Special municipality (Taiwan)

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This article is part of
a series on the
Administrative divisions
of the Republic of China
In effect
1st Provinces
(省 shěng)
Special municipalities
(直轄市 zhíxiáshì)
2nd Counties
(縣 xiàn)
Provincial cities
(市 shì)
3rd Districts
(區 qū)
County-controlled cities
(縣轄市 xiànxiáshì)
Urban townships
(鎮 zhèn)
Rural townships
(鄉 xiāng)
4th Urban villages
(里 lǐ)
Rural villages
(村 cūn)
5th Neighborhoods
(鄰 lín)

Special municipalities (Chinese: 直轄市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Ti̍t-hat-chhī) are the first-level division in Taiwan. Currently there are five special municipalities in Taiwan: Kaohsiung, New Taipei, Taichung, Tainan and Taipei. In addition, Taoyuan is planning to be approved as the sixth special municipality in end of 2014.[1]

Position in hierarchy[edit]

Special municipalities are the highest level cities in Taiwan. Some cities of lower levels may also refer to themselves as municipalities.[2] However, refers to them using the following conventional terms:

Three levels of cities in Taiwan:

  1. Special municipalities (直轄市 zhíxiáshì)
  2. Provincial cities (市 shì or 省轄市 shěngxiáshì)
  3. County-controlled cities (縣轄市 xiànxiáshì)


Mainland Era[edit]

In the era of the Republic of China government rule in mainland China, twelve cities were ever assigned as special municipalities. They are

No Name Current place No Name Current place No Name Current place
51 Nanking 南京 Nanjing, Jiangsu 55 Tientsin 天津 Municipality of Tianjin 59 Hankou 漢口 Wuhan, Hubei
52 Shanghai 上海 Municipality of Shanghai 56 Chungking 重慶 Municipality of Chongqing 60 Canton 廣州 Guangzhou, Guangdong
53 Peiping 北平 Municipality of Beijing 57 Dairen 大連 Dalian, Liaoning 61 Sian 西安 Xi'an, Shaanxi
54 Tsingtao 青島 Qingdao, Shandong 58 Harbin 哈爾濱 Harbin, Heilongjiang 62 Mukden 瀋陽 Shenyang, Liaoning

The system of top-level municipality were designed in 1927 soon after they were designated as "cities" during the 1920s. These cities were first called special municipalities/cities (Chinese: 特別市; pinyin: tébíeshì), but were later renamed Yuan-controlled municipalities (Chinese: 院轄市; pinyin: yùanxíashì), by the Central Government.

Taiwan Era[edit]

Five special municipalities in Taiwan were created after the Republic of China government took control following World War II. Taipei was made a Yuan-controlled municipality in 1967; Kaohsiung was elevated in 1979; New Taipei, Taichung and Tainan also elevated to special municipality in 2010. Since 1994, Yuan-controlled municipalities (院轄市 yuànxiáshì) have been officially called special municipality (直轄市 zhíxiáshì) to emphasize their autonomy. Besides significant political, economic and cultural development, the ROC law dictates that a municipality must have population of over 1,250,000.


In Taiwanese municipalities, the mayor is the highest-ranking official in charge. The mayor is directly elected by the people registered in the municipality for a duration of four years.

Current special municipalities[edit]

No. Name Chinese Mandarin
Population Area (km²) Date of
Mayor Map
1 Kaohsiung City 高雄市 Gāoxióng shì Ko-hiông-chhī Kô-hiùng-sṳ 2,779,790 2,946.2527 Jul. 1, 1979 Chen Chu
Subdivision types of the Republic of China (2010).svg
2 New Taipei City 新北市 Xīnběi shì Sin-pak-chhī Sîn-pet-sṳ 3,955,777 2,052.5667 Dec. 25, 2010 Eric Chu
3 Taichung City 臺中市
Táizhōng shì Tâi-tiong-chhī Thòi-chûng-sṳ 2,702,920 2,214.8968 Dec. 25, 2010 Jason Hu
4 Tainan City 臺南市
Táinán shì Tâi-lâm-chhī Thòi-nàm-sṳ 1,883,251 2,191.6531 Dec. 25, 2010 William Lai
5 Taipei City 臺北市
Táiběi shì Tâi-pak-chhī Thòi-pet-sṳ 2,688,140 271.7997 Jul. 1, 1967 Hau Lung-pin

Proposals for special municipalities in 2014[3][edit]

Changes June 2009
Combined population
Combined area (km²) Map (before) Map (after)
Taipei City + New Taipei City + Keelung CityTaipei City
(臺北市 + 新北市 + 基隆市 → 臺北市)
6,854,715 2,457.1244 Taiwan ROC political division map Taipei City.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Taipei County.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Keelung City.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Taipei City (propose).svg
Taoyuan CountyTaoyuan City
(桃園縣 → 桃園市)
2,020,103 1,220.9540 Taiwan ROC political division map Taoyuan County.svg Taiwan ROC political division map Taoyuan County.svg