greater Administrative Areas
Name Simplified
Hanzi
Traditional
Hanzi
Pinyin Translation Capital Simplified
Hanzi
Traditional
Hanzi
Notes
Huabei 华北 華北 Huáběi "North China" Beijing 北京 北京 1949–1954
Dongbei 东北 東北 Dōngběi "Northeast" Shenyang 沈阳 瀋陽 1949–1954
Huadong 华东 華東 Huádōng "East China" Shanghai 上海 上海 1949–1954
Zhongnan 中南 中南 Zhōngnán "South Central" Wuhan 武汉 武漢 1949–1954
Xibei 西北 西北 Xīběi "Northwest" Xi'an 西安 西安 1949–1954
Xinan 西南 西南 Xīnán "Southwest" Chongqing 重庆 重慶 1949–1954
Name Simplified
Hanzi
Traditional
Hanzi
Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Simplified
Hanzi
Traditional
Hanzi
GAA Note
Provinces
Andong 安东 安東 Āndōng 安 ān Tonghua 通化 通化 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Liaodong, Jilin
Anhui 安徽 安徽 Ānhuī 皖 wǎn Hefei 合肥 合肥 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Wanbei, Wannan; 1952 reverted
Chahar 察哈尔 察哈爾 Cháhā'ěr 察 chá Zhangjiakou 张家口 張家口 Huabei 1952 abolished → Inner Mongolia, Hebei
Fujian 福建 福建 Fújiàn 闽 mǐn Fuzhou 福州 福州 Huadong
Gansu 甘肃 甘肅 Gānsù 甘 gān Lanzhou 兰州 蘭州 Xibei 1958 Ningxia split into its own autonomous region
Guangdong 广东 廣東 Guǎngdōng 粤 yuè Guangzhou 广州 廣州 Zhongnan 1952 & 1965 Fangchenggang, Qinzhou, Beihai → Guangxi; 1955 reverted
1988 Hainan split into its own province
Guangxi 广西 廣西 Guǎngxī 桂 guì Nanning 南宁 南寧 Zhongnan 1958 province → autonomous region
Guizhou 贵州 貴州 Guìzhōu 黔 qián Guiyang 贵阳 貴陽 Xinan
Hainan 海南 海南 Hǎinán 琼 qióng Haikou 海口 海口 Zhongnan
Hebei 河北 河北 Héběi 冀 jì Baoding (49-54; 67-68)
Tianjin (54-67)
Shijiazhuang (present)
保定
天津
石家庄
保定
天津
石家莊
Huabei
Hejiang 合江 合江 Héjiāng 合 hé Jiamusi 佳木斯 佳木斯 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang 黑龙江 黑龍江 Hēilóngjiāng 黑 hēi Qiqihar (49-54)
Harbin (present)
齐齐哈尔
哈尔滨
齊齊哈爾
哈爾濱
Dongbei 1952 part of Xing'an split into Inner Mongolia
Henan 河南 河南 Hénán 豫 yù Kaifeng (49-54)
Zhengzhou (present)
开封
郑州
開封
鄭州
Zhongnan
Hubei 湖北 湖北 Húběi 鄂 è Wuhan 武汉 武漢 Zhongnan 1967 Tianjin split into its own municipality
Hunan 湖南 湖南 Húnán 湘 xiāng Changsha 长沙 長沙 Zhongnan
Jiangsu 江苏 江蘇 Jiāngsū 苏 sū Nanjing 南京 南京 Huadong 1949 abolished → Subei, Subnan; 1952 reverted
Jiangxi 江西 江西 Jiāngxī 赣 gàn Nanchang 南昌 南昌 Huadong
Jilin 吉林 吉林 Jílín 吉 jí Jilin (49-54)
Changchun (present)
吉林
长春
吉林
長春
Dongbei 1952 north part split into Inner Mongolia
Liaobei 辽北 遼北 Liáoběi 洮 táo Liaoyuan 辽源 遼源 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Jilin, Liaoning
Liaodong 辽东 遼東 Liáodōng 关 guān Dandong 丹东 丹東 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Liaoning 辽宁 遼寧 Liáoníng 辽 liáo Shenyang 沈阳 瀋陽 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Liaodong, Liaoxi; 1954 reverted
1952 north part split into Inner Mongolia
