Provinces of China

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Province-level administrative divisions
China administrative alt.svg
CategoryUnitary one-party socialist republic
Unitary semi-presidential republic
Location People's Republic of China
 Republic of China (Taiwan)[1]
Created1947 (ROC consitutiton)
Populations552,300 (Macau) – 104,303,132 (Guangdong)
Areas30.4 km2 (11.7 sq mi) (Macau)[2] – 1,664,897 km2 (642,820 sq mi) (Xinjiang)[3]
GovernmentSingle-Party Government
SARs: 1 country, 2 systems
Provincial government
SubdivisionsSub-provincial city, Prefecture
province-level administrative divisions
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese省级行政区
Traditional Chinese省級行政區
Tibetan name
Zhuang name
Mongolian name
Mongolian scriptᠮᠤᠵᠢ
Uyghur name
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᡤᠣᠯᠣ

Provincial-level administrative divisions (Chinese: 省级行政区; pinyin: shěng-jí xíngzhèngqū) or first-level administrative divisions (一级行政区; yī-jí xíngzhèngqū), are the highest-level Chinese administrative divisions. There are 34 such divisions, classified as 23 provinces (Chinese: ; pinyin: shěng), four municipalities, five autonomous regions, and two Special Administrative Regions. All but the disputed Taiwan Province (which if included would increase the total to 34) and a small fraction of Fujian Province (currently administered by the Republic of China) are controlled by the People's Republic of China.

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: shěngwěi), headed by a secretary (Chinese: 书记; pinyin: shūjì). The committee secretary is effectively in charge of the province, rather than the nominal governor of the provincial government.[4]

Types of provincial-level divisions[edit]


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 (PRC) claims the island of Taiwan and its surrounding islets, including Penghu, as "Taiwan Province", though Taiwan has not been under control of a government that ruled from mainland China since 1949, when the Republic of China lost the mainland to the Communist Party of China, which established the PRC. (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 (simplified Chinese: 直辖市; traditional Chinese: 直轄市; pinyin: zhíxiáshì; literally: 'direct-administrated city') or municipality directly under the administration of the central government 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[edit]

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)[edit]

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 sub national 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[edit]

