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

A county,[I] constitutionally known as a hsien,[1] is an 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. Historically the counties were under the jurisdiction of provinces, but after the streamlining of provinces in 1998, they are all directly led by the central government.[2]


See also: Taiwan Prefecture and Political divisions of Taiwan (1895–1945)

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 missionaries in China first romanized the term as hien.[3]

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 handover of Taiwan from Japan to the Republic of China on 25 October 1945, the prefectures were reformed into eight counties () with the same name under Taiwan Province of the Republic of China.[4] 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 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. These territories were reorganized into two counties: Kinmen and Lienchiang under Fujian Province. 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

See also: List of administrative divisions of Taiwan and List of heads of governments of special municipalities, counties and provincial cities in Taiwan

There are currently 13 counties:

Name[5] 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. 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 Wei Ming-ku Changhua County Council 54
Chiayi Chiayi County Government List of county magistrates of Chiayi Helen Chang (Chang Hua-kuan) Chiayi County Council 36
Hsinchu Hsinchu County Government List of county magistrates of Hsinchu Chiu Ching-chun Hsinchu County Council 34
Hualien Hualien County Government List of county magistrates of Hualien Fu Kun-chi 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 Liu Cheng-ying Lienchiang County Council 9
Miaoli Miaoli County Government List of county magistrates of Miaoli Hsu Yao-chang Miaoli County Council 38
Nantou Nantou County Government List of county magistrates of Nantou Lin Ming-chen 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 Pan Men-an Pingtung County Council 55
Taitung Taitung County Government List of county magistrates of Taitung Justin Huang (Huang Chien-ting) Taitung County Council 30
Yilan Yilan County Government List of county magistrates of Yilan Lin Tsung-hsien Yilan County Council 34
Yunlin Yunlin County Government List of county magistrates of Yunlin Lee Chin-yung Yunlin County Council 43

See also

Overview of administrative divisions of Taiwan
Republic of China (Taiwan)
Special municipalities [a] [i] Provinces [ii]
Counties [a] Cities [a] [iii]
Districts [b] Mountain indigenous districts [a] County-administered cities [a] Townships [a] [b] [iv] Districts [b]
Villages [c] [v]
[a] Has an elected executive and an elected legislative council
[b] Has an appointed district administrator for managing local affairs and carrying out tasks commissioned by superior agency
[c] Has an elected village administrator for managing local affairs and carrying out tasks commissioned by superior agency


  1. ^ Special municipalities, cities, and county-administered cities are all called shi (Chinese: ; lit. 'city')
  2. ^ Nominal provinces; provincial governments have been abolished
  3. ^ Sometimes called provincial cities (Chinese: 省轄市) to distinguish them from special municipalities and county-administered cities
  4. ^ There are two types of townships: rural townships or xīang (Chinese: ) and urban townships or zhèng (Chinese: )
  5. ^ Villages in rural townships are known as tsūn (Chinese: ), those in other jurisdictions are known as (Chinese: )

Words in native languages

  1. ^ a b


  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. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Rezoning Taiwan". Taiwan Today. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  5. ^ "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]