Prefecture-level city

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Prefecture-level city
Prefectural-level city
China Prefectural-level cities.png
Simplified Chinese 地级市
Traditional Chinese 地級市
Literal meaning Regional-level city
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), prefectural city or prefectural level municipal city 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 a "city" (Chinese: ; pinyin: shì) and "prefecture" (Chinese: 地区; pinyin: dìqū) that have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal entry with subordinate districts, and a prefecture with subordinate county-level cities and counties which is an administrative division of a province.

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.


There are total of thee classification of prefecture-level city:

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]

Province City Simplified
Anhui Anqing 安庆市 1952-04-12
Bengbu 蚌埠市 1952-05-02
Bozhou 亳州市 1986-03-11
Chizhou 池州市 1988-08-17
Chuzhou 滁州市 1982-11-25
Fuyang, Anhui 阜阳市 1975-12-19
Hefei 合肥市 1949-10-01
Huaibei 淮北市 1977-01-20
Huainan 淮南市 1952-06-02
Huangshan 黄山市 1984-01-27
Lu'an 六安市 1978-09-23
Ma'anshan 马鞍山市 1956-07-02
Suzhou, Anhui 宿州市 1953-09-17
Tongling 铜陵市 1958-09-05
Wuhu 芜湖市 1949-10-01
Xuancheng 宣城市 1987-06-10
Fujian Fuzhou, Fujian 福州市 1949-10-01
Longyan 龙岩市 1981-09-21
Nanping 南平市 1956-11-16
Ningde 宁德市 1988-10-04
Putian 莆田市 1983-09-09
Quanzhou 泉州市 1950-11-01
Sanming 三明市 1960-05-26
Xiamen 厦门市 1949-10-01
Zhangzhou 漳州市 1950-11-01
Gansu Baiyin 白银市 1958-07-04
Dingxi 定西市 2003-04-04
Jiayuguan 嘉峪关市 1965-07-19
Jinchang 金昌市 1981-02-09
Jiuquan 酒泉市 1958-11-21
Lanzhou 兰州市 1949-10-01
Longnan 陇南市 2004-01-11
Pingliang 平凉市 1950-02-05
Qingyang 庆阳市 2002-06-22
Tianshui 天水市 1950-02-05
Wuwei 武威市 1986-12-17
Zhangye 张掖市 1985-05-14
Guangdong Chaozhou 潮州市 1953-07-01
Dongguan 东莞市 1985-09-05
Foshan 佛山市 1949-10-01
Guangzhou 广州市 1949-10-01
Heyuan 河源市 1988-01-07
Huizhou 惠州市 1958-04-08
Jiangmen 江门市 1949-10-01
Jieyang 揭阳市 1991-12-07
Maoming 茂名市 1959-03-22
Meizhou 梅州市 1978-12-30
Qingyuan 清远市 1988-01-07
Shantou 汕头市 1949-10-01
Shanwei 汕尾市 1988-01-07
Shaoguan 韶关市 1949-10-01
Shenzhen 深圳市 1979-03-05
Yangjiang 阳江市 1988-01-07
Yunfu 云浮市 1992-09-03
Zhanjiang 湛江市 1949-10-01
Zhaoqing 肇庆市 1949-10-01
Zhongshan 中山市 1983-12-22
Zhuhai 珠海市 1979-03-05
Guangxi Baise 百色市 1983-10-08
Beihai 北海市 1950-08-01
Chongzuo 崇左市 2002-12-23
Fangchenggang 防城港市 1993-05-23
Guigang 贵港市 1988-12-27
Guilin 桂林市 1949-10-01
Hechi 河池市 1983-10-08
Hezhou 贺州市 1997-02-27
Laibin 来宾市 2002-09-29
Liuzhou 柳州市 1949-10-01
Nanning 南宁市 1949-10-01
Qinzhou 钦州市 1983-10-08
Wuzhou 梧州市 1949-10-01
Yulin, Guangxi 玉林市 1983-10-08
Guizhou Anshun 安顺市 1958-05-29
Bijie 毕节市 1993-12-10