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous RegionTibet (Xizang) Autonomous RegionQinghai ProvinceGansu ProvinceSichuan ProvinceYunnan ProvinceNingxia Hui Autonomous RegionInner Mongolia (Nei Mongol) Autonomous RegionShaanxi ProvinceMunicipality of ChongqingGuizhou ProvinceGuangxi Zhuang Autonomous RegionShanxi ProvinceHenan ProvinceHubei ProvinceHunan ProvinceGuangdong ProvinceHainan ProvinceHebei ProvinceHeilongjiang ProvinceJilin ProvinceLiaoning ProvinceMunicipality of BeijingMunicipality of TianjinShangdong ProvinceJiangsu ProvinceAnhui ProvinceMunicipality of ShanghaiZhejiang ProvinceJiangxi ProvinceFujian ProvinceHong Kong Special Administrative RegionMacau Special Administrative RegionTaiwan ProvinceChina administrative claimed included.svg
About this image
GB/T 2260-2007[5] ISO[6] Province Chinese
Hanyu Pinyin
Capital Population[a] Density[b] Area[c] Abbreviation[d]
AH CN-AH Anhui Province 安徽省
Ānhuī Shěng
Hefei 59,500,510 425.91 139,700
BJ CN-BJ Beijing Municipality 北京市
Běijīng Shì
Beijing 19,612,368 1,167.40 16,800
CQ CN-CQ Chongqing Municipality 重庆市
Chóngqìng Shì
Chongqing 28,846,170 350.50 82,300
FJ CN-FJ Fujian Province[e] 福建省
Fújiàn Shěng
Fuzhou 36,894,216 304.15 121,300
GD CN-GD Guangdong Province 广东省
Guǎngdōng Shěng
Guangzhou 104,303,132 579.46 180,000
GS CN-GS Gansu Province 甘肃省
Gānsù Shěng
Lanzhou 25,575,254 56.29 454,300 甘(陇)
Gān (Lǒng)
GX CN-GX Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 广西壮族自治区
Guǎngxī Zhuàngzú Zìzhìqū
Nanning 46,026,629 195.02 236,000
GZ CN-GZ Guizhou Province 贵州省
Guìzhōu Shěng
Guiyang 34,746,468 197.42 176,000 贵(黔)
Guì (Qián)
HA (HEN) CN-HA Henan Province 河南省
Hénán Shěng
Zhengzhou 94,023,567 563.01 167,000 豫(予)
HB (HUB) CN-HB Hubei Province 湖北省
Húběi Shěng
Wuhan 57,237,740 307.89 185,900
HE (HEB) CN-HE Hebei Province 河北省
Héběi Shěng
Shijiazhuang 71,854,202 382.81 187,700
HI CN-HI Hainan Province 海南省
Hǎinán Shěng
Haikou 9,171,300[7] 255.04 34,000
HK CN-HK[f] Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 香港特别行政区
Xiānggǎng Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū
Hong Kong 7,061,200 6,396.01 1,108
HL CN-HL Heilongjiang Province 黑龙江省
Hēilóngjiāng Shěng
Harbin 38,312,224 84.38 454,000
HN (HUN) CN-HN Hunan Province 湖南省
Húnán Shěng
Changsha 65,683,722 312.77 210,000
JL CN-JL Jilin Province 吉林省
Jílín Shěng
Changchun 27,462,297 146.54 187,400
JS CN-JS Jiangsu Province 江苏省
Jiāngsū Shěng
Nanjing 78,659,903 766.66 102,600
JX CN-JX Jiangxi Province 江西省
Jiāngxī Shěng
Nanchang 44,567,475 266.87 167,000 赣(干)
LN CN-LN Liaoning Province 辽宁省
Liáoníng Shěng
Shenyang 43,746,323 299.83 145,900
MO CN-MO[g] Macau Special Administrative Region 澳门特别行政区
Àomén Tèbié Xíngzhèngqū
Macau 552,300 19,044.82 115 澳(沃)
NM CN-NM Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region 內蒙古自治区
Nèi Měnggǔ Zìzhìqū
Hohhot 24,706,321 20.88 1,183,000
NX CN-NX Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region 宁夏回族自治区
Níngxià Huízú Zìzhìqū
Yinchuan 6,301,350 94.89 66,400
QH CN-QH Qinghai Province 青海省
Qīnghǎi Shěng
Xining 5,626,722 7.80 721,200
SC CN-SC Sichuan Province 四川省
Sìchuān Shěng
Chengdu 80,418,200 165.81 485,000 川(蜀)
Chuān (Shǔ)
SD CN-SD Shandong Province 山东省
Shāndōng Shěng
Jinan 95,793,065 622.84 153,800
SH CN-SH Shanghai Municipality 上海市
Shànghǎi Shì
Shanghai 23,019,148 3,630.20 6,341
SN (SAA) CN-SN Shaanxi Province 陕西省
Shǎnxī Shěng
Xi'an 37,327,378 181.55 205,600 陕(秦)
Shǎn (Qín)
SX (SAX) CN-SX Shanxi Province 山西省
Shānxī Shěng
Taiyuan 35,712,111 228.48 156,300
TJ CN-TJ Tianjin Municipality 天津市
Tiānjīn Shì
Tianjin 12,938,224 1,144.46 11,305
TW CN-TW[h] Taiwan Province[i] 台湾省
Táiwān Shěng
Taipei 23,162,123 650.97 35,581
XJ CN-XJ Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 新疆维吾尔自治区
Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū
Ürümqi 21,813,334 13.13 1,660,400
XZ CN-XZ Tibet Autonomous Region 西藏自治区
Xīzàng Zìzhìqū
Lhasa 3,002,166 2.44 1,228,400 藏(䒙)
YN CN-YN Yunnan Province 云南省
Yúnnán Shěng
Kunming 45,966,239 116.66 394,000 云(滇)
Yún (Diān)
ZJ CN-ZJ Zhejiang Province 浙江省
Zhèjiāng Shěng
Hangzhou 54,426,891 533.59 102,000
  1. ^ as of 2010
  2. ^ per km2
  3. ^ km2
  4. ^ Abbreviation in the parentheses is informal
  5. ^ Most of the Fujian Province is administered by the People's Republic of China (PRC) while the Republic of China (ROC) retains control of the Kinmen and Matsu archipelagos under its own streamlined Fujian Province.
  6. ^ Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: HK
  7. ^ Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: MO
  8. ^ Has separate ISO 3166-2 code: TW
  9. ^ The People's Republic of China considers Taiwan to be its 23rd province, but Taiwan is currently administrated by the Republic of China. See Political status of Taiwan


Sui provinces[edit]

Sui provinces, ca. 610

By the time unity was finally reestablished by the Sui dynasty, the provinces had been divided and redivided so many times by different governments that they were almost the same size as commanderies, rendering the two-tier system superfluous. As such, the Sui merged the two together. In English, this merged level is translated as "prefectures". In Chinese, the name changed between zhou and jun several times before being finally settled on zhou. Based on the apocryphal Nine Province system, the Sui restored nine zhou.[8]