Liaoxi 辽西 遼西 Liáoxī 辽 liáo Jinzhou 锦州 錦州 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Nenjiang 嫩江 嫩江 Nènjiāng 嫩 nèn Qiqihar 齐齐哈尔 齊齊哈爾 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Ningxia 宁夏 寧夏 Níngxià 宁 níng Yinchuan 银川 銀川 Xibei 1954 province → Gansu
Mudanjiang 牡丹江 牡丹江 Mǔdānjiāng 丹 dān Mudanjiang 牡丹江 牡丹江 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Pingyuan 平原 平原 Píngyuán 平 píng Xinxiang 新乡 新鄉 Zhongnan 1952 abolished → Henan, Shandong
Qinghai 青海 青海 Qīnghǎi 青 qīng Xining 西宁 西寧 Xibei
Rehe 热河 热河 Rèhé 热 rè Chengde 承德 承德 Dongbei 1955 abolished → Inner Mongolia, & Liaoning
Sichuan 四川 四川 Sìchuān 川 chuān Chengdu 成都 成都 Xinan 1949 abolished → Chuanbei, Chuandong, Chuannan, Chuanxi; 1952 reverted
1997 Chongqing split into its own municipality
Shaanxi 陕西 陕西 Shǎnxī 陕 shǎn Xi'an 西安 西安 Xibei
Shandong 山东 山東 Shāndōng 鲁 lǔ Jinan 济南 濟南 Huadong
Shanxi 山西 山西 Shānxī 晋 jìn Taiyuan 太原 太原 Huabei
Songjiang 松江 松江 Sōngjiāng 松 sōng Harbin 哈尔滨 哈爾濱 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Heilongjiang
Suiyuan 绥远 綏遠 Suíyuǎn 绥 suí Hohhot 呼和浩特 呼和浩特 Huabei 1954 abolished → Inner Mongolia
Taiwan 台湾 臺灣 Táiwān 台 tái Taibei 台北 臺北 Huadong claimed since 1949 the founding of the PRC
Xikang 西康 西康 Xīkāng 康 kāng Kangding (49-50)
Ya'an (50-55)
康定
雅安
康定
雅安
Xinan 1955 abolished → Sichuan & Qamdo
Xing'an 兴安 興安 Xīkāng 兴 xīng Hulunbuir 呼伦贝尔 呼倫貝爾 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Xinjiang 新疆 新疆 Xīnjiāng 疆 jiāng Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐 烏魯木齊 Xibei 1955 province → autonomous region
Yunnan 云南 雲南 Yúnnán 滇 diān Kunming 昆明 昆明 Xinan
Zhejiang 浙江 浙江 Zhèjiāng 浙 zhè Hangzhou 杭州 杭州 Huadong
Autonomous Regions
Alxa Khoshut Banner → Alxa 阿拉善和硕特旗→阿拉善 阿拉善和碩特旗→阿拉善 Ālāshàn 阿 ā Bayanhot 巴彥浩特 巴彥浩特 Huabei 1954 merge into Inner Mongolia
Ejin 额济纳 額濟納 Éjìnà 额 é Dalainhob 达拉呼布 達拉呼布 Huabei 1954 merge into Inner Mongolia
Guangxi 广西 廣西 Guǎngxī 桂 guì Nanning 南宁 南寧 Zhongnan 1958 province → autonomous region
Inner Mongolia 內蒙古 內蒙古 Nèi Měnggǔ 蒙 měng Ulaanhot (47-50)
Hohhot (present)
乌兰浩特
呼和浩特
烏蘭浩特
呼和浩特
Huabei 1947 created; 1969 truncated → Liaoning, Heilongjiang,
Jilin, Gansu, Ningxia; 1979 reverted
Ningxia 宁夏 寧夏 Níngxià 宁 níng Yinchuan 银川 銀川 Xibei 1958 special region → autonomous region
Tibet 西藏 西藏 Xīzàng 藏 zàng Lhasa 拉萨 拉薩 Xinan 1965 region → autonomous region
Xinjiang 新疆 新疆 Xīnjiāng 疆 jiāng Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐 烏魯木齊 Xibei 1955 province → autonomous region
Municipalities
Anshan 鞍山 鞍山 Ānshān 鞍 ān Tiedong District 铁东区 鐵東區 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Beijing 北京 北京 Běijīng 京 jīng Dongcheng District 东城区 東城區 Huabei
