Counties are shown in green
CategorySpecial municipalities, counties, and cities
LocationRepublic of China (Taiwan)
Areas29–4629 km2
    • County government
    • County council
Counties of Taiwan
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

A county,[I] constitutionally known as a hsien,[1] is a de jure second-level administrative division unit in the Republic of China (Taiwan). Under the administrative structure of Taiwan, it is with the same level of a provincial city.

The counties were formerly under the jurisdiction of provinces, but the provinces were streamlined and effectively downsized to non-self-governing bodies in 1998, in 2018 all provincial governmental organs were formally abolished.[2][3] Counties along with former "provincial cities" which alternately designated as simply "Cities", are presently regarded as principal subdivisions directed by the central government of Taiwan.


Main articles: Taiwan Prefecture and Political divisions of Taiwan (1895–1945)

Hsien have existed since the Warring States period, and were set up nation-wide by the Qin dynasty. The number of counties in China proper gradually increased from dynasty to dynasty. As Qin Shi Huang reorganized the counties after his unification, there were about 1000. Under the Eastern Han dynasty, the number of counties increased to above 1,000. About 1400 existed when the Sui dynasty abolished the commandery level (郡 jùn), which was the level just above counties, and demoted some commanderies to counties. In Imperial China, the county was a significant administrative unit because it marked the lowest level of the imperial bureaucratic structure — in other words, it was the lowest level that the government reached. Government below the county level was often undertaken through informal non-bureaucratic means, varying between dynasties. The head of a county was the magistrate, who oversaw both the day-to-day operations of the county as well as civil and criminal cases. The current number of counties mostly resembled that of the later years of Qing dynasty.

The first administrative divisions named "county" () was first established in 1661 by the Kingdom of Tungning. The later ruler Qing empire inherited this type of administrative divisions. With the increase of Han Chinese population in Taiwan, the number of counties also grew by time. By the end of Qing era, there were 11 counties in Taiwan. Protestant missions in China first romanized the term as hien.[4]

Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. The hierarchy of divisions also incorporated into the Japanese system in the period when Taiwan under Japanese rule. By September 1945, Taiwan was divided into 8 prefectures ( and ).

After the retrocession to the China on 25 October 1945, the prefectures were reformed into eight counties () with the same name under Taiwan Province of the Republic of China.[5] Their roman spellings were also changed to reflect the official language shift from Japanese to Mandarin Chinese, but characters remained the same. Note that most of the Japanese prefectural cities were reformed to provincial cities and are not a part of counties.

Changes of location and names of counties in Chinese history have been a major field of research in Chinese historical geography, especially from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Changes of counties in 1945 and 1950
Japanese prefecture
(before 1945)
Counties in 1950
Kyūjitai Rōmaji Character Wade–Giles
臺北州 Taihoku 臺北縣 Taipei Taipei, Yilan
新竹州 Shinchiku 新竹縣 Hsinchu Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taoyuan
臺中州 Taichū 臺中縣 Taichung Changhua, Nantou, Taichung
臺南州 Tainan 臺南縣 Tainan Chiayi, Tainan, Yunlin
高雄州 Takao 高雄縣 Kaohsiung Kaohsiung, Pingtung
花蓮港廳 Karenkō 花蓮縣 Hualien Hualien
臺東廳 Taitō 臺東縣 Taitung Taitung
澎湖廳 Hōko 澎湖縣 Penghu Penghu

In late 1949, the government of the Republic of China lost the Chinese Civil War and was relocated to Taipei, Taiwan. In 1950, the counties in Taiwan were reorganized. Counties in populous western Taiwan were split into two to three counties. This pushed the number of counties up to 16. After the war, the government only controlled a few offshore islands of mainland China. Among them are two of the 67 counties of the original Fujian Province: Kinmen and Lienchiang. The number of counties under jurisdiction, 16 in Taiwan and 2 in Fujian, remained stable until the early 1990s.