Provinces of the Sui dynasty
Name Traditional
Pinyin Capital Approximate extent in terms of modern locations
Ancient name Modern location
Yongzhou 雍州 雍州 Yōngzhōu ? ? Guanzhong, Gansu, and the Upper Yellow basin
Jizhou 冀州 冀州 Jìzhōu ? ? Shanxi and Northern Hebei, including modern Beijing and Tianjin
Yanzhou 兗州 兖州 Yǎnzhōu ? ? Lower Yellow River area- west of Qingzhou and east of Jizhou
Qingzhou 青州 青州 Qīngzhōu ? ? Shandong Peninsula
Yuzhou 豫州 豫州 Yùzhōu ? ? Henan
Xuzhou 徐州 徐州 Xúzhōu ? ? Modern Xuzhou area- southern Shandong and northern Jiangsu
Liangzhou 梁州 梁州 Liángzhōu ? ? Upper Yangtze- Sichuan Basin + south of the Qinling
Jingzhou 荆州 荆州 Jīngzhōu ? ? Central Yangtze
Yangzhou 揚州 扬州 Yángzhōu ? ? Lower Yangtze, entire SE Coast, Hainan, and Northern Vietnam

Tang provinces[edit]

Tang circuits, ca. 660
Tang circuits, ca. 742

Emperor Taizong (r. 626–649) set up 10 "circuits" (道, dào) in 627 as inspection areas for imperial commissioners monitoring the operation of prefectures, rather than a new primary level of administration. In 639, there were 10 circuits, 43 commanderies (都督府, dūdū fǔ), and 358 prefectures (州 and later 府, ).[9] In 733, Emperor Xuanzong expanded the number of circuits to 15 by establishing separate circuits for the areas around Chang'an and Luoyang, and by splitting the large Shannan and Jiangnan circuits into 2 and 3 new circuits respectively. He also established a system of permanent inspecting commissioners, though without executive powers.[10]

Circuits of the Tang dynasty
Name Traditional
Pinyin Capital Approximate extent in terms of modern locations
Ancient name Modern location
Duji* 都畿 都畿 Dūjī Henan Fu Luoyang Luoyang and environs
Guannei 關內 关内 Guānnèi Jingzhao Fu Xi'an northern Shaanxi, central Inner Mongolia, Ningxia
Hebei 河北 河北 Héběi Weizhou Wei County, Hebei Hebei
Hedong 河東 河东 Hédōng Puzhou Puzhou, Yongji, Shanxi Shanxi
Henan 河南 河南 Hénán Bianzhou Kaifeng Henan, Shandong, northern Jiangsu, northern Anhui
Huainan 淮南 淮南 Huáinán Yangzhou central Jiangsu, central Anhui
Jiannan 劍南 剑南 Jiànnán Yizhou Chengdu central Sichuan, central Yunnan
Jiangnan 江南 江南 Jiāngnán Jiangnanxi + Jiangnandong (see map)
Qianzhong** 黔中 黔中 Qiánzhōng Qianzhou Pengshui Guizhou, western Hunan
Jiangnanxi** 江南西 江南西 Jiāngnánxī Hongzhou Nanchang Jiangxi, Hunan, southern Anhui, southern Hubei
Jiangnandong** 江南東 江南东 Jiāngnándōng Suzhou southern Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Shanghai
Jingji* 京畿 京畿 Jīngjī Jingzhao Fu Xi'an Xi'an and environs
Lingnan 嶺南 岭南 Lǐngnán Guangzhou Guangdong, eastern Guangxi, northern Vietnam
Longyou 隴右 陇右 Lǒngyou Shanzhou Ledu County, Qinghai Gansu
Shannan 山南 山南 Shānnán Shannanxi + Shannandong (see map)
Shannanxi** 山南西 山南西 Shānnánxī Liangzhou Hanzhong southern Shanxi, eastern Sichuan, Chongqing
Shannandong** 山南東 山南东 Shānnándōng Xiangzhou Xiangfan southern Henan, Hubei

* Circuits established under Xuanzong, as opposed to Taizong's original ten circuits.

** Circuits established under Xuanzong by dividing Taizong's Jiangnan and Shannan circuits.

Other Tang-era circuits include the West Lingnan, Wu'an, and Qinhua circuits.

Song provinces[edit]

The Song government abolished the previous commissioners and renamed their circuits 路 (lù, literally meaning "roads", but however is still usually translated into English as "circuits"). They also added a number of "army" prefectures (軍/军, jūn).


