Information about provinces, cities, counties,towns in China
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China consists of 23 provinces, 5 autonomous ethinic regions, 4 municipalities directly under the central government , 2 special administrative regions and 1 independent province (Taiwan),at the first level,i.e. provicial level, 333 municipalities and prefectures at the second level, also referred to as prefectural level, and 2,856 counties, cities and districts at the third level,i.e. county-level, as well as over 40,906 towns, townships and sub-districts at the fourth level (township-level). All that can be traced on this website. .


The administrative division system of China (Level 3)

Of the five levels of administrative divisions in the People's Republic of China: the province, prefecture, county, township and village, COUNTY is lying at the second tier. There are 2,862 county-level regions presently in China.
Unlike the usual way in many countries, China's City is never subnordinated to a county. Although they are at the same level of Chinese administrative hierarchy a City is usually more important and has stronger economic power and social influence than a county. In fact , a City is the upgraded form of a county thanks to its booming economy and expanding urban population.
However, since China has paused the County-to-City Upgrading process for a dozen years, some counties has extra-strong economic capacity, beating many cities, such as Shaoxing County, Yuhuan County in Zhejiang.

This table summarizes the divisions of the area administered by the People's Republic of China as of December 31, 2005.

Level Name Types
1 Province level
省级行政区
  • Provinces (省 shěng) (23)
  • Autonomous regions (自治区 zìzhìqū) (5)
  • Municipalities directly under central government (直辖市 zhíxiáshì) (4)
  • Special administrative regions (特别行政区 tèbié xíngzhèngqū) (2)
2 Prefecture level
地级行政区
  • Prefectures (地区 dìqū) (17)
  • Autonomous prefectures(自治州 zìzhìzhōu) (30)
  • Prefecture-level municipalities/cities (地级市 dìjíshì) (283)
  • Leagues (盟 méng) (3)
3 County level
县级行政区
  • Counties (县 xiàn) (1,464)
  • Autonomous counties (自治县 zìzhìxiàn) (117)
  • County-level cities(县级市 xiànjíshì) (374)
  • Districts (市辖区 shìxiáqū) (852)
  • Banners (旗 qí) (49)
  • Autonomous banners (自治旗 zìzhìqí) (3)
  • Forestry areas (林区 línqū) (1)
  • Special districts (特区 tèqū) (2)
4 Township level
乡级行政区
  • Townships (乡 xiāng) (14,677)
  • Ethnic townships (民族乡 mínzúxiāng) (1,092)
  • Towns(镇 zhèn) (19,522)
  • Subdistricts(街道办事处 jiēdàobànshìchù) (6,152)
  • District public offices(区公所 qūgōngsuǒ) (11)
  • Sumu (苏木 sūmù) (181)
  • Ethnic sumu (民族苏木 mínzúsūmù) (1)
5 Village level (informal)
村级自治组织
  • Neighborhood committees (社区居民委员会 jūmínwěiyuánhùi) (80,717)
    • Communities (社区)
  • Village committees (村民委员会 cūnmínwěiyuánhùi) (623,669)
    • Administrative villages (行政村 xíngzhèngcūn)
    • Natural villages (自然村 zìráncūn)
    • Village groups (村民小组 cūnmínxiǎozǔ)

County level
As of December 31, 2005, there are 2,872 county-level divisions, including 862 districts, 374 cities, 1,464 counties, 117 autonomous counties, 49 banners, 3 autonomous banners, 2 special districts and 1 forestry district in mainland China
County level subdivisions
  • 1,464 Counties (县; xiàn)— are the most common county-level regions. Counties have continuously existed since the Warring States Period, much earlier than any other level of government in China. In Sinologist literature, Xian are often translated as "districts" or "prefectures".
  • 117 Autonomous Counties (自治县; zìzhìxiàn)— are counties with one or more designated ethnic minorities. These are analogous to autonomous regions (at the province-level) and autonomous prefectures (at the prefecture-level).
  • 374 County-level cities (县级市; xiànjíshì)— are, like prefecture-level cities, not "cities" in the traditional sense of the word, since they are actually large administrative regions that cover both urban and rural areas. It was popular for counties to become county-level cities in the 1990s, though this has since been halted.
  • 852 Districts (市辖区; shìxiáqū)— another type of county-level division. These were formerly the subdivisions of urban areas, consisting of built-up areas only. In recent years, however, many counties have been converted into districts, so that today districts are often just like counties, with towns, villages, and farmland.
  • 49 Banners (旗; qí)— which are the same as counties except in name. The name is a holdover from earlier forms of administration in Mongolia. 3 Autonomous Banners (自治旗; zìzhìqí)— which are the same autonomous counties except in name. The name is a holdover from earlier forms of administration in Mongolia.
  • 1 Forestry Areas (林区; línqū)— a special county-level subject forestry district currently there is only one forestry area located in Hubei province.
  • 2 Special Districts (特区; tèqū)— another special county-level subject exclusively locatied in Guizhou province.


Municipal districts
A Municipal district (市辖区, pinyin: shìxiáqū, lit. a municipality/city-governed district) is a subdivision of a municipality directly under the central government or a prefecture-level municipality/city. The rank of a district derives from the rank of its municipality. Districts of a municipality under the central government are prefecture-level; districts of a sub-provincial Municipality/city are sub-prefecture-level; and districts of a prefecture-level municipality/city are county-level.
Before the 1980s, cities in the People's Republic of China were administrative divisions containing mostly urban, built-up areas, with very little farmland, except for the immediate suburbs in order to ensure a large supply of food or raw materials. As a result, districts were also mostly urban or suburban in nature.
After the 1980s, prefectures began to be replaced with prefecture-level cities. From then on, "cities" in mainland China became just like any other administrative division, containing urban areas, towns, villages, and farmland. These cities, officially refered to as municipalities, are subdivided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, and county-level cities. At the same time, counties and county-level cities began to be replaced with districts, especially after 1990. From then onwards, districts were no longer just urban entities — some districts today are just like counties, with towns and townships under them governing rural areas.
County districts
A county district, also known as a district public office (区公所), was once an important subdivision of a county all over China from 1950s to 1990s. It was common for there to be about 5 to 10 districts in a county, then about 3 to 5 towns and townships in a district. After the 1990s, county districts began to be phased out, and their role was taken over by larger towns and townships created by merging smaller ones.
At the end of 2005, there are just 11 district public offices left in China, with 1 in Hebei and 10 in Xinjiang.

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