Prefecture-level city

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A map of all prefecture-level cities in China
A road sign shows distance to "Huangshi urban area" (黄石市区) rather than simply "Huangshi" (黄石). This is a useful distinction, because the sign is located already within Huangshi prefectural level city (immediately upon entering its Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Huangshi main urban area.

A prefectural level city (Chinese: 地级市; pinyin: dìjí shì; literally: "Regional level city"), prefectural city or prefectural level municipality is an administrative division of the People's Republic of China (PRC), ranking below a province and above a county in China's administrative structure. Prefectural level cities form the second level of the administrative structure (alongside prefectures, leagues and autonomous prefectures). Administrative chiefs (mayors) of prefectural level cities generally have the same rank as a division chief (Chinese: 司长) of a national ministry. Since the 1980s, most former prefectures have been renamed into prefectural level cities.

A prefectural level city is often not a "city" in the usual sense of the term (i.e., a large continuous urban settlement), but instead an administrative unit comprising, typically, a main central urban area (a city in the usual sense, usually with the same name as the prefectural level city), and its much larger surrounding rural area containing many smaller cities, towns and villages. The larger prefectural level cities span over 100 kilometres (62 mi).

Prefectural level cities nearly always contain multiple counties, county level cities, and other such sub-divisions. This results from the fact that the formerly predominant prefectures, which prefectural level cities have mostly replaced, were themselves large administrative units containing cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. To distinguish a prefectural level city from its actual urban area (city in the strict sense), the term 市区 shìqū ("urban area"), is used.

The first prefectural level cities were created on 5 November 1983. Over the following two decades, prefectural level cities have come to replace the vast majority of Chinese prefectures; the process is still ongoing.

Most provinces are composed entirely or nearly entirely of prefectural level cities. Of the 22 provinces and 5 autonomous regions of the PRC, only 3 provinces (Yunnan, Guizhou, Qinghai) and 2 autonomous regions (Xinjiang, Tibet) have more than three second level or prefectural level divisions that are not prefectural level cities.

Criteria that a prefecture must meet to become a prefectural level city:

  • An urban centre with a non-rural population over 250,000
  • gross output of value of industry of 200,000,000 RMB (US$32 million)
  • the output of tertiary industry supersedes that of primary industry, contributing over 35% of the GDP[1]

15 large prefectural level cities have been granted the status of sub-provincial city, which gives them much greater autonomy.

Shijiazhuang and Zhengzhou are the largest prefectural level cities with populations approaching or exceeding some sub-provincial cities.

A sub-prefecture-level city is a county-level city with powers approaching those of prefectural level cities.

Cartographic expression and statistics[edit]

In most European or North American countries, there a clear distinction between "cities" and counties, prefectures, etc. The former are typically thought of as a "point" objects, and shown on maps with a circle or other such scale-less sign; the latter, if shown at all, are shown as areas with clearly defined borders. The distinction is obvious, since e.g. Bloomington, Indiana, or Penticton, British Columbia, are always thought of as distinct objects from, respectively, Monroe County, Indiana or the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, for which they are their respective seats of governments. In China, however, the same name (e.g., 咸宁市 (Xianning Shi) in Chinese, or Xianning [City] in English) are used to refer both to an entire "prefectural level city" and to its urban core (what one would call a "city" in Europe or North America). This results in somewhat different mapping conventions used in China vs. most other countries.

Typically, a less detailed map - one that does not show administrative divisions below the provincial level - would merely mark the location of the urban core (or, more precisely, that of the city government) with a circle, just like cities are shown on a map of a European or American country. The circle would be labeled with the name of the city (e.g. 咸宁市 (Xianning Shi) in Chinese, or Xianning in English) rather than, for example, that of the district within which the urban core may be located. The same map may also show other sufficiently large populated places within the same prefectural level city, labeling them based on what third level administrative units they correspond to. For example, along with Xianning, a map may show Tongshan without indicating in any way that administratively, the latter is part of the former.

A more detailed map (e.g., a typical provincial map) would also show the border of each second level administrative unit (such as a prefectural level city), much like an American county may be shown on a US state map. In this case, the same unit name (such as 咸宁市, Xianning [City]) would be used to label the entire area. Within it, the division of the second level unit into third level units may be shown as well.

This convention may sometimes make it difficult to identify places mentioned in older sources with places shown on modern maps. For example, Guo Moruo tells in his autobiography that he was born in the small town of Shawan, Leshan Prefecture, and attended primary school in Jiading, the main town of the prefecture. A typical modern map is unlikely to show either town: Shawan, because it's too small, and Jiading, because it is the seat of government for the today's prefectural level city of Leshan, and thus is marked on a modern map by a circle labeled "Leshan". A more detailed map (or Google Maps) would show Shawan District within Leshan, but, most likely, no Jiading per se - just Jiading Street (嘉定路) within Leshan's urban area.