Circuits of the Northern Song dynasty
Name Traditional
Pinyin Capital Approximant extent in terms of modern locations
Ancient name Modern location
Chengdufu 成都府 成都府 Chéngdūfǔ Chengdu central Sichuan
Fujian 福建 福建 Fújiàn Fuzhou Fujian
Guangnan East 廣南東 广南东 Guǎngnándōng Guangzhou eastern Guangdong
Guangnan West 廣南西 广南西 Guǎngnánxī Guizhou Guilin western Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan
Hebei East 河北東 河北东 Héběidōng Beijing Daming County, Hebei eastern Hebei
Hebei West 河北西 河北西 Héběixī Zhending Zhengding County, Hebei western Hebei
Hedong 河東 河东 Hédōng Taiyuan Shanxi
Huainan East 淮南東 淮南东 Huáinándōng Yangzhou central Jiangsu
Huainan West 淮南西 淮南西 Huáinánxī Shouzhou Fengtai County, Anhui central Anhui
Jiangnan East 江南東 江南东 Jiāngnándōng Jiangning Fu Nanjing southern Anhui
Jiangnan West 江南西 江南西 Jiāngnánxī Hongzhou Nanchang Jiangxi
Jingdong East 京東東 京东东 Jīngdōngdōng Qingzhou Qingzhou, Shandong eastern Shandong
Jingdong West 京東西 京东西 Jīngdōngxī Nanjing south of Shangqiu, Henan western Shandong
Jinghu North 荊湖北 荆湖北 Jīnghúběi Jiangling Hubei, western Hunan
Jinghu South 荊湖南 荆湖南 Jīnghúnán Tanzhou Changsha Hunan
Jingji 京畿 京畿 Jīngjī Chenliu Chenliu, Kaifeng, Henan Kaifeng and environs
Jingxi North 京西北 京西北 Jīngxīběi Xijing Luoyang central Henan
Jingxi South 京西南 京西南 Jīngxīnán Xiangzhou Xiangfan southern Henan, northern Hubei
Kuizhou 夔州 夔州 Kuízhōu Kuizhou Fengjie County, Chongqing Chongqing, eastern Sichuan, Guizhou
Liangzhe 兩浙 两浙 Liǎngzhè Hangzhou Zhejiang, southern Jiangsu, Shanghai
Lizhou 利州 利州 Lìzhōu Xingyuan Hanzhong northern Sichuan, southern Shaanxi
Qinfeng 秦鳳 秦凤 Qínfèng Qinzhou Tianshui southern Gansu
Yongxingjun 永興軍 永兴军 Yǒngxīngjūn Jingzhao Xi'an Shaanxi
Zizhou 梓州 梓州 Zǐzhōu Zizhou Santai County, Sichuan central southern Sichuan

Yuan provinces[edit]

China was reoragnised into 11 provinces keeping most of the previous boundaries of provinces created by the previous dynasty unchanged, the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) had 2 addition regions: Central region ruled by the Zhongshu Sheng (中書省) and the Tibetan region ruled by the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs (宣政院).

Province Provincial seat Notes
English Chinese Pinyin English Chinese Pinyin Modern location
Gansu 甘肅 (甘肃) Gānsù Ganzhou Circuit 甘州路 Gānzhōu Lù Zhangye Consist of modern location of Gansu, Ningxia, & eastern Inner Mongolia.
Huguang 湖廣 (湖广) Húguǎng Wuchang Circuit 武昌路 Wǔchāng Lù Wuhan Consist of modern location of Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan,
southern Hubei & western Guangdong.
Henanjiangbei 河南江北 Hénánjiāngběi Bianliang Circuit 汴梁路 Biànliáng Lù Kaifeng Consist of modern location of Henan, northern Hubei, northern Jiangsu, & northern Anhui.
Jiangxi 江西 Jiāngxī Longxing Circuit 龍興路 (龙兴路) Lóngxìng Lù Nanchang Consist of modern location of Jiangxi & eastern Guangdong.
Jiangzhe 江浙 Jiāngzhè Hangzhou Circuit 杭州路 Hángzhōu Lù Hangzhou Consist of modern location of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, southern Jiangsu, & southern Anhui.
Liaoyang 遼陽 (辽阳) Liáoyáng Liaoyang Circuit 遼陽路 (辽阳路) Liáoyáng Lù Liaoyang Consist of modern location of Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, eastern Hebei,
northwestern Inner Mongolia, northern Korea, & Outer Manchuria.
Lingbei 嶺北 (岭北) Lǐngběi Hening Circuit 和寧路 (和宁路) Héníng Lù Kharkhorin Consist of modern location of Mongolia & southern Siberia.
Shaanxi 陝西 (陕西) Shǎnxi Fengyuan Circuit 奉元路 Fèngyuán Lù Xi'an Consist of modern location of Shaanxi & mid-western Sichuan
Sichuan 四川 Sìchuān Chengdu Circuit 成都路 Chéngdū Lù Chengdu Consist of modern location of western Sichuan & Chongqing
Yunnan 雲南 (云南) Yúnnán Zhongqing Circuit 中慶路 (中庆路) Zhōngqìng Lù Kunming Consist of modern location of Yunnan and Upper Myanmar.
Zhengdong 征東 (征东) Zhēngdōng Kaicheng Circuit 開城路 (开城路) Kāichéng Lù Kaesong Consist of modern location of southern Korea.
Central region* 中書省 (中书省) Zhōngshū Shěng none Consist of modern location of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shandong,
northern Henan, central Inner Mongolia, & western Hebei.
A direct rule region under Zhongshu Sheng (Central Secretariat).
Tibetan region* 宣政院 Xuānzhèng Yuàn none Consist of modern location of Tibet, Qinghai, & western Sichuan.
A region set up to supervised Buddhist monks in addition to managing
the territory of Tibet under the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs.