Guiyang 贵阳市 1949-10-01
Liupanshui 六盘水市 1978-12-18
Tongren 铜仁市 1987-08-21
Zunyi 遵义市 1950-01-01
Hainan Danzhou 儋州市 1993-03-03
Haikou 海口市 1950-05-01
Sansha 三沙市 2012-06-21
Sanya 三亚市 1984-05-19
Hebei Baoding 保定市 1949-10-01
Cangzhou 沧州市 1961-07-09
Chengde 承德市 1949-10-01
Handan 邯郸市 1952-11-08
Hengshui 衡水市 1982-01-30
Langfang 廊坊市 1981-12-07
Qinhuangdao 秦皇岛市 1949-10-01
Shijiazhuang 石家庄市 1949-10-01
Tangshan 唐山市 1949-10-01
Xingtai 邢台市 1953-11-06
Zhangjiakou 张家口市 1949-10-01
Heilongjiang Daqing 大庆市 1979-12-14
Harbin 哈尔滨市 1949-10-01
Hegang 鹤岗市 1949-10-01
Heihe 黑河市 1980-11-15
Jiamusi 佳木斯市 1949-10-01
Jixi 鸡西市 1956-12-18
Mudanjiang 牡丹江市 1949-10-01
Qiqihar 齐齐哈尔市 1949-10-01
Qitaihe 七台河市 1970-04-01
Shuangyashan 双鸭山市 1956-05-25
Suihua 绥化市 1982-12-18
Yichun, Heilongjiang 伊春市 1957-07-26
Henan Anyang 安阳市 1949-10-01
Hebi 鹤壁市 1957-06-27
Jiaozuo 焦作市 1956-07-09
Kaifeng 开封市 1949-10-01
Luohe 漯河市 1949-10-01
Luoyang 洛阳市 1949-10-01
Nanyang 南阳市 1949-10-01
Pingdingshan 平顶山市 1957-03-26
Puyang 濮阳市 1983-09-01
Sanmenxia 三门峡市 1957-01-23
Shangqiu 商丘市 1950-05-03
Xinxiang 新乡市 1949-10-01
Xinyang 信阳市 1994-04-05
Xuchang 许昌市 1949-10-01
Zhengzhou 郑州市 1949-10-01
Zhoukou 周口市 1949-10-01
Zhumadian 驻马店市 1949-10-01
Hubei Ezhou 鄂州市 1983-08-19
Huanggang 黄冈市 1990-12-26
Huangshi 黄石市 1950-08-30
Jingmen 荆门市 1979-11-16
Jingzhou 荆州市 1994-09-29
Shiyan 十堰市 1969-11-24
Suizhou 随州市 1983-08-19
Wuhan 武汉市 1949-10-01
Xiangyang 襄阳市 1951-06-01
Xianning 咸宁市 1983-08-19
Xiaogan 孝感市 1983-08-19
Yichang 宜昌市 1949-10-01
Hunan Changde 常德市 1950-10-19
Changsha 长沙市 1949-10-01
Chenzhou 郴州市 1960-08-15
Hengyang 衡阳市 1949-10-01
Huaihua 怀化市 1979-04-04
Loudi 娄底市 1961-07-09
Shaoyang 邵阳市 1950-10-19
Xiangtan 湘潭市 1950-10-19
Yiyang 益阳市 1950-10-19
Yongzhou 永州市 1982-01-23
Yueyang 岳阳市 1961-07-09
Zhangjiajie 张家界市 1985-05-24
Zhuzhou 株洲市 1951-06-06
Inner Mongolia Baotou 包头市 1950-02-13
Bayannur 巴彦淖尔市 2003-12-01
Chifeng 赤峰市 1949-10-01
Hohhot 呼和浩特市 1950-01-23
Hulunbuir 呼伦贝尔市 2001-10-10
Ordos 鄂尔多斯市 2001-02-26
Tongliao 通辽市 1951-07-17
Ulanqab 乌兰察布市 2003-12-01
Wuhai 乌海市 1975-08-30
Jiangsu Changzhou 常州市 1949-11-28
Huai'an 淮安市 1987-12-22
Lianyungang 连云港市 1949-10-01
Nanjing 南京市 1949-10-01
Nantong 南通市 1950-05-12
Suqian 宿迁市 1987-12-15
Suzhou, Jiangsu 苏州市 1949-11-28
Taizhou, Jiangsu 泰州市 1949-10-01
Wuxi 无锡市 1949-10-01
Xuzhou 徐州市 1949-10-01
Yancheng 盐城市 1983-01-18
Yangzhou 扬州市 1950-08-08
Zhenjiang 镇江市 1949-11-28
Jiangxi Fuzhou, Jiangxi 抚州市 2000-06-23
Ganzhou 赣州市 1949-10-01
Ji'an, Jiangxi 吉安市 1950-11-23
Jingdezhen 景德镇市 1949-10-01
Jiujiang 九江市 1949-10-01
Nanchang 南昌市 1949-10-01
Pingxiang, Jiangxi 萍乡市 1960-09-30
Shangrao 上饶市 1950-11-23
Xinyu 新余市 1960-09-30
Yichun, Jiangxi 宜春市 1979-10-08
Yingtan 鹰潭市 1979-03-09
Jilin Baicheng 白城市 1958-11-21