Chinese statistical data (area, population, industrial production value, etc.) are typically reported for the entire prefectural level city, as well as for its constituent third level units. Thus, a person not familiar with these conventions may be surprised to learn that a comparatively little known city of Huangshi, Hubei, has 2.5 million residents - more than most European capital cities - until he or she realizes that this number corresponds to an entire prefectural level area of almost 100 kilometres (62 mi) across, covering several places (such as Daye) that are described as (county level) "cities" in their own right. Even if the reader has a map and the data for individual third level units, arriving to the population count for the actual main urban area of a prefectural level city may not be easy, because it may be split between several districts, some of which may stretch far out into the rural area as well.

Prefecture-level city list[edit]

City Province Founded
Anqing Anhui 1952-04-12
Bengbu Anhui 1952-05-02
Bozhou Anhui 1986-03-11
Chizhou Anhui 1988-08-17
Chuzhou Anhui 1982-11-25
Fuyang, Anhui Anhui 1975-12-19
Hefei Anhui 1949-10-01
Huaibei Anhui 1977-01-20
Huainan Anhui 1952-06-02
Huangshan Anhui 1984-01-27
Lu'an Anhui 1978-09-23
Ma'anshan Anhui 1956-07-02
Suzhou, Anhui Anhui 1953-09-17
Tongling Anhui 1958-09-05
Wuhu Anhui 1949-10-01
Xuancheng Anhui 1987-06-10
Fuzhou, Fujian Fujian 1949-10-01
Longyan Fujian 1981-09-21
Nanping Fujian 1956-11-16
Ningde Fujian 1988-10-04
Putian Fujian 1983-09-09
Quanzhou Fujian 1950-11-01
Sanming Fujian 1960-05-26
Xiamen Fujian 1949-10-01
Zhangzhou Fujian 1950-11-01
Baiyin Gansu 1958-07-04
Dingxi Gansu 2003-04-04
Jiayuguan Gansu 1965-07-19
Jinchang Gansu 1981-02-09
Jiuquan Gansu 1958-11-21
Lanzhou Gansu 1949-10-01
Longnan Gansu 2004-01-11
Pingliang Gansu 1950-02-05
Qingyang Gansu 2002-06-22
Tianshui Gansu 1950-02-05
Wuwei Gansu 1986-12-17
Zhangye Gansu 1985-05-14
Chaozhou Guangdong 1953-07-01
Dongguan Guangdong 1985-09-05
Foshan Guangdong 1949-10-01
Guangzhou Guangdong 1949-10-01
Heyuan Guangdong 1988-01-07
Huizhou Guangdong 1958-04-08
Jiangmen Guangdong 1949-10-01
Jieyang Guangdong 1991-12-07
Maoming Guangdong 1959-03-22
Meizhou Guangdong 1978-12-30
Qingyuan Guangdong 1988-01-07
Shantou Guangdong 1949-10-01
Shanwei Guangdong 1988-01-07
Shaoguan Guangdong 1949-10-01
Shenzhen Guangdong 1979-03-05
Yangjiang Guangdong 1988-01-07
Yunfu Guangdong 1992-09-03
Zhanjiang Guangdong 1949-10-01
Zhaoqing Guangdong 1949-10-01
Zhongshan Guangdong 1983-12-22
Zhuhai Guangdong 1979-03-05
Baise Guangxi 1983-10-08
Beihai Guangxi 1950-08-01
Chongzuo Guangxi 2002-12-23
Fangchenggang Guangxi 1993-05-23
Guigang Guangxi 1988-12-27
Guilin Guangxi 1949-10-01
Hechi Guangxi 1983-10-08
Hezhou Guangxi 1997-02-27
Laibin Guangxi 2002-09-29
Liuzhou Guangxi 1949-10-01
Nanning Guangxi 1949-10-01
Qinzhou Guangxi 1983-10-08
Wuzhou Guangxi 1949-10-01
Yulin, Guangxi Guangxi 1983-10-08
Anshun Guizhou 1958-05-29
Bijie Guizhou 1993-12-10
Guiyang Guizhou 1949-10-01
Liupanshui Guizhou 1978-12-18