Ming provinces[edit]

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, later 2 capital metropolitan areas and 13 provinces (兩京十三省) within China proper and 5 additional military ruled regions.

Province Provincial seat Notes
English Chinese Pinyin English Chinese Pinyin
Fujian 福建 Fújiàn Fuzhou Prefecture 福州府 Fúzhōu Fǔ
Guangdong 廣東 (广东) Guǎngdōng Guangzhou Prefecture 廣州府 (广州府) Guǎngzhōu Gǔ
Guangxi 廣西 (广西) Guǎngxī Guilin Prefecture 桂林府 Guìlín Fǔ
Guizhou 貴州 (贵州) Guìzhōu Guiyang Prefecture 貴陽府 (贵阳府) Guìyáng Fǔ
Henan 河南 Hénán Kaifeng Prefecture 開封府 (开封府) Kāifēng Fǔ
Huguang 湖廣 (湖广) Húguǎng Wuchang Prefecture 武昌府 Wǔchāng Fǔ Consist of modern location of Hunan & Hubei.
Provincial seat modern location is Wuhan.
Jiangxi 江西 Jiāngxī Nanchang Prefecture 南昌府 Nánchāng Fǔ
Shaanxi 陝西 (陕西) Shǎnxī Xi'an Prefecture 西安府 Xī'ān Fǔ Consist of modern location of Shaanxi, Gansu, & Ningxia.
Shandong 山東 (山东) Shāndōng Jinan Prefecture 濟南府 (济南府) Jǐnán Fǔ
Shanxi 山西 Shānxī Taiyuan Prefecture 太原府 Tàiyuán Fǔ
Sichuan 四川 Sìchuān Chengdu Prefecture 成都府 Chéngdū Fǔ Consist of modern location of Chongqing & eastern Sichuan.
Yunnan 雲南 (云南) Yúnnán Yunnan Prefecture 雲南府 (云南府) Yúnnán Fǔ Provincial seat modern location is Kunming.
Zhejiang 浙江 Zhèjiāng Hangzhou Prefecture 杭州府 Hángzhōu Fǔ
Jiaozhi 交趾 Jiāozhǐ Jiaozhou Prefecture 交州府 Jiāozhōu Fǔ Consist of modern location of northern Vietnam.
North Zhili 北直隸 (北直隶) Běizhílì Shuntian Prefecture 順天府 (顺天府) Shùntiān Fǔ Consist of modern location of Beijing, Tianjin, & Hebei.
Provincial seat modern location is Beijing.
South Zhili 南直隸 (南直隶) Nánzhílì Yingtian Prefecture 應天府 (应天府) Yìngtiān Fǔ Consist of modern location of Shanghai, Jiangsu, & Anhui.
Provincial seat modern location is Nanjing.
Nurgan* 奴兒干 (奴儿干) Nú'ergàn none Consist of modern location of Heilongjiang, Jilin, central-eastern Inner Mongolia, & Outer Manchuria.
Liaodong* 遼東 (辽东) Liáodōng none Consist of modern location of Liaoning.
Ü-Tsang* 烏斯藏 (乌斯藏) Wūsīzàng none Consist of modern location of Tibet.
Dokham* 朵甘 Duǒgān none Consist of modern location of Qinghai & western Sichuan.
Elis* 俄力思 Élìsī none Consist of modern location of Ngari, Tibet.