List of counties from 1955 to 2010
Name Chinese Name Chinese Name Chinese
Changhua 彰化縣 Lienchiang 連江縣 Tainan 臺南縣
Chiayi 嘉義縣 Miaoli 苗栗縣 Taipei 臺北縣
Hsinchu 新竹縣 Nantou 南投縣 Taitung 臺東縣
Hualien 花蓮縣 Penghu 澎湖縣 Taoyuan 桃園縣
Kaohsiung 高雄縣 Pingtung 屏東縣 Yilan 宜蘭縣
Kinmen 金門縣 Taichung 臺中縣 Yunlin 雲林縣

Following the democratic reforms in the early 1990s, more proposals of administrative division reforms were widely discussed and ultimately caused some populous counties be reformed to special municipalities in the 2010 and 2014. These counties are:

Currently, the counties are established according to the Local Government Act under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. This act also endorses some special articles that grants counties with a population of over two million can grant some extra privileges in local autonomy that was designed for special municipalities. This type of counties are often called quasi-municipalities (準直轄市). This term applied to New Taipei and Taoyuan before they became special municipalities.

Current counties

Main articles: List of administrative divisions of Taiwan; List of administrative divisions of Fujian; and List of heads of governments of special municipalities, counties and provincial cities in Taiwan

There are currently 13 counties:

Name[6] Chinese Hànyǔ
Wade–Giles Tongyòng
County seat Province
Changhua 彰化縣 Zhānghuà Chang¹-hua⁴ Jhanghuà Chiang-hòa or
Chông-fa Changhua City 彰化市 Taiwan Province
Chiayi 嘉義縣 Jiāyì Chia¹-i⁴ Jiayì Ka-gī Kâ-ngi Taibao City 太保市 Taiwan Province
Hsinchu 新竹縣 Xīnzhú Hsin¹-chu² Sinjhú Sin-tek Sîn-chuk Zhubei City 竹北市 Taiwan Province
Hualien 花蓮縣 Huālián Hua¹-lien² Hualián Hoa-lian or
Fâ-lièn Hualien City 花蓮市 Taiwan Province
Kinmen 金門縣 Jīnmén Chin¹-mên² Jinmén Kim-mn̂g Kîm-mùn Jincheng Township 金城鎮 Fujian Province
Lienchiang 連江縣 Liánjiāng Lien²-chiang¹ Liánjiang Liân-kang Lièn-kông Nangan Township 南竿鄉 Fujian Province
Miaoli 苗栗縣 Miáolì Miao²-li⁴ Miáolì Biâu-le̍k or
Mèu-li̍t Miaoli City 苗栗市 Taiwan Province
Nantou 南投縣 Nántóu Nan²-tʻou² Nántóu Lâm-tâu Nàm-thèu Nantou City 南投市 Taiwan Province
Penghu 澎湖縣 Pénghú Pʻêng²-hu² Pénghú Phîⁿ-ô͘  or
Phàng-fù Magong City 馬公市 Taiwan Province
Pingtung 屏東縣 Píngdōng Pʻing²-tung¹ Píngdong Pîn-tong Phìn-tûng Pingtung City 屏東市 Taiwan Province
Taitung 臺東縣 Táidōng Tʻai²-tung¹ Táidong Tâi-tang Thòi-tûng Taitung City 臺東市 Taiwan Province
Yilan 宜蘭縣 Yílán I²-lan² Yílán Gî-lân Ngì-làn Yilan City 宜蘭市 Taiwan Province
Yunlin 雲林縣 Yúnlín Yün²-lin² Yúnlín Hûn-lîm Yùn-lìm Douliu City 斗六市 Taiwan Province

Under Article 9 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China, regulated by the Local Government Act, each county has a government headed by an elected county magistrate and an elected county council exercising legislative functions.[7] The governing bodies (executive and legislature) of the counties are:

