Provincial city (Taiwan)

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Provincial City

Shì (Mandarin)/Sṳ (Hakka)
Subdivision types of the Republic of China (2014).svg
Category Unitary State
Location Taiwan
Number 3
Populations 270,883 (Chiayi) – 431,988 (Hsinchu)
Areas 40.1918 square miles (104.096 km2) (Keelung) – 7,300 square miles (19,000 km2) (Hsinchu)
Government Local government, Central Government
Subdivisions District
This article is part of a series on
Administrative divisions
of Taiwan
  • Neighborhoods
Historical divisions of
Taiwan (1895–1945)
Republic of China (1912–49)

A provincial city (Chinese: ; pinyin: shì; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: chhī) is an administrative division unit in Taiwan. Under the administrative structure of Taiwan, it is lesser in rank than a special municipality and is with the same level of a county. Historically the provincial cities were under the jurisdiction of provinces, but after the streamline of provinces in 1998, they are all directly led by the central government.


The first administrative divisions entitled "city" were established in the 1920s when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. At this time cities were under the jurisdiction of prefectures. After the World War II, nine (9) out of eleven (11) prefectural cities established by the Japanese government were reform into provincial cities. Their roman spellings are also changed to reflect the official language shift from Japanese to Mandarin Chinese, but characters remain the same.

Spelling changes of provincial cities in 1945
Character Japanese
(before 1945)
(after 1945)
Character Japanese
(before 1945)
(after 1945)
臺北 Taihoku Taipei 嘉義 Kagi Chiayi
基隆 Kīrun Keelung 臺南 Tainan Tainan
新竹 Shinchiku Hsinchu 高雄 Takao Kaohsiung
臺中 Taichū Taichung 屏東 Heitō Pingtung
彰化 Shōka Changhua

The reform was based on the Laws on the City Formation (市組織法) of the Republic of China. This law was passed in the early 20th century. The criteria for being a provincial city included being the provincial capital as well as having a population of over 200,000, or over 100,000 if the city had particular significance in politics, economics, and culture. The division reform in 1945 had some compromises between the Japanese and the Chinese systems, some of the cities with population under the criteria were still be established as provincial cities.

Chiayi Hsinchu Keelung Pingtung City Kaohsiung Tainan Chiayi Changhua Taichung Hsinchu Keelung Taipei

After the government of the Republic of China relocated to Taipei, Taiwan in 1949, the population criterion for provincial cities was raised to 500,000 in the Guidelines on the Implementation of Local Autonomy in the Counties and Cities of Taiwan Province (臺灣省各縣市實施地方自治綱要), which was passed in 1981. It was later raised again to 600,000.

Date Addition Removal No. Description
October, 1945 Changhua, Chiayi, Hsinchu,
Kaohsiung, Keelung, Pingtung, Taichung, Tainan, Taipei[1]
9 Reorganized from the prefecture-controlled cities in the period under Japanese rule.
16 August 1950 Chiayi 8 merged into Chiayi County and became a county-controlled city
1 December 1951 Changhua, Hsinchu, Pingtung 5 downgraded to county-controlled cities
1 July 1967 Taipei 4 upgraded to a special municipality
1 July 1979 Kaohsiung 3 upgraded to a special municipality
1 July 1982 Chiayi, Hsinchu 5 upgraded from county-controlled cities
25 December 2010 Taichung, Tainan 3 merge with Taichung County and Tainan County, and upgraded to special municipalities
Provincial cities in existence: Chiayi, Hsinchu, Keelung (3).

Currently, the Local Government Act of the Ministry of the Interior applies for the creation of a provincial city, in which a city needs to have a population between 500,000 and 1,250,000 and occupies major political, economical and cultural roles.[2] Note that all three existing provincial cities are not qualified for the population test, they were built for historical reasons.

Current Cities[edit]

There are currently three provincial cities:

Name[3] Chinese Pinyin[3] Wade–Giles Pe̍h-ōe-jī Pha̍k-fa-sṳ Area City Seat Establishment
Chiayi 嘉義市 Jiāyì Chia¹-i⁴ Ka-gī Kâ-ngi 60.03 km² East District 東區 1982-07-01
Hsinchu 新竹市 Xīnzhú Hsin¹-chu² Sin-tek Sîn-tsuk 104.10 km² North District 北區 1982-07-01
Keelung 基隆市 Jīlóng Chi¹-lung² Ke-lâng Kî-lùng 132.76 km² Zhongzheng District 中正區 1945-10-25

Their self-governed bodies (executive and legislature) regulated by the Local Government Act are:

Name Executive Legislature
Government Mayor Current Mayor City Council No. of seats
Chiayi Chiayi City Government Mayor of Chiayi Twu Shiing-jer Chiayi City Council 32
Hsinchu Hsinchu City Government Mayor of Hsinchu Lin Chih-chien Hsinchu City Council 33
Keelung Keelung City Government Mayor of Keelung Lin Yu-chang Keelung City Council 24

See also[edit]