Qing provinces[edit]

By the latter half of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) there were 18 provinces, all of them in China proper (內地十八省). Jiangsu and Anhui were originally one province called Jiangnan, with its capital at Nanjing. There was no discrete time period when the two halves of Jiangnan were split, but rather, this was a gradual process.

New provinces[edit]

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)[edit]

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. However, 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).

Other province-level divisions[edit]

List of PRC province-level divisions[edit]

  abolished   claimed

Greater administrative areas[edit]

Name Hanzi Pinyin Translation Capital Hanzi Notes
Huabei 华北 Huáběi "North China" Beijing 北京 1949–1954
Dongbei 东北 Dōngběi "Northeast" Shenyang 沈阳 1949–1954
Huadong 华东 Huádōng "East China" Shanghai 上海 1949–1954
Zhongnan 中南 Zhōngnán "South Central" Wuhan 武汉 1949–1954
Xibei 西北 Xīběi "Northwest" Xi'an 西安 1949–1954
Xinan 西南 Xīnán "Southwest" Chongqing 重庆 1949–1954


Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Andong 安东 Āndōng ān Tonghua 通化 1949 abolished → Liaodong, Jilin
Anhui 安徽 Ānhuī wǎn Hefei 合肥 1949 abolished → Wanbei, Wannan; 1952 reverted
Chahar 察哈尔 Cháhā'ěr chá Zhangjiakou 张家口 1952 abolished → Inner Mongolia, Hebei
Fujian 福建 Fújiàn mǐn Fuzhou 福州 parts of the Fujian Province consisting of Kinmen and Matsu are retained by the ROC
Gansu 甘肃 Gānsù gān Lanzhou 兰州 1958 Ningxia split into its own autonomous region
Guangdong 广东 Guǎngdōng yuè Guangzhou 广州 1952 & 1965 Fangchenggang, Qinzhou, Beihai → Guangxi; 1955 reverted
1988 Hainan split into its own province
Guangxi 广西 Guǎngxī guì Nanning 南宁 1958 province → autonomous region
Guizhou 贵州 Guìzhōu qián Guiyang 贵阳
Hainan 海南 Hǎinán qióng Haikou 海口
Hebei 河北 Héběi Baoding (1949–54; 1967–68)
Tianjin (1954–67)
Shijiazhuang (present)
1967 Tianjin split into its own municipality
Hejiang 合江 Héjiāng Jiamusi 佳木斯 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang 黑龙江 Hēilóngjiāng hēi Qiqihar (1949–54)
Harbin (present)
1952 part of Xing'an split into Inner Mongolia
Henan 河南 Hénán Kaifeng (1949–54)
Zhengzhou (present)
Hubei 湖北 Húběi è Wuhan 武汉
Hunan 湖南 Húnán xiāng Changsha 长沙
Jiangsu 江苏 Jiāngsū Nanjing 南京 1949 abolished → Subei, Subnan; 1952 reverted
Jiangxi 江西 Jiāngxī gàn Nanchang 南昌
Jilin 吉林 Jílín Jilin (1949–54)
Changchun (present)
1952 north part split into Inner Mongolia
Liaobei 辽北 Liáoběi táo Liaoyuan 辽源 1949 abolished → Jilin, Liaoning
Liaodong 辽东 Liáodōng guān Dandong 丹东 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Liaoning 辽宁 Liáoníng liáo Shenyang 沈阳 1949 abolished → Liaodong, Liaoxi; 1954 reverted
1952 north part split into Inner Mongolia
Liaoxi 辽西 Liáoxī liáo Jinzhou 锦州 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Nenjiang 嫩江 Nènjiāng nèn Qiqihar 齐齐哈尔 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Ningxia 宁夏 Níngxià níng Yinchuan 银川 1954 province → Gansu
Mudanjiang 牡丹江 Mǔdānjiāng dān Mudanjiang 牡丹江 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Pingyuan 平原 Píngyuán píng Xinxiang 新乡 1952 abolished → Henan, Shandong
Qinghai 青海 Qīnghǎi qīng Xining 西宁
Rehe 热河 Rèhé Chengde 承德 1955 abolished → Inner Mongolia, & Liaoning
Sichuan 四川 Sìchuān chuān Chengdu 成都 1949 abolished → Chuanbei, Chuandong, Chuannan, Chuanxi; 1952 reverted
1997 Chongqing split into its own municipality
Shaanxi 陕西 Shǎnxī shǎn Xi'an 西安
Shandong 山东 Shāndōng Jinan 济南
Shanxi 山西 Shānxī jìn Taiyuan 太原
Songjiang 松江 Sōngjiāng sōng Harbin 哈尔滨 1954 abolished → Heilongjiang
Suiyuan 绥远 Suíyuǎn suí Hohhot 呼和浩特 1954 abolished → Inner Mongolia
Taiwan 台湾 Táiwān tái Taipei 台北 claimed since 1949 the founding of the PRC
Xikang 西康 Xīkāng kāng Kangding (1949–50)
Ya'an (1950–55)
1955 abolished → Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet Autonomous Region
Xing'an 兴安 Xīng'ān xīng Hulunbuir 呼伦贝尔 1949 abolished → Heilongjiang
Xinjiang 新疆 Xīnjiāng jiāng Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐 1955 province → autonomous region
Yunnan 云南 Yúnnán diān Kunming 昆明
Zhejiang 浙江 Zhèjiāng zhè Hangzhou 杭州

