The five largest cities in China by population are Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou. As of 2021, there are 17 megacities (cities with a population of over 10 million), including Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Xi'an, Suzhou, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Linyi, Shijiazhuang, Dongguan, Qingdao and Changsha.
Among them, the total permanent population of Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu is above 20 million. Shanghai is China's most populous urban area while Chongqing is its largest city proper, the only city in China with the largest permanent population of over 30 million.
As of 2017, there were 102 Chinese cities with over 1 million people in urban areas.
Definition and classification
According to the administrative divisions of China, there are three levels of cities, namely direct-administered municipalities (直辖市), prefecture-level cities (地级市), and county-level cities (县级市). The special administrative regions (特别行政区) of Hong Kong and Macau are not included in this administrative classification.
Municipalities and prefecture-level cities are not each a 'city' in the strictest sense of the term, but are, instead, an administrative unit comprising, typically, both the urban core (a city in the strict sense) and surrounding rural or less-urbanized areas.
Prefecture-level cities nearly always contain multiple counties (县), county-level cities, and other such sub-divisions. To distinguish a prefecture-level city from its actual urban area (city in the strict sense), the term "市区" (shì qū; "urban area") is used. However, even this term often encompasses large suburban regions often greater than 3,000 square kilometres (1,000 sq mi), sometimes only the urban core, whereas the agglomeration overtakes the city limits. Thus, the "urban core" would be roughly comparable to the American term "city limit", the "shì qū", or "urban area", would be roughly comparable to "metropolitan area", and the municipality is a political designation defining regions under control of a municipal government, which has no comparable designation.
While in 2013 Chongqing had the largest population total of any special municipality, 28 million, only 4.5 million of the people were in the actual Chongqing urban area, with the remainder of the population in suburban and rural areas.
List of major cities by population
The list contains all the cities with the administrative designation of "national central city" (国家中心城市) and "sub-provincial city" (副省级城市) – including five "cities with independent planning status" (计划单列市) and ten large "provincial capital cities" (省会城市), as well as some large "special economic zones" (经济特区城市), "open coastal cities" (沿海开放城市), and "prefecture-level cities" (地级市).
|City with Independent Planning Status|
|City||Province||2020 Census||2010 Census||% Change|
Locations of the 50 most populous cities in mainland China
- List of capitals in China
- List of cities in China
- List of largest cities in the world
- List of urban areas in China
- List of villages in China
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Chengdu and Chongqing are now two of the only four cities (the other two are Beijing and Shanghai) in China with populations of more than 20 million.
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