Benxi 本溪 本溪 Běnxī 本 běn Pingshan District 平山区 平山區 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Changchun 长春 長春 Chángchūn 春 chūn Nanguan District 南关区 南關區 Dongbei 1953 created; 1954 abolished → Jilin
Chongqing 重庆 重慶 Chóngqìng 渝 yú Yuzhong District 渝中区 渝中區 Xinan 1954 abolished → Sichuan; 1997 reverted
Dalian → Lüda 大连→旅大 大連→旅大 Dàlián 连 lián Xigang District 西岗区 西崗區 Dongbei 1949 abolished → Luda, 1950 reverted, 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Fushun 抚顺 撫順 Fǔshùn 抚 fǔ Shuncheng District 顺城区 順城區 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Harbin 哈尔滨 哈爾濱 Hāěrbīn 哈 hā Nangang District 南岗区 南崗區 Dongbei 1953 created, 1954 abolished → Heilongjiang
Guangzhou 广州 廣州 Guǎngzhōu 穗 suì Yuexiu District 越秀区 越秀區 Zhongnan 1954 abolished → Guangdong
Nanjing 南京 南京 Nánjīng 宁 níng Xuanwu District 宣武区 宣武區 Huadong 1952 abolished → Jiangsu
Shanghai 上海 上海 Shànghǎi 沪 hù Huangpu District 黄浦区 黃浦區 Huadong
Shenyang 沈阳 瀋陽 Shěnyáng 沈 shěn Shenhe District 沈河区 瀋河區 Dongbei 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Tianjin 天津 天津 Tiānjīn 津 jīn Heping District 和平区 和平區 Huabei 1954 abolished → Hebei, 1967 reverted
Hankou → Wuhan 汉口→武汉 漢口→武漢 Wǔhàn 汉 hàn Jiang'an District 江岸区 江岸區 Zhongnan 1949 abolished → Hubei
Xi'an 西安 西安 Xī'ān 镐 hào Weiyang District 未央区 未央區 Xibei 1954 abolished → Shaanxi
Special Administrative Regions
Hainan 海南 海南 Hǎinán 琼 qióng Haikou 海口 海口 Zhongnan 1949 abolished → Guangdong
Hong Kong 香港 香港 Xiānggǎng 港 gǎng Hong Kong 香港 香港 Zhongnan 1997 created (Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong)
Macau 澳门 澳門 Àomén 澳 ào Macau 澳门 澳門 Zhongnan 1999 created (Transfer of sovereignty over Macau)
Administrative Territories
Chuanbei 川北 川北 Chuānběi 充 chōng Nanchong 南充 南充 Xinan 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Chuandong 川东 川東 Chuāndōng 渝 yú Chongqing 重庆 重慶 Xinan 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Chuannan 川南 川南 Chuānnán 泸 lú Luzhou 泸州 瀘州 Xinan 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Chuanxi 川西 川西 Chuānxī 蓉 róng Chengdu 成都 成都 Xinan 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Subei 苏北 蘇北 Sūběi 扬 yáng Yangzhou 扬州 揚州 Huadong 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Jiangsu
Sunan 苏南 蘇南 Sūnán 锡 xī Wuxi 无锡 無錫 Huadong 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Jiangsu
Wanbei 皖北 皖北 Wǎnběi 合 hé Hefei 合肥 合肥 Huadong 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Anhui
Wannan 皖南 皖南 Wǎnnán 芜 wú Wuhu 芜湖 蕪湖 Huadong 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Anhui
Lüda 旅大 旅大 Lǚdà 旅 Lǚ Dalian 大连 大連 Dongbei 1949 created; 1950 abolished → Dalian
Regions
Tibet 西藏 西藏 Xīzàng 藏 zàng Lhasa 拉萨 拉薩 Xinan 1965 region → autonomous region
Territories
Qamdo 昌都 昌都 Chāngdū 昌 chāng Qamdo 昌都 昌都 Xinan 1965 merge into Tibet

See also[edit]

External links[edit]