Name Executive Legislature
Government Magistrates Current Magistrate County Council No. of seats
Changhua Changhua County Government List of county magistrates of Changhua Wang Huei-mei Changhua County Council 54
Chiayi Chiayi County Government List of county magistrates of Chiayi Weng Chang-liang Chiayi County Council 36
Hsinchu Hsinchu County Government List of county magistrates of Hsinchu Yang Wen-ke Hsinchu County Council 34
Hualien Hualien County Government List of county magistrates of Hualien Hsu Chen-wei Hualien County Council 33
Kinmen Kinmen County Government List of county magistrates of Kinmen Chen Fu-hai Kinmen County Council 19
Lienchiang Lienchiang County Government List of county magistrates of Lienchiang Wang Chung-ming Lienchiang County Council 9
Miaoli Miaoli County Government List of county magistrates of Miaoli Chung Tung-chin Miaoli County Council 38
Nantou Nantou County Government List of county magistrates of Nantou Hsu Shu-hua Nantou County Council 37
Penghu Penghu County Government List of county magistrates of Penghu Chen Kuang-fu Penghu County Council 19
Pingtung Pingtung County Government List of county magistrates of Pingtung Chou Chun-mi Pingtung County Council 55
Taitung Taitung County Government List of county magistrates of Taitung Rao Ching-ling Taitung County Council 30
Yilan Yilan County Government List of county magistrates of Yilan Lin Zi-miao Yilan County Council 34
Yunlin Yunlin County Government List of county magistrates of Yunlin Chang Li-shan Yunlin County Council 43

See also

Overview of administrative divisions of the Republic of China
Republic of China
Free area[i] Mainland area[ii]
Special municipalities[α][iii] Provinces[iv] Not administered[v]
Counties[α] Autonomous municipalities[α][vi]
Districts[β] Mountain
Townships[α][β][vii] Districts[β]
  1. ^ a b c d e f Has an elected executive and an elected legislative council.
  2. ^ a b c Has an appointed district administrator for managing local affairs and carrying out tasks commissioned by superior agency.
  3. ^ Has an elected village administrator for managing local affairs and carrying out tasks commissioned by superior agency.


  1. ^ "Laws & Regulations Database of The Republic of China". Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Local governments". Office of the President Republic of China (Taiwan). Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  3. ^ Sarah Shair-Rosenfield (November 2020). "Taiwan combined" (PDF). The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  4. ^ Davidson, James W. (1903). The Island of Formosa, Past and Present: History, People, Resources, and Commercial Prospects: Tea, Camphor, Sugar, Gold, Coal, Sulphur, Economical Plants, and Other Productions. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. p. 93. OL 6931635M.
  5. ^ "Rezoning Taiwan". Taiwan Today. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Glossary of Names for Admin Divisions" (PDF). Taiwan Geographic Names Information Systems. The Ministry of Interior of ROC. Retrieved 6 June 2015.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "ROC introduction: Government organizations: Local governments: County (City) Level". Office of the President (Taiwan). Retrieved 2021-04-13.


  1. ^ Also known as the Taiwan area or Tai–Min area (Chinese: 臺閩地區; lit. 'Taiwan–Fujian area')
  2. ^ The mainland area consists of Mainland China, Tibet and (previously) Outer Mongolia
  3. ^ Special municipalities, cities, and county-administered cities are all called shi (Chinese: ; lit. 'city')
  4. ^ Nominal; provincial governments have been abolished
  5. ^ Constitutionally having the same structure as the free area, these are currently under the Chinese Communist Party control with a different structure
  6. ^ Sometimes called cities (Chinese: ) or provincial cities (Chinese: 省轄市) to distinguish them from special municipalities and county-administered cities
  7. ^ There are two types of townships: rural townships or xīang (Chinese: ) and urban townships or zhèn (Chinese: )
  8. ^ Villages in rural townships are known as cūn (Chinese: ), those in other jurisdictions are known as (Chinese: )

Words in native languages

  1. ^ a b