Baishan 白山市 1960-01-07
Changchun 长春市 1949-10-01
Jilin 吉林市 1949-10-01
Liaoyuan 辽源市 1949-10-01
Siping 四平市 1949-10-01
Songyuan 松原市 1992-06-06
Tonghua 通化市 1949-10-01
Liaoning Anshan 鞍山市 1949-10-01
Benxi 本溪市 1949-10-01
Chaoyang 朝阳市 1958-12-20
Dalian 大连市 1949-10-01
Dandong 丹东市 1949-10-01
Fushun 抚顺市 1949-10-01
Fuxin 阜新市 1949-10-01
Huludao 葫芦岛市 1956-09-11
Jinzhou, Liaoning 锦州市 1949-10-01
Liaoyang 辽阳市 1949-10-01
Panjin 盘锦市 1984-06-05
Shenyang 沈阳市 1949-10-01
Tieling 铁岭市 1979-08-30
Yingkou 营口市 1949-10-01
Ningxia Guyuan 固原市 2001-07-07
Shizuishan 石嘴山市 1960-01-07
Wuzhong 吴忠市 1950-10-04
Yinchuan 银川市 1949-10-01
Zhongwei 中卫市 2003-12-31
Qinghai Haidong 海东市 2013-02-08
Xining 西宁市 1949-10-01
Shaanxi Ankang 安康市 1949-11-28
Baoji 宝鸡市 1949-10-01
Hanzhong 汉中市 1949-12-08
Shangluo 商洛市 2001-08-31
Tongchuan 铜川市 1958-04-04
Xi'an 西安市 1949-10-01
Weinan 渭南市 1983-09-09
Xianyang 咸阳市 1952-05-23
Yan'an 延安市 1972-02-07
Yulin, Shaanxi 榆林市 1949-10-01
Shandong Binzhou 滨州市 1982-08-02
Dezhou 德州市 1949-10-01
Dongying 东营市 1982-11-10
Heze 菏泽市 1960-01-20
Jinan 济南市 1949-10-01
Jining 济宁市 1949-10-01
Laiwu 莱芜市 1983-08-30
Liaocheng 聊城市 1958-12-20
Linyi 临沂市 1958-11-01
Qingdao 青岛市 1949-10-01
Rizhao 日照市 1985-03-22
Tai'an 泰安市 1958-06-01
Weifang 潍坊市 1949-10-01
Weihai 威海市 1949-10-01
Yantai 烟台市 1949-10-01
Zaozhuang 枣庄市 1960-01-07
Zibo 淄博市 1949-10-01
Shanxi Changzhi 长治市 1951-12-11
Datong 大同市 1949-10-01
Jincheng 晋城市 1983-07-28
Jinzhong 晋中市 1999-09-24
Linfen 临汾市 1971-06-05
Lüliang 吕梁市 2003-10-23
Shuozhou 朔州市 1988-03-24
Taiyuan 太原市 1949-10-01
Xinzhou 忻州市 1983-07-28
Yangquan 阳泉市 1951-12-11
Yuncheng 运城市 1983-07-28
Sichuan Bazhong 巴中市 1993-07-27
Chengdu 成都市 1949-10-01
Dazhou 达州市 1976-02-04
Deyang 德阳市 1983-08-18
Guang'an 广安市 1998-07-31
Guangyuan 广元市 1985-02-08
Leshan 乐山市 1979-11-16
Luzhou 泸州市 1949-10-01
Meishan 眉山市 2000-06-10
Mianyang 绵阳市 1976-02-04
Neijiang 内江市 1949-10-01
Nanchong 南充市 1949-10-01
Panzhihua 攀枝花市 1965-04-22
Suining 遂宁市 1985-02-08
Ya'an 雅安市 1951-07-25
Yibin 宜宾市 1949-10-01
Zigong 自贡市 1952-04-04
Ziyang 资阳市 1993-01-19
Tibet Lhasa 拉萨市 1960-01-07
Nyingchi 林芝市 2015-03-16
Qamdo 昌都市 2014-10-29
Xigazê 日喀则市 1986-12-12
Xinjiang Karamay 克拉玛依市 1958-05-29
Turpan 吐鲁番市 1984-12-26
Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐市 1949-10-01
Yunnan Baoshan 保山市 1983-09-09
Kunming 昆明市 1949-10-01
Lincang 临沧市 2003-12-26
Lijiang 丽江市 2002-12-26
Pu'er 普洱市 1993-03-25
Qujing 曲靖市 1983-09-09
Yuxi 玉溪市 1983-09-09
Zhaotong 昭通市 1981-01-18
Zhejiang Hangzhou 杭州市 1949-10-01
Huzhou 湖州市 1949-10-01
Jiaxing 嘉兴市 1949-10-01
Jinhua 金华市 1949-10-01
Lishui 丽水市 1986-03-01
Ningbo 宁波市 1949-10-01
Quzhou 衢州市 1949-10-01
Shaoxing 绍兴市 1949-10-01
Taizhou, Zhejiang 台州市 1994-08-22
Wenzhou 温州市 1949-10-01
Zhoushan 舟山市 1987-01-23

See also[edit]