Autonomous regions[edit]

Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Guangxi 广西 Guǎngxī guì Nanning 南宁 1958 province → autonomous region
Inner Mongolia 内蒙古 Nèi Měnggǔ měng Ulaanhot (1947–50)
Hohhot (present)
1947 created; 1969 truncated → Liaoning, Heilongjiang,
Jilin, Gansu, Ningxia; 1979 reverted
Ningxia 宁夏 Níngxià níng Yinchuan 银川 1958 special region → autonomous region
Tibet 西藏 Xīzàng zàng Lhasa 拉萨 1965 area → autonomous region
Xinjiang 新疆 Xīnjiāng jiāng Ürümqi 乌鲁木齐 1955 province → autonomous region


Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Anshan 鞍山 Ānshān ān Tiedong District 铁东区 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Beijing 北京 Běijīng jīng Dongcheng District
Tongzhou District
Benxi 本溪 Běnxī běn Pingshan District 平山区 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Changchun 长春 Chángchūn chūn Nanguan District 南关区 1953 created; 1954 abolished → Jilin
Chongqing 重庆 Chóngqìng Yuzhong District 渝中区 1954 abolished → Sichuan; 1997 reverted
Dalian → Lüda 大连→旅大 Dàlián lián Xigang District 西岗区 1949 abolished → Luda, 1950 reverted, 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Fushun 抚顺 Fǔshùn Shuncheng District 顺城区 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Guangzhou 广州 Guǎngzhōu suì Yuexiu District 越秀区 1954 abolished → Guangdong
Harbin 哈尔滨 Hā'ěrbīn Nangang District 南岗区 1953 created, 1954 abolished → Heilongjiang
Nanjing 南京 Nánjīng níng Xuanwu District 玄武区 1952 abolished → Jiangsu
Shanghai 上海 Shànghǎi Huangpu District 黄浦区
Shenyang 沈阳 Shěnyáng shěn Shenhe District 沈河区 1954 abolished → Liaoning
Tianjin 天津 Tiānjīn jīn Heping District 和平区 1954 abolished → Hebei, 1967 reverted
Hankou → Wuhan 汉口→武汉 Wǔhàn hàn Jiang'an District 江岸区 1949 abolished → Hubei
Xi'an 西安 Xī'ān hào Weiyang District 未央区 1954 abolished → Shaanxi

Special administrative regions[edit]

Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Hong Kong 香港 Xiānggǎng gǎng Hong Kong 香港 created 1997 (Transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong)
Macau 澳门 Àomén ào Macau 澳门 created 1999 (Transfer of sovereignty over Macau)

Administrative territories[edit]

Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Chuanbei 川北 Chuānběi chōng Nanchong 南充 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Chuandong 川东 Chuāndōng Chongqing 重庆 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Chuannan 川南 Chuānnán Luzhou 泸州 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Chuanxi 川西 Chuānxī róng Chengdu 成都 1950 created; 1952 abolished → Sichuan
Hainan 海南 Hǎinán qióng Haikou 海口 1949 abolished → Guangdong
Lüda 旅大 Lǚdà Dalian 大连 1949 created; 1950 abolished → Dalian
Subei 苏北 Sūběi yáng Yangzhou 扬州 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Jiangsu
Sunan 苏南 Sūnán Wuxi 无锡 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Jiangsu
Wanbei 皖北 Wǎnběi Hefei 合肥 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Anhui
Wannan 皖南 Wǎnnán Wuhu 芜湖 1949 created; 1952 abolished → Anhui


Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Tibet 西藏 Xīzàng zàng Lhasa 拉萨 1965 region → autonomous region


Name Hanzi Pinyin Abbreviation Capital Hanzi Note
Qamdo 昌都 Chāngdū chāng Qamdo 昌都 1965 merged into Tibet

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.