Tongren Guizhou 1987-08-21
Zunyi Guizhou 1950-01-01
Haikou Hainan 1950-05-01
Sansha Hainan 2012-06-21
Sanya Hainan 1984-05-19
Baoding Hebei 1949-10-01
Cangzhou Hebei 1961-07-09
Chengde Hebei 1949-10-01
Handan Hebei 1952-11-08
Hengshui Hebei 1982-01-30
Langfang Hebei 1981-12-07
Qinhuangdao Hebei 1949-10-01
Shijiazhuang Hebei 1949-10-01
Tangshan Hebei 1949-10-01
Xingtai Hebei 1953-11-06
Zhangjiakou Hebei 1949-10-01
Daqing Heilongjiang 1979-12-14
Harbin Heilongjiang 1949-10-01
Hegang Heilongjiang 1949-10-01
Heihe Heilongjiang 1980-11-15
Jiamusi Heilongjiang 1949-10-01
Jixi Heilongjiang 1956-12-18
Mudanjiang Heilongjiang 1949-10-01
Qiqihar Heilongjiang 1949-10-01
Qitaihe Heilongjiang 1970-04-01
Shuangyashan Heilongjiang 1956-05-25
Suihua Heilongjiang 1982-12-18
Yichun, Heilongjiang Heilongjiang 1957-07-26
Anyang Henan 1949-10-01
Hebi Henan 1957-06-27
Jiaozuo Henan 1956-07-09
Kaifeng Henan 1949-10-01
Luohe Henan 1949-10-01
Luoyang Henan 1949-10-01
Nanyang Henan 1949-10-01
Pingdingshan Henan 1957-03-26
Puyang Henan 1983-09-01
Sanmenxia Henan 1957-01-23
Shangqiu Henan 1950-05-03
Xinxiang Henan 1949-10-01
Xinyang Henan 1994-04-05
Xuchang Henan 1949-10-01
Zhengzhou Henan 1949-10-01
Zhoukou Henan 1949-10-01
Zhumadian Henan 1949-10-01
Ezhou Hubei 1983-08-19
Huanggang Hubei 1990-12-26
Huangshi Hubei 1950-08-30
Jingmen Hubei 1979-11-16
Jingzhou Hubei 1994-09-29
Shiyan Hubei 1969-11-24
Suizhou Hubei 2000-06-25
Wuhan Hubei 1949-10-01
Xiangyang Hubei 1951-06-01
Xianning Hubei 1983-08-19
Xiaogan Hubei 1983-08-19
Yichang Hubei 1949-10-01
Changde Hunan 1950-10-19
Changsha Hunan 1949-10-01
Chenzhou Hunan 1960-08-15
Hengyang Hunan 1949-10-01
Huaihua Hunan 1979-04-04
Loudi Hunan 1961-07-09
Shaoyang Hunan 1950-10-19
Xiangtan Hunan 1950-10-19
Yiyang Hunan 1950-10-19
Yongzhou Hunan 1982-01-23
Yueyang Hunan 1961-07-09
Zhangjiajie Hunan 1985-05-24
Zhuzhou Hunan 1951-06-06
Baotou Inner Mongolia 1950-02-13
Bayannur Inner Mongolia 2003-12-01
Chifeng Inner Mongolia 1949-10-01
Hohhot Inner Mongolia 1950-01-23
Hulunbuir Inner Mongolia 2001-10-10
Ordos Inner Mongolia 2001-02-26
Tongliao Inner Mongolia 1951-07-17
Ulanqab Inner Mongolia 2003-12-01
Wuhai Inner Mongolia 2003-12-01
Changzhou Jiangsu 1949-11-28
Huai'an Jiangsu 1987-12-22
Lianyungang Jiangsu 1949-10-01
Nanjing Jiangsu 1949-10-01
Nantong Jiangsu 1950-05-12
Suqian Jiangsu 1987-12-15
Suzhou, Jiangsu Jiangsu 1949-11-28
Taizhou, Jiangsu Jiangsu 1949-10-01
Wuxi Jiangsu 1949-10-01
Xuzhou Jiangsu 1949-10-01
Yancheng Jiangsu 1983-01-18
Yangzhou Jiangsu 1950-08-08
Zhenjiang Jiangsu 1949-11-28
Fuzhou, Jiangxi Jiangxi 2000-06-23
Ganzhou Jiangxi 1949-10-01
Ji'an, Jiangxi Jiangxi 1950-11-23
Jingdezhen Jiangxi 1949-10-01
Jiujiang Jiangxi 1949-10-01
Nanchang Jiangxi 1949-10-01
Pingxiang, Jiangxi Jiangxi 1960-09-30
Shangrao Jiangxi 1950-11-23
Xinyu Jiangxi 1960-09-30
Yingtan Jiangxi 1979-03-09
Yichun, Jiangxi Jiangxi 1979-10-08
Baicheng Jilin 1958-11-21
Baishan Jilin 1960-01-07
Changchun Jilin 1949-10-01
Jilin Jilin 1949-10-01
Liaoyuan Jilin 1949-10-01
Siping Jilin 1949-10-01