"Lost territories" of China[edit]

During the 20th century, China claimed that numerous neighbouring countries and regions in Asia were "lost territories" of China.[11][12] Many of these "lost territories" were under the rule of Imperial Chinese dynasties or were tributary states.[11] Sun Yat-sen claimed that these territories were lost due to unequal treaties, forceful occupation and annexation, and foreign interference. Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, among others, were supportive of these claims.[13] China published a series of maps during this time known as a "Map of National Shame" (Chinese: 國恥地圖; pinyin: Guóchǐ dìtú) which showcased some of the "lost territories" that had links to various Imperial Chinese dynasties.

Name Hanzi Pinyin Note
South Tibet[12] (part of modern-day Arunachal Pradesh) 藏南 (South Tibet)/

阿鲁纳恰尔邦 (Arunachal Pradesh)

Zàng nán (South Tibet)/

Ā lǔ nà qià ěr bāng (Arunachal Pradesh)

Lost to the British Empire
The Great Northeast (Left bank of Amur River)[12] N/A N/A Lost to the Russian Empire
The Great Northeast[12] (Outer Manchuria) N/A N/A Lost to the Russian Empire
Bhutan[11] 不丹 Bù dān Lost to the British Empire
Ryukyu Islands[12] 琉球群岛 Liúqiú qúndǎo Lost to the Empire of Japan
Annam[12] (modern-day Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) 安南都 Ānnán dū hù fǔ Lost to French Empire
Burma[12] 缅甸 Miǎndiàn Lost to the British Empire
Sikkim[12] 锡金邦 Xíjīn bāng Lost to the British Empire
Ceylon[11] (Sri Lanka) 锡兰 Xī lán Lost to the British Empire
Malaya[12] (part of modern-day Malaysia and Singapore) 马来亚 Mǎ lái yà Lost to the British Empire
Taiwan and Penghu[11] 台湾 (Taiwan)/

澎湖县 (Penghu)

Táiwān (Taiwan)/

Pēnghú xiàn (Penghu

Lost to the Empire of Japan
Korea[12] 朝鲜 Cháoxiǎn Lost to the Empire of Japan
Pamir Mountains/Ladakh area[12] N/A N/A Lost to the Russian Empire and the British Empire
Nepal[11] 尼泊尔 Níbó'ěr Lost to the British Empire
Thailand[11] 泰国 Tàiguó Became independent under joint Anglo-French control in 1904
Andaman Islands[12] 安达曼群岛 Āndá màn qúndǎo Lost to the British Empire
Sulu Archipelago[11] 苏禄群岛 Sū lù qúndǎo Lost to the Spanish Empire
Sakhalin[12] (in Chinese, Kuye) 库页岛 (Kuye)

萨哈林岛 (Sakhalin)

Kùyè dǎo (Kuye)

Sàhālín dǎo (Sakhalin)

Lost to the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan
Java[11] 爪哇岛 Zhǎowā dǎo Lost to the Dutch Empire
Borneo[11] (part of modern-day Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei) 婆罗洲 Póluó zhōu Lost to the British Empire and the Dutch Empire


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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hwang, Jim (October 1999). "Gone with the Times". Taiwan Review. Archived from the original on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  2. ^ "Macao in Figures". Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region Statistics and Census Service. 2016. Archived from the original on 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-08-15.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" 6-1 自然资源划 [6-1 Overview of natural resources] (in Chinese). Xinjiang Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 19 December 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy" 省委书记能任免省长吗?省委书记和省长的级别谁大. 周公网讯网. Archived from the original on 2017-09-17. Retrieved 2018-08-20.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "GB/T 2260 codes for the provinces of China". Archived from the original on 2004-03-05. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  6. ^ ISO 3166-2:CN (ISO 3166-2 codes for the provinces of China)
  7. ^ "Doing Business in China – Survey". Ministry Of Commerce – People's Republic Of China. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  8. ^ "What were the ancient 9 provinces?" on
  9. ^ Twitchett 1979, pp. 203, 205.
  10. ^ Twitchett 1979, p. 404.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tseng, Hui-Yi (2017). Revolution, State Succession, International Treaties and the Diaoyu/Diaoyutai Islands. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 66. ISBN 9781443893688.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kim, Samuel S. (1979). China, the United Nations, and World Order. Princeton University Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780691100760.
  13. ^ Tzou, Byron N. (1990). China and International Law: The Boundary Disputes. Praeger. p. 77. ISBN 9780275934620.

External links[edit]