Songyuan Jilin 1992-06-06
Tonghua Jilin 1949-10-01
Anshan Liaoning 1949-10-01
Benxi Liaoning 1949-10-01
Chaoyang Liaoning 1958-12-20
Dalian Liaoning 1949-10-01
Dandong Liaoning 1949-10-01
Fushun Liaoning 1949-10-01
Fuxin Liaoning 1949-10-01
Huludao Liaoning 1956-09-11
Jinzhou, Liaoning Liaoning 1949-10-01
Liaoyang Liaoning 1949-10-01
Panjin Liaoning 1984-06-05
Shenyang Liaoning 1949-10-01
Tieling Liaoning 1979-08-30
Yingkou Liaoning 1949-10-01
Guyuan Ningxia 2001-07-07
Shizuishan Ningxia 1960-01-07
Wuzhong Ningxia 1950-10-04
Yinchuan Ningxia 1949-10-01
Zhongwei Ningxia 2003-12-31
Haidong Qinghai 2013-02-08
Xining Qinghai 1949-10-01
Ankang Shaanxi 1949-11-28
Baoji Shaanxi 1949-10-01
Hanzhong Shaanxi 1949-12-08
Shangluo Shaanxi 2001-08-31
Tongchuan Shaanxi 1958-04-04
Xi'an Shaanxi 1949-10-01
Xianyang Shaanxi 1952-05-23
Weinan Shaanxi 1983-09-09
Yan'an Shaanxi 1972-02-07
Yulin, Shaanxi Shaanxi 1949-10-01
Binzhou Shandong 1982-08-02
Dezhou Shandong 1949-10-01
Dongying Shandong 1982-11-10
Heze Shandong 1960-01-20
Jinan Shandong 1949-10-01
Jining Shandong 1949-10-01
Laiwu Shandong 1983-08-30
Liaocheng Shandong 1958-12-20
Linyi Shandong 1958-11-01
Qingdao Shandong 1949-10-01
Rizhao Shandong 1985-03-22
Tai'an Shandong 1958-06-01
Weifang Shandong 1949-10-01
Weihai Shandong 1949-10-01
Yantai Shandong 1949-10-01
Zaozhuang Shandong 1960-01-07
Zibo Shandong 1949-10-01
Changzhi Shanxi 1951-12-11
Datong Shanxi 1949-10-01
Jincheng Shanxi 1983-07-28
Jinzhong Shanxi 1999-09-24
Linfen Shanxi 1971-06-05
Lüliang Shanxi 2003-10-23
Shuozhou Shanxi 1988-03-24
Taiyuan Shanxi 1949-10-01
Xinzhou Shanxi 1983-07-28
Yangquan Shanxi 1951-12-11
Yuncheng Shanxi 1983-07-28
Bazhong Sichuan 1993-07-27
Chengdu Sichuan 1949-10-01
Dazhou Sichuan 1976-02-04
Deyang Sichuan 1983-08-18
Guang'an Sichuan 1998-07-31
Guangyuan Sichuan 1985-02-08
Leshan Sichuan 1979-11-16
Luzhou Sichuan 1949-10-01
Meishan Sichuan 2000-06-10
Mianyang Sichuan 1976-02-04
Neijiang Sichuan 1949-10-01
Nanchong Sichuan 1949-10-01
Panzhihua Sichuan 1965-04-22
Suining Sichuan 1985-02-08
Ya'an Sichuan 1951-07-25
Yibin Sichuan 1949-10-01
Zigong Sichuan 1952-04-04
Ziyang Sichuan 1993-01-19
Lhasa Tibet 1960-01-07
Xigazê Tibet 1986-12-12
Qamdo Tibet 2014-10-29
Karamay Xinjiang 1958-05-29
ÜrümqiÜrümqi Xinjiang 1949-10-01
Baoshan Yunnan 1983-09-09
Kunming Yunnan 1949-10-01
Lincang Yunnan 2003-12-26
Lijiang Yunnan 2002-12-26
Pu'er Yunnan 1993-03-25
Qujing Yunnan 1983-09-09
Yuxi Yunnan 1983-09-09
Zhaotong Yunnan 1981-01-18
Hangzhou Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Huzhou Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Jiaxing Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Jinhua Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Lishui Zhejiang 1986-03-01
Ningbo Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Quzhou Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Shaoxing Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Taizhou, Zhejiang Zhejiang 1994-08-22
Wenzhou Zhejiang 1949-10-01
Zhoushan Zhejiang 1987-01-23

See also[edit]